Sam Jay on ‘PAUSE with Sam Jay’ and the intersection of Blackness and queerness

The comedian's HBO Max series is currently in its second season and is described as a 'new take on the late-night talk show format'

The second season of PAUSE with Sam Jay is officially here, and the comedian-writer sat down with theGrio, to break down the second season, her experience as a Black gay woman and current narratives regarding the Black community and queerness.

Aside from Jay’s work as a writer on Saturday Night Live and writer-actor on Peacock’s Bust Down, the multi-hyphenate also has HBO’s PAUSE with Sam Jay keeping her busy. From the minds of Jay and Prentice Penny, the series is described as a “new take on the late-night talk show format.” 

Photograph by Courtesy of HBO

In each episode, Jay hosts a party at her apartment, diving into different major cultural conversations and issues through animation, sketches and interviews. As an openly gay woman, she often uses the show as a platform to explore the intersection between Blackness and queerness. 

In her interview with theGrio, Jay touches on something she says in the series. “I was Black before I was gay,” she explained. “I think when you are a multitude of things, people try to make a decision for you about what thing you’re supposed to prioritize or what thing you should lead with.” Further, she maintained, while many may think that queerness would take precedent because of societal prejudices, that is “not the case” for her.

Photograph by Courtesy of HBO

“When someone is being discriminatory of me, my first thought is, ‘Oh, they are doing this because I am Black,’ because that is the thing that I grew up knowing was going to be a hinderance in my life, and then a woman, and then gay. And now, woman and gay live in the same space for me but definitely my first thought is, ‘My main issue is probably [my skin].'” 

Of course, Jay reiterates that everyone has a different journey. “None of this is wrong or right. I think at the end of the day, it would be great to get to some place where all of the things I am are swirling together in one little pot,” she adds. “But it just isn’t that for me at this particular juncture.”

In PAUSE with Sam Jay, she also challenges the idea that homophobia is more of a problem in the Black community compared with others.

“I’m just a person who hates when those types of narratives get spread because I think it also contributes to Black gay people feeling like they won’t find safety and sanctuary within my community,” she says. “In my experience, I have not found that to be true. My friends that I’ve had since high school, are my friends. My family is my family.”

While there have been occasions when loved ones have said off-color, even homophobic things to her,  Jay says these have not been instances of a rejection of her as a person. “I just think there is this idea that it is particularly hard to be Black and gay in the Black community, like they’ll shun you to the streets and somehow the white community is so much more open and accepting of this thing that we are just so ignorant and can’t wrap our heads around.” 

It’s simply not true, Jay asserts. “It’s just bull—-! There’s a lot of homophobia in the white community, depending on where you go and there is a lot of homophobia in the Black community depending on where you go. It’s not particular to either; it is just a human condition.”

New episodes of PAUSE with Sam Jay air at 11:00 p.m. ET on Fridays on HBO. The show streams on HBO Max.

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