New LGBTI Webseries ‘ADVOCATES’ Finds The Humor In Queer Advocacy
Even though LGBTI advocacy is incredibly important to the wellbeing of our community, and the work that is done by organizations like ACON, GLAD, GLAAD and GenderPAC is vital if LGBTQI rights are to be fought for, socially accepted, and legally sanctioned, sometimes it can just be, well, funny.
The various contradictions and confusions in contemporary identity politics, particularly in terms of gender and sexuality, are ripe for well-meaning satire and comedy. Like, let’s face it: the newly recognized acronym for The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is IDAHOBIT. We’re not saying that the day is not very significant: we are saying that ‘IDAHOBIT’ is an unfortunate acronym with hairy-footed, Middle Earth connotations.
Curve’s own staff writer Chloe Curran, alongside Lauren Elizabeth Neal (Cinetic Media, PDA), have realized the comedic potential we speak of, and have created a hilarious new web series, ‘ADVOCATES,’ a scripted digital comedy/satire series that celebrates and skewers LGBTQI advocacy. Created by and for the LGBTQI community, this irreverent, crowdfunded workplace comedy finds humor and absurdity in modern queer culture.
ADVOCATES centers on GULPTAB*, a fictional nonprofit and America’s most powerful LGBTQI institution. The two-episode arc will follow protagonist Iris as she wrangles an intensely devoted trans fandom king, flirts with her inappropriate intern Casey, and tries to bridge the gap between two very different parts of the queer community. It will also feature Adrian butting heads with Straight Janet, GULPTAB’s basic yet twisted accountant. Finally, the GULPTAB* crew will meet the lesbian YouTubers from hell.
“I was inspired to write ADVOCATES after years of watching LGBTQ characters whose storylines began and ended with ‘I’m not straight, HOW WILL I GO ON?’” says Curran. “The characters in ADVOCATES aren’t interesting because they’re queer. They are interesting people who happen to be queer. They are not victims or tropes. They are confident, opinionated, flawed people with different perspectives of how LGBTQ culture works and should work. ADVOCATES shows a side of LGBTQ culture I’ve never seen on screen.”
Unlike most shows, every queer character in ADVOCATES (including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans characters) is played by a queer actor. No exceptions. ADVOCATES has a strict no “gay angst” policy: the characters aren’t tormented by their sexuality, they own it.
“ADVOCATES was written and directed by queer women. The cast and crew of ADVOCATES are overwhelmingly queer, with gay, bi, trans, pan, and lesbian people behind and in front of the camera. Even the soundtrack is composed of only LGBTQ artists: Fabiola Cristina, DEVMO, and No Girlfriends. We wanted to create something authentic, weird, and funny that allows LGBTQ audiences to laugh at themselves.”
We’ve seen the first few episodes, and they are, as promised, hilarious.
Meet the employees of GULPTAB, the country’s most irreverent and dysfunctional, if well-intentioned, LGBT nonprofit in the new digital series Advocates, from creators Chloe Curran and Lauren Elizabeth Neal. The two-episode series boasts an entirely queer cast in LGBT roles with stand-up comic and actress Bridget McManus (Transparent, The Queen Latifah Show) starring as GULPTAB’s unflappable leader. The series lovingly skewers nonprofit culture and politics while depicting entirely out and proud LGBT characters. Alexis Bloom, Cameron Denny, Kingston Farady, Laura Zak (Her Story), Jessica Taylor, Amy Jackson Lewis, and Keeley Bright round out the cast. The first part of the satirical series is available now, while the second drops May 23.
ADVOCATES is an LGBTQ Satire That Delivers Comedy with Attitude
Chloë Curran, whose provocative, opinionated articles were proudly published here on AfterEllen for a number of years, has been up to something.
Now, if you follow Chloë, you know by now that she is always up to something. Always questioning, thoughtful, and spot on in her witty, humorously critical analyses of LGBTQ media, culture, and politics, the twenty-seven year-old writer is no shrinking violet.
