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DTLA’s queer community soars to new heights, like its skyline

Neighborhood emerges as hot new core of LGBTQ life in SoCal



This weekend brings a celebration to Downtown LA. (Photo courtesy DTLA Proud)

For decades now, the City of West Hollywood has been considered the “Gay Mecca” of Southern California, where LGBTQ pilgrims from all over the world have come to live, work, and play.

While WeHo’s historic status as a hub for queer life and culture is not likely to change anytime soon, another neighborhood in the larger Los Angeles community has lately been on the rise as a new hot spot for LGBTQ life in L.A.

That neighborhood, of course, is Downtown, lovingly referred to – by almost everybody – as DTLA, and this weekend it will provide the breathtaking backdrop for the Los Angeles Blade’s “Pride in the Sky” event at the OUE Skyspace.

Los Angeles Blade will partner with U.S. Bank to present Visibility Awards honoring 11 important LGBT influencers and activists in entertainment, legal, political and services – including U.S. Bank Vice President Hany Haddad, WeHo Transgender Advisory Board member James Wen, ONE Archives Executive Director Jennifer Gregg, and AHF President Michael Weinstein, among others. The event will also benefit the Blade Foundation, whose mission is to fund enterprise journalism projects focused on LGBTQ and other underrepresented communities and to create scholarships for LGBTQ journalists.

“Pride in the Sky” is also a celebration of the third annual DTLA Proud Festival, which, beginning Friday night, will place the weekend’s spotlight squarely on downtown.

An enormous, queer-centric block party, Proud Festival takes over the neighborhood’s iconic Pershing Square and transforms it into a raucous wonderland. There’s food, drink, dancing, entertainment, shopping – even a water park. There’s also community outreach and a significant amount of space dedicated to acknowledging and preserving LGBTQ heritage and history. And it’s meant to be a diverse, inclusive safe space where everyone can celebrate and be celebrated, regardless of their race, their gender, or how they identify.

In a lot of ways, it is a kind of microcosm highlighting the very qualities that make DTLA so appealing to the queer community.

Oliver Luke Alpuche, a Highland Park native who moved downtown in 2009, sensed that appeal from the beginning, and has played a major role in nurturing its growth.

“The first couple years I loved it,” he says. “There was this great sense of community, not only the LGBT community but the community in general.”

He noticed that something was missing, though. He says, “You could walk down the streets and see gay couples holding hands, and in all the bars… but where was that comfortable place where they could actually meet, and just hang out?”

He decided to do something about it. 

Along with Zachary Beus, he came up with the idea for Redline, a “premier nightspot” intended to provide a meeting place for DTLA’s LGBTQ community. The bar opened its doors in 2015, and quickly became a major fixture in the downtown scene.

That was just the beginning. “When we were talking about our grand opening for Redline, we wanted to do a block party,” he says. “That got scrapped, because we had a two-day notice to open. About a year after we opened – and Precinct DTLA had also opened – we were noticing that there was this amazing force happening downtown, and we said, ‘let’s revisit this block party idea.’ Everyone was on board, and it snowballed into something even larger than we had anticipated.”

What it snowballed into was DTLA Proud Festival – along with DTLA Proud, the non-profit organization founded by Alpuche to “strengthen and empower the local LGBTQ+ & ally community in Downtown Los Angeles through visibility, volunteerism, partnerships and events.”  Right now, of course, that translates into putting on another successful festival; looking ahead, it involves turning some of those proceeds into proactive efforts to raise the LGBTQ profile in the downtown community on an everyday basis, such as a “gay-borhood map” highlighting all of the neighborhood’s gay-identifying businesses, as well as continued participation in DTLA’s annual “Night on Broadway” event, which last year drew over 250,000 people and allowed DTLA Proud “to showcase the queer community, and the best that it has to offer, to the larger LA community,” as Alpuche puts it. Perhaps most significantly, there are plans for a new downtown LGBTQ Community Center – officially announced at DTLA Proud’s pre-festival Gala, from which 100% of the proceeds will go toward its capital campaign.

