- Actress and activist Jameela Jamil came out as queer after social media backlash for being cast as a judge on an upcoming HBO Max LGBTQ+ dance show.
- Jamil said she was scared to come out because she was worried she would be accused of “performance bandwagon jumping.”
- Jamil has faced additional criticism because the show will focus on the ball scene, a type of dance that originated in African American and Latinx communities in New York. Jamil is of South Asian descent.
Jamil Cast in HBO Voguing Show
Following social media backlash for being cast on a show that will explore a popular LGBTQ+ dance subculture, actress Jameela Jamil announced that she is queer.
On Tuesday, Deadline, reported that Jamil was set to be both an MC and a judge on the new show, Legendary.
Legendary, which will launch on the upcoming streaming service HBO Max, will be a reality competition focused on “highlight[ing] modern-day ball culture.” Ball culture is a style of dance that originated among LGBTQ+ circles New York, many of which were also predominantly African American and Latinx.
The ball scene is also known for voguing, a highly stylized form of dance associated with drag queens and LGBTQ+ performers. Voguing was also popularized to mainstream audiences in 1990 when popstar Madonna released the aptly titled track, “Vogue.”
Jamil Faces Accusations of Cultural Appropriation
The news of Jamil’s involvement sparked criticism, with many calling the actress’ casting a form of cultural appropriation because she is of Pakistani and Indian descent. Jamil is also not associated with ball culture, and prior to her coming out, she was assumed to be straight.
“I think Jameela is great, one Twitter user said, “but this show raises eyebrows because this could very well lean into the appropriation of ball culture. I am trying to be open to it until we get more details, but the fact that this is on a major streaming platform is raising some red flags…”
wait so Mj Rodriguez, Billy Porter, Rupaul, Indya Moore, Angelica Ross (literally any drag queen/ lgbt icon) wasn’t available???? pic.twitter.com/r5A6hd7Yga— ms.versace if ya nasty (@DVerscace) February 4, 2020
Also following the announcement, trans actress and ball scene dancer Trace Lysette, who’s appeared in shows and movies like Transparent and Hustlers, criticized the casting while expressing her disappointment for not landing a role on the show.
“Lol.. I interviewed for this gig,” she said. “As the mother of a house for nearly a decade it’s kind of kind blowing when ppl with no connection to our culture gets the gig. This is not shade towards Jameela, I love all that she stands for. If anything I question the decision makers”
The terms “houses” and “house mothers” refer to small communities typically found within the LGBTQ+ communities. Houses are formed of an “alternative family” that provides sanctuary and shelter to LGBTQ+ individuals, especially youth who have been kicked out of their original homes. The roles of house mothers and fathers are usually taken up by older members of the ball scene who help guide and support their “children.”
Following Lysette’s tweet, Jamil responded by trying to clarify the situation. Notably, she also said that, unlike Deadline’s report, she would not be the MC of the show, only one of several judges. Instead, openly gay voguer Dashaun Wesley head the MC role.
Hey trace. I think you auditioned to be one of the house mothers. I’m just one of the judges. Not a house mother. We weren’t up for the same thing. @deadline are wrong. I’m NOT the MC. The brilliant @DashaunWesley is. I think you’re fucking amazing, in every way. And send you ❤️— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) February 5, 2020
Lysette soon responded back to Jamil, saying she had not applied for a house mother position but a host/producer one instead.
I don’t have audition to be a house mother… I am one. I remember the convo well. It was a convo in regards to be a host/producer. At least that’s what my manager at the time worked out. I never heard back. I send you love too. But I will always speak my truth.— Trace Lysette (@tracelysette) February 5, 2020
In a separate post, Jamil then worked to prop up the show’s other judges, which include: Leiomy Maldonado a transgender dancer also known as the “Wonder Woman of Vogue,” stylist Law Roach, and rapper Megan Thee Stallion.
I’m a judge, alongside @leiomy @theestallion and @LUXURYLAW with music from icon @TheOnlyMikeQ I know some of us aren’t from ballroom, but we are here to bring our followings, press and new audiences to the show, to support and celebrate the ballroom community. That is all. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/1H1J5hXi3K— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) February 5, 2020
Jamil Comes Out as Queer
In a message titled, “Twitter is brutal,” Jamil continued to explain her relationship with her casting, opening up a lengthy message by coming out as queer.
“This is why I never officially came out as queer,” she said. “I added a rainbow to my name when I felt ready a few years ago, as it’s not easy within the South Asian community to be accepted.”
“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 added. “I didn’t come from a family with *anyone* openly out. It’s also scary as an actor to openly admit your sexuality, especially when you’re already a brown female in your thirties. This is absolutely not how I wanted it to come out.”
