Bummed About the ‘BPM’ Oscar Snub? This Might Make You Feel Better

BPM was met with rave reviews upon release, with A. O. Scott of The New York Times applauding “the brisk naturalism of the performances” and John Sherman writing for BuzzFeed that the French film contains “the best gay sex scenes you’ll see all year.”

But apparently, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences disagreed! BPM, a.k.a. 120 battements par minute, failed to pick up an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film, a decision that some have characterized as a “shocking omission.”

Well, fans of BPM will be pleased to hear that director Robin Campillo’s film about Parisian ACT UP activists in the early ‘90s will be getting its awards season love elsewhere.

Deadline reports that BPM just received a metric butt load of nominations for this year’s César Awards, the French equivalent of the Oscars if you wanna be reductive (I always do). It’s nominated in 13 different categories, as is Albert Dupontel’s Au Revoir Là-Haut, making them the two most nominated films of the year.

BPM’s full slate of nominations is pretty impressive. We’ve got Best Film, Best Director, most of the acting categories, Best Editing, Best Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Costumes, Best Sound, Best Original Score, Best Original Screenplay, Best Well, basically everything except for Best Foreign Film. :]

Dumbledore Will Not Be Having Gay Sex in ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Sequel

More like “wingardium levi-no-sir!”

Though it’s basically been canon for over a decade that Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore is, in fact, gay, it turns out the character will not be explicitly queer in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts sequel, Entertainment Weekly reports.

Though the sequel is set to star Johnny Depp as wizard Gellert Grindelwald, with whom Dumbledore was very much in love, the sequel’s director David Yates says the wizard’s sexuality is not a part of the sequel.

“Not explicitly,” Yates replied said when asked if Dumbledore will be queer in the film. “But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology and each other.”

Yates described Dumbledore as “a maverick and a rebel” and an “inspiring teacher.”

“He’s not this elder statesman,” Yates said. “He’s a really kinetic guy. And opposite Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, they make an incredible pairing.”

Rowling has said that Dumbledore’s sexuality will be made explicit at some point in the five-part series.

“You will see Dumbledore as a younger man and quite a troubled man he wasn’t always the sageWe’ll see him at that formative period of his life. As far as his sexuality is concerned watch this space,” Rowling said.

Images via Getty.

‘Call Me By Your Name’ Is Missing the Queer Culture of The 1980s

“The ’50s weren’t really like that,” my mother used to say when I was a kid watching Happy Days. She insisted the show had denuded the 1950s of everything that defined it. In a South Boston diner when she and her friend played Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill” on the jukebox, the older adults looked at them with contempt, as if they had come in arm-in-arm with Domino himself.

I was a queer teen in London in summer 1983, the time in which Call Me by Your Name takes place. Like the protagonist, Elio (played by Timothée Chalamet) I lived in a grand house–the last I heard Sting had bought the place next door. The people I lived with, like the family in the film, came from money and also like the characters, I went on frequent swims nearby–my spot was the women’s pond at Hampstead Heath, the first place I had ever gone swimming where women went topless.

But nothing about Call Me by Your Name (except for some brief moments of internalized homophobia) resonated with what I remembered, and not because the love story is about two men. What the film leaves out is the queer art, queer artists, and queer signifiers that were a huge part of the culture for young people, especially queer, young people, in 1983.

Armie Hammer’s character, Oliver, does name check The Psychedelic Furs’ Richard Butler (and in a much-memed clip dances to “Love My Way”), but nothing about Oliver’s dull, conventionally masculine, somewhat preppy non-style is like Butler’s, a straight guy who wore eyeliner and elaborate “big hair.” Butler wasn’t the only one: straight women like Grace Jones and The Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox performed in drag and had super short “androgynous” haircuts. In 1983, queer influence, though barely perceptible in most TV shows, ruled MTV

But even as Culture Club had number one hit singles, their singer, Boy George, wearing makeup that made his face look like a Patrick Nagel illustration, wasn’t out to the general public. He and the drummer later revealed they had been a couple during the band’s heydayand some of their most popular songs had been about their relationship.

In the film Pride, based on a true story, a London-based queer group in 1984 organizes a fundraiser for striking coal miners called “Pits and Perverts” (which should have been the name of the film) and goes to the offices of a big record label to ask if any of the talent can perform. The label tells the group they don’t have any gay artists, as giant photos of Elton John and Soft Cell’s Marc Almond loom over the lobby. Just a few years before, Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” had been a huge hit, and Almond appeared in the video (which was in heavy rotation) with kohl-rimmed eyes and a short, white tunic like a kicky miniskirt; his pale, skinny body and floppy, top-heavy dark hair have a passing resemblance to Elio’s. But Almond wasn’t out to his fans as queer, even as many LGBTQ people first experienced queerdar when they saw him.

The novel, from which the film is based, written by a straight man, André Aciman, also pays no attention to the burgeoning queer culture of the time. Even though Aciman has Elio and Oliver visit bookstores, A Boy’s Own Story, the groundbreaking, semi-autobiographical gay novel by Edmund White (and an international bestseller in 1983) doesn’t make an appearance.

Oliver and Elio first connect in the film dancing, separately, to the same Psychedelic Furs’ song and later when they are in Rome, Oliver dances to the song in the street with a young woman in post-punk clothes as Elio watches. But in neither the film nor the book do the two men go to a Roman gay bar where they could dance together, though they might have rolled their eyes at the music there. If Elio and Oliver, in search of music more to their liking, had gone to a post-punk show in Rome, they probably would have seen other queer couples, too. LGBTQ people were always in the crowd when I went to those shows in London.

