Someone dropped a bag of popcorn(?) on the sidewalk in front of my house last night, and an army of pigeons has descended upon it, and my cat Dobby is going BERSERK at the window. He’s never seen so many birds in his entire life, and they’re getting a treat he’s not getting, and, friend, he’s screaming about all of it. His constant chirping and hollering honestly sounds like the inside of my brain as I keep one eye on the impeachment hearings and type up this Pop Culture Fix with my other eye.
+ Rosie posted an Insta story from a table read for season two of The L Word: Generation Q, and the main thing the internet is noting is that Tina’s back. It’s actually kind of amazing that three hundred years after the original L Word, our TV Team still has so many feelings — good and bad — about these two! They still punch my heart in the neck!
Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior writer who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She’s a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Almost six months ago to the day, Javicia Leslie was announced to follow Ruby Rose’s Kate Kane as Ryan Wilder, the first ever Black Batwoman. My very serious and understated quote here on Autostraddle, the lesbian paper of record, was an all caps “LET’S FUCKING GOOOOO!!!!!!” — so, no big deal. Supremely chill vibes. And it certainly hasn’t hurt that Leslie has spent the entire time since her announcement seemingly becoming a one-woman Black Bisexual Queer Nerd Catnip, complete with an enviable kicks collection, an adorable dog (he’s a pit bull rescue!), and ahem, an affinity for bodysuits. Still, whatever my confidence, it was hard to suppress nervous butterflies when I received the Batwoman Season Two press screener for review.
Just to get it out of the way, right at the top: Ryan Wilder is not Kate Kane. I suspect that sentence might make some of the original fans uneasy, but let me follow up by saying the decision to make Ryan a woman of her own changes very little about what makes Batwoman beloved. Ryan may run warm in all the places where Kate instead chose calculated cool, but she loses none of the badass strength that makes Batwoman who she is at her core. Her tomboy swag’s more Nike Air Force 1s than Kate’s James Bond bowtie, but the bravado itself is still undeniable. They are both proud, out lesbians.
In Leslie’s hands, Ryan Wilder is instantly and infinitely likable; she’s a little emotionally raw and surprisingly snarky (her humor was easily my favorite thing about her!). Overall, she comes across as very true to her original character description, “a girl who would steal milk from an alley cat and could also kill you with her bare hands” — which just happens to be my favorite kind of woman. (Other parts of her character’s description, namely having “spent years as a drug-runner” were mercifully and correctly adjusted after casting a Black actor in the role.) If for some reason none of that wins you over, please also know that Ryan is a plant mom!! And as a fellow plant mom, please know that we are the best kind of people.
Going into its second season, Batwoman couldn’t have possibly had more stacked against it. The series namesake abruptly left after one season, the writers had to write them out while also maintaining continuity — when nearly all the characters of the series, including the lead villain, are directly related to Kate either by blood or love or both (I found Ryan’s new connections to Alice to be shockingly unexpected, yet organic and fully believable). They had to do all of that while in the middle of a global pandemic the likes of which haven’t been seen in 100 years! Oh and then they cast a Black woman to literally be the first very Black person ever to don the Batsuit on film; Javicia’s casting announcement came during a summer of Black Lives Matter protests and uprisings and now her TV debut as Batwoman will occur as we are once against bearing witness to large-scale white supremacist violence in this country. So again… supremely chill stakes here. Really just going for the hat trick.
The thing about comic book superheroes is that on the surface they may seem silly — all brightly colored suits and flying capes and gizmo gadgets and KABLAAM — but they are some of the most homegrown, American mythos that we have. They’re the stories we tell children, right from the youngest age, to explain right from wrong. They become buried deep, right into the marrow of who we are. Even people who have never picked up a comic book in their life or barely ever watch television know who Batman is. And when Batman is a billionaire playboy with fancy bat toys, or Ironman is a billionaire playboy with fancy Iron Hearts, or Superman is a homegrown blue-eyed boy right from small-town Kansas, that says a lot about who we believe can be “heroes” in the first place.
Kate Kane originally mattered, not only because her story was great, but because at the height of national debates around “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,”gay marriage, and what it means to have the full rights of citizenship as a gay person in this country — she was kicked out of West Point for being a lesbian. But now it’s 2021, we are facing the dying gasps (we can only hope) of a fascist wannabe dictator that has cannibalisticly fed from and emboldened the violent racist backbone that has long existed since the founding of this country. After years and years of work at the hands of Black activists, cries of Black Lives Matter are finally sweeping this country. It’s time for a new story.
I’m glad that Caroline Dries, Batwoman showrunner, for deciding to make Ryan an entirely new character — not to recast Kate or to adapt another DC property into the role. The questions we are facing, the stories we need to tell ourselves now, they require fierce new answers. At least from the premiere episode, it appears that Batwoman won’t shy away from the responsibilities that it’s facing. I don’t want to wade too far into spoiler territory, but Ryan’s backstory comes with multiple points of entry to explore the ways that systematic racism impacts Black America Gotham specifically and opens up critiques of state-sanctioned violence that I don’t believe Kate, a military trained fighter who’s father is the head of the CROWS, would have been able to ask.
In her LA times profile published just this weekend, Javicia Leslie feels the weight on her shoulders, but she’s not letting it crush her. “Now that Ryan is becoming Batwoman, I feel like it opens up the possibility of what it really means to be Batwoman and that it doesn’t really matter who’s under the suit… Anyone can put that suit on and be a hero.” Superheroes shine brightest when they are made for their moment.
That doesn’t mean that this Batwoman is robbed of joy! I’ve already mentioned Ryan’s contagious snark, but as someone who deep in my bones loves a good woman villain, Rachel Skarsten continues to make my skin crawl in the BEST kind of ways. The fight choreography is slick, the bat toys are aplenty, and there’s gay melodrama and tortured loves. All the things that made the first season of Batwoman grow into its best are accounted for and welcomed back. Narratively speaking, what’s being asked of the Batwoman writers’ room is a tall order by any definition. They handle the transition as smoothly as anyone could have asked them, finding a tone that feels like its past but also a new and exciting terrain. And there’s enough about Kate left to continue to unfold in the episodes to come. Just as a nerd and a fan, I was impressed that anyone could pull that shit off.
Next week we’ll be back with even more details and a weekly Batwoman recap (!!!!) from Nic (!!!) — one of my favorite queer recappers in the game right now (have you read her work on Black Lightning?? It’s so smart and so, so good!!) — but for now I just wanted to say: If the writers of Batwoman can successfully walk the tightrope of “What happened to Kate Kane?” and the staggering, necessary demands of this moment we are living in, and still manage to get in a few flirtatious winks while they’re at it? There’s absolutely no telling what’s next.
Batwoman Season Two premieres Sunday, January 17, on The CW.
Things got, er, odd in the first trailer for RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. (Screen captures via Twitter)
Drag queens, start your engines – the official trailer for the long-awaited second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK dropped Sunday evening (3 January) and yup, we are absolutely gagging for it.
Immediately sparking hope that maybe 2021 won’t be a truly cursed dumpster fire like the year prior was, the trailer was released on BBC Three’s official Twitter and we’re honestly suspect David Lynch directed it as it is weird. Very weird.
“*Screams* The Drag Race UK series two trailer is here!!!!” the tweet read. “*Continues screaming until 14 January at 7pm when the first episode drops on BBC iPlayer*.”
“Hey sis!” RuPaul begins in the video. “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”
Sheep, tea and a lot of glitter: Drag Race UK is shaping up to be aggressively British
The camera zooms out to reveal a backstage room where the queens can be seen doing everything from riding horses to walking sheep while puppies run around them in the surreal preview.
Television monitors with Mama Ru’s face can be seen around the room, belting some of her famous lines in what is essentially RuPaul’s 1984, as the 12 contestants shimmy and dance.
There are many, many meme-worthy moments, but seeing the franchise’s first Scottish contestant, Lawrence Chaney, riding a giant bagpipe as she shouts “slow down, Nessie” is certainly one fever dream-grade highlight.
As well as Tayce hypnotically saying her name over and over again and Tia Kofi wearing a tea cup shaped dress, because Britain, we guess.
Returning 14 January on BBC iPlayer, the new season will see RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Alan Carr and Graham Norton preside over a diverse new cast of queens.
It will also see a constellation of UK talent joining the judging panel, including Dawn French, Maya Jama and Jessie Ware, Elizabeth Hurley, Lorraine Kelly, Sheridan Smith, MNEK and Jourdan Dunn.
Ellie Diamond, Asttina Mandella and Ginny Lemon from Drag Race UK season two. (BBC)
The Drag Race UK season two queens are finally here.
After feverish anticipation, frustrating delays and the small matter of a global pandemic, Drag Race UK season two is ready to spread its tuppence all over your screen.
Returning 14 January on BBC iPlayer, the new season will see RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Alan Carr and Graham Norton preside over a diverse new cast of queens, including the franchise’s first Welsh and Scottish contestants.
Expect glamour, spook, vocals, veganism and a whole lot of regional dialects for RuPaul to smile and nod at.
The twelve competing queens are: Tayce, Joe Black, A’Whora, Tia Kofi, Ellie Diamond, Sister Sister, Veronica Green, Bimini Bon Boulash, Ginny Lemon and Asttina Mandella.
Also announced Wednesday (16 December) was Drag Race UK: Queens on Lockdown, a mid-series special uncovering how the queens spent their time during the long, pandemic-mandated break in filming.
Tayce, 26, from London via Newport.
Drag Race UK’s first Welsh queen is a “girl on the go” who describes her drag as “modelesque, very villainous, dark, punky, edgy… a sexy owl here to peck your face away with my claws”.
Well-known on the London drag scene, Tayce is “here, queer and ready to let these girls have it”.
Like a few girls this season, Tayce has an aversion to the sewing machine, but doesn’t expect that will stop her from making it to very end “by hook or by crook”.
Joe Black, 30, from Brighton.
Joe has been performing for 13 years and comes from the world of burlesque and cabaret – “all ostrich feathers and glitter and strippers”.
She is bringing “all the eye shadow and the wonky eyebrows of the traditional seaside drag, with a bit of haunted glamour”.
A’whora, 23, from London via Nottinghamshire.
A’whora is the “fashion queen of the London scene” determined to prove that she’s a lot more than just her incredible looks.
“I wanna walk into a club and people be intimidated”, says the plastic surgery enthusiast, whose next procedure is getting her “fingers done”.
Tia Kofi, 30, from from London via Essex and Nottingham.
