Words: Jamie Tabberer; Photography: Antonio Ysursa
It may be fitting that the winner of the Hero Award at the 2021 Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards, powered by Jaguar, Chella Man, a trans artist, and model who uses he/him pronouns, made his acting debut as Jericho on DC superhero series Titans in 2019.
But this fierce 22-year-old, born in Pennsylvania, has been a heroic figure to the LGBTQ+ community around the world for far longer than that.
This multi-talent has always used his platforms (on Instagram, he has 479k followers and counting) to encourage kindness and compassion... not to mention love, respect, and inclusivity for those who identify between traditional - and often heteronormative - binaries.
Earlier this year, the genderqueer social media star published his truths in his first book, Continuum, a diary-esque insight into his ‘f**k binary’ philosophy, in which Chella celebrates his deaf, trans, Chinese and Jewish intersectional identities.
Calling his win "an honour", Chella tells the Attitude Awards issue (out now to download and to order globally): "I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for all who have given me space to tell my story and cheered me on throughout the years."
Asked what issue impacting the queer community he’d like to use his award to highlight, he says: "This is an impossible question as it’s so hard to narrow down one issue. I would like to address the divide within our own community.
"With such diversity, it is hard at times for people to relate to each other, which can lead to harmful gatekeeping when we should all be welcoming and supporting.
"Please remember to lead with compassion and an open mind. We all just want to be appreciated. We all just want to be accepted. We all just want to be safe.”
(Photography: Antonio Ysursa)
Asked what’s next, he replies: "I am currently a mentor at the artist residency, Silver Art Projects, in the 4 World Trade Center. The next year holds a lot more painting, performance art, and experimenting with my practice.
"I am hoping to expand the scale at which I usually paint, so hopefully some giant pieces are coming! Additionally, I plan on continuing to act and test my ability to intentionally shift my identity.
"Stay tuned for all the projects to come; I can’t wait!”
Neither can we, Chella.
The Attitude Awards issue is out now.