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Next stop: 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.