In 2003, a group of Howard University students took up a collection so one of their classmates could afford to travel to an American Idol audition in another city. When Frenchie Davis, the recipient of that collection, found herself in front of American Idol judges Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell a few days later, she did her classmates proud.
After reaching the semifinals of Idol, Frenchie packed her bags and moved to New York City to join the Broadway cast of Rent as the Seasons of Love soloist. Over the course of the next decade, Frenchie went on to star in the touring production of Dreamgirls, the 30th-anniversary national tour of Ain't Misbehavin' alongside American Idol winner Ruben Studdard and on NBC's hit singing competition The Voice, where she again reached the semifinals.
Offstage, Frenchie made headlines last summer when she came out as bisexual in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I wasn't out before the relationship, but I wasn't in," she told the paper upon revealing she'd been dating a woman. "I dated men and women, though lesbians weren't feeling the bisexual thing. Now I'm in love with a woman I think I can be with forever."
After seeing her perform numerous times on Broadway, I met Frenchie earlier this year at the 2013 Equality Awards. Moved by her talent and her involvement in the LGBTQ community, I reached out to her to ask a few questions about her career, her source of inspiration and her hope for the gay community.
CL: What are you up to these days?
FD: Right now I'm putting the finishing touches on my album and deciding which song I'd like to release as my second single.
CL: How is what you're doing making a difference in the LGBTQ community?
FD: By choosing to be out of the closet, I hope that I'm sending the message to LGBTQ youth that it's okay to be true to yourself.
CL: Can you name the one person whose contribution to the LGBTQ community has inspired you most?
FD: I'm always inspired when I meet LGBTQ people who are over the age of 50, because I can only imagine what they've had to endure.
CL: If you had to recommend one book, movie or song with an LGBTQ bent, what would your recommendation be?
FD: I would recommend the book Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg and the film Paris Is Burning, which I watch almost every day.
CL: What is your hope for the LGBTQ community?
FD: My hope is that we not only continue to do everything we can to eliminate homophobia in the straight community, but that we strive to eliminate biphobia in the gay community as well.
Note: A link to this post appeared on AfterEllen on March 28, 2013.