‘Sex Education’ is Queer, But the Gayest Part is My Crush on Gillian Anderson

Since her days as Dana Scully on The X-Files, Gillian Anderson has amassed a widespread and, um, vibrant queer fanbase. Basically, we all want her to tear us limb from limb and eat our faces. The British actress, who is queer herself, has riled up her lady-loving fans for years with her austere performances, killer power-suits, and willingness to openly flirt with Kate McKinnon.

Her latest endeavor, a teenage-centric Netflix dramedy called Sex Education, is queer as can be, with lesbian sex scenes and numerous LGBTQ leads. But the gayest part of Sex Education is actually the velocity at which my heart throbs for Gillian Anderson.

One boy in the show refers to Anderson’s character as a “sexy witch,” which would normally be the ultimate compliment, but in this case, barely scratches the surface of her sex appeal. Gillian plays Jean, an acclaimed sex therapist and promiscuous mother to 16-year-old Otis, who is sexually repressed as a result of his unconventional upbringing, being surrounded by phallic statues and jarring conversations about sex. Anderson wears motherhood well, despite usually playing less maternal characters. But she maintains her ever-severe disposition. Throughout the show, Gillian does a lot of staring in a British accent. There’s also some glaring in a British accent, judging in a British accent, and lots of intimidating in a British accent—all of which confirmed that I want Gillian Anderson to step on me.

I’ve written about the queer community’s desire for Brie Larson to punch them in the face—a craving I definitely share. But underneath Brie Larson’s superhero exterior as Captain Marvel, there’s something sweet and endearing about her. The same cannot be said for Gillian Anderson. I am scared of her, she makes my bones quiver, and I want her to stomp on my face and leave an oily black shoeprint on my forehead. What I’m trying to say is: I’m so gay for Gillian Anderson that my desires for her have surpassed normalcy. She has radicalized my lesbianism and I would let her do ghastly things to me, especially as the perpetually lustful Jean from Sex Education.

While I initially watched the Netflix show so I could pretend Gillian Anderson was yelling at me, Sex Education actually turned out to be one of the best shows I’ve seen in the last year. I expected to be bored during the evergreen virginal teenager content, but was pleasantly surprised by how gay it was. Long story short, I ended up unhinging my jaw and swallowing the show whole in less than 24 hours, leaving a tear in the space-time continuum where my TV used to be.

Queerness is ubiquitous in Sex Education, and does what every show or movie should do with sexuality: the show finds the delicate balance between normalizing queerness and removing its shock factor, and illustrating how sexuality can still be a big deal for certain people. For example, there’s Eric, a flamboyant gay guy and best friend to Otis, who is cursed with heterosexuality. What I love about Otis and Eric is that they’re lifelong besties who visibly diverge in personalities, sexualities, and interests: Eric is theatrical in his exuberant temperament and garish outfits while Otis is mild, both behaviorally and in his lackluster wardrobe which says “I’ve been wearing these clothes since I was 11.”

I hate having to say this, but it’s nice to see an unlikely and intimate straight-gay male friendship. It shouldn’t be rare, and I don’t want to call them an “unlikely” pairing, but they are. Otis and Eric are the perfect example of how life should be—straight white males like Otis, when freed from the prisons of toxic masculinity and homophobia, can form close bonds with gay men without feeling like others will think they’re gay by association (which, newsflash, isn’t a bad thing—it’s a compliment).

I’ve seen other straight-gay male friendships attempted on-screen before, like in Set It Up (2018), when Pete Davidson and Glen Powell were paired as besties—but their entire relationship felt forced, like Powell’s straight character was constantly calling out his friend’s queerness, as if to say “Look how chill I am with this dude being gay! I can talk about it without even being weird!”

In Sex Education, there’s no leftover bro detritus or defensiveness. Otis and Eric openly talk about their romantic endeavors and give each other advice on both girls and boys. They dress up in drag to attend a showing of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Eric playfully grinds on Otis and slow-dances with him at the school dance, just like a pair of girls would do without being judged, labeled, or experiencing gay panic. We, as the audience, can see how special and unique Otis and Eric’s bond is, and how Eric’s queerness is NBD to his best friend. However, Eric’s sexuality is a big deal to other people in his life.

Eric’s father, who teeters on the edge of being openly homophobic, reprimands his son multiple times throughout the series—not necessarily for being gay, but for dressing up and standing out, because he worries about his son’s safety (which is heartbreakingly compromised when Eric is attacked by vicious straight men on the street).

Queerness is also a big to-do for Adam, the repressed school bully who (surprise surprise) targets Eric because he’s got a secret crush on him. We’ve seen this storyline tons of times before—looking at you, Karofsky from Glee. However, when the trope is contrasted with the low stakes queerness of the other characters, it works, as it demonstrates the spectrum of homophobia that unfortunately exists today. For example, it’s worth mentioning that there’s an out lesbian couple in Otis’ high school and no one ever targets them and they’re never the butt of the joke. The couple has a few cringey sex scenes, and later seek Otis’ expertise for sex and relationship advice—which, again, is NBD to him.

Unfortunately, Gillian Anderson’s character isn’t queer (that we know of—the show’s only in its first season and she’s clearly very sexually open). And even though I was totally sated by the range of queerness and LGBTQ storylines that Sex Education had to offer, I was markedly distracted by Anderson’s angular bone structure and Miranda Priestly hair. I would recommend this show to anyone who’s starved for queer content—so, everyone—but I would assign it to any queer Gillian fan. Jean offers the gravity of Stella Gibson in The Fall, the intimidating, lengthy pauses of her character in The Spy Who Dumped Me, and the fiery sex appeal of 1,000 mean lesbian suns.

But be forewarned: Watching Sex Education while crushing on Gillian Anderson will likely create a big gay black hole where your TV used to be—binge at your own risk.

This Kristen Stewart and Stella Maxwell Split Ruined My Holiday

My holiday season was less-than-happy because my favorite celesbian couple broke up just as my gay ass was attempting to start feeling jolly. Kristen Stewart and her (wipes tear) now ex-girlfriend Stella Maxwell are no longer together — and neither is my life.

Yes, it was inevitable. Yes, some have referred to the Twilight star as a “serial dater.” Yes, celebrity couples typically split after two years of dating, but I had such high hopes for this power couple. I thought it would end in wedding bliss at a star-studded, royal style, Chanel custom-designed double dress, celesbian wedding in Paris.

