High School Girl?

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Spoilers ahead, watch the video first ;) 

If you watch the ad again, you can appreciate the quiet subtlety with which it shows its hand: It’s less of a reveal than a call to be more attentive. The opening scene, for example, focuses not on the teacher but on what she is holding: An image of a piece of art depicting a woman. This image is flipped at the end to reflect how easily we can be fooled once we’ve looked at something, decided what it is, and moved on.Here’s the making-of video:

Ryan Beatty writes Pop about Boys

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If we didn’t already know that pop songwriter Ryan Beatty (interview) is “proud to be a raging homosexual” (according to his Instagram), his finally released debut album, Boy in Jeans, would definitely confirm it ;)

Once dubbed “Justin Bieber 2.0″ — probably because he came up on YouTube, looks like a clean-cut twink and has a penchant for modern R&B — the California native is equal parts middle-of-the-road pop tart and hip-hop outlier (he sings the hook on Brockhampton’s Bleach). Though Boy in Jeans has its sights set on the charts, Beatty isn’t afraid to get a little freaky from time to time.

Ryan abandons his prom date to get busy with a guy in Bruise while, pretty much like everybody else, he gets high to Pink Floyd while searching for the dark side of the moon. He likes money and foreign guys (mais oui) on Euro and worries about his reputation throughout the single Camo. And he isn’t coy about sex. God in Jeans celebrates the beauty of his partner and the joys of sleeping “naked with the radio on.”

In other words, it’s business as usual for a young, healthy, hot-blooded American male who just happens to be gay. In a world where Troye Sivan and Years & Years are breaking glass ceilings everywhere, Ryan Beatty is what pops out.

Good Job, Good Girls

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Izzy Stannard as Sadie in Good Girls

NBC‘s new comedy Good Girls (also available on Netflix) is about three women who, in the midst of financial emergencies, decide to rob a supermarket. The show has its central characters being unwittingly pulled into an even bigger criminal operation. The writing is smart and sharp, funny and a bit dark, and the chemistry between the leads is amazing.

As we are introduced to the characters, we learn that their primary incentive for the crime is supporting their family, more specifically, their children. Annie is the youngest of the trio. She is a single mother, though her ex-husband is very much in the picture, and the primary caregiver to Sadie, her 11-year-old daughter that has begun exploring their gender identity.

And, this might be the most exciting part, Sadie is portrayed by an actor that actually is non-binary himself. A refreshing decision in today’s TV business.

The FostersShamelessBillions, and Madam Secretary are among the shows currently featuring adult non-binary characters. What is unique about Good Girls‘ take, however, is that Sadie, at 11, is still figuring themselves out, and hasn’t expressed whether they identifies as female, male, or otherwise.

While a large part of the show highlights the struggles of everyday life for the main characters, that Sadie is non-binary or potentially trans is not one of Annie’s problems. The fact that Sadie is wearing boy’s clothes or has short hair is irrelevant, and Annie’s dedication to her child is such that she doesn’t miss a beat in completely shutting down her ex-husband’s suggestion to enroll Sadie in Catholic school, or that Sadie should be in therapy, as if there is anything about them that needs to be fixed.

Though Annie is portrayed as being the least responsible one of the Good Girls, it’s refreshing to see her become resourceful when it comes to her child. She enlists a dangerous criminal to go to Sadie’s school in order to scare the living daylights out of her bullies for pulling Sadie’s pants down, where he promptly breaks one of the kids’ fingers (like I said, it’s a little dark). Most of her money goes to hiring an attorney to help with maintaining full custody.

It would have been so easy for Good Girls to have taken the lazy route by making Annie’s dilemma that her kid is being difficult and won’t just put on a dress to make things easier for everyone. Instead, Annie’s distress comes from seeing Sadie navigate childhood, which is often times more cruel than adulthood. Her greatest struggle is making sure she’s doing all the right things to bring up Sadie in a safe space that will allow them to be strong and confident.

If the writers continue their approach in season 2, Sadie’s journey promises to be a satisfying one. Seeing a child who is non-binary on network television not have a completely miserable home life is the future. Let’s have more of that, more happy home life, more of Annie bringing Sadie to expensive stores and having her fitted for awesome suits. More of the Super Mom all kids deserve, when she’s not partaking in clumsy criminal activity.

