While representation of gay characters in TV series has come a long way in the last couple of decades, it has been a painfully slow process to get to this point.
This year, GLAAD’s “Where We Are On TV” report found that of 773 series regular characters scheduled to appear on broadcast scripted primetime television in the US this season, 9.1 percent are LGBT+. However, with 20 percent of Americans aged 18 to 34 identifying as LGBT+, there is still a long way to go.
But for most of TV history, LGBT+ characters have been totally absent, or have appeared fleetingly as the butt of a joke or as a victim of violence.
When did the first gay character appear on TV?
In 1971, the year after the first-ever Pride parade in the US and when homosexuality was still considered a disorder, All in the Family became the first American sitcom to show a gay character on TV, in only its fifth episode.
The episode subverted gay stereotypes, as Archie Bunker mocks a man who he considers effeminate, but turns out to be straight. It is later revealed that his macho, football-loving drinking buddy Steve is actually gay.
A year later, in 1972, US sitcom The Corner Bar included the first-ever gay series regular on American TV. While the ABC show stuck around for just 16 episodes, it made history with the character of Peter Panama, played by Vincent Schiavelli.
Rich Wandel, then-president of the Gay Activists Alliance, called Peter “the worst stereotype of a gay person I’ve ever seen”.
While most early gay characters were sidelined, not given their own storylines or love interests, eventually same-sex couples began appearing on TV.
During the same year as The Corner Bar, Australia also saw its first gay series regular – Don Finlayson portrayed Joe Hasham on the serial Number 96 between 1972 and 1977. He had several same-sex relationships, and even lived with his boyfriend Dudley.
In 1975 ABC’s Hot l Baltimore featured the first gay couple on US network television. George and Gordon, played by Lee Bergere and Henry Calvert, were a middle-aged gay couple that appeared on the show, which was so controversial that it was dropped by the network after six months on air.
It wasn’t until 1981 that a TV show with a gay lead character was shown on primetime US television, when NBC’s Love, Sidney aired. However the show’s titular character Sidney Shorr, a single gay man, remains in the closet for every one of the 40 episodes.
The UK trailed behind in its LGBT+ TV representation, and an openly gay character was not shown on TV until 1985, when the Liverpool-based soap Brookside introduced Gordon Collins, played by Nigel Cowley.
In 1989, the first Black lesbian relationship on US TV was broadcast by ABC in the series The Women of Brewster Place.
When was the first same-sex kiss shown on TV?
One of the first same-sex kisses shown on TV anywhere in the world is thought to have been on the Australian soap opera The Box, in 1974.
Vicki Stafford, played by Judy Nunn, is a bisexual reporter who, in the very first episode of the show, shared a same-sex kiss with Felicity, played by Helen Hemingway.
In the UK, Eastenders broadcast the first gay kiss between Colin Russell (Michael Cashman) and his partner Barry Clark (Gary Hailes) in 1989.The first kiss between two women on a UK TV series was aired in 1994. The iconic Brookside lesbian kiss was followed the same year by another same-sex smooch on Byker Grove.
In the US, the first same-sex kiss on network television was between two female lawyers on LA Law in 1991. NBC received multiple complaints and advertisers pulled their ads from the network, however the show ran for eight seasons and won multiple Emmys.
What’s next for LGBT+ representation on TV? It’s hard to say, but things are definitely going in the right direction – even if there is more to be done.
A mermicorn is half mermaid and half unicorn—and the mermicorns in a new early reader series by a genderqueer author just might bring a little sparkle into young readers’ lives.
The first book in the series, Search for the Sparkle, by Jason June and illustrated by Lisa Manuzak Wiley (Scholastic), centers on Lucky the mermicorn, a peppy fellow who lives in an undersea world of magic but has yet to find his “sparkle,” his special magic. When he finds a treasure chest full of glittery seashells, with a message to “Share the sparkle,” he wonders if that could be the key to finding his talent. Throw in three undersea friends, oceans of sea-related puns (things are “mer-mazing,” “fin-credible,” and “fin-tastic”), and a hunt for Poseidon’s magical trident, and you have a fun and joyful story just perfect for readers stepping into early chapter books.
