‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4’ Recap: Nobody Was Killed at Lady Bunny’s Funeral?

Usually I prefer to proceed somewhat chronologically in my RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4 recaps, but this week, I think we have to start at the end. And what an end it was! Double lip sync win! Non-elimination! All Star rules finally suspended! A mirror message from Ru herself! Lady Bunny recreating the mirror gag from All Stars 2! And, of course, the inevitable return of the eliminated queens.

It was kind of the kitchen sink approach to reality TV production, and I wasn’t not entertained by it! It was just, you know, a lot. I’m still processing. Here, let’s process together.

Drag Race

The main challenge this week (well, only challenge, the mini-challenge drought continues) is a roast of Lady Bunny framed as a funeral. It’s a fun twist on the RuPaul Roast challenge, which previously appeared in seasons 5 and 9. Season 5’s roast episode was one of the all-time great Drag Race episodes, while season 9’s was … mostly just okay. Better than you’d expect in a season with zero comedy queens.

Two of the worst performers in that roast, however, were Trinity the Tuck (back in her days as Trinity Taylor) and Valentina. Trinity was bottom three, while Valentina was, ahem, lucky to be safe. The stakes are high for both of them going into this week, and they promptly make all the same mistakes they did the first time — despite guest judge Cecily Strong’s attempts to help them during rehearsal. Valentina completely ignores Cecily’s notes to avoid starting too mean, starting her set bitter and never letting up. Trinity, on the other hand, never gets a handle on her comic timing. The two contestants barely elicit a sincere laugh from the judges or audience.

I’m not going to lie to you, dear reader: It’s extremely satisfying to watch the season 9 alliance fail this week. While I enjoy Valentina tremendously as a TV character, and I think Trinity is playing in this competition with a level of technical prowess only previously matched by Alaska and BenDeLaCreme, they’re both carrying around big egos. Valentina has a warped sense of how she performs; she thought her performance in the season 9 roast was good (to quote Ru, “Was it?”), and completely misinterprets the judges’ comments this week. Meanwhile, Trinity once again whines about Manila Luzon’s deliberation process, after the season 3 queen reveals she would’ve sent Monét X Change home last week. It’s satisfying to see them brought back down to earth a bit. I think they both have what it takes to win this season, but I prefer a more self-aware Valentina and a laser-focused Trinity.

Speaking of Manila: She may never be my favorite in the challenges, but I am firmly Team Manila at this point in the race. Positively ridden with guilt that she once again couldn’t save Latrice Royale in a lip sync, Manila cries trying to explain her reasoning for wanting to eliminate Monét. Monét refuses to show Manila even an ounce of empathy for wanting to save her friend, and all but tells Manila that she’s not allowed to sit at the cool girls’ lunch table anymore. Seriously, she and the other girls all join hands in front of Manila as she’s crying, and don’t get up to leave when she does. It makes them look so damn petty.

The girls gang up on Manila again in the workroom, when she says she’ll choose who she wants to eliminate moving forward on a case-by-case basis. (Getting to choose who you want to send home if you win is, you may recall, the literal format of All Stars.) I admire Manila for sticking to her guns — but then again, it’s pretty easy to do when you keep winning. She does again this week, and it’s probably her hardest-earned win of the season. (Though I would’ve also given Manila the win way back in week 1, when she was just safe.) Her roast performance is perfectly pitched, with just enough sight gags — the umbrella! the will! — to balance out her battery of jokes. Her look is perfect, and she’s the only queen to roast most of her fellow competitors plus the judges. It’s surprising that she’s the only one to turn that trick, considering that roasting the full assemblage is usually a staple of these challenges.

Joining Manila in the top is Monét, who maybe wouldn’t be my choice, but I get why she wins. From a pure comedy perspective, she has the most jokes, and they all land. I prefer the Southern preacher caricature her season 10 sister Monique Heart puts on, even though Monique swallows a few of her jokes in her delivery. Monique was the emotional choice; Monét was the comedy-as-art choice. The panel is particularly technical this week — more on that in the final thoughts — so their decision makes sense.

That leaves us with Naomi Smalls, who is just a disaster this week. I’ve been high on Naomi all season, but her lack of wins has left me wondering if she’s really cut out to win this competition. Sadly for the leggy season 8 queen, she falls into the bottom before ever rising to the top, on the back of a one-note performance and shockingly underwhelming funeral drag look. Luckily for her, she is one of four queens in the bottom, as RuPaul puts everyone who didn’t win onto the chopping block. This is likely done for two reasons: to scare the girls, and because Ru already knows no one is going home this week.

Bottom Four

Deliberations are, to be frank, a fucking mess. Trinity immediately seems to realize she’s screwed up by being so aggressive with Manila, and both firmly stands on the strength of her report card while also being conciliatory toward the queen with the power. Naomi is clearly bummed to be in the bottom, and worries her lack of wins will take her out. Despite this, Monét and Manila don’t really seem to consider her a legitimate choice for elimination, though — in fact, the winners practically ask the other one to take on the responsibility of sending someone home this week instead of them.

The consensus choice among the other queens, though, is for Valentina to go home. Trinity immediately names her as the correct option (guess that season 9 alliance only goes so far), while Monique — who outright refuses to do one-on-ones, that’s how certain she is she doesn’t deserve to go home — goes off on Valentina in her confessional for not having a full face of makeup for the main challenge.

I personally don’t care about the makeup issue that much, though it is worth noting how it comes about, and how she responds to Ross Mathews’ criticism. Apparently Val runs out of time in the workroom, unable to finish her set and her face. So she wears sunglasses as part of her costume — but then tempts fate by making a Maskgate callback. She practically dares RuPaul to tell her to take the glasses off, which RuPaul promptly does. This backfires big time, revealing her face is incomplete.

Upon presenting her excuses to Ross, he promptly takes no shit. “I still wish your eyes had been done,” Ross says with the exact right blend of sweetness and bitchiness. The look Valentina shoots back at him could kill, and probably has. So, yeah, Monique’s pissed about that, and while it doesn’t matter as much to me, I can understand being mad if you think you might go home over someone who didn’t even finish beating their mug.

It is hilarious to watch the other queens insist that eliminating Valentina is the only fair thing to do, when just two weeks ago they were lecturing Manila for even considering sending Val home. My guess is Trinity fans will justify her throwing Valentina under the bus by citing Val’s record, but that doesn’t wash for two reasons. One, Val has a win, which should conceivably put her ahead of the winless Naomi. Two, Trinity insisted in that episode that she wanted to take Valentina with her all the way to the top four. Now she wants Valentina to go home in sixth?

The truth is, there is no “fair” when it comes to making elimination decisions on All Stars, and it behooves no one to pretend like there is a particularly “moral” way to do it. Alaska eliminated Tatianna twice and Alyssa Edwards once over Roxxxy Andrews in All Stars 2. Kennedy Davenport eliminated Milk the second she got the chance during All Stars 3 because, to put it bluntly, she just didn’t like Milk. Manila saying she doesn’t want to adhere to one kind of elimination style is not new or novel, and she shouldn’t be ostracized or judged by the other queens because she doesn’t want to pretend.

The lip sync to Aretha Franklin’s “Jump to It” isn’t exactly a close one. Manila has a couple of good moments, but clearly fumbles words here and there, and Monét just really nails it. However, Ru declares a joint win — a head-scratcher of a decision that makes more sense if you look at the other lip sync ties in All Stars seasons. Be it Raven and Jujubee on “Dancing on My Own,” Tatianna and Alyssa Edwards on “Shut Up and Drive,” or Shangela and BenDeLaCreme on “I Kissed a Girl,” double wins tend to come when the performers mostly work together versus against each other. Considering the amount of interplay between Manila and Monét on “Jump to It,” the tie makes a bit more sense. (But make no mistake: If one girl was winning, it’d have been Monét.)

Ru’s other big motivation for declaring two winners is that ultimately, who they chose to go home doesn’t matter. No one goes home this week, and All Star rules are promptly put on hold. What that means — and what the returning queens’ challenge to get back in will be — will have to wait for next week. A return for Latrice or we riot!

Dearly beloved, we have gathered our thoughts here today:

• Cecily Strong and Yvette Nicole Brown both make for good guest judges this week. Alongside Michelle Visage and Ross, they really turn the judging session into an artist’s critique, getting granular about both jokes and looks in a way I love. I’m still holding onto Jenifer Lewis as the best guest judge of the season, but these two are easily the runners-up right now.

• I didn’t talk about the angelic-themed runway this week, but the girls are uniformly very good! Special shout-outs go to Naomi for a Prince-inspired getup, Monét for a gorgeous bleeding heart detail on her chest, and Manila’s dewy Grecian outfit, which makes her look younger than anyone else on the stage. Age 37 looks really damn good on her.

• I have some thoughts about Valentina naming Monique and Naomi as the worst of the week, but I’ll be as generous in my reading as possible and say she just didn’t want to name her friend Trinity. (Even though Trinity didn’t exactly show her the same kindness.)

