Here are some incredible actors and artists who have been making waves in recent years
BY KATIE KIRKPATRICK, IMAGE BY HBO
Today (14 July) marks International Non-Binary Day! First celebrated in 2012, the day’s aim is to raise awareness of non-binary identities and the challenges non-binary people face around the world. Even though there remains a long way to go, it’s hard to deny that non-binary acceptance has come a long way in the past ten years, especially when it comes to representation in the media and celebrities coming out. In honour of International Non-Binary Day, we’re looking at 10 famous non-binary people who have made waves recently, and what they’ve said about their identities and experiences.
Kizzy Edgell (they/them)
Starring as the lovable lesbian character Darcy in Netflix’s smash hit Heartstopper, Kizzy is only 19 years old. Speaking about their role in the series to Gay Times, Edgell said “It’s a good way to introduce kids to the concept of being queer. […] There’s not many kid-friendly ways to do that so I think it’s helpful.” In an interview with Stonewall about Pride, Kizzy also said that “Solidarity between us is so incredibly important at the moment”, encouraging all members of the LGBTQI community to stand with trans people and people of colour.
Dua Saleh (they/xe)
One of the most notable aspects of Sex Education’s third season was the introduction of non-binary student Cal, played by Dua Saleh. The actor opened up about playing a character that shares their identity and values on screen, telling Gay Times that “Whether it be artmaking, gender identity, gender expression, Cal cares a lot about people being able to just be themselves, which is really radical”, and talking about having a lot in common with the character’s wardrobe. Dua praised the show’s team, saying that “we had non-binary consultants and non-binary people in the writing rooms who talked to me. We had an intimacy coordinator and a non-binary consultant to ask us questions that a cis person wouldn’t necessarily ask.”
Travis Alabanza (they/them)
A queer writer, artist and performer, Travis has been at the forefront of telling non-binary stories in the UK. They first found success as a poet, published in the Black And Gay In The UK Anthology in 2015. Much of their more recent work has been in the theatre, such as the interactive performance BURGERZ and the play Overflow, which opened at the Bush Theatre in 2020. Their debut book, None Of The Above, will be published next month and their latest play Sound Of The Underground will run at the prestigious Royal Court next January. Speaking to the BBC back in 2018, Alabanza said “I know it’s cliche, but young people do give me hope. There’s a cultural shift of more young people understanding the complexities around gender.”
Emma Corrin (they/them)
Known for playing Princess Diana in The Crown, Corrin spoke to US Vogue about their gender identity, explaining that they “feel much more seen when I’m referred to as ‘they’”. The actor has also opened up about the vulnerability of posting about gender on Instagram and receiving unpleasant comments, but also talked about the importance of social media as a platform. They spoke too about finding queer found family, forming close friendships with the likes of Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek) and comedian Mae Martin.
Vico Ortiz (they/them & elle/le/e)
Recently finding fame as Jim in queer hit Our Flag Means Death, Vico has played a whole host of non-binary roles in film and TV. Vico describes discovering the vocabulary for “non-binary” and “gender non-conforming” to Remezcla: “that’s when I began challenging myself and then reclaiming parts I’d lost throughout the years”. The actor also talked to EW about the joy of playing a well-written non-binary character in Our Flag Means Death: “when I first read the script, I cried. […] In part, it’s because we had three non-binary writers in the writers’ room. […] There was already this space that’s created that people already are vouching for this character and their storyline. It felt incredible.”
The Euphoria this picture is serving me 🏽 https://t.co/JkSvMHJD1V— Vico Ortiz (@V_Vico_Ortiz) June 7, 2022
Sara Ramirez (they/them)
From Grey’s Anatomy to And Just Like That…, Sara has played some of the most iconic queer roles on television. Sara got their start on Broadway, leading shows like Spamalot before playing Dr. Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy, the longest-running LGBTQI character in American TV history. Identifying as non-binary and bisexual, Sara has widely campaigned for LGBTQI rights, and won the Ally for Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in 2015. Their recent role as the non-binary comedian Che Diaz in And Just Like That… became the centre of a lot of internet discussion, bringing queer identities onto a show typically associated with stereotypical heterosexuality. Speaking about the role, though, Sara told Variety “the nonbinary community is not a monolith, and I think it’s important for people to hear that. Che Diaz is not here for everyone’s approval. They are a three-dimensional human being who is complex.”
To trans & non-binary people who are organizational activists away from the spotlight,who galvanize & mobilize on the ground,don’t have access to media platforms, who are living & thriving & in their joy & surviving & leading the best they can when NO ONE IS WATCHING: THANK YOU.— Sara Ramirez 🐜 (@SaraRamirez) April 8, 2022
Mason Alexander Park (they/them)
Actor Mason Alexander Park has played some of the most famous queer roles in musical theatre, including the Emcee in Cabaret and the titular role in Hedwig And The Angry Inch. They also recently played the non-binary character Gren in Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop. Speaking about this part to Digital Spy, Mason said “It felt really affirming […] To have such an iconic, queer-coded role be reclaimed by an openly queer person that hits the gender confusion outside the story was really exciting for me.” They were also recently cast as Desire in the Netflix adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, an announcement that proved to be somewhat controversial, with some fans of the book arguing that they didn’t see the character as non-binary.
Janelle Monáe (she/they)
Musical icon Monae came out publicly as non-binary earlier this year, and also identifies as pansexual. “I just don’t see myself as a woman solely. I feel all of my energy. I feel like God is so much bigger than the ‘he’ or the ‘she’. “And if I am from God, I am everything.”, she said while appearing on Red Table Talk. Known for their tuxedos and cyber aesthetic, Monae has won a GLAAD award. Talking about her new book, The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories Of Dirty Computer, they said “We wanted that to be clear we were celebrating queerness, celebrating being trans and nonbinary”.
Brigette Lundy-Paine (they/them)
Known for playing the iconic bisexual character Casey on Netflix show Atypical, Brigette came out as non-binary in 2019, in an Instagram post (since deleted) that said “always felt a lil bit boy, lil bit girl, lil bit neither. using they/them as of late n it feels right”. Speaking to Out last year, they celebrated the experience of playing a much-loved queer role and also said “We can build communities that free us from the constraints of a history of colonized ideas of gender and sexuality. You really don’t need to fit into what language makes us feel like we have to. You’re beyond that.”
Bimini Bon Boulash (they/them)
A breakthrough moment for non-binary representation last year came from a conversation between drag queens Bimini Bon Boulash and Ginny Lemon on Season 2 of Rupaul’s Drag Race UK. Discussing with Attitude the impact of this chat, they said “People relate to it, because it’s not that thing of ‘Oh, you’re shoving it down my throat’, you’re actually listening to someone – a human being – talk about their feelings and their experience and seeing vulnerability. People relate to it.” The BBC ran a feature discussing how this moment had helped people to speak to their families about their gender identity, with one interviewee describing it as “what I needed growing up”.
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