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A Brit Queer: The BBC’s Gay Britannia Season Will Give you All the Feels

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Hello and welcome to the latest A Brit Queer column, where I will be reviewing the BBC’s Gay Britannia season.

Much like the 50 Shades of Gay Season from Channel 4 earlier this year, this scheduled programming celebrates the 50 year anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK but whereas C4 focused solely on documentary programming, the BBC introduced some new scripted dramas.

Prejudice and Pride: The People’s History of LGBTQ Britain

Stephen and Susan tell you to unfurl your pride banner and wedge open that closet door. Screenshot from BBC iPlayer.

This two-part documentary presented by Stephen K Amos and Susan Calman explores how the world has changed for LGBTQ+ Britons in the past 50 years

The pair interviewed activists, asked for their stories, and looked at mementos of queer history; from the largest collection of the first openly gay magazine in the UK to banned books with LGBTQ+ characters.

Although the tone is overwhelmingly positive, the documentary doesn’t shy away from the fact that life wasn’t all rainbows after the 1967 act was passed. Indeed, arrests for public indecency actually rose in the late sixties and early seventies. It covers conversion therapy, the risk of losing your children after coming out and the AIDS crisis.

One of my favourite parts of the documentary was the section on the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), where they explained that all oppression is interconnected and why we should fight for everyone’s human rights.

Queers

Russell Tovey as actor Phil, talking about the loss of his partner. Screenshot from BBC iPlayer.

This series of monologues tells the stories of eight LGBTQ+ people in one gay pub over the course of 100 years, from the First World War right up to present day. It expertly weaves queer history, like the arrest of Oscar Wilde, into modern day dramatic readings.

My favourite episode was either “A Grand Day Out”, about a teenager (Fionn Whitehead, Dunkirk) on the day that the age of consent is slightly lowered from 21 to 18, or “More Angry”, about an actor (Russell Tovey, Quantico) who is mostly relegated to playing the part of dying gay man in plays and TV shows in the height of the AIDS crisis.

My only gripe with the series is that it focused on the experiences of men; there are only two episodes where an actress delivers the monologue, but one of those women is playing a trans-man (although props for including a trans story) and the other is talking about her relationship with her gay husband.

Where are the women who love women?

Growing Up Gay

Olly Alexander meeting bullied gay teen Connor. Screenshot from BBC iPlayer.

Olly Alexander, the openly gay front man of British band Years and Years, explore how mental health problems affect young LGBTQ+ people in Britain.

In the documentary, Olly talks to young people whose experiences match his own, from homophobic bullying to self-harm to eating disorders and assesses that the reason mental health issues are so prevalent among young queer people is a problem with self-worth.

When you grow up as an LGBTQ+ person in a straight world, you are othered. This feeling of otherness creates low self-worth and can cause a young person to turn to self-harm or drugs as a coping mechanism.

Overall, the message that Olly wanted to share with LGBTQ+ youth- and indeed, the LGBTQ+ community as a whole- is one of togetherness and of hope.

He said: “It’s so awful to think that these young people can’t imagine their bright futures…You deserve a happy life. Young LGBT people are the strongest, bravest, most inspiring people that I know.”

Is It safe to be gay in the UK?

Alex and Becky at home with son Josh after the attack. Screenshot from BBC iPlayer

This documentary explores homophobic and transphobic hate crime in Britain and the effects it has on the queer community in Britain.

 

While the show features interviews from LGBTQ+ people all over the UK, it features on four main stories:

 

  •         Alex and Becky, a lesbian couple, who were enjoying a night out with friends when a man assaulted them; at the start of the documentary, they are awaiting his trial.
  •         Dain and James, a gay couple, were attacked by a group of men in Brighton and left with multiple injuries; the attack puts intense pressure on their relationship.
  •         Connor, a gay teenager, who was attacked by his flatmate with a hammer to the skull and suffers ongoing health problems.
  •         Ian, an older gay man, who was attacked and killed by a group of ex-public school children; his story was told by his sister Jenny.

When I watched this documentary, I was in the same room as my parents who were planning to read the paper and play Candy Crush while I commandeered the DVR but neither of them were able to do their own activities.

Instead, they were pulled into the documentary; shocked by the violence and hatred that was shown towards queer people in Britain in the 21st Century, possibly, because I don’t often talk to them about feeling unsafe as a queer person.

I feel like it’s an appropriate time to quote my dad, who said that he couldn’t even comprehend the mentality of someone who would attack people for their sexuality, gender identity, or anything else.

“What is wrong with people?” he asked, to which I had no answer.

Other shows in the Gay Britannia series that I particularly recommend:

Against the Law: A factual drama about life for gay men in the years leading up to the 1967 act, encompassing the Montagu Trial and the Wolfenden report.

Queer Britain: A six-part documentary series hosted by Youtuber Riyadh Khalaf which explores religion, homelessness, body image, pornography, sexual preferences in the LGBTQ+ community.

Man in an Orange Shirt: This two-part drama tells the story of two gay men from the same family embarking on a relationship with a man, sixty years apart, and unearthing a long buried secret.

