Not long ago, the most recognizable options for LGBTQ+ visibility in mainstream media, sadly only existed within reruns of Will And Grace, or during some random episode of Real Sex (if you were luckily enough to have HBO). Thankfully, times have changed for the better. With the accessibility of innovative platforms, that empower a more increased freedom within storytelling, many of us have witnessed a modern revolution of queer narratives, that reach far beyond primetime television. Yet even within this creative surge, have we really reached a pinnacle in telling our stories, our way? And if not, then what’s next in building more compelling LGBTQ+ narratives?
One way that we can move forward in finding these answers, is by learning from our dynamic past. Luckily we don’t have to look back too far, since 2016 provided us with some of the most compelling and progressive LGBTQ+ content in recent years. One of these highly acclaimed narratives, was none other than the multi-award winning film Moonlight. Based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play *In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue* and directed by Barry Jenkins, Moonlight brilliantly showcased the revolutionary power of intimacy between black men, beyond the realms of sexualized lust.
Moonlight wasn’t the only compelling LGBTQ+ narrative that graced audiences in 2016. Films like Andrew Ahn’s award winning drama Spa Night and the gorgeous animated short Arrival, showcased the multifaceted stories and experiences of queer Asians communities. 2016 also reminded us that progressive LGBTQ+ narratives, go beyond the medium of film. Productions like the Emmy nominated series Her Story, empowered the experiences of queer and trans women (on both sides of the camera). With the New York based series 195: Lewis, audiences had the opportunity to witness the dynamics of polyamory, from the lens of black queer women. Issa Rae tackled the complexity of manhood and sexuality within the NFL, on her fresh new podcast series Fruit. While The Torrington’s further elevated their brand, by premiering not only a new hit web series titled Love @ First Night, but by also co-launching the trailblazing LGBTQ+ media network Slay TV.
Complex storytelling beyond a cis-hetero perspectives, have also grown greatly within the massive and imaginative world of video games. A excellent example of this interactive growth, is within Sassybot Studio’s latest adventure title Fragments Of Him. Released on Steam and X-Box One, Fragments Of Him deals with the emotional aftermath of losing a loved one, from the perspective of queer and straight characters. On a more upbeat note, the makers of the massively successful title Overwatch, revealed that one of their most popular characters (spoilers, it’s Tracer), is officially in a same-gender loving relationship.
We haven’t even discussed the groundbreaking queer art that’s flourishing within the mediums of music, books and more. Yet I’m sure many of us would agree, that there has clearly been significant progress in sharing LGBTQ+ experiences globally. Still even with this evolutionary growth, our we truly content with the depiction of our stories in media, or have we just become creatively complacent? On a personal note, I believe there is so much we can do as a community, to create and support the evoltution of quality LGBTQ+ content. To further share this sititiement, here our my top three tactics, towards building more compelling queer narratives.
Crowdfunding sites like KickStarter, Indiegogo, Patreon and more, have been excellent resources in financially supporting LGBTQ+ content creators. Many of the productions highlighted in this article, were funded utilizing these noted crowdfunding websites. Also if you can’t financially support these quality productions, than liking, following and sharing them online can help as well.
It’s no surprise that most mainstream media outlets lack quality LGBTQ+ content, considering many of these networks are overwhelmingly controlled by old, wealthy white men (who are mostly straight). This is why it’s paramount to often seek our stories, on platforms that offer us sustainable creative freedom. YouTube, Vimeo and VHX.TV, have become some of the most popular outlets, to watch and support compelling queer visual content. Bandcamp and SoundCloud have also been credible game changers, in discovering often unknown musicians who identify as LGBTQ+
The tools needed to bring your creative vision to life, have become more accessible and affordable than ever. From DSLR cameras to pro-grade audio recorders, most of the standard equipment you’ll need to tell your story, can be purchase at your local electronic store or online retailer. If you’re not professionally trained (which is recommended), you can learn many of the fundamentals surrounding the creative arts, by exploring the sea of informative online tutorials.. Typically the biggest barrier in turning your artistic dream into a viable reality, will be your own self doubt. So recognize your potetional, believe in your vision and most importantly continue to create.