But after two years of high fashion runway shows, exclusive film premieres, A-list Hollywood parties, sharing clothes, cold-pressed juices, and passionate PDA, the hot celesbian heart-throb couple have ended their relationship.

There was a very brief red flag in October, when Stella was suddenly no longer following Kristen’s (private) IG account (someone slid into my DMs and told me — I do, outside of loving celesbians, have a life.) But the error was corrected not long after, and our celesbian queens were once again following each other.

The couple started their relationship in 2016 and I guess 2016 would also be the last great year America saw — it was President Obama’s final year in office and it was the year “Kristella” began.

I am so grateful that I get to exist within the same lifetime as these people. Especially given the mass adoption of social media (not to brag, but Obama follows me on Twitter). In this social media obsessed culture (where if you don’t post a pic of bae does bae even exists?) one thing that stood out about their relationship was that Stella never posted a single photo of Kristen to her 4.2 million Instagram followers — if you were lucky, you maybe could barely catch a glimpse of Kristen’s arm or leg in one of Stella’s stories, but that’s about as much as we ever got.

As you know, the Instagram “follow back” is the re-branded version of the “Facebook relationship status.” For those in your early thirties, you may remember how serious it was if your Facebook relationship status changed. If the other person was actually tagged, it announced your partnership with a photo of the two of you together on everyone’s timelines. It was basically a millennial marriage.

And now with Instagram taking Facebook cyberstalking to heroin-like levels, we can see who followed whom, when they followed them, and how many of their photos they liked. This is an INCREDIBLE amount of information for someone like me who loves to keep up with the latest Hollywood celesbian gossip — but when it led me to finding out that my own ex had finally moved on and had a new girlfriend, I became not-so-fond of these intimate features.

Anyway, time heals all wounds, right? Well, this Kristella breakup has left a gaping puncture wound in my hopeful, celesbian power couple-dream heart. For fans of celesbian culture, Kristen and Stella had picked up where Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson left off in 2008 — simpler times (sans the broken bottles being thrown in nightclubs and the ever so common restraining order) — but Sam and LiLo gave us young queer women a feeling of hope and excitement. At that time and for our generation, Lindsay Lohan was the most recognizable household television and film actress dating another woman. Her openness about dating a woman was monumental; it gave queer women worldwide visibility and validity, even if the press did often attempt to minimize their full-fledged “women who love women” relationship to “gal pals.”

I remember seeing Lindsay Lohan on The Ellen Show in 2009, the year after her breakup with Samantha. Ellen casually talked about how Sam and Lindsay had come to her birthday party together where Sam had DJ’d — ooh, to be a gay fly on that celesbian wall! Kristella gave me that exact same excitement and feeling of being seen. Sam and LiLo existed in a pre-social media world —  but now, I could look at new photos of Kristen and Stella virtually as they were being taken.

One of the highest paid and most well-known actresses Hollywood, the face of a worldwide terrifyingly popular film franchise (I never got the whole vampire thing, tbh), dating one of the most in-demand models — a Victoria Secret model at that — beautifully stunning women that are specifically cast to make men drool over them and make women aspire to be them were dating each other! Kristen was on the FROW (front-row of a fashion show) in Paris watching her girlfriend Stella walk the runway debuting the first look for the new Chanel collection, both of them mingling with Karl Lagerfeld (who seems to be quite fond of lesbian models himself) after the show. It was something straight out of my own fantasies and dreams.

When Stella attended Kristen’s directorial film debut screening in Beverly Hills (which I also attended…with the aforementioned ex…deep sigh), I thought, “maybe Stella and I share some sort of deep universal connection right now —  newly single and quickly moving on with new women.” (And if I may speak for us both, downgrades at that!) No shade to this new girl, Sam or Sarah Stylist Somebody, who looks like an intellectual. Intellectual stimulation from a partner seems to be something Kristen longs for, but she clearly has a weakness for beauty — not that I blame her.  It even happened to me earlier this year, when I attempted to take a long-time Instagram model crush out for a Valentine’s Day date, which crashed and burned after I discovered her black-out alcoholism. The prettiest people do the ugliest things.

The two archetypes Kristen always seems to oscillate between are the silent glamorous beauty or the articulate creative intellectual. Another reason I believe Kristen longs for an intellectual partner comes from a major hint I picked up from a December 2017 interview Stella did with the Italian women’s magazine GRAZIA.  Here is an excerpt from that interview:

I think that excerpt speaks for itself.

Let me be clear: This is not to drag Kristen, nor Stella. I adore them both. I don’t know who broke up with whom, (although my money would be on Kristen calling it quits) or even if it was mutual, but what I do know is that most “high fashion” models are simply not intellectuals and are usually low-key homeless. Not to be shady, but if you travel as much as they do, why would you want to pay rent for a place that you’re barely going to have time to actually live in?

Recent paparazzi photos of Kristen and her new gal, seem to suggest that Kristen has been staying at her new girl’s place—my guess is to give Stella time and space to figure out where her and her little gay dog are going to go. Maybe she can crash with her fellow model BFF Barbara Palvin, or maybe she can be an erotic third with her Russian hottie pal Irina Shayk and Bradley Cooper.

Bella Hadid might even be a good option, SEVERAL Tumblr Lesbians™ believe that Stella and Bella Hadid low-key dated and slept together casually a few years back and that Bella Hadid has ALLEGEDLY taken many a dip in the lady pond. Her close friendship with Kendall Jenner only validates this in my mind. Kendall Jenner’s queerness is an entirely different article. (Catch one of my live stand-up shows to possibly hear my Kendall Jenner Gay theory. It’s deep.)

Maybe Stella could be petty and messy and crash with Kristen’s ex’s ex Cara Delevingne— I’m pretty sure Cara has a home. Although it does seem like she crashes on friends’ couches a lot, like that week she was continuously photographed outside of Gaylor Swift’s New York City apartment every morning? And who could forget how close Cara and Kendall were? R.I.P. “CaKe.”

Remember not too long ago, but also low-key forever ago, when Cara Delevingne dated (and was madly in love with and proposed to) Annie “St. Vincent” Clark, but then St. Vincent broke up with Cara for Kristen and then Kristen broke up with St Vincent for Stella? *Alice Pieszecki voice* Maybe Stella should date St. Vincent! That would be weird and confusing, but also everything.