Alpuche says, “Things are happening, and we’re so excited to be a part of that growth, to curate and make sure that downtown stays as accepting and inclusive as possible. That’s what DTLA Proud is about, and what we want to ensure will continue.”

When asked to sum up the appeal of DTLA for the queer community, Alpuche says, “I think for me it’s the fact that we’re integrated within the overall community. You have amazing restaurants opening up, celebrity chefs are everywhere; you have amazing architecture, the historic theatres are there – there’s so much that’s offered that’s not specific to the gay community, but it’s engaging to the gay community. It’s not separated, everything is for everyone down here.”

“It’s more of a whole city being integrated versus being a separate area. That’s what makes it exciting, and comfortable.”

As a leader of the DTLA community, Alpuche can be expected to sing the praises of his neighborhood. But what about others, who are not so deeply invested?

Many of them echo his glowing sentiments.

Waylon Allison, a longtime downtown “scenester” who has lived there since before its revitalization, says, “There’s a fusion now between the queer and the straight communities.  Everyone’s free to be just who they are, regardless of gender or sex or how they want to label themselves. It’s become a safe haven, whereas five years ago it was a little, you know, weird – just to dress up, express yourself – especially downtown.”

A veteran of some of the edgier LA queer events of decades past, Allison says that now, “Downtown is the core of that scene.” He also thinks that what helps the present-day nightlife here stay vibrant is social media – something the “underground” community, of which he proudly proclaims himself a part, did not have in the old days. Parties, such as Danny Fuentes’ “Sex Cells” and other ongoing events, are hosted throughout DTLA – not just in the “official” gay bars – and provide a fundamental part of the community’s social scene. “These younger people really understand how to work social media, they use it to get the word out and to stay connected in between the events.” 

That connection, he says, also translates into the neighborhood’s daily life.  “The underground party scene is very communal – everyone knows each other, like an extended family, and it’s their life.”  He goes on to explain, “Like with me, for instance, it’s every day, it’s part of who I am.  It’s an integral part of my existence – and down here, everybody who’s part of that scene tends to live their lives that way.  It’s not like a ‘weekend warrior’ thing, where people just go out and party on the weekends but won’t represent it in their everyday life.”

Jeremy Lucido, a photographer and longtime fixture of LA’s queer art scene, also talks about how the downtown “vibe” fits perfectly to his lifestyle.  He says, “As a photographer, I wanted a place with high ceilings for my backdrops; a downtown loft made sense.  Living in downtown was the first time I got a sense of community, from getting to know the shopkeepers on my daily routine, to always running into someone you know everywhere you go. It feels like my own little Mayberry – well an urban version of it, with taco stands and dog pee, that is.”

He says the mutual support he feels from the other members of the community is a big part of why he loves it.  “As a queer artist who lives, works and plays in downtown Los Angeles I know the importance to have not only an LGBTQ presence but a community I can be proud of.  I am active as much as I can be in the queer DTLA community, and the one thing that sets downtown apart is we don’t see each other as competitors or rivals, but instead as allies and peers.  It is indeed a community where I feel surrounded by family.”

John Ison, who works in Orange County but lives downtown, is also proud to call the neighborhood home.

“I’ve always wanted to live in a high-rise in a big city,” he says, “and DTLA made my wish come true. It’s not NYC, but it’s the closest thing to Manhattan that we southern Californians can get.”

He elaborates, “It’s like a dirty Disneyland. With the high concentration of historic neighborhoods, dramatic skyline, museums, galleries, architecture, bars, restaurants and food trucks, and its highly diverse population, walking downtown is like visiting an amusement park.”

Even though he doesn’t participate much in DTLA’s nightlife, Ison has a deep understanding and appreciation for the area’s gay history. “DTLA has great social significance for gays – it was a center of gay politics, and activism before Stonewall.  The ONE Institute was located on Hill St near 3rd (Grand Central Market), and Pershing Square was a big cruising area in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.  For decades it has been ignored by mainstream gays — despite its cultural significance – but I think it’s safe to say it is now clearly and firmly on the map.

