Pride Month 2020
For LGBTQ Month The New Current is launching our new series of features with LGBTQ creatives from across the arts and from around the world. Nick Lehmann is the writer, director, actor and co-creator of hit web series I'm Not Crazy and in 2019 NBC has put into development his new show Like Son, Like Father.
Hi Nick thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during the lockdown?
Of course! Truly any opportunity I have to talk to anyone other than myself during a time like this feels like a little win in some way. I’m doing okay! Losing my mind a bit here and there like everyone else, but mostly feeling super lucky to be healthy and safe. I’m feeling incredibly frustrated and angry for what others are having to go through during this time because of our lack of leadership in our country…which I could go on for hours about…but I think you know what I’m talking about. It would be nice to have someone taking care of our country as if they cared about its citizens. I’d love to be out and about with friends scaring people away with my unnecessary dancing on the streets, but for now I’m grateful to be quarantined with family and isolating from others to help control the spread of this virus.
Is this time offering you new creative inspiration?
It’s a bit tricky. There’s something about a global pandemic that makes it difficult for me to be inspired to do my best work. Who knew?! I think it’s weird to try to sit down and write jokes while there are hundreds of thousands of people dying, people are out of work, losing their homes, and any sense of security they had is lost. It definitely feels wrong. Also, to anyone who says “Well, Shakespeare wrote King Lear during a plague” I ask…did he have social media to distract him? Access to the news in the way we do? DID HE HAVE TIKTOK? No. He didn’t. It’s hard to be inspired when you’re distracted by what seems like the end of the world, but I’m doing what I can to put stuff out. Of course people need comedic-relief during a time like this, but I think it sounds a bit crazy to say “I need to do this, because people need it”. I’m not a politician, I make jokes about how I’m single.
How old where you when you came out?
I was 16! Got my driver’s license and came to terms with the fact that I was gay. Big year.
Coming out for me was like abseiling once I was over the cliff it was great, what was the experience for you coming out?
I definitely ripped off the band-aid AGGRESSIVELY. I live in extremes—when I do something, I commit to it. I had told myself the first night I came out to one of my best friends that she would be the only one I would tell for years, and two weeks later I had told truly everyone and their mother. Cut to me crying over bread bowls at Panera with friends telling them I “thought I didn’t just like only girls”. I made individual appointments with my best friends to make sure they heard from me and no one else.
A random Tuesday looked like:
11am: Coffee w/ Katherine (to tell her I’m gay)
1pm: Potbelly’s sandwiches w/ Sarah (to tell her I’m gay)
2pm: Drive around the block w/ Eddie (to tell him I’m gay)
4pm: Tears over potstickers w/ Elizabeth (to tell her I’m gay)
6pm: Lost Series Finale w/ Lindsey (THEN tell her I’m gay)
You get the idea. Coming out was expensive for me! So many food dates where I was too overwhelmed with emotion to even eat the food. All jokes aside, I was incredibly lucky to have unbelievably supportive family and friends throughout the entire process. As difficult as it was for me to accept this part of myself, I couldn’t have had an easier coming out experience, and I’m well aware of how lucky I was to be as privileged as I was in that way. I literally came out to my mother and father to get out of trouble for getting home the night before past curfew. Not only were they fully accepting of me, celebrating me, and making me feel completely fine—I avoided punishment for my breaking curfew. I was lucky as hell. And you just don’t ground gay kids…you just don’t.
You recently celebrated 10 year Coming Out anniversary, can you believe it's been 10 years?
Yes and no? It has absolutely flown by, but by accepting this part of myself early on and having the support that I did, I feel like I was really able to lean into the comfort of being 100% myself at all times. You know what you get with me, and I think for a lot of people, that’s what pulls them in—and for others, it pushes them away. And that’s okay. I can be aggressive, annoying, too much at times, so if that’s not your thing…I absolutely get it. Very much your loss but I GET IT (he repeats to himself over and over again). My life is infinitely times better since coming out. I’m just happy to have been able to live it as openly as I have for the past 10 years, and can’t wait to continue to do that for the rest of my gay-ass life.
