Kiss My Astro: Your January 2019 Horoscope

As we say goodbye to 2018, we’re also bidding a fond farewell to a whole mountain of drama. Some years try the patience of saints, and last year was one that tested every relationship at just about every level. Eclipses in Leo and Aquarius brought into question where we belong and if we’re fundamentally lovable (most acutely for people with planets in Leo, Aquarius, Taurus, and Scorpio). Meanwhile Jupiter in Scorpio had us all digging up our buried psychological wounds, and to top it off Venus retrograde tossed six weeks of relationship review into the mix. Luckily, we’re all coming into 2019 with more information and a clearer sense of what we’ll no longer put up with. Let’s raise a glass to finding the kind of connections that improve our lives. Let’s create the experiences that help make the world a little kinder, a little sparklier, a lot kinkier—whatever energy you want to call into the new year. For extra insight, you can find me for readings and custom astrological portraits at Happy new year! 


After a year of slowness and inner work, it’s time to dust off your dancing shoes. Welcome a new sense of vitality, curiosity, and energy. You may need a little more freedom in your relationships this year—you’re being called to follow what inspires you, what helps you come alive. Don’t get trapped into thinking you’ve seen it all and done it all. Now is the time to be the badass you know you can be, and begin a new adventure.  


In many ways this year will be kinder and gentler than last year, but there is one major hitch: you don’t get to stay in your rut. In March, Uranus—planet of queer liberation, sudden changes, and everything out-of-bounds—is moving into your sign and will settle in for the next seven years. Now is the time to consider what changes you’ve been resisting that will really improve your life—don’t confuse being comfortable with being happy. Let your routines transform, and welcome something strange and wonderful into your world. 


You definitely don’t have time anymore for some of the people you used to find entertaining. You don’t have to be mean, but you can step away from any scene that’s making you feel more worn down than lit up inside with some inner flame. This is a year of choosing the people who are good for you, not just the ones who make you feel good for an hour or two. Get serious about what matters to you most, and who shares your values. This year is inviting you to focus, prioritize, and even commit to the relationships that help you live your best life.  


This year will bring you some pain but a lot of gains with it. You can always choose to avoid pain—and miss some of the rewards that may come with it—or choose the path of growth. Like emotional weight-lifting, you’re learning to endure a certain level of discomfort so that you can get much, much stronger. Particularly, pay attention to how you act when you feel vulnerable. Becoming more open, calmer in the face of criticism or rejection, steadier as you don’t internalize other people’s projections—these are the goals you’re moving toward this year, and it begins with prioritizing self-love. You are much stronger than you think, and this year gives you plenty of opportunities for stepping into a kind of power few people have. 


Of course you look fabulous when you’re dressed to impress, but remember that you get to be adored for your full self. You’re at your most charming when you’re suffused with some kind of inner joy, not when you’re giving everyone what you think they want to hear. This year invites you to remember what fills you up, what makes your eyes sparkle, what helps you claim your full body—and work it. This is a time when your magnetism is extra high, but remember that the goal is to connect from the heart or you may feel unseen and empty in the end—whether you’re looking for a long term love or a super casual hookup. Don’t chase meaningless experiences—casual doesn’t have to mean empty. Make every connection something real, something to remember. 


The families we choose are often just as messy as the ones we were born into, so when I say this is a year to focus on your family I know this won’t feel hella cozy to all of you. But family is what’s up for you this year. You’re in sore need of a place—or a group of friends, a collective, a poly network—that will help you know that you belong, that you are loved, that you are necessary. Partnership can help with this, but you need more than just one person to build a home. This year, spend some time addressing whatever blocks you from opening up to this experience—to choosing and being chosen as family. There is deep love available for you, if you learn how to show up for it. 


Last year reset the clock for you, and this year finds you ready to make decisions about the path forward. Even the most introverted among you will find yourselves more sociable this year. In all the bustle of friendship and activity, keep saying yes to what helps you feel most alive and no to everything that feels like empty distraction. Find the words that have been waiting for you to name the things you haven’t yet named.    


You can’t always get what you want, but this year you may be in the difficult position of getting just that—so be sure you know exactly what it is you want! Many Scorpios have a healthy suspicion of anything that appears too easy, too “boring.” Really, you find it easier to trust the evils you know than guess what could go wrong in a situation that looks on the level. But 2019 is asking you to expand your perception and open up to new ways of sharing joy, pleasure, and sensuality. Remember that pain isn’t your only teacher, and that happiness doesn’t have to be boring.


That extra-special glow you’ve got right now will last most of this year, and is a little like a lucky lottery ticket—you can spend it well, waste it foolishly, or forget you have it and never reap its rewards. As Jupiter moves through your sign this year, you’re being carried along by a gust of enthusiasm, optimism, and exciting new opportunities. Now is the time to act on whatever you’ve been dreaming about and too shy to make happen. Reinvention, renewal, and new connections are in store for you as you follow this thread of energy. Keep choosing love that gives you the freedom to change and grow. 


Some years test our grit; others offer us opportunities to soften. 2019 is such a year for you. You’re deep in a learning process, but your regular tactics (rolling up your sleeves, making a plan, tackling the hard work till it’s done) won’t help you here. Instead, this is a year of letting yourself be surprised—especially by experiences of tenderness, comfort, and caring. Don’t push something away just because it’s unfamiliar. Let yourself soften, open, and risk a little more. Sensitivity and true resilience go hand-in-hand.  


At last, you’re ready to turn around and walk away from all the questions that plagued you for the last few years. Your relationships have been full of surprises, revelations, and revisioning for some time now, and you’re finally ready to stabilize again. Take what you’ve learned and trust that the decisions you make now are better than the ones you could have made two years ago. Dare to reach out and take a chance on someone, but remember that where you’ll really shine this year is in your relationship with groups. What do you want to transform? Who do you want to do it with? 


Little fish, this is a year for you to shine like some majestic sea creature bouncing rainbow prisms off your scales in an perfect arc of sunlight. Hope you’re up for that. What you’re aiming for is bigger and grander than anything you’ve done yet, but don’t worry—this is one of those years when you get to reap the rewards of what you’ve been working on for many years. Relationship-wise, this means you’ll have more eyes on you than you’re used to, which can bring all kinds of opportunities. Just remember that if you keep showing up honestly and with a clear sense of your strengths it doesn’t matter if you don’t feel ready. No one ever does. 

Kiss My Astro: Your December Horoscopes

The best piece of wisdom to remember from 2018? There are no guarantees in love.

This year brought us deep into the places in our hearts, minds, and bodies that need to get shaken up and refreshed. For some of us, that means major changes in what seemed like stable relationships — for others, it means powerful new connections that spring up out of nowhere. Maybe you’ve experienced both? In this last month of a year that’s been astrologically focused on transforming our relationships, you get cosmic permission to full release the pain of the past year and start building toward future pleasures. Nothing new can grow without something ending first. With Venus in Scorpio, still, just be aware relationships can take a sudden turn toward deeper issues without much warning. Draw on that optimistic energy of Jupiter in Sagittarius to get you through with your sense of humor intact.

If you’re in need of extra insights or holiday gifts for the astrology fans on your list, hit me up for readings and astrology presents! 


This year has been extra in so many ways, but you’ve really been feeling it at the deepest levels. The good news is 2019 won’t be nearly as grueling for your heart and body. The bad news is you’ve still get December to deal with. This month, recognize that you know how to survive a lot. You know how to get your needs met, however you can. What do you want, now, to thrive in the new year? You’re moving from a year of limping and slow recovery to a year where you’ll be soaring like a goddamn bird. Don’t expect too much progress all at once, but know you’re on your way out of whatever mess you feel stuck in.


This year has introduced you to a theme that will be much more present for you in the coming years: You are learning to appreciate the pleasures of unpredictability. You’ve been letting go of old stories about what partnership means, particularly fixation on a kind of stability that can be stifling and smothering for your own spirit. You’re learning now how to ask for (and keep getting) what you need as life continues to churn and twist and leave us in unexpected situations. Part of how you’re coming back to life right now is through your erotic imagination. Let new desires help you become your next best self.


This is a beautiful month for releasing stress from your body, especially stress about your body. Learn to trust your internal sense of joy more than you trust a mirror. The kind of love that is looking for you this month knows that our bodies are the expression of the energy that moves them. What is that energy like for you right now? Are you letting yourself choose the people that light you up when you’re with them? Anyone you feel ugly, small, or invisible with when you’re with them is no longer someone you need to make time for.


Let’s talk about desire, darling. You’re someone who can feel it intensely, and this year has been really running you through the gauntlet. Whether you’ve gotten those desires satisfied or remain in a state of frustrated longing, desire itself can be a distraction that prevents you from noticing everything else in your life. Maybe there’s a lot you don’t want to notice? Nevertheless, something is calling you to tend a little more to your core wellbeing. Turn your energy inward, start getting curious about what (else) you need. Desire will still be there when you’re done — and you’ll be much better equipped to handle both satisfaction and disappointment.


The holidays are generally stressful, but there’s something about family that’s particularly tender for you this year. If you have the energy to explore that, this could be a time for some deep healing. Luckily, you’ve also got a little extra sparkle right now and you’ll find plenty of opportunities for sharing those sparks. Risk being a little more vulnerable and you’ll find it easier to share both grief and celebration. 2019 will be a year of reconnecting with joy — you can get an early start on that right now.


As you move toward a year in which your sacred mission is to call in the kind of loving that will make your world feel right, your first assignment is to silence your internal chatter — particularly the part of you that likes to game out what you should say to the difficult people you love, and what they might say back to you, and what you can say next to help explain or solve the problem, etc., as you lay awake at night instead of drifting into mindless oblivion. The love you need right now is the kind that will knock you out and let you rest. What can you do to release your need to explain, justify, persuade, or negotiate with anyone? Who can you reach out to for some soporific tenderness?


Honey, don’t get too hung up on any one man right now. Even if it’s your life partner, or your kid, or the love of your life that you’re just now getting to notice you. It’s really not about them right now, it’s about all the friends that keep you sane when that man isn’t around or hasn’t done right by you. This month is kindly reminding you that there is a lot of love in your life, and that you can start to hold it in different ways when you start with self-love. Adore yourself first; everyone else can wait in line.


Oh, the things you’ve learned about love this year. It could lead you to cynicism, but you don’t have to get stuck there. Your relationships may have been tough this year, but your response gets to be magical. You get to be the phoenix rising from the flames of 2018. And as you’re reborn into 2019, it’s time welcome yourself back to life with decadent pleasures. Let yourself remember why it’s good to be in a body.


You are so damn hot right now, no matter what you look like. Maybe you’re in ratty sweatpants and feeling bloated, maybe there’s spinach in your teeth — honestly, it doesn’t matter. You’re radiating a renewed sense of purpose and direction. You’re coming into your own. Do you feel it? Can you trust it? Is it a little scary to imagine growing into a more expansive version of yourself? Remember that you won’t be on this journey alone. You get to be your own hero this year, and there’s something magnetic about that kind of energy.


Dearest stoic Capricorn, repeat after me: Isolation isn’t the answer right now. We all know how tough and capable you are, but that’s not the issue. Everybody needs to know they’re not alone while facing anything they can’t control. What kind of support do you actually want? Let your imagination run wild. Notice where you start to shut down and tell yourself “It’s fine, I can handle this alone.” I’m sure you can. But what if you didn’t have to? Look a little more closely at who’s offering you some sweetness right now, and take a chance by accepting.


Sometimes it’s hard not to get caught between your idealism and your realism: hoping but not wanting to hope, dreaming but not believing in your dreams. This is a month for dreaming big. Believe in the possibilities you’ve talked yourself out of. Start looking for the collaborators you need to make things happen. Remember that you’re part of larger communities, and your voice is needed. What happens when you remember all the ways you’re already connected?


Let’s talk about what it means to be sensitive. Toxic rules about masculinity teach us what men can and can’t feel, what they’re allowed to express and what they’re encouraged to repress. You’re one of the special ones who feels more than others usually do — like being an artist who sees a range of subtle differences in color. This sensitivity is a kind of intelligence, and this month asks you to claim it, learn more about it, and learn how to use it. Don’t let anyone shame you out of claiming what’s yours, sweetie. The ones who are worth your time will be grateful to have some of those healing powers directed their way.

Alyssa Edwards Joins The Kiki to Teach Us How to Win a Lip Sync

Her name is Alyssa Edwards, and this is The Kiki.

The RuPaul’s Drag Race fan favorite, also known as Justin Johnson, joined the latest episode of The Kiki for an impromptu lesson. See, hosts Kevin O’Keeffe and Mathew Rodriguez wanted to teach the audience how to win a lip sync — but they don’t know how to do that themselves. So, luckily, Alyssa was ready to assist.

In the new episode, the trio talk at length about all of Alyssa’s lip syncs on Drag Race, her new Netflix show Dancing Queen, her first impression of Jinkx Monsoon, and more!

