On Saturday, Nope star Keke Palmer was honored with the Vanguard Award at the Los Angeles LGBT Center and took the time dish on her journey with gender and sexuality.
The ceremony took place at the Fairmont Century Plaza hotel, where Palmer was presented her award by one of the Queer Eye five, Karamo Brown. During her acceptance speech, the multi-hyphenate performer discussed being a part of the LGBTQ+ community and thoughts on gender and identity.
“I’m so grateful to be here today to be embraced by a community that I’ve always felt accepted by and a part of,” said Palmer. “I’ve always been my own person. Sexuality and identity for me has always been confusion. You know, it’s, ‘I never felt straight enough. I never felt gay enough. And I never felt woman enough. I never felt man enough.’ You know, I always felt like I was a little bit of everything.”
Palmer has never shied away from sharing who she is with the world, but while on stage, she gave further insight into her journey with feeling the need to conform to society’s gender and sexuality norms.
“Why did my gender have to define the power I have in the world? And why does my gender get to decide my sexuality? You know, since I was younger, I always questioned the boxes I was forced to be in and it starts with who you’re supposed to be as a child,” said Palmer. “You’re supposed to be as a Black person or whatever the background you are from… Then those walls just try to cave you in from every damn angle, who you are as a creative, who you are as a friend.”
As Palmer alluded, she isn’t one to be boxed into anything. After receiving her big break from starring in Akeelah in the Bee, alongside Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, Palmer began to show off her creative range. Whether she’s shining as a daytime TV host, showing off her vocal abilities on her albums, starring in films like Hustlers, Nope, and Lightyear, stealing scenes in Scream Queens or Insecure, or creating new industry opportunities for on-the-rise creatives with her production company KeyTV, there’s honestly no creative medium that Palmer can’t do well.
Additionally, she has some strong queer-themed work. Her time as a judge on Legendary, alongside Law Roach, Leiomy Maldanado, and Jameela Jamil, was iconic. Also, her starring role in the Lee Daniels produced Pimp put her front and center in a queer acting role.
As Palmer said before, she’s an “incomparable talent”, but that talent hasn’t always been given the space to exist outside of others telling her who to be. But she ended her speech knowing that she’s free to be herself in the LGBTQ+ community.
“I’m truly so grateful to be seen in this room because I know I’m surrounded by people who know without a doubt what it’s like to decide to be who you are in a world that tells you to be everything but yourself.”