Bringing Season 2 of “Interested In” to Life

Upon the release of season one of Interested In, the world fell in love with Parker, his hookup antics, and his parade of beautifully queer friends. Whether it was the hot guys or the heart of the show that got you hooked, it’s safe to say that we’re all interested in a second season. We got the chance to once again sit down with Michael Witkes—the creator of the show and the actor playing Parker—to talk about all things Interested In and how he’s gearing up for a fierce follow up.

Still from the new gay series Interested In - Now Available on Dekkoo!

Hi, Michael! It’s nice to talk to you again! How have you been since we last spoke?

Amazing! Interested In got it’s big release on Dekkoo! It’s been my gay little dream to be on a queer streaming site, and here we are. This project has been a huge labor of love. It’s been so validating to hear from the queer people who’ve shared their coming-of-age stories with me. I created this series because I was confused after I came out. At the time, I couldn’t find any media or entertainment that depicted my story. So it’s heartwarming to hear that other people from all over the world also find validation in Parker’s journey.

What’s been your favorite reaction?

After our world premiere at Cinema Diverse in Palm Springs, I talked at length about the series with an older man who was a part of the Black Cat riots in Los Angeles in the ‘60s. He was incredibly complimentary and was impressed with the unapologetic depiction of queer sex. We discussed the differences between dating now and when he was my age. He wasn’t even allowed to hold hands with another man in public! What an amazing opportunity it was to thank someone for creating a world where I’m allowed to create Interested In.

Still from the new gay series Interested In - Now Available on Dekkoo!

What was your favorite part of creating season one of Interested In?

It was probably filming. I love the bustle of an indie film set, and it was amazing seeing my vision come to life. We had such an amazing team working on the series, so filming was an absolute joy.

How did you feel after the series was released?

Since I couldn’t be there in the room with everyone as they watched the series, I had no idea how people were reacting at first. It’s been so nice to connect with people online. Also, every screening has been a joy. It’s sometimes hard for me to watch myself on screen—especially in awkward sexual situations—but hearing the audience react positively has been exhilarating.

You’re jumping right back into the ring for the second season. How long have you been working on this second chapter of this story?

It’s been five years in the making! I wrote the first draft during my junior year of college. I initially wrote the series as a play that performed at two different theaters, but I thought that it would work much better as a series. So, the first half of the play was made into season one, and the second half is getting made into season two! I’m very much ready to get the second act out there!

Still from the new gay series Interested In - Now Available on Dekkoo!

Can you tell us a little bit about the journey that Parker will be going on in season two?

I don’t want to give too much away, but we definitely see Parker coming into his identity and gaining confidence. Of course, there will be some major roadblocks along the way. I think people are really going to love this season.

Will we see some of the same beloved characters we saw in season one?

The upcoming season is ultimately about queer friendship, so Parker’s bestie, Danny, is definitely coming back and will play a bigger role. Also, the thing about queer dating and Grindr culture is that you can have these amazingly vulnerable, intimate moments with someone you just met and then never see them again. So, season two will remain true to that, but you might see a few more familiar faces along the way, too.

What do you think is going to be the biggest difference between the first and second seasons?

Season one was very much about building Parker’s world and seeing him be incredibly uncomfortable in his own skin. In season two, Parker delves much deeper into his identity and touches on issues of femininity, consent, sexual assault, and queer identity. Just like the first season, season two will be steamy (but still awkward, of course). We also might have some amazing cameos this time around, so stay tuned for that!

Still from the new gay series Interested In - Now Available on Dekkoo!

For those interested in learning more about season two and how they can help bring the vision to life, where can we go?

We’re currently running a crowdfunding campaign to bring season two to life! We’re approaching the finish line and getting closer to our $15K goal! We have to reach 80% of our goal to receive any of the funds, so if you want to see what happens to Parker in season two, your support is crucial to making that happen!

To help us out, you can make a pledge and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and on our Seed&Spark page! Oh, and don’t forget to spread the love and share the series and our fundraiser with your friends and family! We’re so incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped make season one a success, and your continued support will allow us to make season two a reality!

Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know?

Thank you so much for watching the series and for your amazing messages! You’re the reason we’re making season two! I hope you enjoy it as much as we’re enjoying making it!

While you help bring season two of Interested In to life, why not give season one a rewatch! You can view it here, only on Dekkoo!

