The other day, I got to sit down with two inspiring individuals and have a chat about a new show that's coming to Facebook. Derrick Vidrine is one of five co-hosts to the upcoming "talk show with a twist," the Happy Hour. I had the pleasure of speaking with Derrick and one of his co-stars, David Hand, about their lives as gay men, how they got involved with the talk show, and what they do in their professional lives.
But for Derrick Vidrine it started 7 years ago when he moved to Harlem, a transplant from Atlanta and raised in Louisiana. "I was praying about it, and putting it out in the universe," Derrick recalls, wanting to move outside of the South when his company sent him to New York for a year long contract. And he never left.
Derrick didn't just move to Harlem, he started a movement in Harlem. He has been an active volunteer for voter registration initiatives, helped Harlem become greener by planting flowers in the community, organized public forums, and served as treasurer for a New York City council campaign. He emphasized that the local politics are often "badly corrupted at the most basic level" and that to change the system he has to work closely with Harlemites who understand its current state.
He has always been politically driven, specifically passionate about voting. He believes that everyone should vote and people who historically didn't have the right to vote and choose not to utilize their rights are squandering the struggles it took to get those rights. Derrick expressed interest in making a more formal step towards politics, saying he might run for a city council position one day in the "way, way future."
Derrick grew up in a small Cajun community in the deep south of Louisiana, and he encountered everything you'd expect a young, black man who grew up in the South to run into including having a mom that told him he was "going to hell" if he was gay. But even in the face of such negativity, Derrick has held on to his faith into his adulthood and considers his spirituality an important aspect to his point of view.
Changing gears a little bit, lets talk about how he got involved with The Happy Hour. Derrick had known Kendrell Bowman for a number of years, and Kendrell was looking for gay, professional, male co-stars and called on his good judy, Derrick. And Derrick said no. That's right, Derrick turned. Them. Down. The reason? He just felt like he had to focus on other things in life at the time. Luckily, Derrick accepted when offered the part again a few months later.
Having worked most of his life doing nine to five corporate jobs, Derrick remarked how great the experience was and appreciated the energy with his co-stars, calling it "magical." He is happy to represent the more spiritual aspect of the "same sex love community," his preferred term for gay people in the discussions to be had on the show.
"The Happy Hour" serves as an incredibly special feat for Vidrine, not only because he gets to slay outside of the 9-5, but he is using the medium of the show to come out of the closet to his extended family. Could you imagine coming out of the closet on a talk show? Iconic and Legendary. Legendary I say! Coming out of the closet can be one of the scariest things for a gay person to do, and to put it on Facebook in an undeniable and unavoidable way takes a crazy amount of bravery, and I have to personally commend him for that.
Derrick hopes the show is going to have an impact on how people view gay men and serve as an example for future media to follow. He wants to focus on eliminating stereotypes about gay men in media, such as flamboyancy and arrogance and help show that gay men can be hard-working professionals. He hopes straight people realize that gay people should be taken seriously, with serious opinions and perspectives that are not represented by traditional media, and I'm sure The Happy Hour will show them just that.