The Health Initiative for Men (HIM) aims to foster dialogue about gay men’s health with a new web series that explores gay male sexuality in a “positive and explicit” manner.
“My Fucking Life is a collection of stories told in the first person from the actual guys who experienced those stories,” HIM program manager Jody Jollimore explains. “To make it more interesting than a talking head, we recreated the scenes with volunteers from the community in bathhouses, at house parties and various venues.”
The third episode of the series is narrated by a bathhouse enthusiast and shot on site at Steamworks bathhouse.
“We had a couple of guys who came up to us during the shoot and asked us what we were doing, so we told them and they volunteered to join us. We signed them up with a release form right on the spot,” Jollimore says.
He says that HIM wants to engage as many people as possible in a fun, sexy and interesting web-based media project that would increase traffic to their new website and expand awareness of the organization’s services and clinics.
“At first we weren’t sure if we wanted to do a documentary, a drama or whatnot, so we said, ‘Let’s collect some stories to get some inspiration, and from there we’ll develop the web series,’” he says. “We did sort of a casting call where we asked for guys to come out and tell us some stories, and we assured them their privacy because we wanted to make sure they gave us the most intimate details,” Jollimore says. “We had a number of guys come out who really opened up and shared their lives with us. From that we built a script, but in doing so we realized that having actors come in and voice these guys’ words would not be nearly as powerful as hearing the voices themselves.”
The series, which was produced in collaboration with Pull Focus Film School, targets internet-savvy users, including younger gay men as well as guys who go to bathhouses or engage in adventurous sex.
Although the series focuses on gay sex adventures, other topics of gay life are addressed as well.
“While many of these stories are packaged in ways that are sexual, they are also talking about other elements of guys’ lives,” Jollimore says. “Whether that be isolation, sexual health or substance use, we hear about that in the web series, and we don’t condone or condemn any of the behaviour in the series. We present them in a really non-judgmental way in hopes that we can create a dialogue about what are the joys, benefits and also challenges to their lives.”
A trailer for My Fucking Life was screened at the 2014 Vancouver Queer Film Festival, and the first episode was released Sept 2. The remaining episodes will be released every Tuesday for five weeks.