First trailer for the Steven Universe film

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The very queer cartoon series Steven Universe just dropped a trailer for its upcoming movie adaptation. The show follows a group of genderless aliens called The Crystal Gems. They, along with half-human, half-Gem Steven, attempt to save Earth from the uncaring rulers of the Gem Homeworld.

The show, which also featured a same-sex wedding, made history when it won its first GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Kids & Family Program this year. It was, in fact, the first animated series to do so.

The Real Thing

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The seven-minute film The Real Thing, which screened at the 2017 Outfest in Los Angeles and the 2018 New England Film Festival, follows Allie (Sophie Giannamore), who has transitioned while her soldier father has been on an active tour of duty.

Unfortunately for Allie, her classmates and teachers have yet to accept her as her authentic self ― and when she returns home to spot her dad standing in her room, she’s worried he’ll react similarly.

Pre-drink

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Alexe and Carl are pre-gaming at her place before meeting up with their friends at a bar. Alexe just transitioned, and this boozy evening might change the dynamics of their friendship forever as the two decide to have “no strings attached” sex.

 

Pride & Pitfalls: Queer Representations in Anime

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In terms of sheer quantity, there are a lot more queer characters in anime than there are in American cartoons. Until recently, queer representation in American animation has faced two ridiculous obstacles: the idea that cartoons are just for kids, and the idea that it’s inappropriate to expose kids to the existence of queer people.

Thankfully that first obstacle started being challenged in the ’90s with shows like The Simpsons and South Park, and the second obstacle’s being challenged now thanks to shows like Steven Universe and The Loud House. In Japan, however, neither of obstacles exist. There’s been anime for adults almost as long as there’s been anime, and kids anime have long featured openly queer characters.

As for the quality of queer representation in anime, it’s a mixed bag. While there isn’t the same “think of the children!” panicking as in America, Japan still has a fair deal of cultural stigma around the queer community.

Because of this, while including queer characters is less taboo, they’re often portrayed as jokey stereotypes. Sometimes these stereotypical characters are written well enough to transcend their problematic origins, other times they can be incredibly offensive (let’s never speak of “Puri Puri Prisoner” from One Punch Man). There’s also the yaoi (boys love) and yuri (girls love) genres which focus on same-sex relationships, but often in a very unrealistic and fetishized manner.

As the LGBT rights movement picks up steam in Japan, there’s thankfully been an increase in more respectful and believable portrayals. This article will examine how 20 popular anime approach their queer characters.

Read on…

Is Stranger Things’ Will gay?

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The new season of Stranger Things dropped on Netflix a few days ago and after two seasons of abduction and possession, Noah Schnapp’s character Will Byers  spends the first half of the latest run with a far more human issue on his hands – all his friends have coupled up and all he wants to do is get back to the good old days of cycling around and playing D&D.

One scene from the show’s third episode, titled The Case of the Missing Lifeguard, though, hints at the Will’s sexuality. Spoilers ahead.

The scene in question sees Will attempting to interest Lucas and Mike in a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign, but it’s obvious that he’s the only one really into the game. The other two boys laugh off his enthusiasm and derail the game with conversation about their respective girlfriends, frustrating the already disheartened Will.

Fed up, Will calls an end to the campaign and rushes out of Mike’s basement, though both Mike and Lucas attempt to call him back. Mike rushes out after his friend and this happens:

Now, obviously this could just be an angry comment thrown out during an argument, but the charged silence and the look of stunned betrayal on Will’s face suggest that Mike’s words have a bit more weight than suggesting that Will just doesn’t like girls yet. Mike apologises, swearing he’s not trying to be a jerk and goes on about how everyone’s growing up, but Will still leaves, even more upset with his friends.

While it’s never discussed or even hinted at again, we can’t help but consider if this is the Duffer Brothers’ way of alluding to Will’s sexuality. Unlike Robin’s coming out scene, the idea that Will might be gay doesn’t lead to an intimate conversation or touching moment between friends.

But the implication does bring back a conversation that began in season one when Stranger Things fans were questioning Will’s sexuality. In the freshman season, Will is continuously referenced by the group’s bullies using homophobic slurs and his story of being dragged into the Upside Down and left for dead was likened to how queer characters are often treated as “other” or thrown in the closet.

Back then Noah Schnapp said that for him Will’s sexuality is besides the point but it looks like many fans disagree.

Harry x Louis on Euphoria

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HBO’s teen drama Euphoria made a slpash by featuring a steamy (animated) sex scene between former One Direction members Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson.

Harry said before that he “messes around with both men and women.” Louis Tomlinson on the other hand has lashed out at gay rumours for years, criticising fans for the creation of the portmanteau “Larry Stylinson”.

Tomboy

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Tomboy follows 10-year-old transgender boy Laure who moves to a new town and is delighted to realise that he can pass as a boy among his new circle of friends. He impulsively introduces himself as “Mickäel” to his pretty new neighbour Lisa.

The kids are at an age where they’re starting to designate certain people as “popular,” and starting to preen in front of the opposite sex. The short-haired, sharp-featured Mickäel is such a handsome boy that boys and girls alike are immediately drawn to him. Sure, he has to sneak off into the woods alone when all the guys on her soccer team go pee on the sidelines, but he’s a good goal-scorer, he knows how to spit, and he looks lean, fit, and flat with his shirt off.

The film brings an unforced naturalism to scenes of the kids just hanging out, asking goofily intimate questions about whether they’ve ever tasted their own pee—just the way kids act when there are no grown-ups around and they’re showing off for each other. And director Sciamma sensitively explores the fluidity of identity in a sequence where Lisa playfully puts makeup on Mickäel, and one where Mickäel makes a Play-Doh penis he can stuff into his swim trunks. It’s just fun to see Mickäel enjoying the chance to be who he feels he really is as long as he can.

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