Coming in 2015, the web series “Eden’s Garden” will reveal the seldom explored reality for trans men of color. Created by 26-year-old Seven King, the 13-episode scripted series will feature a main cast of female-to-male transgender men.
And they all happen to be masculine.
While the M-word appears no where in the show’s synopsis, websites and promotional videos, this is still the first thing that came to my mind when viewing the imagery for the series. There’s no doubt that effeminate gay men and women will appear throughout the series, but the main cast is distinctively masculine-leaning.
Some of you have already stopped reading…and I understand that.
Cypher Avenue has a long history of “harping” on the whole “masculine thing.” However, never acknowledging masculinity in the gay community would be like never acknowledging that the (handsome) men in the Eden’s Garden’s cast were born female.
To be clear, this series looks very interesting and we sure hope that the produced content will be just as intriguing as the unique starting premise. Trans men in general are an underrepresented group whose stories are rarely told, let alone visualized in film form.
Another thing to stress is that these men do not represent the full spectrum of gender and sexuality in the LGBT community.
But again, I’ll point out that it appears that Seven King managed to populate his main cast with trans actors more masculine than anyone in the entire cast of FREEFALL, the melodramatic gay web series featuring cisgendered gay men of color .
Before I get too much more ahead of myself, here’s one of the promos for the upcoming series:
Again, looking forward to seeing this show.
In another video, members of the cast discuss their own personal journey transitioning from Female-To-Male, as well as what their on-screen trans characters will be seen going through.
Again, the men are very masculine. Not just wearing “Masculine Drag.”
To be honest, creator Seven King and the crew working on Eden’s Garden might balk at my narrowing in on this minor aspect of the series. However, I’d argue that its not a minor aspect at all. This is major. For us at least.
For four years now, we here at Cypher Avenue have tried to provide a masculine black gay male perspective on various topics relating not only to LGBT issues, but non-sexuality issues and interests as well. One of our main gripes has been that we seemed alone in this endeavor.
For a group of people so diverse and varied that we need 4 letters in our LGBT initialism to somewhat describe everyone, you would think that Masculinity could be included as well. To ignore the masculine and feminine differences in gay men is nearly equivalent to ignoring the Male and Female gender differences in heterosexuals.
In most black gay created and operated blogs, films, web series, music, podcasts and vlogs, depictions of masculinity have been few and far between. If anything, we see feminine men doing their best to “butch it up” to portray masculine gay characters. Even saying the word “Masculine” causes most black gay feminists’ forehead veins to throb.
Masculinity in gay men is only for objectifying, not for claiming or talking about…that is, of course, unless your goal is to discuss the evils of masculinity and that more femininity should be added to it.
So this brings me back to Eden’s Garden.
Eden’s Garden appears to be the first independently produced black LGBT creative work since The D.L. Chronicles: Episode Thomas to cast masculine men as the lead characters.
Even if there are other examples out there, I doubt you’ll find more than one or two other series/films with this many non-flamboyant caricatures of black gay men populating the lead roles. This isn’t meant to imply that feminine-leaning series should go away, instead we’re preaching that more accurate representations of masculinity in the black gay community should exist.
Who knew that we’d need Trans Men to volunteer as tribute.
But did this come without a price?
The YouTube Channel for Eden’s Garden is less than a year old with only 6 videos and already has over 60,000 views. One promo video alone has over 30,000 views.
The series and its creator have even been featured on The Advocate, one of the nation’s most trafficked LGBT websites.
Given all this success, the series’ fundraiser seeking a goal of only $8,000 to help finance 13 full episodes has only raised a little more than $500…in over 6 months!
This is worth repeating.
A new black LGBT web series with tons of exposure has only raised 7% of their small goal in 6 months of fundraising.
To put this in perspective, a Caucasian feminine-leaning Canadian web series called The Switch starring an all transgender main cast raised over $47,000 U.S. dollars in less than 2 months back in July of this year.
Now, I’ve already written at great length on the lack of financial support in the black gay community. We just don’t support our own when it comes to pulling out our wallets.
However in the case of Eden’s Garden, could the overt masculine slant of the trans men casting be a reason for the lack of support? If these were men who had transitioned into feminine women, would they have easily raised $8,000?
Were most of their YouTube hits actually “Hate-Views,” much like Fly Young Red experienced with his Throw That Boy Pussy music video on Worldstar Hip Hop and Bossip? Bigoted heterosexual men and women sharing the video to bash not only the men in the promos but also Trans Men in general as well?
Or could their 60,000+ YouTube views be faked? Were these purchased views to make the series appear as if it had gained an early buzz when in actuality it didn’t?
No matter which explanation is true, all of them lead to some form of disappointment.
Regardless, we’re glad to see that this web series exists and hope that their lack of financial support thus far won’t deter them from producing at least one episode of the series.
Masculine men exist in the LGBT community.
Trans Masculine men exist in the LGBT community.
Let’s hope that both groups continue getting the much needed exposure they deserve.