Elio studies classical music and Oliver studies Ancient Greek philosophy and Hellenistic art, but in both the book and the film neither character seems to consciously notice how many queer men make up the canon of each discipline. What the book and the film both miss is the instinct of queer people to seek out, in art and in person, other queer people.

But the book and movie do include a scene in which Elio makes fun of an older gay couple in matching outfits to prove to himself he’s not like them (later in the ’80s, a girlfriend and I, in what was not our finest moment, made fun of a woman couple in matching outfits, too). As in many films and on TV queer people never have queer friends, just unrealistically supportive, straight (or in the case of Mr. Perlman, Elio’s father, as the book makes clear, mostly straight) friends and family.

Straight filmmakers naturally cast a rosy light on straight characters. But gay men made Call Me By Your Name (though the actors who play the main couple are, pointedly, straight). Director Luca Gudagnino was a child in 1983, but screenwriter James Ivory (one of the oldest Oscar nominees this year, less than a week and a half younger than Agnes Varda, the co-director of Best Documentary nominee Faces Places) was a 50-something director, in the middle of a 40-year professional and romantic partnership with Ismail Merchant (though the two were always described as business partners) with his most acclaimed work yet to come. He was old enough to have seen queer culture go through several iterations before 1983, and saw the backlash afterward, when Section 28 was passed in Britain and anti-sodomy laws (used exclusively to arrest and prosecute queer men) upheld by the US Supreme Court.

But these and other homophobic measures were like dams trying to keep out the ocean, as queer culture continued to flourish and the outrage over the AIDS crisis led to a resurgence of queer activism that toppled the backlash, well worth remembering as we see that tide perhaps recede.

Apparently, some of that’s being saved for the sequel.

Helen Terry and Boy George photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images; London Pride ’83 photo by Photofusion/UIG via Getty Images

Stargazing in a National Park After the Government Shutdown

For three days last week during the government shutdown, Joshua Tree National Park was semi-closed. Or, semi-open, all depending on whether you’re more glass-half-full or empty kind kind of cat. Either way, it was more enter at your own risk and don’t expect much help or common commodities “open.”

During the shutdown, national parks across the country were largely unsupervised by rangers increasing potential for vandalism and accidents while basic services like garbage collection and restroom management were delayed until reopening. And to many visitors’ dismay, some visitor centers, like Joshua Tree’s, was closed from Saturday the 20th to Monday the 22nd, neglecting first time visitors educational information and suggested itineraries.

While this is not the first time a government shutdown has affected national parks (most recently in 2013 and in 1995-96) it was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to investigate what a closure and its aftermath look like in a park.

And so, I hurled across the Los Angeles basin with my cousin Haley, past the mighty San Jacinto and the Sand to Snow National Monument, before threading the passes of the Twentynine Palms highway to the West entrance of the park where, a day after “reopening”, park rangers handed us information but were unable to process credit cards for the $25 entrance fee. This would be the last time we came across a ranger until passing through the same gate on our way out, 24-hours later.

We rode the curves of Park Boulevard through the dribble-drop landscape of granite rock piles and joshua trees in search of a campsite (as they go quickly in Joshua Tree! Always arrive early.) The famous trees that speckle the park’s terrain were named by the first mormons settling in the region after for the biblical Joshua, who enthusiastically held his hands up to the sky for God.

The park of course borrows its name from the trees, which actually aren’t trees at all, but giant yuccas, scientifically yucca brevifolia. A nerdier readership may like to know that the yuccas are evergreen, arborescent monocots that bloom white flowers in panicles while more unassuming readers will find pleasure in the yucca’s whimsical and wild Dr. Seussical appearance as the shaggy plants twist, snarl, and gnarl from the gruss of the high Mojave.

Miles in on our drive, the park showed us its enormous valley surrounded by bare and dry mountains. The massive expanse of joshua trees and carpets of brittle brush marry the feel of a Namibian savanna in the dry season with an unforgiving, martian terrain. But don’t be confused earthling, though the giant yuccas may wring like the acacias of Africa from afar, this region is classically desert.

And because it is desert, temperatures are mercurial. Summer days soar and winter nights dive, sometimes layering the higher altitudes of the Mojave (and all of its sand, cactus, yucca spears, and chuckwallas) in a thin sheet of snow.

But the park’s namesake “trees” are not the only reason to visit the famous park for there are rock piles that desert bighorn sheep scurry across and boulders that rock climbers send like spider people. There are wind battered 5,000+ foot rounded peaks that intermediate hikers summit allowing them to view the eternal smooch of two great desertsthe Mojave and the lower lying Coloradoconverging in a split-lipped canoodle as they brush their scruffy cholla faces against one another.

But most indelible are the colors the two deserts’ unity paints come nightfall and daybreak: cantaloupe, atomic tangerine, blood orange, rose flush, Tiffany box blue, followed by a most mellow periwinkle. And then of course, the quick absence of those colors when darkness gives visitors of the park a nightlong performance of constellations, milky ways, comets, planets, moons, and shooting stars.

After having little luck looking for a campsite in the notoriously full Hidden Valley Campground, my cousin and I set up our tent at the nearly full Jumbo Rock Campground at a site that had the clearest view of the sky i.e. completely unobstructed by rocks (jumbo or otherwise) for the upcoming celestial performance. With a clear forecast ahead, we omitted our tent fly so we could doze off as we gazed.

