Tag: Classic

Autostraddle March Madness: Canon vs. Fanon – Classic

Autostraddle March Madness: Canon vs. Fanon - Classic

This tournament marries two of my most favorite things: queer television and basketball. We borrow the moniker “March Madness” from the NCAA who uses it to describe its annual spring survive and advance championship tournament. But here’s an interesting thing we learned this week: according to the NCAA, women don’t participate in March Madness.

The disparity was hinted at last week, when photos of the men’s and women’s tournaments’ swag bags leaked across the internet. The men had hats, books, towels, shoes, socks blankets, bags, etc. all carrying the March Madness/The Big Dance branding, but the women’s swag bags — who were a fraction of the size of the men’s — all bore the “Women’s basketball” insignia. All this, while basketball players have all year, been wearing the word “equality” on the backs of their jersey.

Bracket for the 2021 Autostraddle March Madness contest

Click here for a full-size image.
But not here: Autostraddle March Madness is all about celebrating women and their contributions to the fandom. Today, the voting commences for the CLASSIC sub-regions of the Canon vs. Fanon Contest. You have 48 hours to cast your ballot and then we’ll be back to unveil another region shortly thereafter.

Tara and Willow vs. Naomi and Emily

Late in Buffy‘s third season, a spell goes awry and Willow unwittingly brings her own vampire doppelgänger to Sunnydale. When the pair finally come face-to-face, Willow’s taken aback by the vampire version of herself. She says, “I’m so evil and…skanky…and I think I’m kinda gay.” Buffy assures Willow that her doppelgänger’s personality isn’t a reflection of her…but, in the end, Tara wonders if maybe it should be…and, by Season 4, it is.

Willow and Tara meet in Wicca group and their shared love of magic brings them together…first, as friends and then as something more. Tara confesses her feelings first — I am, you know. What? Yours — but a few episodes later, Willow answers: “You have to be with the person you love. I am.”

Yeah, kinda gay.

Canon #8. Naomi and Emily – Skins

For years — since she was 12, in fact — Naomi Campbell ran from the way she felt about Emily Fitch. Even the moments where she allowed herself to feel the full weight of it — when she kissed Emily or when she held her hand or when they had sex — were just moments. They were fleeting, forgotten as soon as they happened, because loving another girl was such a scary prospect. But then Naomi’s mother reminds her, “[the] people who make us happy are never the people you expect…so, when you found someone, you’ve got to cherish it.”

And so she does.

She pedals over to Emily’s house and holds her hand through the cat flap…and promises to cherish it forever.

The Battle for Sarah Shahi Supremacy

Canon #2. Shane and Carmen – The L Word

Early in Season 6, Jenny forces Shane to clean out her closet. She plucks a shirt out from “that horrible Paige era” and urges Shane to get rid of it. She finds another from Cheri Jaffe and, of course, that has to go too. Shane’s amenable to it all until Jenny picks up a shirt that reminds her of Carmen…that one, she refuses to throw away: Shane wants some remembrance of her. And while the stilted dialogue leaves her meaning a bit ambiguous, I’ve always thought of it as Shane acknowledging that, with Carmen, she was — until she wasn’t — the best version of herself.

Root and Shaw’s meet cute? More meet than cute. Shaw shows up to a meeting with a CIA contact, only to find Root impersonating her. But by the time she realizes it, it’s too late: Root sneaks up from behind and tasers her. As Root ties Shaw to the chair, she admits that she read Shaw’s file and she’s kind of impressed…not impressed enough to stop her from torturing her with the hotel room’s hot iron, but still, impressed.

“One of the things I left out of my file,” Shaw confesses. “I kind of enjoy this sort of thing,”

“I am so glad you said that,” Root admits. “I do too.”

And so begins the love/hate relationship that set the fandom ablaze.

