Pride

Kehlani Opens Up About Her 'Privilege' as a Successful Queer Artist

Kehlani
Gizelle Hernandez

Kehlani photographed Oct. 18, 2020, at Hubble Studio in Los Angeles.

Ever since bursting onto the scene in 2014, R&B superstar Kehlani has proudly worn her queerness on her sleeve — and now, she's ready to honestly talk about her status as an LGBTQ icon.

On Tuesday (April 6), The Advocate unveiled their new cover story on the 25-year-old star, where she spoke about being a mother, her success, and her queer identity. Throughout the new interview, Kehlani made clear that while she identifies as queer and uses "she/they" pronouns, she still has plenty of advantages in her life as a “cisgender-presenting, straight-presenting” woman.

“I have a lot of privilege,” Kehlani said. "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 trans artists. It’s tougher for Black gay men. It’s tougher for Black masculine gay women.”

As one of a small group of queer artists who has successfully broken into mainstream success, the singer said it's important for her to acknowledge that, had she presented herself differently, she may not be where she is now. "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 said. "I’ve been lucky, super lucky.”

That's why when she gets to interact with her queer fans, the singer said it feels validating to have a group of young people willing to help her understand LGBTQ issues that she otherwise wouldn't have even thought to consider. "When I make a misstep or when I say something wrong or when I truly don’t understand, people have had teachable moments with me,” she said. “I’m really appreciative for the people who take time to do that.”

It's for that reason that Kehlani is happy to raise her daughter in a generation where the rules are finally changing. "All my friends, all her aunties, uncles, her godparents, everybody is just loudly queer,” she said. “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."

Check out the rest of Kehlani's interview with The Advocate here.