Tag: Lost

Son writes movingly of his gay dads, lost to AIDS within a week of each other / Queerty

Son writes movingly of his gay dads, lost to AIDS

A new posting to the AIDS Memorial’s social media has gone viral and prompted lots of comments and shares on Instagram and Facebook.

The photo was submitted by Noel Arce (@elevatormusiiic), who is gay and lives in New York. It shows him and his two brothers in the early 1990s, along with the two men who parented them for around six years of their childhood.

“These are my dads, Louis Arce (left) (November 1, 1946 – June 23, 1994) and Steven J. Koceja (right) (August 21, 1962 – June 18, 1994), who both died of AIDS.

“I am pictured far right, my brother Joey is on the left and Angel, center. We came to them in 1988 after being in a foster home. And while we weren’t legally theirs until 1993, they were still our dads. We were theirs and they were ours.

“We weren’t with Louis and Steven very long before they passed. They never got a chance to see the men we are today but they cared for us very much and gave us a life that we wouldn’t have known otherwise. It’s incredible even now, after all these years, I can still feel what it felt like to be loved that much.

“My father, Louis, was a social worker, activist and manager for Manhattan Valley apartments. He was responsible for making sure that new developments going up would provide a certain percentage of housing for people living with HIV/AIDS. In 1994, he received a Gold Key Award from NYC @bailey_house for his activism and work in the HIV/AIDS community.

“Little is known about my father, Steven. Sometimes, I swear my memories are like a train. It gets smaller as it pulls away. But I can say this: It’s hard to imagine what our life would have been like without them.

“I think of them often. And as a gay man myself, I wonder what it must of been like for them. What it felt like. To be strong like that. But mostly I wonder if they ever look down on me, my brothers and the world and think, Wow, I’m proud!”

Related: His family said he died from “a bad case of the flu,” but it was AIDS

Hundreds commented on the posting, thanking Noel for sharing his memories.

“What a beautiful tribute to your Dads, no doubt they are proud! You honor them well,” said @profgayman on Instagram.

“Thank you for sharing this beautiful photo and the story of your dads,” said Natalie Hook on Facebook. “The love is so very visible in the image, and so palpable in your words. I’m sure they are both immensely proud of you.”

Some have commented to say they remembered Noel’s dads. On Instagram, @timmydeanlee commented, “Noel, thanks for answering what I often thought about. Whatever happened to Louis and Steven’s three boys? I remember them fighting through the paperwork to get you three boys. They were so elated when they did. What a beautiful picture of all of you. Ten minutes later and I’m still crying reading your tribute.”

Noel told Queerty that he resides in Suffolk County, Long Island, NY. He’s worked for 13 years as the drag artist, Violet Storm, but is currently on hiatus and working as a Cosmetics Manager.

He says having two gay role models at a young age had a big impact on his own coming out.

“I think having two fathers played a huge role in my life as a gay man. I hear a lot of people’s stories about their growing up gay and how rough they had it. Parents not accepting them or them having to edit themselves. Ya know, the ‘be yourself but do it like this’. That was never my story. I was blessed having two dads who let me be authentically myself.

“I had everything I ever desired. I was able to play with Barbie dolls and dress as female characters for Halloween and feel really lucky about that because I understand now what a unique situation that was. Because the world can be a cruel place.

“I don’t think a lot of parents understand that the greatest gift you can give a child is the freedom to be themselves.”

Related: New York City AIDS Memorial unveiled on World AIDS Day

Acre said the photo was from a shoot for a project called Living Proof: Courage in the Face of AIDS, by photographer Carolyn Jones (published in book format in 1997).

“I had the privilege of taking that photo,” Jones confirmed to Queerty by email.

“This exact image is not the one that appeared in the book – I ended up using a photo of the three children alone, but I loved this photo and it was a difficult choice! The three boys had such an enormous amount of energy and joy and sheer love of life – I couldn’t resist the photo.

“The year that I worked on that project was one of the richest of my life, having the chance to be with people who, because of what they were going through and the need to face their own mortality, had an understanding of what makes life worth living. What an education,” recalls Jones.

“I remember the day well, those boys were funny together. There was an enormous amount of love in that photo. I was just lucky enough to be a witness.”

