Troye Sivan on why queer representation matters

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I didn’t know any queer people in real life, and just seeing that crowd I was like, ‘Okay, so it is out there somewhere, I just have to go find it.’ And I think that that’s what representation really does.

It shows you that your immediate circumstances are not going to be your circumstances forever, that there are people out there who are going to love you and support you, and places where you can feel safe.

It’s a big relief to know that while all of this really messed-up stuff is happening, people really attempting to send us backwards, that young people can go on TikTok or turn on the Grammys or watch music videos on YouTube and see themselves [represented].

I think it’s a lot less suffocating than it used to be, because having access to the representation, it shows you that the world is a big place. Those people who are trying to send us backwards? They’re not everyone.

Troye Sivan speaking to Elle about seeing a YouTube video of Lady Gaga speaking at a Pride parade and the impact it had on him as a young person.

China banned “effeminate” men

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In 2021, China’s broadcasting regulator issued a ban on ‘niang pao’ or ‘sissy men’ from appearing on TV and video streaming sites. The derogatory term is used to describe men with effeminate looks. Do these rules signal a return to more traditional notions of patriarchy, masculinity and even nationalism?

It’s about control, not protection

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It doesn’t take a genius to recognise the gaping logical flaws in the moral panic US conservatives are trying to cause when they assert that kids are in grave danger if books in school libraries would be allowed to mention homosexuality or if drag performances remain legal while they on the other hand refuse to tackle the country’s huge gun problem, vote against child marriage bans and roll back child labour protections.

It’s quite obvious that these people couldn’t care less about the welfare of children, they would rather kids be shot than let them read books.

On the most recent episode of The Problem with Jon Stewart, the show’s namesake and host grilled an Ohio Republican, using his support of drag show bans to expose the hypocrisy behind his opposition to gun control legislation.  Read on…

I’m gay but don’t like anal sex

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Topping, bottoming, flip-flopping. With boyfriends, dates and guys I’d met on one night stands. I had anal sex because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do, what I’d been told to do, because being gay is synonymous with anal sex, right? And then one day I came across the term ‘side’ – a term used by gay men who don’t enjoy anal sex, and suddenly I felt seen.

That was almost ten years ago. I started having the sex I wanted to have instead, and started talking about my new identity to anyone who would listen. The surprising thing was, that the more people I spoke to, the more I started to realise how many other people felt exactly the same as me. I completely lost count of the times I’d hear – ‘Wait, that’s a thing? I feel that way too!’ – it seemed that there was a staggering number of gay men who also weren’t in to topping or bottoming, and yet hadn’t found the language to express how they felt.

A guy I used to date even reached out to say that he too now identified as a side – the irony being that for the duration of the time we dated each other, the two of us had been having anal sex that neither of us wanted to have.

And it’s not always just a preference either – there are gay guys with medical conditions that mean they physically aren’t able to have anal sex. Men with phimosis (a tight foreskin) may not be able to top, and for gay men with stomas, bottoming could quite literally be life-threatening. So why then, after all of these years, is identifying as a ‘side’ still something we hear about so seldomly? The term was coined in 2013, and yet there still seems to be so little awareness. We still very much live in a top/bottom/vers culture, and I still have to find myself explaining what it means to be a ‘side’ on a near daily basis.

Read on…