Or maybe she could Airbnb at  O.G. Silver Lake celesbian Amber Heard’s place while Amber travels the world trying to be the new Meghan Markle. (Jk, love you Amber let’s grab tea at Covell next Saturday). 

Stella could even get back with Miley Cyrus! And yes, Miley Cyrus and Stella Maxwell dated! It was in 2015 and it was very hot and cute.

Possible plans for Stella’s romantic future aside, I honestly feel just as heartbroken over this breakup as Stella and Tripp the dog must. Meanwhile, Kristen is seemingly feeling no pain. If I had her bank account and was the hottest celesbian in the world, I probably wouldn’t be feeling too much pain from a breakup either.

However, this breakup was undoubtedly the WORST part of 2018 for me. After a few days of silently grieving their split, or maybe being in denial about it all, I’m still not quite sure. I was reminded of the way life always seems to restore the balance, how when something bad happens, that usually means something good is to follow. Yin-yang; night, day; happy, sad. We need that balance; we have to have shitty moments so that we can know when to appreciate the good times. Just like this current era the world is experiencing, after this awful phase, we will see more love, more peace, and more unity as a result of all the turmoil we are enduring right now. Once again, the balance of life.

So cheer up, Stella—I’m sure there is some hot, up-and-coming young actress/model/singer looking for a high profile relationship to boost their TMZ ratings. You and your gay dog will have a home again in no time! As for us, the celesbian royal watchers, well, when one door closes, another one opens. And God has blessed us with more hot, young lesbian models. And he even put a cherry on top—they are WOMEN OF COLOR. I wish I were lying when I say I’m crying while typing this, but I’m not.

Allow me to introduce you to the new celesbian power couple of 2019 and 2020—Aqua Parios and Selena Forrest. I can hear you say “Who?” I had never even heard of them until a faithful follower on my @BettePorterGallery IG account DMed me and told me to check them out. (Shout out to @cleopatranising.)

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👭🏽❤ lez be happy😚

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Selena and Aqua are both up-and-coming New York-based models of color that are currently dating each other and recently got engaged. They’re both incredibly stunning and are both extremely out. Just one scroll through Aqua’s instagram (@aqua) and see for yourself— their relationship is on display bold and clear for the world to see *cries*. May I please just say, THANK YOU AQUA. THANK YOU SELENA. GODDESS BLESS YOU BOTH.

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❤️

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I have been dreaming of this day for so long — a young, relevant, hot black or brown celesbian couple and here they are. The best Christmas present of all. Aqua is Blasian (Black and Japanese) from Arizona and Selena seems to be biracial as well, from Cali. I’m not sure how they met, (assuming through work) but they seem to have been dating since sometime in 2014. Congrats on your engagement, ladies. I look forward to you both becoming household names on your rise to the top and seriously THANK YOU for your VISIBILITY and for being OUT and PROUD with your LOVE. We need more of it. I’ll see you both at the wedding.

And goodbye, Kristella! I will always love you. (*Whitney Houston voice* Sidenote: please watch the Whitney documentary if you didn’t. It has ALL the TRUE Robin Crawford Whitney Houston lesbian relationship tea, as well as confirmation that Cissy Houston — Whitney’s mother, did not want her daughter to be gay and did not like her girlfriend Robin.)

Justice For ‘Soda Pop’: Remembering One Of Britney’s Weirdest Songs

Not only did the 20th anniversary of …Baby One More Time fix climate change and end world hunger, but it also led to newfound appreciation of Britney’s debut album. There’s a whole generation of young people out there who weren’t even alive when Godney brought us this precious, precious gift, so it’s gratifying to see her first record receive some love from the Spotify generation as well.

A number of articles and social media rants posted over the weekend prove that hits from the album like “…Baby One More Time” and “(You Drive Me) Crazy” will continue slaying us till the world ends, but there’s one track, in particular, that’s still not getting the love it deserves and that’s “Soda Pop.”

You’d assume that a song that also appeared on the first Pokémon movie soundtrack would be universally loved by all, but to do so would make you even more wrong than the Ash/Pikachu porn that circulates online.

Despite appearing early on the original tracklist between classic singles like “Sometimes” and “Born To Make You Happy,” “Soda Pop” is often dismissed as an unfortunate byproduct of the time in which it was made, much like Napster or The Phantom Menace.

In a brand new ranking of the album’s track listing, Billboard placed “Soda Pop” in tenth place, besting only “The Beat Goes On,” and EW was even harsher when they argued that it’s one of the four worst songs Britney’s ever recorded. We were more generous when we ranked it in seventh place, but on an album full of classic material, “Soda Pop” still deserves to be celebrated and not just because it’s catchy AF either.

Although super-producer Max Martin was the one who elevated Britney to stardom with her debut single, the lion’s share of …Baby One More Time was actually written and produced by Eric Foster White, who basically worked on every song that wasn’t a single and eventually won a Nobel Prize for his work on “E-Mail My Heart.”

Along with reggae star Mikey Bassie, White co-wrote and produced “Soda Pop,” drawing on influences from the seemingly incongruous worlds of dancehall and bubblegum pop. While the song seems to have left a bad taste in the collective mouth of critics everywhere, fans at the time fizzed with joy at Britney’s soaring vocals and her infectious love of soda popping, even if it did sound like nothing else on the album.

Although it’s easy to see now why the song’s reggae vibes might have sounded out of place back in 1999, it’s also clear that the experimental nature of “Soda Pop” would go on to inform the genre-bending that defined later albums like Femme Fatale and In The Zone. Part of Britney’s appeal has always been her weirdness, and it doesn’t get much stranger than singing about opening a “soda pop, bop, shu-bop, shu-bop” to dancehall rhythms.

Scratch that. It does get weirder, but only when you stop dancing around to this carefree bop and take a closer look at the lyrics. On the surface, Britney’s obsession with soda seems to harken back to more innocent times when dates would meet up at their local diner over a chocolate malt. In reality, though, “Soda Pop” might be more interested in the taste of something else altogether.

When Bassie’s guest vocals first kick in, younger me assumed that he and Britney were just enjoying a casual soda together as all good friends do. However, talk of “monster riding to the music tonight” and leveling the vibes “for a wicked time to the end” took on a whole new meaning for older me.

That’s right. It’s not just soda that Britney’s watching “fizz and pop” in the chorus.

Many are quick to claim that “E-Mail My Heart” is the weirdest song that the Princess of Pop has ever recorded, but “Soda Pop” could easily give it a run for its money, which is why this naughty little ditty will remain a fan favorite “on and on until the break of dawn” and beyond.

