Reinventing Marvin

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Reinventing Marvin, winner of the Queer Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival, explores the painful relationship a young gay man has with his past. Marvin grows up amid a gruff and boorish family in a French village. Artistically inclined, with a nascent attraction to other boys in his class, he’s the victim of aggressive bullying at school and home.

When he gets into a Parisian drama school and meets a more welcoming peer group, he has the opportunity to craft a completely new identity. He changes his name and meets a wealthy older man who introduces him to Oscar-nominated actress Isabelle Huppert, whimsically playing herself. But his childhood experiences still haunt and call to him, leading him to write a theatre piece that brings him into the public eye but causes recriminations back home.

Director Anne Fontaine creates a scenario that fluidly drifts between Marvin’s past and his present, revealing the frequently fraught moments from adolescence that make the man.

The Non-Binary Band Gaylord fights Nazis with Black Metal

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Unfortunately, black metal — the genre of metal known for heavy distortion, fast tempos and growled vocals — has a bit of an image problem. A lot of the best-known bands, like Burzum, are known for being murderous white supremacists. But thankfully, there’s been a backlash growing.

Recently, the band Neckbeard Deathcamp went viral for song titles like “Incel Warfare” and “The Fetishization of Asian Women Despite a Demand for a Pure White Race.” But they’re not alone, and the metal band Gaylord is making what it calls an “enby black metal assault” (enby stands for N.B., as in non-binary or genderqueer).

In a new interview with Noisey, the lead creator behind the metal band Gaylord stepped out of anonymity. It turns out Gaylord is the project of Richard Weeks, a non-binary person known for their label, Blackened Death Records, and other bands Olivia Neutered John and Suicide Wraith.

“I knew when I was a young teenager that I didn’t fit in my skin very well. I always felt like I was meant to be born a woman. And now, at 36 years old, I am only discovering the right words to describe who I am,” Weeks says. “I identify now as non-binary. I had no idea this term even existed when I was a kid. I just felt … different.”

Gaylord often uses humour in their songs, even though Weeks takes the music and politics very seriously. We particularly like the lyrics of “Summoning Krieg Facebook Legions”:

“We rule this kingdom / Glorious unchained white race / Only listen to NSBM [National Socialist Black Metal] / And J-pop from my Japanese animes.”

Weeks says, “I think that there are multiple angles to tackle fascism and hatred. You have the ‘serious’ bands like Dawn Ray’d and Underdark writing very serious songs about destroying fascism — which is great. What you have with Neckbeard Deathcamp and Gaylord is a different approach. There is a bit of comedy rolled in — absurd comedy. I mean, I don’t think we’ll ever get to drown Richard Spencer in Baja Blast, but seeing that man get punched so hard he spiralled into the land of obscurity is equally as lovely.”

You can buy Gaylord’s album for any price you choose over at Bandcamp or listen to it on Spotify.

Watch the TNT Boys slay in Drag

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Competitive music reality shows have become a staple pop culture. But with shows like Britain’s Got TalentAmerican Idol and The Voice, it seems like we’re just consistently recycling the same idea with different judges.

A Philippino game show called Your Face Sounds Familiar has pulled us out of that funk. The show has contestants impersonating celebrities and performing their hit songs. Sing them, mind you, not lip-sync. This season, their contestants are all children, and  this week’s winners sure were something else.

TNT Boys are a musical trio who took on the the Nicki Minaj/Jessie J/Ariana Grande bop, “Bang Bang.” And they pulled it off flawlessly in full drag. After taking home the grand prize, we’re ready to see them master a Drag Race Philippines spin-off.

CupcakKe’s Crayons

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CupcakKe, a fresh new voice in rap, expands her sex-positive mission on Crayons, a queer anthem that takes on homophobia and transphobia head on while celebrating love, desire, and identity.

CupcakKe has always boldly brandished her sexuality in her raps, but now she widens her scope to include every stripe of the rainbow flag. This song embodies true allyship, representing the experiences of others without centering their proximity to CupcakKe’s own: “Boy on boy, girl on girl/Like who the fuck you like/Fuck the world,” she bellows defiantly.

My Name is Josie Totah — And I’m ready to be free

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Yesterday Josie Totah came out as transgender in an essay for Time. Josie, who starred in the sitcom Champions and appeared in Other PeopleGlee, and Spider-Man: Homecoming, explained she felt “like I let myself be shoved into a box: ‘J.J. Totah, gay boy’” in her acting roles, and in the discussions of herself in the press.

That description did not match her actual identity and “has never been the way I think of myself,” she explained. “My pronouns are sheher and hers,” Totah writes. “I identify as female, specifically as a transgender female. And my name is Josie Totah.”

Totah says she came to terms with her identity when she was 14, watching the show I Am Jazz about a transgender girl who is transitioning. Days later, she started meeting with specialists and taking a hormone blocker.

She will start college this week, but she plans to continue acting. “I plan to play roles I haven’t had the opportunity to play. And I can only imagine how much more fun it’s going to be to play someone who shares my identity, rather than having to contort myself to play a boy,” she writes. “I’m going to gun for those roles, be it a transgender female or a cisgender female. Because it’s a clean slate — and a new world.”

You can read her powerful essay here.

We the Animals

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Jonah crawls beneath the crowded bed he shares with his brothers, his flashlight suspended between the pages of a journal. His legs splay half into the room as the camera flickers over the scrawl of his pencil beginning to draw. A blank page envelops the screen like a promise.

In We the Animals, a vivid and restless queer coming-of-age film in theaters August 17, the raw feelings that Jonah spills onto the page aren’t the sort he’s able to articulate aloud. In fact, Jonah hardly says much at all as a 10-year-old growing up in a small, volatile home with two older brothers and combative parents. Based on Justin Torres’ semi-autobiographical novel about his childhood in upstate New York, the film plunges into the mind of its young protagonist through his frenetic and expressive drawings.

It’s more than a stunning visual technique; Jonah’s escape into the blank pages of his journal illustrates the particular value of artistic expression for queer youth. “Art assists with identity formation,” says Daniel Blausey, PhD, a practicing art psychotherapist in New York City. “It is a safe place free from social judgement.” Jonah’s empty journal offers freedom from external rules and expectations that attempt to set limits on who he might imagine himself to be. If self-determination outside of social strictures is the basic liberty that all queerness demands, We the Animals demonstrates that sometimes, art can be one’s only means to achieve it.

Read on…

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: