The Walking Dead’s Daniel Newman: ‘Without Visibility, LGBTQ People Have No Power, Identity, or Community’
The actor tells Tim Teeman: ‘Who you sleep with is no one’s business. But being open about your sexuality and identity is the most important thing we can give to our communities.’
In this special series, LGBT celebrities and public figures talk to Tim Teeman about the Stonewall Riots and their legacy—see more here.
Daniel Newman is an actor (The Walking Dead), model, and musician.
When/how did you first hear about the Stonewall Riots, and what did you make of it?
I first heard about the Stonewall Riots as a child, researching Kinsey and sexuality, trying to find other people like myself. Before the internet, libraries with limited, obscure content was all that most of us had in rural areas to explore and learn about our culture.
What is their significance for you?
It was a seed. The most powerful seed I’d known. A seed of hope. A seed with the idea in it that life was worth living. A seed that told me I wasn’t alone, and that people like me were valuable enough to fight for and be proud of. A seed that defined what I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life doing.
How far have LGBT people come since 1969?
It’s a completely different world now. I do a lot of work with youth and organizations, and it was shocking to me to hear gay fans say, “I don’t see what the big deal is, nobody’s homophobic anymore!” It blew my mind. Obviously they were living in a tiny bubble in NYC and L.A., while there are still LGBTQ kids committing suicide in small towns, and being killed in other countries.
But the fact that even in a few major cities in America kids now feel totally free to be themselves and not feel any negativity about their sexuality or identity is a miracle. That’s 100 percent due to all the warriors we’ve had in previous generations that literally fought and died for our rights and the amazing life we’re experiencing now.
I just pray that kids of future generations always know that equality does not come naturally. It comes from continuing to do the hard work of educating your communities, uniting and building our communities in every city, uplifting one another, building our LGBTQ economy, building our legacy, and being great human beings treating everyone the way we want to be treated. It takes work. Daily. And pride and love.
What would you like to see, LGBT-wise, in the next 50 years?
Equality, in every sense. Period. VISIBILITY is one of the most important messages all of us have to learn. It’s easy to keep your sexuality secret at work and in public to avoid potential conflicts, or if you believe you won’t have any positive effect on people around you by being open.
Who you sleep with is no one’s business. But being open and public about your sexuality and identity is the most important thing each one of us can give to our cities and communities. Without visibility we have no power, we have no identity, we have no community. Period. We’re all alone if each one of us is not visible and honest.
All of our successes need to count and help define the LGBTQ community. Love you, thank you.