He also has an enthusiasm for drag, and points out that DTLA’s venues have embraced and encouraged the art form through events such Precinct’s weekly “Queen Kong,” which features both local and internationally famous drag queens.

His overall impression of the DTLA community is much the same as Lupache’s.  He says, “DTLA has always attracted gays, but in the context of the art, punk and avant-garde scenes that welcomed straights as well as gays. It may or may not have been very ethnically diverse.  At present, DTLA is not so much a segregated haven for LGBTQ people (like, arguably, WeHo), but it is a place where LGBTQ people can contribute in the context of a larger commitment to diversity.”

He does add, however, “The REAL dividing line in DTLA is class.  Most gays living downtown are ‘affluent’ or rich or trust fund kids, like their straight counterparts. The poorer ones might live outside DTLA, or be in some of the hotels or Skid Row housing. The middle class is shrinking at a much faster rate here than elsewhere.”

This brings to the forefront the most obvious obstacle to establishing DTLA as a truly inclusive environment for the LGBTQ community – or any community, for that matter.  The resurgence of downtown has meant that real estate in the area has skyrocketed.  With average rental costs in the neighborhood listed at around $2450 a month, finding an affordable place to live is out of reach for a large percentage of the population.

This is not news, of course, and it’s true of the entire Los Angeles area.  It’s also true that DTLA is not even the most expensive neighborhood – though some of its most extravagant properties are among the priciest in the city, the average is somewhere in the middle range.

What is true is that, as of now, DTLA seems to have a shortage of options available for lower-income residents seeking a place among its inhabitants.  Many buildings sit vacant, their owners holding out for high-dollar tenants looking to join the ranks of downtown’s elite or tap into the area’s lucrative retail scene.

Like Ison, most downtown residents are keenly aware of the obstacles that exist for those facing economic hardship in their community. Allison comments, “We need something down here that can provide resources and services – especially for homeless youth, or for struggling LGBTQ kids.  Monetary, or food services, housing placement – that stuff is really important.”

It’s too early to know, yet, whether DTLA Proud’s planned community center may take much-needed steps to bridge this gap.  If, like Los Angeles’ LGBTQ Center, it offers advocacy and programs aimed at helping distressed segments of the population to find their footing, it could go a long way toward helping downtown truly live up to the shining ideal it has of itself as a place that embraces everyone.

In the meantime, though, it’s not necessary to have a downtown address to reap the benefits of DTLA’s thriving cultural scene.  Whether you like drag shows and queer dance parties, or just fine dining and theater – not to mention the abundance of museums, galleries, and shops to be found in the area – any one of several public transit hubs will put you within walking distance. 

As Alpuche puts it, “there’s always something happening,” and you can be right in the middle of it, whether or not you can afford to live there.

If you want a taste of what downtown has to offer, DTLA Proud Festival runs Aug 24-26 at Pershing Square. Advance tickets for Saturday and Sunday (the first night is a free, family-friendly event) can be purchased at (where you can also find the entertainment lineup and schedule).

The Los Angeles Blade’s “Pride in the Sky” event takes place from 6-8 p.m. on Aug. 25 at OUE Skyspace, 633 West 5th St., Los Angeles.

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Queer representation did not sit quiet at Emmy Awards

This year- 50% of the best drama series, 25% of the best comedy, & 60% of the best limited series featured LGBTQ characters or plot lines



Gay actor Murray Bartlett won Best Supporting Actor for a Limited or Anthology Series for The White Lotus (Screenshot/YouTube)

LOS ANGELES – The pandemic is over (in award show world anyway), and glitz and glamour have returned. That is the prevailing impression from this year’s 74th Annual Emmy Awards. The show was stunning and exciting from the outset, but even with the pomp and loud noise of celebration, a queer presence was not to be drowned out.