• With “Jump to It,” Aretha joins Paula Abdul, Britney Spears, Madonna, and Whitney Houston with four songs performed as lip syncs. Getting crowded at the top! (After I included this stat in a previous recap, someone asked why Ariana Grande doesn’t also have four, the long and short of it being that she’s just a featured artist on “Bang Bang.” So you can place her in the same echelon, but definitely give her an asterisk.)

• Naomi’s shade that she’s the only queen left who can give a millennial’s point of view is funnier than any of her roast jokes.

• Monique practically racing off the stage after Ru saves them all, saying “She ain’t gotta tell me twice,” is the biggest mood.

• In the preview for next week’s episode, we see each of the eliminated queens picking a lipstick from one box. My guess? We’re getting a full set of Lip Syncs for Your Life next week, with the eliminated queens getting to choose who they want to face off against. Winners earn their way back into the competition; losers face elimination. That might be too complicated — plus, Drag Race always seems reticent to shell out more money for lip sync song royalties — but we’ll see!

• So both Monét and Manila were going to eliminate Valentina, right? That would certainly make a certain piece of intel season 4 bad girl Willam leaked before the season started airing more interesting…

The next episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4 will air Friday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m. Eastern on VH1.

Could ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Really Win An Oscar For Best Picture?

On the surface, it seems like Bohemian Rhapsody might possess a kind of magic that few other movies could match. After topping the box office in multiple countries that criminalize homosexuality, the Freddie Mercury biopic went on to reign supreme as the highest-grossing LGBTQ film in Hollywood history. Not even middling reviews could stop audiences from going (radio) gaga over the film in cinemas, and now Bohemian Rhapsody seems to have won over the industry too, receiving two awards at the Golden Globes this week.

While Rami Malek’s win for his portrayal of Mercury wasn’t particularly surprising, many were shocked to see Bohemian Rhapsody beat out better-received films like Black Panther and If Beale Street Could Talk for the accolade of Best Motion Picture (Drama). Not only did Bohemian Rhapsody receive the weakest reviews of the bunch, but many in the LGBTQ community were also disappointed by the film’s portrayal of Mercury’s sexuality — and the less said about original director Bryan Singer, the better.

Despite all of the controversy, this double win makes it more likely than ever that Bohemian Rhapsody will also be recognized by the Academy Awards. Given that the cast has also been nominated by the Screen Actors Guild Awards, history tells us that the much-maligned biopic will almost certainly become a contender for Best Picture come February, alongside other favorites such as Green Book and well, The Favourite.

What still remains unclear though is whether Bohemian Rhapsody has what it takes to break free and secure the win. As Freddie himself once sang, “It’s a hard life,” and the biopic that tells his story will surely have a “long hard fight” on its hands too.

Both Best Film winners at the Golden Globes are usually guaranteed a nomination each year, but only nine of these have been awarded the Oscar since 2000. Although part of this has to do with the way that the Globes split Best Film across two categories (Drama and Musical/Comedy), the Globes also possess a populist streak which undoubtedly came into play here regarding this year’s surprise win.

Despite the film’s popularity, high box office earnings rarely translate to clear wins in the major Oscar categories, and what’s popular among the Golden Globe voters might not be so well liked by the Academy voters. After all, the voting pools that both ceremonies draw on don’t overlap too much, so the Oscar voters might have different favorites entirely, something which we’ve seen play out numerous times before.

Although a double win at the Globes helped propel Bohemian Rhapsody into the headlines at a crucial moment during the Academy’s deliberation window, publicity of this kind could also harm the film’s chances further come February 24. Remember when James Franco was snubbed by the Academy last year following his controversial Globe win and the sexual harassment claims that followed? The backlash that Bohemian Rhapsody is currently facing could derail any chance the film might have of taking home the Oscar for Best Picture.

In Bohemian Rhapsody, we watch Queen perform the song “We Are The Champions,” but in real life, it might be Freddie and Co. who bite the dust thanks to some pretty stiff competition from the likes of A Star Is Born and Roma. In fact, Roma could be the one to beat, despite some snobbery among cinephiles who resent its Netflix origins. At the Golden Globes, foreign language movies aren’t eligible to compete in the Best Film categories, and that’s why Roma wasn’t pitted against Bohemian Rhapsody there, but anything goes at the Oscars, and Alfonso Cuarón’s track record with the Academy isn’t to be trifled with either.

If I were a betting man, I’d say that Bohemian Rhapsody is unlikely to beat any of the aforementioned movies at the Oscars, and it looks like other betting men and women agree too. Oddschecker reports that the odds of it winning are unfavorable at around 5/2, and Gold Derby currently ranks Bohemian Rhapsody in ninth place with odds of 18/1. If these particular predictions are to be believed, then it’s currently a tight race between Roma and A Star Is Born, leaving Bohemian Rhapsody to languish almost out of sight completely.

Of course, the show must go on, and there’s still plenty of time for Bohemian Rhapsody to surprise us yet again by stealing the show completely. Freddie Mercury didn’t play by the rules, so it’s to be expected that a biopic based on his life might not either.

The 91st Academy Awards will take place at the Dolby Theatre on February 24, 2019.

The State of Queer Women in Pop Music in 2019

When lesbian pop star Hayley Kiyoko dubbed last year #20GayTeen, none of us were ready for how queer it’d it’d actually be.

Last year, queer women in music were more visible than ever before, with major releases from Lesbian Jesus herself, Halsey, Cardi B, St. Vincent, King Princess, problematic transgender queen Kim Petras, and the massive (and controversial) Rita Ora/Cardi B/Charli XCX/Bebe Rexha collab “Girls.” Just eight days into 2019, the queer women of pop haven’t wasted a single second; they’re already out here dropping new visuals and teasing us with new music. Yesterday alone, four super queer acts announced new projects coming soon. I’m elated, vibrating, and ready to dance. Here’s the current state of lesbian and queer pop music, and everything queer women have to look forward to this year that isn’t Captain Marvel.

To kick off 2019, Annie Clark (AKA one of Cara Delevingne’s exes AKA St. Vincent), announced the gayest of gay collaborations: In 2019, our queer lady thirst will be quenched with a brand-new Sleater-Kinney album—their first in four years—and it will be produced by St. Vincent herself. Sleater-Kinney frontwoman Carrie Brownstein has dated both her bandmate Corin Tucker and Clark, furthering my belief that the future of queer pop music is collaborations with gay exes. I also portend that the future of pop will be unanimously inspired by Cara Delevingne (see: Rita Ora’s supposed Sapphic single nodded to her fling with the British model). Please look for my dissertation on gay exes in pop music, coming this summer to Twitter dot com.

In addition to Sleater-Kinney and St. Vincent, it looks like lesbian alt-pop will have quite a moment this year, as Tegan and Sara revealed on their website that new music and a memoir was on the horizon. King Princess is set to tour her most recent EP, Talia, and even has some major festival dates set, like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Firefly.

Actually, it’s worth mentioning that Coachella is getting gayer and gayer (despite being owned by an anti-LGBTQ Republican donor). This year, queer female artists like Janelle Monae, Lizzo, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Christine and the Queens, and transgender DJ SOPHIE will also be performing. Plus, Ariana Grande will be headlining the California festival—she doesn’t identify as LGBTQ, but has been lovingly and aggressively adopted by the community. Grande will be the fourth woman to ever headline Coachella.

Speaking of A-List pop stars, queer Top 40 queens like Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga are already delivering in a major way. In November, the pansexual singer-songwriter released her first single post-Younger Now, a throbbing bassline, disco-meets-country collaboration with Mark Ronson called “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart.” She performed the song in a dazzling dressed-up tracksuit on Saturday Night Live. The recently married musician’s seventh studio album is due out this year, and I’ll be crossing my arms and impatiently tapping my foot awaiting more disco tracksuits lewks. I really need a new phone background—new year, new wallpaper!

Lady Gaga, who once came out as bisexual and maybe-kinda-sorta rescinded it, launched her brand-new Vegas show Enigma on December 28th. The show, which features robotic Transformer-like set pieces, has already stunned fans of the flamboyant performer, and is set to run through November, with four special jazz and piano performances. According to NME, Gaga’s sixth studio album is currently being recorded at NYC’s Electric Lady Studios, and the working title is LG6 (sound familiar, Little Mix fans?). Hopefully, we’ll get our grubby gay hands on that music this year rather than next. Until then, we have awards season to look forward to, and a possible Oscar for the decorated musician’s role and song in A Star is Born.

And JoJo Siwa is set to release music on—I’m totally kidding. Can you imagine?

Like Gaga, bisexual pop stars are dropping music left and right. Today, former Fifth Harmony member Lauren Jauregui announced a second single from her debut solo album (untitled so far). “More Than That,” the follow-up to “Expectations,” is set for release on January 11th. The sultry singer revealed the goddess-like album art for the single, which offers a strong nod to Sandro Botticelli’s iconic painting of The Birth of Venus. Bisexual artist Halsey has already tweeted her support for her “Strangers” collaborator.

