Which Summer 2024 Queer Book Should You Read?

On the one hand, summer is not traditionally a big time for publishing, which means sometimes great books don’t get the attention they deserve. On the other hand, publishers also like to squeeze all their LGBTQ+ offerings into June for Pride Month, which means less buzzy books can get lost in the shuffle. Either way, my point here is that this quiz exists to pair you with a great queer book coming out this summer (June, July, or August) that you might not have otherwise found. From graphic novels and romance to historical adventure and poetry, there is quite a wide variety to be found. Let me know which book you got in the comments!


Which Summer 2024 Queer Book Should You Read?

Choose a song about summer:(Required)
Which (sub)genre / format are you in the mood for?(Required)
Choose a body(s) of water:(Required)
What's the best thing about summer?(Required)
Which themes/topics appeal?(Required)
Which anonymous out-of-context detail from the author's official bio intrigues you?(Required)
What are you putting on the grill this summer?(Required)
Choose a constellation to gaze at on warm summer nights:(Required)
Choose a classic queer book:(Required)
What's the best way to beat the summer heat?(Required)
Pick a boat to float on:(Required)
Who sounds like a main character(s) you want to spend time with?(Required)
What was your favorite summer activity as a kid?(Required)
Choose a tree(s):(Required)

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Casey

Known in some internet circles as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, Casey Stepaniuk is a writer, librarian, and new parent. She writes for Book Riot and Autostraddle about queer and/or bookish stuff. Ask her about cats, bisexuality, libraries, queer books, drinking tea, and her baby. Her website is Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian. Find her on Twitter, Litsy, Storygraph Goodreads and Instagram.

Casey has written 126 articles for us.

6 Comments

  1. Got Not for the Faint of Heart :)

    Could we get a full list of all the results? These all sound interesting from the questions!

  2. thanks for this fun quizz!!!

    could you post a list with all the books involved?

    many greetings, silvia

  3. I also want the full list, I’m gonna see if I can cobble it together using the answer options as clues:
    – Cuckoo, Gretchen Felker-Martin (my result)
    – The Italy Letters, Vi Khi Nao
    – Not For the Faint of Heart, Lex Croucher
    – Triple Sec, TJ Alexander
    – Bluff: Poems, Danez Smith
    – A Thousand Times Before, Asha Thanki
    – Vera Bushwack, Sig Burwash
    – The Stardust Grail, Yume Kitasei
    – The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye, Briony Cameron

    • You got em! If you click through to bookshop.org through the title of the book you got as a result and buy any of them, Autostraddle will get a kickback!

    • Oh man, I 100% thought Casey McQuiston’s The Pairing would be one of the options and kept trying to get it 😂

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Anatomy of a Queer Sex Scene: ‘Atomic Blonde’ Has a Bad Script, Great Sex

Welcome to Anatomy of a Queer Sex Scene, a series by Drew Burnett Gregory and Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya about queer sex scenes in film. This week, we discuss David Leitch’s 2017 Charlize Theron-starring action film Atomic Blonde.


Kayla: Okay, so we’re talking about Atomic Blonde today, a film I saw multiple times in theaters. When I pitched it for this series, I thought it could be an opportunity to talk about the fact that sometimes bad movies……..have good sex scenes. This is that! It’s also a bad movie with good stunts! So basically, it’s crushing it in the physicality department. The writing? Not quite crushing it.

Drew: Well, I think the problem with Atomic Blonde is it thinks it’s doing John Le Carré, when it should’ve just done Brosnan-era James Bond. The political intrigue should be the backdrop if you’re not able to do it well. We just want to see Charlize Theron kiss girls and kick ass.

That said… I saw it in theatres in a random small town in Connecticut where I was stuck for the day helping my girlfriend at the time set up for a craft fair for her day job because it took two people to set up the tent but her employer only paid for one person and I was a good girlfriend. And I thought I’d just be sitting there all day and then realized there was a movie theatre with RECLINING SEATS (a real novelty in 2017 imo) within walking distance. So I had a GREAT TIME. The bad parts of Atomic Blonde aren’t so bad when the other option was sitting at a craft fair in Connecticut three months into a gender transition.

Kayla: Convoluted and contrived plot aside, I kept coming back to the movie for the Charlize Theron kissing girls and kicking ass of it all. Imagine if it had just dropped all the pretense and overwrought maneuvering and delivered good action. It’d be an all-time fave for me!

Drew: Oh yeah, in retrospect it definitely had the potential to be GREAT instead of merely decent. But the good news is we’re here today to talk about the sex scene and…no complaints there.

A wide shot of Charlize Theron and Sofia Boutella

Drew: Did you know it was gay going in?

Kayla: I didn’t! I was excited for it because of my lifelong devotion to Charlize but somehow didn’t know there’d be explicitly queer stuff in it. After I saw it, I came into Autostraddle Slack and was like PLEASE LET ME WRITE ABOUT THIS!!!!!!! to the editors at the time. But also, hilariously, didn’t want to dig too deep into criticism of the film so asked if I could instead rank/review the coats worn by Charlize’s character Lorraine in it.

Drew: And THAT is smart internet writing. Good costumes, too, you’re right. It really is just the script.

Kayla: Do I have issues with this film? Yes. Do I have issues with the coats? No.

All the physical details of the film are on point! Which makes sense given director David Leitch’s background as a stunt performer/coordinator.

Drew: Right, and it makes sense the screenwriting is the problem given Kurt Johnstad’s background of writing Zack Snyder’s 300.

(I don’t feel bad naming him since this is how his bio starts: A former assistant director and key grip, Kurt Johnstad has an long-standing relationship with the military, and wrote the “Navy SEALs playing themselves” movie, “Act of Valor”.)

Anyway should we talk about the sex in the movie written by the guy who loves the military.

Kayla: It really is shocking that the sex scene is as good as it is. And it’s good from the very beginning, with Lorraine and Delphine’s first kiss, the walk to the bathroom, the tension when Lorraine finds her gun, back to sex. And that transition from the bathroom to the bedroom is incredible. So hot! As fluid as some of the action/stunt sequences!

Lorraine and Delphine kiss in Atomic Blonde

Drew: Yes! Also I’m sorry as corny as it is but “can I tell you something” or “I need to ask you a question” followed by a kiss will always get me!!

And another thing that will get me? When the line is blurred between making out and fighting. Especially when the gun pull is followed by the characters reconnecting for real rather than it only being for spy maneuvering.

I could easily see a version of this movie where she’s just bi for strategy but it’s very clear in this scene it’s like no this is real even if it started as a maneuver.

Kayla: 100%. My entire sexuality was basically shaped by the film Mr. & Mrs. Smith. A blurred line between fucking and fighting will always be like catnip for me.

Drew: REMAKE MR AND MRS SMITH WITH ANGIE AND A WOMAN.

Kayla: Once again, begging Hollywood to put us in charge.

Drew: I don’t remember how that movie ended, but Mrs. Smith could get a divorce from shitty Mr. Smith and meet another assassin who is a woman. How Mrs. Smith Got Her Groove Back. Was this the vision Phoebe Waller-Bridge had before she parted ways with Donald Glover? Probs not but…It is my vision.

Kayla: It is a great vision indeed.

Charlize Theron threatening Sofia Boutella in Atomic Blonde

Kayla: Delphine’s character was originally a man in the graphic novel the movie is based on. Did you know that?

Drew: I didn’t!! Did military man change it for the script or was that directorial?

Kayla: Military man lol. And reportedly, he ran it by Charlize and she was like yeah let’s do it.

Drew: Love that. I also love that it actually has a sex scene. They easily could’ve ended with the makeout, cut to them in bed, but instead there’s this awesome match cut of them falling back onto the bed and then a brief but really well-done IMO sex scene.

Kayla: It’s so well done! I was actually kind of shocked rewatching it for this piece, because I was like surely my 2017 brain (somewhat newly out, very horny) romanticized this. But no, it’s hot! It’s stylized in cool ways but still feels natural! It’s actually a lot steamier than we get from a lot of James Bond films, which usually just do the cut-to-bed move.

Drew: Yes! It’s not just exciting that it’s gay, it’s exciting that a big budget action movie takes time for sex and sensuality.

Kayla: Yes, because that is one of my major gripes with big budget action movies these days. They’re so desexed! Action movies are so much about adrenaline, bodies, physicality, power, movement, sweat — all things I associate with sex! And yet, it’s hard to find action movies that actually have fucking in them these days.

I think Soderbergh complained about this w/r/t superhero movies and I was like he’s right and he should say it! If superheroes existed IRL, they would all be having sex with each other all the time.

Drew: Since I trashed Zack Snyder earlier, I will give him points for including sex in Watchmen, even if it was more goofy than sexy lol.

Kayla: A large part of my admittedly misguided defense of the Watchmen movie is that it has sex lol.

Lorraine and Delphine in Atomic Blonde

Kayla: And then with a spy movie like Atomic Blonde, sex is indeed often used as currency, as a way to manipulate or get information or otherwise have some sort of exchange. We see that in James Bond films. But we don’t always get to see that actual exchange.

Drew: Yes! Absolutely. And it can manifest in a range of ways. Either it can be sexy in a more escapist action movie context or it can be really bleak like on The Americans. And it’s important to spend time with that moment so we can have the context of how these characters feel. In Atomic Blonde it’s clear they feel… very good.

Kayla: Oh yeah, The Americans is such a fascinating look at how sex comes into play with spy work.

Well another thing I love about Atomic Blonde is that there’s a layer of realism to a lot of its physicality. Lorraine gets fucking TIRED. We get to see her fatigue. I like this about the John Wick movies as well. I like when action heroes show the effects of this on their bodies. There are times when she starts moving slower, breathing harder. The longer a fight scene goes, the more it shows. So then I like that on the other side of this, we also get to see her character experience pleasure in an authentic way, too.

Drew: Yes!! That’s such a good point.

Kayla: James Bond often falls into the action hero category of almost godlike invincibility. He doesn’t get tired. A lot of iterations of him are sexy in a surface-level way, but it’s not like we’re seeing him experience or engage with pleasure! It’s almost like he’s a sexy robot lol. Lorraine in Atomic Blonde feels like a real person with a real body. Which makes it all the hotter!

Drew: Yeah it’s why I do think Daniel Craig is probably the sexiest Bond, even if he isn’t the most conventionally attractive.

It’s a bummer we’ve already gotten four John Wicks and still no Atomic Blonde sequel. No offense to John Wick, a series I love. But I’d love to see Charlize step into this role again! Even if The Old Guard was a better movie overall.

Kayla: A John Wickian universe for Atomic Blonde would be cool as hell. I basically want Charlize doing stunts alllll the time. Leitch really praised her stuntwork for this film (she famously did almost all of it herself), and that’s big props coming from him.

Drew: Hey, we can even do a crossover Atomic Blonde Meets Mrs. Smith.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 863 articles for us.

Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 553 articles for us.

3 Comments

  1. Did you know that Charlize and Keanu sparred and trained together for those perspective movie roles? You can probably still find the footage on YouTube. Also there was talk of a sequel coming to Netflix I believe Charlize had signed a movie deal with them. Old Guard was the first of a series of movies she was supposed to do with Netflix. That was pre Covid though.

  2. Why not make a real blockbuster as good as Bond or Bourne or any other assassin but for real? Here are 50 plus reasons why Hollywood should make a film based on the life of the accountant/banker come spy Bill Fairclough’s. Fairclough (MI6 codename JJ) aka Edward Burlington is the protagonist in TheBurlingtonFiles series of fact based spy thrillers. If you enjoy noir and genuine espionage read the news article dated 7 August 2023 entitled Bill Fairclough’s Known Life-threatening Incidents in TheBurlingtonFiles website and thank your god you are still alive. After all, you probably weren’t protected by Pemberton’s People in MI6 (see another intriguing news article in the same website dated 3 May 2024 about them).

    The news articles were released several years after Beyond Enkription was published which makes them all the more beguiling. Little wonder it’s mandatory reading on some countries’ intelligence induction programs. All this is not only mind-boggling but backed up by some evidence so who needs fictitious spies like Bond and Bourne anymore? Just like the spy novel Beyond Enkription based on Bill Fairclough’s life in 1974, these articles make for sobering yet superb reads as long as you don’t expect John le Carré’s delicate diction, sophisticated syntax and placid plots.

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Kehlani’s New Album ‘Crash’ Is an Explosion of Queer Sensuality

The last few months have been busy for Kehlani. Between speaking out against the genocide in Palestine, releasing two new videos (one of which centers their recent activism), and working on an album, it was hard to know exactly what to expect of their new album, Crash. A few days before the release, they teased on social media that their new music would go in new directions, and that the moment they decided to “embrace” the fact that they don’t “fit a mould” was the moment they started having “the most fun.”

As we’ve seen with a lot of pop, R&B, and adjacent acts over the last couple of years, many artists are experimenting with sounds that aren’t part of their normal repertoire. The R&B sphere has been particularly interesting, with artists like Kelela, Tinashe, Victoria Monét, and Amaarae challenging the conventional notions of what R&B is and where it can go. It would be hard to compare this moment with any other, but it has certainly reminded me of some of the risks R&B acts were taking in the late 90s and early aughts. We’re not seeing them achieve the same mainstream success necessarily but the music’s been good. Better than good, actually. It’s been thoughtful in its references, intricate in its production, and unafraid of going in directions that might seem odd or offbeat. Needless to say, I was hoping after seeing Kehlani’s updates about Crash — especially after their last two releases, blue water road and It Was Good Until It Wasn’t, seem to toe the line between what they wanted and what others expected of them a little too closely to the latter — that they’d created something truly outside the “mould” they were waiting to escape.

And Crash delivers in ways I don’t think a lot of people will expect. On Crash, we get all of the emotional and sexual honesty we’ve come to expect from Kehlani, and that intimacy extends outwards to the composition of the tracks. Kehlani and their producers strip down what we know of R&B to its most important components, giving us 13 tracks that definitely vary in their effectiveness but almost all present an intriguing vision of how to blur boundaries between genres while still staying true to R&B foundations that inform the album’s production.

The album sets the scene with “GrooveTheory,” a kind of tribute to the mid-90s neo soul group of the same name. It starts with an understated and hazy arrangement that’s reminiscent of early girl-group ballads with repetitious backing vocals and a saccharine-voiced Kehlani singing, “I’m not the one / And I’m kind of crazy.” Then, a little less than halfway through the track, the “station” changes (literally, it sounds like someone is messing with a radio dial), and we’re taken somewhere entirely new. The ballad switches to a sultry, bass-heavy electronic beat and Kehlani’s voice changes entirely. Now, they’re trying to turn you on: “Come talk with me / Wanna get you open / Now that you’re free.” It’s a delicate balance between sensuality in the form of late night sex and dance floor seduction and sensuality in the form of breaking themself open in front of the person they want to be with. And that balance informs the rest of the album.

Crash’s singles, “Next 2 U” and “After Hours,” immediately follow the opening track, with both separately representing the governing mood of it. “Next 2 U” begins with the deep, reverberating sounds of an electric guitar and bursts into a bevy of gleaming, 80s R&B-inspired synths and a slowly pulsating clap-like bassline as Kehlani promises “They gon’, they gon’ have to call the law / I don’t care what they offer, I’m protecting you.” With little transition in between, “After Hours” comes on quickly with its “Coolie Dance Rhythm” sample setting the foundation for a truly exhilarating pop track that would most definitely be a suitable choice for Song of the Summer, if we were still doing that kind of thing. Like the back end of “GrooveTheory,” “After Hours” is dripping with sexual desire — “I wanna feel the sweat breathin’ through your clothes / The way you touch my neck got me ready to fold” — and the hope that the person it’s addressing will spend the night.

“After Hours” pushes us directly into some of the boldest, raunchiest tracks on the album (and maybe of Kehlani’s career so far) with a couple of ballads interrupting and bookending the naughtiness of them. “What I Want” layers a hip hop bassline and background hype exclamations over the hook of Christina Aguilera’s “What A Girl Wants” as Kehlani demands in cadence between rapping and singing, “I want a bitch that look better than me / Pussy get wetter than me.” Meanwhile, “Sucia” employs some alluring spoken word from Jill Scott at the top of the track as the sound of snakes slithers in the background, then the track evolves into a well of sensuous and slow-moving synth melodies and basslines. Here, Kehlani isn’t making any demands. They’re just confident as hell. This time, they tell their lover, “Follow any instructions of your body / I bottlе that shit up, pour in a sip / Girl, you should taste the water from your well.” “8” is equally horny but changes the formula a little. The composition is upbeat and smooth, putting that late 90s R&B that undergirds so many of the tracks on the album in the foreground. On “8,” they’re not trying to seduce in the same way as the other two tracks. Instead, they’re the one trying to get broken off this time around: “I’m in the mood, you know what to do / Treat this like some food / Ten minus two with you / Ain’t the point of cake, just to eat it too / I’m tryna get ate.”

The two songs that stud these tracks — the title track “Crash” and “Better Not” — are country-rock influenced guitar-forward ballads that would feel out of place on this record in someone else’s hands, but Kehlani makes it work. Although some of the other work from artists employing the “Yeehaw Agenda” on their recent albums feels a bit contrived, the songwriting and composition feels in line with a lot of the work Kehlani did on their previous two albums. They don’t share the same explosive energy of much of the rest of the album, but they’re a great illustration of that balance Kehlani put forward through “GrooveTheory.” They’re demonstrating how that balance feels in real life: Some days are lust-filled and sexually adventurous. On others, they’re longing for something more, something closer to the comfort of being in the arms of the person they love most in the world.

Acid house and Afrobeats-rhythms-inspired “Tears” and 80s-synth-heavy “Vegas” follow “Better Not” and are some of the most interestingly arranged tracks on the album. “Tears” is just begging to be played at the peak of a queer dance night with its repetitive bass syncopation and layered vocals, particularly when the chorus of the track bursts on. The synths and deep, popping bassline on “Vegas” have the makings of being the best track on the score of some indie-romance. On it, Kehlani sings in the chorus, “And while the world is on fire / We’re getting high, making love,” a lyric that underscores how most of us are living right now by trying to eke out moments of ecstatic joy in the midst of dystopia. These tracks are less overtly erotic than other tracks on Crash, but they still exude a similar sensuality while also never losing sight of the tension between love and lust that underpins everything Kehlani is doing on Crash.

The album closes with “Lose My Wife,” a track with a folk rhythm that feels straight out of the 90s neo-soul alternative section, and brings back some of the persona Kehlani’s made their name on over the years. On this track, they’re a little naughty and flirtatious but still trying to keep the person they love from leaving them. Over a bumping, muted guitar, Kehlani sings, “I’ve been wildin’ out tonight / So when I get home / I give you what you want.” It’s a perfect encapsulation and perfect closing for an album that navigates so much of the emotional turmoil Kehlani — and many of us — are experiencing in this current moment, stuck between global tragedy after global failure and trying to live our lives the way we think they should be lived. Kehlani has never been afraid to lay it all on the line in their music, but Crash is representative of a new kind of swagger — one that reminds us of where they came from, how talented they are, and how much further they have to go.

