How “Broad City’s” Ilana Glazer Is Blazing a Trail of Sex Positivity
Advocacy The comedian, writer and actress, best known as co-creator and co-star of Comedy Central’s “Broad City,” opens up about staying in touch with the youth, embracing fluidity and becoming an accidental feminist icon.
When Ilana Glazer and her creative partner Abbi Jacobson began developing “Broad City,” they couldn’t imagine the impact that their cult feminist hit — which offers a frank take on female sexuality and queerness — would have on audiences. They just wanted to make people laugh and represent their experiences as 20-somethings in New York City. “People interview us, and they’ll be like, ‘Woah, you ladies are so raunchy,’” Glazer shares. “But we don't think of it as raunchy. The way that Abbi and I, as friends, have talked about sex has always been just open and honest.”
Building a support system
Growing up, Glazer witnessed her older brother Eliot’s coming out met with love. “I recognized that I had a family that was going to support me no matter who I was,” she shares. “My brother had paved the way.”
“Seek out… like-minded open-minded, open-hearted people, so that you can talk out what it is you're going through.”
“I remember being in college,” she adds, “and specifically wanting to share the person that I was becoming with my parents. There was this baseline acceptance in my home that definitely makes me freer to express myself that way.”
When she thinks back on her parents’ unconditional understanding, she recognizes how lucky she was. “I don’t think that just blanket openness is the way to go. People have different circumstances in their lives,” she says. “Teenagers are thrown out of their homes for their queerness or for being trans. I think in that scenario, if you're in college and your parents are gonna pull your money because you’re gay, don’t tell them until college is over. It sucks that some kids are put in that position, but get that taken care of and take care of yourself.”
For kids who can’t be open with their family, Glazer notes, “I think it's even more important that you seek out like-minded people. It helps if they identify in the same way you do, but also just like-minded, open-minded, open-hearted people, so that you can talk out what it is you're going through.”
When Glazer brings her stand-up comedy to colleges, she likes to ask the students questions about contemporary life on campus, and she says these interactions leave her with a positive sense of the direction gender politics are trending.
“I definitely think that we are headed toward a place where people don't have to parse out so concretely what they are, when they are,” she says. “The next generation of students is already bringing in a huge influence of fluidity in many areas of identity that is really exciting to me.”
For Glazer, this sense of fluidity is a crucial part of her life and her work. "People grow and change throughout their life. That fluidity is important,” she acknowledges. “I'm on this journey with my audience, but my audience to me is as interesting as I am to them. I plan on growing my audience forever because I really love just the concept of growth — growing with my friends and my family and my partners.”