Pride Month comes around every June and this year, it’s a big one.
That’s because it’s the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the same that kicked the gay liberation movement into high gear. Started by two transgender advocates, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson in 1969, the movement has become one that’s brought attention to LGBTQ+ rights around the world. And with it, corporate sponsors as well. While we’re highly suspect when it comes to brands capitalizing on Pride, sometimes they do it right.
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One of those brands is Unilever, which is doing something a little bit different this year. They’re partnering six of their brands with grassroots organizations to shed light on the issues that LGBTQ+ people face every day aka not just while they’re in the spotlight.
One of those brands is Schmidt’s Naturals, who chose non-binary actor Lachlan Watson from Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to work with them in support of the Trans Justice Funding Project. It’s a trans-run organization that brings wellness initiatives to the trans community.
We sat down with Lachlan to talk about what it means to be a non-binary actor in Hollywood, the importance of self-care in their own identity, and what pride means to them.
VGL: How did this partnership with Schmidt’s and World Pride come about?
Lachlan: This whole campaign was actually my very first Pride campaign. It’s been really meaningful to me for a really long time, to be part of a big Pride campaign. Especially being non-binary, it’s so rare to see brands even have people like me, non-binary people, on their radar, so that was a really special moment. Self-care and wellness has been a big part of my Pride for so long that a partnership with Schmidt’s and the Trans Justice Funding Project, centered around self-care and health and wellness and community, is something I’m very honored to be a part of.
VGL: How has self-care been a part of your Pride?
Lachlan: I’ve identified as a number of the things over the years, but there’s always been a self-care factor. You can only support yourself so much, if you don’t have community, and if you’re not prioritizing your own health and your own self-care. I had to discover community-care and health and wellness before I could get to self-care and before I could get to Pride, and before I could get to identity and I think that’s something that doesn’t get talked about a lot where having the community support you and having love and trust and visibility above all, those are huge factors in allowing you to discover who you are, and to do that freely. If that makes any sense.
VGL: What do you think the role of self-care is with the people who identify as trans or non-binary?
Lachlan: I think self-care is important to be able to be enough to yourself, to not live your life for other people and not identify for other people. I think another part of that is focusing on the small things, taking care of your health and your wellness and your mental health. It’s about listening to yourself before anything else because ultimately you are what you have and if you don’t take care of that, then identity is meaningless.
VGL: How is that going into what the Trans Justice Funding Project is doing?
Lachlan: I think we get so caught up in big brands and turning everything rainbow and having Pride be this idea that we shy away from the people who are really on the forefront doing the work, really putting in the effort to focus on the small things and to give the power back to the people. The Trans Justice Funding Project is a community-led project. It’s a grass-roots Trans-led, -run, -supported organization. It’s focusing on the real aspects of Pride and the real people who are doing what’s right on the day-to-day.
VGL: What does this pride mean to you?
Lachlan: Pride is more than just one face. Pride is acceptance, no matter how you identify, no matter where you are in life, I think Pride should be community, equality, acceptance for all. It’s being prideful of who you are at your core regardless of the surroundings. I think that’s what is so beautiful about this campaign. It didn’t just look like one thing, it didn’t just represent one thing. You have people from all facets of the queer experience coming together and really focusing on the words that needed to be said.
VGL: Speaking of different queer experiences, I need to ask you about Sabrina. [SPOILER ALERT] In season two, your character Susie transitions and becomes Theo. Did you have input on his story?
Lachlan: I had a certain level of impact. I think the biggest way was just by being a non-binary actor, and representing something different, something relatively new in a lot of people’s minds. My character was supposed to come out as trans in the first couple episodes, but I showed up as this walking gray area, and Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa, the series’ creator] was like, “We don’t have to label this right now. The character can just be whatever the character needs to be.”
I had a lot of conversations with Roberto about what direction the character was going to take and what we were telling all of these queer kids who were watching just begging for any form of representation. I was really passionate about getting that right and telling the right story. It came with a lot of weight and it was really beautiful for Roberto to welcome that conversation with opens arms, when he certainly didn’t have to.
VGL: Representation is important.
Lachlan: Absolutely. I think for so long society has been molded by media, but now we’re getting to a place where that’s sort of flipping. Just standing up an saying: “Hey, we’re here, we exist,” especially in terms of Pride, we can be the representation we want to see. I think we’re going to see a huge wave of non-binary actors coming through. We’ve just never been given a platform before. Having characters like the one that I’m playing on Sabrina and having incredible actors like Asia Kate Dillon is going to promote some really big change and acceptance in the world. I can’t wait to be a part of it.
VGL: Does anything about Susie/Theo’s experience mirror your own?
Lachlan: We put so much pressure on labeling ourselves. In my life, I was so determined to label and to decide and to exist and to transition. Once I listened to myself and put the power back in my own hands to not live my life for other people, I was able to focus on what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. It’s been really nice to play this character and say, “You can exist for yourself and you can identify how you want. Your transition doesn’t have to be any one thing and your friends don’t have to be perfect and they don’t have to get your pronouns right every single time.”
VGL: That goes back to what you were saving before: the importance of self-care and giving yourself the acceptance you need to live your authentic truth.
Lachlan: It all comes back to that.