Speaking of, a new album is expected from Halsey either this year or next—no date yet, but the pop star said she’s started “collecting” new material. 

The very pregnant and bisexual Kehlani also teased a new song and video. The single, “Nights Like This,” is due out tomorrow (Thursday). It’s been two years since the release of her debut EP, and since then, she’s been featured on everything from Cardi B tracks, to Hayley Kiyoko’s album, a pregnancy, and my tombstone, probably. Can my epitaph please say “(feat. Kehlani)?”

Cardi B, Kehlani’s frequent collaborator and fellow bisexual mother in hip-hop, is reportedly in the studio working on her second studio album. Her debut record Invasion of Privacy swept pop and hip-hop fans off their feet last year. The reigning queen of hip-hop took to Instagram Live to announce the second album, which she hopes to release around the same time that Invasion of Privacy came out, which was in April of last year. Personally, I’m looking forward to more outrageous music videos, Instagram rants, and queer collabs from Cardi B this year. In December, the Bronx-native released her “Money” music video, which intercut shots of a strip club and the MC breastfeeding her baby Kulture. So, I’m definitely hoping for more motherhood meets hip-hop content, which was the most ambitious crossover event in history.

Another hip-hop/pop fluid queen, Lizzo, who told Teen Vogue last year that she refuses to identify as straight, released a new music video for her single “Juice” this week. The ’80s-inspired video is the vivacious performer’s latest release since last year’s singles “Good As Hell,” “Truth Hurts,” and “Boys.” No word on when her next album will drop, but according to Vulture, 2019 is the year. I want to say my body is ready, but how does one actually ready their body for a full album of Lizzo bangers? Unclear.

Of course, there’s R&B star Janelle Monae, who might just be the hardest working pansexual in pop music. As previously mentioned, the Dirty Computer singer will be performing at Coachella in April. She’s also set to headline Glastonbury this summer. After wowing queer fans with her gilded red carpet look at the Golden Globes, Monae released a music video for “Screwed,” another track from Dirty Computer, yesterday, and yes, it’s another video starring Tessa Thompson.

But wait, there’s more! Betty Who, who came out as bi in 2018 and gifted us with multiple Sapphic music videos, is currently on tour with the pansexual-led Panic! at the Disco (the same tour that Hayley Kiyoko opened for in 2018!). Last week, Betty teased a new song on her social media called “I Remember.” 

And finally, queer pop singer-songwriter FLETCHER has also announced a new project in 2019, hopefully coming soon—I adored her 2017 and 2018 releases “You Should Talk” and “I Believe You,” both of which perfectly blended the happy-sad sounds of pop with lyrics about painful memories and longing. Queer women love to yearn—it’s kind of our thing.

Currently, there’s more mainstream music being released by queer female artists than ever before. Just a year ago, while anxiously awaiting Hayley Kiyoko’s debut album Expectations, I felt severely underrepresented in pop music, which is not only my favorite genre, but is unimpeachably one that belongs to the LGBTQ community. Queer fans have created and elevated pop music since its very inception, but it wasn’t until very recently (arguably last year) that our stories were being centered in the art form itself.

In a post-Expectations, post-Dirty Computer world, I’m fucking thrilled that me and other queer women aren’t begging for scraps of music about women loving women, or once-a-decade male gazey bops like Demi Lovato’s “Cool For The Summer” and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl.” I’m thankful for the sheer volume of Sapphic pop music that’s flooded my Spotify playlists in 2018, and am overwhelmed by 2019’s gay pop forecast. Consider me soaked—sorry, I meant quenched.

Header image via Getty

‘The Favourite’ Cast Was Aggressively Queer at the Golden Globes and It Rocked

Watching Maya Rudolph jokingly propose to Amy Poehler on live TV wasn’t even close to the gayest moment of the 76th annual Golden Globe awards. Sunday’s show was brimming with queerness, from actors like Olivia Colman and Sandra Oh, who took home trophies for portraying queer characters, to Ben Whishaw, an out gay actor who won for his role in A Very English Scandal. But the gayest and most rapturous part of the evening was both times the cast of The Favourite was featured; Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone, the stars who brought three queer characters to life in Yorgos Lanthimos’ period film, openly flaunted female queerness in a way that’s rarely been done before on an awards show—and it was brilliant.

If The Favourite gets nominated at the Oscars, which it likely will, then a lesbian movie may finally have a Call Me By Your Name moment; movies that center queer female romances are almost never awarded at the Oscars, or any award shows for that matter. In the past, lesbian-themed movies have been majorly snubbed, like Carol in 2015. But the three stars of The Favourite have breathed life into the film in such a magically gay way that’s elevated the excitement surrounding the film. When they’re together, lesbianism just oozes out of their pores, despite none of them identifying as queer. They’re just glowing, and their chemistry is magnetic, their enthusiasm contagious.

On Sunday night, we saw two major moments with these animated leading ladies—Colman, who won for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and Weisz and Stone, both of whom were nominated. First, the Holy Trinity presented an award together. The three women strutted on stage holding hands and giggling like giddy girls with a Sapphic secret, and then continued to toss lesbian innuendos around like rainbow confetti.

Weisz described her character, Sarah Churchill, as “capable of giving even the queen a good tongue lashing,” while her co-star Colman tittered. Then, Stone lamented that her character, Abigail Hill, was overlooked, despite being “just as good with her hands as Sarah.” If hearing Rachel Weisz say “tongue lashing” and Emma Stone joking about finger-banging wasn’t enough to make you blush, the women just pressed further.

“Did these women really love her,” Colman asked about her character, “or did they just want her for her body politic?” She added cheekily, “Then again, when the women were these two hotties, did it really matter?” It was silly and sexy and indulgent; everything we want from an award-winning cast on a live show.

When I first saw The Favourite, I was jarred not only by how much I wanted Rachel Weisz to shoot me with a weathered musket, but by the movie’s brazen queerness; it’s not often queer women get to see themselves portrayed on the big screen, and this movie was certainly one of a kind in regards to the way these women were portrayed; lesbian or bisexual characters are almost never afforded the opportunity to be witty and brash, rather than self-serious and dramatic. So, it was mollifying to see that energy played out in a buzzy awards season movie, and subsequently carried into the real world by the actors themselves. All three actresses wielded the bold, flirtatious queerness of their characters like a sword, threatening to slay any naysayers who dare stand in their way. Rather than shy away from the movie’s gay plot, their giggly presentation seemingly said, “This one is for the queer women watching.”

And when Olivia Colman accepted the award for her role as Queen Anne, she kept the celebration going. In her speech, the British actress thanked her “bitches,” nodding to her female costars and drawing a coquettish wave from Rachel Weisz. Between their gay shenanigans, Sandra Oh’s win, and Halle Berry openly flirting with Lena Waithe on stage (she totally was, right?!) the whole award show felt like a knowing wink to queer fans.

What makes The Favourite so special is exactly what Colman, Weisz, and Stone embodied on stage: It’s just so much goddamn fun. The movie allows queer women to be outrageous and wretched and hysterical and hilarious, rather than boxing them into any tired trope or lesbian stereotype. And to see that spirit translated from the big screen to a live awards telecast was so satisfying. As a queer woman, I finally felt included in the exclusive fun of awards season in a way I never have before. I look forward to every red carpet, award ceremony, or acceptance speech the stars of The Favourite may grace, and I’m already prematurely mourning a world after the Oscars, a lifeless dystopia in which Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone stop publicly fawning over each other like a pack of hormonal teenagers. But it’s good while it lasts.

Header image via Getty

Golden Globes 2019 Predictions: Who Will Win in the Film Categories?

How many Golden Globes will Lady Gaga have by tonight’s end?

Currently, she has one, from her work on FX’s American Horror Story: Hotel. She could have up to three after the Golden Globes this evening, being nominated for both Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama, and Best Original Song, Motion Picture. Will she complete the double play, walk away with just one win, or instead go home empty-handed?

Ahead of the awards tonight, let’s take a look at the film categories, and try to read the tea leaves on what will win big.

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Crazy Rich Asians
The Favourite
Green Book
Mary Poppins Returns
Vice

Should Win: The Favourite, with a nod to the delightful Mary Poppins Returns.
Will Win: Vice heads into tonight with the most nominations of any movie, but I think the mixed critical response probably hurt it. Let’s go with the more generally well-liked Green Book.

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born

Should Win: Black Panther or If Beale Street Could Talk
Will Win: Something in my heart tells me tonight is not going to be an A Star Is Born sweep. I’m gonna predict it to win here, but don’t be shocked if Bohemian Rhapsody wins instead.

Best Motion Picture, Animated
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs

Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet 
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Should Win: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Will Win: Probably Incredibles 2.

Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language
Capernaum
Girl
Never Look Away
Roma
Shoplifters

Should Win: Shoplifters
Will Win: Roma, unless awards bodies are cooling on it after it tore through critics prizes season.
Thank God It Won’t Win: Girl

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Glenn Close, The Wife
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Nicole Kidman, Destroyer
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? 
Rosamund Pike, A Private War

Should Win: McCarthy
Will Win: The Globes love Gaga! Expect her to take this prize home easily.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman

Should Win: I’m not too hot on any of these performances, to be frank, but I’d probably give it to Cooper or Hedges.
Will Win: I think this is where Malek starts his sweep of the season.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns
Olivia Coleman, The Favourite
Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
Charlize Theron, Tully
Constance Wu, Crazy Rich Asians

Should Win: Theron, but this is an incredible category. Literally every nominee would make for a great winner.
Will Win: Blunt, who the Globes have always loved more than the Oscars.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Christian Bale, Vice
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Poppins Returns
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Robert Redford, The Old Man and the Gun
John C. Reilly, Stan & Ollie

Should Win: Yikes, this category. (Admittedly, I haven’t seen Stan & Ollie, and I do hear Reilly is delightful in it.) I’d probably go Redford.
Will Win: Bale, in a walk.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Motion Picture
Amy Adams, Vice
Claire Foy, First Man
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Should Win:  King, though Stone is aces in The Favourite (but absolutely a lead).
Will Win: Half of prediction is advocacy, so for that reason, I’m going to say King. Don’t be floored if it’s Adams, though.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Motion Picture
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Timothée Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice

Should Win: Grant
Will Win: Ali, since they snubbed him two years ago when he was winning for Moonlight everywhere else.

Best Director, Motion Picture
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Peter Farrelly, Green Book
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay, Vice

Should Win: Cuarón
Will Win: So I have a fear that, because they want to reward Malek in Actor, they’re going to reward Cooper here. And the Roma contingent is not going to take that well. But yeah, I think it’s Cooper.

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Tony McNamara, Deborah Davis, The Favourite
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Adam McKay, Vice
Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Green Book

Should Win: The Favourite
Will Win: I think this is where they reward Vice.

Best Original Score, Motion Picture
Marco Beltrami, A Quiet Place
Alexandre Desplat, Isle of Dogs
Ludwig Goransson, Black Panther
Justin Hurwitz, First Man
Marc Shaiman, Mary Poppins Returns

Should Win: Hurwitz
Will Win: Shaiman? This is a tougher one.

Best Original Song, Motion Picture
“All the Stars,” Black Panther
“Girl in the Movies,” Dumplin’
“Requiem for a Private War,” A Private War
“Revelation,” Boy Erased
“Shallow,” A Star Is Born

Should Win: “Shallow”
Will Win: No matter what happens in Actress, count on Lady Gaga to walk out of the Beverly Hilton with at least one Golden Globe tonight. “Shallow” is the most certain win of the night.

Image via Getty

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4’ Recap: The Fourth Cut Is the Deepest

I said last week that the top seven queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4 were so unbelievably evenly matched, every cut from here on out would be tough. I just couldn’t imagine exactly how brutal this first one would be.

This episode was a tough one, with relatively little fun to go around and a lot of heavy hearts. I don’t think it bodes poorly for the rest of the season, but it is the first All Stars 4 episode to disappoint me — and I’m not even talking about the eliminated queen yet.

MIchelle Visage

This week, RuPaul challenges the queens to compete in a Judge Judy-style improv challenge, Jersey Justice, aptly titled for its lead character, Judge Michelle Visage. The challenge is a complex one: create a cartoonish Jerseyite in look and voice, execute the actual story of the case in pairs (or in one case, as a trio), and make it all funny. Simple, right? Heh.

Somewhat surprisingly, Manila Luzon and Latrice Royale don’t team up for this challenge, with Latrice instead joining the ultra-close Monique Heart/Monét X Change duo and Manila pairing with the free agent of the season, Naomi Smalls. Though this isn’t a paired season like All Stars 1, Team Latrila has been close in spirit and energy, so I’d have expected them to work as a team. You have to imagine Latrice regrets her choice when Monique and Monét immediately start riffing, leaving Latrice all but cut out of their dynamic.

Each team gets a different legal scenario: a suit over a cake, a suit over a celebrity impersonator, and a suit over a botched makeover job. I like these improv challenges — including The Bitchelor in All Stars 3 and Bossy Rossy in season 10 — because they’re faithful to the core spirit of Drag Race. The most interesting thing about Drag Race as a competition has always been the sheer scope of skills that it requires. You can’t just be a fashionista. You can’t just be a comedian. You can’t just be an actor, a singer, a makeup artist, a writer. You have to be everything. The improv challenges adequately test for a wide range of skills. If you can’t make it here, you can’t make it anywhere.

Appropriately enough, everyone fucks up somewhere this week, even when their performance is otherwise stellar. Winners Manila and Monique are both very funny in the challenge, riffing with Michelle particularly well, but Manila’s curves and swerves runway look underwhelms and doesn’t quite nail the prompt. Monique gets major praise for her runway look, which, yes, is structurally impressive. But it’s yet another brown cow look, no matter how stunning it may be. And her voice in the challenge is irritatingly shrill, which Michelle does note (though ultimately doesn’t care).

Valentina seemingly comes in third, if my interpretation of judge impressions is correct. She absolutely slays the main challenge as “the OG Snooki,” nailing both the character and the comedy. Judging solely based on the challenge, I’d have placed her in the top with Monique. However, she goes a little too high-concept for the runway, serving a deconstructed look that’s more interesting in concept than execution. (It also doesn’t quite fit the runway prompt for the week.) Guest judge Erica Ash rips into the look with a sharp “I don’t get it,” which inspires some, ahem, strong words from Valentina. More on those in a bit.

In a break from how she’s been doing so far, Trinity the Tuck, Not the Taylor mostly fails to impress. She teams up with Valentina, keeping the season 9 alliance together, but for the first time is fully outshone by her sister. Trinity actually forgets her character’s name at the start of their scene (a truly awkward moment) and otherwise essentially plays straight woman for Valentina. Her runway is incredibly strong, though, with one of the best wigs I’ve ever seen on Drag Race. That seems to keep her firmly in the safe group, where Naomi joins her after receiving her first real criticisms of the season. She couldn’t quite keep up with Manila in the scene, and a strong ’50s housewife look on the runway doesn’t help her. That said, I did love Naomi’s season 2 shout-out: Her Nicole Paige Brooks impression while yelling “cherry pie” is flawless.

That leaves Latrice and Monét in the bottom two. Neither Latrice’s elegant runway nor Monét’s Kim Kardashian-allusion look can save them from being utterly flattened by Monique in the challenge. The one who clearly belongs in the bottom is Latrice; Monét isn’t great in the challenge, but I might’ve put Trinity in the bottom instead. Nonetheless, this is the bottom two we get, and it feels like a goddamn funeral the second Ru announces they’re up for elimination.

Latrice is a beloved icon, and the idea of her even possibly going home makes the air in the room thicken like soup. She monologues emotionally about spending 25 years doing drag, and expresses dismay that she’s not able to fulfill a “prophecy” for herself on Drag Race. Back in season 4, it was almost universally understood that Latrice was cheated out of the top three in favor of season villain Phi Phi O’Hara — never mind that Phi Phi did legitimately beat Latrice out in the final challenge, and Chad Michaels out-lipsynced Latrice at the last second. It was a robbery in fans’ minds, as was hers and Manila’s loss on All Stars 1.

Something about this has clearly taken hold in Latrice’s mind. She believes she deserves this crown, even if her performance record so far hasn’t indicated that to be true. This separation between expectation and reality makes deliberations a nightmare. Manila is absolutely devastated by the idea of Latrice going home, throwing herself onto her best friend while sobbing and pledging to keep her safe in the lip sync. Monique is wrecked, clearly wanting to keep Monét, but worrying about the implications of sending Latrice home. She knows how much fans love Latrice, because she is one of those fans. She even outright states how much Latrice means to black queers and queens in particular — something that’s unmistakably true, but rarely stated on the show itself.

Trinity, meanwhile, has no problem saying Latrice deserves to go home. And honestly? It’s a bad look! In fact, Trinity comes off as kind of an ass all episode. She all but lectures Manila for even considering sending Valentina home at the start of the episode. Later, when Valentina indicates she’d have a hard time saving Trinity over Latrice if they were the bottom two, she gives a dramatic confessional that feels either faked or just plain whiny. Then, she moans about “morals” when Manila and Monique weigh whether or not to save Latrice. It’s all quite obnoxious, like the best student in the class protesting about the rules when the kids she sees as below her don’t act the way she wants them to. No one likes that kid, Trinity.

What’s especially perplexing is that Trinity clearly doesn’t mind being cutthroat — she’ll eliminate beloved legend Latrice if she has to — but only likes her form of being cutthroat. Eliminating a strong competitor? That’s immoral to Trinity. In Big Brother, which this season reminds me of more than any other Drag Race season, they call someone like Trinity a “game bot.” She’s too fixated on her own game and can’t see outside of it. It’s likely going to take her very far in this season, but will also likely make her unpleasant to watch if she keeps the unpleasantness up.

