Laverne Cox: \

Image: Ray Tamarra/GC Images/Getty Images

In the back room of a bustling Pride event, Laverne Cox sits on an aging brown leather chair with her legs elegantly crossed. The actress and activist nibbles on a rainbow chocolate ice cream with more grace than should be humanly possible. The cold snack has worn off some of Cox’s perfectly pink lipstick, but she still looks as poised as ever.

That, however, is no a surprise when it comes to the queer community’s queen, who’s seen as the pinnacle of flawlessness both in her appearance and her brilliance.

House music, a cornerstone of any Pride celebration, blares in the background, but Cox remains unfazed by the booming sound. The GLAAD and MAGNUM New York event has all the makings of a queer celebration drag queens, voguing, and a healthy dose of bass.

And while Cox is happy to host the event, she’s unapologetically critical of this month’s Pride celebrations and for good reason.

“As a black transgender woman, I have not always felt included in Pride, to be honest with you. I haven’t,” Cox says. “The LGBTQ community has not always been the most welcoming to trans people and people of color.”

Laverne Cox poses with an LGBTQ pride ice cream bar at a GLAAD and MAGNUM New York event on June 21.

Image: Amy Sussman/Invision for MAGNUM/AP Images

When Cox talks about rifts and bias within the LGBTQ community, her passion fills the room. She’s captivating and bold, unafraid to call the queer community out on its hidden shame.

“As a black transgender woman, I have not always felt included in Pride.”

Prejudice within the LGBTQ community, after all, is something queer people don’t often reckon with. It’s an uncomfortable topic that reveals our community’s weakness and hypocrisy. For a community fighting for inclusion and equality, we aren’t always there for each other.

As she talks about the untouchable topic, Cox says she’s reminded of a moving speech by trans pioneer Sylvia Rivera at New York City’s Pride celebration in 1973. Rivera, who Cox has long admired, bravely criticized a mostly white crowd for allowing a gay power movement built on the labor of trans people of color to become “white middle class club.”

Cox says it’s a critique that unfortunately still holds today.

“The people who are suffering most in the LGBTQ community are people of color, particularly transgender people of color,” she says.

“I’m a trans woman of color, and I’m in the struggle like everyone else is.”

She isn’t wrong. A recent report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs uncovered that 2016 was the deadliest year on record for the LGBTQ community in the 20 years the report has existed. The majority of those killed in LGBTQ-related hate crimes were people of color, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people.

To address rifts and targeted violence in the community, Cox says queer people need to start with our organizations many of which are filled with boards of white gay men who have the most privilege and ability to climb to the top.

“We need people with disabilities, trans people, and people of color in decision making positions in our LGBTQ organizations to start,” she says. “And then, as individuals, we need to interrogate the ways in which we have internalized racism and transphobia and sexism.”

Cox speaks at the Women’s March in Los Angeles on January 21, 2017.

Image: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Cox points out that we all live in the same culture steeped in oppressive attitudes. She calls on everyone to put in the work to unlearn that bias, either to reject privilege or to foster self-love among marginalized communities.

“It’s painful work. It’s not easy work,” she says. “But if we can do that, then we can create space for each other.”

Cox is sure to recognize the privilege she now has, naming her education, celebrity status, and feminine appearance, in particular. But, at the end of the day, her status as a trans woman of color still puts her among the most marginalized within the LGBTQ community.

“I’m a trans woman of color, and I’m in the struggle like everyone else is,” Cox says. “What transgender women of color have been doing for decades is using what we have to figure out ways survive. Sometimes thrive, but sometimes it’s just about survival.

“If I can do it, anything is possible. But you just can’t give up.”

“We’re here. Our lives matter and our voices matter and this is a time to celebrate that.”

Yet, not giving up is sometimes easier said than done, she says especially when you don’t feel welcomed or accepted in your own community. But Cox believes in the power of queer individuals, especially transgender women of color, to rise together and become a true community.

“We are anointed,” she says of LGBTQ people, particularly transgender women of color. “I believe each and every one of us is called to something special, and it is our job to connect with that. We are called here, and it is our job to connect to our power.”

Throughout our passionate talk, Cox has forgotten about her ice cream bar. It melts beside her on a little paper plate, the rainbow colors swirling together into a puddle.

The rainbow, a symbol of LGBTQ unity, may seem a bit fraudulent now, melting into obscurity as we dig into our community’s shame and division. But Cox insists that it’s not too late to come together to build a future and a community we can all have pride in.

“We’re here,” she says. “Our lives matter and our voices matter and this is a time to celebrate that.”

WATCH: What parenting a transgender teen teaches you

What do you think?

0 points
Upvote Downvote

Total votes: 0

Upvotes: 0

Upvotes percentage: 0.000000%

Downvotes: 0

Downvotes percentage: 0.000000%