The second book, Narwhal Adventure, continues the story of Lucky and the gang as Lucky helps his friend Ruby enter a special baking competition. Their new friend Nelia the Narwhal wants to help, too. An accident with a magic seashell might lead to disaster, however, unless the three of them and their friends can find a clever solution.
On first glance, there’s nothing overtly LGBTQ in these books, although the sparkly aesthetic conveys a definite flamboyant queer vibe. And Lucky, who likes to draw and appreciates when his mane has “just the right swirl,” feels at the very least somewhat gender creative. Jason June describes himself on his website as “a genderqueer writer mermaid,” so that vibe seems deliberate. His author biography at the end of these books notes, too, that when he “finally gets that mermaid tail, he hopes it’s covered in pink scales”—a subtle but positive message about gender creativity and the colors we wear. The third book in the series, Too Many Dolphins, promises more queer inclusion and will feature gay dolphin dads. It and a fourth book are due out later this year.
Early reader titles rarely get the recognition of either picture books or middle grade ones. Jason June brings a verve to these stories, however, that makes them a delight to read. Readers LGBTQ and not will also appreciate the series’ messages of finding oneself and supporting one’s friends. (And I’m going to add this series to the other LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books that I think would make great television shows.) Maybe I’m just a sucker for fish puns, or maybe I feel the need to immerse myself in an upbeat, magical world right now—but if you or your kids feel the same, check them out. There are very, very few LGBTQ-inclusive early reader books, and these not only help fill that gap, but do so with fun and whimsy.
Dominique Jackson appears in season three as Ms. World, an incarnation of Mr. World. (YouTube/American Gods)
The highly anticipated third season of fantasy drama American Gods had its world premiere this month.
After a two year break the show is back on our screens via Starz in the US, where it premiered 10 January, and with a worldwide release on Amazon Prime Video the following day.
Pose star Dominique Jackson joins the cast as Ms World, a new incarnation of the leader of the new gods, Mr World.
The series is based on the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name and follows former convict Shadow Moon, who is told his wife has been killed in a car accident only days before his scheduled release from prison.
A series of events delays his trip home, including a meeting with the mysterious Mr Wednesday, who offers Shadow a job to be his driver, assistant and bodyguard.
Shadow then finds himself in a hidden world where magic is real and the Old Gods fear irrelevance in the face of the growing power of the New Gods, which leaves him struggling to accept this new world and his place in it.
The latest season and third overall follows Shadow as he moves to Lakeside, Wisconsin under a new name to hide from the New Gods and assert himself as his own man. But while there he uncovers a dark secret exploring questions of his own divinity.
American Gods stars Ricky Whittle as Shadow, perhaps best known for his role as Calvin Valentine in soap Hollyoaks, Ian McShane from John Wick and Pirates of the Caribbean as Mr Wednesday and Emily Browning from Sucker Punch and A Series of Unfortunate Events as Laura.
Across the three seasons there is also notable guest stars including Pose star and icon Dominique Jackson, Kristin Chenoweth, Marilyn Manson, Denis O’Hare, Betty Gilpin, Gillian Anderson and Crispin Glover to name a few.
Since its release in 2017 the show has received positive reviews from critics and has racked up a number of big award nominations including two Emmys. It’s also proved to be a ratings success, with a fourth season already in development.
A new episode will be released weekly on Starz in the US and Amazon Prime Video in the UK and worldwide. You can stream the series with an Amazon Prime membership which costs £7.99 per month and comes with a free seven-day trial.
To sign up and to stream American Gods seasons one to three go to Amazon here.
Sean Connery’s character in Finding Forrester will be replaced with a Black lesbian in an NBC television adaptation (YouTube)
The late Sean Connery’s character in the 2000 film Finding Forrester will be replaced with a Black lesbian writer in an upcoming NBC television adaptation.
The original film, directed by Gus Van Sant, told the story of a teenager called James Wallace (Rob Brown) who befriends the reclusive writer William Forrester (Sean Connery).
