If you were to turn on the TV in 1986, '87, you wouldn't see anybody having, I guess, a low-to-middle-income person of color experience. And you definitely wouldn't have a young LGBT person or their story told. The experience of being invisible in our culture has ramifications that I don't think any of us can really understand.
I think about a young person who is sitting at home, 13 or 14, a person of color, possibly questioning their sexuality, and watching Dr. Hugh Culber and saying, 'I'm a part of an ideal future that we could work towards.' We're planting seeds in the minds of young people to say, 'Your possibilities are limitless.'
I learned so much about love from the movies. For a couple of hours, I would allow myself to dream about love and a life that, for me, ordinarily, felt out of reach. So, it was with deep gratitude that I watched the drama 'Call Me by Your Name,' knowing what a beautiful teacher it would be for boys like me.
I feel really fortunate and grateful that not only do I get to do what I love, but I get to do it and serve a conversation that I feel is necessary culturally. The fact that I get to bring those two passions together is amazing to me - that I get to use my art in order to inform my activism and vice versa!
When you're 14, 15, the most important thing in your life should be education, because that's what's going to set you up for success as an adult. So if coming out now will hinder your education, maybe we take some time to think about whether the time is right or not. Those are my concern.
When I was a teenager, in the '80s, it was 'Dynasty.' It was 'Beverly Hills, 90210.' And those were fantasies. Those weren't reflective of my experience. And I think we all want that; we all want to see ourselves, our story told, something to relate to, to help us and know that we're not freaks, that our experiences aren't odd.
When we talk about LGBT characters on TV we're talking about the entire rainbow, and that includes trans people, and that includes non-binary people, people of color, women, differently-abled people. There is so much opportunity for storytelling there, and I hope that we continue to see more of that.
My advice would be to look at the things you do to make money as ways to inform your work in the end. If our work is to study the human condition, most humans that we are going to be playing aren't going to be artists, so go out and, as I did, learn what it's like to have a 9-to-5 job... Think of it as character study.
President Clinton's support of the LGBT community and recognition that DOMA, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, is unconstitutional and should be struck down shows that the political landscape continues to change in favor of LGBT equality. Leaders and allies like President Clinton are critical to moving our march for equality forward.