Tia Kofi is one-third of drag girl group The Vixens, but is entering Drag Race UK to “Beyoncé myself”.
Proud to be representing British queens of colour, Tia Kofi is bringing you “end of the pier Blackpool”.
“She’s live singing, she’s all dancing, she’s camp, she’s glamour, she’s also a mess.”
Ellie Diamond, 21, from Dundee.
Standing 6’4 out of drag, Ellie is “a really big queen – literally – in a tiny little pond”.
She joins Drag Race UK season two having performed outside of Dundee only once before.
She currently works in a drive-thru, and describes her drag as a “cartoon character came to life”.
Sister Sister, 32 from Liverpool.
A Sister Sister show is about “wacky monsters going for it”, inspired by old-school, Victoria Wood-style British comedy.
She can sew, turn a look, dance – although “not well” – and is here to represent a unique part of Liverpool’s drag scene
“You have the gorgeous queens of Dragtown, you have the queer scene who like to get down dark and dirty, and then you have me just plonked in the middle.”
Veronica Green, 34, from London via Rochdale.
“Gorgeous, goofy and professional”, Veronica Green has been in the industry as a theatre and opera singer for 15 years.
Although her dream of singing in Wicked hasn’t come true (yet), she’s ready to take the Drag Race UK crown.
“I am the most competitive person I know, and I will fight you on that if you disagree.”
Bimini Bon Boulash, 26, from London via Norfolk.
“East London’s bendiest b***h,” Bimini grew up in Norfolk but is now a staple of the capital’s “diverse, vibrant, colourful” drag scene.
Incredibly, Bimini invented veganism “about seven years ago”, and fancies herself the dancing queen of the season.
“I wanna show that you don’t have to be shady, be super b***hy to prove that you’ve got something.”
Ginny Lemon, 31 from Worcestershire.
Fancy a slice? Ginny Lemon is the “hairiest woman in showbiz” and “the only non-binary drag queen in the UK… with a sense of humour”.
Her ideal look is a “90s daytime TV presenter on acid”, she’s bringing you a “down o earth, working class sense of humour”.
“You’ll get high energy, madness, the unplanned.”
Asttina Mandella, 27 from London.
A backing dancer for the likes of Hercules and Love Affair, Pussycat Dolls, Little Mix and Kanye West, Asttina is trained in ballet, tap, jazz, vogue, whacking, hip-hop and street dance – but she’s also “a big geek”.
“Now it’s my time to be on the poster,” she says.
“I’m Serena Williams and Naomi Campbell if they had a baby, plus Azealia Banks at the same time.”
Cherry Valentine, 26 from Darlington.
Cherry Valentine only started doing drag a year ago, but tells her haters: “I’ve been doing it as long as I need.”
“She’s glamour, she’s club kid, she’s dark, she’s gothic,” she says of her drag.
When she’s not serving body and face, Cherry is a qualified mental health nurse, something she credits with helping her on her drag journey.
Lawrence Chaney, 23 from Glasgow.
Inspired by Lady Gaga, Madonna and Michelle McManus, Lawrence is “every single stereoytpe you are thinking right now of what a Scottish person is”.
“I’m almost the fat b****d of drag from Austin Powers,” she says, and is here to represent the big queens.
“I really wanna show that a big girl can enter the competition and really showcase the inner beauty and the outer beauty that we all heave. Not wear leotards with fringe on them.”
There’s no wrong way to celebrate the holidays, and in this year where travel is limited, the LGBTQ community is redefining what the festive season looks like. In this installment of the OUT FOR GOOD series, we’re talking to RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Jackie Cox; NFL player Ryan K. Russell; Big Brother’s Natalie Negrotti, and Sirius XM radio co-host, Doug Budin, about all things holiday.
We discussed everything from what “chosen family” means, to how they come together and celebrate.
Find out how these folks are gearing up to get in the holiday spirit:
But then, who doesn’t? The classy, Oscar-winning actress has one of the longest resumes of any actor working today, having appeared in such films as Back to the Future Part III, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Philadelphia, Nixon and Parenthood, among many others.
For that matter, how could anyone not love Alison Brie, the versatile star equally at home as a series regular on the drama Mad Men as well as the sitcom Community?
We landed time to chat with the two ladies about their latest outing, the queer-themed holiday comedy Happiest Season. It arrives on Hulu November 25.
Happiest Season casts Kristen Stewart as Abby, the doting girlfriend of Harper (Mackenzie Davis). When the two decide to get engaged, Harper invites Abby to spend the Christmas holidays with her family. There’s just one problem: Harper isn’t out to her perfectionist family. Things get even more awkward when Harper’s Dad (Victor Garber) announces some new political ambitions, while her mom (Steenburgen) plots to reunite Harper with her high school boyfriend. The situation also gets tense when Harper clashes with Sloane (Brie), her hyper-competitive sister. By the time Abby’s best friend John (Dan Levy) and her secret high school girlfriend (Aubrey Plaza) arrive on the scene, is there any hope of preventing holiday chaos? Mary Holland and Ana Gasteyer also star, while openly gay actress/writer/director Clea DuVall helms the project.
Chatting with the two actresses also gave us the opportunity to mention our mom’s love of Ms. Steenburgen. Don’t begrudge us. Happiest Season streams on Hulu November 25.
Flamingo Rampant micropress is back with a new Kickstarter for its fourth season of feminist, racially diverse, and LGBTQ-positive children’s books! This new set of #OwnVoices books includes their first middle grade titles as well as picture books. As always, they depict an array of intersectional identities that few (if any!) other publishers have matched—all with fun, joyous storylines that include Afro-futurism, seahorse dads, baseball, magic, body hair, pancakes, and more!
The theme for the new season of books is “Adventure.” Here are the book descriptions from the project’s Kickstarter page (though they caution that it’s possible some things could change):
Noodin’s Perfect Day (PB), written by Ansley Simpson and illustrated by Rhael McGregor. Noodin, a nonbinary urban Indigenous kid, doesn’t have the day they planned with a book and Ninaatig (a maple tree)—but they have a lot of fun anyway!
The Magic Shell (PB), written by Jillian Christmas and illustrated by Diana G. A. Mungaray. When Pigeon Pea asks one question too many, her auntie gives her a magic cowrie shell that lets her time travel back and meet her ancestors, including some pre-colonial gender transcenders.
The Light Of You (PB), written by Trystan Reese and Biff Chaplow, illustrated by Van Binfa. A family-building story featuring adoption and a seahorse papa (a trans man birth parent), told through a poem—with space for you to add your own family stanzas! [Mombian’s note: This is not just what I believe is the first picture book about a pregnant trans dad and one of few about trans parents overall, but also one of very few with LGBTQ parents of any identity that shows a child getting a sibling. (I can think of only one other, an older self-published work.)]
It’s A Hit! (MG), written by Arin Cole Barth and Marika Barth. A story of baseball and friendship, where a nerdy, newly-out trans boy and the super-jock son of two queer parents form a lasting friendship.
Metatron’s Children (MG), written by Chy Ryan Spain and illustrator TBD. An Afro-Futurist tale set in a dystopian future, in which two Black, nonbinary children unlock a secret that might just save the world.
Puberty: Pick Your Path! (MG) written by Dr. Sydney Tam, MD, CCFP and Rakiyah Jones, DNP, FNP-BC, illustrated by Bishakh Som and kd diamond. This groundbreaking book introduces young people to the process of puberty, allowing any kid to learn about the changes that may come. The book describes many options for trans and nonbinary kids to explore—for the first time ever—possible routes and options through puberty and into adulthood, with age-appropriate illustrations and diagrams throughout. Kids can feel a sense of agency about their puberty experience, learn about their friends’ experiences, and explore differences as well as commonalities—everyone makes a stop at Body Hair Station.
It will take money, though, to bring these books to our shelves. If your financial situation allows, I hope you’ll consider supporting the project. Note that you can choose to receive all six books, just the picture books, or just the middle grade ones. (Pro tip: If your kids are still in the picture book age range, get the full set. They’ll be ready for the middle grade ones before you know it. Or if they’re older, get the full set and offer the picture books to a friend, library, or school.) The books are estimated to ship in September 2021.
Want to know more? Check out the promotional video, in which the authors and Flamingo Rampant Chief Flamingo S. Bear Bergman tell you more about these stories:
In February, I found myself sitting in a folding chair in a country club just outside of Pittsburgh, directly across from Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis. They were dressed for Christmas. The country club was dressed for Christmas. I was wearing headphones plugged into a little microphone pack that allowed me to hear everything Clea DuVall and the actors said when the cameras started rolling. Two days earlier, the Happiest Season PR team had emailed me out of the blue and asked if I’d like to visit the set of the upcoming queer holiday romantic comedy before they wrapped. I thought, “Finally, someone has seen my artistic masterpieces promoting this film!” (They had not.)
And so I put my two nicest shirts in a suitcase and hopped on a plane and next thing I knew, Clea DuVall herself was shaking my hand and thanking me for dropping by. Her handshake was just the right amount of firm, and her hands were slightly calloused, like a carpenter’s. I made a note to tell you that specifically. “Like a carpenter’s.”
I actually made a lot of notes, but it turns out I don’t need them: The thing about being sandwiched in a corner with Kristen Stewart is you don’t really forget it.
LACEY TERRELL/Sony Pictures
The story of Happiest Season is the story of Clea DuVall: Harper, played by Mackenzie Davis, is in a loving, committed, healthy, happy longterm relationship with her girlfriend, Abby, played by Kristen Stewart — but Harper hasn’t yet come out to her parents, which Abby doesn’t know. Harper doesn’t reveal this small snafoozle to Abby until they’re in the car on the way to spend Christmas with Harper’s family. Clea wanted to write the movie because she’d lived it, and she wanted it to be a Christmas rom-com because where are the queer Christmas rom-coms, and also because she wanted it to be timeless in the way only holiday films ever really are. So she called up comedic writer and actress Mary Holland, who plays Harper’s sister Jane in the film, and they wrote it and pitched it to Marty Bowen and Isaac Klausner, who’d produced the gay rom-com Love, Simon to great acclaim, and they snapped it right up.
Kristen Stewart signed on because Clea’s story, Harper’s story, is her story too. A young gay woman perfectly content with who she is, in a loving relationship, just not yet ready to talk about it to other people who might not be as supportive as she needs them to be. Only in the case of Kristen Stewart, I suppose, Harper’s loving parents, played by Mary Steenburgen and Victor Garber, were the seventy gazillion readers of the gossip blogs that hire the paparazzi that dog her every step. Kristen Stewart said she didn’t just want to play Abby, but that she’d have been jealous if anyone else got to play her. She said, with genuine excitement, “A movie like this has never existed!”
