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Cam: Country Music Star & LGBTQ Advocate

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/pride/7817502/cam-gay-pride-month-love-letter

The country music world is getting to know her better and better each day, and recently, so has the LGBTQ community. Her name is Cam and she’s here to help queer people and make good music.

(DALLAS) – While visiting the American Airlines Center last month in Dallas to catch Sam Smith’s The Thrill of It All tour, About Magazine got the chance to catch up with country music star Cam. The young country sensation opened up for Smith on his tour and recently penned an open letter to the LGBTQ community in which she told us all she would always have our backs. And while that might seem like a strange thing for a straight country star to do, Cam is more than just a straight country star, as we came to find out. She’s also an educated student of psychology who left the field to pursue her dream of being a musician. And thank God she did. Where would country music be without her contributions to it, as well as to artists outside the genre, including Smith himself.

Just having wrapped her time with Smith, Cam has just released her new single “Road to Happiness” ahead of her second album on which it is featured and a tour of the same name beginning in September. Having just switched record labels from Sony imprint Artista Nashville to the Sony-owned RCA Records, Cam is keeping herself busy and she’s showing no signs of slowing down. About Magazine Dallas contributor Mallorie Hall sat down to talk to Cam while in Dallas.


Mallorie: Can you tell me a little bit about the tour and what’s it’s been like to play these packed venues?

Cam: It’s amazing. It’s like a musical theatre guy who designed the stage, so it’s very — you’ll see it. It’s a very intimate but also a very dramatic, grand thing. It’s really cool to be on a stage like that and be so personal. You know? And everyone seems like they’re here. I said it on stage and I really did mean it — everyone. I think because [Sam Smith is] so comfortable with who he is. He’s so genuine, like how he seems on stage is who he is and I resonate with that; and I think everybody does.

What do you think is the most different for you — just being yourself and being on stage?

Oh, like from my personality? Honestly, I think it’s just a forever dig to try and make sure that I know myself. And the more I do it offstage, the more real I can be onstage. […] You know when something catches you off guard and they’re like, “Hey how’s it going? Tell me about yourself!” and if you haven’t really figured yourself out, you’re gonna kind of say not the coolest thing in that moment. But that’s how it feels. Like … my difference offstage is more like figuring things out. You know what I’m saying? Like … whatever I’ve got, whatever truth I have.

5ED7B80B-4A62-4B28-9646-58A6B0AFE67D Cam: Country Music Star & LGBTQ AdvocateSo, you actually began your career as a songwriter composing for other artists. So, what has it been like at this stage of your career to take the mic on stage, having radio hits, versus writing songs for others?

Yeah, well, I actually started job-ness with being a psychology researcher. So I like looked at emotions and cultures and stuff like that. And then when I was like twenty-four I decided that I didn’t love it enough to put up with the downs. Every job has goods and bads; and I realized that the things that came with that, I couldn’t be in love with it. I was like, what should I do? And my professor was like, well, when you’re 80-years-old, picture yourself looking back. What would you regret? Missing out on music or missing out on psychology? Music, duh.

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About Dallas contributor Mallorie Hall + Cam

Plus don’t you feel like you can incorporate some of those messages into music? Just the positive ones?

Yeah. Oh my god. I think it’s that same search for truth. You know … like … what’s going on? Who am I? And why do we all do this? So I think that’s what songwriting is too, [but] more personal. When I first started […] I didn’t know any musicians. So the stereotype was like, Oh you can’t do this. […] And then statistically, like how could I actually be an artist? Then when I started doing that and I had a few random things like a producer was supposed to be in one room with someone and then couldn’t show up, so I’d get in the room. And then with Sam, another producer was there, and they were working on something and I got in. So it’s never like I was a really successful songwriter either. When I first got to Nashville I was like, Okay, if I want to do songwriting people will get publishing dues — which is basically like them giving you money up front and then they take a percent of your business. And as you can imagine, in the music business, for newbies, it’s horrible. It’s god awful. Thank god I was from California, and it’s so expensive to live there that I could just laugh at it. You’re fucking kidding me? I better just invest in myself. And you’ll all see when I’m worth it.

What was your first surreal moment, was it like, “Hey, I’m in a booth with Miley Cyrus?”

Probably. I would say like the record deal — which is not by any means the end of the ride. It’s actually really far in the beginning. That always feels like a legitimate thing. You can turn around to your parents and say, “I have this.” You can sit there on Thanksgiving and be like, “You have to respect me!”

