Representation in LGBTQ+ culture has always been a difficult slope to traverse. Between constantly being compared to their straight counterparts or to each other, to being accused of queerbaiting and shoving queer ideology down society's throat, people of color (POC) LGBTQ+ actors in the media face a unique scrutiny as a double minority.
POC LGBTQ+ actors provide vital representation for people who feel unaccepted by society at large. The limited support for LGBTQ+ POC in the media is primarily due to the oversaturation of white employees that run media companies today. Ultimately, if a workplace doesn't represent a certain demographic, that demographic will remain unacknowledged.
Nonetheless, there have been countless POC LGBTQ+ actors who have successfully traversed the media space and provided necessary representation for the community. Here are just a few of them:
Tyrell Hampton is a photographer who has shot some of the most influential celebrities of our generation, including the likes of Miley Cyrus, Zendaya and Dua Lipa, along with candid moments of his friends. Not only is he an openly gay Black man, Hampton is one of my personal favorite photographers.
His style emphasizes saturated and non-candid images, which give his pictures a very unique and rare quality. Even though he primarily takes pictures of celebrities, his photos make them feel like real and genuine people. Black photographers are a visually underrepresented field, and he occupies a beautiful and rare space for Black art.
Frank Ocean is a fascinating and obvious pillar of LGBTQ+ representation for our generation — he's one of the most critically acclaimed and adored artists of his generation, and his music produces a very emotional response from his fans and critics alike.
His lack of social media presence and introspective music style allows people to understand him through his music rather than with grand gestures or posturing. “Chanel” is unofficially a bisexual anthem, and his music provides much needed emotional relief from the stresses of everyday life. His greatest ability is to speak volumes without needing to say much at all, making him a unique staple in both the music world and the LGBTQ+ community.
Kevin Abstract is the frontman of the boyband BROCKHAMPTON, and has quickly risen into the public eye in the past few years. His raps always intertwine his sexuality with his upbringing and worldview, and he brings a refreshing taste in both his artistry and decision-making.
Abstract proudly ties his queerness to his identity and he is especially open about this on social media. The do-it-yourself association with his art is inspiring for creatives who want to do things on their own terms, and he occupies a young and ambitious side of LGBTQ+ representation.
These artists and photographers, along with many other POC icons, are essential to making people who are typically marginalized feel included in culture and conversation. They represent both the hope shared by creatives who work tirelessly at their craft, as well as showcase the beauty and valuable art that the LGBTQ+ community provides to the world.
These artists inspire much more than themselves, representing a powerful and ambitious generation of people who will not be silenced or dampen their dreams and goals for anyone. They provide hope and security to the people they represent, and their artistry will continue to grow and develop with time and experience.