7 LGBTQ Icons Weigh In on the Election of Our Lives
7 LGBTQ Icons Weigh In on the Election of Our Lives
On the eve of the 2018 midterm election, it feels like the stakes have never been higher -- particularly for LGBTQ citizens, as issues like "religious freedom" and gender identity become explosive talking points for candidates fighting for control of the House and Senate. With a recent poll suggesting that only 28 percent of young voters are certain they'll turn out to vote, it's easy to feel anxious about the results.
In this interview series, The Advocate spoke to people who are doing something about it: rising stars in the queer community who are using their influence and fan followings to raise awareness, get people involved, and get out the vote on November 6.
Bisexual writer and comedian Sara Benincasa has added some much-needed laughs to a relentless news cycle with her raunchy commentary on social media. The Los-Angeles-by-way-of-New-Jersey entertainer spoke to The Advocate about local activism, candidates who inspire her, and why a little human connection can go a long way.
"What excites me a lot is seeing first-time candidates who never thought they would run for office, especially progressive women candidates of color," she says. "People who've been motivated to run because they felt that they had to, or out of real-world concern for their kids, for their friends, for their nieces and nephews."
RuPaul's Drag Race star The Vixen shook up Season 10 with her blunt, insightful criticism of how black queer identities are represented on the show and in American culture. She shared her thoughts on Drag Race going mainstream, her history of political activism in Chicago, and why the time for arguing about Trump on Twitter is over.
"I want to make sure that we get more representation in all forms of government," she says. "We're still making progress in little ways, and we just have to make sure that we're supporting the people who actually think like us and have our best interests at heart."
Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon burst onto the political scene with a high-profile feud with Vice President Mike Pence and a personal boycott of Team USA's White House visit. He talked to The Advocate about the voting efforts he's supporting ahead of the midterms and how he uses social media to get people involved.
"I have seen this younger generation, even younger than me, getting involved in politics and making a huge difference within their communities," he says. "I think it's so cool, and I want to be a part of that movement. Because it's so important, now more than ever."
Queer Eye's Jonathan Van Ness is possibly the most politically outspoken person on the show, and he isn't afraid to debate people on both sides of the aisle. He talked to The Advocate about his issues with both conservatives and liberals, clashes with fellow Queer Eye stars Antoni Porowski and Karamo Brown, and how growing up gay among Republicans in the Midwest shaped his perspective.
"I definitely noticed as a gay man from rural America, already being in an oppressed position, I've needed to be the bigger person twice," he says. "I also think, with 'when they go low, we go high,' we need to get kind of nasty and a little bit more real."
In the midst of Brett Kavanaugh's divisive Supreme Court nomination, comedian Fortune Feimster talked to The Advocate about coping with exhaustion, her hope for common ground between conservatives and liberals, and why she's retiring her Sarah Huckabee Sanders impression.
"It's hard, because my job is a comedian, but I'm also a human and a citizen of this country," she says. "On the one hand you want to keep things light and make people laugh. But other times your human side takes over."
Actor, model, activist, and Pose star Indya Moore talked to The Advocate about the Trump administration's attacks on the trans community, what allies can do to help, and how our political system needs to change.
"I think we are all a victim to a psychological warfare that has never been about us," she says. "It's all about the election of Donald Trump and people like him. There is a lot of narcissism in this country, and a narcissist is motivated by power. If you tell a narcissist that someone is less than them in any way, they feel very good about that."
Podcaster and writer Ira Madison III, host of Crooked Media's Keep It podcast, talked to The Advocate about what Democrats are still getting wrong about President Trump, why celebrities like Taylor Swift need to speak out about politics, and his efforts to get out the vote.
"It would be useless for us [engage with Crooked Media's audience] without using our platform to try to convince people how important this election is," he says. "It's not about preaching to the choir -- it's about telling the choir to go out and preach to the people they know."
In the wake of rising violence and disturbing news about the Trump administration's efforts to roll back rights and protections, community organizers across the country are seeing LGBTQ volunteers turn out in large numbers to get out the vote. The Advocate spoke to activists with GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, and local organizations like the Tennessee Equality Project and the Houston GLBT Political Caucus.
"We're seeing things like voter suppression against African-Americans and lies about the caravan of asylum seekers [approaching] the U.S. border," says HRC regional organizing lead Eliza Cussen. "All those things affect us deeply, because by nature we exist on the intersections. And we are getting tired, but we are also so resilient and determined."