The much-loved film is now set to be adapted into an NBC series, with Connery’s character of William Forrester replaced with a Black lesbian writer, Deadlinereports.
The series is being written by The Chi co-executive producers TJ Brady and Rasheed Newson, and will examine “the cost of success and the price of redemption through the unique and between two gifted Black writers”, according to reports.
In the NBC adaptation, the aspiring writer will be a homeless orphan, while his mentor will be a reclusive woman who had her career ruined by a public scandal.
The series will be executive produced by Brady and Newson alongside NBA star Stephen Curry and Erick Peyton, while Ti Story will direct.
It will be produced by Curry’s Unanimous Media as Sony Pictures Television.
Finding Forrester series comes just weeks after Sean Connery’s death.
The new series is part of a deal Curry made with Sony Pictures in 2018, media reports have said. His company, Unanimous Media, aims to put a spotlight on diverse voices and tell stories that deserve to be heard.
The original film also starred F. Murray Abraham, Anna Paquin, Busta Rhymes and Rob Brown, and went on to gross $80 million at the box office when it was released on 22 December, 2000.
Finding Forrester was later ranked as one of the best films of the decade by acclaimed film-critic Richard Roeper.
News of the television adaptation of Finding Forrester comes just weeks after Connery’s death.
The Scottish actor died in the Bahamas on 31 October, aged 90. News of his death led to a huge outpouring of grief from famous figures across the world.
+ Hey, guess who came back for The 100 series finale, kinda? Lexa! Kinda! I actually think it was an avatar of Lexa maybe. I’ve read several recaps and it sounds like a little bit of a mess to be honest, but, I think(!) the point is that Clake manifested Lexa in her imagination to be the judge of her afterlife and then they walked on the beach together. Or something. Anyway, Lexa lives on in Clarke’s heart and mind and that’s more than you can say for Bellamy who she stabbed in the gizzard a few episodes ago. 🏄♀️
+ Bex Taylor-Klaus has joined the new ABC procedural, Triage, “a character-driven medical drama that follows pioneering surgeon Finley Briar (Fitz-Henley) over three distinct decades at the same hospital.” They will play “Leonora/Leo, the gender fluid youngest first-year intern at New York Trinity and mentee of Finley (Fitz-Henley).”
+ Sanam Yar profiled Lili Reinhart in the New York Times this weekend. If Lexa hadn’t risen from the grave (kind of), surely I would have made this into the Pop Culture Fix headline: “She first began to question her sexuality around the fifth grade, she said. ‘I remember Googling ‘Playboy’ and ‘boobs.’ I wanted to see women, I was so interested. And then just kind of, as I got older, I was realizing that I was attracted to these women. I wanted to look like them, but I also was attracted to them.’”
I don’t tweet a lot about family entertainment, but I’ll ALWAYS be here for nerdy a$$ Black and brown kids going on romp adventures in their own neighborhoods, and I’m always here for my Afro-Latinx fam and New York, SO PLEASE BELIEVE when I say #VampiresVsTheBronx is that ish 🩸 pic.twitter.com/zWTmDTEvUk
Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior writer who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She’s a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
At only 21, Howard has earned a reputation as one of the best actresses of her generation for her performances in Madeline’s Madeline, Twist and Blackbird. Critics have commented on her fearlessness in choosing roles, and the extremes she will go to capture truth in her performing.
Catherine Hardwicke has made a career exploring stories about teenagers, women, and teenage women. Her breakout came in 2003 with Thriteen, which established Evan Rachel Wood as a star on the rise. Subsequently, she’s earned positive notice for her films Lords of Dogtown (which starred a young Heath Ledger), Plush and Miss You Already. She also scored a major hit with Twilight, which kicked off the international craze over vampire romance.
Now Hardwicke and Howard team for Don’t Look Deeper, a sci-fi thriller for streaming service Quibi. Howard plays a young woman discovering her same-sex attraction…as well as that she’s actually an android. The series also stars Don Cheadle and Emily Mortimer.
We snagged time with Howard & Hardwicke just ahead of the Don’t Look Deeper premiere. The show lands on Quibi July 27.
