Twenty Of The Best On-Screen Lesbian, Bi, and Queer Moments of #20GayTeen

When Hayley Kiyoko dubbed this year #20GayTeen, we had no idea just how prescient her proclamation was. Pop culture was certainly queered this year—from Sapphic music videos, to historic reality TV moments, to lesbian movies sure to be nominated at next year’s Academy Awards, 2018 was spilling over with queerness. Here are the most memorable lesbian and queer female moments on-screen this year.

Best Lesbian Spit Scene

Let’s not dance around it: The Disobedience spit scene was one for the books. Sebastián Lelio’s adaptation of the Sapphic novel polarized critics and LGBTQ moviegoers, but there was one thing all of us could agree on: Watching Rachel Weisz spit in Rachel McAdams’ mouth was fucking insane. I don’t want heteros to think that the cornerstone of lesbian sex is dripping regurgitated saliva into your partner’s mouth like a goddamn Blue Jay, but I also like to keep ‘em guessing. Have I spat in a woman’s mouth? No. Would I let Rachel Weisz fucking hock something sinister into the back of my throat? With ease.

Best Murderous Sexual Tension

Killing Eve was one of the most rapturous shows to stream in 2018, and the sexual tension between Eve (Oh), an MI6 agent with an all-consuming obsession, and Villanelle (Comer), the apple of her eye, was nothing short of magical. The mania culminated in a suspenseful stand-off scene when Villanelle pinned Eve against her refrigerator, pointing a steak knife at her throat. It was both torturous and satisfying; queer women spend a significant amount of time theorizing about which female TV characters secretly want to bone, so when they actually do want to, it’s so validating.

Best Vaginal Birth Metaphor

Janelle Monae had quite the #20GayTeen after coming out as pansexual and releasing her visual album Dirty Computer, in which she spent numerous glorious moments flirting with Tessa Thompson (her rumored girlfriend). For me, the best part of Dirty Computer came during the “PYNK” music video, when Tessa Thompson poked her head through Monae’s flappy, vaginal harem pants like a little gay baby, and blinked at us through salty lesbian eyes.

Best Overt Declaration of Lesbian Desire

The Favourite has been collecting nominations and trophies left and right, and will surely be nominated at next year’s 91st Academy Awards. But for me, Yorgos Lanthimos’ Sapphic period film has already won for Best Overt Declaration of Lesbian Desire. When pressed on why she keeps her maid Abigail (Emma Stone) around, Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) quips, “I like it when she puts her tongue inside me.” I swear, half the theater gasped. The other half slid out of their seats and were washed away by the lesbian current (I was in this half). The scene was the single most outrageous, funny, and true-to-form admission of lesbian desire I’ve ever seen at the movies.

Best Sapphic Music Video

This year brought numerous electrifying queer female music videos—from Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer series, to Betty Who’s “Taste” and Rita Ora’s “Girls.” But the video that made my gay organs clench was Hayley Kiyoko’s “What I Need,” a poignant yet heartwarming story featuring Kehlani as Lesbian Jesus’ love interest. When the two queer pop stars collided on the dusty street and kissed after nearly losing each other, my heart exploded and oozed out through my pores.

Best Haunted Dirty Talk

Theodora Crain (Kate Siegel) from The Haunting of Hill House was one of my favorite new queer female characters of the year. The pseudo-psychic was raised in a storied haunted house and developed the ability to “feel” a person or object’s history just by touching them. As a result, Theo’s seen more trauma and heartbreak than any human should, so she wears gloves to close herself off. Unsurprisingly, she’s also closed off emotionally, not wanting to take on anyone else’s trauma. Her best and most defining character moment comes when she’s rolling around in bed with her new gal pal, and decides to take the risk and open up, and she demands, “Touch me.”

Best Discussion of Lesbian Sex

Season two of Freeform’s The Bold Type offered something special: Kat Edison, the in-house baby queer, discussed her sex life with her straight friends, and nobody blanched, asked offensive questions, or felt othered. Obviously, this should be the norm, but it’s not—on TV nor in real life. In regards to cunnilingus, Kat asked, “What if I don’t know how to do it? Or what if I do it and I don’t like it, or I do it and it’s weird, you know? Then what? Am I really queer, or has this whole relationship been a lie?” Her friend Jane responded, “You don’t have to get it perfectly right every time,” and her friend Sutton added, “Been there.” I often still find myself omitting details about my sex life while talking to my straight friends, whereas I leave no leaf unturned with my queer friends. This moment gave me hope that one day, I’ll feel confident enough to tell my straight friends what it’s like to accidentally swallow someone else’s period blood—sorry, too much?

Best Stand-Up Special

Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby swept the U.S. this year with her groundbreaking Netflix comedy special Nanette, which challenged the art form of stand-up comedy, and tackled topics like sexuality, sexual assault, and homophobia with tact and the appropriate gravity. I refuse to pick one moment from the special, as the entirety of Nanette should be required viewing.

Best Reality TV Moment

The Bachelor: Vietnam made headlines this year when a same-sex couple ditched the man and left the show to be together. The tear-jerking moment was unforgettable, and a historic televised first for The Bachelor franchise. While two other women had previously found love after competing on The Bachelor: Australia, their story wasn’t broadcasted. But in Vietnam, when Minh Thu told Truc Nhu “Come home with me” during a rose ceremony, the moment spread like wildfire on social media. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Best Same-Sex Kiss in the Extended Cinematic Mamma Mia Universe

Mamma Mia is unironically one of my favorite movies of all time, so when Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again had young Donna (Lily James) kiss her teacher, played by Celia Imrie, I basically took to the streets, banging pots and pans, yelling “DONNA IS BI NOW!” Fans theorized that this was the Mamma Mia Extended Cinematic Universe, or the MMECU’s way of revealing that Donna was bisexual, as the original ABBA lyrics to “When I Kissed The Teacher” use male pronouns, but are sung by women. For reasons that remain unknown, Lily James’ version uses female pronouns. Really looking forward to Mamma Mia 3: The Bis3xual.

Best Flirting on a Talk Show

I’m not sure what the best part of this 6-minute off-the-rails Today Show interview with Cate Blanchett and Sarah Paulson was: When Savannah Guthrie joked that the duo was “in love,” when Sarah roasted Cate for losing the Oscar for Carol (the first movie they starred in together), or when Cate hopped onto Sarah’s lap and shoved her arms under her armpits. Regardless, the interview was boiling with sexual energy between two of lesbian Twitter’s favorite actresses. Launch the Ocean’s 8 press tour again, you cowards.

Best Fangirling

Technically, the conversation between Elastigirl and Voyd in Incredibles 2 isn’t a queer moment, but I’m henceforth dubbing it one. In the highly anticipated sequel to the Pixar superhero movie, a new female hero was introduced: Voyd. Voiced by Sophia Bush, the spirited character gushed over Elastigirl like every lesbian fangirl who’s ever met their hero at a Las Vegas convention center—looking at you, Clexacon nerds. Voyd thanks her for paving the way for other female supers, and stumbles all over herself admitting how seeing Elastigirl out there fighting crime helped her embrace who she was, and encouraged her to accept herself as such. She was basically me any time a photo of Cate Blanchett in a suit emerges on the internet. Visibility for lesbian supers NOW.

Best Pop Star Smooch

Rita Ora basically split gay Twitter in two when she released her Sapphic super-collab “Girls,” featuring Cardi B, Bebe Rexha, and Charli XCX. While most will look back and remember this cultural epoch as the Great Gay Divide of 2018, I’ll remember the “Girls” music video, in which Rita and Cardi had a big ole smooch. It was the best bisexual pop star kiss of the year—followed closely by Kehlani kissing Demi Lovato on-stage at her concert. Big year for bisexual pop stars exchanging shiny lip glosses.

