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TELEVISION 'Glitterbomb' engages queer Latinx community
by Bronson Pettitt

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Television now has its first national queer Latinx talk show with a gay Latino cast.

LATV's Glitterbomb debuted last month and is broadcast to more than 22 million homes in the United States, according to Alexander Rodriguez, one of three hosts of the weekly half-hour show.

Rodriguez, Entertainment Weekly editor Patrick Gomez and actor Enrique Sapene launched the Los Angeles-based series on Sept. 20. They interview both Latinx and non-Latinx celebrities from music, TV, film and fashion.

While the show is inclusive in its interviewees, topics and audience, it is also meant to engage the queer Latinx community—one that's been historically ignored or overshadowed.

"The Latin community, stereotypically and with good reason, is always considered very conservative," Rodriguez told Windy City Times. "The LGBT community hasn't had a major voice in the Latin community but the youth in the Latinx community is really changing that, because they're proud of who they are, they're not being quiet anymore, so families are having to have these discussions."

Glitterbomb aims to get families talking about LGBTQ issues by featuring both light-hearted and serious topics: "the Gayley Wed Game" segment asks a celebrity and their gay best friend, or a gay celebrity and their straight best friend, questions on how well they know each other.

In one episode, the crew interviewed Justina Machado, of the Netflix series One Day at a Time, a reboot of the eponymous series but this time featuring a Latino cast, in which Machado's character is a mother of a lesbian daughter.

"To take this 1970s style sitcom for it to be so popular now, taking place in a Latino home, taking place with gay characters, is just huge," Rodriguez said.

At the start of every episode, the hosts drop a "bomb" where they discuss provocative topics such as how to stay friends with your ex, if celebrities should get involved in politics, what to do if your best friend's boyfriend is on Grindr and who pays on the first date.

The show also touches on more serious aspects: "The current state of being Latino in this country, how do you subscribe to your culture while still being patriotic, while still being part of the melting pot that is the US," Rodriguez said.

"We have the same kind of stories of where we come from, family issues, love issues. So the only thing that really sets us apart is who we share our bed with," Rodriguez said.

"That's why I really like the idea of Glitterbomb, because we don't look like your pretty-boy gay person out there, that's not who we are. We're the everyday person: I eat too many carbs, I might have a few too many drinks."

Glitterbomb comes at a time when the country is highly polarized, even within the LGBTQ community.

"We're all fighting the good fight right now, socially and politically, to have our voices be heard," Rodriguez said. "Sometimes we get so transfixed by those labels, and within those minority labels we have minority factions of ourselves in the LGBT community."

He pointed out the surge in suicides among queer youth in West Hollywood, due in part to bullying.

"We have to communicate with each other by putting our differences aside, putting stereotypes aside, and focusing on what the end goal is, because we all want our voices heard. If we're shouting at each other, you're not going to hear what the other person has to say," Rodriguez said.

So far, the show has gotten positive feedback, Rodriguez said.

"A gay youth can watch this show with their families, have some celebrities that they all like, and it happens to be three gay guys talking about their lives and it's done in such a natural way."

Going forward, Rodriguez said he wants to tell more stories and expand the show's viewership base.

"I'm looking forward to hearing more from the fans of how they open up the discussion and how they're able to talk about their daily LGBT lives in the big picture. They don't have to hide anymore," he said.

Rodriquez also hosts On the Rocks on iHeart Radio, where he also talks about entertainment. But moving from radio to TV has had its own challenges.

"Being in a studio is totally different. My first episode I didn't know what camera to look in, my makeup was running off," he said. "The producer is telling you, 'Ok, guys wrap it up,' but the celebrity keeps talking and talking, you're worried if you're slumped over too much. All of these things are running through your mind while you're trying to be funny and natural."

One of the biggest challenges, though, is being prepared.

"What I've learned from the radio show is you have to do your research," he said. "Sometimes that takes so long. There's so much content out there right now. So if someone says, 'Oh I love this new Netflix series.' Well, that's another show that I'm going to have to watch. But it's so important to ask questions that the celebrity doesn't get asked over and over again. Nobody wants to hear the same answers."

Glitterbomb airs at 9 p.m. Thursdays on LATV ( broadcast over the air on channel 25-5 in Chicagoland ) and will be available on demand soon.

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