Tag: Whats

You know what’s cooler than two high school boys in love? Their wacky friends… / Queerty

You know what’s cooler than two high school boys in

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

The Stolen Scenes: Beautiful Thing

This 1996 romantic comedy about two British high school boys in love helped pave the way for countless other queer films, and foreshadowed the success of Love, SimonBeautiful Thing follows the story of Jamie (Glen Berry), a teen hopelessly infatuated with his classmate Ste (Scott Neal). Both hail from rough family situations: Jamie’s mother Sandra (Linda Henry) goes through one eccentric man after the next, while Ste’s father struggles with drugs, and beats his son. One night, when Ste gets a particularly nasty beating, Sandra takes in Ste to sleep over. Sparks immediately fly between he and Jamie as the two boys come to discover their budding sexuality.

Pretty straightforward, right? Jamie and Ste are the least interesting elements of Beautiful Thing. While Berry and Neal both go easy on the eyes and give fine performances, they come off rather bland when compared to the post-hippie Sandra, and, in particular, Leah (Tameka Empson) a sassy neighbor with a Mama Cass obsession that befriends the boys. Both Leah and Sandra steal the movie right out from under their handsome co-stars: the two ladies have much more developed and complicated personalities, and are a lot more fun to watch.

Sweet, tender and very funny, Beautiful Thing feels like an innocent, welcome breath of fresh air in a time of political crisis. Watch it, and dream of a more beautiful tomorrow for queer kids everywhere.

Streams on Amazon, VUDU & YouTube.

 

Even Kayleigh McEnany’s friends think she’s a “horrible person”, sooooo what’s she gonna do next? / Queerty

Even Kayleigh McEnany’s friends think she’s a “horrible person”, sooooo

Everyone’s talking about what White House propagandist Kayleigh McEnany will do after she’s out of a job next month and whether she’ll ever be able to find honest work again.

When she first started her current role back in April, McEnany famously told reporters, “I will never lie to you. You have my word on that.”

Since then, she’s told so many lies and partial truths that it’s virtually impossible to keep track of them all.

She’s also made a ton of enemies and squandered whatever credibility she once had by defending a man poised to go down as the worst president in American history.

Just last week, CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta flat out asked McEnany, “Isn’t it hypocritical of you to accuse others of disinformation when you spread it every day?”

Sooooo, yeah, she’s not exactly the most liked person inside the beltway.

The Independent reports:

Her predecessors under previous administrations could, on leaving the White House, have their pick of any plum — very highly paid — positions.

Barack Obama had three press secretaries, who all dabbled in television work on leaving the White House; one then went to head up global communications for McDonald’s, another for Amazon, another for United Airlines.

Ms McEnany might not have that luxury, unless she fancies a job with My Pillow, whose owner Mike Lindell is slavishly devoted to the president.

Prior to working in the White House, McEnany regularly appeared as a paid commentator on various cable news networks, ranging from Fox News to CNN.

While Fox News might scoop her up again, it seems highly unlikely any other network will. And even Fox News isn’t a guarantee given Donald Trump‘s recent attacks on the network and threats to start his own competing one.

Meghan Milloy, who works for GOP Women for Progress and knows McEnany personally, tells the Independent that she thinks she’ll probably land on her feet, saying she’s “great at what she does.”

“She spins facts into not facts,” Milloy says. “She can defend anyone, even the absolutely worst humans.”

Hmmm. We’re not sure that’s a positive attribute, but OK.

“I do wish she hadn’t got stuck into this defense of racism, and bigotry, and lies,” Milloy adds with a tone of regret. “She’s great, she’s smart, she’s fun.”

“If you didn’t realize what she was doing for a day job, you wouldn’t think she was a horrible person.”

Milloy says she could see McEnany landing a book deal. Or possibly taking a job at Trump’s network, if it ever comes into fruition. There’s also a chance she could run for office herself, though she hasn’t publicly expressed interest in doing so.

As for McEnany, she seems to be leaving her next chapter up to the man upstairs.

During a recent sit-down with the vehemently homophobic website Daily Caller, she said, “Faith is the reason I’m here.”

She added that her career has “fit together like a woven web because God had a path lined up for me as He does for every person on Earth and all you have to do is trust Him and follow the path and pray and he makes all the dots fit together.”

