Queer Abby: Monogamy or Distance?

Dear Queer Abby,
I have gone on a few great dates with someone who lives overseas, so it’s not a realistic dating option. How do I stay open to them while also staying open to local dating? I am a monogamous person at heart.
 
Signed,
Puzzled in P-Town
 
Dear Puzzled,
 

My first question for you is – are they an option or aren’t they? What do you want in a relationship? If you are a workaholic or frequent traveler with a love of screen time, then perhaps distance is for you; but from your letter it sounds like you would like a monogamous date.

Monogamy and in-town are the best of friends.

Monogamy and distance are a tougher match, in particular if you do not have an end-game.

The beginning of a relationship, the sexed-out oxytocin-fueled mania called limerence, is a fever dream of potential.
Your body and brain want the love drug chemicals to keep pumping, so they will tell you: LOCK THIS DOWN.

However! They will also glaze over the sharp edges and reality of a person, leaving you an unreliable narrator in your own life. The only cure is time. Time will let the high wear off and reveal smells, ticks, and a person’s bad qualities. This is WONDERFUL, because you get to decide, unencumbered by limerence, whether those qualities work for you.

If no person is 100% perfect, and we are rounding up, I would like you, dear reader, to be clear-eyed when you determine if they are worth rounding for (i.e. if this is an appropriate person with whom to pledge monogamy).

I repeat: THIS WILL TAKE TIME.

Distance will give you intensive, time-crunched experiences in each other‘s worlds, but I promise you, it will not magically gift you the time-served you need any faster.

If I had to be prescriptive, I’d say visit each other regularly for four months before you betroth.

In the meantime, mix it up. Flirt in town. Go on some dates and remember that you can give and get romantic attention close to home. If your monogamous heart cannot stomach first dates as you wait for your beau, keep yourself as busy and nourished as possible. 

So much of distance is living in the past or present. I want you to keep a firm joyful foot in the now of your town. 
Move your body. See your friends. Fill up your tank with things you love nearby so you do not cloud your vision and narrowly focus on abstracted love. 

There is love nearby, platonic or environmental though it may be. I want you to hold it.

Love,

Queer Abby

Right-Wing Website Says Transgender James Bond Would Be ‘Affront to Masculinity’

One conservative website rang in the new year with a bang—if by “a bang,” you mean rampant, virulent transphobia.

On Monday, the politics and policy website Washington Examiner ran an op-ed warning that casting a transgender actor as James Bond would be the end of masculinity as we know it. In a column which feels as if it were crafted by a sentient content robot, contributor Nicole Russell claims the idea is “outlandish, absurd, and truly a bad omen for the role of masculinity in entertainment and even real life.”

“Transgender people represent half a percentage point or less of the United States population,” Russell claimed. “It isn’t a mainstream trend in real life and thus, has no need to earn representation in film.”

The pearl-clutching screed (which will not be linked to here) was penned in response to Colette actor Dominic West’s call for a trans actor to replace Daniel Craig. The actor has said the next Bond film will be his last. West suggested Hannah Winterbourne, the wife of U.K.-based trans actor Jake Graf, to fill Bond’s shoes.

West remarked that having someone like Winterbourne, the “highest-ranking transgender soldier” in the British armed forces, play the part would be “brilliant.”

“She’s a beautiful blonde girl who could be Bond, yes,” he told the Sunday Times. “That’s actually a brilliant idea. They should have a transgender Bond because there are a lot of transgender people in the army. They’d be ideal because they can do everything.”

“That’s a great idea!” he added. “A transgender Bond.”

Trans actors, activists, and advocates applauded his comments on Twitter. Comedian Ian Harvie claimed that having a transgender man play Bond would be a “major triumph.” Harvie, a stand-up comic who appeared on Transparent, said it would allow trans men to be “seen as men, legitimate and worthy of casting in this role.”

In an interview with The Daily Beast, actor Scott Turner Schofield added that “the impact it would have on culture… cannot be underestimated.”

A recent GLAAD survey showed that transgender people remain extremely underrepresented in media—from television to film. In 2017, there were just 26 trans characters across all TV platforms (i.e., streaming, cable, and broadcast). That number was actually a record high, and many of the characters were regulars on FX’s Pose.

Russell, though, insists a trans James Bond would be an “affront to masculinity.”

“To allow a person who has eschewed manhood so much she chooses to live as a woman to embody the role of this archetypal character is an affront to masculinity, both the good and bad,” she claims. “Society has enough of that, in real life, with the onslaught of transgender norms in schools, now bombarding the court system with their tales of marginalized woe.”

“It certainly doesn’t need that in James Bond,” Russell concludes.

Elsewhere, Russell swings all over the place. She also sets her sights on “cranky feminists” who take issue with 007’s “womanizing ways.”

The next part is a real doozy. The writer compares the long-running character to toasting with champagne during a celebration: “an over-the-top representation of something good.”

“Bond embodies the best in alpha males and also some of the worst,” she states. “He is a renaissance man who wants, ultimately, to protect the things he loves: his woman and his country. With equal parts brain and brawn, Bond epitomizes what men can be, even though he also falters in his weaknesses.”

If you think she writes with the turgid grace of a Republican political operative, you’re right. Her byline contains the none-too-surprising revelation that she’s a wonk from Michele Bachmann’s home state of Minnesota.

An on-brand take published the same day as the Bond piece bemoans the “failure” of progressive feminism in the year of #MeToo and the “Blue Wave.”

Not shy about cribbing from her own work, Russell sneaks in one last jab about a trans 007.

“The summer of feminism’s discontent brought nothing more than aimless drivel,” she writes, “grasping for any anecdote to keep a narrative that’s always listless from gaining any steady speed: They complained about a wage gap among Uber drivers and even an idea of a female or transgender James Bond.”