The season 9 girls both behave strangely this week. After she gets some criticism for her runway look, Valentina throws what seems like a joking fit about it during deliberations. It seems too exaggerated to be honest, but also not funny enough to be a very good joke. Worse, she chooses to unleash right after Latrice and Monét emotionally plead to be kept in the competition. Monique rolls her eyes and all but tells Valentina to calm down. To quote Trixie Mattel, “That’s a lot of emotion for safe.”

It illustrates the main problem I still have with Valentina, who has otherwise been such a delight this season: She’s still not behaving like a human being. It’s clear she had a plan to be funny and have a diva moment this week, but couldn’t read the room and realize it would play horribly in the emotional moment. For better or worse, Drag Race is won by those who can, at least once or twice, let their guard down and be themselves. We’re not getting that from Valentina right now. I remain skeptical about whether she can actually go all the way in All Stars 4.

Ultimately, all the hissy fits in the world can’t distract from the ultimate choice: Latrice or Monét? Manila, like Trinity last week, makes her intentions known (“After all these years, I am still Team Latrila”), while Monique holds her cards closer to chest. After an evenly matched (and, admittedly, somewhat low-energy) lip sync to Tina Turner’s cover of “The Bitch Is Back,” Monique wins. Does she win mostly because there’s no narrative tension to Manila winning? Perhaps. Does she win because she keeps her hair on for the first time? Also perhaps! Regardless, win she does, and through tears, she eliminates Latrice.

Latrice Royale is, next to Alyssa Edwards, my all-time favorite Drag Race queen. She is a living legend. Her final speech to RuPaul on the runway in season 4 ranks among the best moments in Drag Race herstory. It sucks to see her go home in 7th place. But I cannot deny that she was the worst in the challenge, and didn’t stun on the runway. Her going home is an entirely fair call. That doesn’t mean it can’t feel like shit, because it does. But Monique made the right decision.

One can only hope that Latrice will find her way back into the competition during whatever inevitable comeback challenge is on the horizon. All Stars 4 should be a chance for every queen to prove they’re sickening — even if it takes a little bit longer than we expected.

Drying our tears with some final thoughts:

• I’ve alluded to it in this and other recaps, but it intrigues me that, despite this not being a teams season, our remaining queens have mostly settled into pairs. Monique and Monét are united, as are Valentina and Trinity (though I wouldn’t put it past Valentina to eliminate Trinity if she gets the chance). With Latrice gone, and Naomi unaffiliated, I wonder if the two fashion queens will team up moving forward. They could each use an ally right now.

• Record check-in: Manila and Trinity each have two challenge wins, with one lip sync win each, and neither has hit the bottom two. Monique has two challenge wins and one lip sync win as well, but hit the bottom two once. Valentina won one challenge and one lip sync. Monét X Change also won one challenge, but has not won a lip sync. Both have hit the bottom two once. Naomi, queen of safe, has never won, nor hit the bottom two. My guess is she does not stay safe for another week — either for good or for ill.

• Manila bowing to Trinity’s dominance during Snatch Game, but insisting that she’ll still be listed as the winner of the episode on Wikipedia, is delightfully nerdy.

• The main stage critiques are edited strangely this week, with a ton of shady noises thrown in even when the judges give positive feedback. Monique’s entire critique sounds like the judges are trashing her simply because the sounds are wrong.

• Love Monique, but I can no longer defend her getting praised for brown cow callbacks when Monét got trashed for doing sponge callbacks. It’s an absurdly unequal standard.

• Strange that the show specifically uses the Tina Turner cover of “The Bitch Is Back” for the lip sync while emphasizing that it’s originally an Elton John song, no? While most Lip Sync for Your Life/Legacy songs are by women, there have been plenty of songs with at least some male vocals: “Love Shack,” “Macho Man,” “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),” every RuPaul song, etc. Might’ve been a rights issue, though considering Elton John himself appears in a pretaped message to say “don’t fuck it up,” I doubt that.

• I don’t care how fake-mad she was, Valentina calling MadTV alum Erica Ash “that judge with the bun” is disrespectful. That entire staged hissy fit was so ill-advised. And Val’s been so charming and enjoyable so far!

• Even though Stacy Layne Matthews’ cameo shots as the court reporter were clearly not shot on the Jersey Justice set, I still like seeing her pop up with reactions. More Henny!

• Speaking of: While I don’t entirely agree with her critique of Valentina’s look, Erica Ash is otherwise a good guest judge this week. She gives insightful notes and appropriately drags Trinity for blaming her reserved performance on trying to make room for Valentina. Zoe Kravitz is a good bit quieter as a judge, but still gets some good notes in. (Perennial reminder that Jenifer Lewis remains the best guest judge of the season.)

• Best guess for the next queen out the door: Monét. Could be Naomi if she doesn’t get a win soon. Although the person I’d maybe be the least surprised to see go next? Valentina.

The next episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4 will air Friday, Jan. 11, at 8 p.m. Eastern on VH1.

INTO’s 2019 Travel Guide

INTO’s travel writers have collaborated to amass an adventurous, luxurious, and metamorphic top ten list of trending (and non-trending) destinations as readers consider travel plans for 2019. As always, we’ve combed for some of the most queer-friendly locales while making sure to include destinations outside of the typical LGBTQ+ travel circuit, so that seasoned travelers can push themselves out of their comfort zones. Happy trails, traveler.

1.  Celebrate EuroPride in Vienna, Austria

via Getty

On January 1, 2019 Austria will officially recognize same-sex marriage after a ruling from the country’s Constitutional Court, upgrading from legal partnerships. Wasting no time, its capital city, Vienna, will be the host of EuroPride 2019 (June 1-16th). But no matter when you visit, the city famous for its permanently gay-themed street crossing signals is a true epicenter for both the visual and performing arts. “The City of Music” is world renowned for its orchestras, operas, choirs, and chamber music—but also excites visitors with progressive house and electronic music at its over-the-top queer warehouse parties. 

2. Tour the Volta Region of Ghana

via Uprise Travel

As in many other African countries, homosexual acts are illegal in Ghana and discrimination against the LGBTQ community is rampant. Yet, queer-friendly tour company Uprise Travel safely guides visitors through Ghana, training their guides in inclusivity and LGBTQ+ issues. Their Southern Ghana Road Trip is the perfect introduction to the country and explores the off-the-beaten-path (and gorgeous) Volta Region, two and a half hours north of Accra. The trip takes visitors to Amedzofe, the highest village in Ghana, to a sanctuary full of adorable mona monkeys, and to the dazzling Wli Falls (the highest waterfall in West Africa). The trip then ventures to the nation’s western coast to see sobering UNESCO World Heritage slave castles and stunning beaches, like the secluded, palm-lined Busua Beach.

3. Camp and Dance at the GAYTIMES Music Festival in Victoria, Australia

While there are more prides, circuits, gay ski weeks, and queer film festivals than one can shake a stick at, there are still only a handful of queer music festivals. While GAYTIMES (February 15-17th, 2019) isn’t as big as Amsterdam’s Milkshake Festival, this intimate Australian festival, hosted high in the Central Victorian Highlands, may be one of the most unique. Hop down under to Melbourne, road trip up two hours to Lake Mountain Alpine Resort, and pitch your tent for a weekend of camping below the Southern Hemisphere stars at the height of Southern Hemisphere summer. Besides a lineup with over 36 acts, there are performance artists, art installments, and many workshops, classes, and activities. This is the queer summer camp you’ve always dreamed of.

4. Stargaze at the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico

via Getty

This UNESCO World Heritage site is said to be “as close as the US gets to Egypt’s pyramids and Peru’s Machu Picchu” and the largest concentration of ruins north of Mexico. Chaco Canyon contains artifacts and campsites dating back to 7000-1500 BC, though its monumental public and ceremonial pueblos date to around 850-1250 AD. Besides the incredibly well-preserved ruins, history, and archeoastronomy petroglyphs, the site is an International Dark Sky Park. But why visit now? Well, the Bureau of Land Management, overseen by the Interior and the Trump Administration, has leased 90% of the greater Chaco area to oil and gas development , endangering outlying artifacts, ruins, ancient roads, and sacred sites, as well as the serenity of the dark sky reserve. When you make the 3 hour drive from Santa Fe to visit, sleep under the stars at the Gallo Campground, and see the night sky just as the Chacoans saw it thousands of years ago, at least for right now.

5. Wander Argentina’s Remarkable Salta Province

via Getty

Tucked in the Northwest corner of Argentina — tickling Chile and Bolivia — is the larger-than-life Salta Province. Start your road trip in the province’s capital, Salta City, for delicious empanadas, folkloric music, and the chance to see 500 year-old-child-sacrifice-mummies at the Museum of High Altitude Archaeology before venturing south through the polychromatic Valles Calchaquíes to Cafayate, a legendary wine town full of delicious Torrontés and Malbecs. Dive deeper into the province by exploring its three remote national parks: the tropical Baritú National Park (home to jaguars, ocelots and speckled bears), El Rey National Park (home to giant anteaters and tapirs), and the arid Los Cardones National Park (home to vicuñas, dinosaur tracks, and 25-foot tall Argentine saguaros—all below the towering 20,000 foot Nevado de Cachi).