Related: Kayleigh McEnany’s husband crashes press briefing, argues with reporter after refusing to wear mask

What’s wrong with Michael Douglas & Matt Damon getting naked? / Queerty

What’s wrong with Michael Douglas & Matt Damon getting naked?

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

The Glittering: Behind the Candelabra

Michael Douglas may have taken home the Emmy for his performance as Liberace in this biopic, but the movie belongs to Matt Damon who gives an uninhibited performance as Liberace’s on-again, off-again lover Scott Thorson. As directed by Steven Soderbergh, Behind the Candelabra isn’t so much a biopic of the Las Vegas-loving, oh-so-gay pianist as a biography of the very weird relationship between Liberace and Thorson. As Liberace says in the film: “I want to be everything to you, Scott. I want to be your father, brother, lover, best friend.”

That, folks, is a recipe for disaster.

By now the details of Liberace’s final years have become common knowledge: his drug and spending habits, his death from AIDS, and the bizarre narcissism that drove him to own Throson as a kept man and undergo plastic surgery to look more like Liberace himself. Neither Throson nor Liberace comes off well in Behind the Candelabra, and yet somehow, Soderbergh, Douglas and Damon make us love the couple, their hedonistic lifestyle, and even their flaws. Though Thorson & Liberace’s relationship ends on a bitter note, the move doesn’t. Rather, it celebrates the real affection between two men who really did love one another, even when their relationship turned destructive. Featuring outstanding performances from its two lead, as well as Scott Bakula, Rob Lowe and the late Debbie Reynolds, Behind the Candelabra is a film as complicated–and joyous–as the men who inspired it.

Streams on HBO Max, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube & VUDU.

What’s the Difference and Where Should You Start? – The Lesbrary

What’s the Difference and Where Should You Start? – The

This is the obvious place to start this list, but it’s also an exception: this is the only nonfiction manga included. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness details the author’s struggles with mental health, coming out, and—of course—loneliness. It is vulnerable and raw to the point that it is sometimes uncomfortable to read, but it offers an honesty that hadn’t been present in yuri/lesbian manga before this. It was also a huge hit, and its popularity not only ensured the publication of sequels (My Solo Exchange DiaryMy Solo Exchange DiaryVol. 2, and the upcoming My Alcoholic Escape from Reality), but also opened the door for more lesbian manga that looks frankly at lesbian identity and coming out in Japan.

Admittedly, this series follows a gay teenager who is coming to terms with his identity, but it is one of the most queer manga series out there. It follows Tasuku, who is considering suicide because of the bullying he’s faced at school for being perceived as gay. He is distracted by seeing a woman jump from a high ledge, and follows her to a drop-in center. It is run by this mysterious woman, and soon she has him volunteering to help out. He is stunned when he meets Haruko, who casually mentions her wife. The final volume in the series follows the planning of a wedding ceremony between two women, who are Tasuku’s inspiration to come out.

I know: the title doesn’t exactly scream quality representation. This short, standalone manga is surprisingly thoughtful, though. It’s about a fake marriage: Morimoto is sick of being constantly set up by her parents. Her friend Hana suggests that they get married (or, at least, get an equivalent partnership certificate offered in some regions). Morimoto finds herself agreeing to this plan, despite her parents’ outrage and despite her knowledge that Hana is an out lesbian and had feelings for her in high school. Unsurprisingly, once they start living together, their relationship begins to change. Not only does this have a character who identifies as a lesbian, it also deals with having abusive and controlling parents, and even some discussion of consent. Do be prepared for a very short manga, though: the last section of the book is a short story.

Yuri Manga: the Classics

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Vol 7Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi

Before there was lesbian manga, there were the classics of yuri manga. The one that’s probably most well-known is Sailor Moon. Although Usagi is arguably bisexual, that’s a whole other tangent. What made Sailor Moon so significant to the yuri genre was the relationship between Haruka (Sailor Uranus) and Michiru (Sailor Neptune). Their long-standing relationship is included without fanfare, which was fairly unusual at the time, especially for a series that achieved such popularity around the world. While the American TV adaptation tried to rewrite the two as cousins, there’s no way to mistake their relationship in the original books.

