A modern triple/quadruple threat, if ever there were one, Kat Cunning has emerged as an artist to watch. A dancer turned singer and actor on Netflix’s Trinkets and HBO’s The Deuce, Cunning, who came out publicly as nonbinary this spring, is also a powerful voice for queer visibility.
Recently, Cunning released the video for their song “Supernova [tigers blud]” a kinetic piece of art that highlights their singing, songwriting, dancing, and storytelling prowess. In a wide-ranging interview about their queer identity, career, and life in lockdown for Inside With the Advocate, Cunning says they miss the community of dancing at queer clubs deeply at this juncture.
“I miss dancing with people so badly. Not in a class, just on a dance floor. And the thing I miss the most about the New York that I love is the queer nightclub dance floor,” Cunning says. “Just seeing all different types of expressions of gender and sexuality. And just getting down and sweaty with people.”
“I take myself dancing alone a lot of the time. It’s like church for me. I’m known to cry on the dance floor to a pop anthem. But I’m also known to get down and twerk,” they laugh.
August was a big month for Cunning with the "Supernova" video release and Trinkets’ second season dropping on Netflix. In that series about three teen shoplifters, Cunning plays Sabine, a rock star love interest for one of the main characters, Elodie (Brianna Hildebrand). Not only is there queer representation on-screen in Trinkets, but the series features three LGBTQ+ people and two who are in lead roles — Hildebrand and Quintessa Swindell (who is nonbinary).
“I could not have chosen better. I get to be a heartthrob for the main character. That is a dream,” Cunning says of their role on Trinkets. “And to be a part of something that is representing people and all the people that are a part of it are truly special lights in the world…”
While Cunning has been out as queer since the start of their career, coming out as nonbinary presented something new.
“I was sort of wild about coming out. In this day and age, you can just tell the world before you tell anyone close to you. I just wrote a post,” Cunning says of how they chose to make their gender identity public.
“At the beginning of that, it was a cool way for me to let it sort of change in its own time,” they say. “The people who were ready to acknowledge it saw it, knew what it meant, and addressed me as ‘they, them.’”
As an out nonbinary celebrity, Cunning is aware of their visibility and offers their thoughts to queer kids on coming out.
“I took my own time to choose my own battles for when I made sure people understood my pronouns. I also think the other really safe way to do it is to tell a couple of people you feel close to and that you trust to honor that and work on that and see how it feels.
“Coming out is so daunting. To come out about a proclivity or a preference sexually is so much, not to say easier, but it’s less of an every single sentence sort of deal.
“When you come out as nonbinary, if you also are choosing different pronouns, it’s an everyday communication. And it’s a multiple-times communication if that is what makes you feel seen.”
Watch the interview with Cunning above. And watch other episodes of Inside With the Advocate, which features an array of virtual stories with LGBTQ+ artists, trailblazers, and allies including Rosie O'Donnell, Emily Hampshire, Harvey Guillén, Ross Mathews, Kalen Allen, Sherry Cola, Fortune Feimster, Brandy Norwood, Bruce Richman, Tonatiuh, Josh Thomas, Ser Anzoategui, the Indigo Girls, Sara Benincasa, Dustin Lance Black, Alphonso David, Jonica "Jojo" Gibbs, Lena Hall, Mary Lambert, Elijah Mack, Rahne Jones, Thomas Beattie, and Quintessa Swindell and Brianna Hildebrand, Andy Bell, and Charlie Carver.