A Guide on Adding “The Third” into your Queer Entertainment Relationship

Anyone who’s ever said that monogamy is hard has never been in a triad. Jason (Sean McBride) realizes this firsthand after finding himself entangled in the relationship of two older gay men, Carl and David (Corey Page and Ryland Shelton). From the outside, they’re a picturesque married couple that has it all: the brand new house equipped with a sparkling pool in the backyard and a fabulous parade of friends to attend their Palm Springs parties. But despite their seemingly perfect lives, they find themselves lacking in the romance department, and they think Jason could be just the thing to keep the embers of their relationship burning. But that’s the thing about fire—when you start a flame, you run the risk of being burned. And where this wild flame will go is just one of the many alluring aspects this series stirs up.

Sean McBride in The Third

The show’s creator, Matthew Lynn, keeps viewers on their toes from the first episode’s enticing intro, delicately balancing between the lines of titillation and suspense, comedy and drama, love and hate. Similar in tone and cinematography to HBO mega hits like Big Little Lies and Looking, The Third is a grounded series drama that brings a powerful visual punch to queer entertainment. Lynn’s picturesque cinematography finds a new foothold in the gritty atmosphere of dark comedy, elevating both the genre and the expectations of its audience in the sweep of a single season. Although this series is by no means restricted to the queer genre, it’s in many ways a giant step for queer entertainment that will no doubt create a ripple effect in future endeavors.

Sean McBride, Corey Page and Ryland Shelton in The Third

In a world where queer shows (and, let’s be honest, queer people themselves) are still marginalized, Lynn takes representation to a new level, and it’s thanks to his own personal experiences that this revolutionary look into polyamory is now reaching a global audience. After Lynn’s family disowned him when he came out at the age of 23, a gay Palm-Springs couple took him under their wing. It was under their roof that he began exploring his sexuality and eventually entered into his first triad. In the queer mecca of Palm Springs that Lynn considers “the gayest place on earth,” he grew into the man—and filmmaker—that he is today.

Sean McBride, Corey Page and Ryland Shelton in The Third

After attending grad school at AFI, Lynn worked as a cinematographer on various projects and eventually formed his own team, Bridge the Divide Media. After expressing interest in bringing his own triad experience to the screen, he and his writing partner began their work. During the process, Lynn found himself in yet another triad, further priming him to bring one of the most honest portrayals of polyamory to queer entertainment.

Sean McBride, Corey Page and Ryland Shelton in The Third

After speaking with Lynn about the series, it was evident that his main goal was to forge a new path to acceptance for those who don’t fit the mold of society’s expectations. He said, “I want to bring empathy and awareness to a different perspective on life. When we set out to make the show, I wanted middle-American people to understand exactly what a polyamorous relationship is and that gay people are far beyond just gay. They’re real people with real feelings and lives.” Filled with visceral emotions, The Third succeeds in that by connecting audiences to the people behind the polyamory and giving those pushed to the perimeters of society the spotlight.

Sean McBride, Corey Page and Ryland Shelton in The Third

Dekkoo is proud to showcase such a revolutionary show amongst its ranks of queer entertainment, and Lynn and his team are just as thrilled to be there. Through this global platform, Lynn is excited to “offer awareness to the gay community and give hope to anyone that wants to pursue a [polyamorous relationship].” In addition to advocating for #teamtriad, Lynn urges people to share their own stories. When asked if he had any advice for aspiring storytellers, he said, “If you’re willing to speak your truth and be you, then you’re going to help other people. Your story is important, and it’s worth the struggle to tell it.”

Sean McBride and Corey Page in The Third

For those interested in keeping up with the inspiring work that Lynn and his team are doing, you can check out his website here and the production team’s website here. You’ll want to stay up to date on his upcoming project, Legacy, in addition to future installments of The Third and more! Until then, you can enjoy the first season of The Third here—only on Dekkoo!

Saying Goodbye to “I’m Fine”: an interview with series creator Brandon Kirby

With the release of I’m Fine’s third and final season, everyone at Dekkoo is feeling a little bittersweet. I’m Fine was Dekkoo’s first foray into the world of original series, and we couldn’t be prouder! But all good things must come to an end, and what a way to go out! We sat down with the creator of the series, Brandon Kirby, to see if he’s really doing fine after the release of the series’ last installment.

