Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a rewatch.
The Stolen Scenes: Beautiful Thing
This 1996 romantic comedy about two British high school boys in love helped pave the way for countless other queer films, and foreshadowed the success of Love, Simon. Beautiful Thing follows the story of Jamie (Glen Berry), a teen hopelessly infatuated with his classmate Ste (Scott Neal). Both hail from rough family situations: Jamie’s mother Sandra (Linda Henry) goes through one eccentric man after the next, while Ste’s father struggles with drugs, and beats his son. One night, when Ste gets a particularly nasty beating, Sandra takes in Ste to sleep over. Sparks immediately fly between he and Jamie as the two boys come to discover their budding sexuality.
Pretty straightforward, right? Jamie and Ste are the least interesting elements of Beautiful Thing. While Berry and Neal both go easy on the eyes and give fine performances, they come off rather bland when compared to the post-hippie Sandra, and, in particular, Leah (Tameka Empson) a sassy neighbor with a Mama Cass obsession that befriends the boys. Both Leah and Sandra steal the movie right out from under their handsome co-stars: the two ladies have much more developed and complicated personalities, and are a lot more fun to watch.
Sweet, tender and very funny, Beautiful Thing feels like an innocent, welcome breath of fresh air in a time of political crisis. Watch it, and dream of a more beautiful tomorrow for queer kids everywhere.
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Lesbian literature is an extensive genre-spanning over 2,500 years. Though the ancient Grecian poet Sappho is credited with producing the earliest forms of lesbian writing, the genre as we know it today began taking shape in the 19th century. Works from this period relied heavily on subtext and most often ended in heartache or tragedy, while the early 20th century saw the arrival of specific references to lesbianism in literature. The Well of Loneliness, published in 1928, is considered the first English language novel with explicitly lesbian themes. Lesbian literature surged in popularity during the ’50s and ’60s with the publication of pulp fiction novels and Women’s Barracks, Tereska Torres’ dime-store novel about World War II was the first of its kind. The foundational texts of lesbian literature were written in the latter 20th century. Today, the genre has expanded to include a more diverse and intersectional representation.
Overwhelmed with the myriad of great titles to choose from? Hungry for more lesbian literature? Use this list to find the best lesbian books in any genre.
Lesbian Fiction Books
The Price of Salt (1952) – Patricia Highsmith
The critically acclaimed film Carol is based on The Price of Salt, one of the earliest lesbian romance novels with a happy ending. In a tale of infatuation at first sight, discontent department store worker Therese is instantly enamored with Carol, an elegant older woman who purchases a doll for her daughter. Carol leaves her address so the doll may be delivered which Therese uses to send Carol a Christmas card. Carol, who is in the midst of a bitter divorce, responds. As Carol and Therese begin spending time together, their attraction intensifies.
Winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Color Purple tells the story of Celie, a poor girl living in the rural South under bitter conditions. Celie is abused by her father then married off to another abusive man, Mister. Mister’s mistress, a sultry jazz singer named Shug, comes to stay with Celie and Mister while recovering from an illness. Celie and Shug develop an intimate relationship.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (1987) – Fannie Flagg
While visiting her mother-in-law in an Alabama nursing home, bored housewife Evelyn Couch strikes up a friendship with Ninny Threadgoode, an elderly resident. Ninny tells Evelyn about her childhood in the 1920s when Ruth Jamison, a pious and proper young woman came to live with the Threadgoodes in order to tame rambunctious tomboy Idgie. Idgie and Ruth become inseparable and develop an unspoken attraction. To Idgie’s dismay, Ruth must leave Whistle Stop at the end of summer to marry Frank Bennett. Years later, Idgie and Ruth reconnect.
Jess struggles to navigate life as a butch lesbian in1970s upstate New York. She finds refuge and community in gay bars and is taken under the wings of older butches. Cops raid the bar, harass and arrest everyone inside, and the bar closes down leaving Jess homeless. In a harrowing tale of survival, Jess searches for another place to fit in and finds herself along the way.
Sarah Waters is a prolific writer of lesbian historical fiction. Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet, her two most prominent works, were adapted into BBC mini-series. Fingersmith follows Sue, a pickpocketing orphan raised on the streets of Victorian London. One night, she is approached by a con man who seeks her assistance in defrauding the heiress Maud Lilly and having her committed to an insane asylum. Sue agrees and poses as a maid to gain Maud’s trust. When they form an unexpected bond, Sue begins regretting her involvement in the con man’s scheme, but it may be too late.
Zoe and her husband Max want to have a baby but are unable to conceive. They try in vitro fertilization and give up after multiple unsuccessful attempts. The couple’s fertility issues strain their marriage leading to divorce. Later, Zoe meets Vanessa Shaw. The two women fall in love, get married, and decide to have children using the frozen embryos from Zoe’s previous marriage. But first, they need permission from Max, now a born again Christian uncomfortable with his ex-wife’s new relationship.
Annie on my Mind was one of the first young adult books to portray a lesbian love story between teenagers. Annie and Liza are two seventeen-year-olds coming of age in New York City. Annie lives in an upscale neighborhood and attends a private school while Liza comes from a lower-class background. Despite their differences, Annie and Liza meet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on one fateful rainy day and fall in love.