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Stef Rubino

Stef Rubino is a writer, community organizer, and student of abolition from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. They teach Literature and writing to high schoolers and to people who are currently incarcerated, and they’re the fat half of the arts and culture podcast Fat Guy, Jacked Guy. You can find them on Twitter (unfortunately).

Stef has written 90 articles for us.

1 Comment

  1. This is my favorite release of the year! Been a kehlani fan since Cloud 19 the doll dun been through some thangs. It feels like they have finally made it to the other side and I love that for them! Definitely feels like a culmination of their major releases. Can’t wait to see them on tour!

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Boob(s on Your) Tube: In ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Finale, Luckily Nobody’s Girlfriend Or Boyfriend Is Bloody Rose

Here we are again on Friday, the only day of the week that rhymes with the word “My-day’! It’s been a sleepy summer week for this week of television — especially because we have learned that Netflix robbed us of bisexual chaos on Perfect Match! Can you believe? I hardly can. Also, Kayla reviewed the second season of Wreck, Natalie got into Bridgerton’s sapphic action and Sai wrote about Disco: Soundtrack of a Revolution.


Notes from the TV Team:

+ This week’s episode of All American finally breaks Coop out of the silo she’s been sequestered in and reconnects her with her best friend (Patience is, of course, MIA). The aspiring lawyer (and future manager) is on hand for the culmination of a dream she and Spencer shared as kids…well, sort of: somehow Spencer, a projected top five pick, drops out of the first round of the draft. — Natalie

+ Kristen Kish crowned her first Top Chef this week and, of course, she did it sleeveless.

Kristen Kish, in a matching red halter and pants, applauds the new Top Chef.

Pack it up everyone, the war on sleeves has been won. — Natalie


Pretty Little Liars: Summer School Episode 208: “Chapter Eighteen: Final Exam”

Written by Valerie Anne

Pretty Little Liars Summer School: The Liars on their therapy couch one last time

Love me some Final Girls.

In the season finale, Faran saves Kelly from the pool after encountering Bloody Rose, crossing Kelly’s mother off the list of suspects, because she was locked in their prayer closet. Dr. Sullivan is missing, and now Real Rose Waters is, too.

They start to worry mothers are a specific target, so they check on Tabby’s mom, who’s safe, but received roses. They see on the news that Archie Waters is reported dead, but these Liars are clever, so they don’t believe it and decide to be cautious. They go see Chip’s mother, and the news about Archie seems to have chilled her out. She was also sent roses.

When Noa talks to Jen about their heightening Bloody Rose problem, Jen mentions it seems suspicious that Imogen and Tabby’s boyfriends came out of nowhere at the same time, right before this nonsense started. Noa doesn’t buy it but brings it up to the Liars, who point out that even though she knew Jen before, Jen’s an unknown quantity too. All significant others have alibis for certain Bloody Rose events, but if there is a team-up, that could be explained away. They decide to investigate their SOs, except Mouse; everyone agrees Ash has never done anything wrong in his life. What I loved about this is that they started to bicker, but instead of storming off, they realized they were turning against each other, took a step back and problem-solved. It’s emotional maturity we have yet to see in a band of Liars.

The boys don’t pass their tests when Tabby finds a Davie mask in Christian’s basement, and Imogen finds bodies in the ice cream shoppe freezer. Imogen takes a wrench to Johnny’s head and stuffs him in the freezer, while Tabby ends up knocked out and taken by Bloody Rose.

When they don’t hear from Tabby, the Liars run to the movie theater to find Christian and the Spooky Spaghetti servers. The Reckoning has begun, so Bloody Rose superfans charge the theater and trap them inside.

Meanwhile, Tabby wakes up trapped in a confessional with The Real Rose’s skinned body and she busts out to find a church full of masks and their villains: Wes and Chip’s mother, Mrs. Langsbury. Mrs. Langsbury wants Tabby to say Chip isn’t a rapist, and Wes wants to make a horror movie by live-streaming a snuff film, because it’s “so hard” for white men to break into the industry these days. Supreme eye roll. But Tabby refuses and reiterates her truth about Chip.

Meanwhile, the girls follow Wes’s livestream to Tabby. On the way, they call Jen to have her walk Noa through hotwiring a car, and she says “it would be an honor.”

Wes tries to get Tabby to act scared for his camera by saying there’s no way out, but she launches herself out a window and sprints to a cabin, fighting off Spooky Spaghetti weirdos along the way.

The Liars get to the church too late, Faran kicks Bloody Rose in the face, and they follow the livestream to the cabin. But Wes gets there first and fights Tabby, who runs him through with the pitchfork. When the Liars arrive, they find Tabby in shock, Wes pinned to the wall but alive, and Dr. Sullivan tied up. And finally, the sound of sirens; help is on the way.

Two weeks later, Mrs. Langsbury and Wes are arrested, Spooky Spaghetti is gone, and the Liars are ready to move on. They get matching tattoos that say FGE (“Final Girl Energy”), and celebrate when they find out they all passed their exams. It’s nice to see them experience regular teenage joy.

Of course, nothing is truly over in Millwood. Dr. Sullivan talks to her editor who says she needs the girls’ signoff before they can publish her book, and she calls them narcissists and says that shouldn’t be a problem. Then, as if to punish her for it, Archie Waters appears. She begs for answers about her son as she is stabbed to death.

I, for one, hope the Liars come back for junior year. Until then, have a nice summer!


The Chi 615: “Tower of Terror”

Written by Natalie

Victor explains to Fatima all the reasons she should come home. She's wearing a lavender suit with white v-neck blouse.

It’s Thanksgiving in the Chi…and, in the spirit of the on-screen holiday, I’m trying to think of something to be thankful of about The Chi. Contrary to popular belief, there’s little joy to be derived from pointing out a show’s missteps; I do it in hopes of writers rethinking their approaches and doing better by their queer characters. But this week, I’m thankful for Fatima’s return to our screens…she looks absolutely amazing. More on that in a minute.

Usually, when Roselyn drops by The Chi, she’s the harbinger of chaos but this week, she delivers a warning directly to her husband’s front door. Things are quiet, she says, too quiet, and she encourages Douda to lay low. It’s an oddly intimate scene — Roselyn helps his dress and drags her hands across his body multiple times — but Douda kisses Roselyn on her forehead and brushes aside her concerns. If this is the calm before the storm, he’s set to make it rain.

Later, Roselyn stops by Toni Childs’ bar and echoes her concerns about the forthcoming storm. It’s odd to see Roselyn worked up into a frenzy like this, particularly when there hasn’t been any obvious provocation. Likewise, it’s odd to see Roselyn and Toni Bianca have a tug of war over a man neither of them love and both are using for business reasons. After issuing her warning to Bianca, Roselyn leaves with Serena…only to have her bodyguard pull out her gun and fires at a guy that’s been following them all day. She doesn’t hit anyone but the act draws Roselyn’s ire…she doesn’t want the unwanted attention. Her anger is quickly defused by Serena’s charm…and I’d be enamored if any of this made sense.

Meanwhile, Douda calls Brittany, looking for the information that he paid her to get. Brittany insists that she’s been watching her brother but there’s simply nothing to report. He dismisses her — “your services are no longer required” sounds a lot more ominous when there’s a gun laying on the table — but, in an effort to save herself and to end their spying arrangement, Brittany explains that he should worry less about Bakari and more about someone else in his camp. We don’t get to see her share any information but, presumably, she rats out the lucrative side deal that Nuck made with Douda’s would-be killer. It might be enough to save Brittany with Douda but after word of her arrangement gets back to her brother, Bakari insists that he never wants to speak to his sister again.

Over at Nina’s, LaPorsha makes them both breakfast but acknowledging that the road is calling her. She invites Nina to join her on her next long hauling adventure. Nina’s reluctant: she has a life here in Chicago but she reaches out to her circle of friends to get their perspective. Tracy’s supportive but Jada’s rightfully skeptical, after all Nina just met LaPorsha. But Nina’s looking for support, not persuasion: she wants to finally do something for herself.

There is, of course, little substantive conversation about Lynae, the child she and Dre adopted, the threat her daughter is under, or the upheaval in her grandson’s life. Instead, it’s just “that lesbian sex must be something else ’cause girl, she got you ready to leave town and not look back.” Who cares about sensible storylines: Nina’s going on the road with Da Brat!

But at least Fatima’s back! She joins her mother and older sister for “Monroe Magic Friendsgiving” and they enjoy some fun and easy banter. Unbeknownst to her, Isis extended a Friendsgiving invite to Victor, who shows up and asks Fatima for a few minutes of her time. Alone, Victor admits that he’d never pondered his future much until he met her and now, he can’t imagine a future without her in it. He begs Fatima to come home. She questions his over-commitment to work and his ongoing relationship with Douda. He assures her that he’s already cut back at work and will end his connection to Douda, once and for all, soon. Her concerns assuaged, Fatima agrees to finally come back home.

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Natalie

A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. You can follow her latest rants on Twitter.

Natalie has written 408 articles for us.

Valerie Anne

Just a TV-loving, Twitter-addicted nerd who loves reading, watching, and writing about stories. One part Kara Danvers, two parts Waverly Earp, a dash of Cosima and an extra helping of my own brand of weirdo.

Valerie has written 567 articles for us.

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Should Bridgerton’s Sapphic Couple Be the Focus of Next Season?

Just before she hands her daughter, Francesca (Hannah Dodd), off to be married, Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell) recalls the love she shared with her late husband, Edmund. She recalls being so taken by him that she could barely speak her own name; even the most familiar words eluded her. For years, it’s been the prism through which Lady Bridgerton sees love and it’s what she’s always wanted for her children.

But that’s not what Francesca has. Her daughter’s relationship with John Stirling, the Earl of Kilmartin, has been — often quite literally — muted. Theirs is an understated courtship, devoid of all the pomp and circumstance that we’ve witnessed over Bridgerton‘s run. They accept each other for who they are and value quiet and peace, above all else. Their courtship and engagement were short, and they plan a small, intimate wedding at Bridgerton House. It’s not the love Lady Bridgerton knew but it’s one she’s come to understand.

“What I was going to say is that, for the longest time, I thought that that is what love must be like for everyone — surprising, forceful, quick — but you have shown me that there is another way,” she admits. “There is…beauty in the slow approach.”

The couple weds and participates in one last ball before absconding to John’s family estate in the Scottish Highlands. But before Francesca and John depart, two more join their traveling party: Eloise (Claudia Jessie), Francesca’s older sister who seeks an opportunity to have more adventures outside the Bridgerton bubble, and John’s cousin, Michaela Stirling (Masali Baduza).

“I caution you, every sordid detail John has spoken about me is a lie,” Michaela jokes. “The truth is far worse.”

As she takes Michaela in for the first time, Francesca’s breath catches. Words elude her. She stumbles over her own name. There it is — surprising, forceful, quick — a love like her parents once had. Only with a woman. Yes, dearest gentle readers, the moment we’ve been waiting for since our first visit to 19th Century Regency London has finally arrived: Bridgerton has gotten gay.

John introduces his new wife, Francesca, to his cousin and best friend, Michaela Stirling.

The story represents a dramatic departure from Julie Quinn’s source material in When He Was Wicked. In the books, Michaela Stirling is Michael, who experiences that surprising, forceful, quick love when he first meets Francesca. Unwilling to disturb the newlyweds’ happiness, Michael keeps his affections buried and engages in meaningless affairs to stifle his hurt. But when John dies, Francesca latches onto Michael in her grief and the closeness only torments Michael more. His grief is coupled with guilt, over coveting John’s wife and inheriting his title and estate, and he runs away to India to avoid taking over his cousin’s old life. Eventually, though, he returns and ultimately he and Francesca find their way to each other.

“When I read her book, I, as a queer woman, really related to her book. Maybe in a way Julia Quinn didn’t intend, but a lot of Francesca’s book is about feeling different from her family and from the world around her and not really knowing why,” showrunner Jess Brownell told Deadline. “In the book, I think it’s mostly just about being introverted. But I think for a lot of queer people — not every queer person, but a lot of queer people — that sense of feeling different from the time you’re young, is part of our stories.”

Admittedly, this is not how I expected Bridgerton‘s queerness to play out. Like most Bridgerton-watching gays, I was convinced that Eloise would be the show’s resident queer character. She’s strong, fiercely independent and eschews all the trappings of the Regency era. She has this intense friendship with Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and it’s their break-up at the end of season two which reverberates the most. She was very much giving “young Anne Lister ” vibes to me personally.

“We’ve talked about Eloise in the room a lot about the fact that to a lot of people, she does read as queer, and I totally understand why,” Brownell told TVLine. “But we felt it’s really important to hold space in this show where everyone is obsessed with romance for there to be a character — specifically a female character — for whom that is not the priority.”

The wait for Francesca’s next chapter will be a long one. Certainly, the crafting of a new arc so dramatically different from the one laid out in Quinn’s version will take time. According to Brownell, Bridgerton‘s fourth season won’t likely debut until 2026. Even then, it’s unclear which pairing will be the focus of the show’s next season. Bridgerton‘s third season marked a departure from the sequence in Julia Quinn’s source material so it’s anyone’s guess what the future holds…and Brownell certainly isn’t telling. In addition to Francesca’s story, this season teed up possibilities for Benedict, Eloise, and even Lady Violet so the writers could go in any number of directions.

The queer television fan in me — scarred by years of abrupt cancellations and queer stories that we never get to see come to fruition — wants Francesca’s story to come as soon as possible, especially since Netflix has only guaranteed four seasons of the show. But, as a fan of the show, I’d rather it revert back to its earlier form: giving centerstage to one pairing at a time, rather than packing multiple couples into one season. This season was just too much and with so many other storylines to juggle, it detracted from the central romance. I’m not sure I ended the season thinking Colin Bridgerton was worthy of Penelope. But then again, it’s possible that no one deserves Nicola Coughlan and her perfect breasts.

Ultimately, I just want the same robust storytelling afforded to Francesca and Michaela as was given to Phoebe and Simon in season one. I want Francesca and Michaela to enjoy sultry sex scenes just like Colin and Penelope got to share this season. I want this same-sex couple to exist on the same playing field as all the other couples — or, as much as possible in the 19th Century — even if that means we have to wait a little longer to see it.


Bridgerton season three is now streaming on Netflix.

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Natalie

A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. You can follow her latest rants on Twitter.

Natalie has written 408 articles for us.

7 Comments

  1. The degree of my fascination with your creations is equal to your own enthusiasm. The sketch is tasteful, and the authored material is of a high caliber. Yet, you appear uneasy about the prospect of heading in a direction that could cause unease. I’m confident you’ll be able to resolve this situation efficiently.

  2. “But then again, it’s possible that no one deserves Nicola Coughlan and her perfect breasts.”

    Lol hard agree on this and everything else here Natalie. I hope we get a season devoted just to Francesca and Michaela, although that would mean killing off John pretty quickly, and I do like him.

  3. i’m really glad they made Francesca queer instead of Eloise. that felt too easy.

    they had to cram so much into this season because i think most of the books have super time jumps that don’t work well for tv, so it feels like it’s anyone’s guess as to who’ll be next. i feel like they’re going to go with either Benedict or Eloise next and make us wait for Francesca and Michaela until maybe the fandom calms down about it. i have seen people make a case for Benedict’s love interest Sophie to be a transwoman, and i don’t hate that idea. just make them all queer!

  4. Honestly with how Daphne, Anthony, and Colin’s romances went you’d think maybe Violet would pull back her expectations in regards to her kids relationships. Probably not going to get any better regardless of which kid is the next focus.

  5. I’m not here for Francesca’s story being one of being in a stifling marriage and yearning for her cousin-in-law. For all the failings of the books, Francesca really did love John and you felt their marital happiness in the text. I’d like to see this reflected in the show. She genuinely loves her husband and married life, and has to parse out how much of the guilt she feels after his death (sorry for the spoilers) about moving on at all and how much of it is moving on with someone so close to her husband. And in the adaptation, apparently, how much of her misgivings is reconciling with a queer identity. A bisexual second chance at love, not a seedy affair.

    But it has to wait until after the tragedy. Because John’s death has to be a real tragedy, or this isn’t a romance. It’s some other kind of story.

  6. Reading reviews of the episode was really funny for my bc my autistic brain definitely misinterpreted that scene. I thought it was just showing that Francesca was just as tongue-tied around John’s family as he was around hers. I actually pegged Michaela as a potential sapphic love interest but thought she and Eloise were the ones who might get together. *facepalm*

    As it is I have kind of mixed feelings about the pairing bc I definitely endorse the queer angle (and that actress is STUNNING), but I also had a lot of affection for John and Francesca’s neurodivergent, maybe ace vibe. It’s also something underrepresented in romance stories. I appreciated the Violet coming to understand that love could look different for different people, and it kind of sucks to have the narrative immediately undercut that idea.

  7. I could really feel the queerness in Eloise and Cressida. Eloise was really like a queer woman in terms of personality and Cressida reflected the feeling of a queer woman really well in terms of appearance (After all, Jessica Madsen herself is queer)
    But unfortunately, unlike Eloise and Cressida, I could not feel anything queer about Francesca neither in terms of appearance nor in terms of personality. Francesca always gave me the same feeling that most straight women give me, and like all straight women, she was only thinking about men.
    That’s why it was hard for me to believe that she is queer.
    Personally, I got this feeling to some extent from Michaela, even though it was only a short moment in the series, but not from Francesca :)
    Anyway, my expectations from Michaela and Francesca’s love story are really high and I hope they will show a wonderful storytelling, otherwise I will be really upset, especially from Brownell Showrunner of the series. Because of the cost of building this ship (Michaela and Francesca), the sinking of the ship (Cressida) was my favorite.

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Am I Being Biphobic Or Just Setting Boundaries?

I want to support my [erstwhile lesbian] girlfriend, but I draw a hard line at cis men...

Q:

How do I support my partner through an identity change that I am not enthusiastic about? My partner is starting to explore her sexuality more. At first, we both identified as lesbians. I know bisexual women and lesbians have a lot in common, but there are some things that we do not. I like sharing that part of my identity with my partner. If she settles on being attracted to men as well, we will lose that aspect of our connection. Further, I don't have any IRL lesbian friends so I would lose this connection overall in my life. Something else complicating this is that we are poly. I categorically do not want to have a cis man as a meta. That i...

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Annie Baker’s ‘Janet Planet’ Captures the Beautiful Hell of Queer Childhood

Childhood is a time of extremes. One moment no one at sleepaway camp likes you. The next, you’ve made a friend. You’re in a state of constant discovery, torn between the joy of curiosity and the burden of reality. Childhood was hell and I hated every minute of it. Except, of course, I didn’t. When we first meet Lacy (Zoe Ziegler), the ten year old protagonist of Annie Baker’s debut feature Janet Planet, she is threatening to kill herself. Or, at least, she’s saying that so her mom (Julianne Nicholson) will pick her up from camp. The next day she’ll realize this call was premature — alas her mom has already received her money back. The adult world doesn’t have time for the whims of children. It didn’t in the 90s when Lacy is growing up; it doesn’t now. Lacy is a dramatic, intense child, but she expresses her feelings quietly. She’s not a force, but a presence. She is only inconvenient in her refusals — to stay, to go, to sleep apart from her mom. She’s queer in that she asks if it’s okay for her to someday fall in love with a woman and queer in the sense that she’s simply different. Her rich interior life and private play are more advanced than her social skills. It’s fitting that Baker and her DP Maria von Hausswolff have found a visual style to match Lacy’s quiet intensity. Shots are held to an extended meditative length, but they’re almost exclusively close ups and wides. There are no mediums in Lacy’s world. The peaceful exterior of the beautiful 16mm photography is betrayed by this constant oscillating between removal and obsessive attention. While this may be Baker’s first feature, it’s no surprise that her grasp on cinema is already so developed. After all, she won a Pulitzer for a play about a movie theatre filled with many cinematic references. A vocal cinephile, it’s easy to feel the influence on Baker from films like L’enfance nue and Fanny and Alexander — and, less obviously, the rhythms and seductions of filmmakers ranging from Chantal Akerman to Apichatpong Weerasethakul. And yet Baker’s cinematic style feels wholly her own. It shares DNA with the precise cadence of her plays as much as these cinematic reference points. I was hardly the only one to think her playwriting would translate well to film, but it’s still thrilling to finally see that manifest so fully. The arrival of this not-new-but-new-to-film voice wouldn’t be possible without her collaborators. Maria von Hausswolff, especially, deserves another mention. 16mm is my favorite format (for filmmaking? for all artmaking?) and if anyone asks why I could simply point to Janet Planet. The entire props and costume and production design team also deserves celebration for sustaining the many close ups on objects. And the editing by Lucian Johnston creates flow between the contrasted shots resulting in the film’s steady pace. Then, of course, there are the performers. Zoe Ziegler gives a special performance, containing none of the artifice often found in young actors. And Julianne Nicholson gets the part I’ve been waiting for ever since she out-acted far more famous names in the August: Osage County film adaptation. It’s not a showy role, yet she shows her depth of talent. The supporting cast matches the heights of the leads. Will Patton and Elias Koteas play two very different types of men to perfection and Sophie Okonedo delivers some of this quiet film’s best words. Janet Planet is a film you sink into. I’ve already seen it twice and feel drawn to see it again. It’s a film that continues to reveal new details on-screen and new details internally as a viewer. Movies often employ cheap nostalgia; this film employs deep nostalgia. You may chuckle recognizing the Clarissa Explains It All theme song, but it’s more likely a glance shared between mother and daughter will be your Proust’s madeleine. Whether you’re a longtime fan of Annie Baker’s plays, or meeting her work for the first time, Janet Planet is a rapturous cinematic experience. For every queer outsider, for every former child, for every daughter of a mother, for every performer and healer and human, this film is worth your precious time.
Janet Planet is now in theatres.
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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 553 articles for us.

The Best Chappell Roan Shows Are in the Midwest and South

Historically, Kentuckiana Pride sold $10 tickets as a formality, mostly just to raise funds for the event. They were available day-of, at the gate, accessible to both advance planners and impulsive visitors. In the 24 years since Kentuckiana Pride first began holding its event in Louisville, they certainly hadn’t ever needed to place a cap on ticket sales.

That was before the Summer of Chappell Roan.

Kentuckiana Pride had originally booked Icona Pop to headline its festival, and Chappell was on the lineup along with other artists perceived to be less popular than Icona Pop. This was after the September 2023 release of Roan’s critically acclaimed debut full-length album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, but before Roan’s popularity exploded in the spring of 2024. As the Pride celebration neared, tickets were flying out the door at breakneck pace. Fans new and old alike knew the window in which one could catch a Chappell Roan concert for $10 was quickly closing. For the first time ever, the festival reached its capacity with 25,000 tickets sold.

Then, the day before the concert, Icona Pop bowed out of their headlining performance. It was official: Chappell Roan would headline an attendance-record-breaking Kentuckiana Pride, with indie pop band The Aces added as a last-minute opener. In addition to the scores of ticket holders, crowds flooded Louisville’s pedestrian bridge to experience the show from afar, creating their own ad hoc concert experience. What had long been a fun but modest Pride celebration in the heart of Louisville bloomed into a massive festival, all due to Chappell and the passionate fanbase that has emerged around her.

While Chappell had a dedicated core fanbase of queer listeners leading up to the release of The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, her popularity exploded this spring due to more mainstream appearances at massive events like Coachella. Don’t call her an overnight success, though: True fans of Chappell know she’s been working hard for years, touring and creating immersive concert-going experiences. She might be performing in front of thousands of people now, but the fans I talked to who were lucky enough to catch her earlier shows, attended by crowds of just a couple hundred people, say those experiences were just as magical.

The crowd at Kentuckiana Pride for Chappell Roan
Kentuckiana Pride // Photo by Lizzy Fitts

After releasing an original song on YouTube under her birth name in 2014, Chappell Roan signed with music label Atlantic Records in 2015, which is also when she adopted her stage name, a tribute to her late grandfather Dennis K. Chappell whose favorite song was “The Strawberry Roan” by Curley Fletcher. In 2017, she released her first official single “Good Hurt,” soon followed by her five-track EP School Nights. During this point of her career, she still lived with her parents in Missouri. But in 2018, she moved to Los Angeles and started working with new producers and songwriters to take her career to the next level.

Roan’s first breakout single was 2020’s “Pink Pony Club.” In it, Chappell Roan sings of having wicked dreams of leaving Tennessee, of having visions of a special place in LA where boys and girls can all be queens every single day. (Is it stuck in your head yet?) The Pink Pony Club is an imagined queer club in Santa Monica, where the narrator of the song longs to be, eventually leaving her home in Tennessee — much to the chagrin of her disapproving mother — to dance and perform there.

The music video for the single is set at a Tennessee honky tonk where a sparse and seemingly straight crowd of mostly biker dudes assess Chappell as she takes the stage in a bedazzled cowboy hat, sparkly one-piece, and cropped Western jacket. Even though the crowd doesn’t seem receptive to her raunchy queer performance, she doesn’t back down. She leans in, flaunting her queer cowgirl aesthetic and choreography, eventually leaving the stage to dance among her critics. The drag queen Meatball appears suddenly on stage, plucking out the song’s guitar riff, and soon what started as one woman’s performance blooms into a full celebration of queerness, kink, and community. We never leave this specific place of a small town honky tonk. Rather, it becomes the Pink Pony Club, the video’s message clear: Queerness can thrive anywhere.

Chappell Roan in a leopard one piece
Kentuckiana Pride // Photo by Lizzy Fitts

Chappell released “Pink Pony Club” as a single in April 2020 right as the world was shutting down. “I remember hearing ‘Pink Pony Club’ toward the start of quarantine and hoping that it would be one of the songs I performed in drag when the clubs opened up again,” says Georgie Morvis, a writer and drag performer based in Chicago. Georgie says they were drawn to the song because it spoke to the magic of queer spaces and, at the time of its release, “when we couldn’t access them, it was a way to transport us there safely.”

Indeed, at the height of quarantine, my then-girlfriend/now-wife Kristen Arnett and I longed so desperately for queer spaces that we created one in our small loft apartment in Las Vegas, every Monday night “hosting” (it was just the two of us, plus the dog, who hated it) Gay Club Night. We put on a playlist of shake-your-ass music and shook our asses, sometimes recording bits for social media of us actually pretending our home was a Pink-Pony-esque club. Unfortunately, we hadn’t discovered the song yet, but it would have ate at Gay Club Night.

“I liked that Chappell specifically was talking about going from the heartland to the coast, a theme she would return to on her tour to remind us that queers are everywhere,” Georgie says of the single.

With “Pink Pony Club,” Chappell Roan brought queer party spaces into people’s homes. Now on tour for The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess — her first studio album, which features “Pink Pony Club” as one of its 14 tracks — Chappell has reversed the equation of the song’s sentiment. While the song longs to leave Tennessee in pursuit of a coastal queer club, Roan’s tour is bringing the queer club back to Tennessee, to North Carolina, to Florida, to Ohio, to Kentucky. Her tour encompasses midsized cities and places often overlooked by big name touring musicians, and while some of these cities she visits are considered “blue bubbles” in red states and certainly do have their own local queer scenes, Roan’s championing of the Midwest and South is significant and meaningful to her fanbase and a cornerstone of her artistry.

Over the course of a week, I spoke to Chappell Roan fans based in the Midwest and South, many of whom I have personal connections to, some who found me through social media word of mouth. Recurring themes emerge: Her fans describe her music as authentic, sexy, fun. They talk about her music as much as they talk about the other aspects of her artistry, including her dramatic makeup and costumes that often reference drag culture.

Without me even having to ask outright, almost everyone I talked to brought up her small-town Midwestern upbringing and what seeing her perform in the Midwest and South means to them as queer people living in places where anti-LGBTQ legislation has run rampant.

Her shows are an immersive experience that, much like the “Pink Pony Club” music video, create a whole queer world no matter where she is. She’s known for her show “themes”, which set the overall look for fans to dress to. She also hires local drag queens to perform on all her stops, and her own looks often pay tribute to drag icons or are otherwise over-the-top and campy. In all of these details, there’s a clear attention to and reverence for queer history and the queer art that’s come before her. Bringing in local drag performers indicates that Chappell isn’t just creating a pop-up space in a vacuum; she’s interested in engaging with the queer scenes that already exist in these places and building from them.

In May, Roan played to a sold-out crowd in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Last fall, before the craze, she played a show with about 1,000 attendees in my current home of Orlando, Florida. Both places are, again, often skipped by touring pop stars. Orlando, and Florida in general, is often discussed for its queerphobia and rarely for its lush queer scenes that thrive despite attempts to throttle them. I may not have been at either show, but after speaking to fans who saw Chappell in these cities that mean so much to me, I’ve become emotional just from imagining it. One attendee of the Orlando show, Kaci, tells me she tears up just looking at a picture she took during “Pink Pony Club.” “We had created a little community,” she says.

Two queers outside the Chappell Roan show in Orlando

“I just really admire her commitment to lifting up and showcasing local queer talent! It’s nice to be able to go to a show where queerness is celebrated and straightness is the ‘other.’” – Kaci // Orlando Show

“The show was a really inclusive and fun experience. The theme was Pink Pony Club, so there was a stream of pink walking around the entire area of the venue from all directions. I received lots of compliments on my outfit and gave the same.” –Stephanie // Richmond Show

Two queers in pink gear for the Chappell Roan Richmond show

Indeed, in the dozens of conversations I had with attendees of her shows throughout the South and Midwest, it became clear that Chappell’s live performances create a technically temporary but meaningful and memorable community. And again, not out of thin air, but rather in a way that builds on what’s already there but may be suppressed or silenced by the government or ignored by other parts of the LGBTQ community, like the misguided fans who have called on Chappell to “protest” places like North Carolina and Florida due to anti-trans and Don’t Say Gay legislation. To do so would only serve to punish the queer and trans people who live in those places. DeSantis doesn’t give a fuck whether Chappell Roan comes here or not. Creating the super queer and freeing spaces of her shows is a more meaningful form of fighting for queer survival than “protesting” these places would be. And in fact, Chappell has actually done material protest by declining an invitation to play a Pride concert at the White House. “We want liberty, freedom and justice for all,” she said on stage during Gov Ball. “When you do that, that’s when I’ll come.”

Julia, a mental health professional and movement coach based in North Carolina, attended Chappell’s Raleigh show earlier this month. She focuses on embodiment in her work, and she says she became emotional at how embodied and herself she felt in the sea of pink hats at the show. “She facilitated an environment and experience that invited queer/trans embodiment,” she says.

Embodiment becomes especially powerful in places that are trying to restrict bodily autonomy for LGTBQ people and youth in particular. The Raleigh show was held at the Red Hat Amphitheater in downtown Raleigh, mere blocks away from the government building where a slate of anti-trans legislation passed just a year before. “To have a space like that overpower downtown Raleigh — even the neighboring parking garages were full and you could hear the crowd singing all over town — felt really powerful,” Julia says. “In a time where North Carolina’s legislative bodies are trying to diminish the safety and lives of queer children and adults, this show was a very needed reminder that we are here and we are together and we love wearing slutty pink outfits.”

Two queers at the Chappell Roan show in Raleigh

“As someone who came into their queerness in their mid-to-late twenties, I found Chappell a few years ago at a time when I think I really badly needed to see new yet familiar iterations of queer femme desire. And being at the show felt really powerful and like I almost…arrived in a space with other people who also delt held and seen and embraced in a way that appears is very needed in this moment.” –Julia // Raleigh Show

Kelsey Rhodes, a writer and an old college pal of mine, shared similar sentiments about seeing Chappell in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Living in Kansas City for the past few years, at the same time as being in a long term queer relationship for the first time, has been an exploration of building queer community in a region that is politically hostile but queer-culturally vibrant,” she says. “The Tulsa Chappell show felt like an embodiment of that sentiment. Like anyone who has been afraid their gender-affirming care might be banned, or that they might be targeted for doing drag, or face stigma for being in a queer relationship…that all of that could be flipped into a celebratory, foot stomping, big belting under the disco ball kind of night.”

“I’ve been listening to Chappell since late 2022, and seeing this enormous of a crowd show up in basically Chappell drag and know every word to every song felt sweet. Like watching someone start to fly. I can’t wait to watch her keep it up, she’s clearly on some kind of wild upward trajectory.” – Kelsey Rhodes // Tulsa Show

A group of queers at the Tulsa Chappell Roan show

Yes, the Midwest Princess tour was planned out before Chappell’s surge in popularity, so one could posit it’s hitting the smaller venues in frequently skipped cities for that reason alone, but Chappell has made it clear over and over in interviews that she likes and prioritizes smaller cities when touring. “I love going to hick-ass states,” she told Trixie Mattel for Paper magazine. “Or, the craziest bitches are in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It’s the small ass towns.”

Two queers at the Chappell Roan show in Asheville

“She really does an amazing job of creating a space where you can just dance and have fun and forget about everything else.” – Mackenzie Sullivan // Asheville Show

At the time of her interview with Trixie, Chappell Roan had never performed at a Pride event. She said her first would be either Pittsburgh’s or Kentucky’s, and Trixie said she hoped it would be Kentucky Pride. “I’ve done Lexington and Louisville Pride each like, probably 10 times over the years,” Trixie said. “I’m going to tell you, Kentucky is gay as hell.”

“You’re going to be their flagship Pride story,” Trixie said of Chappell’s eventual Pride debut. It was like a prophecy.

Of all her recent tour stops, Louisville in particular stands out as a quintessential example of the power of her presence in the Midwest and South (Kentucky itself is a bit of a bisexual state in that a lot of people consider it both Midwestern and Southern).

My sister Alex and her girlfriend Meredith Shock — a queer singer-songwriter based in Nashville — were among the tens of thousands present for Chappell’s Kentuckiana Pride set. Alex lives in Louisville and has attended Pride there before and says indeed it was never like this. What was once a brief pop-by for free stuff and some sun, became an all-day affair this year. As with all Chappell shows, fans dressed up and showed up ready to scream-sing through the set list. And as usual, Chappell delivered a brilliant look of her own, paying tribute to the legendary drag queen Divine, icon of queer filth and smut.

“She’s an artist we can all root for,” Meredith says. “It’s refreshing to see an artist of the people rather than an artist of the industry. The industry didn’t believe in her for the longest time, but people believe in her.” As a queer singer-songwriter, Meredith notices small details, like how Chappell keeps a water bottle on stage with her and drinks frequently between songs. “Other artists go through so much to hide water breaks during shows, but why? Chappell doesn’t care if we see her drink water!”

“Her album isn’t new, but it’s hitting so hard because it’s exactly what people crave from pop music right now. Well written songs, dance anthems, themed shows, and messaging that makes listeners feel hot and powerful. She’s found a way to write songs that are so unfiltered and unapologetically HER yet so relatable.” – Meredith Shock // Kentuckiana Pride

Two queers at Kentuckiana Pride

Kentuckiana Pride, like many of Chappell’s shows, is held right in the waist of the Bible Belt, creating an environment that’s especially liberating for fans with backgrounds similar to her own. Chappell grew up in a conservative religious community in Willard, Missouri, attending church three times a week. The Aces, who opened for Chappell at Kentuckiana Pride, hail from Provo, Utah and were all raised in the Mormon church before eventually leaving, three of the four band members coming out as queer. A Pride show in the Bible Belt featuring two queer acts who grew up in strictly religious environments and with one of them dressed like Divine? Now that’s what I call church. Chappell’s mom was also in the crowd at Kentuckiana Pride, and Chappell gave her a shoutout from the stage. It can mean a lot to young queer people in these regions to see familial support. And it’s the queer artists who are from the South and Midwest who really understand what it means to make a life here. Megan thee Stallion’s massive arena tours similarly prioritize the South, paying tribute to her Texas roots, and her tour this summer is also ultra gay and femme.

Morgan, a Chappell fan and queer Midwestern woman raised conservative and religious, says the series of YouTube videos Chappell put out leading up to The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess that document her Missourian roots could have been talking about her own life and childhood. “Seeing not just who I am today but also who I used to be represented by Chappell and her music does something for my soul that I don’t think anything else ever really has,” Morgan says. “Her album really feels like a love letter to Midwestern queer and folks living in conservative/religious towns everywhere.”

Two queers at the Chappell Roan show in Cleveland

“I’m 28 now and really thought I knew myself well, and for the most part I did, but finding Chappell earlier this year really validated parts of myself that I think I haven’t let fully breathe in a long time. I’ve been out for a while now, but still finding myself, and in the Midwest that can feel SO incredibly challenging. Sometimes you really feel like you have to live in a larger city to feel part of queerness on a larger scale. Having Chappell be not just a femme lesbian, but also being from the Midwest and having a religious background broke me wide open.” – Morgan // Cleveland Show

“The Midwest is my home, and I thought for a long time that my Midwesterness and my queerness were incongruent with each other,” says Leah Johnson, award-winning queer YA author and the owner of indie bookstore Loudmouth Books in Indianapolis. Leah moved to New York for grad school in an attempt to also embrace her queer identity, she explains. When she heard Chappell’s song “California” — about the heartache of leaving Missouri for California — something clicked. “I knew I’d found an artist who — like me — was coming into the knowledge that sometimes you have to leave home to learn to love it, and that our people are everywhere. We just had to find each other.”

“She’s such a stellar performer, and to see her in Tennessee of all places — especially given her lyrics in ‘Pink Pony Club’ — alongside so many queers was a particular delight. Nothing but respect for my Midwest Princess 🫡” – Leah Johnson // Bonnaroo

Leah Johnson poses at Bonnaroo

Some of the fans I spoke with also come from Missouri, and Chappell’s lyrics about complicated feelings for home resonate with them. Analyssa Lopez, who has written for Autostraddle and is from Missouri and now lives in LA, fittingly, connected with the song “California,” too. “I miss the seasons in Missouri / My dying town,” Chappell croons in the song. “I think there’s so much in her songs about wanting to live in a big city that is so queer-from-Missouri, just like this vague idea that Los Angeles or New York are the places you can be yourself, but then you’re still thinking about where you’re from all the time,” Analyssa says. “Like the idea that you spend your life wanting to get away, and then when you’re away you feel still so deeply tied to and from and of that place, down to your bones.”

Gen Greer, who has also written for Autostraddle, grew up in Missouri and now lives in Ohio. She says she didn’t know much about Chappell’s upbringing when she started listening to her music but then, after paying closer attention to the lyrics, did a deep dive. “One of the things I love about her is that she’s able to exist as a person who finds ways to say ‘I’m a fucking Midwestern princess, I’m queer, I’ll give you camp and sex positivity, I had dreams beyond Missouri and I worked really hard but I’m not going to forget that part of myself,’” Gen says. Current Autostraddle writer Gabrielle Grace Hogan is also from Missouri and is a Chappell fan. While Gabbie came to Chappell’s music before knowing she was from Missouri, once she found out about their shared homestate, she says it’s what kept her both rooted to Chappell and rooting for her.

Gabbie’s girlfriend Maddie is a massive Chappell fan and has seen her four times live at various points of her career: opening for Fletcher in Utah in 2022, on her solo tour twice in Dallas, and opening for Olivia Rodrigo during the GUTS tour. The two solo tour shows in Dallas — where Maddie lives — took place eight months apart. The first, in February 2023, was for a crowd of about 200. The second attracted 2,500 fans. Chloe Gilke, who I worked with at our college’s newspaper, has similarly experienced both versions of a Chappell show: the super small, intimate shows at the beginning of her career and the now-massive ones. She saw Chappell in Austin, Texas in February 2023 with a crowd that couldn’t have outnumbered 250, and Chappell sang an at-the-time unreleased “Red Wine Supernova.” This week, Chloe attended Bonnaroo where Chappell played for tens of thousands (just one day after Kentuckiana Pride!). “The fact that the biggest crowd I’d seen at that stage all weekend was for a lesbian was absolutely wild,” she says. “Just seeing tens of thousands of people singing and dancing along to these songs — and in the middle of nowhere Tennessee!!! — almost moved me to tears.”

Chloe and Maddie both talk about Chappell’s success in similar ways and are stoked about how popular she’s gotten. “It’s so overdue that we have a pop star that’s sexy, dramatic, and playful and also GAY,” Chloe says.

“Since Taylor Swift’s meteoric rise, pop has become increasingly earnest and confessional, and consequently less danceable, less fuckable, which meant there was a lot of space and desire for songs that are horny and fun, especially after quarantine when people were wallowing in isolation,” Maddie adds. She makes playlists on TikTok and says that for years it’s been consistently true that the most saves and engagement she gets are when she curates sweaty club music.

A Chappell fan wears a pink tutu and a sign that says EAT ME

“I do think her queerness and her loudness about it made this really safe and special place for her fans to build a real loyalty to her.” – Maddie // Multiple Shows in Texas and Utah

“The moment really did need someone who was doing campy, lusty, and fun music. Chappell does all of this and she happens to be very good,” Maddie continues. “Pair that with a performer who has always made smart references and strong vocals and knows exactly what kind of pop star she wants to be, and that’s a recipe for success.”

Maddie also reiterates Chappell’s sense of maintaining and supporting queer community. “The ethos of her work is fundamentally about queer celebration,” she says, noting that even when Chappell was touring out of her own car, she gave a portion of her Dallas ticket sales to local organizations fighting to protect Black trans folks, like For the Gworls.

With her increased popularity, the lengths some fans have gone to to attend her shows are impressive. Her fans are willing to travel across state lines to see her. Kentuckiana Pride saw an influx of out-of-staters eager to see Chappell for — again — TEN DOLLARS. One fan in the Midwest, Lucia R, tells me she has tickets to see Chappell twice in two days. She got tickets to Lollapalooza to see her after All Things Go tickets sold out and, when a Lollapalooza “pre-show” was announced at The Vic, she got tickets for that, too so she could get the small venue and giant festival Chappell experience.

Then there’s the crew of queers I know in St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida who thwarted convention to see Chappell perform live this May. The St. Pete show sold out long before its date, and resale ticket prices were through the roof. As my pal V put it: “It will be the cultural femininomenon of I think at least the year, so I was like I have to be a witness to this.” The group got creative. V got a tip that some folks had gone up on a rooftop nearby the venue to watch the show. But when they got there, the door was locked.

The St. Pete crew were told they’d need to go to the back alley and access the roof via a ladder, supervised by a guy who worked nearby who facilitated the Chappell roof experience (V, who says ticket prices had gone up to $1,900 day-of for the show, threw Ladder Guy $20 for his kind gesture). The Chappell roof experience was every bit as gay as the real deal. V recognized almost everyone on the roof from various parts of their social and dating life. People were dancing, though they had to be careful doing so, so as not to disrupt downstairs. V says despite these limitations, they were still able to scream-sing “Naked in Manhattan” from the rooftop.

Some of the group didn’t want to go up to the roof, but they still made their own Chappell dance party happen down in the alley below. The trash alley transformed into a gay club with the swiftness of the “Pink Pony Club” music video transformation, everyone dancing among the dumpsters, and some folks climbing on top of a trash compactor to get a view of the show. My friend Molly was among the trash dancers and says it was a “truly memorable experience.” V joined the crew down below at one point and, when Chappell played “Pink Pony Club,” sang the lyrics as “trash alley club.”

V says they usually only really experience the concept of “queer magic” at CampOUT, the LGBTQ+ youth summer camp in Florida they volunteer at. “But this was like queer magic 3.0, 5.0, it was so beautiful,” they say. “Everybody just made the best out of whatever situation they were in because they couldn’t get tickets to this thing,” they continue. “People were having a blast in the trash, on the roof, around it at the bars, outside the venue. Everybody was just so happy. No one was bitter about not having tickets. They were just shimmery and excited.”

Two queers in jean jackets that say PINK PONY CLUB and HOT TO GO
Kentuckiana Pride // Photo by Lizzy Fitts

The fans I talked to aren’t worried about Chappell Roan becoming bigger and bigger. They’re thrilled. Maddie says she’ll happily pay more money if it means Chappell gets a bigger stage for her music. Especially for her fans in the Midwest and South, the appeal of Chappell Roan is about so much more than her music.

“The reality of living in the South is that there is so much queer life and queer joy and queer resistance to be found, and Chappell knows that,” Maddie says. “I find it frustrating how people write off Texas as a place where no queer people are, but it’s Lawrence vs. Texas that cemented our right to exist in the first place. Real people fought for that. In Texas.”

“I think there’s this idea that you can’t be queer in XYZ city,” she continues, “when it’s like, the second-ever gay rodeo was in Golden Spike, Utah. I like that Chappell knows that queer people don’t just live a train ride away from Cubbyhole. That they are in small towns and red states and they can dance to silly pop music there, too.”

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 863 articles for us.

12 Comments

  1. This is genuinely lovely and speaks so much to why I choose to stay in Florida as a creative artist. Wonderful!

  2. Crying reading this. You capture the emotion and the sentiment so well. Thank you 🩷

  3. This was a beautiful read and it felt so real to se e people’s face along with their quotes. Ifeel part of this community of Chappell fans

  4. Love Chappell.

    Doechii is another queer artist making sure to always bring it home. She just hit Tampa and Miami on her Swamp Ball Pride tour

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Emet Ozar

Emet is a queer and genderqueer program manager, crossword constructor, and married parent to four children.

Emet has written 35 articles for us.

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  1. Can we get some more word searches, instead of crosswords? Not everyone is good at that sort of thing and it’s been like a year since the last search (I looked back)! Please and thanks!! =)

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Netflix’s ‘Perfect Match’ Accused of Cutting Dom and Brittan’s Queer Storyline in This Holiest of Pride Months

In the opening minutes of Perfect Match‘s second season, Dominique Defoe introduced herself and her entire deal with words that were gentle music to my ears: “On my last show, I was definitely more attracted to the girls than the guys. And that’s just how life is. Beauty is beauty and love is love and all of that.” First of all, that’s so true about beauty and love! Secondly, I was hoping for some hot bisexual action.

"On my last show, I was definitely more attracted to the girls than the guys" - Dominique, Too Hot to Handle

See, in Season One of A Perfect Match, a particularly demonic cog in the Netflix Dating Show Cinematic Universe that brings single people from other Netflix reality shows (Love is Blind, Too Hot to Handle, The Mole, The Circle) together to see if they might find love with similarly conventionally attractive influencers, swimwear entrepreneur Francesca Farago thwarted impossibly heterosexual odds to deliver solid and compelling bisexual representation, even revealing she’d only agreed to be on the show at all ’cause they said she was allowed to date girls. So I anticipated Season Two being equally open to exploiting its queer cast members drama.

But bisexual contestants Dominique Defoe and Brittan Byrd have accused Netflix of removing their queer romance from the final cut of the show, a connection that began when they both appeared in Too Hot to Handle Season Four — in fact, that’s what Dominique was referencing when she said she was more attracted to her female castmates on Too Hot to Handle than her male castmates. That storyline never made it to air, however.

Then, on TikTok, in a post titled ” Existential Crisis Of [Rainbow Emoji] Girls on Straight Dating Shows,” Dominique wrote about Perfect Match: “We matched at the party, immediately had to leave and weren’t aired for the second dating show in a row.” When commenters asked why they didn’t see the clip of the two matching, she responded, “they cut it LMAO, I thought it was funny!! boys were lined up to talk to us and we were literally just making out and they were like oh.” However, a source “close to production” told The Wrap that the two never officially matched. It’s true that neither girl is shown matching with anyone in that episode, but also neither are present the next morning, so it’s unclear what happened there.

In an interview with Tudum, Dominique said that she clashed with Bryton, her initial match, for most of their time together, revealing: “I liked him for maybe two hours, and then it became very evident to me that he was the kind of person who was using me to get hate speech across on television.” She describes him as patronizing and misogynistic and incredibly biphobic, telling her it was fine for women to be bisexual, but not for men. Upon hearing that, Dominique revealed, “My soul literally left my body. Now I’m sitting here arguing with him about what’s basically an antigay hate slogan. We literally spent 45 minutes just arguing about gay rights. I don’t think he’s listened to a single thing I said.”

perfect match cast members looking at the other people entering the villa

She continued: “He went around the house the entire day talking about my sexuality and me wanting to go on a date with a woman, saying how it was going to make him look bad. He was just another man who’s just completely insecure in his masculinity, because once he found out that I don’t use my sexuality as a way to attract men, now it’s a problem.”

If you watch Perfect Match’s eighth and ninth episodes with Dominique and Brittan’s connection in mind, it’s easy to see — the two are often standing or sitting next to each other and neither seem to be trying to connect with any of the men on the show, aside from a brief moment between Brittan and Brytan. (These names!) 

On instagram, Dominique has posted about her bisexuality consistently throughout Pride Month, including this longer reflection on what her bisexuality means to her, which included the claim that she was “kicked off a dating show because of [her bisexuality].”

Brittan, who seems to only post photographs of herself with other people maybe twice a year, preferring instead to keep the focus on herself (Brittan) and her various eras, has already posted two carousels that begin with Brittan + Dominique photographs, and one of her posts is simply an effusive endorsement of Dominique in her life. Dominique responded with similar levels of effusion: “I love you so, so bad you beautiful ethereal fairy. I cannot imagine who I would be without you, I’ve loved growing besides you.”

After her run on Too Hot to Handle, Brittan and her THTH beau James did apparently date briefly. She was also posting sexy pics with Dominique as the season aired:

Dominique and Brittan being cozy on instagram in December 2022

This is their thing I think:

Dominique and Brittan again on instagram, this time from earlier in the month, Dom is licking Brittan's neck

June 1, 2024

They’ve also been posting erotic TikToks. Honestly IDK why Netflix wouldn’t want this on the show, I didn’t care about any of these people until today and now I do?? Bisexual erasure at its finest and most literal!

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Riese

Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

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‘Outstanding: A Comedy Revolution’ Rises Above Netflix’s Hypocrisy To Deliver Delightful Doc About Queer Comics

Well, revoke my they/he lesbian card because I was today years old when I learned that Lily Tomlin was both a comedian and a lesbian. I know, lock me up and throw away the key at Good Judy.

But, in my defense, the films I saw her featured in had her playing straight women — mainly 9 to 5. How was I to know her sexuality? The entertainment industry and America’s rampant homophobia kept her and many other queer performers closeted throughout the 20th century. That is one of many highlighted discussions within Page Hurwitz’s Netflix feature documentary, Outstanding: A Comedy Revolution, which chronicles LGBTQ comedy pioneers and the tribulations they faced to pave the way for the fresh faces dominating the stage today.

On May 7, 2022, at the Los Angeles Greek Theatre, Hurwitz produced the Netflix Is A Joke Fest event “Stand Out: An LGBTQ Celebration” show featuring 22 LGBTQ+ performers ranging from rookies, vets, and legends including Fortune Feimster, Margaret Cho, Billy Eichner, Joel Kim Booster, Rosie O’Donnell, Lily Tomlin, Mae Martin, Tig Notaro, Wanda Sykes, and Eddie Izzard. Her mission in this assembly was to have them narrate the LGBTQ comic history, describing the relations between making their name in the industry and the risks they took to live authentically.

This event is threaded with talking head interviews and archival material, tightly crafting a colorful textbook of rich gay history from the lens of standup. Many of its discussions about who were the first people to ever perform out and proud are truly fascinating.

For most of my life, I thought Ellen DeGeneres coming out in her sitcom made her the first out lesbian comic on television. While what she did was pivotal to television history — the documentary includes a segment dedicated to her landmark moment — she wasn’t the first.

One prominent pioneer, for example, is former comedian-turned-activist Robin Tyler, who was the first out lesbian who appear on national television in 1978. She and her comedy partner Pat Harrison had a rising career as a duo, Harrison and Tyler. Unfortunately, after making a joke aimed at homophobic evangelist Anita Bryant, Tyler lost the network contract she had with ABC. In retaliation, she became a gay rights activist.

Lily Tomlin’s segment, in particular, surprised me. She intimately recalls her experience with being a gay performer during the 70s and having to live in the closet amid a booming career. Meanwhile, the Californian queer community, where she often performed comedy, did know. It’s like the world didn’t need to know, only the real ones did. Time Magazine offered her to come out and be on their cover of an LGBTQ-related issue in 1975, but she turned it down.

The most shocking moment for me was footage of Tomlin headlining a Gay Rights benefit show called “The Star-Spangled Night For Rights” at the Hollywood Bowl in 1977 in response to Anita Bryant’s anti-gay crusade. During the show, she brings out none other than Richard Pryor, one of the great Black stand-up comedy legends. In his set, he admits to giving blowjobs, leaving me like, “HUH?! Richard Pryor was a bisexual.” Revoke my Black ca—. Anywho! His impatience was wearing thin cause he didn’t see any Black people in the audience, specifically any Black queers, a sentiment I personally still feel as an operating queer comedian in the Brooklyn stand-up scene today.

Hurwitz aligns many talking points within gay rights activism and its relation to comedy over the years. She gives the trailblazers the flowers they deserve while letting them shed light on the dark past they had to survive. She also brings up a prominent discussion about transphobia and its current relevance, especially in the wake of David Chappelle’s constant ongoing ant-trans attack in countless comedy specials. Wait. uhhh. What service is that on again? Oh right.

Despite my appreciation for Outstanding and gratitude for the opportunity to become more informed about LGBTQ comedy history, there’s a wavering insincerity because that big red N. After all, Netflix produced the very same specials that allow Chapelle to spew his TERF agenda while producing this LGBTQ doc and the event it captures. It doesn’t sit right with me that Netflix would promote someone with a wide influence making hateful, hurtful comments about trans people — and being wildly unfunny while doing so — and then say, “Okay, my little gay-bies, here’s a documentary, about LGBTQ comedian history on pride month. Buy a subscription to watch it. Don’t mind the Chappelle listing right on the same queue. Today, it’s about you!”

Netflix has the power to side with queer people instead of comics that attack us. Instead they play both sides. Any progressive strides they make to better the community is tainted with hypocrisy. There’s nothing I dislike more than being a morally indecisive person, and if this were on any other platform, I would highly recommend it with the utmost enthusiasm.

All in all, Outstanding: A Comedy Revolution is a funny, educational doc essential to any novice queer comic wanting to learn about the roots within their scene. Everything about its structure and discussions are hefty, and told by humorous storytellers. It’s just that the platform it’s on is far from the safest space to tell this history. The criticism is coming from inside the house.


Outstanding: A Comedy Revolution is now available to stream.

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Rendy Jones

Rendy Jones (they/he) is a film and television journalist born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. They are the world's first gwen-z film journalist and owner of self-published independent outlet Rendy Reviews, a member of the Critics' Choice Association, GALECA, and a screenwriter. They have been seen in Vanity Fair, Them, RogerEbert.com, Rolling Stone, and Paste.

Rendy has written 11 articles for us.

‘Chestnut’ Is About the Sexless Situationships of Our Twenties

If there’s one thing I was going to do in my 20’s, it was to enter a mostly sexless, definitely toxic, situationship with a couple or former couple or sort of couple. Now that I’m a wise 30 year old, I look back on these dynamics as a tool of avoidance, a way to fixate on the lives and problems of others rather than confronting my own. The sexually charged sexlessness allowed these situations to drag on, pulling us together while keeping us apart.

Jac Cron’s new film, Chestnut, follows a character with this same coping mechanism. Annie (Natalia Dyer) is a recent college graduate biding her time in Philly for the summer before leaving for a new finance job in California. One night, drinking alone, she meets Tyler (Rachel Keller) and Danny (Danny Ramirez), a chaotically charismatic woman with mean girl vibes and the sad-eyed sensitive man she appears to be dating. Tyler and Danny are not technically a couple, and yet the closer Annie gets to both of them the more confusing their dynamic — and their dynamic with her — becomes.