 

No Love (Like First Love)

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Nearly eight years ago, a timid 12-year-old walked onto the audition stage of Britain’s Got Talent and stunned the nation by belting out his cover of ‘Feeling Good’. Now 19-years-old, Ronan Parke is back with his comeback single, No Love (Like First Love), and it’s impressive.

The new single has all the hallmarks of a successful release, but no-one saw just how good it would be. The teenager’s voice has matured a lot since his first steps in the industry, but the youthful power is still very much there, and it is glorious in No Love (Like First Love).

Grindr wants people to be Kindr

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Grindr, a premiere sex and dating app for queer people (though men comprise the platform’s predominant user base), has launched what appears to be a new initiative, according to a slightly cryptic post to the brand’s official Instagram account. The post features audio messages of intertwining various voices. One such message is someone saying, “When [someone] says to me that I don’t date black people… that can be referred to as sexual racism.” There’s a logo reading “Kindr,” using Grindr’s logo.

*sound on* 🔊 It’s time to play nice. Dropping September 2018.

A post shared by Grindr (@grindr) on

Grindr has faced criticism from users since its inception from those who have been subjected to types of mistreatment — including, in some cases,violent anti-gay hate crimes — based on the notions of individually defined sexual preferences, usually by cisgender men.

Some users have sworn off the app completely due to experiencing discrimination, and, as mentioned, Grindr is no stranger to criticism, or even lawsuits, around what constitutes acceptable free speech, and best internal practices for monitoring forms of hate speech without censoring sexual preference.

It’s tricky, and only time will tell how this all shakes out, but if Grindr pulls off its Kindr campaign with tangible results, it may actually be something of a revolution in the queer community. This also comes on the heels of trans model and activist Munroe Bergdorf’s announcement of her involvement with Grindr, after publicly acknowledging the platform’s need to call out racists and transphobic users.

(German users might face some uncomfortable questions once people see an app called Kindr on their phones though…)

Good Manners

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There is the family you are born into, and the family you make; lovers who stay with you a long time, and ones whose time with you is brief, but make a lasting impact. What then is the nature of love and devotion? Can we love both the person and the monster inside? In  Good Manners, a magic-realist fairy tale, love and devotion, class division, and the monster inside us all are deftly explored.

Clara  is a lonely nurse living in poor conditions who takes a job as a nanny and housekeeper to the equally lonely Ana , a wealthy white woman soon expecting her first child. Clara moves in, and the two women quickly form a strange but powerful bond that moves beyond friendship. As Clara learns the truth behind Ana’s unexpected pregnancy, she finds she must take on a far greater burden than she had originally intended, with devastating consequences.

The film begins as almost an erotic love story and particular view of class struggle: Clara, a black woman, is looked down on by her counterparts, even though she is a native Brazilian; her taciturn nature and verbal economy make her a mystery, perhaps even to herself; in contrast, Ana is little but verbose, constantly moving whether in exercise and dance, to the point of sleepwalking. Ana’s home, and her view of the city, is given as a kind of fairy tale, one that should be filled with the handsome prince and the princess (Ana in the tower); but this princess has been deserted by her family and left to her fate, and it is Clara instead who must come to her rescue.

After a fast labour and childbirth that ends in Ana’s dramatic and bloody death, and birth to a child that is more than just a baby, Clara must again come to the rescue. She takes the infant, whom she names Joel away, from the fairy-tale city of pink skyscrapers and cold, emotionless surroundings, to the poor streets of her home. Clara might be poor, but her home and heart are filled with love that she focuses on Joel, and the importance of raising a good son. A few people bat their eyes at the black mother and her white son; but despite their working class conditions, Joel grows up healthy and happy. Well, somewhat healthy; his strange persona requires Clara’s constant protection, and attempts to stop his more dangerous, innate nature that she hopes he will never become aware of.

Read on…

Will Albus Dumbledore be gay on the big Screen after all?

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In January, David Yates, director of the Harry Potter spinoff sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, said his film will “not explicitly” show the homosexuality of Albus Dumbledore, the crossover character from the original Harry Potter book series who appears as his younger self. News that the upcoming film wouldn’t definitely make Dumbledore gay made some queer fans very upset.

But now Jude Law, the actor playing Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts, has hinted that future films might reveal Dumbledore’s sexuality. Of course, considering there’s five more films left in the Fantastic Beasts series, it’s unclear when this Jude Law gay prediction might ever prove true.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Law says, “As with humans, your sexuality doesn’t necessarily define you; he’s multifaceted.” He continues, “What you’ve got to remember is this is only the second Fantastic Beasts film in a series, and what’s brilliant about J.K. Rowling’s writing is how she reveals her characters, peels them to the heart over time.”

Law adds, “You’re just getting to know Albus in this film, and there’s obviously a lot more to come. We learn a little about his past in the beginning of this film, and characters and their relationships will unfold naturally, which I’m excited to reveal. But we’re not going to reveal everything all at once.” Law adds that his film’s character doesn’t even have any scenes with Grindelwald, the evil wizard who we know Dumbledore eventually develops feelings for.

In October 2007, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, revealed she had long envisioned Dumbledore as gay. According to Rowling, Dumbledore — headmaster of the series’ wizarding school, Hogwarts — hadn’t been explicitly gay in the books because his love for his wizarding associate Grindelwald ended so tragically. Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald in a duel to stop him from becoming a magical Hitler, basically.

Since his one romantic attraction had ended tragically, Rowling claims, Dumbledore lived a solitary life for the rest of his days, free of any outward romantic or sexual attractions.

Queer fans have long felt divided about Rowling’s claim. While some were happy to have a major character in a massively popular fantasy book series be gay, others claim Rowling “queer-baited” queer fans by claiming Dumbledore is gay without providing anything explicit to back that up.

After all, is it really queer representation if a character is never actually shown to be queer, only said to be so offhandedly by his or her creator? Especially considering that Rowling pulled the same stunt on several other characters, making them bi-curious, black and otherwise diverse after the fact.

Kim Petras, Modern Pop Princess

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In her debut music video, I don’t want it at all, German trans pop star Kim Petras sings, “I want all my clothes designer, I want someone else to buy ’em.” The video also features spoiled poster girl Paris Hilton.

“It’s just a sugar-baby anthem,” Petras said. “It’s very tongue-in-cheek. … It’s a fantasy song about if my bratty side came out and had a ball.” It may sound like a tribute to rampant materialism, but the song is actually anything but superficial. Rather, it’s an ode to teenage girl fantasy — something Petras, now 25, missed out on back then.

“I wanted to kill myself as a kid,” she candidly admits. “I wasn’t popular in school, I got bullied pretty hard … but I’m talented and I’m good at music, and that’s always how I spent my time — in my room, making music.”

At 16, Petras was the youngest person in the European Union to undergo gender-affirmation surgery (she started hormone therapy at 12). “I feel like my whole teen life was taken up by fighting for that — fighting to get surgery and fighting to get hormone therapy,” she says.

Since the surgery is usually prohibited until a teen reaches 18, Petras had to convince a medical team to make an exception in her case. “My parents really educated me that not everybody’s as lucky as me, to transition early,” Petras says. She’s thrilled, “I get to help others who are not as lucky,” and is determined to remain a trans ambassador. “The great thing about my music career is that, really, people find out about me without knowing [my history] and it’s really just about the music … but at the same time, I’ll always fight for the transgender community.”

She also isn’t willing to be judged by her gender. “That somebody is female or male, it doesn’t define them … and if somebody’s transgender, it doesn’t define them,” she says.

Her life has really always been about music. Growing up, Petras remembers her mom playing Miles Davis and Billie Holiday records. As a teen, she recalls watching a Carole King documentary and becoming “really obsessed with songwriting.” Petras had a hit single, Last Forever, in her native Germany by the time she was 16. She’s been making music for over half her life and has written over 300 original songs, leading Petras to joke that her first full-length album will really be more like her “greatest hits.”

One can certainly see shades of pop princesses past in her edgy but perfectly polished, side-ponytail sporting, bubble gum-popping aesthetic.

“I grew up with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera,” Petras explains. “And I really love everything early-Madonna.” After coming to Los Angeles at 19, Petras says her early success in Germany didn’t open doors stateside and she ended up broke and “slept on studio couches for years.” But these days, the years of blood, sweat, and tears are starting to pay off and her career is shifting into high gear. She has collaborated with artists like Charlie XCX, JoJo, Baby E, and Lil Aaron. She records on her own label, has been featured on RISE (Spotify’s artist development program), and has been streamed over 30 million times on the platform.

With her new hit single and video, Heart to Break, climbing the charts, a full-length album in the works, and a tour with Troye Sivan this fall —  Petras doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. “I’m so, so ecstatic to be doing what I’m doing,” she says. “I’ve been working up to this my whole life, like since I was 12 years old, I was on the way here — so now I’m going to enjoy it.”

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.