Still from I'm Fine: Season 3

Will you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in Livonia, Michigan, and went to undergrad at Michigan State University. Shortly after graduation, I moved to L.A. in 2012 for an internship at The Hollywood Reporter. Classic L.A. move, I caught the screenwriting bug, and my career went from there. My first project was a web series I co-created with my writing partner at the time and still good friend, Jessie Katz; it was called The Exorcists, and somewhere in the bowels of YouTube, it can be found and watched. I also unfortunately star in it. The lessons learned from that project allowed me to go on and create I’m Fine.

What was your main source of inspiration for the series?

The main source of inspiration was a breakup, so a lot of the first season is based on a bad hookup I had post-breakup. Nate’s neuroses and bad decision making unfortunately mirrors my own. But once Perry Powell began to imbue Nate with his own nuances, the character evolved past any real-life touch points I had tethered the story to. Thankfully, all my actors were able to bring even more to their characters than I had anticipated, so I’m Fine as a series was quickly able to evolve beyond being semi-autobiographical despite many characters, situations, and even dialogue being pulled directly from my real life. These close ties to reality quickly dissipate by season two as the show’s storylines morphed and evolved into something greater.

Can you tell us a little about the inspiration for the title and how you decided on it?

In college, I would say “I’m fine” in a really weird, high-pitched, obviously not-fine tone, and it became a running joke with my friends. As I was writing the first episode, the title sort of came naturally from that.

Still from I'm Fine: Season 3

What was it like bringing other writers onto the show for the last season?

They brought a lot of new perspectives and experiences to the show. For example, in the third episode of season three, we wanted to continue exploring Jeff’s issues of identity, so Clay Pruitt tackled that episode working on a story concept from Lee Doud who plays Jeff. And for the sixth episode—written by Michael Varrati—it’s the story of two older gay men courting younger men at a bar. Varrati wanted to bring that specific perspective to the episode to put a discussion of the gay generational divide into our final season.

What was the casting process like for such a strong ensemble show?

It all started through friends and friends of friends. Perry Powell (Nate) came recommended through our Director of Photography—Andrew Ceperley—and then Lee Doud (Jeff) came through our producer—Albert Payano. From there, Brittney King (Nicole) and Richard Stokes (Andy) were also recommended through Perry, and Ulysses Morazan (Brian) came recommended through another season-one producer—Abram Cerda. As we got into season two, we brought on our amazing casting director, Leslie Wasserman, who stayed with us through the process of casting seasons two and three. She’s been an absolute godsend, and we couldn’t have successfully done our last two seasons without her!

How does it feel to have seen these characters grow from season one to season three?

It’s been a really wild experience seeing how much they’ve grown. I think each character goes on a relatable journey of self discovery, and the direction these characters take is largely owed to the actors bringing them to life. Thanks to them, the characters have gone places I never expected.

Throughout the series, there was an emphasis not only on romantic relationships but on platonic ones and ones where the lines blurred a little as well. Why did you decide to showcase this broad spectrum of relationships?

Since the show’s starting-off point was a breakup, my goal was to not entirely focus on romantic relationships. As the series began, I was much more interested in exploring gay male relationships—namely friendships—that sometimes enter the gray area of more than friends. I think that’s something so specific to gay men where if you’re friends, there’s always the possibility that one person might see the other as something more. And that’s where Nate and Jeff find their friendship headed in season two, and then they have to walk it back, deal with the falling out of one of them having feelings, and then land back in the realm of friendship.

Still from I'm Fine: Season 3

What would 15-year-old Brandon Kirby say about seeing something like I’m Fine on screen?

He would be shocked because 15-year-old me didn’t even have moving to L.A. on his radar. To see that his future self wrote and directed a show, he would be stunned. He probably would’ve gained a lot from it.

What do you think queer viewers will gain from this series?

I want them to see themselves and know that queer stories don’t all have to be tragic. Queer characters can exist in storytelling and media by just being themselves, living their lives, and fucking things up just like any other characters they might see in media.

What’s the main message you’d like your readers to walk away with after seeing I’m Fine?

We’re always growing, and we’re always on a journey. As queer people, we’re always trying to find our tribe, and the journey of self-identity is forever ongoing. We’re constantly redefining ourselves, changing our paths and friendships, and that’s okay. It’s all part of growing up, and sometimes, that means growing apart. I think that’s especially true for transplants moving to new cities and even more true for queer people. It’s all about finding your people, and sometimes, you have to go through a few rounds of figuring out what you want before you can land on what truly makes you happy.

