On the eighth episode of my new LGBTQ podcast The Fayme Report, I sat down with actor Johnny Sibilly, who appeared on the first season of Pose. Here are some highlights from our conversation, where sexual freedom, the experience of being an ally, his work on Pose, and the origins of pride all came up for discussion.
On what pride means to him:
Johnny Sibilly: It’s one of those questions that you think you know the answer to and you’re like what does pride mean to me? I always say you take your journey in general and you honor it, so whatever you’ve been through you take pride in that. Like all of the years of bullying and self-hatred, taking pride in the fact that you’re here where you are today. And even if you aren’t out of the closet, taking pride in the journey that you’re on. Because I feel like a lot of people think that pride is just about the end of the road… “We’re proud, there’s no room for growth.” These so much room for growth. So it’s like, I think pride is just a reflection of being happy in who you are and also being shaken up by what is still to come. You know what I mean?
My friend Raymond Braun just released an amazing film called “State of Pride.” It’s on YouTube so it’s available to everyone. Just gonna plug it right now.
It really talks about where are when it comes to pride. It’s still a protest and a celebration and both can live together and should live together and so long as people are marginalized in the queer community, we must protest. You know? Because there’s always gonna be reasons why we can be better.
On allyship to our trans sisters and brothers:
JS: Trans people were the first, trans women of color, and just trans women in general, were the first people to make me feel comfortable in everything that I was. I mean, when I came out as gay, the first gay friends I had, I still felt like I needed to prove something or be something. It’s very interesting when what you’re attracted to is what’s dictating your worth. I then found a good group of trans girlfriends who really lifted me up despite any body stuff, femme stuff. It was just like, “You’re special.” And it was just like, “Wow.”
And just that maternal quality. I talk about my best friend Trace Lysette all the time and she really molded the person that I am. She took this little heap of gay boy… I won’t say “trash” cause I hate when gay boys call themselves trash. But she really helped me along the way… to check my misogyny, to check my transphobia, to check all of those things that eventually would make me a better person and I still learn everyday.
On the current political climate:
JS: A lot of reasons why people question or doubt from the get-go is a way of self preservation. Because if we actually see the truth of what’s going on, it doesn’t feel good. So people will be like, “Well, it really can’t be that bad, or people can’t be that evil.” But truly it is that cut and dry. People are evil. They are either taught to be evil or… it just is that way.
Alexander Kacala: It’s a spectrum, in order for there to be so much love, there has to be so much darkness.
JS: Right. Absolutely. And by acknowledging darkness and hate does not take away from the love that there is in the world and that’s what people have to remember. That even though we are going through a really shitty time, and that people are dying in the streets, we can overcome that because we have overcome it in the past.
We’re just dealing with a different type of it right now. You know? That’s why like, I can talk about it. We can be multi-dimensional people and enjoy the riches we have to enjoy in our community but we also have to speak out against injustice because just like the lesbians and the trans women who there for queer men dying of AIDS, we have to be here all the time for all of our people. Like it doesn’t matter what part of the acronym you are.
And there are people who just don’t want to. You can’t force anyone to care. But if you do [care], you have to speak louder for everyone else that doesn’t want to talk. You know what I mean?