Brittany and Santana vs. Bette and Tina

Canon #3. Brittany and Santana – GLEE

Brittany and Santana weren’t supposed to be a thing. They were bit characters — the Kelly and Michelle to Quinn Fabray’s Beyoncé — who were meant to come in, toss a few barbs at the GLEE club and then recede back to Lima Heights Adjacent. Even when Brittany unwittingly reveals the truth about their relationship — Santana says, “Sex is not dating,” to which Brittany replies, “If it were, Santana and I would be dating” — it was supposed to be a one-off, throwaway line. But their talent, their chemistry and their fans made it more. They existed because the fandom demanded more, they existed because the writers and the actresses answered that demand with something great.

Canon #6. Bette and Tina – The L Word

When we first meet, Bette and Tina, their world — their relationship — seems idyllic. They are so deeply and effortlessly in love and are working to conceive their first child. But slowly but surely, the cracks start to show…and when Tina miscarries, those cracks become fault lines that threaten to destroy their relationship. But while they go through a cycle of cheating and reuniting and breaking up and dating other people, inevitably, Bette and Tina claw their way back to each other…each time, returning to their relationship, better people than they were before.

Alice and Tasha vs. Cosima and Delphine

Canon #4. Alice and Tasha – The L Word

From the moment Papi introduces them at the club, Alice is immediately intrigued by Tasha. She checks her out, a few times, watches how she interacts with others — all tell-tale signs of interest — and Tasha ignores them, retreating outside to have a smoke. Undeterred by Tasha’s cold shoulder, Alice finds her later at the club and tries to make conversation. It is a struggle. Tasha offers short answers, never divulging more details than are needed to answer the question. But Alice keeps trying and Tasha appreciates the effort enough to let her guard down a little, inviting Alice for a ride on her motorcycle…and so begins one of The L Word‘s most beautiful love stories.

Canon #5. Cosima and Delphine – Orphan Black

Soon after Delphine shows up at her apartment, Cosima apologizes for having assumed she was gay. Before Delphine even has a chance to respond, Cosima steers the conversation back to the professional — “I just want to make, like, crazy science with you” — and they settle into an easy rapport about the Dyad Institute and their crazy science. But just when Cosima feels like she can breathe again…like her past mistake is behind her…Delphine brings up the kiss again. She can’t forget about it — in the best way — and, acknowledging the science of bisexuality, talks herself into doing the very thing she’s wanted to do since their first kiss: have another.

Faberry vs. Kalicia

Fanon #1. Rachel and Quinn – GLEE

No one loves a good enemies to lovers trope quite like the gays…and Rachel and Quinn are the epitome of that. They start out on opposite sides of the spectrum: Quinn, the head cheerleader, dating McKinley High’s star quarterback, and Rachel, the lead underdog of the New Directions Glee Club, who secretly pines for McKinley High’s star quarterback. But through heartbreak, time and song, Quinn and Rachel find themselves on the opposite ends of an easy friendship…becoming, at once, each other’s biggest critic and biggest supporter.

Fanon #8. Alicia and Kalinda – The Good Wife

Is Kalicia the most trafficked ‘ship in the fanon? No, absolutely not. But there is something uniquely powerful about the Kalinda and Alicia fandom: it was so powerful, it compelled the writers to change the entire direction of the show…to the show’s great detriment.

The Good Wife started out as a vehicle for Julianna Marguiles about a woman emerging from the fallout of her husband’s political scandal. What it became, though, was an unwitting love story of a bisexual private investigator who worked, in secret, to ensure that the woman she loved would be able to achieve her dreams. The love story won Archie Panjabi the show’s first Emmy and created a fandom so fervent that it unsettled the show’s star and the show shifted its direction dramatically. From then on, the once BFFs were kept at arm’s length, going years without sharing a scene, including Kalinda’s final scene on the show.

Bering and Wells vs. Jade and Tori

Fanon #2. Myka and H.G. – Warehouse 13

Myka Bering is the only person who regularly calls H.G., “Helena.” She’ll call her H.G. in front of others but, in those moments when it’s just the two of them, she’s Myka and H.G. is Helena. She slips and calls H.G. Helena once, in Artie’s presence, and he chirps back, “Ohhh, it’s ‘Helena,’ now is it? If it’s all right with you, I’ll just keep calling her ‘the villain.’” It’s a sign that Myka’s the only one that ever truly sees her…the only person who believes in H.G.’s capacity to be good. And while H.G. struggles to live up to Myka’s view of her — what’s a bit of almost destroying the world between would-be girlfriends? — Myka’s faith never waivers…even when she wishes it would.

Fanon #7. Jade and Tori – VICTORiOUS

In a lot of ways, Tori Vega and Jade West remind me of Nickelodeon’s version of Faberry. Tori’s the bright, popular new girl at their performing arts school, who regularly clashes with Jade, the prickly goth girl. And while their tension could be chalked up to the ongoing rivalry between the two girls — and Jade’s jealousy over the ease into which Tori fights success at school — fans saw the potential for a queer love story. The show made the pairing a little easier to imagine when their teacher literally sent them out on a date.

In the moments where Jade and Tori settle into an uneasy truce, Jade is her best self. Despite their past skirmishes, Jade finds in Tori the one person who just lets her be herself.

Rizzles vs. Xena and Gabrielle

Fanon #3. Jane and Maura – Rizzoli & Isles

Police procedurals are a man’s genre…but Rizzoli & Isles came in and broke new ground. It was a show, developed by a woman, led by two women — Angie Harmon as Boston Det. Jane Rizzoli and Sasha Alexander as Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Maura Isles — and based on novels by a woman. While police procedurals have gotten more diverse since Rizzoli & Isles‘ bowed in 2016, the show still stands alone in its depiction of women.

And, of course, it was gay. Not in the textual way…not in the way so many fans wanted it to be…but it was so, so gay….and somehow, also, not.

There are actual queer couples on screen today that don’t touch each other as much as Jane and Maura did. There are actual queer couples that never exchange the deep, longing looks that were commonplace on Rizzoli & Isles. Few actual queer couples on screen today can match their chemistry. But somehow, still, not actually gay? Go figure.

Depending on who you ask, Xena and Gabrielle’s placement here is troubling. To them, Xena and Gabrielle’s relationship is canon and they cannot be persuaded otherwise. But, in my defense: 1. I included Xena and Gabrielle among the choices for our A+ readers and they didn’t finish in the top 8 and 2. because of studio politics and Xena’s relationship with Ares, the show’s executive producer maintains that the couple weren’t canon.

But politics aside, there’s no debate that Gabrielle was the person who took someone who was marginalized — as Lucy Lawless pointed out “Xena means ‘stranger’” — and made them feel worthy. Legions of fans have since picked up where the studio left off.

BTVS vs. Star Trek: Voyager

Xander, Willow and Buffy are in Chemistry class when Mrs. Taggart interrupts Buffy’s ‘Ode to Faith’ — Buffy’s regaling of the pair’s slayer activities from the night before — to hand out a test. As soon as Mrs. Taggart leaves the room, Buffy turns back to her friends to continue where she left off. But Xander’s focused on the test so Buffy does the same until she’s interrupted by the object of her affection attention, rapping at the classroom window.

“Hey, girlfriend,” Faith says, opening the window and wordlessly inviting Buffy out to play. She leans over to the next window, wipes it clean with her sleeve, exhales to fog it and uses her index fingers to draw a heart with Cupid’s arrow — or you know, a stake, whichever — through it.

It’s enough to entice Buffy to skip the test and spend time with her partner in crime.

Fanon #5. Janeway and Seven of Nine – Star Trek: Voyager

In “The Gift,” Captain Kathryn Janeway reveals her discovery from the federation database: records from Deep Space Four about the Borg she’d come to know as Seven of Nine. She deduces that Seven — born Annika Hansen — and her parents were likely the first humans the Borg ever assimilated.” The revelation puts them on strangely similar footing: both groundbreaking women traversing the galaxy alone. From Jane, Seven learns to embrace her humanity; from Seven, Jane gets “brought…to life, as a deeply human woman.”

“I cannot function this way. Alone,” Seven of Nine says.

“You’re not alone. I’m willing to help you,” Janeway answers.

As always, the clock’s set: you’ve got 48 hours to cast your ballot in this round of March Madness. We’ll be back later this week to share information about the other sub-regions.

Check out a classic about boys who love to suck… / Queerty

Check out a classic about boys who love to suck…

Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a rewatch.

The Erotic: The Lost Boys

Sucking blood! Get your head out of the gutter, dear reader.

No doubt director Joel Schumacher, the openly gay helmsman behind The Lost Boys, had more than a little homoeroticism on his mind when he called action on this film. A hit in 1987, it helped launch the careers of its stars, Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Alex Winter & Kieffer Sutherland…not to mention landed them in ever teen heartthrob magazine at the time.

The plot: two teenage brothers move to a small California coastal town following their recently divorced mother. As the pair struggle to fit in their new community, they begin to notice strange happenings on the local pier. Michael (Patric), the older brother, falls for a beautiful young woman that hangs out with a creepy local gang. Sam (Haim), his younger brother, falls in with a  pair of occult-obsessed militants (Feldman & Jameson Newlander), who try to convince him that the small town is actually run by vampires.

The Lost Boys plays on many tropes that would become hallmarks of the period: latchkey kid mayhem, teenage horniness, and single moms falling for interloper boyfriends. It also pumps up the volume on the homoeroticism: the vampire gang, as led by Sutherland’s David, revels in their eternal youth and beauty, and seem less interested in women than in hanging out (at times, literally) together, often in unbuttoned shirts. The David-Michael rivalry also has some undertones to it: is David mad that Michael has stolen his girlfriend, or does he just want Michael for himself?

Creepy, sexy and loaded with a lot of tongue in cheek humor, a rewatch of The Lost Boys is a fine way to honor Schumacher, who died earlier this year. It’s also a fun way to welcome the witching season with a movie that knows just how gay it is, even if its characters don’t.

Streams on Amazon, YouTube, iTunes & VUDU.

The Dyke Kitchen: Classic Air-Fried Cornish Game Hen & Waffles

The Dyke Kitchen: Classic Air-Fried Cornish Game Hen & Waffles

The Dyke Kitchen written over a drippy yellow shape that has checkerboard at the ends

The Dyke Kitchen is a bi-weekly series about how queerness, identity, culture and love are expressed through food and cooking.

Kamala & The Waffle Maker

Back in February, before we had a full view of what was in store for us in 2020, my mom texted me frantically one evening to say that her favorite waffle iron was on sale, and did I want a version of my own. I said yes, of course.

I love waffles. The are perfect for toppings. I also really like that while, yes, there are traditional types of waffles, the waffle iron, as a tool, is an invitation to make whatever kind of waffle you want! When I lived in Oakland, I spent a lot of weekends hauling my mom’s 4-slice All-Clad stainless steel waffle maker — it’s very heavy, so that’s just one of the reasons I wanted my own — to my own apartment to make bacon & chive waffles, cornmeal waffles to eat with salsa, waffles made from dosa batter, regular sweet ones smothered in butter and truffle honey.

Long story short, I didn’t know in February that I wouldn’t be seeming my mom again until August. So on my last trip home, after six months of built-up anticipation, spending every brunch-ish moment of quarantine thinking about the waffles I would not be making, I did finally receive the gift of my very own waffle iron! It’s a 2-slice, but it’s just as amazing as my mom’s. And I knew I wanted to break it in with something special.