The tone of representation was launched immediately as announcer, queer comic, Sam Jay, looking sharp in her black tuxedo, took the mic. On camera even more than host Kenan Thompson, Jay was a presence and a personality and decidedly queer. If her gay power was not enough, the point was made when Thompson and out actor Boen Yang joked on stage. Thompson accused Yang of a comment being “a hate crime”, Yang retorted “Not if I do it. Then it’s representation.”

Representation was going to be made this evening. The visibility was significant considering, according to the GLAAD Where We Are on TV Report, out of 775 series regular characters only 92 are LGBTQ (less than 12 percent). That 11+ percent is a record high of LGBTQ characters in all of TV history. The record was set by an increase in lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters, but a decrease in gay male characters from the previous year.

For the Emmy nominations, 50% of the best drama series nominees, 25% of the best comedy, and 60% of the best limited series featured LGBTQ characters or plot lines. As far as queer talent, that was more sporadic, heavily slanted towards “supporting categories” and often with queer talent all in the same category against each other.

Regardless, we showed up, as did other individuals who scored recognition for their identities. Some of the key LGBTQ representative moments included:

  • Early in the show, Hannah Einbinder did a hard flirt from the stage for Zendaya, saying that she was not on the stage to present, but rather to stare at the beautiful actress.
  • Gay actor Murray Bartlett won Best Supporting Actor for a Limited or Anthology Series for The White Lotus. He thanked his partner Matt, but strangely did not mention the famous “salad scene” (Google it…)
  • The White Lotus also won the Best Limited or Anthology series category, and bisexual Mike White won Best Director for Limited Series as well. White is the son of gay clergyman, author, and activist Mel White. They appeared on the Amazing Race as a father and son team.
  • Jerrod Carmichael won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing of a Variety Special for his heartfelt Rothaniel in which he comes out as gay as part of the show. Carmichael wowed in a brilliant white, flowing fur coat over his bare medallioned chest.
  • Out actress Sarah Paulsen and Shonda Rhimes, who singlehandedly is responsible for 17% of all LGBTQ characters on TV, presented the Governors Award to Geena Davis for her organization Institute of Gender in Media.  The mission of the organization is representation of women in media. Davis stood before a video featuring various women artists including transgender actress Laverne Cox. The organization is the only public data institute to consistently analyze representations of the six major marginalized identities on screen: women; people of color; LGBTQIA+ individuals; people with disabilities; older persons (50+); and large-bodied individuals in global Film, Television, Advertising and Gaming.
  • Lizzo broke RuPaul’s streak to win Best Competition program. RuPaul showed up later in the show do present a major award anyway. Lizzo has not felt the need to label herself in the LGBTQ spectrum but has said, “When it comes to sexuality or gender, I personally don’t ascribe to just one thing. I cannot sit here right now and tell you I’m just one thing. That’s why the colors for LGBTQ+ are a rainbow! Because there’s a spectrum, and right now we try to keep it black and white. That’s just not working for me.”

Beyond the rainbow scope of queer representation, intersectional, iconic and historic representation was also on hand:

  • LGBTQ icon Jennifer Coolidge won Best Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series for The White Lotus. It was her first award win ever. Squeals of delight could be heard in space from gay Emmy watch parties. OK. I don’t know that for a fact, but I would put money on it.
  • LGBTQ icon Jean Smart won Best Actress in a Comedy Series for Hacks, a series of which its producer called about “women and queer people.”
  • Lee Jung-jae became the first South Korean actor and first Asian actor to win Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Squid Game
  • Zendaya became the youngest person ever to win in the leading acting categories two times as she won for the second season of “Euphoria”
  • Hwang Dong-hyuk became the first South Korean to win Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for Squid Game
  • Sheryl Lee Ralph won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Abbott Elementary becoming only the second black woman in history to win in this category after 35 years.  Jacké Harry won for 227 in 1987. “I am an endangered species,” she sang as her acceptance. “But I sing no victim’s song.”

