Funny Man



IAN HARVIE 01 X390 (DARREN SETLOW) | ADVOCATE.COM Has comedy helped you bridge the gap to inform people on the struggles of those in the gay and transsexual community?
Yes, without a doubt! I think comedy and humor might be the best vehicle to get people to understand and accept the LBG and especially the T communities. Sharing humor and insights while getting laughter is intimate but not invasive. It’s a way to open people up without needing to break them. Most times, they just laugh, then assess what they learned later. It’s perfect, really.

You have recently begun to tour colleges and universities, specifically Catholic schools such as Canisius College and Fordham University — Jesuit institutions in New York State. As many people find it hard to separate religion from their views on the LGBT community, how did those experiences turn out with a younger audience?
One of the most exciting things about touring colleges is how incredibly smart students are; I'm blown away every time at how far ahead of the LGBTQ curve they are, and it is really exciting to think that when I'm an old fart, that these people will be the ones in charge. The part that might be the most exciting is going to colleges like Canisius and Fordham — schools that have intense roots in Catholicism — and that these kids are creating such visible and positive and inclusive change from the inside of these campuses out. It's really amazing that I was invited to these schools, that students made this happen and made the events such great successes. It’s truly inspiring.

Has being in the public eye made you more or less critical of your transgender identity?
Yes, I am more critical, but not of identity; I'm more critical of my own language. I try to think a little bit before I speak publicly and ask myself before I open my mouth if I understand the power of my own words, just as I think anyone should. I may be a public figure, but I'm a human being first. Sometimes I simply get shit wrong. I don't mean to, but sometimes I screw it up. It doesn't mean that I am those words that I say, it means I'm a human being who got it wrong and who's trying to get it right.

Tags: Comedy