Olympus Blog

In the Olympus blog you'll find the latest news about the community, tutorials, helpful resources and much more! React to the news with the emotion stickers and have fun!
Bottom image

Pop Culture Fix: Charlize Theron Was Serious About That Lesbian “Die Hard” Remake, Y’all

Pop Culture Fix: Charlize Theron Was Serious About That Lesbian


You know what I was wishing for today? One of those little spray guns they have (had?) at bars that they spritz seltzer out of right into your glass? Wouldn’t that be cool, and then instead of the other buttons being soda, it could be flavors for your seltzer! Maybe I should just crack and get a SodaStream.


+ Charlize Theron really does want to make that lesbian Die Hard, y’all.

+ Gillian Anderson will play Eleanor Roosevelt in the new Showtime First Ladies series.

+ Lee Daniels on Billie Holiday: “Her imperfection is what made her perfect.”

+ Shadow and Act has an exclusive clip of The United States vs. Billie Holiday!

+ Legends of Tomorrow is moving to Sunday to pair with Batwoman when it returns in May.

+ The many cruelties of I Care a Lot.

+ Lorraine Toussaint on She-Ra, Orange Is the New Black, and The Equalizer.

+ The Director’s Guild of America reports, completely unshocklingly, that women of color are still underrepresented behind the camera.

+ In a recent interview, Zendaya balked at the question “What do you like most in a man?” which Drew is calling “a soft coming out.” 😂

+ It’s a Sin and the untold stories of the women in the AIDS crisis.

+ Netflix’s true crime boom is it a dangerous crossroads.

+ The Black women of Star Wars and how they’re represented.

+ Why don’t TV characters have text history?

+ Best tweet of the week?


Support Independent Queer Media

We’re raising funds to make it through the end of July. 99% of the people who read this site don’t support. Will you be one of the ones who do? Joining A+ is one of the best ways to support Autostraddle — plus you get access to bonus content while keeping the site 99% free for everyone. Will you join today?

Support Autostraddle

Join A+

Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior writer who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She’s a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 1102 articles for us.

Queer Elders and Grandparents Star in New Picture Books

Queer Elders and Grandparents Star in New Picture Books

There have been very few picture books featuring queer elders and grandparents, but several new ones are adding to the list!

Roger and Matthew

Roger and Matthew, by Canadian singer/songwriter Michel Theriault (Fitzhenry & Whiteside), is a poetic, gentle story about the lives of a retired, White, two-man couple. “Everyone in the village knows them. They are part of the neighborhood,” we read. They have known each other since elementary school and “don’t need words to understand each other.” They live in a home with sunlight, flowers, and “sleepy cats.”

They are “two kind gentlemen,” but “because they were different people were often mean to them and sometimes hurt them”—nevertheless, “they weathered these storms with pride and courage.” Now, they are happy and their home is full of love. They are kind, we read again, and the book concludes, “Roger and Matthew are in love.” The story was originally a song called “Roger et Mathieu,” from Thériault’s album Drôle d’oiseau. It then became a picture book in French, Ils sont…, which was translated by Pamela Doll to create this version.

Although bias against the couple is mentioned, the focus is on the happiness they found together and on their quiet strength. Magali Ben’s limited-palette watercolor illustrations are simply gorgeous, perfectly capturing the quiet tone of the words and the everyday details of the couple’s life together. This is a beautiful story with a vision of growing old as a same-sex couple that we rarely see. There’s no indication of the men ever raising children, but nevertheless, children with same-sex grandparents as well as queer children wondering what their future might look like may particularly appreciate it. Having said that, this tender story should be enjoyed by all.

Katy Has Two Grampas

Katy Has Two Grampas, by Julie Schanke Lyford and Robert A. Schanke, with illustrations by Mariia Luzina (Wise Ink), takes its title fairly obviously from Lesléa Newman’s classic Heather Has Two Mommies, but is based on an incident that happened to Lyford’s own daughter (and Schanke’s granddaugher) Katy. Katy, a White first-grader who has a lisp, is often misunderstood by her classmates and teacher, but is excited about inviting her grampas to school on Grandparents’ Day. When Katy draws a picture and tells her teacher that it is of her grampa and grampa, however, her teacher tries to convince her that she meant to say “grandpa and grandMA.” Katy becomes upset and decides she doesn’t want them to come to class with her after all, since she doesn’t want to introduce them in front of the class and be misunderstood. Her big sister explains to the teacher that their grampas are “married to EACH OTHER,” and the teacher apologizes and says that both men are welcome.

On the day of the event, Katy summons her courage and announces, “These are my grampas and know what? They’re married … TO EACH OTHER.” At the end, her grampas praise her and say they’ll take her out for ice cream. The narrative could use a little tightening—it feels a little wordy for a book with a first-grade protagonist—but this is an earnest and heartfelt story that many should like for its depiction of a two-grandfather couple.

Like so many other picture books with same-sex relatives, though, it emphasizes a child getting upset when someone misunderstands about her family (in this case compounded by the teacher’s assumption that Katy’s lisp is the problem), even if the situation later resolves happily. For children who really encounter such questioning of their family structures, such books can offer comfort—but when so many picture books with queer characters have similar storylines, one may long for more stories in which the characters’ queerness is only incidental and doesn’t have to be explained. Nevertheless, it’s great to see one more story among the very few with queer grandparents.

