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 and International Pride Day nears, 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.
TV audiences only met Theo Germaine last fall when Ryan Murphy's The Politician made its debut on Netflix. The actor—who identifies as non-binary and uses both they/them and he/him pronouns—left behind their day job at a coffee shop in Chicago to play James Sullivan, a cunning member of Payton Hobart's (Ben Platt) campaign team and a trans masculine character whose trans identity wasn't central to their story or even really commented on.
While the high-profile Murphy production allowed Germaine to make quite a splash, it was their work in Showtime's quieter and queerer Work in Progress last December where audiences fell in love. As Chris, the barista in their early 20s who falls for creator Abby McEnany's Abby just as she finds herself in a moment of true crisis, Germaine is something of a revelation.
Here, the actor and activist participates in E! News' week-long New Faces of Pride celebration, giving their 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?
I'm not sure. I'm trying to educate myself a lot. I have a lot of work to do.
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?
Something that has been more successful than not is having individual conversations with people and asking them a bunch of questions as to why they are leaving out Black trans people. Talk about privilege, colonization, genocide, and binary Western gender roles/identity, trans history, current legislation and how it doesn't protect everyone, and the multi-faceted discrimination and violence Black trans people face. Talk about how they are the most vulnerable and how we have the tendency to work from the top down, and how we need to stop that. Also, within all of that, there is a lot I need to keep learning and will need to keep learning—and listening—for my whole life. For our whole lives!
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?
I just want to encourage people to regularly support Black trans women, financially, artistically, professionally—every way! And not just during Pride month. During every month.
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 saw a trans actor on stage was in a play in Chicago in 2013 during Pride month. That really changed me and did kind of fill me with some Pride, and it also encouraged me to keep doing what I love. But I'm still waiting to see a lot of things. I've said this many times, but I really just want trans people to have all the access to roles that cis people have. It's really tiring—and boring—that [that] isn't the case.
You are given the keys to your industry. What's the first thing you do to make it a more inclusive environment for everyone?
I would give the keys/pass the mic to Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Tourmaline, Angelica Ross, Ava DuVernay, Hanelle Culpepper, and Lauren "LoLo" Spencer, and support and be an ally to their work.
The Politician season two is available now on Netflix. Work in Progress will return to Showtime for season two at a later date.
For more from The New Faces of Pride, check out Jaida Essence Hall's answers here and be sure to return every day through the end of June for more!