STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM, STILL HERE? – The Lack of Financial Support in the Black/Latino Gay Community 2
This experienced interviewer (who’s hobnobbed with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Iyanla Vanzant and just about everyone else of note in the Black gay community), can be seen doing interviews with other gay men while they both sit shirtless in a king sized bed for his “Pillow Talk” series. This is a gimmick that even Derrick L. Briggs used to some extent in his ADTV series. Is this what it takes to hold the gay audience?
In my admittedly short research, it was hard to find any of the many 3LWTV YouTube videos that didn’t feature at least one photo or clip of an oiled up model or guest. This is no slight on Lonnell Williams, he’s a smart entrepreneur creatively giving the short-attention-span gay audience something to look at while he asks substantive questions and reports entertainment news on the community. With over 2 million YouTube views and thousands of fans, he’s obviously doing something right. But why does our “Gay Male Oprah Winfrey” have to take off his clothes just to keep our people engaged on video interviews with already interesting topics being discussed?I say all that to say, a possible reason for the lack of financial support in the community for some may be that not every gay endeavor goes the direction of the flesh. By going the more “clean” route, they risk being not as interesting to the Black/Latino gay consumers out there.
So that brings us back to the very popular adult social-networking sex site BGCLive, the website that conveniently lets you list your penis length, girth and foreskin status right there on your profile. After their unsuccessful attempt to get rid of all porn advertising, in February of this year a site administrator made this statement:
[A previously mentioned] point about increasing revenues by simply increasing [membership fees] is flawed. A new user does not mean more revenue. In fact, it can get to the point where one new user actually increases [our] costs more than it increases revenue.
We understand that not everyone can pay to use certain features of the site and we would prefer not to have to charge new users to view messages but running a site this big is difficult to keep profitable on porn ads, club ads and health ads.
Nearly six in ten (58%) gay and lesbian consumers are more likely to purchase everyday household products and services from companies that market directly to gays and lesbians. Around one in five (19%) say they are “much more likely” to do so.
If this data is correct, does it only apply to Caucasians? Black consumers have notoriously been stereotyped to NOT be very loyal when it comes to their money. They will drive 20 miles further to save .10¢ on a gallon of gas rather than support the station in their own neighborhood. It seems to be a buyers market when it comes down to it. The Black/Latino gay consumer determines the price and the price they will always choose is “Free.”
So that now brings me to:
In simpler terms, I can’t imagine a club promoter with a party targeted specifically for Latin Americans that didn’t play any music actually made by Latin Americans. Or does the responsibility fall back to the fans? If a DJ did play the music from independent openly gay artists to generate a buzz, would the gay crowd complain that the Top 40 radio hits weren’t being blasted instead?
As the math in Part One of this article showed us, these gay entertainers and content creators apparently already have thousands of fans, it should be easy to get at least half of them to pay $5.00 one-time for quality content. But there’s the rub. That one word I just mentioned: Quality.
Another possible explanation is that these “apparent fans” are only fans because the work is free and they just want to stay updated on the actions of the artist. They never had any intention on purchasing anything in the first place. Once the artist begins asking for money, they just move on to another artist who’s not.
Why should they pay to see one gay web series, when there are 10 other gay web series available for free? Not to mention bootlegs, torrents and file sharing sites that let many people circumvent financially supporting the “starving gay artist.” As previously stated, the consumer determines the price and it appears that they will always choose “free.”
[Side Note: That’s the beauty of the current business model for Cell Phone companies and Internet Service Providers in this day and age. Not many people can get out of paying for these services. If a person wants to get all the free content in the world that they can get, legally or illegally, they likely still have to pay their cell phone bill or Internet bill.]
Seriously, as a content creator, composing this article was kind of depressing in many ways. Whether some gay people like it or not, Cypher Avenue (and the upcoming new incarnation) fulfills a niche that no one else does. From a business standpoint, that’s financial gold. However when one looks at the data, in regards to the Black/Latino audience, it’s hard to get real substantial revenue.
We may all be a part of that $743 Billion in Gay Buying Power mentioned in Part One, but it appears that we’re not spending that money back into the Black/Latino gay community.
The Black/Latino Gay community doesn’t have any website as large or revenue generating as Out.com or The Advocate (that doesn’t feature splashy ads for porn). Nor do we have any current network television shows or well-funded web series with crisp camera work, clean, sharp audio and precise editing. The quality gay musicians that actually cater to the community don’t seem to get the same type of support as the popular gay artists who ignore them. It’s all very disheartening.
One possible solution: Improve the quality of the work. As many excuses I hear from Black gay content creators about why things can’t be done at a certain level of quality, I see just as many examples from heterosexuals or Caucasians with FEWER resources who manage to make it happen.
Take pride in your work. If something is bad, admit to yourself that it is and work your hardest to improve. If you’re going to put something out there with your name on it, even if it’s a pseudonym, make sure it represents you well. If it doesn’t, go back to the drawing board.
As successful as the First Season of Freefall was, filmmaker Lamont Pierre was not happy with the content so he retooled the entire show for the new “Season One” (He disliked the first batch of episodes so much that he refuses to call them an official season. Hashtag = #StepChild). But as a result, many fans are very eager to see the new episodes and the quality of the show appears to have greatly improved.
Content creators, bloggers and event planners should focus more on the quality of the work and less on just being famous. A crossover effect happens when the work is quality, you become viable to a larger non-Black/Latino audience. Also, each new project really represents us all because there’s so little of it out there. A very poorly made web series was featured TWICE on The Huffington Post, a website with very high traffic. Some people may see that and think its the best we’re capable of as a group. We’re only as strong as our weakest link.
Understand that you vote with your dollars. If Caucasian Heterosexuals see that there is a viable financial market for Black/Latino gay themed work, we will see more of it sponsored and financed outside of the confines of our own community. But if we could get it to start here, imagine the force of nature we could be. We all have much more power than we realize.
– Nick D
THE EVOLUTION PROJECT OF ATLANTA
NO SHADE WEB SERIES FUNDRAISER
Thanks man, we do appreciate everyone, including the folks that at least spread the word because that’s a big thing that will help us as well, exposure.
But you’re right, I was just like you at one point. Just 4 years ago I was in another galaxy, just learning about the black gay media personalities…not 4 years later I have my own solar system in that galaxy. Its surreal, lol
thanks for sticking it out and reading, I know it was a long one. I had a lot share and say.
This was such and enlightening and very informative post.I as a black gay man has been disheartened by the lack of films,print media,shows or anything that relates to or tell my story as a black gay man.I often go into the Gay Bookstore here in Philadelphia and I am so disappointed when all the covers of the magazines feature nothing but white men.I love what you do with this site,I love “The Lucky Star”. ” Rod McCollum” and other black gay male sites that appeal to and speaks to me as a black gay men.I also love Patrik Ian Polk for what he has done to put the black gay face in film and I am so loving many of these Web series ( Freefall being one of the best) being put out there.Although I am not a wealthy black gay man but one with limited resources,I do however think that it’s so important that we support these projects by not just watching them and hitting like but by also supporting them financially so that they can stay afloat.Even it’s only 5.00 dollars as you mentioned,just imagine how much it would be when it’s multiplied by 1000 or more.Thanks again so much for this article because this is a very important topic that it’s about time that someone came out and focused on.
Thanks for reading man. Yeah the more variety we have the better. We’re not all the same and not all of us are into the same things.
I may not 100% love some of the film, web series and media out there, but I am grateful that people are creating the work. I just hope they can raise some revenue to not only be compensated for their time, but to also improve on the work.
First off this was an amazing, and I mean amazing post. I too used to wonder why there wasn’t enough backing for a lot of our brothers out there who have the vision. There was one site that I supported financially and then, as if out of nowhere there were mysterious charges on the same card I used to support them with.so I’m totally cool on giving out any financial information to support them unless its ADTV or 3LW because I’m familiar enough with Briggs to trust him and Lonell is big brother. So yes, I’m scorned when it comes to supporting some sites financially but if its someone I believe in I promote their works like I do DC, ADTV and 3LWtv
Wow sorry to hear that man…but why am I not surprised. That was one angle that I chose to leave out (mainly because the article was already overly long). The whole aspect of crooks out there. A lot of black folks are just plain con men, lol.
Brutha this was an awesome article. For someone who claims not to be a journalist you was very thorough. It is sad to see that we don’t support financially black gay people of color when it comes to movie amd music projects. I can recall watching “Veronica Mars” on Kick starter. I was amazed how fast they was able to raise $5 million dollars ( You the movies is going to make double or triple that when it hits theatres). I don’t know what will it take for us to put our money where our mouth is. I hear allot of people complain over and over about how they don’t see “US” on screen. When you have an opportunity to assist these creators (screen writers, directors, etc.) to bring it to life, all of a sudden we get amnesia. I don’t understand and it hurts to my core that we will spend almost $400 to $500 for an Iphone 5 but will not even donate $1.00 to a cause that will benefit us for a lifetime.
I remember a couple of years ago being on the marketing team for Embrace ( an up and coming Black Gay Cable network). I remember they would send out an e-mail looking for investors from the black gay community. I did understand why they didn’t reach out to the straight community that have love for us. There are black/white/latino and asain people in Hollywood that wouldn’t mind investing in a good idea as long it will make money. I am starting to think like you Nick. I like maybe You tube need to start charging for their web series. There is a web series called” In Between Men” on you tube. They do charge a subscription fee from their website. I think its like .99 cents per episode. The creator stated on the web series web page that it costs money to make this series. It appears to be working for them.
I just hope that we will get political and start taking charge instead of sitting on the side lines complaining. I want the best for us( Black gay Community). I would hope that everyone would want the same
1st, Nick, let me just say that this was a great article. It is quite evident, through reading this, that you have done your research, and this was truly an expose’. I will give thought to supporting specific endeavors afloat now, but the problem I am having, as others may also be having is: I don’t like the content of most things being produced. It’s one thing to produce a product and MARKET it (raise awareness) and a whole other to make a QUALITY PRODUCT with great eyebrow raising creative artistry.
This was one of the best features of your expose’: “I think if you’re trying to make a movie I would say: Do your homework; make sure that you study something, somewhere. As well-intentioned and well-intended as a lot of our independent projects are, I don’t think it serves us too well if the quality is not at a certain level. Whatever you do, just do it well. Whatever you’re going to do with art, do it well. And do your homework. Make it as polished, complete and good as you can.” —- Patrick-Ian Polk
Truer words have not been spoken. This should be the motto for all “projects” inside the GAY comm”unity.” As they say, G.I.G.O. – Garbage In, Garbage Out. This cannot be overstressed.
Aside from all the wonderful things I read in the piece I have to say this — It was something that was much needed and needed to be said, but IT WAS TOO LONG. How many will read this cry/plea for donations and fund-raising in its entirety? Even I had a hard time getting to the end of it. But I AM A READER, thus I can stomach all the insignificant parts to get the the MEAT of what you are trying to say.
Lastly, for the time being, I imbue you to make a direct appeal to the readers and participants. Finally, I think YOU and OCTAVIUS do a great JOB and the WORK you two put in is commendable to say the least. I only want to be a HELP and NOT A HINDRANCE. Where I can be of assistance, PLEASE LET ME KNOW.
Ocky and I discussed the issue of length before posting. We felt that the people who are meant to get the message will read it all. But the way its presented, even people who just skim will still get some of the point.
What an educational read Nick D! I thoroughly enjoyed this article. I have NEVER known all of the information presented in both parts of this article. I do agree that more gay black filmmakers, artists, etc should take the time and do more research to make quality material.
I do agree with you Nick that many young people want to be famous and they don’t focus on their craft. I like what Patrik Ian-Polk said and I remember something that Will Smith said about his acting career. He spoke about his work ethic and dedication to acting in an interview and said something along the lines of, “I spend hours and hours and hours beating on my craft. When other actors are sleeping, I’m working… when other actors are eating, I’m working….” (see: Will’s Wisdom video on YouTube) I believe that it will take that kind of determination, dedication and discipline from aspiring gay black/Latino artists, filmmakers, etc to learn how to make quality work.
Also, my generation (Generation Y I believe) is full of some young people who do not value hard work and seeing development of things over time. Since my generation is fortunate enough to have things such as the internet, it has been a blessing and a curse. I think that there are so many videos, images and so on that are constantly coming at us. Some people from my generation are very much into having “microwavable success.” They want success, MONEY, FAME & notoriety all over night… People don’t think it is okay to be successful by their mid-30s and over 40 years of age. Younger people want everything NOW. They want to be famous and have their names in shining lights with minimal effort and sub-par application of their talents. That is NOT how things work! I am fortunate to have learned from people close to me and those I admire on TV/media, music industry, etc that true success comes after at least 10 years after establishing one’s self in whatever they aspire to do. You have to remain dedicated and do it WELL. I think that if more of my gay black brothers and sisters took some more time then they will be able to secure the funds they desire and most importantly establish longevity in their career.
Aside from my comments, I can proudly say that even though I still live at home with my parents (yes I know but I’m working on getting into school for a master’s or doctoral degree so bare with me) I have donated to the following: Discreet City, Lamont Pierre and THE D.L. Chronicles.
I can’t wait til I get rich and start sponsoring projects by independent filmmakers, artists, bloggers, etc. If I see that they are taking my time and seeking to do amazing things directed to our community then my money will reach their pockets!
SideNote: I want to hear some music from some gay black R&B artists though. As for gay hip-hop, I can’t wait to hear more of LastO. He is very good at what he does. So is Bry’Nt.
Your verbal, financial and word-of-mouth support has been greatly appreciated and is more than a lot of people twice your age have done. Glad we have still been holding up on our end as well!
SideNote: There are a couple R&B artists out there but they aren’t really that good to be honest. lol
While reading this article, one of the many things that stuck with me were the numbers released by Market Research .com.
If White gay Men are indeed more likely to part with their cash, then we must ask ourselves, why are Black/Latino Gay Men contradicting the data shown in this study?
As for BGCLive (Black Gay Chat)
What they are doing is simply genius! They’ve realized that they’re the only game in town and members will pay a door fees to gain entry. Their explanation for now having to charge members based on advertising may or may not have merit, but you can be assured they will reap rewards from the horny hoes who must have a method to meet Men of color.
Isn’t it a damn shame that websites like
Bossip, MediaTakeout and World Star hiphop enjoy a great majority of traffic from people of color? (and their owners are rich because of it)
hmmm something to think about.
To answer these questions, I think another study will be needed to determine how to tap into the Gay Black/Latino spending power. While socioeconomic conditions may play a small role (and I do emphasize small), I think this demographic has demonstrated that they will spend their cash on products and services they actually WANT, and will go as far as busting their budgets to have or participate in events they feel are a must.
Your average 25-40yr old Blk/Latin Man will:
1.) Pay an average of $120/mo for their iphone and android plans.
2.) Spend $100- $300/mo on (must have) clothing.
3.) Get on a plane or rent-a-car to attend a Gay Pride event.
4.) Spend money for Hotels and Entertainment upon arrival.
5.) Buy expensive drinks at night clubs.
Obviously, all of us don’t fit into this demographic in terms of how and where we spend out money, but the point is simple.
Gay Men of Color have disposable cash to part with, and it will require a “Think Tank” to figure out how to shift their spending towards the “content” they utilize online.