How does it feel to have completed the third and final season of the show?

It feels bittersweet. I knew season three was the time to end the series, but it’ll definitely be weird not returning to these characters. The cast and crew feels the same way, but we’ll always have the friendships and the I’m Fine family we made along the way. Personally, it feels like I’m closing the chapter on that “Nate chapter” of my life, and so it’s a timely and fitting end.

Can you tell us something that was challenging about filming the series?

Budget is always something you’re fighting against when it comes to small projects such as this. Cutting corners, calling in favors, and finding every opportunity to save money is the name of the game.

Still from I'm Fine: Season 3

Can you share one of your favorite moments or memories on set?

On set during the filming of season three, we were shooting a nighttime pool scene, and our director—Andrew Ceperley—was setting up for the shot but wasn’t satisfied with the angle he was getting. The two characters were sitting with their feet dangling in the pool, so straight-on shots were limited since there was a body of water in front of them. But that didn’t stop Andrew from fully getting in the water to film the entire scene. He didn’t even take the time to take his jeans off, let alone his socks or shoes. It was a moment of pure dedication, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

How does it feel to have I’m Fine featured on Dekkoo?

I’m so thankful it’s on a platform like Dekkoo, dedicated to telling exclusively queer stories. I hope being on here allows the show to reach more people!

Do you have any new projects you’re currently working on?

I have a short film also starring Lee Doud (Jeff) called Is This a Date? that’s currently in post-prod and will premiere on Dekkoo either later this year or early next. I also have a queer horror short, The More the Scarier, that will land on Dekkoo this Halloween. The production company I have with Michael Varrati called June Gloom Productions also has a short, The Office is Mine, that will be hitting the festival circuit this fall. We also have many more queer horror-genre stories in the works!

Where can we find you online?

You can find me on Twitter and Instagram. You can also find I’m Fine on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

You can watch the third and final season of I’m Fine right now, available for streaming on Dekkoo!

The Gay and Wondrous Feel-Good Show You Should Watch Right Now

The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo was originally released in 2017 on YouTube as a web series that took the internet by storm. With a remarkably relatable cast, the five-episode series was chock full of endless jokes toeing the line between satire and silliness. This web series was spearheaded by writer, director, and actor – Brian Jordan Alvarez – and showcased a deliciously comical cast of queer West Coasters navigating a world where they don’t have to be ashamed of their emotions, sexualities or identities. While the series is truly hilarious, it also shares heartfelt messages of acceptance, community, and – in all of its many complex forms – love.

One of the most beautiful things about Caleb Gallo is its unabashed approach to queerness. In mainstream portrayals of queer culture on screen, the queer content always seems to be catered to a straight, cisgender audience where everything is spelled out for them. From the first episode to the last, a wide array of sexualities and gender identities are allowed to exist in the context of the series without excess time spent ruminating on their struggles for acceptance or self-doubts. Instead of spending time on getting straight viewers up to speed, Caleb Gallo wastes no time, steering clear of that alienating treatment of “otherness” and instead telling everyone to get on board or get left behind.

Caleb Gallo’s world is one where straight men are allowed to try being bisexual until realizing that they’re not; where people can be as fluid as they wish in their gender identity without any pushback from their friends; where being monogamous or polyamorous are both perfectly acceptable; where you can exist however you wish alongside the people that bring you joy.

For those who haven’t yet taken the plunge into the world of The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo, we highly suggest giving it a watch. You will laugh, fall head over heels in love with the cast, and be reminded that the friends we surround ourselves with are some of the most cherished assets that make life worth living.

You can watch The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo right now, available for streaming on Dekkoo!

Q&A with Julio Dowansingh, the Creator of Louder Than Words

Louder Than Words, written and directed by Julio Dowansingh and available now for streaming on Dekkoo, is a short coming-of-age film that beautifully weaves music and dance into the intersection where budding queer romance and what it means to be deaf meet. The film follows Niall (played by Marty Lauter) – a queer, deaf dancer – as he develops feelings for Ansel (Luke Farley) during their time sharing a rehearsal space. The two leads are supported by actress Apryl Wilson in the role of Kenya who serves as a link between the boys when a romantic gesture isn’t received well and Ansel has to consider the possibility that he might not be straight. I sat down with Dowansingh to discuss queerness, deafness, and the making of Louder Than Words.

