Lee Whitman has been making films almost as long as he can remember.
The 29-year-old Derby, Kan., native grew up using his father’s video camera to make shorts and all through high school and college (he studied broadcast journalism at Wichita State Universtiy) he continued.
His first feature-length project, “War Stories” was on the festival circuit in 2009 and is now out on DVD. It tells the story of a kid named Tim who grew up believing his father was killed in the Gulf War but discovers he may still be alive. Whitman says he recouped the $20,000 he put into the film and is now at work on another with the working title of “16 Days and Counting,” which he says will be an LGBT-themed “relationship thriller.”
He also makes shorts and hopes to post a new one, as yet untitled, on YouTube within a week or so. Visit uncheckablefilms.com or find him on YouTube under the name “aedude01” to see his work.
Whitman says he’s lucky his “day job” is also creative. He works as a government contractor writing and directing TV commercials and PSAs for the Department of Defense.
“I love it because not only is it a field I really enjoy, I get to learn a lot of techniques with the PSAs I’d never use in a feature film,” he says.
Whitman has won two regional Emmy Awards for his government work.
He and boyfriend Quang Nguyen have been dating about a year. In his free time, Whitman enjoys photography, working out, wine, writing, running, tennis, the beach and, of course, watching movies.
He came to D.C. about five years ago from Kansas after his father’s Air Force career gave him the chance to live in California, Arkansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Illinois, South Carolina, Virginia and, of course, Kansas.
Whitman lives on Capitol Hill. (Blade photo by Jonathan Ellis)
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out for just over 11 years now and it hasn’t always been the easiest journey. I would say the hardest people to tell were my immediate family: my mom, dad and little brother. They’re conservative Christian and they didn’t take it too well though they’ve gotten much better as time has gone on and now my little brother is one of my biggest supporters.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Probably Eric Alva or Dan Savage. Alva for showing those who had their doubts that LGBT people can serve in our nation’s military with dignity and honor; Savage for his work for bullied teens and gay rights in general.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
The Gibson, hands down. Great drinks, fun atmosphere, hot waitstaff.
Describe your dream wedding.
I have two: one is a quiet beach wedding with close friends. The other is a gigantic state-style wedding with all the trappings. In both scenarios my family puts aside their religious views and is there to support me.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Support for military families and for our veterans; I feel like both groups have been overlooked throughout our nation’s history. It’s only been in the past few years that people have started to notice that military families really serve too and that they need support! With Veterans there’s quite a bit more that we could and should be doing for them when it comes to health care, education, post-military job placement, etc.
What historical outcome would you change?
The election of George W. Bush and preventing 9-11 would be a good start.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Either the Janet Jackson halftime nipple slip (and the following FCC court case) or the moment when the show “Battlestar Galactica” (2004) had the colonists arrive at earth midway through season four.
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
FB: “A quick preview of what I’m working on … (Attached to an image from my upcoming short film debuting on YouTube next week.)”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Swimming in Celluloid: The Lee Whitman Story”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Stay gay. My struggles with my orientation, and for acceptance because of my orientation, have made me into the strong-willed, extroverted individual I am today. Why would I want to change that?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe in the basic tenets of Christianity, but I do not adhere to a specific church doctrine.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Focus on what’s important; The entire ordeal with Chick-fil-A was just silly. All that time and effort should have been focused on passing ENDA and repealing DOMA.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
A multi-picture film contract with a prominent film studio. Also my amazing boyfriend.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The bitchy queen
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“C.R.A.Z.Y.” — It’s a fun nostalgia trip and does a great job creating realistic characters that aren’t usually found in gay cinema.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Passing greetings: When people walk by and say, “Hi how are you?”
and then past before you have a chance to answer them.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Most of the crap you worry about happening won’t come to pass, so
don’t waste your time stressing about it! Focus on today, not tomorrow.
Why not? It’s a fantastic town! It has equal rights, fantastic
food, intelligent discourse, handsome men and interesting museums.
What’s not to love?