Whether you agree with her or wildly oppose her views, the record shows her readership always wants to hear what she has to say. Well, AE readers, you are in for a treat. I’m not going to write a long editorial introduction to Chloe’s latest project, ADVOCATES, because who am I to edit Chloe? Can Chloë really be edited? It’s best if you just watch episode one of this hilariously smart series, and then read my interview with her below, which will answer all your questions.
Afterellen.com: Chloë, you came up with the idea for ADVOCATES while writing for AfterEllen. What inspired the series? Any specific events or people?
Chloë Curran: It was really a combination of events over years. I wanted to show all the different groups and subcultures of the LGBTQ community, and what happened when they butted heads, but also when they came together. Because I saw a lot of that at AfterEllen. A big part of what made AfterEllen so special to me were the readers. I still keep in touch with a lot of them today. I always had a very irreverent, sarcastic, un-perfectly PC sense of humor, and a group of very supportive AE readers shared that with me and encouraged my writing.
Granted, some of them hated it, but they eventually learned to stop reading my articles and we all got along by just coexisting. Except when someone would periodically stop by to say “I HATE CHLOE” and I’d think “Girl, I don’t like you either.” Bridget McManus (wife of former AE Editor Karman Kregloe) was actually the one who encouraged me to write a webseries, and when I told her I wanted to write about a nonprofit, encouraged me and gave me notes every step. During one of the brainstorming sessions, I decided to create a conniving power lesbian role of Bridget with the name “Diane Dregloe.” So ADVOCATES is both inspired by my time and experiences while working for AfterEllen and literally because of people I met at AfterEllen.
AE: I love the way you use satire and humor to reflect the politics that come with LGBTQ. Is ADVOCATES a reflection of the current state of LGBTQ culture?
CC: I think so. It’s heightened because with comedy and jokes, it’s funniest if you take reality and then raise the stakes by ten. And yes: I absolutely use humor to deliver commentary. Right now the LGBTQ community in America is in a really interesting place. We’re more accepted than ever, we can marry, we’ve made more progress in the last ten years than the three hundred before it. But we’re also in the midst of culture conflicts. There’s serious tension between cis and trans people, lesbian and bisexual women, bisexual and pansexual, queer and gay.
Then there are people with no labels: if labels don’t exist, then can cis women who only have sex with and date cis men call themselves queer because they too want to be special? And then there are fandoms: really passionate, nice people who love characters and storytelling. I really appreciate a fandom. BUT hot damn you do not want to anger a fandom!
LGBTQ culture is better and bigger than ever, but it’s also chaos. Many people might write heartfelt, sincere think pieces about this. But I prefer to crack jokes. Instead of getting angry and defensive about all this change, wouldn’t it be better, and more healing, to laugh?
AE: You were always one of AE’s most opinionated and sharp-witted writers. This series seems like a natural transition. Are the characters relevant to your own life and observations?
CC: Why thank you. And yes, all the characters are very much inspired by people I know or know of. A lot of jokes and scenarios are pulled right out of my life or the life of my friends and then jazzed up a bit. Most of my friends don’t mind me shamelessly stealing all the best bits of their lives and putting it in a script. They’re good people.
AE: While at AE, you wrote often about lesbian culture, and the way lesbians are depicted on screen. What do you think TV and film are getting right and wrong about LGBT characters? As a lesbian what is TV and film getting right and wrong about lesbians specifically?
CC: TV and Film suck at lesbian characters and they’ve always sucked at lesbian characters. There are exceptions but they are far and few in between. Where to I begin? Lesbian characters are whiny, insecure, and obsessed with straight women. Doesn’t anyone else find that weirdly narcissistic of straight people? To make gay characters obsessed with straight characters? Get over yourselves, straight people. You’re not that cute.
