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How HBO Is Courting Its Queer Audience

Updated: May 14, 2019



The first time Insecure writer Ben Cory Jones recalls seeing people on TV whose lives at least somewhat mirrored his own was on some early seasons of MTV’s then–cutting edge reality series The Real World. “For me, as a black, queer man living in the South, I identified with just the diversity of the people that were on each season,” Jones said. “I remember the New York cast, L.A., and then you went to San Francisco. . . . Those were the first times I saw a gay couple of color on television.”

As an adult, Jones is part of a writing team behind a still-rare queer character of color, Insecure’s Ahmal (Jean Elie), the openly gay brother to Issa Rae’s protagonist on the HBO show. He and colleague Amy Aniobi recently paid a visit to a unique space in summer’s gay mecca of Provincetown, Massachusetts, a seven-week pop-up space called The Studio, which HBO created as part of its outreach to L.G.B.T.Q. audiences. The Studio, which winds down on Friday, saw an average of 1,500 visitors a week this summer, with audiences coming for screenings, conversations, and appearances by talent from HBO shows like Insecure,Westworld, and Big Little Lies.

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