An Oscar-winner for her role as Anita in West Side Story, Ariana DeBose made a plea for abortion rights, queer rights, and human rights in an appearance Thursday on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. DeBose, who made history this March when she became the first queer woman of color to win the Academy Award, enumerated the ways in which the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and Justice Clarence Thomas’s promises to come after other rights affects her personally.
“I’m Black, I’m Afro-Latina, I’m a woman, and I’m queer. My country is at war with me, and that’s hard,” DeBose said.
She began the conversation by calling out to queer joy on the final day of Pride Month.
“I’m thinking about a lot at the end of Pride Month. I want to remind all of my LGBTQAI+ brothers and sisters, don’t stop being you. Fight for your dreams, fight for your joy. And remember you are valid,” DeBose encouraged. “I say it a lot, but it’s important. And it’s also important to remember that we’re in a fight.”
She then leaned into the bad acts the current Supreme Court has engaged in with the stripping away of various protections. In his opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe, Thomas specifically name-checked Obergefell v. Hodges, which declared national marriage equality in 2015, and Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned anti-sodomy laws in 2003.
“We can talk a lot about how the Supreme Court has just waged war on … reproductive rights. But the reality is, Clarence Thomas was very clear on what his plan is. He’s not just coming for women,” DeBose said. “They already came for voting rights. They’re going to continue, but they’re coming for marriage equality. And quite frankly, they’ll probably come for adoption rights by same-sex couples. This is the time to get in the fight, and it starts on a local level.”
Coming off of accolades from hosting one of the most memorable Tony Awards in recent history, DeBose encouraged people to get involved while also holding on to joy, something that is critical to the survival of marginalized people amid rightwing attacks.
“The only thing I can do is hold on to my joy and make a difference at a local level. So I’m trying to find the abortion funds in my community that I can support so I can help anyone with a uterus,” DeBose said. “I want to encourage folks to research, get involved. But do your part, because this is not about one set of rights; it’s about human rights.”
The breakout star, who had called out to her Afro-Latina queer identity in her Best Supporting Actress acceptance speech at the Oscars, then suggested that now is the time for planting new seeds to grow strong roots.
“We got a rotten-ass tree called the Supreme Court, and we’ve got to root it out. So do your part, people!”
Watch DeBose’s full appearance below.