Lesbian characters are depressing. So, so depressing. They’re always crying and sleeping with married women or crying and being rejected for their sexuality or crying and fighting. So much crying. Ugh. The plot lines of most lesbian movies (written by straight men) can be summed up as “sexed up trauma porn.” Then you have lesbian supporting characters! They love HOME DEPOT HAR HAR HAR and are MANLY HAR HAR HAR HAR and MEAN HAR HAR HAR. They are cliche, one-dimensional punchlines. And they are played by straight women.
AE: What is the main message behind Advocates?
CC: Laugh at yourself. Laugh at each other. It’s ok. And don’t settle for the same old gay character. We deserve gay characters whose storylines don’t begin and end with their sexuality. We deserve gay characters played by gay actors. We deserve lesbian heroines who are as complex and funny and strong as the lesbian women we know and are.
Interview: Chloe Curran of ADVOCATES
You might recognize her name from previous works with AfterEllen and her current work with LOTL and Curve, but Chloe Curran is making headlines this time in her web series writing debut with ADVOCATES. The series is brutally honest and plays on some of the LGBTQ's more famous tropes. A series featuring queer characters played by real queer actors, this series is sending an important message to Hollywood. Read more below and be sure to check out ADVOCATES today.
netTVnow: You’re gearing up for the premiere of your first web series, ADVOCATES, how does it feel?*
Chloe Curran: I’m stoked! This is my first show and it’s been- to be utterly cliche- a learning experience. From conception to rewrites to casting to pre-production to post production, we’ve taken a lot of time to make sure ADVOCATES is as good as possible. I’m excited to share it with the world.
NTN: What’s the quick and dirty synopsis of the series?
CC: Satirical workplace comedy set in a LGBTQ nonprofit called GULPTAB* (Gay, Unidentified, Lesbian, Pansexual, Transgender, Asexual, Bisexual, Asterisk). It follows a witty lesbian, Iris, a opinionated gay man, Adrian, and their silly but sincere interns. ADVOCATES is about queer people making fun of themselves, and everyone else while they’re at it.
NTN: Where did the concept of the series come from?
CC: I was hanging out with Bridget McManus, the incredible actress and comedian who plays GULPTAB*’s President, and she encouraged me to write a web series. I had just finished writing a pilot and was contemplating my next project. I wanted to write about gay people and thought a LGBTQ non-profit would be a funny setting where everyone would reasonably be queer. I knew I wanted it to be a comedy, and I didn’t want to write something we’ve seen a lot of. No coming out stories or angsty love affairs or groups of hot lesbians dating and doing dyke drama.
At that point I’d been writing for AfterEllen for several years, and I’d been exposed to all these interesting aspects of LGBTQ culture that most of my non-internet dwelling friends didn’t know about. Good stuff, bad stuff, and weird stuff. I wanted to write LGBTQ characters who didn’t depress me and who weren’t one dimensional. Then I came up with different scenarios inspired by different aspects of subcultures in our community.
NTN: What was the writing process like for you? What surprised you most about writing for this medium?
CC: Rewrites. I did so many rewrites. I’ve actually written an entire season of ADVOCATES and I’ve re-written and read through and added and honed every damn word. Here’s the surprising thing about rewrites: they genuinely make a script better. I actually threw out the first episode of ADVOCATES I wrote. In hindsight, it was crap. I started again and the next try was better, although obviously I rewrote that a dozen or so times.
I think of a lot of my favorite jokes or bits while driving. I frantically scribble them down as soon as I get to my destination and try to work them in the next day. I also pull a lot from conversations, online and in person. I take something real that I find funny or interesting and then I heighten it as much as it can be heightened.
NTN: You mentioned that every queer character in the series is played by a queer person, how important was that for you in casting?
CC: So important. If you look at the majority of LGBTQ characters in film, TV, and a good chunk of web series, they are played by straight actors. Especially lesbian characters. And then we’re supposed to fawn over them and say, "Oh how brave you are Mitzy, thank you so much for representing my community.” My community can represent itself.
