Raven Symoné never thought she would come out. For her, being on one of America's favorite sitcoms, The Cosby Show, and then becoming a Disney star meant keeping her sexual orientation in the closet, which she says ate at her soul. "I never thought I would come out because my personal life didn't matter," The View co-host shared in the Lexus L/Studio docuseries It Got Better. "It only mattered what could be sold as part of the Raven Symoné brand."
Landing her breakout role as Olivia Huxtable on The Cosby Show in 1989 when she was three years old changed Simoné's life. But it had personal costs. "Being on television sets from age three 'til age 30, I'm more comfortable there," Symoné says. "I know what lines I'm supposed to say. Somebody else picks my clothes for me. I have makeup done. I have hair done. And you create a family with these people that sometimes are closer to you than your own family. Her sexuality, meanwhile, was an unscripted part of her life that didn't fit neatly into the public persona she had crafted since early childhood. "At that age, you have to compartmentalize when you're in the public eye," Symoné shared. Although she realized she was gay at 12 years old, Symoné said she tried to make herself like boys, even convincing herself she would marry a man at some point. As a teenager, Symoné realized it wasn't worth sacrificing her identity to maintain a pristine — and straight — Hollywood image. "I went to college. I felt good," Symoné says, in the series. "I had support there beyond belief, and that was the first time I felt like I didn't have to have a beard. I didn't have to have a man standing beside me because I [was] in love with a girl."