Watch the full episode below.

Olly Alexander Is Leaning Into The Gay Thing

“I started to hear people referring to me as ‘that gay singer’ and a part of ‘that gay band,’ and I said to myself ‘You know what? I am.’ I decided to lean into the gay.”

English actor, pop star, and frontman of the synth-pop band Years & Years Olly Alexander has found himself growing more and more comfortable with his sexuality as it relates to his artistry. Having just released the band’s sophomore album, Palo Santo, this summer, Alexander says he found himself embracing his identity, and “the multifaceted nature of it.”

“You know, inside I’m still kind of this scared gay boy that got bullied at school,” he tells INTO. “But having the kind of response we got from audiences and success that we had after the first album, I felt more comfortable, confident, and okay being more explicit.”

At the age of  28, has been out publicly as long as Years & Years has existed, ignoring the advice of his media trainer who encouraged him to keep his sexuality out of public persona.

And Palo Santo is a reflection of that; the album takes a more direct route when addressing his sexuality, using more male-specific pronouns in the lyrics in comparison to the band’s first album, Communion. Alexander has also been much more free in discussing his sexuality, advocating for HIV screenings, promoting safer sex practices and even supporting anti-LGBTQ bullying campaigns.

Seated in the corner of a New York cafe wearing a Rihanna T-shirt and lounge pants, Alexander’s confidence and charisma exude a certain type of energy that grows as he speaks about the things he loves with such candor.

In just a few hours, Alexander would be performing a sold-out show at Terminal 5. He’s grateful for where he is, sharing thoughtful sentiments as he talks about his fans and his work. He knows that at this point in time, when so many queer people have the wind in their face, right now, it’s at his back and he can soar brightly into the future.

As the main songwriter and leading visionary for Year & Years, Alexander is pushing himself not only as an artist but also as a public-facing advocate.

“Obviously, the UK is stuff I’m most familiar with, but globally we’re all kind of witnessing this dumpster fire descent to Hell,” he says. “Though, I don’t always think it’s that bad.”

“Personally,” he continues, “I didn’t ever imagine I’d be engaging in advocacy the way that I have, but I just find it so meaningful. It makes me feel like I have a purpose in life. Getting out of bed and feeling like you’re working to create positive change is a good feeling.”

One of the hallmarks of poor advocacy is arrogance, a self-centeredness Alexander seems hellbent on avoiding. Being a white gay man comes with a lot of privileges, and he is aware of that, referencing it often as a limitation of his own worldview. He’s chipping away at the underpinnings of our how oppression operates with a precision and consciousness you might not expect from someone who had been cast in an Academy Award-nominated film before being old enough to to vote, acting alongside Dame Judi Dench (“a naughty grandma who only drinks champagne,” he says of his one-time co-star) in his early twenties before launching his international music career. Still, he notes, “This [advocacy]  has been a journey for me and I’m still learning every day.”

“There are so few queer people taking up space in media or in a public forum and I feel like there is a responsibility to use it properly, because people are listening to what you say and so many people aren’t being listened to,” Alexander says. “Silence is complicity. You have to come with something.”

He seems exasperated by the idea that everyone isn’t working to liberate others from their struggles.

“We can’t really step outside all of society’s rules and things that govern us anyway. Like white patriarchy, just because we’re gay that doesn’t go away. We have all the same structural oppressions that exist outside of that. We’ve chosen to band together because we’ve had to and there are so many benefits to that, but we’re so diverse and it makes us ripe for conflict.”

Right now, Alexander is concerned about the Gender Recognition Act in the UK, a proposed reform of the act that will make it easier for trans folks to self-identify.

“It’s created this insane hysterical discourse in the UK media and public. It has been a full-on assault on trans people in a way that’s so horrifying. It’s front page news in the media every day.” Alexander says. He likens it to the fear-mongering that gay people have gone through in the past. He wants to use his privilege to do everything he can to help.

It’s not all just talk for Alexander, who’s well aware that change doesn’t come through just bloviating on platforms to crowds who already espouse your beliefs, but through action that helps others be heard. He’s working alongside other public figures including Sir Patrick Stewart to pay the travel costs of UK citizens who want to attend the march that will be calling for a referendum on the final Brexit deal. Those in opposition to Brexit, which has been scrutinized heavily by many for it’s classist and xenophobic motivations, have been advocating for a second vote on the plan, confident that the majority of citizens don’t really support it.

“We can hide behind this kind of veneer of sending a tweet or retweeting someone’s post or saying ‘I’m woke,’” he says. “But are we really doing the work?”

Behind that motivated and eager passion for change is a gay man still exploring facets of his sexuality with zero fear and even less shame. He giggles in excitement with a “Yay” as he reads over my list of topics filed under “GAY SEX STUFF.”

“I use Grindr now, but I didn’t use it in my early twenties because I was going out and meeting men at clubs and hooking up that way,” he says. “Then I was in a couple of monogamous relationships, so I thought it was gonna be weird, but also a sort of initiation [into modern gay culture].”

That fear didn’t stop him from pursuing that desire to meet men for hookups and fun. “I’ve managed to hook up a couple of times through [apps], but it’s difficult because it’s hard to establish trust,” Alexander says. “People are like ‘Are you using a fake picture?’ or ‘Are you really Olly Alexander?’ And that becomes less sexy. I’m also not about to send a dick pic.”

Being a celebrity in a digital dating culture surely has its struggles, but he’s found that Grindr’s utility serves as a comfort for him in a different way.

“I like to open it up just to see that there other gay people around me, because I travel quite a lot. Sometimes [just so] that gay people are so visible to each other,” Alexander says. “We’ve created networks to find each other.”

In these kinds of social networks, queer people also find ourselves shaping the way we view each other and ourselves. Alexander finds the apps to be a place where so much time can be wasted just soaking up the attention and he isn’t above the kind of validation that connections made through such apps can provide.

“It’s like a dopamine hit when someone likes you or sends you a nice comment and I really understand how that feels good, but then following that up seems like hard work,” he says. “Then you’re like, ‘Oh, but what about someone else?’ It becomes this sort of endless appetite for sexual desires and I think that’s kind of changed the way we view intimacy. I don’t know if it’s for better or worse, but it’s definitely made some interactions harder.”

He’s not wrong. The apps can soak up so much time for those who love being bombarded with validation, but it’s not true for everyone. While it has made access to the type of intimacy that gays had to “work harder” to get in the past easily accessible, for many people, it provides a space where they can feel more confident than in the crowded and judgmental spaces that are gay bars and clubs. Also, perhaps, it’s just highlighted the way we’ve viewed intimacy all along.

His growth and journey with intimacy have changed over the years. He speaks as someone who wants his relationships to be as progressive as his politics. Unsatisfied with the idea that gay relationships need to fit cultural norms, Alexander discusses his most recent open relationship as a challenge that turns him on more than causes him fear.

“It presents a different set of challenges than you experience in a monogamous relationship,” he says. “In a monogamous relationship, you have like one rule which is: don’t cheat, basically.  In an open one you literally write the rulebook yourself, so you have to communicate with your partner a kind of endless list of potentially hard to talk about topics. Who are you allowed to sleep with? How many times? Are you allowed to see them more than once? Is anal okay? Is it just oral?”

Aroused by the idea of these difficult topics that many people would find a hassle to breach over and over, he thinks the ideas difficult to talk about in an open relationship greatly outweigh the simplicity of establishing monogamous trust. His light fetish seems to be emotional masochism that leads to self-discovery.

“In lots of ways, confronting those issues with someone and being able to get into the nitty-gritty of things, you have to go into some really emotionally intense and raw places,” Alexander says. “Those kinds of feelings are what make them more of fit for me than something monogamous which isn’t quite right for me. I’m glad I did it, because I learned a lot about myself and how I deal with aspects of intimacy.”  

Olly Alexander is an explorer, expanding his boundaries and expectations. He speaks openly about his love of daddy porn, smiling in recognition of the cliche. Alexander is curious and demanding of the content he consumes. “[All I want] is for the people to look like they’re enjoying it and for their dicks to be hard,” he says. “Obviously, whoever is fucking their dick is gonna be hard, but if someone is being fucked, I also want them to have a hard dick. Maybe I’m wrong. I’m sure they might still be enjoying it, but when I’m doing it I’m hard. I just like to see both people turned on.”

For Olly Alexander, sex as a gay man should be free of shame and be easier to talk about. He opens up about a sexual experience gone awry: “I guess a lot of people in the US are circumcised but most people in the UK aren’t.” He uses his hands to demonstrate how the frenulum (colloquially called a “banjo string)” is attached to the penis.

“One night, I was in the hotel with my boyfriend and we were having sex. I fell off the bed and basically tore this string right off,” he recalls. “ It was like a crime scene in the hotel. Obviously, like my dick was erect and had so much blood rushing to it so it was like fountains of blood squirting everywhere.”

Alexander and his partner at the time ended up in an emergency room shortly thereafter where his attending nurse recognized him and began talking about his music. Even in that awkward circumstance, he manages to be so excited that someone knows and loves his music.

They should love his music. It’s incredible in its range but most impressive in storytelling.  The performance later that night is electric — the audience hanging onto every word and Alexander consuming every bit of that energy. It’s as if without it, he’d be incapable of finishing the performance.

In a sheer white leotard, shiny black pants, and large bedazzled necklace that borders on gaudy, Alexander leads the audience through Palo Santo. Alexander’s voice rings throughout the three-story concert hall filled with young queers belting every lyric to the band’s hit single “If You’re Over Me.” He leads the audience and his bandmates through an electrifying set, running around with a rainbow flag he was gifted from a front-row audience member.

“I just want everyone having a good time,” he tells the crowd.

They absolutely are.

Images via Getty

Kim Davis Continues to Steal a Spotlight She Doesn’t Deserve

In the wake of the 2018 midterm elections, political pundits noted that the so-called “blue wave” turned out to be more of a rainbow. With over 150 LGBTQ candidates winning races across the country, Tuesday was a night of many firsts: a gay governor in Colorado, lesbian congresswomen in Kansas and Minnesota, two trans women in the New Hampshire state legislature, and the list goes on.

However, it was one Republican incumbent’s loss in a closely-watched race in Kentucky that set the Internet ablaze. I’m talking, of course, about Kim Davis, who came up about 700 votes shy of her Democratic opponent, Elwood Caudill, Jr., in her re-election bid to the Rowan County Clerk’s Office.

Following her loss, national media outlets from the New York Times to the Advocate ran clickbait-worthy headlines, and incendiary status updates spread across social media like wildfire. In the midst of all the righteous schadenfreude over Ms. Davis’ fate — well deserved as it was — one person was conspicuously missing from the national conversation: David Ermold.

For those who may have forgotten, David Ermold is the gay man who, along with his partner, was denied a marriage license by Kim Davis back in 2015. After the incident, which quickly went viral, Davis was briefly jailed for contempt of court and then (ghost) wrote a memoir about her experience titled, Under God’s Authority, while Ermold fought back with his own campaign for her job. Ermold decided to run as a Democrat for the clerkship and energized supporters eager to see a bitter showdown between ideological opposites in the culture wars — garnering national attention with a segment on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and attracting high-profile donors, such as Amy Schumer and Susan Sarandon. Despite all the buzz from outsiders, Ermold ended up losing soundly to Elwood Caudill, Jr. in the primary election in May.

Then, just as quickly as the spotlight emerged on the otherwise quiet town of Morehead, Ky., a town of just over 7,000 people, the cameras all but disappeared after the primary, and David Ermold became another name lost in the media frenzy. Hardly anyone outside the state noticed, for example, that Ermold refused to support Caudill, who won the Democratic nomination by over 1,000 votes. If they did notice, no one bothered to dive deeper and ask why. (Ermold did not respond to an email request for an interview for this story, and, as far as I can tell, has avoided most other media outlets since the primary.)

Despite allegations that Caudill had used homophobic slurs in the past, C-FAIR, the political action committee of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, endorsed Caudill in the general election. In a series of tweets following the primary, Ermold posted a screenshot of a private message from Caudill, in which the nominee said same-sex marriage “wasn’t my fight then,” referring to the skirmish in 2015.

Moreover, according to Ermold, Caudill once stated in a public forum that his opponent didn’t know what it was like to worry about safety while working in the courthouse during the high-profile protests, both for and against marriage equality — the suggestion being that it was Ermold’s insistence on lawfully obtaining a marriage license rather than Davis’ refusal to comply with the law that caused security issues for employees in the Rowan County Courthouse. Caudill’s tone-deaf statement about safety was astounding, coming from a straight man who has never had to live with the daily fear of simply existing as a queer person in eastern Kentucky — or anywhere else in the U.S. for that matter.

