This month is Pride month and W Hotels and the Human Rights Campaign is teaming up to spread awareness about marriage equality with their Turn It Up for Change initiative. To help promote the cause, they tapped none other than singer Jennifer Hudson to film a music video for her single “I Still Love You,” for which W Hotels had a screening last night. The premise of the music video follows a young gay man about to get married who isn’t sure if his father, with whom he appears to have a strained relationship, will attend the nuptials. Bravo’s own Andy Cohen was on hand to help lead a panel discussion about the video which included transgender model Claudia Charriez, Human Rights Campaign’s Fred Sainz, W Hotels’ Anthony Ingham and video directors Tabitha Denholm and Molly Schiot.
Of course, the topic of Caitlyn Jenner’s big unveiling came up, a question which Charriez swiftly answered. Like many members of the transgender community, she expressed that while she is happy that Caitlyn is living her truth, we must not forget the struggle of transgender men and women who might not be as rich or famous as Jenner, those people who don’t have access to pay for facial feminization surgery or those who prefer not to conform to cisgender standards of attractiveness.
“I am very thankful that this has opened up a dialog and we’re conversing about it and talking about it,” she said. “On a personal note, I don’t want the conversation to begin and end there. There are many issues that the transgender community is facing and I really think we need to address that before we glorify anyone else. There are kids on the street, selling their bodies.”
Though Caitlyn’s story is an important one to tell, Charriez thinks it’s important to not lose sight of the issues of young people growing up transgender in communities that don’t support them. “I don’t want to take away from anything that Caitlyn is aspiring to be, but we need to keep the conversation going and we need to address our youth. We need to address the families that are so quick to abandon their children. We need to help them.” While it’s obvious that what Jenner has done is groundbreaking, Charriez says we must remember those people who came before us who have paved the way even for Jenner herself to have the bravery to come out in the first place. “Many of us, including myself, struggled and have risen from the ashes, from the gutters to stake our own claim in society,” she explained. “To pretend or act like this is a new thing because of Bruce Jenner’s accolades or Olympian days, we’re forgetting a whole history. We’re forgetting our youth, we’re forgetting the youth that are now adults that have inspired me. The Octavia Saint Laurents that are no longer here to be part of this. The Freddie Mercurys who gave a voice for us to sing along to. This is our time to give them retribution.”