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The Pandemic Work Diary of Netflix’s Queer Champion


Fran Tirado is producing queer content and only queer content. “I’m just so uninterested in making anything that is not for queer-trans audiences,” he said.

At Netflix, his job title is brand and editorial strategy lead for L.G.B.T.Q. content. That means developing concepts for shows like “I Like to Watch,” in which two drag queens watch and talk about Netflix programming; working with a group of content creators for the company’s @Most social channel; and keeps tabs on the promotional campaigns for shows and movies. He also has a podcast, “Food 4 Thot,” about “sex, identity, culture, what we like to read and who we like to read.”

Mx. Tirado — who previously worked in magazines as the deputy editor of Out and the executive editor of the now-defunct Hello Mr. — once split his time between New York and Los Angeles, but is riding out the coronavirus pandemic on the West Coast. “Trying to fabricate a kind of intimacy digitally with talent, and with our content, is tough,” he said.

“Queer and marginalized people are historically resilient and have a proven track record of thriving in the face of adversity, pandemic and crisis,” Mx. Tirado added. “I know that we will come out of this thing stronger than ever, and it will be the most marginalized that lead the charge on creative ways we used our time and produced digitally despite it all.

“We’ve already seen so much of it, and it’s just going to get better.”


6:45 a.m. Getting up has been difficult. Normally I’m awake a little earlier, but only to go to a 7 a.m. exercise class down the street, where I pay so that hot Australians can yell at me while I do circuit training. That gym is obviously closed, so I lie in bed like a swollen burrito. Diana Ross’s “It’s My House” is the alarm blasting from my Google Home, and it jeers with irony.

7:20 a.m. Part of my quarantine mania has manifested in an increasingly elaborate skin care routine.

7:40 a.m. I stay in my pajamas, turn off my phone and start writing for a completely uninterrupted time, a ritual I started for quarantine and definitely was not disciplined enough to do before.

I’m working on my own TV pilot and a feature, joining the ranks of every other clichéd gay in Los Angeles. This week, I’m working only on the feature — a gay wedding rom-com I had the idea for when I was 19. I heat up a piece of coconut chocolate-chip banana bread I made and spread cream cheese and blackberries on it.

9:40 a.m. I prep for the day’s meetings and get dressed for work, which is one of the primary things I do to stay not-depressed. I Slack my agency to make sure a trailer debut is going up on time for “Circus of Books,” a Ryan Murphy documentary about a historic gay pornography shop that is on the same block as my apartment. I literally get to talk about gay porn as my job, like, what is life?

10 a.m. Weekly meeting with the writers in New York who run our L.G.B.T.Q. social channel, @Most. We talk through some key beats, titles and moments planned for the days ahead.

11 a.m. Meeting with the entire editorial team. I’m delighted to report that my new at-home office setup has the prettiest window light ever for videoconferencing.

Noon Catch-up with the team running Ryan Murphy projects to talk through production updates.

1 p.m. Finally catch a break and eat a smoothie for lunch (insufferable).

2 p.m. Meeting with my core team — a group of people who do the same job as me for other marginalized audiences.

3:30 p.m. At this point, my brain is leaving with or without me. I chug a matcha and a protein bar to try to power through an hour of absolutely zombied emailing. I’m working on two more project announcements and three premieres. I also sent some emails about this weekend’s recording of my podcast.

6 p.m. Working out at home is the most difficult part of my day, largely because it’s very hard for me to do exercise without someone yelling at me. I paid my trainer to give me daily workout regimens at home, and he checks in with me. Today is upper body, and I hate every moment of it.

7 p.m. FaceTime my partner. He’s in New York for work, and it’s hard for me to talk about. We’ve been FaceTiming most days until he can come back to L.A., hopefully within a month.

11:30 p.m. I am too high to do my nighttime skin care route. Time for bed!

6:50 a.m. Cold brew, skin care, gay music. I am the proud owner of 41,939 overpriced candles, so I light one to get going.

10 a.m. I listen to “Still Processing,” the only podcast I never miss. Today’s episode was a salient critique on Netflix’s “Tiger King,” all of which I agree with.

