UTA has taken a number of measures to amplify and support queer voices both internally and externally. In addition to updating their logos on social media to celebrate pride month, UTA Proud hosted a series of internal events that recognized queer visibility, equality and freedom of expression.
Their latest virtual event on Friday — titled “LGBTQ+ Partner Pride Panel” — featured UTA partners Jacob Fenton, Keya Khayatian and Lucinda Moorhead. Moderated by UTA assistant manager Kyle Boulia, they discussed their individual journeys as queer people in the industry and various ways to further representation.
Moorhead said that there has been “immense progress” in terms of queer representation over the past decade. She said it’s important to not just remind people why queer stories are important, but that they are also good business.
“Underrepresented people flocked to the shows and the films that include them,” Moorhead said. “They’re going to pay for content where they feel like they’re seen.”
Certain conversations are still evolving, such as whether or not queer actors should go for sexually ambiguous roles or ones they identify with. Fenton said he has an aversion to the argument that only LGBTQ+ actors should be cast in LGBTQ+ roles.
“There’s a part of me that gets almost more excited when a straight person inhabits a gay character because I feel like it’s an experience they may not have otherwise understood until they walk in the shoes of a queer person by embodying that character,” Fenton said.
“Having the privilege to be a part of the team of someone like Elliot, who to me represents one of the bravest, most impactful voices of a whole generation and movement, is something I feel so incredibly privileged to be a part of,” Fenton said.
June 5, 1981 — 40 years ago today — marks the date when the CDC issued its first report of a new disease that went on to be known as HIV and then AIDS. Moorhead said there is a “dual narrative” that exists around the conversation of AIDS, which has been at the forefront of LGBTQ+ stories for decades. “I don’t think we want to brush off something that is still an epidemic and still affecting so many people,” Khayatian said. “Yes, it’s something you can treat now and live with, but we should take the stigma away and we should take the memories that we have of these incredible people who were taken by this illness and honor those.”
When asked by Boulia to give advice to the LGBTQ+ community, Fenton said try not to be scared when facing the challenges ahead of them and to not be afraid to ask for help.
“Seek out those who can help you, who you trust and don’t back down,” Fenton said. “There are many who stand at the ready to help guide you.”
As for straight people who want to be supportive of their queer friends, Khayatian said that it’s important for them to educate themselves on issues that they may not know about and then pass that knowledge onto others.
“If you’re someone who has access and it’s behind closed doors where someone might be saying something that’s homophobic, don’t be afraid to correct them,” Khayatian said.