Dearly Beloved, It’s Never Too Late To Get Boo’d Up or Thot It Out

In this week’s Dearly Beloved, the advice column by author Michael Arceneaux, a reader reveals that after living on Beyoncé’s planet for nearly three decades, he thinks that he is finally ready to date. There’s just one little issue, though: he waited nearly 30 years to want to go out and meet people! What will all these potential baes and snacks, presumably with far more extensive romantic and sexual experiences than he, think of him given that his own experiences are essentially nonexistent?

 

Does he have a right to be terrified? Is there no hope for someone who waited this long to make connections? Should he put himself back in rice and stick to the lakes of loneliness that he’s used to? As a wise woman eerily similar to Mama Odie from The Princess and the Frog once said on her OWN series, “Not on my watch!”

 

Thankfully, this reader has reached out to someone who understands the plight of the late bloomer. Even if delayed, it’s never too late to fornicate or find love. Insert the soothing sounds of Mariah Carey’s “Bliss” here.

 

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,

Oh boy, how do I put this without sounding like a whole mess?

So I’m almost 30, in college, trying to start my career, and still trying to get my entire life right. It ain’t perfect, but I feel like I’m doing very good after some gigantic hurdles in life. I mean I have been THROUGH it and there just wasn’t time for anything else in between all that.

But, recently, I got it in my head that I’m ready to go out there into the dating game. I’m lonely in a way that a friend just can’t help, okay. Main problem though?

I haven’t dated not once in my entire life. I have zero romantic or sexual experience. Absolutely. Zero. I feel like a newborn babe thinking I can play with wolves and I am TERRIFIED.

So what am I to do? I am legit baffled by this whole thing and, considering my age, it’s a little embarrassing and makes me not want to tell anyone my business or even go out there in the first place. Any advice?



With Love,
Near-30 and Ready to GO

 

 

 

Dear Near-30 and Ready to GO,

 

First off, congratulations for recognizing a void in your life and being proactive on how to correct it. And no, I am not giving you the equivalent of a participation award. Seriously, be proud of yourself for getting to this point. There are a lot of lonely people in this world, but familiarity often breeds complacency, and even if the longing for love and pleasure may make life less joyous, not everyone pushes themselves to the point in which they want to confront the matter at hand.

 

Based on your letter, it sounds like you are ready to do just that, so salute to you. Feel good about that. It’s a start. It means you don’t assume loneliness to be a foregone conclusion.

 

And let’s get this out of the way: you are not a mess and there needn’t be any reason for you to believe otherwise. An inconvenient reality for many queer people is that we have a bit of stunted development, and because it took us longer to live our lives out loud, we are not as experienced as our straight counterparts. As for that experience, it doesn’t necessarily make one any more adapt at romance — just ask Adele, Anita Baker, or Jazmine Sullivan, or cue up the saddest parts of Lemonade, still not available on Spotify.

 

Having said that, I’m not going to lie to you, starting late is hard. I am a bit of a late bloomer myself so I understand your concerns on a profound level. And like you, I have been through it, too. However, if you know that you are lonely in a way a friend cannot help, you have to begin the work to find someone that’s more than a friend.

 

You can start at any pace you want. It could be an invitation to drinks, coffee, or dinner; a museum; some athletic shit I see those Instaboys or Real Housewives do; something with a much smaller group that allows you to feel a bit more comfortable at trying that new-new.

 

As for sex, well, it depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a meaningful connection first a la Janet Jackson’s “Let’s Wait Awhile,” that will take some time. But if you’re looking for something more immediate along the lines of Janet Jackson’s “Do It 2 Me” and “Anytime, Anyplace,” well, there’s an app for that. There are more traditional, in-person means of making that happen as well. Do what works best for you on your own schedule. Hopefully, you find a nice combination, which would be Janet’s “Twenty Foreplay.” Many of us continue to search for that. Trust me, love.

 

Now, as you meet people, keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to vomit every detail of your life on date number one. Or two. Or three. Or four. That, too, depends on your level of comfort. This is new for you so you will understandably be cautious.

 

Will some people freak out? Perhaps. The same goes for a person potentially making you feel even more embarrassed about your lack of dating history and sexual experiences. I know that feeling; it can be humiliating. It can make you question why you even bothered. It may compel you to fall back into your cocoon. Please, don’t let anyone do that to you. This also applies to dealing with a person who turns out to be the wrong one for you. Rejection hurts; it is self-sabotaging to cling to it.  

 

Your past trauma and struggles may have shaped you, and in this case, delayed certain aspects of your life. Still, they do not define you. Nor do they have to deter you from your present choice to put yourself out there — which may yield you a more complete future. And once you meet the right person and forge a connection, those bad experiences will matter even less.

 

Yet, you will never learn any of this if you don’t act and move forward. You may feel like a newborn baby now, but you won’t feel that way for much longer. Some things come naturally for some, but for others, it takes much longer. Regardless, we all move on our time.

 

What you will have to do in the meantime is remain committed, know that you are worthy, and believe no matter how long it takes, you will find what you are looking for. So, when it comes to the question “What am I to do?” the answer is easy: try.

 

I wish you all the love and thotting in the world ‘cause you deserve it.

Signed,
Beloved!

