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Lee Rodriguez Wants You to Know That “You Shouldn’t Have to Explain Your Queerness.”

Never Have I Ever star Lee Rodriguez is opening up about her sexual identity — but she’s a little tired of having to do so.

The actor, who portrays Fabiola on the Netflix series, first came out as queer on National Coming Out day in October of 2020. “I’ve been asked the same question a numerous amount of times,” Lee wrote on Instagram at the time. “Question being: ‘Are you gay?’ And well folks, I felt like there was no better day than today (National Coming Out Day) to publicly say that I AM a proud queer women!” The question has been brought up numerous times because Lee’s character on NHIE, Fabiola, is queer and comes out on the show.

In an “as told to” essay for Cosmopolitan, Lee explained that she felt like fans and the general public made some assumptions about her sexual identity based on her past dating history, adding that she felt somewhat pressured to share her story with the world. “When people kept asking me, I felt like maybe I didn’t look like a queer person,” the actor said. “But you shouldn’t have to explain your queerness. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your queerness or proof that you’re a valid queer person.”

Even though it’s been almost a year since her coming out, Lee shared that she still gets questions on a regular basis about her sexuality because of her role on the show. She explained that there’s no right way to come out, and at the end of the day, it’s important to do it on your terms. “Whatever you feel most comfortable with makes you valid,” she explained. “You don’t have to have a huge coming out. Sometimes you can just feel it within yourself and that’s okay! You’re still valid.”

She added that, for now, she’s done talking about her sexuality, noting that she doesn’t plan on the topic being a “continuous conversation.” Lee explained that there’s more to who she is than being queer, and she wants her fans and the public to focus on things other than her identity. “I want people to know that I love writing music and have passion for helping fight against our climate crisis,” she said. “I love sharing what’s going on in the world. And as far as my personal life, I want people to know that I have amazing friends, that I have fun, and that I’m growing as a person. I’m constantly evolving and my queerness is just one small part of me.”

As for her fans within the LGBTQ+ community, Lee ended her message with an important reminder about coming out. “Coming out can be scary because you feel like nobody really understands,” she explained to Cosmo. “But I feel like at least one person will after reading this. And even if nobody does, it’s okay. Because I understand it, and nobody can invalidate you if you feel like you’re valid within yourself.”

Lee has spoken about the coming out process before as it relates to her character, Fabiola. In the series, Fabiola struggles with sharing her true self with her family, and while coming out is different for everyone, her journey certainly resonated with many viewers who might have seen themselves in her story. Which, as Lee noted in a previous interview with Teen Vogue, makes shows like Never Have I Ever all the more important.

“It’s a very important story to tell to young people, especially some people who are going through that and don’t necessarily know how,” she said at the time. “[I hoped] just to let them know that they’re not alone and maybe hopefully give them courage to be able to do that for themselves. To question their own sexuality and maybe be open about it and not be ashamed of it.”

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