BEVERLY HILLS, CA - Handsome, hunky actor and hip hop artist Milan Christopher had a lot to say about equality, LGBT youth, racism and homophobia at the recent Vanguard Awards, the annual star-studded fundraiser for the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Your single and video “When I Go,” shed light on the bullying of LGBTQ youth. Can you tell us why you wrote and released that song?
Originally the song that I wrote was about leaving a relationship and making sure when you leave a relationship, you take everything with you that you brought to the relationship. That’s what it was about originally.
But the music video that I got an award for is about LGBT suicide. So I ended up changing the whole visuals for the music video because I thought it was really important to cover something that a lot of the LGBT children and youth are going through.
The number one cause of death for LGBT youth is suicide. I wanted to make sure that I put visuals and impact and importance on that issue.
I’ve heard from other gay black men that it’s very challenging to deal with racism in the mainstream culture, but also with homophobia within the African-American community.
Can you speak to that a bit?
I was on a TV show, Love & Hip Hop and one of the biggest issues being on a television show with a demographic that is normally...[where] homosexuality is a defamation, is that they’re very homophobic. Because in our churches and our community, being a man, being a strong black man, is very important.
And when you’re LGBT you’re looked at as being effete or effeminate. So it’s kinda like tug of war. It’s very important to know that in our community [homosexuality is seen as] a bad thing. If you can perceive that, and get past that and be successful, then I’m all for it.
There’s so many different walls that are trying to keep you from being successful.
You say ‘our community.’ Can you define that?
Just being LGBT, or being black in the LGBT community. I think we’re all one community, [but] specifically in the black LGBT community, it’s harder.
I can’t speak for the white folks because I’m not white. But in my community, where I grew up, it was very hard. You have to be very careful. You have to be very cognizant of your surroundings...because as soon as someone knows you’re gay, they think you’re weak. And you’re a target.
If you think about what’s going on in our society and culture today...if you could wave a magic wand and affect social change in any way you wanted...what would you do?
Wow...I would love to see equality. I would love to see justice for all of the people that are dying at the hands of the people who are supposed to protect us, the police. I would just love to see everybody just be happy. We only have one life, that I know of, and I think it’s very important that you live it the way you wanna live it, and you’re happy while you’re doing it.