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Jill Soloway: Queer People Must 'Create Our Own Propaganda' (Video)

Jill Soloway

Jill Soloway says it is time for queer people to "storm the gates" of Hollywood.

The Transparent creator gave a galvanizing speech Saturday at L.A.'s TransNation Festival, where she accepted the Champion of Change Award for her groundbreaking Amazon series.

In her remarks, Soloway spoke about how television is more than just entertainment. She argued that it is a form of propaganda, which can influence society's perceptions of historically marginalized communities and open doors of possibility to members of those communities as well.

Thus, programs like Transparent, which shows "a coming-out story where no one dies, a trans woman who is not a victim or a villain, a whole bunch of queer people doing really queer things," have become the "Brady Bunch for college kids today."

"The next generation is going to be free in ways we can’t imagine," marveled Soloway, who stressed the importance of having LGBT protagonists in media. "Protagonism perpetuates privilege. We must be relentless about demanding access to protagonism. Propaganda protects and perpetuates privilege, and that’s what TV is, it’s propaganda."

"If you’re a straight, white, cis[gender] guy who is overweight, you’ve been watching propaganda for years that you deserve a super perfect, slender girlfriend," she remarked. "But we need to create our own propaganda with queer people at the center."

Soloway, who said she grew up "worshipping at the altar of television" and "wanted to be on the other side of that glass," also spoke out against the myth that only certain groups of people should be able to work in Hollywood.

"I think a lot of cis guys have been like, 'We’re the only ones who can do this. It’s really hard.' It’s not that hard. It’s not hard. It’s really fun, actually," she said, before urging the audience to take charge. "Storm the gates. Take it over. It’s not hard. They’ve been pretending like it’s hard. It’s not hard. It’s a great time."

Soloway, who memorably urged viewers to "topple the patriarchy!" in her recent acceptance speech at the Emmy Awards, also spoke about her own sexual orientation and gender identity onstage at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

"I know people have accused the queer community of recruiting people, and people are like, that’s not true. But I did turn gay! Two years in the queer world and I came out," joked Soloway, who is now in a relationship with poet Eileen Myles.

"It's hard at 51, this late-onset gender questioning I’m experiencing," she said, adding, "I’m just trying to find myself one pair of boxer briefs at a time. I look in the mirror and I go, I get this, I’m just this super hot kind of nonbinary dude and somebody calls me ma’am, and I’m like, 'ma’am?' You’re making me feel like Alice in The Brady Bunch. I’m not ma’am."

When an audience member shouted "Papi!" in response, Soloway laughed and exclaimed, "Thank you!"

Soloway delivered her speech in the middle of Queen USA, a transgender beauty pageant that raised funds for St. John's Well Child and Family Center's transgender program as well as the Imperial Court of Los Angeles and Hollywood’s Nicole Murray Ramirez Scholarship Fund. The evening boasted a star-studded lineup of judges like Caitlyn Jenner, Kelly Osbourne, Geena Rocero, Angelica Ross, Alexandra Billings, iO Tillett Wright, Flawless Sabrina, Betty Cantrell, Gia Coppola, David Clark, Nikki Calabrese, Nicole Murray Ramirez, and Beatrice M. Girmala.

The pageant, hosted by Candis Cayne and Curly Velasquez, was a capstone of the TransNation Festival, which included a first-of-its-kind showcase of trans feature films and shorts helmed by Transparent producer Zackary Drucker and co-presented by Amazon Prime.

In her speech, Soloway thanked Drucker and the festival for their work.

"By promoting trans voices, you are literally moving the needle," she declared, concluding, "Love is art made visible, and art is love made visible. Keep making art and keep sharing love. Thank you."

Watch the speech below.

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