When you cast a straight actor in a LGBTQ role, several things happen:
- The part is not given to a LGBTQ actor, who is also probably being passed up for straight roles because they’re too gay, resulting in very few famous LGBTQ actors in Hollywood
- The actor pulls from stereotypes, tropes, and bad gay cinema to create a likely one-dimensional character similar to all the other one dimensional gay characters played by straight actors
- The press and conversation around the film focuses on a straight celebrity rather than gay character
- LGBTQ people are depicted through the lens, face, and voice of a straight person, warping our existence and identities to appeal to straight audiences.
Hollywood needs to stop straight washing. Stop casting straight women as lesbians, straight men as gay, and really stop casting cis actors as trans.
NTN: What are some things audiences can look forward to in the series?
CC: Sweetness to go along with the snark.
NTN: Tell us more about the series’ leads. How do they fit into this fictional GLAAD-type organization?
CC: First of all: GULPTAB* is not GLAAD. Any resemblance to any organizations is purely coincidental, fictional, etc. You could perhaps draw similarities between the two, but that’s you darling, not me.
Iris, the lesbian lead, is GULPTAB*’s Director of Communications and Adrian is the social media manager. Iris is funny as Director of Communication because she’s always having to curb her communication skills as they’re a little too real for most people to handle. She’s a young, confident, ambitious lesbian looking to climb the career ladder, but she’s not always impressed by her tasks at GULPTAB*. Social Media Manager is an important but also kind of ridiculous job, and Adrian slacks his way through it.
They’re buddies, not classic heroes but good people none the less who like to mock their surroundings.
NTN: I like that you picked some of the more popular tropes within the LGBTQ community and bring a satire feel to it, why was that something you wanted to focus on?
CC: Tropes are cliches, and cliches are ripe for mockery. I’m also incredibly bored of tropes because I’ve watched so much tropey gay content I sometimes want to scream. Sometimes I do scream.
Sometimes LGBTQ people and institutions take themselves very, very seriously. I wanted to add a bit of levity. Other minorities make fun of themselves. Straight people absolutely make fun of themselves. Why shouldn’t we? What are we so scared of? That we’re going to write a couple unsympathetic gay characters or crack a couple jokes at our own expense and they’ll take away our rights? A little confidence, please.
NTN: Which character is your favorite? Why?
CC: I have no favorites. They are all my demon babies. Not because they’re demons, but because I’ve worked so much on them I feel like a mother who really, really wants her children to move out.
Every character has a bit of me. Some good bits some bad bits some weird bits. But there’s a tiny part of me in each one. Iris most of all, I suppose. It took a lot of work, but I think each character could have a stand alone episode or plotline. They are distinct, interesting people.
NTN: Reflecting on your experience with the series, are there things you would have done differently? If so, what and why?
CC: Maybe there are a few lines I would have tweaked, or a few shots I would have set up differently. I wish we could have shot more episodes, because I think the other episodes could be even better. The series really fleshes out and gets juicy as it progresses. But we did the most we could with the money we raised.
NTN: Do you have any upcoming projects to share or anything else to add?
CC: Right now I’m working on a rom com. I guess I’d say watch, subscribe, and share ADVOCATES! And if you really like it and want to see more episodes, let us know. I appreciate you all. Over 170 people donated to make this happen. I really hope they like this. Their generosity and faith means so much to me. I’ve carried that every step of the way. I want to give my community the show they deserve. Something different.
SATIRE AND LGBTQ POLITICS COLLIDE IN “ADVOCATES
Advocates, a new webseries written by Chloe Curran and co-directed by Curran and partner Lauren Neal, takes on a fictional LGBTQ non-profit and the drama that happens behind the scenes. The series is chock full of familiar faces like lesbian comedy queen Bridget McManus, Laura Zak (HerStory), and Amy Jackson Lewis (The Better Half). A very cool fact about Advocates is that everyone who plays a queer character in the show, also identifies as LGBTQ. The series also has “a strict no “gay angst” policy: the characters aren’t tormented by their sexuality, they own it,” according to Curran.
