Former Parks and Recreation actress Natalie Morales has publicly come out as queer.
The 32-year-old actress posted the announcement on Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m coming out. I want the world to know. #PrideMonth.” She also linked to a longer essay on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls website, explaining her journey to discover her queer identity and her reasons for coming out now.
“I don’t like labeling myself, or anyone else, but if it’s easier for you to understand me, what I’m saying is that I’m queer,” the actress wrote. “What queer means to me is just simply that I’m not straight. That’s all. It’s not scary, even though that word used to be really, really scary to me.”
Morales explained penchant for privacy and the difficulty of maintaining it as an actress in a social media-driven world. She also wrote of being a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights since she was a little girl and her mother’s gay co-worker gave her a backpack full of school supplies. She described growing up Catholic and transitioning from private to public school in high school where she met an openly bisexual girl. They formed a secret relationship, but when it fell apart, Morales went to therapy.
“I think I’ve blocked out what that therapist told me, too. But I know I thought I was sick. I know I thought something was really wrong with me. I was ashamed and I thought I was dirty. I knew that the church said it was wrong and that God said it was wrong (even though I couldn’t exactly figure out why, if it wasn’t hurting anyone),” she wrote.
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Morales described the process of gradually coming to embrace her identity in her 20s after moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. “Since then, I’ve been in relationships with all sorts of beautiful, amazing, inspiring human beings,” she wrote. “I am not attracted specifically to any type of gender. I’m attracted to people. Each person is their own incredible, massive universe. That is what I am attracted to; that is what I want to know, want to love, want to defend, want to take care of.”
The actress went on to explain why she had decided to publicly come out despite the fact that it “might not be a big deal these days.” Though she’s been out to her friends and still guards her privacy, she wanted to offer herself as a recognizable face to those feeling unsafe in uncertain times.
“I think it’s important that I tell you that this familiar face you see on your TV is the Q part of LGBTQ, so that if you didn’t know someone who was queer before, you do now,” she wrote. “I also think it’s important that if there are any scared kids out there, like I was, I can tell you that whole ‘It Gets Better’ campaign is true. It does. And you’re not weird. You’re not bad. You’re not unholy. You’re exactly what God intended you to be. You are exactly what you are supposed to be, because nothing is supposed to be anything except for what it is, even if not everyone understands that. You are an essential part of the world just as you were created, and I want to see you. The real you.”