TV

Joe vs Carole’s John Cameron Mitchell comes out as non-binary after ‘getting flack’ over trans role

Lily Wakefield March 8, 2022
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John Cameron Mitchell 

John Cameron Mitchell attends the Joe vs Carole photo call in New York City. (Getty/ Rob Kim)

Joe vs Carole star John Cameron Mitchell has casually come out as non-binary after “getting flack” over playing a trans character in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Mitchell stars opposite Kate McKinnon in Joe vs Carole, a new show that chronicles the life of Joe Exotic and the battle between him and his rival Carole Baskin.

In an interview with PrideMitchell tackled the issue of queer characters playing queer roles, casually coming out as non-binary in the process.

Mitchell wrote the book Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and played protagonist Hedwig Robinson, a genderqueer singer in the fictional rock band, in the musical’s original 1998 off-Broadway cast.

They told the publication that they had gotten “a little bit of flack”, as fans had told them that “only trans people can play that role because it’s a trans role”.

Mitchell said: “I believe that acting means you’re playing someone that you’re not. And I played all kinds of stuff that I’m not, but you bring your own life to it.

“For so long, there weren’t a lot of queer stars. We all know why, because of homophobia.”

They said that while the industry should “give everybody an opportunity”, that doesn’t mean “we only need to play ourselves because otherwise, it’s nothing but autobiographies”.

Of their role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Mitchell explained: “I’m not trans, I’m non-binary, but that’s a slippery slope because the character is forced into an operation and is not really trans.”

John Cameron Mitchell has empathy for Joe Exotic

Speaking to PinkNews about their role as Joe Exotic in the Peacock series Joe vs Carole, John Cameron Mitchell explained that they felt some empathy for the character.

When both Mitchell and Exotic were growing up, “there were three options for queer people in a small rural place in the States”.

They said: “Either you keep your head down, you go into the closet, you become the hairdresser or the gym coach, and you keep it quiet. <

“Or, you go to the nearest big city where there’s a gay scene and you escape. But the third way is unusual, and that was Joe’s, which is: I’m going to stake my claim here and I’m going to make my own kingdom.”

Mitchell added: “I understand the certain down home, salt of the earth way of being. The boys that I was attracted to, their pick-up trucks and their Skoal snuff. It was fun to revisit my youth in a way, but also, what might have been.

“What if I had stayed and become a colourful character to protect myself with that mullet that never ended? It was his drag – he was a drag queen, really, in his own way.”

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