These are the other things I don’t need notes to recall: Kristen Stewart listened with her whole face, to whoever was talking, and talked with her whole body, and the experience was like being ensconced in some kind of supernatural energy-exchange. I had to shake my head like a cartoon character with bumblebees in my ears to clear my brain when the handler came to take her and Mackenzie Davis back to filming. She was generous with her laughter, and her eyes brightened expectantly when it was clear you were going to make a joke, like she wanted you to say something funny for her and for you too. She was relaxed, on that set where Clea DuVall was in charge and the script was queer and she was playing a lesbian and Mackenzie Davis smiled like twinkle lights and Aubrey Plaza was so effortlessly hilarious. And she was happy. Really happy. That’s what she told the little clump of reporters gathered around her, but she didn’t even really need to say it. She was radiating it.
LACEY TERRELL/Sony Pictures
That was true of every single person I spoke with, actually. Victor Garber was delighted by how calm and generous and collaborative everything was on Clea DuVall’s set. Mary Steenburgen, who believes this film will be an all-time Christmas classic, was thrilled to realize that every gay person for the rest of forever will be watching her at least twice a year at the holidays, now — once with Elf and once with Happiest Season. (She was also delighted by Dan Levy, just in general, and said she was considering adopting him, since her own son keeps posting photos of Andie MacDowell on his social media and pretending he thinks it’s his mom.) Mary Holland said the set felt like actual Christmas. Costume designer Kathleen Felix-Hager side-eyed me when I asked her if it was hard to find enough distinct flannels to fit multiple lesbian characters in the same Christmas movie, but then relaxed and laughed when I told her I’m a lesbian and it was a joke (but also my wife and I do actually have this problem with both flannels and beanies, so it’s not really a joke).
When Kristen Stewart said that a movie like Happiest Season doesn’t exist yet, her eyes, which had been giving equal attention to everyone with a recorder out, landed on me and Sam Manzella, a writer for NewNowNext, and stayed there. We were certainly the gayest-looking people in that tiny gaggle of journalists, and we were the ones writing for gay publications. I smiled and I nodded that Kristen Stewart was correct, and Sam smiled and nodded too, and Kristen Stewart half-smiled back at us — you know the smile I’m talking about — and continued what she was saying, moving her steady gaze over our little group.
The funny thing about Kristen Stewart saying a movie like Happiest Season doesn’t yet exist is that of course a movie like Happiest Season doesn’t exist yet, because without Kristen Stewart it couldn’t exist. Her presence is the thing that makes it the thing it is. Kristen Stewart, the Charlie’s Angel. Kristen Stewart, the star of the 3.3 billion dollar Twilight series. Kristen Stewart, stated enemy of Donald Trump who went onto Saturday Night Live and said, “I’m like so gay, dude” to the President of the United States. Kristen Stewart, who has her own Awards and Nominations page on Wikipedia, who is the muse of countless directors and designers, who cannot take a single step in Los Angeles without being assailed by paparazzi, who has been profiled repeatedly by every newspaper and magazine, and whose every public word becomes an SEO clickbait headline (yes, even here). She has one of the most — if not the most — famous gay millennial faces on the planet earth.
In the totality of the lesbian film canon, there are very few movies with actresses as famous or lauded as Kristen Stewart. And there are even fewer movies with out actresses as famous as Kristen Stewart that are also written and directed by queer women. And gay Christmas rom-coms, with warm and well-worn plots that feel like your favorite flannel pajamas? That’s never happened because most gay movies are made by straight people who cannot imagine our stories as anything other than miserable. (And actors who sign on for well-made tragedy for Oscar’s sake.) Toss in Tegan and Sara headlining the soundtrack, and you can drill down all the way and this thing is nothing but gay.
LACEY TERRELL/Sony Pictures
And while Clea DuVall was quick to point out — and Kristen Stewart was quick to echo — that this story is her story, and that she’s so proud that it’s breaking down one door, she knows there are still so many more queer movies that need to be made by other queer writers and directors and actors who haven’t yet seen themselves on-screen.
Five years ago, Happiest Season would have been the apex of queer cinema — and now it’s a celebratory pause along a continuum. It’s all I want this Christmas! But I also want Janelle Monáe’s gay rom-com following that classic enemies to lovers Pride and Prejudice plot. I want Janet Mock’s New York City gay career woman comedy. Give me Indya Moore as a Disney Princess. Give me Sara Ramirez as an action star. And where’s Alice Wu’s blockbuster money, and where’s the studios wooing Desiree Akhvahn, and who’s adapting N.K. Jemisin’s three-time Hugo-winning fantasy series for the big screen?
Clea DuVall really seemed to understand that her new film both stands alone, and is also part of a much larger and essential cultural conversation.
I laughed a lot on the set of Happiest Season, because that kind of joy is contagious, because the script is very funny, because Kristen Stewart knocked a painting off a wall between scenes at one point and tried to play it cool but of course there’s a person on set whose entire job is to make sure nothing in-frame changes between takes so he had to come fix it. I also laughed because when I started watching lesbian movies, I did it in hiding, and they were all terrible and tragic. And because when I started writing about gay TV and film, I couldn’t get a single actress who played a gay character to talk to me because they didn’t want to do interviews with a gay publication and get pigeonholed or typecast (and they definitely didn’t want anyone to think they were gay). And here I was on the set of Clea Duval’s latest film, surrounded by wreaths and fir trees and golden fairy lights, and Kristen Stewart was holding my gaze, and she was saying, “I fucking belong in this movie.”
