This weekend would have been the NYC Pride Parade. I had been making plans for this year since last year’s parade. I had my outfit picked out, my Instagram caption ready, and my game plan set. I was selfishly crushed when the Pride parade was canceled because of coronavirus, but I knew that it was for the best. I’ve been using my time sheltering in place to consume a gluttonous amount of social media, which would have been a complete waste of time a few months ago, but thanks to the people I follow, I’ve been able to educate myself on my own privileges and start recognizing systemic issues, as well as innate biases that I need to undo. However, with all of the civil unrest during a month where I initially thought I’d be celebrating, I felt uncomfortable. How was I supposed to balance being supportive of the serious and significant Black Lives Matter movement while still honoring the tradition of Pride? Then, I saw this protest sign posted to the story of my friend Dom Overman that answered all of my questions, and changed my perspective on this year’s Pride.
If we go back to the original reason we celebrate Pride, it is to honor the Stonewall Riots, which were protests against police brutality toward the LGBTQ+ community. On June 28, 1969, police raided The Stonewall Inn, a now world-renowned bar in Greenwich Village in NYC, with the full intention of arresting and beating the sh*t out of everyone in the bar for being gay. But after decades of mistreatment, on this particular night, the patrons, led by trans women of color Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, fought back. In the following days, more and more people came to fight against this mistreatment. About 500 people took part in the protest on the first night, and by the second night, there were over 1,000. The official Stonewall Riots lasted until July 3rd, but that was just the beginning. Stonewall galvanized the burgeoning gay rights movement, and LGBTQ+ rights groups started popping up all over the country, as queer people and their allies banded together to fight the systemic injustices toward queer people.
A year later, a parade was held to honor the Stonewall Riots, which began a tradition that has lasted ever since. While the fight for equal rights continues to this day, the parade is a chance to celebrate this beautiful community: for 50 years, queer people have looked forward to wearing glitter, attending the parade, and being surrounded by people who truly understand each other. This year, the cancelation of the parade has allowed us to shift our focus to the protests supporting Black Lives Matter, a movement fighting systemic racism and police brutality. Sound familiar? It’s time to step up and support a group of marginalized people during this crucial period of developing change in social justice.
It is incredibly important to remember that the Stonewall Riots were led by Black trans women, who are among the most vulnerable groups in our society. The average lifespan of a Black trans woman is 35. I am neither Black nor trans, but I have benefited personally from the actions of Black trans women. They are the reason I get to hold hands with my girlfriend in public, and they are the reason I can be as authentic to myself as I am without fear (relatively speaking, depending on what part of the country I’m in).
But despite the bravery of Black trans women in fighting for the LGBTQ community as a whole, this group is still the most vulnerable. Trans women face violent hate crimes, sexual assault, risk of HIV, and homelessness at a higher rate. This year, at least 16 transgender or gender noncomforming people have been murdered, including Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells and Riah Milton, whose deaths emphasized just how at-risk Black trans women are. In the middle of Pride month, on the anniversary of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the Trump administration stripped the trans community of their protections against discrimination in healthcare based on gender identity. This is an intentional and informed attack on the trans community. Instead of having a parade to honor how far we’ve come, this year we can pay Black trans women back literally and metaphorically for being the reason we made it here. We can show up for protests (wearing a mask!!), donate to charities or personal GoFundMes, and pressure our lawmakers to either uphold the (somehow controversial) concept of human rights, or risk getting their asses voted out of office.
With all of this free space, we have the opportunity to not only lend our voices to important causes, but also to find new ways to celebrate our queerness. We can take this time to deep dive into queer history and the reason for the rainbow season. We can take notes from The Dyke March, an annual NYC protest that is turning its attention to signal-boosting the Black Lives Matter movement. We can have small get-togethers with our queer crew. We can attend virtual queer events featuring DJs that we were looking forward to seeing at the afterparties, or highlighting queer artists speaking about the current revolution, and how we can continue fighting. We can clean the slate and recreate Pride to honor ourselves and those who fought for it to happen.
