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.

Danica Roem’s Historic Victory

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Diana Tourjée spent election day with Danica Roem, the first-time politician who unseated one of the most notoriously transphobic politicians in the US state of Virginia. Watch her uplifting report.

Danica Roem made history on November 7, becoming the first transgender person to be elected and seated to a state legislature. The 33-year-old stepmom now represents District 13 in northern Virginia, an area that was controlled for more than two decades by Republican Bob Marshall, one of the state’s most virulently anti-LGBT lawmakers.

Roem’s success in local politics has made a national impact, setting the stage for other first-time candidates and transgender people to run for—and win—elections across the country.

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.

Closet Monster

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Director Stephen Dunn works a delicate balance with his Closet Monster (currently streaming on Netflix), an imaginative spin on the coming-of-age tale that blends together both straightforward storytelling and recognisable emotional beats with creative flourishes. Those flourishes — including a talking hamster and a series of fantasy sequences — are treated with the same equanimity as the rest of the more reality-rooted elements, allowing Closet Monster to retain an authenticity that other, similar features may not be able to hold on to with such grace.

Young Oscar has a seemingly idyllic childhood, one that is punctuated by his father’s rich imagination, is brutally disrupted by his parents’ separation, an event that turns Oscar bitter, while his once-loving father becomes cold and distant. Already in a state of emotional turmoil, elementary school-aged Oscar witnesses a heinous crime against a classmate that compels him to further hide his emerging sexuality. Taught from a young age that being gay is something to be feared or, at the very least, concealed and repressed, Oscar internalises the crime, a reaction he doesn’t fully understand until years later.

When we catch up with now teenage Oscar he’s on the cusp of adulthood, he’s still reeling from the events of his childhood. Highly creative, Oscar spends his time crafting magnificent practical make-up effects for his over-the-top best friend Gemma, taking photos of his artistry and building inventive additions to his hamster’s cage. And about that hamster…

Alive for far longer than any other normal hamster, Buffy — who talks, if only to Oscar — acts as both a comfort to Oscar and as his conscience, going so far as to bill himself (or herself? Buffy’s gender identification is a plot point in the film) as Oscar’s “spirit animal.” The animal illustrates Oscar’s profound tenderness and his deep loneliness in equal measure. Once Oscar meets sexy Wilder at work, his carefully constructed facade begins to crumble, and the hormonally-mad teenager begins to give himself over to desire.

Oscar’s fixation on Wilder — who is attractive and mysterious, but not particularly nice, sort of the platonic ideal for a teen crush — pushes him into new modes and methods of reaction, many of which feel jarringly violent. As he begins to experience the world around him through the emotional milieu of falling in love for the first time, other things come into sharp focus and the already creatively inclined Oscar begins to blend fantasy with reality. The film’s visuals are lush and dreamy, and Dunn makes even Oscar’s tired old town look fresh. The film winds down to a fairly obvious conclusion, but that does not dilute the satisfaction it also earns along the way.

Closet Monster may feature a talking hamster and a hefty volume of very bloody flashbacks-turned-fantasy, but Oscar’s issues continually remain real and relatable. Dunn plays around with perspective and style, but all the flash doesn’t obscure the film’s emotion and heart, which are deep and true. The talking hamster is just a bonus.

 

via IndieWire

Australia’s Kid Campaigners

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Think of the children’ is a common refrain from people opposed to same sex marriage. So journalist Patrick Abboud took to the streets of Australia to see what children actually think about same sex marriage.

Arrival

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A true coming of age story, Arrival follows one boy’s journey into adulthood, and the complicated relationships that go with it. It begins with a boy growing up with his mother in the countryside, who then journeys into the big city to follow his dreams. All the while, the two communicate by sending Polaroids back and forth to each other, sharing their now completely different lives.

Along the way, he meets another boy with whom he is determined to share his life with. The main character becomes stuck in a cycle of indifference, rather than standing up and coming out to his mother. The story of the film pulls from past relationships of director Alex Myung. It portrays a modern queer couple, exploring the highs and lows that come with feeling guilty for loving the right person.

Submitted by Andrew