I hope you found time this weekend to watch Sam Feder’s remarkable new documentary Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen, now available on Netflix. It provides a complicated history of over the last hundred plus of mainstream trans representation and features interviews with a wide array of trans media artists you know and love.
Since that film focuses specifically on mainstream film and television, I also wanted to share some not mainstream works that I also love, specifically by trans artists (many of whom are featured in the documentary!). Conversations around queer and trans representation often focus on the works that traumatized us or that helped us to discover our identities. I watched everything on this list after I already came out. I knew who I was (or at least, was starting to know) and with that knowledge, I desperately wanted to see myself and our history on screen.
One thing that Disclosure makes clear is that representation is personal, and so is this list. It’s intentionally not comprehensive, so please share other work you love! Especially other work made by trans people. Nobody tells our stories better than we do.
Valencia by Clement Hil Goldberg, Joey Soloway, and others
Cinephilia is like The Chart. One discovery leads to another that leads to another. I first watched this omnibus adaptation of Michelle Tea’s book because I knew there were sections directed by Joey Soloway and Cheryl Dunye. What a nice surprise that another section is cast with trans women, and another with trans men, and that the whole project was produced by trans filmmaker Clement Hil Goldberg! The movie is an explosion of queer creativity. It was a gift to watch so early in my transition. I saw a portrait of the kind of community I would eventually build — one where trans people are not merely accepted, but given the same freedom of messy queer chaos as anyone else.
Transparent also led me to the work of producer Zackary Drucker. I found FISH (full title: FISH: A Matrilineage of Cunty White Women Realness) and Southern for Pussy on Vimeo, and they blew my mind. I don’t think I’d even knowingly met another trans woman at that point — and watching Zackary on camera, creating her own art, being funny and weird and crass, and doing this with her mother! It was incredible.
Watch Southern for Pussy! Watch Mother Comes to Venus!
It’s no secret that I loved last year’s big trans controversy of a movie Adam. But one thing that annoyed me throughout the whole discussion was how few people knew director Rhys Ernst. Rhys was also a producer on Transparent and during my first year post-transition I eagerly went through all his shorts that I could find. I’ve been making super low budget movies since I was in high school and watching Rhys’ work — including a movie he made before transitioning — felt like watching my own. I could see him develop as an artist through these films, as I’d done with so many film artists as far back as watching Martin Scorsese’s early shorts in middle school. Rhys’ work reassured me that coming out didn’t mean I’d have to change my goals — it would just give me new stories to tell.
Watch The Drive North! Watch Secret Men’s Club: Moment #133! Watch The Thing! Watch This is Me! Watch We’ve Been Around! Watch Adam!
She Gone Rogue by Zackary Drucker, Rhys Ernst
My favorite work by Zackary and Rhys — and one of my very favorite movies of all time — is the short they made together. My appreciation for trans media that actively engages with our history is weaved throughout this list and She Gone Rogue, which costars Holly Woodlawn, Vaginal Davis, and Flawless Sabrina, certainly does that. With overt references to Maya Deren, it was such a beautiful combination of the film history I knew so well and the trans history I was finally learning.
Watch She Gone Rogue!
Women in Revolt by Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis
This one is cheating a bit. Technically it was written and directed by cis man Paul Morrissey and produced by cis man Andy Warhol. However, I’m going to go ahead and give writing credit — and honestly directing credit — to its trio of trans stars. Casting “female impersonators” as members of the women’s liberation movement was supposed to be the ultimate satire, but Morrissey and Warhol underestimated their actors. Largely improvising their dialogue, Woodlawn, Darling, and Curtis take over this movie and make it into a satire of both the cis women they’re portraying and their cis male collaborators. It’s remarkable to witness — especially given that it was made in 1971 — and started me on a mission to watch every on-screen appearance of the three of them. I still haven’t succeeded and if anyone knows where I can find the Holly Woodlawn-starring Scarecrow in a Garden of Cucumbers I will literally marry you.
Women in Revolt got pulled from YouTube?? Ugh. Well, I’ll update this whenever I find a copy.
