Billy Eichner says his upcoming gay romantic comedy Bros is a first. Although the film features both queer and straight characters, the principal cast of the rom-com consists solely of LGBTQ actors.
And that’s not the only milestone: Eichner is the first openly gay man to both co-write and star in a major studio film of any genre.
“I feel a responsibility for it to do well,” the comedian admitted, sitting down with Variety ahead of Bros‘ world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival September 8.
“I’ve worked so hard on it, I care so much about it, and I want it to do well for the sake of the LGBTQ stories getting greenlit,” he added.
Bros is among the recent influx of candid queer representation in film, alongside Bowen Yang’s Fire Island and Neil Patrick Harris’ Uncoupled, but unlike its predecessors, Bros won’t be headed straight for streaming services.
“I told myself to look around and appreciate how rare and magical this moment is because you are making a movie that looks and feels like all the romantic comedies you grew up loving, but you’re doing it as a gay man.”
“And this is not an indie movie,” Eichner added. “This is not some streaming thing which feels disposable, or which is like one of a million Netflix shows. I needed to appreciate that “This is a historic moment, and somehow, you’re at the center of it. You helped create it.”
Eichner Responds to Backlash After Variety Interview
Eichner soon faced criticism for his comments, with users on social media pointing out that Fire Island was actually the first all-LGBTQ cast film to be made by a major studio.
“I’m disappointed by the continual lack of acknowledgement of the accomplishments of Asian and other BIPOC communities,” one user shared. Another took issue with Eichner’s comments on streaming content, writing, “…let’s not sh-t on indies (or streaming) because for so many of us, it’s the only representation that we’ve had, and continue to have.”
The Billy on the Street comedian took to Twitter shortly thereafter to clarify his comments and apologize across a three-tweet thread.
“I was not at ALL referring to the quality of monumental impact of streaming films, I was referring to the way that historically, LGBTQ+ content has often been considered niche and disregarded by Hollywood,” the actor wrote. “Being an openly gay man and a loud and proud part of the LGBTQ+ community is one of the things I am most proud of in my whole damn life.”
“And from the bottom of my heart,” he added, “I truly am so sorry if I inadvertently offended or insulted anyone. I really am.”
Bros hits theaters September 30.