Jamil goes on to say she is leaving Twitter—which she calls a “hell app”—for a while because she is afraid people will just dismiss her coming out.; however, before she leaves, she directly addresses her casting.
“I know that my being queer doesn’t qualify me as ballroom,” she said. “But I have the privilege and power and a large following to bring to this show…”
“I’m not the MC,” she continued. “I’m not the main host. I’m just a lead judge due to my 11 years of hosting experience, being fully impartial, newcomer to ballroom (like much of the audience will be) and therefore a window in for people who are just discovering it now.”
Response to Jamil’s Coming Out
Unsurprisingly, as Jamil predicted, some remained critical of her casting and others accused of her lying about her identity to skirt criticism.
“Being queer does not make you ballroom,” Lysette said on Twitter. “Being any number of marginalized identities does not make you ballroom. The only thing that makes you ballroom is if you are actually from it. And most of us who are from it, sought it out when we had no one else.”
However, many others online praised the actress for coming out while criticizing the extent to which social media pressures stars to come out before they’re ready.
“And this is why I’m ALWAYS so weary of people hating on presumed “straight” people going on LGBT shows,” one Twitter user said. “No one should EVER have to come out to avoid hate. This is horrifying. Is there legitimate criticism of her being on the show? Yes. But this shouldn’t have had to happen.”
And this is why I’m ALWAYS so weary of people hating on presumed “straight” people going on LGBT shows.— Celine 🍊 (@minytrash) February 5, 2020
No one should EVER have to come out to avoid hate. This is horrifying.
Is there legitimate criticism of her being on the show? Yes. But this shouldn’t have had to happen.
Additionally, several of Jamil’s castmates have also defended and supported her while addressing the backlash.
L.A. Frozen Yogurt Shop Addresses Online Rumors After Demi Lovato Slammed It for Offering Sugar-Free Options
- A Los Angeles-based frozen yogurt shop denied reports that singer Demi Lovato had sent it a donation or caused any changes to its menu after rumors spread on social media this week.
- Lovato launched a feud with the froyo store, named The Bigg Chill, over the weekend for offering “tons of sugar free cookies/other diet foods.” She called the shop, and other brands that do the same, “diet culture vultures.”
- The Bigg Chill responded by saying they offer such items for people with dietary restrictions like diabetes and celiac disease.
- Lovato apologized for the tone of her messaging and suggested the shop label its products in a way that is less triggering for people like herself who are recovering from eating disorders.
Froyo Shop Clarifies Rumors
There’s nothing quite like a good rivalry. David Vs. Goliath, Rocky Vs. Apollo Creed, The Jedi vs. The Sith, and now, Demi Lovato vs. a Los Angeles frozen yogurt joint called The Bigg Chill.
The befuddling feud started over the weekend when the singer called the shop out on Instagram for carrying “tons of sugar free cookies/other diet foods.” As of Wednesday, the fallout from the controversy has not died down and The Bigg Chill had to take to their Instagram story to clarify rumors that are spreading as a result of the saga.
Some internet users have been claiming that the frozen yogurt shop changed its menu following the public dispute. Others have said that Lovato gifted The Bigg Chill a generous apology donation. Neither appear to be true.
“We have not received any donations from Demi’s team nor do we want one,” The Bigg Chill wrote. “We have not made any changes to our menu.
Demi Lovato Calls Out The Bigg Chill
Lovato is recovering from an eating disorder and has been very open about her struggle. On social media, she regularly advocates for body positivity, mental health, and has called out trends that promote eating disorders. Her weekend post that called out The Bigg Chill attempted to do just that.
“Finding it extremely hard to order froyo from The Bigg Chill when you have to walk past tons of sugar free cookies/other diet foods before you get to the counter,” she wrote. “Do better please. #DietCultureVultures.”
The Bigg Chill ended up responding to her, saying that they carry these options for people with certain dietary needs and restrictions, like vegans, people with diabetes, celiac disease, and more. The company also privately messaged her to clarify this and apologize if she found this offensive.
Lovato shared that message and her response on Instagram. She said her entire experience in the shop was triggering and that they should make the shop more inviting for everyone, noting that eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses.
“You aren’t wrong for catering to many different needs but it’s about not excluding one demographic to cater to others,” she wrote.
She also suggested that the shop should label these products differently so that their intent is clear and the diet-focused messaging does not trigger people recovering from eating disorders.
The back-and-forth generated a lot of chatter on social media, largely from people who did not understand Lovato’s choice to so strongly condemn The Bigg Chill. Many frozen yogurt and other dessert shops offer sugar-free, gluten-free, or other diet-flexible options, so the attack appeared to come from left field. Others thought it was unfair for her to draw so much negative attention to a local business.
