When Alison Levering Wong and Brenden Gallagher met while writers on the TV series Late Night Republic, they probably had no idea that their relationship as creatives would take on such a journey of collaboration over the years. Their latest project, Straight Up Gay, is a comedy web series about two best friends (Alison and Brenden) as they “learn about gender identity, sexuality, best kombucha-making practices, and organic food cooperatives.” In a sense, it’s a series that pays lightness to the gender spectrum through the eyes of a lesbian and her straight male friend—a friendship dynamic that is mostly underestimated and untapped onscreen. Doubly, it’s a chance to give us lesbians that skeleton key so many gay males receive from their friendships with straight women.
Straight Up Gay puts the lez besties at the forefront. By the end of the season, you’ll be wondering why you don’t have one of your own. On the heels of wrapping their IndieGoGo campaign to raise money for the series, the crew behind Straight Up Gay is led by director Dan DeLorenzo and is filmed mostly in Brooklyn, NY. With six ready-to-role episodes in their cards, three of which will be completed by the close of the month, you can expect to hear a lot more from this web series.
AfterEllen.com: What’s the best way to describe Straight Up Gay to viewers?
Andrea Levering Wong: Straight Up Gay is a web comedy about a straight guy and a gay girl as they try to navigate the tricky waters of dating women—both gay, straight and everything in between. The show offers a comedic response to the experience of single, city-dwelling 20-somethings, while focusing on the experience of dating women, specifically, from both a straight male and gay female perspective.
Straight Up Gay aims to increase visibility for lesbian characters by subverting stereotypes and gender roles. Straight Up Gay features characters with a variety of sexual orientations: lesbian characters of varying gender presentations, trans characters and cis-gendered straight men and women. It aims to show underrepresented sides of the LGBTQ spectrum, with a primary focus on lesbian relationships, using the approachability of comedy.
AE: This is not the first project for you and Brenden—what made you both feel like continuing on with a professional relationship after Late Night Republic?
ALW: Brenden and I have actually worked on a number of projects together since Late Night Republic. After we met, we became writing partners, and good friends. We created a web series in 2011 with Zhubin Parang (The Daily Show) and Will Storie (UCB) called Crisis PR, which did very well, and won some awards at the LAWebFest. It was a fun experience, but for this project we wanted to do something that was more true to our life. Over the years, Brenden and I have had some very interesting experiences with women, and we decided to bring it to life. I personally have always wanted to write and create something that did service to the LGBTQ community, and when looking at our real life friendship, I think I found the perfect opportunity.
AE: You’ve made reference to Will & Grace as the TV show that did something for gay men, in the hopes that Straight Up Gay will be similar for lesbians—can you divulge further?
ALW: Well, when I was in high school and Will & Grace came on TV, I remember thinking, this show is great, but no one would think it was funny if it was about lesbians—of course, maybe because I was an angst-ridden closeted lesbian, I might have had a somewhat biased opinion. I quickly saw the public opinion of gay men change. Of course it changed for women too, but gay men were fun all of a sudden! Straight girls were all on the prowl for their “Will.” It was fun to be a gay guy, and it was a major step for the LGBTQ community.
As happy as I was to see the movement move forward in the public eye, I started to feel a little left out. Aside from Ellen, there were not that many approachable gay women figures to represent us. I feel like the life of a gay woman hasn’t been presented in a fun and approachable way yet. There are a lot of stereotypes about gay women, which are all probably somewhat true, but we also have fun, full lives, and I just wanted to do my part to bring that out for the world to see. I think by showing that through the friendship that can exist between a straight guy and a gay girl is an approachable and relatable way to get that out there. I think it’s a relationship that hasn’t quite been shown before, and since it’s based on a real friendship, I’m excited to show that to the world.
AE: With that said, it feels like Straight Up Gay presents a lightness to the ever-evolving climate of LGBTQ issues, conversations, gender expressions, and relationship dynamics—what’s your take on bridging the gay gap between real life experiences and onscreen comedy?
ALW: Well, bridging that gap can be a little tricky. Everyone has funny things that happen to them, and then when you re-tell the story, you realize you “had to have been there.” Although all the situations that we have going on in the show are mostly fictional, and the characters of Brenden and Alison are fictional, the crux of the show, the funniness is totally real. I think the lesbian world is an untapped goldmine. There are so many insane, funny and ridiculous things that happen out there. Of course the main priority is to be respectful of it all, but I think that it can only be helpful to take a minute to laugh at ourselves a bit.
AE: What are your long-term goals for the series? What can viewers do to get involved?
ALW: The goal is just to gain as many viewers as possible, get the word out, and hopefully gain some sort of distribution. The main goal of the show is just get as many people to see it as possible, and spread the word. If we could make 30 seasons, that would be great, but at the moment we are hoping to create our fan base off of this one season. If people would like updates and videos, the best way is to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter: @straight_up_gay.