Demi Lovato, Bob the Drag Queen, more discuss the future of nonbinary visibility on EW's Beyond the Binary
We've witnessed an uptick in nonbinary visibility in recent years, a phenomenon we've celebrated throughout EW's Beyond the Binary podcast during Pride month. As the special Untold Stories series wraps with its fourth and final episode, host Tre'vell Anderson and guests look toward the future, examining what nonbinary and trans perspectives offer the world.
"I think that once trans people learn that they get to question the gender that they were assigned, or the gender roles that they were assigned, or the body that they were given, they realize that everything is up for interrogation," journalist and podcast host Tuck Woodstock tells Anderson. "And so you get to explore all sorts of other things that you maybe took for granted in a society and say, 'Are these serving me? Are these serving members of my community?' And if not, how can we reimagine those things to better serve people who are most vulnerable?"
RuPaul's Drag Race winner Bob the Drag Queen remains optimistic because they've engaged in this level of questioning, peeling back the layers of conditioning that once prevented them from embracing their authentic self. "As I've been able to strip away a lot of my socialization through religion, through sexual identity, through gender identity [and] gender expression, I've been able to find a happiness and a real resilience that I didn't know I could even achieve," they say.
Writer-director Rebecca Sugar, whose animated series Steven Universe has been praised for its queer positivity, also weighs in on the topic, noting that while representation has been silenced in the past, nonbinary voices have always been there. Ignoring them hurts everyone.
"I think a nonbinary lens offers clarity and truth," Sugar says. "This is a way that people have been since people existed. And the reason that it feels like that might not be true is because of all of these different forms of erasure and violence against people who are not conforming to this sort of very rigid idea of 'male' and 'female.' We see this everywhere through time, all around the world. And I think if that's not something that you can personally relate to, to not have that perspective somewhere in your life is to really miss out on a massive part of the human experience."
Writer and performance artist ALOK agrees, adding that popular culture, and society as a whole, could benefit from ditching traditional notions of gender. If nonbinary voices have existed since the beginning of time, they are also the pathway to a better, more vibrant future.
"I think in nonbinary life, [there] is a refusal of the distinctions between high culture, low culture — distinctions between pop culture, fringe culture — and an insistence on the interconnectivity of everything," they say. "We are suffering because Hollywood and media are excluding us… but they're suffering because they continue to regurgitate the most abysmally boring narrative as if it's fresh and original when there could be so much vitality, intention, purpose, and rigor if you actually had people like Tre'vell there."
"It's been something that I have kind of been holding onto for about a year, a year and a half, and just wanting to really learn more, make sure that it felt right with me before I shared it with the world," Lovato says. "Once I found that courage to be open with everyone, it's been an interesting journey… I just feel more like myself. So I feel great."
Listen to the fourth episode of Untold Stories: Beyond the Binary below, and if you haven't already, be sure to check out the first three episodes on Apple Podcasts.
Check out more features from Entertainment Weekly's celebration of LGBTQ pop culture.
- EW's Untold Stories Pride podcast Beyond the Binary launches
- EW's Beyond the Binary podcast guests celebrate the fictional characters who inspired them
- Is a famous cisgender man wearing a dress actually good for nonbinary visibility?
- Untold Stories: Pride Edition podcast celebrates drag and ballroom heroes