Marty Lauter and Luke Farley in Louder Than Words

Julio, tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Julio Dowansingh, and I’m the director of Louder than Words. I was born in London, raised in Jamaica, and then later moved to Boston to study film. It was there that I discovered that I was good at creating a visual connection with people through film. Louder Than Words is the first big project that I’ve brought to fruition from just a story in my head to what you see on-screen. It’s definitely my baby.

What was your main source of inspiration for the events that take place in the film?

Dancers and musicians both rely on sound, and I’ve always had a curiosity as both a writer and a person about whether or not deaf people experience those things in the same way we do. As it turns out, they do. They react to the vibrations. And I was like, “Wow, this is so interesting. This should be in a story.” I also wanted to create a positive representation that deaf and queer people could engage with and enjoy.

Where do you get your creative ideas from?

I draw a lot of my inspiration from music which is such a big part of this film and my life. I wanted to create an original song for the project, so I reached out to a bunch of really talented composers so we could get the vibe just right. Luke is also a musician so it was cool to all sit in a room and throw out ideas. I grew up on country music, so I think a lot of those influences leaked through especially in regards to the rural Massachusetts setting.

Marty Lauter and Luke Farley in Louder Than Words

At the very beginning of the film, we first see Niall dance before realizing that he’s deaf. Was that a deliberate choice?

I wanted to introduce the character in his element before revealing that he was deaf. People are oftentimes shocked when they see a performance and then find out afterward that the person is hearing impaired. The truth is that the Deaf community can do all the things we can do and there’s really nothing that separates us aside from their ability to hear. That first scene is a nice moment where the audience gets to realize this firsthand.

Is Niall’s crush on Ansel his first queer experience?

It’s not his first queer experience, but this time definitely feels more real. He feels that there’s a connection there and decides to put a little bit more effort into the relationship to see where it could go.

How did you approach taking on a deaf character in your film?

When I started this project, I wanted to provide the Deaf community with positive representation. Because I wasn’t a part of that community myself, I wanted to make sure that everything was accurate. Except for a few hearing-impaired family members, I didn’t know much about the Deaf community, so I wanted to learn as much as I could. Luckily, I have two close friends with experience in that regard. One is deaf and the other is very fluent in ASL (American Sign Language), and I had them look over the script to get their feedback which was extremely helpful. I also learned sign language myself by taking a couple of courses.

Marty Lauter in Louder Than Words

Did you have any specific instructions for Marty Lauter, the actor who played Niall?

Marty basically had a week and a half to get everything down, but he picked it all up really quickly. He understood the character and was perfect for the role which required a heavy emphasis on visual communication. Thankfully, he was a genius with the ASL, the dancing, and the acting.

Ansel’s character seems to be an outsider. What do you think drew him to befriend Kenya and Niall beyond the scope of just using their rehearsal space?

In the first scene, the character comes off as a little abrasive. When Kenya gives him some attitude back, he realizes he needs to reconnect to let them know that there’s more to him. Their first impression of him wasn’t so great so he decides to put his best foot forward by apologizing to not seem so standoffish since they’re going to be sharing a rehearsal space.

Towards the beginning of the film, Ansel seems very interested in Niall’s deafness and then goes on to fix the chain on Niall’s bike and even tries his hand at dancing. What do you feel are the motives driving those interests?

Throughout the film, Ansel sees Kenya and Niall being so comfortable in themselves, and he becomes more open as he gets to know them more. He also feeds off of the interest that Niall is showing in him even if he doesn’t necessarily understand why at the time. All he knows is that Niall experiences everything a little bit differently than he does which intrigues him.

Luke Farley in Louder Than Words

The kiss at the very end of the film lends itself to being open-ended. What were the choices behind this ambiguity?

My goal was to have the audience in this place where they didn’t really know where Ansel stood because that’s where he was in his own head, too. He was confused but definitely interested even if it wasn’t in an overt way.

What do you think modern-day LGBTQ youth will gain from seeing this film and why is it important to show these kinds of stories on screen?

Hopefully, they’ll gain more understanding about deaf and bisexual people because we don’t see a lot of that on screen. After the film was released, I got fan letters from some queer deaf people telling me how deeply they connected with the film which was one of my goals. I was so nervous just to hear their feedback, but it was really well received. They said it was so good to see someone like themselves on the screen. I made this film for those people, and the fact that they related to these characters was more than I could ever ask for.