London’s Gender Fxcker Competition Treats Drag as an Act of Survival

Drag is the art of disruption. Behind the wigs, tape, make-up and costume lies a subversive core, one rooted in a desire to fuck with the mainstream misconception that gender can be neatly separated into two categories. Performers challenge this idea by mixing visual gendered codes, blending them throughout flawless, electrifying routines designed to highlight the fact that men aren’t inherently masculine, nor are women inherently feminine, and that there’s an entire realm of possibility outside of these boxes: “We’re all born naked, and the rest is drag.”

 

It’s ironic that the legendary RuPaul, responsible for coining this progressive soundbite, has recently become one of drag’s most vigilant gatekeepers. He drops the word ‘radical’ throughout interviews yet effectively bans women from entering his trailblazing competition, despite the fact that everyone has the ability to ‘drag up’ and fuck with the myth that gender is simple and binary.

 

But Drag Race doesn’t have an international monopoly on drag. In towns and cities across the world, performers galvanized by Ru’s exclusionary comments are carving out their own scenes.

 

“RuPaul’s comments actually pushed me to make my own night happen,” explains Katy Jalili, who last week saw the launch of their new night Gender Fvcker, London’s first non-binary drag competition. “His words were so hurtful in terms of sexism, but also trans erasure. Drag has the power to help performers explore their gender identity. It isn’t always about mocking gendered stereotypes; for a lot of trans people, drag can be an act of survival.”

 

Jalili refers specifically to a series of trans-exclusionary comments made earlier this year. It’s worth pointing out that Drag Race has featured a handful of trans queens – many of whom responded to the scandal – although the majority have come out mid-way through their seasons. Peppermint is the only woman who was openly trans from the moment she applied, yet Ru dismissed this fact with the notoriously harmful statement: “You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body.”

 

The damaging implication was that Peppermint wasn’t ‘trans enough’ to be exempt from the competition, a fact she highlighted in an eloquent response for Billboard. Ru apologized and Peppermint advised that the situation should be used as an opportunity for education, but the incident confirmed what many had already thought: that Drag Race has fallen far behind current cultural conversations.

 

Now, Jalili says the time has come to create new spaces. “Since I started performing in the cabaret scene two years ago, I’ve realised there’s a massive obsession with everything being slick and perfect, which can be great. But there’s rarely any space to make mistakes, or to make experimental work that’s challenging. So I wanted Gender Fvcker to be that space for performers who want to have fun, and mess around.”

 

As my friends and I descend the narrow, dimly-lit staircase of East London’s revered VFD for the launch night, it becomes clear that Jalili has achieved their goal. Painted performers, low-key glamazons and dapper onlookers are strewn throughout the basement venue, their eyes fixed unwaveringly on a cleared-out space which tonight plays host to four wildly different acts. Some perform lip-syncs with a twist, whereas others improvise comedic, crowd-centered routines and sing experimental ballads to an enraptured audience.

 

Guest hosts Lasana Shabazz and Joey Fourr, both talented performers in their own right, give in-depth, genuinely useful critiques. There’s no shade for the sake of it, only notes, tips and a few hilarious encounters which engage the contestants as opposed to alienating them.

 

“I’m hoping to see rawness, experiments and messing up,” enthuses Jalili. “This is a place to be imperfect in the most perfect way possible.” Interestingly, acts also get the chance to respond to critique and suggest how they would modify their routine in the future – it’s this back-and-forth dialogue and lack of hierarchy that sets tonight apart from other contests.

 

Eventually, the winner is named Bae Sharam, an incredible performer whose routine shifts from a powerful, spoken-word piece on growing up female-bodied in Pakistan, to a full striptease soundtracked by the Backstreet Boys.

 

Sharam initially commands the crowd to be silent, to close their eyes and to immerse themselves in their narrative; as they stand in a full burka recalling their oppression, they appear to be a definite anomaly in terms of what we usually define as a drag show. This turns out to be a ruse, one which leads to shrieks of laughter when the hush lifts and the familiar chords of ‘90s pop ring throughout the venue. It’s this combination of intimacy and entertainment that elevates their performance, as well as a few tongue-in-cheek props, such as an inflatable telephone and a red strap-on.

 

Elsewhere, Tetley opens the night with an explosive performance soon followed by an interactive routine by Tom Bland, which saw them mingle with the crowd and crack jokes. Then, it was the turn of Queer Faith, a mesmerizing nymph (they referred to themselves specifically as a ‘radical faerie’) whose body and face is dappled with paint, to sing a live ballad to a hushed audience. Their collective talent was obvious, yet their acts and identities deviate from the prescribed drag norm that Drag Race, despite its claims of radical intent, largely adheres to.

 

The reality is that genuine brilliance can come when attempts at gatekeeping are abandoned. Also, definitions change over time. The disruptive drag that we know and love today was  originated by talented queens of various gender identities just a few decades ago, whereas the language largely used to describe it now was theorized and concretized by queer theory scholars.

 

The actual origins of ‘drag’ – and by this, I also mean ‘dressed as girl’, the initial acronym – were rooted in misogynistic desire to keep women off-stage, so men would dress up as them in order to literally erase their presence. It wasn’t until the 20th century that ‘drag’ became more radical, yet the various trans trailblazers responsible for accelerating its rise to cultural prominence were later left behind.

 

Ru is right to an extent when he says that men ‘dragging up’ as women is hugely transgressive. Masculinity is heavily policed, which means that ‘feminine’ men are often shamed and rejected, even within LGBT+ culture and communities. But femininity is also heavily policed; society punishes butch women that don’t conform to it, and it also punishes ‘feminine’ women by laying out a list of restrictive standards and expecting compliance. As for queer and non-binary people, society often fails to make even a cursory attempt to understand their identities – so why shouldn’t they be given the opportunity to fuck with the gender politics sustaining their oppression?

