Coming out is never straightforward; it’s full of uncertainty, excitement and more than a few horny encounters, but it’s a long overdue step for Adam (Will Hutchins). His best mate, Marco (Ryan Stewart), has known he is gay for a while, and Adam is more than comfortable in his own skin. Plus, Adam has a new boyfriend, the pansexual Josh (Adam Mountain), who happens to be his brother Clay’s (Steven Christou) best mate. But coming out to family is the easy part; it’s life, love and family relationships that are far more tricky to navigate in Lee Galea’s Aussie gem, Single, Out. Lee’s hit Monster Pies took the festival circuit by storm following its Melbourne Queer Film Festival debut in 2013, becoming the first Australian film to win Best Feature. Lee followed this success in 2017 with The Neon Spectrum starring Joshua Orpin, a unique take on The Wizard of Oz, before working on Filterphonic and Sexagenarian. “Single, Out” marks his return to LGBTQ+ storytelling and his first episodic work.
After a successful run at several queer film festivals and Pride events, season one of “Single, Out” is about to arrive on DVD, with season two also on the way. It’s a series that wears its rainbow colours with pride through the dynamic performances of a truly amazing young cast led by Will Hutchins, whose love of performance and art developed throughout his education. Before Single, Out, Will played several lead roles in plays before moving on to indie film projects, where he was spotted by Lee, who fell in love with his comic timing and effervescent charm. Single, Out has just hit the number one spot in the Amazon UK chart, as I join Will and Lee via Zoom. Will’s smile lights up the screen as he provides an enthusiastic synopsis of what audiences should expect, “No spoilers! Adam is already at a point where he is ready to come out in the first episode, and following that, we see him navigate what that means for him, what it means for his family and his relationships in a playful way. He is just a kid trying to figure out where he fits with his newfound sense of self and freedom.”
Will’s thoughts highlight a significant difference between Single, Out and its contemporaries; Single Out isn’t a classic coming-out story; Adam is already out with friends before he blurts out, “I’m Gay” during a rather tense family dinner. Lee adds, “I didn’t want to do a film or series focusing on the whole struggling with your sexuality thing. I wrote the character that became Adam in Single, Out when I was fifteen, and he was supposed to feature in Monster Pies, but I didn’t manage to bring the character to the screen in the way I had intended. So through Will, I got to revisit the character and make him the person I had originally created.”
Lee’s need to revisit a character from the past makes sense; after all, since Monster Pies, confidence has grown in LGBTQ+ filmmaking and storytelling, but that doesn’t mean shows like Single, Out are any less challenging to fund, as Lee knows all too well, “I have certain people who like to invest in my work. After writing the screenplay during the 2020 lockdowns in Melbourne, originally as an anthology, before reshaping it, I was lucky to have the support from friends, colleagues and family in taking it forward.” He sips his morning brew and continues, “A few people doubted me, but I just had a gut feeling that the show was going to be a success and that people were gonna love it. I loved Freaks and Geeks when it was on, and I didn’t want Single, Out to vanish after one season as that show did; season two is a great continuation of Adam’s story, and we are now starting to shoot season three!”
Lee’s confidence in Single, Out wasn’t misplaced, but there is always a risk in moving forward with a second season before festival reactions come in. Thankfully, for Lee, festival and Pride screenings were positive, “The first screening we got to watch with an audience was Melbourne. There was so much anxiety that day because Will was at work, and they held him a bit late. He works at a cinema, and I was like, “oh no, he’s missing it”. I think he missed the first three episodes. I’ve never experienced anything like it at a festival. People were laughing so much you couldn’t hear some of the other jokes; that was such an experience for all of us, and I’m so glad Will eventually made it. We got messages on Instagram, and Will got a few, um, interesting messages from the World Pride screenings on Qantas flights! I was like, okay, maybe don’t respond”. Will laughs, “Yeah, I think it was the Qantas flights where people started to notice the show. I was happy that that was happening, I certainly had a few notifications on the phone, and I was like, oh, there’s someone out there on a plane watching the show, which I thought was cool.”
Will’s comic timing throughout Single, Out is impeccable, as is his ability to reflect the joy and turbulence of Adam slowly finding his feet. Early in season one, there is a beautifully staged scene in a gay club where Adam has no idea he is the centre of attention as he nervously sips on a gin and tonic brought by an admirer. That one scene is symbolic of the nuance Will brings to the role. “I remember the first time I read the script; there were so many things where I was like, okay, this is important, moments that Adam was going through in terms of his own development. I read the script during the 2020 lockdowns, I was in year 12 at the time; there were so many things in my own life that were lined up pretty much exactly with Adam’s – like first love, relationships, and starting to have more responsibility within your family and work. So it was a matter of lining up my own life and struggles with Adams; at the time, both were perfectly paralleled. I then spent time talking to Lee and the other cast members to help form who Adam was. Because Adam, as Lee said, is very close to his heart and elements of Adam are based on Lee’s experiences, it was really important to me that Lee and I had a strong relationship going into this.”
