Dyllón Burnside on Being Queer: ‘I Exist Outside of the Sexual Binary of Just Gay or Straight’

By | September 18, 2020

As one of the stars of the hit television series Pose, actor Dyllón Burnside has a lot of experience portraying a character exploring his sexuality—and while it looks relatively effortless on TV, the actor’s been on a long journey of his own in learning self-acceptance.

Burnside recently chatted with Dr. Drew Ramsey, M.D., to discuss his sexual identity as a queer, sexually fluid individual. The term “queer” itself, he says, is indicative of a positive change in our culture’s vocabulary surrounding the LGBTQ community, but he wasn’t always so sure how to refer to himself. Growing up in a family where traditional gender binaries were the norm, the actor felt he couldn’t truly express himself. It took a move to New York City for him to find a group of people who supported his self-discovery.

“I do think it’s important to be clear about the ways in which you want to exist in the world and find people who support and uplift that,” he explains. “That’s just the start of you being able to create a safe space for yourself.”

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For Burnside, part of creating that safe space meant he had to reinvent his notions of traditional “masculinity,” and sometimes, subverting those entirely. “I have the ability to move in a way that’s traditionally masculine, and I love that,” he says. “But I have the ability to move in a way that is traditionally described for those of us who occupy more of a feminine space. I think we have to find the freedom within ourselves to explore all of that so that we can really be comfortable and confident in our bodies.”

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During his journey, Burnside also needed to take care of his mental health, too. While the Pose star is a fan of working out and yoga sessions to help with calming down his mental health, he also found taking social media breaks gives him a chance to be present and find joy in things he hadn’t taken the time to focus on.

“I was really surprised at how little I missed it,” he said of his most recent break. “I was really able to get in touch with life and be present. I found myself having all this time and space to really do the things that I want to do and invest the time with my own inner thoughts… I can sort of move throughout my day and not even think about checking it.”

If there’s anything Burnside is particularly hopeful for in the future, it’s breaking boundaries in any way he can.

“There’s a fear around relinquishing the power and the privilege that comes with manhood and masculinity,” he says. “We have to start putting that masculinity and that privilege and that idea of manhood aside, so we can create not only more space for women, for trans folks, and for queer folks, but create more space for ourselves as men to be more authentic and show up in a way that does create havoc in our world.”

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