Tag: LGBT

All the LGBT characters you’ve probably never heard of

Star Wars: All the LGBT characters you've probably never heard of

PinkNews runs down the LGBT+ characters featured in the Star Wars universe including Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra and her romantic-slash-partner, Magna Tolvan, (L) and General Admiral Rae Sloane (R). (Marvel Comics/Doctor Aphra #16/Star Wars)

It is the day that all Star Wars nerds revere – May the 4th/”May The Force” – and it’s time to explore the LGBT+ representation in one of the biggest pieces of pop culture in living history.

The road to more meaningful LGBT+ representation has been a long one for Star Wars, but in recent years, the hit sci-fi series has upped its game. Star Wars has expanded to more than just movies. There are Star Wars novels, comic books, video games and TV series that discuss the expanded universe at length. Within the expanded universe, Star Wars has highlighted characters of various sexualities and gender identities, creating new opportunities for LGBT+ fans to see themselves represented within the series.

This year Star Wars has said it would celebrate Pride month by letting gay and trans artists “pay homage to some of the LGBT+ characters inhabiting a galaxy far, far away” in a special line of comic book covers.

So now it is time for PinkNews to highlight some of the queer characters across the Star Wars universe that even some of the most hardcore fans may have never heard of.

The first canonically LGBT+ character was a lesbian

Delian Mors became the first LGBT+ character in the official Star Wars canon when she was introduced in Paul S Kemp’s 2015 novel Lords of the Sith. Mors, who is a human female, served as a Moff – a rank held by Sector Governors of the First Galactic Empire – in the years after the end of the Clone Wars. If you need a rough timetable, the book is set after the Revenge of the Sith movie but before the Rebels TV series.

Mors is an Imperial (a “bad” guy), and she had a wife, Murra, who was killed in an accident. She wasn’t a major character in the novel, but Big Shiny Robot described her as a woman who “has made some very serious mistakes” but is an “incredibly capable leader”. She spends most of the novel “working hard to prevent absolute failure”.

Sinjir Rath Velus is the first major hero in a Star Wars story to be gay

Author Chuck Wendig introduced the first gay main character into the Star Wars universe in the Imperial turncoat Sinjir Rath Velus. Wendig’s novel Star Wars: Aftermath takes place after the second Death Star has been destroyed, Darth Vader dies and the Rebel Alliance forms into the New Republic. Velus is a human male and former officer of the Galactic Empire, but he abandoned his post after the second Death Star was destroyed.

He eventually joins the New Republic and goes on a mission to hunt Imperial war criminals. In the novels, he even formed a romantic relationship with freelance New Republic slicer Conder Kyl.

The novel also introduced two background characters who are gay. One of the novel’s main heroes, Norra Wexley, eventually returns to her home planet of Akiva and reunites with her sister, Esmelle. Esmelle and her wife, Shirene, raised Norra’s son, Temmin, while Norra was fighting with the Rebels.

Doctor Chelli Aphra had the first actually visible LGBT+ kiss in the Disney Star Wars canon

Chelli Lona Aphra is a female, human archaeologist who was recruited by Darth Vader, but she eventually fell out of favour with the iconic character and faked her death. She lived under the alias Joystick Chevron when she eventually met her on-and-off-again adversary slash romantic partner, Magna Tolvan. Tolvan is an Imperial agent, and she developed a complicated relationship with the rogue archaeologist during their shared exploits.

In Marvel’s Doctor Aphra #16, Aphra and Tolvan passionately kiss in what they believe to be their last minutes. The two survive, but their romance doesn’t end happily as Aphra has to alter Tolvan’s memories to protect her from Darth Vader.

Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra Magna Tolvan
Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra and Magna Tolvan passionately kiss in what they believe to be their last minutes. (Marvel/ Doctor Aphra #16)

Aphra has also had multiple relationships across the Star Wars franchise. In a rundown of Star Wars best-hidden romances, CBR romantically linked Aphra to her “old girlfriend from college”, Doctor Eustacia Okka, and Sana Starros, a character who claimed to be married to Han Solo (though he denied it). Aphra’s comic book series even picked up a GLAAD Award in 2020 for the best “outstanding comic book”.