You recently penned a letter to the LGBTQ community in which you showed your support for our community and said that we could always count on you. So what inspired that?

cam-press-2015-billboard-650 Cam: Country Music Star & LGBTQ AdvocateI think it’s the human thing to do. I think it’s a normal bar. I don’t think it’s spectacular. Like … it’s really kind of interesting in the country music community. I think it’s a normal thing. I don’t understand that it’s so sweet. People say, “Aw, thank you for saying that.” And I’m not even doing anything. I’m not even doing anything for you. That’s just saying, “Yeah, I’m not an asshole.” And I could be an asshole still … like look how I act! You know? So, for me, I think also I came from the San Francisco Bay Area and I think that our culture is a little bit different. Very special culture. But there’s still ups and downs. And with close friends of mine, when I hear experiences that people have to go through in different parts of this country, and in all parts of this country […] things like suicide rates — if you’re quiet, you’re condemning a lot of kids to living in a dark bubble. And they don’t always get out. So it’s just the least you can do. I feel like we need to get past just clapping and being like “Yay! You said it!” and start pushing the Okay. How are you educating yourself on what this really means and how we need to take care of each other?

You are obviously on tour with one of the most celebrated LGBTQ artists in the world, with whom you cowrote the song “Palace”, for his latest album. What’s the experience been like working together?

 He’s incredible, we were actually just talking about this. He said at one point in his life, “I’m just such a proud gay man and I’m standing here on this stage.” And everyone’s just screaming [for him]. And how many times in history has that happened? Someone’s just stood on stage and said this is me and this is who I am. And you just get goosebumps … like everyone’s just so moved. I don’t know. Because we’re still in the stage of that being kind of new, we’re really lucky that he gets to do this and he just spreads so much acceptance purposefully during each show. So it’s amazing to be around. He’s just like … you know … how you think pop divas look sweet but then in the background they’re like bitching people out? Nope. His whole crew, everybody, just are genuinely hardworking, good people.

So both of you are so talented and outspoken and individualistic in your music. What’s the dynamic like from your set to Sam’s when performing?

You will see. I think it actually flows really well. There’s something very musical and vocally driven and like … almost musical theater-ish. Very storytelling. And it just sort of builds. It’s weird because I have to think about it. I can’t sit in the audience and watch. Because my set is so vocally driven, and then it goes into his, I think the theme is very clear and people will appreciate that.

Could you tell us a little bit about what you have planned following the tour?  

I just put out “Road to Happiness” which is a new song. And this is like the lead up to my second album. So, basically, I’m going to go over to Europe, come back, and have a tour in a lot of the same places that I was just here with Sam for the fall. And then there are some songs that are going to start coming out.

If you could go back and give your younger self any piece of advice, what would it be?  

No one knows what they’re doing. Stop looking for someone who knows what they’re doing. I still catch myself thinking that somebody older — some dude, some white dude –needs to tell me what to do. There’s definitely been people in my career that I have overly trusted thinking people are there to help you. But the people that are going to help you the most are going to say, “What’s your answer? Let me help you find your answer.” People who say “I know what you’re supposed to do. I know what you’re supposed to wear. I know what you’re supposed to look like,” they’re doing it for them. And when there are a lot of people who are younger, it’s just … this is how the world works.


You can get tickets to see Cam on her Road to Happiness tour here.

You can follow Cam here: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website

Interview transcribed by About Magazine staff member, Megan Prevost.

QFest, Spectrum South Present ‘1985’

Now rounding off it’s 22nd year of queer film festivals, QFest will screen ‘1985’, it’s closing film, on Monday, July 30th, presented by Spectrum South.

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Spectrum South’s Kelsey Gledhill & Megan Smith

(HOUSTON) – Houston’s premiere LGBTQ motion picture nonprofit, QFest, started screening films for the 22nd year in a row this past Thursday and will be closing up their annual film festival until next year on Monday, July 30th. The nonprofit cites their mission to be showcasing Houston’s LGBTQ community through cinema and related events not just during QFest, but throughout the year. But year-by-year, QFest has struggled to maintain the same numbers in their audiences that they have in years past. Drawing the newest generation of queer Houstonians into the festival has proven difficult. However, our other favorite queer Houston magazine, Spectrum South, has partnered up with QFest to help change that for the better. By co-hosting QFest’s Closing Night, Spectrum South and QFest are hopeful about introducing this incredible nonprofit to the attention of LGBTQ youngsters.

