After a year like 2020, how does one approach 2021? With low expectations, since anything would be better than 2020, or with high, since we feel we deserve a little recompense for the year gone by?
For myself, I am trying to remain open to what the new year will bring. I am cautiously optimistic about the Biden administration’s ability to make positive change for our country and to effectively address the pandemic. There is still much work ahead: continuing to wear masks and practice social distancing; taking care of those still being diagnosed with COVID-19; distributing the vaccine and educating people about why they need to get it; and helping people and businesses (especially small businesses), through the economic repercussions of the pandemic. Pandemic aside, we need to enact legislation and regulations in many areas to offset the backward steps taken during the Trump years; continue to combat the systemic racism that has plagued our nation since its beginning; and otherwise strive towards the vision of a country where all are truly free and equal. We need, too, to take strong steps to slow climate change so that we can pass on a green and healthy planet to our children.
Dare we hope there will be further progress towards LGBTQ equality, like passing the Equality Act to enshrine a broad sweep of LGBTQ protections in federal law? That would be progress indeed. There will regardless remain danger for LGBTQ families in the coming year, though, most notably from the U.S. Supreme Court, which this past fall heard a case that could give taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies the right to use their religious beliefs as reasons to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others. That would reduce the number of otherwise-eligible parents for children in need of homes, could result in LGBTQ youth in care being placed with unsupportive parents, and might open the door to religion-based discrimination in other areas. The decision is expected by the end of June.
We need to continue, too, the work of educating those around us—from health care workers to teachers, coaches, and many others—about LGBTQ families. It can be tiring, yes. We have made such progress that it sometimes feels as if everyone should just “get it” already. We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re in the PTA. I’ve found, however, that sometimes even the most well-meaning folks still sometimes stumble over the right language or could use some guidance on inclusive books and other resources. Perhaps it’s our burden as this particular generation of LGBTQ parents to be the guides that people need. Perhaps that’s one of the gifts we give to our children.
Speaking of books, the past couple of years have seen a tremendous surge in the number and scope of LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books, which shows no sign of stopping. I’m already looking forward to a number of new titles this year—stay tuned for reviews! While children’s books may not seem as important as political progress, I think their publication—and the response to them—have long been indicators of the general response to LGBTQ people and our need for equality. Nor should we minimize their positive impact on LGBTQ children and those with LGBTQ parents as well as their peers. Representation does matter.
Yet our assessment of a year is driven by more than external social, political, literary, and epidemiological happenings. Our years may include new children; milestones of their childhood; marriage or divorce; illness or deaths of family and friends; and other events for better or worse, which all impact how we feel about this lap around the sun. For my own family, the new year will hold some bittersweet moments as our son goes off to college next fall. While I am bursting with pride at seeing him growing up and discovering himself, I will also miss the heck out of him while he is away. I want to give him space, even while he is still here—the kind of space every teen needs—but there is also part of me that wants to spend every possible minute together before he leaves the nest. I’ll try to find a balance that suits both of us—I can usually get him to hang out with me if it involves baking something (and dozens of chocolate chip cookies would help temper whatever else the new year has to bring).
2020 was indeed a year like no other. 2021 remains as yet unknown. Many of us are dealing with the loss of loved ones to the pandemic or for other reasons. Many are struggling financially. We are heading into the new year a little worse for wear and know there is no magic in the calendar suddenly flipping to January 1. (The Jewish and Muslim calendars have already begun their new years, for that matter.) The ills of 2020 didn’t disappear magically when the ball dropped in Times Square. Nevertheless, there is something to be said about feeling like we’re starting fresh and turning the page to a better future. We may take the time to reassess, make resolutions, and catch our breath before moving forward. Whatever 2021 may bring for you and your families, and for our country and the world, may it include joy, peace, and much love.
Originally published with slight variation as my Mombian newspaper column.
Ellie Diamond, Asttina Mandella and Ginny Lemon from Drag Race UK season two. (BBC)
The Drag Race UK season two queens are finally here.
After feverish anticipation, frustrating delays and the small matter of a global pandemic, Drag Race UK season two is ready to spread its tuppence all over your screen.
Returning 14 January on BBC iPlayer, the new season will see RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Alan Carr and Graham Norton preside over a diverse new cast of queens, including the franchise’s first Welsh and Scottish contestants.
Expect glamour, spook, vocals, veganism and a whole lot of regional dialects for RuPaul to smile and nod at.
The twelve competing queens are: Tayce, Joe Black, A’Whora, Tia Kofi, Ellie Diamond, Sister Sister, Veronica Green, Bimini Bon Boulash, Ginny Lemon and Asttina Mandella.
Also announced Wednesday (16 December) was Drag Race UK: Queens on Lockdown, a mid-series special uncovering how the queens spent their time during the long, pandemic-mandated break in filming.
Tayce, 26, from London via Newport.
Drag Race UK’s first Welsh queen is a “girl on the go” who describes her drag as “modelesque, very villainous, dark, punky, edgy… a sexy owl here to peck your face away with my claws”.
Well-known on the London drag scene, Tayce is “here, queer and ready to let these girls have it”.
Like a few girls this season, Tayce has an aversion to the sewing machine, but doesn’t expect that will stop her from making it to very end “by hook or by crook”.
Joe Black, 30, from Brighton.
