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‘Functional’ webseries spotlights queer Latinx experiences

In the queer Latinx webseries “Functional,” Guillermo Real looks for Mr. Right, but finds a bunch of Mr. Wrongs.

Some are vapid. Some are meatheads. Some are racist.

The season one episode “Whiskey Dick,” which is posted on the series’ YouTube page, spotlights one of Real’s dating disasters. It also gives new meaning to the expression “whiskey dick.”

In the episode, Real and his date have been drinking at a bar. Unfortunately, the guy is a jerk, and the date is horrible.

As they leave the bar, Real accepts a ride home from the guy. In the car, Real gives him a hand job, and then proceeds to blow him.

Shortly thereafter, Real throws up in the guy’s crotch.

Real hesitates a moment, and then — with wonderful comic timing — says goodnight, and gets out of the vehicle.

The season two finale of “Functional” will be posted Friday on the series’ YouTube channel. Season one’s 14 episodes, which aired in 2019, also can be streamed on the channel.

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‘Whiskey Dick’

Daniel Luna, who created and wrote the series, says the “Whiskey Dick” incident is based on a real-life encounter, minus the fellatio and vomit.

“The date happened when I first moved to L.A about six years ago,” says Luna, who lives in the Crenshaw neighborhood. “He was such an asshole. Fortunately, I didn’t puke. A good boozer doesn’t waste his alcohol on anyone.

“It was such a train wreck, but I hadn’t been on a date in a while. I thought, Let’s see how this goes. But, I was able to write about it,” Luna says, with a chuckle.

Functional Queer Latinx webseries

Daniel Luna created and wrote “Functional,” a queer Latinx webseries on YouTube. Photo: “Functional”

‘Functional’

“Functional” is Luna’s first effort at writing, and it’s impressive. He uses authentic dialogue, great story arcs, and the good balance of comedy and drama.

Luna based “Functional” on his personal life, growing up in Colorado and being raised  as a first-generation immigrant trying to navigate being queer and Latinx as well as complexities of each identity.

In season one, Real and his best friend Jazmyne Jimenez have new jobs, meet new people, and hide old relationships.

Real and Jimenez have always been there for each other, even when the rest of the world forgets or ignores them.

Season two of “Functional” focuses on relationship frustrations within the queer community and Latinx influence on day-to-day life.

In an interview with Q Voice News, Luna, 29, talks about the importance of queer Latinx representation, being a virgin writer, and tackling the topics of faith and mental health on “Functional.”

Here are some excerpts.

‘Functional’

“ ‘Functional’ follows Jazmyne and Guillermo, best friends trying to get their life together,” Luna says. “As a first generation born, I sometimes felt that I didn’t belong at home or in school. Then, after I came out, it seemed that the little resources I had became smaller. This series sort of became my personal love letter to celebrate those queer friendships that have helped us accept our differences.

“Season one is proving why Jazmyne and Guillermo are friends and why they are important to each other,” Luna says.

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Jazmyne and Guillermo also are messy

“Essentially, we are talking about these two individuals who are functional alcoholics,” Luna says. “They look like these two wrecks, but when you look into their lives you see they have a lot going on behind them.”

“It’s based on my life back in Denver, two friends being queer, being a hot mess in Denver in their 20s,” Luna says.

Creating ‘Functional’

“It was created out of necessity,” Luna says. “I came to Los Angeles over six years ago. I came here looking for acting roles. I kept getting calls for stereotypical or comedic roles that weren’t funny to me.

“When I was growing up, all the representation I had for anyone who looked like me was that they were the butt of the joke, the gardener, the maid, someone who spoke broken English,” Luna says.

“When it comes to representation, people believe what they see. I thought the reason this type of representation is happening is that anyone who is making these shows hasn’t come across someone like us. They haven’t been exposed to that,” Luna says.

But when I came to L.A., I was like, No. We are everywhere. Why does this still happen?

“It was annoying. Where are the writers? The directors, the producers who look like me? Why is no one paying attention to them?”

Do it yourself

“Instead of waiting, I decided to do it. It’s not going to happen unless I try to make it happen,” Luna says. “It got to the point where I said, I’m done doing these auditions. I took a break from acting.

“Writing gave me an outlet,” Luna says. “It gave me something I could channel all that anger and frustration into.

“The first thing I wrote, in November 2016, was the monologue in episode five where Jazmyne talks about living between two worlds, being brown and being queer,” Luna says.

“I then spent 2017 going to queer writing groups, shared what I wrote, and got feedback.”

Queer Latinx representation on ‘Functional’

“I’m lucky to say that ‘Functional’ is one of very few productions that everyone in front of and behind the camera are queer or have an immigrant background, or are people of color,” Luna says. “The episodes are female directed. All the actors are queer. I proved to myself that this is possible.”

Season 2

Season two starts months after season one’s cliffhanger. Real and Jimenez don’t have each other. They begin individual journeys of self-care to clean up the messes they have created in their lives.

“I’m a comic at heart,” Luna says. “A lot of comedy comes from a lot of dark and hurtful places. It’s very easy to be sad. I have to laugh it off or I will spiral down. 

“In season two, we see what happens when the party ends, when the laughter dies,” Luna says. “You have to face what’s going on at the end of the day, one way or another.”

Faith

“The characters have to go through growth without each other,” Luna says. “One theme we explore in season two is faith. With me, I came from a very Catholic family. It’s very strong in my life, but I don’t talk about it a lot. I know how traumatic and hurtful religion can be to someone who’s queer. 

“I’m not pushing the religion-faith agenda, but I do want to show it in a queer character like Guillermo,” Luna says. “You wouldn’t necessarily see him as someone who is very religious, but it does give him his own guidance and helps him talk through things. Sometimes it’s a taboo topic in the queer community because it can be so hurtful.”

Mental health

“I want to highlight Jazmyne’s part because she goes through a mental health journey,” Luna says. “You see someone one on TV go to therapy, but we don’t know how they got there. How does one find a therapist? We talk about it. It’s a process. We see Jazmyne go through it.”

“Unfortunately, it’s kind of taboo for queer Latinx, people-of-color communities to talk about going to therapy because they think it’s bad. But it’s not bad.

“There’s a lot of things in this season. The main thing is gripping the mirror,” Luna says. “You have to hold yourself accountable if you want to move on.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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