For all the hand-wringing that journalists who profile Kristen Stewart do about whether or not she even wants to be talking to them, and what it means that she ordered this to eat or drink, and was wearing that, and glanced at her phone, or stared out the window pensively for more than five seconds, or the way she tilted her head, or the tenor of her voice, or whatever perpetual judgment that she’s not walking around smiling every second of her life like a circus clown, the vibe I got from her on that rainy, foggy, bitingly cold day in Pittsburgh was that there was nowhere else she’d rather be.
The New York Yankees high-five each other after winning 6-3 against the Philadelphia Phillies on August 3, 2020 (Sarah Stier/Getty)
For the first time in four years, a season of Major League Baseball has passed without a single homophobic slur being uttered on the field.
The 2020 season ended on Sunday after coronavirus shortened it to 60 games, and all players managed to make it through without any recorded, on-field anti-gay controversies.
However, although it ended on a high note, the season wasn’t totally devoid of anti-gay sentiment.
Unfortunately the Cincinnati Reds’ game against the Kansas City Royals was marred by Fox Sports announcer Thom Brennaman using a homophobic slur live on air while he thought his mic was turned off.
Viewers were horrified to hear the veteran commentator referring to Kansas City as “one of the fag capitals of the world”. His on-air plea for forgiveness fell short of the mark as he broke off midway to comment on the baseball game in front of him.
Brennaman later issued a second apology, claiming he was unaware of the history of “hate and prejudice” the slur is rooted in, but Fox moved to suspend him after 30 years of commentating.
Sadly it was far from the first time the word was heard on the pitch.
The long history of homophobia in Major League Baseball is often blamed for the fact that only two players have ever come out as LGBT+, with no current players identifying as queer.
According to Ginny Searle of Baseball Prospectus, anti-gay slurs are “something of an annual occurrence” in Major League Baseball.
She told NPR’s Leila Fadel that although many teams engage in LGBT+ campaigns like Pride nights, in reality they don’t go far enough.
“I don’t know that you would qualify them as substantial enough to be a complete affirmation of the LGBT+ community,” she said.
“[It doesn’t] give certainties that on every instance – not just the broadcast booth, in the stands, the locker rooms, everywhere – the LGBT+ community is respected and not simply allowed, but welcomed as a substantial part of the community.”
But for Sean Doolittle, a Washington Nationals player and long LGBT+ ally, there is hope. He told Outsports that the fierce reactions to Brennaman’s slur indicated a fundamental shift in attitudes.
“My experience as a player, I really think is changing,” he said. “The outrage response is evidence it is changing.”
He recalled an incident at a game last year when a fan repeatedly called him a “fag” as he was warming up in the bullpen. The homophobe was immediately confronted by Dolittle’s teammates, who called security and had him ejected from the stadium.
“They knew, even as far as a fan heckling, there is no room for that in our game at the ballpark,” Doolittle said. “I thought that was awesome.”
This season’s tarotscopes feature the Tarot of the Divine and the Compendium of Constellations.
After a season of introspection and awareness, after sitting with our secrets and digging into the wants and needs and fears that shape us, we now move from Virgo’s mutable earth into Libra’s cardinal air. The shift from the Hermit’s intentional, focused reflection to Justice’s powerful, expansive movement is a major one, urging us to switch from internal processing to external collaboration. And whether you spent time in recovery or pushed yourself to higher levels of truth-seeking, this new season offers a chance for us to put our fresh discoveries about ourselves into practice, to see how our theories play out in the real world. Welcome to Libra season.
Ushering in autumn here in the northern hemisphere, Libra is most often associated with art and beauty, collaboration and harmony. Eager for different perspectives, this is a time of listening and learning, of expanding the mind, of exploring new ideas and viewpoints. After the Hermit’s slow and deliberate movement, with Virgo’s eagerness to wrap up projects ensuring that every detail is perfectly finished, Libra is ready to start something fresh, to stretch and search, to be open to dazzling new possibilities. As light and brilliant as this energy can seem, Libra also has a deep capacity for awareness, carrying the thoughtful intentionality of the Hermit forward into a sharp perceptiveness that allows for tranquility and equilibrium. There’s a real sense of grace here, the ability to quickly shift and adapt, honoring different approaches and inviting everyone to participate in decisions.
Our card for this new season is Justice, an archetype of equality and balance, ethics and integrity, truth and fairness. And while this is always an intense card to work with, in 2020 it holds so many additional layers of meaning. After months of revolution and riots, calls for equality and reparations, demands for police reform and abolition, it may feel that justice as a concept is still so far from reach. And yet in the tarot, this archetype asks to consider how our personal ideals and morals play out in the real world. What do we truly believe in, and why? What has shaped our values, influenced our understanding of what is truly right? What seems correct in theory, but never quite plays out the way we think it should? It doesn’t seem like it should be complicated to understand justice as a concept, yet particularly in the United States, so few things are truly equitable. Libra wants every voice to be heard, every need to be met, for the most vulnerable and marginalized to be lifted up and protected. And as we shift into this new season, Justice demands that we carefully consider beliefs, that we pay attention to the systems that impact us, that we push back against the limits that are harming us. How are you standing up for your community, for those whose voices are so often silenced? Where are you fighting back against injustice? What can you offer?
