‘Love me as I am’: Keke Palmer receives the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Vanguard Award

Keke Palmer received the organization's Vanguard Award alongside Pamela Anderson and the late Leslie Jordan.

After a four-year hiatus, the Los Angeles LGBT Center Gala, which Ts Madison hosted, returned on Saturday to the Fairmont Century Plaza — and Keke Palmer was among the night’s honorees. 

The actress was there to receive the Vanguard Award alongside Pamela Anderson and the late Leslie Jordan. During her emotional acceptance speech, Palmer got real about her journey with sexuality and gender, identity and how others have perceived her, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  

“I’ve always been my own person,” Palmer said. “Sexuality and identity, for me, it’s always been confusion. I never felt straight enough; I never felt gay enough; I never felt woman enough; I never felt man enough. I always felt like I was a little bit of everything.” 

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Keke Palmer attends the world premiere of Universal Pictures’ “Nope” on July 18, 2022 at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic)

Palmer, who welcomed her first child with her partner Darius Jackson in February, publicly came out as sexually fluid in 2015. Her music video for her song, “I Don’t Belong to You,” opens with a man as the singer’s love interest and ends with her romancing a woman. Since that project, Palmer has championed the stories of queer and alternative Black people and played several queer characters, including lesbian hustler Wednesday in “Pimp” and her role in “Nope.”   

During her acceptance speech, Palmer disclosed that her journey has also included presenting as more masculine at times. 

“Why did my gender have to define the power I have in the world? And why does my gender get to decide my sexuality?” she said. “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, you’re supposed to be as a Black person, or whatever the background you are from.” 

Palmer added, “For me, it’s about freedom. At the core, we are all trying to tell the world to let us be ourselves. Love me as I am; let me live as I am.”

In a social media statement about Palmer’s award, center officials said her “tremendous talent, unapologetic attitude, and fierce commitment to social justice make her a true trailblazer, and we’re beyond thrilled to honor her tonight.”

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