 

The fact is that drag has paradoxically become a male-dominated industry despite profiting largely from the same ‘feminine’ ideals weaponized against women. This isn’t to suggest that drag is misogynistic – this ridiculous claim ignores the core ethos of drag, and forgets that its aim is to shift the overall paradigm and therefore make all of our lives easier. But to gatekeep drag is discriminatory by default. The only way to resolve this problem is to invest our energy – and our resources – into supporting nights that genuinely aim to disrupt the status quo.

 

He Claims He Was Sentenced to Death For Being Gay. The Supreme Court Declined to Hear His Case

The Supreme Court declined on Thursday to intervene in a case where a death row inmate claims he was sentenced to die because he is gay.

 

The 25-year-old case concerns Charles Rhines, convicted in January 1993 of murdering 22-year-old Donnivan Schaeffer a year prior. Rhines was intending to rob a doughnut shop in Rapid City, South Dakota from which he’d been fired weeks earlier when he encountered Schaffer, who worked as a courier for the business. On the evening of March 8, 1992, Rhines stabbed him three times with a buck knife.

 

But the now 60-year-old defendant claims anti-LGBTQ bias tainted the jury’s deliberation in the case.

 

A petition filed with the nation’s highest bench in Rhines v. South Dakota alleges that jury members “knew that he was a homosexual and thought that he shouldn’t be able to spend his life with men in prison,” thus sentencing him to death. According to Rhines’ attorneys, one juror said that putting him behind bars would amount to “sending him where he wants to go.”

 

Jurors interviewed prior to the SCOTUS appeal claimed “there was lots of discussion of homosexuality” when debating a verdict, which elicited widespread “disgust” among members of what they described as a “farming community.”

 

“There were a lot of folks who were like, ‘Ew, I can’t believe that,’” one juror claimed.

 

But the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal to the case, meaning that the earlier ruling will stand. As is customary when SCOTUS declines to weigh in on lower court rulings, the nine-member bench did not state why it would not be taking up Rhines v. South Dakota.

 

Rhines’ appeal hinged on the Supreme Court’s 2017 ruling in Peña-Rodriguez v. Colorado, in which justices found that racial bias on jury panels violates an individual’s Sixth Amendment guarantee of an impartial jury. In that case, one juror felt that the testimony of Miguel Angel Peña-Rodriguez, accused of sexual harassment and misconduct, was not “credible” because he is Latino.

 

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, claimed the ruling was intended to “ensure that our legal system remains capable of coming ever closer to the promise of equal treatment under the law that is so central to a functioning democracy.”

 

But University of Oklahoma Professor Stephen E. Henderson argued the appeal in Rhines v. South Dakota may have been filed too soon for the slow-moving bench.

 

“It seems unlikely that the Court wants to expand Peña-Rodriguez so quickly,” Henderson told Bloomberg Law, adding that Peña-Rodriguez v. Colorado “changed over two-hundred years of legal precedent… and there has been no time to work out the many necessary details even in the racial context.”

 

The State of South Dakota has likewise held that the Peña-Rodriguez case did not create an exception for alleged homosexual bias,” while denying Rhines experienced anti-LGBTQ discrimination at all.

 

In its brief opposing Rhines’ appeal, South Dakota Attorney General Marty J. Jackley and Assistant Attorney General Paul Swedlund alleged that “every juror contacted by South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) stated consistently and unequivocally that Rhines’ homosexuality had no bearing on their decision to impose a death sentence.”

 

According to the state, the jurors reported that deliberations “were conducted in an ‘extremely professional’ manner.”

 

Instead the Attorney General’s office cited Rhines’ “bloodcurdling confession” as the motivation for his harsh sentencing. As court documents allege, the defendant cackled as he compared his victim’s death to a “beheaded chicken running around a barnyard.”

 

But surveys conducted by Lambda Legal show that jury bias is extremely common when defendants—and even plaintiffs—are LGBTQ. Nearly one in six respondents (16 percent) said “their LGBTQ identity was raised in court when sexual orientation and gender identity were not relevant to the case at hand,” while 11 percent claimed that such information was “disclosed in court against their will.”

 

Attorneys for Rhines have not stated whether they plan to pursue further legal action.

 

Far-Right Attacks Didn’t Stop Record Numbers From Coming Out For Kiev’s Pride Parade

Over 150 protesters with a Ukrainian far-right group attempted to block a Pride march in the national capital of Kiev this weekend.

 

Activists with C14, a nationalist group loosely affiliated with neo-Nazism, descended on the Sunday march three years after the annual LGBTQ celebration was disbanded due following an onslaught of violence by anti-gay extremists. But this time police were ready to fight off the extremist contingent: Thousands of officers were reportedly on duty to protect queer and trans marchers.

 

As the Agence Presse-France originally reported, members of C14 attempted to block the parade’s progress at least seven times. Five officers were injured in the scuffle, with right-wing protesters hurling cans of gasoline at law enforcement.

 

Fifty-six of the anti-gay activists were apprehended by police as a result.

