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.
Rahne Jones' road to Hollywood was anything but typical. After a full-ride to Radford University in Virginia thanks to her basketball skills, she eventually returned to her home state and graduated from University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a bachelor's degree in English. After that, there were four years spent as an inspector for Homeland Security before a move to New York City to pursue theater.
It was last fall when TV audiences first met the actress thanks to a breakout role in Ryan Murphy's The Politician, playing Skye, one of Payton Hobart's (Ben Platt) many season one adversaries. Returning for the just-released second season, Jones' character has now become an ally, helping in Payton's quest for a seat in the New York State Senate.
Here, the actress—currently happily engaged to fiancée Bridget—takes part in 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?
This period we're living in is unprecedented. We're stuck inside and forced to look at the dark truths that have plagued America for centuries. We have nothing to distract us. The definition of pride for me has definitely shifted. It now means learning myself. I'm learning about how my blackness, sexuality, and womanhood simultaneously impact my existence in this world, and most importantly, I'm learning about my own privilege as an able bodied, cis gender woman and how I can be a better ally within my LGBTQIA community.
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?
When I say Black lives matter, I mean ALL Black lives. The Black trans community endures violence from all sides. Black trans people flock to seek justice for every creed of Black person, yet they are victimized from within their own Black community. It's unacceptable. So if you're out here screaming BLM, but you're not outraged by the death of Black trans people, specifically Black trans women, then you're a hypocrite and you must do better. It's quite literally a matter of life and death.
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?
We've seen the power of a collective voice over the last few weeks, so I would encourage people to simply speak up and out. You don't have to identify exactly the same way as your neighbor to come to their aid or to lift them up. I would always encourage people that if you have the means, donate to organizations that uplift the LGBTQIA community. The Okra Project is an amazing collective that brings home-cooked meals to Black trans people.
You finally get to meet your queer hero. Who are they? And after "Thank you" and "I love you," what's the next thing you tell them?
Oh my goodness! GREAT question! My queer hero is Robin Roberts! Basketball was a big part of my life when I was younger and she was an anchor on ESPN back then covering some of my favorite players and teams. She was a fixture on my T.V.! Shout out to her Love and Basketball cameo! I'd tell her that she was and is such a source of joy for me.
What is your message to future generations of queer people coming of age right now? How do you want to instill hope in them?
The fight for rights is a generational fight. If one generation becomes complacent then we stall or even take steps backwards. Each generation must take up the mantle of the generation before in order to progress. Keep fighting, keep loving, keep speaking, and never let up.
The Politician season two is now available on Netflix.
For more from The New Faces of Pride, check out responses from Jaida Essence Hall and Theo Germaine—and be sure to return every day through the end of June for more!