Not sure if it’s OK for your female friends to refer to you as an accessory? Puzzled about just what heterosexual service members are afraid of when it comes to keeping house with homosexuals? Fear not: Bryan Safi is more than happy to lay it out for you.
Now in his second season of “That’s Gay,” a segment on Current TV’s “infoMania," Brian Safi is squarely in the forefront of GLBT issues as they pertain to the world in general. A former member of the Upright Citizens Brigade improv troupe in Los Angeles and writer for Ellen DeGeneres, Safi takes a humorous and satirical approach to his topics, while also taking no prisoners and making sure that the message of tolerance and quality gets shared as well.
Safi will be performing at as a part of National Coming Out Day activities at Vanderbilt University, and said that he hopes that what he’s doing with the show can continue to not only bring a laugh or two, but also promote broader understanding of GLBT people both out and just in the process of coming out.
“It’s hard for me to hear something terribly serious without it being just a little bit funny,” Safi said. “The message just doesn’t get across. So even when it’s something as serious as coming out, I try to make sure it’s as funny as possible while getting the message out there.”
On the show, even in segments featuring the cast of RuPaul’s Drag University, he is willing to tackle such hot buttons as ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ and marriage equality.
“Those are the two biggest issues facing the gay community right now,” Safi said. “Everyone knows they’re wrong, and when you can make fun of the people who think they are right, the so-called logic warriors, then people will listen to you.”
The success of “That’s Gay” has helped him further his own performing career, and as he travels the country he’s able to interact with people he hears from via e-mail, and also to reach larger audiences. That’s both a pleasure and a responsibility, he noted.
“For a coming-out show, I can talk about the state of the gay union, and use media to show how we’ve been indoctrinated with things like Disney shows to fear the gay villain, who’s super foppish, sickly and evil,” Safi said. “People can laugh at that, but it also shows how deadly serious the stereotypes are.”
The Texas native is well aware of how potent cultural images are in the South, and that’s something he’ll keep in mind while at Vanderbilt.
“I hear from people at a very personal level, when they’ve reacted to something I’ve said on a video,” he said. “These are people who are in high school, or are stuck in small towns and afraid to come out. They don’t know what to do, and I feel for these people. I didn’t come out until I went to college at NYU. Talking to these people is tricky, because I don’t want to steer them in the wrong direction. Usually, if it’s a teenager, I tell them to wait a few years, then get away to where they can live their life honestly.”
Going forward, he hopes that the show can evolve both in terms of its video production and as traveling theater.
“The theme for me has always been how gayness is portrayed by the media, and I want to open it up to more sketch material, more interviews, that kind of thing. I’m open to however I can grow what I’m doing at the moment, and I’m going to continue to travel with it.”
“That’s Gay” can be seen on infoMania, 10 p.m. Thursdays, on Current TV.