Feminist, avid social justice activist, and NBC’s “The Good Place” actress Jameela Jamil came out as queer on Wednesday.
The timing of the announcement, however, has raised eyebrows.
The day before her queer declaration, Jamil, who is in a relationship with singer James Blake, was swarmed with criticism concerning LGBTQ representation and her new gig as a judge on a vogueing TV show.
According to The Guardian, the new contest show set for HBO, called “Legendary,” is “based around the predominately black and Latinx subculture of drag balls in the LGBT community.”
Jamil, who was known as a straight woman until Wednesday, took flak for “taking” a role from a deserving member of the community around which the show is based.
“The public response to Jamil’s appointment focused on her perceived lack of ties to its subject matter,” The Guardian explained.
One such example of this, as highlighted by CBS News, came from comic artist Adam Ellis.
“Look I get that we’re all out here just trying to get a paycheck,” he posted via Twitter. “But [Jameela Jamil] how are you gonna work tirelessly on behalf of underrepresented people and then turn around and accept a job on a panel that should be populated with queer and trans people?”
Look I get that we're all out here just trying to get a paycheck, but @jameelajamil how are you gonna work tirelessly on behalf of underrepresented people and then turn around and accept a job on a panel that should be populated with queer and trans people? https://t.co/iiCriF5YBt
— adam ellis (@moby_dickhead) February 4, 2020
Jamil’s response, apparently, was to come out as queer.
According Jamil, she largely kept her queer identity a secret until Wednesday because she “was scared of the pain of being accused of performative bandwagon jumping” and also noted that it’s hard for actresses, in particular, to be truthful about their sexuality.
“I added a rainbow to my name when I felt ready a few years ago,” her Twitter statement explained, “as it’s not easy within the south Asian community to be accepted, and I always answered honestly if ever straight-up asked about it on Twitter.”
“But I kept it low because I was scared of the pain of being accused of performative bandwagon jumping, over something that caused me a lot of confusion, fear and turmoil when I was a kid,” she continued.
“It’s also scary as an actor to openly admit your sexuality,” Jamil said, “especially when you’re already a brown female in your thirties. This is absolutely not how I wanted it to come out.”
The actress added that her announcement doesn’t “qualify” her for her new gig.
“I know that my being queer doesn’t qualify me as ballroom,” Jamil wrote. “But I have privilege and power and a large following to bring to this show … sometimes it takes those with more power to help a show get off the ground so we can elevate marginalised stars that deserve the limelight and give them a chance.”
— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) February 5, 2020
Along with her social justice activism, Jamil is an avid abortion promoter. In December, for example, the actress attacked pro-lifers as “clueless,” likened them to trolls, and instructed them to “suck on that” if they disagree with her.
Jamil, who has called her own abortion the “best decision” of her life, posted an expletive-laced message after she was criticized for agreeing with fellow abortion-promoting feminist Gloria Steinem that democracy is impossible without on-demand abortion.
“To the people trolling me and (feminist) [Gloria Steinem] because we said there is no democracy without a woman’s right to choose … I SAID WHAT I F***ING SAID and you’re clueless if you think I’m going to take it back,” she wrote.