Revolutionary Girl Utena coverRevolutionary Girl Utena by Chiho Saito

Revolutionary Girl Utena owes a lot to the Magical Girl manga genre, but it is its own surreal masterpiece. It follows Utena who, as a young child, was saved by a prince. She’s so impressed that she vows to grow up to become a prince herself. Now, she’s at a private school (where all the girls swoon over her), and she stumbles on a dueling club. This club duels for the Power to Revolutionize the World and the Rose Bride. The Rose Bride is a fellow student, Anthy, who seems to be acting as a prop in their game. Utena joins the duel to protect Anthy, and finds herself drawn into a dreamlike world where castles descend from the sky and you settle every interpersonal conflict with fencing skills. In the original manga, the relationship between Anthy and Utena is heavily subtextual. It’s been adapted to many formats, though (anime, movie, standalone manga, manga short stories), and is often canonical in those.

Check out my full review of the Utena series here and my review of the recent sequel, After the Revolution, here.

The Rose of Versailles, Vol 2 Riyoko IkedaThe Rose of Versailles by Riyoko Ikeda

Predating any of these was The Rose of Versailles, which was serialized in 1973 and published in 10 volumes in 1982. It follows Oscar François de Jarjeyes, a young noblewoman raised as a son who is now the commander of Marie Antoinette’s guard. There is yuri content: Oscar and another female character, Rosalie, acknowledge that they have feelings for each other, and if Oscar was a man, they’d be together. Beyond that, though, the playing with gender in this series has likely affected yuri manga more than any actual F/F content. It’s not hard to see how Utena may have been influenced by this earlier work.

Where to Start With Yuri Manga

Girl Friends by Milk Morinaga Vol 1 (Amazon Affiliate Link)Girl Friends by Milk Morinaga

While lesbian manga is still pretty rare, there is a lot more yuri manga being published that is inarguably F/F (not just subtext). One of the foundational series in this vein is Girl Friends. This follows most of the common tropes in yuri: it follows two schoolgirls, one of whom has a crush on the other. There is a lot of blushing and the typical “girls don’t do this” heteronormativity. The first omnibus is about 500 pages, and it’s a slow burn: the majority of this first collection is just about them becoming friends. I thought the second volume was stronger, because SPOILER: it deals more with their relationship than just the pining, and it takes them seriously as a couple, even after graduation.

Bloom Into You Vol 1 (Amazon Affiliate Link)Bloom Into You by Nakatani Nio

This series has become hugely popular. It follows Yuu, who is a big fan of shoujo manga and is waiting for her whirlwind romance. When she does get a confession of love from a boy, however, she finds herself uninterested and turning him down. Later, she sees Nanako—who is running for school president—also turn down a suitor, and strikes up a conversation, thinking they have something in common. She’s taken aback when soon Nanako is also declaring her love for Yuu. Yuu doesn’t return her feelings, but agrees to be “wooed.” Unsurprisingly, based on the premise, it can veer into questionable consent territory: Nanako is sometimes pushy. They do discuss this when it happens, though, and over the course of the series, this becomes an engaging and cute romance that keeps you flipping pages.

Kase-San and Morning Glories Vol 1 (Amazon Affiliate Link)Kase-san and Morning Glories by Hiromi Takashima

This is told in a series of vignettes as Yamada meets Kase, a tomboy track star. They bond over their shared love of the gardens at their school, and their romance slowly begins to blossom. (I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it.) There is the typical “but we’re both girls!” angst and includes some fan service, but overall, it’s a cute and fluffy F/F romance. In the second volume, SPOILER: they try to navigate being a couple and exploring the sexual aspect of their relationship.

Although this is a high school romance, there is a sequel series called Kase-san and Yamada that takes place in college!

After Hours Vol 1 by Yuhta Nishio (Amazon Affiliate Link)After Hours by Yuhta Nishio

This is one of the few books on this list that follows adult characters! Emi is ditched by her friend in a dance club, and she’s overwhelmed by the loudness and crush of people. When she starts getting hit on, she starts looking for an exit and is rescued by Kei, a DJ. They go home together, and Emi finds herself drawn into Kei’s exciting, artistic life.

