Keke Palmer Opens Up About Navigating Her Sexuality, Gender Identity

Keke Palmer Opens Up About Navigating Her Sexuality, Gender Identity

BYPaper MagazineApr 25, 2023

Keke Palmer is opening up about her sexuality and gender journey.

According to Variety, the 29-year-old actress talked about navigating her identity in a moving speech about how she struggled with "the boxes I was forced to be in" when she always knew she was "[her] own person."

"Sexuality and identity for me has always been confusion," the Nope star said while accepting a Vanguard Award for LGBTQ+ activism at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. "You know, it’s, 'I never felt straight enough. I never felt gay enough. And I never felt woman enough. I never felt man enough.'"

Palmer continued, "[But] I always felt like I was a little bit of everything.”

The Emmy Award winner then went on to explain that while she often leads with "masculinity," she's "always been met with so much disdain" as a woman who wanted "to be taken seriously." Granted, Palmer said that "so much of that came from who I thought I had to be to get respect, admiration and love," just so she could be "taken seriously" without people "diminishing" her accomplishments because of her gender.

"You know, that’s always been a source of — I guess you would say pain and resentment," she said while asking, "Why did my gender have to define the power I have in the world? And why does my gender get to decide my sexuality?”

As Palmer noted, the idea of "who you're supposed to be" is something that starts when you're a child and continues to pervade every aspect of your life. In her case, she was "supposed to be as a black person or whatever the background you are from," though she quickly realized these arbitrary standards were "walls just try to cave you in from every damn angle."

"Who you are as a creative, who you are as a friend," as the star added, before saying that she was "truly so grateful to be seen in this room."

Palmer concluded, "Because I know I’m surrounded by people who know without a doubt what it’s like to decide to be who you are in a world that tells you to be everything but yourself."

You can read Variety's entire report on Palmer's acceptance speech at the Los Angeles LGBT Center here.

Photo via Getty / Morgan Lieberman