Since coming out as bisexual last year, Love, Simon and CW’s The Flash star Keiynan Lonsdale has been using his platform to inspire a new generation of LGBTQ youth. In an interview with NewNowNext, he talks candidly about the impact he’s having in the world.
When asked about being a queer black man playing a TV superhero, 26-year-old Keiynan says he doesn’t always feel like a trailblazer.
“Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s a big deal,” he says. “I feel very lucky to have this position that I’m in and for the love and support of my family and friends and the fans.”
Since coming out, Keiynan has had fans, especially LGBTQ fans, from all around the world reach out to share their stories with him.
“The heartwarming stories make me feel good and proud of what I’m able to do,” he says. “The heartbreaking stories remind me that representation and me being visible is so important. I love hearing from all of my fans, especially young, black guys. There’s often different pressure placed on us.”
There’s an unspoken pressure that we place on ourselves. There’s no one way to be or act black. If I’m driving in a certain place, I’m treated as a black man. [But] I’m not going to let someone else define how I feel about myself. It’s a gift we get to have, discovering ourselves. Black people experience so much pressure. Add sexuality on top of that, and it’s an extra weight to carry around.
It’s because of this, Keiynan says, that he didn’t have a lot of role models as a kid.
“It was painful not having anyone to look up to that looked like me growing up,” he recalls. “It told me that there’s no way I can do music or be an actor because I couldn’t name one person who was doing it. That’s why I made the decision to hide [my sexual orientation]. ”
Until now, that is.
Today, Keiynan is that actor young, queer kids of color can look up to.
“Once I was no longer afraid, I worked on getting rid of that fear and that shame,” he says. “It’s an ongoing journey, but I am realizing there’s a lot of power and beauty in that. It’s a gift.”