Welcome to the 19th installment of our 2020 Pride Month Series! Each day in the month of June, we will be highlighting a different member of the LGBTQ2+ community who we think is a great example of representation and dynamic characterization. We will focus on fictional characters, celebrities, and activists alike – the positive voices within the LGBTQ2+ community and in mainstream media.
Representation of LGBTQ2+ in media is important and has an effect on how the community is viewed. Unfortunately, it can marginalize and produce incorrect stereotypes at times. The characters Adam and Caleb from The Bright Sessions podcast and the book The Infinite Noise touch on some essential topics that young LGBTQ2+ people face and a great reminder that it is alright not to have it all figured out.
Adam Hayes (Alex Gallner) is incredibly smart and kind of a loner. He tries to go through the day at school, keeping his head down and trying not to be noticed. Other students think he is odd, and he gets bullied because of it. But all it takes is one day, one person, to make things different. It takes Caleb.
Caleb Michaels (Briggon Snow) is a 16-year-old high school student, football player, and also happens to be Atypical. After a fight at school, Caleb is sent to see a therapist named Dr. Bright (Julia Morizawa). It is during those sessions that he learns what being an Atypical means. Caleb is an empath. He can feel other’s emotions, and they can affect his own as if there wasn’t already enough for him to figure out. Each feeling is described as having a color. Red is angry, blue is sad, etc. All those extra emotions don’t feel like they fit with his own until he meets Adam.
In a realistic coming of age story for these two typical teenagers, fans go through the emotions and changes along with them. Both the book and podcast are not afraid to tackle real-life issues in depth. Adam deals with depression, quite severely at times. In the past, he has self-harmed, and that is addressed. He also identifies as gay, but the story doesn’t use it as a focal point as something that makes Adam unique. We get to see Caleb’s therapy sessions and him talking and getting understandably frustrated about dealing with all these emotions. Caleb does not put a label on his sexuality, which I think is important. The heart of the story is these two teenage boys trying to get through high school and life, who find and anchor each other and fall in love.
Adam and Caleb’s story starts them as distant acquaintances, and then they become more approachable with one another as Caleb tries to figure out why Adam and his emotions have this pull that grounds and calms him. Adam supports Caleb by going to his football games, and Caleb supports Adam by being there for him when his depression becomes too much. They are a typical young couple in love.
As someone who identifies as gay, I truthfully agree with what writer/creator Lauren Shippen said in this previous interview with Nerds and Beyond when The Infinite Noise (2019) was released:
“I think it is changing and changing for the better! We’re seeing more and more LGBTQ characters in stories, and more stories about those characters that aren’t about them being queer. That’s what I’d like to see more of. As a queer person myself, I think my sexuality is the least interesting thing about me, and I’d love to see more LGBTQ characters getting the full range of story that straight, cis characters do.”
Their journey is told in the science fiction podcast The Bright Sessions and YA novel The Infinite Noise. There is a natural flowing progression of the characters and their relationship that forms from getting to know one another to those first nervous moments of wanting to hold each other’s hands and the lead up that builds to that first defining kiss. Both of the characters go through self-discovery. “Together, they quiet things down for each other, but also crank up the volume on the good kind of emotional noise: falling in love.”
It was refreshing to listen to and read a story about two LGBTQ2+ characters whose sexuality was not flaunted or used to define and limit them and their stories. Sometimes you see media use it as the primary focus and the meaning of the story gets lost when the character is used as a token rather than as a person.
The voices behind the characters are actor, musician, and entrepreneur Alex Gallner who voices Adam, and Briggon Snow is the actor and writer who brings Caleb to life. After listening to the podcasts multiple times, I couldn’t imagine anyone else voicing these treasured characters. Their story takes place in The Bright Sessions podcast, The Infinite Noise YA novel, and coming soon The College Tapes podcast. There would be no Caleb and Adam without Lauren Shippen’s (A Neon Darkness) remarkable and emotional writing, so thank you!
Be sure to check back here every day this month for more of our Pride month series!