6 Queer NYC Parties That Keep Basic At Bay

Everyone knows that NYC has one of the best, if not the best, queer nightlife scenes in the world. But if you don’t live here (and even if you do live here), you might not know where to go.

If you’re looking for epic NYC parties that aren’t necessarily gay—but queer in every sense of the word—then look no further. Here are six of the best.

1. Straight Acting

Going down once a month at Metropolitan Bar in Williamsburg, Straight Acting is, hands down, one of the best queer parties in NYC. It’s put on by Brooklyn “boylesque” performer Rify Royalty, and the show’s lineup includes local and international acts.

2. Gotham

Lewks, lewks, and more lewks. Queens on stilts towering over you. Tits and asses out. Wildly creative costumes that will blow your damn mind. The layout is pretty absurd—all the queer kids sip bottle service up on the balcony while they look down at all the straight folks dancing underneath (as it damn well should be). The party is put on by Kayvon Zand and goes down every Saturday night at Webster Hall.

3. On Top

Every Tuesday during the summer the legendary queen herself, Susanne Bartsch, throws On Top at Le Bain. The rooftop is open, giving you a breathtaking view of the city, and there’s a damn Jacuzzi in the place if you’re inclined to get wet—not to mention incredible performers and queens galore.

4. Battle Hymn

Epic. Legendary. Insane. These are the three words I would use to describe Ladyfag’s new Friday party at the Flash Factory. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad time at Battle Hymn. There are always queens serving major lewks, abs for days, and everything else you’d expect at one of the city’s best parties.

5. Code Red

Monica Blewinksy throws this weekly party at the Electric Room, and the venue is as cute as it comes. On the smaller side with more of a sexy lounge feel, this party plays the best damn music. Remixes of all the songs you forgot you loved, still somehow know all the words to, but haven’t heard in forever.

6. Holy Mountain

Another Ladyfag party, Holy Mountain, heats up one Saturday a month at Slake. Three floors. Four rooms. Eight DJs. I don’t even know what else to say. It’s always a serious turn-up. The queens come out of the woodwork for it. And the space is everything you could ask for and more. It’s pure party perfection.

Ireland’s First Openly Gay Prime Minister Is a Big Deal—But Not in Ireland

Ireland has made history again.

Leo Varadkar was elected the European nation’s first openly gay prime minister after winning his party’s election on Wednesday. Making Varadkar, the openly gay son of an Indian immigrant, poised to be just one of a handful of openly LGBTQ politicians to lead a nation—a short list that includes Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel and Iceland’s Johanna Sigurdardottir.

But while Varadkar’s history-making moment has made international news, there’s one place it hasn’t been a headline: his own country.

Before Varadkar joined the prime minister race, he came out publicly during the 2015 campaign for marriage equality, when Ireland became the first-ever nation to legalize same-sex unions through popular vote.

“I am a gay man,” he told Dublin’s Radio 1. “It’s not a secret. […] It’s just part of who I am. It doesn’t define me.”

But since coming out, the former Minister of Health’s sexuality has barely been mentioned in mainstream media coverage—even during the election. Brian Finnegan, the editor of Ireland’s only LGBTQ newspaper, Gay Community News, told INTO during a phone interview that it wasn’t a story at all until the week of the party vote.

“The reason it’s not a huge story here is that the Irish people don’t really care about what their politicians do in the bedroom,” Finnegan said. “They really care more about their policies and what they stand for.”

With Varadkar’s sexuality being treated as a non-issue, LGBTQ activists in Ireland say that represents a major step forward for a country that has made significant strides in equality in quite a short amount of time. A country with a long history of discrimination.

When openly gay lawmaker David Norris ran for president in 2011—a symbolic position in Irish politics—he was the target of a smear campaign that destroyed his run for office.

Norris, who spoke over the phone with INTO prior to last week’s election, claimed that the media told “every conceivable kind of lie” about him. They alleged he was a blind alcoholic and a pension fraud. Even worse, his opponents spread rumors that he was a pedophile who advocated parents have sex with their children.

“I was attacked by the media, and a large part of it was homophobia,” Norris said. “It was a different lie every single day. I kept a dignified face in public, but I was devastated personally.”

Norris, who would later sue for defamation, claimed that critics of his campaign would make jokes on the radio where they imitated the noises that he would make while having sex with children. Someone even created a fake website trolling his campaign, and a message on the homepage read: “Hello, my name is David Norris. I’m a homosexual. A homosexual is someone who interferes with little boys.”

The 73-year-old politician, who has been working for equality for five decades, has watched his country, where homosexuality was once illegal, become an international leader in LGBTQ rights. Norris, who was first elected as an independent senator in 1987, challenged the country’s prohibition on same-sex relations the following year. Although the European Court of Human Rights sided in his favor, homosexuality wouldn’t be formally decriminalized until 1993.

On top of this, the 1922 Censorship of Publications Act allowed the government to target LGBTQ news publications, frequently serving to stifle any positive representation of the community.

“We had this aura of criminality that infected and pervaded every single aspect of Irish society,” said Tonie Walsh, founder of the Irish Queer Archive. “All aspects of male homosexuality were considered taboo and illegal. It stopped mainstream Irish society from engaging any of our concerns or our fears.”

“It was extremely repressive and quite frightening,” Norris added. “If you were exposed as gay, you could lose your job, and you could be put in jail.”

Many LGBTQ people fled Ireland in the 70s and 80s for countries viewed as more accepting—like the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Finnegan left for London in 1985, where he discovered a world of gay bars and drag queens he didn’t know existed; many of these spaces had been forced underground. Walsh stayed in Ireland, where gay people would remain silenced throughout the 80s and often persecuted.

Walsh and his boyfriend were kicked out of a bar in 1981 for holding hands, but there was nothing they could do about it because LGBTQ people were still not protected under Irish law, and the police wouldn’t pursue cases of anti-gay violence or harassment. You would be laughed out of the station.

“It was not a pretty time to be gay or lesbian,” Walsh said. “The endemic homophobia was shocking. I cannot overstate that.”

When Ireland’s first Gay Pride Week was held in 1980, there weren’t enough people to march. Attendees handed out pink carnations and fliers reading, “Gay liberation is your liberation.” With thousands coming out for last year’s Pride event, it’s clear the country has taken that message to heart in the years since.

When homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993, there was an “explosion in gay culture across the island” during a time of rapid economic growth. Once LGBTQ people were allowed to live openly and freely, it not only helped with visibility of the community but also led to the first financial boom in Ireland’s history. Known as the “Celtic Tiger,” gay bars began to operate openly, even popping up in smaller cities outside the major metropolitan areas.

But what’s often lost in this conversation, Walsh explained, is that Irish people had long been supportive of the country’s LGBTQ population. The laws passed by the federal government at the time, however, did not reflect that acceptance.

“Change comes dripping slowly in this country, but people have been ready for a gay prime minister for several years,” Walsh said. “It’s like most societies. The population at large tend to be ahead of their political masters.”

When Ireland first allowed legal recognition for same-sex couples in 2011 with the passage of civil partnership laws, but a poll conducted the same year showed overwhelming support for full marriage equality. Seventy-three percent of respondents told Sunday Times/Red C that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry, while 53 percent were strongly in favor of the idea.

When equality finally went on the ballot in 2015, it passed with a 62 percent majority.

And befitting this recent wave of progress, Varadkar’s win was a similar blowout: He won with 60 percent of the vote.

In Ireland, prime ministers are elected not by the public, but by members of the majority party in the legislature. Varadkar, a member of the center-right Fine Gael, lost the vote among rank and file members. He was heavily favored, though, by party leadership to succeed former Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who announced his retirement earlier this year. Those upper members make up 65 percent of the final tally.

Norris, put through the political ringer just six years ago, was touched by Varadkar’s landslide victory.

“In my generation, we didn’t know there were any other gay people,” Norris said. “That is a universal phenomenon of people of my age group. There were absolutely no role models whatsoever. To have a young, handsome politician who is widely respected by all parties, that’s a great thing. It says to a young person, ‘Yes, you can have a career in politics if you want. You can be successful. You can even be prime minister.’”

After the June 2 vote, Varadkar, however, had a few hurdles to clear before officially being named PM.

Following election from within the party, the Prime Minister’s win must withstand a vote of the full parliament, one scheduled to take place next week. This ratification process is usually a During a Wednesday vote, Varadkar won by a margin of 57 votes to 50 — and with 47 members of parliament abstaining from the vote. He was swiftly sworn at a confirmation ceremony in Dáil, the lower house of the Irish legislature located in Dublin.

In addition to becoming Ireland’s first openly gay PM, Varadkar will also be the youngest. He’s 38, making him also the most junior leader in European Union. France’s Emmanuel Macron is 39.

As much as Varadkar’s victory is a sign that Ireland’s LGBTQ community has broken the political glass ceiling, it was a smaller moment that reminded Norris just how far the country had come. Days before the election, he witnessed a gay couple strolling across O’Connell Bridge, a popular tourist spot in Dublin’s city center, arm in arm. Norris said that he often spent so much time fighting for equality that he didn’t get to enjoy the benefits for himself.

But three decades after gay men were kicked out of public spaces for doing nothing more than holding hands, the fruits of his labor was solace enough.

Is Polyamory the Jealousy Killer?

Jealousy is as toxic an emotion as it is an insidious one. It’s all-consuming, and like any powerful emotion, it doesn’t respond well to logic. When you feel that green-eyed monster rear its ugly head, there are very few things you can do to push it back down…or so it seems.

I used to be that jealous boyfriend. Never the angry and aggressive one, who would shout or blame my partner for doing something to “provoke” my jealousy. That’s not my style. I would just withdraw, question the relationship, and act needy. I hated feeling that way. I hated constantly needing reassurance from my partner.

Then, accidentally, I found myself falling for a married man. He was in a polyamorous relationship with his wife. His wife knew about me and supported our relationship.

At the time I met him, I had recently gotten out of an exhausting relationship and wasn’t looking to date. So I was absolutely not looking to fall in love. But as the saying goes, the heart wants what the heart wants.

The truth is, I only accepted going on a date with him because I figured it couldn’t get serious. At the time he had a wife and girlfriend, that he was living with, and had a boyfriend. The man barely had enough time to breathe, let alone date someone else seriously. Since I wasn’t looking to date, I thought this situation was ideal.

Of course, we hit it off from the first date. Then some of the other people he was dating faded away, and his wife started dating someone else seriously. Before I knew it, I was in a very serious, very committed (though not monogamous) relationship with a married man.

That’s when I had to confront my jealousy head on. He was not only sleeping with other people, he was dating other people, already in loving relationships with other people, and still open to being in MORE loving relationships with other people.

Ironically, being in a polyamorous relationship ameliorated many of my jealousy issues.

I realized a few things about the nature of jealousy, which helped me contain it.

1. It’s not the physical act of sex; it’s that he broke your trust.

It turns out it wasn’t the thought of (or the actual physical act of) him having sex with someone else that made me jealous. It was that he would be breaking his word and breaking my trust. At the end of the day that was my fear. It had nothing to do with the sex itself.

2. It’s okay to be attracted to other guys when in a committed relationship.

Our attractions to other folks don’t go away when we’re in a monogamous relationship. I’ve heard straight guys say, “Yeah, when I met her, I just knew she was the one, because I stopped looking at other girls.” I’m calling shenanigans. Of course you’re still attracted to other people, you’re just not acting on those attractions, and you’re content with what (or rather, whom) you have. But to say you’ve lost all attraction to other people? It’s bullshit. Attractions to others don’t mysteriously disappear because you had a conversation that you’d like to be exclusive. So to expect that your boyfriend will never check out another guy, or get drunk and flirt with another guy, is just absurd. This stuff happens. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you.

3. The worst that can happen really isn’t that bad

When I was dating my previous partner, I thought that if he cheated, it would be the end of the world. I would be heartbroken, devastated, and never be able to trust and love again. The interesting thing with polyamory, though, is that you’re kind of open to this happening. You know that your partner might find someone else he’s more compatible with, and your relationship will change. You might not necessarily break up, but you may de-escalate your relationship, and/or spend a lot less time with him. Or he may actually leave you for this other guy. In polyamory, you’re open to things changing, and you realize that it’s really not the end of the world. What’s going to happen is going to happen, so enjoy the present and the time you have with him. The worst case scenario is never as bad as it seems.

Hopefully this helps. Again, I know how poorly jealousy responds to logic. It takes a lot of discipline and introspection to get over some of the insecurities and struggles that come with jealousy. But hey, if you do get over it, you’ll finally be able to live in the present and really enjoy the time you spend with your man.

The LA #ResistMarch Was the Feel-Good Event We Needed (PHOTOS)

While Los Angeles Pride took a sharp turn this year by turning their annual Pride Parade into a #ResistMarch, one of the country’s largest LGBTQ festivals didn’t turn the party all the way down.

INTO sent celebrated photographer, David Vassalli, to capture the annual festival that wasn’t affected by parade changes that took place at the West Hollywood park where booths, games and concerts took over the holiday weekend.

From shots of RuPaul Drag Race Star Peppermint dancing on the street to Gigi Gorgeous and Brooke Candy hanging backstage, Vassalli’s photos show the true diversity of a celebration that everyone looks forward to each year — even during protests.

Leon Else Won’t Do Anyone But Himself

Joining the ranks of pop stars who write melancholic bangers is rising British-born singer Leon Else, who is not only serving up some synth-heavy, funk-bass laden pop songs but hitting you in the proverbial feels at the same time. His latest track, the anthemic and euphoric “What I Won’t Do,” could soundtrack a night out on the town. But hidden beneath the sheen of synthesizers is an emotional sucker punch of longing, isolation, and a battle for self-acceptance.

Having trained as a dancer at school in London, Else made the move to L.A. to further his career as a singer. During his journey, the 27-year-old has not only figured out where he wants to be musically, but who he is personally. Earlier this year in a public Facebook status, the singer came out as gay and shared how “What I Won’t Do” was “the start of my story of self-acceptance.”

Following the release of the track, and ahead of his upcoming EP, we gave Leon a call to chat about isolation, finding acceptance, and overcoming life’s difficulties.

Grindr: What can you tell us about “What I Won’t Do?”

Leon: I wrote that track probably about a year ago. At the time, I was writing songs with hidden messages. If I hadn’t explained what the song was about, people would’ve thought that it was a typical song about a heterosexual male doing the obvious shit. But, I wasn’t in a place last year to talk about what the true meaning was. For me, being able to write those songs with those hidden meanings actually enabled me to find a way through the shit.

Was there a catalyst that made you feel like it was the right time to put the song out there?

Not really. We could’ve put it out either way. It could have been out there as just a song about a guy that’s sleeping around, but who longs for something more. Or we could have put it out in the way that we did, which actually explained the true meaning behind it. There’s an ambiguousness behind the song. It was at the start of the year when I’d come out. I think that was the moment that I could start telling people what the songs meant.

You came out publiclyon Facebook when you shared “What I Won’t Do.” How have you found the response since then?

The response has been amazing. I think that people connect with real things more than anything else, and I believe that people can see when something’s not real or when something’s not quite right. I’m trying to make it more about having a connection with people, about the truth rather than it being about some made up bullshit to pretend that my life is so fucking wonderful. It’s a slow journey though; it’s a journey about putting a part of myself out there and sharing the experiences and stories that I’ve gone through. It’s just nice to know that people are open to receiving that.

Even before coming out, you spoke openly about internal struggles in songs like “Dance.” Now that you’ve taken a step further, is the music becoming even more honest?

Oh yeah, 100%. With “Dance” and stuff, they’re quite artistic songs, and I feel like people can appreciate them. But I don’t know whether people can truly connect with them as much. I always write songs from a place of truth—with “Dance” I could say I was struggling with depression and anxiety—but I couldn’t necessarily explain the reasons why I was feeling down. I could never turn around and say, “It’s because I’ve basically been running from myself.” Moving forward, I feel like I can definitely be more honest and I can speak more as a person who has a story that can inspire others.

There is a connection between sexual identity and mental health, and it’s important that people share their stories.

Absolutely, and I feel like my upcoming EP is all about self-acceptance. And I think it’s about understanding that the world isn’t an Instagram filter, in a sense. It’s about trying to be honest and accepting of yourself for whoever you are, and I think that my EP is about that journey.

In “The City Don’t Care” and “What I Won’t Do” you touch on the idea of isolation. Is that something you’ve found having spent time in cities such as London and L.A.?

Cities can be incredibly isolating and lonely places, especially if you’re hiding a secret. I didn’t want to connect with people as much because I felt like I was lying to people. I would keep myself protected by keeping myself away, and that’s when I wrote “The City Don’t Care.” Cities can be a nightmare, hostile and isolating, but they can also be amazing. If you’re one of the lucky few that make the dream work, they can be the best places on earth. But there’s a dark side to every city, especially somewhere like Los Angeles, where everyone is striving for perfection: to look and be the best, to be rich.

Now that you’ve come to some acceptance of who you are, do you feel that you still have more to learn?

I’ve got such a long way to go. Some people think that when you come out of the closet the skies turn blue, rainbows are everywhere, and everything is wonderful. And that’s not the truth. You have to constantly keep coming out to people, and you also have to deal with things from your past. The journey doesn’t stop there; you still have to work at that self-acceptance.

If you could impart some wisdom to someone who was struggling to come to a self-realization of acceptance, what would you say?

It’s a tough one because we could all sit there and tell someone what we think they should do. That’s so easy to do. What’s hard to do is to try and put yourself in someone’s shoes and actually understand people’s individual situations. My whole thing would be to say to someone that you’ll know when you’re ready and to not be scared or worried to try and figure it out or ask for help. There are people out there who can help you. Learn to love and figure out yourself first before you start jumping around trying to do anything else. The change has got to come from you.

How Nightlife Is Healing My Queer Wounds

It felt like a movie. The space was taken over by the children, club kids in outfits a commoner might think were lifted from The Hunger Games. The tea is The Hunger Games got their looks from the kids. It was a mix of the club kids hosting the event, the gays who attended, and the unknowing straight hotel visitors who happened upon the party.

And it was a party. This was the debut of “On Top,” thrown by legendary nightlife hostess Susan Bartsch, then in collaboration with nightlife king Kayvon Zand. The venue was The Standard hotel. Not the one in the East Village. The one people care about– the one in Meatpacking. The Standard has the Boom Boom Room, a Great Gatsby meets 2050 kind of space. It has Le Bain, a red lit dance floor with a glamorous disco ball and a hot tub in the middle of the dance floor. It has the Rooftop, featuring 360° views of New York City, the city that never sleeps.

It may have been Tuesday, but the crowd danced like it was a Friday. Nightlife protege Domonique Echeverria was decked out in a gold sequin gown she sewed herself. She jumped in the jacuzzi, still in her gown, her dress falling down exposing her breasts, with a champagne bottle in hand spraying bubbles on partiers in the splash zone. I stood in awe, transfixed by the lights and the music. This was the queer space I had been looking for all my life.

Especially after the Pulse Nightclub shooting.


I couldn’t see the screen through my tears. I just got back from dancing at the now closed Brooklyn gay bar “This N’ That” for Brooklyn Pride. It was 4 am. Still buzzed from the liquor, I checked my Twitter before going to sleep and that’s when I saw it.

Photos and videos of the heinous act of violence began to flood my timeline. The shooter had a semi automatic weapon. It was Latin night at a gay club. Injured individuals ran from the nightclub for safety. Bodies were on the dance floor strewn together in a mass grave.

America’s largest mass shooting targeted black and brown queer and allied bodies.Their names and faces made headline news just hours later. Their stories snuffed too early to ever get the endings they deserved. I cried myself to sleep only to wake up and cry some more.

And it was the proximity of my identities that made the Pulse massacre so real. It made me feel vulnerable. Not only for being both queer and Puerto Rican, which made the faces of those lost feel like familia, but also because of how often I found myself in nightlife spaces.

It was in nightlife that I allowed myself to put on my first dress, wear a pair of heels, paint my face. I found a community that allowed me to find and express myself. These queer nightlife spaces were what I yearned for when I was younger, something I thought only existed in fiction.

I could salsa before I learned to crawl and I could dance merengue before I took my first steps. My hips swished back and forth when I walked barefoot as a child on the island of Puerto Rico. I would dance, sing, and boy, could I give you shows.

After coming out as bisexual, the same swish in my hips was ridiculed. My queerness became something that I had to hide, for my safety. It wasn’t until I moved to New York in my 20s that I was able to fully explore my queerness in both my sexuality and expression.

But even large cities aren’t the queer sanctuaries that many mistake them to be. Just in the last few weeks a lesbian woman was harassed and assaulted on the train in the city I call home. Even more horrific, a trans woman of color was murdered in the same city. These city lights expose that anti-LGBT hate doesn’t just exist in the shadows of middle America.

The days following the Pulse I could barely get out of bed. I was in mourning. Precious lives were lost. The safe space of queer nightlife was desecrated. It was time for Pride but I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate.

I couldn’t bring myself to dance.

Weeks passed but things weren’t the same. Something had changed significantly for me and for my community. Life went on but the reminders of the 49 lost were etched into my mind. Their faces resurrected in memorials around New York City. Their names echoed on lists, not to be forgotten.

The election only made things worse. My depression consumed me, paralyzing my daily life. An administration voted in by individuals who actively worked against queer people took control. Living as a queer person of color post Pulse after this election brought forth some of the hardest times I’ve ever faced.


I assume my position perched on the balcony. My feet already sore since I only wear heels no shorter than six inches, but holding onto the railing provides some relief. It also gives me a bird’s eye view of the crowd raging below. I adjust my corset and sip my drink through a straw so not to ruin my glittered lips.

This is Gotham, a weekly party at Webster Hall thrown by nightlife legend Kayvon Zand, who I met years ago. I host here now, inviting queer people to dress up in glitter or leather, and dance the night away in VIP. I pour drinks for the new children who come out in looks for their first time, wagging my finger and giving an approving “yaasss” to those who truly turn it, and giving reassuring smiles to those too nervous to be in a look, waiting for approval.

It’s in these spaces that I feel at peace now a year later since Pulse happened.

I still have days where it’s hard to get out of bed, yet I’ve found myself going out more than ever. I put my look on like armor. My sink tells the stories of ferocious looks past. I create my looks as a form of therapy. I allow myself to live a fantasy and celebrate the parts of me society wished didn’t exist.

Days I spent in bed now are turned into nights spent on dance floor. I find it rejuvenating to be around queer people uninhibited and joyful. It’s not about the substances, it’s about the community. I find the strength I need to face the day in queer nightlife.

This is what makes it so special to me and so sacred for queer people. It’s a self created space where we find and celebrate each other. It’s why queer people met at Stonewall, it’s why queer folks danced at Pulse that tragic night and it’s why I dance now.

2016 Was The Deadliest Year For LGBTQ People Ever

Last year was the deadliest year for LGBTQ and HIV+ ever recorded around the United States — even when excluding the Pulse Nightclub tragedy that took the lives of 49 mostly queer or Latinx people, according to a report released on Monday.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence, the largest organization tracking the rates of violence and homicides against LGBTQ and HIV+ people, there was a 17% increase in 2016 compared to the previous historic year. This increase also followed the historic trend that most victims identify as transgender and gender non-conforming.

And most striking: their reports found that many of these incidents involved someone the victim knew personally.

“The most common perception of hate violence is that it happens randomly and is perpetrated by strangers in public spaces, but that’s not the full story,” said Aaron Eckhardt at Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization in Ohio. “Our reports show that hate violence for LGBTQ people is a day-to-day reality, perpetrated by people we know and in places where we spend most of our time.”

The NCAVP gathered this data from over 11 states ranging from Arizona to Vermont to Missouri, and over 1,000 reports of violence gathered in partnership form their affiliate organizations. And while the numbers are staggering even when from a fraction of states in the US, they still do not fully encapsulate the full scale of violence nationally.

Hate crime statistics from the FBI help provide a more complete picture of how frequently individuals act on their prejudice. In 2014, the latest year of such statistics available by the federal agency 1,248 individuals were targeted in the US because of their sexual orientation – 18.6% of all hate crime victims.

Reviewing these numbers, advocates and leaders told INTO that these astronomical numbers, especially in a time with much political and social turmoil, should inspire all of us to be more diligent in ensuring that we continue to work to make the world more safe for LGBTQ and HIV+ people.

“The rise in violence this year is very troubling, and should serve as a catalyst to rally our community together and demand stricter laws and greater accountability for those who wish to harm us,” Joel Simkhai, CEO of Grindr, told INTO.

“We need to do more, and we can,” he continued.

Over the weekend, over 100,000 people marched across the United States in cities like Los Angeles and Washington D.C. — transforming annual Pride Parades into political actions to raise awareness of the lived experiences of LGBTQ people around the world.

With numbers like these only highlighting that equality for many in the community is still a fight to be won, and their marches are not in vain.

How The Pulse Nightclub Shooting Forced The World To Finally See Us As Human

By now we all know what happened.

One year ago today, 49 people were murdered in the most deadly mass shooting in U.S. history. They were people of all genders. They were mostly Black and Latinx. They were all targeted because they were at a club catering to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied people.

And with 49 dead and more than 50 wounded, I can’t help but think about how this tragedy helped our society at-large to begin to see people like me as human. Especially in tragedy.

As is usual in the throes of a mass medical emergency, Central Floridians were called upon to donate blood, and the world began to grapple with it all. And in this case, many of those who were closest to the tragedy were members of the region’s LGBTQ community and, of course, immediately wanted to give blood, which was vital for the surviving victims.

But due to federal laws, many of those wanting to help were blocked from doing so— even if they were family— due to being LGBTQ.

The lifetime blood donation ban for gay and bi men, and often in practice trans women as well, was announced by the FDA in 1983 in the early years of the AIDS crisis. Two years ago, long after the science around the question had evolved, the lifetime ban was altered, becoming a twelve-month ban starting from a person’s most recent sexual activity with another man. Of course, for many of us that is effectively no different.

But the dialogue around the blood of queer men has also evolved, even just since 2016 — and Pulse was a factor in this change. Following the massacre, a whole new wave of pressure poured into the FDA from LGBTQ people and our allies all over the country. And the very next month, the FDA initiated a process many hope will result in a complete overhaul of the policy. The first step is an open open call to the research community for relevant evidence on what reforms might look like.

A few months before, a surgeon at Johns Hopkins University did the first HIV-positive-to-HIV-positive organ transplant in the United States. The year after the blood ban was instituted, the government and UNOS, the United Network for Organ Sharing, promulgated a similar policy that the organs of HIV-positive people were unfit for transplantation. Since then, South Africa began HIV-positive-to-HIV-positive transplants in 2008, but in the U.S. we continued throwing away life-saving organs for another eight years.

But I’m encouraged that it’s happening now and I’m encouraged by all of the activism that has come out of the tragedy.

I’m hesitant to suggest that our grief must do something in order to be meaningful – grief is a long and winding process, and it can take as many forms as there are people. But I do want to suggest that some of the deepest healing we can do takes place in community, particularly when we do come together and transform our grief by working to transform the world.

My fondest hope is that those who have been spurred to action by this and other tragedies in our community pay attention to the details of the story though.

What can ultimately make activism the most transformative is when those who are most impacted are able to take their place at the helm. In this case, we must continue listening to queer people of color just like our Black and Latinx siblings we lost that night, as well as the queer Muslims who may have suffered increased prejudice in its wake.

And we can begin by having more conversations with our policy makers about better ways to change anti-LGBTQ policieslike the continual ban on blood from gay and queer men.

If we want to change medical policies, gun policies, and the rest of the world to better take into account the LGBTQ experience, these are the experiences to lead with, because a world that is safer for queer people of color is a world that is safer for everyone.

If Pulse taught us one thing, it’s that we are resilient and through all bad things we will and can come out stronger than ever before.

5 Obvious Signs He’s Using You for Sex

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with wanting casual sex. But sometimes, you want something a little bit more, especially when you can actually see yourself falling for the guy.

The thing is, you don’t want to come off too strong. I’ve had guys ask, “So, what are we?” after the second time we’ve had sex. At which point I’m like, “I have absolutely no idea. I literally know nothing about you besides the fact that you look fabulous naked.” Mind you, these were guys I met in bars or online, and there was very little communication before having sex. These weren’t guys I went on actual dates with and got to know prior to getting down to business.

Now, as someone who (in a past life) used men for sex (more often than I care to admit), let me share what the telltale signs are that he’s not looking to have a more serious relationship with you.

1. He’s not befriending you on any social media.

This is a big sign he’s not interested in you for anything more than sex. If you’ve hooked up a few times, and he hasn’t accepted your friend request on Facebook or Instagram, that means he’s not looking for something serious. He wants to keep you at arm’s length and is attempting to do so by not connecting with you on social.

2. He’s not sending any “How was your day?” texts.

When you like someone (for more than their body), you want to hear about their day. You want to actually talk to them. So, if he’s not messaging you during the day, asking those silly conversational questions, then he’s not that interested in getting to know you. If you’re only getting the “You up?” text at 1 AM, then obviously he sees you as more of a booty call than as something serious.

3. You don’t go out together.

If your activities are limited to the bedroom, and he never wants to go out to a bar, movie, or restaurant with you, then odds are he doesn’t see you as more than a blow-up sex doll. If he were interested in you for more than sex, he would set up (or at least agree to) a night on the town together, where you would spend more time chatting as opposed to bumping uglies.

4. He doesn’t introduce you to his friends.

I would never introduce a guy to friends if I only saw him as a casual hook-up. Meeting the friends is a signal that this is a more serious relationship. So if he keeps saying, “Yeah, one of these days you’ll meet my friends,” but doesn’t make an actual effort to set up a get-together, then you know he’s not looking for anything more than sex. When you like a guy, you want to introduce them to your friends, because you want to hear their feedback. You want your friends to say, “Oh my God, I looooveeeee him.”

5. He only likes positions where you don’t look face-to-face.

Don’t get me wrong, positions like doggy style are great. However, these types of positions are definitely less intimate than positions where you actually have to look into each other’s eyes. If the guy sees you as something casual and wants to keep you as something casual, he’s not going to willingly engage in positions where you are forced to look each other directly in the eyes for extended periods of times.

If you find yourself in the situation of wanting something more (when it’s unclear if he does), first make an effort to see if he’s open to going out, meeting your friends, and trying more intimate sexual positions. Who knows? Maybe he’s just afraid to kick your relationship up a notch or doesn’t think that you have any desire to. If you see him actively pushing back against your attempts to take your relationship to the next level, then I’d recommend having a conversation with him, moving on, or at the very least, changing your expectations so that they are more in line with his.

10 Queer Film Theory Books So You Don’t Look Basic

Queer film is a discourse both in personal stories and the larger conversation about sexuality and identity. The foundation of these works is in the work of feminist and queer theorists. Here is a collection of some of the seminal books, which have set the groundwork of what we have come to understand as modern queer film theory.

1. The Celluloid Closet (1981), Vito Russo

The Celluloid Closet was the magnum opus of Vito Russo, a queer historian whose analysis of the representation of queerness in popular cinema was the basis of the hugely influential film of the same name.

2. Hard Core (1999), Linda Williams

Linda Williams’s book is a treatise on what hardcore porn actually is. In her dissection of the pornographic form, especially as it relates to portraits of gender in cinema, she began to read pornography and draw on it for a deeper discussion about sexuality and identity.

3. Underground Film (1995), Parker Tyler

Tyler digs into what it means for a film to be considered “underground.” So much of queer cinema is considered non-mainstream and underground. The book is exquisitely written and considered one of the greatest pieces of film criticism.

4. Our Kind Of Movie (2012), Douglas Crimp

Crimps examination of Warhol’s films, Blow Job, No 2, and Screen Test were ingenious in their ability to bring a larger audience to Warhol’s incredibly queer experiments. Crimp decidedly places Warhol’s film-work in the larger discussion about gay cinema and its purpose.

5. Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism (2000) by Rosemary Hennessy

Hennessy throws a wide net and clearly draws a line between individuals and how they interact with larger socioeconomic forces. She adeptly looks to film and how it helps determine a larger discussion about sexuality.

6. Gender Trouble (1990), Judith Butler

Judith Butler is one of the greats of feminist and identity literature. This 1990 original edition is one of the foremost works on feminism and queer theory. She is considered one of the founders of gay studies. Every queer college kid in the 90’s had this book by their bedside.

7. The Reification of Desire (2009), Kevin Floyd

Floyd’s work was unusual at the time of the publication of the Reification of Desire; he was a queer Marxist. He was one of the first to take a systemic look at how queer identities were formed in relation to Marxist ideas. It’s a fascinating approach to queer theory.

8. Disidentification (1999), Jose Esteban Muñoz

Munoz seminal work was one of the strongest books about queerness and race. Prior to its publishing, much of what was spoken about in the gay culture was only about white culture and did not take into account the effects of race on the larger discourse. Disidentification also examines performance and how it has worked within this rubric.

9. Epistemology of the Closet (2008), Eve Sedgwick

The 00s were great for queer theory. Eve Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet was one of the strongest proponents of a non-binary approach to sexuality. She argued that having to choose between one or the other was based on unrealistic systems. Butler delves heavily into the power of language to help define sexuality.

10. The History of Sexuality (1976), Michel Foucault

Finally the granddaddy of queer theory, Michel Foucault. The History of Sexuality is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand gay studies. Foucault’s basic thesis is that the commonly understood history of sexuality in modern times is wrong and a mere construct of capitalism and science. It’s incredibly riveting reading if you can make it through the three volumes.