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.
2. Ryan White
2020 saw director Ryan White return with his most ambitious endeavor yet: the five-hour docuseries Visible: Out on Television. Produced by Wanda Sykes and Wilson Cruz, the show traced images and portrayals of LGBTQ people from the earliest days of TV to the present to show how the medium both helped and harmed queer representation. White has built a career on telling stories often overlooked by history through a queer lens. With Visible: Out on Television, he turns that lens on the diversity of queer history itself, teaching the lessons of the past, providing hope for the future, and helping us understand the world we inhabit just a little bit better.
White’s 2019 documentary Ask Dr. Ruth detailed the life of the world’s most famous sex therapist and her mission to fight stigma. The Netflix series The Keepers delved into the mystery of the murder of a beloved teacher, and the secrets (including a few closeted gays) that make the case a labyrinth of horror. With The Case Against 8, White exposed the nefarious political forces behind California Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage.
Visible: Out on Television is one of the most exhaustive histories of queer imagery in popular entertainment, worthy of mention alongside the great Vito Russo’s The Celluloid Closet.
I didn’t want to do Visible as a clip show. I wanted the liberty of fleshing out these storylines to have a beginning, middle and an end, not just rapid-fire through history. I think that’s why there are a gazillion A-List celebrities in it, but there are also a lot of activists in it. Actors, showrunners, they get congratulated all the time, and they deserve it. But the people who were using television as a tool to force progress. Because I’m LGBTQ, I know what those experiences were like for me watching TV. So I was deeply interested in finding out from people from every generation how that impacted them.