Glen or Glenda by Shirley Wood
Part of the appeal of Women in Revolt was getting to see transfeminine people on screen as far back as the 70s. But in the 50s one trans woman put herself and other “crossdressers” into her own movie. Like many suburban kids, I went through a Tim Burton phase and at that time watched his Johnny Depp-starring biopic of Shirley Wood. Film culture made her into a joke and, look, a lot of her movies are not very good, but Glen or Glenda is a miracle. I couldn’t believe that this movie I’d seen recreated by Tim Burton was actually a portrait of a queer trans woman made by a queer trans woman. It’s filled with self-hatred and misinformation, but it’s also a rather beautiful plea for understanding — from others and self. It brought me comfort to know we were managing to make movies about our experiences as far back as the 50s. It brings me comfort now.
Shirley’s work deserves reexamination — especially this film — and she at least deserves to be called by the name she preferred.
Watch Glen or Glenda!
Her Story by Jen Richards, Sydney Freeland
Speaking of queer trans women, there’s really nothing like Her Story. Jen Richards and Laura Zak’s Emmy-nominated web series is literally the only time I’ve seen a trans woman casually have a queer love story on screen. Sense8 is amazing, but it’s an ensemble action show in a heightened reality. Boy Meets Girl is sweet, but the actual love story is… in the title. We just have Her Story. Tell me I’m wrong in the comments and I’ll be thrilled, but I don’t think I am. Well! How lucky are we that this one web series also happens to be so fucking amazing?? My attachment is to its central love story but it also stars the always incredible Angelica Ross and is just so well-written by Jen and Laura and so well-directed by Sydney Freeland! But I really can’t say enough about that love story. Watching Jen and Laura walk down a city street flirting and eating ice cream altered my brain. I sometimes wonder what it might be like to live in the world if those 3.5 minutes were as commonplace on screen as they should be.
Watch Her Story!
Drunktown’s Finest by Sydney Freeland
I try not to concern myself with reviews, but the way critics (white, cis) treated Her Story director Sydney Freeland’s debut feature fills me with so much anger. I’ve been tapped into film culture for a long time and so many of the best films made each year — even the best films that premiere at renowned festivals — will never be on your radar if you don’t know to search for them. Freeland’s film about the intersecting lives of three young Navajo people — including a trans woman played by Carmen Moore — is an incredible movie. Despite its low budget and contained setting, something about it feels epic. The characters are so full and lived in and the way they intersect feels natural in a way similar, more well-known films do not. Freeland’s second film, Deidra and Laney Rob a Train, has an all-cis cast, but it’s also great. I’m glad she’s been getting so many TV directing jobs, but I really hope she gets the chance to make more films soon. I just love her work so much.
Watch Drunktown’s Finest!
The Personal Things, Atlantic is a Sea of Bones, Happy Birthday, Marsha! by Tourmaline
During a post-screening Q&A at BAM a couple years ago, Tourmaline said, “We have huge surpluses that other people think are lacks. And that makes the best art and that makes the best film.” Through her archival work, activism, and filmmaking, Tourmaline’s commitment to trans — specifically Black transfeminine — past, present, and future has shifted the way even the mainstream discusses queer and trans history.
To say she is also an incredible artist is to miss the point. Her films are incredible because of who she is, because of her knowledge, because of her commitment to those who are no longer with us, those who are, and those who will be. I don’t remember how I first stumbled upon her film about Egyptt LaBeija, Atlantic is a Sea of Bones, but I think about it often and it remains one of my very favorite films.
Watch The Personal Things! Watch Atlantic is a Sea of Bones! Watch Happy Birthday, Marsha!
Danger & Eggs by Shadi Petosky
This is an Emmy-winning Amazon series, but “indie” doesn’t really exist with children’s media so let me make this exception. There are only 13 episodes of Shadi Petosky’s animated series about aspiring stunt person D.D. Danger and her anxious egg friend, Phillip, but each one is filled with so much weird imagination, chaotic fun, and casual queer and transness. For a few months, I’d pick one day each week to get high and eat ice cream and watch an episode and it was so incredibly soothing. I think Danger & Eggs made me feel the way She-Ra makes a lot of the cis queer women I know feel. Just, “wow what if I had this when I was a kid.”
