These Three New Series Depict LGBTQ Lives

07/15/2015 02:08 pm ET Updated Jul 15, 2016

The L-Word and Queer as Folk were hailed for revolutionizing scripted series through their groundbreaking, provocative depictions of LGBTQ life. On American television, The L-Word was the first-ever series to chronicle the modern lesbian experience, and Queer as Folk was the first hour-long drama to depict the lives of gay men.

Both of these series have been compared to Sex and the City and Girls, and not always in the most complimentary of ways. Though both shows broke boundaries in television for an LGBTQ community overwhelmingly underrepresented in media, Queer as Folk and The L-Word often portrayed a monolithic LGBTQ experience through a narrow lens. The "rainbow" of LGBTQ diversity was not adequately represented in Queer as Folk or The L-Word, and, like Sex and the City and Girls, both presented a very homogenous, exclusive world.  The L-Word creator Ilene Chaiken has been unapologetic when called to task about squandering the opportunity to showcase a richer, more diverse lesbian reality on an international platform.

Decades later, a crop of emerging creative minds are changing the way we look at LGBTQ life by offering alternative narratives in scripted series. Dyke Central, Eden's Garden, and Brothers are three new web series that are providing viewers a more diverse glimpse into the lives of LGBTQ individuals. I sat down with the creators of all three to learn more about the inspiration behind and future of these promising series.

Dyke Central

Acclaimed by AfterEllen as a "smart, sexy new web series featuring a wonderfully diverse cast," Dyke Central is an Oakland-based dramedy that centers around two 30-something butch roommates. Season 1 was released on VOD in April of 2015. Florencia Manóvil is Dyke Central's Director, Producer, and Head Writer.

dapperQ: Tell our readers about Dyke Central.

Florencia: Dyke Central is an independent queer series set in Oakland, California. Over the years, the show has garnered a following of loyal fans, and gotten a lot of praise for its unmatched diversity, representing queers of various gender expressions, backgrounds and ethnicities. The two main characters are a black butch and a genderqueer Filipina who are best friends and roommates.

dapperQ: What inspired you to start the series?

Florencia: The number one inspiration was the vacuum of representation of queers (as opposed to "gays and lesbians"), especially queers of color. None of my friends or community members seemed to find themselves represented on any series, mainstream or indie. As a local queer filmmaker, I got asked to fill this need enough times that I finally decided to go for it.

dapperQ: Are any of the storylines inspired by personal experiences? If so, can you give us a hint or share the story?

Florencia: Um, yes. I'd say most of the storylines stem directly from my own personal experiences, or from those of friends and lovers. The tense love triangle between Alex, Fabi and Jackie, for example, definitely sprung from a real situation. And those characters are all loosely based on real people. The abusive elements hinted at in a couple of the relationships are things I also dealt with personally -- as well as a lot of the comedy and ridiculousness of this tight-knit micro-universe.

But like all story elements based on real events or people, during the writing process, it becomes its own thing. And the further the story or a character goes through the artistic process, the more it distances itself from its original source of inspiration and becomes its own thing.

dapperQ: What can we expect next from the series?

Florencia: If all goes well this year -- if the show sells successfully and we're able to recoup production expenses -- then I hope we'll be filming and releasing Season 2 in 2016.

 

Brothers

The Advocate, The Huffington Post, Jezebel, GLAAD, and Bustle are all talking about BROTHERS, a fictional web series dramedy that follows four trans-masculine friends in Brooklyn, NY. The Advocate states, "Each 'brother' is facing a tipping point in his life, from Davyn's marriage proposal to Aiden and Max's different journeys toward chest reconstruction surgery to Jack's unanticipated attraction to other men." Filmmaker Emmett Lundberg is the writer and director of the series.

dapperQ: Please tell us a bit about BROTHERS?

Emmett: BROTHERS is a series that is unlike anything else, not only in its storylines, but also in its artistic vision. Produced like a low budget film, but in web series format, we worked hard to make as professional a product as we could on a tiny budget. The basics; It's a narrative web series about a group of transmasculine friends in Brooklyn, NY. It follows four guys, all at different stages in their respective transitions, with different desires and goals.

dapperQ: What inspired you to create the series?

Emmett: Now more than ever, in light of the recent tragic deaths of young trans people, I am reminded of the incredible importance of telling trans stories. I strongly believe that part of the fight to be seen as equal human beings is to have our stories be visible. BROTHERS was born of my own desire to see my story in a positive, realistic way and it's very clear to me now how essential this is for our community. I also didn't want to wait and hope that someone might someday produce this for me. It was something that had to be done and done now. I found others who shared my vision and we were able to launch an amazing first season.

dapperQ: What do you hope to achieve with the series? What has the response been so far?

Emmett: Bottom line, I want more narrative trans stories in the world. I love documentaries, but there's something different about relating to a fiction story. Something about seeing yourself on screen in that way that is incredibly comforting. I hope that transmasculine identified people can say that when they watch BROTHERS.

On top of that, I wanted to give a taste of trans daily life to cisgender individuals. I recognize that the stories I'm telling are only a piece of a much larger narrative, but it's a start and hopefully it will inspire others to create and share their own stories as well.

