The Importance of Variety in LGBT Media

I sit watching the movie “Akron” again for the second time in the last 24 hours. Last night was the first time I watched it and it felt right to put it back on. It wasn’t a fantastic movie, I’ll admit, but I appreciated it for its deviance from traditional LGBT media.

The main characters, Benny and Christopher, are both openly gay. The story spends no time explaining questions about their sexuality and no conflict arises due to their sexualities. They don’t experience discrimination or difficulties while they kiss in public or hold hands.

Often times, LGBT movies focus solely on the character sexuality and only depict the difficulties they experience due to their sexuality. While looking for background information on “Akron”, I found a post by Tumblr user “navigaero”, who classified three kinds of LGBT movies:

“Tier 1 – the conflict comes directly from the fact that the protagonist is gay and is struggling with coming out to their friends and family (example: Love, Simon)

Tier 2 – while some conflict arises due to the fact that the protagonist is gay, most of it comes from some other problem in the story; usually, the protagonist has already come out before the story starts (example: The Song of Achilles)

Tier 3 – absolutely none of the conflict comes from the fact that the protagonist is gay; while the protagonist’s sexual orientation isn’t ignored, none of it contributes to any of the conflict in the story (example: Akron)”

These classifications, while simplistic, can help us evaluate queer media.

A review I read on “Akron” condemned the movie for oversimplifying the day-to-day life of queer people. By avoiding conflicts due to character sexuality, it avoided confronting many of the very real issues that queer people face today.

But I don’t think all LGBT movies need to tackle social rights issues or conflicts due to identity. While many of us are still exploring our identity and experience difficulties in our daily lives, it’s okay for media to focus on other topics. In “Akron”, honesty and family support were more relevant topics. And that’s okay.

We need a variety of LGBT media and “Akron” is part of that.

Another review I read, classified the movie as fluff – being light and pleasant, but of no deeper value. While the first half of the movie was very “happy-go-lucky”, the movie explored questions about forgiveness and honesty. In focusing on these, it neglected other topics like hispanic representation.

I don’t want to come across as ignoring deeper society issues – we have a lot of media on social problems – but sometimes I just want to watch a “happy-go-lucky” queer movie. When I’m feeling blue, I flip on movies like “Jongens (Boys)” or “Shelter” because I don’t always want to confront big social issues. I want to watch two dudes being romantic and not have to worry about their sexuality.

There’ll probably be a post to follow. Hope y’all had a great weekend!

 

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Part of Who I Am

Last Sunday was National Coming Out Day (NCOD) and I chose not to blog about it. After a week of thinking about it, I’ve decided I want to talk about my frustrations about sharing the gay part of myself online. My experiences are incredibly different from people in my age group. It makes it hard to identify with others, especially in the broad LGBTQIA+ community. Most of all, being gay is only a small part of who I am. Sharing that part of myself feels like I’m inflaming it as more than it is.

Every year I see NCOD come and go but I don’t think I’ve ever shared my full coming out story. It seems incredibly different from my friends and others in my age group. In short, I came out when I was 11. I struggled finding friends who I could relate to at such a young age. My family accepted me and I was fortunate to not have to deal with bullying at school. It feels like I’m bragging when I write and I feel guilty for not having the tribulation that many other gay people have to climb through.

When I started going to the GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) in my high school, the acronym I remember learning about was LGBT. It stood for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans. As time has gone on, that acronym has grown to include Questioning, Intersexed, and Aesexuals (or Allies – or Aromantics). Plus other non-heterosexual sexualities. In total, it is LGBTQIA+.

While it’s great to be inclusive, it feels difficult to write about my experiences when I’m lumped in a large group. My experiences as a gay man feel different than, for example, someone who is intersexed or asexual. When I write, I don’t want my experiences to be relayed as speaking for the entire group. I have experienced the Gay and Asexual part but that’s it. When I write about coming out, I write from the perspective of those groups.

