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The world has come a long way when it comes to equal rights. While it sometimes seems things are moving backward, minorities, women, and LGBTQ people have many more rights than ever before.

Having equal rights applies to everyone, regardless of background, status, or fame. Many celebrities like Jameela Jamil are choosing to use their platforms to send positive messages to those who might be afraid to stand up for themselves.

Actress Jameela Jamil comes out

Jameela Jamil
Jameela Jamil | Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Jameel Jamil is an actress, model, radio presenter, and writer from the UK. She has an Indian father and a Pakistani mother. That might not seem like it matters, but in this situation, it very much does.

She’s very outspoken about being body positive and dealing with mental health issues, but she doesn’t — or hasn’t up until this point — shared about her personal life.

Not that anyone has a right to know your sexual preferences or how you identify, and she’s been dating a man since 2015, so it probably came as a surprise to fans when she recently came out as queer on Twitter.

She did so after backlash emerged over her role on this ballroom show Legendary, with fans saying that she had no right to be on the show since she wasn’t gay or into ballroom dancing.

While she now admits she lashed out in at an inappropriate time and that doing so left her completely overwhelmed. Whether it was inappropriate or not, it was sure brave. That’s where knowing where her parents are from plays a role. 

In her Twitter post, The Good Place actress shared that she “never officially came out as queer. 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.”

She explained that she “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 grew up with no one to identify with because no one in her family or community was openly out. 

The LGBTQ community in South Asia

It’s a big win for her community, though, and not just the LGBTQ one. Her South Asian community also sees her example, and it could lead to positive change. Right now, Asian LGBTQ rights are still being fought for and are nowhere near what the US is afforded. For example, in India, it used to be criminal and “against the order of nature.”

Thankfully, in 2018, the Supreme Court of India set out to review the country’s gay ban. It’s still pending, but it’s a step forward. Pakistan still criminalizes same-sex activity through imprisonment, and although they rarely enforce it, they do have ways to get around the system and target LGBTQ individuals.

Believe it or not, this is preferred over other countries that have killed citizens for identifying as gay. But you can see her hesitation; these countries are farther behind the US, and the US still has a ways to go.

Continuing to pave the way

By coming out – even if she didn’t intend to – Jamil is paving the way for other South Asians to do the same. As a celebrity, she can use her platform to bring awareness to LGTBQ rights, as well as to normalize being queer within her culture.

She’s not the only one, but she is the first mainstream South Asian actress to speak up in such a vocal and public way. And Hollywood does help make coming out easier for others, as many celebrities support LGBTQ rights, whether they identify as LGTBQ or not.

TV shows and movies are also branching out and having notable characters represent LGBTQ, such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe having the first openly bisexual character in Valkyrie. 

Jameela Jamil coming out proves change is possible

Jamil’s coming out happened on Twitter, where keyboard warriors are known to talk trash and troll for any number of reasons.

But Jamil isn’t letting that stop her, and she’s proven that it’s possible to be civil on Social Media even when you don’t agree with the other person. Just ask Cara Delevingne. It’s also possible for people to change their opinions of others that are not the same as them.

Chris Martin, who is a known advocate for the LGBTQ community, proved that when he shared how he used to be homophobic. Hopefully, the entire world can take a cue from Jamil and the other examples to change for the better.