Related: Five memorials to check out on World AIDS Day – virtually and in-person

Netflix The One Lesbian Love Triangle Gets Lost in a Murder Mystery

Netflix The One Lesbian Love Triangle Gets Lost in a

The titular tech company of Netflix’s London-set The One promises to connect people with their one true love based entirely on science. Matches — as they’re called on the show — fall almost instantly in love with one another. The dating site to end all dating sites was cooked up by the ruthless scientist Rebecca Webb (Hannah Ware) and her friend/lab partner James Whiting (Dimitri Leonidas) and requires users to send in a DNA sample which is then compared against all other DNA samples in the database until a genetic match is found. But the occasionally thrilling, often vacuous drama is less concerned with the tech dystopia it’s mired in and more concerned with a by-the-numbers murder mystery plot that stymies the show from saying anything meaningful about the messy intersections of tech, love, capitalism, wealth, identity, and desire that are just on the periphery of the narrative. Netflix The One lesbian love triangle also gets lost in the plot.

Now, I’m usually all about meeting a sci-fi series where it is and rarely enjoy the nitpicky process of challenging or questioning rules for a particular world too closely (although in extreme cases like Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the inconsistency and improvisation of the rules from episode to episode is incredibly frustrating). So if The One based on a novel by John Marrs — tells me that soulmates can be scientifically determined, I’m willing to go with it. To a point. I ultimately found myself really struggling to connect with the show’s mere premise as the series progressed, particularly because there’s no real interrogation of what it means that people supposedly have one person who they’re perfectly compatible with. There’s a hollowness to the show’s depiction of love. Matches feel an instant connection. It doesn’t matter if they don’t share interests or priorities or morals. Their romance is rooted in that chemical high of early relationships — all dopamine and serotonin and bliss. But we rarely see matches connect on a level deeper than any of this. The One demands absolute and total faith in fated romance.

Netflix The One lesbians character, Kate.

As so many stylish streaming dramas do, The One opens with a dead body. We quickly find out who it is — The One’s CEO Rebbeca’s former roommate and friend Ben Naser (Amir El-Masry) — and we also quickly learn that Rebbeca and James share responsibility for his death. Trust me: Those things aren’t spoilers. The One instead relies on the cat-and-mouse games between Rebecca and the two detectives investigating Ben’s disappearance to fuel its suspense. But that fuel peters out quickly, and The One falls into the all-too-common crime drama trap of over-relying on twists rather than crafting an exciting narrative with compelling characters.

But really the biggest disappointment is how sterilized the premise ends up being. The One hinges on two great myths: soulmates and love at first sight. And every time it inches toward saying anything insightful about either concept or dismantling them — the twist I was waiting for that never came — the story’s attention snaps away from it to focus again on the murder plot, which is the least interesting part of the show and yet its main concern. Soulmate mythology has been around for a very long time. Pop culture festishizes the idea that every person has one person who they’re meant to be with. That narrative begets a whole slew of problems — from people hinging their self worth on others to cultural biases against nonmonogamy to people staying with people who harm them because they’ve convinced themselves they’re destined to be together. I realize that I’m a biased viewer when it comes to The One, because the negative side effects of perpetuating the soulmate tale are something I think about a lot. But it’s just such a missed opportunity to not engage with anything regarding the show’s premise on a deeper level. Again, I was waiting for a twist that never came. A twist that would reveal that The One’s promise of true love is more dangerous than it is hopeful.

Netflix The One lesbians Kate and Valeria

Technically, the show does explore some of the downsides of The One. One of Rebecca’s many nemeses is a politician who wants to put more restrictions on the company because of an uptick in divorces. People in marriages have been secretly sending out their DNA and then leaving their spouses for their perfect matches. Rebecca claims that The One fixes dating, but in a way, it also destroys relationships. Just because a relationship isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it’s not good. Even people in good relationships might become consumed with the thought that there could be something even better out there.

That’s the impetus for the side character Hannah (Lois Chimimba) to send in a lock of her husband Mark’s (Eric Kofi-Abrefa) hair without his permission. She thinks that if she could find who his match is, she could emulate them and be a better partner to Mark. Their marriage is solid. Hannah has no real reason to doubt Mark’s love. But still, The One worms its way into her head. She finds Mark’s match Megan (Pallavi Sharda) and goes so far as to befriend her. A dark comedy of errors and misidentity ensues. And, early on, this subplot was enough to make me genuinely interested in the series. But once the attention shifted too significantly back toward the murder stuff, there was less to keep me hooked. But Hannah’s actions in the first half of the series are exactly what I was hoping to see more of on The One: the messiness of romantic entanglements, the mind games people too often play when it comes to love. Hannah’s pursuit of Megan is rooted in jealousy, insecurity, and trust issues. It’s a betrayal of Mark. In supposedly attempting to get closer to Mark, Hannah ends up pushing him away, right into Megan’s arms. But the second half of the series struggles to really give weight to any of this, instead turning it into a tepid love triangle and never fully delivering on any of the complex emotional issues it raises.

