Living authentically is the message that Pastor Eddie Lawrence preaches to his flock at Perpetual Peace Ministries, but does his own truth extend beyond the pulpit?

In his debut novel, COLLAR CONFESSIONS: Sharing the Man of God, and the soon-to-be-released COLLAR CONFESSIONS series on Here TV, author and screenwriter Dwight Allen O’Neal tells the tale of a cleric who spins a tangled web of lies, greed, sex, and addiction.

As seen from the pews, Pastor Lawrence is a sanctified leader, a beatified son of God, living a pious life of faith alongside his childhood girlfriend and soon-to-be first lady, Tiara. What parishioners in the congregation do not know is that their beloved curate is far from holy.

He possesses prodigious pride, insidious greed, and an unquenchable lust that he satisfies with casual sex with both women and men.

In the novel, Pastor Lawrence struggles to reconcile his life’s soul-wrenching contradictions and juggle relationships with his two fiancés: Tiara and his secret male paramour, O’Neill. Little does he know that he isn’t the only one carrying secrets…

“This story deals with the hypocrisy within the church,” says O’Neal. “The church is a place that was created to heal; however, many people in the LGBTQ+ community enter the church and then are in need of healing. They lead double lives, in constant fear of being discovered. Many turn to social media that is, in essence, a dangerous Pandora’s Box where anything can happen.”

When creating the COLLAR CONFESSIONS screenplay, O’Neal and his co-writers, Dane Joseph and Daniel Armando (who also directs the series), originally planned to re-tell the story from the book, but opted instead to tell a new story in the world that the book created. The series explores the journey Pastor Eddie takes after his experiences with the characters in the book. “We challenged ourselves further by looking at the story from the lens of a thriller,” explains Daniel Armando.

Nathaniel J. Ryan stars as Pastor Eddie Lawrence in the series. “Pastor Eddie is a man deeply in love with his lover(s) and his husband, however, his insecurities prevent him from remaining monogamous. I think Pastor Eddie is misunderstood, even by himself.”

Ryan says he approached the role by looking for similar characteristics within himself that would allow him to empathize and understand Pastor Eddie better. “Stepping into his shoes and wardrobe helped me to bring the character to life.”

Making his film debut in a non-adult movie is 2020 GAYVN Winner DeAngelo Jackson. “I have always dreamed of doing more than adult film work,” Jackson reflects. “When I first read the book, I was thrilled to be able to bring one of the characters to life. After learning the series would be a thriller and I would get to perform stunts on camera and learn fight choreography, I was sold!”

“I hope COLLAR CONFESSIONS entertains and inspires viewers to live in truth,” Jackson continues.

“Too often, we live our lives for other people, doing what is expected of us but not what makes us happy. I also hope that viewers note the consequences that occur when we decide to hurt people. Every action has a reaction, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.”

“We are excited to support original stories that challenge us to be our most truthful selves within interpersonal and professional relationships,” said Emmy-winning Producer and Here TV President John Mongiardo. “The production team at Novo Novus takes diverse and powerful content to a level specifically designed for Here TV’s exclusive and premium platform distribution.”

COLLAR CONFESSIONS is executive produced by Dwight Allen O’Neal, Daniel Armando and Dane Joseph. It premieres on HERE TV on Friday October 8.

Dwight Allen O’Neal’s COLLAR CONFESSIONS: Sharing the Man of God will be available on Amazon and wherever books are sold on Friday October 1.

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Mjolnir

Like many of the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe films, LGBTQ+ fans awaited the release of Thor: Love and Thunder in open anticipation of the inclusivity that both Marvel and Disney had promised. However, the fans were only setting themselves up for disappointment when the film was finally released.

Despite passionate assurances from studio heads to key actors, Thor: Love and Thunder was NOT spectacularly gay. It wasn’t even that good…

Premiere Night Promises

A bolt of lightning cuts across a rainbow on a dark and stormy night.

Lightning bold across the sky

Photo by Bill D.

Standing on the red carpet at the London Premiere of the film, director and actor Taika Waititi and fellow cast members Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson were offered up the inevitable question: “How gay is the film?

Amidst some laughter from the crowds, Waititi gestured towards Portman to respond. The actress (who plays Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster, throughout the franchise) raised the microphone to her lips and thought for a moment, before delivering a quiet yet fateful: “So gay!

Barely a moment had passed before the gathered fans went wild and Taika Waititi gave his own verdict: “Super gay!”. Tessa Thompson made no statement on the ‘gayness’ of the film, instead opting to swing her microphone around suggestively. As more cheers erupted, a second round of “super gay” slipped out of Waititi’s mouth, before he urged the fans to enjoy the film.