 

The far-right group’s demonstration was unsuccessful, as the crowd completed the 20-minute march undeterred by homophobic hate. While estimates of the crowd size vary, record numbers of people turned out for the event. Organizers with Kiev Pride say the pro-LGBTQ contingent numbered 6,000 individuals, while the Interior Ministry tabulated the attendance at a still-sizable 2,000.

 

Either figure would more than double turnout from the previous year’s festivities, according to the AFP. The city of 2.8 million held its first Pride parade in 2016, two years after pro-Western president Petro Poroshenko came to power.

 

Although homosexuality was banned under Soviet laws, laws criminalizing sodomy were lifted in 1991 as Ukraine transitioned to being a post-Communist nation.

 

The ever-increasing support for LGBTQ Ukrainians was evident in this weekend’s parade. The march included the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, and Rebecca Harms, a German representative to European Parliament.

 

Despite the government’s increasing embrace of LGBTQ rights, obstacles remain to the full integration of queer and trans people in society. Recognition of same-sex marriage is banned in Article 51 of the Constitution, while the Ukrainian Parliament refused to affirm a European hate crime law passed under the Istanbul convention in 2016 because it included pro-LGBTQ protections.

 

But three years after a dozen right-wing assailants attacked Kiev Pride with flares, Ukraine is making definite progress in regards to the acceptance of queer and trans people—as opposed to fellow post-Soviet countries like Russia and Azerbaijan.

 

A 2017 survey from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) found that a strong majority of Ukrainians (59 percent) felt LGBTQ people should be protected from discrimination in the workplace. Just 21 percent of respondents felt queer and trans people were not entitled to equal protection under national laws.

Supposedly ‘Gay-Friendly’ Pope Francis Says Queer Families Aren’t Real Families

Pope Francis just can’t seem to make up his mind about LGBTQ people.

 

Weeks after making international headlines for telling a gay sexual abuse survivor he is “loved” by God just as he is, the Pope dismissed the validity of same-sex parenting in unscripted comments made before the Forum delle Famiglie. He told the Italian Catholic family group that not all families are holy.

 

“It is painful to say this today,” Pope Francis claimed. “People speak of varied families, of various kinds of family… [but] the family [as] man and woman in the image of God is the only one.”

 

Although the 266th and current Pope has been widely lauded as a reformer on LGBTQ rights, these comments exemplify his hot-and-cold relationship toward queer and transgender communities. While appearing to soften the Vatican Church’s historical opposition to homosexuality and trans identity, he has doubled down on many of the faith’s most homophobic tendencies.

 

In May, Juan Carlos Cruz—a gay survivor of clerical sex abuse in Argentina—claimed that in a private meeting with Pope Francis, the Catholic leader appeared to tell him that his sexual orientation was divined by God.

 

“God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care,” Cruz claimed Francis told him. “The pope loves you like this.”

 

In truth, there are two versions of Pope Francis: There’s the Pope who famously remarked “Who am I to judge?” when asked about gay priests in 2013 and claimed LGBTQ people “should not be discriminated against” in 2016. But then there’s the one who called transgender people “against nature,” referring to them as “terrible” and “nasty.”

That version—the one more in line with his predecessor, Pope Benedict—addressed the 71st General Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference just days after being applauded around the world for affirming a gay man’s identity. He told church leaders to reject gay seminarians.

 

“Keep an eye on the admissions to seminaries, keep your eyes open,” Pope Francis said last month, adding: “If in doubt, better not let them enter.”

 

But the LGBTQ community aren’t the only people the world’s highest ranking Catholic official snubbed his nose at this weekend: His statement praising heterosexual nuclear families also implicitly took aim at divorcees and single parents. Meanwhile, the Pope found time to compare abortion to the Holocaust and encourage women to stay with their cheating partners.

 

“In the last century, the entire world was scandalised by what the Nazis did to ensure the purity of the race,” Pope Francis said of a woman’s right to choose. “Today we do the same, but with white gloves.”

 

In his off-the-cuff comments, the religious leader also praised looking past an unfaithful partner’s infidelity—what he termed “the sanctity that forgives all out of love.” He credited the long-suffering women (and sometimes men) who “wait in silence, looking the other way, waiting for their husband to become faithful again.”

Utah Freedom Parade Allows LGBTQ Groups to March If They Wear Patriotic Colors, Wave American Flags

Provo’s Freedom Festival reversed its decision to block LGBTQ groups from its yearly parade following a compromise struck between opposing sides on Thursday night.

 

Following a tense two-hour meeting, representatives with the Independence Day celebration elected to allow local queer and trans organizations to participate, with a few stipulations. Members of participating LGBTQ groups must wear carry American flags and dress in red, white, and blue.

 

“Nobody is allowed to have rainbow flags,” Jerilyn Pool, founder of the local nonprofit QueerMeals, told INTO. “We had to fight to use ‘LGBTQ’ on signage.”

 

Five LGBTQ organizations had previously been denied participation in the Freedom Festival, which is one of the largest July 4 gatherings in the nation. In addition to the Grand Parade, the month-long calendar of events includes a flag retirement ceremony, softball tournament, and a baby contest.

 

Meanwhile, the band OneRepublic will be playing the Stadium of Fire concert at Brigham Young University.

 

“The Fourth of July is a big deal here,” said Stephenie Larsen, founder of the Encircle LGBTQ youth drop-in center based in Provo. “The celebration is huge, and the parade is a focal point.”