Friend of About Magazine and Spectrum South editor-in-chief Megan Smith had this to say about their newfound partnership with QFest:

“We are so excited to partner with QFest Houston to present the Closing Night of their 2018 festival. This year marks QFest’s 22nd year and we are delighted to help bring this longstanding queer cultural staple to the next generation of LGBTQ Houstonians […] We also encourage everyone to stick around after the [movie] screening for a reception of free drinks, mixing and mingling with fellow queer film enthusiasts, and a DJ set by Bradley David Entertainment.”

A movie and free drinks? You can count us in.

Additionally, this year QFest is sponsored in-part by Bradley David Entertainment, the Catastrophic Theatre, the Houston Film Commission, Mystiq, Julie Mabry’s Pearl Bar Houston, Stages Repertory Theatre, the Orchard, and About Magazine’s own Morena Roas.

1985_still QFest, Spectrum South Present '1985'
Cory Michael Smith in ‘1985’.

Yen Tan’s 1985 opened this year at SXSW in Austin, TX to outstanding reviews. IndieWire gave the film a B and concluded, “As such, “1985” has the distinct feel of being a fine piece of cinematic craftsmanship by two artists with a shared vision. It is a haunting elegy for a generation of gay men.” The Hollywood Reporter said of the film, “Even when dealing with loaded themes such as stigmatization, bullying, death, denial and the shattering possibility of final farewells, the director’s gentle touch adds resonance.” Said SS‘s Smith:

“The evening’s film, Yen Tan’s ‘1985,’ is a powerful southern portrayal of the height of the AIDS crisis. For some folks, it will be a reminder of their lived experiences and, for others, it will serve as a wakeup call to the realities of what can happen when those in power oppress marginalized groups. Either way, its message is important and relevant to our current circumstances, and we look forward to sharing it with audiences.”

The festival’s awards ceremony begins promptly at 7:00 PM at Rice University’s Rice Cinema with the screening of Yen Tan’s 1985 beginning at 7:30 with a reception to follow at 9:00. For tickets to QFest, you can click here. You can also RSVP to the Facebook event here.


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Christina Edwards Wells Advances on AGT

CHRISTINA edwards wells america's got talent lbgtq Houston

Houston’s hometown hero, Christina Edwards Wells, has advanced to the live shows at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on America’s Got Talent

(HOUSTON) – She’s been keeping the secret for weeks — even when we interviewed her about it for our About Magazine Pride Edition — but now the rest of the world finally knows. Christina Edwards Wells, the 2016 Pride Houston Pride SuperStar and Montrose favorite, is progressing onto the live shows on NBC’s America’s Got Talent for season 13. Tonight’s episode, like her initial audition, was previously taped earlier this year. This is Wells’ second go at the program. She previously auditioned but did not progress. Christina is a well-known member and performer in Houston’s LGBTQ community.

Wells’ performance started off as a nail-biter, with judges noted that she was a bit off-key at the beginning of her song. Although she sounded fine to all of us, and apparently found her vocal footing within a few short bars. The judges commended Wells, who is a full-time registered nurse in Houston. Guest judge, comedian, and actor, Ken Jeong, telling Christina, “[…] my wife told me, ‘You’re no longer a doctor. You’re a comedian.’ You’re no longer a nurse, you’re a singer […] an artist.”

Just before the judges made their decision, Christina weepily told the camera that she never thought she would make it this far, and that she did not want it to end. Luckily, when the time came, Simon Cowell told Christina, “Today, I’m going to be honest with you […] this wasn’t better from the first audition. We had to make decisions based on who do we think could really do well in the live show.” After a brief and histrionic pause, Cowell continued, “And that’s why, Christina, we have decided to put you through to the live shows.” Christina immediately erupted in tears before saying, “I thought you were going to tell me no!” Mel B. jumped to her feet and rushed on stage to hug Wells.

Jack Tracy: A Gay “History”

Jack Tracy History Gay Older Satisfaction

Gay actor and performer Jack Tracy, the creator and star of the acclaimed web series, History, sits down to talk to About Magazine about his forthcoming freshman album, Older, and much more.

 

(NEW YORK CITY) – When it comes to television, there aren’t a lot of options available that are central to just the LGBTQIA community. Sure, it’s commonplace in the late 2010s to have a sassy, gay best friend who is constantly sleeping around and panders to straight audiences with flair and histrionics, or maybe even a butch lesbian that is the punchline of U-Haul jokes and poor clothing choices by way of the show’s stylist. And for chrissakes, it takes an act of Congress to get a trans person more than a few minutes of screentime. Even with shows like Transparent coming back to Amazon with a plot now centering around more of its previously-supporting trans actors, there is literally no room made at the table for trans and nonbinary artists to paint a genuine and relevant picture on a canvas for their communities. Even in the age of the aforementioned Transparent and rebooted Queer Eye or Will & Grace, there are not a lot of intermediaries that depict an accurate portrayal of LGBTQIA life on the screen. Is it because queer artists aren’t writing them? Hell no. It’s because networks and studios aren’t producing them.

