Here’s What LGBTQ+ Actors Are Saying About the Strike

feature image photo by by John Lamparski/Contributor via Getty Images

Happy Hot Strike Summer! As you probably already know, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has joined the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in a strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), both unions fighting for fairer practices when it comes to pay, protections against AI, and benefit plans. I like to imagine them joining together like Power Rangers forming Zords at the end of the episode. Vulture‘s (cheekily on-brand) primer on the combined strikes is helpful if you’re looking for a super basic rundown!

Lots of actors have been speaking out about their own experiences in the industry, including in a big New Yorker story about how Orange Is the New Black is a striking and early example of just how fucked the streaming economy is in its undervaluation of writers and actors. The wildly popular show reached a huge audience, and yet their wages did not reflect this, many of the actors keeping their day jobs even multiple seasons into the hit show.

The conversations happening with this strike about the brokenness of streaming are inseparable from the ongoing “cancel your gays” conversation. The practice of streaming giants removing less-popular series from their platforms to avoid paying residuals especially hurts LGBTQ+ and actors of color, as it’s queer shows and shows with predominantly POC casts that are often on that notorious chopping block. Latine writers and actors are disproportionately underpaid in Hollywood, and it’s easy to see how there’s even more at stake for marginalized groups in this industry, including queer and trans folks.

Below, I’ve rounded up some quotes and social media posts from LGBTQ+ actors speaking out about their experiences and hopes for the future during this strike. I’ll periodically add to it as more voices join the conversation, so consider this an ongoing project just like the strikes are an ongoing movement. Let’s keep the momentum up!

“It is a clear choice when stories that can, and do, change lives are created only to vanish as if they never existed. It tells us that our voices only matter as long as those in power say they do.” – Leo Sheng

The L Word: Generation Q‘s Leo Sheng correctly connects the dots between the deplatforming of LGBTQ+ shows from streamers and corporate greed!!!!!

“My last residual check came in June, it was for $20.27” – Lea DeLaria

DeLaria was one of the many actors quoted in the New Yorker piece, and she also went on CNN to talk about the strange disconnect of being recognized by fans all the time while not making very much money from the show that helped propel her to that huge popularity.

“…I have never once made enough to qualify for SAG-AFTRA healthcare.” – Mara Wilson

Better healthcare benefits and pension plans are some of the many things SAG-AFTRA is asking for, and this tweet from Mara Wilson underscores why!!!!!

“I know as a queer entertainer, you never know when your next gig is coming. And we live off our gigs, so it’s scary to turn down work. But if a company approaches you right now to promote new work, to act in new work, to write for new work, and you take that job, you will be considered a scab.” – Jinkx Monsoon

Jinkx Monsoon does a great job in this Instagram video of expressing empathy toward gig-working performers who may feel pressured to take on gigs as non-union members while also warning against being a scab going against the interests of striking workers.

Canadian LGBTQ+ performers like Elliot Page, Mae Martin, Emily Hampshire, and Tatiana Maslany signed onto a letter asking fellow British Columbia actors to vote down a deal with the AMPTP so as not to be used as bargaining chips and to support the efforts of SAG-AFTRA.

“I’ve been a proud SAG member since 1995. I love my job. Hoping for a FAIR meeting of the minds.” – Niecy Nash

Niecy Nash has also been an active supporter of the writers strike leading up to this moment.

Yellowjackets and Scream star Jasmin Savoy Brown has deleted all the photos from her Instagram grid and is instead posting in solidarity with the actors and writers unions every day. It’s a small but very visible way to center the strike.

Aaaaaand this one simply just made me laugh, but you should follow Abbott Elementary‘s Brittani Nichols on Twitter and Instagram for lots of double strike updates.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 870 articles for us.

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