Yes, there was a day in the not long ago past where the mention of a single same sex spouse, or a renegade pro-lgbtq comment, made our queer hearts spill over. Those days are passed. We are getting a place at the table. Representation is starting to stand up and be heard.

For those who rightfully seek it, and seek more of it, the best advice came from Sheryl Lee Ralph: “To anyone who has ever, ever had a dream, and thought your dream wasn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t  come true, I am here to tell you that this is what believing looks like, this is what striving looks like, and don’t you ever, ever give up on you.”

Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie: 74th Emmy Awards:

Murray Bartlett accepts the Emmy for Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for The White Lotus at the 74th Emmy Awards.
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Daisy Edgar-Jones knows why ‘the Crawdads sing’

Actress on process, perfecting a southern accent, and her queer following



Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya Clark. (Photo courtesy Sony/Columbia)

Daisy Edgar-Jones is an actor whose career is blossoming like her namesake. In recent years, she seems to be everywhere. LGBTQ viewers may recognize Edgar-Jones from her role as Delia Rawson in the recently canceled queer HBO series “Gentleman Jack.” She also played memorable parts in a pair of popular Hulu series, “Normal People” and “Under the Banner of Heaven.” Earlier this year, Edgar-Jones was seen as Noa in the black comedy/horror flick “Fresh” alongside Sebastian Stan. 

With her new movie, “Where the Crawdads Sing” (Sony/Columbia), she officially becomes a lead actress. Based on Delia Owens’ popular book club title of the same name, the movie spans a considerable period of time, part murder mystery, part courtroom drama. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for the Blade.

BLADE: Daisy, had you read Delia Owens’s novel “Where the Crawdads Sing” before signing on to play Kya?

DAISY EDGAR-JONES: I read it during my audition process, as I was auditioning for the part. So, the two went hand in hand.

BLADE: What was it about the character of Kya that appealed to you as an actress?

EDGAR-JONES: There was so much about her that appealed to me. I think the fact that she is a very complicated woman. She’s a mixture of things. She’s gentle and she’s curious. She’s strong and she’s resilient. She felt like a real person. I love real character studies and it felt like a character I haven’t had a chance to delve into. It felt different from anyone I’ve played before. Her resilience was one that I really admired. So, I really wanted to spend some time with her.

BLADE: While Kya is in jail, accused of killing the character Chase, she is visited by a cat in her cell. Are you a cat person or do you prefer dogs?

EDGAR-JONES: I like both! I think I like the fact that dogs unconditionally love you. While a cat’s love can feel a bit conditional. I do think both are very cute. Probably, if I had to choose, it would be dogs.

BLADE: I’m a dog person, so I’m glad you said that.


BLADE: Kya lives on the marsh and spends a lot of time on and in the water. Are you a swimmer or do you prefer to be on dry land?

EDGAR-JONES: I like swimming, I do. I grew up swimming a lot. If I’m ever on holidays, I like it to be by the sea or by a nice pool.

BLADE: Kya is also a gifted artist, and it is the thing that brings her great joy. Do you draw or paint?

EDGAR-JONES: I always doodle. I’m an avid doodler. I do love to draw and paint. I loved it at school. I wouldn’t say I was anywhere near as skilled as Kya. But I do love drawing if I get the chance to do it.

BLADE: Kya was born and raised in North Carolina. What can you tell me about your process when it comes to doing a southern accent or an American accent in general?

EDGAR-JONES: It’s obviously quite different from mine. I’ve been lucky that I’ve spent a lot of time working on various accents for different parts for a few years now, so I feel like I’m developed an ear for, I guess, the difference in tone and vowel sounds [laughs]. When it came to this, it was really important to get it right, of course. Kya has a very lyrical, gentle voice, which I think that North Carolina kind of sound really helped me to access. I worked with a brilliant accent coach who helped me out and I just listened and listened.

BLADE: While I was watching “Where the Crawdads Sing” I thought about how Kya could easily be a character from the LGBTQ community because she is considered an outsider, is shunned and ridiculed, and experiences physical and emotional harm. Do you also see the parallels?