Star Wars introduced its first trans non-binary Jedi this year

On Trans Day of Visibility (31 March), Star Wars announced it would feature Terec and Ceret on its June issue of Star Wars: The High Republic. The non-binary Jedi are bond-twins who have a linked consciousness, and they made their first appearance in issue two of The High Republic. The series takes place around 200 years before The Phantom Menace in a time when the Jedi are “in their prime”.

It wasn’t until this year that the official Star Wars Instagram announced the pair were trans and non-binary. The account added: “We support trans lives and we are passionate and committed to broadening our representation in a galaxy far far away.”

Grand Admiral Rae Sloane is not only a badass villain but also an openly bisexual, Black woman.

Rae Sloane is a Black, human female who climbed the ranks of the Grand Empire to eventually become Grand Admiral. She was eventually mentored by Armitage Hux, who was played by Domhnall Gleeson in the most recent Star Wars movies. Even though Sloane doesn’t appear in the movies, she has a mighty presence in the Star Wars novels.

She was first introduced in John Jackson Miller’s 2014 novel A New Dawn and was later featured in Wendig’s already pretty queer Aftermath trilogy. In one of Wendig’s novels Empire’s End, Sloane tells Wexley that she’s never had “a husband or a wife die in my hands”, acknowledging her non-heterosexual relationships.

DUP frontrunner has history of opposing LGBT rights

Edwin Poots

Edwin Poots is being tipped as the next leader of the DUP. (YouTube)

DUP politician Edwin Poots is being tipped as a potential successor to Arlene Foster after she announced that she was stepping down.

The former health minister has a long history of opposing LGBT+ rights, but he is already being named by political pundits as a potential future leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Edwin Poots, who has also served as both minister of the environment, is a “young earth creationist” who doesn’t believe in evolution.

Throughout his political career, he has repeatedly courted controversy for his barbed remarks about the LGBT+ community – as well as a poorly received comment that Arlene Foster’s “most important job” remained “that of a wife, mother and daughter” when she became leader of the DUP.

Poots’ war with the LGBT+ community began in earnest in 2012 when he fought vociferously to stop gay and bisexual men from donating blood in Northern Ireland.

Speaking to the BBC at the time, Poots said: “I think that people who engage in high risk sexual behaviour in general should be excluded from giving blood… And so someone who has sex with somebody in Africa or sex with prostitutes, I am very reluctant about those people being able to give blood.”

In 2013, it emerged that, as health minister, Poots had used thousands in public funds in a bid to stop same-sex couples from legally adopting children.

Poots got on the wrong side of Northern Ireland’s LGBT+ community when he announced that he would be appealing a 2012 High Court ruling that declared the territory was discriminating against same-sex couples in civil partnerships by not allowing them to adopt. His failed legal challenge cost the taxpayer £40,000.

Defending his anti-LGBT+ stance at the time, Poots said: “Shame on the courts for going down the road of constantly attacking Christian principles, Christian ethics, Christian morals, which this society was based on and gave us a very good foundation.”

As speculation mounted this week that Arlene Foster was set to be ousted as leader of the DUP, Poots was quickly named as her potential successor.

While Foster will be remembered by many within the LGBT+ community as a polarising force who often reaffirmed her party’s anti-gay views, some within the DUP viewed her as too progressive.

If Poots becomes the next leader of the DUP – and, as a result, the next first minister of Northern Ireland – he will likely bring the party even further to the right.

Edwin Poots has been contacted for comment.

 

 

 

Arizona passes bill to let parents veto kids’ LGBT school lessons

Nancy Barto, a woman wearing a red suit with short brown hair

Arizona senator Nancy Barto sponsored the bill. (Facebook)

Arizona Republicans have passed an anti-LGBT+ bill that would allow parents to stop their kids from learning about queer people.

SB 1456 would require the “school governing board to develop procedures by which parents will be notified in advance, and given the opportunity to opt their children into, any instruction regarding sexuality, gender identity or gender expression”. The bill would also prohibit schools from providing sex-ed classes which include information about AIDS and HIV without parent’s permission.

The new legislation comes just two years after Arizona state lawmakers overturned a different law that prevented LGBT+ students from receiving medically accurate information in classes at school. The law, which had been on the books since 1991, banned any instruction that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle”, “portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle” and “suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex”.