What would 15-year-old Julio say about seeing something like Louder than Words on screen?

I remember watching these short, queer films that had these sad,  depressing endings. My driving force in creating Louder Than Words was to create a positive narrative that people in the Deaf and queer community could watch and feel good about themselves.

Marty Lauter in Louder Than Words

Any plans for Louder than Words in the future?

The film has had a pretty good run so far. In addition to having been in a few festivals from Barcelona to China, it is a semi-finalist for the jellyFEST Film Festival in LA this summer which I’m so excited for. I also think that it could easily be adapted into a series or a feature-length film.

What’s it like to have your film featured on Dekkoo?

Right away, I knew that I wanted to be apart of Dekkoo because the platform helps my film reach the audience it’s meant for.

Are you currently working on any more exciting films or other creative projects?

I’ve been working on a lot of music videos with artists lately. I’m also currently writing a feature-length script that’s in its early stages. I would like to continue incorporating deaf and queer characters to reflect what we don’t often see on screen. Their experiences can be vastly different from our own yet their stories need to be told.

Marty Lauter and Luke Farley in Louder Than Words

You can watch Louder Than Words on Dekkoo today, available now!

Q&A with Interested In’s Michael Witkes

Created by Michael Witkes, Interested In (now available for streaming on Dekkoo) follows the story of Parker, a recently out young gay man exploring his sexuality and identity through the lens of hookup culture. This queer comedy series portrays Parker in an array of scenarios reminiscent of the shared experiences many gay males encounter after coming out and diving into the murky waters of gay culture.

I sat down with Michael Witkes to discuss what inspired Interested In and what the process of creating the series was like.

First off, what are you interested in? Who is Michael Witkes?

My name is Michael Witkes, and I’m an actor, producer, director, and writer focused on showcasing LGBT stories in an authentic way. I’m originally from Philadelphia where Interested In takes place, and I currently live in New York City. Artistically, I am most interested in works that explore gay shame, LGBT identity, and expands representation. I also love froyo, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and queer history.

What was the inspiration for the title of the series?

I called the show Interested In because of the tumultuous moment when I first changed my Facebook status to “interested in men.” It felt so official that I was announcing to the world that I was gay, and I wanted to explore how labels can both help and hinder someone, how important they are in shaping identity, and how they can mean both everything and nothing at the same time.

Parker finds himself in some pretty sticky situations. What was your main source of inspiration for the events that take place in Interested In?

Some things are based on events that actually happened to me and some are fabricated. I wrote the first draft in 2013 after I came out in college, and I was trying to express those initial personal moments when you finally come out of the closet and how you can feel so uncomfortable in your own body. As a writer, I see the world in vignettes, and I selected moments that were exemplary of one person’s struggle of coming into himself.

Still from the new gay series Interested In - Now Available on Dekkoo!

How did you curate these vignettes for the screen?

The development of Parker’s character was really the driving force behind the storyline. I wanted to show that character’s journey from being someone who is so freshly out and awkward into someone who is more comfortable in his own skin. At the end of this season, he might not be totally there just yet, but I think he’s making significant progress to get to that point.

What was your personal coming out experience like?

The relationship that Parker talks about in the first episode where he said he was with this boy who wasn’t ready to come out yet and then they broke up because of that—all of that was true for me as well. I was so ready to come out for like a year before I actually did. When it finally happened, all of my friends and family were so supportive, but—at the same time—I was dealing with the loss of my first love so it was bittersweet.

In Interested In, Ep. 3, Parker and his Grindr date not only get intimate physically but emotionally as well. However, in the finale with the lawyer character, there’s more of a “no strings attached” vibe. Why did you decide to showcase this broad spectrum of intimacy in the show?

Representation is so important. Growing up, all the movies and series I watched always showed young gay kids either committing suicide or coming out then living happily ever after. I wanted to show what being gay is really like by exploring both the positive and negative aspects of gay dating in a realistic setting. I was interested in showing how in Grindr culture every interaction can be different.

Still from the new gay series Interested In - Now Available on Dekkoo!

Is Parker a no-strings-attached kinda guy or do you think he’s looking for more?

Parker deeply wants a boyfriend, but he’s very ignorant of the gay dating lifestyle. He goes into these situations expecting a true connection and then is really surprised when that doesn’t happen. For Parker, each episode is a learning moment that he takes onto the next interaction. He figures out things he didn’t know before which is very indicative of how LGBTQ people in real life have to learn things the hard way as they go along.

It’s no secret that in regards to gay culture, there’s a “whole animal kingdom out there.” What is your take on the roles LGBTQ people are expected to take on when participating in the culture (i.e. top, bottom, gay, straight, bi, twink, bear, otter, etc.)?

At first, I was so terrified of coming out that it took me a long time to take on the label of “gay.” But then once you’re out, everyone says, “Oh, now you have to be a twink or an otter, and a top or a bottom.” I was so frustrated by all the boxes I was getting put into. On one hand, I do think that labels can be helpful. Now, I’m so proud to be gay despite the fact that the word used to hold such a stigma for me. But at the same time, I think labels can hinder people. In Interested In, Parker’s journey is figuring out which labels he wants to take on and which ones he can say “thank u, next” to.

In the fourth episode, we get to see an interesting side of Parker when he has a sexual encounter with his ex-girlfriend. As far as sexual orientation goes, what does Parker identify as?

Parker is gay, but that moment with his ex-girlfriend is really important in helping him figure that out and that it’s also okay to keep your options open.

Still from the new gay series Interested In - Now Available on Dekkoo!

What do you think modern-day LGBTQ youth will gain from this series seeing Parker experience the nuances that come with the territory of being a gay man?

I hope Interested In will help queer youths by showing them a story that’s about what comes directly after coming out of the closet. My goal with these vignettes is to show sex positivity and openness in regard to real issues so people can feel more comfortable with themselves. I want people watching the show to go out into the world and have their own vignette moments.

What would 15-year-old Michael Witkes say about seeing something like Interested In on screen?

It would have meant everything to him! Seeing someone struggle to take on their identity would have prepared me to do that before I even had to. Watching the show now, I get nostalgic for what it was like when I was a baby gay.

Why do you think it’s important to show these experiences on screen?

Sex is such a taboo subject, but I don’t think we should feel uncomfortable talking about it. After being closeted for so long, unapologetically showcasing intimate moments between queer people is so important to me. I want to change the conversation about sex and make it more open, comfortable, and sex-positive. Also, showing uncomfortable sexual situations is important because that’s a big part of sex, too. It’s not always this beautiful, perfect moment every single time. There’s a lot of awkward things that happen when you’re being intimate with someone, and that’s okay!

Still from the new gay series Interested In - Now Available on Dekkoo!

What is your take on Grindr and other dating apps, especially the “headless torso” phenomenon broached upon in Ep. 2?

There used to be so much stigma surrounding Grindr. It was something you had to hide on your phone and be embarrassed about, but I don’t think that should be the case. Now that straight people are using dating apps, too, there’s definitely less stigma. Unfortunately, Grindr can represent all the problematic things within the LGBTQ community. It can turn into a big cyberbullying moment with the whole “no fats, no fems” thing which is horrible. I think Grindr is doing a lot to try and change that, but, still, it’s hard to police such a big forum where you can write pretty much whatever you want anonymously.

What plans for Interested In do you have for the future? Can Interested In fans be interested in a second season?

Yes, it’s already written! The second season is going to explore Parker developing into a more confident person with some of the previous characters popping up.

What’s it like to have Interested In featured on Dekkoo?

When I wrote the show, I was writing for a very specific, niche audience, and I think that’s exactly what Dekkoo is for. I’m so grateful that they gave me this unique platform and that they’ve chosen to cater to an LGBTQ audience. All I wanted as a gay kid was something like Dekkoo to watch.

Still from the new gay series Interested In - Now Available on Dekkoo!

Aside from the show, what are you interested in for the future?

I’m just really excited to make more work that explores similar themes but also dives into other topics as well. Since Interested In, I’ve written a lot of content, and I hope this show will give me the platform to bring all of those stories to life!

You can keep up with all things Interested In by visiting their website, Facebook page, and Instagram account. Watch Interested In on Dekkoo today, available now!

Why “OUT on Stage: The Series” is Very Important

It’s no secret that straight, white males have dominated the stand-up comedy scene since its creation. Luckily for members of the LGBTQ community, there’s a new TV series dedicated to changing that. OUT on Stage: the Series showcases LGBT comedians breaking OUT of stand-up comedy’s status quo and presents to the world something groundbreaking that will make a place for queer comics in the stand-up comedy world for years and years to come.

