Award-winning actress and singer Keke Palmer has shared more than ever before about her experience of growing up queer and accepting her sexuality.
Nope star Keke Palmer came out publicly in iconic fashion in 2015, after her “I Don’t Belong to You” music video saw her being led to bed by another woman. Although the 29-year-old media personality has a history of speaking up for the queer community, she only started to discuss her own personal journey as a “free spirit” and queer woman in detail over the past year.
In June 2022, Palmer starred in Disney’s Lightyear, which she praised at the time for its inclusion of an LGBTQ+ character. Then, in April this year, the star delivered an impassioned speech at the Los Angeles LGBT Center Gala about navigating her own “confusion” around her identity.
Now, Palmer has opened up again while in conversation with former Disney star Raven-Symoné and her wife, Miranda Pearman-Maday, on an episode their podcast The Best Podcast Ever with Raven and Miranda, which was released on Monday (24 July).
During the hour-long discussion, Palmer recalled her initial nerves over filming a “hot” erotic lesbian sex scene opposite actress Haley Ramm for the 2018 film Pimp, stating: “It was honestly the safest, best experience ever… she [Ramm] was so open and so game. I would do it again”.
Palmer explained that her “history with women” made the entire filming experience “easier”, which naturally led to further discussion of her “free spirit” sexuality.
“There was a moment in my life where I was just like “Can I be myself?”,” she told Raven-Symoné and Pearman-Maday about embracing her sexuality. “The moment where you overthink s**t. That’s not even me, why am I overthinking this and then I just got to the point where I’m like, “Well I just want my life be my own life”.”
Palmer said she first developed feelings towards girls “very young” – something that continued throughout her teenage years. “I was like, “Oh well no I’ll push it to the side”. But by the time I was 17, 18, I was like “I want to explore my life. I want to stop judging my thoughts or feeling like this isn’t something I could explore”,” she explained.
Her journey to accepting herself was delayed by growing up in a “religious household”, even though her parents were never explicitly homophobic.
“In my household, my parents were never like, “You’re religious you go to hell for being gay”,” she said. “They weren’t actually like that at all. Because I always liked guys too, I was kind of like, “Well, we don’t have to talk about it”. It was just another little extra thing that no-one has to really know about.
“My parents never even cared about something like that or really talked about it. And I know that by the time they saw how free a spirit I was and I wanted to date whoever, they were like, “Who cares?’ It was never anything that was in their mind.”
Keke Palmer. (Santiago Felipe/Getty)
Palmer’s early experiences were also shaped by the media she consumed as well. She “vividly” recalls talk show host Ellen Degeneres coming out publicly as gay in 1997 – which was swiftly followed by the star’s popular ABC sitcom Ellen getting cancelled.
“I never forgot that,” Palmer shared. “That kind of stuff just sits in your brain, “Oh you’ll be outcasted” or “Something’s wrong with you”. I don’t know what changed for me. I guess it was me getting to a place of wanting love and realising that I really wanted to be open to it. I didn’t want anything to hold me back from it.
“And I ultimately just feel like accepting that part of myself was my process to having love in my life, by accepting and loving all part of me.”
Palmer’s love life made headlines in early July after her long-term boyfriend and father of her child, Darius Jackson, publicly shamed her for wearing a black bodysuit while meeting with R&B singer Usher.
But in an interview with The Cut shortly afterwards, the star spoke about feeling more empowered in her body, and less self-conscious, since having her baby in February.
“After having my baby, I’ve gotten so much more powerful. I’m just so strengthened in a crazy way. Strutting my stuff, enjoying,” she said.