“Soda Pop” is many things to many people; A cheesy nostalgia trip, a hyper-sexual ode to ejaculaton, a “vibical expedition” that rivals even the work of the “great poet Homer”… it’s tough to fully encapsulate the song’s strange, strange appeal, which is why we’ll leave it up to Weirdney herself to explain:

“’Soda Pop’ is such a fun song, when you hear it you’re just like ‘oh, I wanna go outside and just, y’know, party’ it’s like a really fun summer song everyone, y’know, just, in your car, listening to, y’know, it’s a great song, it’s a lot of fun.“

Truer words have never been spoken.

Image via Getty

The Weeknd’s New Song is Not Sexy, It’s Boring and Biphobic

Can you believe that in 2019 we still have to deal with the same stale bi- and lesbophobia? 

The Weeknd’s new song “Lost in the Fire” not only sounds like most of his other songs post-“Starboy,” but also puts its listener through an annoying and tired narrative. In the first verse, he’s singing about being sad and alone (again!), but in the second, he starts to opine about a woman who is interested in women, before promising to “fuck her straight.”

The entire stanza is as follows:

You said you might be into girls

Said you going through a phase

Keeping your heart safe

Well, baby, you can bring a friend

She can ride on top your face

While I fuck you straight

Let’s just clarify something here, Mr. Weeknd: No one can be fucked straight. I don’t care how big or powerful you think your dick is, it’s just impossible. Queer women are queer, whether they identify as a lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, or sexually fluid. No amount of your D will fuck up her life into thinking she’s strictly dickly from now on. Should she somehow fall for you, she would not be “straight.” There’s not a switch in our G-spot (should you be able to find it).

Secondly, this shit has been done over and over again. Rappers, in particular, have enjoyed this idea of turning lesbians. A few choice examples:

I take a dyke chick if she like dick I kissed the dyke chick and I liked it Fucking each and every Katy Perry for the night bitch, light this.” A$AP ROCKY
 
I be fuckin’ broads like I be fuckin’ bored/Turn a dyke bitch out, have her fuckin’ boys; beast.” A$AP ROCKY – repeat offender!
 
Girls kissin’ girls, cause it’s hot right? But unless they use a strap-on then they not dykes/ They ain’t about that life, they ain’t about that life.” KANYE WEST – another repeat offender!
 
Black girls say they like girls, say they dyke girls/ Type girls lose their boyfriends to them white girls.” JOEY PURP
 
It’s not just rap, of course — misogyny and homophobia knows no genre — but this brand of braggadocio has been the most consistent there.
 
And yet in 2019, we’re still singing the same old songs about queer women as conquests. As if those same ideas don’t connect to the corrective rapes happening in places like South Africa, or the hate crimes taking place in America as well as the rest of the world. The idea that a queer woman’s sexuality can be changed or fixed is the same faulty, fictitious narrative laid out by those who believe in conversion therapy, which, if you didn’t learn in 20Gayteen, STILL DOESN’T WORK. As if we can’t be trusted to know ourselves and our own bodies.
 
When #MeToo started to go viral and Cara Delevingne spoke out about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual advance on her and how homophobic it was, I wrote about my own experience with a rapper who attempted to challenge my identity, chastising me and my relationship with my partner, and eventually cornering me and forcing me to look at his dick.
 
Reader, I am still gay.
 
That dick was not enticing nor life-changing. In fact, it made me gayer. I was so repulsed by this man thinking he had the magic dick — and, for the record, I am not at all dickphobic — it’s all about the person behind the appendage, and the ones who think their dick is magic are delusional and not great role models. His  Louis C.K. act did not convince me to be something other than what I am because cis dudes, despite the power dynamics they so often utilize to their sexual benefit, do not have this magic ability they’ve convinced themselves they have. And furthermore, if a woman wants to have a threesome with you, it won’t be because you are giving her permission and then dictating how it’s all going to go down. Unless you’re coercing her, which, if you haven’t heard, is not fucking cool. 
 
Frustratingly, media outlets and Twitter are paying attention to “Lost in the Fire,” sussing out clues about ex-girlfriends or Drake disses. We’ve become so used to hearing “dyke” tossed around and boasts about girl-on-girl for the sole pleasure of a dude that perhaps it seems like old news, or something easily swatted away as tongue-in-cheek or some kind of funny song fodder. But compared with how little mainstream representation we have of songs by queer women about queer women, the prevailing storytelling done in popular songs that get major radio play dictates how our sexual identities are framed in the larger picture. Yes, we have Hayley Kiyoko and Kehlani and King Princess and more visibility than we’ve had ever before, but The Weeknd’s reach is massive, not solely because of his artistry but because of the women that he’s been connected to romantically.
 
The way popular music frames sexuality is often problematic because it insists women’s queerness is so fleeting. The Weeknd literally calls it “a phase”; exactly the kind of language lesbian and bi women have been trying to do away with since, like, Sappho. Men just can’t stand that women don’t want them, and songs like this just prove as much. I’m honestly surprised he wasn’t added to the mix of Rita Ora’s “Girls.”
 
Queer women have to endure a special blend of homophobia and misogyny that seeks to invalidate us in the name of keeping a man from feeling emasculated, and as a card-carrying member of Lesbian Club, I can say that these kinds of bi and lesbophobic song lyrics are embarrassing — not just for us, but for you Weeknd. For you, ASAP Rocky and Kanye and Eminem and anyone else who needs to use our identities in order to feel better about their manhood. That is pretty much the exact opposite of our collective job, which is to make sure women are treated with love and respect and to actually have orgasms. 
 
And just in case The Weeknd says, “This was based on a real woman! She said those things!” I have a message for that woman, who believes dating another woman wouldn’t and couldn’t end in heartbreak: You’re probably straight.

‘Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club’ is a Mess, and I’m Not Sure It’s in a Good Way

Lindsay Lohan isn’t a regular boss — she’s a cool boss.

In her new MTV reality show, Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club, we see the former child star in a novel role: reformed messy celebrity-turned-business owner. Beach Club tells the story of Lohan and her horny new brand ambassadors recruited from all over the United States to come work at her beach club in Mykonos — the very same beach club where Lohan was filmed doing her strange dance a few months ago.

The cast members all sleep in the same place, some sharing rooms, in the style of MTV’s reality show classic, The Real World. Before I watched the pilot, I accidentally watched a promotional episode that showed brief vignettes to introduce us to Lohan’s new employees. If I hadn’t, I would have absolutely no idea what makes any of these people distinct, because besides one of them having blue hair, they’re virtually all the same. They’re all used to working in nightlife as promoters and bartenders, and now they’re traveling to Mykonos together.

The first episode of Beach Club basically follows the brand ambassadors on their first couple of days in Mykonos, meeting Lohan and training for their first day of work. All of the ambassadors are straight aside from Mike, who is the hunky bisexual from New Jersey. I sense that we’ll get one experimental kiss between Mike and another castmate by the end of season two.

On the first night, we watch the brand ambassadors enjoying dinner at the table before undressing and jumping in the pool for some flirty tension. But then — surprise: Lindsay shows up at their residence to meet them for the first time. Perfectly natural for your boss to show up at your house at night for a surprise visit after you and your coworkers get hammered. Not at all produced. In this scene, Lohan expresses some doubts about how serious some of her new ambassadors are, but really it’s just badly-manufactured tension.

Throughout the entire pilot, the producers frame Lindsay both as a reformed mess and also as an authority figure — and that’s a weird balance to try and strike. While an unannounced visit is something that might happen on a more competitive show like America’s Next Top Model or The Bachelor, that is not what Beach Club is supposed to be. It’s moments like this that make it extra hard to find Lohan convincing as a boss.

BILBAO, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 04:  Lindsay Lohan poses at the MTV EMAs 2018 studio at Bilbao Exhibition Centre on November 4, 2018 in Bilbao, Spain.  (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/MTV 2018/Getty Images for MTV)
Reformed mess Lindsay Lohan hawking for the brand.

The first day follows one brand ambassador in particular. Brent, the resident douche of the cast, is put in charge of managing the pool’s VIP cabana area while everyone else is… off doing other work things? It’s unclear and the show doesn’t really care. A lot of the episode revolves around the flirty relationship between him and the female VIP client — they go swimming together, into dressing rooms together, they kiss. This later comes up when another ambassador, Jonitta, points out that if she were doing anything that Brent was doing with a man, she would get attacked for it, and she’s annoyed at the double standard. That is pretty much the main drama for this episode.

And that’s kind of the problem. Aside from Lindsay, we don’t know these people and none of them know each other, so it’s hard to understand what the stakes are. In contrast, there are many reasons why Vanderpump Rules works as a show centered around Lisa Vanderpump’s employees. First, the cast members all knew each other before the show started. In fact, according to a profile in Vogue, Lisa Vanderpump pitched the show with “an outrageous diagram of hookups, breakups, cheating, and fights between her servers, bartenders, and bussers, all of whom, as in Los Angeles restaurants at large, were very good looking.” The point of the show is that the story was already baked-in, and the audience is just along for the ride. Plus, the heart of the show comes pretty naturally because Lisa Vanderpump herself fits very nicely in the role of omnipotent ruler. She’s believable as an authority figure and as a boss, which is super important for a show centered around a workplace and its ensuing staff drama

One of the better scenes of the Beach Club pilot is when Lindsay is comforting May, another new ambassador, who is feeling overwhelmed on her first day. It’s the one time in this episode Lindsay seems convincing as a boss. Then, just a couple scenes later, Lindsay is trying to tell Gabi, one of the other castmates, that May is feeling down — and asks Gabi to check in on how May is feeling. The problem is, Lindsay literally doesn’t remember May’s name. She keeps describing her as “one of the other ambassadors,” and all the heart that they put into their tender moment kind of goes away.

These scenes serve as a nice summary of what Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club feels like so far. The premise, the cast, the Lindsay, all of them feel too removed from each other. I’m not asking for authenticity in my reality television, but I would appreciate an attempt at believability.

After Protesting Church Sign Misgendering Caitlyn Jenner, These Activists Are Fundraising to Repair It

Protesters are helping a California church fundraise to repair a sign which was allegedly vandalized after it bore a transphobic message misgendering and deadnaming Caitlyn Jenner.

Justin Hoke, a pastor at Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in Lake Shastina, reported on Wednesday that a sign reading “Bruce Jenner is still a man” had been destroyed.

Homosexuality is still a sin,” the message continued. “The culture may change. The Bible does not.”

In a Facebook post highlighting the damage, he claimed the Plexiglass had been shattered and the letters had been stolen.

“I woke this morning to find that our sign had been vandalized,” Hoke wrote. “I have not seen it up close yet as this picture was sent to me by a member of our congregation. Please pray that God would provide.”

“As wickedness increases the fear of God decrees,” he added later.

Although Hoke blamed the destruction on a group who protested the sign on Jan. 6, organizers Amelia Mallory, Charolette Kalayjian, and Mishelle Le Guellec told the Siskiyou Daily News the “Shastina Love Rally” was not responsible.

“To our knowledge, nobody affiliated with our peaceful rally was involved,” Mallory said. “If we do become aware of the culprit we will be informing the local authorities.”

Protesters “condemn the use of violence and destruction of property,” she added.

The estimated dozen protesters who gathered across the street from Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church on Sunday are reportedly planning another demonstration for this weekend. Activists say their message is “strictly of love and support for anyone who feels like they are the target of the sign.”

But in a perhaps surprising twist, members of the local LGBTQ community plan to use the rally to raise money for the church. There will be a “collection to help… with repairs to their sign” at this Sunday’s event, Mallory said.

Organizers hope the gesture will help change hearts and minds within the church.

“While we are donating with no strings attached, we do hope that pastor Hoke will reflect on the generosity of those he rebukes before posting another similar message,” Mallory told the local news station KRDV.

In a Sunday sermon, Hoke did not appear ready to make nice. He took aim at LGBTQ rights in a speech calling same-sex unions “selfish.”

“What the world calls love is not love at all,” he claimed. “Rather it is extreme mutually agreed upon selfishness which knows nothing of sacrifice, nothing of servanthood, nothing at all of seeking another’s highest good.”

The sermon was called “Love Warns.” The title is a reference to the popular marriage equality slogan, “Love Wins.”

As of Thursday, a temporary sign was back on display.  In the caption of a Facebook photo showing the glass patched together with duct tape, Hoke remarked: “It’s not pretty, but it’s back up.”

