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Cynthia Erivo opens up about her 'shattered' glass closet at LA LGBT Center gala

Cynthia Erivo opens up about her 'shattered' glass closet at LA LGBT Center gala


Cynthia Erivo opens up about her 'shattered' glass closet at LA LGBT Center gala
Araya Doheny/Getty Images

"As I stand here in front of you: Black, bald-headed, pierced, and queer, I can say I know a thing or two about being the other," the Wicked star said.

Cynthia Erivo gave a moving speech about her coming-out journey as a public figure at a benefit for the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

"It is a privilege to be on this stage tonight because for so long, I lived in deep admiration of anyone who could fully embody their true authentic self, wear their queerness like a feather boa, and proudly state this is a beautiful part of who I am," the Wicked star told the 900-person crowd gathered on Saturday night for the Center Gala at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

"I used to say that it felt like I was looking at my own community from inside a glass box. There you all were, vibrant and beautiful, and falling in love, and I had my nose pressed up against the glass, looking out at all of you, separate and apart. It took time for me to outgrow my box," she said. "But time is a gift that gives us space to see ourselves clearly enough to know that denying a part of oneself is a disservice to the whole. But now the glass is shattered. And there is no box in sight, and I have walked out into the wide open spaces into the arms of people and it feels like home."

Erivo received the Rand Schrader Award for achievements in entertainment and advocacy at the fete, where she was introduced by Jada Pinkett-Smith. Her partner, the out producer Lena Waithe, was also in attendance. At the event, Erivo — who won a Tony for her lead role in The Color Purple and has played historical icons like Aretha Franklin in Genius and Harriet Tubman in Harriet — addressed her upcoming role as Elphaba in Wicked, in which she centers and celebrates another marginalized figure.

"As I stand here in front of you: Black, bald-headed, pierced, and queer, I can say I know a thing or two about being the other. Elphaba’s story is…about how a colorful, powerful, magical woman — despite being disparaged, demonized, and discriminated against — becomes a hero. Wicked is a reclamation and a reimagining of the labels used against her. It is the proclamation of her right to exist in all her power. If that sounds familiar to you colorful, magical people in this room — it should.”

The Los Angeles LGBT Center raised $1.6 million to support its health, housing, and advocacy services. Hosted by Joel Kim Booster, the gala also honored artistMickalene Thomas and the band MUNA, who performed their hit "Silk Chiffon" with a surprise addition, Jewel.

Watch Erivo's speech in the video below.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor-in-chief of Out and an award-winning journalist who focuses on the intersection between entertainment and politics. This Jersey boy has now lived in Los Angeles for more than a decade.

Daniel Reynolds is the editor-in-chief of Out and an award-winning journalist who focuses on the intersection between entertainment and politics. This Jersey boy has now lived in Los Angeles for more than a decade.