Friday, July 10, 2020

My Weekend Crush

I was expecting “Wild Nights With Emily” to be gay. And it was, it was super, super gay. But I guess what I wasn’t quite expecting is how convincingly gay the movie is – and not in the “actors acting gay” sense (though Molly Shannon et al are very, very good), but the “Oh, my God, Emily Dickinson really was gay and history/humans have framed her in the most conveniently convincing yet non-threatening way possible to maximize profit and appeal”-sense. I know, whew, all that and it was funny, too!

“Wild Nights With Emily” may be the favorite lesbian period piece I’ve watched during these coronavirus self-quarantine/never-ending pandemic times. (The others being “Vita & Virginia” and “Tell It to the Bees.”) What those films had in beautiful polish, “Wild Nights With Emily” makes up for in exuberant strangeness. I’ve always loved the oddball everything of Madeleine Olnek’s work. Like if you tell me you laughed all the way through “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same” I know we can be friends because we both wallow in the same kind of weird. Now, finally, after two years of writing about it and waiting, her newest movie is finally available to steam on Hulu.

What Olnek’s film does is completely reframe Emily, taken from extensive scholastic research into her actual work and letters to her longtime “gal pal”/sister-in-law Susan Dickinson. It’s fascinating how invested some are in keeping Emily the lonely spinster reclusive who hated fun, while her personal letters show an intelligent, passionate and decisive woman with so much of herself to give. It made me want to go out and read more Emily Dickinson, which truly is a great idea anytime.

Who gets to write our history, it always matters. And more times than not, the person granted that privilege has an agenda other than the truth in mind. It’s the reason we still have monuments to traitors who tried to tear apart the Union standing across these so-called United States. And why so many history books taught us that racism basically ended after slavery was abolished, but OK it super-duper really ended after the Civil Rights Movement, we swear!

While time may have tried to write off Emily Dickinson as just a woman defined by her loneliness, it seems the truth of her has kept burning through the ages and now onto our screens. Wild nights, indeed. Can you posthumously send toaster ovens? Welcome, Emily. We knew we always liked that lady. And, as history will tell, the feeling was mutual.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Forever Naya

Oh, Naya. I truly don’t know what to say at the news of her probable drowning yesterday after a day boating with her 4-year-old son. It’s so unspeakably sad. As of this moment, they have transitioned from a rescue to a recovery mission. We can continue to hope, but the truth is we have likely lost someone very special.

It’s not hyperbole to say Naya helped to change the world as Santana Lopez. She definitely saved lives. While all the articles I’ve read about her tragic incident so far have made mention of her role on “Glee,” most fail to mention the importance of her character to LGBTQ youth and those not-so young across the globe.

Sure, Kurt Hummel was the immediate gay breakout star. But Santana’s journey reflected that of so many queer women, especially young women. Her love for Brittany, her realization of her sexuality, her struggle to coming out (well, outing), her happily ever after.

I have been involved in a few fandoms in my day, but the Brittana fandom remains extraordinary because it’s one of the first massive, mainstream shipping fandoms just for lesbian, bisexual and queer women where we also actually saw them realized on screen. (Yes, yes – of course Willow and Tara remain an O.G., don’t worry.)

And, what made it even more cherished is that fans essentially willed it into existence. What started as a throwaway line ended up with a wedding ceremony. The lesbian blogging community demanded Brittana happen, and it did. But that wouldn’t have happened without the support of the actresses themselves – Naya and Heather.

I had the incredibly good fortune to meet Naya, albeit briefly, at the GLAAD Media Awards in 2011. This was when Brittana was in full frenzy. She was so gracious and lovely. And, well, we all know Naya has always been a knockout.

Through it all, Naya played Santana with sass and vulnerability – a difficult combination under any circumstances, but she had to do it all while singing and dancing up an absolute storm. And her voice, well, it still cuts powerfully through space and time. Just thinking about her makes me want to rewatch all of her “Glee” performances. “Rumor Has It/Someone Like You,” “Me Against the Music,” “Valerie,” “Songbird.” Oh, God, “Songbird.”

The last thing she posted was photo of her with her young son titled, “Just the two of us.” May the world wrap him in love and peace. May her memory remind us that one person can still make a difference and touch lives they’ll never know. Life continues to be so very unfair and so terribly cruel. On days like today, it sure is hard to keep believing.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

It's Earping Time

Yes, yes, I know you’ve already watched it. Like you weren’t going to watch it again, anyway. The first trailer for the long-time-coming fourth season of “Wynonna Earp” has been released, and it’s what the kids of definitely not today called a real humdinger. I’m not sure there’s a show on TV that so seamlessly provides exceptional fans service while simultaneously serving up such good, fun stories. No wonder Earpers everywhere dropped everything to fight for Wynonna. And look what happens when we win? Sure, it took two years. But July 26 will be here sooner than you know it. And, goodness, do we have some demons to fight – in Purgatory and everywhere else.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Tank Top Tuesday: Old Guard Edition

“The Old Guard” certainly has an intriguing premise. A team of Ancients who cannot die, fighting the good/bad fight through the centuries and now being chased by what appears to be a pasty tech bros because it’s always a pasty tech bros. I have no idea whether this movie will be any good, but I already know it has Charlize Theron in a tank top sporting an alternative lifestyle haircut and kicking ass. So how bad could it be? Also it appears at least two of the immortals are gay and in love with each other, which is nice, right? Sorry, my romance heart needed a moment. Now, back to the regularly scheduled ass kicking. See you Friday, old and new guard.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Music Monday: The Schuyler Sisters Edition

Yes, like everyone else I spent last weekend watching “Hamilton” on Disney+. Now that’s now you truly celebrate America’s birthday, by reframing and correcting history. Goodness knows, she needs it. And, since we are talking about the power of reframing incorrect and undiscovered history, how about those Schuyler Sisters? Honestly, I could have watched a whole musical just about Angelica, Eliza and, yes, even Peggy. I mean, I had no idea about Eliza’s orphanage, Graham Windham, was still around and helping the children of New York City 214 years later. Like I was saying, they deserve their own damn musical. But for now, please enjoy Renee Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo and Jasmine Cephas Jones get their their Angelica, Eliza and Peggy on in better days at the White House. Sigh, I sure miss those days. And a president who, you know, read things and cared about people.

Friday, July 03, 2020

My Weekend (Fourth of July) Crush

I can’t think of anything more All-American this Fourth of July weekend than tearing down a monument to a man who committed treason by leading the Confederate Army in an attempt to destroy the United States of America. The Robert. E. Lee Monument in Richmond Virginia was commissioned in 1876, close to a dozen years after the Civil War ended. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered its removal this month. But a court injunction was filed because losers can never let go of losing causes. But, while we wait, the site has become an incredible art piece about protest, resistance, equality, revolution and what we value as a nation. Images of George Floyd, Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass – among others – have all been projected onto the monument to human enslavement and suffering. May it, and all the systematic institutions and policies which keep us from being truly equal and enjoying the full freedoms this country promises, come down soon. Happy safe, healthy and righteous Fourth of July weekend, all.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Center Stage

As we keep our Pride extra week rolling, how about enjoying the trailer for “Stage Mother.” The movie seems like a but if a camp throwback – like, when’s the last time you remember a movie revolving around acceptance of a dead gay son? (Answer: “Heathers”?) But it could still be quite fun. Think as if an Americanized “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and “Kinky Boots” had a baby but brought it up with more Baptist church choir overtones and Lucy Liu as an added bonus. (Though, gotta admit, blonde Lucy isn’t my favorite.) As a NorCal girl, I get a kick out of seeing the Castro. And, well, who doesn’t like a good diva? I only wish Adrian Grenier wasn’t in the movie, because I only see him as the true villain of “The Devil Wears Prada.” Bad boyfriends, man. They’re continually the worst.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Happiest (Movie) Season

You know what, fuck it, we’re taking the first week of July too because we didn’t get to have our parades and we’re worth it. And you definitely deserve to see Kristen “Like So Gay, Dude” Stewart and Mackenzie “San Junipero” Davis with director Clea “But I’m a Cheerleader” DuVall from their holiday themed lesbian holiday lesbian holidy rom-com “Happiest Season.” Because, kittens, it’s like a rainbow explosion of joys, quite literally. It’s almost like Pride Month threw up all over them, but in a good way.

The plot, about how a young woman (K-Stew) who plans to propose to her girlfriend (Davis) at her girlfriend family’s annual Thanksgiving party only to find out she isn’t out to her conservative parents (played by Mary Steenburgen and Victor Garber), is certainly intriguing. And K-Stew is probably the highest-profile out actress to tackle an out queer role. The cast is rounded out (see what I did there?) by Alison Brie (“Community”), Aubrey Plaza (“Parks & Rec”), Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”) and Ana Gasteyer (please, you know who Ana Gasteyer is). As excited as I am for this film, I gotta say that’s a very white principal cast. Though I do think it has some more supporting POC actors.

But, still, any mainstreaming of queer identities and love is always welcome. And, well, who can resist a well-made lesbian rom-com? I mean, we’ve all suffered through enough bad ones. Like, I watched “Bar Girls” and briefly reconsidered my sexual orientation like every other lesbian who had the misfortune of seeing it. Plus we’re lucky this film – which started shooting in January – was able to wrap before the global pandemic and, you know, everything. So we’ll be able to see it in some form or another this November.

Now all that is left is to go find your rainbow stencils, grab a rainbow flag, make a “Love Is Love” sign and let’s do this thing.

p.s. Spoiler Alert: Something about this picture tells me those parents come around in the end. I mean, they practically look like they’ve started their own PLAG chapter.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Burning Down the Patriarchy, But Funny

As we are all simultaneously somehow incredibly stressed and and yet also somehow incredibly bored (I mean, if you’re lucky enough to like me have been working in your home for the last 3+ months, I cannot recommend a brain shaker like “Douglas” highly enough. It is the perfect way to end this Pride Month.

Tasmanian comic Hannah Gadsby took the formidable task of following up her surprise hit Netflix special “Nanette” – which was all about reclaiming one’s trauma and not allowing it be used as a commodity – and turned it into another both funny, pointed, uncompromising and entirely not here for patriarchy’s bullshit special called “Douglas.”

The show is almost too clever for its own good, especially in its story structure and expectation setting. But it further proves how simple it can be to surprise people when you just tell them the truth.

You should know going in that Gadsby tells you everything she’s going to joke about right away. I am not kidding, she offers a full syllabus before she even actually starts the special. It’s an outline which at first you think there’s no way she can pull off, yet she does in such a smart way you feel like you’re being given insight into one of the more fascinating and entertaining brains around.

What I think I find most enjoyable about Gadsby’s comedy is how she is so good at pointing out things that are patently absurd about society yet we somehow accept without thinking. “Douglas” will make you think. I watched it twice, and both internally and (loudly) externally yelled, “Yes!” at my screen numerous times each time.

Plus, as a closet art history lover, her knowledge on the subject always delights - as does her insistence that common sense should dictate that misogyny and the patriarchy are ridiculous, beyond harmful and must be dismantled at all costs.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Music Monday: Pose Edition

For the last Music Monday of Pride Month, how about a little love? Sorry, that’s not accurate. How about A LOT of love. Billy Porter and the cast of “Pose” give us this delightful ode to self-love which is just a joy to watch amid so much continued misery. Coronavirus (which is real, even if you don’t believe in it) isn’t going anywhere and in fact getting worse across the country. Racism (which is real, even if you don’t believe in it) remains engrained across our society and its institutions. But you know what? Joy is also real, even if you don’t believe you know how to feel it anymore. And in these full-tilt bananas times when we are facing unprecedented and intertwined crises (including but not limited to an ongoing global pandemic, a subsequent economic recession, a historic movement against four centuries of racism, a unabashedly racist and corrupt government and a fucking Orange Stain in the White House), joy for marginalized groups remains an act of resistance. So joy it up, fellow queers. Let the LGBTQ rainbow wash some joy over you. Love yourself, you deserve it. Happy last Monday of Pride, kittens.

Friday, June 26, 2020

My Weekend Crush

Damn. Just damn. I’ve watched the video for “March March” by The Chicks (because there ain’t no more Dixie) at least half a dozen times. And each time it gives me chills. And each time it makes me cry. Each time. It’s the names at the end. The names, the names. The endless flashing of humanity cut short by the indelible scar of racism that for 400 years has plagued this country and continues unchecked systematically in every aspect of our lives from policing to education to health care to our political process. My God, those names. Each a life. Each gone because America has never dealt with its racist foundation.

I’ve made no secret about my admiration of The Chicks (yes, really, they changed their name because that’s what good humans do - they grow and evolve). They’ve always been outspoken and brash and unashamed to say how ashamed they were of that previously shitty Republican President from Texas. And you know they’re mortified by the monster we have now. The video doesn’t contain a single still of the faces of the country trio. Instead it shows the power of us, the people. And, just as powerful, it shows our joy. The joy of a righteous struggle. Make no mistake what we are going through right now, what we are fighting for in the streets, it is the most righteous cause humanity can champion. Nothing is more important than equality, the right to be seen and treated as fully human. Plus, the song slaps. Like for real. Have a safe, healthy and righteous weekend, all.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Lady K-Stew

Well this is genuinely interesting casting. Kristen Stewart is going to play Princess Diana in a new film about the beloved late British monarch’s decision to leave Prince Charles and depart from her royal ascension to Queen. Given Kristen’s experience living in the glare of the paparazzi, where her every move has been followed since “Twilight” made her mega superstar, you can see how she could relate. Both women turned her back on what was expected – for Diane it was the monarchy, for Kristen it was a continued career filled with big-budget box office blockbusters. So, who knows, could be interesting. And if K-Stew brings some of her queer swagger to the role, all the better. But, hey, it’s gotta be better than kissing a sparkly vampire for a living, right?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Not Going Back Again

Sometimes, it’s good to just listen. Like really listen. Really, really listen. And then think. Really, really think. And then do everything you can to change this world. Because the one we have, well, it’s not great. And it hasn’t been great. There aren’t any good ‘ol days to go back to again. But we can try to build a better world. Because if we don’t believe one is possible, where we can all be equal, what is the point?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Lizzo, Redux

Kittens, 2020 is grinding us all down to nubs. Please take a little joy and rewatch Lizzo’s Tiny Desk concert from last year. I do whenever I need a pick-me up. And, goodness, do we need it. Life, the universe and dipshit hateful people who don’t give a shit about other people (and especially other people not of the same skin color) – like, cough, cough, our “president” make everything even worse. But, like I was saying, at least there’s Lizzo. I hope that makes up for the late post, and just a little bit of this infernal world.