The Pride Parade is truly a powerful event where you can surround yourself with love and security that you can’t find anywhere else. But there are much more serious matters at hand than having a parade. There is still a global pandemic, despite what some media sources are telling us, and there is a civil rights movement which has worldwide momentum that needs to be continued. The LGBTQ+ community knows firsthand how important it is to have allies standing strong alongside us, and now, we can be those allies. Centering Pride back on its original intention of human rights and social change will allow us to spread that love and security far beyond just a parade.
Images: Luigi Morris / Shutterstock.com; Instagram
We may not have a Pride Parade this year, but we can still celebrate in various ways, including donating to LGBTQ organizations and buying from LGBTQ-owned brands. There are also a number of brands out there that are supporting Pride and giving all or a significant portion of proceeds to organizations advocating for the LGBTQ community. From makeup to candles to cookie dough, justify your next online shopping trip with these brands and products that are supporting the LBGTQ community in a variety of ways.
Morphe launched their “Free to Be” Collection, and the colors are a rainbow DREAM. I have gotten almost too comfortable being a hermit in my home, but I swear this palette makes me want to go out, just so I have an excuse to put on R-E-S-P-E-C-T. The shade names will make you smile, and so will the brushes and lip gloss that complete this set. 100% of net proceeds from the sales of this collection (purchased through Morphe.com and Morphe Stores) during Pride will be donated to GLSEN to help create safe and supportive school environments for K-12 students.
Youth to the People
Youth to the People’s “With Pride” Kit is made up of three existing minis, formulated to cleanse, resurface, and hydrate your skin. As someone who uses this brand religiously, I can confirm the products are amazing, but what makes this kit even more worth purchasing is the fact that 100% of profits are being donated to GLSEN as well. (In case you forgot, they are the leading education organization working to create safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ+ students). P.S. This kit works on dry, combo, and oily skin, so regardless of your type, this is worth the purchase.
If you’re covered in glitter and glam post-Pride celebrations, Bliss’ Makeup Melt Wipes will be your new best friend. Originally, Bliss pledged to donate 100% of net proceeds from the Limited Edition wipes with the rainbow design (pictured above) to The Trevor Project, but with Pride events being canceled nationwide, Bliss is now extending the donation to include 100% of net proceeds from its complete collection of Makeup Melt Wipes. The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth.
innisfree’s “Spill the Equali-tea” mini lip balm set is great, because we all know that lip balms go missing faster than anything else in the world (aside from maybe bobby pins) and backups are always necessary. innisfree has partnered with the It Gets Better Project for Pride month, and will be donating to help support and empower the LGBTQ+ youth in our global community.
NOTO is a natural, multi-use, gender fluid cosmetic line packed with high-performing organic ingredients. They focus on representation and celebrate those choosing to be their most authentic self. Every sale of NOTO’s Agender Oil (pictured above) goes to non-profits including LGBT Youth Center LA, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, the Audre Lorde Project, Black Mamas Matter, and more. Founded by Gloria Noto, a queer woman, the brand has raised $22,000 and counting in donations.
Marc Jacobs Beauty
Marc Jacobs Beauty sometimes goes under the radar, but I am actually obsessed with this product. The Enamored (With Pride) Hydrating Lip Gloss Stick is basically a dream come true, as someone who loves lip gloss but could do without the mess it makes. All of the colors are fairly neutral and wearable, and work with every skin tone. Marc Jacobs Beauty will be donating to two charities—SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ older adults, and Le Refuge, a French organization dedicated to preventing the isolation and suicide of LGBTQ+ youth by providing shelter and support.
Hi Wildflower was created and founded by queer Bangladeshi novelist, Tanaïs. Their muse was wildflowers, hence the name, and the brand is for the socially conscious consumer looking for luxury goods. Ranging from fragrance to candles and lipsticks too, Hi Wildflower’s well sought-after products are as good as they sound. The Dianthus Lipstick is the perfect universal red, and the Mojave Extrait de Parfum is the best thing you will ever smell, and is unisex!
