The Kuntergrau web series are produced by gay teenagers between 15 and 27 in their spare time and includes film students as well as media-interested gay men who all have one goal: show the world what being gay in 2017 means to us.
They have already released two seasons so far: Season 1 includes 5 episodes with the total runtime of 65 minutes which had it’s premiere in early 2016.
It was followed by a crowdfunding campaign for season 2 in March 2016. After Kuntergrau raising 7.000€, the production of season 2 took place in August and September of 2016.
Season 2 had it’s premiere on April 1st 2017 in form of a cinematic premiere in Cologne with over 500 guests attending. The online premiere followed three weeks later on their YouTube channel.
Season 2 includes 4 episodes with a total runtime of 85 minutes.
Everyone involved in the Kuntergrau project are working on a voluntary basis the show depends on donations.
Kuntergrau was brought to life because they – as young gay men – didn’t feel represented in the media landscape in Germany. They felt that they were talked about but not talked to. So they decided to create something they would have liked to have seen when they were younger: A web series that represents their concept of their own sexuality: natural, self-confident, outspoken.
They deeply believe that their generation is the one to form the future and they definitely will influence society’s perception of sexual minorities with their natural respect towards the ones surrounding us.
Never before has a generation been so accepting of different sexual orientations and that is so great news. Hopefully one day no one will care anymore, and LGBTQ community can leave the concept of “coming out“ behind. Until that day comes, it’s necessary for them to be visual.
Kuntergrau doesn’t turn homosexuality into a problem. It rather focuses on problems we all experience in one way or another. Topics like: first love, a broken heart, living with HIV, conflicts with parents, and sex work are all portrayed in the series.
With over 1.500.000 views on YouTube and audiences from all around the world it became clear that we do something that affects people beyond the borders of Germany:
A large audience in Russia, China and Arabic countries proves the necessity of a show like Kuntergrau says Kai Kreuser to MySoCalledGayLife.co.uk. This is especially so in countries where being self-confident and having an open attitude towards homosexuality is impossible. Kuntergrau shows gay men all over the world that it is okay to be who they are and that they are not alone. It shows how average “being different” can be.
In times in which discrimination becomes socially acceptable again, even in western societies, it is crucial for all of us – no matter if you’re gay, lesbian, bi, straight, or trans – to be vocal, be loud and show that we are not here to walk back into the closet just for some narrow minded people to feel better.
A name that sticks and confuses – what does “Kuntergrau” mean?
The name goes back to the German word “kunterbunt” which basically means “neon bright” or “super colourful”. They switched it up and added “grey” to it. The best translation would be “neon grey”. Meaning in a grey society there are some individuals that shine brighter than everyone else. And they wanted to highlight those stories.
An attempt to portray modern gay youth – what is Kuntergrau about?
In Kuntergrau, coming out is part of the past while sex and love is mundane. A group of five gay friends between 17 and 24 deals with everyday problems and experiences the meaning of love, sex, and friendship.
The series deals with Leopold (Age 17) who does not want to identify himself through his sexuality, Noah (Age 24), whose BDSM fetish challenges his ex-boyfriend, Jan (Age 20), to a point where their relationship begins to break. Along with them, promiscuous Marcel (Age 21) who works as a banker and has to live with his HIV infection. Last but not least, Lukas (Age 19) who moves from the country to the big city to get away from his controlling parents – unsuccessfully.
The stories of these five men become intertwined and what results is a story that encapsulates what it means to be a young gay man in a big city.
Bondage, love triangles, HIV and a german Debbie – what is season 1 about?
After being outed on prom night Lukas is thrown out by his father and soon after moves from his small town to the big city. In Cologne he runs into Leopold, an orphan who lives with his grandmother Margarethe, a german take on the beloved Debbie Novotny.
While these two get closer it appears that Noah’s interest in BDSM, paired with his boyfriend Jan’s unwillingness to try out new things, might be reason enough for them to break up their three year relationship.
The promiscuous HIV-positive Marcel ( played by Moustafa Tarraf) , who couldn’t be less bothered by romantic interests, also starts seeing Lukas – both being unaware that they are connected by their relationship with Leopold.
