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All American Unpacks the Cost of Coming Out in the Black Community 

All American Unpacks the Cost of Coming Out in the Black Community

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Rapper turned actor Bre-Z discusses how her role as a lesbian who's abandoned for her sexuality on All American. 

In the new CW show All American, code-switching is always on the script. The series, which is drawn from the real journey of former New York Giants linebacker Spencer Paysinger, centers on a South Central football player who transfers to a Beverly Hills high school and transforms in the process.

However, the codes-witching between communities will take on a new layer in this evening's episode, where Spencer's best friend Coop comes out to her traditional family - and loses them in the process. While other art centered around black families like Empire and Moonlight have taken the process on for men, All American is among the first to deliver a queer black woman, and not one-dimensionally so.

"Coop is just a girl with a big heart. Despite her preference, she is charismatic, caring, and respectful. She is like any other girl in high school finding her purpose. I think her sexuality is the least of who she is," Bre-Z, who portrays the character, told Out Magazine.

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With the swagger of Kehlani and self-aware grace of Janelle Monae, Bre-Z is candid about how race plays into coming out.

"I think in the black community most people do not realize what shutting out a person can do," says the rapper and actress. "In our community, by nature, we tend to disregard what we don't understand."

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Rather than having her perceptions towards LGBTQ people shifted by playing a queer character, she sought out the role, hoping it could lessen the rates of suicide amongst black youth who are afraid to come out. The struggle of being closeted is quintessential to the message of All American, she explained.

"In this show, everyone is dealing with a little something behind closed doors away from their peers. You never know how you could be a light in someone's life," she concluded.

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