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Kit Williamson is forging new ground in Hollywood

Photo credit:
Bobby Quillard

Kit Williamson is a very busy man. Not only did he just tie the knot with co-star John Holbach amid the natural beauty of Joshua Tree National Forest, he’s just completed two new projects, and to his astonishment, his digital drama Eastsiders, was just nominated for two daytime Emmy’s, “Yeah, I had no idea what to expect so I was very pleasantly surprised,” he said.

The 31-year-old blue-eyed actor/writer is part of a growing force of out, American, LGBT people in the entertainment industry. They are actors, writers, directors who create quality films which are much more than below-scale cable or VOD fodder cluttering up “suggested viewing” subcategories on Netflix, Amazon, or whichever streaming service to which you subscribe.

Their films and series stand out among the rest as invested works of genuine emotion, inherent talent and honesty. As artists, they are no longer being restrained by the bondage of Hollywood prototypes, but unleashed by their sexuality to give voice to more LGBT mainstream and personal stories.

Last month SDGLN did a profile on gay actor Matthew McKelligon who stars in the horror movieYou’re Killing Me, and by the way, Eastsiders.We said he was a pioneer, which he is, and Williamson also falls into this same category.

But he also brings other things to the table. He is an established actor for one, appearing as Ed on AMC’s Mad Men. He also has a keen eye for hiring gifted talent for his own projects such as Constance Wu on Eastsiders, before she got her own network sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, or again the auspicious and irresistible McKelligon.

His husband John Halbach also appears in Eastsiders, as Ian, playing it straight with as many problems as the gay characters on the show.

Perhaps the most notable cast member, Van Hansis, the veteran daytime soap star known for playing Luke on As the World Turns, also gets a nomination for his work as Thom on Eastsidersin the “Outstanding Actor in a Digital Daytime Drama Series” category.

It is an assembly of talent, a crew of committed individuals who obviously respect and understand Williamson’s vision. Something the Television Academy has also recognized and appreciates.

“We’re so excited to have such an established curating body recognize the show,” said Williamson. “It’s been amazing. As LGBT storytellers, we’re somewhat on the outside looking in at a lot of events like this and that to have them recognize the show is wonderful.”

As mentioned previously Williamson got married to his handsome co-star John Holbach. It was a life changing event done in one of the most unpredictable places on Earth.

“We kept it all really, really simple,” he said. “We just wanted to focus on making sure all of our guests had fun. So we put everybody on a bus from Palm Springs to the middle of Joshua Tree National Park. And had the ceremony at Key’s Viewlooking out at the San Andreas Fault and the San Jacinto Mountains.”

With all that has happened within just the last year, and now with the Emmy nomination, I asked Williamson if there will be a third season of Eastsiders something he has told me in the past that may or may not happen.

When I talked to him this last time he says it’s something that he is interested in pursuing. And this might be the right time to do so.

Recent years have proven successful for some out gay actors in Tinseltown. Take for instance Zachary Quinto and Matt Bomer. Williamson says that as much as America has changed for LGBT rights, so has the talent landscape of Hollywood.

“I think it’s interesting because we have never seen an openly gay actor become a movie star that can open a film internationally," he said. "And the number of openly gay actors who were openly gay when they got their big break on television is also pretty limited.

So there’s definitely discrimination out there, but there are many examples that are I think, changing the industry’s mind about the kind of roles that an openly gay man can play. People like Neil Patrick Harris, and Matt Bomer and Zachary Quinto are really challenging people to see them as an actor first and foremost. And their talent is undeniable."

Many actors are not even worrying about the gay Hollywood stigma anymore, instead they break into the business as out and proud as ever. And there are some that are trying to appeal to the gay market even though they may not be themselves. Williamson says its a progression in the right direction, but also warns that too much of it may not be a good thing.

“It’s a marker of how far we’ve come that you have celebrities who are dropping hints that they might be slightly less straight in order to appeal to a demographic," he said. "I think that that’s a good thing, but at the same time, I hope people are sensitive to allowing LGBT people to continue telling their own stories too.”

And he should know. As a person who is making entertainment where LGBT people are telling their own stories, it should be no surprise that his show Eastsiders is getting the recognition it deserves by his peers, at least in an industry that's beginning to change its homophobic opinions for the first time in history.

Williamson is keeping busy too. He has a new gay mystery movie currently touring the country and another which puts a twist on another genre.

“I just wrapped two Indie features called Kiss Me, Kill Me," he says. "Which is a gay noir film with Gale Harold and Van Hansis. And I am also in an Indie road trip drama - I play a hustler - called Retake. It stars Devon Graye and Tuc Watkins. Both will be on the Indie circuit this year.”

This will be Williamson's first time attending the Daytime Emmy's. He of course is bringing his husband John, but as far as what they are going to wear, he's undecided.

“I have no idea. We’ve got to figure it out.”

Timothy Rawles is Community Editor of SDGLN. He can be reached at editor@sdgln.com, @reporter66 on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.