Fellow celebrities ended up getting involved, either quietly or with strong intent. In fact, the Bigg Chill ended up sharing an Instagram story posted by media personality Mia Khalifa, who tagged the shop in a photo and encouraged people to support local businesses that accommodate dietary needs.
Actress Jameela Jamil backed Lovato on Instagram, arguing that the marketing of diet products and health foods should change.
“If an eating disorder advocate says she sees products that are positioned as guilt free, and it is potentially triggering, that doesn’t mean she’s too stupid to remember that diabetics exist,” Jamil wrote. “It just means that we need to change the marketing of products that are for people’s medical needs.”
“Guilt free is diet culture terminology,” she added. “We need to stop using that fucking term.”
Lovato ended up apologizing to The Bigg Chill in an eight minute video on Instagram. She said her messaging did not come across as intended and that she really just wanted to express how triggering the experience was for her.
She explained that for her and other people recovering from eating disorders, going into a froyo shop, ordering something, and feeling good about that choice is extremely difficult. She said seeing a variety of diet products on display just reminds her of this.
“So that’s why I’m super sensitive when I walk into a froyo place and I see diet stuff. I’m going to be protective,” she said. “I’m protective of the little girl inside of me that didn’t get that representation at a young age of someone saying ‘all of this diet stuff is not okay, you’re worth more than that.’”
“My intentions were not to come in and bully a small business,” she continued. “That was not it. I walked in and was so triggered that I left without froyo and it made me really sad.”
Lovato also said she would be willing to work with The Bigg Chill to change the branding of those products if they were interested. On Wednesday, the shop said that outside of what they described as her “Sorry Not Sorry” apology, they have not heard from the star or or her team.
While this rigmarole may have been akin to a headache for the store, it appears to have generated a good amount of free press for the business. According to the Los Angeles Times, prior to Lovato’s post, The Bigg Chill had 6,000 Instagram followers. As of Wednesday afternoon, it has 34,000.
See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (HuffPost) (Eater)
BBC Diversity Chief Sparks Backlash After Claiming “Luther” Was Not an “Authentic” Black Lead
- BBC Diversity Chief Miranda Wayland sparked backlash after saying Monday that the Idris Elba-led series “Luther” was not authentic because the Black protagonist “doesn’t have any Black friends” and “doesn’t eat any Caribbean food.”
- Many criticized Wayland’s remarks, arguing that she essentially implied the character was not “Black enough” because he did not fall into certain stereotypes.
- BBC defended the show and said they were “tremendously proud” of “Luther.” Meanwhile series creator Neil Cross said one of the reasons Elba was attracted to the role was because it did not center on race.
BBC Diversity Chief Sparks Controversy
The Diversity Chief at BBC sparked backlash after implying that the title character in the hit series “Luther” was not an authentic Black lead.
The crime drama ran for five seasons between 2010 and 2019, starring Idris Elba as detective John Luther. It won Elba a Golden Globe in 2012 and earned him four Emmy nominations.
“When [Luther] first came out everybody loved the fact that Idris Elba was in there — a really strong, Black character lead,” BBC’s Diversity Chief Miranda Wayland said while speaking on diversity and inclusion strategies during the Digital MIPTV conference on Monday. “We all fell in love with him. Who didn’t, right?”
“But after you got into about the second series you got kind of like, OK, he doesn’t have any Black friends, he doesn’t eat any Caribbean food, this doesn’t feel authentic,” she continued.
Fans Defend “Luther”
Her remarks upset numerous people who felt Wayland was implying that Luther was not “Black enough” because he didn’t fall into certain racial stereotypes.
“This farcical criticism was clearly thought up out of boredom or just sheer ignorance,” one Twitter user wrote. “Luther is a brilliant series and actually shows a Black actor in a light not defined by anything but his ability to do his job. Stop using stereotypes to justify your own insecurities.”
Many pointed to the fact that even successful actors like Elba still have to deal with being labeled either “not Black enough” in some roles, but “too Black” for others. Elba has long been rumored as a potential pick to be the next James Bond. If he were cast, he would be the first Black actor to take the famous role. Despite his popularity, nothing has come of those rumors.
Others found the criticism of him not having Black friends to be especially weak because Luther did not have a lot of friends in general, as one of his character traits was his stark commitment to his job.
BBC and “Luther” Creator Respond
The creator of “Luther,” Neil Cross, told The Daily Mail that one of the reasons Elba was interested in the role was because it had nothing to do with race. Many doubled down on the fact that the show was great because his character was complex and human on his own without having to deal with racial issues, something that is often not seen in shows with Black leads.
