Posts Tagged ‘ queer ’

A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend

As you may or may not know, I am the kind of person who loves getting super stoked on books. Most of the time it entails me thinking about the book while biking to work: What will happen next? What is so-and-so’s motives for doing something so stupid? In the past two months, I’ve blown through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, the entire Pretty Little Liars series, and a slew of comic books and graphic novels. Nothing too deep, but books that have the power to monopolize my thoughts and make me want to stay home and read rather than hang out with friends.

I read Emily Horner’s A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend wanting a light summer read starring a queer lady, and that is exactly what I got. In fact, I camped out at Coffeehouse Five (it was too cold to hang out outside) and read the whole book in one day. I didn’t want to like it because my good friend Caitlin has been talking about writing a queer YA book about a girl who goes on a bike tour for quite a while, and I was secretly hoping that it wouldn’t be very good so Cait could write a better version. It turns out that I really enjoyed the book, and I still think Caitlin could write a great novel. So win-win.

The story is split into two different timelines, the then and now. The “then” story arc primarily consists of Cass dealing with her best friend Julia’s death. The two had previously planned a cross-country road trip from Illinois to California, but after Julia is suddenly killed in a car accident, Cass decides to go by herself to spread her dead BFF’s ashes in the Pacific Ocean. By bike.  In the present time, Julia (a self-described drama nerd) had been working on a script for a bloody ninja musical before she died, and her friends (all of whom are also drama nerds) decide to put on the play in her honor. Cass is the only non-theater person helping with the play and she has some serious struggles with belonging – even though she has a tight-knit friend circle, they are friends she met through Julia. When Julia dies, Cass wonders if Julia was the only tie she had to the people she has spent the past few years hanging out with.

Working on the play, she is forced to work with Heather, her arch-nemesis from middle school, the girl who called her out for being queer in front of the entire school and generally made her day-to-day a living hell. But she quickly discovers that Heather is not so one-dimensional as previously thought. Oh come on. I’m beating around the bush trying to not give anything away, but we all know Heather is gay. That is why she was such a homophobic bitch to Cass, obvs. Don’t worry – knowing that gem won’t ruin the rest of story for you.

I love a queer young adult novel. I kinda think it is a formula you can’t go wrong with, and I wish there were such awesome, positive and heartwarming books out there when I was in middle or high school. One of reasons I liked this book so much, though, was Cass’s use of a bike as her main mode of transportation. In the media, I feel like there is generally so much focus on driving and having a car, especially as a metaphor for escape and entrance to adulthood, while bikes are typically portrayed as babyish in movies. So to see Cass using a bike a way to escape her life and process her grief and become an adult was awesome. It made me want to go on bike tour and just be quiet with myself for awhile.

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SoN, the best show on television

South of Nowhere, I am obsessed with you. Basically, this is the first television show to have gay teens as the main characters, and I’m not talking about Marissa’s foray into lesbianism on The O.C. or the many other gay subplots, but as the main romantic relationship on which the show revolves around.

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When I finally got Meghan to watch an episode, she said that she never imagined seeing lesbians that look like them on television. I was like, “Yeah! It’s amazing that teens have awesome queer role models that aren’t all depressed and suicidal.” Then she said, “No. I mean they way they actually look.” She was talking about the new lesbian aesthetic. You know what I mean: Lesbians are HOT. A five years ago, lesbians weren’t really on TV at all unless they were a background character, and even then they were definitely not “normal”-looking. Now every show has a lesbian character and they are all hot, but not in the ways that actual lesbians think are hot, but stereotypical ways in which dudes would think are hot. Okay, I really want to write an essay on this, but I should really stick to SoN for now…

First, the good. The acting is actually pretty good. The show has explored race relations and racism, crazy homophobic parents, teen pregnancy, and the ever ubiquitous “love triangle”, or in some cases, the “love square”. I think what makes SoN unique is that because the show is centered around two queer ladies (awesome!), we don’t have to be hit over the head how hard it is to come out and all the other shit that is so cliché. Yes, homophobia and coming out is difficult and exciting and having a queer identity is important for Spencer, but it is not the only event happening in her life.

After the first episode, they still hadn’t explained how Clay, who is African American, was a part of the Carlin family, even though they all looked so corn-fed with their golden hair and blue eyes. Normally I think shows would try to clue viewers in right away to the reason, but they waited until it was essential for the plot. The Carlins insist they don’t see race, and that they just think of Clay as a part of the family (which is pretty damn problematic, as it erases his previous history and his current struggles). One of my favorite scenes is when Ashley tells the Carlins that the reason she likes them so much is that they are cool with different races, religions, and sexual orientations; In the next scene we see that mama Carlin is DEFINITELY not okay with Ashley being a heathen or a lesbian, so the statement about her being color-blind sorta takes on new meaning.

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Secondly, Spencer’s process of coming out is not easy, but she is not isolated. She discovers a community of other lesbians, which I think is pretty rad. She’s not a token queer, but has agency, seeks out a community beyond her dysfunctional friends, and fights for more than tolerance.

