Look what we saw walking down the street in New York City!
I cannot believe it was ten years ago that we launched SOUTH OF NOWHERE. So much has changed and so much is still the same. People of all types and genders still suffer from the same shame, racism, religious attack, loneliness, and political isolation that was happening ten years ago due to ignorance and fear: The idea of being different is still synonymous with being bad, wrong, threatening. Choose your own word. SOUTH OF NOWHERE took a small story, one teenager coming out, and showed its ripple effect on her friends, family, school, church, and community. Some of it surprising, some of it predictable, all of it a piece of fabric that is the life of SPASHLEY.
I was fortunate to have been able to create SOUTH OF NOWHERE based on a simple statement I heard from my best friend, a conservative, straight male father of five. “My son (15yrs old) told me he was gay. I asked him how he knew. He said, “ Dad, how do you know you are straight?” That simple statement started me on the SOUTH OF NOWHERE journey.
A journey of what I saw as an interesting high school story with a unique point of view. It brought me letters (back then people still wrote letters) professing with the greatest of confidence that I was going to hell for making such a show. This letter in particular came from a religious right group. A copy of a passage from the Bible, Leviticus, and a phone call saying that I was going to hell and God would be angry with me— this came from a Hollywood producer. A threat of advertising being pulled from all networks of the parent company that was going to run the series— this from an advertising executive. And a high-ranking television executive who wondered why I had to make this show and what a problem I was causing him and his company.
I would like to claim that I was a righteous man doing righteous work, but that would be false. I was a simple man (one of faith) that believed the story should be told and I could see it as clearly as the other series I have been lucky enough to create. I just kept moving forward, even paying for half of the pilot episode myself and shooting some final scenes in my own bedroom and the parking lot of my church. All religious people are not intolerant.
It is ten years later and we still have hate crimes, bullying, suicides, etc. as part of the gender experience. How far have we gone? I’m not sure on a statistical level. But on a human level, the boy that inspired the story has graduated university and is making his living as a writer and is openly and happily gay. The letters I have received from parents of kids coming out, expressing their gratitude for the show and how it gave them a way to talk to their gay children, far out number the letters of outrage of the people against the show ten years ago. I am still working in television, creating new shows about FAIRIES (the kind with wings), K-POP bands, Sleeping Beauties and scary tales for teens. So some things have changed, and that is good. And, I have just finished a feature film script on a cross dressing kid in high school which I hope to direct next year. So some things have not changed and that also is good.
With much love and absolute respect to all SOUTH OF NOWHERE FANS,