Maybe that’s silly but I feel like I can’t talk about being gay without bringing the whole non-hetero community with me. Even talking with my lesbian friends, we have incredibly different experiences. I can write about love and acceptance, because those are major points in coming out for all sexualities, but I cannot speak on behalf of the entire group. We all share that we’re not part of the hetero-normative society but what else do we share? We all want love and acceptance, just like straight people want.

Finally, being gay is only a small part of who I am. While it is important, sometimes writing about it feels like I’m magnifying my experiences as incredibly different. I don’t want to be that character on the TV show whose 3 personality traits are funny, sarcastic, and gay. It’s only a small fraction of who I am. To make it a big deal seems to get away from the point.

That being said, I do understand the importance of NCOD. Having discussions about sexuality are important for equality across the entire group. I want to write more about this in the future but I have to think about how I want to do it. I’m not trying to exclude certain categories, I just want to be taken for me. Not for my sexuality. I’m just a dude who likes dudes. If I want to write about a man crush, I don’t want it to be a big deal. Anyways, this is a work in progress I guess. One step at a time.

BLOGtober day eighteen!

 

Closets are for clothes…

Do any of you all know? What keeps you in the closet? Let’s have a genuine conversation about it! We’re all looking for the same thing – happiness. So as Russ says “let’s get together to solve problems”.

Getting out and being yourself is the only way to actualization. How can you possibly be the best version of you if you are ingenuine? If you always have to put on a mask just to go out in public, are you really living life?

In the comments below, tell me why you’re in the closet or why you think people stay in the closet!

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The Rain Will Wash it Away

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Defining yourself and those around you can bring a sort of sharpness to your life. It can create groups by which you can organize your friends. It can make you able to dissect motives behind why people do things. But it cannot bring you happiness.

Happiness is found when the definition is blurred or erased between everyone. When this group is no longer different from the next. This lack of contrast brings joy because you realize the completeness of everything. When you say that this group is distinct, you eliminate its connection to other groups. You set it apart.

The dangerous part isn’t defining everyone else, it is defining yourself. When I label myself an artist, I eliminate the possibility of possessing non-artistic qualities. When I say that I go into one group, I take on it’s qualities, whether or not they fit me.

Today I ran into a coworker at dinner, and we sat down and talked for the first time. Because I’m so new here, I don’t know very many things about everyone else and they don’t know anything about me. Very quickly another coworker came over to our table (who was friends with the first one) and started talking about having gotten drunk over the weekend. He asked me if I was married or had a girlfriend or anything. I said no. Then the original guy said to me, “you’re gay, right?”.

Before I came here, I wrote about how I wanted to move here and just leave myself label-less for a while. I wanted to live here and not have to deal with all the incessant questions and snap-judgments that people apply. Now it’s known to me that the people I work with have already fixed a label to me.

I wanted that lack of contrast for a while. Where I don’t have to define things for other people and can just be however I am. Not gay, not straight, not anything. Just am. It’s not that I have any problems with gay people, I just want to remove this definition from everyone else. I don’t want to be seen as part of a different crowd. Or have people will change their conversations around me to filter themselves now.

My mind immediately goes to the beach, where any lines of division in the sand will be washed away by rain. It’s been raining all day and maybe this division is only in my head. I suppose only time will tell.

106/365

4 Bands You Really Should Get Into

Music is powerful because it can change our mood and over time it can change the way we think. Music can motivate you to move or it can sympathize with you when you’ve had a rough day. “Music… can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable” (Leonard Bernstein).

Through music we can experience what other people have gone through and feel emotions that we’ve never felt before. The artists that are below have brought me to other worlds and this post is dedicated to their work. Before you read each section, be sure that you hit play on the track to see what each artist sounds like.

1. Tycho

Some days it’s just difficult to get out of bed and start the day. You wake up and groggily walk across the room to get your day started. Tycho’s ambient tracks warm up the day and are so uplifting that you’ll keep that happiness all day.