On the promotional site for Katy Has Two Grampas, in fact, the authors say it is “The first children’s book featuring married gay grampas.” It is not, however, the first children’s book to feature a two-grandfather couple. Heather Smith’s A Plan for Pops (Orca, 2019) includes two grandfathers who are obviously a couple, settled into a routine indicative of a long relationship—and the publisher’s website clearly tags the book as having LGBTQ content. True, A Plan for Pops never uses the term “married” to refer to the men—but to see their relationship as anything less than a marriage seems disingenuous. (My full review here.) Additionally, David Hyde Costello’s Little Pig Saves the Ship (Charlesbridge, 2017), also includes a two-grandfather couple; their coupledom is less obvious here (so count it or not as you wish), but Costello confirmed it in a 2017 radio interview. There is power in words, though, and some readers may prefer the explicit ALL CAPS reference in Katy that the grandfathers are married to each other; those looking for a story in which the same-sex relationship doesn’t lead to a misunderstanding may favor the other titles. (Or try them all and see which resonate with you.)

Grandad's Camper

Grandad’s Camper, by Harry Woodgate, an upcoming book from the partnership between GLAAD and Little Bee Books, also depicts a two-grandfather couple. (It comes out April 6 but is available for preorder). Every summer, a child (with brown skin and dark brown hair) goes to stay with her grandad (who is White) by the sea. Her favorite activity is hearing his stories of the “tall and handsome” Gramps (who has brown skin and black hair) and how they explored the world in their camper. Woodgate’s lush illustrations take us with them through cities and jungles, and show us the loving, fun relationship between the two men and between the girl and Grandad.

The child observes that she can see “how much he loved Gramps.” She asks why Grandad doesn’t go anywhere now, and he replies, “Since Gramps died, I just don’t feel like it.” The girl then convinces him to fix up the camper with her. Grandad suggests they pack some snacks and go camp on the beach, just like he and Gramps used to. And so they do.

I like this sweet story a lot. I do wonder, however, about the entire scope of their family. The girl visits Grandad during the summer, so she presumably lives with her parent or parents the rest of the year. We can assume that one of those parents is the child of Grandad and Gramps. We hear and see nothing about those parents in the story, however. Did Gramps die before Grandad even became a father? If so, it feels a little odd (though not completely out of the question) that the girl would call him Gramps, since her parent on that side of the family would probably not even have called him father. If Gramps and Grandad became parents together, however, and Gramps died after their child(ren) grew up, one might assume they’d have used the camper to take trips with their child(ren). In that case, one might think there would have been at least one mention or image of that in the story. Maybe Gramps died after their child(ren) came into the family but before they were old enough to go traveling with them? Did that mean Grandad raised his child(ren) as a single dad during a time when such things were even less common than they are now? If so, all credit to him for that. In a book of this length, I know one can’t go into too many background details, but I would have loved to see just a hint of the family thread—the “love through the generations” touted on the back cover.

Perhaps I’m wanting too much here. Readers may prefer filling in the gaps of the story with their own imaginations. (Clearly, it sparked mine.) Regardless, this is a lovely story about the relationship between a girl and her grandfather and how people in a family continue to have an impact even after they are gone. Gramps is shown on many pages together with Grandad; this isn’t a case of making their relationship invisible (though there’s a different sort of impact in seeing a child interacting with both grandparents in a same-sex couple, as in some of the stories mentioned above). A rainbow flag waving from the camper (on the cover and one interior page), and a pink triangle on Grandad’s shirt in images from his younger days mark this as a queer-inclusive book without making it “about” being queer, which is terrific.

There are only a few other books I know of that include queer grandparents: George Parker’s Bell’s Knock Knock Birthday (Flamingo Rampant, 2017), in which a child welcomes their nonbinary “Grandmani” to a party, and j wallace skelton’s The Last Place You Look (Flamingo Rampant, 2017), set at a Passover seder hosted by a two-bubbie (grandmother) couple. Clearly the queer grandfathers have a slight numerical edge overall; let’s hope we soon see some more about queer grandmothers and nonbinary grandparents, too. Very often, as Grandad’s Camper makes clear, elders and grandparents are the storytellers of the family (or of the community). Surely there are even more stories they could be telling us.

When was the first gay TV series? A short history of LGBT+ representation

The gay kiss on Australian TV series The Box in 1974

While representation of gay characters in TV series has come a long way in the last couple of decades, it has been a painfully slow process to get to this point.

This year, GLAAD’s “Where We Are On TV” report found that of 773 series regular characters scheduled to appear on broadcast scripted primetime television in the US this season, 9.1 percent are LGBT+. However, with 20 percent of Americans aged 18 to 34 identifying as LGBT+, there is still a long way to go.

But for most of TV history, LGBT+ characters have been totally absent, or have appeared fleetingly as the butt of a joke or as a victim of violence.

When did the first gay character appear on TV?

In 1971, the year after the first-ever Pride parade in the US and when homosexuality was still considered a disorder, All in the Family became the first American sitcom to show a gay character on TV, in only its fifth episode.

The episode subverted gay stereotypes, as Archie Bunker mocks a man who he considers effeminate, but turns out to be straight. It is later revealed that his macho, football-loving drinking buddy Steve is actually gay.

The gay character Peter Panama, played by Vincent Schiavelli, in the US TV series The Corner Bar
The gay character Peter Panama, played by Vincent Schiavelli, in the US TV series The Corner Bar. (Youtube/ Gilmore Box)

A year later, in 1972, US sitcom The Corner Bar included the first-ever gay series regular on American TV. While the ABC show stuck around for just 16 episodes, it made history with the character of Peter Panama, played by Vincent Schiavelli.

Rich Wandel, then-president of the Gay Activists Alliance, called Peter “the worst stereotype of a gay person I’ve ever seen”.

While most early gay characters were sidelined, not given their own storylines or love interests, eventually same-sex couples began appearing on TV.