Hosted by Zach Noe Towers, OUT on Stage was filmed in L.A. in front of a live audience and features comics Gloria Bigelow, Janine Brito, Chris Bryant, A.B. Cassidy, Anthony Desamito, Joe Dosch, Jared Goldstein, Eric Hahn, Casey Ley, Julian Michael, Jordan Pease, Raneir Pollard, Jonathan Rowell, Brendan Scannell, Kyle Shire, Irene Tu, and Daniel Webb. The series consists of six episodes that run roughly around 35 minutes, three queer comics performing each episode and sharing their comic routine. You may be asking what’s so revolutionary about that?

After all, LGBTQ comedians aren’t exactly new. I mean, hello? Ellen Degeneres, Tig Notaro, Wanda Sykes, Lea DeLaria, and Jaffe Cohe n are only but a few of the many revered queer comics. The list goes on and on and hopefully will continue to grow as we move forward into the next decade and progress as people. But here’s what really sets OUT on Stage apart from the LGBT comedians before it: it’s queer comedy for queer people.

In the past, LGBTQ comedians performed for primarily straight, cisgender audiences which begs the question: were they truly being accepted or were they just the butt of the joke the whole time? In the world of stand-up comedy, most comedians will take whatever laughs they can get whether it’s at the expense of other people or even themselves, and queer comics are no exception. “I have built a career out of self-deprecating humor, and I don’t want to do that anymore… I put myself down in order to speak, in order to seek permission to speak, and I simply will not do that anymore, not to myself or anybody who identifies with me. If that means that my comedy career is over, then, so be it,” says queer comic, Hannah Gadsby, in her Netflix special, Nanette (2017). But what if this arena where self-deprecation is key to a queer comic’s success is based more on the heteronormative audience than the comic themselves? More to the point, maybe Gadsby’s notion of quitting stand-up comedy isn’t quite the right idea. Maybe all queer comedy needs is the right audience.

With that in mind, what makes OUT on Stage so great is that it doesn’t cater to a straight, cisgender audience, and actually supplies these queer comics with a primarily queer audience. It’s in this uncensored space where LGBTQ stand-up comedians can unabashedly thrive without fear of judgment or persecution, sharing their queer experiences with queer people. In fact, the key to this show’s magic is the experiences that both the audience and the comic share having lived the life of someone who identifies as queer. Whether intentionally or not, this series has given queer stand-up comedy the chance to truly come OUT of the closet and show off its big guns.

While OUT on Stage is a major step for queer-identifying people everywhere, there were also a few drawbacks (that—for the record—could be chalked up to these comics being used to catering to non-inclusive, patriarchal audiences in order to make headway in the stand-up comedy industry). The biggest flaw with the series was that it was incredibly male-centric (although it could also be argued that gay men haven’t had a chance to thrive in the comedy industry because straight men find them threatening to their ideas of manhood and that lesbians created a space because they’re deemed “non-threatening”). Lesbians Irene Tu, Janine Brito, A.B. Cassidy, and Gloria Bigelow showcased their talents on the show, but a more diverse group of LGBTQ comedians would have been even more revolutionary.

In fact, aside from the gays and lesbians, it seemed that the other letters of the acronym were particularly lacking. Seeing as we’re still fighting for trans rights to use the bathroom, maybe comedy isn’t yet quite a safe enough place for transgender people. And bisexuals, I’m sure, are clinging to the low-side of the Kinsey Scale in order to relate to their straight audiences. You can’t exactly blame the oppressed for playing the hand they’re dealt.

Another observation that was less than ideal was the reinforcement of some negative stereotypes amongst the community such as enforced “traditional” gender roles amongst same-sex partners, unsafe sex positivity, and fat shaming. Maybe this analysis is a bit too critical considering it is a stand-up comedy show where political correctness and progressive ideals are put on a slight pause. Regardless, OUT is innovative, and hopefully, we can look forward to the second season of OUT to break down some of these barriers.

At the end of the day, OUT on Stage is a great show for the LGBTQ community to finally get a taste of what comedy aimed at their own experiences is like. If you’re looking for some gut-wrenching laughs, OUT on Stage the series can be streamed on Dekkoo, a gay-centric streaming service. It’s what queer people deserve. One step for gays; a giant step for LGBTQ-kind everywhere.

Very special thanks to Austin for sharing! You can watch OUT on Stage now on Dekkoo.