One of our new goals for this website in 2012 is to report on any and all representations of gay/bisexual men of color in the media. Last year we laid the groundwork by highlighting examples in Television, Film, Books and Music. In the coming weeks we’ll be making a few changes to the site, including creating a specific section that consolidates all of these media updates to make them easier for you to find.

A few weeks ago the Canadian television network CTV launched a new 6-episode series called, “The L.A. Complex.” Here’s the official synopsis:The L.A. Complex follows the lives of twenty-somethings living in the same apartment complex in L.A. trying to make it as actors, dancers, producers and comedians. Relationships begin and end, the need to succeed is tested and all characters are pushed to their breaking points. To our surprise, the “twenty-something” characters in question include two attractive African American gay/bisexual men.

Handsome Jamaica-born newcomer Benjamin Charles Watson plays the role of Tariq Muhammad, an aspiring music producer currently interning at a recording studio. He’s a straight-laced guy who loves anything to do with music and wants nothing more than to prove himself to others creatively. Out of nowhere, he’s personally requested to help resuscitate the career of gangster rapper Kaldrick King, played by the sexy newcomer Andra Fuller, an actor/athlete/model/comedian from Houston, TX.
Something seems off from the start because instead of heading to the studio to discuss music, Kaldrick demands that Tariq give him a tour of the places most important to him. For the rest of their “date”, the two men get to know each other, even opening up emotionally to one another. The night ends at Kaldrick’s upscale home where seduction is culminated into a passionate kiss.Admittedly, I could really relate to this having twice been in the situation of hanging out with an attractive male friend where neither one of us definitely knew the other was gay until someone built up the courage to just dive into a kiss.
Thankfully, the acting abilities by both men is solid and professional. Given that the characters are black and in the homophobic industry of hip-hop music, I doubt that this will grow into a full on long-term down-low relationship. However, both actors are listed as regular cast members so its more likely that the characters will become ‘just friends’ after the initial sexual encounter. This would actually be more realistic since most gay men naively use sex as a way of beginning friendships.
At first I had issues with the “angry thug” aspects of the Kaldrick character but in hindsight it seems to make sense that he’d behave that way if he were a closeted masculine rapper with a gay secret to hide and deflect.There are still four episodes remaining this the season so only time will tell what the writers and producers have in store. The series isn’t perfect, but I’d argue that its better acted and written than more popular shows featuring black characters like “The Game.”Representation Scale: 10/10 – The two black gay characters are masculine and far from the stereotypes we’d expect.

The series currently airs exclusively on CTV in Canada, however the American network The CW has acquired the stateside distribution rights for spring of this year. Depending on what country you live in, you may be able to watch full episodes online here.

In the meantime, check out a clip of the series below:

– Nick D