In a COVID-19 world without Pride parades, it is heartening to see this eight-part series hosted by Enrique Sapene, Lianna Carrera, Víctor Ramos and Juliana Joel, offer up an insightful series of interviews and panel discussions about issues affecting not only the LGBTQ+ community and their admirers, but, hopefully, educate the rest of the population about gay rights, manners and attitudes. The upbeat music and colourful graphics reinforce the positive nature of the shows.
In Canada (mostly on radio but also television, rebroadcast in the U.S.), the program q (ably hosted by Tom Power and delving into all aspects of the world of entertainment), the show’s title refers to “question” rather than queer. Yet both have similar approaches to sharing thoughts and ideas from performers, writers and directors about the state of our planet.
Also because of the pandemic, most of the episodes are comprised of talking heads, largely captured via Zoom with its infrequent, but annoying, sound “bursts”.
Here are the highlights:
What are your favourite Pride memories?
“a crazy experience”
“a little overwhelmed”
“a little out there”
Keeping in mind that last year was the 50th anniversary of Stonewall…
“Once you walk in [a parade], it’s intoxicating, not as much oppression [in 2019]”
And for those stuck at home, “do research about history/herstory.”
Billed as a “super sexy show,” the first segment was more serious.
How sad that during COVID-19 that those in the gay community who have recovered from the virus and want to help their fellow humans by donating their plasma are—just like donating blood during the AIDS epidemic—summarily refused. The sad irony of trans and women who “play” being allowed to donate looms large.
Latino heart throb Rafael de la Fuente (currently in Dynasty), proved he needs a script to avoid replying to questions with clichés. Thong-sporting Jason Carter (on Ru Paul’s Drag Race) was thoughtful and amiable in his chat.
This one contrasts the politics of Black Lives Matter and a candid interview with Omar Sharif Jr. Once again, women not-of-colour get a “white passing image”, while openly gay Sharif loses his citizenship after the Egyptian Arab Spring. His notion that “pride is about people” rings true.
What we call each other lifts off the opening: “guys, girl, y’all, folks?”
The consensus seems to be how well you know your audience.
Then there are two artists, Juan Solis and Fuchina Enrique (who drill down deeply into how they make their work more accessible). Tatianna Hazel completes the set with advice on how to stay connected with fans via social media.
Here, the opening panel tackles the relationship (or not) between the Queer community and the church.
After a somewhat uneven tele-prompted start from Sapene, there a few gems/wisdom:
“I’m not religious but spiritual”; I was Catholic until being told “I was a sinner”; “We had to choose [lesbian relationship] between god and ourselves—we chose the god in us by stepping away from the church”; “struggles with my faith [transgender]” until eliminating “organized” religion (priests and church).
It was a short but powerful segment.
The feature interview brought actor/musician Tyrell Carter into focus. Ironically his storied career began in the church as a choirboy. Born of incestuous parents (Mom 11, Dad 22), he candidly bares his soul in the book, Problem Child.
A fatalist (everything happened for a reason, “Tomorrow it’s gonna be all right”), the very articulate man has found comfort in his Black/gay skin and virtually ignores racism noting: “It’s their problem.”
The closer is a quick chat with Familia TQLM (Trans Queer Liberation Movement) founder, Jorge Gutierrez. His main goal is the abolishment of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)—not coincidentally founded in 2001. Good luck with that!
The panel has an engaging discussion about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that no one can be fired for their sexual orientation, while simultaneously expressing fears of going back to the Dark Ages if Trump survives November 3.
The chat with Tony Directs (a late gay-bloomer in public, coming out on social media) reinforces the notion that being open and honest sooner than later is always a good thing. Will look forward to his first independent feature.
The interview with trans performer/actor Candis Cayne (with a closet of gowns and shoes in the background to die for) is as honest as she is. The star in such shows as CSI and Dirty Sexy derives, finally, a lover worthy of her.
Nothing better than to conclude this series (cheers to next season) with an open chat about asexuality. Scary thought!
Then trans beauty Alexander Grey (well-known from Empire) shares her experiences working through discovering self.
The curtain falls on a lively chat with Bamby Salcedo and her journey from a sex worker to advocate.
Viewings by one, all and the curious are highly recommended. JWR