David Ermold’s worries about homophobic retaliation to his campaign turned out, unfortunately, to be well founded. After publicly announcing his campaign in March, the University of Pikeville, a private Christian college where he taught as an English professor, decided not to renew his contract. Kentucky is one of 29 states with no protections against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Furthermore, despite being introduced into all but one congressional session since 1994, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or “ENDA,” which would codify such protections into federal law, has yet to be passed and last died in the House of Representatives in 2013.

On the day of the general election, David once again took to Twitter to communicate directly with his followers, posting a picture of his ballot where he wrote in “Against Homophobia,” rather than choosing either candidate. The responses to his tweet were telling: “Are you serious? Good thing you didn’t win I guess,” remarked one user. “Did you not learn anything in 2016?” scoffed another sanctimoniously. Most puzzling, however, was a user who seemed to confuse Ermold for Caudill, chastising Ermold for not voting for himself in the race.

The peanut gallery, as it is wont to do, simply talked at the former candidate instead of listening and engaging in dialogue. In the process, Ermold’s genuine and trenchant critique of the role homophobia plays across party politics was completely drowned out. Following Tuesday’s election results, it appeared that Kim Davis continued to dominate the headlines, appearing front and center in a spotlight she didn’t deserve in the first place. Meanwhile, David Ermold’s perspective was all but lost in the noise — another queer voice marginalized by our culture’s need to keep heterosexuality in the center of the conversation.

As someone who was born in Morehead and grew up in a small town nearby, my sense of the election is that Kim Davis’ loss had less to do with LGBTQ acceptance, or the blue wave, than it did with a desire among locals to put an end to the media circus once and for all. For the same reason, Ermold lost the primary, Kim Davis was booted from office. Both candidates, in the minds of many Kentuckians, were perceived to be motivated by fame more than anything else; and if there is one thing people in my home state can’t stand, it is self-aggrandizement. “Don’t get too big for your britches,” my mother used to say.

There were many reasons beyond marriage for the citizens of Rowan County to vote against Kim Davis: nepotism, for starters. Her mother served as clerk before her, and though not technically illegal, Ms. Davis hired several of her own relatives while in office. But, as Tom Eblen pointed out in a column in the Lexington Herald-Leader, the more likely reason voters turned against Kim Davis was her refusal to follow the rule of law. The consensus seemed to be: Just do your job and don’t make us a laughing stock of the nation.

People from across Appalachia share a sensitivity to “othering” by outsiders, due in large part to a long history of sensationalized media portrayals of the region as barbaric and backward. While it would be a mistake — and a dangerous one at that—to downplay the real struggles queer and trans Appalachians face every day, the lesson from this election should be that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a pervasive problem, one that is certainly not unique to rural America.

With a daily stream of hateful rhetoric coming from the current administration, along with its terrifying policy proposals aimed at erasing our communities, we would all do well to band together in these trying times. We must hold each other up and amplify the voices of our unsung heroes: the David Ermolds of the world.

Still reeling from his upset in the primary, David snapped a picture of a Confederate flag waving on the side of the road near his home. His caption for the photograph, and the sheer courage of his campaign, offer a glimpse into two competing political visions playing out on a national scale at the current moment: the divisiveness of hate and the unifying force of love. “Here’s the truth of what we faced in Rowan County,” he wrote. “LOVE MUST WIN.”

Mail Bomber’s Boss Debra Gureghian: “There Were Many Days I Went in the Back and Cried”

In the wake of mail bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc’s arrest, more details about the Florida man’s anti-gay beliefs are rapidly surfacing. Debra Gureghian, Sayoc’s general manager at Ft. Lauderdale’s New River Pizza & Fresh Kitchen, spoke out about his behavior at work, and how she as a lesbian felt threatened by his beliefs. “He knew I was a lesbian and a very proud lesbian, and he made it a point to tell me that, you know, God had made a mistake with me and that I should burn in hell,” she said on CNN.

“He never threatened my life, per se,” Gureghian explained in a Saturday morning phone call with INTO. “He threatened my being, as far as my sexuality, absolutely, every single day.”

Had they worked at a greater chain of stores, with corporate management, Gureghian might have been able to fire Sayoc for his behavior. Unfortunately, “because of him being vocal about his politics and things like that, I could not fire him,” Gureghian explained. “My hands were tied. My employer would not fire him.”

She could have fired him if Sayoc had received customer complaints — “I have fired many people because of that,” she said — but according to Gureghian, Sayoc didn’t actually have any customer complaints. Moreover, she described their working relationship positively, noting, “He really liked me as a general manager. He was really appreciative of me, he was very supportive of me as a general manager.”

That didn’t translate into personal affection, however. Sayoc’s openness about his hatred was “emotionally draining” for Gureghian. “There were many days I went in the back and cried,” she said.

Despite his hatred of LGBTQ people and her personal emotional response to his words, Gureghian said she wasn’t scared of Sayoc, nor did she imagine he’d do something like the crime at hand. When she found out, she said,”I was dumbfounded, I was shocked. I really couldn’t believe it.”

Gureghian’s interview with INTO happened against the backdrop of news of a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh that claimed multiple lives. The shooter in that crime reportedly said “all Jews must die” during his attack. Gureghian drew the two events together in a plea for humanity.

“What’s happening today, especially in the shooting in Pittsburgh; it’s hatred,” she said. “It’s the slaughter of Jews. It’s getting out of hand. … I would love it if we could truly get back to humanity, and kindness, and tolerance, and respect.”

Freddie Mercury and the Erasure of Queerness in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

When the first trailer dropped for Bohemian Rhapsody, there was much ado about its supposed “straight-washing” of Freddie Mercury, the late, legendary queer lead singer of Queen. The marketing team followed up rather quickly with a trailer that showed some glances and arm grazing between Freddie Mercury and other men. It’s the kind of passable moment that straight audiences wouldn’t take offense at and gay viewers could feel like they had some semblance of representation.

Queen has always been readily accepted by straight audiences, and Mercury is a byproduct of that acceptance. The band’s music is great, often mimicked and performed at karaoke bars all around the world, and their lead singer was an unstoppable charismatic force. Mercury took camp culture and costumes put them on stage for millions to see and revel in, that ornate persona becoming a recognizable part of him and his artistry.

“Queen made music that appealed to everyone, no matter who you were,” star Rami Malek said before the screening. But does a film like Bohemian Rhapsody, which claims to iconize the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen, help or hurt the way audiences view Mercury? And is the goal of a queer icon to make art that anyone can identify with, or should we expect our icons to openly embrace the lives they led?

