By Katie Dupere| Feb 10, 2017, 12:00am
A new documentary series called Other Boys NYC is highlighting the stories of an often overlooked population — queer and trans men of color.
The extensive 50-part series, created by filmmaker Abdool Corlette and co-producer Adam Vazquez, spotlights 50 different queer men of color from various experiences living in New York City. Each video ranges from five to seven minutes, showing individual stories about identity, sexuality and what it means to be a queer or trans man of color today.
“Other Boys NYC comes at a time in which race, sexuality and gender identity are hot button topics discussed in politics, the media and homes around the world,” Corlette said in a statement.
“The series aims to inspire empathy and discussion through taking an intimate look at those topics as well as others like dating, family, masculinity, socio-economics, religion and career.”
The first 25 episodes of Other Boys NYC, which will be distributed by global media network Slay TV, will premiere on Feb. 25. The remaining 25 episodes will then roll out on a weekly basis over the coming months.
“I wanted to shake things up and create a project that puts our stories front and center,” Corlette said. “Other Boys NYC is a celebration of diversity. There is so much beauty and talent in our community — and I just want to celebrate it.”
“There is power in seeing yourself represented.”
The series is the latest project distributed by Slay TV, which launched in July 2016. The digital network’s mission is to elevate the narratives of queer people of color, and it’s available on iOS, Android and YouTube, as well as TV-connected devices like Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV. You can watch it for free on YouTube and on the Slay TV site.
Though media representation of the queer community has been increasing for years, there’s still a long way to go. In 2016, only 4.8 percent of characters on TV were LGBTQ, and an overwhelming majority — about 71 percent — of these LGBTQ characters were white.
Most queer characters depicted were gay men, at 46 percent. Only 7 percent were bisexual men, and 3 percent were transgender men.
Corlette said the lack of stories about queer and transgender men in the media inspired him to take action.
“There is power in seeing yourself represented,” Corlette said. “It is an affirmation that you are here, you’ve always been here and your experiences matter. For most of my life, I’ve never been able to turn on the TV and say, ‘That’s my story.'”
Corlette hopes viewers of the series will be inspired to have honest conversations about race, sexuality and gender identity. But — more importantly — he hopes people within the community will see the series as allowing them to feel heard and validated in a respectful way.
“I’m sure something like Other Boys NYC would have changed me, had I seen it as a teenager,” Corlette said. “Looking back, I can’t tell you how badly I needed someone who shared my story to say, ‘You’ll get through this.'”
You can learn more about the series here.