When Corey Camperchioli was accepted into the acting program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, he hoped his dreams were about to come true. But after meeting with an agent who offered him a pointed ― and devastating ― critique, his future suddenly felt less certain.
“I remember going to an agent’s office and they were like, ‘You’re really talented, you’re really great, but you’re too gay and you’ll never work if you don’t hide that part of yourself,’” he told HuffPost.
Camerchioli wrote and starred in the 2017 short film “Femme,” directed by Alden Peters. The film follows Carson, played by Camperchioli, as he grapples with, fights against and ultimately begins to accept his femininity. It’s an emotional and eye-opening look at how feminine men are often treated not only by mainstream culture but also within the gay community.
“I would be on the apps and hookup apps and dating apps, and I would see a lot of ‘no femmes’ and ‘masc only,’” Camperchioli said. “I just felt like everywhere I turned I was getting reinforced that being feminine or markedly queer is a bad thing.”
Camperchioli, now 28, took the thing that made him “different” and used it to fuel a heartfelt story with a femme character at its forefront ― as well as “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Aja, who plays Carson’s “drag queen fairy godmother,” as Camperchioli puts it.
Making the film and embracing his femmeness have allowed Camperchioli to finally find a way to love himself. But it’s the reactions to the film from around the world that have moved him the most.
“We got this tweet from this kid in Morocco and he was like, ‘Being gay in an Arab country is hard enough, but being gay and femme in an Arab country is even harder. Thank you so much for telling this story,’” he said. “To hear that just completely blows my mind.”
Check out the entire interview above, and head to the film’s website for screenings and more information.