During the same year as The Corner Bar, Australia also saw its first gay series regular – Don Finlayson portrayed Joe Hasham on the serial Number 96 between 1972 and 1977. He had several same-sex relationships, and even lived with his boyfriend Dudley.

In 1975 ABC’s Hot l Baltimore featured the first gay couple on US network television. George and Gordon, played by Lee Bergere and Henry Calvert, were a middle-aged gay couple that appeared on the show, which was so controversial that it was dropped by the network after six months on air.

It wasn’t until 1981 that a TV show with a gay lead character was shown on primetime US television, when NBC’s Love, Sidney aired. However the show’s titular character Sidney Shorr, a single gay man, remains in the closet for every one of the 40 episodes.

The UK trailed behind in its LGBT+ TV representation, and an openly gay character was not shown on TV until 1985, when the Liverpool-based soap Brookside introduced Gordon Collins, played by Nigel Cowley.

In 1989, the first Black lesbian relationship on US TV was broadcast by ABC in the series The Women of Brewster Place.

The LGBT lesbian kiss Brookside
The groundbreaking kiss between Beth and Margaret in Brookside in 1994 is still being talked about today (Channel 4)

When was the first same-sex kiss shown on TV?

One of the first same-sex kisses shown on TV anywhere in the world is thought to have been on the Australian soap opera The Box, in 1974.

Vicki Stafford, played by Judy Nunn, is a bisexual reporter who, in the very first episode of the show, shared a same-sex kiss with Felicity, played by Helen Hemingway.

In the UK, Eastenders broadcast the first gay kiss between Colin Russell (Michael Cashman) and his partner Barry Clark (Gary Hailes) in 1989.The first kiss between two women on a UK TV series was aired in 1994. The iconic Brookside lesbian kiss was followed the same year by another same-sex smooch on Byker Grove.

In the US, the first same-sex kiss on network television was between two female lawyers on LA Law in 1991. NBC received multiple complaints and advertisers pulled their ads from the network, however the show ran for eight seasons and won multiple Emmys.

What’s next for LGBT+ representation on TV? It’s hard to say, but things are definitely going in the right direction – even if there is more to be done.

 

For my gf who I believe is in this subreddit : actuallesbians

For my gf who I believe is in this subreddit

A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!

Former model Carey James on the best clubs to enjoy in post-pandemic Berlin / GayCities Blog

Former model Carey James on the best clubs to enjoy

GayCities encourages you to stay safe during the Covid 19 pandemic. If you choose to travel, we recommend that you follow all CDC Travel Guidelines and adhere closely to all local regulations regarding face coverings, social distancing and other safety measures.

Carey James, retired model and host of the Failfighters podcast

Think of Carey James as a modern male Dorothy Gale.

Like the Wizard of Oz heroine, Carey started life in Parsons, Kansas, before traveling to fantastical lands populated by colorful characters. His journey began in Los Angeles where he pursued a modeling career while earning his psychology degree. From there he Yellow Brick Road-ed across the globe, adventuring in the major metropolises of Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hamburg before settling in Berlin.

Now he’s applying his psychological savviness into his podcast Failfighters while navigating Germany’s strict quarantine.

In order to glean a global perspective of queer culture outside of the US, we kiki’ed with Carey about Berlin, surviving during the pandemic, and the benefits of failing.

A glimpse into Carey’s LA modeling days

How is Berlin dealing with the quarantine? What is open?

Germany is pretty hardcore on restrictions and lockdown. Angela Merkel is pretty tough about this stuff. We’re in full lockdown, meaning nothing is open. They closed down all the stores, all the restaurants. The only things open are the grocery stores or necessary places like the post office. That’s it.

If you know anything about Berlin, it’s an old decaying former half communist/half western mash-up. It’s an old, piece of shit city. But the beauty of this city is its people, and nightlife, and art scene, and start-up scene. That’s all completely dead now. It’s a shell of what it once was. There’s no crazy sex clubs going on, no wild raves in the parks, no start-up competition.

When the city reopens again, where do you suggest gay tourists hit up?

Tempelhofer Feld is this old abandoned airport in the center of the city. It’s now this huge green space. People go there and have parties, and sports, and markets. It’s really interesting.

The rest is all nightlife.

Kit Kat is the craziest public sex club in the world. There are plenty of private ones I’m sure are better than it, but it’s the one that if you had a friend in town, you would bring them to see someone get $%^d in public. It’s full of all kinds of crazy people.

And then there’s Berghain, which is like the most popular club in the world.

Yeah, I hear Berghain is hard to get into.

When I first visited Berlin in 2017, a girl I was hanging out with at the time said, “Let’s go to Berghain and see what happens.” On the website, they say don’t dress too crazy. You gotta be all goth-ed out. So we did, and when we got to the bouncer she said something to him in German. He looked at me and let us in. It was no big deal. I’d say, it helps to go in small numbers of cool people that speak German. And it doesn’t hurt to have a dominatrix-looking chick with you, too.

Well played. Now let’s talk about your podcast Fail Fighters. What motivated you to start that podcast?

I was working with a friend that started an event series that celebrated the art of failure. He invited successful people to come talk about the times they screwed up. It went well, and I’ve been doing voice-over for the past 6 years, so it made sense to put the two together and interview some cool people.

Why do you think it’s important to fail?

There is no true winning without failing first. You have to learn the lessons to get to the point of seeing real success. The only thing permeant in life is change. If you can figure out how to change and always come out on top, that’s real success. The only way to get there is to get your ass kicked a few times.

 

I feel that. Covid has been kicking our asses for about a year now. In your professional opinion, what would you advise to stay sane during quarantine?