It’s also fun! Sometimes confusing is fun! Annie stays out late with her new friends drinking and dancing and doing drugs and listening to their other friend talk about his relationship woes. Soon enough, Tyler is talking to Annie about kissing girls, and, soon after that, kissing her.

We’ve seen the storyline of “straight girl/maybe closeted girl emotionally terrorizes a queer woman” on-screen many times. But I appreciated how that was complicated here by the presence of Danny. He’s not the typical male love interest rival. If anything, his connection with Annie is even deeper than her connection with Tyler — even if it’s Tyler she’s more into.

This is a movie that wouldn’t have a plot if its characters just talked to each other. But I think Annie knows this from the beginning. Didn’t we all at that age? We wanted the plot, we wanted the anguish. Asking the confusing girl, hey do you actually like me? is harder when deep down you know the answer is no and you want to hold onto the chaos a bit longer.

Chestnut belongs to Natalia Dyer. She creates a character whose hidden emotions sneak out with every drunken look. And her co-stars Rachel Keller and Danny Ramirez are properly elusive without feeling flat. They all feel like real people stumbling through an attempt at human connection.

While throuple movies are usually associated with sex, this film is more committed to sexual frustration. Annie is at an in between moment of her life and the whole film reflects that agitated nothingness. It’s a cliché for screenwriting professors to ask why a film takes place on this day or this month or this summer. What is it about this time period that makes it the most compelling moment for these characters? There’s something exciting about Chestnut’s refusal to abide by that rule. The film understands that sometimes our most formative moments, our most intense, overwhelming periods, take place within the uneventful. The films commitment to anti-climax won’t work for everyone, but I appreciated the realist approach to the 20-something coming-of-age story.

We learn that Annie has already experienced great loss. I’m sure someday Annie will experience a grand love affair. But there’s also weight in a toxic friendship, in a drunken kiss, in a summer of dramatic nothing.


Chestnut opens in limited theatres tomorrow. It will be available to rent on July 2.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 553 articles for us.

What Comes After Surviving Suicidality?

I’ve long held that everyone who goes through suicidality — thoughts of suicide marked by ideation, planning, or intent — is a trauma survivor. The pervasive perception that suicidality is partly our fault keeps us from sharing our experiences or identifying as trauma survivors.

Surviving suicidality is a profoundly painful experience. At best, we’re left questioning our right to exist. At worst, we reach the brink of death. Even though people who attempt suicide often don’t try again, having a previous attempt is still a major risk factor for later suicide.

Despite several close calls and postponements with death, I now live a life of warmth and silliness. I feel whole, but the experience left an indelible mark on my psyche: I know that suicide is an option. How can any of us live with that once we’ve realized it?

Suicidal ideation is much more complex than public health education maintains. In an effort to educate us en masse, it sacrifices nuances. One of the most important pieces lost is that it’s part of a continuum of thoughts and behaviors. People aren’t simply suicidal or not. There’s a vast gulf between somebody with depression who makes a joke about wanting to die and someone who is researching methods and settling their affairs. To complicate things further, people can switch between active (research, planning) and passive (thinking about dying).

Living in that state is distressing beyond words. Psychotherapist Jacob Wilen calls it “an all-encompassing mental state that tends to blur the details,” but doesn’t discount the value of persisting despite the despair. Even in those depths, he says, “the details can be the compass that guides you out of the dark suicidal fog.”

I don’t think we talk enough about how downright traumatic suicidality is. It’s a cocktail of despair, anxiety, and pain tailored to our lives and contexts. Nobody can personalize our suffering like our own minds. It’s an internal battle that looks meager from outside: The outward signs can be as simple as a pile of dirty dishes and disconnecting from friends. But inside, it’s literal life or death.

We talk about how bad it is but rarely discuss the details. Suicide is a taboo topic. Clinical Psychologist Dr. Kiki Fehling says that, “talking about suicidality scares people. It’s easier to pretend that it doesn’t exist, or that it’s only a symptom of mental illness. But, you don’t need to have a diagnosable psychiatric condition to have suicidal thoughts.”

Any focus on personal agency is also a double-edged sword. Our desire to survive and prosper can help us escape, but it’s also a convenient way to internalize the problem to the sufferer. Dr. Fehling notes that, “it can be easier to ignore suicidality or to treat it as an individual problem, rather than to address the systemic problems that can lead to it.”

Just as the suffering of suicidality is personalized to everybody who lives with it, so is the relief. There are people in my life who count exercise as genuinely beneficial for mental distress, but nothing would fizzle me faster. Conversely, I don’t think my recovery approach of bed rotting until the wave passes and reflecting back on the event is for everyone. In fact, I suspect it would make most people feel worse.

What I’ve found to be near-universally helpful is talking to people about it. Mental distress is isolating. It’s our illnesses’ way of solidifying its own miserable cycle of reproduction. Finding and talking to trustworthy people about our experiences (in measured doses) can break that cycle. Even if it doesn’t halt the feelings, it brings someone onto our team so that we’re not alone.

Dr Fehling says that, “the stigma of suicidality, creates an environment where a survivor of suicidality feels unable or unwilling to get the help and support they need, which can exacerbate or extend their difficulties.” Therapists, friends, support groups, and even plush toys can be an antidote to the isolation.

For people whose well-being nosedives when we’re not actively upholding it, it’s pivotal to treat mental health as a basic need. It’s not just something we look to after struggling through our daily chores. It deserves a place alongside eating and sleeping. Seeking communities and friends to talk to about prickly suicidal thoughts is a survival necessity after suicidality.

Still, I’ve never found a satisfactory answer to the question of how I can live on knowing that suicide is an option. Dark impulses to resume planning still catch me in low moments ten years later. I doubt they’ll ever go away, but I won’t give those thoughts an isolated and weak target. I’ll keep talking to myself and others, no matter how difficult the topic.

In the absence of a satisfactory answer to my lifelong problem, the best thing I can do is to tell people they’re not alone. Nobody who survives knowing that they could slip into suicidality again should feel alone. It’s an under-discussed topic — even in mental health circles — and mental distress thrives in taboo and isolation.

During the lulls and ebbs in suicidal events, there’s space to strengthen ourselves.

  • Quiet, almost-stable moments are ideal for reaching out to trusted friends and professionals to break the isolation.
  • We can try to apologize and forgive ourselves for self-harming acts (emotional and physical) to reduce the burden we’re already carrying.
  • See our suicidal ideation in phases and severities, rather than treating it as a yes/no division. This gives us an idea of how much danger we’re in and makes it more manageable.
  • Residual thoughts about death and ‘disappearing from Earth’ aren’t always signs of distress — they can also show our recovery progress.

If you’re reading this in the midst of suicidality, it might seem pretty shit to hear that life afterward is still an ongoing conflict. But I think that viewpoint is colored by the abject horror of being suicidal. Things feel bad when we’re in distress. It’s impossible to overstate how much worse things feel when we’re thinking of death. However, it’s not hopeless.

My girlfriend and I have both lived our worst moments. I’ve watched myself draft and address suicide notes. She’s sat on her bed to count pills before. But those were our lowest points and nobody looks good at their lowest point. Most of the time, we’re downright boring. We do laundry, game together, work, and meet friends.

Living after suicidality isn’t just an endless war against the forbidden knowledge of your own death. It’s also about happiness in unexpected places, like meeting new dogs. It’s about everyday stress, too. It’s oddly…normal. But only if we fight back.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Summer Tao

Summer Tao is a South Africa based writer. She has a fondness for queer relationships, sexuality and news. Her love for plush cats, and video games is only exceeded by the joy of being her bright, transgender self

Summer has written 39 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. Wasn’t expecting an article on this subject . Autostraddle as usual being the best.

    I was so deep in just a few months ago, that I have found an almost foolproof plan.
    I’m better now but like you said you can’t just forget it’s an option . I’ve spent years and years depressed and suicidal but I always knew suicide methods available to me were quite unreliable. Now I know how and I will never be able to erase that info from my mind.

    When my pms hits, when the loneliness overpowers me ( this Sunday I must have spoken a grand total of 10 words),when my physical health takes a turn for the worse, when I see how we torture other humans and animals for truly idiotic reasons…I remember the item that I never threw away. I remember the plan …I remember the goodbye letters who have already been written.

    Positive note:
    What personally helps me is exercise…. It helps with my anxiety. I don’t smoke anymore because it would make my performance worse. Same for drinking. Also, I get very very dark when I drink. ( And I drunk text my straight crush who also happens to be a friend – ?lesbian cliche award? )
    Did I mention that she has a fraternal twin and that I’m actually better friends with her twin. Do I win even more queer points for that?

    I don’t know if I’ve survived suicidality yet. Maybe Anna Kendrick’s character wasn’t so wrong in A simple favour when she said that she thinks loneliness kills more people than cancer.
    P.S: I don’t usually remember quotes from movies, but I think everyone will understand why I remember that particular one. Hint: It’s for gaaayyyy reasons.

    Thank you for making suicide a little less taboo.

    • Hey Fouras,

      Thanks a lot for writing in. It means a lot to both read it and know you’re still around. And yeah, the knowledge about planning never leaves you. It still bothers me that because those memories are so traumatically vibrant, I can always ‘resume’ from where I left off. There’s no forgetting the existing knowledge, which makes recovery all the harder.

      And yeah, even though we can turn to various forms of chemical escape, they often make things worse while making us feel better about it. It’s not usually good in the long run. My mental well-being was always at its worst when I sought out alcohol.

      Lots of gay points and love to you

  2. When I was 17, I was about 90 seconds from swallowing the contents of several different pill bottles. Even at 17 I knew that the medications I had chosen to assist me would have quick and lethal consequences. I was home alone and no one would be there to stop me or call 911. But as I started opening the first bottle, I realized that I didn’t actually want to die, I just wanted everything to stop. I called my mom and she talked me down.

    Now, 14 years later and my 16-year-old cousin recently did the same. Physically, she’s fine. But, I’m so saddened that she too will carry that scar with her.

    I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you.

    • Hey Lindsay,

      I’m as glad as you are about the decision you made at 17, and I’m really sorry about what happened to your cousin. It’s a horrible thing to live with, but it gets easier with time. Thanks for the love.

  3. You are a damn good writer, Summer, with a lot of range. Thanks for writing this.

    I appreciate the continuum mention too. I’ve never gotten as far as you describe, but I’ve been on the continuum, got the Calm Harm app on my phone and everything. Even now that I’ve transitioned, once in a while something hits me, I catch a glimpse of SI in my own mind, and it scares me shitless.

    • Thanks a lot, M. There’s a wide gulf between how terrifying SI is to people who don’t experience it much and catch it at the edges…and people who went so deep that they got used to a ‘baseline’ amount of ideation. It should be terrifying to have those thoughts, but it’s also so easy to grow accustomed to them when things are bad enough. And that’s when there’s massive danger. Being afraid of SI thoughts is the rational and positive response by far.

  4. Thank you for this piece. In a way I very strongly relate to that knowledge from suicidality never going away. It became kind of a habit to have passive suicidality when stressed or depressed.

    I also agree that it’s very hard to talk about. Some of it is the skewed perception that qhat I experience now isn’t that bad because I’ve experienced worse. There’s also a part of it where I’ll hesitate to bring it up to even mental healthcare providers. After going through inpatient treatment and multiple intensive outpatient programs, some parts of the treatment that’s supposed to help feel like it was its own trauma, and I don’t want to be told to do that again.

    Not that treatment has always been bad; just that some providers mess up bad and some treatments efforts are very poorly suited to many people.

    • The response on this piece has been both heartwarming and heartbreaking. And yes, suicidality completely fucks with your standards for what a ‘bad time’ in life looks like. That heals with time as your recent memories get replaced by better ones with… higher standards for happiness. It takes so long and it’s so easy to set the recovery back.

  5. Hi, thank you for the article. It has really made a difference to me and given me the push I needed to confide in my friends.

    • Hey Mo, I’m really thankful I gave you the nudge you needed. I hope it goes well for you and you find a new path forward. Remember that setbacks are a normal part of recovery, but the most important thing is to keep trying when you slip

  6. I was suicidal all throughout my childhood (since about age 7) and my 20s. I didn’t think I’d make it to 30 but then it happened. I’ve been in a dreamlike state since then because I feel like I made to a precipice of something better. I can’t explain it but it feels positively absurd I’m still alive but I am. I’ve been free of self harm since 2017 but it’s not something I can really talk about publicly. I feel like a punch line to an old joke when I think about it. But I’m also somewhat proud of it. It’s an ambiguous way of feeling.

    It’s hard to feel like I’m on “the other side” of it because it’s all I’ve ever known really. I never really had a baseline for it. Sometimes I still keep suicide in my back pocket like it’s a backup retirement plan. And I admit it feels dark and comforting at the same time. But I also feel like maybe I won’t end up that way and that’s a hope I didn’t have before.

    • Hell, I feel similarly. There’s an incredulity attached to surviving a decade or longer when I was so, so sure that I was going to end it before age 20. I’m much more attentive of special days and memories now. I never thought I’d make it this far, so every new year feels like ‘bonus life’ that I really, really need to make use of.

      It definitely is dark and probably a bit concerning that many of us still think of suicide as a valid Plan Z if everything else has gone wrong. It’s… the nature of the beast, and the best we can do is put as many boundaries, memories, and good things between us and that contingency. I don’t think there’s a point to demonizing ourselves for thinking about it as a possibility. But we’d do well to make that contingency look as unappealing as possible.

Comments are closed.

‘Why Are People Into That?’ Asks Incisive Questions About Kink

When I started podcaster-educator Tina Horn’s Why Are People Into That? A Cultural Investigation of Kink, I expected her to lead with the casual podcast cadence I’m accustomed to. What I got was pleasantly richer without sacrificing any of the acerbic gay wit we’ve come to expect from this pivotal voice of queer sex ed.

It’s impossible to talk about the book without discussing the eponymous podcast, so I’ll start with that. In it, she banters with a sexually adept guest while exploring the ins and outs of the day’s kinky topic. Listeners arrive out of curiosity and stay for seamlessly woven personal experiences and socio-political discussion of taboo sexual practices.

This matters to the book, because it lives up to its name. This book is Horn’s podcast writ large and solo. It’s her voice given the expansive space needed to get into the absolute weeds of each topic. Once she gets started, you get to see her shine. Expertise shows in the little things, like the array of examples she draws from in film, literature, and academia. She also displays the restraint to stop her lack of personal interest in a kink from impeding her exploration of its value to others. And her mastery of the skill of conveying academia-adjacent knowledge into reader-friendly text is frankly enviable.

I read this book with the critical eye one can only have because they profoundly care about a topic. I read sharply because I want sex education to be the best that it can be, not because I want to dismantle it. Here, Horn’s elaboration on the ecstatic emotions of fisting, or her judgment-free linkage between cannibalistic kinks and everyday language exhibit thoughtfulness and care. The kind only available to someone who’s been elbow deep in another person and reflected on the experience afterward.

If my critical eye wasn’t assuaged by her deft handling of the opening chapters (titled Feet and Spanking respectively), it was completely satisfied by my hallmark chapter: Consensual non-consent. When I saw it in the Table of Contents, I quietly thanked the author for including ‘us’. Us people who are drawn to taboo power dynamics and altered states of consent, whether or not we’ve been victimized. A kink that is evoked everywhere in romance, porn, and imagination but relegated to withered taboo when it’s time to actually talk about it.

Her dismantled-with-love approach reaches its stride in this chapter. It engages with the anxiety-laden topic by tying it to the mundanity of other sex acts that incorporate a hint of coercion. Basic restraint bondage and mystery play ‘vanilla’ sex, to name two. It’s the soft introduction this kink needs before she explores the ironies and paradoxes that underpin consensual non-consent. Just like good sex, the book always gives readers a breather between challenging topics and chapters.

If consensual non-consent was the chapter I was looking forward to, then cannibalism was the one I dreaded. Maybe it’s over-exposure to true crime media, but my engagement with cannibalistic fetishes has been tainted by the gory and horrid. I was neither looking forward to blood-and-guts vore nor the fava beans and nice Chianti erudite fantasy.

Horn once again reassures the reader by guiding us along a more…palatable path. The angle is idiomatic. She makes us confront the everyday reality of cannibalistic language: eat your heart out, I could eat you right up, you look delicious, etc. It’s a mirror to our everyday acceptance of the cannibalistic and its relationship to affection, not destruction that reveals why people enjoy vore. It was never just about consumption any more than foot fetish was just about feet.

For someone who doesn’t read many books, this one is superbly enjoyable. My scatterbrained self loved compartmentalized chapters dedicated to single topics. Humor and seriousness share pages harmoniously. Most importantly, I left feeling like I detached a few harmful preconceived notions I didn’t even know were there. That’s the real joy of this book: It’ll challenge some of your problematic notions no matter how confident you are in your sex positivity.

Early on, she outlines her rationale for why sex workers and sluts are excellent sex educators: experience. My own internalized whorephobia had concealed that plain logic from me, but I’m glad Horn dislodged it. My understanding of kinkiness is better having read the book, even if I still can’t get behind (or under) wet-and-messy fetish. It’s nothing short of gladdening to learn from a first among equals.

If you’re fond of her podcast, this is for you.

If you wonder why people are interested in select kinks like feet, bimbofication, and consensual non-consent, this is for you.

If you haven’t been pulled in by more surface-level explainers on fetish and sexuality, this is for you.

New words I learned: circlusion, whorearchy

Those were mine, but you’ll likely learn something new, too.


Why Are People Into That?: A Cultural Investigation of Kink by Tina Horn is out now.

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Summer Tao

Summer Tao is a South Africa based writer. She has a fondness for queer relationships, sexuality and news. Her love for plush cats, and video games is only exceeded by the joy of being her bright, transgender self

Summer has written 39 articles for us.

The First On-Screen Kiss Was Between Two Women

The entire history of people kissing on-screen stems from two women locking lips.

In 1882, director Eadweard Muybridge brought physical intimacy to this nascent artform with his short, The Kiss. A pair of naked women reach out to shake hands and then (GASP!) they kiss. At the time, this short was just another example of Muybridge utilizing then-groundbreak photography/cinematic technology in the service of capturing rudimentary human behavior. Just look at fellow Muybridge directorial efforts like Sallie Gardner at a Gallop (depicting a man riding atop a horse) or Woman Jumping From Rock to Rock (which does exactly what it says on the tin). However, The Kiss’s focus on two ladies pecking gave it extra historical significance as the first-ever cinematic depiction of kissing.