Enter Jack Tracy — the gay attorney and New York City resident in his thirties who one day tired of the mundane aspects of his life. Sure, he had friends and wasn’t hurting for money. But Jack’s creative muse — and maybe even his Id, as Freud may have put it — was starved for attention. In turn, he was not living a life he felt was fulfilling; and the lack of LGBTQIA representation in the media (or maybe even more accurately, how LGBTQIA folks are portrayed in the media) was only affecting him further.

So Mr. Tracy took it upon himself to do what many studios and networks have only hesitantly and in small increments been willing to do: he began creating queer video content. Better yet, when Jack begat his content centered around gay characters, it wasn’t about living the flashy life or the perpetuation the stereotypes involving glamorous parties, sexy Grindr hook-ups, or irresponsible drug use. No, Tracy wanted to — and did — give LGBTQIA characters a depth that they often lack in the way that they’re represented. He dug past the frivolousness and superficialities to create a character named Jamie in a then-small web series entitled History. So what was so special about Tracy’s creation that made it stand apart from the others?

History-1 Jack Tracy: A Gay "History"

Absolutely everything. Jack Tracy employed a method of writing for his main character I first heard described by television writer and creator of the original Charmed series, Constance M. Burge. As Burge put it about her trio sister of witches portrayed by Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, and Alyssa Milano (and later Rose McGowan) from 1998-2006, Charmed was created to be a show not about witches who happened to be sisters, but sisters who happened to be witches. And that was just the thing that Tracy implemented into his narrative. He wasn’t using Jamie as a soap box to shout the needs of equality or to end discriminatory behavior (or, at least, not so blatantly). No, Jack created a series not about protagonists that were gay and happen to have normal love, personal, and professional lives, but one about characters who had normal love, personal, and professional lives (albeit not without their own disparities) … who just so happen to be gay.

In doing so — and possibly without even knowing it — Jack Tracy progressed LGBTQIA normalization in a subtle way. By eliminating the preachiness often credited to the Ellen show of the ’90s, the showrunner, creator, and star of History presented gay characters in lives and with feelings not unlike straight or cisgender characters who haunt the screen of nearly every station or streaming service at any given time. Then — by tapping into the emotions that were neither queer-centric nor heteronormative — Tracy took possibly unconscious steps in the normalization of queer characters to a not entirely queer audience.

And he did so at the perfect time, all things considered. With a vice president who has openly denounced homosexuality and in the past called for conversion therapy, when trans murder rates at all-time highs in just the past 7 months, and with countless people openly discriminating against the LGBTQIA community, Tracy’s once-small, pipe dream web series — which has moved on to critical acclaim, receiving innumerable accolades, including the Los Angeles Film Award for Best Web Series — has gone on not only to entertain, delight, and bring audiences to tears, but to inspire queer people to make things happen for themselves, even if no one in the world has given them permission to do so.

jack-tracy Jack Tracy: A Gay "History"
Cover art for Jack Tracy’s new album, “Older”.

And this Friday, the star of the show will be releasing his first-ever album, entitled Older, for which he is in the early stages of planning a national tour. The album’s first single, “Satisfaction”, was released late last month and can be found under the header of this article above (the official music video can also be found in the interview below).

Jack sat down with About Magazine editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez, for an interview on Wednesday, June 11th to talk about his life and inspirations, Older, “Satisfaction”, his forthcoming film that is currently in postproduction, and how fans can help make the third season of History come to life (hint, hint: you can click on this subtly highlighted text to donate to the cause).


Anthony Ramirez: Can you tell me about when you decided to create the album and what inspired it? 

Jack Tracy: Yeah! I guess it all goes back to when I turned … I’d say like 31, I had this sort of epiphany. I was in a place in my life where I was at my day job, I had my social circle, and I kind of thought to myself, Is this it? Am I just gonna do this ’til I die? Is this the end? And I sort of just decided that any little dream, any little thing that I always wanted to do, I just had to go and do them. I mean, you only live once. So I told myself, “If you wanna do a show, go do that show. If you wanna sing a song, go write that song to sing it.” So, I sort of just made this mantra that whatever dream I had, I was just gonna do it. So, an album has always been on the list, but I didn’t have the knowledge or skills to really make it what I wanted to make it. So, I did a little cabaret show where I sang some covers and really enjoyed that. And it was through the process of making my web series, History, and since I’m a do-everything-yourself person, I had to teach myself how to make music — electronic music. I have a musical background, but I wasn’t familiar with the software. I wasn’t proficient.

