Wanda Sykes came out to show that equality isn’t just for “white gay men”

The American actress and comedian came out in 2008.

American actress and comedian Wanda Sykes came out at a rally 2008, challenging Proposition 8, a bill which successfully overturned the legalisation of same-sex marriage in California.

At the time, Wanda’s personal life was quite secretive, although she was privately out and had married her wife that same year, and writing in The Oprah Magazine she reflected on her decision to come out at the time.

“The drive behind me coming out publicly was when it became political, back when Proposition 8 was being talked about,” she explained. “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.”

Wanda added she wanted to show that LGBTQ equality wasn’t just for the white gay man, saying: “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.”

Elsewhere in the article, Wanda wrote about the difficulties she had with her family when she first came out to them. She explained that once she “felt comfortable with myself, with who I was, I became confident and stopped arguing with them” her parents realised they had to accept her or lose her.

She added: “Most parents do love you. It’s not even about them. They’re more concerned about what other people are going to say. They’re more fearful of that.”

She also gave advice to people coming out, saying that “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.”

You can read Wanda’s full article here.

Related: Wanda Sykes and Wilson Cruz to produce new LGBTQ series for Apple TV+

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