Raven-Symoné doesn’t want you to call her gay or African-American

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Last night on Oprah: Where Are They Now?, actress/singer Raven-Symoné fielded a few questions from Oprah herself, including some clarifications about her sexuality. Raven said she knew she was interested in women since age 12 and eschews labels. She goes as far to say that she’s not gay, she’s a human who loves humans. She’s not African-American, she’s American. Oprah’s response—”Oh, girl! Don’t set the Twitter on fire! Oh Lord. What did you just say!? Stop the tape right now.”

“I don’t label myself… I don’t need language. I don’t need a categorizing,” Raven says, explaining that she only knows her roots as being in Louisiana and nothing further back, so that’s how she sees herself. “I’m an American, and that’s a colorless person,” Raven says.

Oprah tells her to expect some pushback on her not identifying as African-American and gives her a chance her to explain herself, but Raven sticks with the “I am an American” declaration and says she connects with “each culture.”

Raven spoke highly of her partner, AzMarie Livingston, saying she hopes they are together for a long time and that they’re in a happy and committed relationship. She said that she had to consider how it would affect her career and what people might say about it as a business decision, but ultimately she chose to follow her heart. Good on you, Raven!

Outside of her love life, Raven is in art school and shared some of her work and hopes with Oprah, too.

Raven, like everyone else, has the right to identify however she’d like. She says several times in the interview she keeps her private life private, so even her discussing her partner (even sharing a story about the last time she cried being while they were having a discussion the week before) is a big move for her. Surely her saying she’s simply human with no identifiers that other people want to place on her will spawn conversations, and that’s not a terrible thing. We need more discussions like this on an Oprah-sized scale, especially when Raven was seen as a role model for an entire generation based on her work on The Cosby Show and the Disney channel. She was coming into her sexuality at the same time she was starring in her own series on Disney—that’s kind of incredible.

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