I don’t know if this is going to be a reachable moment, teachable moment or draggable moment. What I do know is the last few days have been mentally challenging for anyone in the LGBTQ community that watches the continued bashing and “it’s just jokes” rhetoric from others — jokes that often lead to getting folk hurt or killed. And yes, I’m very serious about the trickle-down effect that jokes have on creating thoughts that become dangerous towards our community.
Where do we start? Let’s start with Mr. Hart. When Kevin was announced as the host of the Oscars for 2019, I didn’t necessarily leap for joy — not so much because of Kevin Hart, but because the Oscars are trash. When the old tweets came up, I wasn’t even that bothered because, years after the old tweets, you stated you didn’t want to have a gay son. My problem was in how you addressed the situation.
Apologies can only go but so far. Atonement is where you should be in your process of “I love everyone.” Love is an action. I have not seen any action from your or your platform as we have watched the rights of trans people be decimated over the past two years. I don’t remember you being a champion of marriage equality, or vocal against any of the policies being enacted that harm the most vulnerable in your community. Instead when you were called out on your past, you ranted on multiple platforms about how you moved on although the community you hurt HAS NOT.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King, Jr.
You then went on the quote MLK, but not the entirety of what MLK said.
You quoted: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comforts and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” But as Ira Madison pointed out, the rest of the quote states “the true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways, he will lift some bruised and beaten brother to a higher and more noble life.” That’s the part you need to be at in your period of “growth.” Work on that.
You let your pride get in the way of your dream and left a bad taste in the mouth of the community that got you here, and yes that community does include LGBTQ people who have supported you despite your homophobic antics. Think about while you watch someone else on the Oscar stage this year have your dream, when all you had to do was show the growth.
I’m also tired of the rhetoric of “beating the gay” out of a child or “preventing your child” from being gay. I’m going to be very clear about this.
If you agree with beating a child for being gay, you don’t deserve to have kids.
If you think you can prevent a child from being gay, you don’t deserve kids.
If you don’t want a gay child because of additional oppression, you don’t deserve kids. Because a black child, gay or straight will always be oppressed.
Now on to Mr. Hughley. I don’t know what side of the bed you woke up on that made you think that you could call Indya Moore (Black trans actress of POSE) a “pussy” or Blair Imani (Muslim queer activist) a dickhead, but someone done told you wrong. It is utterly disrespectful for you as a Black man to not only attack two women from the Black community, but resort to name calling because you, in your 55 years of barbershop wisdom, were unable to respond to valid critique.
It is people like you that keep toxic masculinity alive in the Black community. It is people like you who unfortunately are heralded as leaders, when you are really patriarchal “pro-Black with conditions” and part of the problem with why our community will never be free. It is very clear after seeing all of the hetero antics around Black LGBTQ people over the past few days that Black cishet men will never lead us to freedom.
A word of advice. If you feel some way towards the LGBTQ community, keep your mouth shut about it. Or better yet, why don’t you engage an LGBTQ person for once and have a conversation with us. We don’t bite (unless you ask), but on the serious. We are people just like all of you. Many of us are your cousins, brothers, sisters, and children. Many of whom will never come out or abandon their families because of the deep hatred for LGBTQ people, brought on from conditioning of colonization. We are quick to wanna break anti-black cycles systems, never realizing that homophobia and transphobia are part of these too.
Black homophobes and transphobes block us from liberation on a daily basis. None of us are free unless we all can be free, and that starts with fighting for the most vulnerable in our community, which is often Black LGBTQ people. We are quick to wanna break anti-black cycles systems, never realizing that homophobia and transphobia are part of these too. We must break every chain, not step over the shackles of your queer brothers and sisters. That’s not liberation, it’s just oppression with a new name.
Inspired by sentimentality and love, Mexican fashion designer Barbara Sanchez-Kane is on a mission to create clothes for a muse she has dubbed the “Macho Sentimental.” The Macho Sentimental can be someone of any gender; any individual who is in touch with their emotions. It is out of that space that Sanchez-Kane creates her innovative, unique designs that take inspiration from both high fashion couture and Mexican streetwear.
Sanchez-Kane recently collaborated with Nike on their The Force is Female project and hosted a pop-up in Los Angeles in late November. INTO caught up with the queer designer to talk about the philosophy guiding her inspired menswear line.
What does “Macho Sentimental” mean to Barbara Sanchez-Kane? Is there a safe way for queer women to be masculine without embracing the toxic parts of masculinity?
A human being of either sex; a person. Strongly influenced by
emotional feelings and in contact with male and female forces.
synonymous: human being, human, person, mortal,
individual, personage, soul.
I think we need more education – that is the main problem with the toxic part of masculinity. That is derived in aggressiveness and violent response as we have been taught that masculinity is associated with these terms that need to be broken.
You are a lesbian fashion designer who makes menswear. Do you think the phrase “menswear” is outdated now since people of all genders wear what is considered “men’s” or “women’s” clothes?
Sanchez-Kane started as a menswear brand. I use the term menswear just as a marketing strategy in sizing purpose, but as I say, we dress the Macho Sentimental.
You used to live in Los Angeles where you interned for German designer Bernhard Willhelm. Do you see his influence on your work or the experience of having lived in Los Angeles in your clothes?
Well, my first collection Citizen Sanchez-Kane was designed based on an old love relationship I had during my time in LA. So yes all experiences and places influence my work.
You’ve created pieces in your fashion line that were inspired/for your mother and in your pop-up in Los Angeles, your mother was there to assist you with the event. You also have an alter-ego called “SOLRAC,” which your father’s name spelled backward. How does your relationship with your parents inform your work?
I couldn’t have built SANCHEZ-KANE without the support of my parents.
Family is the main pillar of my education and will continue to be a presence in the brand. I am so blessed to share all the growth of the brand with them.
You publish love poems and journal entries on your Instagram signed with the name “SOLRAC.” The graphics on your clothes feature phrases such as “Mexikanemicorazon” and “Freelance Lover,” along with “Macho Sentimental.” Is Sanchez-Kane a brand for queer romantics?
I am a sentimental romantic 100 percent guided by my inner feelings. I found in clothing the best way to deal with my problems good and bad ones. Is therapeutic and a way of living. Women have always been the starting point to create a world where all the misfits are welcome to join.
Critical and fan consensus on RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s Holi-slay Spectacular that aired Friday night has been, shall we say, mixed. Were I diagnosing the problem, I’d say it was trying too hard to fit into the format of a regular Drag Race episode and should’ve just given up that particular ghost. If you wanna make a musical advertisement for RuPaul’s latest Christmas album, just do that. (Also, save the delightful return of Sonique and Mayhem Miller’s surprisingly strong showing, the cast was pretty underwhelming.)
Despite the largely negative reception to the special, though, I’m hopeful Drag Race won’t abandon the idea of one-off episodes entirely. There’s value in a format that gives us little tastes of veteran queens without them having to compete in a full season.
Sonique is a great example of that, actually; she’s not who I’d call “All Stars material” in the most traditional sense, having gone out on episode 4 of season 2 and not broken out in a big way since. But she showed she’s really evolved in her drag during the special; in a more competitive format, she might be able to prove that she is ready for All Stars.
For example: Have an episode that’s one long ball. Collect six queens, some of the most fashionable to ever compete on Drag Race. Roxxxy Andrews. Detox. Kim Chi. Even throw in some winners, like Violet Chachki, Aquaria, and Raja. The limited commitment makes it easier to get bigger names back, and will inspire them to bring out the big guns immediately, instead of saving them for later in the game. Put a $10,000 prize on the line for a winner. Drag Race meets Chopped.
You could do similar episodes for acting, comedy, singing, lip-syncing, dancing — what’s amazing about the Drag Race universe is how many skills it involves. And there are over 100 queens who each excel at different things. Showcase specials make sense in a way a holiday special, especially one as scripted as this one, doesn’t.
I doubt last night was the last Holi-slay Spectacular we’ll be getting, to be frank. While fans and critics may have rolled their eyes, it’s likely that the special did actually boost sales of Ru’s music. My only request is this: If we’re going to get more of that, Drag Race, at least give us some real, competitive specials, too.
The Bachelor. The Bachelorette. Love Island. Beauty and the Geek. Rock of Love. Flavor of Love. The Cougar. All these reality dating shows have many things in common, but an overarching, unavoidable theme is their focus on heterosexual relationships.
The highly problematic reality series A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila was 10 years ago now, and since then, there has been little visibility for queer people on dating shows. In 2016, gay men had Logo’s Finding Prince Charming, and the UK’s First Date has featured some LGBTQ cast members. But it’s only recently there has been an embracement of bisexual-identified people on television. Desiree Akhavan’s series The Bisexual recently premiered to praise from the LGBTQ community for its accurate portrayal of a woman exploring her bisexuality, all the while battling and dismantling the stereotypes associated with her sexuality. But that was fictional — where was our dating show?
E!’s The Bi Life, hosted by Australian drag queen, pop singer, entertainer, and Celebrity Big Brother winner Courtney Act. The show, which premiered late October, followed nine bisexual-identified millennials as they summered at a villa in Barcelona, getting to know each other and sharing their bisexual experiences.
