Anna Gragert
May 26, 2016 4:01 pm
Walt Disney Pictures

Back in 2013, Raven-Symoné came out as a lesbian. And since then, she’s been raising her voice about all sorts of causes and issues she’s passionate about. Specifically, one of her goals is to help the LGBTQ community and that’s exactly what she’s doing by giving her own testimonial for the “It Got Better” series.

My likeness… had 15 people dictating what I should and should not look like,” Raven revealed, referring to her days as a child actor who started working at the age of 3 years old. “If I did whatever I want, I’m not gonna sell ’cause it doesn’t go with the brand. I was branded at such a young age.” Raven adds that this is why so many child stars have issues, since they’re not allowed to grow and develop as human beings.

Carsey-Werner Company

In addition to juggling school, a TV show, red carpets, and simply being a kid who couldn’t talk back to her elders, Raven felt an immense disconnect within herself. “My awareness of my sexuality was prevalent to me at 12, but there was some things younger in like the single digits,” Raven admits. “I had friends that I experimented with, but I never went far because I knew that this can’t be talked about.” She also mentions that she pushed herself to like boys, but she wasn’t being true to herself.

During this time in her life, Raven didn’t even feel comfortable talking to her parents about her sexuality. She says, “I had the number one show on Disney. I had multiple albums, I’d been on tour with *Nsync.” Ellen DeGeneres also came out during this time and Raven remembers there being no positive conversations surrounding Ellen’s decision. This also discouraged Disney’s That’s So Raven star from expressing herself.

Walt Disney Pictures

I never thought I would come out because my personal life didn’t matter,” asserts Raven. “It was only what was supposed to be sold as the ‘Raven-Symoné’ brand.”

This all changed when Raven fell in love and took a break from the industry. At this point, she felt that it was the right time to come out. Now, she has advice for those who may be struggling with a similar secret.

If I had to speak to someone that was going through a problem in their life that feels too large to even deal with, the good news is: It will pass. You’ll get bumps and bruises. But if you stick through it, people forget. People forget and time goes on and hopefully you learn from it,” says Raven. “Don’t stress. Learn how to deal with it now that you’re young. Openness is most important because it doesn’t matter what you see me as and you label me. It’s what I label myself [that matters].

Watch the segment below: