Thursday, December 31, 2020

Let me go 2021

Well, we celebrated Christmas Eve with “My So-Called Life,” it only seems right we spend New Year’s Eve together too. Also, I will always happily age myself by referring back to my favorite one-season show. Something about the energy of this clip has stuck with me all these years. The freedom of releasing something that absolutely destroyed you for a long time is more than cathartic. It’s healing. So as we end this most horrible and horrifying of years, let us all figuratively (and literally, if you can – I mean, why not?) exorcise the demons of 2020 by collectively dancing on our beds with complete abandon. Fuck you, this fucking year. May we all find a happier, healthier 2021 ahead.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

My Year of Screens: Favorites of 2020

Is it an oxymoron to make best lists for 2020? Probably, given *waves arms at everything* But, because I’m stubborn and don’t learn well, I shall try. This year instead of best, I will just tell you my favorites. We spent much of the year inside, behind screens like everyone else. In a year as monstrous with its grief, pain, frustration, stress and anger, anything that helped you get through it is worth watching. So here’s what helped me. May it help some of you as well. Enjoy what you enjoy.

Favorite Holigay Rom-Com: Happiest Season
Whatever you have to say about this movie (and, clearly, I had a lot to say per my full review), this is the queer movie of the year simply because of how it moved the needle for queer representation in cheesy holiday rom-coms. For many of us it represents the first time we got to feel a part of something everyone else has already been doing forever. And that matters.

Favorite This Should Be Gayer Film: The Old Guard
This is unapologetically probably my favorite movie of 2020 for its elegant, seamless action and story that while obviously fantastical somehow perfectly fits the reality of our current moment. I mean, it’s about a team of world-weary immortals searching for a reason to keep fighting for this miserable world. That’s about as 2020 as you can get. But, you know, next time make it gayer. (Though, keep Charlize's hair exactly as is, please and thank you.)

Favorite Everyone in This Movie is Kinda Gay Film: Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
I have watched this film four times now and it’s just a cacophonous delight of personality, color and baddassery. If only Hollywood would give us more female-fronted action like “The Old Guard” and “Bird of Prey,” instead of the 3 millionth incarnation of the Spider-Man/Batman/Superwhatever origin stories, well, I’d be a much happier moviegoer. That’s for sure.

Favorite Everyone in This Movie Already Gay Film: The Prom
Just a fun musical with an absurdly talented cast that is just shy of practically perfect because of James “Why Not Cast an Actual Gay Actor Instead of Me” Corden.

Favorite Queer Teen Film: The Half of It
Sweet, thoughtful, gay, diverse. What a lovely little gem of a movie that more people should watch.

Favorite Feel Good Queer TV: Schitt’s Creek
It took me ridiculously long to start watching this show. But if you have to catch up on this truly wonderful series I can recommend no time better than during a global pandemic when you need to believe in people, love and the joy of being gay more than ever.

Favorite Feel Good Queerish TV: The Good Place
There once was an entire sitcom dedicated to answering the question, “How to be a good person.” And it was very good, and the finale was sublime and looking back to the pre-pandemic beauty of it all it barely seems real. But it was real. And it was lovely.

Favorite Feel Good Not Queer TV: How to With John Wilson
This show is just weird, but in a wonderful and unexpectedly compassionate way. There’s not a single lesbian thing about it and the protagonist/creator is a straight white man and you should still watch.

So, that’s just a small sampling of what I watched in 2020. How about you? What got you through 2020?

p.s. If nothing else, 2021 should bring a lot less of a certain someone on our screens. Oh, he’ll yell and rant and tweet and spew and whine. But we just won’t have to care anymore – and about him ever again. The only thing I want to hear about anyone with the last name Trump after January 20 is how long their jail sentence will be. Otherwise, fuck off forever you hateful grifter morons. Getting rid of you is my favorite part of 2020.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

WW84 or Should We Say 86-ed?

So that was disappointing. After waiting – and waiting and waiting and waiting – for the release of “Wonder Woman 1984” and then waiting a little longer to watch it on Christmas Day, I pretty much don’t understand why this movie exists. I mean I get why it exists: successful first movies in a potential blockbuster franchise, particularly those based on superheroes, typically result in sequels which are incredibly lucrative marketing opportunities as well as international moneymakers. So, you know, sell those toys. But as far as a narrative reason for existing? It’s pretty hard to figure out why except someone on whatever focus-grouped committee wrote this mediocre monstrosity is the world’s No. 1 Steve Trevor fan.

Now, having said all that, I am still glad the movie has been (relatively, all pandemics considered) successful and resulted in the immediate green-lighting of a third Wonder Woman movie. Women deserve to be behind the camera, (not to mention every room where decisions are being made), period. Despite not loving her sophomore effort, Patty Jenkins deserves all the franchises you throw at her. Like, say, being the first woman to direct a “Star Wars” movie. And, with any luck her return to Diana Prince will center the woman behind the W (instead of her long-dead boyfriend and or a wish-granting baddie who somehow receives a full redemptive arc), so we all get the female superhero we deserve again.

Still, Hollywood has this annoying habit of consolidating its talent and franchises into giant monopolies helmed by the precious few (see J.J. Abrams with “Star Wars” and “Star Trek”). So while I am pretty excited about what Patty will do with “Rogue Squadron,” I can’t help but wish they’d spread the love. Imagine a “Star Wars” movie helped by Gina Prince-Bythewood (of this year’s spectacular “The Old Guard,” a movie so good WW84 only wishes it could polish its labrys)?

So, thoughts on WW84? Did you hate it, or did you hate it? No wrong answers, unless you loved in. In which case you Steve Trevor Fan Club pin is already in the mail.

p.s. The hands-down best thing about WW84 is the suprise mid-credit extra scene. Trust me, it is worth it even if the film is not.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Music Monday: Miley & Dua Edition

I can think of no way to bid adieu to this hottest mess of a year than this hot mess of a music video (though really, “hot mess” or even “dumpster fire” are such egregious understatements for the monstrous cruelty of this year, but I digress). Miley Cyrus and Dua Lipa, two artists I enjoy a considerable amount on their own, are trying to peanut butter-and-chocolate their music with queer girl sex appeal in the song “Prisoner.” Now, I’m down with whatever Miley wants to be down with, because you do you always. So whatever stage of queer rocker chick meets possible lesbian vampirism Miley is into with this song is totally cool with me. I mean, why not? Plus I can’t be the only one getting strong flashes of “The Hunger” mixed with those Alicia Silverstone & Liv Tyler Aerosmith music videos of the early 90s splashed with a healthy shot of Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” here? Right? Well, whatever it is I say go for it, ladies. Shoot your shot. It’s not like it could make this year worse, amirite? Happy last Monday in 2020, kittens.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry, Happy Weekend Crush

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate. And to all a good Indigo Girls song. We have almost made it through this infernal year, and may the best thing we find under our collective tree be a better, kinder, healthier 2021 ahead. Happy, merry, and all that loveliness weekend, all.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Light One Candle

Some 26 years after it aired, I still remember this episode so well. You don't have to believe in angels to be moved by this story. Rickie Vasquez was one of the first, and still one of the most crushingly accurate, depictions of the lives of LGBTQ youths to be shown on television. May we continue to light candles for those who need them, metaphorically and literally. In this terrible, truly monstrous year, we all need light in our lives, now more than ever. Happy Christmas Eve, kittens.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Girl in (Holiday) Red

According to people younger than me who know things (a.k.a. My Wife, The TikTok Addict), Girl in Red is THE hot queer girl singer of the moment. Admittedly, I haven’t heard more than a few brief swatches of her work. But I’ve enjoyed its lush, dreamy appeal. And this song, come on, this song has to be an instant Lesbian Holiday Classic with all of its moody romanticism. Hope you find someone to kiss, in person or virtually or only in your heart, on Christmas Day. Just bring the misteltoe.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Ultimate Holi-Gay Rom-Com Rankings

Hey, remember all the way to yesterday (these days, I know, it’s hard remembering 5 minutes ago so no judgment) when I said we were living in a golden age of queer holiday rom-coms? I have watched not one, not two, not three but six – SIX – queer holiday rom-coms this season. And, without being overly generous or overly harsh in the least, none of them are objectively terrible. And, if you’re an older timer/LGBTQ+ media representation veteran like me, you’ll know that has objectively not always been the case. Yes, Virginia, we have all watched way too many terrible lesbian and gay movies over these years. Honestly, it’s a Christmas miracle. And, again, they are all varying degrees of pretty darn OK.

The choices queer women and men have this year when it comes to gay holiday rom-coms is truly unprecedented. Granted, there are still more Christmas rom-coms about dogs than about queer people (I’m not even kidding, On Demand has like a dozen holiday rom-coms with dogs in their titles). But, hey, progress is progress.

While I’ve already gone on and on (and on and on) about the conventional wonder that is “Happiest Season” (full review at this link), here are my mini-reviews of the other five movies heralded as the first crop of mainstream queer-themed Christmas rom-coms. They have truly made this Yuletide gay. So get to watching, homosexuals. ‘Tis the season for cheesy holiday happiness, after all.

“A New York Christmas Wedding” (Netflix) – OK, so this is my least favorite submission in this year’s Lesbian Holiday Rom-Com Olympics, but a bronze is still a bronze in an unprecedented year for representation. And, it does follow the Christmas Movie Law of having at least one B+ to A- List actor appear in a significant role. In this case it’s Chris Noth as a priest in this story cribbed in parts from “A Christmas Carol” with ghosts from ones past. Don’t worry, Christmas Movie Law (C.M.L) dictates everything ends up milk and cookies – metaphorically at least.

“Dashing in December” (Paramount Network) – Saddle up, little cowboys, because this holiday rom-com attempts to Brokeback Mountain its love story – with much less tragic results. Set on a Colorado Christmas horse ranch and starring Andie MacDowell (see above: Christmas Movie Law), two gay men who seem like opposites fall in love complete with all the standard rom-com obstacles. Is the chemistry the best between the leading men? I mean, I will say it’s definitely not any worse than the chemistry I’ve seen between their straight counterparts. So, score one for equality. Also, Colorado or whatever they’re using as Colorado sure looks pretty in the snow.

“The Christmas House” (Hallmark) – This has been billed as the Hallmark Channel’s first gay holiday rom-com. But, if we’re being honest, it’s kind of a holiday movie with a gay couple as a major subplot than a gay holiday movie. Still, it’s a basic and genial tale of a family trying to recapture that old Christmas magic, where one of the adult sons is married and trying to adopt with his husband. Said son is played by out gay actor Jonathan Bennett (who you will no doubt remember as Lindsay Lohan’s dreamy boy crush in “Mean Girls”). Yes, the gay portrayal blessedly wasn’t about coming out. But, we were glorified secondary characters. Sure, people love the Elves. But we all known Santa is the real deal.

“The Christmas Setup” (Lifetime) – Gotta say, Lifetime wins the Gay Boy Holiday Rom-Com Olympics over Hallmark channel, hands down. Whereas the gay couple were beefed-up B-storylines in “The Christmas House,” they’re the whole shebang (he-bang, you get the idea) in “The Christmas Setup.” Also, if you’re comparing the adored-by-The-Gays scores between Andie MacDowell and Fran Drescher, well, you can practically hear the winner’s cackle already. It helps that real-life husbands Blake Lee and Ben Lewis play the adorable couple – secret high school crushes who reunite as adults – being adorably setup. Heck, even the movie’s “straight” brother is gay in real life. This is a cute and capable holiday rom-com makes great company while wrapping presents.

“I Hate New Year’s” (Tello) – Technically, this is a New Year’s Eve movie and not necessarily a Christmas rom-com. But it still follows the traditional Christmas movie laws and it’s still the holidays. So in the spirit of the season I’m happy to include the latest film from lesbian-owned and operated Tello Films. The production company that gave us “Season of Love” last Christmas is back with a perfectly winsome holiday offering that refreshingly lacks the coming out angst of some of its other (cough, Happiest, cough, Season, cough) lesbian-themed holiday counterparts. The film follows two musicians who are looking to take their friendship to the next level on that most God-I-Need-A-Date of holidays. Will they kiss at midnight? I’ll never tell because that’s the whole fun of watching holiday rom-coms, duh!

So, studios. Let this year lay down the challenge. Each year we want to see even more, better and more inclusive queer holiday rom-coms. For one, they do really (really, really, really fucking really) well for you money/viewership wise. And two, I can already assure you that we will deserve it in the New Year. I mean, we lived through this year, we deserve everything next year.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Happy Carol Aird Day

Sure, we may be living in a golden age of queer holiday rom-coms (much more on that later, I promise). But let’s not forget the O.G. Lesbian Holiday Romance – “Carol.” And on today, of all days (Hello, Dec. 21, Carol Aird Day), may we remember that movie for all of its endless yearning and swoony elegance. No one looks longingly out of windows while thinking about each other with such highly refined desire as Carol Aird and Therese Belivet. To President McKinley and their eternal love. May this day always greet you like a perpetual sunrise.

Friday, December 18, 2020

My Weekend Review: The Prom

Well, that certainly had some Zazz. And I’m not even a musicals person – not that there’s anything wrong with musicals. I was just a writer nerd and not a drama nerd in high school. So my natural affinities go elsewhere. But I do enjoy a good musical, and let me tell you “The Prom” is a good movie musical. And, if you’ll allow this admitted non-aficionado to say so, I think it’s a reminder of what makes people love musicals in the first place.

The story follows a small-town teenage lesbian who makes national news when her school cancels its prom to keep her from bringing her girlfriend as a date, only to be faux-rescued by a troupe of down-on-their-luck Broadway divas looking for a cause to promote along with themselves. Yes, that’s a lot and that’s the point.

I never got a chance to see “The Prom” in the real, live, humans-all-packed-together-in-one-big-room-with-other-humans-performing-on-stage-together theater. But after watching the movie I get the distinct impression that I missed out.

One of the things that makes “The Prom” so good is that it seamlessly adapts to the screen thanks to having an actual storyline – fantastical as it may be at times with its whiplash-inducing redemptive arcs, it’s still a storyline. So, unlike “Cats,” that means it has a raison d’etre other than just looking spectacular live. And that raison is to raise jazz hands against the injustices of high-school bullies and small-minded thinking around being gay.

The other thing that makes “The Prom” good is it leans into the dada-esque absurdity of people breaking out into song and dance over matters mundane and sublime in the middle of an otherwise average day. It’s the kinetic magic of song and dance that helps make this not-your-average high school musical movie really work. Plus, the songs are darn catchy. “Note to self, don’t be gay in Indiana?” Hell, why wasn’t this song written when I was gay in Indiana? It would have explained a lot I ended up learning the hard way.

In many ways this is the more wholesome, fresh-faced cousin to “Glee” (I see what you did there, Ryan Murphy). Whereas that show delighted in its snarky self awareness, “The Prom” deliver on aw-shucks Midwestern earnestness instead.

Alas, yes, this is another story that centers on the collective LGBTQ-specific trauma of both coming out and being out, especially as a teenager. But with a cast this ridiculously talented (Meryl! Nicole! Kerry! Keegan-Michael! Rannells! Tracey freaking Ullman!), you knew they’d squeeze every last drop of emotion from the over-simplified narrative. It also helped that the movie’s stars, out queer actresses Jo Ellen Pellman (as Emma) and Ariana DeBose (As Alyssa), are ridiculously winsome and have a lovely, slightly awkward first love chemistry that really works.

My only true complaint is with James Corden, who is woefully miscast and desperately outgunned in the acting department. First off, he is clearly no Meryl Streep. We’re asked to invest in his emotional arc almost equally as with Emma and Alyssa’s, and let’s face it – the poor fella doesn’t have the range. There also have been criticisms of his performance as gay-face, which I can understand. Though, to be honest, at best his turn as Barry the Broadway Star is low-energy Cameron Tucker cosplay.

What his casting mostly represents is a lost opportunity to cast someone truly fit for the role who could conveyed that fear of rejection for simply who we are that try as we might never entirely goes away as a LGBTQ person. Like, Andrew Rannells would have eaten that role.

In a season of remarkably mainsteam and refreshingly good LGBTQ+ themed representation in entertainment, “The Prom” has earned its place in the list of media that tried its best to save 2020, and possibly even our help heal our little queer hearts. So go to prom this weekend, if you haven’t already or go again and have the fabulous time you wish you had in real life. Happy safe, healthy and righteous weekend, all.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Silky Smooth

More gay-ish TV news, but admittedly much much less gay than the last two day’s news. So if you’re a Canadian kitten, or did a lot of downloading and using VPNs, you are no doubt familiar with “Being Erica.” The TV show aired for four seasons in the late aughts, early tens on the CBC. Well it is being rebooted for American TV with “Girls” and “Get Out” star Allison Williams as the lead.

The original show centered on a woman named Erica (duh) who – and bear with me because I’m getting this from Wikipedia – appears to have a magical therapist who can send her back in time to relive her biggest regrets in life. Damn, Canada, drinking the strong stuff I see.

I don’t understand the mechanics of how this time travel therapy worked because I’ve never watched a whole episode. In fact, I’ve only ever seen clips from one episode. That being the Very Special Gay Episode of “Being Erica” starring Anna Silk as Erica’s sexy lesbian next-door neighbor. Trust me, Anna has the lady magic with or without Bo (or Lauren or Tamsin, for that matter).

I remember the clips from back in the day well because nobody forgets getting flirting with Anna Silk. Also there’s finger painting and ladies sexy dancing with other ladies in clubs and hand bikinis and just all kinds of late aughts, early tens straight-gals-experimenting-with-lesbianism cheesy goodness. Yeah, I definitely remember those clips – fondly. They were memorable for, um, reasons.

Obviously, I have no idea whether this reboot of “Being Erica” will have anything as or more gay in it than the original series. My point? Well, mostly I just wanted to post those old clips of Anna Silk doing her best to get another lady into bed. Feels like old times again.

p.s. You can watch all of Anna Silk’s scenes from that Very Special Gay Episode here on YouTube. They wouldn’t let me embed it because of age restriction which I hope is because of the innocuous hand bikinis and not its queer content but alas who knows.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Going to Bat

Want some more good and gay TV news for 2021? The first trailer for the new “Batwoman” series with new lead Javicia Leslie donning the Batsuit has arrived. While it’s undeniably awkward for a show to change its lead star after the first season, it’s obviously not unprecedented and in the world of comics kind of like your average Wednesday. Javicia being cast to replace original series star Rudy Rose, who quit suddenly after the first season, is a welcome and refreshing, not to mention historic, move. These first glimpses of her in action prove she is more than capable of filling Ruby’s cowl. (Plus, not to be mean, but Ms. Rose was no Shakespearean actor). I think the show’s decision to replace instead of just recast the character of Batwoman (while of course keeping her a lesbian) will turn out to be a good one, possibly a very good one. Here is a Black woman leading a superhero series about a Black lesbian superhero with her name as the title. Gosh, and it only took until 2021.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Casting Word

Can you believe the finale for the first season of “The L Word: Generation Q” aired at the start of this year? January 26, to be exact. Doesn’t it feel like that happened three years ago? What a decade these last nine months have been. So the good news is the show is definitely coming back, having already secured its second season renewal before the pandemic started. After a delay because, well you know why, the show started filming its second season at the start of this month (as announced per Leisha Hailey’s Instagram feed showing an “Alice” show prop).

Last week we got the first casting news of the new season. The show announced three new guest stars, whose names made me go, “Cool. Sure. Meh.” They are: Rosie O’Donnell, Donald Faison and Griffin Dunne.

Per a report in The Wrap, Rosie plays Carrie, “a brash and kindhearted public defender who is thrust into Bette’s life and quickly gets under her skin;” Faison plays Tom, “a self-deprecating editor who works with Alice;” and Dunne plays Isaac, “one of the biggest international art mega-dealers who Bette comes to know.”

I have no major qualms with Donald or Griffin, and I suppose the show needs to add male characters now and then. But I am much more interested in Rosie’s role, and any possible future female quest stars coming to the season. Also, isn’t it kind of astounding that Rosie hasn’t been on “The L Word” before this? Like Arianna Huffington and Snoop Dogg were on the show, but not Rosie? Wild.

Our eagle-eyed and steel-minded friends at Autostraddle have sleuthed out that “Carrie” is also the name of Tina’s so-far-unseen fiancée. Could this Carrie be that Carrie? (Honestly, I had not remembered that tidbit from the show. Though these days I sometimes do not remember what day of the week it is, thanks pandemic brain.) Time will tell, but I can definitely see a Rosie type getting on the nerves of a Bette type, and vice versa.

While the reboot wasn’t flawless, it was both solid and refreshing in approach to telling stories about contemporary lesbian women’s lives, and the lives of the people they love and surrounds themselves with. So I can’t wait for its return. We’ve had a small embarrassment of riches when it comes to mainstream lesbian and queer women’s representation amid the smouldering horror of this year. Let’s keep that representation going in 2021, and make it even better and more inclusive.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Music Monday: Tegan & Sara Edition

Does it get much gayer than having Tegan & Sara sing the theme to your lesbian holiday rom-com? No, no it does not. For all the horrors and ongoing catastrophes of this year, it gave us a surprisingly robust slate of new queer stories. From “Happiest Season” to “Ammonite” to “The Haunting of Bly Manor” to “Racthed” - and those are just the mainstream options. Plus we haven’t even talked about all those gay Hallmark/Lifetime boy rom-coms yet that aired recently. So this holiday season make yourself the happiest by snuggling in to some queer entertainment and truly make the yuletide gay. Happy Monday, kittens.

Friday, December 11, 2020

My Weekend Crush

Look, Christmas is coming. And if I could have one gift it would be...for the pandemic to end. For Trump to go to jail. For humans to finally band together to reverse climate change. For BIPOC, LGBTQ+ people and all underrepresented peoples to have full equality and opportunity. And then, after all that, I’d really like that dream Charlize Theron and Aisha Tyler lesbian “Die Hard” movie to happen.

Wait, you haven’t heard about the lesbian “Die Hard” movie with Charlize and Aisha? I shall explain.

The other day someone tweeted that lesbian rom-coms were all fine, but what he really wanted was “a Die Hard where Charlize Theron goes on a rampage to save her wife.”

This is how Charlize responded:

And then this is how Aisha responded to Charlize’s response: Right, so, MAKE IT HAPPEN HOLLYWOOD. Or, you know, Santa could come through. Honest, I’ve been extremely good this year. Barely left the house. Worn a mask. Kept socially distant. Washed my hands. Voted for Joe Biden. Yes, I sorta believed the polls so that was bad. But, truly, it’s been just an unending hellscape of a year. We need this. We want this. We deserve this. COME THROUGH, SANTA. Happy safe, healthy and righteous weekend, all.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Gender Fuck Thursday: Gentleman Jack Edition

Now that’s what I like to see. Beloved fictionalized historical figures taking real-life modern issues seriously. After an extended delay because we’re in a goddamned global pandemic still, production with necessary safety protocols has begun again on the second season of “Gentleman Jack.” Filming began last month, about six months behind schedule because, because you know *points to everything on fire*. After one of perhaps the swooniest endings in modern lesbian stories told on the big or small screen (I mean, that mountaintop kiss - come on!), I can’t wait to see what Anne Lister does next. But you know Suranne Jones will be doing it off-screen in a mask. As we all should.

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Once (Again) I Had a Secret Love

You know the one vignette in “If These Walls Could Talk 2” that starred Vanessa Redgrave and Marian Seldes as a longtime lesbian couple in the 1960s? I always fast forward through that story. Always. I do because it’s too painful to keep reliving the collective grief of our past (and still too often our present) like that. That’s not entertaining to me anymore. That’s just hurt.

Well, what if they made a whole movie about that vignette, but in present day an in France? Yeah, remember when I said I was grateful for all the variety in lesbian representation this year on screens large and small? I should have been more specific and said I didn’t mean a redux of that painful longtime secret love storyline.

Here’s the thing, this could be a very good film. And critics and festivals have awarded it thusly. In fact it is France’s official selection for the international feature for the Academy Awards. So, yeah, I will very likely watch this. Plus, even though I chafe at the secret love thing, I do greatly appreciate seeing older actresses as the central stars and centering their full and vibrant lives. Women don’t stop being interesting at 25. Or any age. Period.

But remember when we were talking about coming out stories as the predominate LGBTQ+ narratives told in mainstream fiction? Well, we’re not wrong – they truly are the stories they love to tell about us. But, with each retelling we are the ones who relive a specific trauma together. And in a story like this, where years of loving and living and just getting through all the muck that comes with agreeing to go through all of our space and time together is again reduced to “just friends” – it enrages as much as it aches. How many times do straight audiences need to be told and retold these stories until they understand?

I hope this is a great film and perhaps one of the last films that needs to be made on this particular subject.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Will You Go to Prom with Me?

Well, remember when I bemoaned out lack of options for stories that center lesbians and queer women? Like, lesbian period dramas are great and all but how many can we watch? The good news is this year seems to trying its best, despite the inclimate circumstances, to buck that trend. We have so far been served up: a psychological thriller, a ghostly love story, a historical romance, a holiday rom-com and now a star-studded Broadway musical. I’m sure I’m missing something, and already that’s some not unimpressive variety. So no matter if “The Prom” is first season of “Glee”-great, or “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”-heinous, it’s an option. And the more we find on the menu, the more chances we’ll land on something we truly like. Guess we’ll find out if “The Prom” is one of those things this Friday on Netflix.

Monday, December 07, 2020

Music Monday: Shameika's Potential

Hey remember wayyy back in April when we thought, “Of course this thing will be under control by the election, if not the holidays! Of course!” You know, 700 years ago? Anyway, back then one of the things getting me through was Fiona Apple’s new bonkers genius experimental album “Fetch the Bolt Cutters.” I simply love it, this primal scream of sonic expression. For me perhaps its most emotionally affecting songs is “Shameika” with its undeniably hopeful refrain “Shameika said I had potential.” And then I shared a story about the Shameika in my own childhood?

Well, kittens, it turns out not only is Fiona’s Shameika real, she’s pretty spectacular. She has so much more than potential, she’s gdamn good. Pitchfork tracked the real Shameika Stepney down, and wrote about her and Fiona’s (virtual, stupid pandemic) reunion all these years later. It’s funny what can bond people, and how small moments can change lives.

Shameika is doing well, sells time shares, and used to have credible music career in the 1990s and early 2000s before leaving the business. And she’s good. Not only does the real Shameika appear (again, virtually) to intro the music video for the eponymous song’s music video, the former schoolmates collaborate on a new song called “Shameika Said” where she raps lead to Fiona’s backing wails. And that song too had more than potential, it’s just damn good. Happy Monday, Kittens.

Friday, December 04, 2020

My Weekend Crush

In general, we shouldn’t “stan” politicians. I know, I know – I have a lot of fun with Madam Vice President Straight Bette Porter. It’s no secret I’m a fan of my son-to-be former senator and incoming Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris. But there’s sincere appreciate and there’s blind worship. And we’ve seen way, way, way too much undeserved worship these last four years.

Now, you might argue, but you bought yourself a Kamala shirt, you hypocrite. Yeah, I bought that shirt and wore it on Election Day. But, no, I will not be wearing a big obnoxious Biden-Harris baseball cap around town for the next four years. And I’m not going to fly a Biden-Harris flag telling you to “Fuck Your Feelings” on my lawn anytime soon. Before Trump only the craziest of crazies would wear campaign gear non-ironically after the campaign was over. But here we are, with people who are using their cult-like devotion to a politician as shorthand for a personality. Like, what the actual fuck with all these flags and hats? But it’s the natural distillation of people who view politics as nothing more than a winner-take-all sporting event.

This is a long way to go to say, if we are going to stan politicians we should at least pick ones worthy of the adoration. And in her short time in the national spotlight, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has proven herself to be more than formidable. AOC is a model for how progressives should push their agenda. She’s so smart and she’s so spot-on with her messaging. Instead of in-fighting, Democrats (moderates, progressives, et al) should learn from each other. Again, it’s not a sport. We’re all a team, and when we work together and play to our strengths we can win and make meaningful change for the people who need it most. We really, really can.

So here’s the to future of progressivism. And, um, I would be remiss if I did not say that AOC looks good in a suit and in the general face region. So there’s also that. Happy safe, health and righteous weekend, all. And by next weekend, we should have an Electoral College Certified new president to celebrate. No, we’re not tired of winning yet. And we’re not done either.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Review: Ammonite

Let me just put it all out there: “Ammonite” is the lesbian prestige period piece that FUCKS.

The film starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan is ostensibly a semi-historical romance set in 1840s England about two women who fall in love while searching for fossils along the unforgiving southern seashore. Yes, it’s “Portrait of a Lady with Fossils” mixed with “Carol for Rocks,” sorta.

Indeed, “Ammonite” is about stones. Stones in the literal sense that they unearth bearing the shape of creatures long lost to time, and the stones we can fill our hearts with or that can stubbornly block us from our true passions.

While “Ammonite” may have much in common with our recent slate of lesbian and queer-themed films about women (often period pieces, often filled with long scenes of moody gazing), the movie’s male writer-director has decided gritty and unrelenting realism was his best chance at standing out.

So the second thing you should know about “Ammonite” is that the tone remains resolutely grim through much of the picture. Like, I’m not sure if Kate cracks more than three smiles as stoic and steadfast paleontologist Mary Anning. Her real-life character was a famed fossil hunter. In the film, she is apparently past her major discoveries prime and now sells what she finds as trinkets for tourists in her coastal town.

She meets Saoirse’s Charlotte (whose husband has dumped her with Mary because of some kind of diagnosed hysterical rich lady problems, but what I believe is an undiagnosed case of post-partum depression and unrealized lesbianism) who reluctantly comes to walk the rocky beaches with her in search of even more rocks.

Now, you’d think long walks on the beach would be the perfect setting for romance. I mean, the waves crashing! The dresses billowing in the wind! But, “Ammonite” telegraphs its serious intentions by focusing on the harshness instead of the beauty. Shit is dour, man. Stuff is grimy. Life is drab. Also, the second you see a boiled egg being cracked open look away for a bit. Trust me, it’s not pretty and that’s the point.

But, and here’s the biggest “but” perhaps ever, all this grim and grimy determination is interspersed with moments of almost spastic yet entirely believable desire. You know that sex scene everyone is talking about? Believe me, you won’t miss it. I can honestly say it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in mainstream lesbian movies, especially mainstream lesbian movies brimming with A-list stars. And unlike some of those other much-talked-about lesbian sex scenes of late (“Blue is the Warmest Color” and “Disobedience” come to mind), this one totally passes the Lesbo Street Cred test – if you know what I mean.

Also, it’s not unhot.


Right, so that scene? Well, OK, I’m just going to say it. Saoirse Ronan sits on Kate Winslet’s face. Yes, you read that correctly. If you’ve ever wanted to see an Academy Award-nominated actress climb onto an Academy Award-winning actress’s face like a little spider monkey and then proceed to ride it to nirvana, this is the movie for you. And, you know what, I ain’t mad about it. Not one little bit. I may have rewatched it, um, for scientific arts criticism purposes. What? I’m only human, OK?


The film also features what may be the earliest historical presentation of lesbian U-Hauling I’ve ever seen. For those still harboring a crush on Kate since her “Titanic” days, it will come full circle as she draws another woman like one of her French girls. Saoirse and Kate squeeze as much chemistry as they can in brief, meaningful glances over cold, dispassionate rocks.

“Ammonite” is a very good film, if not a particularly joyful one. Most of its festive moments (not to mention most colorful ones, in the figurative and literal senses) involve brief encounters with Mary’s upper-crust ex, as played by the always magnificent Fiona Shaw. Otherwise, it seems like the movie goes out of its way to make Kate look as unglamorous as possible – which is fine. Not everyone is Carol Aird. But, we get it, she’s working class and work is hard – especially for women working in a man’s world.

I’ve sometimes grumbled about the trend of lesbian prestige period pieces. Sure, lesbians lived in the past when things were tougher and society was different and that’s interesting. But how about we tell some contemporary lesbian stories up in here for a change? We still exist today, you know. (Another reason “Happiest Season” is so damn refreshing in its conventional contemporary appeal.)

In a perfect world we’d have a little of everything. The grim period pieces. The sweeping romances. The cheesy rom-coms. We would have diverse choices. We could choose to be picky about genre. You know, like straight folks get to be every day when they choose between the endless options of entertainment in television, film, music and more created precisely for them and their sexual orientation.

But we’re not in a perfect world, yet – clearly. So we take what we can get and we’re happy it’s taken if nothing else seriously. “Ammonite” is definitely worth seeing, it’s a solidly crafted and at times emotionally aflame story of finding love in a hopeless place. And, we’ll always have that scene. That alone might be enough to rock our worlds, so to speak.

”Ammonite” debuts on Video-on-Demand tomorrow, Dec. 4

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Welcome, Elliot

You know how lots of us kind of roll our eyes at coming out stories, having seen them again and again and again and even in our holiday rom-coms. Well, the thing about that is they still matter. They still matter because LGBTQ+ people are still afraid to reveal who they really are to the world. And LGBTQ+ people are still afraid to reveal who they are to the world because the world continues to denigrate, deny and even destroy those identities. This is particularly true for trans and non-binary people. Look, oppression isn’t the Olympics. We clearly shouldn’t pit each other’s struggles against one another. But it’s plain to see there’s a crisis in the trans community, particularly the murder of trans women of color. We are only as good as how well be protect the most vulnerable among us.

So each new trans and non-binary person who comes out, well, that matters. It can make someone feel less lonely, less alone. That particularly matters when that person is very famous and very active and very talented to boot. Yesterday Elliot Page came out as trans/non-binary in posts on his social media. The star of “Juno,” “Whip It,” “Freeheld” and more now becomes one of the highest profile out trans/non-binary celebrities in the world. His clear, heartfelt and beautiful statement is a reminder that nothing is as powerful or as important as living your life truthfully. I kind of hate the phrase “live your truth,” because it feels so trite. And don’t get me started on the whole “journey” thing. But being your authentic self, well, it matters. And it will always matter. If more people were allowed to be authentically themselves, the world would be a much better place indeed.

So congratulations, Elliot. Thank you for sharing yourself with all of us. Since coming out in 2014, Elliot has been a tireless advocate and activist for LGBTQ+ causes and underrepresented voices – and I’m sure that will only grow stronger. Congratulations at being exactly who you are. Also, I’m sorry about not finishing the second season of “The Umbrella Academy.” I’ll finish, I promise.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Happiest Horror

I cannot think of a better way to usher in the Christmas season and month of December than with the “Happiest Season” horror cut. We’ve already discussed the importance of soundtrack and editing in determining tone and atmosphere. This appears particularly true with this year’s crop of lesbian-centered projects. Look, if “Bly Manor” can be a rom-com, “Happiest Season” can get a horror trailer. Kind of gives new meaning to, “You better watch out, You better not cry…” Also, it’s been a week since this film has been out (you can read my full review here). I’d wager that it and “Carol” are now required lesbian and queer woman viewing each December, no? 'Tis the season, ladies. Happy holigays, kittens.

p.s. Granted, if you look at it the right way, “Happiest Season” is a bit of a horror film. Like in some ways it’s horrifying to watch Abby stay with her repressed closeted girlfriend with bad bangs Harper instead of leaving her for the out, funny, fucking hot doctor who looks amazing in blazers Riley. And, hands down, K-Stew had better chemistry with Aubrey Plaza than Mackenzie Davis. Regardless, we all deserve a sequel that’s all about Riley’s holiday-season journey to find love. Make it so, universe. After the year we’ve all had, I think you owe us.