Female. Coloured. Bisexual.
With those three words, YouTube star Lilly Singh spoke her truth Sunday night. And LGBTQ folks say her announcement is momentous because it will open the door for others to share theirs.
Always outspoken about the need to foster love, understanding and acceptance of all, including oneself, she furthered that mission in her simple but powerful social media post:
"Throughout my life these have proven to be obstacles from time to time. But now I'm fully embracing them as my superpowers," wrote Singh, whose online handle is IISuperwomanII.
"No matter how many 'boxes' you check, I encourage you to do the same."
Her announcement was met with an avalanche of support, retweets, likes and celebratory replies online.
Singh felt the love and support, tweeting her gratitude for all the kind messages Monday.
The self-proclaimed Superwoman is the daughter of Punjabi parents; her father immigrated to Canada in 1972 and her mother in 1981, and Singh was born in 1988. Raised in a traditional Sikh household, she began posting YouTube videos in 2010, while still a student, as a way of battling depression caused in part by her lack of enthusiasm for a conventional career. Her videos, in which she often plays her Punjabi parents, touch on her culture, dating and life in general.
Why Singh's coming out is so important
Toronto-based writer, comedian and performer, Shohana Sharmin, said she was drawn to these videos as a teenager and recent immigrant from Dhaka, Bangladesh.
"The idea of a brown girl from Scarborough [Ont.] on the internet telling jokes was so rare and refreshing, I found myself instantly drawn to Lilly's videos and completely hooked," Sharmin told HuffPost Canada.
Sharmin is a bilingual, bicultural, closeted bisexual woman, and she said Singh's message helped her feel less alone and isolated in her own journey.
"Growing up in a South Asian household, it's easy to believe there's only one normal," she said. "If you don't fit into that normal, then you're the problem. This idea is drilled into you since the moment you are born — be a good girl, a good daughter, a good wife, and eventually a good mother. Be good and normal and don't question the status quo, and smile and nod, even when it hurts.
"To want to be anything outside of this matrix felt like a crime. I remember spending nights lying awake in bed, dreaming of becoming a writer, of coming out to my family and being fully myself and happy. It felt like an impossible dream."
"Lilly Singh coming out as bisexual is important because there are millions of young South Asian girls sitting in their bedrooms feeling like they are alone, feeling like there is something wrong with them, feeling like they are the problem. It's important for these young girls to see and be reminded over and over and over again — you are not the problem. Keep chasing that 'impossible' dream."
"Growing up in a South Asian household, it's easy to believe there's only one normal. If you don't fit into that normal, then you're the problem ... Be good and normal and don't question the status quo and smile and nod even when it hurts. To want to be anything outside of this matrix felt like a crime."Comedian Shohana Sharmin
Acceptance is not always the norm in immigrant communities
Ryan Bisson,a gay South Asian Toronto resident, originally from Guyana, told HuffPost Canada that, while it seems like we've reached a point where coming out isn't really even necessary anymore, especially for those of living in a city like Toronto, this isn't always a universal reality.
"Acceptance is not the case for immigrant communities where people still struggle to reconcile their sexual identity with their culture or expectations from their families. This is why it's still really important when people like LilIy Singh, who has a huge following by Brown people, young and old, comes out. The impact this can still have on the lives of young, queer people of colour is immense."
Singh has been tweeting about her support for the LGBTQ+ community for years (along with creating YouTube videos on LGBTQ+ issues), sharing her support for gay pride events and gay marriage long before she came out.
I will never understand why some people think it's okay to have an opinion about who's allowed to get married to who. If you're against gay marriage and think it should be illegal, you need more hobbies in life. And you should probably learn to love yourself.
— Lilly Singh (@IISuperwomanII) January 12, 2018
In 2016, she alluded to the fact that she hoped that one day she'd come out as bi. Three years later, she's done just that, to widespread support.
And then there's ppl that call me "gay" as if it's an insult. Like bro I hope I discover I'm bi one day so I can cop your brother & sister.
— Lilly Singh (@IISuperwomanII) September 3, 2016
Bawse for real.
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