George is Tired…Of Terrible-Ass Apologies

We have already been in the month of January for 525,600 minutes and we have not only brought the B.S. of 2018 with us but compounded it with even more foolishness. However, since I love social media, petty moments, and celebrities’ inability to find good PR professionals these days, you could say I’m in heaven.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I was tired of Kevin Hart. A few weeks later I am STILL tired of Kevin Hart. Kevin Hart’s timeline from the past five weeks has sort of read like this:

“I apologized for being homophobic so I’m not going to apologize again, but then I lost the Oscar hosting gig so I then apologized again, but it was found out that the apology after losing the Oscars gig was actually my first apology and the myth that I told everyone was an apology was really me calling LGBTQ people too sensitive for my humor which has now sent me on a promo tour about my new boring ass movie where instead of talking about the movie I talk about how I have moved on over, and over and over again, proving that I haven’t moved on but that my ego is too strong to let it go because I’m used to getting away with everything — look at both my marriages!”

Where is the damn PR industry? One thing about social media is that a story that usually would last a day or two at the most can now last for a person’s entire career if they handle it wrong. Kevin Hart’s story has been going on for 10 years now. However, this is a story that won’t die because of his own doing.

Now listen. I am not expecting every straight person to want to be LGBTQ people’s best friends, nor do I want to be the reverse of that. What I do expect is respect, and for you to understand the damage that is done when you talk badly about a marginalized group in your own community. Had Hart, when initially questioned simply apologized, this would not be a thing. Unfortunately, people have become so ego-driven that they think they can operate above the law because they have wealth and some power. That’s not how any of this works, though, and being un-humble and disrespectful could end your career.

Because, honestly, If people began addressing things when they happened, if they ever popped up again they could simply repost the original apology and then reiterate what was once stated. But that’s not what we have anymore. What we have is a system where people do things that are dead-ass wrong, and then they remain silent until an opportunity is threatened by it years down the line.

Which is how we get to Lady Gaga, who decided to pull out her Notes app and apologize to herself more than anyone else. And the timing, four days after a shocking loss of the Golden Globe to Glenn Close and shortly before the Oscar nominations, is questionable.

I understand people need the time and space to grow. People who may have been misogynistic, homophobic, etc. in the past can definitely show growth over the years and become advocates in places where they were once abusers. However, that doesn’t absolve you from addressing your original mistake.

It was 2013 when, at age 27, Gaga decided to work with R. Kelly. Yes, the R. Kelly who at that time had 20 years of sexual abuse allegations under his belt. Not only did she work with Kelly, but when questioned about it, she made a statement saying, “R. Kelly and I have sometimes very untrue things written about us, so in a way, this was a bond between us.”

First of all, yuck. Secondly, her decision to double and triple down against Black victims of R. Kelly was very telling. However, by 2014 Gaga started talking about her own sexual assault and became the voice against it…still never talking about the R. Kelly situation. A situation that she has been questioned about in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and the first week of 2019 prior to her apology, which conveniently came during award season.

And then there is the apology. A very long explanation saying everything except “I messed up.” There was legitimate talk of her own bouts with sexual abuse, but sweeping generalizations of apology towards others and no specificity towards the Black women she hurt.

So last night I saw a question posed about what would be an acceptable apology. The first step is timing. The closer to the offense the better.

A great apology should follow these six steps:

  1. I messed up
  2. This is how I messed up
  3. This is who I harmed by messing up
  4. I apologize to all that I hurt by messing up (not that “may have offended” crap)
  5. This is what I have learned since messing up
  6. Moving forward I plan on doing these things to fix it and not mess up again

Easy, breezy, beautiful APOLOGY. I hope folks move to a place of sincerity and accountability, with the understanding that all may not forgive. If you are giving apologies simply looking for praise afterward, then the apology wasn’t real to begin with.

LGBTQ Films Worth Getting Into On Netflix: ‘Milk’

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

What is Milk? Based largely on The Times of Harvey Milk, an Oscar-winning documentary from 1984, Milk explores the tragic real-life story of Harvey Milk. The San Francisco-based politician fought to make things better for the LGBTQ community when he became the first openly gay person elected to public office in California. Gus Van Sant’s widely acclaimed movie focuses on the last eight years of his life, celebrating both his personal love affairs and the activist efforts that would eventually lead to his assassination.

Who’s in it? An exceptional cast gives 10s across the board here, including Josh Brolin, who was nominated by the Academy for his role as opponent Dan White. The likes of Diego Luna, James Franco, and Emile Hirsch also impress, but this is very much Sean Penn’s movie, something which the Oscars recognized when they gave him his second Best Actor win for taking on the role of Harvey.

What does Rotten Tomatoes say? “Anchored by Sean Penn’s powerhouse performance, Milk is a triumphant account of America’s first openly gay man elected to public office.”

What do we say? For what might be his most successful film, director Gus Van Sant erred on the side of caution, channeling mainstream fare like Good Will Hunting rather than his more experimental offerings like Gerry or Elephant. It’s strangely fitting that he would play it safe with the biopic of a revolutionary like Harvey, though, simply because there’s so much ground to cover here. Not only does Milk explore the rise of queer activism in 1970s San Francisco, but it also tells a much broader story that touches on the heart of everything that’s still wrong with America, all these years later.

But isn’t the cast problematic? Back when Milk first came out, there were some who objected to Penn’s casting, because he openly supported a Cuban government that has a long history of anti-gay sentiment. Since then, Emile Hirsch has also been charged with aggravated assault and James Franco has been the subject of numerous sexual misconduct allegations, too.

Milk is an extraordinary achievement that brings to light the ongoing struggle that queer people faced back when the mainstream wanted them to bow out quietly. Because of this, it’s a vital chapter of queer movie history that deserves to be seen, but it’s also vital that you bear these factors in mind when choosing to watch it.

So why should I see Milk? Penn drew focus at the time of Milk’s release thanks to his towering performance, but it’s easy to forget now that Dustin Lance Black won an Oscar for his screenplay, too, and rightly so. With the help of archive footage, Black’s script finds the nuance in Harvey’s story, humanizing him in ways that make his message far more powerful than any form of hero worship ever could. Kind, funny and yet as flawed as any of us, Milk’s crusade serves as a timely reminder of what ordinary men and women can do to change this world for the better. At a time when Trump threatens to undo the hard work of Harvey and people like him, it’s more important than ever that we draw inspiration from his story.

Milk is now available to watch on Netflix.

