“What a depressing state of affairs that making this web series about gay people is necessarily a political act. That’s so stupid,” says Adam Goldman, the creator/co-director/co-writer/star of The Outs, the cult web series that debuted in 2012 and returns today for Season 2 via Vimeo. Goldman says that he’s been asserting the inherent politics of making a show about a group of friends—many of them gay—in Brooklyn since its early days. What has changed in the past four years, though, is his comfort with labeling The Outs as a “gay show.” Goldman told The Atlantic in 2013:
What’s a gay show? It just doesn’t mean anything. There aren’t definitions of these things. I don’t think of every other show as a straight show. Is it gay because I suck dick? Or is it gay because it’s about two gay men? It just doesn’t mean anything.
Now Goldman has changed his tune. Citing Garth Greenwell’s words on the desperate urgency of gay identification in culture that were posted earlier this month on Gawker, Goldman says, “It’s important for queer artists to step up and embrace that to indicate that there is value in those stories. I’m just not scared of it anymore, I guess, because who are we fooling? I’m not interested in tricking straight people into watching something if they’re gonna hate it anyway. It’s pretty gay!”
During our chat last week at Gawker Media HQ, Goldman shared further thoughts about gay culture, where he and his show fit in, and why the writing is of paramount importance in a small-budget web series like The Outs. As this was a casual conversation between two friends, I think it is better to post it as such in a lightly edited audio file. That’s embedded toward the bottom of this post. But first, for your perusing convenience, here are a few choice quotes from my conversation with Goldman:
On queer representation:
We talk about representation, is it enough for there to be queer people, period? And I think the answer is no. They have to be doing things and they have to be people and they have to be characters. It’s a jokey thing to talk about, but where is my gay procedural cop drama? Where is my gay hospital show? Many of the queer characters are token, even when you don’t expect them to be, just because they don’t get to express anything about their identity or they’re just there to express their identity. The Outs is not about being gay. It is about gay characters. I no longer bristle at the notion of it being called a gay show. At the heart of the show is not anyone struggling with being gay.
On needing more of it:
It’s not to say that we all should embrace every shitty piece of work that comes out about queer people, because I think a lot of it is bad. And a lot of everything is bad. Every fucking stupid straight thing that comes out is also bad, with very rare and particular exceptions. From my perspective, I cannot vouch for the unimpeachable quality of my own work. All I can do is tell you that I’m making something that I like. I was in L.A. recently and I was bored at the apartment I was staying at, and I just wanted to watch some gay shit, and I could not. I had seen it all and it’s gone. What a stupid situation. Everybody should just be making stuff because we have to make 10,000 things for 9 of them to be good. That’s the ratio. Just making things is the way to do it because when they do catch on, when they do snowball and something becomes a cult whatever, then that indicates to people with money that there’s money in them thar hills and that they should invest a little bit in making something work.
My character collects cardigans and loves Sex and the City. If you look at a femme gay guy, a camp gay guy, and you see a stereotype then that’s actually your problem, because that’s a person. And that person, being what they are in the world, is a lot more difficult than it is to pass. I just view that as a superpower.
On tops and bottoms:
We did an interview the other day where someone was like, “I was watching The Outs, and I was wondering which character in each couple is the top and which one is the bottom.” I was just like, anal sex is such a small percentage of what being gay is about or what any gay relationship is about. Some men just don’t have anal sex because they don’t want to. If that’s what you’re seeing when you look at two men together, that feels like inherently…you should go to church. And buried in there was the implication of, “Who’s the man and who’s the woman?” It’s like ugh, god, don’t.
You talk about Girls, which we get compared to a lot. They decided to call that show Girls, and I think that brought a lot of expectations on it, that it was saying something about girls, about women, about women of that age. Or Love, on Netflix, is not really about love. It’s about how you position these things. I don’t feel a responsibility in that way. We’ve gotten a little bit of criticism about, “Where do these people live? What does this Brooklyn look like? Why are their apartments so nice?” It’s like, well I don’t know, those are the apartments of my friends and they pay out the ear for them and they’re actually not that nice and we photograph them well.
Here’s the full interview:
[There was a video here]