Although queer representation is down slightly on scripted TV shows this year with 70 (9.1 percent) of all 773 series regular characters out as some form of LGBTQ+, representation has been so vast in recent years, there’s still more queer TV content than any one person could possibly consume. Last year’s record was 10.2 percent according to January’s GLAAD annual report.
Here’s what’s returning and upcoming. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a thorough start.
Original dramedy “GENERA+ION” debuts this Friday on HBO Max with three episodes. Look for two more on March 25 and another on April 1. Eight more will drop later in the year. It’s being billed as a “dark yet playful half-hour series following a diverse group of high school students whose exploration of modern sexuality (devices and all) tests deeply entrenched beliefs about life, love, and the nature of family in their conservative community.” It explores sexuality and gender fluidity. Of its 15 writers, 11 are LGBTQ.
Prisha (Shalini Bathina) came out last year on Apple TV+’s dramedy “Little Voice.”
The current fourth season of ABC’s “The Good Doctor” has introduced Dr. Asher Wolke (Noah Galvin), who’s gay. Not much storyline prominence thus far, though. Mondays at 10 p.m.
“Search Party” on HBO Max is in its fourth season (a fifth has been announced) and features Elliott Goss (John Early), a gay narcissist.
CBS’s “S.W.A.T.” is in its fourth season and features Chris Alonso (Lina Esco), who’s bi and has explored polyamory. It’s on Wednesday nights at 10.
Josie Totah plays Lexi, a sharp-tongued trans cheerleader on the new “Saved by the Bell” reboot on Peacock. Premiering last November, it’s already been renewed for a second season.
Netflix’s “Bridgerton,” a period drama, debuted in December and has already been renewed for a second season. Gay content has been minor thus far. Fans were expecting more when a brief gay sex scene was teased in a trailer but didn’t show up until the fifth episode and featured a minor character at that.
The CW’s “Riverdale” (based on the Archie comics) was renewed last month for a sixth season. Season five is airing now. Despite many LGBTQ characters throughout its run, the show has been accused of queerbaiting by showing same-sex kisses in teasers that turned out to be larks or minor anomalies in the actual storylines. Fans have also balked at the limited attention same-sex couples on the show, such as Kevin Keller (Casey Cott) and Moose (Cody Kearsley) or Cheryl (Madelaine Peetsch) and Toni (Vanessa Morgan) (aka “Choni”) have received.
Season two of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” on NBC is in the midst of its second season. It moves to Sunday nights at 9 when it returns March 28. Alex Newell (“Glee”) plays Mo, Zoey’s genderfluid neighbor, a DJ.
The CW’s “Walker,” a reboot of “Walker, Texas Ranger,” debuted in January and has already been renewed for a second season. Keegan Allen plays Liam, the lead character’s gay brother. It airs Thursdays at 8 p.m.
The CW’s “Legacies,” a spin-off of “The Originals” that tells of the adventures of Hope Mikaelson (Danielle Rose Russell), airs Thursday nights at 9. It’s in the midst of its third season and has been renewed for a fourth. Character Josie Saltzman (Kaylee Bryant) is a bi witch.
NBC’s neverending warhorse “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” continues on Thursday nights at 9 in its 22nd season (it’s been renewed for two more). It was revealed that Kat Azar Tamin (Jamie Gray Hyder) is bi in last season’s finale. It was a big deal for the franchise, which hadn’t featured a gay character in its regular cast (FBI psychiatrist George Huang) since season 12.
“Elite” continues on Netflix featuring the relationship of Omar (Omar Ayuso) and Ander (Aron Piper). This grisly Spanish teen drama has been renewed for fourth and fifth seasons. A Rolling Stone critic said the show “attempts to go places on the sexuality spectrum where few have dared to tread before.”
No date or title yet for season 10 of “American Horror Story” but look for it sometime this year on FX. Kathy Bates, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, Sarah Paulson and more are back. Macaulay Culkin will also be in the cast. The show has been renewed through a 13th season. The gay-helmed series (Ryan Murphy) always features LGBTQ characters. Past seasons “Murder House,” “Asylum” and “Hotel” are fan favorites.
Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie,” starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as friends whose husbands leave them for each other, was slated to resume shooting its farewell seventh season, postponed by COVID, in June. It’s Netflix’s oldest still-running series. No premiere date has been announced.