This isn’t a Big Brother or Survivor sort of show with challenges, alliances, and backstabbing to get ahead. There’s no competing for the heart of another with the result being kicked off or engaged a la The Bachelor, either. Think of The Bi Life as if you were hanging out with a bunch of friends, but it’s televised You’re observing their summer getaway as they discover one another and parts of themselves. Courtney Act advises the cast members on being an out and proud, offering advice and listening to their concerns. She plays part host, part guidance counselor.
“I couldn’t think of a single bisexual role model growing up, and so to have that now, to be able to see real people having real problems and most importantly talking about bisexuality is so important,” The Bi Life cast member Irene Ellis told INTO.
Ellis, who identifies as pansexual and hails from Chichester, England, says she applied to be on the show after seeing an ad — a pure act of spontaneity.
“Seeing that there was going to be an LGBT show on TV, I just kinda felt drawn to it,” Ellis said. “I thought ‘You know what? My dating life is also getting a bit stale — maybe a TV show can help me find someone.’ And deep down, I still had that nagging feeling that I wasn’t being as open and as confident as I wanted to be with my sexuality, so maybe this might help that.”
An introvert and self-professed nerd by nature, Ellis was nervous heading into the house, but says her fears were quickly abated when she met her castmates. The cast is as wide and varied as bisexuality is. There’s Daisie, a fraud prevention officer from Manchester; Kyle, a support teacher from South Wales; club promoter Leonnie; an international swimmer named Michael; and London-based makeup artist, Mariella.
“I felt like I knew them all immediately, and we all just wanted to talk and learn about one another,” Ellis said. “One of my favourite things was that we all had breakfast together, often Matt … or Mariella would cook and we’d sit at the table chatting. And between filming, we’d be seen trying to catch up on telly together — often cuddled up on the big sofa inside.”
It was a big happy bisexual family, a positive and relatable space. Ellis said she felt comfortable being herself, explaining her love of cosplay to a very bewildered, but ultimately fascinated Matt. She also showed off her bee tattoo — an ode to her love of Sherlock Holmes to Ryan, a fitness influencer from London.
“Everyone just completely accepted me for who I was,” Ellis said.
As much as a bisexual Barcelona abode may have seemed like a dream vacation, they were all there for a specific reason.
“We would often have conversations in the villa about what might happen after we finished filming, and what people might say,” Ellis said. “However, we all said that the one thing we wanted was to have a mainstream show out there that just normalized being bisexual/pan. We considered that if we could make even one person feel like less of a stereotype, feel less like they had to justify themselves, then that would be one of the most important things we’d done.”
Judging by the immediate and ongoing reactions to the show, they’ve done their job.
While there are the inevitable negative comments, they’re not in the majority. Ellis says that most people are “really just excited to see bisexual/pansexual people on their screens.”
“A lot of people messaged us and asked how we’d come out, and to thank us for being the guinea pigs, as it were, to go out and be the first faces of a show of this kind,” she said.
Her favorite reaction came from an Instagram DM she received from a viewer. “She let me know that watching The Bi Life with her parents made it a lot easier for her to explain her sexuality,” Ellis said.
Still, there’s’ room for improvement: Ellis is the only pansexual-identified person on The Bi Life, and the show has faced criticism for every castmate identifying as cisgender. Those additions would only add more benefits to a show disseminating information about bisexuality that is ultimately helping to normalize it. There is a concerted effort to break down “the complexities” of being bisexual, moreover, the fact it’s not complex at all. Viewers are watching a television show about people who are sexually attracted to people of all gender identities. The conversations the cast mates have with one another both break down the barrier and inform the viewers, as conversations range from coming out of the closet to being told their sexuality wasn’t as important as a gay woman’s, the latter having been an early experience for Ellis.
“Bisexuality is completely valid,” Ellis said. “You’re not sat on a fence, you’re not undecided, and you’re certainly not greedy. You just like both, and that’s perfectly okay. You can define to what percentage or level or whatever that is, but that’s yours to own.”
The Bi Life has helped Ellis to become more confident in herself and how she identifies, as dealing with bisexual erasure was something she’s struggled with. Even at Pride, she felt like she didn’t belong, with people telling her she was only there for the party; that she wasn’t “gay” enough. She said she was closeted in school because she saw how her bisexual classmates were called greedy or manipulative, people saying they didn’t know which side they were playing for. It stuck with her for years.
“It’s only really since being on the show and finally talking about those experiences and those discriminations that I now feel proud to be who I am, and no one else can shame that,” Ellis said.
While The Bi Life has had an important impact on LGBTQ viewers, it’s also a show heterosexual viewers can enjoy and learn from.