The 2019 Golden Globes Reward Straight Hollywood and Real Queer Stories

Halfway through last night’s awards show I joked my headline for the night would be “The 2019 Golden Globes: Not Too Homophobic Yet.”

By that point, openly gay actor Ben Whishaw had taken the stage to accept an award for his very gay role in the very gay Russell T. Davies’ gay-themed A Very English Scandal, and he’d even used the word “queer” in dedicating his award to the real-life Norman Scott he portrayed in the show. Scott, for those who have yet to watch the Amazon mini-series, was the secret, kept lover of British politician Jeremy Thorpe (played by the highly heterosexual Hugh Grant). Scott said that he was “deeply moved” by the speech. 

Other wins satisfied our gay agenda, to be sure (Gaga’s win for “Shallow,” for one – sorry, Linda Perry), but there remained an interesting trend of heterosexuals winning for portraying queer people. Darren Criss took home Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television just a few weeks after saying he would never take a gay role from a gay actor again, and when the cast of The Assassination of Gianni Versace took the stage, it wasn’t openly gay EPs Ryan Murphy or lesbian Nina Jacobson who spoke about homophobia on the mic, nor gay writer Tom Rob Smith, but straight producer Brad Simpson.

“Gianni Versace was murdered 20 years ago,” Simpson said, speaking for his team. “He was one of the very few public figures who was out during a time of intense hate and fear. This was the era of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ It was the Defense of Marriage Act era. Those forces of hate and fear are still with us. They tell us we should be scared of people who are different than us. They tell us we should put walls around ourselves.”

For a show like Versace, this was fitting. Everyone involved with the series spoke passionately about Versace‘s raison d’être throughout the show’s run and subsequent press and now awards season. Versace’s being gay, as well as internalized, public, and familial homophobia, were not only central to the plot, but the point. 

Compare that to the Queen biopic Bohemian RhapsodyRami Malek’s win for Best Actor was not as big of a surprise, perhaps, as the film’s Best Picture win. The highly contentious portrait of the known queer, HIV-positive frontman Freddie Mercury had critics upset about the lack of queer context available in the final cut, especially in relation to his relationship with Jim Hutton. So while Simpson acknowledged Versace’s queerness and homophobia being central to his respective project, Malek (also heterosexual) did not touch on Mercury’s identity in any certain terms. It was the same way through much of the press tour for Bohemian Rhapsody. In our own interview with Malek, he was loath to refer to Mercury as a queer icon.

“Thank you to Freddie Mercury for giving me the joy of a lifetime,” Malek said at the end of his acceptance speech. “I love you, you beautiful man. This is for – and because of – you, gorgeous.” 

Backstage after their wins, though, it was clear the cast and crew of Bohemian Rhapsody wanted nothing to do with the sexuality conversation. When asked about some critics not praising the film, the Queen guitarist Brian May couldn’t even bring himself to speak to queerness directly. Instead, he says some judged the trailer too harshly but once they saw the film itself, they found Bohemian Rhapsody “did the thing well.” That thing? His queerness – and as far as it being portrayed accurately? Still arguable. And despite having been pressed about and criticized for ignoring much of Mercury’s queerness, Malek and his cohorts’ conversations about Mercury and the film are devoid of that investigation. Every backstage interview Malek had was without mention of Mercury’s being queer, which, although not central to the film (a choice, of course), was still a huge part of his legacy, whether the surviving members of Queen and the crew behind Bohemian Rhapsody like it or not. 

Though Mercury was widely known to be bisexual, he never came out publicly during his lifetime – which is the same case for Dr. Don Shirley,  the queer classical pianist portrayed by Mahershala Ali in the winner for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy. Green Book (which also won Best Screenplay) only slightly hints at Shirley’s sexuality in a brief scene where it’s mentioned he’d been arrested for taking part in a gay sex act at a YMCA while on tour. The rest of the film is devoid of any sexual or romantic information about him at all, which is desexualizing more than anything, but more in tune with the real Shirley. According to family members, Shirley’s response to people asking if he was gay was the tongue-in-cheek response: “Why? Are you interested?” 

But as Shirley was not nearly as well-known as Mercury, nor regarded for his queerness as part of his persona, Green Book can only truly be read as not-straight with a provided context often left out of the cultural conversation. Bohemian Rhapsody, on the other hand, ran with a revisionist history that seemed to extend beyond the film itself.

Olivia Colman also won for her role as the also very real queer Queen Anne in The Favourite, and thanked her “bitches” (aka co-stars/on-screen lovers Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz), but made no mention of the Queen herself. Even though Colman’s version of the royal matriarch was high parody based in some kind of rumored reality, the film and cast were never hesitant about the Sapphicness on flamboyant display. And even though it was based in a time where homosexuality was not only uncouth but illegal, homophobia played a smaller role in that film than it did in the others – and didn’t feel as palpable from cast and crew during press runs. 

By the Globes’ end, Ben Whishaw was the only openly LGBTQ actor to win (other nominees like Billy Porter and the team from Pose went home empty-handed), and perhaps it’s no surprise he’s the only one who made any sort of specific mention of the queer person who he portrayed, and how it carried a weight stronger than that of one singular gay man. Still, it’s worth noting that straight Brad Simpson of Versace also used his opportunity at the mic to address the theme of homophobia in a way that also included empathy. Because LGBTQ people shouldn’t bear the burden of being the only ones to bring these themes to light, just as Sandra Oh and Regina King shouldn’t have to be the only women who spoke up for inclusion and change while Michael Douglas and all of the other straight white dudes get to use their time to thank their publicists and family and money people. Because Michael Douglas can play Liberace and be a mouthpiece for a closeted gay man one time in his life and take off the glistening cape, but Billy Porter will still be wearing his. Because not only LGBTQ people care about LGBTQ stories and history. 

The powers behind Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book might not acknowledge their respective films or protagonists as queer, but how they handle the press and public conversations surrounding the very real queer people at the center of their stories can be just as harmful as their narrative of erasure. So while it may seem like the problem is straight people playing gay or telling gay stories (especially those based on real people and events), the heart of the issue is how the people and the stories are treated throughout – how the films inform their legacies, and vice versa. Because queer people can and should play heterosexual roles, too (see: Whishaw currently starring quite convincingly as the straight dad in the Return of Mary Poppins) – and use their platforms to speak to things outside of homophobia and relevant LGBTQ issues. 

