Moving beyond ‘So when did you come out?’

Moving beyond ‘So when did you come out?’

Queery provides a forum for LGBTQ people to share their stories on their own terms

While discussing her podcast Queery in a recent interview with Marc Maron, comedian Cameron Esposito hit upon a profound truth about the way the media often deals with queer figures. “So often when we’re interviewed, the questions are like, ‘so when did you come out?’ and then, ‘How did your parents take it?’... it immediately erases the queer person in that story.”

Esposito’s conversational podcast, however, is a step in the right direction. The open structure of Queery means the conversations can go anywhere, and they often do delve into the guests’ lives beyond their LGBTQ identity. For example, in one notable episode, actress and screenwriter Lena Waithe discussed her creative process and what it was like breaking into the entertainment industry.

The show has also featured actress Evan Rachel Wood, comedian (and Esposito’s wife) Rhea Butcher, and activist Jeffrey Marsh, among others. There are so many different fields in which LGBTQ people are making themselves visible, and Queery makes a concerted effort to represent them all.

But honestly, what makes the podcast especially great is the host. Esposito has been a groundbreaking force for LGBTQ advancement in the entertainment industry. Her work as a stand-up comic over the last decade has earned her spots on major late night shows and her own show, Take My Wife, which she boasts had more out queer actors in its second season than any other season of television, period.

As a host, Esposito is empathetic, often connecting her own experiences to those of the guest, but never overshadowing them. Queery is a forum for people to talk about their lives and their views on their own terms, with no pressure or judgment.

At the end of each episode, Esposito asks the guest to name their queer hero, the person who has most inspired them to be their authentic selves. If her career continues along the current trajectory, Esposito herself might become a new generation’s answer to that question.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine gets more diverse while maintaining its status as one of TV’s best sitcoms

Speaking of positive queer representation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine recently upped its already impressive level of diversity in its 99th episode, “99,” which was written by Andy Bobrow and premiered last December. When the character Rosa Diaz came out as bisexual, the Fox sitcom succeeded at something that long running shows often fail at: changing the status-quo for a character that viewers have known for years, without selling them out.

Of course, more representation is always welcome, but it can be tricky for shows to organically have a character reveal something that has never been hinted at before without it feeling shoehorned in. In this case, however, Diaz’s revelation was handled with the perfect level of nuance. It was realistic and made sense for her character, and made for a highly entertaining episode of television.

Diaz’s character growth since the show’s pilot has been defined by the breaking down of the excessive boundaries she keeps between her work and personal lives. It took her dozens of episodes to admit that she had even become friends with her coworkers, and she has become far more endearing, and hilarious, in recent seasons as she continues to lower her guard.

So when Diaz revealed to co-worker Charles Boyle that she was dating a woman, it just felt like the natural evolution of her character: of course there were still things that Diaz hadn’t shared with her work friends, no matter how accepting and loving they had already proved to be with their out-and-proud Captain Holt.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has remained so good, and maybe gotten even better, because it always remembers to honor its characters. Case in point: in the episodes after Diaz’s conversation with Boyle, Diaz has not become defined by her sexuality. She has simply continued to be the strong, private, and deeply funny person that she always has been.

header image: gage skidmore / wikimedia commons

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