Actress and comedian Wanda Sykes has come out as lesbian during a Las Vegas protest again recent US state bans on same-sex marriage.

Sykes, best known for her role in the television sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, also revealed that she and her wife were one of the 18,000 couples married in California before the ban came into effect in the state.

Although she has previously suggested that she might be lesbian in some of her stand-up comedy routines, this was the first time she publicity made a definitive statement about her sexuality.

“I don’t really talk about my sexual orientation. I didn’t feel like I had to. I was just living my life, not necessarily in the closet, but I was living my life,” she told the thousand-strong crowd.

She said that the recent passing of Proposition 8, the measure which banned same-sex marriage in California, had now compelled her to speak out.

“We shouldn’t have to be standing out here demanding something we automatically should have as citizens of this country. … They pissed off the wrong group of people. They have galvanized a community.”

She added, “I’m proud to be a woman, I’m proud to be a black woman and I’m proud to be gay.”

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