The relationship between Adam and his older brother (Clay) sits at the heart of Single, Out; their bond is strong, loving and tender. Yet, like all brothers, they bicker, fight and don’t always share their thoughts and feelings. In the landscape of gay coming-of-age TV shows, it’s rare to see these brotherly bonds played out on screen, and much of that is down to Lee’s own family experiences. “I’m so close to my brother, who also produced the show with me. So many scenes between Adam and Clay represent memories. But it wasn’t until we finished the show that a review stated that Single, Out was about the journey of two brothers, something I hadn’t initially considered. Will and Steven became super close, like brothers, during filming.” Will smiles, “Steven is such a devoted artist. I won’t call him just an actor; he’ll get mad at me. He was so keen to jump into creating the brotherly bond between Adam and Clay. We did a lot of Zoom calls and rehearsals. Then while we were shooting in a house, there was an opportunity for us to spend a few consecutive days living together, trying out the characters. Over those few days, I think our personal relationship developed alongside our characters. We were so lucky to have that opportunity and have been incredibly close since.
The brotherly bond at the heart of Single, Out is also different because both brothers sit within the LGBTQ+ community despite their differing sexual orientations. Lee explains, “I just wanted to have two brothers who were both in that community but not necessarily on the same path. I have a twin brother, and he was going to gay clubs and had gay friends before he knew I was gay. That was partly why I came out to him because I was like, well, you might as well know, if you’re so gay friendly and you’re so cool going to clubs and having all these gay friends, you should know I’m gay as well. I think that little conversation that Adam and Clay have in the bedroom where they come out to each other, but in different ways, is a spin on differing community experiences.
Single, Out also celebrates the platonic gay male friendship in a way that hasn’t been seen since Queer as Folk. So often, gay characters in TV shows have straight best friends, but Single, Out introduces us to Marco, Adam’s gay best mate. As Lee explains, “I wanted Adam to have a bestie who would guide him, someone he could talk to and, you know, chat about guys too. I never saw him as having a bunch of straight friends that he had to come out to.”
Of course, comparisons are bound to be made with shows like Love, Victor and Heartstopper, something Lee is more than aware of, “Heartstopper didn’t exist on TV when we were filming Single, Out, but Love, Victor was around. However, I felt Love, Victor took too long to explore gay sex and hookups, considering the age of its characters. I wanted Adam to hook up straight away rather than take a whole season just for a kiss. I didn’t want the internal struggle and the girlfriend on the side. Adam is much closer to real young horny gay guys; if he has an opportunity to hook up with a hot guy, he’ll take it! I’ve had a lot of feedback saying, that’s really refreshing.”
It’s here where Single, Out plays its ace card; after all, Heartstopper is aimed at a younger audience, while Love, Victor came with the trappings of the Disney machine behind it, but Single, Out is out and proud. Sitting somewhere between Queer as Folk and Big Boys, Single, Out isn’t afraid to fully embrace the gay experience, including sex. The importance of this sat at the heart of Lee’s vision, but it was the actors who were tasked with bringing the more intimate scenes to life on the screen. “It was the best possible challenge”, Will says, “We don’t really get exposed to the intricacies of intimate scenes in drama school or acting classes. I was very grateful to Lee because he allowed us plenty of time in the lead-up to the shoot. So once we were on set, it was comfortable, and we could just go for it and embrace the experience from the character’s point of view. It was scary, but it was also, like, a gift and a great acting experience.” Lee’s commitment to ensuring the cast had the space to get to know each other in the lead-up to filming is evident throughout Single, Out. There’s a camaraderie on display that feels genuine and heartfelt, and this resounding feeling of togetherness makes Single, Out work so well.
With season two on the way and season three in pre-production, Adam’s journey is far from complete as Will hints at what is yet to come, “Life doesn’t really have a neat little bow tie ending. It keeps unravelling as all the beauty and the mess spills out. These characters have still got a lot of growing to do.” As our time together comes to a close, it’s clear from talking with Lee and Will the love and care that went into making Single, Out a reality. It’s a show that shines through its sharp humour, celebration of diversity and understanding of the LGBTQ+ experience. But it’s Lee’s screenplay and a series of strong performances from Will to Steven Christou and Ryan Stewart to Jake Hyde, to name a few, that make this show addictive. Out, proud and joyously reflective of the gay teen experience, Single, Out deserves its ever-growing worldwide fanbase and the admiration it will undoubtedly receive when it arrives on DVD.
Q. GOING TO AN ART EXHIBITION OR A NIGHT OUT CLUBBING?
(Will) Art Exhibition.
(Lee) If I get to dance all night, I’m gonna say clubbing.
(Lee) The NeverEnding Story.
(Will) Having recently watched The NeverEnding Story, I can see why my parents shielded me from it as a kid! It’s traumatic!
Q. PIZZA, WITH OR WITHOUT MUSHROOMS?
(Will) No pizza! No pizza! I don’t like it, and I’m not afraid to say it!
(Lee) I’ll eat mushrooms on pizza. I don’t mind.