However much people like to lump an individual’s private life and their public persona together, to break down Freddie Mercury, we have to explore them as separate, just as he would have preferred. “I change when I walk out on stage. I totally transform into this ‘ultimate showman,’” he is quoted saying in Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury. “I say that because that’s what I must be. I can’t be second best, I would rather give up. I know I have to strut. I know I have to hold the mic stand a certain way. And I love it.”

Writer Lesley-Ann Jones captures a very intimate moment in her opening of Mercury, one in which he explains the monster he’s created and the struggle of this dual persona: “Of course it’s a drug, a stimulant. But it gets tough when people spot me in the street, and want him up there. The big Freddie. I’m not him, I’m quieter than that. You try to separate your private life from the public performer, because it’s a schizophrenic existence. I guess that’s the price I pay.”

Freddie Mercury would never come out officially in his life, but he certainly lived his life as though openly queer; his friends all knew about his sexuality, there are more than enough pictures of him with men and women, and there’s even speculation as to how he slipped it into Queen’s music. Tim Rice, co-creator of Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, as well as a collaborator of Mercury’s, once said, “It’s fairly obvious to me that [‘Bohemian Rhapsody’] was Freddie’s coming-out song.”

This sentiment has prompted many to wonder whether or not an “official” coming out on Freddie Mercury’s part would have changed his relationship with his audiences. As Jones believed, “Freddie was resisting the inevitable: having to end his relationship with Mary [Austin, his partner for many years] to start a new life as a homosexual. But the thought of doing so terrified him, so he kept putting it off – not least because he dreaded the effect it would have on his parents.”

She went on to speculate that “coming out could have made his life so much easier in the long run, as it had for Kenny Everett [a close friend of Freddie’s and the DJ who first played ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’], who alienated neither his fans nor his wife with his honesty.”

English record producer and manager Simon Napier-Bell deduced that Mercury coming out would have been groundbreaking. “It wouldn’t have been like George Michael, who only came out when he was forced to,” he explains. “Had Freddie come out, he would have rubbed homophobe noses in their own hypocrisy, and it would have been a smaller step than he thought — because to all his friends he was already out, and outrageous.”

“When he said he was different in his private life from the performer he was on stage, what he really meant was that he was forced to retire into his shell because of the fear his Parsee family would have had of him coming out,” Napier-Bell continued. “Had he come out from the beginning, his long, slow death would have been something that the gay community could have thanked him for. They would have used it to their advantage, turned it into something wonderfully, tragically show business, and made him the new Judy Garland. He might even have found himself enjoying it!”

All that said, it’s hard to deny that Freddie Mercury was a queer icon. His flamboyant stage persona, his leather aesthetic, his “gay clone” look (which consisted of “closely-cropped hair, bristly moustache, a muscular upper body, and tight denim jeans”), the open secret of his bisexuality (regardless of remaining officially closeted), and a mountain of songs — from “Somebody to Love” to “Under Pressure” — solidify that.

The problem, then, lies in the way history has chosen to remember him, simply as a flaming frontman or as a gay man, bisexuality erased and deeper looks into his life left in the shadows. Bohemian Rhapsody shamefully reinforces these things in its revisionism, a problem that stems from both its PG-13 rating and the fact that the surviving straight members of Queen had too much of a hand in telling a dead queer man’s tale.

Anthony McCarten, writer of Bohemian Rhapsody and other Oscar-bait biopics like The Theory of Everything and Darkest Hour, positions Mercury’s queerness and indulgences as something inherently negative. The only route to happiness is heteronormativity, or something akin to it. While it is true that Mercury only had two steady partners that he cared deeply about — Mary Austin and Jim Hutton — the implication that the nightlife was what ruined him is misguided at best, homophobic at worst.

The romance between Freddie Mercury and Mary Austin is at the core of Bohemian, something that both Rami Malek (Mercury) and Lucy Boynton (Austin) convey beautifully. They offer two shining performances in a film full of shallow characterization, even for the other members of the band (mostly reduced to comic relief with the occasional dramatic flair).

McCarten, in partnership with director Bryan Singer (and uncredited director Dexter Fletcher, who took over after months of shooting and Singer’s firing), presents their relationship as the apex of Mercury’s happiness. Every queer person introduced prior to our meeting of Jim Hutton serves as a distraction, a fling, or an outright villain; always proving more important than his straight compatriots and leading him into drug use.

On screen, a recording of the song “Another One Bites the Dust” is accompanied with deep red lighting and the most tame imagery of a leather bar ever caught on film. It is meant to be a sign of the sinful, and deadly, depths Mercury was crawling into to get off; a very uncomfortable visual wink and nod that equates the song to AIDS.

Mercury acknowledges he is bisexual to Mary Austin and is promptly corrected: “Freddie, you’re gay.” This marks a moment in the film where a rift builds between Mercury and Austin that is only fixed years later, a stark contrast to the close friendship they maintained over the years. Not only was she involved with taking care of Freddie late in life, but she toured with Queen after their break-up as secretary to the band’s publishing business, and he even left Mary the better part of his wealth.

Worse than a simple misrepresentation of their relationship, it is an outright denial of who Mercury was. The film addressing bi erasure with a scene like the one described could have been a powerful statement. Instead, it confirms this dismissal of his sexuality by never allowing Mercury to date or sleep with another woman, even though it is well-documented that he had.

Take, for instance, actress Barbara Valentin, who worked with Rainer Werner Fassbinder for much of his career and took Freddie Mercury on as a lover for quite some time. She would become “Freddie’s live-in lover and almost constant companion — bizarrely sharing him with both Winnie Kirchberger and Jim Hutton, who were also his lovers,” Jones explains. Polyamory and bisexuality? A PG-13 movie could never. Even after she realized Mercury was HIV+, she continued dating him. And after a rough break-up, a friendship blossomed between the two later in life.

In the film, Jim Hutton is reduced to a sexless being, initially rejecting Mercury, chastising him for being sexual, and offering friendship above all else. He tosses in a “Call me when you find yourself” before walking out. His only other presence in the film is as accompaniment to Live Aid, staring in wonder at the singer performing, before the credits note that he was with Mercury until his death. He lacks any personality in his minor screen time, a stark contrast to the deep characterization that Mary Austin got. This simplification of their romance couldn’t be further from the truth.

Mercury first hit on Hutton in 1985, while dating both Valentin and Kirchberger, at the Copacabana with his usual pick-up line: “How big’s your dick?” They spent the night together. Hutton didn’t hear from Mercury for months (due to his tax exile in Munich), and then got a call out of the blue inviting him to a dinner party. The start of their relationship was long-distance: Freddie flying to London one week, Jim flying to Munich the next. When his exile in Munich had come to an end, it was Jim — not Barbara — that Freddie chose as his live-in partner. Jim, who discovered he was HIV+ himself, did not leave Freddie’s side until his death (though the two lived with numerous others, some former lovers, in their home together).