HBO’s “Euphoria” season two is in limbo. Cast and crew were ready to start shooting last spring when COVID hit. It’s slated to start shooting in Los Angeles on April 5. No premiere date has been announced. The show has been widely praised for its varied, nuanced portrayal of Gen Z queer life with eschewing of traditional LGBTQ identities and way more fluidity on the sexual orientation and gender identity spectrums. Jules Vaughn (Hunter Schafer, who’s trans) is a trans girl who becomes friends with lead character Rue Bennett (Zendaya).
Look for the eighth season of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” later this year. The police procedural comedy has drawn fans for its queer characters such as Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) and Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher).
Anissa (Nafessa Williams) made history on “Black Lightning” as the first queer superhero of color on TV. Look for its fourth and final season this year.
“Dear White People” wraps this year featuring Lionel Higgins (DeRon Horton), a black queer man struggling with his identity. It’s adapted from gay director Justin Simien’s film of the same name.
Filming began last month for season 11 of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” with 24 episodes slated to air into next year. A spin-off featuring Daryl and Carol is slated to air in 2023. The show drew fan ire when it axed off two queer characters (Tara and Jesus) in season nine in 2019. Character Felix Carlucci (Nico Tortorella), head of security at the Campus Colony, was kicked out of his house for coming out.
“Pose” returns May 2 with the first two episodes of its abbreviated third season. There will be just seven total. This will be the final season for the groundbreaking show that follows the ballroom scene/queer nightlife in the early 1980s. It’s another fan hit from the Ryan Murphy omniverse. The finale is June 6.
“Star Trek: Discovery’s” fourth season is slated for release on Paramount+ sometime this year. Filming started last November and is set to end in June. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) became the first openly gay characters in a “Star Trek” franchise series in 2017. Adira (Blu del Barrio) and Gray (Ian Alexander, who is trans in “real life”) were introduced as the first trans and non-binary characters in the show’s third season. It’s set a decade before the action of the original series.
Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” returns with its fourth season on April 28. It’s also been renewed for a fifth season. Lesbian actress (and D.C. native) Samira Wiley is in the cast again as is Alexis Bledel, who plays lesbian character Emily Malek, an Emmy winner for her work on the show.
Season five of Showtime’s “Billions” was suspended mid-season last year with five episodes left to air (production — you guessed it — was halted by COVID). Although a sixth season has been ordered, no air dates for the rest of season five has been announced. Asia Kate Dillon, non-binary in “real life” and on the show, stars as Taylor Mason.
“The Conners” is airing its third season now on ABC Wednesday nights at 9. Darlene’s (out actress Sara Gilbert) 13-year-old son Mark (Ames McNamara) is non-binary and likes boys. It evolved out of the “Roseanne” reboot.
Fox’s “Call Me Kat” debuted in January and features out actor Leslie Jordan as Phil, a newly single gay man and head baker at Kat’s cafe, and out singer/actor Cheyenne Jackson playing straight as Max, Kat’s friend and former college love interest. The season wraps March 18. No word yet on a second season. It airs Thursday nights at 9. Reviews and ratings have been mixed.
The five-part Brit miniseries “It’s a Sin” finished its run in February on the U.K.’s Channel 4. Olly Alexander (Years & Years) stars as Ritchie Tozer, one of a group of gay men who move to London in 1981. The series follows them through a decade. Creator Russell T. Davies is the auteur behind the original British “Queer as Folk.” It’s streaming in the U.S. on HBO Max. Reviews have been stellar.
Sarah Paulson plays the titular role on Netflix’s “Ratched” and Cynthia Nixon co-stars as Gwendolyn, her love interest. It’s a prequel to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the classic 1975 film. No date yet on when season two will be released.
Amir Bageria plays “Sid” Pakam, a closeted gay Indian-American and high school senior on last fall’s teen Netflix drama “Grand Army.” It hasn’t been officially cancelled but no word yet on a second season either.
Also from last fall is the HBO drama “We Are Who We Are,” co-created and directed by Luca Guadagnino (“Call Me By Your Name”), a coming-of-age story set on a U.S. army base. Several of the teen characters are figuring out their sexuality and gender identity as the show unfolds. Chloe Sevigny and Alice Braga play same-sex moms to 14-year-old Fraser (Jack Dylan Grazer). “Call Me” alums Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer make cameos. No word yet on a second season.
No LGBT characters yet on “Emily in Paris,” the Netflix dramedy, but it’s from the “Sex and the City” creative team and has been renewed for a second season.
“The Real Housewives of Orange County” finished its 15th season in January. Braunwyn Windham-Burke, who joined in the 14th season in 2019, came out as a lesbian in December. Look for season 16 this fall.