Great thing about Luther is that his skin colour isn’t the core of his identity.— Calvin Robinson (@calvinrobinson) April 14, 2021
He’s fighting many battles. An example that we’re all human, we all struggle, but our ethnicity doesn’t always play a part in that.
That’s diversity, @MirandawTV. Equality!https://t.co/sIDc7c0pnL
“I have no knowledge or expertise or right to try to tackle in some way the experience of being a Black man in modern Britain,” Cross said in his statement to The Daily Mail. “ It would have been an act of tremendous arrogance for me to try to write a Black character.”
“We would have ended up with a slightly embarrassed, ignorant, middle-class, white writer’s idea of a Black character,” he continued.
A BBC spokesperson also defended the show in a statement to The Independent saying the network is “tremendously proud” of “Luther.”
“The BBC is committed to its continued investment in diversity and recent BBC One dramas ‘I May Destroy You’ and ‘Small Axe’ are testament to that,” the spokesperson continued. “Of course people can have open discussions about our shows but that doesn’t mean it’s a statement of policy.”
Elba himself has not directly responded to the situation, though some think an Instagram story he posted Wednesday may have been related to it.
“We must not pull ourselves backwards, only push ourselves forward,” the actor wrote.
See what others are saying: (The Independent) (The Daily Mail) (The Wrap)
Durte Dom Returns To TikTok Following Sexual Assault Accusation Levied Against Him
- YouTuber Dom Zeglaitis, a former member of David Dobrik’s Vlog Squad known online as Durte Dom, returned to the Internet less than one month after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2018 who was too drunk to consent.
- Zeglaitis has not issued a response to the allegation, but in the past three days, he has posted a dozen TikToks that mostly consist of short sketches and jokes he filmed with friends.
- One post shows Zeglaitis participating in the “Bulletproof” challenge, with text in the clip reading, “You think you can hurt my feelings?!? I got kicked out of the Vlog Squad for…”
- Several people, including major creators like Tana Mongeau and Ethan Klein, are now calling him out for seeming to make light out of a serious situation.
Durte Dom Returns To Internet
Former Vlog Squad member Dom Zeglaitis, also known as “Durte Dom,” has resumed posting on social media after nearly a month of silence since he was accused of sexual assault.
A woman told Insider in March that Zeglaitis raped her while she was too drunk to consent to sexual activity in 2018. She said that she and her friends were hanging out with YouTuber David Dobrik’s Vlog Squad at the time. The accuser, who was under 21 the night of the alleged assault, claimed the group supplied her and her friends with alcohol.
The fallout of this allegation has been significant. While Zeglaitis has yet to respond to it, Dobrik has issued multiple apologies and faced most of the financial repercussions as frontman of the group. Both Zeglaitis and Dobrik were later demonetized by YouTube. Dobrik also lost multiple sponsorship deals and bowed out of Dispo, a photo-sharing app he co-founded. He is now taking a break from YouTube and social media.
Though Zeglaitis has returned to the Internet, he is still largely ignoring the sexual assault accusation levied against him. He specifically began posting on TikTok over the weekend, and since then has posted roughly a dozen videos on the platform.
Durte Dom Jokes About The Vlog Squad on TikTok
Most of the videos are short sketches or comedy bits with his friends. In one, he and a friend are going through Omegle while Zeglaitis is off-screen. The friend asks the people on the other end of the chat “What are your thoughts on Durte Dom?” before Zeglaitis enters the shot.
Several of the videos continue to reference Zeglaitis’ sleazy, womanizing, reputation. One shows him claiming to have “smashed” adult film star Riley Reid. In another, he is sitting on a lounge chair throwing money at girls dancing next to him.
The video generating the most attention, however, is his take on the viral “Bulletproof” challenge. That TikTok features him standing below a text block that reads “You think you can hurt my feelings?!? I got kicked out of the Vlog Squad for…” while the song “Bulletproof” plays in the background.
In the caption of that video, he tagged Dobrik and asked “bruh why they kick me out?!?”
Creators Call Out Zeglaitis for Ignoring Allegation
This specific TikTok caught the attention of major creators, including Tana Mongeau and Ethan Klein, who dueted that video to call Zeglaitis out.
“Someone please make this make sense to me,” Mongeau wrote.
“This mf serious?” Klein said.
They are not the only ones frustrated with Zeglaitis. Many responded to the video in the comment section shocked he was posting at all, bringing up the sexual assault allegation, and urging him to not treat it as a joke.
The comment sections on the rest of his videos are similarly flooded with people who are outraged that he is posting regular content as though nothing had happened.