Must-See TV: Powerful New DocuSeries ‘Visible: Out On Television’

Ellen DeGeneres (screen capture)

Apple TV+ will debut a powerful, new five-part documentary-series titled Visible: Out On Television on February 14 that will explore how the LGBTQ movement made its way onto the television landscape.

Executive produced by out actors Wanda Sykes and Wilson Cruz, the docu-series will feature archival footage as well as interviews with prominent players from the screen and LGBTQ movement.

Each hour-long episode will focus on a specific theme such as coming out in Hollywood, homophobia, invisibility and the evolution of LGBTQ characters on TV.

Wilson Cruz, Neil Patrick Harris, Andy Cohen

Narrated by Neil Patrick Harris, Lena Waithe, Janet Mock, Margaret Cho, and Asia Kate Dillon, Visible: Out On Television will also feature interviews with out actors and television personalities including Ellen DeGeneres, Anderson Cooper, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Billy Porter, Rachel Maddow, Don Lemon, Andy Cohen and more.

The trailer opens with DeGeneres explaining how she wanted to come out on her 1990s sitcom and the effect that had on so many lives: “It became bigger than any of us ever anticipated.”

“The earliest representations were always people to be mocked,” recalls Cooper.

Andy Cohen adds, “The truth is there was no LGBT presence on TV that I can remember.”

On the importance of seeing LGBTQ people on TV, iconic talk show queen Oprah Winfrey drops, “When you see images that are reflective of your own life, it is a reminder that your own life matters.”

And Lena Waithe shares this compelling epiphany, “I didn’t realize that I was the revolution that I was waiting for.”

Boom.

Visible: Out On Television premieres February 14 on Apple TV+.

News Round-Up: July 15, 2018

Some news items you might have missed:

• Spanish math teacher (can you imagine???) Manu strikes a heroic pose for his love: “”I could face and defeat the most dangerous monster just for your love.” #swoon

• A gay porn star proposed to his boyfriend after the couple had just finished shooting a scene. Who says romance is dead?

• Scottish First Minister Ncola Sturgeon, the head of government for Scotland, led Glasgow’s Pride parade Saturday, becoming the first serving prime minister or first minister in the U.K. to lead any Pride event.

• Queen Elizabeth was on her own during Donald Trump’s visit to the UK as Princes Harry and William refused to meet Donald Trump.

• Appearing on a panel with Pose co-creator Ryan Murphy in Los Angeles last Thursday, transgender writer/director Janet Mock, shared she never dreamed of directing television. “Directing was never on my list of things — I didn’t think it was a possibility.” Mock recently made history as the first trans woman of color to write and direct an episode for mainstream television.

• In an interview airing today with CBS News, Donald Trump says it never occurred to him to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to extradite the dozen Russian officials charged with hacking Democratic emails earlier this week.

Isn’t he supposed to defend the United States???

Trans Icon Janet Mock Makes History With ‘POSE’ Directorial Debut

Janet Mock made history earlier this week as the first transgender woman of color to write and direct an episode of TV with the recent Pose episode, “Love is the Message.”
Janet Mock (via Instagram)

Janet Mock made history earlier this week as the first transgender woman of color to write and direct an episode of TV with the recent Pose episode, “Love is the Message.”

The series, which explores the lives of LGBTQ people in the underground ‘ball scene’ alongside the emerging Donald Trump era in the go-go 1980s, artfully brings not only sexual orientation and gender identity to a mainstream TV audience, but also factors in the intersectionality of race.

In an interview with website them, Mock shared:

“The ballroom is a black and brown space before it’s a trans and queer space. So you can’t just say we have this great trans and queer show, you have to add in the layer of the race stuff… had to be very clear that a white trans girl’s experience is very different than a black trans girl’s experience — especially a black trans girl that’s struggling with economic resources in 1980’s New York City.”

“So we gave Elektra (Dominique Jackson’s character) more pointed lines about whiteness, or Angel (Indya Moore) started calling Stan (Evan Peters) a white suburban boy. We had to put that stuff in there.”