Punky’s (Soleil Moon Frye) BFF Cherie (Cherie Johnson) is a lesbian on Peacock’s “Punky Brewster” revival. Its 10-episode debut season is available now.
The fourth and final season of Netflix’s “Atypical” will premiere sometime this year. It features lesbian duo Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Izzie (Fivel Stewart).
Peter (Brendan Scannell) is the gay best friend to Tiff (Zoe Levin), a dominatrix, on Netflix’s “Bonding.” Its second season dropped in January.
Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” wraps this year and has featured a pan warlock romance and a trans character. Its fourth season dropped Dec. 31.
David Berry plays Lord John Grey who’s secretly gay and has been called “one of the most complex and interesting” characters in the historical Starz “Outlander” books and show. A sixth season is expected.
Netflix’s “The Haunting of Bly Manor” introduces Dani (Victoria Pedretti) and her girlfriend Jamie (Amelia Eve) against a gothic/thriller backdrop. No word yet on another season.
“Queer Eye” only had one season six episode in the can last year when COVID hit. Production has not resumed but the show will eventually return.
On Netflix’s “The Politician,” Ben Platt stars as Payton Hobart, a presidential hopeful who finishes high school (season one) and is now a student at NYU (season two). Rahne Jones plays Skye Leighton, his black, gender-nonconforming former running mate now helping with his campaign. Jessica Lange, Gwyneth Paltrow, Judith Light and even Bette Midler are in the cast. Another Ryan Murphy production. No word yet on a third season.
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 13 airs its 10th episode (of a likely 14) March 12 at 8 p.m. on VH1. That means the finale is about a month away. “All Stars” season six is expected this summer at its new home on Paramount+. A second season of the U.K. edition is airing now on BBC iPlayer.
Netflix British dramedy “Sex Education” will be back for a third season sometime this year. No date yet. Teen Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield) lives with his sex therapist mom (Gillian Anderson) and gay best friend Eric (Ncuti Gatwa). Anwar (Chaneil Kular) is another out student in the cast. Netflix has said it’s one of its most popular shows.
Netflix’s “Special” is also in limbo it appears. In December, 2019 it was renewed for a second season but no updates since. It follows a gay man named Ryan Hayes (Ryan O’Connell; the series creator and star who based it on his memoir) with mild cerebral palsy who decides to go after the kind of life he wants. It has strong reviews and ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Tiny Pretty Things” debuted in December on Netflix and features two primary gay characters. Brennan Clost plays Shane, an openly gay ballet dancer having sex with his roommate, Oren (Barton). A second season is likely but hasn’t been confirmed.
Several characters on the Netflix hit “The Umbrella Academy” are queer and it’s treated as mostly tangential. Klaus (Robert Sheehan), an addict who can commune with the dead, is pan, for one. The fantasy show is a comic book adaptation about a dysfunctional family who each possess superpowers. A third season is underway.
Canadian sitcom “Letterkenny” just released its ninth season in December and 10th and 11th seasons are planned. It streams on Hulu and tells of residents of a small farming town. Several are LGBT but it’s never treated as a big deal.
A second season of Hulu’s “Love, Victor” will premiere in June. Michael Cimino plays the title role, a hispanic gay teen. It’s a TV adaptation/spinoff of the hit 2018 gay teen dramedy “Love, Simon.”
The 2017 “Dynasty” reboot is proving surprisingly resilient. It was renewed for a fifth season last month on The CW. Production on the fourth season resumed last October and will start airing May 7. Steven, the gay son played by James Mackay, will be back. He was written out of the third season.
Hulu’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay,” from Aussie comedian Josh Thomas, features Matilda, a teen with high-functioning autism, exploring her fluid sexuality and her gay brother’s relationship failures. Its second season drops April 8.
The CW’s “Legends of Tomorrow” returns for its sixth season on May 2. White Canary (Caity Lotz) is bi. She’s one of the heroines in the Arrow-verse based on characters from DC Comics.
The CW’s “Batwoman” season two is airing now (regrouping with the absence of Ruby Rose in the title role) and a third season has been ordered. Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie)/Batwoman is now the central protagonist with Kate Kane/Batwoman presumed dead. The new Batwoman is also a lesbian.
“Wynonna Earp” returned to finish its fourth and final season this month on Syfy/Netflix. Lesbian side couple WayHaught have become fan favorites.