The pandemic is a mental health crisis. I know a lot of coaches and people in the personal development industry. I was talking to one of them and his client went crazy. Not drugs or anything, she just went crazy. Like talking to trees and stuff. She was totally normal outside of the pandemic. But if you put someone in solitary, it’s the cruelest punishment you can give someone. It’s what they do to guys in prison for fucking up. They put them in a little box by themselves. And that’s how millions of people are right now. It’s fair enough that they are going insane.

The online space is different, the means of connection is different, but if you make the most out of it and are proactive you can do a lot of cool things. Last week, I was supposed to visit my friend in Holland. But, it got fucked up. We had to get Covid tests, and there were border problems, and it just fell apart. So we were like, fuck it we’ll do dinner together over Zoom. It was the best 2-hour dinner we could possibly do. You have to make an effort. It’s not like you are going to run into your friends and things will be planned. The best way to get through this is to fill your schedule with activities. Always have something to look forward to, especially things that involve other people.

 

It’ll be a lot easier once everyone is vaccinated. I don’t know if you’ve been following, but in the US it’s become incredibly politicized. How is that in Germany?

In Berlin, there are fucking Neo-nazi groups protesting in the streets. There is hardcore shit going on here. Right-wing conservative nazi groups are getting more attention than they used to get. I’m not really paying attention to that, being locked away all the time, but I know there are arguments over who should be vaccinated first. The government needs to get their shit together and get more doses. They’re actually talking with Russia about their Sputnik vaccine. It’s usually America that’s the leader in the world, but they’re fucking everything up. They’re not doing so well. Usually Germany would buy everything from America, but here they are cutting deals with Russia.

Well, I hope Germany pulls it together so your city can reopen. What will be the first thing you want to do in Berlin once quarantine is lifted?

Party like a fucking animal for two or three days straight. There is no better place in the world to do that than in this city.

I Tested And Rated 8 Natural Deodorants So You Don’t Have To

I Tested And Rated 8 Natural Deodorants So You Don't

The cliché queer has three known loves: iced coffee, astrology and natural products. How many times have you had shower sex next to a bottle of Dr. Bronners? How many times have you watched a new lover set the mood by switching on an oil diffuser? And how many times have you peeked inside your crush’s medicine cabinet and found a stick of natural deodorant?

Yes, the cliché queers go wild for natural deodorant. It might be better for our health! It makes us smell like the woods! And it works — well, not always. If your body tends to have bountiful sweat and odor, natural deodorant might not be effective for you. But if you’ve ever wanted to give it a shot, do it now! Do it before you go back to the gym or the packed dance floor or the crowded airplane or wherever you’ll be sweating when it’s finally safe(r) to sweat there. Trust me — when you’re making the somewhat smelly transition to the natural deodorant life, social distancing will be your best friend. If you need a push to get started, I tested and rated natural deodorants to help you make your selection.

But First, Some Facts

Is aluminum-containing antiperspirant actually harmful to your health? The answer isn’t clear. Some experts warn that aluminum-containing antiperspirants cause a high concentration of toxins in our lymph nodes, which could potentially lead to breast cancer, especially in people who also shave their underarms. According to the American Cancer Society, there isn’t enough evidence to support this claim. A 2018 study found that the presence of aluminum might change how the body makes or responds to estrogen, and many antiperspirants also contain parabens, which are known to disrupt hormone function. Any product that messes with our hormones can pose a cancer risk, but the precise link between parabens and cancer is still up for debate.

I prefer to stay on the safe side, so a few years ago, I finished my last stick of Old Spice Swagger (don’t judge) and switched to natural deodorant. My grandmother had (and defeated!) breast cancer, and I want to do everything in my power to reduce my risk. Skin is the largest organ of the human body, and the thought of a bunch of chemicals seeping into my pores gives me the creeps. Plus, natural deodorant comes in scents that are much more appealing than “musk” or “powder fresh.”

The Transition Period

When you’re switching from antiperspirant to natural deodorant, your body needs some time to adjust. Yes, that means you’ll be a little sweatier and a little smellier for one to four weeks. But don’t let your new B.O. scare you — it’s temporary! Your pits are detoxing from the aluminum that was previously plugging up your pores. While you sweat all that aluminum out, the excess moisture fosters bacterial growth, which is where the stench comes from. Once your body has rid itself of your old Lady Speedstick particles, you’ll stink like a normal human instead of seventeen football players.

Some dermatologists recommend using a clay mask on your underarms during this time to speed up the detox process. They also recommend using a natural starch powder like arrowroot or cornstarch after applying your natural deodorant to soak up the excess sweat. Did I do those things? Nope! I just washed my armpits with soap and water whenever I started feeling particularly grimy. I waited patiently with pit stains for a couple of weeks, and my body’s sweat and odor finally leveled out. I’ve been using natural deodorant for several years now, and I’m happy with the results.

I’ve used a variety of natural deodorants, but I’m still looking for “the one.” So I decided to try some of the more popular brands and rate and review them for you! I chose brands that were aluminum-free, under $20, available at major retailers and made of at least 99% “natural” ingredients. I’m rating these products based on: scent, effectiveness, staining, price and “queer factor” (i.e. would I wear this deodorant to a a Tracy Chapman concert in 1991?).

Some Disclaimers About Me, Your Friendly Queer Test Subject

I would guess that I’m an averagely sweaty person with an average amount of body odor. I have lavishly hairy armpits. I have sensitive skin, so some artificial fragrances cause burning and redness.  I typically apply deodorant twice a day.

Onto the ratings!

