Pride: Watch, read, listen
There are still 72 countries in the world where gay relationships are criminalized and it’s only a couple of weeks since the homophobic attack on two women on a London bus shocked the world. So don’t tell me that you don’t see the point of Pride month. Making room for LGBTQ+ stories and experiences is absolutely essential, and although it’s important that these stories are heard every day of the year, Pride is a perfect reminder of just how important each one of them are. First of all, they’re a great help to the people who are a part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum, who wish for their experiences and emotions to feel valid. Secondly, being exposed to personal stories and journeys which represents people within this spectrum, is crucial in the promotion of a worldview that isn’t based on homophobia and prejudice.
Therefore, to celebrate Pride month, I’ve put together a list of books to read, movies to watch, and a few other things to listen to, which explores queer stories in beautiful and unique ways…
Call me by your name
Set in: 80’s. Release date: 2017.
Quote: “Is it better to speak or die?”
If I ever got the opportunity of stepping through my TV screen, this would be the place I’d choose to go in a heartbeat. “Call me by your name” takes place in Italy, where we meet the 17 year old Elio. The movie revolves around his romance with the older American, Oliver, who’s staying with Elio’s family for the summer. There is no other way to describe this movie better, than by picking out the word “serene”. Each frame is a work of art, bringing you along on a journey to rural Italy, where philosophy, apricots and more than a summer fling is combined. Even at its most heartbreaking and nerve-racking moments, you can’t help but appreciate the constant undertone of harmony. 132 minutes, each one just as beautiful and balanced. It’s like swimming under water and looking up. Everything is peaceful; you let the soft waves pass you smoothly, as you float on your back and take it all in. But don’t think for a second that this means that it’ll not keep you interested throughout the entirety of the movie. The chemistry between Elio and Oliver is pure, yet it gives you a raw impression of the emotional challenges teens face in regards of figuring out exactly who they’re supposed to be and what they want, no matter the sexuality. The homosexual experiences are an important aspect of movie, but somehow they do not feel like the sole storyline of the movie, which I appreciate. In future cinema and literature, I wish to see more storylines like this one, as I believe we need more stories where a sexuality (other than heterosexuality), is just another part of the character’s existence, not the entire plot.
Set in: The present. Release date: 2017.
Quote: “Why can’t I just be myself? Why isn’t that possible?”
“Lord, save me from these thoughts.” we hear Thelma say as she prays with tears in her eyes. “Thelma” captures the difficulties and delicateness of dealing with religious beliefs and coming to terms with a sexuality that does not coincide with the rest of your identity. It’s a movie packed with yearning and disbelief, subconsciously-controlled psychokinetic powers proving just how intense feeling can be, as well as artistic visuals, like blood drops coloring spilt milk, and a wooden boat catching fire on a still sea. The balance between suspense and tenderness is incredible, and captured in a way that make you feel like you’re living and breathing the very same emotions as Thelma. It’s time to throw out all the stereotypical representations of lesbian relationships in movies, and swap it for this work of art.
Set in: 50’s. Release date: 2015.
Quote: “But there was not a moment where she did not see Carol in her mind, and all she saw, she seemed to see through Carol.” / From the novel.
New York. 1950’s. Elegant and slow-paced. One of those movies that are perfect to watch in bed on a rainy Sunday morning. Cate Blanchett does a beautiful job at portraying the longing her character, Carol, have for the women around her (and one aspiring photographer in particular). This attraction is such a natural part of her, and the relationship that the two of them develop seems so innocent and sincere - like a misplaced piece of a puzzle, suddenly rediscovered and put back where it truly belongs. But while the romance is simple and heartfelt, the rest of the society poses a threat to everything they’ve built. This way the movie is truly emphasizing the absurdity of not accepting same sex relationships; It’s about a woman, leaving an unhappy marriage behind, and finding the love that she’s been missing, but then being deprived of that happiness, solely because of the genders involved. You’re left with a feeling of frustration and a question: Why would anyone try to prevent love? Even if you’ve watched this movie before, I want you to watch it again. It’s that kind of movie that deserves a second glance.
Set in: 50’s. Published: 1956.
Quote: “With everything in me screaming No! yet the sum of me sighed Yes.”
