Actor, entrepreneur gives his best roll as a disrupter
By Brenda Beveridge
As an underrepresented bisexual African American working in the tech industry, Rhett Lindsey, 29, never quite felt like he fit in. Nevertheless he created his own seat at the table and is now known for his work transforming relationships with the world’s largest dating app and just launched the new social platform, The Diverse Perspective.
The mission of The Diverse Perspective platform is to engage users with unapologetic conversations on politics, race, culture, fashion, community, family, parenting, lifestyles, entertainment, and pressing social issues. To accomplish this, he features weekly articles written by himself and a diverse team of esteemed contributing writers. By fostering engagement and communication among and between marginalized groups, The Diverse Perspective creates a safe space for the once-voiceless to share their thoughts on today’s most pressing, contentious, and topical issues.
Recently, Lindsey was invited to be part of the Forbes 30 under 30 to be a part of ‘Forbes Startup Hub,’ which spotlights disruptive companies connecting them to the world’s most influential audience, investors and media brands.
Prior to launching innovative tech empires, Lindsey grew up in the acting world where he was able to get an in depth understanding and passion for the craft and business. Born and raised in Atlanta, Lindsey was booked for roles in commercials, radio spots and theater productions. He landed the covenant role of “TJ” in the 20th Century Fox film “Big Momma’s: Like Father Like Son” starring Martin Lawrence and Brandon T. Jackson, and then landed the role of Jah “Babycake” Johnson in the BET drama “Being Mary Jane,” starring Gabrielle Union.
Lindsey now resides in Los Angeles, CA with his husband Michael and is currently pursuing a Master of Liberal Arts degree in Creative Writing and Literature at Harvard.
Affinity Inc. Magazine caught up with Lindsey to ask him more about his platform.
Affinity Inc.: Will you explain the Diverse Perspective and why you think this is a relative platform in this day and age?
Rhett Lindsey: The Diverse Perspective is a social platform where culture and content meet conversation from diverse viewpoints. Our purpose is to provide users with intriguing, unapologetic topics of discussion that relate to culture, fashion, community, family, parenting, lifestyles, health, entertainment, and social issues. To accomplish this, we feature weekly articles written by myself and contributing writers. This platform is relative in today’s climate because we need to spark the effort of uniting people from different backgrounds and perspectives. Perception gives you Awareness. Awareness leads to Knowledge. Knowledge provides Understanding.
What classifies a person as a disrupter? A Disrupter is someone who is unapologetic in their truth and causes a reaction in the flowing current of a stable ecosystem. Not because of an agenda, but because their perspective sparks awareness.
AI: Can you tell us some adversities you have experienced being an LGBTQ African American man in the Tech Industry that made you feel uneasy?
RL: Have you ever been a situation where you were asked your opinion on a topic, but were reluctant to provide your true input out of fear that it would not align with everyone else’s? If yes, how did dimming your authentic truth for others make you feel? Earlier in my tech career while working for one of the biggest social apps in the world; As a bi-sexual man of color, I was constantly aware that my perspective and authentic truth would not always be received by my industry-leading heteronormative, Caucasian peers. I was different, and the minority. As a result, I would conform and stay neutral to the status quo of a particular topic or issue. The possibility of change and awareness that my voice could have potentially had on others, didn’t occur. However, I later noticed that this was a common problem for many people that span past race, gender, religion, sexuality, and professions. People, in general, were lacking living in their authentic truths. So, I created a space where culture and content meet conversation from diverse viewpoints.
AI: Can you tell us how those around you felt or made you feel when you came out?
RL: I did not come out until my mid-twenties in 2015 once I met my then-boyfriend Michael who is now my husband. My coming out story was thankfully not an unpleasant experience. My family, close friends, and associates were all very accepting, loving and supportive of who I am. The biggest question that followed was why did I wait so long to announce this? My answer was always: “because I never wanted to feel like I needed to announce being myself. I just wanted to live my life.” I knew I was bi-sexual ever since I was a young teenager. The problem though is that I lived the first half of my young adult life not being my authentic self in that truth. I presented myself in public as a heteronormative male because it was easy to and expected. I was the masculine, athletic, tall, handsome jock. My peers only knew gay and straight. I didn’t identify as gay, so it was easier to play straight then to have to explain my bisexuality. This conflict caused a lot of stress and anxiety for me in middle school, high school, and college.
AI: How does an underrepresented individual create a seat at the table in a competitive industry like yours?
RL: You don’t. Tyler Perry said it best recently while accepting an award at this year’s BET Awards. “While everybody else is fighting for a seat at the table, I said, “y’all go ahead and do that. While you’re fighting for a seat at the table, I’ll be down in Atlanta building my own.” – Tyler Perry. I absolutely love that quote because it rings true. We have to create our own lane. Be YOUR best investor. Many times, people look for others to invest in a vision, that they themselves do not fully have the confidence to invest monetarily themselves. Do not be that person. Build a plan, learn your craft, take your time, and execute. People recognize sacrifice, effort, and talent. It radiates from you without trying. More than anything, people respect it. Do not beg someone else to make your dream a reality. Take control of your destiny and brace for the ups and downs of the journey.
AI: What advice would you give a young person who is still in the closet and feels trapped by his space in the world, his community, his family?
RL: My advice to any young or adult person struggling with discovering and or accepting their identity and sexuality due to societal standards, religious beliefs, and family upbringing, is to start by truly loving yourself fully. Realize, understand, and accept that there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with who you are. Invest time in discovering who you truly are as a person. Let that be an intimate process. There’s no formula to being gay just like there’s no formula to being straight. Just be unapologetically yourself. You do that work, and you’ll discover just how amazing you are. You do not owe anyone an explanation about you being your authentic self. Lastly, take time to research and explore local programs and organizations in or around your community that aims to create a safe space for LGBTQ citizens.
AI: Given the present political climate, what keeps you up at night for yourself and the communities you belong too?
RL: Policy formation is a growing concern and rising issue within our country. What keeps me up at night is the lack of assurance in knowing that our current leaders in office, are truly working for the greater good of the American citizens. Funding being cut from education and healthcare systems are a scary reality. On a more personal note, police brutality against people of color is a subject matter that will always be at the forefront of my mind. Bullying and harassment against LGBTQ youth and adults is another issue that I take a strong stance against. Seeking the proper justice for innocent victims of crimes committed against them is something that I am very passionate about.
AI: What contribution are you making to improve those communities?
RL: As someone who has an undergraduate degree in Social Work; I love contributing back to my community. Currently, I am an ambassador alongside Grammy Award-winning singer Miguel for the non-profit organization Tangible Movement. Led by Torri Stack, Tangible Movement focuses on ending the stigma surrounding mental health through education and awareness for the LGBTQ+ community. I am very active in participating in public speaking engagements and volunteering my time to help set up events.