LOVE + PRIDE 365: LAITH ASHLEY LIGHTS THE WAY!
If visibility & representation has taught us anything it’s that in an ever evolving world extending beyond social constructs; they matter most! While today he’s recognized and celebrated for his advocacy and ‘definition of handsome’ aesthetics alike, life for model, actor, advocate Laith Ashley took some time to reach this space. His pride for self beams in just about everything he does, his presence undeniable to anyone within his orbit. For both cis and trans gendered beings, his authenticity is a beacon of bravery and acceptance. One we know will herald hope and create courage for all who come behind him!
As told to: Corey Guevarra, Editor In Chief
Photography: Cyoer Photo
Wardrobe: Kwame Waters
Grooming: Reginald Raphael
Set Manager: Brooke Taffet
Wardrobe Ass't: Aly Garza
Los Angeles, CA
LAITH, YOU’VE BECOME ONE OF THE MOST RECOGNIZABLE FACES OF DEEPLY IMPORTANT TRANS-VISIBILITY. DID YOU EVER IMAGINE THAT YOU JUST BEING YOUR TRUE SELF WOULD CATAPULT YOU INTO SUCH FAME/NOTORIETY?
I never imagined any of this. I had no idea where life would take me. I was just existing. Now I’m living!
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR JOURNEY?
Usually when it comes to speaking about what I'm proud of, I always hesitate because I’m someone that...often times, I don’t always live in the moment, and it’s something that I’m really working on. So for example, if I'm working on a really huge project and I'm super excited about it, once it's done, it’s like "okay I have to go on to the next thing". I have to kind of take a step back and tell myself "wait a minute, like, you’re getting what you asked for!! So... all of that to say, one of the things that I’m most proud of, is essentially how far I’ve come through my transition. It’s opened so many doors. I never thought that I'd be doing what I’m doing today. I used to be a social worker and that did bring me a lot of pride as well, it brought me a lot of satisfaction knowing that I was helping folks, but I feel like now I have such a bigger platform and I can reach even more folks! Some days it’s really like, WOW, I can’t believe I’m here and I’m doing all these things. Things that are beneficial for me but more importantly, for my community. It’s helping to open doors and changes hearts and minds, so I guess I’m [most] proud of that! :)
WHEN YOU FINALLY STARTED SEEING THE PHYSICAL (OUTSIDE) “YOU” BEGINNING TO RESEMBLE HOW YOU’D BEEN FEELING WITHIN, WHAT WAS THAT TRULY LIKE FOR YOU?
I honestly didn’t feel any different. It just felt like I was growing up. The changes to me weren’t this sensational thing people like to make a huge deal about. It was puberty. I grew more body hair and my voice dropped a couple octaves. I think we need to focus less on that, because it allows for people to only medicalize, sexualize and sensationalize transitioning bodies.
ALONG YOUR PERSONAL JOURNEY, IS IT MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU THAT YOU’RE RECOGNIZED AS A “TRANS MALE” ACTOR/MODEL ARTIST OR WOULD THE ACCOLADES WITHOUT LABEL BE THE ULTIMATE GOAL?
I think the title of Trans Male is necessary now for visibility, but I hope eventually it doesn’t matter any more. Our world is diverse so everything else should be too!
WHAT DOES “PRIDE MONTH” MEAN TO YOU PERSONALLY?
Pride month means freedom. It means living automatically. Pride month means remembering and honoring those that came before, while continuing to fight for our freedom!
26 READER QUESTION: WHAT’S YOUR IDEA OF THE “PERFECT” DATE?
Ewww, I don’t date [LOL].
LUXURY CAN OF COURSE BE BOTH INNER AND OUTER, AND YOU HAVE ONE OF THE BEST, MOST LUSH BEARDS WE’VE EVER SEEN!! WHAT IS THE GROOMING SECRET?
Hahaha, thank you. I just make sure I cleanse it with conditioner and moisturize it with oils. No big secret at all. Beard hair tends to be coarser and therefore dryer, so keeping it hydrated is very important.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?
Literally everything!! If there is an occupation, I wanted it and I wanted to be exceptional at it. Makes sense that I am an actor now; I can just play anything!
WHO/WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST SUPPORT SYSTEM?
Myself. My family is across the country and they support me but this life is something they can’t always comprehend, so I have to do it on my own. My team also has a hand in there when I start to lose myself. So, huge shout out to Jake and Artrell for all their help :)
WHAT [PERSON, IDEA OR CENTERING THOUGHT] INSPIRES YOU THE MOST
I am inspired by art and artists. Art to me is beauty!
AWAY FROM THE GLARE OF THE PUBLIC LENS, WHO IS LAITH ASHLEY? WHAT MAKES HIM HAPPY?
Sleep!!! LOL -10 years ago I may have answered this differently but now, I need my 8-10 hours!
WHAT’S YOUR DEFINITION OF LUXURY?
To me, luxury is having leisure time. Enjoying a quiet meal alone and relaxing in a warm bath afterwards . To me, luxury is also having a beautiful home. I'm always at home. So for me, my space needs to feel and look and have a luxurious, clean vibe. I do like high end furniture just because the stitching is always better and it lasts longer. I enjoy artists as well, so having art pieces in my home that are going to last and come with me as I move and grow are important for me.
WHERE COULD YOU SEE YOURSELF 26 YEARS FORM NOW?
26 years from now, I would hope to see myself living in a …….ha I’m talking about homes again, clearly very important to me. LOL. So 26 years from now, I imagine myself living in a beautiful home here in California, and hopefully having had a wonderful career modeling, acting and in music as well.....a lot of folks don't know I'm a songwriter and I sing. [Honestly] I’m just hoping to have a very long, successful career :)
Shirt: Alexander McQueen, Pant: Zara, Sandals: Roberto Cavalli
Shirt: Dior, Pant: Zara, Sandals: Puma
Though PRIDE Month 2021 is coming to a close, being proud of who you are in a world that doesn’t always make space for it is an everyday existence for millions. While many of the big box stores will switch over logos and discount rainbow merchandise as July rolls in, we invite you to connect with the many many organizations below that need our help 365 days a year! Focusing in on being there for the millions of at-risk LGBTQ+ youth across the spectrum, together let’s be a bridge and create safe spaces for all.
LUCIE'S PLACE: LITTLE ROCK, AK
LOS ANGELES LESBIAN & GAY CENTER
ALSO OUT YOUTH (SARASOTA)
Lost-n-Found Youth (ATLANTA)
INDIANA YOUTH GROUP (INDIANAPOLIS)
RAINBOW CAFE LGBTQ CENTER
BAGLY (The Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth)
GREATER BOSTON PFLAG
STL QUEER+ SUPPORT HELPLINE
RUTH ELLIS CENTER (HIGHLAND PARK)
ESSEX COUNTY LGBT RAIN FOUNDATION
ALI FORNEY CENTER (MANHATTAN/BROOKLYN)
TIME OUT YOUTH CENTER
THE Q SPACE
THE LIVING ROOM YOUTH
THE ATTIC YOUTH CENTER
WE ARE FAMILY
THRIVE YOUTH CENTER SAN ANTONIO
LAMBERT HOUSE (SEATTLE)
PROJECT Q (MILWAUKEE)