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Though Johnny Sibilly has been acting for a while now, the last year has seen him achieve new heights of success, finally giving the Cuban and Dominican actor the spotlight he has long deserved.

His most recent role in Peacock’s Queer As Folk reboot has him playing Noah, a lawyer and former meth addict who struggles to find connection after losing a loved one in a mass shooting.

The role could’ve easily devolved into trauma-drama and self-pity, but Sibilly renders Noah as a flawed but earnest man one who retains his sense of humor and sex appeal, even in the face of grief.

 

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Sibilly grants similar humanity to Wilson in the HBO Max dramedy series Hacks, which entered its second season in May and received 15 Emmy nominations last July.

Wilson is a gay water inspector who falls in love with Marcus, the workaholic personal assistant of an aging comedienne staging a comeback. When he encourages Marcus to break out of his shell and try activities like rock climbing, it’s not because he wants a fun boyfriend, it’s because he knows that the man he cares for has never really put himself first.

Of course, it’s hardly surprising to see Sibilly portraying characters with such humanity. He did the same when playing Costas, a dignified and dying HIV patient in Ryan Murphy‘s transgender-centered ballroom series Pose.

 

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Sibilly’s recent roles all share a common feature that underscores something remarkably important about his career — he’s the rare queer man of color who has achieved notoriety almost exclusively playing gay roles.

Sibilly has been out since age 14, but he saw only a handful of out queer actors on TV growing up. It was even rarer to see positive depictions of queer people of color.

Before his break into cable and streaming television, he shared his acting on Instagram. There, he poked fun at gay stereotypes or stock female characters, such as Megan, every gay man’s messy best girlfriend, and Julissa, a loud and opinionated “love expert.” But he endowed even these short comedic roles with warmth and care, loving their vulnerability and imperfections rather than just mocking them.

His social media has also highlighted his activism on behalf of the LGBTQ community’s most marginalized members, like trans people facing an onslaught of bigoted laws, gay Chechens who have been imprisoned and tortured just for their sexual identities, homeless queer youth as well as the Black and Latino men who are statistically most likely to contract HIV.

 

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Now, at age 34, Sibilly has continued his artistry and activism by committing to playing exclusively queer roles.

More LGBTQ characters are being created for TV and film than ever before, and he’s playing roles that would’ve changed his life if he had seen them as a kid. Pose and Queer As Folk in particular have had him playing alongside large QPOC casts, including characters living in poverty or with physical disabilities — truly marginalized identities that have only recently received any respect or representation on the small screen.

“So many queer people try to fit in boxes to book a job, but one thing I’m not willing to compromise is my queerness. It took me so long to love it and feel comfortable with it,” Sibilly said in a recent interview. “When we talk about white supremacy and the patriarchy, there’s this expectation that we want to play what other people consider valuable.”

“People say things like, ‘But what if you only get gay parts?’ And honestly, I’m only really interested in playing gay people,” he added. “No shade, I would play straight parts, I did it for a very long time. Straight roles don’t interest me as much because they’ve been told, whereas our stories haven’t been told.”

 

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If his past year is any indication, Sibilly’s star will continue to rise. His work not only continue to showcase his own talent, but also a build collaborative platform upon which future generations of queer actors will stand.

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