A white deodorant stick that reads, "Schmidt: Cedarwood & Juniper"
Schmidt is a decently-priced option that comes in several unique fragrances, including “Ylang Ylang & Calendula” and “Rose & Vanilla.” They also have a fragrance-free option. I went with “Cedarwood & Juniper,” which actually smells like cedarwood and juniper! It’s aluminum-free, paraben-free and animal testing-free, but the scent and ingredients are this product’s only strengths. The stick left clumps in my armpit hair and stained the pits of my shirts. It also didn’t last long. Despite its flaws, I’ll give this one a queer factor of 5/5 for its gender-neutral marketing.

Scent: 5/5
Effectiveness: 1/5
Staining: 1/5
Price: 3/5
Queer Factor: 5/5
Total: 15/25

A brown and red deodorant stick reads, "Ever Man Jack: Cedarwood"
Every Man Jack is like Axe for grown-ups. The branding is unreasonably masculine, and the scent is strong enough to let everyone know that JACK HAS ARRIVED. Perhaps the strong aroma is what makes this brand so effective. When I used the “cedarwood” stick, my pits didn’t stink at all. Well, they did stink. They stank of cedar. Fortunately, I like cedar, and I’ll take a strong, woody scent over body odor any day. The deodorant didn’t leave behind residue or stain my shirts, and I liked the wide stick (I guess it’s made for “big, strong man armpits?”). While this deodorant is aluminum-free, paraben-free and not tested on animals, it does have a pretty long list of ingredients, so check the label before you use it if you’re prone to allergic reactions. The price is hard to beat.

Scent: 3/5
Effectiveness: 5/5
Staining: 5/5
Price: 5/5
Queer Factor: 2/5
Total: 20/25

A white deodorant stick reads, "Native: Charcoal"
I can’t go anywhere on the internet without seeing an advertisement for Native deodorant, and with an $11.97 price point and a very enthusiastic review from Autostraddle writer Meg, I figured that this stuff must be worth it. It’s aluminum-free, paraben-free and animal testing-free. They also make a fragrance-free option. I appreciate that the company has started making plastic-free packaging, too. But this one didn’t work for me. The fragrances I checked out didn’t quite smell like what was on the label (when I was wearing the Charcoal deodorant, my girlfriend asked me why my armpits smelled like bubblegum). The actual deodorant stick is extremely firm, and I had a hard time applying to my pits without rubbing them raw. It was also only effective for a short period of time and left some residue behind. Like Schmidt, this one gets a 5/5 queer factor for the gender-neutral marketing, but I probably wouldn’t buy this one again.

Scent: 3/5
Effectiveness: 3/5
Staining: 3/5
Price: 1/5
Queer Factor: 5/5
Total: 15/25

A white and green spray bottle reads, "Ursa Major: Sublime Sage"
This was my first experience with a spray-on deodorant, and I was pleasantly surprised. Ursa Major’s “Sublime Sage” kept my pits odor-free and dry for most of the day. The formula is paraben-free, aluminum-free and baking soda-free and hasn’t been tested on animals. It didn’t stain my clothes at all. Unfortunately, the name is misleading — the scent is supposed to be “sage geranium,” but I smelled a whole lot of geranium and absolutely no sage. And at $18 for one tiny bottle, the price point feels a little outrageous. At least the brand is named after a constellation. Thanks to the queer astrology obsession, all stars and planets are gay now.

Scent: 2/5
Effectiveness: 5/5
Staining: 5/5
Price: 1/5
Queer Factor: 5/5
Total: 18/25

A white and purple deodorant stick reads, "Tom's of Maine: Lavender"
Tom’s was the first brand of natural deodorant that I tried, and I keep going back to her the way some of us go back to our exes. I’ve tried multiple fragrances from both their “men’s” and “women’s” lines (they also have a fragrance-free option), and the “women’s” deodorants seem to be much more effective and doesn’t leave behind residue or clumps. This brand is aluminum-free, paraben-free, animal testing-free and one of the more affordable options out there. Despite the gendered marketing, I’ll give this one a solid 3/5 in the queer factor category since I’ve seen a Tom’s product in nearly every queer person’s medicine cabinet.

Scent: 5/5
Effectiveness: 5/5
Staining: 5/5
Price: 5/5
Queer Factor: 3/5
Total: 23/25

A cylindrical white and blue deodorant stick reads, "Kopari: charcoal deodorant"
This deodorant feels so moisturizing! This deodorant is aluminum-free, paraben-free, animal testing-free and baking soda-free (so if you’ve found that baking soda dries out your pits, this one is for you!). It goes on clear, leaving zero residue or clumps behind, and lasts for quite a while. But I have one big complaint here: I don’t know what “driftwood” is supposed to smell like, but this “driftwood” smells like old lady floral perfume. Fortunately, Kopari makes other fragrances and a fragrance-free option, so I would definitely grab this one again and try a different scent. I wouldn’t dare smell like old lady floral perfume at a Tracy Chapman concert, so this one loses queer factor points.

Scent: 1/5
Effectiveness: 4/5
Staining: 5/5
Price: 3/5
Queer Factor: 2/5
Total: 15/25

A silver and blue deodorant stick reads, "Crystal Mineral Deodorant Stick"
When Autostraddle writer Sarah told me that some people use ACTUAL CRYSTALS to dry and deodorize their pits, I had to try it. This unscented deodorant has exactly one ingredient — potassium alum, or mineral salts, which kill some of the bacteria that leads to body odor. I did notice some body odor while using this product, so it’s not perfect, but it did keep my pits nice and dry. It doesn’t smell like anything at all, so it’s a great option for folks who are sensitive to fragrances. It didn’t leave any residue or stain my clothes, and it made me feel deeply gay. I mean, it’s a CRYSTAL. At $3, I would happily try this one again, but I would try a scented option to see if it fully kills the odor.

