Locating Black Queer TV: Fans, Producers, and Networked Publics on YouTube

Day, Jean; Christian, Aymar Jean
Transformative Works and Cultures

For black creators, television remains an elusive yet illustrious art form. Corporate television networks have restricted access to black writers, limiting black representations. However, through a more open distribution system on the Internet, black writers have expanded the art of television, producing stories in a wider range of genres through a variety of intersectional identities and intersecting art forms. Here we interrogate indie black cultural production to first locate how writers queer traditional television production. We then examine how audiences form counterpublics to read and respond to these works in comments and on blogs. We engage a broad array of popular indie series whose creators span identities and whose narratives span genres, including the black queer and lesbian dramas Between Women (2011–present) and No Shade (2013–2015) as well as the comedic black gay pilots Twenties (2013) and Words with Girls (2012–2014). We explore how and why producers conceived of these series alongside how viewing publics interpreted and consumed them. To varying degrees, these series queer not only the norms of television production and form but also of viewership and audience response.