- 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.
Jodie Sweetin Releases Statement After Getting Pushed By Officers at Pro-Choice Protest: “This Will Not Deter Us”
“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote on Instagram.
Actress Pushed at Protest
After viral footage showed Jodie Sweetin getting pushed to the ground by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department while attending a pro-choice protest, the “Full House” actress said demonstraters “will continue fighting” for their rights.
Sweetin was attending a protest off the 101 freeway on Saturday following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Photojournalist Mike Ade, who captured the video, said the actress was “trying to lead a group of peaceful protestors away from the freeway” when officers pushed her. Sweetin was standing on a curb when she was pushed and fell down on the cement road. Ade wrote that she was “fortunately…okay.”
Ade shared a handful of other videos depicting officers using similar tactics on other protesters. As these videos started circulating online, many became outraged by the LAPD’s response to the protests.
Sweetin Addresses Incident
Following the incident, Sweetin released a statement where she said the fight against the court’s decision is not over.
“I’m extremely proud of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday to exercise their First Amendment rights and take immediate action to peacefully protest the giant injustices that have been delivered from our Supreme Court,” Sweetin said. “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken. This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until ALL of us are free.”
Sweetin also shared footage of the incident and other clips of officers clashing with protesters on her Instagram story. She cheered protesters in a comment on a video of the push shared by a social justice group called The Progressivists.
“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote.
According to a statement obtained by Deadline, the LAPD is looking into the matter.
“The LAPD is aware of a video clip of a woman being pushed to the ground by officers not allowing the group to enter on foot and overtake the 101 freeway,” the statement said. “The force used will be evaluated against the LAPD’s policy and procedure.”
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Rolling Stone) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Dave Chappelle Decides Against Having Former High School’s Theater Named After Him
“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” the comedian reportedly said.
Theater Named Announced
Comedian Dave Chappelle opted on Monday to not have the theater at his alma mater high school named after him, according to a report from The Washington Post.
The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. previously planned to name its theater in honor of Chappelle, as he is a distinct alum and donor. While Chappelle formerly said such a gesture would be “the most significant honor of [his] life,” he announced during Monday’s naming ceremony that it would bear a different title.
The school’s theater will instead be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.
A naming ceremony was initially set to take place in November, but was postponed after the comedian began facing backlash for transphobic jokes in his Netflix special “The Closer.”
Among other things, he said he was “Team TERF,” which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. He also made a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and remarks comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
The jokes embroiled Chappelle in controversy, and reports claimed that some students at Duke Ellington took issue with the comments. When Chappelle ended up visiting the school amid the scandal, Politico reported that one student told the comedian, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child.”
Chappelle Defends Controversial Special
According to The Post, Chappelle said the criticism against him “sincerely” hurt, but added that “the Ellington Family is my family.” He claimed he did not want the theater being named after him to distract students.
“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” he said according to Josh Rogin, a columnist for the outlet.
Rogin also tweeted that Chappelle took time out of the ceremony to slam the criticisms levied against him, accusing upset students of promoting someone else’s agenda.
“These kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression,” he reportedly said.
“You cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance,” Chappelle continued while denouncing the press coverage of his Netflix special.
According to David Frum, a staff writer for The Atlantic who attended the ceremony, Chappelle suggested he was open to potentially adding his name to the theater at a later date when the community is ready.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Variety) (The Atlantic)
Chris Evans Says People Upset With Same-Gender “Lightyear” Kiss Are “Idiots”
The kiss was previously removed from the film until a surge of backlash from Pixar employees prompted Disney to reinstate it.
Chris Evans Supports “Lightyear” Scene
“Lightyear” star Chris Evans is standing against people who have criticized the same-gender kiss scene in the upcoming Pixar film.
“The real truth is those people are idiots,” the actor told Reuters this week when discussing negative reactions to the scene’s inclusion.
“The American story, the human story is one of constant social awakening and growth and that’s what makes us good,” he continued.
Countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and more have banned the release of “Lightyear” over the kiss, which is between two women. Right-wing pundits in the U.S. have also slammed it, and user reviews for the picture on websites like IMDB have claimed that movie-going has “become an avenue for political propaganda.”
Evans argued those opinions are outdated.
“There’s always going to be people who are afraid and unaware and trying to hold on to what was before. But those people die off like dinosaurs,” he said. “I think the goal is to pay them no mind, march forward and embrace the growth that makes us human.”
“Lightyear” hits theaters on Friday starring Evans as the titular Buzz Lightyear. Evans, however, is not playing the action figure made famous in the “Toy Story” movies and is instead playing an animated human astronaut who inspired the toy.
Kiss Scene Almost Never Made it to Big Screen
According to outlets that have reviewed the film, the same-gender kiss is between Alisha Hawthorne, a character voiced by Uzo Aduba, and her wife.
Multiple reports have stated that Disney was always supportive of depicting a gay couple in the picture, but was more hesitant about showing an on-screen kiss between the two. The studio previously had the scene removed from the film until a swell of backlash prompted it to reinstate the kiss.
The decision came in March amid criticisms over Disney’s slow response to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill. At the time, a group of Pixar employees wrote an open letter claiming that they have pushed for more inclusion in their films, but “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest.”
Now that the scene made the final cut of “Lightyear,” it has been a large topic of conversation leading up to the film’s release. On Monday, Evans told Variety that the inclusion of the scene makes him “happy,” but he hopes one day, scenes like this will be considered standard.
“It’s tough to not be a little frustrated that it even has to be a topic of discussion,” he said. “That it is this kind of ‘news.’ The goal is that we can get to a point where it is the norm, and that this doesn’t have to be some uncharted waters, that eventually this is just the way it is.”