Many of our cards for this season urge contemplation and focus, asking us not to get distracted by the many demands on our energy, resources, and ideas. From choosing our path forward with care to staying grounded with regard to our long term goals, Libra is a season of balanced work and purposeful decision making, offering opportunities for deliberate growth and careful consideration of our options. This kind of collaborative energy is not pushing you to make space for everyone’s ideas at the expense of your own voice or needs — but it is asking you to consider what you may be missing, where your own perspective is too narrow or limited. How can you stay open to new ideas? Where can you innovate? In this season of Libra, remember the lessons of Justice, and choose your battles carefully. You have an opportunity for rich growth, both internal and external, but it’s essential that you know what it is you’re fighting for. Experienced tarot readers or astrologers can plug the cards I’ve drawn for their sun, moon, and rising signs into the spread below to create a custom reading for this season. Venus is the ruler of Libra, bringing beauty and a spirit of love to this season, so if you know your Venus placement you can also include that card reading in your spread for a more complete picture.
As always with these tarot readings, take what you need and leave what you don’t. Have a safe and beautiful Libra season!
After the quiet reflection and purposeful stillness of Virgo season, you now have an opportunity to press on, to pursue your goals in earnest, to make a detailed and structured plan for your future. The Emperor is your birth card, Aries, so you may find yourself feeling extra motivated to carry that organized Virgo energy forward and create comprehensive milestones for your ongoing work and your broader goals. Your natural independence and desire to be constantly moving forward can both be powerful assets, but don’t forget Libra’s balanced energy of awareness and insight, of collaboration, of paying attention to multiple perspectives. There may be a tendency for you to insist on doing things alone, on choosing a path forward and sticking to it no matter the cost, but there can be real value in listening to the ideas and opinions of those you trust and respect. How can you learn from those around you? Where can you take charge, and where might it be useful to delegate?
Three of coins
It may feel like things are starting to come together in an important way this season, as new collaborators join your work and fresh ideas help you gain traction. The old adage that many hands make light work will be an important one to remember, as you tend to be someone that prefers to do things yourself, in your own way — keep in mind that allowing others to weigh in, and being willing to delegate tasks that don’t come as naturally to you, may help you keep your eyes on the prize and remember what you’re working towards. After the dramatic shifts and powerful realizations that you moved through last season, embrace Libra’s diplomatic and innovative energy and be open to new opportunities. You are building something important, but as you well know, sometimes the biggest projects take consistent effort and long-term planning to execute properly. Be patient with yourself, and don’t rush this process — with care, attention, and a solid team behind you, you’re well on your way to success.
Seven of coins
As you continue to make progress towards your long-term goals, you may find yourself settling into a comfortable rhythm, balancing your creative sparks with a more grounded and patient approach to movement. This will be a good season for you to pay attention to the direction that you’re moving in, to see if the vision that you began with still feels like something you want to achieve. How have you shifted and grown throughout this process? Where might you need to adjust, evolve, or even shift your progress towards a new goal? Last season’s restless energy may feel more focused and intentional now that we’ve entered airy, harmonious Libra season, so give yourself some space to breathe and explore, to see if you’re moving towards something that you still want. With reflection and conscious attention, you may find that what once seemed so important no longer is holding your interest in quite the same way. Don’t abandon old projects just because you’re eager for the rush of a new beginning, but do be thoughtful about changes you can make to your process that help you find fresh energy and innovative insights. Where are you going?
Page of swords
This season may bring a new opportunity, truth, or insight, something that encourages you to explore and expand in an intellectual, intentional way. You may find that a new style of learning or a new perspective on an old subject helps you understand the ideas that are coming forward for you, allowing you fit together existing pieces in unexpectedly brilliant ways. How has your perspective been shifting? What new viewpoints are changing the way you think about the world around you? If things felt stagnant last season, if it seemed like you were trapped in your own mind and unable to find your way forward, this time of Libra may feel particularly exciting, with new possibilities around every corner and brilliant ideas buzzing through your mind. Temper all of this quick, powerful air with your own natural water, balancing that sensitive intuition with the new insights that are capturing your attention. What are you learning about your own curiosities and impulses? Where are you ready to learn more?
Four of swords
If Virgo season felt like a time when your heart was open and vulnerable, when you were called to connect and collaborate, this next chapter is one of rest, recovery, and new awareness. You may be known for your courage and boldness, for your love of independence and adventure, but Libra season offers a chance for you to slow down and give your mind time to catch up to your heart. As new truths and insights become clear, we sometimes need to take a breath, to give ourselves space to process and adjust to the world we are discovering. And you may find as Libra season continues, you discover new strength within yourself, a new sense of purpose for what you want to achieve and pursue. How much time do you spend in reflection? What came forward for you during the time of the Hermit, and what new questions are now emerging? Listen to your mind and body and take rest when you need to — it may be that you have to schedule it in, so that you don’t just collapse when the day is over. Make a point of giving yourself a break, and see how it allows your mind to sharpen. Who are you when you stop moving?
