(Crystal A. Proxmire, May 23, 2017)
Novi, MI – The actor who plays Captain Jack Harkness in Dr. Who, John Barrowman, had a crowd of people cheering at this weekend’s Motor City Comic Con in Novi when an audience member asked him for words of encouragement for transgender youth.
“My message to gender non-conforming teens and to anybody else who’s going through that…I would say just to be yourself. It’s the only thing you can do is be yourself and live your truth and the life that’s true to you.
“And unfortunately that might even be your parents and you have to find people you can confide in to talk to because when you’re 18 that’s when you leave home and you live your life, not the life for your parents if they’re not with you. So that a hard thing to hear but that’s my advice. And trust me, it seems terrible now, but it does get better. It really does.”
The response was recorded on cell phone by AG Phoenix of Ferndale of Candle Wick Shop fame. As a big Dr. Who fan, an ally to the LGBTQ community, and a main sponsor of Ferndale Pride, Phoenix was delighted to capture the moment. He sees Barrowman as a good role model for youth, not only because he stands up for people and good causes, but because of the roles he plays.
“John pushed the boundaries of what a character can do in a generally family TV show by portraying the character Captain Jack Harkness. Being openly gay he brought a not so masked flirtation to both male and female characters. Which came together in the series Torchwoord where he actively pursued both male and female characters for extracurricular shenanigans,” Phoenix said.
For Mar Grossman, who asked the question, the moment was important. “John Barrowman came pirouetting out wearing a dress and called himself a gender non-conforming Tardis. My son has friends that are various types of gender nonconforming. My work runs support groups for transgender teens and their parents. Our school district has recently (past 2 years) had multiple suicides, and at least one was a nonconforming student, though I can’t tell you if that was the reason,” Grossman said. “They need to hear support from lots of places. It was a safe bet that barrowman would offer support from the heart. and that he was someone, because of his shows, that might be heard.”
Part of the response rubbed her wrong. “Of the teens I am aware of, their parents are supportive to various degrees. No one has been tossed out, or anything like that. I don’t know what goes behind closed doors, but the teens I am aware of seem to be in relatively accepting situations. So I wish he hadn’t been quite as vocal about parents being unsupportive,” she said. “I liked that he wasn’t sure of the words to use either. In his life and situation, an openly gay man in entertainment, he probably runs across many more gender nonconforming people than I do, or at least than am aware of. And he didn’t know the words to use either. That made me feel a little better when I am not sure which pronoun to use.”
Motor City Comic Con was an epic three day event held at Showplace Collection in Novi. Over 50,000 people attended. Read more about the exposition at https://oaklandcounty115.com/2017/05/23/three-sides-to-the-motor-city-comic-con-story/.