Best Lesbian Dream Come True

In the Kate McKinnon comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me, Kate fawns over Gillian Anderson’s power-bitch MI6 character, calling her “the Beyoncé of the government.” The scene itself isn’t gay—but the context absolutely is. In the past, McKinnon has divulged that she’s had a long-standing crush on Anderson, having dressed up as Dana Scully as a kid on Halloween, and fangirling over her in a web series called Brunch With Bridget. So, getting to gush over Gillian Anderson IRL was a classic example of art imitating life. Plus, Anderson later tweeted that the crush is absolutely reciprocated—which is so awesome. But don’t think you’re the only one with a Big Lesbian Crush on Gillian Anderson, Kate—we all want Gillian to jab her stilettos into our gay flesh.

Best Cunnilingus Scene

Part of being a lesbian is scouring streaming platforms for obscure lesbian movies that no critic has time for and no person in their right mind would ever watch, then enduring the plotless film with the hopes of viewing one brief lesbian sex scene. Well, I did that many times this year, and the best thing I found was a scene in The Con Is On, a British Ocean’s 8-wannabe in which Maggie Q goes down on Uma Thurman. Bet you didn’t know that happened, huh? Well it was hot, fleeting, and unexceptional, so HA! But did I mention Maggie Q goes down on Uma Thurman?

Best Happy Ending

Blockers has to be the most underrated comedy of the century. It was the first major studio teen comedy to feature a lesbian protagonist—and she doesn’t even die at the end! Sam, played by Gideon Adlon, comes out to her dad, her friends, and gets the girl in the end. It’s the kind of movie I wish I had as a teen, not only because it normalizes female queerness, but also because it celebrates it, and proves that queer women can have happy endings too. Plus, the movie is extremely relatable—Sam is obsessed with Xena, and her love interest wears capes and goes to something called “LordCon.” At the end, when the girls make out to a Hailee Steinfeld song, I basically slammed the Giphy GIF button. Looping that shit ‘til my eyes bleed.

Best Heartbreak

Netflix’s new comedy series Insatiable drew criticism for the way it tackled body image, and a heart-wrenching lesbian storyline went way overlooked as a result. Nonnie (Kimmy Shields), a Drew Barrymore-obsessed baby gay, falls in love with her best friend Patty (Debby Ryan). In a climactic moment, she confronts Patty in their school hallway and plants one on her, spilling her feelings through tearful eyes and flushed cheeks. Patty rejects her as delicately as she possibly can, but nonetheless, Nonnie gets savagely crushed. The scene was one of the most heartbreaking, realistic, and best acted queer scenes I’ve ever seen on TV. The Nonnie and Patty storyline hit me where it hurt, then twisted the knife, and reminded me that being gay is a curse.

Best Hand-Hold

…But being gay is also really special! Netflix’s Atypical infused Casey Gardner, its female protagonist, with subtle queerness this year. In season two of the dramedy, Casey transfers to a pretentious new school, where a girl on the track team, Izzie (Fivel Stewart), gives her hell in an effort to bury their sexual tension. The girls’ bitter resentment slowly and organically morphs into a friendship, and then almost more—they nearly kiss in Casey’s bedroom, but are sadly interrupted. After one of those classic “shit, am I gay?” spirals, Casey finally hangs out with Izzie again, and while they’re sitting in a parked car, they slowly and adorably interlock fingers, but stare straight ahead—then the season ends, portending a very gay season three. It was just so pure and cute and sweet, the way new queer love should be. I’m blushing!

Best Pent-Up Repression Fuck

The Miseducation of Cameron Post ripped my heart out and threw it in a river, where it was left to wither and drown. The Chloe Grace Moretz starrer follows the titular character (Moretz) on a slog through gay conversion therapy hell. I liked it so much more than Boy Erased, another gay conversion therapy film released this year, because it offered slivers of joy, whereas Boy Erased did not. I felt like I was holding my breath throughout the duration of The Miseducation of Cameron Post until the scene where Cameron fucks her roommate, another painfully repressed queer peer, and I finally breathed a sigh of relief. The scene was hot, twisted, and probably the most accurate representation of lesbian sex I’ve seen in a movie this year. Dude, fuck being gay. This shit is hard.

Best Movie Makeout

Will A Simple Favor get nominated for an Oscar? No. Should it be recognized for the makeout scene between Blake Lively as a psychotic bisexual demon and Anna Kendrick as a horny single mom? Yes. And an honorable mention to Linda Cardellini as an aggrieved art dyke, plus every moment Blake Lively is on-screen, walking in slow motion through the rain in a jaw-dropping three-piece suit. OK nevermind, being gay fuckin’ slaps. Especially in 2018.

‘Shameless’ Lost Its Queer Way In Season 9

A dark cloud hovered over the last few episodes of Shameless’s latest season: On October 8, show star Cameron Monaghan announced via Instagram that the following week’s episode would be his last as Ian Gallagher. Ian has always been Shameless’s queer center, anchoring the show to the subtleties of queer life. But rather than using Ian’s departure as a reason to bring fresh elements into the show, the ninth season over-simplified queerness and, in the process, it robbed Ian of nearly 10 seasons of development and growth.

Ian was introduced in the Showtime series’ pilot as a closeted gay teenager living with his family on Chicago’s South Side. He had a stash of gay porn magazines in his closet, and was carrying on a secret relationship with Kash, an older, married, outwardly devout Muslim man who also happened to be his boss. Later in the first season, Ian stumbled into a beard relationship with a classmate, Mandy, to hide his sexuality, and then started having sex with her brother, Mickey. Ian and Mickey formed a quick and effortless bond, though Mickey denied any sort of emotional attachment.

Ian and Mickey have an on-again-off-again relationship (mostly because of Mickey’s various stints in juvenile detention) through the first five seasons of the show. Their romance has always been polarizing for viewers—we’re made to care deeply about Ian, and Mickey is often emotionally manipulative.

But Ian grew to love Mickey despite their issues, and so it’s often difficult not to root for them. Mickey publicly comes out for Ian when confronted about being exclusive. And when Ian first shows signs of bipolar disorder, Mickey is there for him, and passionate about finding help for his boyfriend.

The tension between Ian’s love for Mickey and his love for himself is central to Ian’s growth as a queer, mentally ill man. This tension pushes Ian to explore his evolving identity, which in turn allows the show to bring in other queer elements, like Ian’s brief affair with a pansexual man or his stint working at a gay dance club. It created an unexpected love triangle of sorts when Mickey escaped from jail and asked Ian to ditch his new boyfriend and hop the border to Mexico. At the last minute, Ian chose to stay behind.

There’s a moment just before Mickey leaves for prison at the end of the fifth season—we’re made to think it might be the last time we see him—where Mickey warns Ian that drinking alcohol on lithium can get him drunk all too quickly. Ian, angry at Mickey’s new attentiveness to his health, punches Mickey in the face. “I don’t need a fucking caretaker, alright?” Ian says, “I need the shit-talking bitch-slapping piece of South Side trash I fell for.” The scene so perfectly encapsulates the rarity of this kind of story—two tough, lower-class boys going against all of their “South Side trash” survival instincts by falling in love.

They end up mostly ignoring this fight, but the moment is deeply important to Ian’s character. He held so firmly to the idea of his relationship with Mickey as it once was that he fails to see how it’s evolved into something more mature and loving. He’s angry at Mickey for changing, but he failed to see that Mickey isn’t the only one who’s changed. Ian has also grown; he’s no longer fearful of being gay, and he’s finally beginning to understand his bipolar disorder. The process of coming out and falling in love—all while working to understand manic and depressive episodes—makes Ian more sure of himself, more thoughtful, and more aware of his identity. Whether or not Ian wants to acknowledge it, this growth has changed his relationship with Mickey, too.

Other Shameless characters experience realistic queer arcs, too. Veronica learned about pansexuality when she and her husband Kevin become part of a throuple with the woman Mickey was forced to marry, Svetlana. Fiona has a few moments where she shows some attraction to women. In the seventh season, Ian discovers that his new crush, Trevor, is a trans man, and he struggles with understanding Trevor’s gender identity, especially as it relates to dating and sex. The show grounds this struggle in a reality not often portrayed on TV: cis gay men dating trans men. I always admired this about Shameless: it took the necessary narrative time to show the unfolding of queer identity in all its nuance.