6. Explore The Kingdom of Jordan on a Gay Tour

via Outstanding Travel

Visit Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world, with Outstanding Travel, a leader in gay travel within Israel and the surrounding region. Travel to Petra via Wadi Yatam and drive through gorgeous landscapes that lead you to the far end of Wadi Musa. The road there winds through the narrow, deep and stunning Siq (the shaft), at which the splendor of the burial shrine Al Khazneh (the treasury) is revealed. The tour then continues to the desert of Wadi Rum, filled with shades of red and orange sandstones. Here you can overnight in a luxury camp inside a bubble star tent so that you can enjoy the night sky from the comfort of your warm bed. It’s important to note that LGBTQ+ rights in Jordan are considered to be relatively advanced when compared to other countries within the Middle East. Homosexual conduct remains legal in Jordan, after the country adopted its own penal code that did not criminalize homosexuality as it previously was under the British Mandate Criminal Code Ordinance that lasted until 1951. That being said, LGBTQ+ people displaying public affection can be prosecuted for “disrupting public morality.”

7. Catch a Queer Film in India

via Sridhar Rangayan @sridharrangayan

In a historic decision, India’s Supreme Court ruled in September of 2018 that gay sex is no longer a criminal offense, overturning a 2013 judgment that upheld a colonial-era law categorizing gay sex as an “unnatural offense.” The court ruled that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a fundamental violation of rights. And if you still don’t know about India’s famous gay prince, you should, because he is doing so many good things for the LGBTQ community in India. LGBTQ tourism in India is rising and now is the time to go (but please, just avoid North Sentinel Island…). As long as you are respectful of the local culture and understand that things may not run as smoothly as they would back home, you’ll find that India can be not only fascinating but also safe. Plan your trip around some amazing LGBTQ events like Mumbai Pride, which takes place in January/February, or some of the other prides in cities like Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore or Kolkata. Or, if queer cinema is more your vibe, check out the annual Kashish Mumbai Queer Film Festival, typically held in May.

8. Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall at World Pride in NYC

via Getty

News Alert: Did you catch the news of Madonna mysteriously showing up at the Stonewall Inn for a surprise New Year’s Eve performance? She gave a powerful speech before performing a couple of her hit songs and exiting. Many are speculating that she will somehow be involved in the 30 days of celebration that span June 1 – 30, 2019 in New York City. NYC Pride will be welcoming WorldPride as they mark the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and a half-century of LGBTQIA + activism. There will be over 50 events throughout the month with more than 3 million people expected to gather for the experiences. If you’ve been thinking about NYC pride, this would be the year to go!

9. Get Your Rocky Mountain High on in Colorado

via Miles W. Griffis

Quick shout-out to Colorado residents for electing the first gay man to serve as Governor of a U.S. State. Jared Polis made history this past November by winning the state’s gubernatorial race with 51.7% of the vote. Now, that alone doesn’t necessarily qualify Colorado as a top queer destination, but it does add to the long list of reasons why Colorado is extremely open-minded and welcoming. Colorado was also one of the first two states to legalize marijuana back in 2012 and the weed culture there is booming. Consider taking a marijuana tour while visiting the state to get a sense of how big the industry is (and because, well, it really is just a fun way to spend an afternoon). While on your tour (which mostly operate out of Denver), pick up some essentials and head out to seek adventure in some of the state’s most beautiful destinations. Ski towns like Breckenridge, Telluride, and Aspen are surrounded by the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains— the inspiration for John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” (1972). Best of all, each town also hosts their own gay ski week.

10. Become a Member of the 7 Continents Club in Antarctica

via David Duran

If you haven’t been to Antarctica yet, don’t worry, most of the world hasn’t either. It’s estimated that a very tiny fraction of the of the world’s population has made it to the 7th continent. Why go? Well, if you are an adventurer at heart and want to see things that most people will never see in their lifetime, a trip way down south might be just right. The icebergs alone make the trip worth it. But beyond the massive floating ice, the wildlife sightings are infinite and being up close and personal with whales, penguins and seals will melt your heart, but hopefully not the polar ice caps. Consider traveling with National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions for a once in a lifetime opportunity to not only visit the untouched region but to learn so much while doing so. Traveling with you on your expedition will be a team of experts and naturalists who use a range of exploration tools to help you experience wildlife and wild places up close. During your trip you can kayak amid the icebergs, stroll through crowds of penguins and step foot (many, many times) on the spectacularly remote continent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And boy, was I wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

And maybe don’t even want to.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Tessa Thompson Gets Candid About Her Sexuality

Tessa Thompson also had quite the year herself.

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

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

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

5. Rapper Lady Leshurr Proudly Declares Herself Pansexual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. The “Blue Wave” had a Bi Ripple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers to bi and pankind for a great year!

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4’ Recap: “Win, and Beat Me”

The Lip Sync for Your Legacy format is broken. Of that, there is little doubt; it inspires fairly lackluster lip syncs and fails to conjure up the kind of drama one would hope sending home a fellow queen would. RuPaul and the RuPaul’s Drag Race production team designed Lip Sync for Your Legacy to make All Stars more strategic, but on the whole, it doesn’t work that way.

Until Manila Luzon gets her hands on it, that is.

Manila and Trinity

I am of very mixed emotions regarding Manila: I usually don’t love her performances in Drag Race‘s challenges, and her runways — while usually stunning — can’t close the gap for me. And while I think her “MacArthur Park” lip sync in season 3 is one of the all-time greats, her follow-up efforts have been far less impressive.

What I do think Manila is fantastic at, however, is being a reality TV character. She is immensely watchable, and is terrific at driving story without self-producing. Her instigation skills are without peer — without her, the Heathers vs. Boogers arc in season 3 likely never heats up as much as it did.

So I’m thrilled to see her win the challenge this week (although I do think that win is somewhat dubious) and immediately get to scheming. What follows is the best deliberation session since Alaska’s temper tantrum in All Stars, and some of the very best TV of the year.

Snatch Game of Love

This week’s challenge is Snatch Game with a twist: This time, it’s the Snatch Game of Love, kind of a cross between Match Game and The Dating Game. Considering how the traditional Snatch Game format has gotten somewhat tired, the change of pace is welcome. Unfortunately, the format is a little wonky. The eight queens are split into two groups, each vying for the heart of a different celebrity: Olympian Gus Kenworthy for group one, and Love, Simon‘s Keiynan Lonsdale for group two. This split means we’re deprived of some characters interacting, and because of one particularly bad performance in group two, three other performers don’t get much of a chance to shine.

Trinity the Tuck (née Taylor) and Gia Gunn have both brought the same character for Snatch Game: Caitlyn Jenner. One might call this a fool’s errand, since Sharon Needles’ Caitlyn Jenner from the Battle of the Seasons tour is a pitch-perfect parody already. But nevertheless, the two queens spar over who should take it. Gia insists that, as a trans woman, she’d be the correct choice. The other queens thoroughly shoot her down, and instead encourage her to do Jenny Bui, Cardi B’s nail technician. (If you didn’t know her before now, don’t worry, I didn’t either.)

Gia’s shit-stirring the last two episodes really comes back to haunt her this week. The other queens form a united front against her, verbally pushing her away from Caitlyn and into Jenny. It’s clear manipulation on their part, a bit of strategy and alliance-making that’s rare on Drag Race, even for All Stars. Gia does make the swap, but not before taking a swipe at Trinity, telling her as both Caucasian and having “a fucked-up nose like her,” she’ll fit Caitlyn much better.

Snatch Game of Love

Trinity knocks it out of the park as Caitlyn, and is the clear winner of the week. She plays Caitlyn as a crotchety old grandma, and sits with her legs cartoonishly parted in a white suit. Most impressively, she utterly dominates group one in Snatch Game of Love, grabbing every possible joke and riffing with her competitors, RuPaul, and Gus Kenworthy. Gus winds up picking her as his bachelorette because she’s the funniest, leaving Naomi Smalls’ terrific Wendy Williams (complete with faint), Monét X Change’s underwhelming Whitney Houston, and Valentina’s misguided Eartha Kitt loveless.

Group two is some “romper-room fuckery,” to quote Latrice Royale circa season 4’s Snatch Game. Monique Heart’s Tiffany Haddish is just Monique, although admittedly she fires off some good jokes. Manila’s Barbra Streisand, complete with rather large nose prosthetic (in questionable taste, in my opinion) and heavy Barb accent, is funny enough, but a distant third to Trinity and Naomi. The true disaster is Gia’s Jenny, simultaneously not humorous and constantly talking. She sucks all the oxygen out of the group, and especially throws off Latrice Royale.

As the late Della Reese, Latrice seems mostly like Latrice, but we never get much chance to see her fully embody the character, because Gia keeps stepping on her. Gia-as-Jenny also calls Latrice fat and says she looks like a man, which especially upsets her. It’s disappointing that a queen as funny and talented as Latrice has now done poorly as three different celebrities — as Aretha Franklin in Snatch Game season 4, as Oprah Winfrey in All Stars 1‘s ill-advised Gaff-In!, and now as Della. It clearly weighs on her, too; you can see it in her face both on the challenge stage and on the runway during critiques.