“Good Trouble,” with multiple queer characters, is in the midst of its third season. It’s on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Freeform and is a spin-off of “The Fosters.”
A “Gossip Girl” reboot on HBO Max promises “lots of queer content.” No date yet.
“This is Us” is in the middle of its fifth season. It airs Tuesday nights at 9 on NBC and features Tess Pearson (Eris Baker), who came out in season three.
“Good Girls” returned for its fourth season this month. It airs on NBC Mondays nights at 10 and features Isaiah Stannard as Ben Marks, a trans son of one of the main characters.
NBC’s “New Amsterdam” is airing its third season now and two more have been ordered. Dr. Iggy Frome (Tyler Labine) is gay. It’s on Tuesday nights at 9.
Martin Scorsese interviews lesbian Fran Lebowitz on the seven-part Netflix documentary “Pretend It’s a City.”
Max Baker (Sara Waisglass) is a lesbian teen on Netflix’s dramedy “Ginny & Georgia,” which has been generating buzz since its maiden season released on Feb. 24.
Jesse James Keitel plays Jerrie Kennedy, a transfeminine/nonbinary sex worker on ABC’s crime/thriller “Big Sky.” It’s on hiatus but will return.
Brian Michael Smith made history as the first out black trans man in a regular series role on network TV as Paul Strickland on Fox’s Ryan Murphy-created procedural drama “9-1-1- Lone Star,” a spin-off of “9-1-1.” Its second season is airing now on Monday nights at 9. There are also gay characters on both shows.
Safiya Masry (Indira Varma), a warden on ABC’s legal drama “For Life” is a lesbian. It’s in its second season now airing Wednesday nights at 10.
ABC’s new sitcom “Call Your Mother,” which debuted in January, features Lane (Austin Crute), Jackie’s (Racel Sennott) gay best friend and roommate. It’s on Wednesday nights at 9:30.
Son Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and daughter Debbie (Emma Kenney) are gay on Showtime’s longrunning dramedy “Shameless.” Its 11th season continues through April 11.
“Superstore” ends its sixth and final season on March 25. Mateo (Nico Santos) is gay on the NBC sitcom. It’s on Thursday nights at 8.
Jackson West (Titus Makin Jr.) is a gay officer on ABC’s “The Rookie,” currently in its third season. It’s on Sunday nights at 10.
Longrunning Brit soap “Hollyoaks” is teeming with LGBT characters presented multi-dimensionally. Gay character John Paul McQueen (James Sutton) has been on and off the front burner for a decade. Also worth checking out are “Emmerdale” and “EastEnders,” whose current Ben/Callum love story is a fan favorite.
Also of note:
“Tina,” a documentary on the life of rock icon Tina Turner, debuts on Sunday, March 28 at 8 p.m. on HBO and HBO Max. It promises “a wealth of never-before-seen footage, audio tapes … photos and new interviews.”
Aretha Franklin is the focus of the third season of National Geographic’s docudrama series “Genius.” Cynthia Erivo stars as the late soul legend. Its eight-episode arc debuts March 21.
Other shows with LGBT characters whose networks have said are returning but for which no date has been announced: “Betty” (HBO); “Feel Good” (Netflix); “Gentleman Jack” (BBC One/HBO); “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” renewed in December for four more seasons, a sitcom record (FX); “Killing Eve” (BBC America); “The L Word: Generation Q” (Showtime); “Sex Education” (Netflix); “Twenties” (BET); “Supergirl” (The CW); “Never Have I Ever” (Netflix); “What We Do in the Shadows” (FX); “Motherland: Fort Salem” (Freeform); “Hightown” (Starz); “The Flight Attendant” (HBO Max); “Dead to Me,” whose upcoming third season will be its last (Netflix); and “Insecure” (HBO, for a fifth and final season).
Recently ended shows with LGBT characters include: “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix), “How to Get Away With Murder” (ABC), “One Day at a Time” (POP), “The Magicians” (Syfy), “Schitt’s Creek” (CBC/POP TV), “Vida” (Starz), “Work in Progress” (Showtime/Hulu), “Council of Dads” (NBC), “Someone Has to Die” (Netflix), “Trinkets” (Netflix), “Teenage Bounty Hunters” (Netflix), “Tales of the City” (Netflix), “Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts” (animated, Netflix) and “What/If” (Netflix).
Want a succinct overview of the history of LGBT people on TV? Check out “Visible: Out on Television,” last year’s five-episode survey on Apple TV+ from Ryan White.