This is one of the few yuri manga volumes to include a sex scene that doesn’t seem to be for fan service, and both women already seem comfortable with their sexuality—in fact, Emi is likely bisexual, which is another rarity on this list.

Sweet Blue Flowers Vol 1 by Takako Shimura (Amazon Affiliate Link)Sweet Blue Flowers by Takako Shimura

When Akira starts at a new high school, she isn’t expecting to run into her best friend from kindergarten, Fumi! They strike up their friendship again, but Fumi is trying to mend a broken heart: her girlfriend left her and is getting married. She’s glad to be asked out by another classmate, Sugimoto, but she’s struggling to get over her last relationship. Akira is protective of Fumi and tries to help her move on. This is the same mangaka who wrote Wandering Son, which is a beloved manga series featuring trans characters. (In fact, this one discusses identity enough that it might even belong in the lesbian manga category.)

Citrus Vol 1 (Amazon Affiliate Link)Citrus by Saburo Uta

I am conflicted about this title, because on the one hand, it’s the most absorbing manga series I’ve ever read. On the other hand… just look at that cover. It follows Yuzu, a fun-loving girl who’s just started at a new high school and is shocked by their strict rules. She immediately comes into conflict with Mei, the student council president, who has no tolerance for her. Then, plot twist, Mei turns out to be Yuzu’s new stepsister! This is a romance between stepsisters, but they have just met. There is questionable consent, but it is grappled with: Mei has gone through sexual abuse, and has a fractured relationship with her sexuality. This isn’t an entirely healthy relationship, and there’s definitely a lot of angst, but it is captivating.

A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow by Makoto Hagino (Amazon Affiliate Link)A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow by Makoto Hagino

This is a typical blushing schoolgirl yuri romance, with a lingering hug acting as the climax of the story, but I really enjoyed it. Konatsu is just starting at a new school (is anyone else noticing a pattern?), and they are holding an event hosted by the Aquarium Club. When she attends, she runs into the sole member of the club, Koyuki, and they share a shy conversation. Konatsu discovers that she has to join a school club—will she choose the Home Ec Club that her friendly classmate Kaede invited her to, or will she help out Koyuki at the Aquarium Club? This is an adorable story, and I liked that Konatsu helps Koyuki to take some time for herself and not always live up to the standard others hold her to. I also thought the aquarium theme made for beautiful illustrations.

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid by coolkyousinnjyaMiss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid by coolkyousinnjya

Kobayashi has a pretty regular life working as a programmer—until she bumps into Tohru. Tohru is a dragon, and she seems to hate every human except Kobayashi, which means they end up living together. It turns into a slapstick slice-of-life comedy with a lot of crass humor.

Despite all the ridiculousness, this is still one of the few yuri manga series with adult main characters.

“What’s in a Name?” Anthology Gives Voice to Nonbiological/Nongestational Queer Parents

"What's in a Name?" Anthology Gives Voice to Nonbiological/Nongestational Queer

A must-read new anthology about queer women and nonbinary people who are nonbiological and nongestational parents looks at their paths to parenthood, their experiences as parents, and the evolving meanings of what it is to be a mother.

What’s in a Name: Perspectives from Nonbiological and Nongestational Queer Mothers

What’s in a Name: Perspectives from Nonbiological and Nongestational Queer Mothers, edited by Sherri Martin-Baron, Raechel Johns, and Emily Regan Wills (Demeter Press), is the first book in nearly a decade and a half to dedicate itself to the experiences of this segment of queer parents. Way back in 2006, when this blog was barely a year old, Harlyn Aizley brought together numerous voices in her edited volume Confessions of the Other Mother: Nonbiological Lesbian Moms Tell All. It remains a valuable work, but much has changed legally and socially since its publication—and there is no reason not to add even more perspectives to our understanding.

The editors of What’s in a Name are all queer parents themselves. In their introduction to the volume, Martin-Baron says that in creating the book, she wanted “to build a community resource and give voice to positive, real stories. ” Johns “knew that our stories could help people plan their families or navigate becoming a nonbiological or nongestational parent.” Wills adds, with repercussions outside the queer community, “I see us beginning to write a theory of mothering/parenting beyond biology.” On all three counts they are likely to succeed.

