Love, Simon

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema 9 Comments

This is a big deal. Next March, 20th Century Fox will release a big screen, John Hughes-esque romantic flick about teenager in love. The twist? He’s gay.

Love, Simon, based on Becky Albertalli’s 2015 YA novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and directed by Greg Berlanti (RiverdaleThe Flash), follows Simon (Jurassic World‘s Nick Robinson), a teenager who starts an email romance with another closeted classmate (the title is a play on how he ends his correspondences).

From the same studio and producers of The Fault in Our StarsSimonhas all the markings of a classic, mainstream teen coming-of-age flick: football games, drunken parties, school carnivals. But the romantic leads are two guys. It’s sweet, sad and, ultimately, ground-breaking especially because it looks kinda generic.

The fact that queer stories get the big studio treatment is probably a good sign for the normalisation of same sex love on the big screen even if it means that the film itself might be a bit boring if you’re not into the classic Hollywood teen romance flicks.

Wild Side

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Singer Brian Justin Crum is back with his new single Wild Side. Crum shot to stardom after appearing on the eleventh season of America’s Got Talent as a Top 4 finalist and sailed to No. 2 on the Billboard dance charts with his cover of Robyn‘s Show Me Love.

The video for Wild Side includes archival footage depicting gay conversion therapy.

“It is important that we acknowledge how far we have come from the archaic time when LGBTQ people were sent to mental hospitals and psychiatric wards to find a cure for their ‘sickness,’ but we still have so far to go. We need to have a healthy attitude towards consensual sex amongst partners. I hope this song opens up that dialogue so members of the LGBTQ community no longer feel shame for their sexual expression,” he explains.

Water | Vattnet

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James leads a lonely life in a luxurious castle in which his parents run a hotel. He never goes out with friends, spends his spare time in his room and peeks at the hotel’s guests out of boredom. Generally hides in his room, to stay away from his wannabe-controlling mother, who has no insight in the life of her son, James is forced outside when a group of handsome Swedish soccer players staying at the hotel capture his interest.

When he finds one of the boys injured at the hotel’s swimming pool, James offers his help and smuggles the boy into his room and locks the door. Locked up with a strange boy in his own room, James experiences the complexity of his own sexual feelings and insecurities for the first time.

WATER | VATTNET is a short coming-of-age film about family, loneliness and sexual identity. It examines the confusing period of adolescence and the first homosexual feelings of a young boy

Star Trek’s first Gay Kiss

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Star Trek: Discovery is boldly going where no other Star Trek series has gone before. Last month the space drama introduced Anthony Rapp’s character, Lt. Stamets, as the first openly gay character in the television history of the franchise. But the show took things a step further this week by featuring a same-sex kiss between Stamets and his partner, Dr Hugh Culber, played by fellow out actor Wilson Cruz.

The franchise has been known for pushing boundaries since it first aired in 1966, and came under fire in the late ’60s for featuring an interracial kiss between the characters Kirk and Uhura.

Despite being known as groundbreaking, the episode still faced homophobic criticism from fans who don’t like seeing a happy gay couple on their TVs. But Cruz had a response for anyone who had a problem with Discovery’s queer representation.

“I’m not here for your comfort,” he wrote in a poignant Facebook post. “That’s not why we are here. We’re here to grow.”

Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu was portrayed as a married gay man by actor John Cho in the film Star Trek: Beyond, but a scene rumored to show a kiss between Sulu and his husband was ultimately cut from the film.

The OA’s Trans Character is great

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Stranger Things might be the big pop culture hit when it comes to mystery shows but it’s not the only Netflix series worth a (binge) watch. The OA follows Prairie Johnson, a young woman who’s returned to her family after disappearing seven years prior.

Looking to reconnect with those she left behind in captivity, Prairie gathers a group of misfits to hatch a plan. One of her compatriots is Buck Vu, a transgender teen who’s been turning to the local drug dealer—another of the cadre—for his testosterone.

 The show doesn’t shy away from positive and negative reactions to Buck’s identity, especially from his family. But he’s a nuanced character, not a token representation for the sake of diversity. He might also be the first Asian-American trans character in a mainstream television series.

Ian Alexander, who plays Buck, is transgender in real life, too—a nice change of pace from Hollywood’s usual approach of casting cis people in trans roles. Raised in a conservative Mormon family, he faced rejection by his parents, who tried to force him into conversion therapy.

“I remember particularly being obsessed with FtM transition videos,” Alexander told Affinity of his earliest inklings about his identity. “I didn’t connect with it personally yet, but I still remember tucking my long hair into a hat and taking a few ’boy’ pictures.”

If he looks familiar, that’s because the high schooler became something of a viral sensation last year, when he clapped back at transphobic UCLA students.

“I was frustrated, but decided to use humor rather than waste my energy on people who clearly don’t understand what they’re against,” he told Buzzfeed at the time.

He answered an open call for a young Asian trans actor that circulated on Tumblr, and the scored the part. Ironically, showrunner Brit Marling says they were told the role was impossible to cast. She told Vulture:

“We’d always written the character as a 14-year-old transgender FTM Asian-American, and when we gave our casting director Avy Kaufman that description, she said, “We might not be able to find this person, so what are you flexible on?” We told her we weren’t flexible, so she finally took to the internet and posted some casting notices on various trans chat rooms and groups, and audition tapes came flooding in.

Ian was among them, he had shot his with his iPhone in his bathroom and uploaded it all without his parents knowing. Out of nowhere, his parents get a phone call that Netflix wants to cast their son! They’re like, “What?”

His tape was brilliant.

He told us, “I’m having a really hard time in school, because I wanted to act but it’s not like the plays that are done in high school have roles that describe a person like me. You can’t imagine what it was like to go online and see a posting for a Netflix show that describes me.”

We got really lucky.

Comparisons to Stranger Things are easy: They’re both Netflix shows about mysterious abductees who fall in with a group of young men. But while Stranger Things’ queer factor is pretty much subtext, The OA puts it out front and centre.

 

Benny’s Gym

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Alfred gets bullied. Benny is a bully. Through a series of events they become friends, but Benny keeps their friendship a secret. Benny wants to teach Alfred to hit back. But after an accident, it turns out maybe Alfred also has something to teach Benny.