Watch Danger & Eggs!
I want to kill myself by Vivek Shraya
I’ve already written about how much I love Vivek Shraya’s writing and music, but she’s also a filmmaker! This photo essay about Vivek’s lifelong experience with suicidal ideation resonated deeply. Suicide is a large part of queer and trans narratives, but there’s a difference between the way mainstream media exploits our pain and the way Vivek tells a personal story of learning to vocalize her own.
Coming out did not cure my depression, nor is my depression always prompted by experiences of transphobia. It’s just something I live with and manage. It’s rare to witness anyone be this vulnerable about suicidal ideation, but it’s especially rare from a trans person, and I’m grateful for this film. Also it was just announced that Vivek’s one woman show How to Fail as a Popstar is being developed into a pilot?? So expect more things to watch from her soon!
Watch I want to kill myself!
The T by Bea Cordelia
Before I get into any sort of personal narrative it’s worth noting that Bea Cordelia and Daniel Kyri’s web series about best friends and exes — a white trans woman and a Black queer man — is just really fucking good. I’ve watched a lot of web series over the years, but few with this level of craft. Even if it didn’t mean a lot to me, I’d still recommend it just as a person with good taste in film and television. But it does mean a lot to me!
When I first watched The T I’d been out for a while and most people in my life had accepted I was trans. But now they wouldn’t shut up about the kind of trans person I should be! Cis people who were barely getting my pronouns right suddenly had opinions about what I could do to “look more female.” I knew what felt best to me was to look female and trans, but I started to wonder if that was even possible in anyone else’s eyes. Then I watched The T and saw Bea — gorgeous, trans.Seeing someone my age put herself on screen and own her transness in the way I wanted to own mine gave me a renewed confidence. There are so many ways to be trans and look trans, and none is better than the other. But seeing Bea on screen in work that she’d made — and work this good — was special to me.
Watch The T!
Phineas Slipped by Cary Cronenwett
I saw this at a short lived weekly trans movie night. I spent the whole evening thinking the woman who screened it was trans, because, ya know, trans movie night, but turned out she was just cis and horny. Bless. This short is about a room full of transmasculine schoolboys having dirty daydreams. It’s basically 15 minutes of transmascs artfully fucking each other and it’s fantastic. As trans people we’re often sexualized by cis people, so it’s a treat to watch us sexualize ourselves whether in the context of porn or an avant garde short film. No matter who’s watching this short the gaze remains specifically trans — and look if that cis woman wants to enjoy it that’s fine too.
I can’t find this online! You’ll have to track down that horny cis woman!
Intimidade by Liniker de Barros Ferreira Campos
I could make a whole separate list of music videos from trans artists, but I did want to include this one here, because I just love it so much. It’s sexy and sensual and Liniker costars with Linn da Quebrada who is also a trans woman. When I talk about wanting to see queer trans women on screen, I think the assumption is I mean trans women with cis women. But that is not what I mean! The only time I get to see trans women together on screen is in porn and sure that’s great, but it’d be nice if there was more! This music video is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and I watch it all the time and you should watch it too.
Ryans, Razor Tongue by Rain Valdez
As I wrote in my review of Razor Tongue, Rain Valdez has a sharp understanding of the romcom genre and she’s using that understand to tell stories of trans women falling in love on screen. I love trans art that has a total disregard for the cis media that came before, but I also think there’s something really powerful about taking a genre like the romcom and inserting oneself into it. Everything Rain does has a feeling of authenticity and depth and it makes for work that’s as meaningful as it is fun.
Watch Ryans! Watch Razor Tongue!
Framing Agnes by Chase Joynt
I’m ending with this short experimental documentary for a few reasons. It’s a film engaged in trans history. It features other prominent trans creators such as Zackary Drucker, Silas Howard, and Angelica Ross. And it’s currently being turned into a feature film co-written by multihyphenate trans artist Morgan M Page. While I was going on this journey of trans media consumption I was also devouring her phenomenal trans history podcast, One from the Vaults. For me, our history and our film and television are the same. It’s about what stories are told about us and what stories we tell about ourselves. Centering trans artists in our viewing, listening, and reading is making a commitment to the authenticity of our narratives. It’s what we deserve. It’s what we should demand.