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Meet the ‘CEO of Everything Gay’ who just bought the Abbey
Tristan Schukraft, who owns Mistr, takes over iconic LA nightclub
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Tristan Schukraft laughs when I suggest he’s building a gay empire, but he doesn’t deny it.
When it was announced last month that the owner of the iconic Abbey and Chapel nightclubs in Los Angeles had entered into an agreement to sell the business to Schukraft, it seemed like a strange move for the jet-setting tech CEO.
But the portfolio he’s building – founder and owner of the telemedicine app for gay men Mistr, owner of the queer nightclub Circo and Tryst Hotel in Puerto Rico – appears to be bent toward Hoovering up more pink dollars by getting involved in an ever wider section of queer life.
The Los Angeles Blade spoke to Schukraft at The Abbey during its annual tree-lighting fundraiser for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation about what he plans to do with the storied nightclub, and how he became one of America’s most visible gay moguls.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
BLADE: Why the Abbey?
SCHUKRAFT: Well, I wanted to make sure it stayed in the hands of the gay community. You know, it’s an institution. It’s a cornerstone of West Hollywood gay life, but more importantly, it’s I think it’s a cornerstone of the gay community far beyond West Hollywood, right?
BLADE: Looking at your background in tech companies, your recent shift into the nightclub and hospitality industry seems like a bit of a left turn.
SCHUKRAFT: You know, I’ve been drinking here for a long time. So now, after all that investment, I’m actually gonna start getting money back. I basically bought it so I can get free drinks.
You know, at the end of the day, I’m an operations guy. I’m a technology guy. I own hotels. With hotels, you have bars and restaurants, so it’s not too far off the track. It’s a little off track. Why not? Right?
You know, after watching “The Birdcage,” I always wanted my own hotel [like Robin Williams’s character in the 1996 film] and somebody shattered my dreams the other day by telling me it was a nightclub. I’m like, what? It was a nightclub? And then I watched it, and it’s true, it was a nightclub. So, now I have a nightclub. Yeah, so it all started with “The Birdcage.”
BLADE: You’re known for being a disrupter of the things that you invest in. Is there a disruption plan for the Abbey, or for Weho? Are you planning to change things here?
SCHUKRAFT: Not a major disruption here at The Abbey. I’m gonna put my touches on it. But yeah, it’s a pretty well-oiled machine. We’re definitely going to focus on our values of being LGBTQ. I got some ideas for new nights and I definitely want to make it an epicenter of the gay community. And I think there’s opportunities to take it beyond West Hollywood.
BLADE: Can you give any kind of sneak peek at what you’re thinking?
SCHUKRAFT: East Coast. That’s your sneak peek right now. East Coast.
I think you’ll see in a couple months what I’m gonna do with the Abbey. But you know as far as taking it outside of West Hollywood, I see there’s opportunities on the East Coast right now.
I think that’s where David [Cooley, the founder and current owner of The Abbey] and I really we both appreciate the value of The Abbey brand. I think it’s world famous, right? It’s the biggest gay bar. It’s one of the longest lasting. Obviously you have the Stonewalls of the world. But this is like a bar where people go on a regular night versus a tourist attraction. Maybe for some it’s a tourist attraction, but I mean, it really is an institution. It’s a community gathering point. It’s a name that people recognize that we can bring into other communities.
BLADE: Do you have any plans to put a hotel somewhere here?
SCHUKRAFT: [Laughs] People are like, “Are you gonna paint it blue for Mistr?” Or, “You’re gonna make it a hotel?” But no, we’re not building a hotel here. That would be terrible to build. I mean build a hotel and Abbey would be out. I don’t think the Abbey’s ever closed in 33 years, besides COVID. Minus that, it’s never closed for construction. You know, when David did his expansion, it was always open.
I was looking at those old photos and I’m like, oh my God, I remember the wall of candles. I’ve been coming here a very long time.
So you’re more or less like keeping the same sort of operation going here, keeping the team in place?
The team, I mean, I think that’s what kind of really makes The Abbey unique. It’s like a place where everybody knows your name.
When I bought the hotel in Puerto Rico, obviously I don’t know anyone. Buying here. I’m like, oh, yeah. I know Todd. I know everybody, right? Not everybody, but a majority of people. And I think that’s why people come here. Because it’s their staple. They go every Sunday. They know they have their favorite bartender. So, you know, everybody will be kept in place, no changes to personnel.