I have a freakish obsession with candles, so I was thrilled to see that my favorites, Boy Smells, made a six-candle set titled Bundle of Pride to illuminate inclusivity. Founded by partners Matthew Herman and David Kien, you can feel the love when lighting any of these candles. The collection will support The Trevor Project, with all purchases contributing towards a $26,500 donation minimum. The smells vary from citrus to floral, woody and warm. They also make for a beautiful display!
I’ve been a long-time fan of (MALIN+GOETZ) because, you guessed it, candles. Founded by couple Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz, M+G brings you an “uncomplicated” regimen for body, hair, and personal/home fragrance. Their Bergamot Hand Wash and Grapefruit Face Cleanser are two fan favorites, but the candles are the bread and butter. Neroli is my personal go-to, but the Dark Rum is a rumored must-have.
As someone with a very intense sweet tooth, edible cookie dough is music to my ears. This year, dō launched their love is love pack, which, as you can see, is a rather intense but very delicious scoop of rainbow deliciousness. The pack comes with four flavors: signature chocolate chip, cake batter, sugar cookie, and rainbow dō (which is also sugar cookie flavor). 20% of every purchase of this pack will be donated to the National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black LGBTQ and same-gender loving (SGL) people.
This year, Reebok launched an entire Pride collection. I can say with confidence that I would wear every single thing out of this collection, and it varies from the brightest of rainbows to the most simple of designs in the form of sneakers, athletic wear, and accessories. As part of their campaign, Reebok is donating $75K to the It Gets Better Project.
I feel like I must put a disclaimer here that I am 6 feet tall and even two inch heels makes me nervous, but I could not resist adding this collection in for obvious reasons. This Pride Pump screams “love” (literally), and Ruthie Davis is donating 20% of sales from the Pride Pump (pictured) and Pride Kick to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York City. Both styles are offered in extended gender fluid sizing up to 43.
I am thankful to see more and more brands using their platforms to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and donate to help organizations on the ground doing the work. Happy Pride, everyone!
Images: Isi Parente / Unsplash; Morphe.com; Youthtothepeople.com; Courtesy of Bliss; Innisfree.com; Marcjacobsbeauty.com; Cookiedonyc.com; Courtesy of Vivrelle; Reebok.com; Courtesy of Ruthie Davis; Boysmells.com; hiwildflower.com; notobotanics.com; malinandgoetz.com
We’re well into June now, and even though some states have phased in reopening, many of us are still in the house. If your nights and weekends are still mostly made up of watching TV on the couch, why not incorporate Pride month into that routine? Our movies and TV shows have historically done a pretty sh*tty job of portraying well-rounded LGBTQ characters, but that’s starting to change. More diverse queer stories are being told than ever, and many of them are available on the streaming services you probably already have.
Whether you want to learn something or just watch a good movie that happens to be about gay people, here are 12 movies that tell LGBTQ stories that are available to stream right now.
‘Moonlight’ – Netflix
How has it been over three years since Moonlight almost didn’t win Best Picture? Time flies when the world is ending. If you still haven’t seen it, it’s on Netflix, so there’s really no excuse at this point. Told in three distinct parts, this film follows one young Black man’s life over two decades. Moonlight deals with the intersection of sexuality, race, and masculinity in a specific community, but the themes are applicable to everyone, and you’ll definitely cry. Like, a lot.
‘The Half of It’ – Netflix
If your preferred genre of movie is “mediocre Netflix original teen rom-com,” this one should be at the top of your Pride list. Directed by Alice Wu, a Taiwanese-American lesbian woman, The Half of It tells the story of Ellie Chu, who is coming to terms with her sexuality while getting paid to write love letters for a dumb jock. It’s a classic Netflix teen situation, but with more complex societal layers than you get from any Noah Centineo movie.