 

The initial refusals were issued on Tuesday, just hours after Provo and the Freedom Festival adopted nondiscrimination policies claiming the event would not exclude people based on their religion, faith, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Notably, gender identity was not included in that list.

 

But in rejecting the applications of LGBTQ groups, officials claimed their proposals for participation weren’t “patriotic enough.”

 

LGBTQ advocates weren’t buying the excuse.

 

In an interview prior to Thursday’s compromise, Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams said it was “a random clause they’ve used to try and disguise their bigotry.”

 

“They are trying to hide their bigotry behind the American flag,” Williams told INTO in a phone conversation. “But there’s nothing that fuels the fires of patriotism more than people who fight for the rights and liberties that have been historically denied to them.”

 

Larsen, though, is sadly used to being shut out of the Freedom Festival. Almost the exact same thing happened to Encircle last year.

 

The evening before the LGBTQ youth center was set to march in the 2017 parade, Encircle’s members were scheduled to meet briefly to pick up t-shirts and learn a dance they had planned to do as they walked. But earlier in the day, organizers called and said Encircle’s inclusion was a “mistake.”

 

“I had to go and tell them we weren’t in the parade,” Larsen remembered. “As I was driving down, I thought, ‘I should just act like this is no big deal. If I’m sad about it, I’ll make them feel worse about it.’ But of course, I started bawling as soon as I started telling them. I felt like I was saying: ‘I’m sorry, once again you’re not good enough for your community.’”

 

Encircle held a pancake breakfast for its members the next day, but Larsen claimed the flip-flop was “tough” on LGBTQ youth who seek out the center for support and shelter. Many of these young people—who come from conservative, Mormon families—have few other places to go where they can be affirmed.

 

“They’re used to feeling judged by other people in the community,” Larsen said. “That rejection is something they live with.”

 

After the 2017 incident, Encircle met with the Freedom Festival organizers every two months to build bridges and have dialogues with local community members in Provo. In these regular meetings, Larsen informed them that the entire country would be watching Utah if LGBTQ groups were turned away yet again.

 

She was right. When news broke that LGBTQ groups had been refused for a second consecutive year, social media users tweeted at OneRepublic to pull out of Stadium of Fire—which would be a major blow to Provo’s economy.

 

Although the concert used to primarily host country artists like Toby Keith and Brad Paisley, it has increasingly courted Top 40 pop stars as it attempts to draw in a mainstream crowd. Five years ago, Carly Rae Jepsen and Kelly Clarkson toplined Stadium of Fire, which featured a performance from Cirque du Soleil. Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers have also appeared in recent years.

 

While advocates have hailed the Freedom Festival’s decision to reverse its earlier ban as “historic,” Larsen admitted she can’t help but have mixed emotions.

 

“I do think it is historic,” she said. “But I get upset and frustrated because I focus on the intent. They’re just letting us in because, what, is Toyota not going to sponsor us? Is the county commissioner going to take back his money?”

 

While groups like Encircle, Mormons Building Bridges, and Provo Pride will be participating in the Freedom Festival, some have chosen to sit out. Instead of taking part in the parade, QueerMeals will stand in solidarity with LGBTQ marchers by gathering at secure locations along the parade route.

 

Pool said she felt uncomfortable with restrictions placed on queer and trans marchers, who she said are being forced to “hide who they are.” Obscured by a sea of American flags, paradegoers might not know the groups are LGBTQ.

 

“To have to cloak themselves in patriotism in order to be acceptable is unfair,” claimed Pool, who identifies as a straight ally. “A lot of the queer community is about being visible and saying: ‘We’re in your community. This is who we are.’ Having a lot of those visible elements stripped away doesn’t feel good to a lot of people.”

 

But compromise or not, many in Utah’s LGBTQ community believe the controversy shows the state is headed in the right direction.

 

On Wednesday, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch made an impassioned plea for LGBTQ acceptance on the floor of the Senate. Addressing the 32 documented suicides of Mormon youth in the three months following the release a 2015 policy excommunicating the children of same-sex couples, Hatch said no person “should feel less because of their orientation.”

 

“They deserve our unwavering love and support,” Hatch claimed. “They deserve our validation and the assurance that not only is there a place for them in this society but that it is far better off because of them. These young people need us and we desperately need them.”

 

Williams said that seeing a “conservative bastion of Mormonism” follow Hatch’s lead has gotten the community “fired up.” Even as the local LGBTQ community continues to face obstacles to full inclusion, they will keep fighting.

 

“We’re going to be louder than we ever have been,” he said.

‘The Bold Type’ Season 2 Episode 2 Recap: Inciting Incident

If I have one major criticism of The Bold Type’s first season, it’s how it seemingly always forgot that Kat (Aisha Dee) was multiracial.

 

There were occasional moments where the character’s mixed heritage was mentioned, but always rather arbitrarily. The worst moment was during an episode where Kat and Adena (Nikohl Boosheri) are stopped by the cops. Kat, a black woman, has no concerns about police harassment, which narratively draws an exaggerated difference between herself and her Muslim girlfriend. It was baffling to watch, particularly while police shootings of unarmed black Americans seemed to dominate the news cycle.

 

The second episode of The Bold Type’s second season, “Rose-Colored Glasses,” goes a long way toward rectifying this. Scarlet’s social media director is on the rise, and needs a professional bio to accompany it. She struggles when fellow black Scarlet employee Alex (Matt Ward) suggests she add her race to her bio. Kat chafes, not wanting to put a label on herself. We soon meet her parents — white mom, black dad — who also resist labels. But a few well-placed questions from Adena make clear that this is a bigger internal issue for Kat.