“By watching the show and being a little more educated about LGBTQ+ issues, you’re going to become an ally that someone you know might really need,” Ellis said of straight viewers. The more people hear about the show and watch it, that’s “. . . one more person in your life that understands you and doesn’t judge you, [it] can make the world of difference,” she added.
“I certainly would have felt a lot more comfortable coming out at a younger age,” Ellis said. “Even if just to say yeah, well, I’m not weird, there’s a whole TV show about people like me!”
The Bi Life airs Thursdays at 9pm on E! UK & Ireland and is also available on heyu.
Whenever RuPaul’s Drag Race releases a supertrailer, fans on the show’s infamous (and hugely popular) subreddit get to work dissecting it. Which queens are featured in which challenges? How many outfits are they seen in? Stuff like this can give obsessive superfans a hint of which queens stick around longest.
But the biggest reveal in the All Stars 4 supertrailer that dropped after Friday’s RuPaul’s Drag Race Holi-slay Spectacular doesn’t need close examination at all. In fact, the good folks at Drag Race were kind enough to make it basically the first thing in the trailer: RuPaul announcing that All Stars rules are, at least for now, off the table.
Viewers of All Stars 3 will know that “All Star rules,” as Ru speaks about here, is a reference to the controversial Lip Sync for Your Legacy format. In the system used in the last two All Stars seasons, the top two in each challenge competed in a lip sync for $10,000 and the power to eliminate one queen. This stands in stark contrast to the flagship series’ Lip Sync for Your Life format, in which the bottom two queens fight for their chance to stay in the competition.
Exactly how suspended the Lip Sync for Your Legacy format is still remains to be announced. However, in a recent Instagram post, season 9 veteran Trinity “The Tuck” Taylor hinted at a very different twist coming down the pike. That speculation, we’ll leave to the subreddit.
Two more big developments in the trailer: First, that Ru appears to be addressing a cast of just eight queens at the start of the trailer, with former All Stars 1 competitors Latrice Royale and Manila Luzon nowhere to be found. Perhaps they’ll be brought in as a surprise to the other queens, similar to how season 1 winner Bebe Zahara Benet was during All Stars 3?
Additionally, Gia Gunn, season 6 veteran and trans queen, presents female in her confessionals. This, like season 2 alumna Sonique during the Holi-slay Spectacular, is something of a change for Drag Race, which has typically continued to feature trans contestants presenting male in confessionals even after they’ve announced their transition. This was particularly puzzling when it came to season 9 queen Peppermint, who announced her transition to the workroom about halfway through the season, but didn’t change her confessional look after.
All in all, it’s a pretty packed supertrailer, with plenty for fans to obsess over for the next week until All Stars 4 premieres next Friday, Dec. 14, at 8 p.m. Eastern. Watch the trailer below.
In the queer feminist punk underground, there are few labels with as much prestige as Sister Polygon. Formed by the members of the punk band Priests, the label has launched alternative music stars like queer indie artist Snail Mail and Downtown Boys.
Now the label has a new band to champion: Florry, a group led by 17-year-old queer and trans-identified frontwoman Francie Medosch, who’ve been playing bleeding-heart bedroom punk under various names for years. The band just cemented their status as one of the cool kids by putting out their debut full-length Brown BunnyNovember 23rd.
Medosch first broke onto the Bandcamp scene with past project Francie Cool, before cycling through members and changing the name to Florry, looking to put the focus on the music instead of herself. The mysterious fingerpicking guitarist we see onstage is a shy person offstage who gets really excited about her pets (three cats ― Simba, Robocop, and Bill ― as well as a potbellied pig, Bluto, and husky, Kaya). Her pets, alongside the inclusive punk underground scene Medosch found, have helped her move on from the harsh realities of being openly trans, including school bullies, mental health problems, and a suicide attempt in eighth grade.
Medosch embodies the “quiet genius” archetype often mythologized in rock. She takes a long time to answer questions, often falling back on platitudes. She relies on her instincts when it comes to her music, and is still working out how to explain it to people. Similarly, her songs really take flight during the instrumental breakdowns, where she and her bandmates can flex their chops.
Florry’s eight-song Brown Bunny is a showcase of Medosch’s inventive song structures and dark lyrics. Unlike many of their contemporaries who draw from the twee and Riot Grrrl movements, Florry pairs folk elements like slide guitar and violins with her voice, which brings to mind the squeaks of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s Alec Ounsworth or Human People’s Hayley Livingston. Even when you can’t make out that Medosch is singing lines like “Whatever you what you want is what I get / I’ll choke, I’ll choke” on songs like “Period,” her melancholy is palpable. Throughout the album, Medosch wrestles with her desire to have a simpler life free from abuse and the reality that she shouldn’t have to diminish what makes her different to do so.