We can sit here and raise awareness until we’re blue in the face, but the challenge is how do content providers such as DiscreetCity and Creators of Web Series, Film and Music come up with a method to channel those dollars in their direction.
There’s money to be paid fellas! If you don’t figure out how to reach this demographic, another white owned company will…..trust in that!
Really I don’t see a change coming anytime soon. You’re right, many people of color spend money on things they WANT not things they NEED. So I think that black/latino people actually do make up a large percentage of that Market Research data. We spend a lot of money frivolously.
So the eventual solution for Discreet City with be to unfortunately maximize off of that. But I’d rather see ads for clothing, sneakers and liquor on the site than ads for Porn. No offense to the makers of porn, they serve a purpose, but that’s not the brand we’re building here.
*listens to LastO’s “Not For Non-Profit” while readin Parts 1 & 2 to this*
*makes donation to Discreet City*
They were an eyeful for me (personally), but all this opened em up a lil bit wider. We all need some unity w/ this & its entirety.
DITTO FOR ME TOO
Black Pegasus, are you in on this too?
Time to PUT UP OR SHUT UP….
That’s what time it really is.
True, it was long and detailed but I figured the people actually interested would stick it out. It wasn’t written to coerce people to donate to Discreet City. It was really just meant to be a conversation starter so we can all think about the big picture more. We may not like everything, but we should all actually support the stuff that we DO like so that we can see more of it. I’m working on this as well.
As always thanks for the support homie!
Thank you for this article.
Very good arguments, very good insight.
There’s so much talent in this community and so little support.
Here’s hoping that changes.
I’ll admit to being like that in some regards. I tend to find the most interesting thing about anything and if it sticks with me, I’ll keep to it. If not, I’ll move on. It’s a fan thing. If a fan of any project is a fan, they’ll stay with it and do their part to get more like them. And as these artist, in any media form, all this is just fuel to ensure they make a hit. So it may seem gloomy now, but I believe these skilled men will make it. Like apparently, DC did to get to here at all.
EXCELLENT WORK NICK!!!!!!! You hit on so many valid points, honestly if it wasn’t for DC i wouldn’t have known about 95% of the web series that are out there, and I thank you for that, the flip side to that is that there not very good, I give them an A for effort but I’m past the point of supporting projects or people just because they may represent a particular aspect on myself. I think back to when Patrik Ian Polk was touring Noah’s ARC around the different black prides around the country, that same year Maurice Townsend was also touring his god awful series “The Closet”. when both series came to ATL the buzz for buzz for Noah’s ARC over shadowed The Closet by miles, Noah’s ARC was held in the hotels grans ballroom and had to add an extra viewing were The Closet was held in a smaller conference room and couldn’t get people to stay for the Q&A afterwards. Although he had a low budget you could tell Patrik put time & effort into developing and producing his project where as Maurice just grabbed a camcorder and some friends together and said lets make a movie, FYI using Atlanta to represent Baltimore was a bad idea, a very very very bad idea. Like Patrik stated, ” As well-intentioned and well-intended as a lot of our independent projects are, I don’t think it serves us too well if the quality is not at a certain level.” As a community I think we need to become a lot more discerning about the project we’re going to support especially when money is tight, when you a number of web series basically about the the same thing with different cast telling the same ole stories using the same formula seen time & time again, it’s going to be harder to get people to dig in their pockets to donate. Then you have the issue of some projects making some folks feel as though their not represented in it so why should I support it, I’ve seen too many web series that speak to one specific aspect of the black gay community that I’ve said since I don’t relate to the story line why bother watching. I think that’s one of the issues with the DL Chronicles, I love the series but I can see where some may not like it because it’s not formulaic and makes you think about and see different aspects of gay black men and not a single monolithic personality type, plus where the DL Chronicles gives you diversity in the ages of the men in theirs a lot of the web series don’t. Who knows what the solution is but Nick what you wrote is a great start in the direction of being aware of what’s out there and what we need to do if want to see our stories being told……
It took me a couple of days to read both article 1 and 2 but I did it. (I honestly feel as though I have ADD when it comes to reading because I will start reading one thing and skip over to something else, when I get slightly lost.)
