Oct 30 2013




The Backlot on AfterElton.com has created an impressive list of the forty most influential gay men in television An enormous amount of work has gone into the creation of this list including interviews with many of the powerful players. The list is in alphabetical order and not by order of importance.

Brian Juergens wrote:

Here at TheBacklot.com we spend a lot of time celebrating gay and bi men in the spotlight: actors, singers, dancers, sportsmen, and personalities are splashed across our pages like so much red paint at an all-fur fashion show. While we will never tire of the Neil Patrick Harrises and Chris Colfers of the world, we thought it was high time we paid due credit to some of the more unsung gay heroes: the guys behind the cameras of some of television’s best shows. In that light, we are proud to unveil TheBacklot 40, our celebration of 40 of the hardest-working and most influential out men working behind the scenes in TV.

These are the men who create and run some of our favorite shows, have written some of our most beloved gay characters, and have shepherded gay-inclusive stories to screen long before it was fashionable. Some will be familiar, but chances are there are a few surprises in the bunch for just about anyone. Some may not tell explicitly gay stories, but they have long been openly, proudly gay in a straight male-dominated industry where any difference can be used against you. Some are newcomers to the game, while others have been telling stories and developing great shows for decades. And while the group does lack some much-needed diversity, we hope that the upcoming generation of storytellers and deal-makers will change that.

The list is roughly alphabetical, with brief resume highlights and a quick bio of every entry. And we even tracked down a dozen or so of the men to get their thoughts on being gay in Hollywood, what makes them love their job, and how it is working with folks still not ready to come out on the set. We think the fellas’ insights are illuminating and, as most of these guys are writers, very entertaining.

I want to give my huge thanks to my colleagues Jim Halterman and Ed Kennedy for their invaluable contributions to this feature.

Here are some of the powerful men from the list and you must go to the site to see the remainder of the list and also more details on the gay men that I am featuring here.

Paris Barclay


What He Does: Executive Producer/Director How You Know Him: Sons of Anarchy, Glee, In Treatment, Cold Case, NYPD Blue, ER

I bet many viewers would be shocked to learn that one of the primary creative forces behind the violent, hypermasculine, and pretty darned Caucasian Sons of Anarchy is a gay man of color. But Hollywood vet Paris Barclay has never played by any rules other than his own, as is reflected in his impressively diverse resume. In addition to his many directing credits, as of June of this year he became the President of the Directors Guild of America, both the first African American and first openly gay man to ever hold the post. We had a chance to speak with the recent Emmy nominee to get this thoughts on being an out and proud man in the industry.

Greg Berlanti


What He Does: Showrunner/Executive Producer/Writer/Director How You Know Him: Arrow, The Tomorrow People, Brothers & Sisters, Golden Boy, Political Animals, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, Everwood

When you sit down to draw up a list of exciting players in the television industry – gay or straight – Greg Berlanti is one of the first names to come to mind. He’s worked in an array of genres and has been keeping himself busy for decades with projects ranging from the touching family drama Everwood to the action-packed beefcake bonanza Arrow. We were lucky enough to get a few minutes with the multitalented and very busy showrunner to talk about his career.

David Marshall Grant


What He Does: Producer/Writer/Actor How You Know Him: Smash, Looking, Brothers & Sisters, thirtysomething, And the Band Played On

David Marshall Grant began his career as an actor, both on stage (notably playing Richard Gere’s lover in Bent and the original Joe in Angels in America on Broadway) and in films and television. It was his role as a gay man on thirtysomething – which broke down barriers by actually showing two men in bed together – that led to Grant’s moving behind the scenes as a writer and eventually a showrunner on Brothers & Sisters alongside former thirtysomething colleague Ken Olin. His latest project (as a producer) is the much-anticipated HBO gay ensemble drama Looking

Abraham Higginbotham


What He Does: Producer/Writer/Actor How You Know Him: Modern Family, Arrested Development

Aside from having one of the greatest names in television history, Abraham Higginbotham also might be the funniest guy on this list. Fans of Arrested Development (where he served as both a writer and executive story editor) might recognize Higginbotham as Gary the gay intern. Higginbotham has also been a producer for Will & Grace, Back to You and Do Not Disturb, and is currently charting new ground in terms of visibility on television as a co-executive producer and writer for Modern Family.

Michael Patrick King


What He Does: Showrunner/Producer/Writer/Director How You Know Him: 2 Broke Girls, The Comeback, Sex and the City, Will & Grace

Multihyphenate Michael Patrick King has been behind some of the gayest shows out there (Sex and the City, Will & Grace, The Comeback), and now he lends his sensibilities to the hit sitcom 2 Broke Girls. He recently told The Hollywood Reporter that while his big break was working on Murphy Brown, it was The Mary Tyler Moore Show that inspired him to be a TV writer.

Alan Poul


What He Does: Producer/Director How You Know Him: The Newsroom, Swingtown, Six Feet Under, Tales of the City, My So-Called Life

Hollywood veteran Alan Poul has been telling gay stories since the very beginning, when he served as a producer of the groundbreaking miniseries Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. He continued to break down walls as a producer for My So-Called Life and as an executive producer and director for Six Feet Under. He has worked on Swingtown, GCB, and Big Love, and currently works as executive producer and occasionally as director for HBO’s The Newsroom. He also notably served as producer for the Playboy Channel’s bizarre softcore genre anthology series Inside Out.

Bryan Singer


What He Does: Producer/Director How You Know Him: The Black Box, House M.D., Dirty Sexy Money

We all know Bryan Singer for his film work (The Usual Suspects, X-Men, Apt Pupil), but he’s been steadily working behind-the-scenes on the small screen as well as producer for hits like House M.D. and Dirty Sexy Money. His next TV project, The Black Box, looks to tackle messy topics like neuroscience and mental illness. Paging Dr. House!