For so many of us who grew up watching almost uniformly negative representations of our lives on the screen, finally seeing a semblance of our community and our stories reflected in all their glorious diversity brings great joy despite how far we have yet to go.
Queerty is highlighting six creators, all of whom identify as LGBTQ, and all of whom have created provocative, queer-themed work designed to educate and enlighten audiences. Their contribution has made a striking difference in what we see on TV: GLAAD’s annual Where We Are on TV report found that of all the LGBTQ characters on television, 47% are people of color–a record high.
From timely subjects to groundbreaking levels of visibility, their passion, their risk-taking, and their artistry have given us pride not just in them, but in ourselves and our community. True representation still has a long way to go, but these fine people are working to make that day come faster.
1. Matthew Lopez
Opening on Broadway last year, Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance could not have been a more timely celebration of the anniversary of Stonewall: It examines how AIDS unleashed a torrent of activism and the debts that generations owe one another.
Loosely based on E.M. Forster’s novel Howard’s End, The Inheritance explores themes that have long fascinated Lopez, who has long been interested in bringing to the theater people and themes that have long gone unnoticed. His first play, The Whipping Man, was about the relationship between former slaves and their masters in the aftermath of the Civil War. Reverberation focused on the friendship between a gay man and an older woman, and how violence fosters loneliness. The Legend of Georgia McBride mixed drama and comedy in the story of an Elvis impersonator turned drag queen.
For Lopez, The Inheritance acted as a metaphor for his own understanding of older generations of gay men: a translation of their struggle, and how that fight became the struggle of today.
As Lopez told Entertainment Weekly:
Once you attempt to just understand someone else, walk in their shoes for a bit, you can write very compassionately. You can hopefully write honestly about them without having had lived their life as well. I hope in return, I’ve explained my generation to the older generation a little better and in the relationships that I’ve forged is a result of working on the play. The play has allowed me a broader understanding of the community that I belonged to. It has expanded my definition of what that community looks like. It’s given me a real sense of belonging when I had felt a real sense of alienation.