Thor: Love and Thunder’s LGBTQ+ Potential

Thor’s movie-goers were definitely hyped up for a gay extravaganza and they had a specific character in mind. The fan-favorite Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, stumbled her way into the MCU during Thor’s third film, Ragnarok. The Asgardian warrior won many people over with her wit, sarcasm, and pure badassery.

After the events of Avengers: Endgame *spoilers*, Thor Odinson gives up his claim to the throne of Asgard and names Valkyrie as king in his stead. This left many fans excited to see what would become of the character, especially after certain revelations were made at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con:

“As a new king, she has to find her queen. So that’ll be her first order of business.”

With these words, Tessa Thompson threw her LGBTQ+ fans into a frenzy, with heavy expectations for the then-upcoming fourth installment of the Thor films. Indeed, in an interview with the LA Times, shortly before the film's release, Tessa Thompson was asked to comment on the sexuality of her character. She responded with several promising remarks, including “there’s a lot of folks that are righteously very hungry for that representation to exist in these movies, as am I”.

*Warning: spoilers ahead!*

So, How Gay Was Thor 4?

To put it simply: not gay at all. Not only did Valkyrie end up without a fabulous new queen, her non-heteronormative sexuality only got the barest mention (a brief line about a previous, now dead, girlfriend). Valkyrie may have made bedroom eyes at some pretty ladies before an action scene spoils the moment, but that’s about as much as we get.

The film does get some credit for introducing a trans character in a minor yet significant role. Thor returns to his people (after a brief stint as a Guardian of the Galaxy) only to find out that the daughter of one of his closest (and deceased) friends is now a boy. The issue is, whether due to personal prejudice or some alien inability to grasp the concept of being transgender, it does take Thor a frustrating few moments to come to terms with the change. And to stop deadnaming.

In fact, the only concession to the queer community was Taika Waititi’s extraterrestrial character Korg finding a husband in one of the closing scenes. This heartfelt moment was somewhat underscored by the revelation that Korg’s entire species is male, meaning he had no other choice but to be ‘gay’.

This Is Not Marvel’s First Queerbaiting Attempt

Close up of an eye reflecting an unknown scene as a rainbow crosses the image.

Photo by Harry Q.

This is, by far, not the first time that LGBTQ+ fans have been sorely disappointed by the workings of Marvel and Disney. In fact, people across many social media platforms have been chiding expectant viewers for once again falling for classic queerbaiting tactics. “Being queerbaited by the MCU is like being a golden retriever with a human who always pretends to throw the ball”, one Tumblr user declared.

Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, was the perfect moment for the MCU to introduce its first lesbian lead. Larson’s character seemed to have an intense relationship with another woman, going so far as to help raise her child (before Larson’s Carol Danvers disappeared from Earth for 6 years). Despite leaning into several romantic tropes, the status of their relationship was never fully fleshed out. However, it was also the franchise’s first female-led superhero movie, so maybe they thought that introducing her as a lesbian would make the film too awesome.

The heavily anticipated Avengers: Endgame was also slated to introduce the MCU’s ‘first gay character'. While many fans were excited, particularly as this would be the second of Larson’s appearances on screen, the big gay build-up was a massive letdown. The film’s director Joe Russo made a cameo as a blip survivor mourning the loss of his husband. A five-second throw-away scene that had no impact on the outcome of the film. Big whoop...

Even when we did see a film with a gay lead, The Eternals, there were also ten other straight leads. At that point, it just seemed more like basic probability than an attempt at pushing LGBT+ superheroes into the spotlight.

Why Can’t Disney Let Marvel Be Gay?

The big problem with allowing a few characters to be anything other than cishet is that there are still many countries in the world that outlaw homosexuality. As much as we like to think that the MCU is being made for comic book fans, we all know the purpose of the films is to make money for Disney. And without certain markets in Asia and the Middle East, Disney wouldn’t be raking in up to (and over) one billion dollars per theatrical release.

Is There Any Hope For LGBTQ+ Fans In The MCU’s Future?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the second in the much-loved Black Panther arc, will be released in cinemas this November. The studio has confirmed that the film will contain a queer character. Actress Michaela Coel will play Aneka, a warrior, and trainer of the king’s guard. Whether or not her diversity will stand out in the film (let alone endure for more than a 10-second scene that can be easily cut) remains to be seen.


Next year’s The Marvels film, starring Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, and Lashana Lynch may offer the MCU a chance to redeem itself in the eyes of its LGBT+ fans. The studios may feel it’s finally time to offer us the heartwarming lesbian relationship between Larson’s Carol Danvers and Lynch’s Maria Rambeau that seemed to be teased in the first Captain Marvel. Don’t raise your hopes too high, though, as you may yet end up as a stubborn golden retriever waiting for a cinematic universe to finally throw that rainbow ball.