In a recent interview, singer Kehlani opened up about her experience as an openly queer woman in the music industry. According to the Oakland-native, being a “cisgender, straight-presenting” person of the LGBTQ community has given her a lot of “privilege” throughout the span of her career.
At 25-years-old, the singer and mother has successfully achieved chart-topping hits, released music consistently, and been recognized with two Grammy nominations since her debut mixtape came out seven years ago. While speaking with LGBTQ news source The Advocate as one of their Women of the Year issue covers, the singer reflected on other LGBTQ-identifying performers who’ve had a harder road to success than she has simply because of who they are.
“I think a lot of artists who we talk about and say, ‘Oh, they had to come out or they had to do this,’ a lot of them can’t hide it,” she said. Discussing what the reality is for many other LGBTQ-identifying people in the industry and the bias they face, she continued, “A lot of it is very [much] in how they present. It’s tougher for them. It’s tougher for trans artists. It’s tougher for Black gay men. It’s tougher for Black masculine gay women.”
As far as the way she presents, the singer noted that the way she looks holds a privilege that many other LGBTQ-identifying people don’t have because of the heteronormative standards and “biases” in our everyday lives which negatively impact them in a way it doesn’t her.
“I didn’t even really have to come out in my private life,” she said of her experience. Explaining further, Kehlani added, “I don’t walk down the street and people look at me and go, ‘Oh, I bet she’s queer’ or ‘I bet that she’s into women’ or anything like that because of the way I present. That’s all privilege and I think that there are quite a few artists who were truly at the forefront but weren’t able to make the strides that I was able to make being 100 percent myself because of the way they present and the biases and the phobias of the American public and the world… I’ve been lucky, super lucky.”
If you didn’t know, the singer’s also been swirling the internet since yesterday — when in a clip from Instagram Live she’s heard asking viewers “You wanna know something new about me,” before answering with, “I finally realized I’m a lesbian.”
The fluidity of her sexuality is something Kehlani has been open and honest about in the past. While speaking with Nylon back in 2018, the star said that some people were confused regarding where she was on the sexuality spectrum during the pregnancy of her daughter Adeya. Back then, she told the outlet, “I’ve gotten everything from ‘I thought she was a lesbian’ to ‘She was using queerness to promote her career, then went and betrayed us with a man’ to ‘Her baby father is just a sperm donor.’ One, I never identified as a lesbian. I’ve always been pansexual.”
From her latest interview and the video above, the way the singer chooses to speak on her sexuality has clearly changed. Regardless, as she graces The Advocate’s newest cover it’s clear that Kehlani continues to uplift and inspire others no matter how they identify, with her success, talent, and honesty.