[There was a video here]
When DOMA was overturned last year, the then-27-year-old former child star "was in the car about to go get some fried chicken." She heard the news, and then tweeted, "I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you." You might think that the "finally" implied that Symoné is exclusively interested in women, but not so fast! There are modern sensibilities of fluidity, nuance, and balancing one's private and public life to deal with here.
"That was my way of saying I'm proud of the country," said Symoné when Winfrey asked if that was her way of coming out as gay. "But I will say that I'm in an amazing happy relationship with my partner, a woman. And on the other side, my mother, people in my family, they've taught me to keep my personal life to myself as much as possible so I try my best to hold the fence where I can but I am proud to be who I am and what I am."
Symoné teased out her allergy to categories. "I don't want to be labeled gay," she said. "I want to be labeled a human who loves humans. I'm tired of being labeled. I'm an American, I'm not an African American. I'm an American."
And then Oprah was like, "OMG!" (but inside: "LOL, now so many more people are going to pay attention to this interview").
"I don't know where my roots go to," Symoné elucidated. "I don't know how far back they go…and I don't know what country in Africa I'm from. But I do know my roots are in Louisiana. I'm an American and that's a colorless person, 'cause we're all people. I have lots of things running through my veins."
They didn't call her Disney show That's So Raven for nothing.
If you care about issues of identity and visibility, this kind of label-shirking is tricky. People should have the right to define themselves however they want, but at the same time, you wonder if their refusal to embrace the word "gay" has to do with unfairly negative associations with the word and culture, or straight-up shame. Factor in the self-perception of someone who has been in front of a camera since she was 2-years-old, and the experience of being bombarded by popular opinion for the past quarter century during her development as a human, and you may have slightly more compassion for what might seem like a garbled evasion of reality.
"I wanted to embrace the quietness in my head that said, 'You know what? Go 'head and date that person if you want to' without everyone saying, 'This is going to be bad for business,'" explained Symoné. "It's a constant struggle of being quiet in the head and learning what that little voice inside of you is trying to push you towards and listening to the universe and the signs that come your way."
To this, Winfrey busted out a reference to a Sinéad O'Connor deep cut, "The Healing Room."
Later in the interview, Symoné expressed pride for making it this far without a permanent record, which really is an amazing accomplishment for a former child star. "I'm not an addict of any kind, except to new adventures," said Symoné.
[There was a video here]
When asked about her celebrity crush, Symoné revealed that it is Janet Jackson. I totally relate.