10:25 a.m. I’ve run out of sticky notes. I throw on some day clothes and hop into my first meeting of the day, talking through new plans for Netflix’s Pride initiative. Luckily, only one component of our campaign has been disrupted by the virus.

Noon Go out for a walk to get some Post-its. I FaceTime my partner on the way. On the way back, I FaceTime a friend who lives down the street to consult on a queer music project he’s working on.

4 p.m. Call a friend in New Orleans who needs help with a podcast project. As you can tell, I do a lot of free business and marketing consulting for friends. I don’t mind doing it, so long as it’s for queer and trans people.

7:15 p.m. After showering, it’s time to make a tomato galette. I have perfected the flaky basic pastry after almost a decade of practice. (I used to be obsessed with making pies, after my first viewing of “Waitress.”)

7:30 p.m. My friends who run WNYC’s “Nancy” podcast text me about co-hosting the premiere of “The Half of It,” a wonderful queer Asian coming-of-age film we have coming out.

9:20 p.m. I’ve been watching TV every night of quarantine, and I am at peace with that. My promise to myself is to watch only new things I haven’t seen before, so my brain remains active.

When I watch pilots or films, I take out a sheet of paper and write out the script’s beats to learn how they are written. I’ve just started “The Good Fight” and am addicted in an unprecedented way.

9:50 p.m. Late dinner. I drizzle olive oil and add salt, pepper and fresh basil onto this bad boy. (The galette.) The edible has hit, a triumph.

7:20 a.m. Up late. I have a standing very early meeting on Wednesdays with folks on the East Coast. I brush my teeth and throw on some terrible clothes, logging on just in time with cold brew in hand.

11:30 a.m. I’m realizing today is on fire and I will not get time to myself to write. I take a selfie and send to Twitter to validate.

1:30 p.m. Call with a writer to debrief on a script he’s working on about the history of gay porn.

2:30 p.m. Meeting for the debut of Ryan Murphy’s “Hollywood” — we discuss digital premiere possibilities.

3 p.m. Weekly task force to discuss the upcoming season of “Queer Eye.”

3:30 p.m. Call with New York magazine — they’re working on a coffee-table book, and I’m contributing a “queer guide” to the city. I miss New York.

6 p.m. After a bunch of emailing, I’m supposed to do my workout, but I truly cannot find the strength. Somebody said something about a burger earlier today, and now all I can think is burger, burger, burger. Time for a grocery run.

9 p.m. I’m a little confused by “Mrs. America” on FX, but I would do anything for Cate Blanchett. The burger is so good that I go and make another burger, this time with an egg (please do not judge me).

I switch to HBO’s “Run” because the first episode is free on YouTube. Fall asleep watching “The Good Fight.”

6:45 a.m. Our chief executive is doing an early-morning Q. and A., but I skip it to write.

9:52 a.m. I’ve finished another breakfast sandwich just in time to log into a town hall of sorts with the C.E.O. of Glaad and listen to her talk about how L.G.B.T.Q.+ communities have been coping with Covid-19.

10:30 a.m. Fairly light schedule today: a meeting for the “Queer Eye” trailer, a “Circus of Books” premiere and a weekly catch-up with my boss.

5:25 p.m. Today got busy, with asks left and right, as well as some script editing. I’m now 25 minutes late to game night with my chosen family, who are all playing on Zoom without me. To be honest, I hate games. But I am so happy to see their faces and share space with them. We play for two hours, and it’s actually quite fun.

10 p.m. Going to bed, I realized I skipped my workout and spiral only a little.

7:20 a.m. I start the day with Dolly Parton, who is a bit of a muse for my feature, which is about a new-money family of wealthy ranchers.

9:15 a.m. I turn on the new Fiona Apple album and make “protein pancakes” with blueberries, blackberries, bananas, almond butter, granola and honey. Bacon on the side and grapefruit juice.

10 a.m. My birthday is soon, so I’m doing a little planning for a digital fund-raiser for Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in New York.

11 a.m. I’m on my friend Aminatou Sow’s podcast, “Call Your Girlfriend.”

4:58 p.m. I rush the hell out of my last email for the day so I can watch “Drag Race” with my chosen fam — we watch the episode together and talk the whole time in our group chat.

Interviews are conducted by email, text and phone, then condensed and edited.



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