All that throwing trans people under the bus got her exactly one retweet on her timeline.

Lest she take any solace in that lone pity tweet, it was from a Channing Tatum bot account.

It’s Time for Sandra Bullock to Play Gay

Since Netflix’s release of the thriller Bird Box in mid-December, the internet has been abuzz with Sandra Bullock content. It seems that people are either just finding out about America’s Sweetheart, or are rediscovering their love for the Academy Award-winning actress. Regardless, now seems like as good a time as any to praise Sandy for her prolific career. And with #20GayTeen in our back pocket, and the Sapphic and suggestive Ocean’s 8 in our rearview, I just have one thing to say: The world is ready for Sandra Bullock to play gay.

Many of Sandy’s movies and characters have been adopted by the lesbian community in the past. Of course, there’s Miss Congeniality (2000), in which Bullock plays the crass and traditionally masculine FBI agent Gracie Hart. In May of 2018, the actress appeared on Ellen and revealed that the movie’s screenwriter, Marc Lawrence, actually wrote the movie about Ellen. So, if the open-mouth-masticating, baggy pants-sporting, brawny cop character felt queer to you, then you’re right—Gracie was actually based off a soft-butch! But I digress, the character wasn’t actually queer.

Tons of Sandy’s roles have a similar vibe and aesthetic to her Miss Congeniality character, one which can only be described as BDE (Big Dyke Energy). Look at her action movies alone: in the fast-paced thriller Speed (1994), the Bullock stars opposite Keanu Reeves as Annie. Annie bravely grabs hold of the wheel on a speeding bus, which has been rigged to detonate a bomb if it drops below 50 mph. At one point, Bullock drops her floral blouse and dons a tight turquoise tank-top, a la Sarah Connor in The Terminator; my gay ass swooned.

The following year, Bullock starred in The Net, another edge of your seat thriller, which features one of her gayest—and thus hottest—aesthetics ever. As Angela, a computer programmer turned badass action star, Sandy wears denim jackets, fondles floppy disks, and conquers cyberterrorists, all while dressing like a fluffy-haired 90s lesbo. The Net is actually a great movie, if you’re looking for more Sandy content to quench your gay thirst.

Obviously, there’s Practical Magic, the 1998 witch movie in which Bullock plays one of the Owens sisters, a line of witches who were cursed by their ancestor. The curse will kill any man who falls in love with an Owens sister, so wherever Owens women go, dead men follow. How these women don’t start dating other women is beyond me. If there’s ever a gay Practical Magic reboot, it’d have zero conflict and be utterly boring, because the Owens sisters could just date women and ignore the curse (I’m still super down though). But gay plots aside, Sandy wears choker necklaces in Practical Magic—choker necklaces!! The number one signifier of female queerness!! She also dons some high-waisted denim and does the Gay Lean—you know the one, where a woman leans against furniture like a mechanic wiping down his wrench. It’s the optimal position from which to exert pheromones. I love a woman who leans against furniture. Anyway, all witches are canonically queer, and therefore, so is this movie.

In The Proposal (2009), Sandy plays Margaret Tate, who was, in my eyes, a Power Lesbian trapped by the vise grip of internalized homophobia-induced heterosexuality. Margaret is a high-profile executive editor-in-chief of a publishing company in New York, and is the bitchiest, nastiest Jeri Hogarth-esque boss in the biz (all of those words are compliments, by the way). That any man, even Ryan Reynolds, was able to handle all that power-suited, sharp-tongued BDE, is a major feat. Then there’s The Heat (2013), where Bullock plays an FBI agent once again (it’s basically a Miss Congeniality sequel), and Gravity (2013), where she returns to her action roots as a rugged survivalist astronaut butch.

So, over the decades, Sandy has played numerous characters that have teetered on the edge of queerness. That brings us back to 2018’s Ocean’s 8. The lesbian community was set aflame at the sexual tension between Bullock and Cate Blanchett’s characters in the con movie; they read more like a long-term lesbian couple than a pair of friends or “partners” in crime. Actually, the biggest crime committed in Ocean’s 8 was the lack of consummation or confirmation of lesbianism between Debbie (Bullock) and Lou (Blanchett). One Vulture critic even ranked all eight stars by lesbian energy, and Bullock and Blanchett unsurprisingly snagged the top two spots, followed closely by Rihanna and Sarah Paulson.

And not for nothing, but Bullock pairs up with queer fave Sarah Paulson for the second time in Bird Box, which would’ve been a lot more exciting if the women had played girlfriends instead of sisters. Nonetheless, Sandy starred in yet another action thriller, saving the day with her Herculean muscles and panic voice. She flexed her rafting and survival skills, wore ugly hiking boots, owned a fucking bird, and yet somehow still ended up straight!

For male actors, there’s a long-standing joke (or realistic trend) that playing gay will win you an Oscar. The same cannot be said for female actors, because lesbian movies are historically snubbed at the Oscars (see: Cate Blanchett, Carol). However, Sandy has already won an Oscar for her role in The Blind Side (2010), and once you win an Oscar, you can pretty much do whatever the fuck you want. Most Oscar winners either keep winning Oscars, or start chillin’ in big budget thrillers and get memed out the wazoo by their gay fans (what’s up Nicole Kidman?). No offense to Sandra Bullock, who could easily swing another win at the Academy Awards, but she’s seemingly gone the latter route.

So, Sandy, here’s my advice: America is gay now, and if you want to remain America’s Sweetheart, you need to dig deep and get gayer. Strap on your ugly ass Land’s End hiking boots and an L.L. Bean vest—or bulletproof vest—and team up with Cate Blanchett or Sarah Paulson again. Give the people what they want. Actually, here’s my advice to all Academy Award-winning actresses over 40: If you’re not going to keep winning Oscars like Meryl Streep, then just lean hard into lesbianism and getting memed, and I promise, you’ll never ever lose an ounce of relevance. Just look at Rachel Weisz. Rachel Weisz starred in two lesbian movies in 2018, and has set herself up for a bountiful life devoid of Oscar wins. And really, isn’t that a utopian future for Hollywood actresses?