Every single movie kiss since then has strolled in the footsteps of The Kiss. The beachside moments in From Here to Eternity and Moonlight? Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor making out as Zendaya watches in Challengers? That rainy kiss in The Notebook? They all owe everything to a couple of lesbos in the 1880s. (Or, at least, very good friends.) And The Kiss was only the beginning. Other vintage cinema examples of women kissing continued on for decades.

The modern-day right-wing talking point of queerness/transness being “a new fad” is, of course, nonsense. There are countless historical examples one can point to proving that queer sexuality and gender nonconformity have existed forever. Just look at cinema before the restrictive Hays Code was enforced. As early as 1918, comedy cinema legend Ernst Lubitsch helmed gender-bending comedies like I Don’t Want to Be a Man. Such titles were subverting standards for “proper” roles for ladies and gents and carried unmistakable queer overtones in their challenging of gender norms and portrayal of queer attraction.

Silent cinema queen Greta Garbo kissed multiple women in the early years of her career. The most famous of these came in the 1933 film Queen Christina when Garbo’s Queen of Sweden planted a kiss on the lips of Countess Ebba Sparre (Elizabeth Young). A year later she kissed Cecilia Parker in the less well known film The Painted Veil. Imagine how many more women Garbo might’ve kissed without the Production Code!

And it wasn’t just Garbo. Of course, most of these early cinema portrayals of women kissing weren’t explicitly lesbian. However, the act of women kissing could at least be rendered on-screen. Just look at Olga Baclanova kissing a lady in the 1928 feature The Docks of New York. Then there’s a pivotal emotional moment between characters played by Claudette Colbert and Miriam Hopkins in The Smiling Lieutenant. Their big farewell moment is punctuated with the duo kissing each other on the lips. This act is somewhat obscured by a very precise tilt of Colbert’s head. But one would have to be a fool not to know what’s going on, especially with their very intimate body language.

The 1925 feature Lady of the Night also featured a chaste example of women kissing on the lips. This particular act of physicality reflected why these moments could slip into pre-Code films. Women were often stereotypically thought of as being “more intimate” with each other. Two women kissing didn’t necessarily indicate a romantic context for more conservative viewers. Acts that today read as explicitly queer, could take on an “innocent” vibe that made it to the big screen.

However, not all of these instances of women kissing went by without controversy, even in the pre-Code era. The most famous kiss between women in classic pre-Code cinema emerged in the Marlene Dietrich motion picture Morocco. This Josef von Sternberg production featured Dietrich as Mademoiselle Amy Jolly performing for a crowd in traditionally male attire. While waltzing around in this get-up, Jolly plants a kiss on a lady audience member.

Two women explicitly kissing on the lips as part of a seduction in a 1930 movie is so striking that any heterosexual connotations in the movie’s main plot melt away. Dietrich, being queer in real-life, lends a rebelliousness to this display of physical intimacy. Here, Dietrich is engaging in the sort of intimacy that most Western societies prohibited at the dawn of the 1930s. Couching queer behavior in heterosexual narrative purposes was the only way for moviegoers to see a key slice of the “real” Dietrich. Like the greatest queer artists, Dietrich took the artistic standards of the day, crumpled them up, and tossed them in the trash. No wonder that Morocco sequence is still sizzling nearly a century later.

This scene from Morocco and Dietrich’s fashion inspired a fervor of controversy. Outcries over Hollywood promoting “immortality” and lewdness prompted the creation of the Production Code and the already scarce depictions of queerness in American cinema became even rarer. Occasionally a movie like Sylvia Scarlett could sneak in a kiss between two gals. However, it would have to be immediately followed up by one of the women participants recoiling in horror and going, “What’d ya go and do that for?!?” That same film featured Katharine Hepburn as a girl breaking gender boundaries to pose as a dude for monetary purposes. Sylvia Scarlett’s more risqué moments were a last gasp of queerness from a soon-to-be bygone era.

Depictions of queer women largely vanished from American and even most world cinema after the mid-1930s. (Sweden provides a notable exception with films like Thirst and Girl with Hyacinths.) Occasional allegorically lesbian characters — defined by broad stereotypes existing to inspire mocking laughter from audiences — crept into the margins of certain motion pictures. Much like similar caricatured gay male characters, queerness existed in subtext and with scorn.It wasn’t until 1961’s The Children’s Hour, that lesbianism would explicitly return to American cinema. And, even then, a tragic end was required.

That makes it all the more glorious to appreciate the early rebellious forms of women kissing in vintage cinema. These depictions of queer gal joy (even if by accident) offer a glimpse at an alternate version of Hollywood. Imagine if American cinema in the 20th century had built on the visual language of these women, instead of ignoring this act for decades. These instances of physical connection between women on-screen are also extra enjoyable since they’re a rare way alleged — and not-so-alleged — queer folks like Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and others could put parts of themselves on-screen. These movies now function as time capsules of their identity society tried to erase.

Pride Month is as much about appreciating queer history as it is about advocating for queer liberation in the here-and-now. Appreciate these first lesbian kisses in cinema and join me in wishing a happy Pride to the two women in 1882 who changed film history forever.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Lisa Laman

Lisa Laman is a life-long movie fan, writer, and Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic located both on the autism spectrum and in Texas. Given that her first word was "Disney", Lisa Laman was "doomed" from the start to be a film geek! In addition to writing feature columns and reviews for Collider, her byline has been seen in outlets like Polygon, The Mary Sue, Fangoria, The Spool, and ScarleTeen. She has also presented original essays related to the world of cinema at multiple academic conferences, been a featured guest on a BBC podcast, and interviewed artists ranging from Anna Kerrigan to Mark Wahlberg. When she isn’t writing, Lisa loves karaoke, chips & queso, and rambling about Carly Rae Jepsen with friends.

Lisa has written 7 articles for us.

1 Comment

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Mini Crossword Is Reclaiming Some Terms

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Emet Ozar

Emet is a queer and genderqueer program manager, crossword constructor, and married parent to four children.

Emet has written 35 articles for us.

Leisha Hailey and Jenna Lyons Were Both Outed by the Media. Now They’re Thriving in Dyke Bars for Magazine Photoshoots

If you woke up today and wondered “what gifts will the world bestow upon me today” and you’ve been looking at the clock, watching the day pass by, still lacking a single gift, then have I got the fantasy football lineup for you: A joint interview and photoshoot with Jenna Lyons and Lesiha Hailey at Cubbyhole for Coveteur Magazine, photographed by Austin Sandhaus

A photoshoot at Cubbyhole?! Leisha and Jenna are officially invited on the next Autostraddle Dyke Bar Crawl

Leisha says her Mom’s best friend was a lesbian named Maureen, which is cool because my Mom is a lesbian named Maureen, although it’s not the same lesbian named Maureen.

Leisha talks about journalists angling to out queer celebrities, about how The L Word approached sex scenes, and about her initial assumption that the show wouldn’t really become the phenomenon it did. Jenna confirms some Real Housewives of New York Season Two rumors, namely that another gay will be joining the cast, so expect Bravo Dyke reports on that imminently. (At the end of the interview, Jenna also has the brilliant idea that Leisha should join RHONY so there can be three whole queers in the cast. Make it happen, Bravo!) They also discuss the fact that they were both outed by the media back in the day. But look at them now!

Jenna on her approach to fashion:

“I always wanted the mix of something boyish and something girlish. I never wanted head-to-toe ‘girl,’ and maybe it felt welcoming because there always was something that was pushing it off. And that was not because I was trying to appeal to the gay people, it was just because that was what I had always liked. Tulle with a pinstripe suit or something. You know what I mean? That push and pull.”

Leisha on social dynamics bleeding into the show:

“Yes. I think it was a blessing we were stuck in Vancouver together because we only had each other socially. We were all away from home, and a lot of us lived together. We would all leave set and go eat together and work out together. We were just like this massive bubble, and all the writers were doing the same thing. It just started to morph, everything you see on screen. So if we had a big party or something, they would write it into the show like that whole pot brownie party.”

Leisha’s correct take on the Generation Q throuple:

“When the throuple was pitched to me, I thought it was amazing. I wanted that relationship to last the entire series. I didn’t want it to break up the way it did. I wanted to go to parent-teacher conferences. Then Alice was famous so I wanted the throuple to be dealing with the red carpet.”

Jenna on the impact of The L Word:

“I grew up in a really small town outside of LA in a very classic neighborhood. I didn’t meet anyone gay until I moved to New York when I was 18. That’s why I think things like The L Word are so important. The people who reach out to me most or DM me are the parents. Oftentimes they say, ‘I was so afraid that my child wouldn’t be loved or accepted and wouldn’t find a job, but seeing someone who’s successful and out that looks just like everybody else is really comforting and makes me feel less scared.’ Oftentimes it’s this fear that makes people reject someone.”

Leisha on being the only out member of the cast during season one:

“At the time, It was so exciting to be on the show. Kate [Moennig], who plays Shane, was gay but she wasn’t out publicly, but I knew she was in that first season. I didn’t feel alone because all the women in charge were gay, like Ilene [Chaiken], Rose Troche, and all the producers. There was a lot of focus on me in the cast because I was the only out one. It was a constant question in every interview like, ‘What’s it like to be the only out one?’ and they would try to get me to spill that Kate was gay, and I was never going to do it. It was really awful how the press was back then.”

Jenna on her root being Black Swan, just like Autostraddle Managing Editor Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya:

“When the two of them started making out, I was like, ‘What?’ I remember feelings that I had not felt before, and I was definitely like, ‘Something is happening.’ The whole dynamic between the two of them was just so intense. There was also a sadness to it, too.”

Also, when asked how they’d program a lesbian cinema double feature, Leisha went with Desert Hearts and Bound and Jenna went with Black Swan and Entre Nous. The entire interview and photoshoot is just a nonstop delight from top to bottom, and you can learn that yourself here.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Riese

Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3213 articles for us.

2 Comments

  1. This was fun and interesting; thank you. It was cool learning more about that show, because, even though it wasn’t perfect, it was what we had at the time, and it was fun. And I like that they referenced the Sleater-Kinney/Spin situation, because I remember how the magazine handled that and how it impacted the band and their families.

    Also, as a teenage girl growing up in the 90s, even though I was a little younger than LH and JL, this is very relatable, and reminiscent of my own confusion:

    “JL: This is something that I experienced, and I’ve been asked this question a lot. Because I only saw people who looked a very specific way that were gay—butch lesbians, women who were more masculine—I didn’t have any connection to that. I didn’t see myself in that. I wanted to wear sequins, heels, and lipstick so I didn’t connect myself or whatever feelings I might have had. When was the first time you actually started to connect yourself to something you saw?

    LH: I had the exact same experience as you. The feelings were the thing that made me realize I was gay, but I never saw anyone that looked like me.”

Comments are closed.

New Documentary ‘Power of the Dream’ Is a Reminder of the WNBA’s Core Values

You don’t need to be a sports gay to have heard at least something about the WNBA this year. Whether it’s the phenomenal rookie class, the fire pre-game fit checks, or even Ellie the Elephant’s shenanigans, the WNBA is enjoying unprecedented attention at the moment. So the timing could not be more perfect for the release of Prime Video’s WNBA documentary, Power of the Dream. Produced by Tracee Ellis Ross and players Nneka Ogwumike and Sue Bird, Power of the Dream tells the story of how a group of players put activism at the forefront of their 2020 season and shifted the U.S. political landscape through their backing of Georgia’s Senator Raphael Warnock.

As two of Autostraddle’s resident WNBA stans, Natalie and Nic got together to chat about the documentary and its importance in the sports doc canon.


Natalie: So, you and I have been competing in fantasy leagues together and exchanging messages about the WNBA for a while now, but I don’t think we’ve ever talked about what first drew you to the league.

Nic: Wow wow wow, you’re right! So I was 10 years old when the WNBA debuted in 1997, and I remember hearing about it on ESPN (we’ve always been a big sports family) and thinking it was so dope that women had their own league. I loved the Liberty from the jump. And I begged my parents for a Becky Hammon jersey and WNBA basketball so I could pretend I was a pro while shooting on the hoop in the driveway.

Natalie: I love that so much!

Nic: Come to think of it, Becky was definitely one of my roots. I always kept my eye on the league through high school and college as a casual viewer, but I got back in full force during the 2019 season, the one where Elena Delle Donne won MVP. She played at my Alma Mater so I tuned in to see her at first, but what kept me was the talent and passion of every single player in this league; especially the Black women. They were, and still are, mesmerizing to watch both on and off the court. I’m excited to talk especially about that second part.

Natalie: We’re getting together to talk about this documentary during, perhaps, the most watched — and scrutinized — season of the WNBA to date…and I mention that off top because, as I was watching Power of the Dream a lot of what sprung to mind was, “the new fans need to watch this.” It was weird how much the tumult of this season really colored my reaction to the documentary.

Did you have that same reaction? Who do you think the audience for this documentary is?

Nic: I absolutely did have that reaction! Before about a month ago, I would have said the audience is anyone who loves basketball and understands its inextricable link to politics. But as I watched on my big screen and scrolled social media on my little screen, it became crystal clear that the folks who need to watch it, are the new fans who may have the “shut up and dribble” mentality that has gotten louder in the last few years. The WNBA’s existence is in and of itself political and based on the intersectionality of every single player in the league. They’ve had to fight to be seen in one way or another from the time most of them picked up a ball; advocacy is in their bones, you know?

Natalie: Absolutely. There’s definitely a sense of “we’re not new to this, we’re true to this” that comes along with watching this doc….and, as if to emphasize the point, the members of the WNBA’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Committee released a statement last week about a partnership with Rock the Vote ahead of the November elections. These women are truly invested in doing the work.

Nic: They embody “walk the walk”; it would be easy to do the equivalent of posting a black square on Instagram and calling it a day. But they take their position in the spotlight seriously. They know that their platform gives them an advantage when it comes to activism and I love that they’re making the active choice to use it for good. Even at the risk of potentially losing that platform. Big “if they wanted to, they would” energy.

Now, you and I have been here for a minute, you even more deeply enmeshed than me, so we’re pretty familiar with a lot of the W lore; how did having that historical knowledge affect your feelings while watching?

Natalie: I don’t think there was a moment during this documentary that I wasn’t cognizant of the fact that this level of activism is a well-honed legacy, dating back to the 1996 Olympic team to now. The women of the WNBA have always understood that it’s bigger than them, that their causes have been bigger than basketball.

That said, I’m really of two minds on this documentary: On the one hand, I’m so glad it exists at this moment because, as we noted, it’s a quick way for people to learn about the W’s legacy of activism. But, as someone who’s been a fan of this league for a long time…and, in particular, as someone who watched ESPN’s documentary, “144,” back in 2021…not enough of this documentary felt like new information?

The biggest strength of this documentary isn’t its storytelling — “144” is, for me, the better vehicle — it’s its timing. What’d you think about the documentary overall?

Nic: For me, I enjoyed watching it 1) because of its timing, as you said, and 2) because while I knew the broad strokes of the W’s involvement with Say Her Name, Black Lives Matter, and Senator Warnock’s eventual election, I was actually fuzzier on the details of what it took behind-the-scenes for any of this to happen. I will say, an unexpected emotion I had was an overwhelming sense of anger listening to the players talk about how while they were still mourning Breonna Taylor, they were bombarded with headline after headline of yet another Black person being gunned down. It’s something that I knew intellectually we all were feeling at the time, and still now to some extent, but hearing the pain in their voices, it brought me right back to 2020.

Natalie: Yes, it took me right back too.

Nic: And don’t get me started on the Kelly Loeffler of it all. Admittedly, this particular WNBA storyline missed me when it first happened, so I got to experience that anger for the very first time thanks to the doc.

Was there anything you really liked about the doc’s political storylines?

Natalie: The documentary brought in a lot of elements: about the bubble and about Black Likes Matter and the Say Her Name campaign, but ultimately it’s about this Georgia Senate race…which, even I didn’t fully appreciate how significant that win was until this doc laid it out so clearly.

One thing I really liked: There’s a point at which Nneka Ogwumike and Layshia Clarendon are just carrying too much…their responsibilities as players, their roles as the head of the WNBA Players’ Association, and the weight of being a Black person in this country at that particular moment…and they needed Sue Bird to take on more. You get to see Sue grapple with those dynamics and understand how privileged she is in that moment.

I found myself hoping that how Sue handled herself was instructive for the moment we’re in now in the W. I hope that white fans recognize the extra burden the world places on these young, Black players…and I hope that white players recognize the privilege they operate with, even within the under-resourced world of women’s basketball.

What about you? Did you find moments of this story that really resonated with you or that you hope might resonate with newcomers to the W?

Nic: I’m really glad you mentioned the Sue Bird of it all, because that really stood out to me. Not only Sue stepping up when Nneka and Layshia needed help, but also the fact that Nneka and Layshia essentially said listen, this is Too Much right now, we need you to carry this. It seems obvious, but I think that hit me particularly hard because personally I’ve had a hard time acknowledging when I need help carrying something, especially when I feel like I should be able to handle it. But says who?

I had the exact same thought you did about white players and fans recognizing the privilege they move through the world and the league with. What gives me hope is that we’ve seen several examples lately of white players like Paige Bueckers, Cameron Brink, and Hailey Van Lith actively speaking out on that very privilege.

Something else that stood out to me was that while these players were doing the activism work and feeling the racial tensions the entire country was feeling, they had to contend with an entire pandemic and a season taking place in the W’s carefully curated bubble. I don’t think enough credit is given to everyone who made that feat possible. Plus, we get to see the players just hanging out with each other? It provided some levity in an otherwise heavy documentary.

Natalie: There have been a slew of WNBA documentaries lately: Shattered Glass on Tubi, which details the fight for a new collective bargaining agreement, or the Sue Bird (Sue Bird: In the Clutch) and Candace Parker (Candace Parker: Unapologetic) ones, or the Liberty’s Unfinished Business. Where do you think Power of the Dream ranks among them?

Nic: First of all, I just love the fact that this many documentaries about the W exist. Whether it’s player-focused, team-focused, or cause-focused, there are so many stories to tell from so many angles, so I hope this is just the beginning. I’m not going to pick a favorite, but I think as far as importance goes, this one is near the top for the reason we spoke about earlier. Timing. For better and for worse, there have never been so many eyes on the WNBA and it’s important for new and old fans to understand that while this league has 144 of the best women and nonbinary basketball players in the world, it’s also about more than basketball. It has to be. For the vast majority of players in the W, it’s about their safety once they take off that uniform. They don’t get to ignore politics or social justice or activism; they are who we are fighting for.

Natalie: When she premiered this documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival recently, Sue Bird reiterated a commitment to telling the stories of female athletes through her production company. If you could get a sports documentary about the WNBA greenlit, who or what would it be about?