In a similar vein, Kate (Zoë Tapper), one of the detectives investigating Ben Nasir’s death, has a match subplot of her own. She matches with a woman named Sophia (Jana Pérez) who lives in Barcelona, and after chatting and sharing a FaceTime cooking date (that, in my opinion, seemed horrible!) Sophia agrees to fly to London so they can meet in person. But on her way from the airport to the bar to meet Kate, Sophia gets in an accident that leaves her in a coma for much of the series. Kate suddenly has to deal with the grief of not getting to meet the person she’s meant to be with and then is confronted by another emotional blow: Sophia’s wife, who did not know Sophia joined The One, shows up at the hospital.

Kate and Valeria (Paula Muñoz) strike up an unusual friendship after the initially awkward encounter, and Valeria ends up telling her that Sophia is basically a big ol’ liar. She cheats constantly, and she rewrites her past, telling both women she doesn’t have any family when in fact she has a brother and a father. There’s family drama there that is very drawn-out and ultimately adds little to the show. But it’s also just another instance of The One’s premise asking too much of viewers. Kate seems completely unfazed by Sophia’s many indiscretions as detailed by Valeria. Are we to believe that Sophia would not ever cheat on Kate simply because they are soulmates? Sophia still does lie to Kate, and Kate ends up being relatively fine with it. Again… because they’re soulmates? Is the suggestion here that those matched on The One will always love each other regardless of conflict or harm done to each other?

Netflix The One lesbians Kate and Sophia

The closest the show comes to challenging that notion is when Rebecca’s soulmate — who she was matched with before the company launched under nefarious circumstances due to Rebecca and James having to illegally obtain DNA info to run trials—  realizes the extent of Rebecca’s betrayals and cruelty. But that moment gets cut short by yet another one of the show’s twists that prioritize plot over character. We’re once again left holding nothing.

So the show really drops the ball when it comes to some of these side characters and the way their stories reflect societal changes brought about by The One, but then when it comes to the murder storyline its so hellbent on developing, it’s unsatisfying, too. The show is inconsistent in the ways it draws Rebecca’s arc, making a jagged mess of it. Rebecca is honestly the most captivating at her most evil. But the show weirdly attempts to backtrack and make it seem like she hasn’t always been this way, that wealth and power corrupted her and shaped her into a new person altogether.

That would work better if we weren’t shown many examples of her being evil in the flashbacks. It seems Rebecca has always been driven by power, greed, and ego. The show tries to make a very big deal out of a choice that she makes that greatly betrays her soulmate near the end of the season, but it’s no worse of a choice than some of the previous ones she’s made. This is a woman who eagerly shouted at her henchman to shoot her former friend in the knee — an order that not even her henchman will go through with because it’s too much! Then, we’re later expected to believe that same friend would eventually come around and tell Rebecca that she’s not really a bad person but that they just got caught up in something bad? It’s so wildly unconvincing.

The One’s premise is positioned to explore such interesting themes and emotional stakes, but it says nothing new about soulmates, about tech’s impact on relationships, about morally corrupt capitalists. For what it’s worth, AMC’s Soulmates has a very similar premise but manages to be a lot more skeptical about it, yielding better storytelling and character work overall. If you’re as weary of soulmate mythos as I am, that show rather than The One might be your better match.

Shannon reviews Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova – The Lesbrary

Susan reviews The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Labyrinth Lost is the first book in Zoraida Cordova’s captivating young adult series entitled Brooklyn Brujas, and it’s one I didn’t expect to fall head over heals for. In 2019, I picked the book up, but couldn’t seem to concentrate on the story. I eventually put it down, deciding it just wasn’t the book for me at that particular point in time. I went on and read other things until the fall of 2020, when I decided to give it another chance. The second time really was the charm, because the story grabbed me right from the start, and I ended up flying through the book in a little over twenty-four hours.

Alex can’t think of anything she dislikes as much as she dislikes magic. To her, it’s at the root of all of her family’s problems, and no matter how often her mother and older sister remind her of the honor that goes along with being a bruja, Alex just wants to get rid of her powers and live a normal life.

She thinks her Deathday celebration is the perfect opportunity to decline her magical abilities once and for all. True, most brujas look forward to their Deathdays, reuniting with deceased ancestors and honoring the deities who gifted them their powers, but Alex has a totally different plan. Instead of acknowledging and being grateful for her magical gifts, Alex plans to work a powerful spell to banish magic from her life forever.

As I’m sure you can imagine, things don’t go quite the way Alex anticipated. Suddenly, her family has disappeared seemingly into thin air, leaving Alex alone with Nova, a mysterious Brujo she’s not sure she can trust. He’s been kind to her in the past, but that doesn’t mean he’s the right person to help her reverse the harm she’s done. Still, she’s desperate to rescue her family from what has befallen them, and when Nova tells her he knows how to free them, she reluctantly joins forces with him and embarks on a quest that will change her in ways she never could have imagined.

Alex is a wonderfully complex heroine, with her fair share of flaws and idiosyncrasies. I sometimes found myself annoyed with her tendency for drama, but she does grow and change as the story progresses. The author does a fantastic job giving the reader just enough insight into who Alex is as a person without ruining the story arc. Her complicated relationship with her family feels completely relatable as does the uncertainty she feels about her sexuality.

Alex’s sexuality isn’t the main point of the novel, but it is an important element of her need to be accepted for exactly who she is. She’s known she was bisexual for quite a while, but she’s never been sure how to tell her family how she feels. She’s constantly torn between doing what she thinks is expected of her and being true to herself. You might think this sort of inner conflict would take away from the action and adventure of this fantasy novel, but it doesn’t do so at all. Instead, it adds an element of realism to the story, highlighting Alex’s struggle to fit into multiple worlds.

I didn’t end up loving Nova as a character. Something about him rubbed me the wrong way as soon as he appeared on the page. At first, I wondered if it was just because Alex herself wasn’t sure she could trust him, but as I continued reading, he started to fall the slightest bit flat for me. I wanted a better understanding of his motivations, and although some of my questions about him were eventually answered in the second half of the book, it felt like a case of too little too late. Even so, Labyrinth Lost has much to recommend it, and I definitely plan to continue with the series.

Lost letters reveal JM Barrie said ‘I love you’ to Robert Louis Stevenson

Lost letters reveal JM Barrie said 'I love you' to Robert Louis Stevenson

J.M. Barrie writing letters to his great friend Robert Louis Stevenson at his desk in Adelphi Terrace House. (Sotheby’s via Getty Images)

Never-seen-before letters reveal JM Barrie telling Robert Louis Stevenson “I have discovered that I love you” – and the only possible explanation is that they were “the greatest of friends”.

It’s the first time that the letters from Peter Pan author Barrie to Stevenson have been read, after they were discovered in a dusty box of letters in an archive at Yale University.

The pair started writing to each other in 1892; they were both Scottish, but Stevenson, who was older and had already published Treasure Island when they began talking, lived on the island of Samoa to improve his health.

A year into their friendship, Barrie wrote to him: “To be blunt I have discovered (have suspected it for some time) that I love you, and if you had been a woman…” The rest of the sentence is unfinished.

After Stevenson died in 1894, his letters to JM Barrie were published. But Barrie’s side of the correspondence has been lost for more than a century. His letters, some of which run to 3,000 words long, include a declaration of love, wishing that he would meet Stevenson (the two never did meet), and fantasising that the pair were actually distantly related in order to open up to Stevenson about his close relationship with his mother.

Sounds to us exactly like the letters two heterosexual men would write to each other. Dr Michael Shaw, the University of Stirling lecturer who discovered the new letters and will soon publish a book about them called A Friendship in Letters, told the Observer that the friendship between Barrie and Stevenson had inspired Peter Pan.

“What’s revealed in these letters – and it took me a while to discover the full extent of this – is the influence that both Stevenson and the correspondence have on Barrie,” said Shaw. “In reading over Barrie’s works, I started to see allusions to the letters and to Stevenson that I hadn’t noticed before.

“He’s incorporating aspects of the correspondence into his own works, into his poetry and novels, and their friendship is also inspiring his works.

“I think what JM Barrie is saying is: if I can never meet Stevenson, because he has unfortunately died, then I want to create the opportunity for our characters to meet.

“I think he liked that idea that they could occupy the same world, and could potentially bump into each other.”

While we will never know what Barrie’s intentions were, with the declarations of love and everything, gay Twitter did not hesitate to recognise the queer yearning nor claim the literary pair as a historical gay romance.

“Victorian male author writer to Victoria male author ‘I want to fuck you’ (in Victorian),” one Twitter user wrote. “‘Deep respect’ is one way of putting it, I suppose.”

“Let people be queer,” another added.

It is not the first time that LGBT+ history has been erased from under our noses.

Last year, two ancient Roman skeletons that had been buried holding hands and were nicknamed the “Lovers of Modena’” were downgraded to “siblings or cousins or soldiers who died together in battle” once archaeologists discovered that both the skeletons were men.

And scientists were baffled again last year, when they realised there was a “female” skeleton in a historically all-male monastic republic in Greece.

Researchers were stumped. How could a “female” have gotten into the byzantine chapel?

Yet again, it took a number of Twitter users to point out that trans people have existed throughout history and the possibility that the person was trans should not be crossed out.