Can America Handle Another Black Gay Series?Published by Michael Arceneaux on Friday, July 24, 2009 at 12:00 am.
Even with the success of Noah’s Arc, television programming centered on gay people of color is about as common as a Taylor Swift appearance on 106 & Park.
To that end, Friends & Lovers, the latest project from NAACP Image Award-nominated director Maurice Jamal seeks to remind mainstream media that gay minorities still exist.
Friends & Lovers is a spin-off of Ski Trip, the first Black gay feature-length film on television. The new series stars Terrell Carter (Tyler Perry’s Class Reunion and Meet the Browns), Jackee Harry (227, Sister Sister, Everybody Hates Chris), and Debra Wilson (MAD TV).
Also joining the cast is BET reality star Ray Cunningham, who makes his acting debut as the outspoken Armond Dupree in the series.
Ray has traveled across the country with fellow cast members screening the series.
As the first openly gay personality on BET and award-winning LGBT blogger, the College Hill alum stresses the importance of the Black LGBT community having a greater voice on television.
Q: Has your experience being the first openly gay male on College Hill made you want to do shows like Friends and Lovers even more to further speak on the gay Black male experience?
“Yes. My experience as the first gay on BET placed me in a situation where I felt I had to continue on and be a voice for the Black gay community. This project allows me to continue being an identifiable face for those in the community and continue to inform people not to allow their sexuality to define who they are.”
Q: Although Noah’s Arc proved to be a highly successful show for LOGO, it’s taken a long time for a show focused on urban gay life to resurface. Why do you think it has taken so long?
“I honestly don’t feel even with a Black president that America is ready to accept a Black gay program. It seems everyone is used to the co-starring gay characters with the two quick-witted lines. Our lifestyles are often made out to be spoofs but in the real world we have the same varying issues as heterosexuals.”
Q: Has it been difficult selling the show to networks?
“I’m sure our director Maurice [Jamal] has some difficulties selling a Black gay television show because it’s so complex. We have gay, lesbian, transgender and straight characters. Each character Maurice created was someone I can honestly say I’ve come across in real life and that’s what makes it interesting and draws you in.”
Q: How soon will we find out when the show will start airing?
Legally I cannot say anything in regards to a network name but it’s at the final stages of being confirmed. I’m thankful Maurice Jamal gave me this opportunity because the majority of reality TV personalities don’t get the opportunity to transition into acting.
Q: So when the show does start airing, are you optimistic about how viewers will react to it? Do you think the show can appeal to heterosexuals the same way shows like The L Word have?
“I think America will be in for a treat because Friends & Lovers brings together a wonderful cast of talented actors who each bring something different to the show. I do feel the show will be able to reach heterosexual audiences because our storylines aren’t over the top and more importantly, they’re all believable.”