Justin Sylvester has taken it upon himself to have difficult and open conversations with peers, friends, colleagues and celebrities this month as Black Lives Matter protests and Pride Month have coincided to create a moment of reckoning for our country.
As a gay, Black man in the public eye, the “Daily Pop” co-host was eager to engage in dialogue with various people in a public forum with the hope that viewers and listeners could learn something from hearing his perspective. He did so with Black Bravo personalities like Porsha Willliams as host of Bravo’s “Amplify Our Voices” series on Instagram, he did so with the founders of Comments By Celebs on their eponymous podcast and has also done so with numerous people on his podcast, “Just The Sip.”
While all of these conversations have proven to be both enlightening and challenging, as Sylvester told In The Know’s Gibson Johns during a recent interview, the group that he’s had perhaps the most trouble speaking with about the Black Lives Matter movement are his white, gay friends.
“I have a weird relationship with the white gays,” Sylvester said. “I feel like the white gays are late to the party.”
“The white gays are more impressed and more worried about likes than lives at this moment. And I say that because the white gays will wait for the other white gays in the community to start posting [about] Black Lives Matter, and then they will then follow suit. But it’ll be three to four weeks later,” he explained. “It’s crazy that having this conversation with my own friends who are white and gay was hard. It was tough. Because they’re like, ‘But I donated, and da, da, da, da, and I don’t feel comfortable posting.'”
“I’m like, ‘F**k that.’ When we were marching for Prop 8 to be done, when we were marching for the right to marry and the right to adopt children, we all remember how it felt to see those straight men and women post that rainbow flag in solidarity with us,” he added. “We felt seen. We felt heard. And we felt like we were finally making a change.”
“And the fact that you have decided that you don’t want to post something because it’s going to start an uncomfortable conversation, just remember how meaningful it was to have that little rainbow just right next to that guy’s name,” Sylvester went on. “And you knew that he was having hard conversations with his male co-workers and his cousins and his frat friends. But he was there for you. So be there for us now.”
While the fan-favorite E! personality admitted that it’s “better late than never,” he was still quick to point out that people in the LGBTQIA+ community are often “not that inclusive,” which he’s aware of first-hand as the “one Black friend in a group of friends.”
“We’ll take the numbers, you know? A lot of times, we, as gay men, live in this posh, perfect bubble. West Hollywood is amazing, [but,] when we look at our own surroundings, we’re not that inclusive,” he told ITK. “I may be one Black friend in a group of friends. As sad as that may be, it’s true.”
And, at the end of the day, Sylvester sees this cultural moment as an opportunity to “wake each other up” to the different realities of those who are part of marginalized communities.
“We need to step up. We need to step up. If not for George Floyd, we need to step up for Breonna Taylor, because Black women were always here for the gay fight. Black women were always here for the trans fight. They were down. They’ve always been down,” he said. “And I think there’s just some things that we really have to wake each other up on as gay brothers and sisters.”
For more of his wise words, listen to In The Know’s full interview with Justin Sylvester below:
If you enjoyed this article, check out In The Know’s recent interview with pop star Kim Petras here.
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