BLADE: You gave an interview to Authority Magazine where you said you promised your partner that you wouldn’t be starting up any new businesses. How did you get him on board with jumping into becoming a WeHo nightlife impresario?
SCHUKRAFT: I broke that promise two or three times since I said that. I mean, no, I just buy him gifts to make him happy.
I work long hours, right? And he’s like, I don’t know why.
BLADE: You’ve created and run several tech companies. How did you get started in that business? Where did that money come from?
SCHUKRAFT: I started my very first company at 21 with a $10,000 loan. I was living in Hong Kong at the time. I think my father really wanted me to come back [to California]. My dad’s a corporate guy, not a big risk taker, but he’s like, ‘I’ll give you $10,000 to start your company.’ It wasn’t enough to start the company, so I imported 437 Razor scooters and I thought I was gonna sell out in two weeks. It was very popular at the time – this is like 23 years ago. It took me six and a half weeks. I was selling them out of my truck. I went to every swap meet in Southern California. Sold the last six on Christmas Eve and learned a couple lessons in business from that. But with the money I made from selling those scooters combined with the loan, I started my first company, which was like an Expedia for airline personnel.
And then I got into e-ticketing, and at that time, I didn’t know how to turn on the computer. So, I really surround myself with people that know what they’re doing, that are experts. So, do I know how to run a bar? No, but I’m an operations guy and I hire the talent to make it happen. That’s how I got started and I built that company and others along the way.
BLADE: Other than that first $10,000 loan from your parents, you’re basically self-made then?
SCHUKRAFT: Yeah. You know, I looked for investment. I did end up raising $18 million for my second company, but I put in a lot of money. I mean at 25, my first company was going really well, and there was this e-ticketing mandate and I said, oh there’s a real opportunity here. And I had a home and was doing good for a 25-year-old, and I kind of leveraged it all. And I thought, “Oh my God, what did I do? I just fucked up my whole life. Why did I do this?” Anyways, I got that first investor, got that first client, and it just kind of took off from there.
BLADE: And now with Mistr, The Abbey, your Puerto Rico clubs, are you starting a gay empire?
SCHUKRAFT: The CEO of Everything Gay, yes. I have a few more things. You know, all the businesses are very complementary, right? So, you come to The Abbey, then you go to the Tryst Hotel or Circo in Puerto Rico, and obviously all of the people that come here or the Tryst, they’re all perfect candidates for Mistr. So yeah, so it looks a little weird. But it is very complementary to our various business units
The ultimate guide to queer gift giving
Perfect presents for everyone from roommates to soulmates
Searching for special deliveries for that special someone? Consider these elf-approved, consciously curated presents perfect for everyone from roommates to soulmates.
Star Wars Home Collection
Movie nights in bed get a comfort upgrade from the Force – for those who uphold Jedi code in the streets but embrace the Dark Side in the sheets – with Sobel Westex’s Star Wars Home Collection, five- to seven-piece twin, queen and king sets suitable for either alliance. Cop a bootleg of the infamous “Star Wars Holiday Special” (legal copies don’t exist, nor has it been rebroadcast since its one-and-only airing in 1978) and settle in for a snacky screening with premade Johnson’s Popcorn (a Jersey Shore staple) or Pop ’N Dulge’s DIY gourmet kits. SobelAtHome.com, $350-$390; JohnsonsPopcorn.com, $27+; PopNDulge.com, $23
Bird Buddy Smart Feeder
Avian enthusiasts get up close and semi-personal with feathered friends thanks to the Bird Buddy smart feeder that allows safe viewing via a solar-powered, app-enabled camera, along with adorable add-ons like a suet ball holder and three-in-one nutrition set to keep the neighborhood’s population happy and healthy. MyBirdBuddy.com, $299-$415
Link x Lou Permanent Jewelry Pop-Ups
Jewelry – but make it an experience. That’s the premise behind Link x Lou, a quick-fitting accessory service providing recipients with in-person appointments for custom-linked, clasp-less 14-karat white- and yellow-gold necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and rings that wear until they’re worn out. Money’s on ’em lasting longer than the situationship you’ve got goin’, but may the odds be ever in your favor. LinkxLou.com, $55-$500
Orttu Shelton Puffer
Guess who’s coming to dinner? It’s you as an alt-timeline Tom of Finland in Orttu’s fully quilted, oversized Shelton Puffer comprised of double-layered high-sheen fabric and press-stud fastening that results in a slick style statement vers-er than you are. Orttu.com, $203
Winter Discovery Mini Scented Candle Set
