You know when you see a ray of sunshine bursting through a thick blanket of clouds and it instantly confirms there's still joy left in this world? Tituss Burgess is the human equivalent of that phenomenon.
I mean, if this beautiful rendition of "Somewhere" doesn't highlight that fact, I don't know what does:
With the recent launch of two new wines, Burgess is using his platform to give back to the LGBT community in celebration of Pride Month. Between Pinot Pride, Rosé Pride and the original Pinot Noir he released earlier this spring (aka an Ode to Black Penis), Burgess has branched out from his theater background to send a powerful message about self-love and acceptance.
Elite Daily had the chance to speak with Burgess about his wine, the Orlando shooting and what we can do as a community to dismantle the culture of violence in America.
But first, we had to ask him about his wine. Describing how the wines tie in to Pride Month, Burgess told us,
We wanted to do something that reflected the community who first supported me and first lifted me up. I wanted to do something that was a symbol of inclusivity, a symbol of unification.
By releasing the wines in the month of June, Burgess plans to raise awareness along with cold, hard cash for the LGBT community. It's no coincidence either that these varietals make for great summer dinner pairings. When asked which one is his favorite, Burgess said,
I just had some of the rosé today, and I've got to say, pretty darn good if I do say so myself.
We all know Tituss Burgess as the lovable and hilarious Titus Andromedon on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," but now we're getting to know him as a successful winemaker and entrepreneur as well. When asked if he's always been interested in winemaking, Burgess said,
Oh, not at all. No, I know absolutely nothing about it. But when the opportunity presented itself, I thought this could be both fun and educational for me. I'm always interested in [doing] something creative, what's going to allow me to do something I've never done before. Who wants to do the same thing over and over again? So this is the perfect opportunity to branch out, stretch out and now the wine is existing outside of 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,' which was the goal.
Obviously, we were dying to know what it's like to work with Tina Fey. When we asked Burgess about it, he basically confirmed our suspicion that she's God, saying,
She's wonderful. She's one of those people who sees what's going on all at once. She's aware of all things simultaneously. And it's just such a joy, such a treat, to work with someone who's as generous as she is and who guides you and also steps back and let's you do your thing. It's wonderful.
In addition to working with Tina (Jesus) Fey, Burgess is also working hard to support the victims of the horrific shooting in Orlando. As he announced in a video on his Instagram page Tuesday, he'll be working with GLAAD to raise money for Equality Florida.
He has some solid advice for how all of us can pitch in, too. Here are three concrete things we can do to support the Orlando victims, help the LGBT community and defend equality for all in the process.
Donate whatever you can.
While Burgess encourages us to "thoroughly investigate these fundraisers," he says "financial support is largely what these families need outside of emotional support." He reminds us that there are "funeral costs [and] people who don't have insurance" who need help surviving the initial aftermath of this massacre.
Get involved politically.
We can't expect real change to happen if we continue to allow racist, homophobic and morally bankrupt politicians to dominate the political arena. On that front, Burgess says,
We've got to encourage our generation to truly get out and vote and get some of these people out of office so that we can figure out a way to turn around some of these laws that have been so sluggish to really support and protect the American people.
If you're not sure where to start, go here.
Party hard in New York this weekend.
While Burgess didn't outright say this, we're going to on his behalf. Why? For every ticket you purchase for one of his Pride events, Burgess says,
One hundred percent of the proceeds are going to Equality Florida... I couldn't outright do a celebration without being reflective and cognizant that my brothers and sisters are hurting in Orlando. And so it's going to be all for them. All of it.
In the face of such trying times, we have to stick together and stand up for what's right. Every time someone tries to use hate and fear to silence us, we have to stand taller, be louder and love harder.
And whenever you need a pick-me-up, grab a glass of wine and watch this...