Needless to say both of these articles have given me a lot of information, that I am not truly surprised by but just amazed that we can’t do better in 2013. I believe it was in the first part of this article that you suggested that channels like ADTV charge $0.25 to either subscribe or view their videos. I think that is the smartest thing. If a majority of Black gay run online media outlets did something similar, I couldn’t imagine them struggling anytime to make profit. This would also decrease the excuse of “I don’t have the resources” to complete a quality project.
I will be donating more often to these different avenues after my school financial situation has leveled out post-graduation.
In my experience, BGCLive was always a poorly run site. I don’t know if the site team changed at some point or what, but it got absolutely awful. They allowed an anything goes free for all for so long that it seems bit unrealistic to start trying to refine some of the behavior.
The forums were atrocious. They have it so a sky high post count grants you certain “forum privileges”, which IMO is somewhat analogous to throwing up liquor stores on every corner in inner city areas. The moderators did come up with forum rules that were fairly sensible, but then they only wound up enforcing them on sometimes basis, which of course many members complained about. I even saw the admin leave some very immature and unprofessional forum posts when replying to some of the members more than once. They also started to take away basic features that remain free on much smaller sites.
However, the main reason I deleted my account was because I got SEVERAL virus alerts from my Norton protection. I contacted admin a couple times with report info and both times got no response. Not even a simple “We’re looking into this.” Not risking my hard drive to support gay black business!
Seems odd that they’re completely willing to bombard users with BAREBACK porn and SEX CLUB ads–something you see simply after sending a message to another user–yet allowing profiles for escorting services that apparently help to keep a4a running are just totally out of the question? Sounds off.
There was a site back in the day called Xclusivity that is truly missed by myself and some other folks I know. No nude public photos were allowed, admin fixed issues and addressed concerns in a professional manner, forum discussions were way more civilized, and it was a generally older (25-35) user base. I donated, but even with donations the site unfortunately went down. I wouldn’t hesitate to donate to a positive, SECURE, gay black site but BGC definitely ain’t it! It’s a zoo.
^^Also, why not replace “DownLo” with something more positive like “Same-Gender Loving”? To me, that site just promoted all the wrong things. Yet allowing escort ads is where they draw the line. Yeah. Okay.
I really enjoyed the 2 posts.when it comes to music it is a new wild wild west out there, no music stores like tower,and sam goodie, music people are making money from live performance , and other things like merchandising, and derivative products, ( a vodka, clothing, a video game ect.ect.) the old model was business owners would support a tv show via ads for their product. The missing link is the business owners that are not entertainment but provide service and products that generate revenue that would benefit from the community’s patronage. Like a clothing maker, or a limo-service or even maybe a black gay amazon dot com.site or even an app that would direct people to black gay or latino gay business so that the goods people want and will by anyway they can get and it would benefit the community and in turn the help create a good return so that when some one decides to make a movie it can be financed via a model that is financially viable and not just a shot in the dark. peace
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This was an incredible effort on DC’s part. You’ve touched on several things that I myself am frustrated with and guilty of. I’m probably considered weird because I sought out shows like Doo Dirty, sites like DC, all because I was hungry for content that didn’t revolve around Beyonce, clubbing, twirling, and the Real Housewives of Atlanta.
The problem is I’ve never supported the sites that has fed me with the very things I crave. Insightful, thought provoking content that challenges the BS in our community.
That will change because I feel there is an awakening in the community. At least on my part. That awakening is realizing that DC and individuals with similar mindsets do have a voice. A voice that deserves the support the same way I’ve financially supported other trivial gay outlets in the past. Kudos for creating a platform to discuss what most people will not, and forcing us to think beyond what our eyes can see.