Apotheke takes the guesswork out of choosing just the right ambiance-inducing aroma with its Winter Discovery Mini Scented Candle Set, featuring six fragrant two-ounce tins in seasonal smells that include birchwood apple, black cypress, blackberry honey, cardamon chestnut, charred fig, and firewood (with a combined 90-hour burn time), and packaged in a nostalgically illustrated gift box accentuated by festive gold detailing. ApothekeCo.com, $64
Polaris General 1000 Sport
Resort communities across the country have adopted golf carts as a preferred mode of transportation, and you can establish yourself as a local baddie in Polaris’ General 1000 Sport – in ethereal colorways like ghost gray – equipped with a four-stroke DOHC twin-cylinder engine, 100 horsepower, 1,500-pound hitch-towing capacity, and enough street cred for Boomers to shake their fists at. Polaris.com, $17,500+
‘Arquivistas’ Crystal Book
Brazilian crystal devotee Tatiana Dorow has curated an impressive collection of more than 1,000 rare and exquisite minerals – ranging from one ounce to over 5,000 pounds – the comprehensive record of which is now compiled in the sizable coffee-table tome “Arquivistas” (Portuguese for archivist) that’s sure to satisfy, delight, and provide endless holiday-party talking points to the New Agers in your life. (You know they will.) ArtAndAnthropologyPress.com, $350
Bovem Globe Trimmer 2.0
There are plenty of manscaping tools on the market, but perhaps none are designed with your delicate bits in mind like the handsome second-gen Bovem Globe body and groin trimmer with its ergonomic textured grip, powerful 6500 RPM with low vibration, varying guards, and replaceable TrimSafe blades that tidy you up without cutting skin or pulling rough hair. Deck the halls! – no more bloody Christmas balls. Bovem.co, $60-$87
Lexington Glassworks Decanter Set
Pour one out from Lexington Glassworks’ hand-blown whiskey decanter, each one individually crafted in the company’s Asheville, N.C., studio and detailed with an elegant crackle finish that lends an air of sophistication to any home bar cart. Pair with a set of LG’s complementary rocks glasses, in the same distinguished style, for a cherished gift. LexingtonGlassworks.com, $280
Joule Turbo Sous Vide
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Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBTQ lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels.
Anatomy of a post-cancellation comedy tour: Ashley Gavin in D.C.
After doxxing and death threats, a focus on jokes that transcend identity
I was dressing up to go to Ashley Gavin’s stand-up comedy show at the Lincoln Theatre when I got a text from Sydnie, Ashley’s assistant. I didn’t remember giving Sydnie my number — although I must have, surely? We had been in contact the past few days about setting up an interview with Ashley about her show here in D.C., and just today we had managed to schedule a time for tomorrow afternoon.
But suddenly the interview wasn’t looking so sure. Sydnie was texting to ask for a list of my questions for the interview, and if I didn’t provide them, I wouldn’t be getting tickets to tonight’s show. I had two hours to get back to her. “So sorry about that!” Sydnie texted.
The ultimatum caught me off guard — but perhaps it shouldn’t have. Ashley Gavin was the subject of controversy this summer for some of her crowd work during a show in Indianapolis. After a fan cheered a little too loudly at a joke, Ashley informed her she was the “the most annoying fan who has ever been to one of her shows,” and that she should “kill herself.” When the fan responded, “I’ve already tried,” Ashley responded that she didn’t try hard enough, and implored her again and again to kill herself. The fan broke down in tears, and left the show.
The familiar cycle of celebrity cancellation played out. Calls were made on Reddit to boycott Ashley’s shows. Ashley released an apology video. YouTubers scrutinized the apology clip-by-clip on their channels. Ashley reported getting doxxed in death threats. (The irony!) The fan Ashley accosted, Olivia Neely, raised money for suicide awareness online. And now Ashley Gavin is back on tour, for the first time since the incident. No wonder Ashley had her assistant screening my questions.
When Ashley took the stage at the Lincoln Theatre, it quickly became clear that her audience is kindling for controversy fire. All the way up front, in the first few rows, are Ashley’s die-hard fans. Some of these fans have paid hundreds of dollars for meet-and-greet tickets after the show. They’re on the younger side, and are largely lesbian or queer. They turned 21 during the pandemic, and they haven’t necessarily been to a comedy show before. They’re fans from online — of Ashley’s TikTok, or her podcast. But all the way in the back are more casual viewers, people who aren’t fans of Ashley specifically, but of comedy more generally. They might have bought their tickets last minute. They’re a little older than the die-hard fans, a little less queer, and they’re more familiar with the offline comedy club scene.