Scent: 5/5
Effectiveness: 3/5
Staining: 5/5
Price: 5/5
Queer Factor: 5/5
Total: 23/25

DIY Deodorant (probably free)

Two bowls containing powder and one jar containing oil are on a table near essentials oils and sprigs of lavender
Zero-waste bloggers and “clean living” influencers love to wax poetic about the joys of natural deodorant. Most will tell you to combine coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot powder and essential oils of your choice. I made myself a tea tree-scented DIY deodorant paste and loved how it smelled! It left clumps in my armpit hair and made my pits feel greasy, but I was committed to this cheap option. But as soon as I started to sweat, the coconut oil melted, leaving my pits and my shirt an oily mess. I wouldn’t try this specific combo again, but I’m willing to experiment with other ingredients. Making your own deodorant is perhaps the queerest way to care for your pits, so this one gets a 5/5 in the queer factor category.

Scent: 5/5
Effectiveness: 1/5
Staining: 1/5
Price: 5/5
Queer Factor: 5/5
Total: 17/25


Support Independent Queer Media

We’re raising funds to make it through the end of July. 99% of the people who read this site don’t support. Will you be one of the ones who do? Joining A+ is one of the best ways to support Autostraddle — plus you get access to bonus content while keeping the site 99% free for everyone. Will you join today?

Support Autostraddle

Join A+

Alphabet Book Tries, But Doesn’t Quite Succeed, at Queer Inclusivity

Alphabet Book Tries, But Doesn't Quite Succeed, at Queer Inclusivity

The promotional blurb for a new board book says that it “celebrates families in every single shape and size, no matter what they look like or whom they include!” Unfortunately, a few definitions will likely be showstoppers for many queer families, and many will not find themselves included, despite the promotional text.

An ABC of Families

I had hoped that An ABC of Families, by Abbey Williams and illustrated by Paulina Morgan (Frances Lincoln/Quarto), would be as good as the publisher’s 2019 title by Chana Ginelle Ewing, An ABC of Equality, an LGBTQ-inclusive alphabet book with simple explanations of various concepts related to social justice. Unfortunately, the new book falls rather short. I’ve offered some suggestions for changes below, since I want to show that a more fully inclusive approach is possible—but I welcome other people’s ideas, too, as there may be angles I’m not considering, either.

Let’s start with the letters D and M, for “Dad” and “Mom.” Each page tells us that some families have one dad/mom, some have two; others have stepdads/moms, and some have none. It’s great that they mention two-mom and two-dad families. Same-sex parents and single parents, not different-sex parents, are even shown in the images for these letters. Same-sex couples, male and female, are also shown under W for “Wedding.” So far so good.

And yet: The book also defines “Dads” as “the male parent” and “Moms” as “the female parent,” before telling us how each is there to support their children.  In an age of lesbian dads, gay dads who say “Just call me Mom,” transgender parents who may (or may not) stick with their original parental titles after transitioning, and various other permutations of parental titles and gender, tying a parental title to gender feels less than inclusive. I probably would have simply left out “the male [female] parent” on each page and perhaps said something like “Call them mom, mama, mother [“dad, papa, father”] or anything else, they love and support you….”

The definition of “Co-parenting” may not work for many queer families, either. It says: “Two people who live apart but parent their child together…. This might happen after parents decide to separate.” That’s one definition—but there are also families where, say, a two-mom couple and a child’s biological father (or the father and the father’s partner/spouse) are all parenting together. That’s three or four people, not two, who may or may not live together. Better might have been: “When adults who are not in a relationship with each other are parenting their child together.”

The page for “Pregnancy” tells us, “Some babies come from a mom and a dad. Sometimes a special helper called a surrogate grows the baby for the parents. Other babies are made with help from a doctor…. There are many ways to make a baby, but they all include pregnancy.” We see both a mom-dad and a two-mom couple in the image here, the former standing next to a pregnant woman who is presumably their surrogate. The page never tells us exactly what pregnancy is, however, or what the relevance of coming from a mom and a dad is. (Not to mention that some babies may come from two dads or two moms, without necessarily needing a doctor or surrogate, if one of them is transgender.) Perhaps better would have been simply: “All babies grow inside someone’s tummy. Sometimes this is their parent, sometimes it is a birth parent who gives them to other parents to adopt and raise, and sometimes it is a special helper called a surrogate.”

“Quadruplets” tells us that sometimes siblings “all grow inside their mom’s tummy together.” More inclusive of surrogates and pregnant transgender parents would have been “all grow inside a tummy together.”

“Siblings” is defined as “brothers and sisters.” We’re told, “You may have the same parents as your siblings, or they may be stepsiblings.” That’s not wrong, but to be more inclusive of nonbinary siblings, however, I might have combined those sentences and said that siblings are “brothers, sisters, or other people who share the same parents or stepparents.” We don’t need to leave out the terms “brothers” and “sisters,” since those are valid terms for some siblings—we just need to make room for others.

A few other definitions, while not specific to LGBTQ identities, also fall short. The definition of “Adoption” says, “When children are born to parents who aren’t able to care for them, they are given to adoptive parents.” The passive “they are given” takes away all agency from the adoptive parent and makes it sound like they never have any choice in the matter. While that is unfortunately sometimes true (and has often been tied to systemic racism and classism), many birth parents also spend much time thinking about whether to place their child with other parents, and when they do, it is a conscious act. “They may choose to give them to adoptive parents” feels better to me.