‘A Single Man’ – Netflix
A Single Man takes place in the 1960s and was directed by fashion designer Tom Ford, so the aesthetic here is off the charts. Colin Firth plays a closeted gay professor, who is struggling to cope after losing his partner. A Single Man deals with tough topics like mental health, grief, and when to move on after the loss of a loved one.
‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’ – Netflix
This one is in French and is like three hours long, so watch it when you can actually pay attention, not in the background while you “work.” Based on a graphic novel, the story follows Emma and Adèle’s relationship over the course of several years, with lots of ups and downs. Blue Is The Warmest Color is known for its graphic sex scenes (don’t it watch with parents) and its captivating love story, and it’s totally worth the time commitment. Also, it will 100% make you crave pasta—you’ll get it once you watch.
‘Tangerine’ – Hulu
Tangerine follows two transgender sex workers, Sin-Dee and Alexandra, over the course of one eventful day in Los Angeles. The day starts with Sin-Dee getting released from prison, and things only get crazier from there. Tangerine is both hilarious and emotional, and it’s one of the few movies that features multiple trans actors in real, interesting roles.
‘BPM (Beats per Minute)’ – Hulu
Another French movie, BPM tells the story of the AIDS activism movement in Paris in the ’90s. Specifically, it focuses on the group ACT UP and the lives of the people involved with the movement. Considering that we’re currently in the midst of a pandemic, maybe we should all take a minute to learn more about the AIDS crisis of the ’80s and ’90s. It wasn’t that long ago, and we certainly don’t learn much about it in school.
‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ – Hulu
I know, I know, again with the French movies—I promise this is the last one. But seriously, Portrait of a Lady on Fire is SO good. Set in a rural part of France in the 18th century, it’s a deeply intimate story of two women’s forbidden love. After Marianne is secretly hired to paint Héloïse’s portrait in order to find her a husband, they build a subtle connection that becomes more and more powerful. Tissues are a must for this one.
‘Rocketman’ – Hulu & Amazon Prime
Who doesn’t love Elton John? This musical biopic does a great job of incorporating all his hits with his life story, and overall it’s just a lot of fun. From John’s childhood to present life, Rocketman pretty much covers it all, including his struggles with being gay when it was very frowned upon. The music is great, the costumes are great, and again, you’ll def cry.
‘The Watermelon Woman’ – Amazon Prime
With this 1996 movie, Cheryl Dunye became the first out Black lesbian to direct a feature film. The Watermelon Woman is a semi-biographical film about Cheryl trying to uncover the forgotten history of the Watermelon Woman, an early Black film actress, who also happened to be a lesbian. The Watermelon Woman is fictional, but the movie sheds light on how many Black actors in early Hollywood were never given a voice, and were so often relegated to playing offensive stereotypes.
‘Disobedience’ – Amazon Prime
Nothing goes together like hot lesbian sex and…Orthodox Judaism? Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams (two of my favorite Rachels) play Ronit and Esti, two former lovers who are reunited years after Ronit left their tight-knit religious community. As they reconnect, they’re forced to navigate their complicated past—and equally complicated present. In case you’re not sensing a theme, you’ll probably cry during this one, too.
‘Dirty Computer’ – Amazon Prime
Okay but actually, is there anything Janelle Monáe can’t do? Alongside her 2018 album Dirty Computer, she released a short film in which she plays a woman trying to break free of a dystopian homophobic society. Set to the songs of the accompanying album, it’s a colorful futuristic take on trying to escape oppression, which feels pretty relevant in 2020. And Tessa Thompson is in it, so now you really have to watch.
‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ – HBO Max
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a weird, wild musical about a genderqueer rock musician from East Germany trying to get revenge after their ex stole their songs and got famous. Written by and starring John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig f*cks with society’s gender norms, and isn’t what most people expect from a musical. This one probably isn’t for everyone, but it’s gained a cult following and had a hit revival on Broadway a few years ago.
