The logo for Matt Cullen's series "Our Queer Life" Source: World of Wonder

EDGE Interview: 'I Want to Humanize Us.' Matt Cullen Explores Queer Diversity with YouTube Series

Steve Duffy READ TIME: 7 MIN.

Matt Cullen's goal with his YouTube series is to humanize the queer experience with personal interviews that explore the diversity of the community. EDGE spoke to him about his series.

When the out YouTube personality was in high school in the '90s, he recalls being picked on for his love of musical theater and being too effeminate. During his senior year, he came out to his parents by writing them a letter he left for them to read early one morning. "I was so nervous, I was shaking," he recalled. But after reading it, his parents appeared in his bedroom doorway and Matt vividly remembers his father telling him, "I can't wait to meet the man you fall in love with."

Today Matt hosts an inspirational documentary series. In "Our Queer Life," he interviews LGBTQ+ people from every color of the rainbow
⎯ from celebrities to street hustlers to people living in an off-grid community, and hundreds more ⎯ to discover how their individual journeys are shaping to build a strong and resilient LGBTQ+ community.

"Our Queer Life" streams on Matt's YouTube channel. Follow this link to visit Matt's YouTube channel.

Watch Matt interview Palm Springs escort Jackson on his career.

"My passion is spotlighting those in my community who are fighting to live their authentic truth," Matt Cullen said in a press release. "I enjoy sharing stories of those who display perseverance in the face of difficult circumstances; who don't allow setbacks to hold them back." He is especially interested in speaking to those who, without "Our Queer Life," may not have the platform to share their story with the world.

Through his show, Matt has made it his mission to help destigmatize topics like sex work, and amplify important issues such as the misrepresentation of trans men and women. He also shines the spotlight on those in the community who have lived in the shadows for too long: Adult film stars, ballroom queens, gay Orthodox Jews, gay cowboys in rodeo, and even one trans person whose addiction to illegal plastic surgery has left them disabled.

Matt's belief is that viewers who identify with the people he spotlights in "Our Queer Life" may get a better understanding of them and, perhaps, feel a bit of empathy for their plights. "In these divided times, it is more important than ever before that the LGBTQ+ community and its allies make an effort to find common ground with one another. We're stronger together, so let us stand united."

EDGE spoke to Matt about "Our Queer Life," what interview has impacted him the most, and what he's learned from working on the interview series.

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slug>EDGE: Who is Matt Cullen?

Matt Cullen: Oh, my gosh. Wow. I would say Matt Cullen is someone who is a hard worker, someone who is passionate, someone who loves connection, is always hungry for more, and loves to learn new things.

EDGE: Tell us about your documentary series, "Our Queer Life."

Matt Cullen: It's a digital docuseries that centers on all different aspects of the queer community. The goal is to show all aspects and all different types of people in the queer community. I want to humanize us and show the world that we are all so much more alike than one would think.

EDGE: How are you finding these stories?

Matt Cullen: In the beginning, it was a real struggle to get people to trust me and let me into their homes. Finding the stories was hard at first. Since the show has grown, people are now reaching out to me or suggesting someone that they might follow on social media or know of in their real life that they think would be a good fit. I also receive a lot of DMs for suggestions.

Matt Cullen interviews Anthony Rapp

EDGE: Do you have a formula that you follow when conducting the interview?

Matt Cullen: I don't. My formula is that I don't have one. I just go in there and I want the viewer to feel like they're just sitting in on a conversation between two friends who are getting to know each other. I don't go with any preplanned, preconceived questions. I let the conversation go where it goes, and trust my gut with what I think is interesting.

EDGE: Which interview has left you changed?

Matt Cullen: Honestly, I think all of them changed me in some way, no matter what the story was. The one story that I always think about is Mousey. She's passed away, but she was a street hustler in Los Angeles and spent much of her life in and out of jail. She was a trans woman, and she invited me into her home before my show was even established. She trusted me with her sensitive stories, and it resonated with the audience as much as it resonated with me. Everyone felt so inspired by her strength and her resilience. Even though she is gone, I still feel her with me. As my show grows, I think about how she always told me how much she believed in me, and how much we would create together. I feel her in the spiritual sense, so I always think of her when I get asked this question.

EDGE: What has been something you've learned about that queer community that you didn't know?

Matt Cullen: I think I knew it, but I don't think that I fully understood that our community is strong and resilient. We've been through so much in our history and having to stand together to fight for our rights and fight to be heard. I have met so many people who have gone through and have overcome so many hurdles in their lives. I am truly inspired by their strength to want to live another day – to find love and happiness. Even though I have lived a much different life than a lot of these people on my show, I feel so deeply inspired by them because I feel their strength and their passion everywhere I go.

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EDGE: LGBTQ+ is a community, but each letter that is represented can at times feel isolated from the rest. How can we support each other?

Matt Cullen: I think that is something that I try hard to work on with my series, because I do think within the letters there is segregation, especially with the trans community. I spend much of my series highlighting the stories of trans people, because I think they're a community that needs our help. If we all stand together, then we're stronger as one. I think especially about being a white gay man, and I think it could be palatable for the audience to learn through my POV. I feel like it's my job to invite the audience in, so they can learn a story about somebody that maybe they don't know in real life. A lot of people don't have trans people in their lives, so being able to highlight these stories in my series makes them feel comfortable and makes them feel like they have met a new person.

EDGE: Your message for the LGBTQ+ community and beyond is what?

Matt Cullen: I think it all comes down to that we're all just human beings and we all have a heart, and we have the same wants and needs. That's why I find it important to film in people's homes because I want to show the viewer the picture frames on the walls or their animals. The things and people that they care about. Items that will humanize them, so the straight white guy who lives in Kansas that stumbles across my video and sees a trans woman that they would've normally vilified will be, like, "I have that same thing," or "Their pet looks like mine." That is when we start to feel so much more alike.

EDGE: Where do you hope "Our Queer Life" goes beyond what you are already doing?

Matt Cullen: I'm enjoying what I'm doing, but at the same time, I am a one-person production. It really should be a multi-person job. It's a lot of work, and I wouldn't change it for the world. I've grown so much in all aspects of my creativity and my storytelling. I would like to get on a bigger platform or get more funding behind it so I can grow. I would love to go to Europe, and do stories with a team of people, and have an editor who will help elevate my stories.

"Our Queer Life" streams on Matt's YouTube channel. Follow this link to visit Matt's YouTube channel.

by Steve Duffy

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