We chatted on the phone about the struggle of being a queer high schooler, how punk is her realm to let loose, and her future plans for Florry.
INTO: You said you were working on Psychology notes earlier today. Are you still in high school?
Francie Medosch: Yeah I am a senior in high school.
Nice, so its an AP Psych situation?
Yeah, it’s AP Psych.
How is that going?
It’s good. I feel like its coincided very nicely. This year I’ve been trying to work on mental health a lot and trying to explore myself.
It’s hard exploring yourself in high school and you’ve already done so much. I didn’t come out until after high school was over. Is it hard existing in that context? Being in high school and discovering so much about yourself?
Yeah, it sometimes is. I think for the first three or four years I was pretty uncomfortable most of the time. But this year, senior year, I have felt strangely so comfortable with myself and projecting myself out there, being social and trying to let my ideas be known more. I used to be very shy, like purposefully shy. I would sometimes go days without saying a single word at all back in sophomore year. That was a really shitty year for me.
What was especially hard about sophomore year?
A lot of mental illness reasons. It was super hard to remain functioning every day. Also, I was doing so many shows that year, sophomore year. I was always fucking around playing shows or hanging out with friends. Junior year was the first year I was getting better, and I didn’t play any shows at all.
Going back a bit, earlier you said the first four years you were out was really hard. So did you come out in eighth grade? We’re you coming out both as gay and trans or was it one before the other?
I had always been open about being flexible with whom I’m attracted too. I don’t think anyone who knows me was surprised by that, except for a few people which felt really weird. For me, it’s always surprising when I discover anyone is homophobic. It’s such a weird thing to be mad about. I came out as trans sometime around the end of freshman year and the beginning of sophomore year.
Was your family okay with it?
Yeah, they were. I was hard at first, for the first year or so, just them getting used to all that stuff, but now it’s great. For the most part, I’ve always felt pretty nervous at family gatherings. Especially when I started dressing feminine, I would get more scared. I was able to feel so much more comfortable with being myself around other people.
Do you think that’s at all tied with how your music is going? Florry just got named a “Band to Watch” on Stereogum, which is a pretty buzzy title.
Honestly, I haven’t paired the two together at any point until just now. I’d say it was just a coincidence. It just happened that this album took a really long time to produce and make.
Did you always know it would be out on Sister Polygon or were there stretches of time where you thought you would just release it yourself?
We started recording in 2016. Halfway through the recording process, we played a show with Priests up at Bard [College] in September of 2017. I know they liked our set, and I loved Sister Polygon as well. I reached out to [Priests frontwoman] Katie [Greer] asking if she could listen to what we had so far of the record, and I also asked if Sister Polygon was accepting submissions. Katie said at the moment they weren’t, but she wanted to hear the album anyway, so I sent it over. The next thing she said from there was that they’d probably release it and asked what I’d want from the label and how it would all go down. We only officially figured that all out in June. I half assumed they’d release it, but there’s always the possibility it wouldn’t work out.
You’ve already got plans for another album, but you’re also a senior in high school. Do you plan on going to college?
Yeah, I plan on going to college, probably somewhere in New York or if not, then around Philly. Was that a good answer?
Sure! Do you plan on having your bandmates come with you to college or are you just going to mail songs back and forth and then tour? How do you anticipate being in college and being in a band going?
Well my drummer RL [Srinivasan] already lives in New York. Our bassist Peter [Gil] is fine with traveling when we need to. We don’t practice that often. In the past with Francie Cool, it was me in Philly and Abby [Jones) and RL and Theo [Woodward] all in New York so we’re used to having to travel to practice and stuff.
Let’s talk about the songs on Brown Bunny. What does the acronym KFG stand for?
Oh, Kung Fu Girl. [laughs]
There’s a lot of stuff in the song about empowerment. You say “Maybe I should just go after it/maybe I will change my life.” It sounds like with those lyrics and the title “Kung Fu Girl” you’re building yourself up as this hero protagonist, like a Buffy character.
Yeah, I did that a lot on the older album of mine, assuming an identity that works better and is easier and then feeling insecure about lying to yourself. “Kung Fu Girl” is another one of those songs.
What kind of Identity would you assume?
Oh, just like being a stronger person ― pretending I don’t have all these problems.
In “Someone Please Ask Me Out,” you sing “He’s got the weight of the world on his big broad shoulders.”
Oh yeah, that’s my cat! I love him. I mention him a lot in older Francie Cool stuff as well.
The song seems like it’s very much about wanting to be “normal” so you could be asked out. Why did you mention your cat in the song but leave so it sounds like you could be describing a boy?
There’s a lot of hidden messages in my music. Looking at it now it makes me feel super straight or something. I rarely talk about women in music.
