Books

5 queer characters in the Harry Potter universe

We all remember the iconic moment when J.K. Rowling stunned crowds at Carnegie Hall in 2007 by admitting that she’d always perceived Albus Dumbledore, the wisest and most powerful man in the wizarding world, as gay. In the proceeding months, J.K. sustained hefty criticism from far-right, religious leaning people. They claimed her admission of Dumbledore’s sexuality was an attempt to indoctrinate children with the “gay agenda” by normalizing a sinful and disordered disposition. It was simply too liberal. Now, nearly 11 years later, J.K. is under fire once again… except this time it’s for not being liberal enough.

A few weeks ago, David Yates, director of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald, revealed that Dumbledore’s sexuality would not be explicitly explored in the upcoming film. Many fans viewed this as blatant queer erasure and were rightfully infuriated by the avoidance of their love story.  [Any person who has read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows understands how crucial Dumbledore’s feelings for Grindewald were in the development of the plot].

However, in an attempt to reverse this most recent erasure, I am drawing attention to five possible queer characters that already exist in the Harry Potter universe! (Besides Albus Dumbledore, of course) 

1) Charlie Weasley:

Charlie_weasley_by_perselus-d3g0zby.jpg
Photo credit

First on our list is the second eldest of the seven Weasley children, Charlie. Buff, beautiful, nicely tanned and incredibly well-liked, Charlie wouldn’t need amortentia to ensnare fellow witches or wizards. During his Hogwarts years, Charlie was the epitome of popular. He was both a prefect and the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. In fact, his prowess as a seeker could have landed him a spot playing for England. However, Charlie never seemed interested in following in his parent’s footsteps by being fruitful and multiplying (over and over). Instead, shortly after graduating, he left for a dragon sanctuary in Romania. While there, he developed strong familial ties to friends but never married, had no children and seemed to lack any romantic or sexual desire.

According to J.K. Rowling, Charlie is “just more interested in dragons than women” Charlie is way more likely to be found chilling with a Hungarian Horntail than any partner. Even Rita Skeeter, the toxic daily prophet reporter, speculates about his decision to remain alone in her somewhat recent column on the 2014 Quidditch World Cup. She writes, “ Charlie, (dragon wrangler, still unmarried – why?)” 

However, J.K does an incredible job of portraying his identity as normal and healthy. He doesn’t need to be married, he doesn’t need to have a romantic interest for his life to be full and valid.

However, canonically labeling Charlie as asexual and aromantic would have been incredible for LGBTQIA+ visibility.

Continue reading “5 queer characters in the Harry Potter universe”

web series

A Christian, Gay Positive Lesbian Love Story

Is it possible for a gay person to be fully self-actualized while ascribing to the Christian faith? Is the phrase “gay Christians” inherently oxymoronic?

The Faith Diaries, a web series spin off of Lifetime’s “UnREAL” expertly challenges this dichotomy between Christianity and homosexuality. The series begins when Faith, a deeply religious woman, moves to West Hollywood with her more than best friend, Amy. These two women were raised in “God’s country” and lacked exposure to anything other than traditional, heteronormative relationships.

L 1.gif

This type of “God fearing” upbringing is common in the United States and up to 85% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people report being raised in a religion that is “homonegative.”  The natural solution for many LGBT individuals is to either abandon their faith or to suppress their sexual orientation. The Faith Diaries refuses to accept that Christianity and homosexuality are mutually exclusive.

Breeda Wool, who plays Faith, describes the series to Out Magazine as “a story about one person’s relationship to God and their relationship to love and discovering that those two things are not at odds.” This series is unique because neither Christianity nor homosexuality is portrayed negatively. Far too often, mainstream media treats “religion as a problem, and only as a problem” while most Christian programming refuses to show homosexuality as natural. However, The Faith Diaries manages to explore Christian themes, such as forgiveness and love, without negating the importance of accepting your true self.

When Faith and Amy first arrive in Hollywood they are two reserved “simple country girls” struggling with internalized homophobia. Neither woman can even utter the term “gay” let alone refer to the other as “girlfriend.” They were conditioned to view homosexuality as sinful and any expression of same-sex love makes them deeply uncomfortable.

L2.gif

As the couple spends more time in Hollywood, they become infatuated with the freedom and vibrancy of the culture. “It’s like I’ve been living in this black and white world,” says Amy. “Now we’re out here and everything is in color.” Unfortunately, Amy experiences a kind of sensory overload that causes her to lose sight of her strict morality. She falls prey to the temptations of the big city and begins a relationship with another woman behind Faith’s back.

Continue reading “A Christian, Gay Positive Lesbian Love Story”

TV Shows

4 Lesbian Storylines Debuting in 2018

If you’ve watched any of my YouTube videos, then it’ll be no surprise that I’m utterly obsessed with fictional lesbians. Emily and Alison. Stef and Lena. Karolina and Nico. Tamsin and Bo. I’m the captain of so many queer ships that I’m thinking of investing in a fleet. And yes, I’ll admit it, I’m THAT girl. I will literally watch anything  (even this trash) if someone tells me a bisexual, queer or lesbian woman makes an appearance. For instance, I’m terrified of psychological thrillers but that didn’t stop my 20-year-old self from buying a ticket to see Black Swan. Sure, I didn’t sleep for weeks but hey that 45 second lesbian scene was worth the trauma!

(On a practical note, if the government ever needs lesbians for anything, just promise us queer content. We’ll all follow, no questions asked.) 

However,  with all the chants of “new year, new me” still faintly circulating the internet, I’ve decided to look toward the future! So, here are four lesbian characters who are either debuting or becoming more prominent in 2018.

1) Alice/Tilly, Once Upon a Time [March 2]

tumblr_oylg18XZZr1rl58vno3_540.gif

Once Upon a time is no stranger to gay storylines. They teased a relationship tumblr_o5uiroygvU1tp0b8fo4_400between Mulan and Aurora in 2013 and even showed an iconic lesbian kiss between Dorothy and Little Red Riding Hood in 2016. However, each of these storylines were short lived and left fans feeling disappointed and underrepresented. Despite the show-runners’ attempts to normalize a homosexual love story by making it just “a part of every day life” they completely missed the mark. Each plot is rushed and the episodes end up feeling like an ill conceived publicity stunt.  (I won’t even get into SwanQueen and the massive missed opportunities there.)

Luckily, with the introduction of openly lesbian character, Alice, Once finally seems to be getting it right. In the 4th episode of season 7 titled “Beauty”, Alice is revealed to be a lesbian who has had at least one relationship with another woman in the past.

Alice comes out

However, this casual admission is more than just throwing us gays another rainbow colored bone. According to Once producer and co-creator Eddy Kitsis, “an epic love story” awaits Alice in the back half of season 7.  After watching the winter finale, it’s pretty obvious that this profound romance involves Robin, the daughter of Robin Hood and the Wicked Witch of the West, Zelena.

Alice and RobinWithout giving away the plot, something happens in the final episode before hiatus (7×10) that forces Robin and Alice to lose their memories and live apart from each other . However, it’s obvious this separation  won’t last for much longer. Kitsis assures viewers that we’ll “see Alice and Robin in love, and for the second half of the season, we’re going to see how they met and how they got to that place. Of course… they don’t know each other. They don’t remember each other, and they don’t even realize they’re in love. So we’re going to see how they met in the fairytale side, and we’re going to root for them to find each other.”

I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to watch a plot unfold. This season of Once has been absolutely amazing in my opinion and I’m so excited that the writers are doing away with poorly constructed mini arcs about gay characters. Alice and Robin’s story is developing with patience, consideration and tact. It seems Once is finally giving us a true, enduring fairytale about lesbian love. How awesome is that?

(Also, just looking at how cute they are is enough to make anyone swoon. You’re welcome.)  

ALICE AND ROB.gif

Continue reading “4 Lesbian Storylines Debuting in 2018”

web series

“Man Enough” destroying and rebuilding the concept of masculinity

As a feminist who believes strongly in equality, the mere idea of men gathering together to discuss what it means to “be a man” would classify as my literal nightmare. Images of repressed emotions, false bravado and exaggerated displays of aggression immediately flash before my eyes. However, Justin Boldoni’s series “Man Enough” is a beacon of light in a world otherwise dominated by the darkness of toxic masculinity.

Cheers.gif

According to Baldoni, Man Enough is a social movement that “invites all men to challenge the unwritten rules of traditional masculinity that have caused us to disconnect from one another, created the foundation of men’s violence against women and prevented us from taking the long journey from our heads to our hearts.” This series, which partially takes place around a dinner table, is informal, lighthearted and comprised of diverse voices. It enables the audience to feel like they’re an active participant in the discussion and not just a passive viewer. (Not to mention I’d like to hire Boldoni’s chef to make my food every day.) 

Within the first few minutes of episode 1, “Why Don’t Men Talk”, Baldoni asks his guests what it means to be “man enough.” Without hesitation, Bassem Youssef, who is considered to be the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, summarizes the defining theme of the series by saying, “Man enough. Man up. Be a man. It’s all bullshit.”

Work.gif

Youssef goes on to express discomfort with even using the term masculinity in a positive light because of his experiences in the Middle East. He explains that some people in his native country define masculinity solely by how their women behave and the amount of power men exert over them. But as Derek Hough, a professional dancer known for his work on Broadway and Dancing with the Stars, interjects- that’s exactly what they’re trying to change.

The preceding conversations then shift to center on redefining and understanding modern masculinity.

Continue reading ““Man Enough” destroying and rebuilding the concept of masculinity”

History

This ancient gay love story was once as popular as our Romeo and Juliet    

We’ve all heard the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet but did you know that a queer love story was just as popular in archaic Greece?

I’m talking about the love affair between Patroclus and Achilles, whose friendship was established in Homer’s epic poem the “Iliad” but was immortalized as a homoerotic relationship by the ancient playwright, Aeschylus. Only fragments from Aeschylus’ once massively popular tragedy survive but his portrayal of Achilles and Patroclus’ relationship is indisputably romantic. In his three-part series titled, “Achilleis,” Aeschylus wrote about the life and love of Greek mythological hero, Achilles.

achilles_and_patroclus_by_wjsolha.jpg
Artist credit:  https://goo.gl/JXFbN5

For those of you unfamiliar with Homer’s “Iliad”, Achilles was prophesized to either die a hero in battle or live a long, uneventful life. Ultimately, Achilles decides to become a soldier and fights in the Trojan War with his best friend, Patroclus. Sadly, Patroclus is slain by Trojan Prince, Hector, and Achilles goes wild with grief. He beats his chest, smudges ashes on his head and acts like a recent widow. Motivated by sadness and, despite being warned that pursuing vengeance will result in his own death, Achilles murders Hector.

In “Myrmindons”, the first installment of Aeschylus’ trilogy, Achilles and Patroclus’ relationship differs from the “Iliad” because it’s made to be explicitly sexual.

An example of this blatant eroticism can be seen after Achilles finds Patroclus’ body stripped naked on the battlefield by the Trojans. Achilles laments his dead lover by saying, “Had you no reverence for the unsullied holiness of your thighs/ Ungrateful for the many kisses I gave you?” (Can’t get much gayer than that).

It’s important to understand that these plays of Aeschylus were so popular that the content was considered common knowledge even a hundred years later. To put that in context, the Great Gatsby was published just under a hundred years ago and most people  in modern society are aware of the book’s plot. In fact, Aeschylus’ rendition and interpretation of Homer’s epic poem was nearly universally accepted or recognized in ancient Greece.

Continue reading “This ancient gay love story was once as popular as our Romeo and Juliet    “

TV Shows

[Spoiler] Potential lesbian couple on Marvel’s Runaways

[SPOILERS AHEAD] 

IT FINALLY HAPPENED! Everyone’s favorite rainbow glowing alien, Karolina Dean, finally locked lips with Nico Monoru during the ninth installment of Marvel’s Runaways titled “Doomsday” and it was utter perfection.

Karolina 1.gif

After weeks of covert glances and subtle touches, Karolina showed Nico exactly what she’d been hinting at for weeks. (Is anyone else painfully jealous of Nico in this scene?! I wish Karolina would have kissed me in high school. It would have saved me so many pointless dates with all the Alexs and Chases.)

But Karolina’s confession isn’t unexpected.

The writers have been hinting at a romantic relationship between Nico and Karolina since the pilot. Despite not being friends for years, the girls both happen to be crying in the bathroom and share an uncharacteristically sweet moment. They put aside the years of distance and try to comfort the other. (UGH, talk about building a ship properly)

Nico.gif

As the episodes continue, their friendship progresses and it becomes wildly apparent that Karolina is developing “more than friends” feelings for Nico. I mean just check out this sexy side eye.

Looks

Keep reading to see the kiss  Continue reading “[Spoiler] Potential lesbian couple on Marvel’s Runaways”

Movies

Love, Simon & my struggle with internalized homophobia

A few days before Christmas my mom asked if I wanted to go watch “The Greatest SNOWMAN” with her and some friends. Me, assuming this was some new animated, holiday movie, agreed excitedly! (Imagine my shock when I realized I was actually watching a movie about P.T. Barnum and there was no loveable snowman in sight!)

Regardless, I settled comfortably into my seat and began sorting the snacks I had smuggled into the theater. (I’m not trying to pay three dollars for a water.) Right as I was opening my chocolate s’more bar, a familiar scene filled my screen. I had seen it before, the awkward somewhat nerdy boy lying next to the typical girl next door in a very Fault in Our Stars way.

Feel WEird.gif

I just couldn’t quite recall why it seemed so familiar. Was this actor in a TV show I had watched? (Technically yes, he played Ryder Scanlon in my girlfriend Melissa Joan Hart’s sitcom “Melissa & Joey”) But that wasn’t it. I knew I had seen the preview before and that’s when my stomach dropped.

The movie, Love, Simon follows the life of a gay teenager as he navigates the difficulties of friendship and love. It’s one of the first gay coming-of-age movies produced by a major Hollywood studio.  Simply put, it’s the movie I’ve been waiting my entire life to see. I just didn’t realize how afraid I actually was of seeing it.

The second I heard Nick Robinson, who plays Simon, say “nobody knows I’m gay”, I nearly had a panic attack.

Gay.gif

It took me back to the first time I had seen the promo. It was during a commercial break for CW’s Riverdale. I happened to be watching with (lets call him Dan for privacy.) Now Dan has known I’m a lesbian for the last four years. However, he still reacted viscerally to the promo. “Oh god,” he scoffed. “It grosses me out to see two guys together, sorry it just does. I think there’s something weird about it.”

Continue reading “Love, Simon & my struggle with internalized homophobia”

Marvel's runaways · TV Shows

“We’re murderers but we feel badly about it” Recap: Runaway’s “Rewind” 1×2

Writing these recaps has afforded me the ability to really sit with the content. Typically, I get some snacks, a cup of tea and binge three episodes in a single sitting. But Marvel’s Runaways deserves a little more attention. This show, which has an indisputably dark plot, is lightened through witty comments and relatable themes (loss, disappointing your family, rebellion.)

The second installation of Marvel’s Runaways, titled “Rewind”, begins immediately after Molly’s cellphone light disturbed the end of PRIDE’s meeting. The kids are fleeing the basement cathedral and despite just having witnessed their parents performing some weird ritualistic magic, still manage to crack jokes. (If I saw my parents in blood red robes sacrificing an innocent girl, I definitely think I’d just be crying in a corner but hey everyone copes differently.) 

 

Cardio 2.gif

Luckily, the kids manage to escape before their parents notice (thanks to Molly’s superhuman strength) and are able to hoodwink them into believing they were just playing an innocent game of Twister.

Continue reading ““We’re murderers but we feel badly about it” Recap: Runaway’s “Rewind” 1×2″

Marvel's runaways · Recap · TV Shows

Feminism and secret societies in Marvel’s Runaways (Premiere Recap)

For the last few weeks, my parents have been telling me to watch the new “Marvel’s Runaways.”  I was originally hesitant because my dad has questionable taste in entertainment. When he’s not watching action movies (whose fight scenes make up roughly 3/4 of the plot) he’s binging on British crime dramas or, believe it or not, contentedly watching generic heterosexuals fall for each other in rom-coms.

Scroll to the bottom and hit continue reading to skip right to the recap!

However, I’ve had 13 days off work for Christmas break and there’s only so many cooking shows that I can consume in a given day. (I’ve heard so many fancy terms lately that I’m pretty sure I’m a Master Chef now. That’s how it works right?) Anyway, I decided to take a risk and watch Marvel’s Runaways on Hulu.

Let me preface this recap by admitting that I absolutely love teen dramas. The angst of One Tree Hill essentially ran through my veins all throughout high school and the loveable stupidity of Pretty Little Liars carried me into adulthood!

