Brian Michael Smith, 37, had the honor of co-hosting the NYC Pride Rally on June 26. But with the coronavirus pandemic everybody is doing their part to help flatten the curve by staying at home, so this year’s Rally was held virtually for the first time in 51 years. HollywoodLife caught up EXCLUSIVELY with the acclaimed actor, known for his various roles such as firefighter “Paul Strickland” in 9-1-1: Lone Star and “Pierce Williams” in The L Word: Generation Q. Brian shared some tips for those who may be celebrating their first Pride despite this “unprecedented time.”
Brian Michael Smith tells HollywoodLife:
What advice do you have for LGBTQ celebrating their first Pride this year? “I would say, this is an unprecedented time because of the quarantine, the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter uprising, so I would encourage anyone who’s celebrating their first Pride, to celebrate. I know it can be a little overwhelming sometimes, but to celebrate and to reach out and find someone to connect with and recognize that you’re not alone.
“Right now in this moment it can sometimes feel like we’re very much alone, and to step up and step out for other members of the community, because it’s a very large intersectional community and while you may be celebrating one aspect, remember that there are other members of the community that are still going through it. This is the time to really step up for Black and Indigenous people of color within the community and really practice anti-racism and to be mindful of the Marsha P. Johnson quote, ‘No Pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.'”
How are you honoring Pride Month while in quarantine? “I’m definitely honoring Pride like co-hosting the NYC Pride Rally. The Rally is the backbone of Pride because it’s a space where activists get to speak out about issues that are facing the community. So to be able to amplify the voices of people like Ceyenne Doroshow who is the Executive Director of G.L.I.T.S. who are trying to get permanent housing for Trans women. So I feel like being a part of that and being able to amplify the voice of this movement right now was a huge, major honor.
“Typically, I work through my art as an actor, so I try and use my roles and the projects that I work on to do this kind of work. But during this quarantine Pride Month, I’ve been able to use my voice in a different way, by showing up at Black Lives Matter protests, put a mask on it and hand sanitizer, but also using my voice in interviews like this one, using my voice in a couple of virtual town halls, Disclosure came out so I’ve been doing a lot of online Zoom conversations with members of the cast and creative team about trans visibility and issues impacting the community right now.”
How do you normally celebrate Pride Month? Do you go to a parade? “When I was in New York, I try to get out to the rally. When I worked at the LGBTQ center, I would take groups of young people out and we would march together. I like to share resources with people, or inviting people to a space where we could celebrate together. And just increase my own visibility and footprint in the world and trying to like lead by example.”
What does Pride mean to you? “Pride to me is a time to celebrate the achievements and awesomeness within the queer community in the past, and the queer community moving forward. It’s a time to reflect on where we’ve come from and to honor those who have fought and died on behalf of these advancements and put their lives on the line with people that they love. And for justice, equality and for belonging. So for me it’s a combination of those two things, a combination of celebrating how far we’ve come and where we’re going and honoring where we’ve been.”
Who is your ultimate LGBTQ icon? “I would say Marsha P. Johnson, you know, as a Trans woman. She was overlooked for a long time, but I feel like in recent years people have really tried to honor and uphold the legacy that she put forward before the push for equality as a Black Trans woman. She was marginalized in the gay liberation movement all together but if it wasn’t for her work I don’t think we would have moved this far in terms of the rights that we have now. So that would be my ultimate icon.”