Joe has been performing for 13 years and comes from the world of burlesque and cabaret – “all ostrich feathers and glitter and strippers”.
She is bringing “all the eye shadow and the wonky eyebrows of the traditional seaside drag, with a bit of haunted glamour”.
A’whora, 23, from London via Nottinghamshire.
A’whora is the “fashion queen of the London scene” determined to prove that she’s a lot more than just her incredible looks.
“I wanna walk into a club and people be intimidated”, says the plastic surgery enthusiast, whose next procedure is getting her “fingers done”.
Tia Kofi, 30, from from London via Essex and Nottingham.
Tia Kofi is one-third of drag girl group The Vixens, but is entering Drag Race UK to “Beyoncé myself”.
Proud to be representing British queens of colour, Tia Kofi is bringing you “end of the pier Blackpool”.
“She’s live singing, she’s all dancing, she’s camp, she’s glamour, she’s also a mess.”
Ellie Diamond, 21, from Dundee.
Standing 6’4 out of drag, Ellie is “a really big queen – literally – in a tiny little pond”.
She joins Drag Race UK season two having performed outside of Dundee only once before.
She currently works in a drive-thru, and describes her drag as a “cartoon character came to life”.
Sister Sister, 32 from Liverpool.
A Sister Sister show is about “wacky monsters going for it”, inspired by old-school, Victoria Wood-style British comedy.
She can sew, turn a look, dance – although “not well” – and is here to represent a unique part of Liverpool’s drag scene
“You have the gorgeous queens of Dragtown, you have the queer scene who like to get down dark and dirty, and then you have me just plonked in the middle.”
Veronica Green, 34, from London via Rochdale.
“Gorgeous, goofy and professional”, Veronica Green has been in the industry as a theatre and opera singer for 15 years.
Although her dream of singing in Wicked hasn’t come true (yet), she’s ready to take the Drag Race UK crown.
“I am the most competitive person I know, and I will fight you on that if you disagree.”
Bimini Bon Boulash, 26, from London via Norfolk.
“East London’s bendiest b***h,” Bimini grew up in Norfolk but is now a staple of the capital’s “diverse, vibrant, colourful” drag scene.
Incredibly, Bimini invented veganism “about seven years ago”, and fancies herself the dancing queen of the season.
“I wanna show that you don’t have to be shady, be super b***hy to prove that you’ve got something.”
Ginny Lemon, 31 from Worcestershire.
Fancy a slice? Ginny Lemon is the “hairiest woman in showbiz” and “the only non-binary drag queen in the UK… with a sense of humour”.
Her ideal look is a “90s daytime TV presenter on acid”, she’s bringing you a “down o earth, working class sense of humour”.
“You’ll get high energy, madness, the unplanned.”
Asttina Mandella, 27 from London.
A backing dancer for the likes of Hercules and Love Affair, Pussycat Dolls, Little Mix and Kanye West, Asttina is trained in ballet, tap, jazz, vogue, whacking, hip-hop and street dance – but she’s also “a big geek”.
“Now it’s my time to be on the poster,” she says.
“I’m Serena Williams and Naomi Campbell if they had a baby, plus Azealia Banks at the same time.”
Cherry Valentine, 26 from Darlington.
Cherry Valentine only started doing drag a year ago, but tells her haters: “I’ve been doing it as long as I need.”
“She’s glamour, she’s club kid, she’s dark, she’s gothic,” she says of her drag.
When she’s not serving body and face, Cherry is a qualified mental health nurse, something she credits with helping her on her drag journey.
Lawrence Chaney, 23 from Glasgow.
Inspired by Lady Gaga, Madonna and Michelle McManus, Lawrence is “every single stereoytpe you are thinking right now of what a Scottish person is”.
“I’m almost the fat b****d of drag from Austin Powers,” she says, and is here to represent the big queens.
“I really wanna show that a big girl can enter the competition and really showcase the inner beauty and the outer beauty that we all heave. Not wear leotards with fringe on them.”
For many of us right now, the thought of celebrating anything is unfathomable. We contemplated how best to approach our film’s world premiere, while recognizing and honoring the time we’re living in, and realized that making space to tell queer stories is in itself an act of resistance. Sharing the story of a visionary and unapologetic celebration of lesbian life is an act of resistance. Our movement was forged in joy and struggle — as queer people, our very existence is resistance – let’s use our joy as a powerful and nourishing tool to fuel our fight. Being together with our community for this night of celebration will energize us to keep doing the work that needs to be done. TICKETS.
We’re excited to announce that tickets for the World Premiere of AHEAD OF THE CURVE at the Drive-In are on sale now. Taking place on Saturday, June 27th at the West Wind Solano Drive-In Theater in Concord, CA, as part of the Frameline44 Pride Showcase, a limited block of tickets are available now at Frameline.org. Definitely get yours asap, this event will sell out fast.
To help make the film accessible to those who can’t attend the Drive-In in person, we’ve worked with Frameline to make a limited number of digital streams available as well. Please visit Frameline’s Digital Screening room for tickets.
Franco, Jen, Rivkah, and everyone on the AHEAD OF THE CURVE team can’t wait to share the story of Curve Magazine with you.
WORLD Premiere – 2020 Frameline44 Pride Showcase
Special Screening of AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Saturday, June 27, 2020
West Wind Solano Drive-In Theater
1611 Solano Way, Concord, CA