 

She confronts her parents about why they always deemphasized race to her growing up, with her mom admitting other moms never believed Kat was actually hers. They apologize for any negative impact it had, and Kat, newly empowered, adds black to her bio. It’s not a revolutionary story, but it’s a relatively underrepresented one on television. Moreover, it’s a tip of the hat to the show’s odd handling of Kat’s race so far, and a course-correction for the future.

Sutton (Meghann Fahy) once again gets the simplest story of the episode: She knows people think she’s sleeping her way to the top, and is so nervous about it that she starts drawing inward. It affects her job performance when she has to style a set of ordinary men for a Scarlet spread, and she can’t get them out of their shells.

 

Some tough love from editor Jacqueline (Melora Hardin) helps Sutton shake it off, and she goes back to kicking ass at work. I’m hopeful Sutton starts getting some bigger stories soon; Fahy is my personal best-in-show pick in the cast. Her comic timing is unbelievable, and she’s able to turn from light-and-funny to emotionally invested on a dime. She deserves only the best material.

 

Jane (Katie Stevens) has a trickier plot this week, a continuation of the cliffhanger we saw during the season premiere. After her editor at Incite changed her thoughtful reflection on millennial menstrual cup company CEO Emma Cox into a scathing exposé of one of Cox’s lies, Jane is shaken. She goes to her editor to ask why the changes were made without her knowledge. The answer: “This isn’t Scarlet.” Nuance doesn’t play at Incite, and Jane is made aware in no uncertain terms that she failed.

 

This is, unfortunately, a growing truth in online media. Incite has a strategy that I’m personally familiar with: Tell the story that’s going to get the biggest emotional response so as to prompt engagement on social media, instead of the fairest or even the truest story. I understand Jane not realizing this; a lot of similar publications will hook young, talented writers with promises of doing great journalism, only to quickly redirect them toward click-hunting.

 

That said, Jane makes a couple of major mistakes in a row. She calls Emma Cox to apologize, and leaves a voicemail explaining that her story was changed without her consent. This opens Incite up to a whole new wave of bad publicity, as Emma predictably leaks the voicemail online. Jane then has to go on live TV to do damage control (dressed up in full Vice writer drag, no less), but veers off message to deliver a monologue about the dangers of sensationalizing stories for the sake of clicks. Is she correct? Absolutely. Is she implying on live TV that that her publication — at which she is still very much the new girl — is ethically dicey? She sure is.

 

A lesser show might’ve played Jane’s moment of on-air honesty as a chance for her boss to see things through her eyes, to realize the error of her ways and give Jane a new chance. But The Bold Type, for all its occasional whimsy and inspiration, is brutally honest about the industry it depicts. Jane gets fired from Incite for opening the brand up to further criticism — and it’s tough to deny just how justified the decision is.

 

It’s clear that Jane will find herself back at Scarlet; the only question is how long it will take. You can bet good money Jacqueline won’t make it easy for her, either.

 

The next episode of The Bold Type will air next Tuesday, June 19, at 8 p.m. Eastern on Freeform.

Maine to Issue Non-Binary IDs

Residents of the Pine Tree State will soon be able to obtain non-binary driver’s licenses and IDs.

 

Maine has announced that next July, its Bureau of Motor Vehicles will start issuing IDs with a gender designation of “X.” The agency will immediately start issuing stickers noting non-binary identity.

 

Maine is the third state to offer non-binary driver licenses. Oregon and Washington D.C. already issue them, and California will make them available in January. New Jersey is similarly poised to make non-binary birth certificates available after its legislature passed landmark trans rights bills that cut through the red tape for updating documents.

 

The new designation in Maine is the result of a complaint brought before the Maine Human Rights Commission by South Portland resident Ian-Meredythe Dehne Lindsey. EqualityMaine’s board president and attorney Zack Paakkonen filed on behalf of Lindsey last year.

 

“I feels really good to have your state government validate your existence and your identity,” Lindsey told INTO.

 

For years, Lindsey has faced discrimination in public accommodations and in travel. They have faced scrutiny picking up prescriptions because their gender confused pharmacists, and a convenience store once refused them service, they said.

 

Most of Lindsey’s relatives live outside of Maine, so they have to travel frequently. Airport security is notoriously problematic for transgender and non-binary people because security checkpoints are so gendered.

 

”It got to the point where I had been groped a couple of times by TSA,” said Lindsey. “I didn’t want to go to the airport. I would have panic attacks, and it was just exhausting. I couldn’t do it anymore.”

 

EqualityMaine Executive Director Matt Moonen also noted that Lindsey felt like they were lying when they applied for state-issued gendered IDs.

 

“It was agonizing actually to have to make a choice between male and female on these forms of ID because neither one was the truth,” said Moonen.

 

In June of 2017, Lindsey applied for a non-binary driver’s license at the Presumpscot Street BMV branch office in Portland. The application was rejected because the state didn’t have a system to process it, according to EqualityMaine. So, Lindsey filed a complaint.

 

But instead of fighting the complaint, the Maine BMV agreed to mediation with the Commission. The non-binary IDs are the result.

 

Quinn Gormley, executive director, MaineTransNet praised the move as major step toward full legal recognition for trans people in the state.