But the show’s most recent season—actually the first half of the ninth, with the remainder airing in the spring—lacks queer depth from its first episode. Frank’s outrageous STI-spreading plotline leads to the outing of two married men, but their sexuality is presented as the saccharine punchline to a joke. Debbie has sex with a woman for the first time and immediately declares herself a lesbian. Her brothers (including Ian) react with annoyance, and with good reason: Debbie’s supposed coming out is reduced to a momentary decision, rather than a complicated process. And then it’s left behind in favor of other plots in later episodes in the season.

And then there’s Ian. In his last few episodes on the show, Ian is just the bones of the character we’ve come to care about. The eighth season showed Ian unintentionally beginning the Gay Jesus movement by speaking out against conversion therapy and homophobia, though it quickly escalated to extreme measures like firebombing. His plot in season nine is a carryover; he’s not given much to work with except the fallout of last season. He’s flat compared to the Ian we’ve come to love. His few storylines do nothing to speak to the trials he’s gone through for nearly 10 years on the show. It feels as if he’s been dropped in favor of characters who will be continuing on in future seasons.

Ian’s last moments on the show are meant to be fan service. Ian pleads guilty by reason of insanity, and, when he walks into his jail cell with his head held high, Mickey is there. Mickey, who’s had only the barest of mentions on the show over the last few years. Mickey explains briefly how he bribed his way into Ian’s cell, and then the two kiss, happy to be together again. On a surface level, this scene is enjoyable to watch, because so many viewers fell in love with Ian and Mickey as a couple, and the ways they helped each other understand their identities. But his last scene comes off instead as jarring, a poorly written fan-fiction ending completely at odds with Ian’s growth as a character.

Bringing Mickey back for Ian’s ending feels like a reversion to a past version of Ian, an Ian who didn’t understand the intricacies of his own identity. The show has allowed us to enjoy Ian’s evolution, both as a queer man and as a mentally ill one—but his last season arc ignores this in favor of fan service. If Ian’s conclusion is anything to go by, the best queer people can hope for in the universe of Shameless is to be reunited in jail with an ex-lover who probably wasn’t very good for you in the first place.  

I’m not sure of the reasons behind Ian’s ending—maybe it did seem like the cleanest one to the writers in the limited time they had—but it doesn’t speak to Ian’s impact on the show. Through its many highs and lows, Shameless has consistently told non-normative queer stories with nuance, and much of that is thanks to Ian. He leaves behind a legacy of the ways in which the stumbling and hesitant journey of queer self-discovery can be rewarding, especially with the support and love of family, friends, and peers. Even at its most outrageous, the show has always managed to fit the intricacies of queer life into its brazen worldview. But for the first time, in its ninth season, Shameless reduces queerness to an afterthought, a plot point, a punchline — and, in doing so, it loses a fair amount of its heart.

My Three Unruly Bodies

In high school, I had a friend named Jennifer. She was a plus-sized woman, and she took pride in her size. In many ways, she was the body-positive movement before Twitter introduced me to it. I admired her confidence.

She told me that she started an Instagram account for beautiful plus-sized people. I asked her if she would post one of my photos. Her cold brown eyes dug into me and she said, “Arkee, you’re not plus-sized. That shit is starting to get annoying.”

I thought she was joking. Surely she saw the same guy I saw when I stared in the mirror — that large bellied man with flabby arms and breasts. But she didn’t. I didn’t realize it until recently, but she saw the truth of my body. However, she suspected that I was fishing for compliments like those hot-bodied idiots who take shirtless pictures and caption them “ugh, I’m getting fat.”

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’ve had an Instagram account since 2013, but I only have 36 posts. I created the account, like I created a Snapchat account, to connect with my friends. However, my inactivity on both apps makes it virtually pointless to add me.

I’m not photogenic. And contrary to popular belief, I’m a very private person, despite my incessant need to tweet my most pointless mind vomits. Therefore, apps that require me to post pictures are worthless to me, just like my pinky toe and nipples.

However, that doesn’t stop people from making assumptions about why Instagram and Snapchat don’t pique my interest. People always assume the worst about people who don’t feel the need to take a selfie every minute. So far, I’ve been asked questions like: “Are you insecure about your weight?” “Do you think you’re ugly?”

Yes, to both questions. However, that is not why I don’t take pictures. I’m simply not photogenic. And no, I won’t get rid of my Instagram or Snapchat because it’s a visual diary that records the evolution of my body.

Throughout my years, I’ve inhabited three different bodies. All of them have been unruly, as Roxane Gay would say. Two, my previous bodies, have been dishonest. And my new body has been honest to a fault, just like Jim Carrey in Liar Liar.

My first body was shockingly thin. However, I could never see that when staring in the mirror. Before my eyes stood the illusion of a larger man. The man in the mirror wasn’t just large. He was ugly, too. He needed to lose over twenty pounds so that he could be beautiful.

My second body rested somewhere between thin and stocky. I had begun going to the gym and I stopped sticking my fingers down my throat after every meal. Still, no matter how hard I worked out, I kept seeing the illusion of an outrageously large and ugly man in the mirror.

My third body is my latest body. I’m not ‘thick’ or stocky. I’m fat. My doctors would call me morbidly obese and recommend strict diets and exercises. One doctor even recommended the gastric bypass surgery. “If you follow the surgeon’s rules, you can return to your thinner self in weeks,” he promised.

But why would I desire that? My last two bodies were filthy liars. They made me see what I feared I would become if I didn’t stick my fingers down my throat after every meal. They made me believe that I enjoyed that acidic sensation that lingered in my throat after I vomited. They made me believe that the tears streaming down my face were tears of joy—joy that I conformed to my superficiality and caused myself harm.

Instagram and Snapchat chronicled the truth of my body. Staring at my old pictures, I can’t help but see my shocking transformation. The body I feared I’d someday occupy is finally mine. Be that as it may, it’s difficult to see my new body the way I once saw it. I don’t see an outrageously large and ugly man in the mirror.

Finally, I see a body that isn’t interested in deceiving me. My new body tells it how it is, no matter how hurtful the truth is. When I outgrow a shirt, my body lets me know by giving me shortness of breath. When I overeat, my body lets me know by giving me sharp stomach pains. When I overexert my muscles, they shut down. But most importantly, when I stare into the mirror, I see the truth of my body.

If I could go back eight years, I’d understand Jennifer’s anger. As a fat person, one of the first things we learn is how to accept the truth of our bodies. If we don’t accept the truth ourselves, someone else will point it out—some rude little kid, some snarky teen, or even an adult who lacks decorum. No one actualized the illusion of the large guy I saw in the mirror because it was nothing more than an illusion my body dysmorphia created. It was a lie that my new body, Instagram, and Snapchat exposed.

I love my new, honest body.

Image via Getty

‘The Kiki’ Season Finale Questions: Should RuPaul Keep Hosting ‘Drag Race’?

“Does RuPaul’s Drag Race need RuPaul?”

It’s a question that pops up every time RuPaul gets into any kind of hot water, be it fighting with The Vixen on the most recent reunion, or when Pearl’s comments about Ru’s “Nothing you say matters unless those cameras are rolling” directive went viral. Most prominently, the question came up after Ru said he’d not allow transitioning queens onto Drag Race in his infamous interview with The Guardian.

Yet through all of this, 10 years later, RuPaul is still queen of her empire. That doesn’t stop people from still questioning what a potential future Drag Race without RuPaul looks like, though.

In the season finale episode of The Kiki, hosts Kevin O’Keeffe and Mathew Rodriguez break down the arguments both for and against RuPaul staying the host of Drag Race, and evaluate potential other hosts should Mother ever choose to step down. (Shangela’s Drag Race, anyone?)

Watch the full season finale episode below. To keep up with The Kiki off-season, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

The 2018/19 Queer Ski Guide

Early winter storms across North America, Europe, and Asia are setting up a solid base for the 2018/19 ski season. California’s Mammoth Mountain has already received a sickening 103” of snow total this year and is reporting a 40-60” base, while France’s Val D’Isère is reporting up to a 59” base. Needless to say, skiers and snowboarders are optimistic for the season ahead following last year’s worrisomely dry winter.

As gay ski weeks and winter prides gain popularity (there are some 20+ official multi-day events planned for 2019), it’s clear that more and more mountain towns are making efforts to embrace queer visitors and locals — from the legendary events in Europe, to this year’s newest Elevation event in Tremblant, Quebec, all the way to the southern hemisphere’s ski weeks in Australia and New Zealand.

Rainbow Mountain, A Heaps Gay Snow Week

The avid snow sports enthusiast knows the most economical way to get the most days on the slopes is to buy one of the main three collective passes — rhe Epic Pass, this year’s brand new Ikon Pass, or the Mountain Collective. Each provides access to numerous ski resorts around the world. While the passes (specifically the Epic and Ikon) are controversial in the industry for monopolizing skiing — and come with steep price tags, to boot — they are making it easier than ever to see the world by ski and board, as well as to connect with like minded winter sports enthusiasts at a variety of queer ski events.

Below is our list of the top three major ski passes with resorts providing access to the largest number of gay ski weeks.

The Epic Pass (7 Host Gay Ski Week Resorts, 1 Resort Nearby a Gay Ski Event)

The O.G. multi-resort pass, the full Epic Pass ($949) is the giant in the market offering 65 resorts around the world, seven of which have resorts hosting official gay ski events. Having recently acquired Whistler to the pass for the 2018/19 season, the pass now holds access to the  “Winter Event of the Year” voted by the 2017 Gay Travel Awards–Whistler Pride and Gay Ski Week. On top of Whistler, the pass also holds 2 days at Tignes-Val D’Isère and  2 days at Paradiski, hosts to one of two of the biggest gay ski weeks in Europe, European Gay Ski Week and European Snow Pride. The Epic Pass marks itself as this year’s most queer-friendly ski pass.

Events hosted in Epic Pass Resorts:

1. Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada (January 20-27, 2019) — unlimited

2. Winter Rendezvous, Stowe, Vermont, USA (January 23-27, 2019) — unlimited

3. Elevation: Utah, Park City, Utah, USA (February 21-24, 2019)— unlimited

4. Telluride Gay Ski Week, Telluride, Colorado, USA (February 23 – March 2, 2019) — 7 days restricted

5. European Snow Pride, Tignes-Val D’Isère, France (March 16-23, 2019) — 2 days restricted

6. European Gay Ski Week, Paradiski, France (March 23 – 30, 2019) — 2 days restricted

7. Breck Pride Week, Breckenridge, Colorado, USA (Dates TBA) — unlimited

Resorts Nearby Gay Ski Weeks:

Rainbow Mountain, Thredbo, Australia (August 29-September 2, 2019)

While Thredbo isn’t on the Epic Pass, its neighbor Perisher is. With unlimited days and  only an hour drive from Thredbo, skiers could enjoy the Heaps Gay Rainbow Mountain events at Thredbo, while using their Epic Pass to ski Perisher.

Source: Telluride Gay Ski Week

The Ikon Pass (5 Host Gay Event Resorts, 1 Nearby Gay Ski Event)

The brand new Ikon Pass ($1049) enters this year with 38 destinations to lip sync for its life against the Epic Pass. With five host gay ski weeks and one nearby resort to a gay ski week, the Ikon Pass is another incredible option for the queer skier with some of the biggest gay ski weeks like Aspen Gay Ski Week (now in it’s 42nd year) and all three Elevation events, including the brand new Elevation: Tremblant. The pass also extends your ski season to the Southern Hemisphere with events in New Zealand and Australia.

Events hosted by Ikon Pass Resorts:

1. Aspen Gay Ski Week, Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado, USA (January 13-20, 2019) — 7 days restricted

2. Elevation: Tremblant, Mont-Tremblant, Québec, Canada (January 31-February 3, 2019) — unlimited

3. Elevation: Mammoth, Mammoth Mountain, California, USA (March 13-17, 2019) — unlimited

4. Rainbow Mountain, Thredbo, New South Wales, Australia (August 29-September 2, 2019) —7 days restricted

5. Winter Pride Queenstown, The Remarkables, Queenstown, New Zealand (August 30-September 8, 2019) — 7 days restricted

Ikon Pass Resorts less than an hour from gay ski events:

Elevation: Utah, Park City, Utah, USA (February 21-24, 2019)

While Deer Valley Resort is the closest to Park City, Alta & Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton Resorts, all on the pass, provide a great sampling of terrain for the avid skier attending Elevation: Utah looking to explore the greater Wasatch Range while getting the most out of the Ikon Pass. All have 7 day restrictions, except for Solitude which is unlimited.

Winter Rendezvous, Stowe, Vermont, USA (January 23-27, 2019)

Stowe is not on the Ikon Pass, but Sugarbush is. Only 45 minutes from Stowe, the resort is great option for 7 days of skiing while attending Winter Rendezvous.

Elevation: Mammoth

The Mountain Collective (4  Host Gay Event Resorts, 2 Nearby Gay Ski Weeks)

The Mountain Collective is the cheapest of the three passes at $489. It provides the least amount of resorts at 17 and restricts skiing at only two days per resort. However, it still contains a total of four host gay ski week options. Best of all, the ski weeks it does allow access to are some of the most well known, including Aspen Gay Ski Week and two of the revelrous Elevations, making the pass perfect for the weekend warrior looking to get in a couple days at a resort during their most queer-friendly weekends.

Events Hosted by Mountain Collective Resorts:

1. Aspen Gay Ski Week, Aspen, Colorado, USA (January 13-20, 2019) — 2 days restricted

2. Elevation: Mammoth, Mammoth Lakes, California, USA (March 13-17, 2019) — 2 days restricted

3. Winter Pride Queenstown, The Remarkables, Queenstown, New Zealand (August 30-September 8, 2019) — 2 days restricted

4. Rainbow Mountain, Thredbo, New South Wales, Australia (August 29-September 2, 2019)

Mountain Collective Resorts less than an hour from gay ski events:

1. Elevation: Utah, Park City, Utah, USA (February 21-24, 2019)

Park City is not on the Mountain Collective, but resorts Alta, Snowbird, and Snow Basin are and are less than an hour from Park City, meaning skiers could get 6 days of skiing during the event.

2. Winter Rendezvous, Stowe, Vermont, USA (January 22-27, 2019)

Stowe is not on the Mountain Collective, but Sugarbush is.  Only 45 minutes from Stowe, the resort is great option for 2 restricted days of skiing while attending Winter Rendezvous.

Alternative Tips to Gay Ski Weeks

Source: Ski-Bums.org

While the above passes present some of the most economical ways to experience multiple gay ski events, beginners and less avid skiers may want to look into individual gay ski weeks closest to them to save if only skiing for a day or two as many of the events have great deals. Looking for a less rowdy ski trip? Check out Ski Bums, ‘the world’s largest club of LGBTQ skiers and snowboarders’ or the Pacific Northwest’s Ski Buddies. Both clubs, and there are many others like them, organize all-inclusive group trips around the world.

Images via Getty

Power-Ranking the ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4’ Queens

Welcome to Drag Race Power Rankings! Every Saturday, we’ll debrief the previous night’s new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4 to determine which queens are riding high, and which need she-mergency care. This week, we’re untucking from the premiere and mourning the elimination of season 7 veteran Jasmine Masters.

10. Jasmine Masters — ELIMINATED

Jasmine Masters, you beautiful human. No one thinks quite like the season 7 alumni does, and no one makes us laugh quite as hard, either. Unfortunately, she couldn’t translate her viral video humor into an effective stand-up act during the All-Star Variety Show challenge. We’ll miss her commentary, but at least she’ll come back during the inevitable revenge/return episode.

9. Farrah Moan

The only reason Farrah Moan is not last on this list is because she didn’t get eliminated. She did basically every single thing wrong in this premiere, from bombing the reading challenge to crying constantly. I feel for Farrah, because she’s clearly sensitive, but this is All Stars. It’s the big leagues for a reason. If Aja could go from disappointing to a fan favorite in mere months between season 9 and All Stars 3, Farrah should absolutely have grown more in two years. I know she’s beautiful, and I believe she’s talented. The room for growth is there.

There’s some sturm und drang online today about Farrah’s edit in the episode — that the show shouldn’t have used the take where she fell during her burlesque act. Frankly, I don’t care much; Farrah looked nervous and awkward before the fall anyway. She survived the episode, and she should be grateful. The only thing she did in the premiere that I appreciated was fighting as hard as she did to stay during deliberations. It clearly worked, at least on Trinity.

8. Monét X Change

I love New York’s own Monét X Change. So much. So this hurts me to say. But girl? This was a whole mess. Monét’s entrance look was weak, and Monique was right to read it. Her jokes in the reading challenge, while fairly well-delivered, were decent at best. And her performance to “Soak It Up” was wrong in both conception and execution. We don’t need another fake-out death drop — it was great the first time, but only because it was surprising. Plus, the sponge bit is played out; it was a recurring gag throughout season 10. We got it, girl. We need more.

7. Gia Gunn

I actually really liked Gia’s variety show act. Kabuki isn’t likely to translate as entertaining in a drag competition, but it was really artfully done and brought something new to the Drag Race mainstage. What lands Gia down here in the bottom half of the list is how incredibly sour she was throughout the show. Sincere villains are fun; purposeful antagonism is kinda toxic. Also, her reads were unnecessarily mean. Calling Farrah “untalented” isn’t fun, it’s spiteful for the sake of spite.

6. Naomi Smalls

It feels odd to put Naomi this low, considering she was top three in the judges’ eyes and exuded an attractive, formidable confidence all episode. But for one, the top six here are all incredible; this season is going to be one tight race. And two, I liked her posing-in-fashion act quite a bit less than the judges did. The wig reveal at the end was cute, if a bit overpraised. That said, her Farrah read during the mini-challenge was excellent. I have a feeling we’ll be spending a lot of time with Naomi this season.

5. Manila Luzon

Manila would’ve made my top two for the week. Her painting act was fascinating, and had one hell of a double-reveal at the end. Her entrance look was also amazing, a roadkill riff on her infamous Big Bird dress. I’m notoriously not a huge fan of Manila’s, but this episode did a lot to endear her to me. (See also: her reactions to everyone else’s acts, which were so cute and heartwarming.) I have her as low as I do because, for as much as I loved her work this episode, she seemed to barely register with the judges. I’m hopeful this week is just an appetizer on Manila’s journey, and that she’ll keep upping the stakes moving forward.

4. Valentina

How in the hell did Valentina get away with just lip-syncing for the variety show? That’s a talent literally all the girls should have. And yet? She was pretty mesmerizing! Her dance moves were serving Jennifer Lopez fire, and the lip sync itself (in Spanish!) was super sharp. Most of all, though, Valentina gets this placement on the list because of her truly excellent bonus read of Latrice. Being the best at something that wasn’t even on the main show? Total Valentina move.

3. Monique Heart

The heart of season 10 came roaring back in this premiere, nailing her variety show premiere performance of “Brown Cow Stunning.” I’ve had the song stuck in my head all morning. Monique was also excellent across the board — in talking heads, in her workroom entrance, in her reads. I’m knocking her down to third, though, because she lost her wig during the lip sync. We’ve been over this: No matter how impressive a wig reveal may be in a club performance, it does not work on Drag Race. Period. Ru hates it. That is a well-established fact, and it speaks poorly of you if you’re still doing it. She’s lucky it got stuck in the rafters, because Ru laughed it off in a way she might not have otherwise. Monique is so close to being at 10s across the board, but her lip syncing record leaves much to be desired.

2. Trinity the Tuck

Trinity the Tuck (née Taylor) might be a BenDeLaCreme or Alaska-style All Stars assassin. She was great at literally everything this premiere. She got a lot of the talking heads, performed well in the reading challenge (bonus for effectively bouncing bad reads back at Farrah and Gia), and chose exactly the right type of act during the variety show. Her tucking tutorial wouldn’t have made my personal top two, but I get why the judges loved it. Moreover, she’s responding to what the judges like about her by doubling down on comedy. She’s playing this game smart, and she’s playing to win.

The one thing about a contestant like Trinity is that they can get somewhat boring to watch; it’s so technically perfect that it loses any wow factor. She’ll need to be mindful of that as she moves through the season. But for now, she’s in great shape — and $10,000 richer.

1. Latrice Royale

Eat it! Latrice Royale killed it this week. Her reads were excellent on a whole other level, and she became only the second contestant ever to win Reading Is Fundamental twice (after Alaska). Not only that, but Latrice carried herself throughout the episode with such gravitas; she knows she’s a legend, and she’s acting as such. But that doesn’t mean she can’t bust a move when she needs to. Her color guard performance was dynamic; she burst through it with energy. Though she was just ruled safe, Latrice leads the pack in my book. It’s hard to imagine someone this poised not sailing through the competition.

A Fat, Queer Person’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays

Cis-heterosexual people ruin everything. Want proof? Let’s journey back to the inception of humankind, when God produced Adam and Eve with his bored breath. It didn’t take the lovely couple long before they started growing uninterested with each other. That’s when they began consorting with a garden snake who encouraged them to do the exact opposite of God’s most basic request: “Do not eat from the tree of knowledge.”

Well, they ate the fruit and fucked up the world. Now, instead of being nude and carefree in a warm garden, I’m rushing to work every morning and bitterly stuffing clothing I’ve outgrown into trash bags.  

There’s a long list of things cis-heterosexual people have ruined for me; holidays rank number one. Every Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, my distant relatives come out in droves to badger me about my sexuality. It’s as though someone spiked their eggnog with a splash of toxic masculinity, a dash of blissful ignorance, and eight shots of anti-queerness.

I’ll never get used to my younger cousins asking me, “Why do you act like a girl?” I’ll never get used to my male cousins and uncles thoughtlessly accusing me of identifying as transgender because I don’t follow sports. I’ll never get used to my aunts harassing me about having children, reprimanding me for trying to “end the family line.”

This past Thanksgiving was different: I survived the holiday without my anti-queer relatives interrogating me about my sexuality. Instead, they wanted me to explain my new body to them. They wanted me to explain why I could no longer fit into a medium-sized shirt. They wanted me to explain how and why I allowed myself to gain so much weight. My new, fat body distracted my relatives from asking invasive questions about my sexual identity.

“How did you get so damn fat?” one of my burliest aunts questioned.

I smirked and replied, “By eating and never exercising.” I choked back what I really wanted to say, grateful that my relatives found something other than my sexuality to discuss over turkey.

I survived Thanksgiving without having to over-explain my queerness. However, I’m sure that my shocking transformation won’t distract them from questioning my sexual identity a second time. And I’m sure that my homophobic relatives — none of them svelte themselves — are going to continue attacking my fatness.

Anticipating the simultaneous attacks on my body and queerness, I searched the internet for a holiday survival guide for fat, queer people. I found nothing, so I decided to make one for myself. So, here’s a quick guide for surviving the holidays as a fat queer person:

1. Channel the confidence of Tiffany “New York” Pollard

Sometimes, all we have to do is change our attitude. Who has more attitude than Tiffany “New York” Pollard? Are you really queer if you don’t receive a surge of confidence and become super confrontational after watching New York’s best moments on YouTube?

When people pointed out New York’s obvious weight gain on Flavor of Love’s first season, she replied by saying, “And I look fabulous. I look better than you making your exit right now.”

I’m not suggesting that one becomes irate at the dinner table when someone makes an insensitive comment or query about one’s queerness or weight — I’m saying that absorbing some of the confidence New York exudes throughout the show couldn’t hurt.

2. Echo their ignorance with class

I’m sarcastic by nature. So, whenever someone says something stupid, I feel the need to say something stupider. When someone says something rude, I say something even ruder. However, I’m black — I’m never too old for my mother to slap the shit out of me for embarrassing her. Family dinners are not the correct forum to express your disdain towards your ignorant family members.

You can have great clap backs to mirror their ignorant comments, but you have to keep it cute.

This past Thanksgiving, my least favorite aunt stares at me with disgust fixed on her wrinkled face. “You’re going to be the turkey next year if you keep gaining weight,” she says. I had at least twelve things I could have said about her weight, wig, or outfit — but I’m better than that, at least when there’s a buffet of food in front of me.
I chuckled at her bad joke, then said, “Well hopefully, you won’t try to cook me.” She smiled, assuming that I was gleefully playing along with her body-shaming Thanksgiving pun. But truthfully, I was taking a jab at how her turkey always tastes like a cheap condom. She can’t cook. I didn’t have to say that candidly and embarrass my mother. I said what was on my mind without actually saying it.

Whether or not your ignorant relatives catch on to your shade is immaterial; you’re throwing shade for you, not for them.  

3. Be honest with yourself and your family members

I’ve seen enough RuPaul’s Drag Race to know that not every queer person can throw shade. That being said, it’s time to move on to plan B: digging deep into our own emotions and being able to communicate when something (or someone) is making us feel uncomfortable.

In the past, I have told my relatives that they are making me feel uncomfortable. Three Thanksgivings ago, one of my aunts began interrogating me about my sex life, questioning whether or not I grew my beard out to tickle a woman’s vagina if I went down on her. I raised my eyebrow and said, “Auntie, please stop. I don’t feel comfortable talking about that.” Luckily, she understood; if she didn’t, I would have stood up and abandoned the table. If the food is delicious, you should take it with you!

4. Stand in Your Fatness and Queerness

I came out to my family more than once before the holidays. That doesn’t stop them from asking me why I’m not in a hetero relationship. My relatives have seen my large body more than once before the holidays. That doesn’t stop them from asking me why I haven’t tried different diets and workout plans.

Ask yourselves, why don’t you ask your uncles why they don’t have wives? Why don’t you ask your aunts why there’s always a roach crawling up their walls? Why don’t you ask your younger cousins why they repeated the second grade more than once? There are three good answers. One: You don’t want to be rude. Two: You don’t care enough. Three: Because they own their fucked-up characteristics; this includes their ability to destroy the holidays.

Nothing is wrong with being fat and queer. Internalize that, and your relatives are least likely to badger you about your sexuality and weight.

5. Combat uncomfortable questions with uncomfortable questions

Unless you were homeschooled, one of your classmates have likely asked, “Are you gay? Does your mother know you’re gay?” Naturally, you will say “no.” That’s when your classmate will point their finger at you and laugh. You admitted that you’re gay and your mother has no clue.

I’m a victim. You’re probably a victim of this, too. That said, one important lesson I have learned is that not every question can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Uncomfortable questions should be answered with uncomfortable questions.

If your uncles ask why you don’t have a girlfriend, ask him why he’s not married. If your little cousins ask why you talk like a girl, ask them why they talk like the opposite of their sex. If your aunts ask when you’re going to find your soulmate and bring them to the family dinner, ask them when they’re going to find theirs—this is especially funny when they’re already married.

6. Give them TMI.

Luckily, my mother is my biggest ally, and this was actually her recommendation. She said, “Remember that time I went in your closet and your fleshlight fell on me? Notice how I never dug in your closet again? When someone is looking for something and they find the wrong thing, they never go looking again.”

When your cis-heterosexual relatives badger you about your sexuality or sex life, they’re not really interested; they’re only interested in making you feel uncomfortable. So, you should make them feel uncomfortable, too.

I’ve practiced this in the mirror already. When my aunts or uncles ask, “Why are you so fat now?” I’m going to give them an over the top answer. “Well, aunt/uncle… I stopped having sex every day, so I lost my only source of exercise.” And if they ask about my sexual orientation, I’ll respond with another over the top answer: “I just love the warmth of buttholes. What about you auntie/uncle?”

Who’s going to ask a follow-up question after that? No one.

7. CHANGE THE FUCKING SUBJECT.

If you’re too much of a pussy to do number 6, this is equally as powerful: change the subject. Once you feel like your relatives are going to start questioning you about your sex life or your weight, start talking about something else. Lead the discussion, take it somewhere that won’t make you feel uncomfortable. Talk about how nice the house looks, how good the turkey tastes, or discuss your New Year’s Resolution.

8. Pretend like you’re in pain

At work, there’s an extremely annoying security guard. When I say annoying, I don’t mean SpongeBob Squarepants annoying (cute annoying), I mean bedbug annoying. No matter how many the exterminator kills, there’s always another one. Even after throwing away all your furniture, they’re somewhere in the small cracks of your home ready to bite the shit out of you.

This guard can’t read social cues. If you walk away from her, she will follow you. If you pick up your phone attempting to avoid a conversation, she will ask you who you’re on the phone with. No matter how happy you are, she can ruin your day. Like I said before: cis-heterosexual people ruin everything.

I learned a simple life-hack that keeps her from annoying me: I pretend like I’m in immense pain. No one’s going to bother someone if they believe that they’re suffering. Try this during your holiday dinners. If your homophobic/body-shaming relatives have an inch of humanity in them, they’ll leave you alone.

9. Lean on your other fat and queer friends

The best part of being fat and queer is that you’re a part of two different communities. Somewhere out there, there’s a group chat specifically for fat people. Similarly, there is a group chat specifically for queer people. Once you find them, you will see that your situation is no different from theirs. Take out your phone and laugh about how ignorant your family members are.

10. Become a vegan Satanist

This lengthy guide has some gems, but contrary to popular belief: no gem is flawless. If all else fails, this one thing will save your holiday. I will stake my life on it.

Go vegan and begin worshipping the devil. No one’s going to question your sexuality if you randomly say “Praise Satan, auntie! You brought a vegan casserole!” They’re going to raise their eyebrow in shock. They’ll probably shift their concern to your religious views, but that’s better than being sexually harassed by your family members, right?

They’ll probably even stop inviting you to their family dinners.

Image via Getty

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4’ Premiere Recap: Herstory Never Repeats

RuPaul’s Drag Race has owned 2018. After airing for almost the entire first half of the year, between All Stars 3 (not the best!) and season 10 (incredibly strong first half!), RuPaul decided he could not let his foot off our neck. First, we got the entertaining-if-misguided Holi-slay Spectacular. Now, it’s All Stars season again. Ten veteran girls, one spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame up for grabs.

I’ll admit, I walked into this week’s premiere with some reticence. All Stars 3 was a pretty stressful experience, what with RuPaul saying transitioning queens shouldn’t compete in an interview, pockets of racist fans repeatedly attacking Bebe Zahara Benet (a personal favorite queen), and a finale that absolutely no one was happy with, even the winner. Suffice it to say I want the jury twist blasted into the next dimension.

All in all, though, this was a good reintroduction to the world of All Stars. This cast is excellent, far more impressive on the whole than All Stars 3’s crop. There are a couple of more dubious inclusions, considering their runs on the show, but the show goes out of its way to explain why they’re there.

For example: Season 9’s Farrah Moan is one of the most beautiful alumni. And season 7’s Jasmine Masters is a meme queen! But even those justifications ultimately don’t mean much, as those are the two queens who wind up in the bottom this week. Excellence outside the show only sometimes translates into improving your performance on the show, after all.

But we’ll get back to them later. We’ve got some other queens to re-meet first.

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The first challenges are, once again, Reading Is Fundamental and the All-Star Variety Show. Which: I get tradition, but can we vary this up a little next season? At this point the All Stars format is getting stale, including the return of Lip Sync for Your Legacy. (I guess that suspension from the supertrailer is coming later in the season, then.) All Stars 2 was so thrilling because it changed up the format; doing the same challenges over and over again is not the way to replicate that season’s success.

Season 4 and All Stars 1 veteran Latrice Royale wins the mini-challenge, marking her second reading challenge win (tying Alaska, who won in season 5 and All Stars 2). She and Manila Luzon, season 3 runner-up, both return from All Stars 1, where a terrible team twist doomed them to a joint 7th/8th-place finish. I adore Latrice, so I’m super excited to see how she’ll do in modern Drag Race. I am of more mixed emotions about Manila, a stunning queen whose challenge wins in season 3 nonetheless feel a bit … shall we say, suspect in retrospect. Let’s just say her QNN correspondent performance would probably not win the challenge today, nor the internet’s favor.

Both Latrice and Manila do just fine in the All-Star Variety Show, though surprising myself, I might have put Manila in my personal top three. She does an odd painting routine with a hell of a twist — she painted a picture upside down! — and adds a costume reveal to boot. It probably didn’t play as well onstage as it did on camera, but I like when these queens don’t just lip-sync for their talent. This is Drag Race. Everyone should have that particular talent.

While Latrice does include color guard moves in her routine, they’re mostly an excuse for her to do a high-energy lip-sync number. Infamous season 9 fan favorite Valentina also lip syncs, but considering she likely just wants to prove she can do it, it’s understandable. Season 8 alumna Naomi Smalls mostly poses through her lip sync, although a good bald head reveal at the end grants her a top three placement from the judges.

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Season 10 sisters Monique Heart and Monét X Change both opt for live vocals in their performances, singing songs tied to their catchphrases from their season. Despite Monét championing herself as a singer in season 10, however, Monique is the winner of this particular battle. “Brown Cow Stunning” is a good Drag Race alumni track, and her outfit — actual brown cow, no giraffe this time! — is just corny enough to work. More to the point, Monique sounds good, and keeps her vocals up while she dances. She’s the clear winner in the main challenge, finally taking home a win after being passed up repeatedly during season 10.

Monét, on the other hand, really whiffs on this one. Her voice is a disaster at the start of the performance, and “Soak It Up” feels like a rehash of all the sponge jokes Monét told during season 10. The key difference between Mo’ and Mo’ is that while Monique did say “Brown cow! Stunning!” in season 10, she said it once. Monét made the sponges a season-long gag. We get it. We need something more. Combined with her technical imperfection, it’s enough to land Monét in the bottom, sitting on the opposite side of the stage as Monique. That said, Monique should probably retire the brown cow jokes for a while after this win.

This being All Stars, Monique cannot win alone, and so she is joined by season 9’s Trinity Taylor — now preferring to go by Trinity the Tuck. Similar to Monét, Trinity relies on a gag from her season, her tucking skills, but puts together a whole new comedy routine to go with it. It’s a lip sync, but to a tucking tutorial, complete with a country-fried teacher character. It’s a smart idea, particularly because the judges have always preferred Trinity’s comedy to her more pageant-friendly skills. (Two of her three wins in season 9 were for comedic performances.)

Trinity’s performance is fun, but more importantly, it’s different. Tatianna won the All Stars 2 talent show because she did spoken word, and she killed it. You’d think more girls would look to her as an example — which is what season 6’s Gia Gunn does, actually. Her kabuki routine isn’t the flashiest, but it’s unique. I finished watching the episode thinking of the talents that took me by surprise, like hers, Trinity’s, and Manila’s, much more than the more expected routines.

Now, that’s Gia in the challenge. Gia out of the challenge is a whole other story. While I appreciate the journey she’s been on in her transition, and am pleasantly surprised to see her here, Gia in both the workroom and confessionals this week is absolutely unbearable. She’s constantly negative, putting down Trinity and Farrah ad nauseam. She even trash-talks the beloved Valentina after the latter’s routine bores her! Gia’s not even trying to avoid being the villain this season! Milk and Phi Phi O’Hara’s villain edits took far more work to put together than this.

Purposeful antagonism isn’t enjoyable to watch, frankly. The best reality TV villains don’t come in to start shit, they think they’re right. Moreover, they don’t let their snark get in the way of their success. As Trinity says in one confessional, maybe she’s got a strategy in mind, but with this attitude, she’s not going to survive long in the Lip Sync for Your Legacy format.

Speaking of, Trinity is the queen whose growth most impresses me in this episode — not as a queen, because she’s always been skilled, but as a person. Trinity was known for being a stone-cold, cutthroat competitor in season 9. She wins the lip sync against Monique, a barnburner set to Mariah Carey’s “Emotions,” and has to send either Farrah or Jasmine home this week. Trinity gets really emotional and reflective about the decision, and even tears up on stage. She’s showing her heart early, which will nicely compliment her challenge and lip sync superiority. Even in the reading mini-challenge, though she didn’t win it, she artfully lobbed failed reads from other queens back at them.

If I had to bet on one queen to be the BenDeLaCreme or Alaska of this season — excelling in nearly every part of the show — Trinity would be my bet.

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And so we return to Farrah and Jasmine, who both make pretty strong cases for sending them home this week. Farrah’s burlesque routine is a literal flop, thus ending the trend of the one burlesque performer each season (Roxxxy Andrews and Ben before this) winning the variety show. It’s interesting that the judges don’t mention Farrah’s fall in their critiques, though I know the show shoots every variety show act twice. That’s why we didn’t see Chi Chi DeVayne drop her baton during All Stars 3. Maybe they weren’t sure if the show would use the take where Farrah falls, and wanted to avoid mentioning it as a result. Still, even if Farrah didn’t fall in both takes, she’s visibly nervous throughout her routine. Winning Drag Race takes Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent, and I could really only make an argument for Farrah’s Charisma at this point.

Jasmine is the opposite of nervous. She’s all Nerve, with very little to back it up. Jasmine’s stand-up routine is completely devoid of good jokes, but even during deliberations, she refuses to admit she wasn’t funny. (Which: She really wasn’t.) That said, between the two choices, I’m much more interested in seeing what Jasmine would bring to All Stars. She’s a different kind of queen, one who could surprise in this more performance-heavy format with more preparation. Farrah, bless her heart, is never going to make a big impression in All Stars.

Trinity ultimately chooses to cut Jasmine, which is defensible, if disappointing. Farrah is likely next out the door unless she can surprise. But there’s not much chaff left after that. That’s when the true battle between the best of the best can begin.

Some final thoughts:

• The bitch is back! I’m happy to be joining you all again as the primary recapper for All Stars 4. Mathew Rodriguez, who so wonderfully covered season 10, will be writing about the season in a broader capacity. All Stars 3 nearly broke me, but some time off plus a dynamite first half of season 10 helped rekindle my love of Drag Race. I’m excited to see what these girls can do this season.

• I personally believe in declaring biases, so for the record: I’m heavily rooting for Monét X Change to win this season. I think she’s entertaining as hell, with the intelligence to back it up. That said, this was the worst possible note to start on — literally. Her singing made Phi Phi in All Stars 2 sound on-key. Also? Save the sponges, her look for the variety show was basically Bob the Drag Queen’s final Book Ball look in season 8. Considering she always gets compared to Bob anyway, this misstep is particularly egregious. Get it together, Monét, and fast!

• We’re supposed to believe that Valentina and Farrah are good now, after their iconic reunion fight in season 9. I maybe don’t buy it? Their tone when talking about making up is tense. We’ll see how the rest of this season goes, but I don’t think this is going to be an Alyssa Edwards/Coco Montrese “we have buried the hatch” moment.

• Speaking of Val, I know I didn’t mention her much, but she was surprisingly backgrounded this episode for such a controversial character. Saving the best for later, maybe? Regardless, I appreciate that Valentina is embracing being a more complex character. I gave a cheer when she said she can be both nice and a telenovela villainess. Tea!

• The best read in the mini-challenge is Latrice’s “Valentina! Take that thing off your face. Oh, it is your face. Your other one.” It’s a layered read: first reference, then read, then the full wig-snatch. Runner-up: Naomi’s “Farrah Moan is so dumb, she thought Valentina was her best friend.”

• Naomi says the word “fashion” multiple times in her track, which gave me PTSD flashbacks to Milk’s “Touch the Fashion” last season. (Also, a light conspiracy theory: I think Naomi only got her top three placement because the judges wanted to give her the note that her comedy played better than just posing. It’s a critique that could really benefit her moving forward.)

• There’s a superhero/comic aesthetic to the intro this season, replacing the Handmaid’s Tale theme from last season. Hope this one doesn’t become an overly long gag that never satisfyingly pays off.

• Monique loses her wig during the lip sync, which is irritating, but it becomes a full gag when the wig gets stuck in the stage rafters. Trinity was going to win this lip sync anyway — seriously, she really kills it — but Monique should count herself lucky something fun came from her mistake.

• Jenifer Lewis is a great guest judge, energetic during the performances and giving good notes during critiques. I especially appreciated her rebuke to Farrah’s tears — that crying is boring. Because it is, frankly! I appreciate Farrah’s feelings, but this is All Stars. In the words of Aja, level your pussy up.

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars returns next Friday, December 21, at 8pm Eastern on VH1.

Is the Lip Sync For Your Legacy Format Working?

It’s been two years since RuPaul unveiled the most enduring and celebrated format change in RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars history. Whereas other changes — teams, the jury — have gone over like a lead balloon, the Lip Sync for Your Legacy is now considered a mainstay of the All-Stars format, and the biggest distinguishing factor between the spin-off and its parent reality competition.

After two seasons of the new format, Friday’s premiere of All-Stars 4 saw the return of Lip Sync for Your Legacy in a showdown between Season 10 stunner Monique Heart and Season 9 finalist Trinity Taylor to Mariah Carey’s “Emotions.” And, for the third premiere in a row, the same thing happened: the person who actually did the best in the week’s maxi challenge lost the lip sync, missed out on the $10,000 prize and was not actually crowned the “winner” of the week, nor got to send one of her fellow queens home.

Look at the previous seasons: In All-Stars 2, after knocking her spoken word performance of “The Same Parts” out of the park, clear winner Tatianna lost in a Taylor Swift lip sync to Roxxxy Andrews, who did a burlesque routine in the talent show. Fast forward one season and Aja — who, like Tatianna, came back to All-Stars and blew everyone’s expectations out of the water — won the variety show but ultimately lost to BenDeLaCreme, who threw the comedic kitchen sink at Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” and got the $10,000 tip.

This pattern of the obvious challenge winner not actually, well, winning exposes one of the biggest problems with the format. Lip Sync for Your Legacy actually makes the maxi challenge second banana in terms of importance. Really, the weekly test, for which every contestant prepares, is an entrance exam to the actual competition: the lip sync. For instance, in this week’s episode, the 10 contestants were fighting to get a spot in the lip sync so that they could compete for money and the win. The challenge is not, then, actually the maxi challenge, but a playoff. It’s a rest stop on the way to the true thunderdome.

In many ways, that reverses the format of the regular Drag Race seasons. In a Lip Sync for Your Life, contestants who failed the week’s challenge get a chance to stay in the competition. The format lights a fire under their asses. There’s no such fire in the “legacy” format. Just look at the lip syncs across the board from the last two seasons of All-Stars. Overall, they’re pretty good; they are all stars, after all. But the lip sync of the past two All-Stars seasons that stands head and shoulders above the rest isn’t a “legacy” lip sync — it’s Tatianna and Alyssa Edwards’ “Shut Up and Drive,” which was a LSFYLife.

So “legacy” lip syncs on some level lack the passion of the “life” format. And they also often reward the wrong person, making the challenges seem a little less than important. But, on the other hand, they do add a lot of value. By getting rid of the “life” lip sync, All-Stars adds room for the drama of strategery and workroom fuckery, which is always fun to watch. It also spares any All-Star the embarrassment of feeling like they “lost” the competition. Instead, a fellow queen sent her home.

I’m not saying the format has to be done away with. Instead, there should be something in place to add what is really missing from the “legacy” lip sync: stakes. If a queen loses, she is “safe” instead of getting $10,000. Maybe, as my colleague Kevin O’Keeffe suggested in an episode of The Kiki, the queen who loses the lip sync can join the bottom two and then the queen can choose to send home the person whose name is on the lipstick in their bra or the lip sync loser. (Of course, this argument shoots my own in the foot. If a queen like Aja or Tatianna went from robbed winner to straight to the bottom, I’d have a meaty tuck of a conniption.)

Rather than saying “Lip Sync for Your Legacy” is completely broken, I’m saying that it’s rough to see for the umpteenth time the truly deserving challenge winner lose out on a tip. I wanted Aja, Tatianna and Monique Heart to get their checks! Legacies are great, but you should tip your truly winning queens.

Who Is Mick Mulvaney? The Anti-LGBTQ Record of Trump’s New Chief of Staff

 

On Friday, after a week of speculation over which conservative politician would be dumb enough to take the job, President Trump announced that he was replacing outgoing chief of staff John Kelly with current Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney.

Mulvaney will be the third person to serve as chief of staff under Trump, replacing Kelly, who was reportedly brought on to try to control the mercurial Trump following the resignation of Reince Priebus after only six months in the position. Mulvaney’s official title hedges the permanence of the position, with Trump referring to him Friday as the new “acting” chief.

Traditionally, the role of chief of staff is said to be the most powerful in Washington, with close influence over the president’s decision-making. Under Trump, however, the job has gained a reputation as frustrating — with headlines this week sarcastically asking things like “Why Does No One Want the Least Secure Job in Washington?” and late-night TV hosts mocking the job that nobody seems to want. Over the past week since Trump announced Kelly’s departure, at least five prominent candidates for the role — from Vice President Pence’s current CoS Nick Ayers to North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows and even Chris Christie — have publicly said they didn’t want the job.

So on Friday, it wasn’t surprising to see the internet explode with jokes about how Mick Mulvaney drew the short straw in becoming Trump’s next babysitter.

But who is Mulvaney? Unsurprisingly, the Irish Catholic conservative Tea Party Republican from North Carolina has a solid record of anti-LGBTQ comments and policy decisions made over his decade-long career in public service.

Mulvaney’s homophobic platform started early; after entering politics in 2006 with election to the South Carolina statehouse, one of his very first moves was banning same-sex marriage by sponsoring an state bill that amended the constitution to make “marriage between a man and woman the only domestic union recognized by the state.”

In 2008 Mulvaney ran for a state senate seat that had unexpectedly opened up by campaigning, in part, by denouncing the state’s tourism board for “spending taxpayer money…advertising SC to gay tourists in Europe.”

A scandal erupted during the 2008 campaign, too, when illegal robocalls linked a made-up group called  ‘The Alliance for the Advancement of Gays and Lesbians’ to Mulvaney’s opponent in order to make her seem too far left for her voters. News reports suggested that Mulvaney’s campaign ordered the phony calls, which told voters his opponent supported abortion and same-sex marriage even though she said publicly that she opposed both.

In 2011, Mulvaney graduated from his position as state senator after being elected to the U.S. House. He didn’t waste any time pushing homophobic policy, signing a letter alongside 85 other congressman that called on the U.S. Senate to keep the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a former federal law that defined marriage as strictly heterosexual.

Mulvaney co-sponsored the First Amendment Defense Act in June 2015, legislation designed to create a homophobia loophole in relation to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision that month legalizing same-sex marriage. The FADA legislation Mulvaney signed was one of the first to frame anti-LGBTQ views under the rubric of “religious liberty,” which has since become a hallmark of the Trump administration.

Not satisfied with limiting his views to homophobia, Mulvaney has also opposed civil rights for transgender Americans, signing onto a 2016 letter demanding the Obama administration explain its protections for trans students in schools in the face of Republican concerns for the “privacy, “discomfort,” and emotional strain imposed on other students during use of bathroom, showering, and changing facilities and overnight accommodations as these schools comply with this guidance.”

Current White House chief of staff John Kelly is expected to leave the job at the end of December.