Well, actually, in the new album there’s some gay stuff.
So why bring up your cat?
Oh, I just love him and just playing little tributes to him.
At the end of “Someone Please Ask Me Out” you sing “I’m extra normal to you.” Does that mean you’re the most normal, or something more than normal?
I think that’s more me saying that is me wishing it was true.
That you were normal?
No, not that. I just use the word in my music sometimes because I like the simplicity of it. What I mean when I say that stuff is to live without being hated.
You play at a lot of DIY or illegal places. Do you ever get nervous that someone at a gig will be really homophobic or transphobic?
No. No, because I know everyone is pretty chill at places I play. I’ll get nervous on the street, though, or at school. Well, I don’t get nervous on the street actually, or I rarely do. The place I get the most nervous is at school. Being surrounded by upper-middle-class white kids is really stressful.
But the gigs are like safe spaces.
Yeah. I feel pretty loose at gigs or just outside school, in general. But shows are where I can really let loose.
Have shows always been like that?
I think so. I’ve never really had stage fright when it comes to performing music, which is interesting considering all the other anxieties I do have about stuff. For some reason, it always felt pretty comfortable and natural for me. I don’t think I’ve ever played a show where some douche was rude to people. Or maybe I just don’t notice it.
Do you have any goals with your music going forward?
I just hope I can inspire other younger people to get active in their field of interest. You don’t have to be done with high school or even college to do the shit you wanna do. Especially today you have so many opportunities to shape your whole life. I wish I could see other people doing that. You shouldn’t be scared of trying to live in a man’s world. I hope my music can help people if they’ve been through similar situations that I’ve been through. Some people have told me that my music has helped them which is a really great feeling, knowing that you can help someone with your art and also just with yourself.
Most queer gamers have a similar story about playing online video games: you log on and within moments, you’re accosted by some kind of homophobic, transphobic, racist or altogether really really discriminatory comment from some 12 year old across the country.
Well, to them you can always say nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah, because, it’s official: the best esports player in the world, according to the 2018 Game Awards, is Dominique “Sonic Fox” McLean, a Black gay man and furry. McLean won the award on Thursday night during the ceremony, which was shown online, and proudly declared to thunderous applause that he was, in fact, “super gay.”
Taking the stage in his furry costume before eventually removing his mask, McLean said, “I’ve never really done it for the fame, I just enjoy the rush of beating people up.”
“I want to give a super shoutout to all my LGBTQ+ friends that have always helped me through life,” McLean said. “I’m gay, black, a furry, pretty much everything a Republican hates.”
Late Thursday night, three days after being named the host of the 2019 Academy Awards, Kevin Hart announced that he was stepping down from the position after initially declining to apologize for resurfaced homophobic tweets.
His response didn’t surprise me, and it likely didn’t surprise any Black LGBTQ person who has had a Netflix subscription in the past decade. We grew up in families and attended schools and likely work in places surrounded by black men who have the same opinions as Hart. And like Hart, they express their disapproval through “jokes” at the expense of LGBTQ people, sometimes more overt in their violence – like this tweet from 2011 saying that he’d break a dollhouse over his son’s head if he caught him playing with dolls.
Similar to a lot of cis-hetero black men, Hart first doubled down when confronted with his tweets. In response to the outcry, Hart posted a video on Instagram Thursday night, saying that the world was becoming “beyond crazy” and that he wasn’t going to let the “craziness” frustrate or anger him because he worked hard to be where he is in his life right now.
“My team calls me, ‘Oh, my God, Kevin, this world is upset about tweets you did years ago,’ Guys, I’m almost 40 years old. If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don’t know what to tell you. If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify or explain their past, then do you. I’m the wrong guy, man,” Hart said. “I’m in a great place, a great mature place, where all I do is spread positivity.”
In a second video, he announced that he’s been asked by The Academy to “apologize for tweets of old” to keep his host position, but that he ultimately declined.
As expected, Black LGBTQ Twitter had a few things to say in response:
Yes, Eniko, you’re certainly damned if you DON’T tweet faggot a bunch of times and threaten violence if your son were gay pic.twitter.com/QYHU1srP8c
people who respond to initiatives to hold homophobia accountable are never logical or concise in their comments. They are often ignorant, violent, bigoted, gaslighting & insensitive, just like the violence they protect. All of it is reflective. Kevin is not intentional or pure.
It’s not uncommon for cis-hetero black men to not apologize for their homophobia. Black male comedians have long been homophobic and have always had other black comedians come to defend their bigotry.
There are also places in black culture that breed the resentment: particularly the barbershop, which is historically a place where black men have congregated and have had spirited debates about everything. It’s considered a cultural rite of passage for young black boys to be brought there for their first haircuts and to be around older role models who look like them and can give them wisdom.