Overall, I preferred the Gay Britannia series to C4 because of the original scripted content that was created especially for it. Granted C4 did re-release some old favourites (Queer as Folk, Bananas, etc) and it could be argued that they didn’t wait for a special occasion to create epic queer content but I’m a sucker for new dramas.

As with my last review of LGBTQ+ programming, I’ve linked to all the of the content in the programme’s title but if you live outside the UK you may have to resort to other means to actually view the shows (I won’t tell, promise).

Have you seen the Gay Britannia series? What did you think about it? How did you think it compared to C4’s 50 Shades of Gay? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Originally posted 2017-08-18 15:43:53.

Emma is a queer British freelance writer specializing in politics, travel, and entertainment. Barack Obama (yes, that one) follows her on Twitter and she’s never been sure why. She takes her coffee seriously and wears odd socks because life’s too short.

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Danica Roem Earns Seat in Virginia’s State Legislature

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I’ve previously written about Danica Roem and how she, a transgender woman, made history by winning Virginia’s Democratic primary in June. She’s done it again! On November 7th, Roem defeated Bob Marshall, a man who once referred to himself as “chief homophobe,” in Virginia’s House of Delegates election.

Who is Danica Roem?

Danica Roem was born in 1984 at Prince William Hospital in Manassas and went to Catholic school for thirteen years of her life. She attended St. Bonaventure University where she majored in journalism. She graduated in 2006 and reported for the Gainesville Times and eventually for the Prince William Times. Danica also wrote about schools, development, business, and transportation. In 2012, she started her transition and in December of 2013, she began hormone replacement therapy. Her name changed occurred in 2015 and her coworkers were supportive of her. She was eventually hired as the news editor of the Montgomery County Sentinel in Rockville Maryland, where she worked from August 2015 until the end of 2016. After, she left her position at the newspaper to run for office.

A major victory for trans rights

By defeating long-standing Republican and firm social conservative Bob Marshall, Danica Roem became the first openly transgender official to be elected in Virginia and made history by being the first transgender person to be seated in a state legislature. This is a huge step for LGBTQ rights, as transgender individuals are heavily discriminated against in many forms, such as workplace discrimination and discrimination in regard to using public bathrooms. By electing Roem and ousting Marshall, Virginia, a traditionally conservative state, is showing that more and more Virginians are moving toward positive change.

So who exactly is Bob Marshall, the man that Roem defeated? Marshall was elected to the House of Delegates in the early 1990s and has run and won every single election until this year. He authored Virginia’s 2006 “One man, one woman” bill that supports the idea that marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman, is anti-abortion and opposes tax funding of Planned Parenthood, purposely uses disingenuous language to undermine the struggles of the LGBTQ community, is against gay men from serving in Virginia’s National Guard because he believes that there would be an increase in the spreading of STDs, and is in favor of legal discrimination against LGBTQ people. He is very clearly anti-LGBTQ and holds views that go counter to the direction that this country is heading in.

A way forward for Virginians

In contrast, Roem is in favor of raising the minimum wage in Virginia, making preschool more accessible, vows to increase teacher pay, wants to decrease bullying and discrimination in schools and promises to create a more inclusive Virginia by making sure people do not get singled out based on sexual orientation, race, gender, or disability. Her experience as a journalist helped her gain excellent listening skills. Because of that, Roem is able to listen to the residents of Prince William County and help achieve what needs to be done. According to her bio page, she promises to tackle public issues the way she wrote news stories: by researching, questioning, listening, and reporting. By electing her, the residents of Virginia showed that they were tired of Marshall’s antiquated (and frankly) bigoted views and wanted a real change. Bob Marshall won fourteen consecutive general elections which definitely displayed Virginia’s views but this year created a huge change. In the wake of all of the tension within the United States government, Danica Roem offers a much-needed and refreshing perspective on how people view transgender people. Hopefully, this will be a crucial catalyst in the fight for transgender and LGBTQ rights and an important stepping stone in the fight for equality.  

Originally posted 2017-11-14 15:36:41.

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#FiveFilms4Freedom LGBT+ Film Festival

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The #FiveFilms4Freedom 2017 film festival is travelling across the pond this November. Originally hosted in Britain this past March, it is the first and largest LGBT+ film festival, and has featured independent LGBT+ short films from around the globe.

The film festival began in 2014 in Britain, sponsored by the British Council and the British Film Institute. It is a part of the larger BFI Flare film festival, which began in 1986, and is sponsored by the Love is GREAT Britain Campaign. .

This year’s #FiveFilms4Freedom festival marked 50 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality in Britain. As such, all five films were created by UK filmmakers.

After the films premiered in the UK in March, they were brought to Washington, D.C. on November 1, and will be shown in Los Angeles on November 13 and in New York City on November 16. The festival will also feature a panel of prominent LGBT+  rights advocates from the US and the UK, as well as two participating directors.  

