1. Life & Culture

PBS special on LGBTQ life features Tampa Bay transgender voices

“Prideland,” a new digital series launched for Pride Month, features two people from the Tampa Bay area in the third episode.
During Pride Month in St. Petersburg, rainbow flags fly in front of local businesses or in shop windows.
During Pride Month in St. Petersburg, rainbow flags fly in front of local businesses or in shop windows. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times (2018) ]
Published Jun. 5, 2020
Updated Jun. 5, 2020

A new PBS series exploring LGBTQ identity will feature some Tampa Bay-area figures in an episode airing next week.

The six-episode short-form series called Prideland, hosted by actor Dyllón Burnside from FX’s Pose, has been launched on PBS Voices, a new documentary-focused YouTube Channel by PBS Digital Studios. You can see the first two episodes on YouTube now. Tampa’s local PBS station WEDU will air a one-hour special on the series, also hosted by Burnside, on June 16 at 11 p.m.

The third episode of the series premiering Tuesday focuses on being transgender in the South. It features Kiala Emmons of Tampa, who identifies as a pansexual African-American woman, and Cole Foust of St. Petersburg, who identifies as a transgender man. In a roundtable discussion, they talk candidly about their relationship status, dating, asexuality and how to manage diverging expectations in the LGBTQ community.

As the series explores this world of terms like cisgender, pansexual, asexual and demisexual, they talk about how putting a label on a certain sexual identity can help people feel included and realize they are not alone.

Emmons is recently married and Foust is in a relationship with a woman that he said is monogamous and “demisexual.” The host Burnside was unaware of the term, which is defined as someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction unless there is a strong emotional or intellectual connection.

“For a long time I felt very flawed,” Foust says in the episode, “because I would hook up with someone and the next day I wouldn’t feel great. It was like a recovery or a hangover.”

Emmons talks candidly of only finding satisfaction in a relationship “with someone when I can be my authentic self," and they both talk about how “transphobia” has impacted the quality of their past relationships.

The series is part of the PBS celebration of Pride month, and the first two digital episodes are available to view on PBS Voices on YouTube. The first episode focuses on Dyllón Burnside’s story, titled “Out, Proud and Southern.” The second episode features an openly gay pastor’s journey to acceptance in the Bible Belt.