 

“Affirming and accurate ID’s help to break down significant barriers to housing, employment, and education faced by many transgender people,” said Gormley in a statement. “We’re celebrating this progress, and the visibility it brings to beloved non-binary members of our community. ”

 

According to the LGBTQ think tank the Williams Institute, there are an estimated 5,350 transgender people living in Maine.

 

Mainers can apply for the non-binary stickers now at no additional cost for an existing ID. New IDs with the gender marker “X” will roll out by next July.

 

Queer People Can Be A$$holes, Too — Especially If They’re White

Let’s call the author of this imprudent tweet “Dylan.”

“Roseanne Barr has been rooting for the LGBT community for years. Show some respect. She was only kidding. People are too fucking sensitive.”  

While not every white queer person is as stupid as Dylan, he symbolizes a tremendously widespread problem in the white LGBTQ community. He proves that white people, queer or not, are beneficiaries of white privilege, which perpetually imperils and impairs many marginalized communities.   

White privilege comes from centuries of white supremacy, and white supremacy has a special way of destroying many marginalized groups. And if white queer people continue to disregard and deny their privilege and complicity in white supremacy, they can singlehandedly destroy the LGBTQ community. That’s what white supremacy does; it destroys anything it touches.

Dylan is but a small head on The Many-Headed Hydra of white supremacy, which means that the problems of Black and brown people are not his problems; therefore, he doesn’t have to give a wet donkey shit about them. Dylan disregarding Roseanne’s racism and citing her pro-queerness proves that he is more than willing to turn a blind eye to anything that does not threaten his privilege as a white gay person, or worse: he’s willing to sit back and watch.

A popular example of this is when Caitlyn Jenner, a rich and white transgender woman, endorsed Donald Trump. In less than one year, she went from an unrepentant Trump supporter to a shamefaced Trump hater.

So, how did she go from suggesting that Trump would be the best presidential candidate to deal with women and LGBTQ issues to stating that Trump is a “disgrace?” Was it after Trump accused undocumented Mexicans of being rapists and drug dealers? Of course not. Caitlyn isn’t Muslim or Mexican. Why would she care? Was it after Trump mocked a disabled reporter? Of course not. Caitlyn isn’t disabled. Why would she care? Was it after Trump proposed to make healthcare even more inaccessible to poor people in America? Of course not. Caitlyn isn’t a poor American person. Why would she care?

Caitlyn’s support for Trump began to wither when Trump threatened her privilege. The moment Trump called to repeal a federal law which allowed transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, Caitlyn became very critical of Trump. But she was more than willing to support Donald Trump when he was brazenly oppressing other marginalized groups in America.  

Caitlyn is one of many privileged white queer people who had their own privilege blow up in their face. Her disapproval of Trump now does not lessen her complicity in any violence or mistreatment any marginalized community faces during Trump’s reign. After all, she voted for him. She allowed herself to be used as a political pawn. She is, in short, responsible for any hits the LGBTQ community takes.

But maybe I’m just being sensitive. After all, that’s what we’re calling people who can identify words or actions that offend disenfranchised communities, right? “Sensitive.”

As a Black, queer man, I am regularly called “sensitive.” Each time I call out anti-Blackness or anti-queerness, I’m told that I’m being sensitive, and that I shouldn’t get mad at the person’s jokes regardless of how harmful they are—because “they’re just jokes.”

For example, I’ve heard people “joke” about doing violence to their children if they grow up to be queer. How can this be a joke when this actually happens? Take a look at 14-year-old Giovanni Melton, whose father shot him in the chest because he did not want a gay son. Take a look at eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, whose mother and her domestic partner tortured, force-fed feces to, and eventually killed him.

People with the upper-hand are constantly reminding us how fragile we are if we take offense to anything they say. Though, if someone were to flip the script and stereotype them—or worse: call out their privilege—watch as the offender becomes the offended.

Also, we have to deflate the idea that one who is a member of a marginalized community cannot have other special privileges. Being problematic or violent and being queer are not mutually exclusive; being white and queer does not erase one’s whiteness, which means that they, too, can benefit from white supremacy. Which means that they, too have the capacity to threaten other communities.  

Like Nicky from Orange is the New Black said, “Gay people can also be assholes.” Speaking of gay assholes, remember when Kevin Spacey came out as gay after being accused of sexually assaulting then 14-year-old Anthony Rapp? Remember when he was also accused of hurling around the N-word on set?

See? Queer people can be also be racist, rapist assholes.

One of my biggest problems with white queer people is that they are willfully colorblind. Many are content with ignoring intersectionality, and perhaps that’s because the LGBTQ community is not as inclusive as it should be.

So, I’m not writing this piece to condemn all white queer people. I’m writing this piece to condemn white queer people like Dylan; people like Dylan believe that there is a way to separate queerness from Blackness. People like Dylan are content with ignoring intersectionality, which is dangerous. People like Dylan are content with watching other communities crumble, so long as his privilege stays intact.

Don’t be a Dylan.

Image via Getty

What ‘Alex Strangelove’ Does And Doesn’t Get Right About Coming To Terms With Your Sexuality

It’s only been a few months since Love, Simon became the first studio movie to bring gay love to the masses and already, another queer romance has hit our screens in the form of Alex Strangelove on Netflix. However, while Love, Simon was constrained by Hollywood limitations and its need to universalize gay love for mainstream audiences, Alex Strangelove admirably dives deeper into the queer experience, exploring the struggles that many face coming to terms with their own sexuality.   

