Jameela Jamil Says Media Needs to Stop Sensationalizing Coming Out Stories

'The Good Place' actress speaks on her imperfect coming out journey

Jameela Jamil of NBC's The Good Place joined Channel Q's Let's Go There with Shira Lazar and Ryan Mitchell this week. The actress, activist and writer jumped right in by sharing, "that you cannot win when you're a woman in this industry." Jamil feels that there is a pressure and a standard that women in Hollywood are held to that is impossible and unattainable. She says that it took her a moment to understand the standard that she was held to, and now feels she can be more "careful and thoughtful."

The I Weigh podcast host continues by addressing the anxiety she felt after speaking out about her own mental health. After making a statement once about her own mental well-being, the actress was continuously pressured by the press to speak on topics that she didn't feel ready to speak on yet, which in turn created heated backlash on the internet.

"I want to be able to make mistakes, learn, come back and do better. I want to be afforded the same opportunities being fallible, or being outspoken, or being opinionated or political as any man is," Jamil explained.

Shira and Ryan also asked how she is learning to deal with anxiety now, and Jamil reveals that she has struggled with having suicidal thoughts, and now, for the first time in her life, she is on medications to help cope with the mental health struggles she's been facing.

The Let's Go There hosts ask Jamil if she's ever struggled with impostor syndrome while acting for the first time alongside greats such as Ted Danson and Kristen Bell, on the successful NBC series, The Good Place. Jamil equates impostor syndrome to our society being conditioned to believe that if one is "marginalized" in any way... they will never be as good as the "standard."

She says, "If you are not a straight, white, cis-male" and happen to be a marginalized person in a powerful position one is considered "lucky." Jamil says, "You are lucky to be in that room", and this social conditioning allows for many marginalized people to feel a collective impostor syndrome. Jamil says she combats the feelings of impostor syndrome by refusing to negotiate with it, and doesn't let these thoughts permeate her own sense of self.

Finally, Jamil shared her coming out journey with Shira and Ryan. Jamil has recently officially come out and says that she has had to be incredibly careful about speaking on the matter, often because her words have been used against her. She realized she was part of the LGBTQ+ community while still in school, and felt she couldn't come out at an early age due to the fact that she lived in a community where being queer was not accepted.

"I was already chubby, South Asian, and broke. Therefore you couldn't also be queer."

Jamil states she didn't want to share her coming out story because she had already faced controversy in the media before. "I never wanted to come out publicly... because I insert myself in so many spaces people would think I was saying it just to be trendy, so I was planning on keeping it quiet ​forever."

The activist also clears up her recent interview with Variety, by sharing that she was uncomfortable and not ready to define her queerness so publicly. Ryan follows up by saying it's okay to have messy moments during a coming-out journey, and many heteronormative publications don't know how to share these stories. Ryan states, "Anyone who is a part of this community knows that the story is not just one way, this way or that way."

Jamil says that it is the responsibility of the media not to sensationalize stories about coming out or about the LGBTQ+ community in general. More stories should be normalized, and more conversations should be happening with queer journalists. To conclude Jamil shares that any LGBTQ+ youth who are in social isolation with a  family who does not accept their identity, should wait to live their truth. Jamil does not want to stifle people from living freely, but at the moment we are living in a time when it is unsafe to leave home. She says this is the time to focus on being more tender with oneself and simply to focus on the things we love. 

You can watch the full interview with Jameela Jamil above.

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