EDGAR-JONES: I certainly do. I think that aspect of being an outsider is there, and this film does a really good job of showing how important it is to be kind to everyone. I think this film celebrates the goodness you can give to each other if you choose to be kind. Yes, I definitely see the parallels.

BLADE: Do you have an awareness of an LGBTQ following for your acting career?

EDGAR-JONES: I tend to stay off social media and am honestly not really aware of who follows me, but I do really hope the projects I’ve worked on resonate with everyone.

BLADE: Are there any upcoming acting projects that you’d like to mention?

EDGAR-JONES: None that I can talk of quite yet. But there are a few things that are coming up next year, so I’m really excited.

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LA Blade Exclusive: L Morgan Lee, Broadway’s newest icon sings her truth

She is the first ever trans actress to receive a Tony Award Nomination & the first trans performer to be in a work that has won a Pulitzer



L Morgan Lee exclusively photographed by Andrey Strekoza for the Los Angeles Blade June, 2022

NEW YORK CITY – “I am just a girl,” L Morgan Lee tells me. That simple statement is her self-definition, a girl taking life one step at a time.

To the rest of us, L Morgan Lee is so much more. She is the award-winning actress starring on Broadway in the hit show of the season, A Strange Loop. Her singing talent matches that of any legendary diva, she is creating landmark theatrical projects on womanhood and New York Times articles are being written about her. She is the “girl” in the spotlight now.

She is also, the first ever transgender actor or actress to receive a Tony Award Nomination.

While she is not the first trans performer to be seen on a Broadway stage, she seems to have broken the glass (or some might say, cement) ceiling of being recognized in the upper echelon of talent. She is the first transgender performer to be in a work that has won a Pulitzer. While the Pulitzer recognizes the author, whom she was not, certainly her creative input was weaved into the final book of the play.

L Morgan has journeyed a complex path to self-awareness. “For me, even in terms of being trans, the idea of being anything outside of what I was assigned at birth was just laughable and crazy to me as a child,” she says. “It just, it made no sense. It was not something that I was comfortable saying out loud to anyone or voicing. How would I be looked at by my parents, by anyone else? So, I would sit and dream. The dreaming is, I think, what forms, much of so many queer people’s lives and experiences.   Those dreams become our lifelines. I would dream and dream. I have a memory of when I was maybe six years old, in the middle of the night, looking up at my ceiling in my bedroom. Waking up soaked with tears. Saying, if I could wake up and be a girl, a girl, everything would be okay.” She adds. “That is why I am so excited to have gotten my first opportunity to be on Broadway, excited to have gotten a Tony nomination. Because I know that there is some kid somewhere, who is also looking up at the ceiling saying that same thing.”

L Morgan’s first adventure into performing was as a kid and ironically projected her future identity fluidity: she costumed up and performed “Karma Chameleon” in nursery school. She allowed herself to explore her true identity under the guise of a Halloween costume quite a few years later. She went in fully fashion glammed drag, and it changed her world forever. “The minute I did it, I felt a jolt of energy I had never felt before. I finally felt free in so many ways. It’s as if like it’s as if I finally got to breathe.”

When she started work on A Strange Loop, she had been cast under the assumption that she was a cisgender man playing female parts. As the years of work into the play went on, L Morgan’s transgender journey escalated, and she attempted to resign from the play as she realized she was no longer the person they thought they had hired. Not only were they aware, as many close loved ones can be, of her journey, but they embraced her and assured her that she belonged more than ever.

“The characters I played allowed me to, in some ways hide until I was able to be more public about who I am. And once I did that, it certainly brought another layer of depth to what I was doing. I have been that much more comfortable in my own skin. I’ve grown. Transition has settled in more. So, both my viewpoints about the show, the people I’m playing, and my lens of life in general, has evolved through the process. So, certainly the woman I am today, views the show and the script, and the characters I play in a very different way than I did when I first sat down to do it in 2015.” 