“It needs to be an even playing field for everybody, that would be my ideal,” Whishaw told reporters backstage after his English Scandal win. “I don’t know how far we’re away from that.”

This current awards season could serve as a useful barometer. 

Forgiveness Is A Privilege: On Ellen and Kevin Hart

Many moons ago, when I was a wee teenager who thought herself to be a straight girl — LO to the highest of L’s — my father and a couple of my aunts were watching a movie where the main character came out as gay (In and Out for those who are curious). I bring this up because one of my aunts decided it would be cute to ask my dad what he’d do if he found out I was a lesbian.

I should preface this by saying I didn’t have a boyfriend, and in hindsight, I think they were starting to worry because, gasp, what if?

My father, in all of his I love my little girl so much glory, vehemently said, “She ain’t gay.” He wouldn’t even entertain the thought, the edge in his voice loud and clear. Eventually, I got a boyfriend, and my folks never toyed with the idea again.

I say all this because Kevin Hart’s recently unearthed tweets brought back a memory that’s been buried for about 20 years. His tweets may have been a long time ago, but seeing him threaten to hit his son over the head with a dollhouse over a what if? scenario reminded me of how one comment my dad made scared the shit out of me when I realized, years later, that I was, plot twist, a lesbian, then bi (because someone FINALLY introduced me to the word).

This is something Black queer youth deal with constantly, these offhanded comments treated as jokes or “what ifs?” just to see how angry someone would get if they found out their kid was queer. It’s a conversation that needs to take place in the community, and not on, oh I dunno, a talk show hosted by a white lady who’ll just let the offender prattle on without challenging him at all?

Sigh.

Ellen stands with Kevin Hart and I’m… supposed to be thankful, I guess? Realize that Hart has changed since making that tweet? Point out how curious it is that said tweet was unearthed after he achieved one of the highest goals on his vision board, as he so eloquently put it? Naw. You can miss me with all of that. I’m not that teenage girl sitting with her family as they bust a gut over, “What if she’s gay, HAHAHAHA! Oh, that’d be a HOOT! Her dad would be SO PISSED.”

Far too often, we forget one simple truth about forgiveness: it’s a privilege, and it has to be earned. So to all the Kevin Harts and their Ellen accomplices, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • “I’m sorry” is not enough

“I apologized ten years ago,” Hart says ad nauseum, as Ellen nods and mmhms her way through this one-sided interview. You know that hard pill to swallow meme that went around in 2018? Here’s another one: When you say something that hurts someone, you may have to apologize more than once–especially if you do the wrong on a platform that reaches millions and can be resurrected like a fallen RPG character in a video game. Just one Phoenix Down and, poof!, the tweet is back.

“I’m sorry” rolls off the tongue real nice, real smooth, when your reputation is on the line. What are you doing to actually prove the meaning behind those words? This is why the apology can’t stop, won’t stop, at a mere sorry. This was Hart’s chance to show the development he speaks of, how he’s become “cultured” — his words, not mine. Instead, we get several minutes of him making claims that he’s a different person while conversing with America’s favorite white lesbian gal pal.

This ain’t it, Kevin. She’s not who you should be talking to. Then again, she had no business wasting the airtime on a topic she had no interest in diving into, instead choosing to let her friend attempt to save face because she, quote, knows him. Y’all, pleeeeease hold your friends accountable, because here’s what her casual acceptance actually translates to: the countless Black queer voices that have spoken about this issue mean nothing to her. She’d rather offer airtime to the one who hurt us because friendship is magic. Where’s our invite, Ellen? Where’s your hashtag to support Black queer kids who are used as my child better not be gay fodder? Where’s the dialogue? Furthermore, if we are to believe that his grand gesture of growth is him stepping down so the award show isn’t “clouded” by his presence, then her pushing to have him host the Oscars negates E V E R Y T H I N G!

  • What will (inevitably) happen with Black queer folks

As far as I can tell I’m not psychic, but I have a hunch of how this will play out and I can guaran-damn-tee that other Black queer folks know what I’m about to say. So raise your glass if you’re expecting to be told one of the following: 1) you’re too sensitive, 2) be the bigger person, 3) a combo platter of both with a side of the saltiest of fries. Forgiveness and marginalization go hand in hand as we’re always told to accept whatever copy/pasted apology we get because…  something something “They didn’t mean it” yadda yadda “They’re learning.” In the case of Kevin Hart, we’ve gotten flack from the Black community, and now we’re about to get it from the white queer community.

It’s fine. And by “fine” I mean not fine at all stop doing this to us! Because there’s two categories we fall into when it comes to this: There’s the I’m used to this group, the ones who saw those tweets and knew that the likes of D.L Hughley would come out of the woodwork to stand with Kevin Hart, who knew that Ellen would stick her loafers in at some point. And then there’s the oh…. group, usually younger than my 35-year-old self, who will feel the full weight of what it means to be treated as the other in their own communities. They’ll be afraid to voice their feelings, might even agree with Ellen with a taped together smile so folks don’t set their sights on them. They’ll stay silent when their loved ones speak on the situation and call the community a bunch of snowflakes or whatever precipitation insult we’re using these days, unaware that the ones who aren’t joining the conversation could very well be part of said community.  

This is why I say that forgiveness is a privilege. It’s priceless, and something to be earned. In the case of my father? I’ve forgiven him. But he had to earn it. Because when I did come out we fought, and he was angry, just like he hinted at in that what if? scenario my aunt posed. It was messy. We yelled. We screamed. We cried. But I did not accept the first apology, or the second, or even the third. There were a lot of conversations, a slow rebuilding of trust, and despite the opinions of folks outside the situation (my aunts) I got to decide when I was finally ready to make peace.

And even now, after all of that, it still hits me every now and then, like when I see tweets and think of the Black queer kid who sees them, too. So on the flipside, it’s also a privilege in regards to who can forgive who.

Ellen can forgive Hart because she’s not part of the affected party. She’s not a Black queer person who’s been surrounded by the stale-ass notion that queerness, somehow, degrades blackness, to the point that threatening to hit a boy with a dollhouse is not just seen as a joke — it’s seen as a necessity. She doesn’t know what it’s like to be a black, teenage girl whose family jokes about her being queer, kinda worries she might be because she doesn’t have a boyfriend, sighs in relief when she gets one, which sends her into a tizzy in college because, oh shit, she likes girls.

This wasn’t your place, Ellen. You don’t speak for me and I don’t have to forgive anyone. Him or you.