The films focus on a range of LGBT+ relationships and issues. The majority of them are love stories; Crush tells the story of a young girl who finds herself smitten with another girl she sees at a train station, Heavy Weight deals with a young male boxer and his reaction to the arrival of a new fighter, and Jamie is a very modern story about a man who bravely decides to meet with the man he has been talking to on a dating site. The other two films explore very different experiences in the LGBT+ community. Still Burning is about a young migrant living in Paris who shows his brother the exciting and freeing voguing movement. The title is taken from the film Paris is Burning, a documentary about the voguing movement in New York City and its effect on the African American, Latino, gay and transgender communities. The final film is a documentary set in Scotland, entitled Where We Are Now, and focuses on a transgender parent and her bisexual daughter.

The BFI Flare festival as well as #FiveFilms4Freedom have given the LGBT+ community an excellent place for celebration and representation, especially in the UK. With the decriminalization of homosexuality 31 years ago, British LGBT+ representation is extremely important because it has only been able to exist for a short amount of time. The festival allows filmmakers to make LGBT+ people and relationships extremely public, and continues to encourage and support the idea that LGBT+ people can make and star in incredible pieces of media. The move from showing the films in Britain alone to showing them in the US will hopefully continue to encourage the rise of LGBT+ relationships in mainstream media as well as in independent media.

Tickets for the festival in New York City are still available for reservation here. The festival is on November 16 from 6 – 9 PM at the Barclays-ASK Auditorium on Seventh Avenue. The festival is also currently accepting submissions for next year’s festival here.

Originally posted 2017-11-13 21:00:23.

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Online Dating While Genderqueer #notokcupid

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Anatomy, pronouns, sexual orientation. These suddenly become much more important when talking to cis men online. I often don’t disclose my gender identity or pronouns in conversation because I don’t want to scare folks away. I also figure it’s more of a 2nd date conversation. I do mention my pronouns in my bios, though. I don’t want to hide my gender identity, but I also don’t want to talk about it a lot. There’s more to me than just my gender (or lack thereof), and I’m not interested in teaching Queer Theory 101 courses when we could be talking about movies, or where we grew up, or which Disney Princess is our favorite. It’s an exhausting thing to talk about – there’s a lot of emotional energy and work involved, often met with even more invasive questions, a sense of entitlement, and arguments.

Living in Brooklyn, dating can be exhausting. A major pro is the seemingly endless amount of options/available folks. At the same time, a major con is the seemingly endless amount of options/available folks. There is a lot of sifting and sorting that needs to be done before even meeting someone in real life. Here are three dating apps I’ve used, and my experiences with each.

OKCupid

OKCupid is one of my favorite dating platforms thus far. The expansive options for gender identity/sexual orientation, and the option to not be seen by straight people, is validating and creates a safer space for an already vulnerable venture. OKCupid does require a bit more work – not only in filling out your profile, but when looking for cuties. There is a swipe feature, just like Tinder and Bumble, but OKC is a better platform for folks interested in dating, not just hookups.

Bumble

Bumble has been a recent favorite of mine, simply because of fast results. I get to know within seconds of a swipe if someone also likes me, and I have to message first within 24 hours, giving me the power to initiate conversation. If the other person doesn’t reply within 24 hours, then the connection is lost. I enjoy this feature because I get to set the tone. Getting a dick pic instead of “Hello, I also adore the film ‘Nacho Libre’” is a much less successful and appealing opener. Bumble is not as trans or queer friendly. There are two gender options for your identity and who you are looking to talk to, and you must select one for each. You can also only change your gender once – so you better decide which end of the binary you’d like to claim, and stick with it!

Side note: I’ve also heard that Michael Che is on Bumble. Michael – if you’re reading this, let’s get coffee?

Tinder

OH GEEZ. I had a tinder account for quite a while, and haven’t been back on it in over a year. Apparently, it has gotten more trans inclusive, with a total of 37 gender identity choices. Tinder is the ultimate hookup app. That doesn’t mean one couldn’t find folks seeking other types of interactions, the likelihood might just be slimmer. To me, Tinder feels like a frat party, and I’m not in Greek Life.

When Life Gives You Interactions with Dumb Bois, Make a Hashtag

On any dating platform, you’re bound to have some … interesting conversations. The internet is powerful – it makes people braver, ruder, and sometimes dumber. When I’m getting harassing messages from dumb bois, I feel safer telling them off than I do in real life. I’m less likely to get assaulted, physically and/or emotionally. I also screenshot EVERYTHING. If you feel comfortable talking to me that way, then I’m sure you won’t mind me sharing that with the entire world. Here are some memorable interactions I’ve had that I’ve posted to my personal Instagram:

Notice how he doesn’t deny it… #notokcupid #smelly

A post shared by Sara W (@swhitt17) on

So greedy. #notokcupid

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When he’s a dumb boy but also loves @rupaulofficial ? #notokcupid

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LET THE GAMES BEGIN!! #notokcupid

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… but you're not a feminist? #thingsthatmakeyougohmmm #notokcupid

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Boy, can I relate. #notokcupid

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Originally posted 2017-11-13 18:58:09.

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