Neverland by Holland

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K-pop newcomer Holland released his first single Neverland earlier this year. The song and music video are all about queer love. Neverland is a mellow R&B track that relays the emotions of a man who wants to avoid discrimination and escape to a place of free love.

The song’s accompanying music video similarly places the singer’s sexuality in the spotlight, depicting a rare same-sex kiss in a video describing the ups-and-downs of a relationship. Neverland received a 19+ rating in South Korea because of the kiss.

Holland is the first openly gay k-pop idol to debut, though MRSHLL, another R&B artist, came out before releasing his first song last year, becoming the first Korean singer to begin his career while openly addressing his sexuality. Same-sex love is rarely addressed in k-pop and South Korea’s entertainment industry. Only a handful of celebrities, including the entertainer Hong Seokcheon and the transgender singer Harisu, are publicly out.

Though Holland has no large agency backing, and was a relatively unknown in the k-pop scene until he first started teasing his debut single, he has already caught the attention of many k-pop fans who have been eager to see more diversity and queer representation in the Korean idol industry.

Neverland racked up more than 700,000 views within 24 hours of its release, to this day the video has been watched over 10 million times.

Dance to This

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Troye Sivan and Ariana Grande start their own party in the video for their collaboration, Dance to This. Troye’s sophomore album Bloom is out on August 30th.

The clip opens with Sivan sitting in a rec room-cafeteria setting where people are quietly eating and reading. Bored, Troye brings a CD to a man with a boombox and begins singing, then dancing, at the front of the room before Grande gleefully joins him. The confused people eventually leave so Troye and Grande have the room to themselves.

Bloom follows the 23-year-old singer’s 2015 debut album Blue Neighbourhood. Sivan recently said that he’s been taking dance lessons ahead of his tour in support of Bloom (where he’ll be joined by trans singer Kim Petras as an opening act). “We spent the whole first class just moving in slow motion for, like, two hours,” he said.

Boy Erased

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Gay conversion “therapy” in America has become a poignant cultural touch point in the era of Mike Pence. The practice is, alarmingly, still legal in 41 US states.

Following the release of Desiree Akhvan’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post early next month, Focus Features is readying Joel Edgerton’s gripping conversion drama Boy Erased, based on Garrard Conley’s Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family.

The film stars Lucas Hedges as the teenage son of a Baptist pastor in small town Arkansas, who is sent off to a conversion therapy camp by his straight-laced parents, played by Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman. Crowe and Kidman aren’t the only two big-name Aussies to appear alongside Hedges — Boy Erased also features popstar du jour Troye Sivan as a silvery-haired fellow queer at Lucas’s camp. “Play the part,” Sivan instructs Hedges in the first official trailer, flexing a very passable Arkansas accent.

Conley, who is working with Edgerton on Boy Erased, wrote in a blog post last year that he’d be “working hard to populate the world of Love in Action [the conversion camp] with predominantly queer actors.” While Hedges isn’t gay, Boy Erased won’t be his major gay moment on screen. He also appeared in Lady Bird as the titular character’s all-American first boyfriend Danny.

Boy Erased hits cinemas on November 2, 2018.

Christians upset over Drag Cartoon

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The Christian Film and Television Commission is demanding Netflix cancel plans for an upcoming drag queen superhero cartoon called Super Drags, saying the show is “driven by a politically correct transvestite agenda.” Netflix, predictably, hasn’t deigned to acknowledge the ridiculousness.

A petition started by the group asks supporters, “Netflix offers wholesome shows like ‘Clifford, the Big Red Dog’ and even ‘VeggieTales.’ But do we really want our children to sit down to watch a fun new superhero cartoon series and instead have them lose their innocence to sexual wickedness?”

At time of publication, over 26,000 people had signed the petition. The group also strangely insinuates that the company is forcing employees to create the series against their will:

“Netflix has taken the skill sets of those who create wholesome, educational content for children and has inserted the homosexual agenda into their content,” the would-be censors claim.

Netflix hasn’t released many details on the show beyond a brief trailer and the characters’ names. The show revolves around a trio of harried department store clerks who transform into drag queens Lemon Chiffon, Cran’s Sapphire and Crimson Scarlet “ready to combat shade and rescue the world’s glitter from the evil villains.”

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

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Captain Spirit stars a young boy named Chris who lives in a small house with his dad. For reasons I won’t spoil, the two live alone; Chris’ mom is out of the picture, and his father is struggling to deal with that. He’s an alcoholic, depressed former basketball star who — at least initially — puts on a good front as a kind, caring parent. But it’s not long before the signs of neglect show.

The game plays out as something of an interactive drama. If you played any of Life is Strange before, or similar series like those from Telltale Games, you’ll feel right at home. Much of the experience is simply walking around and looking at objects and listening to Chris talk about them. There’s also lots of dialogue and player-driven choices. For example, when Chris’ dad has a few too many, you can choose whether to tell him he’s had too much or simply change the subject.

Chris deals with things the way many kids do: with his imagination. The titular Captain Spirit is a superhero Chris created, and when he puts on a Captain Spirit costume, Chris becomes braver and has superpowers that exist only in his mind.

Much of what you’re actually doing in Captain Spirit is mundane household chores. While Chris’ dad becomes progressively inebriated, his son takes out the recycling full of old beer cans, fixes the water heater so he can wash the dishes, and makes his dad something to eat. But these seemingly boring activities are imbued with childhood whimsy. Chris doesn’t microwave some macaroni and cheese, he iridates it using his superpowers. He doesn’t fix the water heater, he has a heart-pounding battle with an evil villain called the Water Eater.

These moments are charming, and they really drive home what a sweet kid Chris is. He’s in a bad situation, but he does his best and tries to have some fun along the way. But there’s a sense of impending dread that builds over the course of the episode, which lasts around an hour. Early on, Chris’ dad promises that the two will go out and buy a real pine Christmas tree as soon as he finishes watching the basketball game. He then proceeds to grab a bottle of whiskey to wash down his beer.

The climax of Captain Spirit isn’t especially surprising — I could feel it coming early on — but I still dreaded it the entire time I played. I found myself stalling for time. I’d check every item in Chris’ treehouse to see if they were significant, and if there was a chore to do around the house, I did it. At one point, I spent 10 minutes laying on a bed listening to Chris’ mom’s old records. This triggered some wistful reminiscing from his dad, and gave me some really great insight into the family and their situation. This also meant that when the big moment did finally hit, it hit especially hard.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is available for free on PS4, Xbox One, and PC

How Teens use Grindr

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Anyone who’s used Grindr knows that it can be a better way to make friends than lovers. Sometimes hookups become friendships, once the masc4masc posturing is over and you realise a conversation might be more successful than fumbling around in the dark. Now, happily, a new study has confirmed what we already knew to be true.

The Journal of Adolescent Health took a survey of 200 sexually active teenage boys from ages 14 to 17, and found that more than 50% of them said they used Grindr and other hookup apps for more than just sex. This is despite the apps being 18+, which as we know, has never stopped anyone from looking at porn.

The study’s been seized upon as showing that Grindr and its ilk provide a sense of community for often closeted teens. “We found that teens in this study were super excited that somebody was paying attention with what was going on in their lives, and how these apps played a role in their sexual development and coming-out process,” Dr. Kathryn Macapagal told the Chicago Tribune when asked about the survey. “I was surprised we didn’t know this information when we started the study, but a lot of folks don’t do research on people under the age of 18, especially on LGBT teens under the age of 18, for a variety of reasons.”

While those polled reported greater risk of unprotected sex, they also had greater odds of getting tested for HIV and more engagement with sexual health services. “The sooner we understand the role these apps play in the lives of gay and bisexual teen guys, the sooner we will be able to tailor sex education and HIV prevention efforts for this population and help them live healthier lives” added Dr. Macapagal.

Grindr, obviously, released a predictably lame statement that will do nothing either to stem the tide of sexually active teens using dating apps, or reassure adults who worry about them. “Grindr does not condone illegal or improper behaviour and we are troubled that an underage person may have been using our app in violation of our terms of service. Grindr services are only available for adults.”

The sooner e know more about adolescent sexuality, the more we can do to help at risk teens find the safe spaces and access to the community they so obviously need and want.