The Bow’s Matthew McLaughlin is Reshaping How Queer Stories Are Being Told in Media


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Matthew McLaughlin is not just a founder and CEO; he is a trailblazer at the intersection of media and LGBTQ+ advocacy. As the visionary behind The Bow Platform and Bulldog Productions, McLaughlin is on a mission to reshape how queer stories are told and consumed. His ambitious platform aims to become the definitive home for queer streaming content, challenging the industry’s relegation of LGBTQ+ media to niche categories and limited budgets. McLaughlin’s passion for inclusivity and representation shines through in every project, driven by a deep-seated belief in the power of storytelling to educate and unite.


With over 15 years of experience leading up to this pivotal moment, McLaughlin’s journey is one of resilience and alignment with his mission. 2024 promises to be a landmark year, as he spearheads the first round of fundraising for The Bow Platform and launches several new productions. Through his work, McLaughlin is not only creating a space where queer voices are heard but also empowering a community to embrace its full potential and continue pushing towards progress. His dedication to elevating queer narratives reflects a broader vision of a world where diversity is celebrated and all individuals are seen as equally deserving of respect and opportunity.


As part of the GLORY Ones to Watch 2024, we chatted with McLaughlin on the problems he’s trying to solve, and living up to your full potential.
Matthew McLaughlin seated wearing a green t-shirt with a coffee
Photo courtesy of Wade Muir

What is your elevator pitch to the world?


Matthew McLaughlin: Where do you go to watch your quality queer content? Netflix? Prime? Maybe YouTube? How long does it take you to track down that queer movie someone suggested in that obscure LGBTQ+ Facebook group, only to find out you need to pay extra just to view it because there wasn’t a “streamlined” platform that deemed it worthy enough for their viewers, or valuable enough. Why are we always relegated to the ‘one-off’s’ of the major players?


Not anymore. The Bow will be our new queer streaming home. Where all the misfit toys on misfit island can gather to build our own platform. Because it’s what we do, it’s what we’ve always done, and it’s what we will always continue to do—demand our slice of the pie. Because no one’s going to give it to us. It’s up to us to build it, brick by brick.


What excites you most about the work that you are doing?


Matthew McLaughlin: What excites me the most about the work I am doing is that I am constantly being put in places I’ve never been. I am somewhat used to working outside my comfort zone but what has changed is a feeling of alignment. Our mission of connecting people through the queer experience is just the beginning of our story. Because I have this gut feeling like the universe is telling me this is what I am meant to do, it continues to be my driving force. It also continues to support me with the right opportunities and the right people who are making this collaborative journey one worth showing up for. 


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Where do you think you have made the most impact in your industry and/or community?


Matthew McLaughlin:  Where we have made the most impact in the film and TV industry is elevating queer stories to a place where diversity really has a chance to find its audience. Often queer content is seen as adult and niche, so it’s given smaller budgets. We are here to change the status quo and show the world what is possible when queer people are in charge of telling our own stories at every level of production and distribution.  


What kind of problems are you trying to solve? 


Matthew McLaughlin: The problem we are trying to solve is making queer content and educational resources accessible to all. In today’s current climate, we are seeing queer and trans rights being taken away. Books are being banned, “Don’t Say Gay” bills are being put into effect, etc. Education and representation are powerful tools and by making both accessible we aim to empower queers and their allies to continue pushing toward progress.

Matthew McLaughlin seated on a couch wearing a green t-shirt.
Photo courtesy of Wade Muir

What is one lesson that you hope people will learn or walk away with from your work?


Matthew McLaughlin:  The cure to homophobia is education. I hope that people unfamiliar with the queer community become users on The Bow Platform out of curiosity and that the lesson they walk away with is that queer people should not be feared but are here for a reason. I believe queer people are here to help heal us. We are a minority group that transcends race, religion, nationality, or social status. Perhaps the takeaway is that we are all better united than divided.  


What is a misconception about your work, industry, or community that you hope to dispel?


Matthew McLaughlin:  I think some see queer people as sexual deviants that don’t have the same dreams and aspirations as our heterosexual counterparts. This is simply untrue. Queer people grow up too, but in a heteronormative world that isn’t designed with us in mind. And with that, there is no general exposure for the masses, so the masses are open to believing outdated tropes and stereotypes about us.


As we also grow up in this, it sometimes leads our own community to believe those same tropes and stereotypes because an alternative was never modeled for us. True change takes generations, and we want to be part of that story of growth. It’s time for us to tell our own stories with our own voices, and with the rights and equalities we fought so hard for (and continue to fight for all around the world) so that we can continue to show future generations that we are just as worthy, just as deserving, and just as important as anyone else.

BLack and white photo of Billy Porter with his hands raised.
Pictured: Billy Porter at The Bow launch. Photo courtesy of Wade Muir

What is one way that your industry or line of work has improved as a result of the work that you do?


Matthew McLaughlin:  Since our soft launch this past August we have received an outpouring of support within the media space allowing us to get our message and our mission to so many. As a result, we have received a ton of submissions from other queer creators and storytellers and, in a short time, I have gotten a glimpse of just how diverse and revolutionary The Bow Platform is going to be.


Why is 2024 your best year yet? 


Matthew McLaughlin: 2024 is going to be our best year yet because I have spent the last 15+ years building up to this moment. They say if you tell your story backwards, you’ll see that all the obstacles you had to face were here to shape and mold you for your greatest purpose.


In 2024 we are set to open our first round of fundraising and build out our content streaming platform as well as head into production on several exciting projects.


What does GLORY mean to you? 


Matthew McLaughlin:  When I think of GLORY and what it means to me, I think of inner satisfaction. My biggest fear in life is that I won’t live up to my full potential. GLORY to me is not about ego or public validation but simply inner peace knowing that I tried my best and continued to show up and persevere even when the going got tough.

Photo courtesy of Matthew McLaughlin, The Bow