Latrice Royale

After a fun boots runway — in which Manila knocks it out of the park as an S&M bunny, and Valentina gets knocked by judge Michelle Visage for a nude bodysuit that doesn’t quite fit right — Manila, Naomi, and Trinity land in the top, while Valentina, Gia, and Latrice wind up in the bottom. I’d expect Naomi and Trinity to win the challenge, but it seems the judges dock points because Naomi wore gladiator sandals instead of boots. Manila wins instead, giving her her first win of the season and fifth in her Drag Race career. (I’d argue she deserved one, maybe two of those wins, but I’m trying to be nice today.) Gia winds up in the bottom, sitting next to an unlucky Valentina. Latrice seemingly gets away with Gia being blamed for her performance, and avoids the bottom two.

And here is where the episode transforms from a solid one into a legendary one. Right at the start of deliberations, Trinity calls Manila over to the side to chat about the decision they have to make. Trinity insists that the choice of who should go home this week is obvious. Gia was the clear worst. Manila doesn’t disagree, but also doesn’t see that as the only reason to send someone home. She thinks this could be a chance for her to send home a strong competitor in Valentina. This panics Trinity, as Valentina is her ally and season 9 sister.

Manila and Gia have a heart-to-heart, Gia admitting that she didn’t realize competing on Drag Race as a trans woman would be so difficult. “I just wish there was another way for me to do this,” she says, starting to cry. “To show you can be whoever you want to be as a trans woman.” She shares further in confessional that while drag used to be an outlet for her to feel in touch with her real identity, now it’s frustrating for her to be in this competition. She also expresses major regret for personally insulting Latrice in the game. It’s the most authentic Gia’s been all season, and thus no surprise it’s also the most compelling she’s been all season. And it clearly resonates with a tearful Manila.

At the same time, Trinity meets with a very relaxed-looking Valentina. She’s in the bottom next to Gia; she knows she won’t be going home. Until Trinity warns her about Manila, that is. Valentina’s whole persona shifts as she leans forward. “So you think that i could go home tonight?” she asks. Her voice shakes a little on the last word. She seems both petrified and primed to attack. It’s a fascinating transformation, seeing Valentina go from cool cucumber to focused strategist. She takes that attitude with her to meet with Manila — and inspires an amazing 90-second tête-à-tête.

Valentina drink

Manila starts strong, complimenting Valentina as one of Drag Race‘s strongest competitors. But, she admits, “That scares me, because I think, ‘How can I keep up with these young girls?'” Valentina’s response? Sipping her drink. Manila says she has Valentina in a corner, and admits she’s very much considering sending Valentina home. Valentina says she thinks she’s done well on All Stars, and she wants to stay,. So, Manila says, let’s make a deal.

“How about this: Can you promise me, if you ever land in the top, and I’m in the bottom, [to] show me grace?” she asks. “For an old-ass bitch like me.” The way she poses after making this offer could best be described as “Ursula after telling Ariel she just wants her voice.” It’s delicious.

Valentina immediately turns the deal down, saying she’d never ask Manila to promise the reverse. Instead, she offers Manila a challenge: Keep her in the game, and beat her fair and square. “Can you handle it?” she asks. As she puts it in her confessional: “Win, and beat me, bitch.”

Valentina as cunning strategist is the kind of thing we’d never see on Drag Race‘s flagship series, but All Stars‘ format is perfectly suited for. It’s not her drag skills that help her this week, it’s her social game. It’s Big Brother in heels and wigs. And as a Big Brother fan, I’m certainly thrilled by this development.

Manila Luzon

Manila and Trinity face off in the lip sync to Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know,” giving Whitney a fourth lip sync song on Drag Race and tying the record held by Paula Abdul, Britney Spears, and Madonna. The two queens give one hell of a battle to commemorate the occasion, with Trinity frenetically bopping to the energy of the music and Manila giving a full acting performance as a young lover. Trinity’s very good, but Manila is spectacular, finally matching the promise of “MacArthur Park.” Most impressively, she kills the lip sync without a single split, trick, or anything. She just fully embodies the spirit of the song, and delivers on every front.

Unlike most Lip Syncs for Your Legacy, this one actually has some real tension. We know Trinity won’t send Valentina home, but Manila just might. So Valentina looks mildly petrified walking to the front of the stage with Gia, who seems far more resigned to her fate. Manila ramps up with a big speech — she wants this more than any of the other girls, and has been competing for longer, too. It really does seem in the moment like she’s going to pull the trigger — but instead eliminates Gia. Valentina gets off with just a warning shot.

It’s farewell to Gia Gunn, a contestant I don’t have much love for, but can still have compassion for. I can only imagine how psychologically taxing it is to compete in a drag competition as a trans woman, and especially to be pummeled with hate online. While I wish she’d come into the competition with more strategy than mere villainy, I trust she’ll continue to succeed outside of the werk room.

So here we have our final seven! Truly, it’s anyone’s game; everyone but Naomi has a win (if you count Latrice’s Reading Is Fundamental mini-challenge win), and she’s been in the top three every single week. Every cut from here is going to be deep. Fasten your seatbelts, ladies, gentlemen, and non-binary folks: It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Show grace for some old-ass thoughts:

• Though Snatch Game of Love wasn’t quite the right fix, I do hope Drag Race continues to experiment with the Snatch Game formula. It’s been the same for so many years, and it really does need freshening up.

• Manila is smashing the runway in a fashion unparalleled by anyone else this season. Naomi’s looks are usually strong, but missing the prompt on the boot this week was a major unforced error. Trinity and Valentina could rise up to challenge them if they really pull out the stops in the next few weeks. Latrice’s runways are too basic, Monét and Monique’s aren’t quite refined enough.

• Naomi nails Wendy Williams’ faint perfectly. I’d have given her the win for it alone, shoes be damned!

• Trinity gets off plenty of great jokes in Snatch Game of Love, but saying that Gus Kenworthy looks “like a Democrat and broke” might be my favorite.

• RuPaul’s runway look this week is amazing, a short, sparkly cocktail dress with killer hair. (I won’t mention the shoes, out of respect.) Her legs look killer, and she sashays down the runway like she knows it. I’m happy to see she’s stepping outside of the long gown and high blonde hair combo she’s become so accustomed to in recent seasons.

• Gia Gunn is now the first and only queen to go home on Snatch Game twice. (No one on this season won their original Snatch Game, so there was no potential to match BenDeLaCreme’s two-win record.)

• Though they both look good this week — especially in wrestling garb — I’m iffy on both Gus Kenworthy and Keiynan Lonsdale as guest judges. Keiynan just doesn’t keep up with the quips on the runway, and has not much insight to add during critiques. Gus is a bit better, but says something clumsy about how important it is for Gia to represent for trans women — well-meaning, but inadequately expressed. Jenifer Lewis’ best guest judge of the season title goes unchallenged for another week.

• God bless Valentina, who strikes a pose even when facing potential elimination in the bottom two. She really has come into this season ready to play the telenovela character to the hilt.

• To address an elephant in the room: Yes, this episode was leaked online in its entirety last Friday. In some countries outside the U.S., RuPaul’s Drag Race streams on the WOW Presents Plus app. Seemingly, the episode was mistakenly uploaded to that app, and was captured and reuploaded across the internet. It’s a rare instance of such a leak, especially from such a notoriously secretive show. That said, no leak can change what an excellent episode this is. To me, it’s the best All Stars episode since “Revenge of the Queens.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars returns next Friday — in fact, next year! — on January 4, at 8 p.m. Eastern on VH1. Have a fun and safe New Year’s Eve!

10 Underrated Queer Things To Watch From 2018

It has been a rollercoaster of a year for queer people seeking representation on the big screen; we’ve seen everything from gay love stories unfolding between teens in a mainstream movie (Love, Simon) to being reminded that straight filmmakers will mine queer tragedy for straight audiences as long as they can get some awards (Boy Erased).

It’s a year where queer films like the marvelous biopic about bestselling biographer turned letter forger Lee Israel (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) and the maddeningly fun period film about Queen Anne, Sarah Churchill, and Abigail Hill engaging in a sexual and political tug-of-war (The Favourite) are at the forefront of the Oscar race.

We saw gay characters in studio comedies like Blockers, foreign dramas like The Cakemaker, documentaries like McQueen, and indie dramedies like Hearts Beat Loud and Ideal Home. But we were also forced to sit through the mishandling of real life queer figures like musician Don Shirley and Freddie Mercury in the notoriously bad Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsodyrespectively.

Even on television we had some true wonders, with Random Acts of Flyness and Pose giving uniquely black perspectives on queerness. Ryan Murphy produced not one (with Pose) but two wonderful shows, bringing The Assassination of Gianni Versace to life with Tom Rob Smith, the writer of the brilliant London Spy. And British television was going all out, giving us Desiree Akhavan’s The Bisexual, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Killing Eve, and Russell T. Davies’ A Very English Scandal.