So this isn’t just Hart, unfortunately. This has roots. And I’m a lesbian who has kept a clean, shaved head for the past four years, so I’m regularly in the barber’s chair listening in on these conversations.
I listen in at family events when my male cousins talk about who does (and doesn’t) get into their fraternity. I listen at work when a casually homophobic comment is made about anything pop-culture related. I see when local Twitter accounts (and more) become nostalgic for the Twitter era of 2009-2012 when anti-gay bigotry was expressed freely and without consequence. When – if ever – anything is questioned or said to be homophobic, it’s shrugged off. They were just “jokes,” and cis-hetero black men like Hart would rather lose the job opportunity of a lifetime than express regret for their homophobia.
Unfortunately, black people supported comedy specials that used gay people as the punchline, including the acts of Eddie Murphy, Bernie Mac, Martin Lawrence, and more of the Kings of Comedy; Hart was likely influenced by them and incorporated their style into his act. Maybe he believed it, and maybe he was simply being performative, but the effect is still the same.
I don’t know if Hart has had a change in perspective during all of this. His career exploded into the mainstream after the original tweets and with that fame came increased scrutiny of his past. I’m sure he’s learned how easy it is for people to dig up his unsavory actions, but besides that, his constant emphasis that the tweets are so old that they shouldn’t matter anymore makes it difficult to believe that he’s anything but obstinate.
In all of this, of course, Hart and his fans find him to be the victim and the people who demand respect and a sincere apology for his past comments about LGBTQ people are “internet trolls.”
None of what’s been going on with Hart regarding his actions or lack of accountability has been surprising to black queers. Another day, another deflection and dismissal of the lived experiences of the LGBTQ community.
As Kevin Hart learned last night, in the immortal words of Academy Award winner and Charm School host Mo’Nique, when you do clownery, the clown comes back to bite. As such, after the internet pointed out that he had quite a few homophobic tweets in his past, Kevin Hart chose to step down from his gig hosting the 2019 Oscar telecast.
Since the announcement, the internet has broken out their best gumshoe skills in search of someone else to host the ceremony. (The Golden Globes don’t have that problem, having already made the inspired decision to tap Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg to host their ceremony.)
So, who should host the ceremony? Well, when I was thinking about potential replacements, and peeping names other people offered on the internet, a few requirements came to mind: they have to be funny, they should be beloved and, obviously, the replacement should also be Black. Given the nature of the controversy, it would also help if the person chosen was a member of the LGBTQ community.
Here are nine potential picks that could get the room warmed up while we wait for Regina King to collect her statue for best supporting actress.
Whoopi was the natural first choice for a lot of people. She has a lot of the requisite characteristics that one would need to helm the Gay Super Bowl. She’s a previous Oscar winner who has hosted the ceremony four times already. Also, while she’s a comedian, her humor is more retro than newfangled and definitely will aim to please rather than bite.
If we’re talking about Black Oscar winners who know how to make people laugh, look no further than Mo’Nique. She’s never hosted the Oscars before, but she has plenty of skills hosting a contentious room — look no further than her triumphant turn as the host of VH1’s inaugural run of Charm School. Mo’Nique spent much of 2018 on an amazing press tour convincing Hollywood to take note of the worth of Black women, especially Black female comedians. Giving one of the most decorated comedians in history a platform to remind us all how much she makes us laugh would be a testament to that.
Haddish was one of the first names to pop up in earnest on everyone’s Twitter feeds. Haddish is a critically acclaimed actress and comedian who also feels like something of a Hollywood prom queen right now. She’s extremely beloved and is the definition of a crowd pleaser. The Hollywood Reporter pointed out that people were mad that she mispronounced some names when she announced the nominations for last year’s awards, but here’s the thing: they wouldn’t have been mad if she were a white man.
Sykes is one of the biggest names in comedy. She’s also the most visible Black LGBTQ comedian in the world. If you’re looking for the perfect person to step in after the Hart controversy, there’s really no name more perfect than Sykes. Also, Sykes’ comedy would definitely strike the right tone for the ceremony. She’s not afraid to be political and everyone’s going to be in the mood to poke fun at Trump. Sykes will go there, even if people boo.
When a New York Times profile about you says that you look like God, then it’s pretty clear that you’re operating on a different level from the rest of us. And the person who garnered that description is master comedian Maya Rudolph, who has made us laugh in almost every medium possible. She does everything: she can act *and* sing (I’ve seen her perform twice in her Prince cover band and I still haven’t recovered). Also, lest we forget, Rudolph is an exceptional dramatic actress. Here’s your semi-annual reminder to watch Away We Go.
