In a recent interview with Pride magazine, actor and writer John Cameron Mitchell came out as non-binary. Pride magazine reached out to them for clarification over which pronouns they use, but they didn’t get a response.
Mitchell is starring in Peacock’s new series Joe Vs Carole together with SNL comedian Kate McKinnon. The series recounts the now infamous story of Tiger King‘s Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin.
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During the interview with Pride magazine, Mitchell spoke about the thorny issue of queer representation in the entertainment industry and whether or not cis straight actors should be allowed to take on roles as LGBTQ+ characters. “I believe that acting means you’re playing someone that you’re not,” they said. “And I played all kinds of stuff that I’m not, but you bring your own life to it. For so long, there weren’t a lot of queer stars. We all know why – because of homophobia.”
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It was during that same discussion that John Cameron Mitchell very casually mentioned that they identify as non-binary. While speaking about Hedwig and the Angry Inch, they said they had faced some criticism for playing a trans character. “Lately I’ve been getting a little bit of flack from some people saying ‘only trans people can play that role’ because it’s a trans role. I’m not trans, I’m non-binary, but that’s a slippery slope because the character is forced into an operation and is not really trans.”
The conversation then went back to the main topic and Mitchell shared their view on how LGBTQ+ actors should be prioritised when casting queer characters, because their own lived experience might bring new insights to the roles. Mitchell said: “You still gotta have a good actor, and if none of them were good enough, sure, give it to the straight guy. But give the opportunity. Give the opportunity because there might be something about our upbringing that helps inform the role. Kate’s playing a straight woman. She’s gay. It’s like is that not allowed? Of course, it is because she understands that character.”
John Cameron Mitchell first came into the public eye by writing and starring in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a rock musical about a genderqueer musician who chases an ex-lover who plagiarised their songs. Mitchell received a Special Tony Award in 2015 for playing Hedwig in the musical. He also played the role of Felix Staples in the American legal drama The Good Fight.
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