Written by Daniel Clayton
Queer Black History is Black History. The chronicling of Black History has always been from a cisgender heteronormative standpoint that often erases the queer legacies of great minds such as Lorraine Hansberry, Joseph Beam, Bayard Rustin, and many others. However, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and “Queerness is a distraction from Black liberation” narratives are being overtaken by a new one—one where people are living their lives out loud and in color.
As part of our Queer Black History Month Series, QBM would like to present to you an exclusive interview with none other than the queen herself, TS Madison.
TS Madison is an American entertainer, entrepreneur, and trans activist. As the after-show host for STAR and “the Judge of Reason” on the Internet hit sensation, The Queens Court, TS Madison continues to pave the way in the industry for many other QTPOC.
QBM: What are three things you can recall from your childhood that helped you to become who you are today?
To be completely honest with you, I’ve had several childhoods: a gay childhood, one where I was trying to figure everything out, and a transitioning childhood. One thing I did learn was that family was important. When I moved on and considered myself gay, family was still important. Even in my transition, I still took one thing with me: family is important. My mother did what she had to do keep the family together. I found another family when I was sorting out my identity as a gay person; when I was transitioning, I found yet another family within that too.
What is the backstory behind your chosen name?
Everybody knows that I started out in the sex work industry. I started with Eros Guide. The way that they would distinguish from the cis women and the trans women was by the moniker TS. So, before I went by Madison and then it was TS Madison! Even though I’ve been many places, the name has stayed and evolved with me. I’m not dropping the TS; it’s a part of me now.
How do you navigate your identity as a trans woman in today’s society?
I am a part of the revolution. I am a part of the group of people who have made it cool to be transgender by living my life out loud and proud. You can speak to me openly about trans issues. Trans people are here. We are not in the shadows and we are proud to be who we are.
Between the appearances and the online content you provide, it is sometimes hard to remember that you have a life out the media. What is your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?
Everyday is my day! I put enough time into my career and my business so that I’m always getting residuals. Every day is TS Madison’s day. I love watching movies! I can get into a movie debate with you over pretty much anything, that’s my thing. My dream, when I was young, was to be an actress, a star on the screen.
How would you describe your journey to self-love?
I have loved myself for the longest. When you get into this world and depend on someone else’s arms to wrap around you, to guide you, you will fail. The first person you need to love is you. I found that place of love in myself a long time ago; that’s why I am so open and transparent. That’s why I can get on live anyway I am and still feel good and still look good: because I love me! It’s not an easy journey, but when you stop listening to the advice of everyone around you, you can finally hear yourself. Self love is about knowing no one can shatter or hurt you because you know who you are and no one can define you.
Would you say that there is a support network in the black LGBTQ+ community in Hollywood?
Lee Daniels is changing the way people view the LGBTQ+ community by giving opportunities to us that we normally wouldn’t have; he’s given me work opportunities without asking me to change who I am. He said to me: “Whoever you are, you show them that.” He’s done it for Amaiyah Scott. He’s done it for Justin Smollet. And he’s an example of opening doors for his own community to bring them inside the circle. RuPaul is also an excellent example of someone who has opened doors for the community. Many people do not do that, though. I promise this: when I get to a place where I am as powerful and influential as they are, I will too open doors for others in the industry to prosper.
Do you think that, one day, we will be able to bridge the gap between blackness and queerness?
I know one thing: I will always make the effort to bridge that gap. Even when I was in the adult film industry, I would always make it clear: if you’re going to deal with me as a trans woman, as a black trans woman, you are going to LOVE this. You are going to make it apparent that you aren’t afraid to do what you do. So, when it comes to bridging, I think it can happen.
We have witnessed the drama with the Queens Court and do indeed sympathize with you, but we want to know: how do you handle working with people who do not have the same view of allyship as you when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community?
Here’s my thing: queer, straight, bi, trans, whatever; stay on top of your business. When it comes to the Queens Court, all things will be revealed in time. But when it comes to the takeaway lesson: you have to have your thinking cap on all around. Anticipate: what will happen when things go well? What will happen when things don’t go well? It all goes back to loving yourself and learning how to roll with the punches. With the QC, it’s not for me to come off as a martyr; my character shows who I am and it has shown from day 1. I didn’t expect for things to go the way it did but I was on top of the business from the beginning by going in with no ill intentions and with the aim to protect the business. When your character is sound, you don’t have to be extra or do a lot; it will show on its own.
You did start in the sex work industry. What was that like for you?
It had its good days and its bad days. I started out very young, so I had a lot to learn. I’ve been in life threatening situations, robberies, sexual assault situations, many things. However, I was determined to make a profit from all the things that happened to me. If someone was to ask me to take my website down, I would say “no”, because that was something I created and it was and is part of my legacy and my business.
What advice do you give to young black queer and trans folx about learning to love themselves in a society that tells them that they don’t belong?
My advice to them is to remember that queer people have been given a unique task, a unique mission. We were chosen, in a way, for some higher purpose. There’s no crown if there’s no cross. People hated Jesus for who he was, just like people hate us for who we are. And in that same way, we are the source of art, of music, of beauty, of teaching, of engineering. We are able to love in this special way that is misunderstood. Despite the hate we face, we are making miracles happen on Earth.
What’s the next big thing fans expect from you?
WELL they can expect the Queens Court to return at March 19th at around 10-pm(ish). Keep your eyes on the STAR aftershow too. When it comes to TS Madison, always expect the unexpected!
Author’s Note: TS Madison was chosen for a QBM Queer Black History Spotlight interview because of the way she actively advocates for queer and trans folx of color via her own platform and through every avenue she is part of. Interviewing her was a special moment; anyone who has seen her videos can feel the positive energy and warmth radiating from her and speaking with her was no different. TS Madison’s fearlessness to own her own identity serves as a huge example to others in the community and depicts her as an icon of strength.