Keke Palmer recently opened up about her sexuality and journey to “accepting and loving” herself in conversation with fellow actor Raven-Symoné.
On Monday’s episode of “The Best Podcast Ever,” hosted by Raven-Symoné and wife Miranda Maday, the “Nope” star discussed her attraction to both men and women, processing those feelings as a child in the spotlight and living as a free spirit. She recalled experiencing moments of fear and doubt while ruminating on her sexuality as a kid.
“I feel like we both are free spirits,” Palmer told Raven-Symoné.
“But there was a moment in my life where I was like, ‘Can I be myself?’ Or the moment where you just overthink s—. And it’s like, ‘That’s not even me. Why am I overthinking this?’ And then I guess you just get to the point where you’re like, ‘I just want to have my own life be my own life.’”
Palmer said she began pondering her sexuality when she was “very young” and had first started “thinking about liking” people. She recalled pushing those thoughts “to the side” until she was in her late teens.
The Emmy winner “vividly” remembered the historic episode of the sitcom “Ellen” in which Ellen DeGeneres’ character comes out as gay.
“She was like, ‘I’m gay,’ and … the next day the damn show was canceled,” Palmer said.
“I never forgot that as a kid, and that stuff just stings in your brain. Like you will be outcasted or something’s quote, unquote ‘wrong’ with you … and I don’t know what changed for me. … I guess it was me also getting to a place of wanting love and realizing that I really wanted to be open to it, and I didn’t want anything to hold me back from it.”
While reflecting on her past, Palmer received a lot of verbal support from Raven-Symoné, who could relate to the pressures of growing up in the public eye. Both performers launched successful acting and singing careers as children and, at one point, worked for Disney Channel at the same time.
“I remember when I did this song [in 2015] , ‘I Don’t Belong to You,’ and I ultimately feel like the acceptance of that part of myself in general was a part of my process of being able to actually have love in my life … accepting and loving all parts of me,” Palmer said.
The “Hustlers” actor also talked about her relationship with her parents, whom she described as religious and protective. She said her parents “never really cared” or spoke about sexuality and “stuff like that.”
“My parents were never like, ‘You’re religious. You go to hell for being gay,’” she told Raven-Symoné and Maday.
“They weren’t actually like that at all. But there is like a unsaid thing that can make you feel … you know what I mean? And because I always liked guys too, I was like, ‘Well, we don’t have to talk about it.’ Because I liked guys too, it was like, ‘That’s just another little extra thing that no one really has to know about. I don’t really have to live out it.’ … But by the time I was like 17, 18 I was like, ‘I want to explore my life. I want to stop judging, overthinking my thoughts or feeling like this isn’t something that I could explore.’”
Since then, Palmer has come to realize that her parents weren’t all that concerned about who she dated and were instead focused on protecting her from adults in the entertainment industry who might try to exploit her.
“I think that’s something that child-actor parents do to their kids, because they’re actually deathly afraid of someone attacking their child … mentally and emotionally,” Palmer said.
“People try to steal folks’ kids in this industry … to where the kid doesn’t even trust their own parent. … And so I think that puts parents on edge to the point where they make their kid not trust any-damn-body.”