With Johnny Sibilly, I think a star is born.
If you caught Ryan Murphy’s Pose last week (and you should be watching), you will recall an intensely moving scene in which Billy Porter’s character brings an “AIDS Cabaret” to the residents of a hospice for terminally ill AIDS patients.
“I’m gonna sing a song from one of my favorite artists, Mr. Donny Hathaway and I’d like to dedicate it to the love of my life, Mr. Costas Perez.” And with that Pray Tell (Billy Porter) delivers a stunning rendition of “For All We Know,” a short and simple 1930s ballad: “For all we know we may never meet again. We won’t say goodnight until the last minute.”
Being in the moment: “Tomorrow was made for some. Tomorrow may never come. For all we know.”
Johnny Sibilly, in the role of Costas Perez, delivered a stunning emotional response, clinging to the meaning of every nuanced word and turn of phrase took me right back to an era when most gay men had no concept of tomorrow, staring down an almost certain death sentence with determination to preserve every last second of life.
I wept aloud and spent the evening remembering dozens of powerful moments with friends who died, some in the most indignant ways, every minute was filled with the emotions of an unknown tomorrow. That is precisely what great acting should achieve.
And that defiance is really what “Pose” is all about. And what Johnny is all about.
He is an ardent champion of transgender rights, a proud warrior for LGBT and the resistance. He is perfectly attuned to the times and the moment, present you might say.
When NYTimes.com recently promoted a cartoon of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump in love he took to Facebook in protest. “Being gay is not a punchline. Being gay is not an insult. The more you perpetuate this idea, the more you add fuel to fire of this toxic masculinity & threatened safety of queer people around the globe. Be better.” It was classically layered Johnny. He is known to push back fast and hard on anti-trans and anti-blackness narratives online. He is a protector for the ones he loves.
Johnny grew up a Cuban Dominican military kid on the move — Germany, Texas, Miami — always knowing he would pursue acting. Since then he has pivoted between New York and LA and famously appeared as Susan Lucci’s pool boy on Discovery ID’s Deadly Affairs and played a drag queen on Law & Order: SVU, and now Pose. “I love the juxtaposition of playing uber-masculine types and super-feminine roles,” he told a reporter for IT-Film.
Emmy, if you are listening, might we suggest Johnny Sibilly’s performance?
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out since I was in high school. I think my mom was the hardest to tell because she’s always been the most important person in my life so the stakes were always much higher when coming out to her.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
My LGBT hero doesn’t have a name but it’s all of those that have been fighting on the front lines for our community from the beginning without recognition. The collective of those folks that many times aren’t acknowledged by name. They are what drive me to be better.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?
I don’t go out very much anymore but I remember when I first came to LA years ago and bouncing around in WeHo from the Abbey to Here Lounge and Revolver. It was all a fun experience.
Describe your dream wedding.
My boyfriend and I talk about this often and the more we do the simpler the wedding gets. We just want great company, perhaps a destination and food people will actually like. People forget that when the food is great everyone is happy.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Our national education system. It has such a large impact on our future and assurance that we move forward and learn from our mistakes.
What historical outcome would you change?
The 2016 election.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I think watching Whitney Houston sing the national anthem was HUGE.
On what do you insist?
On coming from a place of love and abundance when dealing with others.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I think both were articles about the importance of “Pose” actually, ha ha.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
STEADFAST: a memoir
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe in heaven.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
That no matter how high up you get in the fight to always listen to those you’re advocating for that don’t have the means to make their voices heard.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
For my love, my family, for just about anyone that would need me to in order to help them.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That we’re victims. We’re nobody’s victim.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
I love “But I’m a Cheerleader”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Asking people what they do for a living or where they live. How great would it be if we could just ask someone “what’s your favorite thing to do?” Instead of going straight for their livelihood or neighborhood.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That I was doing the right thing. Haha. It would’ve truly helped with all the crippling self doubt.
Why Los Angeles?
Hollywood darling! I love that the sun is out all the time. It does wonders for my mood and for my complexion.