Billy Dee Williams Backtracks: ‘What’s It Called, Gender-Fluid?’

This week the Internet was buzzing with news that Star Wars star, Billy Dee Williams, had come out as gender-fluid. The 82-year-old told Esquire last month, “I never tried to be anything except myself. I think of myself as a relatively colorful character who doesn’t take himself or herself too seriously.”

Billy Dee Williams
Billy Dee Williams | Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Dodge

News outlets seized on Williams’ comments, reporting that he had come out as gender-fluid. Since then, the actor has clarified his comments, explaining what he really meant.

Find out what Williams had to say and where he stands on the topic.

Williams on coming out as gender-fluid

In his conversation with Esquire, Williams said, “I never tried to be anything except myself. I think of myself as a relatively colorful character who doesn’t take himself or herself too seriously.”

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I’d say my day’s been pretty good

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“And you see I say ‘himself’ and ‘herself,’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine. I’m a very soft person. I’m not afraid to show that side of myself.”

Social media posts celebrated Williams’ comments, with fans saying, “Love to see it. Especially for all those who act like we just sprouted 5 years ago.”

“Billy Dee Williams talking about his preferred pronouns and feelings about his gender identity at age 82 just makes my heart melt. I love this man so much. So happy to be seeing him onscreen again.”

“Congrats to Billy Dee Williams. . . for coming out and living your truth as gender-fluid.”

Artists and performers that identify as gender-fluid

Williams’ open conversation leads to consideration of other artists that have come out definitively to say they identify as nonbinary/gender-fluid.

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One artist, in particular, is singer Sam Smith who had a conversation with Jameela Jamil on her Instagram show, I Weigh Interviews. Smith said, “I do think like a woman sometimes in my head. I’ve sometimes sat and questioned, do I want a sex change? It’s something I still think about: Do I want to? I don’t think it is. When I saw the nonbinary, genderqueer, and I read into it, and I heard these people speaking, I was like ‘f—, that is me.’”

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"Just Come Here"

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Marie Claire in March this year reported that Jaden Smith is also gender-fluid. “So, you know, in five years when a kid goes to school wearing a skirt, he won’t get beat up and kids won’t get mad at him,” Smith said. “I’m taking the brunt of it so that later on, my kids and the next generations of kids will all think that certain things are normal that weren’t expected before my time.”

Williams’ clarifies what he meant, and it’s not ‘gender-fluid’

As for Williams, he clarified his comments to Esquire as the reactions to his earlier comments caught him off guard. It appears Williams doesn’t really know what “gender-fluid” means and wants to be certain he doesn’t misrepresent himself.

“That was a good article, except that thing about gender — what’s it called, gender-fluid?” he told The New York Times on Wednesday this week, referring to the Esquire article. “I had never heard that expression before. But I don’t really know what it means…”

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Here’s the real boss

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“I was talking about, I think that men should get in touch with their female self….Men should not be afraid or ashamed of expressing the soft side of themselves. I wasn’t talking about running around and having a good time, playing male or female sexual games.”

Williams clarified he was “talking about what Carl Jung talked about, the anima-animus: the anima being the female counterpart of the male self, animus.”

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The formidable FOUR! #rollingstone #annieliebovitz

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When the actor realized that his Esquire interview had been misunderstood as his declaration of gender fluidity, he told The Times that his thought was, “Oh please. I just want to tell everybody, read Carl Jung. He was a contemporary of Freud’s.”

Read more: Is Lin-Manuel Miranda Going to Be In the Next Star Wars Movie?