This was taken under the amber light of the #posefx ballroom on my first shoot as a Director. Don’t let the smile fool you: I was nervous af about doing something I had never done before, a job that seemed to be reserved for white men, a position in the industry that rarely invited women and/or people of color to sit in the director’s chair. I doubted whether I had the skills and experience to be a director. But I was pushed by @mrrpmurphy who told me I could (“you’re naturally bossy…like me”) and used his Half Initiative to make it happen. But still I had to talk myself through self-doubt (like so many “firsts” have done before me) by saying, “You wrote this script. You know these characters. You helped shape them, make them, move them. You got this, and your whole life as a black trans girl with all your experiences have prepared you for so many unknowns — from being the first in your family to go to college, to get a masters, to work as a journalist, to leave the safety of telling others stories to actually tell your own story, to write two memoirs that centered #girlslikeus, to be the first trans woman of color to be hired in a writer’s room…and yes, the first to write and direct an episode of television. You can do this, will do this and are deserving.” I couldn’t do it alone — no director can. I thank my mentors @mrrpmurphy & @gwynethhorderpayton for pushing, nurturing and supporting me, my DP @simondennis_dop for making it all seem so easy, my first AD Deanna Leslie Kelly, my production designer @jame03, HMU @wigorama @barryleemoe @sherrilaurence, @eriberryk and @tanasepopa for being architects, my editor Shelly Westerman, the marvelous @alexisvmw, my ❤️ @svcanals and the entire crew and the cast especially @theebillyporter, @katemara, @indyamoore, @mjrodriguez7, @evanpeters, and our guest star @johnnysibilly who gave all of themselves to episode 6. LOVE IS THE MESSAGE — and there was no way to write, prep and shoot this script without that LOVE. I hope you enjoy “Love Is the Message” tonight on @fxnetworks. @poseonfx airs at 9PM.
A post shared by Janet Mock (@janetmock) on Jul 8, 2018 at 9:07am PDT

At this year’s VH1 Trailblazer Honors, Ryan Murphy spoke with love and deep respect regarding his experience working with Mock. He also shared that he pushed the trans icon into her first directing gig.

“I said, ’No, Janet, you have to direct. You have to!’ And she wasn’t sure, and I pushed her and pushed her. She did it. And I’m so honored and thrilled to say that it is perhaps the best hour of television in my entire career that I have been associated with.”

“And I say, to Janet, thank you and I’m in awe of you.”

The series has really captured my attention not only for its subject matter but for the quality of the series. The writing, the performances, the production – it all adds up to very powerful, revealing story-telling.

Watch the trailer for Mock’s episode below.

News Round-Up: June 22, 2017

Javier Baez

Some news stories you might have missed:

• Check this sneak peek from the upcoming ESPN Body 2017 issue featuring hottie Chicago Cub Javier Baez. The issue is on newsstands July 7.

• Cincinnati plans to name a street after marriage equality plaintiff/hero Jim Obergefell and his deceased husband, Jim Arthur.

• Trans activist Janet Mock says “very privileged” Caitlyn Jenner is NOT a spokesperson for the trans community.

• Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt is getting his own show on MSNBC even as liberal hosts Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell lead the network in ratings. The good news, though, is out news anchor Thomas Roberts will now host a two hour news block on Saturday evenings from 7-9PM.

• Two years after SCOTUS made same-sex marriage the law of the land, Gallup reports that 10.2% of LGBT adults in the U.S. are married to a same-sex spouse, up from 7.9% before the ruling. Additionally, Gallup estimates 61% of same-sex, cohabiting couples in the U.S. are now married, up from 38% before the Obergefell ruling.

• Crystal Griner, the Capitol Police officer who took down the shooter at a Republican baseball practice threw out the first pitch yesterday at the Congressional Women’s softball game.

Out Memoir – Janet Mock “Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me”

Transgender advocate Janet Mock chats with People Magazine about her new memoir, Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me.

Here’s an excerpt:

What’s your advice for other trans women as they navigate relationships and romance?

The number one thing is to ensure that they feel safe enough to tell someone their story … It shouldn’t be the responsibility of trans women to disclose to every person that they meet, [that they’re transgender] whether it’s a romantic partner, friend, roommate or coworker… There’s a misconception that trans women are out there deceiving people. We’re not out there deceiving people. We’re not even trying to pass. We’re just trying to be ourselves in a society that has put us into boxes, and has told us that if we don’t fit in those boxes then we don’t belong and we’re not deserving of happiness, of fulfillment, of contentment. [We need to have] agency over who we tell our stories to and whether we want to tell our stories to someone at all.

What did you think of Caitlyn Jenner’s memoir? What is the danger of lumping all transgender stories together?

What’s so great about this time period that we’re in is that we can have Caitlyn’s story, we can have my story, we can have Laverne Cox’s story. We can have a mosaic that shows the complicatedness, the things that overlap. But also I think it challenges us to nullify the notion that there’s a single trans story out there — because there isn’t. [Particularly with Caitlyn Jenner’s experiences], they show that trans folk can be problematic, that trans folk can have conservative ideology and political views that don’t even align with the community that they’re advocating for. For me, as an activist and a storyteller, I’m very centered in ensuring that we show the complicatedness of the human experience that happens to be rooted in my community’s trans experiences.

An excellent read, make sure you check out Mock’s book over at Amazon and other digital download sites.