So, I really taught myself how to do it so that I could make background music for all of the […] scenes [in History] without having to go out and license a bunch of pre-made music. […] I did not want to go through the nightmare of licensing; and I am an attorney, so I know how that works. So, I made these really basic, like, club beats that I thought, “These will be good for the background.” And then there were a few of them that I really fell in love with, and I thought, Well, if I can do this, why don’t I spend some time really pushing them a bit more and adding a bit more? And then taking them to a sound engineer to get that those things fixed and to get recordedI mean, I had recorded vocals for History. But other than that it was just piano. And so I knew how to make beats, I had a relationship with a sound engineer. So, if you’re a fan of the web series, you will hear the first sort of pass at a lot of the instrumentals that are currently on Older.

Yeah, I wanted to ask about that. Because when I watched the first season of History, one of the first things I noticed — because I’m a music person, too — is that piano piece that plays in the opening scene of the pilot. And I wondered if that was an original piece of yours. 

Yeah, it’s all original. The only thing that isn’t original in History would be, in the first season, anything that’s electronic that’s like background, club-y beats, party beats — that wasn’t me. That was all licensed. But in the second season, that’s when I took it over. I wrote the song “Take It All Away”, which is the motif that plays throughout season one; and I wrote the song “Together”, which plays throughout season two; and I have a new one, “You Lose”, that I’m still working on for season three. The idea with that is that each season has a song that sort of speaks to the themes of the season’s emotional arc; and then I use pieces of that instrumentation as the motif throughout the series.

Okay! Before we get too much into History, with Older — that album comes out on Friday the 20th, I believe — I noticed one thing when I was listening to your single, “Satisfaction”, that it’s sort of got an early ’90s feel to it. And especially that song is sort of a “fuck you; I don’t need you; I’m not going to give you the satisfaction” song. Is there something specific that kind of inspired that? Because I know that you’d said elsewhere that the album is meant to be listened to in order from one track to the next. 

So, with “Satisfaction”, the story of the song is of course about an ex, because I believe that that’s the best way to encapsulate the feeling within the narrative of an ex. Like, who is your classic romantic villain but the ex?

Right!

But in terms of what I was trying to communicate and what I was feeling, the idea was — and for this, I really try to emphasize my LGBTQ+ eye toward these situations — that there are a lot of people in your life that want to get a reaction out of you […] We pick fights with each other in order to have a little drama. It’s just what happens and I see it happen regularly. And I could psychoanalyze why that is, but … The point is that if someone is getting on your nerves, think about what their entire is to work you up and get a reaction out of you. So, maybe don’t give them the satisfaction of that; and maybe just move along with your day. And that was sort of the kernel, and then [it] was wrapped in this “ex” sort of narrative in order to be more universal.

I think that that’s true. And a lot of the issues we’re having in the LGBTQ+ community is because of infighting, which makes it hard for us to progress when we really need to be, as long as that’s going on.

Yes!

So, I appreciate you sharing that part of the song. It’s a really solid and important stance to take.

Thank you.

Just to get a little more into History, tell me about how this started as a show, as well as about how Necessary Outlet [Tracy’s production company] got started. 

Okay, so Necessary Outlet sort of started as my “midlife crisis”. It hit when I was in my early thirties and I was in a relationship that I wasn’t very happy in; I was in social circles I wasn’t necessarily happy in; and I had a job that made me a fair amount of money, but I wasn’t really happy with. And I think the pivotal moment was at my 30th birthday party, which I walked out of alone and trudged through an apocalyptic snow storm in New York City, as we tend to get right around my birthday. Then I just sort of thought to myself, Something has to be different. I have got to do something different with my life. This cannot be it. So, in college I was — and even though now I am an attorney — I was a musical theatre major. I loved performance. I was a dancer first, singer second, and actor third. And it was just, you know, why not just use my resources to see if I can do this.

So, the idea was to launch Necessary Outlet, because I wanted a channel of LGBT content that was focused on visibility and telling our stories in a way that the center of the story, or the center of the piece — whether that be music or a series or whatever — is not “I’m gay and I’m fierce. High school sucked; college was meh; now I have money and I have lots of sex; life is amazing; it gets better.” And that’s not to say that that narrative doesn’t need to be told — but it is told. I think by everyone! I think it’s sort of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and the center of, I don’t know, how many campaigns? It’s the center of a lot of things. But what I wanted to do was to tell the stories of, “These are just four people who are dating,” or, you know I have a show called Big Law, “This is just a corporate law firm. These are just people working in a corporate law firm and [it just so happens] the protagonist is gay.” The show is not about him being gay. But the protagonist is gay. And it was just about telling our stories — and telling universal stories with an LGBTQ+ point of view.

