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National Coming Out Day: 5 Online Shorts That Celebrate Queer Lives

The five best web series and short films that celebrate queerness -- in all forms.

“Danny The Manny”

YouTube

If you’re coming out and you want the world to know, the flashiest way to do it (short of a show tune soliloquy) is to make a movie. Or, more realistically, a web series.

National Coming Out Day is observed on October 11th, the anniversary of the second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, often referred to as “The Great March.” It is a celebration of what its founders called the most basic form of activism; standing up and being counted. On this day in 1991, “Bewitched” actor Dick Sargent came out on “The Geraldo Rivera Show.” This year, Kristen Stewart, Aubrey Plaza, Lilly Wachowski, Robin Lord Taylor and Holland Taylor all came out as some iteration of LGBTQ.

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Because of the many celebrities and queer people who came out before them, emerging filmmakers and creators no longer have to hide who they are in order to become successful. In fact, a strong point of view is often a boon to a burgeoning career. Though the work is far from done, and many young people still struggle to find acceptance, National Coming Out Day is a far less somber affair than it once was. With a wealth of quality content online by LGBTQ creators, a media lover would not be remiss if they were to celebrate by kicking back and relaxing with the best up and coming queer creators. Here are five web series and short films that celebrate queerness, in all of its fabulous forms.

“Danny The Manny”

This nearly perfect little web series tells the story of a gay nanny who discovers the little boy he babysits likes to cross-dress. In just five short episodes, writer and director Mike Roma mines his pithy premise for all of the humor, sensitivity and campy surrealism it deserves. (Roma’s deft hand is most on display during a playground scene featuring an understated drag queen [Coco Peru] as a nosy mother from another era.) A contemporary tale with age-old problems, the series explores the nuances of raising children today, and asks how society can best support gender non-conforming children without assuming what that might mean.

With gorgeous dress-up montages, a diverse supporting cast that includes a black butch and a trans femme roommate, “Danny The Manny” is the perfect way to celebrate what it means to come out in 2016. As Danny would say, it’s for the gayer good.

“The 3 Bits”

For something completely different, check out dark comedy “The 3 Bits” from Brooklyn-based filmmaking duo Max Freeman and Margaret Singer, which celebrates radical, in your face, take-no-prisoners queerness. Broken up into three parts, the series gets its name from the three siblings it follows throughout its nine episodes.

Roman (Singer) is a badass gardener with a checkered past and an unstable girlfriend (Lola Albright, whose raspy voice and offbeat charm might make her the next Jennifer Tilly). Henry, played by the inimitable Cole Escola (“Difficult People”) desperately wants to throw an orgy despite protests from his vanilla roommate. New York experimental theater maven Erin Markey is so delightfully strange as Madison that her episodes as a coke-addicted mommy vlogger could stand on their own as satirical digital performance art. The series aired in 2013, but there are rumors that a second season is in the works.

“Dancing In The Dark”

“Growing up as a young, Blatino, gay man, we’re not really given fantasies. We’re not really given fairy tales,” says filmmaker Adomako Aman in voiceover in his new documentary, “Dancing In The Dark.” The film, which clocks in at just under an hour long, is a collection of interviews with black and Latino club-goers who trace the history of New York’s club scene from the ’90s through today.

Aman uses club footage and still photographs to provide a window into a community whose stories are not often seen or told on screen. It’s an impressive feat for a first time filmmaker, and an important document made all the more relevant in the wake of the Orlando tragedy. The entire film is available online.

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“McTucky Fried High”

Before there was (the extremely problematic) “Sausage Party,” two creators in Chicago had already drawn a genderqueer peanut whose goal is dismantling the gender binary. “McTucky Fried High” is an animated comedy that is child appropriate, but fun for all.

Creators Robert Carnilius and Lex Lawson wanted to reach younger audiences, and saw animation as a fun way to play create gender fluid characters. “I grew up in a rural community without any notion of a queer community,” said Lawson, who wrote the series. “I always think of young people who might be isolated, and because of the Internet it’s changed so much.” The two seasons are available on Fullscreen and the series’ YouTube channel.

“It Gets Better-ish”

An early adopter of the form from 2011, this throwback web series may have been too ahead of its time to receive full due. Created by and starring comedians Brent Sullivan and Eliot Glazer (brother to Ilana), each episode takes a stereotype about gay men and mines it for comedy gold. Whether it’s hiring a terrible drag queen to make their own party gayer, or not knowing a single Lady Gaga song, Brent and Elliot fail at being gay in myriad ways (except the only one that counts).

With appearances from a pre-“Broad City” Ilana Glazer, and comedians Nicole Byer (“Lady Dynamite”) and Gabe Liedman (“Obvious Child), a reboot might be in order with that kind of star power behind it. “It Gets Better-ish” revels in failed queerness, pushing back at society’s ideas that one must be fabulous to be gay. Funny, one the other hand, is a necessity.

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