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Wanda Sykes On Coming Out: “I Had Something To Say”

Emmy-winner Wanda Sykes came out publicly when she was 44 years old, at an equality rally in Las Vegas back in 2008. “It was not planned at all” she said a while after coming out.

In a recent interview with ‘The Oprah Magazine’ Sykes reflected oh how she came out and why she continues to fight for LGBT+ visibility.

“The drive behind me coming out publicly was when it became political, back when Proposition 8 was being talked about. I felt like I had to say something. You’re inspecting my life, the life that I have? You’re saying that my marriage isn’t legal? That’s when I said alright, it’s important to speak out. 

“Also, I wanted to put a face on who that was affecting, not just white gay men. There are women. There are mothers. There are real people involved in these votes that affect lives and kids. After I gave my speech in Las Vegas, by the time I went back to the hotel, it was on TV and I was like, “Oh, okay. I’m out.” It was like, “Oh, cool.” I already said what was the truth,” Sykes reflected.

“I know how powerful television can be. It’s important for us to show how important LGBTQ+ representation is and how it can change minds in society. Representation in Hollywood has gotten much better, especially now with shows like Pose that highlight the African American and transgender community. I’m happy to see that. I also love stories where you have gay characters, but it’s not just about being gay, it’s not just about identity.”

She continues to say that “I think it’s helped when I mention my wife on stage. I hope we can get to a place where it’s normal to say, “Yeah, my wife and I,” and it’s not, “oh my god!” Which is why it’s important to have representation. Television really is educational and it does affect society and how we see each other.

“My advice for anyone in the process of coming out? I’ll just be honest: it depends on the community that you live in. If you’re still in school, for example, just hang in there. That’s what we do in our community. We make other families. If your family isn’t supportive, you're going to find somebody who would be that surrogate parent who will love you and take care of you. You’ll make family. I did. Know that there’s places and people who will love you—and you can and you will have an amazing life.”

Wanda Sykes recently teamed up with Apple TV+ to xo-executive produce a docuseries called ‘Visible: Out On Television’, which traces the history of LGBT+ representation on TV.

Read related myGwork articles here:

10 Famous Lesbian And Bisexual Actresses

Ian McKellen Talks About Coming Out

Novelist Jacqueline Wilson Publicly Comes Out

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