In Bohemian Rhapsody, DJ Kenny Everett is reduced to being a gay friend that Mary suspects Freddie is cheating on her with, instead of a man that maintained a lengthy friendship with the lead singer and helped his career by debuting and playing “Bohemian Rhapsody” 14 times over one weekend. Their friendship was actually only fractured by the expose that one of Mercury’s supposed close friends gave the world. That man was Paul Prenter.

On screen, Mercury’s personal manager and friend Paul Prenter spends the entirety of his time with Freddie leading him down the wrong roads, making bad decisions, and encouraging his drug use and sexual proclivities, only to sell him out after their split. The film posits that by bringing him all the sex, drugs, and alcohol that Mercury wanted, he was corrupting the man until he was cut off. The truth is that this is what Mercury wanted, until he didn’t, and he wasn’t manipulated into this. Often times, Paul and Barbara even competed for his attention by seeing who could provide the grander spectacle.

Prenter’s genuine villainy lies in how he sold out Mercury, revealing every little detail he could about the man to the News of the World for £32,000. Bohemian Rhapsody frames this betrayal as being prompted by the way Prenter was cut off by Mercury when he decided to clean up before Live Aid. The truth is that it happened later down the road, and many have speculated it was actually prompted by Prenter’s resentment of Mercury and Hutton’s relationship.

There is no denying this was a man who took advantage of Mercury, but the way the film places him as a force of pure evil — cutting him off from his bandmates, encouraging hedonism, and pushing him toward isolation — is bullshit and an easy way to imply that queerness was Mercury’s downfall.

To think about how much is missing from Bohemian Rhapsody hurts, not simply because it doesn’t paint a full picture of the man we know as Freddie Mercury, but because it paints something that doesn’t feel honest. It feels like a film made by the remaining members of Queen, for an audience that isn’t actually queer; a film made for some, not all. Freddie can be treated as someone who needs forgiveness, as someone less than good, because he left the band for a short time, because he was too busy being seduced by a queer lifestyle of sex, drugs, and alcohol, because he wasn’t like the rest of them.

But not being like the rest of them is exactly why Freddie Mercury was so iconic. Freddie Mercury was as messy as he was amazing. He made music that made him feel good and made the audience feel good. He lived his life rather shamelessly, for better or worse, and there’s something beautiful and queer about the way he existed. He was a “fuck you” to what the lead of a band was supposed to look like, was supposed to act like. He was, in every way, queer. And he is, undoubtedly, an icon who deserves to be remembered as he was.

Illustration by Bronwyn Lundberg

Exploring How the ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Audience Has Changed Over a Decade

When RuPaul’s Drag Race first premiered on Logo a decade ago, it was a niche reality competition series in a market flooded with them. To say it didn’t make a splash much beyond its core audience would be an understatement.

Since then, however, the show has moved to a bigger network, gained a bigger audience, and become a cultural phenomenon in a way no one could have expected. Watching Drag Race win the Emmy for Best Reality Competition Series felt like the last step in a growth arc more impressive than even Adore Delano’s.

But with that growth comes change, specifically in what demographics Drag Race primarily serves — and how the winners of the show have changed to accommodate those new demographics. Simply put: Who wins Drag Race is at least partially inspired by who watches Drag Race.

In this episode of The Kiki, hosts Kevin O’Keeffe and Mathew Rodriguez break down the ways the audience has morphed over time, and how both the show and fandom can make sure the core audience that watched way back in season one doesn’t get drowned out by new voices.

Watch the full episode below.

Kehlani’s Pregnancy Brought Up Some Real Biphobia and Misunderstanding Around Queerness

Kehlani announced that she was pregnant last week and the world is a brighter place because of it. 2019 is really about to see the most magical, astrologically perfect, musically gifted, woke lil’ brown baby ever. And between the words of praise and celebration, some of the world went a little crazy because isn’t Kehlani supposed to be queer?

She publicly came out as queer earlier this year in now-deleted tweets. And after the dust settled and she defined herself for who she was, queer people all over celebrated and rejoiced and felt that sweet, sweet confirmation that “Honey” was really about me—uh, us—all along. A little less than six months later, some of us, and non-queer folk, were taken aback by her absolutely stunningly beautiful pregnancy announcement.

Personally, I felt a little cheated on because Kehlani is my girlfriend in my head, so what’s she doing having a baby with someone else? What’s she doing having a baby in the first place?

My initial reaction was similar to some other folks’, honestly. I was kind of shocked that a queer woman was having a baby because my first reaction was “being pregnant=heterosexuality.” It was a mental shortcut that my brain and the brains of others made because this understanding of what it is to be queer is so new for us and not as ingrained in us as straightness has been for millennia. So, it is confusing to our tiny, dumb, baby brains and feels like rejection (for me, as my wife-in-my-head continues to not be my wife-in-real-life) and deception for others; a term offensively and opportunistically long associated with bisexual people, pansexual people, and people who identify as queer and are sexually attracted to those of another gender.

People feel slighted or confused because we are accustomed to queerness looking like one thing when it specifically, purposefully, historically does not. Queerness is multifaceted, multilayered and ever-changing; there’s a reason they call it an umbrella term—it encapsulates a wide scope of identities and doesn’t fit neatly into a box. It doesn’t always look like two girls in love or boys wearing nail polish. It encompasses so much more and envelops so many different existences that express the million trillion ways we are human. It doesn’t look like one specific thing, and it wasn’t meant to.

And I know this. I have been trying to relearn this as truth and untrain my brain from making these base assumptions because of the real world damage it can do and does to bisexual people. I’m staunchly aware of my own inherent biphobia and have been actively working to unlearn that ideology. I’ve been lucky enough to have friends that help keep me in check and access to resources that help me do better, because sometimes my own biases crop up in ways I don’t expect. It forces me to examine that thinking and course correct for next time. 

When I come out to people, their reaction is usually “I know” or “I figured” or something similar. It’s always made me feel some kind of way, but I never really knew why. Some of my best friends say they knew before we even met, from when they first saw me, before we became friends. I don’t wear makeup or dresses and I like wearing plaid shirts and men’s clothes and baseball hats, so people assume they know such an intimate part of my identity before even speaking to me, and it’s something that ignites a silent rage within me whenever I think about it or am confronted with it. It’s made me uncomfortable for so long, for so many years, but I’ve never really been able to pinpoint exactly why until now.