For more LGBTQ stories, check out our Queerantine History series:
Images: Stavrialena Gontzou / Unsplash; Giphy (4)
Over the years, my feelings about Taylor Swift have varied wildly. From going to one of her concerts when I was in high school, to writing scathing reviews of some of her more recent work, Taylor and I have been on a journey together for over a decade. My thoughts about her are always evolving, and with her new song “You Need To Calm Down,” we might finally be entering a positive chapter.
Back in April, Taylor Swift kicked off her new era with her single “Me!”. I was really ready to embrace this new chapter with open arms, but things quickly went south. I’m all about having a good time, but Taylor’s new song felt like it was better suited for an episode of Sesame Street than a pregame playlist. The candy-coated video didn’t help things, and the entire effort came across like a high-budget music video for kids. Taylor, who turns 30 later this year, seemed lost, and a little desperate. Is this really what she thought we wanted from her?
The single underperformed by Taylor Swift’s standards, so at least I wasn’t the only one who was confused by this direction. I’m all for rainbows and catchy pop music, but I don’t want to be shouted at about spelling. The biggest question left in the wake of “Me!” was what Taylor Swift would put out next. Yesterday, she finally announced her album, called Lover, that will be released in August. Along with the album announcement, we also got a new single, and…
I love it.
After the perplexing elementary school vibes that she brought with her last single, Taylor Swift has finally returned to form. “You Need To Calm Down” is classic Taylor Swift from top to bottom, with a trademark long title, a hook that’s instantly catchy, and lyrics that are already burned into my head after approximately three listens. Okay, like 10 listens, but only for research purposes.
This song sounds like the best of the 1989 era, with layered vocals and synth beats that sound both moody and triumphant at the same time. There are some Reputation influences in there too, but luckily not the vague talk-rapping about her enemies. Hopefully that’s gone for good.
As for the lyrics, Taylor Swift really takes a step out of her bubble here by centering “You Need To Calm Down” as a pro-LGBTQ empowerment anthem. The lyrics contain references to Pride parades, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and men wearing gowns. In the prechorus, Taylor sings:
You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace
And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate
‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay
Basically, Taylor is telling people to stay in their lane, and that putting other people down doesn’t actually accomplish anything. Whatever your feelings about Taylor Swift, it’s nice to see her including messages like this into her music. She still has a wider impact than anyone else in music, so she actually has the power to influence people who might not be exposed to Pride parades on a regular basis.
Over the past year, Taylor Swift has become more active in the political sphere, something that she was hesitant to do for years. It’s refreshing to see her owning her status as an ally, especially during Pride month. We could argue about whether she’s benefitting from it, or how genuine it is, but sometimes it’s just nice to have visible support from people in places of power.
Of course, this is still a Taylor Swift song, so there are some classic Taylor references to snakes and crowns, but overall, “You Need To Calm Down” feels like a major step in the right direction for 2019 Taylor Swift. Whereas “ME!” almost felt like a publicity stunt, Taylor’s second single feels like an organic step in the right direction. There’s no argument that Taylor Swift can write catchy hooks and lyrics, so this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.
Hopefully you like this song as much as I do, because Taylor Swift is going to be everywhere over the next couple of months. She still has an 18-track album coming later this summer, so that’s a lot of opportunities for things to go very wrong or very right, but I’m at least cautiously optimistic now.
Images: Shutterstock; betches, taylorswift / Instagram; taylorswift / YouTube
The podcast epiphany is a pivotal moment in every young liberal elite professional’s life. This is the realization, usually incited by finally succumbing to the peer pressure to listen to the latest true crime podcast everyone is discussing in the group text, when you realize that you do not have to sit in silent boredom while working your inevitably soul crushing job at whatever start-up or creative agency is currently employing you to eat free snacks and fill out google spreadsheets. Instead, you can listen to the dulcet tones of people on the internet discussing literally any topic you can think of, from conspiracy theories about D-List celebrities to conspiracy theories about the moon landing (it may or may not have been a huge fraud). Or the news, if you feel like bursting into tears at your desk.