But it looks like sadly the new LGBT+ will be passed into law. SB 1456 passed through the state’s Republican-controlled House in a 31-28 party-line vote on Wednesday (14 April), according to Tuscon.com. It already passed through the Arizona Senate in March and now goes to Republican governor Doug Ducey to be signed into law.

Cathi Herrod, the president of the Center for Arizona Policy – the group backing the anti-LGBT+ bill, said it is about ensuring parents have control over what their children are taught. Harrod told AP: “The purpose of [SB 1456] is to look out for parental rights, to ensure that parents have access to learning materials, that parents have the opportunity to opt their child into classes dealing with human sexuality.”

She argued the bill won’t “stop [LGBT+ issues] from being addressed” but will give parents the “opportunity to make that decision to opt their students in to classroom discussion”.

However, the bill has received fierce opposition from Democrats who argued the bill is harmful to LGBT+ students. The Arizona Democratic Party tweeted that the “extreme anti-LGBTQ bill” will “put young people in danger and effectively put a gag order on educators from teaching ANYTHING related to the LGBTQ community”. The party also called on governor Ducey to veto the bill.

Kathy Hoffman, Arizona superintendent of public instruction, released a statement on Twitter condemning the bill. She wrote Arizona has taken a “giant step backward” in LGBT+ equality by passing SB 1456.

“This legislation is nothing short of state-codified bigotry and does not reflect where most Arizonans stand on these issues,” Hoffman said. “This legislation will one again silence and erase LGBTQ individuals and their history in our schools – and it will harm students and families.”

Richie Taylor, the communications director for the Arizona department of education and Hoffman, shared the devastating impact the new bill would have on LGBT+ young people in the state. He said: “Growing up gay in rural Arizona was hard.

“It would have been life changing for me to have access to information and resources that could have helped me make sense of it all.

“[SB 1456] takes us backward and it will harm LGBTQ students.”

 

My local church rocking LGBT flags :) : actuallesbians

My local church rocking LGBT flags :) : actuallesbians

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

Viktor Orban quits European Parliament group over ‘LGBT lunacy’

Viktor Orbán in a navy suit and orange tie looks up while at a press conference

The Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán has launched salvos after salvos against the LGBT+ community. (Omar Marques/Getty Images)

Viktor Orban has set out to build his own political force across the EU after quitting the European People Party faction over what he calls “LGBTQ lunacy”.

The far-right Hungarian prime minister announced on Wednesday (3 March) that he was pulling his Fidesz party from the conservative bloc, which was preparing to vote on expelling him from the group.

Orban made it clear he wouldn’t stick around long enough to be kicked out, and boasted that he’d build his own alliance to rival the EPP.

“Our task is clear,” he said in a statement. “Now – without the EPP – we must build a European democratic right that offers a home to European citizens who do not want migrants, who do not want multiculturalism, who have not descended into LGBTQ lunacy, who defend Europe’s Christian traditions, who respect the sovereignty of nations, and who see their nations not as part of their past, but as part of their future.”

The European People’s Party has been the longtime home of Fidesz and had provided Viktor Orban with crucial links, legitimacy and votes in the European Parliament.

But relations have grown increasingly tense in recent years as Hungary’s ruling party slides further to the authoritarian right in its attacks on the LGBT+ community.

This made it all the more humiliating for Orban when his MEP and top anti-LGBT+ ally Jozsef Szajer was recently forced to resign after being caught at a gay sex party.

The protracted scandal left Fidesz with only 12 MEPs in the EPP. All had technically been suspended from the alliance since 2019 due to their shockingly illiberal policies, but their exclusion was about to be made permanent following an intra-party vote on suspending errant members.

The move signalled the widening gulf between the Hungarian leader and the EU’s mainstream, and Orban saw it as an outright attack.

He lashed out at the rule changes on Tuesday (2 March), describing them as “clearly a hostile move against Fidesz and our voters”.

“Limiting our MEPs’ ability to carry out their duties as elected Members of the European Parliament deprives Hungarian voters from their democratic rights,” he told EPP chairman Manfred Weber.

Yet despite his bluster and bravado, EPP sources told EURACTIV that Viktor Orban still hasn’t given formal notification of his intent to leave – so for the time being it looks like Fidesz will keep clinging on until it can find a better option.

Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds donates childhood home to LGBT charity

Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons holds a gay pride flag

Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons. (Scott Legato/Getty Images)

Dan Reynolds, professional tall man and Imagine Dragons singer, has donated his childhood home worth $1 million for it to become an LGBT+ youth centre.

As part of LGBT+ advocacy group Encircle’s ‘$8 Million, Eight Houses’ campaign, the 34-year-old reflected on the difficulties queer youth face.

Reynolds, an outspoken LGBT+ ally, and his wife Aja Volkman are to donate the Las Vegas, Nevada, property to be converted into one of Encircle’s new facilities, which will offer vulnerable queer youth a crucial lifeline.

Both Reynolds and Volkman will serve as honorary co-chairs of Encircle’s new campaign, according to NME.

Dan Reynolds: ‘I’ve watched throughout my life the difficult path that LGBT+ youth have’

“Encircle is about bringing young LGBTQ+ people and their families together, by including the community and strengthening the bonds that connect us,” Reynolds and Volkman said in a joint statement.

“Being a part of this organization means so much to both of us and we know the house Dan grew up in will be a loving and supportive home to every young LGBTQ+ person who crosses the threshold.”

Appearing on daytime talk show Good Morning America Thursday (25 February), Reynolds, alongside fellow donators Apple CEO Tim Cook and Utah Jazz basketball team owner Ryan Smith, discussed the campaign.

“I’ve watched throughout my life the difficult path that LGBT+ youth have, especially coming from homes of faith,” he said.

Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons. (Jerod Harris/Getty Images for LOVELOUD Festival)

“Now to know, with my mum and dad’s blessing, I was able to purchase the home for them and it’s going to be the first Encircle home in Las Vegas – that’s powerful for me.”

Encircle operate various safe houses in Utah in Salt Lake City, Provo and St George, and a fourth in Heber on the way. The campaign being part of an effort to expand to Arizona, Idaho and Nevada.

“Studies repeatedly have shown that LGBT+ youth across the country struggle with depression and suicidality far more than their heterosexual peers, and the pandemic has made that sense of isolation so many feel harder than ever before,” Encircle CEO Stephanie Larsen said in a statement to the press.

“We strive to give these kids a positive and loving environment that builds support within their communities where they can realize their full potential, and it works — we have not lost a single youth to suicide.”

Now Let’s Actually Look at This LGBT Gallup Poll, Shall We…

Now Let’s Actually Look at This LGBT Gallup Poll, Shall

I am drinking the coldest ice cold water of my life and you know what?  It is, in fact, refreshing.

Stay hydrated and here’s some things you can read:


Queer as in F*ck You

In a still from the television show Pose, Indya Moore sits on the floor of St. Peter's Cathedral during a staged "die in" during the early 1990s of HIV/AIDS Activism

You can also read more about how TV has depicted AIDS activism and ACT Up specifically right here on your friendly Autostraddle.

How TV Stories Have Shaped Our Understanding of AIDS

LGBT Identification Rises to 5.6% in Latest U.S. Estimate More of us!! More of us!! Stats nerds get in here:

  • 15,000 interviews conducted throughout 2020 with Americans aged 18 and older
  • The 5.6% of U.S. adults identifying as LGBT is a current estimate up from 4.5% in Gallup’s previous update based on 2017 data
  • More than half of LGBT adults (54.6%) identify as bisexual
  • About a quarter (24.5%) say they are gay, with 11.7% identifying as lesbian and 11.3% as transgender. These are all increases from 2017!
  • One in six adult members of Generation Z (those aged 18 to 23 in 2020) identify as LGBT
  • However, LGBT identification is lower in each older generation, including 2% or less of Americans born before 1965 (aged 56 and older in 2020)
  • In my deductions, this means that letting Zendaya make out with girls is good for everyone. In the name of Euphoria, Amen.

Tender Judging Care: #TransCrowdFund and the Politics of Desire. “Even before the GoFundMe boom, there was an element of desirability politics in healthcare.”

“I don’t think we should have to live at war with our bodies. I think less misery is possible, and it shouldn’t have to be as suspect as it so often is to simply exist as oneself, to take part in consensual activities, to live one’s life. It can be so lonely to wish to stop wanting what one often cannot help wanting…Kink itself, between consenting adults, does not cause harm. What provably, definitely harms us — and generally hurts us the more marginalized we are — are obligatory scripts about what our bodies should want, are allowed to want.”

The Willful Misunderstanding of Kink by R.O.Kwon for The Cut


Saw This, Thought of You

Sonia Sanchez Still Has Work to Do. (LOVE SONIA SANCHEZ. Have loved her since I was a little girl. Love LOVE LOVE HER. Ok, as you were.)

All My Friends’ Quarantine Bubbles Are Bursting

Yeah, that’s going to go down better with this: 14 Fixes for Pandemic Monotony

The First Girls Have Become Eagle Scouts. It’s Taken More Than 100 Years.

Hollywood’s Empty Weaponized White Feminism of ‘I Care A Lot’ and ‘Promising Young Woman’ (I didn’t love (ahem, openly hated) these movies, despite traditionally love corny #GirlBoss popcorn fare, and there’s definitely something smart worth saying here)

“Honey Girl” Is about a Woman Coming Home to Herself. If you’ve noticed, we have some ads for Honey Girl going on our site and I for one CANNOT WAIT to read this book! This interview between author Morgan Rogers and Bitch Media EIC Evette Dionne is a perfect appetizer.


Political Snacks

I was originally hoping that by the time I published this the Equality Act would have passed in the House of Representatives because I love a easy, feel good headline positive, but sadly we are still waiting. So in the meantime:

And so, if you’d like to have that discussion, here’s some things you can be reading while we wait for the vote:

A POST-PUBLICATION UPDATE!! THE EQUALITY ACT PASSED:


Support Independent Queer Media

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Homeless LGBT+ youth need to be prioritised, say charity

homeless woman

The UK government must prioritise LGBT+ young people facing homelessness in the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, a charity says.

Charity akt – which supports LGBT+ young people in the UK who are facing or experiencing homelessness, abuse or living in a hostile environment – said the government needs to protect these young people, who are at higher risk of catching and spreading COVID and therefore need the vaccine.

Jo Bhandal, campaigns policy and research officer at akt, told PinkNews that COVID has “been accelerating homelessness” for young people – especially those who are LGBT+ – because they are more likely to have “lost their jobs, been furloughed, had reduced hours, been unable to keep up with rent and occurred rent arrears as a result of the pandemic”.

Because of COVID-19, more young people are having to live in temporary housing or sleep rough, Bhandal said, which means they need the vaccine as they are at a higher risk of contracting and spreading the virus.

“It’s not just about the individual,” Bhandal explained. “It’s about the knock-on effect as well.”

She said LGBT+ youth experiencing homelessness are at increased risk because they are in unsafe, unsanitary conditions if they are sleeping rough or are in constant, close contact with a host of individuals if they are sofa surfing. In both scenarios, Bhandal explained there is an increased risk that the individual can contract COVID-19, but also could potentially spread the virus to others.

As such, she called on the government to prioritise LGBT+ youth at risk of homelessness for the vaccine, not just to protect themselves but also the people they come into contact with.

Bhandal said: “It’s likely that a lot of young people would not be getting their vaccinations until much later in the year, once we’ve gone through the priority groups.

“But [LGBT+ youth at risk of homelessness] are also seeing a disproportionate impact of COVID and many have underlying, pre-existing conditions, making them more vulnerable.”

Homelessness among LGBT+ youth has increased as a result of the pandemic

From 2019 to 2020, there was a fivefold increase in young people reporting to akt that they were rough sleeping.

According to akt’s research, nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of the 103,000 young people at risk of homelessness identify as LGBT+.

Between April and August 2020, akt saw a 118 per cent national increase in new referrals for help when compared to the same period in 2019. The charity said this massive spike in referrals for services reflects on the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

“It’s not some marginal issue, which often queer youth homelessness is seen as,” Bhandal said. “The reality is COVID is having a huge impact on levels of homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth, and these issues are likely going to have a huge impact for time to come.”

She said: “We are seeing a huge influx in referrals, and there’s been a huge impact on people’s mental health, financial security and homelessness in general.

“Sofa surfing and street homelessness are still there, and they’re not going to go anytime soon because of COVID.”

There was a 66 per cent increase in new referrals to akt’s London services in 2020, with over a quarter (26 per cent) of the referrals being from young LGBT+ people who were Black or mixed race.

World Health Organization has called on governments to vaccinate people experiencing homelessness

Bhandal said the UK government needs to prioritise people facing homelessness for the next phase of the vaccination programme, which would be in line with WHO guidelines. The WHO has acknowledged that people facing homelessness are particularly at risk during the pandemic.

As such, the WHO called on governments to provide targeted, pro-active outreach and testing to meet the existing needs of people experiencing homelessness as well as COVID-specific testing.

Local authorities in Redham, Oldham and Liverpool have already said they will be offering the vaccine to people who find themselves with no permanent home, along with other groups already receiving the vaccine.

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

The gay kiss on Australian TV series The Box in 1974

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

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

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

When did the first gay character appear on TV?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

LGBT History Month zoom event hijacked by homophobia, transphobia

latina-girl-studying-at-home-with-laptop-computer-GEA6J93 (1)

An LGBT+ History Month seminar for under-18s was interrupted by a cyber attacker who shouted homophobic, transphobic and racist slurs.

Education non-profit Academus Education was hosting a digital think tank event in celebration of LGBT+ History Month when it was “attacked by a group of 15 cyber terrorists”, managing director Emily Shaed told PinkNews.

Academus, a free education service for students who haven’t had access to Classical education, had been online for just 15 minutes before the attack.

Shaed said the hackers “took over all our controls and began spreading messages of hate” – sharing antisemitic imagery, searching the internet for pornography, shouting “just about every slur you can imagine” and spamming the chat.

Shaed and her whole team were “devastated and disgusted” by the hate they saw. She said: “Academus is supposed to be a safe space for people to come together in celebration of one another.

“So, to see someone take advantage of our platform in such a vicious way is heartbreaking.”

The non-profit, which is supported by UCL Department of Greek and Latin, offers free virtual events including think tanks, roundtables and a summer school to provide young people aged 13 to 18 an introduction to the Classics. The 11 February event was due to bring LGBT+ education to the forefront of a field which tends to be incredibly heteronormative, elitist and white.

‘This is why LGBT+ history month is so important’

Yentl Love, who runs the LGBT+ blog The Queer Classicist, was one of the guest speakers during the event. She was invited to decode the gender binary in academia around Dionysus – the ancient Greek god of wine, winemaking, grape cultivation, fertility, ritual madness, theatre and religious ecstasy.

However, Love was left “sick and outraged” after the attack. She wrote on Twitter that the incident proved why LGBT+ History Month was so important.

Love said: “If anyone wondered why [LGBT+ History Month] was so important, the speakers and participants of [Academus Education]’s LGBTQ+ ancient history online talks were just attacked by a user shouting homophobic, transphobic and racist slurs, and showing disgusting explicit images.”

“Can’t put into words my emotions right now, feel so sick and outraged and s***ty.

“My heart is with the incredible organisers, the other speakers and everyone on the call.

“To everyone I asked to come and watch me present, I am really, really sorry.”

Shaed told PinkNews that for all 71 students in attendance at the event, “it was a terrifying experience and made people feel so violated and unsafe in their own homes”. She said the organisation contacted the police about the attack, reporting it as a cybercrime and hate crime.

But Shaed said the police do not appear able to investigate the horrific event. She explained: “From the stance of cybercrime since we did not lose any money, and our internal security does not seem obviously compromised, they have told us that there is nothing they can do.

“From the perspective of hate crime, the local constabulary has said that they cannot fully investigate the case because of its widespread nature and realistically it would take every single attendee reporting it to their local police force for the case to be escalated.”

Shaed was told the police will report the matter, and has been offered the opportunity to speak to somebody from a victim support team.

She said Academus Education is also conducting an internal investigation to ensure that “our audience is not exposed to such horrific events again” and has advised any attendees to contact them if they need support.

Shaed shared that they plan to re-run the event in the future to share the guest speaker’s works and discuss Classics education through the queer lens.

“We will not let these hateful people silence the good work we are doing,” Shaed said. “We will continue to provide education, continue to celebrate diversity and come together stronger than ever to host future events.”