Nic: Oooo I love this question and I’m going to make you answer it too, so get ready! Since we can already cross a Liberty doc off the list, I would love to see a Hard Knocks-like behind-the-scenes documentary starting from the WNBA draft and continuing through the season. Maybe even specifically focusing on that year’s rookie class and showcasing the quick transition from college to a short training camp to professional ball and everything that comes with it. Including shenanigans, of course! What about you?

Natalie: I’d love to see a Hard Knocks, WNBA edition…can you even imagine having spent the last two years in the Indiana Fever locker room? It would’ve been must-see TV. Not to play to the home crowd too much but I’d love to see a documentary on the evolution of queer acceptance in the WNBA. It hasn’t always been the welcoming and inclusive environment we know today.


Power of the Dream is now streaming on Prime.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Nic

Nic is a Senior Product Manager at a major Publisher and lives in Astoria, NY. She is way too attached to queer fictional characters and maintains that buying books and reading books are two very different hobbies. When she's not consuming every form of fiction, you can find her dropping it low on the dance floor. You can find Nic on twitter and instagram.

Nic has written 79 articles for us.

Natalie

A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. You can follow her latest rants on Twitter.

Natalie has written 408 articles for us.

1 Comment

  1. Great convo! I need that doc about queer acceptance in the league like I need air!

    As a white fan, I too hope that other white fans and players take Sue’s grappling with her privilege and ultimate action as instructive. I’ve thought a lot about Sue in all this “shut up and dribble” talk – she didn’t come in the league a vocal activist (as Lisa Leslie said on the Bird and Taurasi show, apparently she “didn’t speak” when they were on the Olympic team together, lol) but as time went on she grew to understand and use her privilege to be an ally not just in speech but action

Comments are closed.

A Trans Guy’s Guide to Picking Up a Trans Girl

feature image photo by Samantha Brooks

Picture it: You’re a trans guy and you’ve met a stunning, charming, brilliant trans girl.

Maybe you were at a tech conference in San Francisco, or at Ultra, the annual electronic music festival in Miami. Maybe you went to a burlesque show at a downtown club. Maybe Blue Velvet was playing at a local independent theater and you locked eyes across the soda stand. Maybe you were set up by friends or matched on an app.

Either way, you’ve lucked out, brother. T4T relationships can be really affirming and fun. Dating someone who understands your transition can be wonderful. Fucking someone who has also thought about their body in an unconventional way can be enlightening and hella hot.

But my goodness, trans men, how do you speak to and then eventually woo the trans woman of your dreams?

I’m here to help.

How to Start the Conversation

This works if you’re in public and she’s a stranger or if she’s someone you’ve seen around and you wanna take it to a flirty place. Hell, it could even work in the case of a DM slide: Compliment. Her. Outfit.

We trans guys have an advantage over basic cis men here. We know what goes into a woman getting dressed up. There’s steps! There’s try-ons and discards, lotions and perfumes, accessory choices, sometimes shaving and plucking, and all sorts of to-dos specific to someone who’s thought out their gender presentation.

While women lament men who call them “natural beauties” when they’ve clearly had Botox and are wearing makeup, we’d never make such a mistake. The work of leaving the house as a trans person deserves recognition — even if that work is just how she styled her Fiona Apple graphic tee or her choice of running sneakers. Compliment her with more specificity than a cis man could ever muster.

What’s the brand of her adorable thigh-highs? Is she wearing her “season” as told to her by a TikTok color analyst? Did you once have a heart shaped choker just like that when you were a woman? Start there.

Only compliment her on what she can control or what is mostly non-sexual. No great tits, even if they are great tits. (You can compliment those later.) For now, we go to “beautiful eyes” or “nice hair” or “cute clothes” and then we add a specific.

Examples:

“Your shirt matches your eyes perfectly! You must have done that on purpose.” (Most people with nice eyes have absolutely done that on purpose, but they’ll delightfully pretend not to have.)

“I never got the hang of French braids when I was a girl, but yours are perfect. Did you do them?” (This has the added bonus of casually letting her know you’re trans too.)

“Your shirt is so cool. Is it a reference to something? Oh, a DnD podcast? Which one? I always wished I’d gotten into that but I’d have no idea where to start.”

How To Get Her Number

Now, how do we move from chatting to getting her information for a date? First of all, make sure she knows you are asking for romantic reasons!

Sometimes with trans people, we’re so worried about being vulnerable or so unused to being hit on in a serious way, we might not communicate date intentions well or understand we’re being asked out. And since you’ve hopefully dropped into the conversation that you’re also trans, she won’t have the anxiety of wondering if she has to out herself to you and risk negative results.

Say, “I’d like to take you out on a date sometime.” Relate it to something you all have been talking about. For example, let’s watch that old foreign-language lesbian film you’ve been recommending. Or, if conversation hasn’t lent itself to a natural hang suggestion segue, invite her to a trans thing. You and her already have something huge in common. It’s another advantage we have over cis men. (More on where to take her in a second.)

If getting her number seems too intense, or if your phone still shows your deadname when you call, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for her Instagram. The dolls tend to curate their Instagrams really beautifully. Let her show it off!

Now that you follow her, you have to actually message her with a plan. Do not chicken out! Cis men have no spines, but we are not cis men!

Look, you had to tell people you were a whole other gender. You can message a hot girl on the ‘gram.

Where To Go On Your Date

It might be okay to lean into some ideas that are cheesy and gendered, like bringing her flowers. For some girlies, that will be too intense. But for others it might be totally cute, because a lot of us never had those formative experiences.

When in doubt, roses are way too much but anything else the grocery store has to offer is just right. I’d make sure it’s something hypoallergenic, not too fragrant, and not poisonous to pets. If flowers seems like it’ll freak her out, or it’s not your speed, you don’t have to do it! But feel it out. Maybe your version of flowers is pulling out her chair for her or buying the first drink.

Speaking of, you can do the regular coffee or drinks date — always keeping coffee as a low-pressure option in case she is sober. You can also just take a walk around a lake or generally window shop if you’re low on cash. But if you wanna be more specific, like I hinted at above, there’s luckily an existing trans connection!

Maybe there’s an independent queer bookstore or a trans drag show or an anarchist lecture series at the LGBT Center. I know this might not be the case for every city, but look on Instagram or Tiktok for LGBTQ+ stuff she might want to go to and then suggest that. Even if you’re not sure it’ll be good or fun, it’s a perfect excuse to ask her to check it out with you. Tell her that even if it’s cringe, it might be a funny story and you can grab some fried pickles at a diner afterwards.

Or you can get more specific to her interests. You’ve got her socials. Do some digging. What stuff does she usually go to? Who are her friends?

She could be a nightlife trans woman, who maybe had a great run as a gay guy and who still revels in that environment. She could be an outdoorsy girl who hikes with her queer girl friends on the weekends and loves gym selfies. She could be the more introverted type who wants to whoop your ass at video games all night.

I’d normally avoid going to someone’s house or having someone to your house on a first date, but this is another point trans men have over cis men. It’s not as likely that a woman would “choose the bear” over us. It’s a cliché, and maybe has a dab of sexism to it that we’re not perceived as the same level of dangerous as a cis man, but, hey, it’s okay to use a little societal conditioning to our advantage.

If you do go over there to play Fallout: New Vegas, bring some seltzers or snacks. If she comes to you, have your fridge stocked. Ask her for her drink of choice for Final Fantasy. Check if she’s vegan or gluten-free. And for god’s sake, vacuum up a little.

If you end up going out, and it’s something you’ve attended before and where you see friends, such as queer country line dancing or a monthly trans arts meetup, make sure you introduce her around and keep her engaged in the conversation. Trans people can very easily get lost in the friend zone if you don’t make it clear you’re there together. Keep it romantic with little touches, getting her a drink, or introducing her clearly as your date for the evening. Even among queer friends, make sure she knows she’s not there as just another friend: She’s special to you.

How to Keep It Going

I have been told by my cis male peers that it’s now my responsibility as the man to ask for a follow up date. Unfortunately, this seems to be true because we live in a society. This doesn’t mean you have to plan the whole next thing, but it is on you to say you’d like to see her again and provide at least another suggestion on where to go.

After making sure she got home okay (whether that be after the date or wink wink the next morning), ask if she’d like to see you again. I’ve gotten you this far, now you’re gonna have to do something that cis men have struggled with for millennia: Listen to her.

Every girl is different! As you’re getting to know her, you can pull back from the generalities of both being trans, and find out if you’re compatible beyond that. You have a foundation that puts you leaps and bounds ahead of any cis guy who’s ever tried to pick her up. You’ve got this, my dude. Go get ya girl.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!
Related:

Gabe Dunn

Gabe (he/him) is a queer, trans writer and director whose most recent film GRINDR BABY was selected for Frameline Festival’s 2023 Voices. He is a best-selling author thrice-over, host of the podcasts The Knew Guys, Just Between Us and Bad With Money. As a TV writer, he has sold over a dozen TV shows to networks like FX, Freeform, and Netflix. His young adult sci-fi drama Apocalypse Untreated was released by Audible Originals in 2020. His latest TV project The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams is in development at Universal with Gabe set to write and produce.

Gabe has written 16 articles for us.

239 Comments

  1. This is really sweet. Signed, a trans girl who met and raised kids (who are now all grown up!) with a trans guy

    • This is the worst shit I’ve ever read omg. Terrible article that kinda seems like it was written by some dude who’s never actually spoken to a woman?

    • juneteenth is not a holiday about everyone, its a celebrating African Americans and the emancipation of slaves. juneteenth doesn’t need to be brought into random articles unrelated to black people (eroding the actual point of the holiday) especially when the “advice” those articles provide is demeaning and transmisogynistic

    • ok ignoring how absolutely evil this article is come on man. 5 million billion names on this earth and you choose gabe??? choose something funky like optimus prime or something idk.

    • This is just a new version of gender essentialism that buys into transphobic ideas that being assigned a certain sex at birth means we’re also “conditioned” in a specific way that sets us permanently aside from cis people of the same gender.

    • as an actual trans woman, just be yourself and if she likes you for who you are then it’ll work out :)

  2. This article has the depth and smell of a spilled bottle of Old Spice. The 2005 Vice article about a good party needing a slutty transsexual was more progressive than this. I’ve seen videos on PornHub with more rizz. I’m making a donation to bear conservation in Gabe’s name.

    “I’d normally avoid going to someone’s house or having someone to your house on a first date, but this is another point trans men have over cis men. It’s not as likely that a woman would “choose the bear” over us. It’s a cliché, and maybe has a dab of sexism to it that we’re not perceived as the same level of dangerous as a cis man, but, hey, it’s okay to use a little societal conditioning to our advantage.” There’s a word for the exact short of man that intimately understands gendered violence and social pressure and threat evaluation, and then consciously applies that knowledge to manipulate his target by appearing as the less threatening option.

    As a trans woman, the best thing I can say about this article is that it affirmed my gender as an objectified, coerced target of masculine desire.

    • This is just a new version of gender essentialism that buys into transphobic ideas that being assigned a certain sex at birth means we’re also “conditioned” in a specific way that sets us permanently aside from cis people of the same gender.

    • Oops! I was trying to reply to the article, not your specific comment. But the mobile version of this website is a nightmare

      • Great article on how to never get a date with a trans woman ever. /s

        Just speaking from a trans man’s perspective, you automatically assume all trans men have experience doing feminine things like make up or dressing up which may be true for some but definitely not for others like me and you also assume all trans women like doing said feminine things. You tell other trans men to take advantage of the fact we are perceived as ‘not as dangerous’ as cis men which is super manipulative first off. Second, shows you don’t think critically about your own actions because you think you dont have the capacity to be sexist or misogynistic in the first place which really shows in this article because it reads as so creepy and chaserish towards trans women.
        Then finally you refer to both trans men and women as ‘when they were a woman’ ‘when they were a man’ which shows you don’t really understand being trans that much because trans people have always been the gender we’re supposed to be even when we didn’t realize yet and while its ok to decribe your own experience as ‘when i used to be a woman/man’ it is certainly not ok to use that terminology for other trans people because its not accurate nor is everyone comfortable with it. I see you write and direct but it sounds like you haven’t really read or learned much on gender studies or queer theory. Educate yourself.

        • I just realized this was a reply to someone elses comment and not its own comment gdi sorry

    • I would rather be worked to death in a gravel mine than have anyone interact with me thinking like this

    • Yo way to assume trans women aren’t used to being complimented. Buy me flowers cuz I like flowers not because you think I’ve never been loved. Don’t act like you can avoid misogyny just because you used to be a woman. You are a man now. Take a good look in the mirror and get off reddit.

      All my friends are real upset on Instagram about this article, we’d rather just be called a slur.

    • Its forcing me to leave one to scroll the comments lmao they should fox yheir mobile.
      this article talks about trans women the way cis men talk about cis women actually and as a trans man this is extremely uncomfortable to read.
      You are still treating dating as a manipulative game of chess. you speak repeatedly about being direct and theb turn and talk about how to be so sneaky. maybe instead of checking the socials of a women you dont know fro her intrest, you just, ask her?
      Ask her bc shes a complete person who can answer you in her own time.
      Also if she seems distant or not interested in ur date, another drink and touching her here and there (especially if ur not an established relationship). wont help. Just realize she’s not into you, finish the date, and let her go.

      I put this next to multiple articles by cis men and they sound the same in multiple spots in a very bad way.

      Theres more I could say but frankly dude this is just disappointing. Please treat our sisters better than this.

  3. this is some reddit-level dating advice. i was entirely convinced that this was some elaborate satire or bait for the majority of reading this. good lord.

    • as a transmasc person with experience of dating transfem people, what the actual fck. How can you be so disgusting about being trans, while also…being trans yourself. How can you objectify women so much. This is the worst thing i saw in a while. The way you speak about trans people? Ew. I’m not going to talk over all the trans women who already commented on this from their perspective, but I cringed so hard at all the “wHeN i WaS a WoMaN” stuff, why would you throw that around and use to your “advantage”. Why would you clock other trans people in public spaces and talk to them like this.
      An actual advice on dating: treat people like people maybe?? I almost laughed when “listen to her” was put almost as conclusion to the whole thing, after 29393874 stupid stereotypes that don’t tell you anything, while it literally should be the first thing in any relationship ever.
      Btw how and why you date someone shouldn’t be based on if they’re trans or not. Like, most of my relationships are/were t4t and I like it this way, but I’m not gonna center it around transness, you know what I mean? It’s just one of hundreds of thousands different things about a human being. And I understand the preference or safety or comfort of t4t relationships, but… this article is not about it. It’s about awful fetishization of trans women and all the toxic ways a trans man can be a sly creepy predator. Dysphoria doesn’t mean you can be misogynistic freely.
      I hope nobody is stupid enough to follow through with these shitty attempts at “advising”. I’m truly sorry to all the trans girls who saw that and/or who experienced anything similar from anyone ever. It should have never happened and it angers me how much transmisogyny there is even in the community itself. Stay safe everyone and happy pride or something ✌

  4. this is disgusting and made me feel awful, I hope you stay far away from women I would never trust anyone who follows this guide.

    • you are a terrible person and you should do some serious reflection on the way you view trans women

    • “We trans guys have an advantage over basic cis men here. We know what goes into a woman getting dressed up. ”

      No we don’t and NO WE DON’T.

    • Gross. Can only consider a girl’s interests insofar as you can win a “complimented her t-shirt!” point or convince her you’re not like other guys. (Choose the bear? wtf)

      If you want to make an impression, treat trans women like human beings and express genuine interest in what makes her heart beat faster. Ask her about her fucking day. And leave the thigh high, choker, New Vegas, “dolls” crap at home. We’re not a monolith and we’re not memes.

      Shallow pick up tips aren’t cute because you’re queer.

  5. yea, this shit sucks, i’d rather you just buy me some ket and let me be nonverbal on ur couch the entire time than try this pretentious ass shit.

  6. true equality is reached when the cishet and transhet communities produce equally weird dating guides

    • once again trans men show they are men by stooping to 2010 reddit-tier dating guides that treat women like a monolith and a puzzle to be solved. it’s still the bear for me.

  7. holy fuck this dude should never talk to women and should not be allowed to go near them jfc

    • Yo way to assume trans women aren’t used to being complimented. Buy me flowers cuz I like flowers not because you think I’ve never been loved. Don’t act like you can avoid misogyny just because you used to be a woman. You are a man now. Take a good look in the mirror and get off reddit.

      All my friends are real upset on Instagram about this article, we’d rather just be called a slur.

  8. Look, under the most charitable reading I could see there being positive intent here. But you must have known this would be inflammatory, especially with that title.

  9. is this….satire? is this……transmisogyny? autostraddle it’s really too bad, i would’ve told you all you need is autism and some good youtube recs, you could’ve had that for free.

    • i would actually much prefer a guy to put a bunch of effort into making me feel desired at the beginning of a relationship than just telling me to watch some video essay. why are you arguing that trans women are worth *less* effort?

      • This isn’t effort, this is how to appear like you’re putting in effort. it’s condescending and you should be able to see through it.

    • It’s hard for me actually believe it isn’t satire… but I think it’s for real

  10. Man, for all the pains this article takes to emphasize how as a trans guy, the reader will have some experiences of womanhood that will allow them to relate to the trans woman they would like to date, it sure misses an important one: the experience of being reduced down to being a prize to be won by a man.

    • this website sucks ass im trying to scroll and it keeps opening a fucking a reply so fuck it heres a reply! fuck you

  11. this is so dehumaning and objectifying and misogynistic. I’m sure the author knows trans women are women but is he aware that women are PEOPLE? Not a different species?

  12. Damn, incels got another one. On a serious note, maybe you could celebrate this pride month by leaving trans women the fuck alone.

    On a real bit I pity any trans man who tries any of this, y’all deserve better role models than the clown who wrote this bull. Be normal, just be normal, be a normal person, objectification feels just as bad when it comes from other trans people.

  13. Gabe please continue writing these tips!
    As a Womxyn, I need all of the Kais to know just how to win over my little, silly, heart!~
    After all, I need a big strong, totally not manipulative, gender theoried he/they to tell me what season matches my eye color. Please don’t listen to the haters! I need the freshly top surged Pat Bateman’s of the world to protect me from it evils!! Oh to be with a true man, who knows what a woman’s worst fears are and how to fend them off!! I won’t have a care in the universe as he paints my pretty nails, the same color of his dark, grimy gas lights.

    • Please don’t take this slimy article as a representation of trans men, some of us are normal and treat women normally!

      • I don’t mean to say Gabe isn’t normal. I’ve followed him work for a while and he has had some good stuff, but jeez this article is inexcusable and extremely disrespectful to woman, please take it down

  14. As a long time reader, supporter, and fan of autostraddle, this article was really discouraging to read.

    • > Say, “I’d like to take you out on a date sometime.”

      this whole article could have been just this sentence

    • This is misogynistic, transmisogynistic, objectifying, and full of stale stereotypes. Furthermore, I am not sure why you are posting dating guides for men on a website ostensibly for gay and bisexual women.

