The controversy over Kehlani’s pregnancy

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On Oct. 12, 2018, R&B singer Kehlani announced her pregnancy on social media with her guitarist and partner, Javie Young-White.

Earlier this year, Kehlani publicly came out as queer, saying she was attracted to women, and men—specifically queer men, non binary, intersex and transgender people.

Kehlani also announced that her partner Javie was bisexual. She noted their similar sexual orientations and his understanding of her queerness and fluidity as one of the reasons they are so well-suited for each other.

Despite Kehlani being so open about her sexuality, many people were still shocked by her pregnancy announcement. Kehlani took to twitter saying, “Imagine thinking queer means lesbian and either means [being] unable to have babies,” in reference to those who were having a hard time reconciling her pregnancy with her sexuality.

Evidently, a lot of people are getting the wrong idea about what it means to be queer. A common misunderstanding seems to be the fact that many people are correlating pregnancy to heterosexuality, and queerness to the inability to procreate. Queerness is not as clearly defined to most people in the way that heterosexuality is.

To be clear, queer is an umbrella term used by people who identify with the LGBTQ+ spectrum or as sexual minorities. In this way, it can refer to more than just same-sex relationships. It’s important to note that not everyone identifies with this term.

The dictionary defines queer as “strange” or “odd.” It started to become commonly used as a derogatory term towards people who displayed non-normative sexual or gender expressions. The term began to be reclaimed amid the AIDS epidemic by queer scholars, and is now finding its way into mainstream representation.

Despite this progression, there are still a lot of misconceptions about the term. In the wake of Kehlani’s pregnancy, it’s clear to see that we limit the idea of queerness, and what it means to be queer.

Rigid and narrowed conceptions of what it means to be queer are being spotlighted in this discussion, as many people base other peoples’ identities on their own idea of what queerness looks like. Our own personal biases and assumptions turn this all-encompassing term into a binary, rather than a spectrum.

To be clear, queer is an umbrella term used by people who identify with the LGBTQ+ spectrum or as sexual minorities. In this way, it can refer to more than just same-sex relationships. It’s important to note that not everyone identifies with this term.

Those who claim their queer identity have every right to live their own truth, and exist as they are in society regardless of the many misconceptions people may hold. Other peoples’ sexual identity isn’t ours to “understand” or make sense of. In Kehlani’s words, “Everybody should mind their business when it comes to other people’s sexuality.” The definition of queer isn’t owned by anyone; it is yours to define if you feel you identify with it.The bottom line is: straight or cisgender women are not the only ones capable of having babies. Queerness doesn’t prevent the ability, or desire, to have a child.

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