As its website states, the National LGBTQ+ Task Force “builds power, takes action, and creates change to achieve freedom, justice, and equity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people.” While it organizes human fervor and funds to push for LGBTQ+ liberation, it also honors those that do the same with their annual gala. This year, the spotlight will be on Pose actress and model Dominique Jackson, as she receives the National Leadership Award on October 14.
RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Latrice Royale and fellow Pose alum Dyllón Burnside will host the star-studded affair where the National LGBTQ+ Task Force will celebrate its 50th anniversary by honoring Jackson. With the theme “Forever Strong, Unapologetically Queer,” the National LGBTQ+ Task Force will hold true to that when it hosts its gala at St. John’s on the Lake United Methodist Church in South Florida. And while Florida has become a bastion of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment, as have other states, the Task Force and trailblazers like Jackson remain defiant in pushing for LGBTQ+ liberation.
INTO chatted with Jackson over to Zoom to discuss the queer icons who inspire her and how she pities the lawmakers working against LGBTQ+ people.
Dominique, it’s so amazing to hear that the National LGBTQ Task Force is honoring you, and rightfully so, with this year’s National Leadership Award. How does it feel to receive this honor that’s given to those who further the Task Force’s mission?
Well, I’m kind of lost for words. I have to say that because I don’t see myself as I get up every day, and when I use my voice for things that I feel that everyone in the world should use their voices for. I feel that we should all have a right to live the lives that we desire to live, in our truth, as long as we bring no harm to anyone else. Our truth is for us, within us, and it should be without prejudice towards anyone else. So I am really honored to receive it, as a Trinidadian and Tobagonian, Black, transsexual (because they took our word from us, because it is scientifically what I am) and this transgender woman.
So it’s always weird to me how society puts you in a position, and it’s like a game, and then honors you for getting out of it. So I never really looked [for] honors, but for them to honor me, it really means that I have been seen. But this honor is not just mine. This honor is for every transgender woman out there who has raised kids, who has been a part of the community and been giving love even though she may be suffering, maybe going through all kinds of family issues and having to deal with the mental, having to show up in a world that believes that you are at the bottom of the barrel. So for me to receive this award, it speaks volumes to all of the things that my sisters that have come before me and are still with me do.
This year’s theme for the gala is “Forever strong, unapologetically queer.” How do you apply this theme to your life?
I had to be strong to get my work. I had to be able to wake up in the morning and say, “You know what? Today you’re going to put your best foot forward. You’re going to go out there on the train. Some people may talk about you, some people may not. Try not to get into a fight, make it to the audition, and you’re probably not going to get chosen. They’re probably going to laugh at you. But you know within yourself that you’re putting your best foot forward and you’re going out there and you’re trying. And if you try and continue to try in the face of all adversity without becoming like the people who are oppressing you, then you might make it.” And yeah, I’m here.
With your work and your achievements within the Ballroom community, you have become an icon. Who were some of the queer icons who have influenced you?
Gosh, I have so many. I think that with every person that was a part of our movement, they taught me something. From my father, Hector Extravaganza, Paris Dupree, Avis Pendavis, Pepper LaBeija, Octavia St. Laurent, to Danielle Revlon.
Recognizing that the gala is taking place in Florida, a state that’s been associated with the growing anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment within the U.S. What do you have to say to lawmakers who are trying to prevent us from living our best lives?
Well, I’m really sorry that they’re going through all of the things that they’re going through, and they don’t have the capacity or capability to stop being selfish and fearful. Of course people will be afraid of the newness of what they decided to finally see, because it’s not like we haven’t been here forever. So, to the lawmakers in Florida, I hope that they can find a therapist and deal with their trauma and realize that our foundation is human, not sex. We use all of these things to segregate us, to give us the permission to treat each other less than because we need to hold on to that. We are uncomfortable with giving people [themselves] because we need to control.
So to the lawmakers, you’re not ten anymore. You don’t have to hang on to the fire truck while you have many more. I pity people who think that way. It’s just that they have the ability to really harm us, right? So we have to stand up in our numbers. We have to get rid of the segregation within our community. We have to start seeing each other the same way we want everyone else on the outside to see us and let them see how strong, fortified, and united we are.
Ross continues to tell it exactly like it is.
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