In fact, the plot of Runaways is somewhat similar to the basic premise of Pretty Little Liars. A group of physically attractive friends, from various distinctive social circles, “break up” following the death of their friend, Amy. The characters in Runaways even fit similar Mean Girlesque tropes.

You have Chase Stein, “the jock” (just like Emily Fields), Karolina Dean, “a church girl” (dead ringer for Spencer Hastings), Nico Minoru, an introverted goth, (anyone recall Aria Montgomery’s pink hair?). Also in the main cast are Molly Hernandez, an adopted, all around positive character, Gert Yorkes “an insufferable social justice warrior” and Alex Wilder, the stereotypical nerd.

intro.gif

Now that we’ve made our introductions, let’s get to the recap! Continue reading “Feminism and secret societies in Marvel’s Runaways (Premiere Recap)”

Music

False gender dichotomy in country music- “different for girls”

Grow a pair, you microaggresion, triggered little faggot.” “Too many p*ssies in the world.” “Everybody is so offended by fucking everyyyyythigggg. Like its (sic) a song don’t listen if you don’t like it omfg”

You may have already guessed by the petty insults and terrible grammar, but I made the mistake of reading the YouTube comments under Dierks Bentley’s arguably sexist hit song: “Different for Girls.” It is with great difficulty that I’m suppressing a Liz Lemon level eye roll at the amount of fans refusing to admit that Bentley’s track seems problematic. They don’t believe that claiming “it’s different for girls when their hearts get broke” is a reductive generalization of how women, in opposition to men, experience heartbreak. Some even argue that these harmful gender stereotypes are remedied simply by refusing to listen to the song. However, ignoring an issue this deeply rooted in society doesn’t make it go away.

Admittedly, Bentley intended “Different for Girls” to create “some dialogue about the different ways guys and girls deal with heartbreak” by depicting “both sides of the stereotype.” Unfortunately, without watching the music video, it is nearly impossible to tell that Bentley is criticizing how men “typically” react to breakups. In fact, his lyrics seem to reinforce toxic masculinity by insinuating that guys can easily tape their hearts back together “with a whiskey and a coke.”

Men are rarely afforded the luxury of expressing any emotion, other than anger, because they were conditioned to “be tough” from a young age. In our society, boys are usually considered to be innately stronger than girls and thus, as children, receive less “comfort, protection and affection.” It’s no wonder that these boys grow into men who can “fast forward through the pain” of heartache and “push it back when the tears come up.”

Anger, which is associated with power and status, is only deemed acceptable in men. If women indulge in this uniquely masculine feeling then they are considered to be erratic and emotional. They can’t “call just to cuss” or “find a wall [they] can punch” unlike their male counterparts. This is because men are “thought to have emotion” while “women are thought to be emotional” (Shields, 2002).

This emotion, according to Justin Mateen (creator of Tinder), makes it difficult for girls to have casual, meaningless sex because “women aren’t wired that way.” Despite evidence that suggests women may be “even less well-suited for monogamy than men” it is still widely believed that girls are unable to separate sex and emotion. Apparently drinking with friends and hooking up with strangers is a distinctly masculine activity. But if that’s the case, then who exactly are all of these heartsick guys taking home?

Unless, Dierks Bentley is claiming that all men engage in homosexual activity after a breakup, it’s safe to assume guys are going home with girls. These girls, who are also indulging in libations and enjoying the company of friends, then decide to go home with the random guys. Following that logic, girls are clearly also able to “take someone home and act like it’s nothing.”

Our society seems to have an obsession with ensuring that both women and men ascribe to gender appropriate thoughts, behaviors and actions. As Dr. Robert Minor describes in his book “Scared Straight: Why It’s So Hard to Accept Gay People And Why It’s So Hard to Be Human” we all live within “the ideas about reality our culture gives us…without much reflection about them.” Minor goes on to liken our experience to that of fish in water.

We have never known a world without water, or toxic masculinity and gender stereotypes, and many may never realize there is an alternative to “wetness.” We have gotten so used to men being “manly” and women being “fragile” that it’s uncomfortable to disturb this image. However, analyzing “Different for Girls” challenges our comfortable swimming patterns and begs the question, shouldn’t it actually be different for boys?