how indya moore fought through pain, and found liberation
The actor and model shares their mantra for queer survival.
“I don’t really remember having any friends at 14 years old, and I didn’t have that much freedom either. I came out to my mom at that age, and our relationship shifted drastically. She told me it wasn’t normal to be gay and suggested taking me to the Kingdom Hall to meet with a few elders — one of them apparently “used” to be gay — to initiate a form of conversion therapy.
I always felt uncomfortable and angry when I was younger. My mom didn’t support me then, but as a display of affection she did take me to Dunkin’ Donuts after I told her about my sexuality. But I experienced a lot of violence and started getting into a lot of fights at school too. I felt safe around my sister, but when she got married, I didn’t get to go to her wedding or see her often because she supported me for my queerness.
At 16, I started hormonal therapy and started to feel better about my body. At the time, my parent- teacher coordinator was my escape from all the bullshit; the one who helped me find both the safety and the maternal support I longed for. She was everything! She celebrated my identity, introduced me to voguing, wrote poetry with me and took me to my first Pride, but my parents eventually cut me off from her. They didn’t trust anyone who supported me for my queer identity.
I still suffer from that loneliness and the lasting pain of that loss, but I just had to keep pushing through. So I did: I went through hell to get here and I’d go through it again because I love who I am. I carry so much of who I was inside of who I am now, and although I’ve suffered a lot of trauma, I still manage to love myself enough to be as brave as I was then.
I couldn’t have a relationship with my family, with friends or with other kids. I couldn’t build friendships because I never got to hang out with anybody who supported me. So I wouldn’t give myself advice; I would give advice to the world around me.
I missed out on having a family; on having friends; on going to school and having a childhood full of support and community. I did everything I could. I went into foster care and moved care homes frequently. People took advantage of me and that’s the story of my entire life, but I survived to find hope. When I think about what I would tell myself, I get flustered because there’s not much advice for survival except to keep going. That’s what I did. That’s what I’m doing.”
Photography Mario Sorrenti
Styling Alastair McKimm
Hair Bob Recine for Rodin.
Make-up Kanako Takase at Streeters.
Nail technician Honey at Exposure NY using Dior.
Photography assistance Lars Beaulieu, Kotaro Kawashima, Javier Villegas and Chad Meyer.
Styling assistance Madison Matusich, Milton Dixon III and Yasmin Regisford.
Hair assistance Kabuto Okuzawa and Kazuhide Katahira.
Make-up assistance Kuma.
Production Katie Fash.
Production assistance Layla Néméjanksi and Adam Gowan.
Creative and casting consultant Ruba Abu-Nimah.
Casting director Samuel Ellis Scheinman for DMCASTING.