Jameela Jamil Comes Out As Queer Amid Criticism Of Her Ballroom Show

On Wednesday, HBO announced a new show called Legendary, a vogueing competition. People outside the ballroom world might not know much more about vogueing than what they learned from Madonna, but the sad fact is she stole vogueing from primarily black and latinx LGBTQ+ performers. Nowadays it would be called cultural appropriation.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamilofficial) on

Ballroom vogueing is a very specific style of performance that was created in a specific context, and the subculture is protective of its community. That’s why Jameela Jamil received such a backlash when it was announced she’d be a judge on Legendary. As far as anyone knew, she had absolutely no connection to the subject.

While some people are critical of the idea that ballroom would be exploited for mainstream culture to begin with, most agreed that a high-paying TV job should at least go towards someone who has relevant experience.

Trace Lysette, a trans woman and actress, commented on the news, writing, “Lol.. I interviewed for this gig. 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.”

Unfortunately, Jamil has a habit of commenting on a lot of things in public, and she responded to Lysette, saying, “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.”

She added that she wasn’t the MC, and sent Lysette a heart emoji. Lysette disagreed:

Conversations between producers that have now been lost to the ages, but Jamil’s comments aren’t. People have been frustrated with her response and inconsistent story, which has gone back and forth over whether or not she is the MC or just a judge. Out Magazine shared a clip of the original press release, which read, “HBO Max announced today that actress, activist and host Jameela Jamil will MC and judge Legendary, the 9-episode unscripted voguing competition series from Scout Productions.”

Jamil also originally tweeted a link to the Deadline story she is now blaming for the mix-up, but has deleted it and added this to her timeline:

Is this all a case of mass confusion? Possibly. But even if Jamil is just a judge, the original criticism that she as no history of being involved with ballroom or even claiming to be a fan. The casting still reads as strange to many.


And now all of this has culminated with Jamil coming out as queer on Twitter:

Jameela Jamil queer Jameela Jamil queer Jameela Jamil queer

Jamil’s long statement touches on a lot of issues—how being queer for bisexual or pansexual women is often seen as fake, trendy, or insincere. On the specific issues of coming out in her own culture, as a British woman of South Asian descent.

The whole note is titled, “Twitter is brutal,” and Jamil writes that she’s going to be taking a break from the app to concentrate on filming.

Her tweets seem to imply she was bullied into coming out, though she recognizes being queer doesn’t necessarily mean she knows anything about ballroom. But she justifies her involvement by saying she brings a huge audience to the show, much like Megan Thee Stallion.

TV writer and podcast host Ira Madison might have the clearest criticism to Jamil’s statement:

It’s too bad that this controversy is overshadowing the show, which likely will feature a lot of unknown talent who could benefit from the exposure. Maybe once the show is out, they’ll shine brighter than any judge.

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