Alan Cumming on LGBTQ rights: "We've got to be vigilant"

Alan Cumming talks "Instinct" and Pride 2019

Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots – and while the anniversary is a time to reflect on how far the gay rights movement has come, Emmy-nominated actor Alan Cumming said it's also crucial to stay "vigilant" when looking towards the future.

Dressed in a T-shirt commemorating Marsha P. Johnson, a trans woman of color who was one of the first people to throw a brick during the riots, Cumming said that while "it's great to remember how far we've come," "we also have to remember how far we've got to go, at a time when our rights are being threatened everywhere in this country."

"We've got to be vigilant and gird our loins," he added.

The actor, who also threw an anniversary celebration at his own bar, Club Cumming, is currently the executive director of the CBS show "Instinct." He also plays the starring role: Dr. Dylan Reinhart, a former CIA operative and college professor who consults for the NYPD.

In that role, Cumming plays the first openly gay leading character in a network TV drama – but it was important to the actor that his character's sexuality not be the focus of the show.  

"That's what I liked about it …" he said. "When they came to me with it, I thought 'What? There's never been a gay leading character in a network drama?' And what I really liked was the fact that his sexuality is really not that much to do with his narrative. It's led by many other things, and then it's just like 'and also, he's gay.'"

"When you think about it, I always think it's weird that when people talk about me they say 'gay actor' or 'queer actor …'" he added. "But you'd never say 'straight actor,' or 'heterosexual actor,' would you? If you think about that as a sort of metaphor, it's [been] too long that a character's sexuality has been leading the narrative."