Trump’s NASA Head Lifts Sanctions Against Anti-LGBTQ Russian Official to Allow Visit

Trump’s head of NASA raised eyebrows this week by lifting sanctions against an anti-LGBTQ Russian official to allow him to speak at its Houston facility.

Jim Bridenstine, who was appointed to lead NASA in April following months of gridlock, reportedly invited Dmitry Rogozin to its headquarters in early 2019. The former deputy prime minister, Rogozin was tapped by Russian President Vladimir Putin to lead Roscosmo—which manages the country’s aeronautics program—last year.

The 55-year-old has also served as Russia’s ambassador to NATO and the head of Russia’s Arctic Commission.

Normally, a visit from a little-known foreign bureaucrat wouldn’t make national headlines. But as Politico was the first to report, Rogozin is currently banned from entering the United States.

In 2014, Rogozin was sanctioned for his part in the annexation of Crimea, widely viewed as trespassing international law.

Adding to the controversy is Rogozin’s staunch record of opposing rights and recognition for the LGBTQ community. When Madonna protested St. Petersburg’s ban on Pride events at a 2012 concert in the Russian city, he called her a “whore” on Twitter.

“Every former [whore] wants to give lectures on morality when she grows old,” tweeted Rogozin, an active social media user. “Especially during foreign tours.”

Rogozin also took aim at Conchita Wurst after she won the famed Eurovision song contest in 2014. He claimed the Austrian drag queen’s victory was a harbinger of LGBTQ supremacy should Russia embrace Western ideology, saying it “showed supporters of European integration their European future: a bearded girl.”

Meanwhile, when Latvian politician Edgars Rinkevics publicly announced on Twitter that he’s a gay man, Rogozin suggested that being LGBTQ is a matter ofpPride only for those who have “nothing else to be proud of.”

“Is that his point of pride?” Rinkevics asked in a tweet.

Despite his anti-equality record, Politico reports that Bridenstine “succeeded in temporarily waiving sanctions on Rogozin” last October so that the official will have the opportunity to meet with NASA in the coming weeks. He’s also scheduled to visit Rice University, Bridenstine’s alma mater.

The former Congressman from Oklahoma defended his decision as part of his mission to maintain a “strong working relationship” between the United States and Russia.

NASA spokeswoman Megan Powers elaborated on that defense in an email.

“The U.S. / Russian relationship in space dates back to the 1970s,” Powers told Politico. “NASA has historically invited the head of the Russian space agency to visit the United States.”

“Following this precedent, and Administrator Bridenstine’s October visit to Russia to participate in crew launch activities to the International Space Station,” she continued, “NASA invited the Director-General of Roscosmos to visit NASA facilities in the United States and discuss our ongoing space-related cooperation.”

LGBTQ groups disagree that the invitation is benign in intent. Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, claimed it “sends an extraordinarily dangerous and discriminatory message to LGBTQ students and other marginalized groups.”

“Leave it up to the most anti-LGBTQ administration in recent memory to grant an anti-LGBTQ activist and Russian nationalist the opportunity to promote his hateful and out-of-touch rhetoric to students,” said Ellis in a statement. “Dmitry Rogozin has no business visiting our nation in the first place, much less being offered a speaking engagement at an academic institution.”

The national watchdog group called on Rice University to block him from campus.

The Houston, Texas university—where Bridenstine graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, Psychology, and Business—has not responded to criticism of Rogozin’s impending appearance.

While former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas told Politico the visit is “appalling” and Senate Intelligence Committee member Sen. Mark Warner claimed it “sends the wrong message” following reports of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, the controversy isn’t all that surprising.

Although NASA appointees are generally met with little blowback, Bridenstine’s nomination faced widespread opposition. In addition to being a climate change denier, the 43-year-old’s views on LGBTQ people aren’t that different from Rogozin’s.

Bridenstine called the Supreme Court’s decision on Obergefell v. Hodges a “disappointment.” He said the 5-4 ruling was a letdown “not only because it is contrary to millennia of human experience, but also because it is clearly contrary to the choice of the people as expressed in a constitutionally valid process.”

In addition, the former lawmaker opposes same-sex adoptions, affirming bathroom access for trans students in schools, and LGBTQ inclusion in the Boy Scouts of America.

“The left’s agenda is not about tolerance, and it’s not about diversity of thought,” he claimed after BSA announced it would permit openly queer and trans youths to participate. “It’s about presenting a worldview of relativism, where there is no right and wrong, then using the full force of the government to silence opposition and reshape organizations like the Boy Scouts into instruments for social change.”

At the time, GLAAD condemned his appointment as “yet another attack on LGBTQ people” by the Trump administration.

“It’s time for the Senate to take a hard look at the nominations they are confirming and the potential ramifications these anti-LGBTQ politicians stand to have on the LGBTQ employees in their agencies and within our country as a whole,” said Vice President of Programs Zeke Stokes in a press release.

The 18 Biggest LGBTQ News Stories of 2018

If 2017 was the year of anxiety and protest, as Trump entered his presidency and filled the federal government with anti-LGBTQ activists, then 2018 was the year the Trump administration fully went on the attack. The government’s anti-LGBTQ agenda was deployed over and over through federal policy proposals that threatened to define trans people out of existence, cleared the way for employment and healthcare discrimination, and crushed the military careers of HIV-positive troops.

It wasn’t all bad, though: 2018 was also the year that Hollywood finally started to take LGBTQ concerns seriously, the midterm elections brought an unprecedented wave of queer and trans elected officials, and India overturned a longtime British colonial ban on gay sex.

The year ahead presents just as many challenges, and a lot of LGBTQ equality cases that entered the courts are likely to result in 2019 rulings that could widely impact our rights. But with more LGBTQ governors, senators, and congressional representatives than ever before in history, we have a powerful voice in government.

In order to help understand what LGBTQ news and politics will look like in 2019, we’re looking back at some of last year’s biggest stories — presented here in no particular order.

1) LGBTQ PERSECUTION IN CHECHNYA CONTINUES

After the news of state-sponsored “gay purges” surfaced in 2017, reports showed LGBTQ people continued to flee the country in 2018. And a December report commissioned by Europe’s local answer to the United Nations showed that violent persecution and murders had continued throughout 2018 despite international condemnation. 

2) MARRIAGE EQUALITY, REVERSED

Bermuda became the world’s first country to repeal same-sex marriage rights, in a move that’s just sad. 

3) TRUMP KICKS HIV-POSITIVE TROOPS OUT OF THE MILITARY

In February, the Trump administration launched its new “Deploy or Get Out” policy, directing the Pentagon to discharge any troops that couldn’t be deployed overseas in the next 12 months. The effect of the policy: roughly 126,000 troops who are disabled, HIV-positive, or otherwise undeployable under military policy due to illness or injury are losing their jobs. Three separate lawsuits on behalf of HIV-positive soldiers entered the courts in 2018 to challenge the policy.

4) UNQUALIFIED LESBIANS, SKINHEAD LESBIANS, AND KICKBOXING NATIVE AMERICAN LESBIANS

The midterms got ugly this year for lesbians, as candidates on both sides of the aisle flung anti-lesbian comments at rivals and even at a high school student. Some of the hate was just absurd enough, thankfully, to cross over into humor; thanks to Christine Quinn’s jab at NYC mayoral candidate Cynthia Nixon, you can buy a button or a t-shirt advertising your “unqualified lesbian” status. 

5) ALMOST A TRANSGENDER GOVERNOR

Christine Hallquist became the first transgender candidate to win a major party nomination for governor of a U.S. state, as the Democratic primary winner in Vermont. INTO ran an exclusive interview with her.

6) SCOTUS RULES IN FAVOR OF MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP

Three years after it legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, the Supreme Court appeared to strike a blow against LGBTQ Americans when it ruled in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop — a business that broke Colorado state law by refusing to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple. While SCOTUS made clear its ruling did not justify or legalize anti-LGBTQ discrimination in public accommodations, it was viewed as a victory by anti-LGBTQ activists.  

7) HOLLYWOOD LISTENS TO LGBTQ PROTESTS

TODAY -- Pictured: Kevin Hart on Thursday, September 27, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Hollywood finally responds to LGBTQ outcry: it seemed like 2018 was the year Hollywood listened to queer and trans people for the first time. Scarlett Johansson backed away from starring in a biopic about a trans man, and Kevin Hart stepped down as the 2019 Oscars host after the internet blew up his history of making homophobic and transphobic jokes

8) TRUMP TAKES HIV FUNDING TO PAY FOR FAMILY SEPARATIONS

Internal documents from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement showed the agency planned to pay for the increasing cost of taking migrant children away from their families at the border by diverting money away from the federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. 

9) TRUMP TELLS FEDERAL CONTRACTORS DISCRIMINATION IS OKAY

The Trump administration’s Department of Labor issued new guidelines instructing the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to allow “faith-based” businesses to freely discriminate against LGBTQ employees in defiance of federal law.  

10) THE BRETT KAVANAUGH NIGHTMARE

Kavanaugh

Brett Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS confirmation seemed to go on forever, traumatizing sexual assault survivors of all genders and orientations. It also uncovered a bizarre incident with Kavanaugh’s gay college roommate — who came home one day to find a dead pigeon nailed to his bedroom door, saying Kavanaugh refused to speak to him because of likely homophobic animus.

11) INDIA LEGALIZES GAY SEX

India’s highest court struck down a gay sex ban that dated back to British colonial rule in the 1880s, putting an end to a long period of LGBTQ persecution by authorities. 

12) THE ANTI-LGBTQ MAIL BOMBER THAT TRIED TO KILL OBAMA

After a dozen mail bombs were sent to prominent Democrats (including President Barack Obama) and critics of President Trump, authorities arrested Cesar Sayoc for constructing and sending the devices. INTO delved into Sayoc’s past, discovering numerous homophobic and transphobic social media posts — and interviewed his lesbian former boss about the threatening, anti-gay comments he repeatedly made to her.

13) TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AIMS TO DEFINE TRANSGENDER OUT OF EXISTENCE

A Department of Health and Human Services memo leaked to the New York Times revealed Trump administration plans to legally define gender to match the genitals a person is born with, effectively erasing transgender, nonbinary, and intersex people from existence as far as the law is concerned. 

14) THE MIDTERMS WERE A HISTORIC RAINBOW TSUNAMI

The 2018 midterm elections saw more LGBTQ candidates, and more LGBTQ winners, than ever before in U.S. history. 

15) GRINDR PRESIDENT SAYS MARRIAGE IS FOR A MAN AND A WOMAN

INTO took the unusual step of reporting on its parent company after Grindr president Scott Chen posted controversial remarks about same-sex marriage on Facebook. Fallout from the report led to some employees resigning from their jobs. 

16) INTO IN MEXICO WITH THE LGBTQ CARAVAN

After a caravan of LGBTQ migrants broke away from the larger migrant caravan headed for the U.S. border, INTO’s Mexico reporters went inside to find out why — and followed them to Tijuana to witness a mass marriage.  

