With coronavirus making large-scale festivals a public health hazard and widespread protests forcing the nation into a reckoning on racial inequality, this Pride season is one unlike any other. And yet, the spirit of a movement itself born out of a protest lives on. As the month of June comes to a close, E! News has asked some of Hollywood's newest generation of LGBTQ stars to share what Pride means to them in 2020.
Welcome to The New Faces of Pride.
When Hailie Sahar was announced as a series regular in the cast of FX's Pose back in 2017, she was one of five trans actors cast in leading roles on the groundbreaking series, part of what proudly touted as the largest cast of transgender actors ever assembled for a series thus far. And for two seasons and counting, she and co-stars MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson and Angelica Ross have truly made history advancing the representation of the trans community on television in ways the medium has never seen before.
Here, Sahar joins E! News' week-long New Faces of Pride celebration, offering her take on the state of things in this most unusual year.
As we find ourselves in a Pride season unlike any other, with the country battling a pandemic while rising up to tackle the systemic oppression that's plagued Black Americans for decades, how has your personal definition of Pride changed or shifted this year?
My personal pride has never shifted. I have always stood firm in equality for all, especially LGBTQ+ and All Black Lives. I am multi-racial and society sees me as marginalized in so many different intersections to my identity. Naturally, my walk of life comes with advocacy. Everything that I stand for is reflected in the current movements today and I'm happy to be a part of that change.
How do you explain the importance intersectionality to family, friend or fans who support Black Lives Matter, but routinely leave Black trans people like Tony McDade, Nina Pop and Iyanna Dior out of the conversation?
I believe the best way to get anyone to understand that trans lives matter is to remind them they have also been oppressed, often times by family or the world around them, for simply being themselves. I remind them of how it felt like when no one would stand up and come to their aid. The fact that trans deaths and brutalities are even over looked poses is a different question about our human race. That is something that the world should take a hard look at because no death should ever be justifiable when we are all human. If anyone is letting that happen then you are also a murderer in my eyes. Silence is violence.
With Pride being born out of protest sparked by Black trans women, what encouragement would you like to give fans and family alike to get involved this Pride month?
Always keep in mind that every great cause throughout history has taken bravery to lead us there. Be brave, proud, and help heal this world with more love and support. Stand up and let love guide you alongside those who are doing the same. In the end, it's all about freedom and no one is free unless we all are free.
What queer media, be it books, music or film/TV, have you found yourself turning to this year to buoy you through the uncertainty? Why?
I can't say there's a specific Queer media or music outlet that I turn to, however I've implemented meditation and emotionally digging deep within myself to become even more aligned with my vibration and frequency. I'm constantly practicing creating positive energy and uplifting the momentum surrounding me and others. I don't feel uncertain. Instead, I feel hopeful.
Can you remember the first time you saw yourself reflected in entertainment in a way that filled you with pride? If so, what was it? And if you're still waiting, what is it that you're hoping to see?
The first time I felt pride through reflections of entertainment is during the first season of Pose. I knew right then and there, this was a milestone to the much-needed visual representation in entertainment. In the near future, I'd like to see the normalization of people of trans experience, including intersex and non-binary people in everyday society.
You finally get to meet your queer hero. Who are they? And after "Thank you" and "I love you," what the next thing you tell them?
I personally feel like everyone who chooses to be themselves leading with love and integrity is my hero. After I meet them I'd say well done let's keep going.
You are given the keys to your industry. What's the first thing you do to make it a more inclusive environment for everyone?
If I was given the keys to my industry, the first thing I would do to make it more inclusive is make it a mandatory rule that respect and authentic talent are seen, rather than the politics and biases that have been seen throughout history until now in present day.
What is your message to future generations of queer people, coming of age right now? How do you want to instill hope in them?
My message to Queer people that are coming of age is to respect yourself and respect others around you. We are all on this planet figuring things out and no one has all of the answers. At the end of the day, it all boils down to love and respect for each other regardless of the differences we have. Sometimes the most profound pieces of information are also the most simplistic.
For more from The New Faces of Pride, check out responses from Jaida Essence Hall, Theo Germaine, Rahne Jones, Nicole Maines and Ryan Jamaal Swain—and be sure to return every day through the end of June for more!