TV

Tituss Burgess Is Ready for Gay Men to Stop Shaming Their Effeminate Peers

"There is still a great deal of self-hatred that we refuse to deal with," the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star said.

Your Netflix obsession Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt drops its entire second season today (April 15). The Tina Fey-concocted comedy series stars Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt, a bright-eyed 29-year-old who flees to New York City after escaping an Indiana doomsday cult. Quickly, she befriends the boisterous Broadway hopeful Titus Andromedon, played brilliantly by Tituss Burgess. Some believe Mr. Andromedon’s unapologetically flamboyant characterization perpetuates gay stereotypes, but Burgess thinks differently. (*cough* They’re downright wrong! *cough*)

And the stereotype talk isn’t the only thing Burgess is sick of. He’s over gay men–yes, gay men–shaming Titus’ colorful personality. To him, an internalized homophobia gay men have toward effeminacy–Grindr talk: “No fats, no fems”–keeps them from embracing his Kimmy Schmidt alter-ego (and people just like him).

Burgess covered all of this and more during our chat with him earlier this week. We guarantee by the end of this interview, you’ll be screaming “YAAAS” uncontrollably. (As a fem-leaning gay men, I certainly did.) Don’t fight it. Let it flow.

What did you think of Titus when you first saw him on the page?
I knew exactly who he was right away. I recognize elements of Titus in many of my colleagues in New York from our early days when I got there around 2003. I thought he was funny. I thought he was mean. I thought he was self-centered. I thought he was everything that, at that age, New York would have made a man into given his backstory and his inability to achieve his dreams.

What do you think makes Titus different than some of the gay characters we’ve seen on television?
I would attribute it to the writing. I would say Tina [Fey] and Robert [Carlock] make Titus. They don’t draw attention to who he sleeps with. It’s not about his…effeminacy so much as it is about what he is doing and how he is trying to move through it. It’s just an examination of another human being who happens to be gay versus the “gay best friend stereotype.” We just don’t care. They didn’t make him an ornament on a Christmas tree. He is the Christmas tree.

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