I’m sure Disclosure would’ve been a very different film if it had been made by cis people. May that never be possible again.
Watch Framing Agnes! Listen to One From the Vaults!
EPIC Players Inclusion Company is proud to release their fourth virtual performance, Ring of Keys from the Broadway production of Fun Home. The video features a duet between Tony Nominated Sydney Lucas and EPIC company member Nicole D’Angelo. The performance is part of EPIC’s new virtual performance series, EPIC Sings for Autism, which was started after EPIC’s spring/summer performances were put on hold due to the COIVD-19 Pandemic. The New York City based neuro-diverse theater company created the series so their autistic performers could have a creative outlet and find some normalcy during this time.
Lucas shared what drew her to collaborating with EPIC, “Fun Home has had such a positive impact on so many people. I recognized this very early on and have always felt a responsibility to tell Alison’s story to the best of my ability. Learning that it touched Nicole (D’Angelo) and really spoke to her, touches my heart as well.” She went on to say, “I wanted to raise more awareness about autism because it’s another story that needs to be told, and another group of wonderful people who need to be recognized and acknowledged. After all, Ring of Keys is a song about recognition. Meeting Nicole over ZOOM was extra special and getting to sing Ring of Keys together with her is the cherry on top. Fun Home has taught me that when you invest in matters that have the ability to reach into another’s heart, your heart is all the fuller for it. It’s really a beautiful thing to experience!”
EPIC company member D’Angelo went on to say, “Fun Home is the reason I am in theater, and in many ways saved my life. It was such an honor to perform a song from the first show I ever saw that made me feel like there was a place for me, a queer, socially awkward introvert, on a stage, and to share that performance with Sydney Lucas, who helped to shape and create the musical that means so much to me.”
Ring of Keys from the Broadway Musical Fun Home
Book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, music by Jeanine Tesori. Featuring Nicole D’Angelo and Sydney Lucas.
In an effort to spread some much-needed joy and inspiration, EPIC’s company members,’ which feature artists on the spectrum, will continue to share a series of virtual performances throughout the Spring. Many of the video’s will be in collaborations with Broadway talent. The company would also like to connect with additional Broadway talent who may be interested in working on a virtual performance with EPIC. Interested individuals can contact Aubrie Therrien at firstname.lastname@example.org
Individuals living with autism and other neuro-diversities have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shuttered many of their essential resources, programs and supports and left them even more vulnerable to anxiety and distress.
Additional Videos from EPIC’s Virtual Performance Series:
A Whole New World from the Broadway Musical Aladdin
Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Tim Rice. Featuring EPIC company member Jordan Boyatt and Telly Leung who played the title role of Aladdin on Broadway. Accompanied by Scott Evan Davis.
Performed by EPIC’s Travis Burbee and Henry Houghton, and featuring special Broadway guest, Analise Scarpaci (Lydia Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire the Musical!/Broadway). Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, and music by Jeanine Tesori.
This original song was created by award-winning composer and lyricist Scott Evan Davis who also wrote and composed the new musical Indigo, which workshopped on Broadway this past fall. If the World Only Knew was created for the autistic community and was shared with EPIC for their Lincoln Center cabaret.
EPIC Players — which stands for empower, perform, include and create — is a nonprofit, neuro-diverse theatre company in New York City. Founded in 2016, EPIC seeks to use the performing arts as a vehicle to empower neuro diverse artists and pioneer increased inclusion in the arts. EPIC also provides free performing arts and careers classes for all participants. The company’s productions feature neuro-diverse artists that work in all capacities of theatre including acting, writing, stage management, design and backstage work. Past productions include neuro-diverse adaptations of The Little Prince, The Tempest, Peter & the Starcatcher, Dog Sees God, You’re A God Man Charlie Brown, Little Shop of Horrors, and numerous cabarets as Joe’s Pub, HBO Headquarters and Lincoln Center. www.epicplayersnyc.org