When my close friend Vinh;Paul told me that he was bringing his air fryer back from his mom’s house (this great story is below!), it seemed like the perfect reason to put our new kitchen tools together for our own style — always-original, always-sorta-Asian — of chicken and waffles. So here you have our menu for a night we spent making a tiny hen and waffles, and guzzling really great watermelon cocktails made by Sarah — those are also below! For texture and freshness, I also made a very similar cabbage salad to the one I made with these scallion pancakes, though this time, with the addition of peaches.

an overhead view of a table setting with a large bowl of purple cabbage salad, a tray of waffles, a pitcher of gravy, a small bowl with a little round fried hen nestled inside

Vinh;Paul & The Air Fryer

Mother and I love TJ Maxx HomeGoods. We take great pleasure in buying fun gadgets at discount prices, loading up the house with conveniences that we only use once or twice before shelving it in the laundry room. If there’s a gadget, Mother definitely has it. From a yoghurt maker to three different kinds of high-speed blenders, a food dehydrator, garlic presses, a dedicated almond chopper, and my personal favorite: the Yonana Classic, a contraption that turns frozen bananas into soft serve.

Some may find Mother’s penchant for these conveniences excessive. And though we’ve gotten into some arguments about her laundry room being too cluttered to wash clothes, she’ll have it no other way. Mother grew up in the countryside of Việt Nam, during an extra tumultuous time in Việtnamese history: post-French colonialism but still in high tensions due to the American occupation. When she had to suddenly flee in ‘75, or else risk persecution, she lost everything: keepsakes, photos, and a link to her parents and eight siblings, all of whom were too far away to leave with her.

But don’t feel sad for Mother. She’s done wonderfully — if this wall of gadgets could talk, it’d probably say, “She has soft hands because she doesn’t believe in exerting effort when a machine can do the work for her.”

And what better machine than an air fryer! No more heavy cast irons filled with hot oil greasing up the kitchen. “You can have fresh eggrolls anytime,” Mother said, “without wasting good oil.” She grew up with so few things, only to still lose everything. I don’t think she ever imagined a life of such ease. Since I moved to LA, our trips to TJ Maxx HomeGoods have become a thing of the past, but the spirit of convenience still lives on. During this pandemic, while everyone has been sheltering in place, Mother donned two layers of masks and went right back to shopping the minute the discount doors of the Maxx reopened.

It may seem silly to some, but Mother and I certainly have a deep care for each other, even if it’s gone mostly unspoken. As her youngest child and also her queer little baby, I know that helping me live a life that is filled with ease is her way of saying, I love you. And I feel very lucky about this. Despite our differences, she has always opened her arms wider to show me tenderness, the intuitive nature, and How can I anticipate your needs before you know you even need it?

The last one is my favorite. Anticipating someone’s wants before they want it is so fun to me. When Kamala told me her mom was giving her a waffle maker, I thought, What better way to honor our moms then by using these gadgets together! Fried chicken and waffles was an obvious choice, but knowing Kamala so well — and Kamala knowing me so well — a regular chicken just wouldn’t do. I like food to be fun, delicious, offbeat — a touch of my weirdness in every bite — a kind of performance piece conceptualizing flavors. I’ll admit that frying a cornish game hen isn’t that weird, but what it lacks in novelty it makes up in being damn tiny and super cute — sometimes eating up cuties is my favorite thing.

Vinh;Paul in a cute apron with floral frills, stirring a pot of gravy

How To Make Savory Cheddar Waffles

cripsy waffles being pulled hot out of a waffle iron with chopsticks

I wanted to make a waffle that would be a good match for the air-fried hen that Vinh;Paul was making. In my dreams it would be light and crispy, and I wanted it to have a savory flavor. I ended up adding some shredded cheddar for the sharpness, and also because I love how cheese melts in something very hot, like a waffle iron. I also added some dashi and yogurt to the batter. Lastly, I employed my mom’s greatest trick for a fluffy waffle, which is separating the eggs and whipping the whites into stiff peaks.


This made about 10 waffles in my iron.

2 cups of all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
A few grinds of black pepper
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites whipped so they are very stiff (you should be able to hold the bowl upside down)
1 ½ cups warm whole milk
2 tablespoons of plain whole fat yogurt
⅓ of liquified, browned butter
1 tablespoon of concentrated dashi
½ cup of sharp shredded cheddar


Get out your waffle iron and set it to the desired setting so it starts heating up.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and black pepper.

In a small or medium bowl, add the egg yolks and the dashi and mix them together.