They showcase essays by themselves and 12 other writers from Australia, Austria, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Some contributors had always known they did not want to or were not able to carry a child; others keenly wanted to but experienced fertility roadblocks; some are nonbiological/nongestational parents to one of their children but gave birth to another. Some of them view their motherhood through intersectional lenses of race, disability, or a nonbinary or more masculine gender identity. There are vignettes about forming families and securing them; about struggling against a society that either didn’t recognize their role as mothers or sought to frame them as it often frames straight fathers—distanced and vaguely incompetent as parents. Several contributors reflect on their children’s preferences for one parent over another, a preference that can change and that isn’t always tied to biology; others muse on the parental names they’ve chosen, and one looks closely at the microaggression of those who assume that she’ll want to give birth to her family’s next child, as if being a nonbiological mother was something to be bettered. Contributor Sonja MacKenzie reminds us, too, that even within the queer community, “normative biological tropes” are “often internalized and reproduced.”

No other qualification makes a parent but a choice to love.

We learn how these mothers around the world have navigated their relationships with their children, their partners, donor siblings (who by their very existence  center a biological connection), the society around them, and their own selves, as they seek to understand and shape their identity as mothers. These stories will make readers, no matter what their parental status or path to parenthood, think deeply about what it means to be a mother and a parent. Contributor Clare Candland, for example, writes of the love that makes a parent, asserting:

This kind of love isn’t earned like a badge. This kind of love doesn’t necessarily come from a pregnancy or birth. This kind of love come from a choice to open oneself up to it. It comes from a choice to embrace the responsibility and vulnerability that make up a parent and a commitment to follow through on that choice, even when the effects push you into a life that you never expected or wanted…. No other qualification makes a parent but a choice to love.

And contributor Patricia Curmi even suggests that there are advantages to being a nonbiological and nongestational parent, saying, “I’ve discovered that I enjoy my relationship with our daughter not being rooted in shared genetic traits. It has challenged me to keep seeing and reseeing her as a person wholly unto herself, free from my projections and expectations of what a child with my genes should be like.”

My only criticism of this superb volume is that I would have liked to have seen some essays by people of color, although a few of the contributors do talk about having multiracial children or a partner or donor of another racial or ethnic identity.

Nonbiological/nongestational parents or parents-to-be will be uplifted and strengthened by the stories here; biological ones may have a better understanding of what their partners/spouses may feel or encounter.  Parents and prospective parents of any type—queer or not—will find much to ponder about the meaning of parenting, family, and love.


(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program that provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)

What’s the best VPN for Europe right now?

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Now that we told you about these 6 amazing VPN services to use in Europe or abroad, which is actually the best and most trustworthy?

I definitely recommend the 2 flagships in VPN services: NordVPN and ExpressVPN. With these 2 services, you can rest assured that your privacy is protected and your data is secure.

Pure VPN, Private VPN and SurfShark are trustworthy services you should definitely have a look at. They might be younger, but they’re willing to go all the way to protect your privacy and secure your internet connection. As newer players, they also offer more for a better price.

IpVanish is the least interesting one for European residents and travelers, as they mostly focus on the US market. Their support desk isn’t all too friendly either.

Aside from the VPN services we mentioned in this article, there are a lot more choices to select when it comes to security, but we don’t want to overload you with information. In the end, you only need one!

If you’re in doubt about which VPN to choose, start out with NordVPN. Have a look at their website and get a 3-year deal, which is their cheapest solution in the long term. If you don’t feel an immediate connection when accessing their site, go on and check out Express VPN.

What’s it like to be a gay adult film star mid-Covid? Jimmy Fowlie digs deep. / Queerty

What’s it like to be a gay adult film star

Nikki Spitz spent years priding himself on being the nastiest one in the room. Then Covid hit.

The adult industry, like so many other industries, was suddenly turned upside-down and lockdown made Spitz realize it’s pretty difficult to humiliate yourself on camera. Go on, try it; we’ll wait.

Related: WATCH: Find love in quarantine with Christine (and Jimmy Fowlie)

So Spitz, the latest sketch creation from comedian/writer Jimmy Fowlie, had to make some life changes.

Watch below, and bonus points to Fowlie for managing to squeeze in legitimately useful pandemic info: