"This is absolutely not how I wanted it to come out." Those are the words of The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil, recently announced as a judge on Legendary, HBO Max's new show on ballroom/voguing. But it's not the news of her participation in the series that has the 33-year-old actress shaking her head—it's because she felt forced to reveal she identifies as queer after backlash on social media about her role in ball culture, which the Los Angeles Times notes has a history that stretches back to New York City in the '20s, where it served as "a place for predominantly black and Latino members of the LGBTQ community to participate in drag competitions." CNN notes many weren't pleased that Jamila, who admits she's a "newcomer to ballroom," was chosen as lead judge, alongside Leiomy Maldonado (aka the "Wonder Woman of Vogue"), stylist Law Roach, and rapper Megan Thee Stallion.
"It's kind of [mind] blowing when ppl with no connection to our culture gets the gig," Transparent actress Trace Lysette wrote. In a post titled "Twitter is brutal," Jamila noted that "this is why I never officially came out as queer," adding that she subtly put up a rainbow next to her name years ago. "It's not easy within the south Asian community to be accepted, and I always answered honestly if ever straight-up asked about it on Twitter. 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 also notes that "my being queer doesn't qualify me as ballroom." But, "I'm ... a lead judge due to my 11 years of hosting experience [and] being fully impartial." She adds that her newcomer status is "a window in for people who are just discover[ing ballroom] now." (Read more LGBT stories.)