While I’d rather a woman take the stage, there are a few people who have expressed a desire to see Trevor Noah take the stage. The choice makes sense on a few levels. Jon Stewart hosted the ceremonies twice and given that Noah was chosen to succeed Stewart on the Daily Show, an Oscar-hosting gig doesn’t seem too far behind. But, still, Noah doesn’t seem to have the universal goodwill that Stewart had.
If the Academy really wanted to show that it was on the gays’ side the whole time, Burgess could be a sign that they’re willing to put their glitter where their mouth is. Burgess has a ton of internet clout, but he’s starting to amass industry clout as well. In September, he joined RuPaul, Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon and more on stage for a star-studded opening Emmys number. Was it an audition?
If you’re talking about internet clout, no one has amassed a more fervent internet fandom faster than comedian and Daily Show correspondent Jaboukie Young-White, whose comedy is unapologetically queer. But, Young-White doesn’t seem to have the industry gravitas or respect that one needs to have in order to actually get the hosting gig. But, there’s a future in which the Twitter king can one day take the stage.
Who can turn the world on with her smile? Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? Well, Tracee Ellis Ross. The award-winning actress definitely has more of a television background (her last film was the 2009 Lindsay Lohan-led Labor Pains) but no one could make an audience feel more at ease than one of TV’s best moms. She’s also the daughter of an icon — and an Academy Award nominee for Lady Sings the Blues.
The 61st annual Grammy Award nominees were announced today, and several trans and queer-identified women are up for awards in categories ranging from Album of the Year to Best Music Video to Producer of the Year. In most categories, they are the only women against a handful of cis and largely straight men.
Openly gay Americana artist Brandi Carlile finally gets her due this year with six nominations for work from her album, By The Way, I Forgive You. Carlile’s sixth studio LP is up for Album of the Year and Best Americana Album, and her single “The Joke” is up for Record of the Year, Best American Roots Performance, and Best American Roots song. Although she’s been nominated before (2016’s Best Grammy Award for Best Americana Album, for her fifth LP, The Firewatcher’s Daughter), this could be her year for at least one win. It likely doesn’t hurt that she appeared in a fictional Grammy performance depicted in A Star is Born, alongside Bradley Cooper.
Speaking of A Star is Born, bisexual pop star Lady Gaga is up for Best Pop Solo Performance (“Joanne”), Record and Song of the Year and Best Song Written For Visual Media for “Shallow.”
Pansexual R&B-turned-pop star Janelle Monae’s visual accompaniment to her vaginal ode “Pynk” is nominated for Best Music Video, and her album, Dirty Computer, is up against not only Carlile, but multiple nominee Cardi B for Album of the Year. Monae has also been nominated previously (Best Album, Record, Pop/Duo Group Performance, Contemporary R&B Album, and Urban/Alternative Performance from 2009-2013), but has yet to nab a win.
Speaking of Cardi, the bisexual sensation also went home empty-handed after two nominations last year (Rap Song and Rap Performance for “Bodak Yellow”), but could win for Album and Record of the Year (Invasion of Privacy and “I Like It,” respectively), Best Rap Performance (also “I Like It”), and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance with Maroon 5 for “Girl Like You.”
Trans songwriter/producer Teddy Geiger’s “In My Blood” is up for Song of the Year (along with co-songwriter and performer Shawn Mendes) and trans artist SOPHIE is nominated for Best Dance/Electronic Album (Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides), both their first nominations.
In Best Folk Album, longtime lesbian singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier is nominated for Rifles & Rosary Beads, and soul legend Meshell Ndegeocello’s Ventriloquism could win Best Urban Contemporary Album. Whitney Houston is being honored posthumously for music from the film Whitney (Best Music Film), St. Vincent is up for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rock Song (for Masseduction and title track, respectively), Linda Perry is competing for Producer of the Near, Non-Classical for her work on Willa Amai’s Hardest Better Faster Stronger, Served Like a Girl: Music From and Inspired By The Documentary Film, and Dorothy’s 28 Days in the Family, and out songwriter Tiffany Gouche wrote several tracks for Lalah Hathaway’s Best R&B Album-nominated Honestly and Hathaway’s Best R&B Performance song “Y O Y.” Demi Lovato also got a nod for “Fall In Line,” her track with Christina Aguilera (Best Pop Duo/Group Performance).
This is already a record year for LGBTQ women visibility at the Grammys, but should these nominees also win, it would be an incredibly strong showing in all areas of music recording and production. As the music industry continues to reconcile with LGBTQ inclusion and gender parity, 2019’s Grammys are an opportunity to celebrate just how powerful LGBTQ musicians and women are, and how valuable their experiences are as a part of their voice and their art.
The 2019 Grammys will air live on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019.