17) ICE TRIES TO DENY A TRANS WOMAN WAS BEATEN IN CUSTODY BEFORE SHE DIED

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) refused to release a legally-mandated report on the death of transgender woman Roxsana Hernandez, who died in custody in May. After an independent autopsy revealed that Hernandez appeared to have been beaten while in handcuffs before her death, ICE tried to discredit the doctor who performed the autopsy — and insisted that its statements remain off the record. INTO took the rare step of refusing to adhere to an off-record agreement. 

18) TAIWAN VOTES AGAINST MARRIAGE EQUALITY

Taiwan voters decided to ban same-sex marriage in surprise upset referendum, after anti-LGBTQ groups (aided by powerful American conservative organizations) spent $33 million to sway votes. INTO reporter Nico Lang traveled to Taiwan for a series of reports from the ground. 

Dearly Beloved, The Wrong Ex Wants Me Back

In this week’s Dearly Beloved, the advice column from author Michael Arceneaux, our dear reader wants direction on what to do about an ex he can’t shake. To all the letters Dearly Beloved received in 2018, “get over your throwback bae” was my most common answer. In 2019, are we going to do better? Not to be Pessimistic Pat, but probably not. Still, help is on the way.

If you want Michael’s advice, just email him at [email protected] with your question. Just be sure to include SPECIFICS, and don’t forget to start your letter with Dearly Beloved!

It’s a thing.

 

Dearly Beloved,

It’s been eight months and I can’t get over my last ex. He always seems to find his way to me mentally. I want him back in my life, but I know he won’t come back. My first ex came back into my life and I’m not sure what for. I feel as though there’s some sign I’m missing, but I wanted to seek advice before digging any further into it. 

A little info: my first ex broke up with me because he felt as though we weren’t compatible and he was very nervous and shy with me. My second absolutely adored me. We began to fall in love, but we broke up because his parents didn’t want us dating. We would secretly talk to each other for a few weeks before he said he no longer had feelings for me.

Signed,

Jacob

Dear Jacob,

There’s no better way to start a new year than by abandoning the bullshit of  the year before.

With respect to your first ex, I will say good for you having someone that dumped you crawl his goofy ass back your way to ask for a second chance. Sometimes people learn from their mistakes and you remember forgiveness can be so beautiful. Other times, it’s nice to just do a victory lap around someone who wasted your time.

As for the second ex, I think you need to run in the opposite direction of him. While I get that you two have a connection and chemistry, you have three people against you: his parents, and, apparently, the man himself. Perhaps his lack of interest now stems from the parental pressure, but either way, he’s communicated to you that he no longer has feelings for you.

If it’s meant to be, he will circle back (like the first ex) eventually, though as far as I’m concerned, it’s time for you to let him go and find someone who wants you and will have parents that won’t block your blessing.  

Signed,

Beloved!

Majority of Male Veterans and Active Duty Troops Oppose Trans Military Service, Women Strongly in Favor

A majority of veterans and active U.S. service members do not support allowing transgender people to serve in the armed forces, according to a new poll.

Released on Wednesday, a survey conducted by Smithsonian found that just 39 percent of respondents were in favor of allowing trans troops to openly enlist. The magazine polled 1,000 people in partnership with George Mason University and the military-focused publication Stars and Stripes.

Results differed starkly by gender. Whereas just 37 percent of men said they had no problem with transgender enlistment, nearly two-thirds of female veterans or women in active duty (62 percent) supported trans military service.

While these numbers may suggest the military remains conservative on trans issues, previous surveys have been less than conclusive on the subject.

In August 2017, Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University polled Americans on President Trump’s then-recent tweetstorm claiming trans enlistment would entail “tremendous medical costs and disruption” for the armed forces. The majority of military households disagreed with Trump’s conclusions: 55 percent said they should be allowed to serve.

Overall, Quinnipiac found that 68 percent of respondents—almost seven in 10—opposed the president’s attempted ban on trans military service.

As the Trump administration has continued to defend the policy in court over the past year and lost more than a half dozen times, the vast majority of surveys show the public has continued to oppose the ban.

While the conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports showed a very slim majority of Americans are in favor of trans enlistment—45 to 44—others are more decisive. Morning Consult claimed 68 percent of registered voters are against banning transgender people from the military, while The Economist and YouGov found that respondents supported transgender troops by a 15-point margin.

The most damning result, however, originated from The Harris Poll in July 2017. Almost three out of five people told the respected analytics and market research firm that the ban is intended to “distract from other policies and issues currently being discussed.”

Following a series of court decisions blocking the policy, the Trump administration has appealed to the Supreme Court to take up the case.

After Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed in the face of three sexual misconduct claims, the hope is that a conservative-leaning court would be more favorable to the policy. Prior to his confirmation, LGBTQ groups warned Kavanaugh would fall to the right of every Supreme Court judge except Clarence Thomas.

SCOTUS has yet to respond to the White House’s petition. The court typically hears up to 150 cases within a calendar year, despite receiving thousands of requests.

Last week, advocacy organizations filed a series of legal briefs urging Supreme Court justices to reject the case. These groups include GLBTQ Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and OutServe-SLDN.

“There is no urgency warranting this court’s immediate intervention,” claimed Lambda and OutServ in the Dec. 28 plea.

Could Gay Man’s Florida Eviction Spur Statewide Protections?

Randal Coffman can’t go home. Two weeks ago, his landlord told him she doesn’t want “faggots” on her property, and that he had to vacate, he says.

In Middleburg, the suburb of Jacksonville, Fla. where Coffman lives, his landlord’s request is legal. Coffman left and went to a friend’s house, where he has been staying ever since.

“It has really changed my view on how people look at me,” Coffman told INTO. “It just sucks because there’s nothing protecting me so anyone can treat me however [they] want.”