 

On the surface, Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny) seems to be perfectly content with his middle-class existence. Surrounded by supportive friends and a loving girlfriend, the protagonist of Craig Johnson’s film has nothing to worry about, yet Alex remains pent up somehow, unable to fully articulate what’s wrong with his idyllic high school relationship. It’s not until he and Claire (Madeline Weinstein) agree to consummate their love physically that anxiety begins to set in. This is exacerbated further after Alex meets a cute older guy named Elliott (Antonio Marziale) who has a crush on him, something which he’s not entirely “repulsed” by.

 

At one key moment during the film, Alex asks Elliott how he knew he was gay. Rather than directly answer the question with a specific memory, the out teen simply replies with a question of his own: “How did you know you were straight?” So begins Alex’s deeper analysis of why things aren’t working out with Claire in the way that they should.

While mainstream cinema as a whole is still playing catch up in regards to the representation of queer sexuality, the LGBTQ characters who we do see portrayed rarely question their orientation beyond an initial realization. Carol, Call Me By Your Name, Moonlight: each of these recent heavy hitters features characters who may or may not hide their sexuality yet still ultimately understand what it is that they desire. Alex, on the other hand, remains confused for far longer than we typically see on screen, and it’s here that Johnson invites the audience to take that journey of understanding and self-acceptance alongside our protagonist.

 

During a recent interview with Collider, director and writer Craig Johnson revealed that aspects of Alex Strangelove are “at least partially autobiographical,” although his own coming out process took far longer than is depicted in the film. Along the way, Johnson also questioned whether he was bisexual, just like Alex does around the midway point of the story, but both eventually come to the conclusion that they’re strictly gay. Scenes where Truelove tries to maintain his erection during sex with girls should be immediately relatable to a number of gay audience members who may have also experimented with girls first and it’s commendable that Alex Strangelove explores these moments in a largely non-judgmental way.

 

It’s not just boys who are affected by the experiences detailed in this film, though. Too often, the girls who young gay men initially strike up a relationship with are subsequently discarded or at the very least find their role diminished if they even appear on screen. Love, Simon touched upon this briefly with Katherine Langford’s character (who became the star of the book’s sequel), but Alex Strangelove goes one better and devotes a significant subplot to Claire that runs alongside the central narrative.

Whether you found it realistic or not that Claire helped her former boyfriend connect with Elliott in the final prom scene, the heartfelt exchange leading up to that rung admirably true, revealing that Alex really does love her, but just not in the way that she needs. Rather than just portray Claire as an emotional casualty of Alex’s sexual confusion, Johnson’s script shines a light on the unique and yet still genuine kind of love shared between them both. Although Alex won’t end up with Claire in a physical sense, he still loves her on an emotional level and that’s still valid, even if the path leading up to this point is one of heartbreak on both sides.

 

Detractors might argue that Alex is actually leading his girlfriend on while falling in love with another person and it’s true that the audience is encouraged to identify with the title character’s often shitty and selfish behavior. However, Johnson circumvents at least some of these issues by highlighting the fact that Alex is torn between his burgeoning sexuality and the very real feelings he still holds for Claire. Unfortunately, the film fails to show Alex finally come to terms with his sexuality in the most literal sense and this is where Alex Strangelove really falls short.

 

For most of the film’s running time, Johnson’s focus revolves around Alex’s obsession to lose his heterosexual virginity. Through experimentation and a number of failed attempts at sex, the titular teen eventually figures out what he doesn’t like to do behind closed doors, yet Alex Strangelove fails to confirm what its hero does like beyond a high school prom kiss with the boy of his dreams.

 

It’s easy to understand why his character might not want to rush into anything physical, given previous anxieties about sex and his own struggles in the closet, but it’s frustrating that Johnson doesn’t complete the journey and at least hint that Alex wants something more physical from Elliott. In this sense, Alex Strangelove is just as neutered as Love, Simon, even though the film is potentially far freer to explore such avenues due to the fact that it was released via streaming.

 

This hesitance to depict young gay desire on screen isn’t the only shortcoming of Alex Strangelove. Just like Love, Simon, Johnson’s queer coming of age story focuses only on one specific letter in the LGBTQ spectrum, honing in yet again on the experience of a white, non-femme, American gay male. Both the marketing and even the core narrative lent themselves perfectly to an open exploration of bisexuality, yet Alex Strangelove remains a missed opportunity in this regard, only referring to bisexual behavior once halfway through with a throw-away joke about Panic! At The Disco.

However, this latest addition to the growing genre of queer teen movies is still commendable for shining a spotlight on how internal struggles with one’s own sexuality can take time to manifest. Time recently claimed that stories like Love, Simon and by extension Alex Strangelove are no longer needed as kids in 2018 “already have a good shot of fitting in,” but the truth is that we’re still years away from seeing every facet of queer sexuality depicted accurately on screen.

 

Johnson summarizes Alex Strangelove as “Love, Simon with sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” a description that wildly over-estimates the barriers that his film actually breaks through. However, the fact remains that Alex Strangelove is still a vital addition to the LGBTQ landscape, reminding both straight and queer audiences that sexual orientation isn’t always something that can be understood straight away and often develops in stages. If we can all have a little more understanding and patience for people who are still coming to terms with their sexuality, then perhaps it will be easier for others to join the people whose coming out videos are celebrated so beautifully in the film’s final moments.