“Nuclear family” is defined as “Two parents and their children.” This may fit the technical definition of the term, but one has to wonder, when the American Psychological Association tells us “single parent families have become even more common than the so-called ‘nuclear family’ consisting of a mother, father and children” why nuclear families get a letter to themselves but single-parent families (though mentioned in passing on other pages) don’t. I might have used this letter instead for “Nonbinary parent,” in order to offset the binary nature of including only “Dad” and “Mom.”

I’m also not fond of the “Blended Family” image, which shows a white-skinned dad, brown-skinned mom, and two white- and two brown-skinned children. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with being an interracial family. I just worry that some children could mistakenly think that “blendedmeans “interracial,” even though the text tries to explain that a blended family is “when two parents make a new family with their children.” I would have made the members of this family be of similar skin tones, in order to avoid that possible misconception, and made one on another page an interracial family instead (though there are happily already many other interracial families in the book). Perhaps I’m just sensitive on this point because at least one other picture book, Kathryn Cole’s My Family, Your Family, also shows an interracial family for “Blended Family” (though in Cole’s case, there is no text definition whatsoever, making confusion even more likely). When multiple recent books depict blended families as being interracial, the chance that children will misunderstand the meaning of the term goes up further. (Again, though: I’m all for showing interracial families in other places, just not where children could learn erroneous terms to refer to them.)

Finally, the definition of “Lineage” is just wrong. It’s not “the different places your family comes from.” It’s the line of descent from an ancestor. (Or, in kid-friendly terms, maybe, “The connections linking you to your parent(s) and their parent(s), and all your other relatives, all the way back in time.”) The book is confusing “lineage” and “heritage.” (The latter term isn’t in the book.)

An ABC of Families tries to be inclusive of a wide variety of families, and it’s commendable that they include same-sex families in not just one, but several places. There are also lovely thoughts under entries for “Joy,” “Traditions,” “Unconditional Love,” and other sentiments. It just comes up short as a book for the full spectrum of LGBTQ families.

Meagan Kimberly reviews Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee – The Lesbrary

Meagan Kimberly reviews Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee –

Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee audiobook cover

Jess Tran comes from superhero parents and has an older sister with powers, but she did not inherit this gene. She decides to find her own way in a world of metahumans and superpowers and ends up at an internship working for The Mischiefs, her parents’ and the city of Andover’s nemeses. However, everything is not what it seems in the world of superpowers, heroes, and villains. With the help of her crush Abby and her friends, Jess sets out to find and reveal the truth.

One of the more refreshing aspects of the story is how Lee handles Jess’ coming out. It’s casually stated when she tells a brief story of a flashback to English class during her earlier high school years. From there, it’s simply a part of who she is and not a narrative point in which the plot revolves around.

The story deals a lot with being exceptional, and it’s weaved deftly within the world-building. In a world where metahumans were created by X29 after the Disasters, it’s easy to see why Jess feels inadequate, especially compared to her superhero parents and sister. Even though her younger brother doesn’t exhibit metahuman powers either, he’s also a child prodigy. Jess finding a way to know her value without exceptional traits makes her a protagonist to root for.

Lee’s world-building gets woven throughout the plot, which readers can appreciate. However, there are often more questions than answers to many of the details she brings up. Through Jess’s point of view, we learn about World War III, the Disasters, the creation of the North American Collective, and other similar governments around the world. But aside from a history book lesson, the reader doesn’t learn much.

An argument can be made though that this is done on purpose because it’s coming from Jess. She only knows what they’ve taught her in school, and up until now, she hadn’t questioned what she was taught. As she unfurls as a character and starts to realize the world she’s been fed is a lie, that’s when she questions the Collective, the hero/villain dichotomy, and her place in it all.

The blossoming romance between Abby and Jess is absolutely adorable. Everything from the squishy feelings of a crush to the first kiss to their comfortable jokes together creates a realistic and loveable relationship growth. There’s a scene in particular when Abby sleeps over and the tension is so well written.

Overall, a lot of plot points were obvious to the reader, though not obvious to Jess. But even so, it was a lot of fun to read. And the way it ends leaves the readers wanting more of the world, which is good because it’s the first in a series.

You’re invited to the Queerties with Heidi N. Closet, Angelica Ross, Billy Eichner, and more! / Dragaholic on Queerty

You’re invited to the Queerties with Heidi N. Closet, Angelica

You’re invited to the queerest pop culture party of the year, the #Queerties!

You voted for your favorite LGBTQ entertainers, now come watch the live show to find out who won! The Queerties are streaming virtually on February 24, marking the first time that voters get to attend the award ceremony alongside the nominees.

Join hosts Heidi N. Closet and Queerty Editor-in-Chief Dan Tracer as they present a night full of star-studded surprises, including virtual red carpet appearances, winners’ acceptance speeches, special award presentations to Angelica Ross and Billy Eichner, and an exclusive musical performance from Bright Light Bright Light.

RSVP to watch now.

Lesbian opens up about pain of being shut out of her mother’s will

Lesbian opens up about pain of being shut out of

A lesbian who was cut out of her mother’s will has described the pain of being alienated by her entire family, simply because of her sexuality.

Writing to The Oregonian, the anonymous Texan woman asks the Dear Annie advice column for help navigating a bitter family feud.

She begins by explaining that she is now estranged from her sister after a disagreement with their mother, who has since passed away.

“It was a bad falling out, as she talked my mother into making her the sole heir of her estate because I am a lesbian,” she says bluntly.

That alone would be devastating, but most painful of all is the fact that she has been cut off from her two beloved nieces, whom she helped raise.

“My niece is getting married, and I suspect I will not be invited, as I was not invited to her high school or college graduation,” she writes.

“We once were very close, but now she doesn’t want to appear a traitor to her mother, I guess.”

The woman sent congratulations after hearing of her niece’s engagement, but after meeting no response she’s left wondering if it’s worth keeping in touch at all.

“My falling out with my sister is bad enough, but my mother and sister hurt me deeply by keeping me away from my two nieces, especially after I helped raise them,” she said.

“I have not said anything in years about it and don’t care to. It’s done and over with. I think I need to walk away.”

She now asks: “Is this childish of me? Can I give myself permission to save my self-respect and dignity by unfriending them?

“I don’t want to seem petty, but my mother and sister schemed to hurt me as badly as they could, all because l’m a lesbian and they don’t approve.”

It’s a tragically familiar problem for many LGBT+ people, and The Oregonian‘s Annie Lane had nothing but sympathy for the letter writer.

“In a perfect world, our parents and siblings would support us unconditionally and never judge us,” she replied. “In your case, their disapproval sounds extreme.”

She pointed out that while we can’t control others’ actions, we can control how we respond – and cutting off contact is a perfectly valid response.

“If you want to unfriend them on Facebook, that sounds like a fine idea,” she said. “In fact, social media never really makes people feel better about themselves, so why not just deactivate your account altogether?”

She also advised speaking to a professional therapist to help her process her family’s rejection.

“Work on forgiving your mother and sister for yourself, not for them,” she suggested. “After all, forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its….its beautiful. : actuallesbians

Its....its beautiful. : actuallesbians

A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!

Marieke reviews It’s Not Like It’s A Secret by Misa Sugiura – The Lesbrary

Marieke reviews It’s Not Like It’s A Secret by Misa

It’s Not Like It’s A Secret by Misa Sugiura

I must say this was a bit of a frustrating read. I went in with the intention to try and break my reading slump (because, you know, I had a review to write, so something had to give), which is why I picked a contemporary YA story – it’s something I haven’t read in a while. Unfortunately, this book didn’t make me much more enthusiastic about picking up another within the genre soon…

Sana is a Japanese American second-generation high school student, and her parents are springing a big life change on her: they are moving from somewhere in rural America (I’m bad at geography for the States, or anywhere really) to California. She goes from being one of three other Asian students in her high school, to a high school where a third of all students is Asian, with another third being made up of Latin American students. It’s a whole new ball game!

Obviously, with this big a shift in demographics, racism is one of the major themes explored throughout the story, and unfortunately Sana does not come off well. On the one hand she is very much aware of microaggressions and overt racist statements when they’re directed at her (quite regularly by her own mother). On the other hand, she somehow doesn’t compute that people of other ethnicities might have similar experiences, even if the specific aggressions and racism directed at Black and Latin people looks completely different from what Asian people tend to receive. She dissects the ways racism touches her so much that it comes off as almost unbelievable for her to not bring up the motivation or energy to even listen to others when they try to explain what their situation looks like – let alone trying to figure out those patterns by herself.

This is an important point, because Sana’s main love interest, Jamie, is of Mexican heritage. There is a scene where some pretty overt and frankly scary racism is directed at Jamie and her friends, while Sana receives relatively moderate racism (if there is such a thing). Afterwards they all discuss what just happened, but Sana doesn’t even attempt to suss out the differences in experience, even though they come with entirely different baggage and (potential) consequences. She ends up parroting some anti-Mexican phrases from her mother, and just generally really digs herself a rather deep hole.

The worst part is that she still holds on to these beliefs once she has some time to herself. She does make an effort to think critically, but somehow doesn’t compare the two different forms of treatment they received to see how similar patterns can lead to such differing outcomes. She’s so strongly entrenched in her own beliefs that she needs others to repeatedly point out where she’s wrong when shit properly hits the fan before even considering she might not be in the right.

Her friends aren’t always helpful in this regard, as they make for a bit of an echo chamber on some of the issues Sana is being called up on, and some of them find it hard to accept her exclusive romantic interest in women. The high school they attend seems relatively progressive, in light of the demographic split plus sporting a Gay Straight student alliance. Of course, everyone can be okay with anything until they’re directly faced with it themselves, and not all of Sana’s friends handle her coming out equally well.

This behaviour has a big impact on her relationship with Jamie: Sana’s friends believe Jamie is not good enough for Sana for a number of bad reasons, and one of them is that maybe Sana just hasn’t been with the right guy yet. It doesn’t help that Sana is insecure in herself and so finds it hard to trust Jamie to not cheat with someone else, something especially high on her mind because she suspects her own father is cheating on her mother. All of this combines for the perfect storm that forms the story’s climax, where Sana makes a lot of bad decisions, and not all of them are resolved in a satisfactory, sufficient, or believable manner.

The novel tackles a lot of really heavy subjects, and they’re all being interrogated from different angles, so intersectionality is clearly important for the author in these considerations. Sometimes that whole combination is just too much, and I feel the story could have benefited from streamlining some of these discussions, or possibly being told from an entirely different character perspectives: Sana’s mother and Jamie’s friend Christina were two of my favourites, both well written and complicated – sometimes more so than the actual main character – even while they are not perfect.

Content warnings: mild homophobia, racism, emotional manipulation, generally bad life choices (so lots of second hand embarrassment)

Marieke (she / her) has a weakness for niche genres like fairy tale retellings and weird murder mysteries, especially when combined with a nice cup of tea. She also shares diverse reading resources on her blog letsreadwomen.tumblr.com

Latest Posts