Now for the bad:

Ashley’s outfits. Sweet Jesus. I know its warm in LA, but does she really need to wear belly shirts every day? While watching it with friends, someone was like, “What’s she going to do if it ever gets cold?”, and low and behold, the next scene was a night beach scene, replete with a belly-hoodie.

Fake lesbian kisses/embraces. Ugh.

The death of someone important, who I will wait to discuss until you have all had a chance to watch it.

Really, South of Nowhere is the best kind of bad TV. I welcome a hearty discussion about the show once you’ve watched it. Or if you want someone to watch it with, call me…

Simoun – Pretty Gay

The basic premise for Simoun is not terribly simple. Basically, everyone is born female; once you reach the age of 17, you go to this spring (sort of like your baptism) where you decide whether you want to be male or female. If you are male, your name will be changed and you’ll soon lose your breasts and gain male parts. Normal enough.

So the priestesses in this world are girls are “pure” because they haven’t gone to the spring yet. They fly these machines called Simoun, which are referred to as the “Chariots of the Gods”, because of their fluid movements through the air – they are unlike any other thing in existence. The Simoun are used in ceremonies to pray, and the trails they leave in the air have awesome effects. Because all the surrounding countries are so polluted that people are now dying from horrible diseases, they all begin to attack them in order to get the Simoun and its holy, clean-air technology. The problem is, no one really knows how the Simouns work – they just do. It’s divine.

So basically, these girls are forced to use these crazy-ass things as fighting machines due to the fact that the Simoun can create awesome blasts and kill a ton of people. They’ve been granted the chance to not go to the spring so they can continue to fight, which is really complicated because they are supposed to be innocent priestesses, but now they are pretty much mass murderers (but hey, its war).

So there is this crazy war shit happening, and at the same time all this emotional strife and inter-relational drama going on. In the first episode, one of their comrades dies which leads to a lot of crying and pouting for the first quarter of the show. Because the priestesses are so pure, that also means they’re also supposed to be rich (because obviously, poor girls aren’t pure), but since its war they are letting in the rif-raf. So there is some dialog about classism and how religious leaders let politics fuck shit up and how the government is full of heartless bastards (even though the men in charge used to be girls a long time ago, they take full advantage of the patriarchy).

I’m rewatching the show, and even though I knew what was going to happen, I still cried in episodes 19 and 20. But then again, I have been known to cry during movies like “Baby Mama” (oh man, the court room scene was agonizing!).

Oh, I almost forgot the best part. The girls have to kiss to power up the Simoun. So apparently their god is really gay.

Speaking of gay, when looking up Simoun on YouTube, I came across the official music video of the show’s theme song. Totally lesbionic.

Orson Scott Card: The quotable ALA-honored Homophobe

Orson Scott card was recently awarded the Margaret A. Edwards award for “lifetime achievement in writing for young adults”, and I am sort of torn on the issue. It is really hard for me to justify the ALA’s stance in looking at books for the merit of the writing, and to ignore the personal politics of the author. I completely stand behind the idea that it is important that we do not ban books or writers. But then again, I also wonder if Card were writing racist propaganda if he would have even been nominated. I am in no way saying that racism doesn’t exist in the ALA; on the contrary, I believe that it is so embedded in our culture that we often don’t even notice it. No one wants to be called out as a racist, so white people will do all kinds of stupid things, like naming their friends who are persons of color and attempting to be an ally while still not acknowledging the fact that all white people in the US are racist. It is so completely part of our American culture that there is no way we cannot be not racist. POC are targeted by police and incarcerated and basically still enslaved in this country, but it is totally cool to pretend that racism doesn’t exist.

But for some reason, homophobia continues to stand as one of the remaining acceptable -isms. Which is why we are even having these stupid marriage debates, or why I feel like I have to keep calling out dumbasses for saying horrible shit. Because there are no real repercussions for being homophobic (or racist, for that matter).

I don’t think we should ban Orson Scott Card whatsoever, but do I think there could’ve probably been another writer, possibly not a homophobic white male, that was worthy of receiving such a prestigious award? Of course.

Brian Kenney wrote an editorial in the School Library Journal about this conflict of interest, which is worth checking out. Also, here are links to some of Card’s homophobic articles, if you’re in the mood for fighting:

The Hypocrites of Homosexuality Really, there are so many good quotes here. He says gays are mentally ill hypocrites for not changing their behavior, but wanting to change the laws, and thus destroying the church (because obviously you can’t be religious and gay). Some favorite quotes:

“The Church has no room for those who, instead of repenting of homosexuality, wish it to become an acceptable behavior in the society of the Saints. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, preaching meekness while attempting to devour the flock.” Again with the accusations of gay recruiters. I really need to get on this gay army thing…

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“The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity’s ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.”

Homosexual “Marriage” and Civilization in which he discusses that gay people already have marriage rights because they can get married to people of the opposite sex. Um…yeah.