The track “Hours” and the album “Dive” are great albums to listen through when you’re studying. The music is just so beautiful and non-intrusive that you can play it anytime. The first time I heard Tycho, I almost immediately listen through “Dive” twice while studying for a final.

2. The Killers

Mr. Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me” are the most popular songs released by The Killers. They rose to fame in the early 2000s and “Mr. Brightside” became one of those incredibly overplayed songs on the radio.

If you dive deeper into their albums, to the songs that didn’t reach the same popularity, you can find a goldmine of music. “Neon Tiger” off of the album “Day & Age“, “Read My Mind” from the album “Sam’s Town“, and “Losing Touch” from “Day & Age” are all great less-popular songs by The Killers.

Brandon Flowers, the lead singer, did an independent album called “Flamingo” with a bunch of great tracks and music videos as well.

3. Goldfish

Goldfish is a lot less known than the others here but equally as unique and talented. “The Real Deal” off their self-titled album is my personal favorite. The band stems from South Africa and all of their music is fresh. “Washing Over Me” has amazing lyrics and the rhythm for “Take Back Tomorrow” helps me run a little faster when I’m at the gym.

The amount of energy that their music produces is incredible. Forsythe (YouTuber) has done a few videos dancing to their songs along with shuffler Josy Carver (another YouTuber).

4. Jay Brannan

There aren’t too many gay musicians out there that sing about being gay. Most musicians just sing about other things and avoid the topic all together. Enter Jay Brannan; he sings about moving away to a country where he can be accepted, about “half-boyfriends“, and having a woman friend fall in love with him.

His music speaks because it’s about topics that you don’t normally hear about. Jay also has a lot of YouTube videos where he talks about being rejected by the music industry and being his own record label. Nonetheless he finds his way around the world to play smaller shows and record new music.

One of my favorite songs by him starts off with a remark about him sounding gay. I really encourage you to check out all of his music and his YouTube Channel if you haven’t already.

 

These are just a few of the many musicians that I’ve fallen in love with in the recent years. They put me in a mood where I feel alive and full of energy. They are all very different from each other and broadcast different messages but they all lift me up when I’ve feeling down.

In the comments below, tell me about your favorite artist! What is it that you like about them? What are some of your favorite tracks they’ve done? Have a wonderful night everyone!

77/365

Some follow-up Advice

Yesterday I wrote about kissing a questioning guy and unfortunately my head was preoccupied with it most of today. I struggle in my own life with wanting to give advice to people who don’t want advice – instead of speaking in person I’ve decided to just write it down here and express it. Maybe this will clear my head.

 

To start, I want you to acknowledge that I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, bisexual, whatever. This is just me expressing advice I can give from struggling with my own sexual and gender identity.

1. You don’t have to have yourself all figured out. It’s okay to have things remained undefined and it’s fine to not know. You don’t have to be on a quest to define who you are for the world. Just be yourself and do what comes naturally.

2. There’s no rush and no need to worry about it. Everything falls into place eventually and only you can decide what you want to do. Don’t let pressure or society push you around. You can be gay, you could be straight, it doesn’t matter. You don’t even have to label it. You are whatever you are and that’s perfectly fine.

3. Everyone needs to stop caring what everyone else thinks. It doesn’t matter what they think; the only thing that matters is what you think. That being said, the voice in your head that’s constantly telling you that you’re right or wrong needs to be silenced. Most people struggle with the criticism that other people give but everyone struggles with their own self-criticism.

4. I don’t know your life story but I know that you’re just trying to figure stuff out for yourself. Whatever you come up with is your solution – there’s nothing wrong about it. Who is anyone to say that you are wrong? You are just who you are.

I can’t help but feel like I’ve done something wrong but that’s on my end in my head. Whatever it is you come up with, I hope you find happiness and resolution. It’s frustrating not being able to talk and express this in person but I can’t speak to someone who doesn’t want to be spoken to.