When Lukas (played by Daniel Kosic) finds out about Marcel’s status, he freaks out. What follows is an important conversation about what it means to be positive and taking medication.
Marcel’s self-confident attitude towards dealing with his infection helps Lukas to see things in a new light.
Both run into each other shortly after at Leopold’s birthday and Lukas feels like he should tell Leopold that he was seeing someone else.
Leopold (played by Marcel Meyer), who usually functions as the calm peacekeeper of the group, throws Lukas out after finding out about his lies. Thanks to Oma Margarethe’s calm and wise words he eventually forgives Lukas.
The emotional highpoint of the season is reached when Jan walks in on his his boyfriend cheating.
Lukas, Leopold and Marcel pick up a heartbroken Jan and take him on a vacation to the beach where Jan ends up in his friend’s arms watching the sunrise.
Being a positive teenager – going beyond the average storylines
Because we intentionally try to avoid problematizing homosexuality as a main story arch, and rather focus on life after coming out, it was important to us to also include issues beyond the scope of every day topics.
So besides the more common problems like finding a boyfriend, dating the same guy, or being sexually dissatisfied, we also included the topic of living with HIV in our show because we feel that it is crucial to educate young audiences on the matter.
We did not want to create fear or stigmatise. Therefore, our character Marcel is not afraid of a potential positive test result. Having lived with HIV for a while now, Marcel has learned how to deal with it. It is more about how people reacting to it and how he has to educate some men on the issue.
While educating a fictional character like Lukas on what it means to get treatment and to be “below a level of detection” we hope to raise awareness with some younger audience members who might have never heard about that.
(English subtitles (several other languages too) – remember to turn them on)
So taking on more serious issues was also our attempt for season two.
Gas Money, Asexuality and the fear of losing your child – what is season 2 about?
While Noah (played by Daniel Printz) seems to have finally found someone who satisfies his sexual needs, Jan ( played by Fabian Freistühler) tries do drown the pain of a broken heart in a flurry of short term sexual encounters with strangers. This lack of commitment comes to an sudden halt when he meets Daniel (played by Simon Goga). Despite already having a boyfriend, Daniel begins to proposition Jan, while Jan remains clueless about the affair.
Eventually, Daniel’s bad conscious leads him to pay Jan „gas money“ as a unsuccessful attempt to make their interactions purely about sex, and not emotions.
When Jan discovers the reasoning behind Daniel’s generous financial support, his shattered romantic interest pushes him over the edge.
Jan begins a downward spiral into the life of a sex worker. As he becomes increasingly numb to his situation, Jan’s control over his own life slips further and further out of his hands. While Jan continues to downplay his situation to his friends, his unwillingness to reflect on his actions leads him to continue on a path of self destruction.
Marcel’s self confident and open behaviour towards his status is challenged when he falls in love with Philipp (played by Julian Kinlechner). For the first time in his life, Marcel experiences a certain fear of losing someone over his status, while Philipp himself is challenged in a completely different way: Identifying as a straight man, he is overwhelmed by his romantic feelings for Marcel.
Both have to ask themselves if love always requires a physical aspect, or if its possible to fall in love with a person despite their gender.
Lukas and Leopold must face their inability to communicate their emotions, which increasingly grows into raging jealousy on Lukas’ end.
While managing his issues with Leopold, Lukas must also take on his anger and pain when his conservative mother, Marion (played by Anne Apitzsch), makes an attempt to reenter his life. Both are forced to take a closer look at their own flaws which eventually leads to the realisation that while a queer child needs time to get comfortable with a new situation, a parent should get time to take in this new part of their kid’s personality.
(English subtitles (several other languages too) – remember to turn them on)
The series are directed and written by Kai Kreuser.
Find the Soundtrack on iTunes here.
Kuntergrau are high quality LGBTQ web series – that you should take your time to check out – I’ve seen high quality LGBTQ movies coming from Germany like Summer Storm, Fashion Victims and Center of My World and the web series Kuntergrau fits right in together with those movies perfectly. Personally I wishing for a Season 3… and I’m crushing on Moustafa Tarraf…