Wright State University motion picture production (BFA) graduate Leah Byrd has launched a Kickstarter.com page for the 2nd season of her award-winning LGBTQIA Comedic Web Series “Hot & Bothered,” a show that addresses what it is like to be “black and queer in Midwestern America.” The project has been recognized by Kickstarter.com as one of their “Projects We Love!” and Byrd is hoping local film supporters will love it, too, as she strives to raise $15,000.
The first season of Hot & Bothered was a finalist for the Sundance New Voices Lab, has screened across the country as well as internationally, won Favorite Youth Film at the Philadelphia BlackStar Film Festival in August 2018 and has also been awarded a grant from Cee Smith Media Group, which helps fund LGBT creative enterprises.
Byrd said most LGTBQ characters depicted on TV and in the movies are white, gay males and typically from the East or West coast. Growing up, “I never saw anything that was remotely close to my own experience,” said the Trotwood-raised, Chaminade-Julienne High School graduate.
Years ago, Byrd stumbled onto the website everyoneisgay.com during a time when she was trying to understand the world around her and her place in it. She wanted to affirm for others that there is nothing wrong with being gay and desired to become part of the support community, providing free content available to anyone, particularly queer youth who might not be able to pay or for whom asking parents for access might not be safe.
Byrd said she wanted to provide lighthearted comedy.” She directs and co-stars in the show, as Liz, with Ian Ashwell, a Wright State acting major, playing her best friend Stan, a “white straight dude.” The series follows the life of Liz and her awkward white straight boy best friend as they navigate living, dating, queerness, and race in their hometown of Dayton, and their misadventures as they try to launch “SCZR,” the lesbian version of the app GRINDR.
Byrd said that the app is in part a reaction to the fact that while there are gay bars in Dayton, there are relatively few offerings for lesbians. The 21-year-old said only one of the bars has a “lesbian night.” She added that she wishes there were alternatives to bars where LGBTQ people could meet. Perhaps that can be the focus of the third season!