Pride Month 2020 was far from what many LGBTQ people may have expected when the year began. Already this year, members of the LGBTQ community have faced disproportionate impacts and health risks during the coronavirus pandemic, helped lead a nationwide uprising against police brutality, and won an unexpected victory at the Supreme Court in a decision protecting LGBTQ workers from discrimination.
From an activist who helped coordinate a historic march for Black trans lives to a queer couple cooking and delivering meals to elderly Asian Americans, here are five TV news stories from June that featured remarkable LGBTQ people of color:
1. Ianne Fields Stewart and Angelica Ross on LGBTQ people’s belonging in the Black community
On June 22, MSNBC held an hour-long Pride + Protest special hosted by openly gay anchor Joshua Johnson and which featured Black trans activists Ianne Fields Stewart and Angelica Ross. Stewart founded The Okra Project, which “pays Black Trans chefs to go into the homes of Black Trans people to cook them a healthy and home-cooked meal at absolutely no cost.” Ross is an activist and actor who started TransTech Social Enterprises, which “provides education, support, and jobs for trans people facing high levels of discrimination.”
The two joined several other Black LGBTQ activists, including Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins and Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, highlighting the intersections of Pride Month and ongoing protests against police brutality.
During the June 22 event, Stewart noted that LGBTQ people have been part of the Black community “longer than we’ve had language for it,” saying that “there is an indigeneity to queerness and Blackness.” Ross added that it is important to recognize that assumptions that Black families are more conservative are often “rooted ... in white supremacy.”
2. Yin Chang and Moonlynn Tsai created Heart of Dinner to feed NYC’s elderly Asian American population during COVID-19
In response to the rise in anti-Asian racism linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, queer Asian couple Yin Chang and Moonlynn Tsai founded Heart of Dinner, a mutual aid group that delivers handwritten letters and hot meals to Asian American seniors in New York City. They aim “to bring awareness to Asian-owned restaurants and to stimulate a resurgence of interest in supporting the mom-and-pop shops.”
The couple’s relief efforts were featured on NBC’s Today on June 18. During the segment, the two reflected on the importance of supporting elders in their community during a public health crisis, with Chang noting that “food is a huge love language in our culture.”
3. Raquel Willis on the historic Brooklyn Liberation march for Black trans lives and the need to shift thinking around gender identity
ABC’s Good Morning America featured Black trans activist Raquel Willis, who helped coordinate the Brooklyn Liberation -- an action and march for Black trans lives that took place in New York City on June 14. At the event, she spoke to a crowd of 15,000 people, proclaiming that “we’ve been told we’re not enough [by] … parents, lovers, johns, schools, and institutions. But the truth is, we’re more than enough.” Willis is a trans activist and writer who has worked against anti-trans violence, including through Black Trans Circles, a program she founded with the Transgender Law Center, and Out magazine’s Trans Obituaries Project, which she produced.
During the June 26 Good Morning America segment, Willis reminded viewers that Pride began as “a queer militant uprising against police brutuality” and called for more inclusive gender norms that allow “men and boys move up into a healthier version of masculinity.”
4. Disclosure documentary executive producer Laverne Cox on the legacy of trans people in media
Actor and trailblazing trans activist Laverne Cox explained on NBC's Today how her new Netflix documentary Disclosure documents Hollywood cinema’s decadeslong mistreatment and villainization of the trans community.
During the June 26 segment, Cox explained that since over 80% of Americans don’t personally know someone who is trans, depictions of trans characters in film “affect the ways in which we see ourselves and how other folks see us.” She added, “There was such a huge gap between the real-life trans people that I met and what I was seeing on television. And I couldn't accept myself based on that representation.”
5. Billy Porter on rejecting the masculine standards of the acting industry
Emmy-winning actor Billy Porter joined the hosts of CBS This Morning to discuss his upcoming role in The Twilight Zone reboot. Porter, who has been attacked by right-wing media and extreme anti-LGBTQ groups for his sexuality and gender expression, wore a Michael Kors sweater that said “VOTE” and explained that his sense of fashion stemmed from his experience growing up in “the Black church.”
During the June 25 segment, Porter recounted his struggles with not being “masculine enough to sort of succeed traditionally” as an actor and how he found success by removing himself from those standards and “really stood in my own truth and chose myself.”