Queerly Not Straight: Leave Jameela Jamil’s Queer Self Alone

In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Tuesday I’ll be posting opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx/WOC community since I am Latinx.) Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next.

Like Jameela Jamil, I too am a queer woman. But unlike Jameela I didn’t have to out myself because the internet decided to storm the Legendary, Jamil’s new HBO show where she’s a judge, castle because she wasn’t gay enough. And the fact that Jameela was forced to exposure her sexuality to calm down the internet down is proof that many don’t understand the complexities of what it means to be queer or how wrong her outing was in the first place.

At the heart of this controversy is Twitter. Jameela’s been cancelled because she’s a queer woman that has zero experience in ballroom culture and she’s stepping into a space she doesn’t belong in when she took the HBO job. And yes, there might be some queer people with a high caliber of experience when it comes to ballroom culture in the queer community. Those people have been cast and are ready to judge on this show. As for Jameela, she’s there for something different. 

Jameela is the outlier. She’s the one with no experience when it comes to ballroom culture but experience when it comes to hosting. And honestly, that’s more than ok. I’ve been part of the queer conversation my entire life and I’ve never crossed ballroom culture. I’ve heard whispers about it since Pose came out, but nothing more. I’m ignorant to the reality of ballroom culture and what it is and that’s ok. 

I can learn. And I will learn because I’m a fan of Jameela’s and I will watch anything she picks up on since The Good Place is done. She has a huge fanbase from the show, but her body positivity and political views have made her welcome by thousands upon thousands of fans who support her. She has clout and she’s using it to make people discover something fantastically queer.

And that’s more than ok.

It’s wonderful in fact.

And I can’t help but think that the fact that she’s a woman of color has resulted in a lot of backlash. Jameela has years of hosting experience. That’s the first thing we need to point out. And I’ve seen plenty of white men or men in general that have absolutely no experience in the show, experience, or talent that they’re judging and no one utters a word in response. (I’m looking at you Masked Singer and America’s Got Talent.) But let a woman of color step onto the stage and say or do something different and we’re on her like white on rice.

Then there’s this whole argument that Jameela Jamil should stay in her own queer lane. I’m sorry, but what? Stay in your queer lane after being forced out of the closet? Can people not see how wrong that is? The LGBTQ community is an ever growing and shifting community of people that is grounded in love and understanding. This “stay in your lane” narrative is restrictive and the kind of behavior I’d like to NEVER see in our community. 

Plus, queer is an umbrella term that many use when they find lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender too binding. It’s freedom to be whoever you want to be without condemnation or judgement. But I see it here in the community when I think about what is being done to Jameela Jamil in the public sphere by people who simply don’t understand and wish to never do so.

So, step back, take a breath, and think about what you’re doing when you condemn a queer woman of color like Jameela Jamil to stay in her lane because she’s not queer enough or has no judging experience when we don’t give men even a side eye when they don’t. Jameela is an ally, a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and the kind of feminist we need and love to have on our side. And that’s the tea.

Queerly Not Straight posts every Tuesday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)

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