Gay in Color: 2011 Wish List

Hello AE
readers! It’s a new year, and going forward I’ll be writing a bi-weekly column
about issues affecting gay men of color in pop culture for AfterElton. I’m
trying to focus on as many colors as possible, so please message me with tips
and suggestions: there’s a lot to cover out there!

Since 2011 is
still all shiny and new, I thought it’d be nice to start with a “wish list” for
the year. It’s easy to be negative when talking about people of color, but I
try to be as positive as possible. And there’s nothing more positive than
wishing!

Let’s jump in.
What should gay men of color hope for in 2011?

More Out Celebrities

Last year, Ricky
Martin
made a splash by (finally) coming out. After that, it seemed like Martin
was on a perpetual media blitz, with his magazine covers, his book and TV
specials featuring his boyfriend, ex-boyfriend and children.

Watching Martin
come out was probably less exciting than watching him hide it for all those
years, but seeing a hot Latin man comfortable and at peace with himself is
important for all the young gays out there.

While we’re on
Martin, can we talk about the lack of a prominent out (by any label) rapper and
hip-hop star? We get rumors – but no confirmation. It’s all terribly sad,
exhausting and unnecessary. Where is the pioneer?

I’m hoping 2011
will give us at least one or two more people of color who come out. Although
Travan Free’s coming out as bisexual this week was a nice start, we still have far too few
role models.

A Good Domestic Film

Every year we
usually get one or two high profile gay foreign films that add some much needed
diversity. This year, Undertow and Eyes Wide Open made it onto a bunch of
top 10 lists.

But where’s the
great film about the diversity we have here in the U.S.? I’m looking forward to seeing
a well-made film about being Asian-American, black, Latino, or what have you.

And while we’re
talking about film, I’m dying for a gay man of color in a major Hollywood film who is not a soulless side character.
Pretty please!

Gay Men of Color on Network TV

There are more
scripted shows on cable than ever before, and with that have come a plethora of
gay men of color on shows like True Blood,
Greek, United States of Tara and Degrassi,
among others.

But network TV
actually saw the loss of a few good characters this year including Guillermo
Diaz’s nurse on Mercy to Mark
Indelicato on Ugly Betty. GLAAD has
frequently complained about the lack of diversity among gay men on TV, and the
networks are the worst culprits. Perhaps this year we could see a few
complicated and dynamic characters – maybe ones who aren’t B.D. Wong and get
more screentime than he does?

Bucking Stereotypes on Reality TV

Reality TV
remains the unsung leader when it comes to diversity on television – we get a
greater variety of women and more complexity among people of color. From Mondo
on Project Runway and Preston on Real
World
, one could even argue reality television has given us better
characters than their splashier scripted colleagues.

This year I have
to admit I’m most excited about the possible premiere of K-Town, also known as “the Korean Jersey
Shore.” The cast looks a
little less annoying than its east coast equivalent, and the breakout star will
no doubt be Peter Le, a porn star who as yet has not labeled himself sexually.
I’m intrigued!

An Honest Discussion about HIV

Despite at least
two HIV positive men on reality shows this year – Mondo on Project Runway and David on Girls Who
Like Boys Who Like Boys
– our
national discussion on HIV still needs to mature.

HIV rates are
rising among young gay men, especially among urban residents, and black and
Latino men. In some American cities, HIV rates among Latino and black men rival
the worst African countries. As yet, I haven’t seen mainstream film, TV news or
series deal with the epidemic in a substantive and engaging way.

Speaking of
straight talk, the black community in particular needs to have more
conversations on same-sex desire, as singer Tonex leaves the headlines and the
Bishop Eddie Long case comes to a close. It’s getting better, but there’s still
a long way to go.

Films from Directors, Shows from
Showrunners

2010 was a big
year for directors like Lee Daniels, who continued his post-Precious awards tour and lined up a
bunch of exciting projects, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who won big with Uncle Boonmee, his most recent film.

What will 2011
bring for the major directors and showrunners in film and TV? Right now it’s
looking like a mixed bag. TV producers have so far been quiet. Paris Barclay
finished a great season of In Treatment this
year, but its future is uncertain. Also flying under the radar are Patrik
Ian-Polk
, writing team Quincy Le Near and Deondray Gossett and Q. Allan Brocka.
But we may yet be surprised!

In film, the
picture is looking similarly mixed. Lee Daniels will likely have nothing out
this year. Gregg Araki’s anticipated Kaboom!,
however, should see the light of day.

More
Out Athletes

John Amaechi was a brave soul, but his coming out is old
news now and came after he retired – and sports fans, unfairly, have discounted
his importance to the game.

Will 2011 bring an out athlete whose prominence and skill
is beyond reproach? I seriously doubt it. Ovie Mughelli’s “hell no” response to
allegations of his homosexuality seems to be the party line these days. But
this is a wish list, so I shall wish away!

All in all,
though, I’m pumped for 2011. Each year brings exciting new scandals, films,
works of art and vibrant personalities. It’s hard to keep up and I can’t do it
alone!

Is there anything
you’re looking forward to this year?

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