In a liquid measuring cup, warm your milk (I did mine the microwave for 2 minutes) and then add the yogurt to the milk and stir it up so it’s more or less combined. Add this to the bowl with the egg yolks and dashi and stir to combine.

Brown the butter, and when it’s ready, add it directly to the flour mixture and stir them together.

Now add the bowl of warm milk and egg yolks into the large bowl of flour + butter and stir to combine.

Now that you have one bowl of batter, toss in your cheddar (I really just grabbed a big handful and added it) and stir to get them evenly distributed.

Whip your egg whites into stiff peaks and then gently fold them to your batter until they are fully combined. They’re going to lose some air as you combine them, but if you’re slow and methodical, you’ll still get a lift.

There was enough butter in this batter that I did not need to grease the waffle iron. So I put about a third of a cup of batter into each waffle square and cooked them to crisp level 6 on my iron. My iron beeps when it’s ready to cook and when it’s time for me to take out the waffles, so the actual cooking I can’t say I put much effort into.

an open waffle iron and two clumpy batches of wet waffle dough on the bottom part of the press. in the foreground crispy cooked waffles stand in a tray

In the end, they were light and fluffy, success! They cheese was delicious and the dashi is hardly detectable, but does add a savory undertone to the waffle itself, so it has a depth of flavor that makes it enjoyable to eat on its own.

a bright green plate with a thick pool of gravy, a pile of purple cabbage salad w peach chunks, and a waffle and pieces of fried hen on top

How To Make The Cornish Game Hen

When I originally cooked this hen, I soaked, dredged, air fried it whole. The flavor was right, but as one side crisped up, the other side would go soggy. The extra step of cutting the hen in half will solve this soggy bottom problem by giving it enough space to breathe and get super crunchy. In honor of our moms, and their love of gadgets, I hope you enjoy this recipe and make it into a delight that you will also share with those you love.


Hen prep:
1 cornish game hen weighing approximately 2 lbs
2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
½ tbsp turmeric powder
½ tbsp garlic powder

2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 ½ tsp oregano
1 ½ Italian seasoning
1 ½ dry rosemary
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp aleppo pepper powder**
1 tsp Korean gochugaru**
½ tsp nutmeg (optional)

*Buttermilk substitution: combine 2 cups whole milk + 2 tbsp white vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes to sour.

**Flavor is personal! And we don’t always have some of these ingredients on hand. We just happen to prefer a spicier fried hen and have these spices around the house, but feel free to add or omit herbs and spices to taste.

Dredge Station:
1 cup flour
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs
2 tbsp Frank’s Red Hot or other vinegar based hot sauce of choice (optional)
2-3 tbsp of olive oil or any other cooking oil on hand


The night before: Using a sharp knife, cut cornish game hen half lengthwise, from center of breast bone, for two even pieces. Discard gizzards or save to make stock.

Combine 2 cups buttermilk, salt, pepper, turmeric powder, and garlic powder in a large bowl. Marinate cornish game hen in refrigerator for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. Marinating the hen before frying allows the acids in the buttermilk to tenderize the meat, resulting in a succulent and tender bite.

Day of air fry: Remove cornish game hen from the buttermilk and set on a rack for 30 minutes, allowing the hen to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, combine seasonings in a small bowl.

Prepare the dredge by combining 1 cup flour and half of seasonings into one large bowl; 1 cup panko breadcrumbs with remaining half of seasonings in a second bowl; 2 eggs with hot sauce whisked together in a third bowl. Taste flour and panko breadcrumbs mixture. Add additional spices or herbs if desired as this will be the final taste of the air-fried hen.

Taking one-half of the bifurcated cornish hen, dredge in flour, then quickly cover in egg mixture, and cover in panko breadcrumbs. Set back on wire rack to rest for additional 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining half of game hen.

