Kehlani Says She Has 'a Lot of Privilege' as a 'Straight-Passing' Person: 'I've Been Lucky'
Kehlani is shining on their path to success but is also acknowledging the privilege that helped pave the way.
The R&B singer, 25, has been one of the several queer artists to prosper within the current mainstream music scene, with two Grammy nominations and appearances on the Billboard 200 album chart. In speaking with The Advocate for the magazine's cover story, she said she recognize how their "straight and cisgender presenting" privilege has played a part in finding success.
"I have a lot of privilege," says Kehlani, who uses she/they pronouns and identifies as queer. "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."
"A lot of it is very [much] in how they present. It's tougher for them," Kehlani said. "It's tougher for trans artists. It's tougher for Black gay men. It's tougher for Black masculine gay women."
While the "Bad News" singer shared on Twitter in 2018 to clarify that she identifies as "queer," she never felt the pressure to come out in her own personal life, mainly due to the way she presents herself.
"I didn't even really have to come out in my private life," said Kehlani. "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," she added. "I've been lucky, super lucky."
The singer gave thanks and appreciation to the Black trans women in her life for helping to educate her and also encourage her "to live in her truth daily."
"All the beautiful Black trans women that I have in my life that I'm able to just witness — not only living their true f---ing power — but [to] be courageous and be fearless and then fiercely educate everybody around them and just be a force in this world," says Kehlani.
"All my friends, all her aunties, uncles, her godparents, everybody is just loudly queer," said Kehlani."Our generation already kind of broke the mold of getting to that point, so I don't even think our kids are going to think about it as something that they have to identify and differentiate. I feel it should be normal."
"We'll be reading queer stories, queer books where the baby has two dads, two moms, two parents who don't identify as either. Movies that have that," she added. "She sees healthy queer couples. So, I don't think that she's going to even think about it as 'This is different from normal.'"