How important is it for you to continue to celebrate your coming out?
As much as I like to celebrate it yearly, it’s something I like to celebrate every day. Of course, anyone who has had to come out in the queer community very much has had their own story, struggles, and path—but it’s a journey that’s ever changing, and it’s something people should be proud of every day. I love a good reason to celebrate.
Can you tell me a little bit about I'm Not Crazy, how did this web series come about?
My best friend Jackson and I are both actors and writers, and we both knew we wanted to make something (it’s so hard to get anything made nowadays, so we decided we would take the matter into our own hands). We didn’t have access to a large production company or some huge budget, so we knew whatever we were going to do would take a lot of work, but we refused to do it half-assed. At that point in our lives, we were constantly looking around at so many of the people we interacted with and asking ourselves “how are WE the most sane people we know when we are both out of our minds?” That’s kind of where the idea began, and we wanted to showcase an exaggerated version of our relationship and friendship. It felt like focusing on this complicated relationship between two gay men would be fun to go off of, and so we started to break story and write, and it kind of all just came together once we had our very base idea for what we wanted out of this experience.
What was your favourite episode to film?
I think what is so great about the series is that each episode has its own little theme and storyline as part of a much larger story that is being told. You have the fun ones, the over the top ones, the heartfelt ones, the dramatic ones—they kind of showcase every type of emotion you experience in a relationship. That being said, in the fifth episode, there’s a moment where Nick and Jackson rip into each other, explaining what bugs each of them most about the other. We had pre-written most of the series, but when we filmed this part, we had both prepared things we wanted to say to each other without telling the other person what they were going to be. We had to do a million takes as the initial reactions to hearing these jabs from each other were chaotic. They were basically well-thought out, specific, and personal cute-insults with bows on them, hand-delivered to each other…but on camera. You could say we worked through a lot of built up tension as characters but also as real-life friends. I still replay the genuine reactions we shared from time to time just to see the power behind my petty words.
"They were basically well-thought out, specific, and personal cute-insults with bows on them, hand-delivered to each other…"
Who are some of your LGBTQ icons that have inspired you?
There have been so many over time, but specifically in entertainment at the moment, I’m loving what Greg Berlanti, Billy Porter, and Dan Levy have done and are continuing to do. I think each of them in their own capacity bring such important stories to the screen in a way that Hollywood never really allowed before. There’s still so much work to be done to get these and other marginalized voices heard by others, and they continue to commit to that every single day. There are so many others I could name, and I can’t wait for the list to grow over time as the industry hopefully gives more and more opportunities to others who deserve to have their voices heard and their talents showcased like others.
Do you have a favourite quote, one you like to live by?
It’s probably something as simple as “Don’t be a dick”. I’ve never had time for mean people in my life, and that will never change. Growing older, you realize there are so many people who treat others like shit as some sort of defense mechanism for their own insecurities, and it is such a huge turn off to me. It’s not difficult to be nice to others. I will make friends with truly anyone, but if I see them treating others poorly, I have a breaking point. There’s so much bad in the world, I just don’t understand why anyone would ever want to contribute to it. Just be nice. It’s very easy. And please don’t be mean to me, I’m very sensitive. Thank you so much.
What are you currently working on?
I have a lot of stuff I’m very excited about that I’m working on. Obviously, the pandemic has put a lot of it on hold and changed a lot of plans, but I’m keeping busy to keep things moving forward while quarantined for the time being. Getting involved in as much as I can from the comfort of my little iPhone screen—I feel bad for how much talking it has had to endure from me.
And finally, do you have any advice to offer anyone who is thinking of coming out?
Do it on your own terms. Do it on your own time. Find people who love and support you and want the best for you no matter what. Life is infinitely times better when you find a group of people who love you for you.