I can recall my first time at the Sundance Film Festival, back in 2020, before the world decided that we all needed to take a break. I went with every intention of watching all the queer content I could find, also hoping that I would be able to connect with other queer creators who, like me, just wanted a fair shot at having their voices heard in entertainment.
Being there provided me with several opportunities, one in particular gave me the chance to work with GLAAD to discuss the ways Black queer creators were building their own tables in Hollywood. This conversation gave me insight into the struggles that many creators in Hollywood face, specifically the ways in which we are silenced, ignored, and how few platforms are willing to uplift and champion the work we do. It also made me ruminate on my own legacy and what ways I, too, could champion LGBTQ+ creators.
As I navigated Park City, Utah, watching film after film and hearing many of these creators talk about how they created them, I kept asking myself, “why is no one paying attention to this amazing creator and their work?” While I already knew the answer, I was still baffled at how much talent was in one space and how so many of the creators, specifically LGBTQ+ creators, had noted how hard it was for them to get the coverage they so rightly deserved.
This brought me back to the works that folks like Elegance Bratton and Justin Simien shared about the struggles with their projects and how they felt like no one cared about their work, until it went mainstream. Fast forward three years later, I found myself feeling like so many of the creators I met at Sundance, specifically dealing with the launch of my podcast, Black Fat Femme. I can recall being so excited to tell the world about my show, the network it was on, and why a podcast like mine was needed in entertainment spaces.
Denise Murrell, the Met’s curator at large, has spent the last two years planning to showcase these classic works in a massive exhibition.
After months of reaching out to multiple outlets and press spaces, even with the support of IHeartMedia, I still found myself having to practically beg folks for coverage. I found myself in the same predicament as those I had once met at Sundance.
After announcing the spotlight with Apple Podcast and having INTO cover what me and my co-host do on our show, I circled back and asked if I could do that for other independent queer artists creating dope content and not given their shine.
Hence, “INTO the Margins” was born.
“INTO the Margins” is a column to remind us collectively how resilient LGBTQ+ creators are and how special our work and talents are too. It’s a reminder that someone out there understands your journey and sees you – yes YOU independent queer creator – and wants to make sure you get the flowers that you deserve.
But keep in mind, “INTO the Margins” is not just about coverage. It’s about amplifying voices that are so often overlooked in traditional media. It’s about making sure that we hear the voices and stories of those who only get to create at the margins of traditional media and entertainment.
It’s about highlighting the voices of Black LGBTQ+ folks in gaming spaces. It’s making sure we talk to the Black trans comedian who is funding their own comedy special. It’s making sure that the queer Tik-Toker who is making amazing content knows that they are seen, valued, and covered.
It’s about LGBTQ+ creators sharing their stories with someone who gets it.
In my eight years as a writer and media critic, I know what it’s like to have a story not get the platform it deserves. I also know what it’s like to work so hard on something and want to share it with the world, only for others in the media to give you the cold shoulder. Or to have something to say and to feel like you are screaming into the void of social media.
I know what it’s like to feel unheard or misunderstood. I know what it is like to feel like an underdog.
That’s why my goal is for this column to serve as a spark of inspiration for those who read it and as a reminder that we are doing what the world says can’t be done, time and time again. While I know that we are living in a time where queer media is under fire, I want to make sure folks know that they have a solid source to go to that is willing to share their work.
Moreover, I want “INTO the Margins” to be a reminder to all LGBTQ+ creators that even with folks trying to silence us, we must keep creating in this world because someone, somewhere truly needs it.
More than anything, I am hoping that this column can serve as a time capsule for queer creators on the rise. This is a space where I not only get to root for those who are up-and-coming, but a space to throw glitter to help you shine brightly as you navigate your glow-up process.
My hope is that with every story, every person, and every voice I get to uplift, it serves as a reminder that we are ALL collectively doing a good job, considering all that we are up against. We are ALL raising the bar and we don’t have to minimize elements of who we are in order for the right people to pay attention.
“INTO the Margins” is a reminder that someone is always watching you, celebrating you, and waiting for that thing you might be afraid to put out into the world.♦
There’s no template for being queer, but it would be nice to get some informed guidance around here.