The series stars Alexis Bloom as Iris, a trouble-making young executive at GULTAB, an LGBTQ non-profit, who loves to stir the pot. Between all the gossip, infighting and snark, Iris falls for GULTAB’s new intern Casey (Allison Joseph), and may have just met her match.
Curran, a former writer for AfterEllen and current Curve Magazine columnist, wanted to create something new. “I was inspired to write Advocates after years of watching LGBTQ characters whose storylines began and ended with ‘I’m not straight, HOW WILL I GO ON'” says Curran. “The characters in Advocates aren’t interesting because they’re queer. They are interesting people who happen to be queer. They are not victims or tropes. They are confident, opinionated, flawed people with different perspectives of how LGBTQ culture works and should work. Advocates shows a side of LGBTQ culture I’ve never seen on screen.”
Make no mistake, Advocates is a biting satire, and deals with topics like fandom (Iris is clueless, luckily she has intern Oscar to show her the way), the lesbian Youtube phenomenon, inter-office relationships, queer politics and a show called, The 600. Yeah, it goes there big time. The 600’s creator Victor (played by actor, writer and transgender rights activist Kingston Faraday) and Iris clash at their meeting to discuss how GULTAB can support the show.
The series is full of anti-heroes, queer, trans, and straight alike. If you like no-holds barred, teeth bared comedy, then Advocates is the webseries for you.
“ADVOCATES” Pokes Fun at LGBTQ Activism
Writer/directors Chloe Curran and Lauren Neal have created the LGBTQ parody of your dreams with “Advocates,” a new series that pokes fun at well-meaning queer activism and visibility with the reality of what really goes on behind the scenes. This satirical comedy follows the workers of GULPTAB*, America’s most influential and dysfunctional LGBTQ nonprofit and, in the first episode, new interns come in for their first day on the job.
I’ve been writing for AfterEllen for three years now. Over that time, I have watched, reviewed, and read a staggering amount of straight-created gay content. Shitty, depressing, trite, repetitive films and TV shows that exploit LGBT audiences with inane, overwhelmingly tragic characters. If I hear one more Home Depot joke, I will scream. If I see one more lesbian being raped, I will scream. If I watch one more coming of age story riddled with cliches and self-loathing melodrama, I will put my fist through the goddamn wall.
I’m done watching straight actresses play lesbians who sob over a straight girl. No, really, I’m done. I don’t care how beautiful the sex scenes are. I’ll write my own beautiful sex scenes that don’t end with rejection, tears, and death.
There are exceptions. Wonderful exceptions. Will and Grace brought us confident gay characters with rapid-fire wit and a devilish mix of high and low-brow humor. The internet has broken down walls and renders many gatekeepers obsolete, giving us shows like Transparent and Orange is the New Black. Shows that inspired me to write something that reflected the world as I see it. So I decided to take a shot and make my own show. It’s a satirical comedy called ADVOCATES that’s set in a dysfunctional gay nonprofit called GULPTAB. I wanted to write a show that I would watch and not take issue with. This meant some massive rules:
All LGBTQ characters are LGBTQ people
Of my four leads, three are gay and one is pansexual. All other characters follow the same rules, and we have a majority lesbian crew. Then, just to really make my point, the first episode features an actress who loves the attention that comes from playing a suicidal lesbian so much, she decided to stage a fake coming out.
Yeah. I went there.
Diversity is demanded
If I’m asking for gay representation, I should bring forth other kinds of representation. Three out of four of the leads in ADVOCATES are queer people of color (Chinese, Chilean, and Mexican). One of the biggest supporting characters, Victor, is played by a Kingston Farady, a proud black transman. Minorities need to stand together and support each other. Oh, and they’re all hot. Just throwing that out there.