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit (1985) – Jeanette Winterson
Though not a memoir, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is semi-autobiographical and details Jeanette’s experience coming of age in an evangelical household in England. Because of her staunchly religious upbringing, Jeanette is an outcast at school. She begins a relationship with another girl which makes her an outcast at church as well and complicates her feelings about faith.
Peters is a well known YA writer whose books feature LGBT characters. Other prominent titles include Luna, Between Mom and Jo, and Rage: A Love Story. In the novel, 17-year-old Holland is crushing her senior year of high school—she has a great boyfriend; she’s Student Council President, and she’s headed to an Ivy League. But the arrival of new girl CeCe makes Holland question everything.
The House You Pass on the Way (2003) – Jacqueline Woodson
Staggerlee has never fit in: she’s biracial in a predominantly black town and her grandparents were killed in an infamous racist bombing. As a result of unwanted attention, Staggerlee is quiet and keeps to herself. All that changes when Trout, her outspoken cousin, comes to visit. They spend a transformative summer together helping each other come to terms with their identities.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2012) – Emily M. Danforth
In 1990’s Montana, 12-year-old Cameron Post loses her parents in a car crash and is taken in by her religious aunt and grandmother. While processing her parents’ death, Cameron begins questioning her sexuality and falls in love with her best friend Coley Taylor. Cameron’s conservative aunt finds out and resorts to drastic measures in order to “fix” Cameron. The novel was turned into a 2018 film which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
A dazzling retelling of Cinderella, Ash is the story of a teenage girl forced to live with her cruel stepmother after her father’s death. Ash finds solace in fairy tales and wishes a fairy would steal her away. One night, she is approached by a fairy prince with the power to grant her wish, but the next morning she meets the King’s Huntress Kaisa and falls quickly in love with her. Now, Ash is faced with a difficult decision: go with the fairy prince or stay with Kaisa. A prequel, Huntress, is set in the same universe.
Denna has been betrothed to the prince of Mynaria since childhood, but she has the ability to conjure fire which and magic is forbidden in Mynaria. As future queen, Denna must learn to ride warhorses and her teacher is none other than her betrothed’s sister: Mare. Denna and Mare do not get along, but when an assassin strikes, they must team up for the fate of the kingdom.
Carmilla is one of the earliest vampire stories, even predating Dracula. When a mysterious girl named Carmilla arrives in town unexpectedly, Austrian teenager Laura is happy to have a new friend. The two become close, but Carmilla’s sudden mood changes and refusal to divulge anything about her past drives a wedge between them. Meanwhile, girls in nearby towns are dying from an unusual ailment. The book inspired the popular lesbian web series Carmilla and a movie of the same name. The entire novella can be read online at Project Gutenberg.
Told through a series of vignettes, The Gilda Stories depicts the many lives of a black lesbian vampire over a 200 year period from 1850 to 2050. The novel won two Lambda Literary Awards, one in fiction and one in science fiction.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2007) – Alison Bechdel
Adapted into a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Fun Home is a graphic memoir of Bechdel’s relationship with her emotionally distant father who ran the town’s funeral home. When her father dies mysteriously, Bechdel uncovers his hidden gay past while also discovering her own sexuality. Bechdel is the recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Award. Other works include a second graphic memoir Are You My Mother and Dykes to Watch Out For, a lesbian comic strip that ran for 25 years.
Lumberjanes (2014) – Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooklyn A. Allen and Noelle Stevenson
In this comic book series, Lumberjane Scouts Mal, Ripley, Molly, April, and Jo realize they got more than bargained for when they discover mythical creatures and supernatural phenomena at summer camp. The gang decides to solve the mystery of these strange occurrences, earning scout badges along the way. Noelle Stevenson is also behind Nimona, a sci-fi/fantasy graphic novel about a mad scientist’s shapeshifting sidekick.
Successful lawyer Katie Cassidy must reevaluate her ideal of a perfect life when her fiance suddenly dumps her. Reeling from the breakup, Katie agrees to have after-work drinks with a coworker, the confident and dapper Cassidy. Katie and Cassidy push each other out of their comfort zones and a sexy game of cat and mouse ensues.
Payton and Kendall have been best friends since childhood, but Kendall is a rising starlet poised to become Hollywood’s next “it” girl. To keep herself grounded, Kendall moves Payton to Hollywood with her. Payton has been harboring a secret: she is in love with Kendall and terrified her feelings won’t be reciprocated. Payton must pluck up the courage to confess her feelings even if it might ruin the friendship they both cherish.
Her Body and Other Parties (2018) – Carmen Maria Machado
A lyrical debut combining multiple genres of speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, fabulism), this collection uses magical realism to center women and their experiences in society. Each story examines what’s inflicted upon women’s bodies whether it’s sexuality and sensuality or violation and violence.
In this collection, Allison interrogates the South’s troubled history with evangelicalism, social class, racism, sexism, and homophobia in raw and realistic detail. These stories offer a visceral portrait of heartache and humanity’s darkest impulses that are difficult to encounter but impossible to ignore. Allison is also the author of the novel Bastard out of Carolina.
The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) (2018) – Amy Spalding
Out 17-year-old Abby Ives runs a plus-size fashion blog and dreams of making it big in the fashion world. When she has the opportunity to intern at her favorite boutique over the summer, Abby feels like her dreams are finally coming true. Complicating matters, Abby starts crushing on Jordi Perez, a fellow intern she’s competing against for a paid position at the boutique.