I think that’s really important. It’s definitely a shift in the perspective of the narrative. Because at that point, you’ve taken away the soap box and made the content easier to relate to and it normalizes LGBTQ+ people. One thing that I noticed with History is that it’s simple in its relatability. In my opinion, that’s done mainly through the characterization of not only [the protagonist] Jamie, but also the supporting characters. Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind the other characters, as well?

Oh, yeah! Well, when I launched this, I did a little cabaret, and then it was History. And, in order to build everything up, I sort of had to break down and break away from everything that was not helpful to me. So, during that time and right before that time, I had just gone through this break-up and a move-out. And then I was [in this place] where I had been in New York City for ten years and I suddenly felt like I was starting again from zero, and kind of just had to rebuild everything. And through that I was taking a screenwriting course. So, I was writing the script as sort of an exercise, as a practice in [the way of], “Can I write a narrative? Can I do this? Am I good at this?” But that was also very therapeutic. And that’s sort of why the first pass of the scripts sort of just look like angry diary entries. [Laughs]

[Laughs]

And then it sort of got me to a place where I had to set them aside for a year. I’d gotten a new job, so I wanted to focus on the new job and make sure that I was solid there. And then, after a year, I turned back to the scripts. Let’s polish these up and turn them into more of a narrative and make them something. […] Everything in History is based on something — a plot point that has happened to myself or a friend/acquaintance. You know, Will is based off of my best friend; Matthew is based off of another friend; and I found that my skills as a writer was taking real events, finding the relatable emotions and underlying story, then weaving it into a narrative. Not everything happened exactly the way it happened, and not everything happened in quite the order that it happens. But it was sort of like me vision boarding with here are all of these things I find interesting, useful, relevant, or that people could connect to emotionally. Then I had to ask, how can I crack this into a 6-episode arc that tells an overall story?

And so, that’s what I did! [Laughs] Season two happened the same way; and now going into season three.

As a content creator, it is 100% ambition and not letting the fact that you don’t know everything and aren’t particularly qualified to do everything stop you from trying. […] it’s about not letting perfect be the enemy of good; and then putting it out there and moving on to the next thing.

What’s great about History is, sort of like you said, that its foundation is in some underlying level of truth. And from the very first episode, “Void”, when Jamie is sitting in the restaurant with his friend, Bianca, the dialogue feels very authentic and genuine.

Well, thank you very much.

You’re welcome. And to that point, I kind of want to take note that television — especially in the 2010s — does not spend so much time on exposition as it used to. Even looking at shows in the early 2000s like Gilmore Girls, which really spent a lot of time on just dialogue and getting to know characters. I found that to be one of the strong points of History.

Thank you! And that’s partially because I think that’s my strength as a writer: dialogue. And maybe that comes from my legal background, because it’s very — I almost find that style of writing to be like a persuasive brief, or an oral argument.

[Laughs] Yeah, absolutely. 

I mean, Gilmore Girls was great! I love that I get to be compared to something like that. Just the witty turn-of-phrase, the quick back-and-forths and quick returns. That’s what I love. And the shows that I really fell in love with growing up were […] extremely expository. For instance, I’m a huge Star Trek fan; and that show is nothing by sci-fi exposition and techno babble. And then you have things like Will & Grace, where there’s all this quick one-liners and amazing zingers back and forth. I love David E. Kelley shows like Ally McBeal, Picket Fences, The Practice, and [its spin-offs] Boston Legal and Boston Public. I like — well, and also my love for theatre probably plays into that, as well, as a theatre major. I mean, I love dialogue. And when it’s smart, it just captures you and it sucks you in. And I hope that what I’m writing, that’s what it’s going to be like.

Absolutely. And with those shows — like you mentioned Will & Grace, which just recently came back — it’s just “banter-banter-banter-banter-banter”. Even shows like Murphy Brown, which is also coming back, were similar in that regard. Those sort of shows that were built around dialogue-based story telling, we’re seeing now that it’s making a bit of a comeback — even in a bit from the LGBTQ+ perspective. And a lot of where that’s happening is actually outside of network television. 

