On the latest episode of Saturday Night Live, actor Don Cheadle made a silent statement — but one that oddly needs to be repeated over and over. While introducing Gary Clark Jr., the celebrity appeared on screen wearing a black shirt with the words “Protect Trans Kids” on the front. And though he didn’t vocalize the sentiment, the sartorial choice said enough.
SNL has no qualms going political, and last night’s episode was no different. And though his debut hosting gig on the show didn’t see him participate in actual skits or sketches, he did enough. At another point, Cheadle wore a jersey, with lettering indicating Russian origins. The jersey boasted the name “Trump” on the back, nodding to ongoing collusion accusations that the actor has been vocal about before. But the “Protect Trans Kids” tee saw a flood of support online.
“A reminder from the hero himself,” Janet Mock, guest editor of Out’s March issue, tweeted likely referring to Cheadle’s role as War Machine in the Avengers franchise. Others like the Human Rights Campaign, Jeffrey Marsh, Sarah Silverman, Munroe Bergdorf, and more also chimed in.
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) February 17, 2019
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) February 17, 2019
Transphobic TERF culture needs to end.
The well-being of trans children depends on it. Thank you @DonCheadle for stepping up on last night's @nbcsnl and showing the world what allyship looks like. pic.twitter.com/rFKjrxRIxg
— ＭＵＮＲＯＥ (@MunroeBergdorf) February 17, 2019
PROTECT TRANS KIDS
When heroes like @DonCheadle use their platform to acknowledge the humanity of (and the unfair discrimination against) trans kids,
lives are saved
It’s that simple https://t.co/NZr703bnOe
— jeffrey marsh (@thejeffreymarsh) February 17, 2019
The support drew a response from Cheadle himself. “I awoke to so much support and love,” he wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “Thank you NBC for the opportunity for to play and respect and throw shade in an [sic] historic space in an historic time. Keep fighting, y’all. Evil grows in the dark.”
to each and every one of you beautiful tweeps. i awoke to so much support and love!! thank you @nbcsnl for the opportunity to play and pay respect and throw shade in an historic space in an historic time. keep fighting, y'all. evil grows in the dark.
— Don Cheadle (@DonCheadle) February 17, 2019
Cheadle obviously isn’t the first to use fashion to make a salient point. In 2017, Frank Ocean went viral for wearing a t-shirt that asked “Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic when you could just be quiet?” That company, which is run by Kayla Robinson, a bisexual Afro-Latina, has centered there entire brand on pieces that make a statement.
It is unconfirmed where the design of Cheadle’s shirt is sold.