Her growth within the show, and the growth of the show itself are intertwined. Certainly, some of the magic of the show is that it is not “performed” as much as it is lived out of the souls of the actors in it. L Morgan describes, “The experience of A Strange Loop has been beautiful, complex, layered and ever evolving, for me in particular.  Every time I’ve come back to the rehearsal room with this project, my own lens has been slightly evolved or has moved forward in some ways.”

“The piece is as strong as it is because the lens itself, the lens through which the story is told, is very specific and very honest. Inside of that specificity, there are lots of complications and layers and messy stuff. There are things that you don’t ‘talk about out loud’ taboo to discuss. There are things that people see as problematic. There are so many things inside of all of that, but it’s honest and it’s human. It is a 25-year-old, who’s about to turn 26, sort of raging through life, feeling oppressed and unseen and shouting out to find how he fits into the world. It is how he can find his truest voice in a world that doesn’t really allow him to feel like he’s enough. Because it is so specific about those things the show touches so many different people.”

L Morgan demonstrated coming out as a confident transgender actress, with her vulnerabilities unhidden, on the opening night of the play and decisions she made as she stepped into the public spotlight. “I feel a responsibility. It feels like a dream, it feels wonderful. It feels exciting. It’s like everything I’ve ever asked for but the, the most poignant feeling for me is the responsibility. How could I show up for that person that needs to find me.”

“On my opening night on Broadway, we were trying to figure out what I was going to do with dress and hair and all these things. You only get a first time once. You get your debut one time. So how do I make the most of this moment? I felt raw and excited. I needed to show like the most honest and clear-cut version of me I could. I needed to show my shaved head because that’s something that’s important to me. It’s something, I almost never show. I stepped out revealed, exposed and vulnerable on the very public red carpet, speaking to cameras with my buzzed head. Our relationship with hair runs very deep, especially for trans people, and there was something about it, that just felt like, I needed to do it. That kid somewhere under the covers needs to see this trans woman who is in her Broadway debut and she’s in a pretty dress and she has a shaved head, and she seems like she’s comfortable. Then when you hear her talking about it, you hear about her vulnerability and hear that she felt nervous, and you hear that she was dealing with dysphoria and she was dealing with confidence and she was dealing with all these things that we attached to our hair and she reveals those things. Not only because they’re true but because when we reveal Our Truth, our humanness, there is universality there. There is connection inside of our vulnerability.”

While the Tony nomination escalates her Broadway experience, L Morgan does not lose sight of her mortal existence. “On the day that the Tony nominations happened, I fell apart, completely losing it in my bedroom. Then I realized, I still needed to get a couch, and clean up the apartment. I still feel regular. It’s been a wild dream and at the same time, your real life just keeps on going. I am just trying to put one foot in front of the other.”

On the night of the Tonys. L Morgan will be up against some heavy hitters. Not the least of these is Broadway Legend Patty LuPone. L Morgan is ok with that. Her dream has been to see her face in one of the camera boxes on television of the nominee hopefuls.  

“The biggest reason I do, what I do is one because I love storytelling. My experience is black, my experience is trans, but I’m just, I’m just a woman. I am a woman who had a trans experience. That’s my story. I know that somewhere there’s s a kid, as I have said, who is just like I was. It is extremely important for me to make that kid proud and make that kid feel seen and make that kid know that it’s possible.” 

“I want that kid to be able to know that most importantly, they already are who they are dreaming to be. The world is telling you something different, but you know who you are. There’s nothing wrong with you, there is nothing wrong with us. The world has never told us that we were an option.”  

“That kid needs to find my story. They need to know that we exist. It is the reason it took me so long to be public about things and to start speaking, because I wasn’t seeing enough examples. There’s a quote, ‘she needed a hero, so that’s what she became.’ I really live by that.”

She needed to see a transwoman Tony Nominee. So that’s what she became.

When they call the winner on Tony Night, it will be between a Broadway legend and Broadway’s newest icon.

However it goes, another ceiling has been broken forever, and somewhere a trans girl in hiding will realize her dream too can come true.


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