What about all the queer films that didn’t get a wide release, though? What about the films that were only shown at your local art cinema, or made no money when released all across the country, or were sent straight to VOD? What about the ones that are coded as queer and not explicitly gay so they aren’t labeled as such?

These are the queer films you might not have seen this year, but they’re the ones you should seek out as quickly as possible.

Sense8, “Amor Vincit Omnia”

No less ambitious in scope and no less intimate than any film that Lana and Lilly Wachowski have graced us with since the ’90s, Lana Wachowski’s feature film finale to her Netflix series Sense8—about eight individuals who are connected telepathically and experience each other’s lives—is an absolute treasure from start to finish; it’s a cinematic gem that makes your heart break upon remembering that the Wachowskis closed down their production office this year.

While it’s not unfair to describe it as a flawed and rushed attempt at packing three TV seasons into 2.5 hours in an attempt to wrap up what was meant to be ongoing, what makes “Amor Vincit Omnia” unique is its dedication to the notion that love, in all its forms, can save the world. The unbridled optimism of the Wachowskis is on full display here, and what we’re delivered is a refreshing blend of action, comedy, drama, sci-fi, and romance that ends on the queerest note possible.

Assassination Nation

A film that begins with big, bold, red-white-and-blue Godardian text listing trigger warnings of what’s about to come is a film that shouldn’t work, and yet, somehow, Assassination Nation is a marvel. Sam Levinson delivers something that’s relatable and terrifying in equal parts, largely due to the performances by Odessa Young, Hari Nef, Suki Waterhouse, and Abra as the best group of teen girls caught on film in ages.

And, sure, its transposing of the Salem Witch Trials into present-day America—via the story of a town turning against four teen girls under the presumed notion that they leaked everyone’s information—is about as subtle as a brick to the head. But considering the state of the nation, maybe a loud and unsubtle feature that feels like a direct descendant of Brian De Palma (both in form and in sociopolitical commentary) is exactly what we need right now.

The Wild Boys

One of the most unabashedly indulgent films of the year, Bertrand Mandico’s The Wild Boys is an orgy of influences (from Kenneth Anger and James Bidgood to Derek Jarman and Guy Maddin) that brings lust, violence, and fetish to the big screen in a phantasmagorical way. It’s an odd but engrossing art film about a group of young men who, when arrested for the rape and murder of their teacher, are taken to an island whose fruit changes their bodies drastically.

Its central conceit—that all of its boys are played by actresses—begs discussions of gender performance, the rejection of any one gender being defined by certain traits, and the rejection of bodies and identities being inherently tied together. There’s no clean way to describe this truly wild teenage genderfuck journey disguised as an uncomfortable erotic fever dream full of phallic imagery, but it’s the kind of fantasia worth diving deep into.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

With her sophomore feature, Desiree Akhavan paints a portrait of lost souls; people trying to do what they think is right and failing miserably at it. There’s as much pain in conversion therapy as there is potential allure—the idea of being “fixed,” of being free from self-loathing, is appealing. Not only does The Miseducation of Cameron Post feature a stellar ensemble (with Chloë Grace Moretz, John Gallagher Jr., Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, and Jennifer Ehle as its main players), it has a genuine interest in all of them and how they function within the limbo of existence known as conversion therapy.

Akhavan expertly avoids the trauma porn of Boy Erased by navigating the realm of suffering like a true queer person would, crafting a refreshingly honest and amusing depiction of how we struggle to escape what we’re being taught to believe. There are hardships and mountains of shame and internalized loathing to deal with, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be humor, beauty, intimacy, and even a sing-along to 4 Non Blondes as one tries to get through the day.

Tully

Though some might find this an egregious claim, the work of Diablo Cody has been rather consistently queer. No, it’s not because Jennifer’s Body is gay as hell, or even because Marlo—the mother of three whose story is at the core of Tully—is bisexual. It’s the way Cody is dedicated to telling the stories of women who struggle to assimilate into, or perform properly as, the roles they’re meant to play, inevitably being treated as pariahs in some capacity.

A stark contrast to Charlize Theron’s role as Mavis in the last Jason Reitman/Diablo Cody collaboration, Young Adult, Marlo is approachable, but exhausted and unsure if she is a failure as a mother, and unwilling to let go of the woman she used to identify as. The film explores what women put themselves through to seem like they’re doing OK, often ignoring everything from mental illness to their own desires, and, even more interestingly, how the person we used to be and the life we used to live can seem like an entirely different identity altogether.

Liz and the Blue Bird

There’s a good chance that Liz and the Blue Bird—a side story of the series Sound Euphonium that requires no previous knowledge whatsoever—slipped under your radar, but it is the animated feature of the year that begs to be sought out. Everything about Naoko Yamada’s direction here is breathtaking, from her use of music and silence to her emphasis on the female gaze and emotional distance, in a way most easily comparable to Chantal Akerman and Sofia Coppola.

Yamada equates the love between these two young women to a concert, impossible to perform unless there’s communication and the two musicians fall perfectly in step with each other. So much of the film is dedicated to women looking at, or away from, women, with the surrounding characters barely registering in the world of Mizore and Nozomi. Where it occasionally slips into a realm of Ghibli-esque fantasy thanks to a storybook essential to its plot, Liz and the Blue Bird is a slice-of-life melodrama through and through, the kind of work that alongside works like K-On! and A Silent Voice should mark Yamada as one of the most exciting auteurs around.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

John Cameron Mitchell, best known for starring in, directing, and writing the wonderful Hedwig and the Angry Inch, delivered one of the messiest, goofiest, sweetest, and queerest coming-of-age films of this year. And if that isn’t enough, it also just so happens to be about aliens and punk music, featuring some bizarre sexual exploration, bright latex outfits, and musical oddities.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties navigates finding one’s true community, literally allowing an alien to try and find a home in a punk human world, and there’s familiarity in being that outsider finding your space and your family. It’s through Elle Fanning’s character (and, by extension, her bonding with Nicole Kidman’s punk fairy godmother of sorts) that John Cameron Mitchell best deviates from Neil Gaiman’s underwhelming short story, really focusing on her journey to find herself instead of simply sticking to what could have been a pedestrian love story.

Cam

The identities that we craft for ourselves, whether consciously or not, are an inherent part of being human, but especially for queer folks. Our performative masculinity or femininity can be turned on and off depending on the situation, often enough in moments where our lives may depend on it. The game is similar for Madeline Brewer’s Alice in Cam: there’s a persona for when she’s a camgirl and there’s a persona for when she’s offline, each with its benefits, flaws, and expectations.

The way Daniel Goldhaber and Isa Mazzei mine that fear of losing control over your identity, of being exposed and having to deal with the negative stigma attached to your very existence, is fascinating. There’s no black-and-white when it comes to exploring technology, sex work, and the relationships we maintain, and the film is well aware of how all of these things come with benefits and obstacles. It’s not a stretch to say that this unique and colorful techno-horror work of art is a perfect example of how queerness exists within genre cinema, both explicitly and subtly.

Dirty Computer

From the moment Janelle Monáe began crafting her universe, which has been spread over a number of albums, it was clear there was something queer in the air. The android who has existed throughout these works, Cindi Mayweather, was coded as queer in numerous songs from The Archandroid and Electric Lady. But now, with Dirty Computer and the character Jane 57821, we get to see the beauty of queerness—celebrating women in love, showcasing polyamory without judgment, and actually being trans-inclusive—and how it can overcome a dystopian nightmare through this Emotion Picture.

Using science fiction to explore being queer in an era that does not want you isn’t something new and Monáe’s vision of the future has influences ranging from Alejandro Jodorowsky and Prince to George Lucas and Octavia E. Butler. Rather in tune with the optimism of the Wachowskis, Dirty Computer declares that love can overcome anything; that the oppressors that these black, queer androids—and by extension the communities in present day America who are facing their own villains—are up against can be stopped.

The music videos for Mitski’s “Geyser,” “Washing Machine Heart,” and “Nobody”

Yes, music videos should be considered short films in their own right—it’s not all visual albums like Monáe and Beyoncé—and there’s queerness to be found in many of them. Just look at the sweaty, sexy video for St. Vincent’s “Fast Slow Disco” or the butt plug beauty of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Party For One.” Not simply because her album Be the Cowboy is deeply relatable for any listener, Mitski’s videos can easily be read as queer, each one deeply exploring identity in some capacity amidst the absurdity, desperation, and entrancing hand movements (often used as a focal point of desire in queer cinema).

Christopher Good’s “Nobody” takes the notion of loneliness and turns it into an identity crisis that feels like Maya Deren and Michel Gondry’s love child, while Zia Anger’s “Geyser” aptly captures the notion of struggling against your own passions and feelings. These themes extend through all of her work, and with “Washing Machine Heart,” also directed by Anger, the singer and director explore a mixture of yearning to fit a mold and of inadequacy in the face of male fantasy—as in their previous collaboration on “Your Best American Girl”—through a gorgeously composed Old Hollywood facade.