You probably already have a healthy library of podcasts in your arsenal, but let’s be real, you probably have not taken out your headphones to speak to your coworkers outside of your walk to Sweetgreen in months. What I’m getting at is that you can add a few new podcasts to your rotation. In this vein, and in honor of June being pride month, we’ve rounded up our favorite podcasts by, for, and about the queer community.
10-8. Gay History Podcasts
Mainstream historical narratives are rife with the erasure of queer stories and figures, so let’s start with a few podcasts reversing this trend. History is Gay highlights previously ignored stories of gay changemakers. This podcast has told the stories of a gay, Jewish, communal sexologist persecuted during the Holocaust and black lesbian contributors to the Harlem Renaissance. Making Gay History mines archival interviews for first person testimonials by integral figures in queer history including Debra Johnson and Zandra Rolon (the couple whose discrimination case set an important precedent), Perry Watkins (a US military veteran who fought back against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell), and Sylvia Rivera (a participant in the historic Stonewall uprisings). Similarly, Making Queer History tells the stories of important figures in gay history. Recent episodes told the history of queer media and Native American paradigms of gender. See how much you just learned? Imagine how knowledgeable you will be after actually listening to the episodes.
7. Dumb Gay Politics
As you may have noticed, our fucking country is falling apart and it is no longer cute to not know what’s going on politically. Hence, your favorite news site and podcast, our very own the Sup. If you are in the market for another place to get your news with a dose of sarcasm, check out Dumb, Gay, Politics. This podcast self-describes as one gay and one dumbass recapping US political news, usually while drunk.
6. Gay Pop Culture
Not to play into stereotypes, but we at betches love listening to gay guys talk about pop culture. Homophilia features two gay guys interrogating gay celebrities about their love lives. Recent guests have included Lena Waithe and our favorite LiLo ex Samantha Ronson.
From WNYC, the radio station bringing you amazing podcasts like On the Media and Trump Inc. (a personal favorite investigative series on shady Trump family business endeavors), this podcast stars besties Kathy Tu and Tobin Low being honest as fuck while discussing the lived experience of being LGBTQ today. Recently covered topics include sex toys, whether Dumbledore was gay, and being out (or not) at work.
4. The Heart
This podcast literally changed my life. It’s honestly not a podcast, it is an award-winning series of standalone audio art projects, focused on the human experience of intimacy. From the stories of the black queer communities fostering the underground house music scene in Seattle to the complicated politics of saying no, every one of the Heart’s episodes might make you cry.
3. Food for Thot
It might seem impossible, but this podcast actually is as fun as its title. Hosted by a variety of multiracial queer writers (as indicated by the variously hued peach emojis in their logo), topics range from sex and relationships to what these smart people are currently reading, which you probably should be too. This podcast definitely provides ample food for thought – a recent episode ran the gamut of terrifying things facing queer communities in 2018, from HIV to ghosting.
2. Queery With Carmen Esposito
Standup comedian Carmen Esposito interviews queer luminaries, asking them about everything from their personal lives to notions of sexuality today. She’s interviewed Roxane Gay, Lena Waithe, and Jill Soloway, to name a few.
1. Everyone’s Gay
Obviously, we have to close this list with our very own gay podcast. Because it’s 2018 and literally everyone is at least a little bit gay, our hosts Chris Burns and Bryan Russell Smith get honest as fuck about gay sex, dating, lifestyle, and pop culture. We don’t skimp on guests, starting with Them. editor in chief Phillip Picardi dropping in on our very first episode. We can’t promise you won’t awkwardly laugh out loud in your silent office, sorry.
Listen to a few of these and you can actually spew info about relevant topics while you’re blackout at the pride parade on Sunday.
Heads up, you need to keep up with the news. It’s not cute anymore. That’s why we’ve created a 5x weekly newsletter called The ‘Sup that will explain all the news of the week in a hilarious af way. Because if we weren’t laughing, we’d be crying. Sign up for The ‘Sup now!