Tyler James Williams calls out homophobia in the black community
Dear White People actor Tyler James Williams has a lot to say about how the media portrays black members of the LGBTQ community.
According to the star, the media feeds into the notion that the black community is homophobic, thus contributing to the sentiment that being gay and black is unnatural.
“Whether we like to address it or not, the African American community is notoriously homophobic,” he said. “We have been coming up on this rough side of the mountain, as far as civil rights issues go, but we haven’t necessarily addressed the fact that there is a whole other side to that civil rights coin, which are gay rights.”
In the film, Williams plays Lionel Higgins, a gay, black university student dealing with the complexity of both his sexual and racial identity. The actor said he was quick to jump at the opportunity because the role challenges dominant perceptions of gay characters. Although black characters in film seem to be evolving past stereotypical media depictions in recent years, LGBT characters have not yet seen the same progression, Williams continued.
“I feel like the new stereotypical character[s] are gay characters, where you can’t just have a regular everyday guy who just happens to be gay, just like many people that I know,” he said. “You don’t automatically need to see and know that [the character is] gay just by his mannerisms. That’s not everybody.”
Wilson added that some of the backlash may stem from pressure placed on people of color to stay true to their roots.
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