Jaah Kelly, the 18-year-old daughter of R&B singer R. Kelly and Drea Kelly, first came out as a trans male at age 14.
In a new interview with Paper magazine, the Atlanta music artist talks about the Ask.fm video she posted a few years ago introducing herself then as Jay Kelly.
“When I posted that video, I was so scared,” she told the magazine. “When I was younger, I always felt like I had to make a choice. I knew that I was a girl who liked other girls. But because of what I was taught, I felt like the only way you could like another girl is if you were a boy.”
Kelly refused to talk about her controversial father in the interview, but said she was only empowered by her mother’s support after her big reveal. Despite that support, the rapper fell into a deep depression and eventually spent three weeks at a psychiatric hospital.
Today, the musician, who learned to play piano by watching YouTube videos, said she doesn’t mind if folks refer to her as male, female, genderfluid or nonbinary.
“I identify as a lesbian, I know I like girls, but that's as far as I'll go to label myself. It's up to you how you see me. Either way, I don't care. I stand in my truth, and why does my truth need a label?"
Kelly hopes her music inspires listeners to live in their own truth, however that may look.
“Music doesn’t have one sound, one identity, and neither do people. Just let go of everything,” she said.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.