Amandla Stenberg: It’s a challenge to be black and queer in Hollywood

Amandla Stenberg speaks at the 2019 HRC Greater New York Gala in New York City.

The Hunger Games and The Hate U Give star Amandla Stenberg has accepted the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award, and spoken about being queer in Hollywood.

Stenberg, 20, became known for playing Rue in The Hunger Games film franchise, before becoming a passionate LGBT+ rights campaigner.

The actor, who uses they/them pronouns, came out as gay in June 2018.

Amandla Stenberg speaks about being visibly queer in ‘very straight’ Hollywood

Accepting the Visibility Award from Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin at HRC’s New York City gala on February 2, Stenberg said: “I must be pretty darn blessed if I can stand up here and accept an award just for being me!”

“Had I had more representations of black gay women growing up, I probably would have come to conclusions around my sexuality earlier.”

— Amandla Stenberg

The actor continued: “It can definitely be strange to be vulnerable in matters of personal identity when you’re navigating it in a public manner, specifically within the very straight confines of Hollywood.

“I’m super thankful of the recognition of that challenge, but I also know there are so many others who do not have the support that I do and are not receiving any awards for being out and proud. I dedicate this award to those people.”

The actor continued:  “Had I had more representations of black gay women growing up, I probably would have come to conclusions around my sexuality earlier, because I would have had more conceptions of what is possible, and OK.

“Reflecting on my process makes me recognise the weight of this award and just what visibility means. I have a lot of work to do exhibiting what it means to be visibly queer and proud.

“I want to aid in the celebration of us, outside the context of pain, outside the way media very often intentionally postulates us. Although same and tragedy may be a facet of our experiences, I do not feel like this is a totality of who we are or how I experience being gay.”

Amandla Stenberg: I had to unlearn internalised homophobia

Speaking about their own personal journey, Stenberg continued: “The continual process of unlearning internalised homophobia can be really difficult, but one of the biggest blessings to me lies in the magic that comes from having to understand love outside the confines of learned heterosexual roles.

“To me, it is the power to reveal the ethereal love that exists within us underneath socialisation.

“I’m happy to unravel the long web of denial and self-deprivation that I have been experiencing.

“I’m grateful how the queer community has accepted me with open arms and taught me how to walk unapologetically in my truth.”