“Giovanni’s room” tells the story of an American living in Paris and the frustration and shame that has become intwined with his identity, as a result of his discontent with his feelings towards other men, especially the Italian bartender Giovanni. Unlike most stories of homosexuality in the 1950’s, “Giovanni’s room” stands out, as it’s actually written in the same time period as it’s set in, and by a queer author. In this way, the book offers a unique perspective and a glimpse into some of the true difficulties of being gay in the 50’s - yet many of the emotional struggles that this book explores, feel very currant. Some might find the book being a bit slow in the beginning, but it’s worth it, as it’s packed with poetic and philosophical thought streams and the poignant battle between wanting something but also hating one self for wanting it. The result is a representation of a queer experience that is complex and touching.
The way we live now
Set in: Early 80’s. Published: 1986.
Quote: “Everyone is at risk, everyone who has a sexual life, because sexuality is a chain that links each of us to many others, unknown others, and now the great chain of being has become a chain of death as well.”
A great example of an author who manages to say so much with a limited amount of words. “The way we live now” is a novel written by Susan Sontag, and it’s composed by a constant stream of voices. We know very little about the person behind each voice, all we know is that they are all connected to an aids-patient in the 80’s, but we never hear directly from the patient. In many ways, this is a story of the impact of disease, rather than sexuality. However, this is a noteworthy piece of queer literature, as it highlights how the voice of homosexuals were lost on the chaos caused by the disease - and the alienation they experienced as people blamed homosexuality for the disease.
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Set in: Present. Published: 2015
Quote: “Being secure in your masculinity isn’t the same as being straight.”
While many works of queer literature paint a gloomy picture of queer experiences (and have the right to do so), “Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda” will showcase an optimism about gay relationships that is just as important. It’s also a story that many queer people growing up in today’s society can relate to, as the main character isn’t ashamed about his sexuality, nor has he ever doubted his sexuality. The main challenge that he faces is the fact that he doesn’t want his relationships with his friends and family to change. What separates this book from most, is that while it explores serious questions and obstacles connected to being gay, the story manages to be funny and optimistic throughout its entirety.
Medium: Trans-dimensional genre-queer pop.
Quote: “I’m trying to be honest/ And live diliberaley/ But my mind’s so scattered/ With different parts of me.”
Meet the queer alt-pop group from Brisbane, that swept me off my feet at one of their concerts in Berlin. The band is composed of vocalist Tim Nelson, keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist Zoe Davis, keyboardist/vocalist Sam “Bolan” Netterfield and drummer Dan Puusaari. Their music is heartfelt, different and often bring up stories of Netterfield and Nelsons own love story, from the age of 17 up until their marriage. You won’t regret adding a few of their songs to your summer playlist. “Party pill” and “Summer lover” are some of their best ones;) Another tip is to follow their journey on instagram and their very own account for their dogs @pupsport x
Medium: Podcast. Episode220.
Creator: This American Life
Quote: “When you have no testosterone, you have no desire. And when you have no desire, you don't have any content in your mind. You don't think about anything.”
I’ve listened to the podcast “This American life” for more than a year now, and this episode still remains one of my favorites. If you’re like me, you’ll end up on the floor crying with earbuds in your ears. The episode is decided into four acts, telling different stories that touch on a common theme - testosterone. In the first part, they talk about what it means to lose all your testosterone. In the second, a woman tells the story of her experience of being pumped up with several times the testosterone that most men have. Next, the staff of the podcast test who has the least testosterone with lab tests to see how the levels match with our personality traits. Lastly, a mother collects recordings where she asks her teenage son questions about what it means to be a boy. Although this podcast doesn’t directly talk about subjects tied to queer sexualities, I still would recommend it for a Pride month listen, as it truly opened my eyes to some of the ways that our hormone levels affect us.
Medium: Ted X Talk.
Creator: Chella Man
Quote: “The next time someone asked me ‘boy or girl'?’, I said ‘or’.”
As you may know, Chella is a deaf and genderqueer artist, that rose to fame because of his artwork, YouTube videos and his openness about his usage of testosterone. In this Ted Talk, Chella talks about his path to identifying as genderqueer. “To become me, the man I am today, I had to make several realizations. The first being that I am transgender. The second - leaning the correct terminology to describe myself authentically. And the third - realizing the difference between presentation and identification.” It’s informative and basically a 7 minute crash course in some of the difficulties one might meet when trying to figure out gender and identity.