It’s great that these two different groups can come together to enjoy a comedy show. But there’s one big problem. The online die-hards and the offline comedy regulars have very different expectations for the show. And Ashley isn’t looking to satisfy all of them.
On the one hand, the comedy regulars aren’t necessarily used to the content of her show, which especially on this tour, is largely comprised of material about being lesbian. Ashley wants the straight people in the room to know these jokes are for them too. One of the few bits Ashley carried over from her first special to this new tour involves picking out a random straight man in the audience. She’ll learn his name, and then check in on him after this or that joke later in the set as the ‘representative straight man’ in the crowd. “I’m speaking to the people who might not feel comfortable in the room,” Ashley explained to me during our interview. “I’m saying like, hey, I know you’re there, and this is for you. And I’m really glad that you’re here, you know.”
But if Ashley wants the comedy regulars to adjust to the content of her show, she also wants her online, die-hard fans to adjust to the form of her show, which is offline, at a comedy club or theater. Her die-hard fans are new to the comedy scene, and she wants to make a proper introduction. This isn’t simply out of magnanimity. Ashley intends to put on the kind of show the comedy regulars are there to see. And if her fans from TikTok or her podcast are going to enjoy it, that means adjusting their expectations.
“I’ve read it in my comments [online] before,” Ashley lamented. “I’ve read like, ‘This was not a safe space.’ Maybe because of gross things, or some of the darkness of the jokes. I’m frequently like, what made you think it was going to be a safe space? Art is not a safe space.”
As Ashley sees things, part of going to a comedy show is letting go and not worrying about whether the jokes are offensive. It’s giving the comedian the benefit of the doubt, especially if you know them from online. And she thinks letting go of your worries isn’t giving up on your political convictions — it’s empowering. “[My fans] are very into social justice, and very into doing the right thing, [and] I want to give them the opportunity to let go a little bit, and release some of their tension, and their pain, and their struggle.”
So one of the more unique things Ashley will do as a comedian is address her online, die-hard fans directly at the beginning of her show. She’ll tell them that she’s on the right side of things, that she won’t pull the rug out from under them, politically speaking. She’ll tell them that they should feel free to laugh, to let it out, not cover their mouths. “I know who my audience is, and they want some safety. And they want some trust. And the fastest way that I can earn that trust is to be up front, and just say I’m not going to trick you tonight. The person you came to see, the person you think I am, I am that person.” But it’s a difficult balancing act. How do you promise your audience safety, while maintaining that a comedy show is not a “safe space”? It’s no wonder the kindling might catch fire, despite Ashley’s best efforts. You’d be forgiven for wondering whether there wasn’t an easier way. Why ask fans who want safety to ride out a non-safe space?
I think it helps to understand what Ashley wants out of being a comedian. A major theme of Ashley’s first comedy special was her frustration with being called a “lesbian comedian.” She talks about wanting to be called a great comedian, not a lesbian one — someone who is in the running with other great comedians, whose jokes transcend any particular identity. And if you want to be a great comedian, and not “the lesbian comedian,” it makes sense that you might want your mostly queer online audience to acclimate to the comedy club scene. She doesn’t want to put on a lesbian show. She wants to put on a great comedy show.
So what of Ashley’s hopes for being a great comedian, post-cancellation? On her Chosen Family podcast, taped just one day before her show in D.C., Ashley gave a picture of where she thought things stood. “My audience has changed. I’m experiencing this new audience now that might be a better fit. Because it’s the folks that saw what happened and kind of understand, OK, these were meant to be jokes,” Ashley told her co-hosts. “The folks who don’t see it that way aren’t really at the show anymore, and the show is far more enjoyable for everybody there.”
When I surveyed the audience after Ashley’s show, her prediction seemed to bear out. Everyone I talked to either didn’t know about the summer’s controversy, or didn’t care. “I know nothing of drama. That takes a lot of energy to follow,” said Sunshine, a fan of Ashley’s from over the pandemic. People wanted to chat about Ashley’s crowd work, particularly the drunk girl from Missouri who just wouldn’t give up. They had nothing to say about Indianapolis. Perhaps for Ashley Gavin, the post-cancellation cycle doesn’t end with her remaining fans forgiving and forgetting. Just the forgetting, and moving on.
CJ Higgins is a postdoctoral fellow with the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
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