Welcome to the ninth article of our 2020 Pride Month Series! Each day in the month of June, we will be highlighting a different member of the LGBTQ+ community who we think is a great example of representation and dynamic characterization. We will focus on fictional characters, celebrities, and activists alike — the positive voices within the LGBTQ+ community and in mainstream media.
Keiynan Lonsdale is a dancer, actor, and singer, well-known for his roles as Bram in Love, Simon and Wally West/Kid Flash in The CW shows The Flash and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. At the end of May, Lonsdale released his debut album Rainbow Boy. Prior to the album’s release, Lonsdale had several singles already under his belt, including the most recent “Gay Street Fighter,” “Rainbow Dragon,” “Preach,” and more.
In Love, Simon, Lonsdale plays Bram, who (spoiler alert) ends up being the mysterious Blue who emails back and forth with Simon. In the film, Bram (as Blue) comes out in a post on Creekwood High’s Tumblr account, which prompts Simon to email him and share that he’s also gay. The emails give the pair a space that allows them to be more themselves than in the outside world (surprisingly enough, as they’re fairly anonymous). They’re able to talk about when they knew they were gay, coming out, Oreos, and other typical life subjects. Throughout the movie Simon questions if Blue is someone he knows or a complete stranger, and even briefly considers Bram before moving on. After Simon and Blue’s emails are leaked and Simon is outed, everything comes crashing down and Blue disappears. At the end of the movie, Simon waits on the ferris wheel for Blue to show up and reveal his identity. Just before all hope is lost, Bram joins Simon in one of the cutest scenes ever.
Prior to Love, Simon, Lonsdale was only out to a selective few. However, filming Love, Simon and stepping into the role of Bram helped Lonsdale become more comfortable with his identity and come out publicly. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lonsdale talks about his fear of coming out to the cast and crew of the film and how he overcame it. During production he came out to fans via Instagram. The post is no longer available to view (you can read what it said here), but since then, Lonsdale has used the opportunity to rebrand his social media as a platform for more authentic representation of himself.
Lonsdale also spreads his message of living authentically through his music. One of his earlier singles that comes to mind is “Kiss the Boy” (and everything you need to know is right in the title). The song was released after Lonsdale publicly came out, and marked an important shift in his music. Though he kept his same musical style, the general message of his songs became more celebratory of his identity. Rainbow Boy drives that message home. It’s an effortless blend of pop and R&B that also includes dashes of various styles of music, including Reggaeton and hip-hop. Combined with the lyrics, Rainbow Boy is a powerful album full of self-love and happiness.
Since sharing more of himself through social media (Instagram especially) and his music, Lonsdale has become an incredible role model for practicing self-love, especially for the queer Black community. His self-expression — whether through dance, music, photos, etc. — spreads joy and acceptance for those struggling to find it on their own. He creates a space where others can see themselves and feel less alone. He continues to remind us how formative and liberating challenges on the way to self-acceptance can be.
In his recent interview with them., Lonsdale says:
Since coming out, my creativity and my perception of what I can be as an artist has changed dramatically. It’s this great opportunity to be like, “What’s the thing that I was afraid of before? Okay, let’s do that. Let’s push it. Let’s go there.” That’s how we keep progressing forward.
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Stay tuned for our next spotlight, coming tomorrow!