Roger Conners

Horror Pride Month Interview: Actor Roger Conners

It wouldn’t be Horror Pride Month without interviewing the brilliant actor Roger Conners. He’s a proud member of the LGBTQ plus community and a true asset to the horror community.

Learn more about how he feels about Pride Month, what representation means to him, his career, and more.

Roger Conner
Head shot of Roger Conners

PopHorror – Happy Pride Month, Roger! What does Pride Month mean to you?

Roger Conners – Way to kick this off with a loaded question! Wow, that’s tough! I suppose now, as I find myself entering mid-thirties, I’m finally in a place in my life where I’m starting to realize that Pride can be less about the partying and jock-straps and the revelry of it all, and more about a time to reflect on what it took for our community to get to a point where we are able to publicly and openly celebrate ourselves to begin with.

I came out in the early 2000’s and, while I was definitely bullied and mocked for it, it never really went beyond name-calling and mild-taunting. By that point, the movement was already progressed enough that the gay-lifestyle was starting to become something that was considered mainstream. You already had heavy gay influence in pop and dance music and there were already gay cast members on the Real World and Survivor and even scripted shows like The L Word and Queer as Folk, so it wasn’t nearly as taboo of a topic as it had been even just ten years prior to that. Coming out was certainly a tough process, trust me, but I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters who came before me. I’m talking about the ones who paved the way and laid the groundwork for my generation.

If anything, Pride is a time to honor THEM, to respect them, and to remember them and the efforts made. Pride is a time to lift up and cherish those in our community who lived through the plague that was the AIDS-epidemic, and even more-so it’s about acknowledging the hundreds of thousands of them who did not. It’s about remembering their names and telling their stories. For me, as an HIV+ gay man in 2019, that is what Pride stands for.

Still From Mother Krampus
Still From Mother Krampus

PopHorror – Thanks for such a thoughtful and in-depth response. You yourself are a member of the LGBTQ plus community. You also have played characters who represent the community like in Mother Krampus 2, which I loved. Is it important to you to play characters that reflect the community?

Roger Conners – Oh for sure. Not only that, but as I’ve gotten older and I’ve realized that I have a bit more of a reach and a voice when it comes to my placement within the independent film community, it’s definitely become something of a responsibility that I take very, very seriously. You know, I used to be scared of being type cast in these roles. I was afraid that directors would see me and automatically just assume that I am only capable of playing gay. But, as things have progressed and filmmakers and viewers alike have become more and more open-minded, I’ve really embraced that trademark as a sort of blessing. It’s not a crutch, in my opinion. Playing strong, queer characters is an honor for me.

PopHorror – Have you done any others beyond Mother Krampus 2?

Roger Conners – A lot of my earlier film roles were smaller LGBTQ side-characters, mostly due to the fact that that’s mainly what I was becoming known for at the time. Within the Cleveland area, I was one of the only out gay actors at that time. I was still developing a name for myself, and thus I feel a lot of filmmakers were hesitant to cast me in anything outside of that niche I was becoming recognized for. So, for example, Porter in Voodoo Rising is very, very gay. There’s absolutely no denying that one because I played it up. But then we have a character Kyle Carpenter in Chill: The Killing Games was written to be gay, though it may not read as obvious to the average viewer. There’s a few lines said over the course of the film that clearly imply that Kyle is queer, but we didn’t want that to be his main defining trait or something we kept having to come back to visit. He just happens to be gay, plain and simple. I think Kyle was the first time I ever played a gay character who felt truly authentic, at least to me. He holds a dear place in my heart because of that.

A still from "Chill: The Killing Games" alongside actress Angelia DeLuca.
A still from Chill: The Killing Games alongside actress Angelia DeLuca.

PopHorror – How important is representation to you and do you think the horror genre slacks in portraying members of the LGBTQ plus community?

Roger Conners – Over the last few decades, horror cinema has really developed and maintained such a devoted queer fan base, that it only makes sense to me that the creative minds behind the genre would eventually pick up on that and start developing characters that actually appeal to them.

