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A League of Their Own’s Will Graham Uplifts Queer Fans With Moving Message

A League of Their Own’s Will Graham Uplifts Queer Fans With Moving Message

<p><em>A League of Their Own</em>’s Will Graham Uplifts Queer Fans With Moving Message</p>

A League of Their Own’s queer co-creator Will Graham thanked fans and urged them to find and hold on to joy amid the show’s cancellation by Amazon Studios, which comes at a tough political moment for LGBTQ+ people.

It wasn’t long after A League of Their Own was released on Prime Video last summer before fans who identified with its storytelling began building a community around it.

Like the smash 1992 Penny Marshall film, the series centers on the women who played ball during World War II as part of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. But the League series also focuses on stories of queer, Black, and Latinx players whose stories hadn’t been told. It was a blow for so many queer and BIPOC fans who felt seen by League’s stories when Amazon Studios unceremoniously announced last week that the show had been canceled without moving forward with the hard-fought four-episode second season.

The studio went so far as to blame its cancellation on striking writers and actors. Now, League co-creator Will Graham has sent a heartfelt message to the fans via social media thanking them for their love and support and reminding them to hold on to joy amid difficult times.

“To the League fans, we found out this news along with you on Friday. I see the pain and anger and worry out there, which for the LGBTQIA+ fans of the show is of course compounded by what’s happening across the country right now,” Graham, who is queer and nonbinary, wrote on social media. “As I’ve been thinking about what’s happened, I come back to a quote from Penny Marshall’s film: ‘The hard is what makes it great.’”

Graham and Abbi Jacobson created the series that features a spectrum of queer identities and intersections, including Jacobson’s catcher Carson, who falls for D’Arcy Carden’s pitcher Greta, and Chanté Adams’s Max, a ringer of a ballplayer who is shut out of the league because she’s Black. Beyond the on-screen representation, League was brought to life by several queer creatives including executive producer Desta Tedros Reff, director Jamie Babbit, and writer Michelle Badillo.

Earlier this week, Jacobson (Broad City) thanked the fans and called out the studio for blaming working actors and writers.

“To blame this cancellation on the strike, (which is an essential fight for fair wages, protections and working conditions, etc…) is bullshit and cowardly,” Jacobson wrote on Instagram.

In their thread on social media, Graham also touched on the studio and the strikes.

“Amazon is pursuing different kinds of programming, but to the rest of the world, this show is a hit and has huge value and even greater potential. But first things first, we have to win this strike and get a fair deal before we can explore what comes next,” Graham wrote.

“But for a moment, I want to talk about what happens if the world didn’t quite change quickly enough for you to have all the seasons of this show that we want to give you,” they said. “If we don’t find a good path forward, I will still know that League did what it came here to do and, in its own small way, changed the world.”

“And that’s because of all of you, and the light you continue to shine on the show — How you let it matter to you, how you let it become a mirror, how you let it change you,” they wrote.

An executive producer on the hit limited series Daisy Jones & the Six, Graham, in their post, elucidates the impact of the League community, the least of which was then-95-year-old original AAGPBL player and consultant for the series Maybelle Blair’s decision to come out publicly at the Tribeca Film Fest ahead of the show’s release.

“You lifted up a 95-year-old who had just come out of the closet and made her into a celebrity who gets recognized wherever she goes,” Graham wrote.

League’s cancellation comes at a time when there are more than 600 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the United States, making queer visibility ever more essential. Meanwhile, GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV 2022-2023 points to an alarming trend of cancellations.

“Of the 596 LGBTQ characters, 175 (29 percent) will not be returning due to series cancellations, endings, miniseries/anthology format, or a character dying or leaving the show,” the GLAAD report states. “Of those, 140 characters won’t return due specifically to series cancellations or otherwise ending.”

Graham addressed the political climate, recognizing and identifying with queer fans who may feel invisible, before urging them to find joy.

“In case anyone needs to hear it: You are not small, niche, modest, off-putting or marginal, and neither are your stories. … And no matter what happens, the people behind League aren’t going anywhere. Give us a minute, we will be back with more for you to watch and read and feel. We’re going to win,” Graham wrote. “And you’re not going anywhere either, because what you’ve built and what you are is bigger than this show. It’s the story of our community, that comes to us through the hidden history that League shows just one small part of: The bars got raided and shut down, but the people didn’t go anywhere, and they opened a new bar, and out of those spaces came music, cinema, dance, culture — What we now see as mainstream was birthed from the spaces our predecessors were forced to hide in. They made joy there.”

“In coming together, you are the start of something new, the seeds of a joy we desperately need, the beat of the music that people will dance to in a better future,” they wrote. “The hard is what makes it great.”

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