The New Faces of Pride: Kim Petras on Meeting Madonna, the Importance of Intersectionality and More

Exclusive! Read pop star Kim Petras' take on Pride in 2020.

By Billy Nilles Jun 30, 2020 7:00 AMTags
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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.

With the independent release of her debut single "I Don't Want It All" in 2017, German-born pop singer Kim Petras found her name added to the relatively small, but important list of trans musicians sharing their art with the world. While she's hardly the first to gain recognition, with others like Anohni, Shea Diamond, Sophie and Teddy Geiger (to name a few) serving as contemporaries, but in the few years that she's been releasing shimmery pop bops—including the recent Song of Summer contender "Malibu," released under quarantine—she's certainly become one of the most visible trans performers in the music industry. And though her music rarely, if ever, gets political, her sheer existence in the pop music world is a representational win that can't be understated.

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Here, Petras closes out E! News' week-long New Faces of Pride Celebration, offering her take on the state of things in this most unusual year.

Getty Images; Melissa Herwitt/E! Illustration

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?

It hasn't really changed. Pride for me has always been about acceptance and it is a time for us to celebrate our differences and embrace who we are while rallying for positive change and equality—no matter what. That includes the Black community and queer communities of color. Queer people of color started Pride and the movement for LGBTQ equality with the first protest at Stonewall. They're ingrained in the fabric of Pride and they're the reason we've come as far as we have, but I think a lot of people still need to realize and respect that.

How do you explain the importance of intersectionality to family, friends 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?

You can't support Black Lives Matter without supporting all Black lives, which includes the Black trans community. The Black trans community is constantly in danger and is constantly under threat from violence simply for being themselves. If you're excluding them, you're not supporting the movement you claim to care about.

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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?

While Pride may look different this year, it's more important than ever to show up and make sure the celebrations—in whatever form they take—are intersectional. Even with the recent Supreme Court law prohibiting workplace discrimination against LGBTQ people, there's more to do. If it's not safe to show up in person, there will be digital events this year that you can take part in, petitions you can sign, and organizations that you can donate to. Find any way you can to make noise and make an impact, even if its checking in on people within the community to see how they are doing, but also make sure you're standing up for LGBTQ people around you—especially those that may be less privileged than yourself. Pride is about celebrating your own differences, but it's also about celebrating what makes other people uniquely themselves too.

Joey James

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?

Madonna. I actually met her at World Pride in New York last year as we were both performing. I had no idea what to say to her at all. I just freaked out, but she was really nice and cool about it. I'm obsessed with her. Whenever I'm down, I watch her Truth or Dare documentary and it picks me up. She's a huge inspiration for me. She's part of the reason I make escapist pop. I wanted to be able to give the feeling she gives me to other people. I wanted to tell her that, but I think I just fangirled out, thanked her for inviting me, and backed away into the crowd of people.

What is your message to future generations of queer people, coming of age right now? How do you want to instill hope in them?

There can be 100 people in a room… Just kidding! Don't let anyone tell you that you can't be who you want to be or let you believe that your truth will stop you from reaching your goals. Be proud of who you are. If I can do it and make my dreams come true, then you can too.

For more from The New Faces of Pride, check out responses from Jaida Essence Hall, Theo Germaine, Rahne Jones, Nicole Maines, Ryan Jamaal Swain, Hailie Sahar and Maisie Richardson-Sellers!

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