These are a just few opitions you we can collectively utilize in future proofing our stories, culture and community within media. Please feel free to share some of your ideas and suggestions, regarding what’s next for LGBTQ+ narratives in media. Also check out some of our most beloved current and upcoming productions highlighting queer stories below.
A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, MOONLIGHT chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.At once a vital portrait of contemporary African American life and an intensely personal and poetic meditation on identity, family, friendship, and love, MOONLIGHT is a groundbreaking piece of cinema that reverberates with deep compassion and universal truths. Anchored by extraordinary performances from a tremendous ensemble cast, Jenkins’s staggering, singular vision is profoundly moving in its portrayal of the moments, people, and unknowable forces that shape our lives and make us who we are.
“The atmospheric SPA NIGHT is a portrait of forbidden sexual awakening set in the nocturnal world of spas and karaoke bars in Los Angeles’ Koreatown. David Cho (Joe Seo in a breakthrough performance), a timid 18-year-old living with his financially-struggling immigrant parents, chances upon a secret cruising spot when he takes a job at an all-male spa. There he begins to realize hidden desires that threaten his life as a dutiful son and student”
Written, Directed and Animated by Alex Myung, this 2D-animated film explores one boy’s struggle to face the truth of his life and love, and reveal it to the person he cares about most. Arrival delves into the often unexamined ripple effect that hiding your true self has on loved ones around you.
195 LEWIS is a dramedy series about a group of women navigating the realities of being Black, queer, and poly in New York City.Based in Brooklyn, the series follows Yuri and Camille as they test the boundaries of their open relationship. Yuri’s growing infatuation with a new lover leaves Camille distressed, which is only amplified by the unexpected arrival of Yuri’s old college friend Kris, who shows up with nowhere else to stay.
From Issa Rae, creator of the new show Insecure on HBO, FRUIT is a fresh new serialized audio drama about a professional football player named X who is struggling to figure out who he really is – no easy feat in the alpha-male dominated industry of pro football. “Set to shift the paradigm of podcasting,” according to Forbes, FRUIT recounts X’s journey of self-discovery and sexual exploration, both on and off the field.
Her Story is about two trans women in Los Angeles who have given up on love, when suddenly chance encounters give them hope. Violet is drawn to Allie, a reporter who approaches her for an interview, while career-driven Paige meets James, the first man she’s considered opening up to in years. Will they risk letting what they are stand in the way of being loved for who they are?
From the outside looking in, Spencer and Jayden appear to be the cliche. Two young black men hooking up after a house party. However, their story takes a unique twist once they realize their attraction for each other is more than a one night stand. One night turns into a weekend of pillow talk, fun, engagement and passion that sometimes takes months to create. Almost instantly they recognize that their connection shouldn’t be ignored, but no good thing is met without resistance.
When a young man dies suddenly, his friends and family are left to pick up the pieces. What were his last thoughts, what were the moments in which he changed their lives, and how will their lives be without him? Fragments of Him is an interactive narrative experience. Follow the story of Will as you see how he influenced the lives of many people.Your browser does not support the video tag
Read Only Memories is a compelling cyberpunk adventure title, featuring diverse cast of LGBTQ+ characters and storylines. The upcoming deluxe version of this sci-fi experience, will include voice dialog and a slew of new additional features when drops on Steam and PS4 later this month.
‘Brown Girls’ is an intimate story of the lives of two young women of color. Leila is a South Asian-American writer just now owning her queerness. Patricia is a sex-positive Black-American musician who is struggling to commit to anything: job, art and relationships. While the two women come from completely different backgrounds, their friendship is ultimately what they lean on to get through the messiness of their mid-twenties.
Filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and flood of rich archival material. By confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for
After a near two year hiatus. fans of Sense8 will finally be able to dive into the second season of this hit Netflix series, when it premieres on May 5th 2017. Until then viewers can check out the recently released Sense8 Christmas Special, now available on Netflix.
The Torringtons are planning on slaying the scene once again, with season two of their hit web series No Shade. With some new talent joining the cast in front and behind, No Shade will surely be something to look out for, when it premieres exclusively on SLAY TV in 2017.
Happy Birthday, Marsha! honors the life and legacy of pioneering trans activist Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson. The biopic also stars award winning trans actress Mya Taylor, playing the leading role of Marsha.
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