When ready to air fry, brush or spritz cornish game hen with a light and even coat of olive oil. Do not skip this step! The hen needs a little oil or else it will not crisp up.

a floured, egg-washed, and panko-covered cornish game hen awaiting her fry

The air fryer does not need to preheat. When ready, place one half of the cornish game hen — cut-side down — onto the air fryer tray, cooking in 2 batches. If using a large air fryer, both halves may be placed on the tray at once, as long as there is enough air flow.

Set air-fryer to 350° and start timer for 30-35 minutes. Brush with second coat of oil halfway through cooking (about 15-18 minutes), checking for doneness, when the internal temperature of the hen has reached 165°.

a finger pointing at the crispy, breaded outside of finished air-fried game hen

Let it rest for 10 min before carving and enjoy with country gravy (we used a packet for convenience) or any other sauce preferred.

Note from Kamala: This air-fried game hen was very tender and tasty and better than a lot of chickens that I’ve had! The brine that Vinh;Paul made added to the flavor of the meat, and all parts of it were tender, none of them got too dry — I think the small size packed in the flavor and made it easier to cook it evenly.

How To Make Sarah’s Wet Ass Watermelon Cocktail

sarah raises a blue glass jar for a toast, with a pink watermelon cocktail inside

This drink requires some prep, but once all the elements are ready you can easily make more drinks for your guests (and yourself) all night long.

For each drink you’ll need

1/2 cup of watermelon juice
1/4 cup of tequila
Juice from one half of a lime
5-6 mint leaves
1 tbsp simple syrup
1/4 tsp of smoked sea salt

an overhead shot of the open mouths of three blue glass jars, three lime halves, a bunch of mint, a glass har of thick simple syrup, and a pink jar of watermelon juice


For the watermelon juice
I think it’s funny that grocery stores call the small, juicy seedless watermelons “personal watermelons”, but I digress. Cut the rind off your personal watermelon and slice into cubes small enough to blend.

Blend all the watermelon until it’s a smooth pulpy liquid.

Then pour through a strainer into a large bowl or pitcher. If you don’t want any pulp, strain the watermelon juice through a cheesecloth. Press softly on the watermelon flesh to release the rest of the juices.

For the simple syrup
Bring 1 part sugar, 1 part water to a boil. Let cool and pour into a glass container.

To make the drink
In a glass jar with a lid, add 5-6 mint leaves, the juice of half a lime and 1 tbsp of simple syrup and muddle (a wooden spoon works just fine).

Add 1/4 cup of tequila, 1/2 cup of watermelon juice, and 1/4 tsp of smoked sea salt.

Lid the jar and shake until the mixture is frothy.

Unlid the jar and serve it to the lucky mouth that gets to drink it. Maybe it’s yours?!

Classic Picture Book About Gender Creative Boy Is Back in Print

Classic Picture Book About Gender Creative Boy Is Back in

One of the first picture books about a gender creative boy, published in the 1970s but long out of print, is now available in a new edition produced by its illustrator, Marian Buchanan. She recently shared with me some details about the lengthy journey to its reprinting and why it still holds lessons for today.

Jesse's Dream Skirt by Bruce Mack. Illustration by Marian Buchanan

Jesse’s Dream Skirt, written by Bruce Mack (under the name “Morning Star”) was first published in 1977 in the second and final issue of Magnus, a gay men’s magazine, with illustrations by Larry Hermsen. It was picked up by Lollipop Power Press, a small, feminist publishing collective in North Carolina, who put out a call for a new illustrator. Buchanan, who belonged to a women artisans’ co-op that sold their books, submitted samples of her work. Lollipop Power and Mack chose her to illustrate the revised story that they published in 1979. (See her blog for an interesting discussion of their specific revisions.) Lollipop Power in 1979 also published the first LGBTQ-inclusive picture book in English, Jane Severance’s When Megan Went Away.

In Jesse’s story, we meet a young White boy who likes to wear things that “whirl, twirl, flow and glow.” One night, he dreams of a skirt of his own and his mother agrees to help him make it. She asks gently, though, if he’s considered what other kids might think. Jesse is undeterred.