I should be grateful, right? Most people see me and take the onus of outing myself off of me, remove me of that extra step of having to come out to them in some way, mentioning my ex, talking about someone I have a crush on, or just saying “I’m gay.” It’s usually nice because outing myself generally makes me uncomfortable, which is another blog post for another day. But when I don’t, they see my clothes or my hair and they assume and it remains known and unspoken between the two of us and I don’t have to fumble through an awkward conversation or interaction.

me, in most situations

Sometimes I think assumptions based on my presentation are a good thing for the opposite reason: because people see me and assume I’m a lesbian and act accordingly based on their own ethics. If they’re a homophobe, I usually know right away because they have assumed that they hate something intrinsic to myself and behave on those morals. Of course, being Black can sometimes make this confusing; are they being mean to me because I’m Black or gay? Are they racist AND homophobic? (Usually, yes.) Sometimes it’s both, sometimes it’s one or the other. It’s a subtle line to toe, but the answer is usually in the details and not always difficult to suss out.

I am not trying to hide who I am; I tried for so long and am now done with that part of my life. I just don’t want people labeling me for how I look and going on to think that that’s OK.

I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to face biphobia. My intention is not to boil these two issues down to the same thing, but to say this: my discomfort with people thinking they know my sexuality and labeling me before my express confirmation of how I identify comes from the same ignorance people have been displaying in the wake of Kehlani’s pregnancy; we limit queerness.

The underlying connection between people’s (my own included) initial confusion and bewilderment at Kehlani being pregnant and strangers’ assumptions that I’m a gay woman before even talking to me is that people have a rigid idea of what queerness is and adhere to it. We have such a strict understanding of queerness and anything that looks like it fits automatically must, anything that looks like it doesn’t is automatically dismissed. Our idea of what queerness is is sometimes so narrowed that we cannot see anything else, and we can hardly accept anything else. Our brains make these simplistic assumptions and determinations about queer people as if humanity itself is not complex.

We boil peoples identities down to “is or isn’t” based on our own understanding of what it means to be queer, be it due to the media’s instructions on what it looks like, or our own teachings in our communities about what it is, or our personal experiences with it and the biases we draw there. Or so many other factors that make us turn a vibrant and rich, all-encompassing term into an all or nothing situation, a game of yes or no. It can’t be both. It must be one. There is no in between.

And it’s embarrassing to admit, but sometimes I do the same.

don’t @ me pls

I can’t tell you what exactly has given me such a narrowed ideology of queerness. It could be a variety of things: television, my own experiences (or lack of) with other queer folks, my overexposure of heterosexuality over the years and deep-seated understanding of what that means. This idea of mainstream queerness is still new to popular consciousness. Despite being a part of the queer community, I don’t understand all aspects of it; I still grew up in a heteronormative and cisnormative society, so I give myself space to not be perfect, and learn and unlearn and grow.

Queer acceptance is so new in modern society, and it’s sometimes hard to break out of assumptions from a lifetime of society dominated by heterosexual culture. It is understandable that we do not fully comprehend queerness for all that it is because as accepting and woke as everyone likes to feel, this express freedom for queer people to exist is new to nearly all of us, even the community itself.

Positive queer representation is still new and evolving. Our voices and presence in spaces we’ve been historically shut out of are growing. Hell, even the right for same-sex couples to marry isn’t even a decade old in this country. Hundreds of thousands of years of humankind leaves an impression. We have all been conditioned to understand queerness as something “different,” and in our short time as a collective society of beginning to understand it, to accept it, to fold it in to the rest of everything else we’ve excluded it from, we have shortened it to something more manageable, compacted it into a bite-sized, easily remembered bullet point that’s simple to understand and file away into our idiot human brains that thrive on labeling.

Whether someone is in a same-sex relationship, an opposite-sex one, or another arrangement, and no matter what their gender identity might be, their identity is their identity. It’s not for anyone else to decide whether someone is “queer enough.’ – Marissa Higgins

I am not saying that this is the right stance to have; in fact, it is definitely not. Limited understanding of queerness should not be used as ammunition against queer people who have every right to exist in their own truth. Just because your idea of what queerness is and is not doesn’t give you the right to negate the identity that someone claims or assign an identity to someone who has yet to claim it.

Let me be explicitly clear:

  • It is disingenuous and incorrect to operate on the assumption that cis straight women are the only ones capable of having babies.
  • You cannot apply or remove a label from someone, period. Not based on how they look, their pregnancy status, their partner; nothing.
  • Unlearning these assumptions is hard work that you must put in in order for you to understand.
  • Inability and/or refusal to unlearn these assumptions does not absolve you of bad behavior; you must do better.
  • In other words, mind your damn business.

Stereotypes give us a rudimentary outlook on something that is so very complicated and convoluted that it doesn’t do it justice. That reasoning is unacceptable for something that, by its very nature, does not fit into one singular box.

Queerness is not one size fits all. We can’t use kindergarten logic and assume all girls with hairy legs and boys wearing skirts are gay, or girls that are pregnant can’t be queer while girls in plaid shirts must be, and wash our hands of the matter, patting ourselves on the back because we “get it.” It’s not that simple; human beings rarely are.

The definition of queerness is owned by no one, it is what we make it. It is not something we can assign to or strip from anyone else. Educate yourself. Unlearn toxic ideology that serves only to divide and oppress us and get ready for the most magical baby with the most over-analyzed astrology chart in the history of humankind.

Come Inside the ‘House of Mamis’: The Premiere of Our New Series About a Mexico City Vogue House

Filmmakers and co-directors Angela Jude and Lo Calsada’s House of Mamis docu-series premieres on INTO today, with our first episode of seven taking you inside the lives of the family members in a Mexico City-based voguing house. Calsada describes the Mamis as “a group of queer folks, bois, femmes, chicxs, womxn and everything in between.”

“I lived in Mexico City for a month shooting everything that inspired me, immersing myself in the queer scene there,” Jude said of discovering the House of Mamis. “While filming a small documentary about a trans woman opera singer with Lo, we ate lunch one evening and she spoke about houses in Mexico City.”

What drew me to the Mamis is their way of sustaining each other, loving each other and working together, whether it be voicing transphobia in a queer space or taking the midnight train. It is done together,” Calsada says. “House is Mamis is a family that happens to vogue.”

The debut episode invites you home to meet the Mamis, who introduce themselves and explain how they came to be part of this colorful chosen family.

Check back for new episodes every Tuesday morning at 6 a.m. PST.