You’re a part of something that we’re seeing more of now. What that is is that we are kind of existing in this realm — and probably because everything is more accessible to us — wherein more and more people are becoming content creators themselves and tasking themselves in that way; and you’re definitely a part of that. I know from similar experience with our magazine and with my work in television that this is not an easy thing. It does not come without some level of suffering.I mean you aren’t just doing it with History and with Older, but you have your other series, Big Law, not to mention you just wrapped up production on a movie, and then your other show, Millennial Memoir. Can you give your fans a little insight into what that’s like? What is that like wearing so many hats and being in these positions while also working a 9-to-5 job as an attorney? 

So, well … the 9-to-5 is what finances it.

[Laughs]

[Laughs] Right now, I am doing my first attempt at crowdfunding. Everything else has been self-finance. I understand that [crowdfunding] is where most people start; and I’m just very fortunate that I have the resources of my own that I can tap into on my own. Other content creators don’t necessarily always have that. There are some people who don’t have those [resources] and have to do favor-trading with other [artists]. And that’s not to say that my stuff isn’t low budget. But there are some folks who have to go out and grab a $100 HandyCam, or who have to record on their iPhones — but you use what you have to get it done. You do whatever you have to do to get it done, no matter how you do it.

So, I’m doing crowdfunding for season three, because — as you noted — I have a lot of stuff going on and the dollar starts stretching. So, I guess the hardest part in content creating — and I hate that term. I understand it’s the term we’re supposed to use. But for me it’s like, [with faux-arrogance] “Oh, my brand. I’m a content creator. Synergy.”

No, I get that 100%. 

 

 

 

History Jack Tracy: A Gay "History"
Jack Tracy’s series, “History”, is currently crowdfunding for its third season.

But, as a content creator, it is 100% ambition and not letting the fact that you don’t know everything and aren’t particularly qualified to do everything stop you from trying. I think to be a successful content creator is to fall on your face over-and-over-and-over again; and to learn-and-learn-and-learn and keeping applying those lessons to get better-and-better. It can be demoralizing. You can … I don’t know … make this thing that you think is really great, and then the audio or something isn’t the best, but it was the best that you could do. So, it’s about not letting perfect be the enemy of good; and then just putting it out there and moving on to the next thing.

Now, the community itself is still developing. You know the different showrunners and directors, the people who head this stuff up, are very ambitious people who are focused on their successes. So the community is kind of a community in name only. We see each other certain festivals and at certain events. And there can be favor trading and some, “Oh, use this tech guy or this sound person.” But overall, everyone is very driven and focused on their own thing and trying to get noticed and seen. My take on it, as Necessary Outlet Productions, is that I am not focused on my narrative. I’m focused on LGBT narrative. I’m not focused on one form of narrative. I want movies; I want series; I want albums; I want live shows; I want a theatre production; I want a touring show; I want dance — I want everything.

I saw an interview with Tyler Perry the other day […] and I really appreciated his outlook. And that was that you make it yourself, you create it yourself, you don’t sell anything. You build-and-build-and-build. Then that equity pays off in the future by having this major portfolio and being able to say that you own all this content and can do what you want with it.

No one out there holds the permission to do what you want to do. Don’t wait […] Do everything you want to do; do it now; do it with your all; and don’t wait for someone to tell you to go.

Well, if you think about, Tyler Perry was really one of the pioneers who started this trend of self-creation — especially so for people of our generations.

Yeah!

Before we saw Diary of a Mad Black Woman hit movie theaters, seeing someone put out this much content from the theatre stage to the movie screen and even to television was not really something that was done. And then to be done by a person of color was even more impressive. 

Oh, absolutely.

And to go back to something you said a minute ago, which was that [Tyler Perry] was someone who was not always necessarily the most qualified to do what he was doing, and he was often nailed to a cross by the critics, but he just kept going and never gave up. 

And — did you know? — he now has the largest movie studio. Period. The largest. It’s in Atlanta, they even filmed parts of Black Panther there. It is the largest movie studio.

Oh, and his best friend is Oprah Winfrey. I mean … if Oprah thinks you’re doing a good job, you probably are.

I think that I where I am right now — and I try not to compare myself to anyone because everyone’s experiences are different — but if I were to compare my journey to his journey, I am at the stage of doing the local theatre productions to build the audiences. I am meeting the community through the album. The goal is to start traveling. I have Jersey City Pride booked, I’m hoping to get other Prides booked. I wanna go out and meet the community. Right now, Necessary Outlet is very New York City […] So, the goal is to go out and meet people, then hopefully the album and the tour that I’d love to put together will go along with that.