After a drunken hookup with a man, 24-year-old Andrea Morales discovers she is pregnant. Though her tight-knit group of queer friends express concern, Andrea decides to keep the baby. 10 years later, Andrea’s daughter Lucia wants to know more about her father.
Nicola attends the Seigel Institute, a college preparatory summer program and quickly fits in with a group of new friends. Nic is inexplicably drawn to one of them, the beautiful Battle Hall Davies, and their dynamic soon evolves from friends to something more.
Three best friends and proud geeks attend the popular fan convention SupaCon. Charlie, a vlogger and actress who just had a public breakup with her costar Reese has her eyes set on the con’s surprise guest: Alyssa Huntington.
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Baylea Jones is a freelance writer and high school teacher living in Houston with her wife. She holds an MFA in fiction from Western New England University. Her writing has been featured on HuffPost, Buzzfeed, Autostraddle, Electric Literature, and more
Extra! Extra! is back! It’s been a wild three weeks and sometimes the news becomes more than we can bear. But we’re back, and we’ll be moving to a biweekly schedule moving forward.
So much has happened, and in many ways it feels impossible for me to not look at everything through the lens of the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol. This is just one of those times where it’s as much as I can do to look at all the many ways America is, quite simply, falling apart right now. So this week’s Extra! Extra! is pretty much limited to American news: several angles of breaking down everything that’s horrifying about the insurrection, the Trump administration’s parting shots and how COVID continues to rage amid American incompetence. If there’s pressing international news we’ve missed please do share in the comments.
Rachel: I agree with the overall thrust of this article, which is that the Republican party is beyond the point of no return in terms of its ability to publicly denounce the actions of its leaders that are objectionable even to their own stated values of country & party. I do, however, differ on the details of their analysis, which is that the failure of the GOP to join the Democrats en masse in impeaching Trump is “confirmation of how in thrall to Trump the Republican Party remains.” I don’t think the party or at this point almost any individual members of it are ‘in thrall to Trump;’ I don’t think Trump as an individual has had any real internal power for quite some time, even since before the election. All the internal sources say that Trump’s own staff has been avoiding him; now that he doesn’t have the carrot of future staffing in a second term to dangle, he has no leverage. The GOP is certainly in thrall, but it’s not to Trump; it’s to his base, and the critical mass of agitated white nationalists that he’s allied himself with. Multiple GOP members of congress said they received death threats related to their voting to impeach, something many progressive members of congress, especially representatives of color, are very familiar with. The GOP made a pretty literal deal with the devil to get the level of unchecked power they’ve had for so long, and the violent, ruthless groups they’ve made it with are open to turning on them at any time.
Natalie: It’s unsurprising to me that the Squad — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib — have been as clear-eyed about the danger the insurrectionists — and those who enabled them — posed to the members of Congress. Since being labeled enemies of the far right, they have had to hire additional security and work under constant threat. They know danger when they see it.
What’s increasingly distressing — aside from the simple fact that these women are subjected to this treatment in the first place — is that the threat is coming from inside the House (literally). It’s not just the insurrectionists climbing through shattered windows that these members have to be scared of, it’s their fellow members of Congress. Frightening.
Himani: I knew a woman in college, once, who would talk idyllically of joining the army, going to Iraq and shooting up a lot of people (this was the final years of W. Bush, for context). As the only brown Asian person in our department, I was always extremely disturbed by this sentiment expressed by one of the few people who actually talked to me and otherwise treated me decently (which is really more than I can say for most of the other students or my professors in my department, but I digress). I think I’m going to upset a lot of people when I say that I’ve always felt it takes a certain amount of dehumanizing of other people to be part of military operations knowing that your job will entail going to a different part of the world you don’t actually know anything about and then coming up with justifications for murdering them. And then the leaks started coming out about a fraction of the atrocities committed by U.S. military personnel in Iraq, and another fellow student in my department who was formerly part of the military very much took the attitude of “yea, that’s not great that this was leaked” as opposed to “it is horrifying that U.S. committed these acts of torture and debasement.” So imagine my surprise at reading that there’s a problem of extremism within the U.S. military and among veterans and that it’s been largely ignored and dismissed.
And as for the police, well — there really isn’t any more to say about that. The problem of white supremacy having a stronghold over police organizations is so well-established and has been reported on so, so many times that really I think it came as a surprise to no one when a video was posted showing Capitol police officers practically holding the door open for the heavily armed and violent mob.
In an interview linked further down, a Sri Lankan writer says “And, the violence of your culture, which has always been projected outward, is now falling in.” I’ve been thinking about this a lot because he is completely correct. See, this is the slippery slope of justifying all those civilian deaths abroad and all those Black lives cut short at the hands of law enforcement and their accomplices. The definition of who can hold power, who is human, — simply who is allowed to live, becomes infinitely narrower, and it’s only a matter of time before you, too, end up on that list of people it’s better to just kill rather than to reason through disagreements with. Which, as the insurrectionists are being prosecuted, it’s become undeniable that is exactly what they were there to do.
Natalie: So, I come to the table with a bit of a different perspective on military service than Himani…in part because so much of my family’s served and my existence literally would not have been possible without it…but we’ll save that conversation for another day.
