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‘Our Queer Life’ chronicles diversity of the LGBTQ experience

Series fosters understanding and empathy among viewers



Matt Cullen (Photo courtesy of Cullen)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – In the bustling lanes of digital storytelling, where narratives burst and fade with rapid clicks, Matt Cullen’s documentary series “Our Queer Life” emerges as a poignant chronicle of the LGBTQ+ community’s diverse experiences.

With 200,000 subscribers on YouTube, Cullen’s series stands out not just for its breadth of voices—from celebrities to street hustlers—but for the depth with which it explores the moving lived realities of queer individuals.

Cullen took time out of his busy schedule to give The Blade an exclusive interview about his fledgling hit series.

Born and raised in Northern California, Cullen’s early life in a supportive, albeit traditional, family environment shaped his sensitive approach towards storytelling. A curious and open child who loved musical theatre, Cullen always had a passion for interesting stories and how they are told.  

Cullen worried about coming out to his family, but said that he is eternally grateful that the nerve-wracking experience involving a letter left on the kitchen table for his parents to find, fortunately ended in acceptance and love, with his parents ultimately embracing his truth warmly. 

“It was a scary big step,” Cullen reflected. “Coming out to my family or my really close friends was scary because I was worried if they didn’t accept me, I would not know how to handle that… It was more about accepting myself and embracing who I was and saying, this is my life now. “

Cullen said that he knows that the  familial support he received as a newly out high school senior contrasted sharply with the narratives of many he would later spotlight in his series, providing him with a profound appreciation for his own comparatively smoother journey.

“The stories that I tell are very heavy,” Cullen said. “But I still feel so inspired and motivated by the determination of these people to keep living and to keep going in spite of everything. Their drive and their willingness to live for themselves and nobody else leaves me invigorated and inspired.”

Cullen, who initially pursued acting after college in New York, found himself dissatisfied with the roles and scripts that came his way. “I felt like I was just regurgitating somebody else’s words,” he shared, highlighting his discomfort with being constantly typecast as over-the-top gay characters.

The turning point for Cullen came during the COVID-19 pandemic.. Trapped in his apartment, feeling isolated and longing for interaction, he envisioned a new creative outlet. “I felt like I needed to talk to new people,” Cullen said. “I was craving a deep connection with strangers, and I wanted to hear new stories. That deep desire was what the impetus for the series.”

The combination of Cullen’s artistic empathy mixed with his own feelings of entrapment led him to think about how difficult life must be for other queer individuals stuck in societal ecosystems that inherently reject their queerness. 

“I thought about a lot of fundamentalist religious groups and how difficult it is for people to be gay there,” Cullen remarked, pinpointing the acute need for representation from these underrepresented groups.

Cullen’s first interview was with Rob, a man Cullen had found through a Facebook group and who had left the Jehovah’s Witness community to live authentically. 

“I am still so grateful that Rob felt comfortable to be the first to share his story with me,” Cullen said. 

Rob’s story provided a raw, unfiltered look at the challenges of adapting to the outside world after leaving a controlled religious environment. He discussed not only the doctrinal and social shackles he escaped but also the practical challenges of integrating into society, like finding employment without real-world skills.

This encounter didn’t just enrich Cullen’s series; it set a precedent for the type of stories he wanted to feature—stories of struggle, resilience, and the search for identity. Each episode aims to foster understanding and empathy among viewers, broadening their perspectives on the complexities of queer life in various contexts.

“Our Queer Life” thrives on its intimate portrayal of its subjects. Each episode delves into the hurdles and triumphs of individuals within the LGBTQ+ community, aiming to destigmatize topics like sex work and address the misrepresentation of trans people. Through his conversations, Cullen not only exposes the challenges faced by his subjects but also celebrates their resilience and humanity.

Mousie, who had lived through unimaginable challenges, from serving multiple prison terms to surviving on the streets of North Hollywood, became one of the earliest and most influential subjects of Cullen’s series. Her willingness to open up about her life provided “Our Queer Life” with a narrative that encapsulated the struggles and resilience of a marginalized individual fighting for survival and dignity.

During their first meeting, Mousie shared her journey with Cullen, detailing her life in a $67/month apartment and her experiences as an intravenous drug user and sex worker. This episode alone drew over 300,000 viewers, resonating deeply with audiences and humanizing a community often relegated to the shadows of society. Cullen revisited Mousie a year later, further exploring her day-to-day experiences and struggles, adding layers to her story that emphasized her humanity over her hardships.

Mousie’s influence extended beyond the screen; her relationship with Cullen grew into a deep, familial bond. In her final days, confined to a hospital bed, she expressed her heartfelt connection to Cullen, telling him, “I was her brother and that we had great things to do together.” Her passing was a profound loss for Cullen, who felt her spirit continued to guide his work, inspiring him to pursue stories with even greater dedication.

Reflecting on Mousie’s role in shaping “Our Queer Life,” Cullen credits her with helping him gain the credibility and trust necessary to navigate the complex landscapes of street life and sex work. “Mousie was the one who broke this for me,” Cullen remarked, acknowledging how a TikTok video of her story garnered 30,000 views and messages from viewers expressing how deeply they related to her experiences. This response marked a turning point for the series, illustrating the power of storytelling in building connections and fostering understanding.

“I feel like she is still with me in everything that I do,” Cullen said. “She told me before she died that I was her brother…I can literally feel her.”

As “Our Queer Life” continues to grow, so does its creator. Cullen remains hands-on, involved in every aspect of production from filming to editing, driven by a personal touch that resonates deeply with his audience. While he contemplates the future of the series, possibly on larger platforms like Max, his priority remains the authentic representation of his subjects’ lives.

“I will always refuse to do anything exploitative where we don’t ask about (the subject’s) lives and their desires,” Cullen said, underscoring his commitment to creating real and nonexploitative narratives. “I want every person who clicks on a video to leave that episode feeling a connection and relating to them.”  

The series is quickly becoming a vital part of the cultural conversation, reaching people across the globe and fostering understanding and empathy among its viewers. For many, it provides the first intimate look at lives they might otherwise never encounter, bridging gaps and building connections.

In a world where divisions run deep, Matt Cullen’s “Our Queer Life” offers a beacon of unity, celebrating the shared human experiences of love, struggle, and resilience. Through his lens, viewers are reminded that despite our vast differences, the desires for acceptance, health, and happiness are universal.


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