That being said, over the last ten or so years, I definitely feel that there have been major strides made in bringing relatable, true-to-life, LGBTQ characters to the screen. I mean, looking back on movies like Cherry Falls, even then you were starting to see more and more characters that were clearly written to appeal to the gay masses. Fast forward to present day, and you have these films and series like The Haunting of Hill House and more recently Slasher: Solstice that not only include gay characters in their stories, but often times have them portrayed as major characters or protagonists with important storylines that fuel the plot.

A few years back, I would say yes I feel representation is lacking. But these days, I have to pause before I answer that. As a horror fan myself, I’m seeing more of it than ever and I’m pretty satisfied with it. Now, they just need to keep it up and ensure it’s more than just a momentary fad. The LGBTQ community is here to stay and we certainly won’t settle for less.

Head shot of Roger Conners
Head shot of Roger Conners

PopHorror – Hell yes! Do you have any favorite films, horror or not, that have strong LGBTQ characters?

Roger Conners – It’s not a film, but I’m really in love with the FX series Pose. It’s just absolutely groundbreaking and I feel that all members of our community need to do their homework and watch it. It deals with the ballroom culture of the 1980’s and it’s really just incredible in every way. The cinematography, the soundtrack, the sets, the costumes, and most of all the performances are all just phenomenal. Real transgender actresses of color take these characters and infuse them with so much life and passion and heartbreak, you just can’t help but feel for them.

Our Transgender brothers and sisters are targeted day after day and they are suffering so much right now, it’s refreshing seeing them have such a grand platform in which they are able to tell their stories to the masses. You know, even the gays all too often forget that there is in fact a “T” in LGBTQ. When it comes to Pride, you can’t pick and choose who you do and do not support. We are a family, so you better bring enough love to share with everyone or don’t bother coming to the party! So hey, season 2 just kicked off so you’d be wise to get hip! I predict Emmy’s, across the board!

PopHorror – I’ll definitely be checking it out. What would you like to see happen in the future for horror and the community?

Roger Conners – Regarding horror, I just hope to see more and more opportunities for queer individuals, both in front of the camera as well as behind it. Give me more gay characters, especially ones that don’t require an overtly sexual or exploitive side-story. Give me more diversity all-around! I want to see lesbians, A-sexuals, gender-fluid individuals, the whole shabang! Give me transgender characters played by real trans actors! Give me all of it, and not just within the horror genre while we’re at it! Equal treatment for all, and I mean ALL, across the board, within cinema and beyond! Until that’s the case, the LGBTQ still has plenty left to fight for.

PopHorror – Yes, yes, yes! Do you do anything special during Pride Month?

Roger Connors – Over the last few years, I’ve made it a goal of mine to attend as many Pride events outside of my hometown as possible. I want to celebrate with other communities and see how they do it in bigger cities. In 2017, for example, I attended DC Pride and joined the march on the White House which was extremely cathartic considering all that had transpired in the months prior. Last year I was in Chicago for their Pride event which was fantastic and super diverse, which I loved. This year, I plan on attending Atlanta’s Pride in October which I am beyond excited for! Next year I would love to venture outside of the US if possible. Even if I only make it to Canada and attend Toronto Pride, I have no doubt that would be an unforgettable experience!

PopHorror – Any other projects you’d like to talk about?

Still from "American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet"
Still from American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet

Roger Conners – I’m really excited to announce that American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet will be available for viewing via several major streaming platforms as of next month! Aside from that, I have a fun little role in Anthony Spadaccini’s latest film Viscera. He just dropped the first official teaser last week and it honestly looks pretty fantastic, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for that one. Also, I should have several films premiering by the end of the year including Teacher Shortage and my directorial debut Rebirth: A Night of the Living Dead Tribute Film. You can find out more about those projects on any of my social media accounts which I update regularly!

About Tori Danielle

Tori has had a passion for Horror and music ever since she was a little girl. She got bit by the writing bug in high school where she was involved in both the school newspaper and the yearbook. While getting her Bachelors degree, she took Journalism and Creative Writing classes where her passion grew even stronger. Now, in between work and family, she spends all of her spare time indulging in music, Horror movies, and nerdy fandoms, all while running/assisting one of the biggest Horror groups on Facebook and writing for various websites.

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