January 5-11, 2017 • BAY AREA REPORTER • 25
Online platform wants to be a gay Netflix by David-Elijah Nahmod
ekkoo is an online network, a gay Netflix,” Chief Operating Officer Brian Sokel tells the Bay Area Reporter. “It’s a streaming subscription platform for gay men. Our focus is gay movies, gay series and original content.” Sokel noted the current dearth of gay programming on Logo, the Showtime-owned gay network that launched on cable amid much fanfare in 2005. Though RuPaul’s Drag Race remains Logo’s flagship show, much of their current schedule includes classic sitcoms like Bewitched, Green Acres, The Facts of Life, and All in the Family. Sokel feels that there’s a considerable difference between mainstream shows that appeal to gay men and actual gay programs. “We saw a vacuum,” he explains. Dekkoo will be targeting a gay male demographic exclusively. “We want to focus on the G, and give it the
attention it deserves,” he said. “But every letter in the acronym [LGBTQ] deserves its own home. There’s always an audience for every kind of content, if someone dreams it will be.” “The word Dekkoo is derived from Hindi,” Sokel said. “It means ‘Take a look.’” He said he was particularly excited about Love Is Blind, a dating/ reality show that Dekkoo plans to roll out in February, just in time for Valentine’s Day. “We’ve produced seven episodes,” Sokel said. “We set up singles in New York City to go out on blind dates. They do different type of activities: drinks, body painting, other activities. Sometimes they turn each other on, sometimes they turn on each other!” Sokel promises that there’s some good comedy to be found on the dates that go sour. “But the guys are really looking for someone special,” he said. “Just to see their unique experiences is fun and lighthearted.” Two of the dates resulted in the guys
Scene from Dekkoo programming.
becoming real-life couples. Dekkoo has other shows in the works. Currently the network is in pre-production with a stand-up comedy show. Sokel also mentioned an upcoming “dramedy”
(comedy-drama) about a young gay Asian man moving to a new city and dealing with fitting in. “We’re trying to find up-and-coming talent,” he said. “I want to give voices to young filmmakers.”
In addition to their original content, Dekkoo also offers a wide variety of gay independent feature films. Still in its early stages, Dekkoo is currently building its subscription base. It’s available on Amazon Prime as an add-on to your monthly fee. Dekkoo can also be accessed through the Apple Store, Google Play, Roku, Android TV, and Samsung Smart TV. Sokel feels that platforms like Dekkoo can be helpful in fighting the incoming anti-gay Trump administration. The president-elect has appointed a Who’s Who of racists and homophobes to his cabinet, most notably white supremacist Steve Bannon and vice-presidentelect Mike Pence, who supports conversion therapy and opposes LGBT equality laws. “The best kind of resistance is presence,” Sokel said. “Defiance through presence.”t dekkoo.com
Lost at sea by David Lamble
n queer Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s latest treat Julieta, our heroine (Emma Suarez) is sharing a Madrid flat with her boyfriend. The couple is about to move to Portugal when by pure chance, Julieta reconnects with the best friend of her long-absent adult daughter, Anita. Heartbroken that her child, now married and living in Switzerland with three kids, has not been in touch for 12 years, Julieta cancels her trip and returns to her old apartment, hoping that Anita will know where to find her. Julieta starts writing a memoir revisiting the angst of her teen years. She recalls her first lover, a fisherman from Galicia. A fatal accident changes their life. Almodovar has spent his career switching between male- and female-driven
Emma Suarez in director Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta.
stories. Here he keeps us hooked on a tale of a woman who desperately wishes to reconnect with her daughter, who blames her for the death of their husband/dad lost at sea following an argument. This is not my favorite Almodovar 21-century work – that remains the male-oriented Bad Education – but I’m grateful one of the film world’s high-wire acts continues to produce at such a fantastic level. Here’s hoping the next one will be dedicated to his rude-boy adventures. Paterson American indie darling Jim Jarmusch, whose 1984 breakout B&W feature Stranger than Paradise opened the Opera Plaza mini-cinemas, returns in top form with a nifty little tale about a handsome poet/bus driver (very low-key Adam Driver). It’s rare when such an entertaining comedy-drama pivots on the beat of “The dog ate my poetry.”t
Sony Classics Pictures
by Jim Piechota
Becoming Who I Am: Young Men on Being Gay by Ritch C. Savin-Williams, Harvard University Press, $27.95 n Becoming Who I Am, a rewarding study of youth, sexuality, and identity, Ritch C. SavinWilliams, a human development professor at Cornell University, offers clear and insightful glimpses into the lives of young gay men. His new book “shares my accumulated knowledge and perspective with those of you who believe you might be gay, know you’re gay, or want to find out what gay teens experience.” His text, based on over 40 years of career research, is primarily comprised of expansive interviews with gay youth who were more than willing to tell their stories about “growing up gay in today’s world.” These profiles, wonderfully diverse with an average age of 20, primarily spotlight the freedom of coming out, the joy in meeting others who share the same sexual preferences, and the possibilities of developing lasting relationships, whether platonic or romantic. Reflected throughout the course of the book is the author’s longtime correspondence and contact with then-15-year-old Anthony, and the preferences, attitudes, and behaviors that influenced his adolescence and continued to do so into forthcoming years.
Several participants discovered the author through his 2005 book The New Gay Teenager, a lively, eye-opening project addressing how attitudes toward same-sex relationships have changed over time. Drawn to his work, these young men became generous with their time and the personal stories they shared with Savin-Williams. Chicago-based Latino teenager Adrian admits that “we didn’t ask for this blessing of being attracted to the same sex (and I am going to call it a blessing, because that’s what it is).” He writes, “Like any other problem one may encounter, it is the fight through that problem from which we
learn the most, and for that reason, we should feel blessed to have had that learning experience.” Elsewhere, a Middle Eastern man’s first admission of his homosexuality occurred during his first interview with the author, though he remains conflicted about the manner in which he “became gay.” Other men share their first sexual memories, experiences, and encounters, which range from a clandestine kiss under bed covers to wet dreams, pornography, the discovery of masturbation, or a first secretive visit to a gay bar. For others, the defining moment of realization arrived later in their emotional development, through “positive peers, crushes, being tired of living a lie, and time.” These young men participated in one of two research projects. 160 men joined the “Friends and Lovers” study, while 229 joined the second study, which investigated issues of sex, gender, and personality. Some first responders never replied back when contacted, and some never openly identified as gay or bisexual. While there are no shocking revelations here, Savin-Williams’ cleareyed focus remains on the positive aspects of the young gay experience, noting that while nightmarish stories about coming out should be told, “negative experiences should not define what it means to be young and gay.” These real-world case studies bring positivity, promise, and a breath of fresh air to a demographic
that is too often overshadowed by horror stories of exclusion, bullying, persecution, and misunderstanding. “Today’s gay youths are living the life gay adults could only have dreamed about when they were young. They’re proud, popular,
respected, happy, and ordinary.” Though this blanket statement is not the case across the board, vast improvements in the quality of life for many young gay men today are apparent in this well-researched and important book.t
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