When Jesse wears his skirt to daycare, the teacher, a Black man, is supportive. Some children smile but others criticize; one calls him a “sissy.” Jesse is upset.

The teacher then gathers the racially-diverse class and asks why they were teasing Jesse. They have an animated discussion about their own varied experiences with gender and clothing. This variety of perspectives is “one of the book’s strengths,” Buchanan said.

Jesse's Dream Skirt by Bruce Mack. Illustration by Marian Buchanan

Jesse’s Dream Skirt: Interior image of Jesse and teacher by Marian Buchanan. Used with permission.

Most of the children, it turns out, like Jesse’s skirt, which prompts him to share his dream. The teacher then takes a piece of material from a box and wraps it around his waist. Some children follow and make dresses, capes, or turbans from pieces of fabric. They parade and dance around the room, although “Jesse didn’t mind that some just watched.” On the last page, he twirls in his skirt, just like in his dream.

The teacher provides a good model for adults in similar situations, Buchanan observed. He facilitates “an exploration of [the children’s] feelings and behavior rather than telling them off or guiding them towards any particular perspective,” which may help children hearing the story to have “a similar exploration and discussion.”

Additionally, she said, in some other books, bullies simply “become villains rather than small children under the influence of the culture of prejudice in which they’re being raised.” In contrast, Jesse shows readers how to engage with bullies and sometimes bring them over “to a more open-minded point of view.” Yet the book also conveys “that this isn’t about trying to convert anyone to being a certain way themselves; it’s about letting everyone be the way they are individually.”

Despite its strengths, Jesse’s Dream Skirt was never reprinted as a standalone book after Lollipop Power closed in 1986 and Carolina Wren Press, a non-profit North Carolina publisher, acquired the rights. Jamie Campbell Naidoo, in his 2012 book about LGBTQ children’s literature, Rainbow Family Collections, opined that Jesse, which was “much more blatant in its treatment of gender nonconformity,” was overshadowed by the 1979 publication—from a larger publisher and an established author—of Tomie DePaola’s Oliver Button Is a Sissy, about a boy who prefers drawing and dancing rather than sports.

Still, some found great value in Jesse’s story, as Buchanan discovered when she investigated reprinting it for its 30th anniversary in 2009. She found expensive used copies online and realized it had become “a sought-after classic in some educational and LGBTQI+ circles.” The San Francisco-based Lesbian and Gay Parents Association and the Buena Vista Lesbian and Gay Parents Group had included it in their 1999 anti-bullying guide “Preventing Prejudice – Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Transgender Lesson Plan Guide for Elementary Schools.” That, too, went out of print (though not before rousing the ire of some conservative Christians, who claimed Jesse’s story was pushing children to “‘become’ homosexual,” Buchanan said).

When she contacted Carolina Wren, they suggested she republish Jesse herself. She didn’t want to do so without Mack’s permission, but none of them had his contact information. She eventually discovered that he had died in 1994 of complications from AIDS, she noted at her blog. She later tracked down his heirs—his brothers—via a genealogy website, and they agreed to a reprint at the end of 2019, just in time for the 40th anniversary. The updated edition has the 1979 text and interior images, a new, full-color cover, a clearer font, an introduction by Buchanan, and reader testimonials.

She admitted that the black-and-white illustrations are “a little dated.” Nevertheless, she said, she’s gotten praise for their “soul and emotion,” adding, “The story itself is not outdated—which I suppose is unfortunate in a way, because it means there’s still a need for this kind of counteracting of stereotyping, prejudice, and bullying.”

She does think there’s more “awareness and acceptance” of many diversity issues today, including “non-conformity to culturally defined gender expression.” Yet she reminds us to remain aware of the differences between gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Jesse is not necessarily transgender or gay, she notes in her introduction. “He may just be what is nowadays called a ‘pink boy.’”

Whatever Jesse’s identity, the book remains a gem of thoughtfulness about a gender creative child. This new edition, available only at Amazon.com, should find its way back to many bookshelves.

Originally published as my Mombian newspaper column.

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