Cyrus Grace Dunham

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Cyrus Grace Dunham
Born (1992-01-28) January 28, 1992 (age 29)
Alma materBrown University
  • writer
  • actor
  • activist
Years active2014–present
RelativesLena Dunham (sister)

Cyrus Grace Dunham (/ˈdʌnəm/ DUN-əm; born January 28, 1992) is an American writer, actor, and activist.[1][2] Dunham's debut book, A Year Without A Name: A Memoir, was published by Little, Brown and Company in 2019.[3]

Early life[edit]

Dunham was born and raised in New York City.[4] His mother, Laurie Simmons, is an artist and photographer, and his father, Carroll Dunham, is a painter.[5][6] Dunham's older sister, Lena, is the creator and star of the HBO series Girls.

Dunham attended St. Ann's School in New York City.[7] He wrote for the school newspaper and yearbook and spoke at the graduation.[4] During Dunham's senior year of high school, he came out as gay to his sister Lena.[8] He graduated from Brown University in May 2014 with a degree in urban studies.[9]

As a high school student in 2009, Dunham received the Poetry Society of America's Louise Louis/Emily F. Bourne Student Poetry Award for the poem Twin Oaks, which was judged for the competition by American poet Matthew Rohrer.[4][10]

Dunham was a contributing writer for the student weekly The College Hill Independent in Providence, Rhode Island.[11]


Activism and writing[edit]

Dunham is involved in a collaborative relationship with transgender activist Tourmaline; their work together includes public speaking, writing, and performance.[12][13][14][15]

Dunham has contributed articles to The New Yorker,[16] and catalog essays for Transgender Herstory in 99 Objects: Legends and Mythologies at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives,[17] UNCOUNTED: Call & Response at Vienna Secession,[18] and Nicole Eisenman's AL-UGH-ORIES at the New Museum, amongst others. In November 2015 Dunham interviewed transgender rights activist Janet Mock for Buzzfeed's Women Of The Hour podcast.[19]

In 2015, Dunham presented the talk "Why Am I Valuable?" during a panel at the Frieze Art Fair in New York.[20] The talk begins:

Some things about me are that I'm white, that I have relatively famous parents, and that my sister is a celebrity. I also have a vagina, which makes people think I'm a woman. I have an intimate relationship with a black trans activist, Reina, who by being in a public collaborative relationship with me validates my perspective and — despite my whiteness, my class, and my proximity to fame — makes my critique of power seem legitimate in ways it otherwise might not. In other words, as a commodity, I have power through my associations with social capital; in addition, I hold a set of marginalized identities which give me intellectual authority and increased use-value in contexts seeking "diversity."

In 2016, Dunham's first collection of poetry and short essays titled The Fool was published. The publication is a free, online-only "web-book" published by Curse of Cherifa.[21][22]

Dunham's memoir, titled A Year Without a Name, was published in October 2019 and met with positive reviews from The Atlantic, Kirkus Reviews, and Them.[23] A short section of the book was published online in The New Yorker.[24]


Dunham's first film appearance was in the 2006 short, Dealing, as June, a 13-year-old art dealer.[25] Dealing was written and directed by Dunham's older sister.

In 2010, Cyrus starred in a second film written and directed by his sister called Tiny Furniture. The film also stars Cyrus's sister Lena as well as their mother Laurie Simmons.[26] All three characters portrayed in the film were loosely based on their family.[27]

Dunham stars as Junior in the forthcoming film Happy Birthday, Marsha! about the gay activist Marsha P. Johnson and transgender activist Sylvia Rivera in the hours before the Stonewall riots.[28] Dunham also appeared in artist A.K. Burns' multi-channel video installation A Smeary Spot.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Dunham describes himself as "transmasculine and non-binary and also maybe forever lesbian" and uses he/him pronouns.[30]

Reaction to controversy[edit]

Passages in Lena's memoir Not That Kind of Girl, which recount childhood interactions between then seven-year-old Lena and then one-year-old Cyrus Grace, attracted controversy when some commentators perceived them to be overly sexual. Experts described these passages as either too ambiguous to judge, or as describing behavior consistent with normal childhood development.[31][32][33] Cyrus Grace publicly rejected claims by media commentators that the behavior was harmful.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Grace Dunham - The New Yorker". The New Yorker.
  2. ^ Asked & Answered | Laurie Simmons. The New York Times.
  3. ^ "a year without a name - Google Search". Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  4. ^ a b c "Tiny Furniture Press Kit from IFC Films" (PDF) (Press release). p. 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 16, 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  5. ^ Morgan Falconer. About this artist: Carroll Dunham. The Museum of Modern Art.
  6. ^ About Laurie Simmons. Art in the Twenty First Century, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
  7. ^ Anderson, Jenny (July 20, 2010). "At St. Ann's, Increased Stability, but Also Controversy". The New York Times. para. 3. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  8. ^ Daum, Meghan (September 10, 2014). "Lena Dunham Is Not Done Confessing". The New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  9. ^ Weinstein, Michael (April 16, 2010). "Big names from big screen visit College Hill". The Brown Daily Herald. para. 4. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  10. ^ "Grace Dunham - Poetry Society of America". Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  11. ^ Issue #3 - The Y Archived January 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Touch One Another - talk by Reina Gossett & Grace Dunham - Reina Gossett". Reina Gossett. May 5, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  13. ^ "Talking with Reina Gossett and Grace Dunham About Everyday Activism and Why Empathy is Everything | Autostraddle". Autostraddle. November 30, 2001. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  14. ^ "Grace Dunham - The Fool". Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  15. ^ "Transgender Hirstory in 99 Objects: Legends & Mythologies | ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries". Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  16. ^ Grace Dunham. The New Yorker
  17. ^ "Transgender Hirstory in 99 Objects: Legends and... - Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art". Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art.
  18. ^ "Uncounted : Emily Roysdon". Archived from the original on December 23, 2015.
  19. ^ "Grace Dunham Interviewed Janet Mock And It Was Really Wonderful". BuzzFeed.
  20. ^ "Why am I valuable? (Speech at an art fair)". e-flux conversations.
  21. ^ "Grace Dunham - The Fool". Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  22. ^ "Curse of Cherifa". Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  23. ^ A Year Without a Name. September 4, 2018.
  24. ^ Dunham, Cyrus Grace (8 August 2019). "A Year Without a Name". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  25. ^ Musetto, V.A. (November 6, 2010). "All in the family". New York Post. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  26. ^ Moore, Lorrie (March 27, 2012). "Lena Dunham: Unwatchable in the Best Way". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  27. ^ Dollar, Steve (November 5, 2010). "'Tiny' Voice Makes Loud Noise". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  28. ^ "Happy Birthday, Marsha! (2016)". IMDb.
  29. ^ "A Smeary Spot" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 23, 2015.
  30. ^ Masters, Jeffery (15 October 2019). "Writer Cyrus Grace Dunham Shows How Messy Gender Can Be". Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  31. ^ McDonald, Soraya Nadia (November 3, 2014). "Lena Dunham responds to sites accusing her of sexually abusing her sister". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  32. ^ Clark-Flory, Tracy. "Child therapists: Stop freaking out about Lena Dunham". Salon (November 4, 2014). Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  33. ^ Oldenburg, Ann (November 6, 2014). "Lena Dunham: Sexual abuse or sexual exploration?". USA Today. Gannett. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  34. ^ Lena Dunham's sister, Grace, defends sex stories. USA Today, 5 November 2014

External links[edit]