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Our Voice to Voice series brings together two individuals to discuss issues, topics, and projects of interest and affecting the LGBT community.
In January we featured several LGBT authors chatting about their work, in February we had some amazing Voice to Voice pieces regarding Black History Month, and today we bring you a conversation between Brent Sullivan and Eliot Glazer, creators of the "It Gets Betterish" webseries.
Sullivan is a writer, stand-up comedian who recently made his TV debut on the Comedy Central stand-up series “Live at Gotham” and developed his own live show, "Fag Life: A Conversation with Fred Phelps" at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. His live show became such a success he was given an extended run and continues to tour the show with the UCB Theater Company.He continues to perform stand-up all over New York City.
Eliot Glazer is a writer and comedian living in New York City. He is currently an editor at Vulture, the pop culture blog of New York Magazine, and a weekly contributor to the New York Times Magazine One-Page among other publications. Glazer is a performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, where he co-hosted and co-produced the variety show, "High School Talent Show." He continues to perform sketch and storytelling all over New York City.
Here Brent and Eliot discuss "It Gets Betterish," gay television shows that they can't (and don't want to) relate to, and more.
Brent Sullivan: "It Gets Betterish," our webseries, goes beyond the idea that we -- gay guys -- are challenged by society. It’s about how we’re challenged by ourselves.
Eliot Glazer: We’re not trying to help kids come out, per se, but we are trying to use comedy as a tool for looking at gay life more realistically -- the good, the bad, and the weird.
Brent: As we like to say, it's about “two gay weirdos drowning in a sea of fierceness."
Eliot: In our experiences (and consequently, what has made us such good friends), we’ve found that, even in a thriving metropolis like New York City in 2012, being gay comes with its own inherent problems.
Brent: For example, not all gay dudes are “fierce.” I am anything but fierce. Case in point: I haven't taken my shirt off in public since 1997. Eliot is not fierce. He shoplifts cookies because he convinces himself if they're free, he isn't imbibing the calories.
Eliot: I am what they call “stupid in the brain.”
Brent: With "It Gets Betterish," we want to take attention away from grotesque minstrel shows like "The A-List" and basically every show on Bravo to exhibit that gay dudes can be trainwrecks, too.
Eliot: Well, not necessarily “trainwrecks,” but neurotic, self-effacing, and imperfect. Being fabulous doesn’t mean you come without flaws. You are allowed to be flawed! Brent and I are very, very flawed, and that’s the basis for our comedy.
Brent: Gay people are often caught between two extremes. First, there’s the knee-jerk reaction from evangelical conservatives that all of us are child-molesting sexual deviants (see: Joe the Plumber). So not only are we not deserving of marriage equality, but we don't deserve protection in the workplace or housing, either. On the other hand, so much “progressive” media -- which tries to expose fresh and sexy portrayals of gay life -- can be just as belittling by giving gay men one purpose in life: to make women look pretty.
Eliot: "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy" really broke down barriers in its time. But in looking back now, it really feels like they did a disservice by neutering these five guys, and turning them into, like, fairies with skill sets or something (except Jai Rodiguez, who was basically like, “Make eye contact!”).
Brent: This isn't to say you shouldn't be endlessly proud of who you are, regardless of whether you like to give your girlfriends pedicures. But the media is missing a huge swath of real life: gay dudes who aren't catty, petty, or sexually aggressive.
Eliot: It does exist on a small scale. "Happy Endings" is not only one of the funniest shows on television, but the character of Max is a fully-formed, dynamic guy whose sexuality is secondary to his personality. It’s endlessly amazing to me, because it feels like the first time I’ve seen a gay guy on screen and not cringed.
Brent: "It Gets Betterish" makes light of the ups and downs of life. Sometimes, we end up watching an amateur porn with a dude we've hooked up with, and then we book it to an HIV clinic to get tested and have respective panic attacks.
Eliot: Or sometimes drag queens are actually straight dudes with children, eager to make some cash by putting on a wig.
Brent: Our priority with "It Gets Betterish" is making you laugh. Or to remind you that your gay identity doesn’t necessarily have to be about the clothes you wear or the music you listen to. You should just do your own thing.
Eliot: We totally get it. And, as brave as it is to come out, sometimes it’s even braver to come out again as an individual, as someone who doesn’t let his sexuality dictate every facet of his life. At least, that’s how it’s been for us. It hasn’t been easy, but now we’ve learned to laugh about it (and then write it down and then film it).
What the season finale of "It Gets Betterish" at the top of the page.