I think it’s so impressive, everything that you’re doing. It’s even more so impressive because of someone who not only works a 9-to-5, but who is an attorney, which is obviously not an easy job and I’m sure is extremely demanding of your time. Do you sleep? Is there ever a reprieve for you? 

The problem is that I’m like my father and I don’t know how to sit still.

Oh, trust me. I get that.

Like today, I’ll go home from work; then my son — who is a six-year-old cocker spaniel — and I will sit and watch television. And, you know, I was religiously watching RuPaul […] but let me tell you, on commercial breaks, my brain is going. I’m jotting things down; I’m coming up with ideas; I’m making to-do lists; I’m ordering props for the next shoot. Which, we just had the shoot for the second video this past weekend and we have another coming up. But, for me, it’s a matter of “this is a marathon”, so I need to be moving and keeping a steady pace.

Obviously the acclaim for History has been wonderful. You won the Los Angeles Film Award for Best Web Series and soooo many other accolades. What can your audience who have been keeping up with the first two seasons expect from season three?

I will say that anything I share will only happen if we reach our funding goal. We started today [Wednesday, June 11th] and we are at 33% [currently at 41% at time of publication]. We need $7,000 to make it happen, so we’ve gotta get the money. It’s time for our fans to jump in.

The idea for season three is all about taking past circumstances, juxtaposing them with the present, and sort of showing the growth and maturity that comes with being a gay man. It also shows how you evolve, and how program out of situations, and your views on love and friendships uniquely through the lens of a gay man. So, in season one it was putting a break-up from the past up against the present rebuilding of a life. In season two, which began a year later, it was showing the evolution of friendship coupled with the flashbacks of what happened over said year that got us from Point A to Point B and what was different a year later. The flashbacks showed us how events turned, what led us here, and how things got that way. And season three is going back as far as you can go back to answer the question What is love? for Jamie, for Will, and for Matthew. And it’s a sort of answer, I think, for each. For Jamie we are going to see that through his most formative relationship that I think is at the center of every gay man and what he understands love to be. And that is his relationship … with his mother.

Ooooh, okay. So you are really delving into the introspection. 

Yeah! And it’s the first time I cannot play my past self [on screen]; because as young as I may look without a beard, I can no longer pass for 18 anymore.

[Laughs]

So, we’re going to have to actually have to cast a Young Jamie.

Oh! And before we go, give us a little info about the movie you just produced.

Omigod. I am so excited because I just finished the first cut last night. And I cried because I had finally made my first movie. I’m very excited to see it, but I still have a lot of work to do. It’s called Snowflake. It takes place in a world not unlike our own — a political landscape not unlike our own, but from LGBTQ point-of-view. [In it], a Trump-like character has become president. There is a VP who is very much like Mr. Pence. So, the plot is two interwoven stories. One is that of the VP, and one is that of a gay man in New York dealing with the changes in society and the changes in politics that come from that election, how they process their anger, and how far they’re willing to go to protect their [way of] life. It’s very much [about] how a community and society — at least during my lifespan — has socially progress, then reaching a peak where it feels like we’re about to take a dip.

Oh, and without even knowing [at the time of production] what was coming, there’s a lot of [parallel] stuff about the Supreme Court in there. So, I definitely want to get this out immediately. We talk about gun control. We talk about a lot of what’s going on right now, but from an LGBT point-of-view of someone on the ground. [It’s about] how they get past things in their daily lives, their emotional state, their friendships, their ability to concentrate and to have relationships when they are consumed by bad news.

JT Jack Tracy: A Gay "History"
Jack Tracy at the Older video shoot.

That sounds really, really exciting. I can’t wait to get to see it. And congratulations on finishing your first movie. That is no small accomplishment. 

Thank you very much.

You’re very welcome. So, my last question for you is this: I know we started off this interview saying that all of this started off as a passion project for you and you joked that it was a bit of a midlife crisis for you. So, with that in mind, if you could give younger Jack any small nugget of wisdom, what would that be? 

Oh, let me give that a second of thought. [Laughs] I would say … [Pause for thought] … that there is no one out there who holds the permission to do what you want to do. No one is going to tap you and tell you, “Okay! You can do this. Go do it.” Don’t wait. There is no one out there that is going to give you the permission to do it. Just. Go. And do it. Do everything you want to do; do it now; do it with your all; and don’t wait for someone to tell you to go.


You can follow Jack Tracy online and on social media by clicking the links below:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | SpotifyJack’s Website | Necessary Outlet Website

To purchase “Satisfaction” on iTunes, click here.

To pre-order Older on iTunes, click here.

And to donate to the third season of Jack’s web series, History, click here.