Billy Eichner Recalls How the Internet Helped Him After He Was Told He Was "Too Gay" to Be on TV
Billy Eichner is the creative force behind “Bros,” a comedy about a screenwriter who is assigned to write a gay rom-com, but winds up starring in one. Not only does Eichner star in the movie, but he serves as a cowriter and executive producer as well. The film is the first queer romantic comedy from a major studio to feature an entirely LGBTQ+ cast.
It’s taken Eichner a long time to get to this place in his career, though. In a Sept. 26 interview with Conan O’Brien, Eichner revealed that in his early days of performing, he found that while producers noticed his talent, he felt that homophobia ultimately held him back. “It was always, ‘We don’t know what to do with you or you’re very New York.’ And a lot of times, in both overt ways and subtle ways, I was sent the message that I was just too gay,” he said. “I was being openly gay on stage. I was talking about gay sex. Now everyone’s talking about gay sex, but this is 2003.”
However, he said the internet ended up helping him out. “What happened was the internet came along, and I put my videos online, and after a little while, they went viral and very viral, and I was able to point to all those people in the industry and say, ‘Hey, I’m not too this or too that. These videos have millions of views’ . . . I needed those numbers to point to and say, ‘I have proof that I’m not this little niche thing that you assume I am because I’m gay.'”
At 44, Eichner says he feels his career has bridged a gap between two very different eras for queer people. “I’m kind of in this interesting midway point between a generation of LGBTQ people and gay men, specifically, who really saw the world change. When they grew up it was such a repressed time. A lot of them probably can’t even imagine the world that we live in today, even though there are still problems and we’re still fighting for our rights, still – the evolution is really remarkable. Then you have a younger generation now . . . of LGBTQ people and Gen Z queer kids . . . but they stepped into such a different world.” This evolution, he said, has “a lot to do with the internet.” He added, “I’m kind of weirdly perched between these two generations.” As for “Bros,” he said, “I wanted the movie to speak to that.”
“Bros” will be released in theaters on Sept. 30.