No one in ADVOCATES is upset about being gay, queer, bi, or pan. My characters are not interesting because they are gay. They are interesting people who happen to be queer and inhabit the LGBTQ landscape. If you’re looking for a tearful coming out story, ADVOCATES is not what you’re looking for. Fortunately, there are many other options.
Death to gay tropes
I hate cheesy tropes so much I wrote a whole episode called “Tropes.” In it, our advocates confront the straight dude showrunner of a popular teen dystopian show after he pointlessly kills off a lesbian lead. If you’ve ever wanted to yell at the writers of a show that kills off gay girls for no good reason, I wrote a whole sequence for you to live vicariously through. Any similarities to any person, place, or thing are purely coincidental.
Nothing is sacred
Given the choice between possibly causing others discomfort or censoring my writing until it becomes a banal blob of mediocrity and political correctness, I choose the former. The queer community is triumphant and absurd, empowering and occasionally perilous. It is beautiful and fierce and filled with debate and disagreement. That’s what makes it so fun. I didn’t want to write about perfect people overcoming hate in the face of all odds. That’s a cool story, but it’s been told.ADVOCATES’ gay characters are comfortable enough in their own skin to make fun of themselves. I think that’s important, in its own way. And let’s be real: there’s a lot to make fun of.
Most of all, I wrote this show because I love being funny. It’s the best thing about me. If you think you might like ADVOCATES or just want to see something different, join us by supporting the crowdfunding campaign. It won’t happen without you. There are perks at every donation tier, starting at $5.
Advocates will shoot in November and air in January. Every week, the new episode will premiere on AfterEllen. I will be recapping my own show for AfterEllen with the class and decorum you as readers have come to expect from me.
I don’t feel entitled to success, but I sure would like a shot at saying something.
What Is It? While the tagline may say it all, "No angst. Just attitude," ADVOCATES is a satirical take on the LGBTQ community set in a GLAAD-type organization entitled GULPTAB. Created by Chloe Curran, the web series features your typical queer characters but mainly following Iris, a young executive at GULPTAB. Joining her is her best gay and partner in crime, Adrian, while they cheerfully haze GULPTAB's two new interns, Casey and Oscar.
So why is this web series different than others? Besides the fact that every queer character in ADVOCATES is played by a queer actor and 3/4th's of the protagonists are people of color, the series isn't afraid to poke fun at their lead characters without bringing their sexualities into the mix. Their campaign page states it best, "The characters are not interesting because they are gay. They are interesting people who happen to be gay." And if that's not enough for you, their trailer sure as hell will be. The series is currently seeking funding with hopes of a November production date and early 2017 debut on AfterEllen. For more information, check out their campaign.
How Can I Help? The series just announced their funding campaign earlier this week and is seeking a flexible goal of $33,500 and so far have already raised $1,830!
What Do I Get? Your awesome contributions of course do not come without reward! In addition to helping the series get funded, you get some exclusive perks in return. Check them out below or on their campaign page.
Our friends over at AfterEllen have long been strong supporters of us here at the Academy, so today is the day we finally sacrifice our pillow princess badges and do something in service of the sassy Chloë Curran, AfterEllen writer and now creator of new webseries ADVOCATES.
ADVOCATES is a satirical comedy following the employees of the powerful and dysfunctional LGBT nonprofit GULPTAB* (Gay, Unindentified, Lesbian, Pansexual, Transgender, Asexual, Bisexual Alliance) as they appear to haze their interns, fake a celebrity coming out, and dive into the alternate reality that is fandom.
Lead character Iris (Alexis Bloom) is a snarky, emotionally stunted lesbian who loves to co-bitch with co-worker Adrian (Cameron Denny), and the series looks set to follow her downfall at the hands of a new intern - some snap-back toting blonde named Casey (Allison Joseph).