But with darkness hours away, we went for a hike to boulder hop for a sunset vista. Up we went, scurried like the desert sheep up the largest dribble drop castle of granite to an unnamed flat top with views of snow capped Old Greyback and San Jacinto, the San Bernadinos, the Hexies, and the cute little Pintos. Far, far off in the periwinkles of the sunset were the beginnings of the elusive, sand-duned, and wondrous Mojave Trails National Monument.

Yes, from up high, the park before us, the sun setting, we had forgotten about the park’s closure days before. The landscape remained the same, it was only on the trails, roads, campsites, and entrances’ that the park felt slightly delayed by productivity. For instance, after scrambling our way down to our campsite in the last slithers of daylight, we came to our campsite to notice our $15 dollar campsite payment had still yet to be collected by rangers (and wouldn’t be all evening or morning when we set off for another hike.) After talking with a ranger on our way out the next day, we learned that during the shut downwith no park rangers managing the gateway admission was completely free, as well as camping.

Park rangers were not able to give an official statistic of lost fees during the three days of the shutdown, but it seems the park lost thousands of important dollars due to government incompetence. And remember, this is just one national park.

This is a revelation from an administration that plans to hike prices to popular national parks (like Joshua Tree) to $70, a move that has been largely criticized for excluding lower socio-economic classes who already make up a small percentage of visitors as is.

But, enough about the administration and Interior Department’s incapability of managing, appreciating, and guarding our wonderful interiors, and more about the stars on that clear, chilly desert evening that smelled like spiny hopsage and freckled milkvetch.

After cooking dinner with our bright headlamps, we retreated to our tent where our orange, fluffy sleeping bags waited patiently to warm us as the temperature continued to drop to freezing. Stretching above us, the northern hemisphere constellations of winter, unobstructed by city lights.

There was Orion, the hunter looking as ruggedly handsome as ever. Sporting his overworn belt and above him, Cassiopeia everyone’s favorite seated queen who won’t stand to kiss the hand of royalty and glares demeaningly at vain Leo mane from a distance. And nearby, Ursa Major, the great bear, strong and thick and fierce- scoured the night sky for berries and Pisces.

What would stargazing be without shooting ones? Charmed, we were as a few blinked across the sky in our hour of watching and talking as we neared serious sleeping bag snugs. Together, we counted a handful. What we wished for of course was competent leadership, but also, to forever recollect the hues of that aforementioned dusk: periwinkle and rose blush becoming the twinkle of desert hush.

With growing worry of automobile traffic and population influx, socialite, desert plant lover, activist, and comprehensive bad-ass Minerva Hoyt convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt to declare 825,000 acres of southern California desertland a national monument. The monument was promoted to Joshua Tree National Park status in 1994 under the Desert Protections Act. The park’s greatest threats include a growing number of visitors (doubling to three million per year since 2014), climate change, and off-roading/vandalism. When visiting, use leave no trace principles, bring plenty of water, and be prepared to peacefully share the park with many other visitors.

Images by Miles Griffis.

This Texas Lesbian Could Be the First Out Woman of Color to Serve in Congress

“They love me!”

Gina Ortiz Jones isn’t shy when discussing her potentially historic bid for the U.S. House of Representatives. She says she’s been embraced as a “breath of fresh air” in Texas’ 23rd district, which is well overdue for change: If she wins in November, Jones would be the first woman in her state elected to a full term in Congress in 21 years. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, tapped in 2006 following Tom Delay’s retirement, was in office for less than two months.

A first-generation Filipina immigrant, she would also be the first openly LGBTQ person ever to represent her state in the national legislatureas well as the only out woman of color in Congress’ history. Texas Rep. Barbara Jordan, who served from 1973 to 1979, was closeted during her term.

“I’d be honored to be Texas’ first out member of Congress, but it’s more important that I’m not the last,” she tells INTO in a phone conversation.

The former Air Force intelligence officer is in a good position to shatter the state’s glass ceiling. A historic number of LGBTQ candidates have already announced their intention to run for office in the 2018 general election. To date, 49 queer and trans people have thrown their hat in the ring in Texas. Former Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez and gay bar owner Jeffrey Payne will vie for governor against incumbent Republican Greg Abbott.

Jones understands the importance of being heard: She served in the Iraq War under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” in which queer members of the military risked being discharged if they opened up about their sexual orientation.

The 36-year-old first enrolled in an ROTC program at John Jay High School in her hometown of San Antonio. Her military training earned her a full scholarship to Boston University, a rarity in a high school she describes as the kind of place “where you start with 900 students and only 500 graduate.”

But the opportunity of a lifetime came with costs: Even as a cadet, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy still applied to her.

“There are some parallels to what I think unfortunately too many students who are DACA recipients are probably living through right now,” says Jones, pointing to the potential deportation of more than 800,000 DREAMers by the Trump administration. “I earned something, I worked hard for it, but I did live in fear every day that it would be ripped away from me if they found out I was gay.”

It was the current occupant of the White House who actually inspired her recent career pivot: Jones has lived through some of the challenges so many communities are facing under Trump’s presidency, she says.

After serving for 12 years in active duty, Jones worked for the U.S. Trade Representative offices under President Obama and stayed on following Trump’s January 2017 inauguration. There are two kinds of civil servants, she says. There are the people who move on after the president’s departure and lifers (i.e., those who stay on out of loyalty to their country).

Despite being the antithesis of everything Donald Trump on which has mounted his political career, Jones elected to work for him.

Her decision was short-lived. Jones spoke with INTO just days after the president reportedly referred to immigrants from Haiti and unspecified African nations as hailing from “shithole countries” during a meeting with Senators. She claimed this statement is emblematic of the administration’s “binary thinking” on issues of national security: Either you’re with us, or you’re against us; you’re either us or them.

“Personally and professionally it just became too hard for me to be part of this administration, knowing the ways in which my communities would suffer and knowing the community I grew up in, how it would suffer as well,” Jones claims.

“That’s why I decided to run,” she adds.

Jones is one of a handful of Democrats to announce in the 23rd district, which encompasses the vast stretch of Texas from San Antonio to El Paso. The other hopefuls include Judy Canales, who served in the U.S. Department of Agriculture under Presidents Clinton and Obama; Jay Hulings, a former federal prosecutor; and Rick Treviño, a local high school teacher.

The candidates are set to face off in the March 6 primary, and the winner will challenge Rep. Will Hurd in the general election.

Although Texas is viewed as a deeply conservative state, insiders believe Hurd is particularly vulnerable to a Democratic upset. The 23rd district has one of the most heavily Latino populations in the U.S., who account for 52.4 percent of eligible voters. During the 2016 election, southwest Texas largely voted for former Secretary of State Hillary Clintona blue island in a sea of red.

Hurd has won two straight elections: He prevailed by just 3,000 votes in 2016despite fundraising nearly twice as much as his opponent.

Jones trails the conservative in overall contributions by a more than 8-to-1 margin at the time of writing, but a couple of key endorsements could help her gain ground. Among others, she has the backing of the Victory Fund, a political action committee (PAC) which helps to elect LGBTQ candidates; the Congressional Progressive Caucus; and Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father whose son was killed in Iraq.

But the most crucial endorsement may be receiving the support of Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton’s Serve America PAC, which is intended to aid veterans campaigning for Congress.

In that respect, Jones believes that she has a competitive advantage over Hurd, whom she criticized during the interview for voting against hormones and transition-related care for transgender members of the military. Veterans “actually do better than Republicans” in purple districts like Texas’ 23rd, she claims.

“Veterans already have a record of public service,” Jones explains. “I think people are hungry for someone that gets it, knows how to get things done, and is going to have the moral courage to speak up when things are wrong.”

A major test of that courage for Texas voters is likely to be recent criticism over a tax break she reportedly received for a condominium in the District of Columbia. Although Texas’ election guidelines require candidates to reside in the state, the San Antonio Express-News claims the benefit is solely “available to owners who live on their properties and consider them their principal residences.”

Jones referred to it as an “oversight” in a Jan. 27 report and claimed it would be quickly resolved.

But the Express-News says criticism over the exemption has spelled trouble for other political campaigns: An unnamed Michigan Democrat lost in the 2017 election cycle due to a controversy over his D.C. home, while a Congressional hopeful in Florida had been forced to drop out of his race for similar issues three years earlier.

Jones, though, tells INTO she has routinely demonstrated her dedication, leadership, and perseverance and believes that’s what voters will respond to on election day.

This November marked the 40th anniversary of when her mother emigrated from the Philippines, hoping to share the American Dream with her two daughters. Jones’ mother, who was a single parent, raised her children to respect the importance of that sacrifice, as well as the promise of what their new home represented. Both of her children would subsequently end up serving in the armed forces; her sister still serves in the Navy.

“You better believe she reminded us every single day that our trajectory in life was due in no small part to being born in this country,” Jones says.

“It’s never been about party,” she adds. “It’s always been about progress: What’s the problem we’re trying to solve? How can we get there? Who can I work with to help get there? That’s always been how I approach things.”

Images via Gina Ortiz Jones for Congress

‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story’ Episode 3 Recap: Judith Light Takes Center Stage

As the third episode of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story opens, we see neither Gianni Versace nor Andrew Cunanan. Instead, writer Tom Rob Smith and director Gwyneth Horder-Payton introduce us to Marilyn Miglin. Miglin is a home-shopping icon and the head of a beauty product empire worthy of a TV show in her own right. Considering the legendary Judith Light is playing her, you might expect Ryan Murphy and co. have suddenly decided to add another star to the mix.

But as much as Marilyn dominates the narrative this week, this is still not her story. We’re still in Cunanan’s; Lee Miglin, Marilyn’s husband (played by Mike Farrell), was his third victim. In flashes back-and-forth, we see both how he died, and how Marilyn handles the immediate aftermath of his murder.

When Marilyn has to go out of town for work, she asks an innocuous question of her husband: “What are your plans for when I’m away?” His struggle to answer his reach for any possible thread of what he’s doing depresses him mightily. “I’m going to work, like I always do,” he says, sitting, dejected, on their stairs. She asks if he wants to come with her: “I like it when you’re there.”

This takes Lee aback. “You do?” he asks. As depicted by Light and Farrell, the Miglin’s relationship is one of mixed signals and unspoken secrets. There’s clearly love there, but that’s only half the battle.

See, Lee’s real plans for when Marilyn is away are to meet up with a younger man he knows: Andrew Cunanan. There’s great hesitance within Lee for this meeting. As he goes to let Cunanan in, he freezes in front of his mirror and adjusts his sweater. He then lets out a deep sigh as he can’t quite get it right. The clothes are right; the fit is uncomfortable. Lee is a misfit in his own life, and meeting with Cunanan is his chance to try and find a better fit.

The Cunanan we see here is more aloof than prior. With Versace, he was trying to be the best version of himself. With Lee, he’s sloppy and distracted. This is, we know from history, the Cunanan who has recently killed two men. He can’t even muster the energy to pretend to care about his newest victim.

Unlike most of the episodes of The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Darren Criss’ Cunanan has relatively minimal screen time. Light takes center stage, particularly during the time after her husband’s death.

In fact, Marilyn wants Cunanan dropped from Lee’s history. She’s wounded to learn of her husband’s relationship with an escort, but her interest is in preserving his memory, not damning him in death. She wants there to have been nothing intimate between Lee and Cunanan, no connection. “We’ve never heard of him,” she insists icily. “It was a robbery, and a random killing.” It’s what she needs not just as someone who cares about how things look, but as a widow who wants her relationship with her husband preserved as she remembers it.

In a powerhouse scene, Marilyn applies her makeup while monologuing about her husband’s murder. “I know what they’re saying about me,” she says, applying her face with an unsteady hand. “Why hasn’t she cried? Where’s the grief, the emotion? She couldn’t have loved him. How could a woman who cares so much about appearance appear not to care? How dare they say our marriage was a sham? Lee and I shared our whole lives. We shared all kinds of adventures. We rode in hot air balloons. When I was lost in the desert, he rescued me. How many couples can say they have that kind of romance? I loved him. I loved him very much.”

She says those last lines through heaving sobs as Light allows Marilyn’s grief to overcome her. “There, is that better?” she spits. “Am I a real wife now?”

Marilyn’s plight is a sympathetic one. She knew her husband as one man; his death is revealing him to be another man entirely. Trying to make those ideas compatible is harder than merely erasing the parts of Lee that trouble her. Unfortunately, this reaction is rooted in internalized homophobia, both within Marilyn and the community at large. Her fear is not just that her husband was hiding secrets; it’s that the secrets would ruin his reputation ruin the idea of their marriage. And so, she chooses to hide Cunanan’s motive.

Ultimately, it’s this lingering homophobia that keeps the real motive behind Lee’s death a secret a recurring thread through this season of American Crime Story. We often think of homophobia as personally restrictive, a threat that keeps gay people in the closet and terrified of bullying, discrimination, and even assault. But homophobia is also structurally restrictive: For Marilyn to be secretive about her husband’s sexuality means one piece of the Cunanan puzzle was left out. The same goes for how the police wouldn’t canvas the gayest parts of Miami for Cunanan in the previous episode: Hate stands in the way of justice.

Personal and structural homophobia come together in next week’s episode, “House by the Lake.” Personally, it’s my favorite episode of anything that Ryan Murphy has ever done; think “Looking for the Future,” but so, so much darker.

The fourth episode of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story will air Wednesday, February 7, at 10 p.m. on FX.

LGBTQ Entertainment Critics’ Dorian Awards Have A Way Better Winners List Than Other Award Shows

LGBTQ people have always been cultural tastemakers, and so it’s no surprise that GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics‘ Best of 2017 list (aka the Dorian Awards) is more spot on than most other award shows. More than 200 gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally entertainment journalists in the U.S., Canada and U.K. were called to nominate and then vote upon finalists from their favorite TV and film performances of the year. Today, the winners were announced, and on Saturday, February 24th, they will be celebrated with a Winner’s Toast in Beverly Hills.

Some film highlights include Call Me By Your Name winning Film of the Year, Greta Gerwig taking home Director of the Year for Lady Bird, and Jordan Peele’s Get Out nabbing Screenplay of the Year.

In television, Kate McKinnon’s Kellyanne Conway impersonation is now officially award-winning (TV Musical Performance of the Year) and Big Little Liescan celebrate bothTV Drama of the Year andTV Performance Of the Year – Actress (Nicole Kidman).

And none for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, bye.

BPM (Beats Per Minute) – The Orchard
Call Me By Your Name – Sony Pictures Classics (WINNER)
Get Out – Universal
Lady Bird – A24
The Shape of Water – Fox Searchlight

Sean Baker, The Florida Project – A24
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water – Fox Searchlight
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird – A24 (WINNER)
Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name – Sony Pictures Classics
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk – Warner Bros.
Jordan Peele, Get Out – Universal

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water – Fox Searchlight (WINNER)
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Fox Searchlight
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya – Neon
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird – A24
Daniela Vega, A Fantastic Woman – Sony Pictures Classics

Nahuel Perez Biscayart, BPM (Beats Per Minute) The Orchard
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name – Sony Pictures Classics (WINNER)
James Franco, The Disaster Artist – A24
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out – Universal
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour – Focus Features

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound – Netflix
Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip – Universal
Allison Janney, I, Tonya – Neon
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird – A24 (WINNER)
Michelle Pfeiffer, mother! – Paramount

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project – A24
Armie Hammer, Call Me By Your Name – Sony Pictures Classics
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water – Fox Searchlight
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Fox Searchlight
Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name – Sony Pictures Classics (WINNER)

BPM (Beats Per Minute) The Orchard
Battle of the Sexes – Fox Searchlight
Call Me By Your Name – Sony Pictures Classics (WINNER)
A Fantastic Woman – Sony Pictures Classics
God’s Own Country – Samuel Goldwyn Films

BPM (Beats Per Minute) The Orchard (WINNER)

A Fantastic Woman – Sony Pictures Classics
First They Killed My Father – Netflix
The Square – Magnolia Pictures
Thelma – The Orchard

James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name – Sony Pictures Classics
Jordan Peele, Get Out – Universal (WINNER)
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird – A24
Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water – Fox Searchlight
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Fox Searchlight

(theatrical release, TV airing or DVD release)
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story – Zeitgeist/Kino Lorber
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson – Netflix
Faces Places – Cohen Media Group (WINNER)
Jane ­– National Geographic/Abramorama
Kedi – Oscilloscope

(honoring a production of stunning beauty, from art direction to cinematography)
Blade Runner 2049 – Warner Bros.
Call Me By Your Name – Sony Pictures Classics
Dunkirk – Warner Bros.
The Shape of Water – Fox Searchlight (WINNER)
Wonderstruck – Amazon

BPM (Beats Per Minute) – The Orchard
Beach Rats – Neon
God’s Own Country – Samuel Goldwyn Films (WINNER)
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women – Annapurna
Wonderstruck – Amazon

Baywatch – Paramount
The Disaster Artist – A24
The Greatest Showman – 20th Century Fox
I, Tonya – Neon
mother! – Paramount (WINNER)

Big Little Lies – HBO (WINNER)

The Crown – Netflix
Feud: Bette and Joan – FX
The Handmaid’s Tale – Hulu
Twin Peaks: The Return – Showtime

Better Things – FX
GLOW – Netflix
The Good Place – NBC
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Amazon (WINNER)
Will & Grace – NBC

Clare Foy, The Crown – Netflix
Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies – HBO (WINNER)
Jessica Lange, Feud: Bette and Joan – FX
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale – Hulu
Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies – HBO

Aziz Ansari, Master of None – Netflix
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us – NBC
Jonathan Groff, Mindhunter – Netflix
Kyle MacLachlan, Twin Peaks: The Return – Showtime (WINNER)
Alexander Skaarsgård, Big Little Lies – HBO

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee – TBS (WINNER)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – HBO
Late Night with Seth Meyers – NBC
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – CBS
The Rachel Maddow Show – MSNBC

Lady Gaga, “God Bless America,” “Born This Way,” etc., Super Bowl LI – Fox
Kate McKinnon, “(Kellyanne) Conway!” Saturday Night Live – NBC (WINNER)
Brendan McCreary, John Mulaney, “I’m Gay,” Big Mouth – Netflix
Pink, “Beautiful Trauma,” American Music Awards – ABC
Sasha Velour, “So Emotional,” RuPaul’s Drag Race – VH1

Difficult People – Hulu
RuPaul’s Drag Race – VH1 (WINNER)
Sense8 – Netflix
Transparent – Amazon
Will & Grace – NBC

American Gods – Starz (WINNER)

Dear White People – Netflix
Difficult People – Hulu
At Home with Amy Sedaris – TruTV
The Leftovers – HBO

Feud: Betty and Joan (WINNER)
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Will & Grace

Timothée Chalamet (WINNER)

Harris Dickinson
Tiffany Haddish
Daniel Kaluuya
Daniela Vega

(honoring a performer, writer or commentator whose observations both challenge and amuse)
Samantha Bee
Stephen Colbert
Kate McKinnon (WINNER – TIE)
John Oliver
Jordan Peele (WINNER – TIE)

(honoring a truly groundbreaking force in the fields of film, theater and/or television)
Guillermo del Toro
Greta Gerwig
Patty Jenkins
David Lynch
Jordan Peele (WINNER)

(to a living actor or performer whose exemplary career is marked by character, wisdom and wit)
Meryl Streep (WINNER)

Mainstream LGBTQ Movies Are Failing Because Studios Aren’t Reaching The LGBTQ Community

Last week, IndieWire wrote a piece hypothesizing why Call Me By Your Name has not seen the success it deserves and was expected to have. Among the site’s arguments were that Sony Pictures Classics waited too long for the wide release, that the release wasn’t big enough (the film just went into 800 theaters nationwide at the end of January), and that it simply wasn’t marketed enough.

“Did they adequately do marketing and outreach to core groups interested in the film?” the writer posed, and the answer is quite simply “No.”

After poor sales in 815 theaters nationwide, Call Me By Your Name was taken out of more than 230 theaters in its second weekend of wide release, signaling that Sony is somehow not doing right by the film which has been widely well-received by critics and fans alike.

Perhaps it has more to do with its direct reach (or lack thereof) into the queer community a film like Call Me would and should appeal to. Despite publicists wanting LGBTQ outlets to cover the film, somehow, the stars, writer, and director are strangely unavailable, save for the cover of OUT, which boasted interviews with Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, and out filmmaker Luca Guadagnino. OUT is frequently lambastedfor the same reason they get the coverage in the first place: They give (usually straight) stars the cover. But if that’s the only way they are granted these all-star interviews, it’s a double-edge sword.

For some publicists or studios, giving one or two “gay” interviews is assumed to reach the entire community, whom, it seems, they also believe will simply go see any gay-themed film because it’s gay; as if we aren’t to be wooed or played to as much as the wider heterosexual world of cinephiles. In terms of other LGBTQ-specific outlet coverage, only one other LGBT publication (a local called Rage Monthly) was given access to Call Me‘s stars, outside of properties associated with OUT (The Advocate). This was confirmed with the film’s PR company, 42 West, who said they held screenings for LGBTQ critics and writers (GALECA, WGA LGBT, and GLAAD), but those were not accompanied by interview or press opportunities with the true selling points of any major filmits stars and/or director.

Interestingly, 42 West claimed they invited another prominent digital LGBTQ outletto cover a carpet, but that outlet’s editorial director said that wasn’t the casethat their writer was invited to a screening but not given any carpet access. Still, it’s worth noting that even whenLGBTQ outlets are invited to cover carpets, theyare often relegated to the end and not always given interviews, even if they’ve been waiting the same amount of time as larger or mainstream outlets.

This is sadly not so uncommon when it comes to large studio films about LGBTQ themes. While I was Editor in Chief of AfterEllen, at the time the biggest site for and about LGBTQ women, we were given little access to lesbian-themed films like Carol and Freeheld despite being asked to cover them and, in the case of the latter, provide a quote for the movie trailer.

Stars Ellen Page and Julianne Moore were on the cover of OUT, but they did not appear in a lot of LGBT-specific media, including international digital outlets or local LGBT newspapers. (For the record, Page did speak with Metro Weekly, DC’s LGBTQ publication.) Carol stars Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, and Sarah Paulson were also unavailable for LGTBQ-specific media despite the film’s blatant lesbian storyline.

Often I wondered if this was my own experience, specifically as a lesbian journalist covering films or pop culture of interest to or representing queer women, but I found that it’s sadly a kind of phenomenon for many minority reporters who report on and for specific communities.

It’s increasingly frustrating when publicists send endless amounts of press releases touting interview possibilities only for LGBTQ outlets to be turned down (although they will never specify the reason). This is a hypothesized trend, but one that I am finding is likely the case, with Call Me By Your Name‘s failure the latest test. It would seem that directly reaching out to a community being represented in a film might be the ideal scenario, and some films have done this well, and been rewarded for it.

Moonlight, for example, made its cast and crew readily available before winning the Oscar for Best Picture and taking home $65 million at the box office. The Danish Girl reached out to LGBTQ outlets, specifically, for early screenings and press opportunities with stars even bigger than Hammer and Chalamet (Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, respectively). The Danish Girl reached $64.2 million at the box office, and also won Vikander an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Carol‘s gross was $40.3 million, and did not win any of the six categories they were up for. By comparison, Call Me By Your Name has only made $17.8 million and is not likely to win in their respective Oscars outside of quite possibly Adapted Screenplay.

This isn’t just about LGBTQ-specific media being left out of movies representing its own community. Black journalists and critics recently started a discussion about being left out of Black Panther press opportunities, with entertainment journalist Jaleesa Lashay asking Sterling K. Brown about publicists ignoring black reporters when it comes to access to and for black-related TV and film actors and projects.

“Are you aware,” she asked, “of the disparities between the opportunities given to black journalists in comparison to our white counterparts? And do you think there’s any plan in Hollywood to make sure that the media room starts to reflect the diversity that we’re beginning to see in the industry?”

A similar scenario happened, too, when a Filipina reporter,Yong Chavez, shared with Darren Criss that she wasn’t able to get access to him despite his playing a Filipino character in American Crime Story. In response, Criss emailed his publicist from her phone, requesting they set something up.

Just how “aware” are stars, writers, or directors? Probably not very. Brown’s response to the reporter signaled this.

“I’m taking a look around the room,” he said in a room full of reporters. “You have a point there are a lot of white people. I never paid attention and shame on me for not having done so but maybe this conversation is the beginning of something. When you’re young there comes a point when you have a conversation about how you have to work twice as hard to get just as far. I don’t know if that holds true exactly right now, but it’s something that is etched and burned into my mind. To be able to receive similar opportunities the latitude for mistakes is less…. Making sure everyone’s voice can be heard is important. Thank you for bringing it up to me. I’m sorry I hadn’t paid attention.”

The #BlackPressMatters movement has continued to be a focus of conversation, asking Black celebrities to help bring more attention to POC-focused and ran outlets. But when the stars of an LGBTQ-themed film are straight, it’s hard to say how aware they are of what those kinds of community outlets look like.

It’s more of a studio or publicist problem of subtle (and sometimes, not so subtle) homophobia, racism, and classism in the way they blatantly ignore or block out a specific subset of outlets dedicated to a minority, despite that minority being a part of the story you are looking to sell on screen. It truly begs the question why stars like Hammer or Brown or Criss are only offered to mainstream outlets, because sometimes, even outlets that have a smaller readership than a niche one will gain access because they are thought to have a “wider” audience.

There’s also the issue that mainstream outlets might not offer the same perspective, nor ask the same questions, of a film that reflects a specific experience. Perhaps that’s what publicists are trying to avoid altogether, as much of the press devoted to LGBTQ-themed films have the cast and crew alike talking about how “universal” a story is rather than how queer or black or Filipino it may be. There are certainly LGBTQ journalists and allied reporters/writers who are able to tackle these kinds of films through a queer lens, but if a film is a love story about two men, directed by a gay man, why wouldn’t a publicist or studio’s first thought be to go directly to those consumers?

Hollywood still seems to operate under the idea that gays and lesbians are going to go see any and every representation of themselves on screen because there are so few options; as if it’s a given. But for those who are unaware that a film like Call Me By Your Name even exists, or that it is coming to their local theater and when, how can the community be expected to show up and show its support? Because we will certainly be the first to blame when a queer-themed film suffers, and the ones to lose out because studios will decide they’ve wasted their money and time creating a “niche” film in the first place.

It also seems that studios, marketing teams, and publicists place a higher focus on making a “gay film” appealing to heterosexuals, thus Call Me By Your Name‘s bizarre ad in the UK that many called out for its straightwashing.

“Why would movies like these redact their leads’ queerness?” asked Salon last year. “It’s because movies starring straight white men about the lives of straight white men play better with Oscar voters, who tend to like movies more when the characters look like them. As of last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that 91 percent of Oscar voters are Caucasian and 76 percent are male; the average member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is 63 years old. Since 2011, 65 percent of best picture winners featured protagonists who mirror that exact demographic.”

That’s why late night or daytime talk show interviews Hammer and Chamalet play up to their being buddies as to make the “no homo” very clear, even on Ellen. But perhaps it’s also why LGBTQ outlets are not given access to stars, as they might *gasp* ask some more queer-themed questions about a queer work. And since most of the time, actors playing queer roles in major motion pictures are not LGBTQ-identified, is it because publicists and studios are worried about what kind of “gay” questions will be asked of their straight stars? That the conversation would be too gay?

It would seem like a no-brainer that the powers that would be would cater to the communities they are saying they represent while looking to scoop up Oscar nods and GLAAD nominations alike. Is it that they are concerned about being “too gay” or “too niche”? Whatever the reason, it’s hurting their ability to reach anyone, by attempting to please everyoneand by everyone, that usually means leaving out minorities who are expected to show up because they are so starved for representation.

“This year’s box office success of Get Out, Hidden Figures and Girls Trip proved to Hollywood that yes, films with black casts can become blockbusters (something that has been showcased before but largely ignored),” writes Benjamin Lee of The Guardian in a piece about Call Me By Your Name‘s marketing campaign in the UK. “But a gay equivalent of this scale is yet to show the industry that films, and their marketing campaigns, can be left intact and authentic without affecting the bottom dollar.”

Sadly, it won’t be because of the LGBTQ community; but the community will be the one affected most when our stories are continually inaccessible and dictated to us by straight people who offer us crumbs and expect us to salivate.

Header photo by Luca Carlino/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Donald Trump’s First State of the Union Failed to Mention LGBTQ People

Donald Trump failed to mention LGBTQ people during the first State of the Union address of his presidency on Tuesday night.

Queer and transgender people were noticeably absent during the nearly 90-minute speech, in which the Commander-in-Chief traditionally outlines his policy agenda to the public. Trump pledged to defeat ISIS, keep Guantanamo Bay open, and build a wall along the Southern border to Mexico, which he has previously vowed to make the Mexican government pay for.

But Trump declined to address his LGBTQ platform just days after the federal government announced it would be reshuffling the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allow for the creation of a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division. As INTO previously reported, that move would give healthcare workers sweeping allowances to discriminate against LGBTQ people in the name of “sincerely held religious belief.”

Advocates say the president’s failure to address queer and trans equalityeven while rolling back LGBTQ rightsis a defining feature of his tenure in the White House.

Trump’s White House has repeatedly been accused of “erasing” the LGBTQ community from public life: from rescinding Obama-era guidance allowing transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity to removing questions on LGBTQ Seniors from government data collection.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s decision not to ask questions on sexual orientation or gender identity was largely viewed by advocacy groups as part of this trend, but the department has alleged these inquiries were never under serious consideration.

The POTUS also failed to acknowledge LGBTQ Pride month, even while issuing a proclamation honoring “National Homeownership Month” in June.

This is a major reversal from the previous administration, which frequently recognized the LGBTQ community in State of the Union addresses. In 2015, President Obama became the first Commander-in-Chief to say the words “lesbian,” “bisexual,” and “transgender” in the public speech.

“As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained,” Obama said three years ago. “That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”

“We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer,” he continued.

Lesbian Couple in Zambia Hunted By Police After Intimate Facebook Photos Go Viral

Police in Zambia are hunting two women believed to be in a same-sex relationship after intimate photos of the two went viral on social media.

Zambia Police Public Relations Officer Esther Mwaata Katongo is asking residents of Lusaka to provide law enforcement with information as to the whereabouts of two women identified as Kachana and Grace Tembo. The alleged couple sparked a firestorm after their Facebook photos were circulated by local media.

The Zambia Observer published photos of the pair exchanging a playful kiss on a backyard patio and holding each other as they take a bathroom selfie.

Under the headline “Lesbian Couple Flaunts Affair in Public,” the publication accused them of breaking “legal, traditional and cultural barriers to openly flaunt their gay relationship and can be met at shopping malls and show off their love on social media.” It also claimed Kachana had “turned herself into a man” by “talking and walking” in a masculine way.

The journalist who broke the story, Chanda John Chimba, further called their behavior “evil.”

After their relationship made local headlines, the Zambian news website Tumfweko claimed the couple continued to post pictures of themselves on their social media accounts, calling it a “dare” to police.

If the media’s characterization of the couple’s motives is true, the provocation appears to have been successful. Katongo put out a statement on Tuesday urging anyone “with information that may be helpful in the investigations to report to any nearest Police Station so that perpetrators are brought to book.”

“Police officers have taken a keen interest in the story,” she claimed. “[…] Officers from Cybercrime unit have instituted investigations in the matter.”

Queer and transgender Zambians face widespread discrimination in a country where homosexuality remains illegal. Section 158 of the Zambia Penal Code mandates a felony charge for “any female who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with a female child or person,” resulting in a sentence of seven to 14 years behind bars.

Section 155 of the Penal Code further prohibits “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.” Those found guilty are subject to a sentence of between 15 years to life.

Unlike countries which rarely enforce their anti-LGBTQ laws, queer and trans people are regularly targeted under these codes. Philip Mubiana and James Mwape were arrested twice in 2013 within the span of a few days and forced to undergo anal examinations intended to “prove” their homosexuality. The discredited practice is often likened to rape and torture.

That same year, a prominent LGBTQ rights advocate, Paul Kasonkomona, was rounded up by authorities shortly after appearing on a live TV program to call for the decriminalization of homosexuality. He was charged with “inciting the public to take part in indecent activities.”