In 2017, the city of Jacksonville passed anti-discrimination protections protecting LGBTQ people in what was widely hailed as a watershed victory, but Florida lacks the same statewide protections. Middleburg, just over 30 miles south of Jacksonville, doesn’t have anti-discrimination protections on the books.

Now, some advocates say Coffman’s case could be the catalyst for statewide protections.

According to Coffman, the trouble started three days after he moved into an apartment attached to Jackie Cooper’s home on Dec. 1. Coffman alleges that Cooper told she didn’t want him to have girls stay over. He says he told her that wouldn’t be a problem because he’s gay.

“I don’t care if you’re gay, but I don’t want any faggots coming back and forth on my property,” Cooper allegedly told Coffman.

In a later conversation, which Coffman says he recorded with consent and provided to First Coast News, Cooper tells Coffman he has to vacate the apartment.

“You think I want homosexuals coming back and forth in my place like that?” she says.

INTO was unable to reach Cooper by phone, but Cooper denied the accusations to First Coast News, stating that she told Coffman to leave because he wouldn’t provide a copy of his driver’s license and his friends kept cars on her property for several days. Coffman refutes both.

Florida has seen a slew of anti-gay incidents over the last year. A string of transgender homicides in Jacksonville has drawn national media attention and sparked fears that a serial killer may be targeting the community.

Five transgender women were murdered in Florida in 2018, and a femme-presenting gay man who did drag was also gunned down. Another gay man, Leon Frazier, was murdered in Southeast Florida, reportedly by a homophobic roommate. Miami Pride this year was marred when four men reportedly beat a gay couple while yelling homophobic slurs. A transgender woman in Newberry woke up to find the words “move or die” scrawled across her garage door in September. In November, a Port Richey school made headlines when a teacher refused to support a trans student using the locker room that matched his gender.

Coffman, who grew up in Florida, said he has always identified as gay and faced discrimination because of it.

“I’ve never been able to hold hands with my boyfriend or kiss in public,” he said. “Jacksonville is a very big anti-gay town.”

He says after he was forced to leave his apartment on Dec. 14, he lost more than $1,000 in rent.

American Civil Liberties Union Staff Attorney Jimmy Midyette was part of the coalition behind Jacksonville’s anti-discrimination protections. He, too, says Coffman’s eviction sounds par for the course in the Sunshine State, especially over the last two years as the Trump Administration fuels anti-gay animus.

“It feels normal to me, but that’s probably a statement in and of itself in terms of what we’re used to in Florida,” he said.

But, he added, Coffman’s eviction points to a larger issue. “I think it could show the need for a statewide bill,” said Midyette.

Jon Harris Maurer, public policy director of Equality Florida, agrees. His organization has been making the case for statewide protections in the Florida Competitive Workforce Act  for a decade.

“Randal’s case is one of the most well-documented and overtly discriminatory [cases], but we know that this type of discrimination continues to occur throughout the state and often in more subtle ways,” said Maurer. “I do think that stories like Randal’s are really compelling in illustrating the need for statewide protections.”

According to Equality Florida, advocates have successfully passed local measures that now cover 60 percent of Floridians. Maurer hopes to bring that 100 percent in 2019 with the passage of statewide protections, but that remains a hard sell. Last year, the bill had 69 bipartisan sponsors and cosponsors in the legislature but failed to even get a committee hearing. Both chambers remain Republican-controlled in the wake of the November midterms.

“I think I’m going to have to look up the law before I move,” Coffman notes. Coffman says LGBTQ advocates have reached out to him, stating that his eviction could demonstrate the need for a statewide measure.

In the meantime, he wonders if he needs to hide who he is.

“Do I need not tell anyone that I’m gay?” he asks. “Do I need to just act as straight as possible so I can live a normal life and people won’t judge me, or do I fight this and try to get laws passed?”

8 Times Bisexual and Pansexual Folx Showed The Hell Out in 2018

Even as we’ve barreled straight into 2019, a year that many have already lovingly labeled 20biteen after living through the year known as 20gayteen, I couldn’t help but reflect on 2018 and what a long fucking year it was.

If you ask anyone, they’ll tell you that this long ass year was a whirlwind of news events. Some good. Some bad. Some big. Some small. But lately, I’ve found myself thinking about the nature of the news.

In short, my mind has been all over the place thinking about the various ways that, well, queer folx won 2018 in the news. Despite all odds. And the queer folx I’m referring to right now are specifically bisexual and pansexual folx. Contrary to our regularly scheduled erasu—excuse me, programming, 2018 was a HUGE year filled with watershed moments of bisexual and pansexual representation, awakenings, and straight up pop culture moments. So much so that if I included them all, I would probably run out of space.

So instead of doing that, let’s just discuss ten of the biggest pop culture moments in which bisexual and pansexual folx shined in 2018:

1. Jane The Virgin’s Petra Solano is Revealed to be Bisexual

Full disclosure: I’m am 100% behind on Jane the Virgin.

Part of it is because I genuinely fell behind due to all the good content that is available on TV. Part of it is also because Gina Rodriguez makes my ass itch. I know, I know. That makes me such a terrible gay, right? You’re probably right…but that’s not the point. The point is, despite my being behind, I was still able to keep up with the show loosely via Tumblr.

As I was doing this, I noticed that the show’s creative powers that be were teasing a possible attraction between the extremely complex Petra Solano and the empathetic as well as extremely smooth Jane Ramos played to perfection by Rosario Dawson—particularly through dreams. Fans and stans alike obviously shipped the pairing, especially because it would mean that Petra does in fact get to end up with a Jane, even if it is not the Jane of the show’s fame. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t really expect anything to actually result from the teasing. Muthafuckas have been content to queerbait all year long—looking at you, Star Wars—and for years before that. Which has, of course, left us with trust issues when it comes to representation and with the expectation that there will only be a tease, but no follow through.

And boy, was I wrong.

Calling Petra and Jane’s subsequent romantic realization and welcomed coupling a mere act of “follow through” would be tame in my opinion, but man, what a follow through it was. It’s unclear whether the two will actually stay together, but I hope they do. Mostly because they are so damn cute and also because this marks the show’s second time handling the matter of bisexuality with kind and extremely smart hands (the first time being Adam Alvaro who was previously Jane Villanueva’s male bisexual love interest).

2. Alyson Stoner Pens One of the Best Coming Out Op-Eds I Have Ever Read in My Life

Many of us know her as “the little White girl from all the Missy Elliott music videos who could dance.” Many of us also know her as the little sister from Mike’s Super Short Show and as a bona fide Disney channel star and alum.

Whatever the case, when you hear the name Alyson Stoner, you pay attention. And no one was paying more attention than us when Alyson Stoner penned a strikingly poignant op-ed in Teen Vogue about coming to terms with her new, open, and extremely complicated sexuality.

It’s hard to some up that iconic op-ed in mere paragraphs, but if I had to do so, I would say that it so succinctly and lovingly summed up the struggles of coming to terms with one’s sexuality not only in the glaring eye of the public, but also under the glaring eye of the church and religion. Ex-evangelicals (like myself), current evangelicals, and even folx of other faiths who identify as gay, bisexual, pansexual, or merely queer know the extreme pain of navigating religions and religious people who declare that you are on the highway to hell for something that you really can’t even control.

And maybe don’t even want to.

Stoner delves into these complexions with sheer bravery and proudly declares that she is “attracted to men, women, and people who identify in other ways and that she can love people of every gender identity and expression” and thus cemented her op-ed as one of the greatest and most poignant coming out stories I have ever seen.

3. Janelle Monáe Throws A Big, Pansexual Ass Party With Dirty Computer

People who know me are probably sick of me going on and on about the fabulously talented, ferociously gifted, fiercely beautiful and wonderfully weird musical icon known as Janelle Monáe.

And to that I say…you’re about to get even more tired.

This was a big year for Monáe. Not only because she debuted her third studio album Dirty Computer to endless critical acclaim and commercial success, but also because she continued to feed her incredibly vibrant and burgeoning film career….in addition to coming out as pansexual in Rolling Stone the day before Dirty Computer dropped.

If you’ve followed her captivating career thus far, you will understand how huge this declaration was and the impact that it had. The latter is important too, because said announcement upped the searches for the word “pansexual” by like a bajillion percent (okay, so I made that percentage up, but still) and I know first hand how many people were able to bravely come to their own romantic and sexual realizations just because of that announcement.

And of course, the album itself was nothing to sneeze at. Dirty Computer, and the “emotion picture” that accompanied it, served as a vivacious and brash celebration of Blackness, queerness, and everything in between.

And it could not have picked a more perfect year to do that.

4. Tessa Thompson Gets Candid About Her Sexuality

Tessa Thompson also had quite the year herself.

After appearing in critical and commercial smash Thor: Ragnarok as the famed Valkyrie in 2017, Thompson entered 2018 with a bang by appearing as Monae’s female love interest Zen in Dirty Computer, then starred alongside Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry To Bother You, reprised her role as Bianca in Creed 2, and starred alongside Chris Hemsworth in the upcoming bisexual fever dream known as Men in Black: International.

So. She didn’t really have to bless the bis and the pans with any more of her awesomeness, but she did exactly that in June when she so candidly revealed to Net-A-Porter that “she is attracted to men and also to women” and that sometimes she can take the freedom at which she is able to express as much granted because of her wonderful family and the fact that she could bring anyone home and there wouldn’t have to be a discussion.

It was another huge cultural moment for bisexual and pansexual folx everywhere and Thompson recognized its levity. And I am eternally grateful.

5. Rapper Lady Leshurr Proudly Declares Herself Pansexual

It has always been a tough game navigating the musical landscapes of hip-hop and rap when you are not a cishet Black man. I imagine it is doubly hard when you are a Black woman. And quadruply hard when you are a queer Black woman.

But even with this in mind, Rapper Lady Leshurr proudly came out as pansexual back in September, detailing that “she is just happy she does not have to hide anymore” because she is free.

Folx were already in a proud tizzy, but they were even prouder when she informed the masses that another queer icon,  songstress Kehlani, had introduced her to the term through her tweets and that after much research, she found it to be a great fit.

It was another example of 20gayteen being the incredibly complex year that kept giving us very warm and celebratory queer ass moments like this.

6. Big Mouth’s Jay Bilzerian is Revealed to be Bisexual

I have never been shy about speaking on how bisexual and pansexual representation in popular media and general pop culture tends to skew heavily female…and mostly nothing else, if it all. I also not been shy about discussing the precarious and unique ways in which bisexual and pansexual men face unrelenting discrimination for exercising love and sexuality that is anything but rigid (and defies societal constructs on masculinity and male sexuality). It’s why Adam’s reveal in Jane the Virgin was such a big deal and why I went absolutely apeshit when I came across video game character and Beck doppelgänger Zig Ortega earlier this year.

This made the surprisingly nuanced and expertly crafted reveal that Jay, of Big Mouth fame, was bisexual extremely fascinating to watch. Now to be clear, I don’t recall him ever explicitly using the word bisexual (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). And I also acknowledge that some may find his portrayal as a newly bisexual boy to be “problematic”, particularly because of his sex-crazed and sexually deviant portrayal thus far (I mean, seriously. The kid fucks anything, with impunity, including inanimate objects like pillows).

But as we all know, sexuality isn’t some cut and dry thing and it can also be very messy to figure out—which is what Jay learned firsthand after he kissed Matthew (the only openly gay kid at his school) during a riveting game of “truth or dare.” What we then saw and heard were familiar narratives about having to choose one gender over another and how as someone who identifies as male, one is automatically written off as gay for doing so.

However, much like many other characters on Big Mouth, Jay refuses to be boxed in, and declares in the crudest, but ultimately Jay-est of fashions that “a mouth is a mouth” and that he cannot be bothered to pick just one and that he’s absolutely into all of it.

Big Mouth continues to get a lot of things right and you can now add the coming out story to that long and fabulous list.  

7. The “Blue Wave” had a Bi Ripple

After the midterm elections, all anyone could talk about was the huge blue and rainbow waves that swept the nation. And with good reason, too. Because not only had the country just elected the largest class of incoming female politicians to date, but they had also just elected the largest incoming class of LGBTQIA+ candidates to office thus far. And said candidates included Kyrsten Sinema, who made history as the first bisexual woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

This history-making moment came after an extremely tight and nerve-wracking senate race in Arizona. Many news outlets had preemptively crowned Republican opponent Rep. Martha McSally as the winner in the hotly-contested race, but Arizona’s slowpoke-ass voting system managed to whisper “psych!” as Sinema gradually inched closer and closer to her eventual win. It was a stunning and welcome upset and one that was sweetened by the fact that Sinema is not only Arizona’s first female senator, but also its first Democratic senator to be elected since 1995.

Y’all know how much I hate firsts (it’s 2018 for crying out loud), but even I couldn’t help but be proud of a moment like this. (Even if McSally has been appointed to Arizona’s other Senate seat, replacing the late John McCain.)

8. Black Lightning’s Grace Choi and Anissa Pierce FINALLY Hook Up

It feels like Black Lightning fans, DC fans, and queer fans alike have been waiting an entire millennium for canonical lovers Grace Choi and Anissa Pierce (Thunder) to finally make it official. And it’s been quite a wild ride too, considering that their relationship literally embodies a Katy Perry song (think “Hot N Cold”), with Anissa routinely leaving the relationship on cold, rather than hot. So, imagine the collective scream that was let out when Anissa and Grace finally hooked up on the show when—MAJOR SPOILER ALERT—Anissa found out that Gambi had mysteriously (can you tell that I don’t believe it) died?

Like with Jane the Virgin, I was very behind on this show, but I damn sure made sure to catch up in time to watch this hot ass couple do their thing. It also was mad important to me, with Grace being bisexual herself and with said hookup taking place between two extremely attractive and complicated women of color. For far too long, queerness has been portrayed in media and pop culture as a purely “White” thing. So any narrative that deviates from what is extremely Caucasian is a narrative that is for me and the people.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether Grace and Anissa will actually enter a relationship (Grace gets real with Anissa and checks her for how flaky she’s been), but either way, you have my attention, as well as probably the attention of all bi and pankind.

Cheers to bi and pankind for a great year!

LGBTQ Films Worth Getting Into On Netflix: ‘The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson’

In our “Get INTO” series, we rummage through Netflix each week to find the very best movies that LGBTQ cinema has to offer. However you identify, these tales of love, sex and the everyday experience of queer life all deserve a special place in your Netflix queue. Also, some of these films are super hot, so whether you’re alone or with a special ‘friend’, rev up everyone’s favorite streaming service and get ready to chill with some of the best queer movies on Netflix.

What is The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson? Back in 1992, friends and family were shocked when Marsha P. Johnson was found floating dead in the Hudson River. The NYPD refused to investigate further, believing that the “street queen” had killed herself, but new evidence uncovered twenty five years later in David France’s documentary tells a potentially different story.

Who’s in it? A popular figure in the queer NY scene, Johnson became known unofficially as “the Mayor of Christopher Street” thanks to the prominent role she played in the Stonewall Uprising of 1969. Old friend and fellow trans activist Victoria Cruz dives deep into her story through both testimonials and archival footage, exploring everything from her work with Andy Warhol to her outspoken support of the AIDS activist group ACT UP, which still carried on shortly before her death.

What does Rotten Tomatoes say? “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson uses its belated investigation into an activist’s murder as the framework for a sobering look at the ongoing battle for equal rights.”

What do we say? Remember Roland Emmerich’s bland and yet still offensive take on the Stonewall riots? In that embarrassing turkey of a movie, Johnson’s vital contribution to the burgeoning gay rights movement was vastly overlooked, so it’s comforting to see her legacy finally brought to light here in France’s documentary. In the brief glimpses of her that the archival footage provides, it’s easy to see why Johnson remains one of the most beloved representatives of the trans community, even if the film doesn’t include as much footage of her as we’d like.

So does France’s film miss the point a bit? Sure, it’s unfortunate that there weren’t more video reels of Johnson to draw upon, but rather than come up short, France uses this limitation as a strength, telling a wider story of transgender activism through the life of Marsha. Not only do we learn about the ongoing struggles that Johnson had to face, but we also learn more about the prejudice that trans people have endured from within the LGBTQ community. A clip of Johnson’s close friend, Sylvia Rivera, being booed off the stage at a a 1973 gay liberation rally serves as a stark reminder that the queer community isn’t always as unified as it should be.

So how did Marsha P. Johnson die? Given that the film is positioned as a true crime story of sorts, you’d think that France and activist Victoria Cruz would have uncovered more information about Marsha’s death, but just like in real life, things are never that simple. 

Pushing “Death” to the forefront of the title was a very deliberate move on France’s part, yet it’s ultimately Johnson’s life that takes center stage here, a vibrant and gorgeous thing that absolutely deserves to be celebrated still for the impact it continues to have on the LGBTQ community today.

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson is available to stream on Netflix now.