I understand the concern about a “digital oligarchy” and, certainly, that’s something I’d want to guard against…but the thing with Trump and other right-wing users that have seen their accounts banned in the last week: TWITTER AND FACEBOOK ARE PRIVATE ENTITIES — THERE’S NO FREE SPEECH GUARANTEE HERE — AND THEY’VE ALLOWED TRUMP TO VIOLATE THEIR TERMS OF SERVICE FOR YEARS.
Per Natalie’s comments above about the response from European leaders, a lot of people want to act like this is going to herald in a new era of censorship on the internet. But the internet is already censored. It’s just not censored for straight, white, cis people who hold jobs we haven’t demonized.
Natalie: In my home state of North Carolina, the governor has mobilized 350 National Guard members to assist law enforcement in Raleigh, where Inauguration Day protests are expected, and sent another 200 headed to Washington, D.C. to support the federal efforts. These are 550 national guardsmen that could be spending their time helping the state effectively distribute the COVID vaccine to North Carolinians who qualify for it.
The lies and incompetence of this current administration continues to negatively impact us all.
Himani: And in his final sweep, Pompeo is hard at work to do as much irrevocable damage to non-white people around the world as he can. These actions would be egregious in any context, but they’re particularly hard to bear witness to right now, given that terrorists raided the U.S. Capitol last week with the intent of killing countless numbers of people but hey they aren’t really “terrorists” because they’re not brown, right?
Himani: Patrick Gathara spares no words for how badly American democracy has failed and he is absolutely, undeniably correct. As he writes: “[America’s] election system was an anachronistic mess long before the storming of the Capitol. Its imperial presidency is still the stuff of third world nightmares and its sycophantic legislature is reminiscent of our daytime realities. It may have more stuff and bigger guns, but at heart the west is simply a richer version of the rest.”
Himani: This is probably the best perspective I have read on the events that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol last week. For me, as I was in some amount of denial and numbness to the news that was coming in, reading this interview with Sri Lankan writer and podcaster Indi Samarajiva really communicated the severity of the situation in the U.S. right now, and his palpable frustration with American exceptionalism is something I can deeply relate to. But perhaps the most poignant part of the interview, for me, was this observation:
“You guys have been inflicting all of this trauma on the world and now the chickens have, to a large degree, come home to roost. … I don’t mean that the rancor is coming home to roost. I mean, that’s sort of the militarization of your society, the violence of your society. A lot of the people who would have attacked your Congress, they might have been serving in Afghanistan or Iraq, causing God knows what problems to the people there. The militarization has come to your borders. Your militarization at the edges of your society has come home to roost. And the violence of your culture, which has always been projected outward, is now falling in.”
Nevertheless, They’re STILL Contesting Election Results…
Rachel: This lawsuit is an unprecedented step, the first time in history a state AG has sued a police department; AG James’ statement is pretty scathing: “There was ample ability and opportunity for the city and N.Y.P.D. leadership to make important changes to the way that officers interact with peaceful protesters, but time and time again, they did not… They did not train, they did not supervise, they did not stop officers who engaged in this misconduct. …And they did not discipline them either. Instead, they failed the people of the City of New York.”
However, at the same time, it’s hard not to feel like in material terms, this isn’t enough. From the NYT: “If Ms. James is successful, a monitor would join another already keeping watch over how the city implements changes to its stop-and-frisk policy. In 2013, a federal judge appointed a monitor after finding that officers targeted and stopped Black and Hispanic people without sufficient legal reason in violation of their civil rights.”
So, even if this lawsuit is granted, the outcome is… a monitor? In addition to the already existing monitor, which clearly hasn’t worked? In addition to being ineffectual, a new monitor would be one more avenue through which money and resources are actually being routed into policing, and another office that’s invested in the continued existence of police (and in fact, their misconduct) so it can keep funding. This isn’t a dig at AG James’s office; it’s just a reflection of how limited the options are in terms of ‘reforming’ this institution.
Things That Happened Before the Insurrection That Already Laid This Bare
4 days in London is the perfect amount of time to appreciate all that this pulsating city has to offer. And if you’re here looking for the best 4 day London Itinerary, you’ll be pleased to know you’ve come to the right place. I’ve spent most of my life living and working in London, which is why it’s not too difficult for me to suggest the best places to visit in London in 4 Days. In this guide, I cover all of the London hotspots, including some cool hidden gems. I include where to eat, sleep, and party. And finally, I share all of my insider tips to ensure you have the best possible time exploring the city.
London is one of the most happening and exciting cities in all of Europe. And I know you’re probably thinking I’m biased because I’m a local, but it’s true. You see, everything about the British capital is larger than life. With its rich history, vibrant culture, magnificent architecture, eccentric fashion, wild nightlife, and unrivalled culinary scene, London ignites your senses in the best possible way.
I grew up on the outskirts of London, and while I like to think I know the city pretty well, I’m certainly no expert. You know what they say, you rarely explore the beauty that’s right on your doorstep. But last year I pledged to change that. And I’ve seen more of London in the past 12 months than I have in the past 30 years. That said, I certainly can’t claim to know it all. It would be easy to spend weeks if not months exploring London and just about scratch the surface.
With this in mind, the goal of this 4 day London itinerary, is to cover several of the cities major landmarks such as the London Eye, Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace. But you’ll also discover a slightly alternative side of London by visiting quirky neighbourhoods such as Shoreditch and Camden. Not to mention, eating at remarkable restaurants and drinking at traditional London pubs along the way.
GLAAD yesterday released its latest annual “Where We Are on TV” report, which looks at the number of LGBTQ regular and recurring scripted characters on network television, cable, and streaming services. Let’s look at what they discovered about LGBTQ inclusion in children’s shows—while I wildly speculate about some LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books that I’d love to see made into shows.
The good news that there’s been “significant growth” in programming for children and families in recent years, “and the space continues to grow rapidly with new LGBTQ stories premiering on all platforms.” GLAAD therefore this year announced a second GLAAD Media Awards category to honor outstanding LGBTQ programming for young audiences—an Outstanding Children’s Programming category in addition to the existing Outstanding Kids & Family Programming category. Stay tuned to hear the results at the 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards later this year.
Let’s focus here on shows for the younger age group. GLAAD informs us that in 2020, Cartoon Network aired the final episodes of Steven Universe Future, a limited-series epilogue to Steven Universe. They don’t tell us what the LGBTQ representation was in the miniseries, however, perhaps assuming that we’ll know the main series (which ended in 2019) was one of the queerest kids’ shows ever. This queerness carried over into the epilogue, with an episode in which one female character has a crush on another, and an episode with a character who uses they/them pronouns and is dating a female character. A show storyboarder has also tweeted that another character is asexual and aromantic.
Other inclusive shows listed by GLAAD include:
Nickelodeon’s The Loud House, with bisexual character Luna Loud and her girlfriend Sammy, as well as the two dads of protagonist Lincoln Loud’s best friend Clyde.
Nickelodeon’s Danger Force!, which had one episode that included two gay dads who recently adopted a son.
Disney XD’s DuckTales, which introduced a two-dad couple, the parents of Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s friend Violet. I’ll add that co-executive Producer Frank Angones has said that while they “do not play a huge role in the story thus far,” he’s “well aware that the ‘queer representation through parents and background characters’ trope is an issue, and “We do have some themes and ideas coming up that address relevant LGBTQ+ narratives.” Other episodes, GLAAD tells us, focused on a new character named Penumbra “who was confirmed to be a lesbian by the episode’s writer and director on Twitter. The character is not expected to return.” Half credit if the queerness has to be confirmed separately and the character is only temporary?
The Disney Channel animated series The Owl House, which developed a romantic storyline for bisexual protagonist Luz and a female classmate.
The finale of Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, which confirmed that the two female lead characters were in love. While that might seem like yet another example of queer inclusion being revealed only when the show was on its way out, the show in fact has had many queer secondary characters, some in same-sex relationships, one nonbinary, and others who are gender creative. In this case, keeping the main characters’ love for each other as a reveal at the end was about building romantic tension (which was pretty obvious in earlier episodes).
Netflix’s animated Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, which included central character Benson, in love with another male character, Troy. The series has ended, however.
Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club, a reboot of the 1990s show, which had one episode where one of the main characters is asked to sit for a young transgender girl, played by 9-year-old transgender actor Kai Shappley.
And one possible future show, the animated series Little Ellen on HBO Max, which follows the 7-year-old Ellen DeGeneres on various adventures. I have been unable to find a premiere date for it; given accusations of a toxic workplace environment on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I have to wonder (though I have no evidence one way or another) if the kids’ show is in jeopardy.
Other queer-inclusive “family” shows on streaming services seem aimed at teens and up, so I won’t recap them here, but I encourage you to go read the full GLAAD report if you’re interested in shows for that age group.
Amazon has quietly shown characters with same-sex parents on its ongoing animated shows for young children, Pete the Cat and Bug Diaries, but GLAAD has not included them in its report, so I assume those characters did not appear in 2020 episodes. And the only kids’ show on a mainstream network to center on a child with LGBTQ parents, Hulu’s The Bravest Knight (about which more here), dropped its first season in 2019 but has not yet announced a second.
So: Progress? Yes. Where we need to be? Hardly. We need both LGBTQ characters who populate the world as secondary characters and LGBTQ characters and those with LGBTQ parents who are the stars of the show (without necessarily focusing the show on their LGBTQ identities).
Original television programming is one way to achieve the latter. Another is to use the accelerating number of LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books as starting points. Here are just a few of many possible ideas, which I offer with absolutely no inside information on whether any such things are in the works or if the authors would even be interested:
I’ve said before that Kyle Lukoff’s Max and Friends series, about a young transgender boy and his classmates, would make a terrific foundation for an animated series. And while there are happily many young trans actors who could voice the main role, my dream casting (not only because of his acting skills, but because of the attention it would bring to the show) would be Elliot Page.
Daniel Haack’s Prince & Knight, which is getting a sequel this year, feels like a natural fit. In my 2018 review, I even said the images have a “Disney-like” quality. Since Hulu’s The Bravest Knight focuses on a girl with two dads, and Prince & Knight focuses on the same-sex couple themselves, they seem sufficiently different.
Lesléa Newman’s classic Heather Has Two Mommies has the name recognition to be a hit. Expand it into “Heather and Friends” or “Heather and Her World” and it could work as a series about the adventures of a young girl.
The four-book Magic Misfits series by actor Neil Patrick Harris, about six friends and aspiring magicians (one of whom has two dads), seems ready-made for an ensemble-cast show, either animated or live action.
Emma Donoghue’s two books about the Lotterys, the multiracial, multiethnic, neurodiverse family of two same-sex couples co-parenting seven children, has the kind of controlled chaos that could make it a fun television romp (or even a feature film).
Dana Allison Levy’s four books set in the universe of her Family Fletcher, which include a family with two dads and one with two moms, feel like they could translate into a live-action show for older kids and tweens.
I’d also love a show in which a two-mom family (preferably a family of color) and their kids fly around the galaxy in a spaceship meeting diverse people and aliens and learning STEM lessons each episode. Clearly there is no end of ideas; we just need the networks and streaming services to commit to increasing further the LGBTQ representation in children’s programming. Are they tuning in?
Peter Ash waded into the debate around whether straight actors should play gay roles after Russell T Davies said he cast queer people in It’s a Sin for “authenticity”. (Peter Ash (L) (Twitter) and Russell T Davies (R) (Ken Jack/Getty)
A straight Coronation Street star, who plays a gay man on the soap, has decided that he is the authority on whether queer roles should be played by queer actors.
The never-ending debate around whether gay roles should be played by gay actors reared its head once again in the last week, with screenwriter Russell T Davies explaining that he cast queer actors in his new drama It’s a Sin because they would bring an “authenticity” to the show.
Peter Ash, who plays Paul Foreman on Coronation Street, promptly waded into the debate, sharing a screenshot of Davies’ interview, which was published with the headline: “Gay roles should be given to gay actors.”
Ash gracefully took the time to share a definition of acting, just in case Davies – who has created numerous groundbreaking and critically-acclaimed television series – doesn’t know what it is.
“Acting; the art or occupation of performing fictional roles in plays, films or television,” Ash tweeted alongside the screenshot of Davies’ interview.
Coronation Street fans quickly jumped in to agree with Ash. “I believe it should be based on who is the best person for the role 100 per cent,” one wrote.
“Surely a role like any other job should be given on ability and competence?” another tweeted.
One Twitter user replied: “I don’t understand why or how the sexual preference of a real life actor should interfere with how they play the role of a character? If we’re playing a murder, should we have experience of murder? This quote is a joke and a disappointment!”
Russell T Davies said authenticity leads us ‘to joyous places’
Davies ruffled feathers when he told Radio Times in an interview on Monday (11 January) that he wants “authentic” gay representation in television shows.
He said: “I’m not being woke about this… but I feel strongly that if I cast someone in a story, I am casting them to act as a lover, or an enemy, or someone on drugs or a criminal or a saint… they are not there to ‘act gay’ because ‘acting gay’ is a bunch of codes for a performance.
“It’s about authenticity, the taste of 2020.”
He added: “You wouldn’t cast someone able-bodied and put them in a wheelchair, you wouldn’t Black someone up. Authenticity is leading us to joyous places.”
The debate around whether straight actors should play gay roles rears its head every few months, and it appears to be a never-ending source of controversy.
In November, bisexual actor Kristen Stewart said she thinks it’s OK for straight actors who are allies to the LGBT+ community to play gay characters – as long as they do the work to understand that experience.
Stewart admitted that she thinks about the debate “all the time”, and added: “I would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who’s lived that experience.
“Having said that, it’s a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I’m going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law.”
“I think it’s such a grey area,” she added. “There are ways for men to tell women’s stories, or ways for women to tell men’s stories. But we need to have our finger on the pulse and actually have to care.”
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!
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.
Looking for a socially distanced break? Utah’s ski and snowboard resorts are open, including Salt Lake’s four world-class resorts—Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude—and ready to welcome experts and beginners alike. On and off the slopes, Salt Lake (a.k.a. Ski City) has everything winter revelers would want to enjoy a weekend or weeklong getaway.
Salt Lake’s expansive resorts allow for ample social distancing while Salt Lake’s 20,000+ hotel rooms, thousands of restaurants, and hundreds of bars and nightlife options accommodate those wanting a more intimate apres-ski scene where you can easily stay within the safety of your own pod.
And Visit Salt Lake’s “Salt Lake Bound = FREEdom Found” promotion makes it even easier, and more affordable, to book the ultimate winter vacation featuring some of the best and most accessible skiing and riding in North America, if not the world.
Simply book two nights or more at any number of participating lodging properties and choose the perk that best meets your wants and needs: two (2) free 1-day Super Passes, a free $200 Delta eGift Card, or $100 in Sinclair gas cards.
Salt Lake’s Cottonwood Canyons are home to four of the world’s most iconic resorts, and true “bucket list” resorts for many skiers and snowboarders, each just 45 minutes from Utah’s capital city and even closer for staying at the mouth of either canyon. For those wanting the convenience of ski-in/ski-out lodging, Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude each have their own unique offerings, again with all budgets in mind. Combined, they also boast a few thousand acres for snowboarding and both alpine and cross country skiing for all abilities as well as a number of restaurants and nightlife options from which to choose.
Spelled out, here are five reasons why Salt Lake is the perfect winter getaway right now.
1. The Snow
Utah is home to “The Greatest Snow on Earth ®,” the most critical ingredient to the ultimate winter vacation for skiers and snowboarders alike. And each Cottonwood Canyon resort boasts 500 feet of Utah’s famed powder each and every year, more than just about every other resort in North America.
The stunning peaks of the Wasatch Mountains, where the Cottonwood Canyons and Salt Lake’s iconic resorts are located, offer incredible year-round vistas, made even more spectacular when coated with Mother Nature’s winter bounty.
2. The skiing and snowboarding
Featuring more than 40 feet of snow each year, Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude’s combined 2,000+ acres and 400+ trails are more than enough to satiate every level of skier and snowboarder. There are also miles of Nordic skiing and snowshoeing trails in both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon.
And with each major airline combining for more than 700 daily flights in and out of the new, $4 billion Salt Lake City International Airport (just 45 minutes from the four Cottonwood Resorts) many featuring non-stop morning arrival flights from major gateway cities, it’s easy to ski or ride the day you arrive and depart, something truly unique to many winter destinations.
3. The après ski scene
After a day riding and playing in Utah’s famed snow, there are plenty of après–ski options, both at the resorts as well as back in Salt Lake City. In Little Cottonwood Canyon, Alta offers a few iconic ski bars, such as the Alta Peruvian, Goldminer’s Daughter and the Sitzmark, while The Cliff Spa at Snowbird presents spectacular sunset views. Or take a dip with a friend or loved one in the outdoor hot tub at Snowpine Lodge at Alta (pictured above).
For an upscale experience at one of Salt Lake’s resorts, multiple fine dining restaurants offer excellent wine lists along with beautiful vistas, and casual pubs are a great place to kick back with friends and enjoy local craft beer. Check out the lists of options at Alta, Brighton (click “services” for list of food and drink spots), Snowbird, and Solitude. For those looking for an urban winter experience, every neighborhood throughout the Salt Lake valley, particularly downtown Salt Lake City, offers seemingly endless dining and drinking options that can be enjoyed via takeout or outdoors.
Regardless of the experience you’re after, please don’t forget your mask in these days of COVID. The State of Utah mandates face-coverings when indoors, except when eating or drinking. Now that the end of the pandemic is in sight, it’s more important than ever to maintain your social distance and use your face coverings.
4. SLC LGBTQ Businesses
Salt Lake City defies conservative stereotypes of the state with a vibrant, bohemian vibe that is a veritable haven for the local LGBTQ local community and visitors. Salt Lake City’s former mayor, Jackie Biskupski, was Utah’s first openly gay elected official, while three members of SLC’s current seven-member city council are gay/queer.
Surprising to many first-time visitors, this liberating energy creates a beautiful and welcoming place to explore microbreweries and the restaurants popular with both locals and the crowds that come to Salt Lake to enjoy its world-class resorts.
Salt Lake also features numerous LGBTQ owned and operated businesses. Gay and gay-friendly bars are located throughout the metropolitan area, but please contact them directly to check on their individual pandemic hours and restrictions during the pandemic.
Try-Angles is a perfect place for newcomers to the Salt Lake scene or anyone exploring the place solo. (If you’re on a tight budget, Try-Angles has $5 beer steins.)
Sun Trapp serves beer in mason jars, and the outdoor patio is as big as the interior, offering plenty of open-air, socially-distanced seating. In the winter, the patio has a heated tent with its own bar inside.
If you want to enjoy some vittles before hitting the town or the comfort of your lodging pillow, Laziz Kitchen menu comes straight from the openly-gay proprietor Moudi Sbeity’s traditional family Lebanese kitchen—adding still more diversity to Salt Lake’s flourishing culinary scene. Based in the Granary district, the eatery is offering takeout and delivery menus during the pandemic.
5. The deals
Again, Visit Salt Lake’s “Salt Lake Bound = FREEdom Found” travel campaign and promotion serves up some incredible offers, where visitors can book two or more nights at either resort hotels or accommodations throughout the Salt Lake valley and get valuable perks such as free lift tickets, gas cards, Delta flight vouchers, and other travel deals. One of the best deals is the Ski City Super Pass, one of the industry’s most flexible and value-laden list passes available and valid at all four of Salt lake’s famed resorts: Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude.
Book at least two nights at a resort hotel or Salt Lake valley accommodation and get two 1-day Super Passes for free.
I’ve got some really exciting newsletter news from the Autostraddle crew, for those of you who would like even more words from our writers directly in your inbox!
Vanessa has launched “Hey Babe” on substack, which she describes as: “a newsletter that was supposed to be about friendship, but now I think is really about grief.” The first post came out today, and it as you would expect, breathtaking. (Speaking of which, V please know that you are in our hearts!)
Rachel has launched “two truths & a lie,” “a newsletter that explores a new topic related to fiction, misrepresentation, cons, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and discerning the truth” and I f*cking cannot wait
Venerable sex worker activist, founder of the organization COYOTE — Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics — and union organizer (who also ran for President in 1980!), Margot St. James has left us this week at the age of 88. Her namesake, the St. James Infirmary, the first occupational clinic in the U.S. run for and by sex workers, reminds us of her words.
“The events that unfolded didn’t manifest out of thin air nor were they the actions of “lone White wolves” as we have been led to believe every time White men and women commit egregious acts. No, they didn’t act alone. They answered the siren call to combat against their country.
They answered the call that came from inside the house.”
Carmen is Autostraddle’s interim Editor-in-Chief and a black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made sure she struck one more time at LGBTQ youth as she stepped down last week, with her department issuing a memo saying that “gender identity” was not protected under laws that ban discrimination on the basis of sex, and that schools are within their rights to misgender transgender students and force them to participate in programs and use facilities based on their biological sex.
The memo (PDF), from Kimberly Richey, acting assistant secretary of the Department of Education’s (DOEd’s) Office for Civil Rights, says the term “sex” in Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or other education program that receives federal taxpayer money, is defined only as “biological sex, male or female.” This means, among other things, that it’s okay for schools to ignore a student’s required pronouns and to ban them from participation in an activity meant for someone of the “opposite sex”:
We believe a recipient [of funds from the DOEd] generally would not violate Title IX by, for example, recording a student’s biological sex in school records, or referring to a student using sex-based pronouns that correspond to the student’s biological sex, or refusing to permit a student to participate in a program or activity lawfully provided for members of the opposite sex, regardless of transgender status or homosexuality.
Additionally, the memo says that Title IX requires schools to have transgender students participate in athletics and use school bathrooms and locker rooms according to their biological sex:
We believe the ordinary public meaning of controlling statutory and regulatory text requires a recipient providing separate athletic teams to separate participants solely based on their biological sex, male or female, and not based on transgender status or homosexuality, to comply with Title IX…. [and] requires a recipient providing “separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex” to regulate access based on biological sex.
Under Title IX, it says, schools may also legally consider only biological sex, and not lived gender, in admissions to single-sex institutions; single-sex housing; membership in social organizations like fraternities, sororities, and the Girl Scouts; “separate mother-daughter and father-son activities;” single-sex classes and extracurricular activities, including human sexuality classes and physical education classes involving contact sports.
The memo is framed as a response to Bostock v. Clayton County, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that was one of the few good things to come out of 2020. That ruling says that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment based on sex, also necessarily prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Title IX was also enacted (in 1972) as a follow up to the Civil Rights Act. The DOEd memo looks at how Bostock may also have impacted the way Title IX is interpreted, with the DeVos DOEd concluding that it doesn’t—and doubling down on an interpretation of Title VII that ignores and harms transgender students.
One area where Bostock may offer some protections to LGBTQ students, the memo says, is sexual harassment:
Consistent with Bostock, harassment on the basis of a person’s transgender status or homosexuality may implicate that person’s biological sex and, thus, may at least in part constitute “conduct on the basis of sex.” Accordingly, unwelcome conduct on the basis of transgender status or homosexuality may, if so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity on the basis of their transgender status or homosexuality, constitute sexual harassment prohibited by Title IX.
That’s little solace, though, when other policies are designed to exclude and ostracize, potentially stirring up harassment. Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that “The memorandum refusing to apply Bostock to federal education law is unconscionable and legally flawed.”
Although the memo is dated January 8, one day after DeVos’ resignation, it must have been in preparation for some time before then—and really comes as no surprise. In 2017, the DOEd withdrew guidance instituted by the Obama administration, which had said that discrimination against transgender students on the basis of gender identity violates Title IX. While guidance doesn’t create new law, it clarifies how the relevant federal departments will evaluate whether a person or institution is complying with existing law.
Now, DeVos DOEd is leaving the government with guidance that will cause harm to transgender students by not letting them live their truths and make them more vulnerable to bullying and harassment. (If you think a trans girl won’t get harassed if she’s forced to use the boys’ bathroom, you’re fooling yourself.) In her resignation letter, in which she condemns the “violent protestors” in the capitol, DeVos said, “Impressionable children are watching all of this, and they are learning from us. I believe we each have a moral obligation to exercise good judgement and model the behavior we hope they would emulate.” She would do well to consider how those words apply in other areas as well.
Joe Biden’s website however, promises: “On his first day in office, Biden will reinstate the Obama-Biden guidance revoked by the Trump-Pence Administration, which will restore transgender students’ access to sports, bathrooms, and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity. He will direct his Department of Education to vigorously enforce and investigate violations of transgender students’ civil rights.” January 20th can’t come soon enough.
Tig Nataro plays Marianne Peters, ‘a badass helicopter pilot’ in Zack Snyder’s upcoming ‘zombie heist movie, Army of the Dead’.
And she’s talking about the experience in this EW article by James Hibberd:
Nataro came to the role in an unusual fashion. Principal photography on the film had wrapped when Chris D’Elia, the actor who originally played the pilot role, was accused of sexual misconduct (to use the anodyne phrase).
Snyder then asked for Nataro, specifically (ie, no audition) and, when she said yes, she shot all her scenes green-screen so her performance could be digitally plugged in to the existing footage.
I’ve got mixed feelings about Zack Snyder. I get the feeling his heart is mostly in the right place, but his execution just never seems to get it right, at least for me.
That said, he says nothing but good things about Nataro in the above article. And Nataro comes over as having enjoyed both the experience and the role.
Also, the ‘First look’ isn’t just a tease. The article is headed by a great medium-shot of Nataro in full combat gear hanging off a rotor control rod and looking every inch the butch action hero1.
Yes I’m aware this word has both a masculine and feminine form in English. I’m using the masculine form only partly in deference to Nataro’s presentation in the photo.
Mostly, I’m using it because I’m a fan of the trend in English for abandoning masculine and feminine noun forms for gender-inclusive forms.
And, yes, it’s not a good thing that the gender-inclusive form is invariably the previously masculine form. But, and speaking as a non-native English speaker and writer who’s primary languages are more deeply gendered than English, I’ll take what I can get on this front. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.