Remember that you can make everything up as you go along. Life is a journey and it’s not about the destination – it’s about where you are right now in this moment. Find that peace and happiness will surely follow.

66/365

Kissing a Questioning Guy

Over this past weekend I kissed a guy who was questioning his sexuality. He is the first guy I’ve ever met who is questioning – and obviously the first one I’ve kissed. This has had its fun and pitfalls, and I’m here to share them with you.

Exploring with a questioner can be exciting – you get to help them dig into their sexuality. There haven’t been a lot of experiences to wear in how everything should work and this can make things feel more fresh. It’s also a chance to look at your own sexuality and focus on what you like as well.

Sexuality is not a rigid wall that cannot be penetrated or surpassed; it is something that can be explored endlessly. You may like this or find yourself wanting that instead – and all of that is fine. You may like some guys and only a few girls. You may like kissing girls but only like getting rough with men. Each person is different and it can be pleasurable just to explore through it.

By being with a person who is questioning, it can cause you to look at yourself and the rigidity you’ve placed on your own sexuality. Are you becoming too worn into the how you date or how you kiss? Maybe this opens your eyes to that rigidity. Trying new things can help bring life back into your sexuality.

There are also a lot of pitfalls in messing around with someone who doesn’t know their sexuality. The other person may not even end up liking you or your gender. You could get really into someone and not get that returned. People who don’t know their sexuality can be emotional about it because they are trying to figure it all out.

When someone is questioning, they are questioning! This, by definition, means that they don’t know exactly what they are into. When you get with them, there is a huge possibility that you’ll be the person that shows them what they aren’t into.

The difficulty with this is that we become emotionally involved and when someone figures out that they don’t like our gender, we take it personally. “Maybe I didn’t represent men well enough” or “Maybe I’m really bad at kissing”. We take it as them rejecting us as humans but it’s more of them figuring it out for themselves.

Think of it like you’re wandering through the produce section of a grocery and you see some exotic fruits. On the outside they may be odd looking, great looking, different, but more importantly they may be intriguing. Just because you are intrigued by that fruit doesn’t mean that you’re going to like it. Other people may like it, but it’s different for each person. If you kiss a questioning person and they don’t like it, it could be just that they don’t like that kind of fruit!

When we try a new food we go into unsure of how we’re going to react. We look at it and maybe get an aroma from it but we’re ultimately unsure of whether we’ll spit it out or get another serving. After experimenting, a questioning person reacts very similar to that. They may make a sour face or smile from the taste of it.

Since we don’t know how they’re going to react we have to make sure we understand that it’s not us. Their reaction isn’t to us, it’s the overall response. They walked in unsure how they were going to respond and you have to accept whatever their response is.

Emotionally this can be very difficult because not all people are blessed/cursed with knowing what they’re into. Some people will react horribly with a huge dramatic response, while other may just shrug it off. Make sure to be supportive of whatever they think. Remember they are exploring, and you are just supporting them in it.

Don’t get me wrong, it can be a lot of fun experiment but it can also be emotionally exhausting. We invest ourselves into everything we do and we aren’t able to control the response. You could potentially have a lot of fun or you could take things personally if things go south (ha).

Remember that your sexuality isn’t rigid either – the exploration can be on both sides. This weekend I got to explore my sexuality and mess around with a really cool guy. I had a lot of fun getting to know him but it brought up questions about my own sexuality and how I define myself.

This weekend and blog post is a testament to taking things personally. We both explored ourselves and I was into him but he wasn’t into me. I took things personally at first but I’ve thought about it more today. Sexuality isn’t rigid and no one else can control it. Have fun exploring yourself and other people. Just keep in mind that it’s only exploration and it doesn’t have to be anything more than that.

Hope you all had a great weekend! Sorry for such short posts this past week and then a really long one! Ha, I wish I had more exciting things to talk about lately! I’ve just been really busy! Moving to Charleston next month! I’ll write you soon!

65/365

P.S. Only 300 more days to go!