It may feel that you’re caught between worlds this season, as you transition out of your comfortable season of precision and into a time of partnerships, evolution, and examining multiple perspectives. This archetype often calls us to analyze our histories, to consider what rituals we have developed, to pay attention to the routines we’ve established and what they say about the things we believe. And with Libra’s airy energy pushing us to honor what resonates on a personal and ethical level, this will be a season of attention and awareness, a chance for you to consider how the things you feel and know manifest in your daily life. How do you make decisions? Where do you invest your resources, energy, passions? What rituals mean something to you, and where are you simply going through the motions? If you find yourself constantly falling back on the way that things have always been done, give yourself a break and let the brilliant innovation of Libra shift your perspective. How can you create patterns and rituals that resonate on a deeper level?
Two of cups
Happy birthday, Libra! As you step into your season, you may find yourself balancing your intellectual needs with a craving for more intense personal connections, wanting to be seen on a more personal and sensitive level. Whether you’re deepening friendships, falling for someone new, or putting more effort into business partnerships, this will be a time of community and vulnerability, when you are asked to share your heart with someone in a more intimate way. Sometimes these connections are made quickly or in unexpected places, so stay open to possibility, and pay attention to the ways that you respond to those around you. Last season reminded you of how independent and powerful you can be, of all that you’ve achieved and accomplished in your life — so allow your season to be one of chosen family and important relationships, a time when you invest in the people you care about. What kinds of people are you drawn to? What do they reveal within you? And how can you be more intentional about the community that you are building?
Four of wands
After a period of difficult choices and careful reflection, for you this season will be about forward movement, celebration, and stepping into your own power. It may feel like your creative work is really taking off, as things click into a new gear and you’re able to create strong foundations for your future vision. Enjoy this feeling of momentum and joy, and remember what it is you’re working towards. What new kinds of magic are revealing themselves? You’re someone that tends to keep so much private, preferring not to show your hand too soon, but don’t get so obsessive about keeping your work secret that you miss out on opportunities to collaborate and gain valuable feedback on the things that you’re building. Sometimes getting an outside perspective can bring a fresh burst of energy and inspiration, so trust your instincts and bring someone in if it feels right. What might you gain from letting yourself expand? How can you create solid structures that inspire you to grow, rather than restricting your movement?
Eight of coins
It might be tempting to spend all of your time with intellectual pursuits this season, enjoying the spirit of exploration and collaboration that air seasons so often bring. But rather than expanding outward and starting new projects, Libra is a time for you to stay focused on your larger, more established goals, to work to improve your craft, to continue investing in the ambitions that you’ve been chasing. What have you been building? What are you working towards? How can you gain knowledge, skills, additional resources? After last season’s rush of inspiration and magic, work to slow down and move with intention, to create something that will last and reflects the person that you are. You are skilled in so many brilliant and powerful ways, yet when you put your head down and really do the work, you may be shocked at just how far you can go, at just how much you can accomplish. Where have you been spinning your wheels? What fresh insights from last season can you apply to your current work?
Two of swords
You may find yourself at an important crossroads this season, choosing between different paths. Sometimes you’re picking between two things that you want to pursue, and will have to figure out where you most want to put your energy, insights, and assets — but other times neither option will feel particularly exciting, and you simply have to make up your mind so that you can begin to make progress. Whichever situation you find yourself in, stick to the facts, and work to keep your perspective clear and honest rather than getting caught up in too many hypotheticals or anxieties. Which path feels the most logical, the most true? What is stimulating your mind? Which sword is giving you a more profound sense of purpose? After last season’s explorations, it’s time for you to double down and decide what it is you want to grow, where you want to expand and innovate. Where can you charge forward, and what are you willing to leave behind?
Nine of swords
Ideas and worries may feel a bit tangled for you as you move into Libra season, particularly if you’re someone that rarely relies on the opinions of others to help you find clarity and insight. You’re known for your independence, your forward-thinking; yet when you begin to doubt yourself it can cause you to twist reality into unrecognizable shapes, losing sight of what is real and reacting to challenges before you have all of the necessary information. In the wake of the major shifts that you were working through last season, it may feel like you’re trapped with no way forward, unable to rebuild after a profound loss or transition. But you have more options than you realize, so embrace the balanced insights and collaborative energy of Libra, and allow those that you trust to help you get your mind back on track. There’s no shame in asking for help, so resist the impulse to go it alone and instead give yourself a chance to adjust your perspective, to find a more authentic viewpoint. Where can you seek truth? How are you getting stuck? What old mental patterns are you falling into, and how can you end that cycle for good?
Six of cups
After a season of exciting shifts and powerful movement, your Libra season may feel dreamy and introspective, a chance to reflect on your personal history, roots, and connections. There can be something so lovely about remembering simpler times, about exploring the paths that you’ve taken to get where you are, the events and relationships that have helped you reach this particular point. But take care not to romanticize the past too intensely, to overlook any challenges or struggles that shaped you. You may find opportunities for pleasure, comfort, and generosity this season, reconnecting with old friends or finding safe places to rest and relax — yet sometimes when we dig deeply into our own histories, we also reveal old wounds. Be gentle with yourself and honor your intuition, particularly if thinking about your past brings up vulnerabilities or painful memories. What can you learn from the places that you’ve been? Which experiences have been formative, and what are you still understanding about all of the previous versions of yourself?