Keeping it real on Logo

Chris Azzopardi

'Be Real'
10 p.m. May 14

Odds are the mainstream press won't have much to say about Logo's "Be Real." That's a shame, considering the soul-stirring stories are told through eyes similar to our own. The seesawing scenes in the May 14 premiere – a cancer survivor struggling with confidence and a black man who finds self-worth through a gay choir – are only a small dose of Logo's heartwarming tales in the five-part series.
At first glance, Calvin Gipson, a San Francisco-based black man who feeds the homeless, seems to be all smiles. On the outside, he is. But the unique fashionista, who takes us through his closet and a typical workday, was hurting for years, which, as he explains, served as the catalyst for helping the homeless – a group often treated as outcasts.
"As a black man I was told I was worthless, and as a gay man I was told I was worthless, so I can relate to that," Gipson says, adding he felt inferior and isolated.
Gipson spills his struggle to fit in as a gay, black man, and explains how joining an all gay men's choir lifted him from the hellhole he was stuck in. The same one that New Yorker Christine Benjamin fell into after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
To escape the mind-numbing feeling from losing both of her breasts, Benjamin snapped photos of herself. "(They) helped me see the beauty in myself in a different way," she says.
So, Benjamin assists other women to fulfill that feeling by helping them appreciate their body. She photographs cancer survivors, and their life-altering scars, to allow them to refocus on what really matters. "This is where we connect," she says, "and this is where the trust is built."
Logo, through nearly 30 minutes of archived snapshots, honest testimonials and a rousing gospel number featuring Gipson, captures the essence of these folks as strong-willed individuals. "Be Real" avoids being marred by an excess of melodramatic moments. Instead it's a fleeting snippet reel featuring unique, everyday folks escaping the ridgid waves and searching for solid ground. Both Gipson and Benjamin are framed as people who often smile on the outside – but sometimes cry on the inside. Who love. Who hope for sunshine. Who aren't dictionary definitions. And, when it comes down to it, are a lot like us.