Hello to my homos, and lesbians and bisexuals, and queers and trans folks and Two-Spirit people, and asexuals and pansexuals and demisexuals and the demi-gendered among us, non-binary folks and genderqueers, studs and butches and femmes and drag monarchs and everyone else either under the rainbow umbrella or in the Alphabet mafia, depending on your sensibilities (and thank you for indulging me in my list-making; I find I am tired today of just rushing through LGBTQ2S+ like it’s a sandwich special and want to savour our labels in my mouth for a moment). I am deep into moving and surrounded by ziggurats of boxes and enough tape and pallet wrap to single-handedly satisfy a platoon of bondage enthusiasts, so this break to tell you all about my exciting discoveries in cultural items is a welcome oasis between bouts of paper cuts and swearing.
OMNICIENT: Queer Documentation in an Image Culture
This exhibition is available to look at live (and who knows what else there might be to look at …) at the Leslie Lohman Museum in Manhattan, and showcases 40 queer and trans artists making work about queer visuals. Not only are about half the images of OMNISCIENT: Queer Documentation in an Image Culture available online, but through a partnership with art interpretive service Gesso, you can actually hear the artists speaking about their work’s influences and inspirations. The artists range from AIDS activist artist Loring McAlpin talking about porn and queer sexual freedom, to Kenyan queer artist Tahir Karmali contributing a piece that speaks to his longing for his home vistas and the company of his mother. The artwork is interesting, and hearing from the artists in their own voices about what they made and why is remarkably affecting (even if some of them sound adorably nervous).
Billy Porter’s directorial debut! Trans girl romance! She gets to date the cute boy she likes and she has boss friends and people are not, overall, horrible to her! Kelsa (the heroine of Anything’s Possible, played by the adorable Eva Reign) gets to have friends and a family who adores her and cute dates with a sweaty dingdong (Khal, played by Abubakr Ali) who thinks she’s the bee’s knees and the cat’s pajamas! Is this a work of brilliant cinema, destined to be a classic? No. It is a rom-com, a frothy sugary confection with the requisite minor setbacks and the obvious sweet triumph of love, and my dearest darlings, I am so ready for this. I also love Renée Elise Goldsberry (who originated Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton, swoon) as Selene, Kelsa’s mom, who is the exact 110-percent-on-board PFLAG mom I want for every trans girl (even if Kelsa is a little over it, frankly). Anything’s Possible is available to stream now on Amazon Prime.
All This Could Be Different, by Sarah Thankam Matthews
While we’re talking about romance, and sweetness shot through with filaments of salt and bitter, let us discuss All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews. I deeply appreciated Mathews’s choices in this bok—toward nuance, toward lyricism that elevates queer emotions, toward being present in the complex reality of straddling cultural expectations between family and community as so many of us must do. Life is hard, and also great, and also careening toward failure, and also deeply optimistic, and also sometimes, unavoidably, characters are forced to make what can only be described as the least worst choice for themselves. Mathews is a great writer, and does the complexities justice—nothing is quickly and predictably settled, and the book opens more questions than it answers, which I love. No spoilers, just … grab a copy and settle in for the kind of beach read where even if it’s been a while between the times you pick it up, there’s no question what was happening or why.
“Body 2 Body” by Nieri
“Body 2 Body” feels like a wishful COVID-19 anthem, an HIV longing song, a fuck-monkeypox song—upbeat and wistful at the same time. I have found it to be good company in the moments when I am dancing by myself in my air-conditioned kitchen, but wishing to be hip to hip and sweating all over someone else’s warm skin and salty fur—there’s a way in which expressing the loss of what I want takes the sting out if it a bit for me. If that’s the same for you, get into this track from Italian queer pop artist Nieri, including the lyrics “This room feels like a sauna, I’m in the centre like Madonna/And I’m so on and on and on and on, like a virgin raving into dawn;” a familiar vibe even for those of us who haven’t seen our virginity in, er, some time.
Today in LGBT History, curated by Ronnie Sanlo
Though the Today in LGBT History project is a bit of a legacy situation, as it hasn’t been updated in a bit, there are years of archives spanning every date on the calendar and going waaaaay back: birth of Sappho in 630, historic sodomites, love letters from notable artists, all kinds of good stuff. To be fair, many of the mid-range items on the timeline focus on beheadings and lynchings, so brace yourself, but the pre-colonization news and the modern news are both regularly uplifting. Check out the archives, have a poke around, enjoy a Queer of the Day situation, share with your friends! If you enjoy photos more than a strict timeline, check out the LGBT History Instagram run by Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown—so many delicious items to ogle and/or revere, as it suits.
When next we meet, dearest darlings, I will be writing from Saskatchewan, where I am advised that even the wheat sheaves are a little fey. In the meantime, I wish each and every one of you a lovely, deep August of lassitude and leisure, tenderness and togetherness, rooftop hangs in humid breezes and beachside delights smelling of sunscreen and kombucha, until we meet again. As always, if you’re making something new and queer, drop me an email or a DM—I love to hear your news.