The series' website and IndieGoGo set the bar high, with promises of ADVOCATES being an antidote to queer media tropes across the board, and whether they hit the mark or not, they're off to a fucking good start in my book with every queer character in the series being played by a queer actor. Chloe and co-creator Lauren Elizabeth Neal have also made an effort to tackle POC representation, with 3/4 of the protagonists being played by people of colour.
ADVOCATES looks set to be ragingly good laugh, with LGBT characters who are unapologetic about their queerness.
In the words of the creators:
The characters are not interesting because they are gay. They are interesting people who happen to be gay.
Personally, I love snarky women in power suits and forever aspire to be one, so one look at this trailer was enough to have me signed on. Check it out below, and be sure to throw some pennies in and join the ADVOCATES crowdfunding campaign to make this a reality over at their IndieGoGo page.
A new project is satirically skewering the world of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy nonprofits ― without relying on the typical tropes that we’re so often forced to put up with in other queer web series.
“ADVOCATES,” by writer and co-director Chloe Curran, who recently spent the last three years writing for queer women’s siteAfterEllen (which recently underwent a dramatic staffing overhaul), takes all that she’s learned during her time navigating the nuances of queer media and turns it into a web series intended to engage with queer ideas and themes in a playful way.
“The modern climate of corporate LGBT activism is overflowing with inane platitudes, straight-splaining, and being utterly out of touch with our core demographic,” Curran told The Huffington Post. “Corporates commodify LGBT activism with the same zeal that they’ve commodified self-love.”
Curran added, “I think LGBT people are torn: we’re happy because, for the first time in modern history, we are being treated as a group worth catering to. On the other hand, our culture is being reappropriated and the real issues cheapened. But straight people and corporations are not entitled to our patronage just because they are not actively oppressing us.”
Check out a trailer for the project above. Want to see more about “ADVOCATES”? Head here to visit the series’ crowdfunding campaign.
Talk Nerdy With Us
Talk Web Series With Us: ADVOCATES
Chloë Curran and Lauren Elizabeth Neal, co-creators of ADVOCATES, are exhausted of monotonous queer story lines. “We are summarized by that one entity. It’s like being trapped,” Curran tells me in a recent interview. “The only representation I get as a gay woman, is a gay woman who hates herself, a gay woman who’s in love with a straight woman, or a gay woman who gets horribly murdered.” Curran and Neal are sick of it, fed up by show runners who play into the countless clichés. “We’re entitled to self-representation. We’re entitled to have characters that represent us, and our friends. We’re entitled to content created by the queer community,” Neal adds in. They know queer characters have deeper stories to tell, so they’re writing them themselves.
They say your eyes light up when you talk about something you’re passionate about, and although I was talking to them over the phone, I could tell that’s what was happening. Curran and Neal’s passion came through the phone, speaking of issues that not only shape their own lives, but the lives of so many others. Curran explaining, “we paint (queer characters) as such victims. I’m not a victim. I don’t think most of us are, and I don’t believe we should be defined that way.” Introducing ADVOCATES, a satirical comedy, proving queer characters and queer people, alike, are not victims.
To do this, they have a few rules. “We have a strict no gayngst policy,” Neal says. The characters aren’t upset that they’re queer. They’re not struggling with coming to terms with it. They’re here, and they’re queer. Along with this, they’re bidding farewell to the all-too-familiar “bury your gays” trope, or any gay trope, for that matter. An entire episode is titled “Tropes,” and will poke fun at show runners who uselessly kill off lesbian leads.
Curran recently published a piece about it for Afterellen, and explained why this is so important. “The queer community is triumphant and absurd, empowering and occasionally perilous. It is beautiful and fierce and filled with debate and disagreement. That’s what makes it so fun. I didn’t want to write about perfect people overcoming hate in the face of all odds. That’s a cool story, but it’s been told.” So she and Neal have plans of their own.
