Raven-Symone wasn't sure she would ever come out.
The View co-host opens up about her sexuality in the third season of It Got Better -- the It Gets Better project-inspired series of revealing testimonials -- which launches tomorrow on L/Studio, Lexus' digital content channel.
"Being on television sets from age three to age 30, I'm more comfortable there," the former child actress shares. "You create a family with these people that's sometimes are closer to you than your own family."
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But she goes on to caution, "It's not very healthy later in life."
"My likeness... however you see it at that time, had 15 people dictating what I should and should not look like," Raven-Symone adds. "If I did whatever I want, it's not gonna sell. It doesn't go with the brand. I was branded at such a young age."
And while Raven-Symone says she was aware of her sexuality by age 12, she nevertheless felt compelled to hide that from the world.
"I kinda pushed myself to look for boys," she reveals."I look back now like, 'Woah, you like girls.'"
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"I didn't wanna tell my parents," Raven-Symone continues. "I had the number one show on Disney. I had multiple albums, I'd been on tour with *NSYNC... I didn't wanna deal with that."
"I never thought I would come out because my personal life didn't matter," she tells. "It was only what was supposed to be sold as the Raven-Symone brand."
While concealing her sexuality is something she felt she had to do in her career, Raven-Symone admits, over time, "that eats at your soul."
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So when she stepped away from the industry and went to college, Raven-Symone came out. And fell in love.
"I didn't have to have a 'beard.' I didn't have to have a man standing by me," she says. "I felt lighter, I felt like I could go out and not have to put on 17 different hats to be myself."
In addition to Raven-Symone, the third season of It Got Better also features testimonials from Sir Ian McKellen, Candis Cayne, Adam Lambert, EJ Johnson, and Wanda Sykes.
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"Each season, I feel like I learn so much about people I've admired for a long time, like Ian McKellen,” said It Gets Better Project co-founder Dan Savage, who is an executive producer on the series along with actors Dan Bucatinsky and Lisa Kudrow. “But I, and our whole It Got Better team, also learn about people we hardly knew anything about, which is a credit to the diversity of subjects we've been fortunate to be able to deliver year after year."
You can catch up on the first two seasons here.
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