“It is of global interest because families go through this daily. It is about understanding prejudice”


Distributor Orange Smarty
Producer Glasshead
Length 1x 60 minutes
Broadcaster C4 (UK)

Shot over seven years, My Gay Life is akin to a real-life version of US coming-of-age film Boyhood, told through the lens of a gay teen growing up in 21st century Britain.

Billy was spotted by a Glasshead producer at Gay Pride in Brighton when he was just 11. He agreed to document his life via video diaries from then on.

In the diaries, Billy charts his early relationships, his experience of school, the lead-up to his parents’ divorce when he was 14 and his strained relationship with his dad. The film provides a rare, unfiltered opportunity to watch someone mature in front of the camera, says Glasshead managing director Lambros Atteshlis, an executive producer on the show.

Atteshlis adds that the doc offers a “universal story” that is as much about parenting as a boy growing up.

“I always thought it was a strong story – not just because Billy is a good character, but also to see the impact of how you bring up your child,” he says.

Orange Smarty managing director Karen Young, who is distributing the finished programme at Mip TV, says: “Ultimately, it is of global interest because families go through this daily. It is not just about acceptance but understanding prejudice.

“That is not just a UK issue but something that will resonate with families wherever they live, certainly in those countries where it is even harder to be gay.”

Young initially plans to approach LGBT or female-skewing channels in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia – territories with relatively liberal attitudes towards gay people.

“It is going to be difficult to sell it to countries where there is a minimal acceptance of LGBT programming,” she acknowledges.

Young says she will promote My Gay Life as a human-interest series rather than an LGBT programme, echoing Atteshlis’ view that it is “as much about family as it is about a child breaking the mould”.

She says SVoD services appeal because they naturally attract a younger, progressive audience, but expresses concern about giving away global rights for little return.