The web series is set in a gay nonprofit, called GULPTAB, and follows Iris (Alexis Bloom), Adrian (Cameron Denny), Casey (Allison Joseph), and Oscar (Jesse Leigh) as they navigate work, relationships, and just normal things that normal people navigate. ADVOCATES is doing something that other outlets haven’t- giving us queer stories, portrayed by queer actors, written by queer writers, without ending in tragedy, or heartbreak, or falling in love with that token straight girl. Laura Zak, Amy Jackson Lewis, and Bridget McManus will all be featured in the series as well.
Curran has already written two seasons of ADVOCATES and plans to start shooting in November. They can’t do it without help though. If you check out their crowd-funding page, they have a ton of perks if you donate! For $15, you’ll get a special thanks in the credits. For $60, you’ll get a signed cast photo. For $100, you’ll get an exclusive invite to the premiere party! My personal favorite though: for $35, Curran will write you your own 500 word, customized femslash fanfic. “Whether it’s a classic fantasy adventure, modern thriller, or comedic rom-com, I can give you the perfect story,” she notes. Sign. Me. Up. The cutoff for donating is the end of October.
Curran and Neal want this series to be for everyone, no matter their sexual identification. “I would love to see straight people watch the show, and laugh and see themselves in gay characters, the way that gay people can see themselves in straight people. It should go both ways. We’ve been doing that so long and there hasn’t been a return on that.” They want everyone to find themselves in these characters. Curran explains that the default character on television is a straight, white man. And that gets boring. Television should hold the stories of everyone. “I would just love to not have my sexuality be my defining quality.”
The take home message: “I want queer people to be able to laugh at ourselves, and not feel like we’re betraying ourselves. Everything we all talk about when we’re out drinking with our friends, it’s okay to say that publicly. We don’t have to be so serious about everything,” says Curran. She told me something Kingston Farady, who will play Victor in the series, said when they were auditioning him. “Laughter is very healing. And the LGBT community could use a lot of it.” So that’s exactly what Curran and Neal are trying to do, and by the looks of the trailer, they’ve already accomplished that.
YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS HILARIOUS NEW LGBT WEB SERIES
If you’ve ever shouted at the TV for killing off your favourite onscreen lesbian, ADVOCATES is for you.
In the bottomless ocean of online content, new web series ADVOCATES stands out as sassy, self-aware and funny as hell. This edgy satire of queer pop culture is set in a dysfunctional non-profit organisation called GULPTAB. One view of the trailer and I was already hooked.
Before embarking on this project, ADVOCATES creator Chloe Curran spent three years writing for AfterEllen, giving her and her razor sharp wit an invaluable insight into the world of LGBT media. She admits, "I have watched, reviewed, and read a staggering amount of straight-created gay content." In fact, she's witnessed a big straight conveyer belt churning out the same tired gay stereotypes over and over again: "If I hear one more Home Depot joke, I will scream. If I see one more lesbian being raped, I will scream. If I watch one more coming of age story riddled with cliches and self-loathing melodrama, I will put my fist through the goddamn wall."
ADVOCATES aims to do things differently. The show operates "a strict no-gay angst policy", as Chloe is keen to stress. "In ADVOCATES, being gay, queer, bi, pan, or trans is normal. Not a problem, a cheesy plotline, or a source of endless tears." "LGBTQ people are finally secure enough to make fun of ourselves," asserts Chloe. "And there is a lot to make fun of. In the very first episode, our anti-heroes stage a fake celebrity coming out on behalf an actress who loves praise far more than ladies."
In addition to a staged coming out, there's a shamelessly self-promoting lesbian YouTube couple, tons of girl-on-girl kissing and a character called Straight Janet. Need another reason to tune in? "They're all hot," smiles Chloe. "Just throwing that out there."
The ADVOCATES team is not only hot, but also gloriously diverse. Most of the crew are lesbians, every queer character is played by a queer actor and three out of the four leads are people of colour.
As Chloe says, "The queer community is triumphant and absurd, empowering and occasionally perilous. It is beautiful and fierce and filled with debate and disagreement. That's what makes it so fun."