The response has been incredible so far, beyond my wildest dreams in fact. Many people within the community have contacted us to say how excited they are to have a show that they can relate to on a deep level. If that wasn't enough, we've also gotten quite a bit of very positive press from outlets like, The Huffington Post, The Advocate, SiriusXM Radio and Jezebel.

dapperQ: Are any of the storylines inspired by personal experiences? If so, can you give us a hint or share the story?

Emmett: A lot of what I write is inspired in some way by my own life experiences. It's hard not to bring those things into your work, impossible even. I know that for me, the relationships I have and the people I meet are all good material for future projects. There's a great quote by Anne Lamott that I always remember when writing, "You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better."

The storyline that follows Jack's ex-girlfriend is one that is very close to my own experience, with some liberties taken of course.

dapperQ: What can we expect next from the series?

Emmett: Season 1 was met with an even better reception than we could have ever expected. We have secured a handful of distribution deals, including Amazon Prime, which will soon be showing Season 1 to an international audience!

We have shot and released the first episode of our Second Season, and are still looking for investors to complete the remainder of this season. Anyone interested can contact us via our website: www.brothersseries.com.

 
Eden's Garden

Set to launch in September 2015, Eden's Garden will be the first scripted web series about trans men of color. Writer and producer Seven King created the series to address the lack of trans, racial, and ethnic diversity in both mainstream and LGBTQ media. The Advocate states, "The show aims to expose audiences to numerous aspects of what King calls 'trans-reality.'"

dapperQ: Tell our readers about Eden's Garden.

Seven: Eden's Garden is an independent film project in the LBGT community. Our goal is to connect to all different walks of life by sharing the unspoken realities lived under the radar. Eden's Garden is a story told from the perspective of transgender men. This impactful drama web series will change perception on many levels, as the viewers get to see the daily struggles, accomplishments, relationships realities, and the general journey of men of trans-experience. Eden's Garden is focused on many socially relevant topics, such as trans-reality issues and struggles: dating and relationships; HIV and AIDS; discrimination; friendships; and betrayals. This will be a suspenseful journey in each of the lives of the starring trans-men in the series.

Eden's Garden will be launching September 2015 and is starring all transgender men who are Black and Latino, who've done an amazing job bringing these characters to life. I am also so grateful for the hard work of my creative team: Marin Watts, who has been producing and directing with me; Ebony Felder, our Assistant Director; and everyone on my team that made this vision come to life!

dapperQ: What inspired you to start the series?

Seven: I'm an artist. I am a visionary. I am a revolutionary at heart. I am also a transgender male. Expressing the story of my own personal experience, which also represents the story of millions of transgender people regardless of color, is an intimate project to produce and I'm excited to showcase Eden's Garden for the world to see. I feel in the media, there is a trans revolution going on and the timing is perfect for a show like this. Even though the transgender story is being talked about a lot more now, the story of the trans-male is less visible. America is a culture that has a dynamic story when it comes to humans, race, and politics, and transitioning as a man of color is just one of the stories that needs to be told.

I wrote an explicit, heartfelt, and honest show regarding the trans-male experience and I hope this show opens a window for the world to understand our realities and struggles through this scripted drama. I hope this show connects people. I hope this show brings respect to people who choose to transition and live their life as any other person. I hope it brings understanding and clarity to people who still have narrow views of the transgender experience. I hope people can see the perspective of the Black and Latino transitioning experience.

dapperQ: Can you talk a bit about the lack of visibility and storylines for trans men of color in scripted television and how Eden's Garden is addressing this?

Seven: There is a need for more visibility for trans men of color and I feel the lack of scripted shows in general for people of color is prevalent in both the mainstream and LGBT communities.

Right now, trans women have been the forefront of most conversations and media due to the fact that they are suffering from high murder rates and the violence that has been done to them. Trans women have always been the forefront in activism and the fight for justice and it's carried over to the media. But, the trans experience is a very different experience for someone who was assigned female at birth and transitioned to a Black man or Latino man or any man that happens to be of color. And we would like to explore this perspective. America is a culture that has had its own history of oppression and racism, and there is an entirely different storyline for a Black man in this country. And life for a trans-male can be very different from a cis-male. There are different hurdles to overcome: health factors, employment factors, disclosing your trans identity or not disclosing, family acceptance or rejection, document changes, and just the process of manhood is in different stages for every man, cis or trans.

dapperQ: Are any of the story lines inspired by personal experiences? If so, can you give us a hint or share the story?

Seven: I never noticed how much subconsciously I put of some of my experiences in my writing until I have read it back. Writing is very therapeutic. Eden's Garden has a few situations that I have gone through. I'm attracted to women, trans women included. Before I even got comfortable to actually date and be open about my attraction for women that happened to be trans, I was mentally once oppressed by a former girlfriend who had hate for trans women and had me emotionally conflicted for being attracted to tran swomen as a trans man.

dapperQ: What can we expect next from the series?

Seven: My goal is to have Eden's Garden picked up by a major network and to expand this show globally and increase the funding for this project. We actually have a fundraiser going on right now to raise funds for our cast and crew, which you can support here. Seven King Entertainment is my film production company. We'll be launching Eden's Garden and premiering our first show in September of 2015 at The LGBT Center in NYC. Beyond Eden's Garden, I plan to create additional revolutionary projects as well as expand my focus.

This article contains excerpts from full interviews originally published on dapperQ.