Tituss Burgess to host Pride event benefiting Equality Florida and GLAAD

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Tituss Burgess is hosting Taste of Tituss Pinot Pride Celebration this weekend, an LGBTQ Pride celebration at the OUT Hotel in New York City. Following the shooting at the Pulse in Orlando, it was announced that 100% of the proceeds of the event will benefit Equality Florida and GLAAD. Click here for tickets.

Watch Tituss Burgess perform “Somewhere” at the vigil at the Stonewall Inn for the victims of the Orlando shooting:


Last week, GLAAD’s Brendan Davis sat down with Tituss to talk about LGBTQ representation in Hollywood, and Pride month.

Brendan Davis, GLAAD: What do you think has drawn viewers, especially LGBTQ viewers, to your character on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?

Tituss Burgess: It’s always nice to be able to turn on the TV and see reflections of yourself. You know, when I was growing up, there were no real prominent LGBTQ characters, and if there were, they were tucked away, the sidekick of a sidekick, or were not considered mainstream. I grew up in a rather tightly-wound religious family, so didn’t watch a lot of MTV, and so I couldn’t really see a RuPaul. I would not have known or understood what that was all about.

There was a great [veil] of visibility where my community or our community was concerned, and I think now we are experiencing a shake-up, a renaissance, a renewal, this sort of mainstream acceptance. While there’s still many, many, many strides to make everyone happier, to ensure physical safety and lawful safety, we, as far as television is concerned, entertainment is embracing us as just human beings, and not human beings who do something that deviates from the “norm.”

BD: Are there any kinds of LGBT characters that you think are missing from TV, or that you yourself would like to see more of on television?

TB: I just think there needs to be a greater representation of the standouts like Amazon’s Transparent, Netflix’s Sense8 and Orange Is the New Black, so that we aren’t looked at as gimmicky, but rather we are the whole empanada.

BD: With marriage equality becoming the law of the land last year here in the U.S., what do you think is next for the LGBT community? What’s the next horizon?

TB: Now we have to make sure that the federal government includes legislation that makes it enforceable on the local governmental level. We don’t need Ms. Davis and the likes of her being able to not issue marriage licenses and such just because she doesn’t feel like it. And we need stricter enforcement of that law: it’s a little too passé, a little too blasé. T

They’ll feel it as immediately when they’re saying no as they would if they were breaking a law that the local government enforced. Police would be right there, right away.

We need to look at the skeletal system of this new infrastructure, and we’re gonna start there. Instead of suing states, instead of the government or suing states, for attempting to pass [anti-LGBTQ] laws that violate federal government, I think we just put laws in place to prevent them from being able to push that stuff through legislation on the state level altogether.

GLAAD: What issue in the LGBTQ space are you very passionate about?

TB: We’re only as strong as our weakest link, and right now, our weakest link is protecting this community on a governmental level. And so, it is all of our problem, it should be all of our concern. You know, the world is so dense these days, and there are so many causes, there are so many charities and things to pay attention to, and to try and write and help regulate, that, often, things that are happening on our front doorstep can go unnoticed. And then there’s, you know, all of the injustices going on worldwide, in Africa, in Cuba, there’s all these places where we are in great danger.

BD: Let’s move on and talk about your two wines, Pinot Pride and Rosé Pride. Can you tell us how you got involved in this project and just a little more about your wines in general?

TB: Sure, I mean obviously the wine Pinot is a residual effect of the song Pinot Noir, which I sang in the first season of Kimmy Schmidt. But it’s taken on a life of its own, and we were always going to release a Rosé and another version of Pinot Noir, so we thought, what better way to sort of give a nod to the community that supported me for so long, then to name two of the wines after a celebration of that community.

I tasted 13 different wines and Pinot is usually a little thin for my taste so I wanted something a little more full-bodied, and that’s how we chose the initial wine. And then, Pinot Pride is a special blend. And then of course the Rosé. We wanted something light and crispy, not too sweet. And I’ll tell you man, it is delicious. I really mean that. It really is good, I’m excited.

BD: I’ll have to check it out, it’s Rosé season. And then, I just wanted to ask, can you tell us just a little more about the actual event, Taste of Tituss Pinot Pride celebration? You’re performing, correct?

TB: Yes. There’s a bottomless brunch that we will try the Rosé. Then there’s the evening meal and concert performance. It’s about 45 minutes, stepping out exclusively for people who purchased tickets. That’ll be a nice formal yet casual approach to some of the songs I hold dear, some songs that are specifically geared for and were written for the LGBTQ community. And then on that Monday, it’s just an all-out party with some performances from some of my favorite drag queens, while I will walk around and drink and meet and greet. So it’s gonna be a really lovely time.

BD: Perfect. And then, my last question is just, aside from this event, do you have any other big plans for Pride month this year?

TB: Other than going to Fire Island to rest, no.