      I would advise you take this down and platform more trans women and trans lesbians. As one of the few websites left specifically for WLW, I am disapointed to see autostraddle publishing this sort of drudgery instead of any of the incredible trans lesbian writers I see struggling to get by every day. It makes me not want to come back.

  15. this sucks and dont ever do this. i promise you that hinting at the fact you know she’s trans will not get her to swoon. also, i’ve never met a trans women who would think a “trans drag show” was something made for them in any aspect (it sounds very demeaning and pretty transphobic tbh), but that’s anecdotal. i can tell the writer hasn’t, and will (hopefully) never talk to a trans woman in person.

  16. Truly amazing *all* men suck regardless of who they are. It makes me wonder why anyone would date one.

    Anyways, thank you autostraddle for your contributions to the lesbian community, I now somehow like men even less.

  17. From now on, whenever trans men assert that their community has some keen clandestine insight into the struggles of women by virtue of being AFAB, I’m going to pull up this article to prove that they, in fact, don’t. Or maybe just can’t comprehend.

    Cis women and trans women are women. Trans men are men.

    • this article is rancid but fuck this noise 1000000%

      trans solidarity forever, take the gender essentialism nonsense back to radfem land, you do not speak for me nor my other trans sisters

    • One trans guy writes a cringe, cheesy, and stereotypical article that plays into gender tropes:

      All of you geniuses: “All men are trash omg, trans men are sooooo cringe, I hate men so much.”

      It’s like that one xkcd article where the dude is like “wow you suck at math”, and the next frame is a girl doing the same equation and the dude says “wow, GIRLS suck at math”. Y’all aren’t slick.

    • Hey Gabe,

      This article turned me, a bisexual transgender woman, into a lesbian. You’ve done a great service today. Now I know that there’s nobody out there I can trust who isn’t another trans woman. What a great victory you’ve earned today.

      Regards,
      Valerie

  18. I know people are upset with this because it’s definitionally pick-up artistry, but a (trans or cis) guy complimenting my clothes, buying me flowers, gauging my interests, taking me out, listening to me, etc. all sounds super nice. If it’s pick-up artistry it’s a pretty benign type which I’d have a good time with. I suspect some of the commentors wouldn’t feel so incensed if (1) the phrase “pick up” wasn’t in the title, and (2) it was a woman doing it instead of a man—since I suspect a lot of these girls commenting aren’t really that into men.

    • I think it’s just that hard to divorce it from feeling pathetic even if it’s not super predatory anymore

    • I’m gonna be real with you… The idea of a woman “picking me up” only sounds good as a fantasy. I prefer to be treated as an equal, not an Other that needs to be coaxed into things like giving up my phone number. And while the article’s body technically presents itself as advice for dating, not hookups, the bit where the author implies a trans woman might be willing to fuck the reader earlier than she would a cis man, sounds dicey, and would sound dicey even if it was presented as advice for women.

      I suspect both AS and the author knew the implications of leading with language like “picking up” and “get her number”, and they’re really just getting the kind of engagement they were hoping for.

    • Bisexual trans woman here! I’m actually just not into manipulative creeps pretending to care about me as a person when they are only interested in using me for sex, regardless of their gender!

  19. does autostraddle really need to be publishing pick-up artist guides about how to manipulate trans women into relationships? like holy shit this is incredibly sexist. i’m honestly concerned for the safety of the transfeminine people in this dude’s life

    signed, a trans girl with actual self-esteem

    • What getting 0 pussy does to a MF… Anyway here’s a custom pickup artist guide for Gabe Dunn to follow. How to get pussy:

      Just look in the mirror! There you have it.

  20. This article is the perfect example of why I hate majority of my trans brothers. Get over yourself, be normal, no one cares.

    I’d recommend you do some deep diving on your internalized transphobia, accept your past experiences, and stop comparing yourself to cis men. Weirdo

    • It sounds like the author has never met an actual trans person in their lives, neither a trans man nor a trans woman. They’ve concocted these Netflix e-caricatures of trans men as Glorified Totally Safe UwU Alt Women™ and trans women as simultaneously easily manipulated girliepop meat dolls AND just slutty gay men at the club. The entire article screams “Trans men are women and trans women are objects.”

  21. I’m confused why people are taking this seriously. My gf sent me this w the caption: “did you use this on me.” It is funny and it’s cool to see jokes and references we make/relate to/hear in writing. I hope the people that this post bothers or hurts (understandably so) can just click off and be okay. Thanks for the laughs.

  22. This is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever read. You are not trandrew tate bro don’t be such a fucking weirdo.

  23. how does this start terrible and get worse this is just as misogynistic as every pick up bros tips ive ever seen it just also manages to dehumanize trans women too

  24. hi, trans woman here:

    good lord please do not follow this article for advice please please please

    Love the casual shitty quips aimed at people for no reason peppered throughout – you know what’s super attractive in a partner? meanspirited jabs at groups of people; that always makes me feel super safe as a trans person!

  25. I’m a trans woman who finds this article extremely offputting. The article reads like pickup artistry, and the tactics it outlines are manipulative, making unfair assumptions about trans women.

    Attempting to use inside jokes and stereotypes comes across as desperate, or that the author did only the most bare of research before determining what trans women are like. While assuming we all have poor fashion sense is insulting, I’m more concerned with the comparison of trans women to gay men. While there are gay men in the nightlife scene, it implies the author sees trans women in that scene as men.

    I find alarming the belief that trans men are somehow safer than cis men, implicit in the paragraph is that trans men are allowed to violate a trans woman’s boundaries simply by virtue of being trans. Trans men are no more entitled to trans women’s bodies than cis men are.

    While the article is from the perspective of a trans men, and trans men are its target audience, it is clear that no input from trans women was included in the research for this article. The most valuable source for what trans women look for in a partner would be trans women themselves. Since presumably no trans women had input in this article, it is not a a good source on how to date us. These tactics certainly would not work in practice, and would serve to alienate one from any contact with trans women

  26. When people begged you to delete this post they meant in its entirety not just from insta.

  27. publishing a “how to pick up chicks” article doesnt become progressive just because you pause to remind the audience youre so totally different than those cis guys every five minutes. bad look for autostraddle.

  28. its so disgusting how you
    a) assume trans women would think youre less dangerous because you were afab (something which we don’t do because of creepy manipulative shit like this)
    b) use your completely unfounded generalization to call US sexist for trusting you?? so its fine when you say youre better than cis men but when you strawman your dream trans girl as saying it its misogyny
    c) and then immediately talk about using this “societal conditioning to your advantage”. you sound like an incel redditor trying to ” social engineer” women
    for all the time you spend talking about how you have an advantage over cis men you are just as good at them as treating women and tgirls specifically as sex objects with no regard to them as a person. gabe, please reassess the way you think about women as goals and not people and how hostile you seem to trans women you made up in your head. your transness does not make you infallible and you are still a man in a society where men can use power to control women. in the meantime I don’t think you should be allowed within 500 feet of a tgirl

  29. Had no idea trans men could be just as douchey and sexist as cis men thats too bad. The advice is cute when it’s not condescending and stereotyping trans women but ultimately you could get the same advice from any cis dude youtube pickup artist. Need help picking up women? Ask a butch.

  30. actualy i love these kinds of slimey incel tbros, the kind that if i laugh at their lame jokes and blush and giggle at their objectifying “compliments”, i can get to buy me food nd drinks at the bar. Then when they try to bring me back to their apartment i can just rob them, and they’re thinking with their dick too much to see it coming. who needs an addy prescription when these guys r a dime a doze?

  31. Holy shit lmao. All I can think of is the “This is the one thing we didn’t want to happen” joke from Brass Eye. You tried to write an article about non-threatening Feminist boying your way into some gock and now you’ve June and Roxie yelling at you in the comments. Retire dawg you’re finished

  32. You can really tell the author has next to no trans women in their life and has perhaps cooked up this childish thigh high wearing idea of a trans woman that can easily be manipulated into sex. The real cherry on top is the part where they distance themselves from cis men as a trans masc as if that somehow makes this article full of stereotypes and transmisogyny even remotely acceptable. Would be willing to bet that “amab” and “afab” are terms commonly used by the author in their personal life, you can really just tell.

    • I think we all know where our little buddy got this thigh high uwu girlie mental image from. It’s porn brain rot. But it’s okay, because he does it in a totally sex liberated way in the name of feminism /s

  33. The position of this article appears to be “Trans women are women and trans men are ALSO women so it’s totally chill for them to be creepy.”

    The unspoken corollary of “when I was a woman” that every trans woman will hear is “when you were a MAN” so don’t fucking do that shit.

    It’s the year 2024. Hasn’t everyone realized that softboi, male feminist bullshit is played out– and that the whole “man lite” thing is transphobic AF?

    If you think you’re a kinder, gentler, “safer” type of man by virtue of being trans…. what message does that send her about what kind of woman you think she is?

  34. This is the worst thing I’ve read in my life holy shit please never write again this fucking REEKS of transphobia and literally made me want to not transition so I wouldn’t have to associate with this article in any way

  35. When you’re so bad at satire that you end up reproducing harmful stereotypes

    trans men really are the men of the trans community huh

  36. yknow… i was once a woman too… yeah.. i’m not like those other MISOGYNISTIC CIS men… i’m AFAB, you can trust me.. guess you could say i’m a feminist, haha… i’ve always had this.. connection… with femininitywaitwhereareyougoing

  37. Wow, way to cash in on every single stereotype when it serves you to game-ify your pick-up artistry while waging a proxy incel war against men who have penises. Trans men really are the men of trans people!

    – a trans man who thinks you should delete this article, issue an apology, and pay some trans women to do it over

  38. i would pick a hundred bears over a single trans man if he ever talked to me the way you’re trying to talk to me in this article. even if he didn’t i’d still pick the bear.

  39. this is so demeaning and gross. what a waste of space on the internet. literally have you ever gotten a trans woman to write an article? have you ever tried? no? than maybe do not write about us.

  40. this article is not only really, really gross pickup artistry nonsense, but really… sad. is this really the extent of your honest opinion on us? this personality profile of us that you create here… thigh highs and chokers. fallout new vegas and EDM shows. it’s like your mental picture of us is something cultivated entirely through the lens created for you by watching us from a distance online and taking notes of tweets made about us and memes plastered with impact font from trans reddits. like you don’t listen to… us, ever

    like, you’re over here doing things like noting that you’re perceived as less predatory and that you should use that to your advantage. like saying that you have an easier time getting a woman to go to a second location with you. it makes it seem like you see us as pieces of meat, all while slathering it in trans solidarity. while saying you should chip at a shared female experience by saying that you used to look or act like us Back When You Were A Woman™

    is this all that’s left for us? the most respect we can get, even from our brothers in shared trauma and bigotry, is dehumanization and strategy guides on how to convince us to fuck you? as though we’re nothing more than fragile girls who can be manipulated with a wink and a smile and an acknowledgement that we’re different, but good different? is this all there is?

    i dunno i guess. you’ve just created a really depressingly bleak snapshot of humanity, man

    • This is the most well-written and thoughtful comment I’ve seen on this article. You’ve captured my exact thoughts.

  41. All the transwomen in the comments bashing the author definitely remind me why I don’t go on dates with transwomen anymore. Normal article about dating turns into an hate sesh, because they see anyone who isn’t an UWU-cute tgirl as someone who shouldn’t have a voice.

    • I think the reason you don’t go on dates with “transwomen” anymore (if you ever did) is because we can’t stand your misogynistic dog ass.

    • My deepest sincerest apologies on behalf of trans men named Gabe. We don’t claim this guy

    • if this is a ‘normal’ article about dating to you, you should never be allowed anywhere near a woman. we’re people with an internal self and lived experience, not a puzzle you need to solve so we fuck you.

    • If you think that an article giving advice on how to emotionally manipulate women into sleeping with you is a “normal article about dating”, then congratulations! You’re a misogynist!

      P.S. It’s “trans women”, not “transwomen”.

    • I feel like “transwomen” will somehow survive the loss of you as a dating prospect

  42. And I thought only cissies fetishize trans people… Jesus Christ. I’m not sure how people like you survive. But I suppose nothing else can be expected from a “man”, or whatever you identify as tomorrow, who writes for this website. Make sure to use AFAB as a noun, verb, adjective and adverb in your next literary masterpiece to really drive the point home how you are such a cute cuddly little soft boi and not one of those evil big bad toxic manly men!

  43. guess I’ll be telling all the trans women I know to avoid autostraddle from now on, jesus how did this get published

    • Honestly, I’m side eyeing Autostraddle for publishing it. In a different way, Slate published an article by Allison Raskin without the context that she was a comedian, knowing it would make her look precious and entitled. I’m not defending Gabe’s take, but he’s autistic and has bipolar disorder – IMO it was irresponsible of Autostraddle to publish this. They knew what the response would be.

      • A quick glance at his social media made me think that this Gabe character might just be one of those people who make up having autism in order to skirt responsibilities. Funnily in his case, that’s just having to deal with people finding this graduated-top-of-the-class-in-queer-theory-and-gender-studies-writing-style a bit annoying.

        • In response to Freddy (since I’m unsure of how this website works) those types of people are the very most manipulative to autistic people that I have ever known and it makes online autism communities harmful to actual autistic people viewing the most common of even mild autism traits as “unrelatable stereotypes” and this comment used to be way longer including a rant about Devon Price who has been described as the Rachel Dolezal of autism and I think it’s very accurate considering his writings but my page refreshed so it was all deleted which was frustrating but anyway thanks for reading and if you have a Reddit account my username is the same as on here because I would like to make friends if that’s okay it’s my trans throwaway account and nice talking to you

          • Hey Tptroway, I don’t have a reddit account but I would like to respond to you. I know exactly what you mean and was nodding along as I read your comment. That type of person is too commonly found in various online communities, but I’m not sure what solution there is. This author reeks of self identifying with neurodivergence to flaunt as a quirk or kink, rather than to find friends or get support. While that is extremely offensive (and I do see the irony in Gabe seemingly being the type of person to find many things other people feel and think VERY offensive) I am honestly also just positively surprised. About how forgiving many of the comments here are towards the author, based on this alleged autism.

  44. Oh, Gabe… My sweet summer child. This just ain’t it. I do find the comments calling this toxic masculinity funny tho. It’s giving toxic femininity!

  45. my daughter had to told me about this? but no way this can be genuine this is like the most transmisogyny ive seen perpetuated by a trans guy in my entire life

  46. A lot of this article feels like weird retreads of very insular intercommunity stereotypes but not like, actually terrible advice. I guess, as the other trans girls who’ve commented before me have shown, treating yourself as “less of a threat” than cis guys is in and of itself a red flag for most trans women (since, well, we know better) but so long as you’re not outright saying that or bringing up sex based oppression you’re probably golden. author, i love you but do take the criticisms to heart and in the future, talk about tgirls w a bit more tact and less nods to transgender in-jokes in. same for the tguys reading this for advice. xoxo

    • “as long as you’re not talking about sex based oppression you’re golden”

      Feminist webbed site

  47. tme and this made my skin crawl. i’ve gotten gfs just by being myself, not any of this. this is why i continue to not take anything on autostraddle seriously

  48. Yeah so writing an article about how to bag literally anyone as if they are a monolith or a prize to be won not only goes against queer theory but just sucks, man. Like this is gross. You should know better.

  49. Gabe. As a long term fan – of over a decade – I want to call you in rather than call you out. Since you transitioned you’ve made several misogynistic comments. Blaming “the girlies” for Matt Rife’s DV comments. Saying that the only reason you approached men for dates was that you were actually a man, implying that women don’t do that. A few other little snide remarks. This article.

    A dear friend of mine went through this process – brief, performative misogyny – when he transitioned. It was just quicker and less public.

    Get off the internet. At this point I feel like you’re hurting yourself. You are an incredible writer and very charming. You would have a stellar career in account management that wouldn’t have this impact on your mental health.

    • I wanted to thank you for this comment; I think you are spot on regarding the performative misogyny. I pity Gabe, as cringe as the article is.

      From experience – I think any kind of social transition is especially difficult while autistic. Relearning boundaries and what behaviors are acceptable given your new social role takes time. It’s worse when it’s so painfully public.

      idk man. In any case someone probably should have done a sensitivity read before this was published. The whole thing is a bummer.

  50. I haven’t been on this site for a moment & this just giving me more reason not to. I thought Gabe was better than this. I am surprised this article is still up there & there is no apology written. Thean again this from a site that fired some of their good writers & didn’t even apologize for that racist & transphobic incident at A-Camp a few years back. Yeah I hope both this site & Gabe can mature to be better, but so far it seems like they won’t.

  51. Dude after reading this article I would cancel that whole T4T movie you’ve got coming out.

  52. Oh, I am absolutely sure that your female assignment at birth gave you insight to the routines of shaving, wearing a choker to cover your Adam’s apple, debating tucking, assessing which bottoms show bulge and if that’s acceptable, etc… and that of course all women desire to be feminine and told how feminine they are and thus no trans woman would ever choose to be masculine and/or butch, and no woman has ever been made uncomfortable by a man scrutinizing her outfits regardless of presentation! Definitely all very true things I am saying.

    Have you seen Revolutionary Girl Utena? Men telling Utena she’s so feminine is in fact psychologically detrimental to her. Maybe stop doing that to trans women? And please stop using the virtues you’ve assigned to your junk to convince women to let you into their house as a first date??

  53. You guys will never be as good at this as I am. You never fucking will. I’m the chaser GOAT and you are harmful to trans. Stay out of my territory.

    • The cis-lesbian chaser bit isn’t even funny when the real Halimede is doing it. 🙄

  54. They’re just gonna delete all these comments anyhow once one of the TERFs that runs this shithole actually reads the jokenalism that gets published here. The author (lmao) already pulled the post from their social media to escape the shitstorm there. How manly…

  55. Further evidence that men have no place on a lesbian website, even trans men. And of course it’s automatically tagged for trans men but not trans women.

  56. What getting 0 pussy does to a MF… Anyway here’s a custom pickup artist guide for Gabe Dunn to follow. How to get pussy:

    Just look in the mirror! There you have it.

    • Well I guess this proves trans men are not immune to writing cringe and condescending dating guides that talk about women like they’re exotic, dumb giggly prey. Diversity win?

  57. This has made me even happier that I’m a lesbian.

    Absurd generalizations, barely concealed misogyny.

    Anyone who tries to take this advice should never be permitted to be anywhere near a trans woman.

  58. God this article is vile. Good job autostraddle,I hope this article got you the clicks and engagement you needed for pride month. I have nothing to add that my trans sisters haven’t expanded on in greater detail.

  59. Everything in this article is perfect, not a word could be different. From the way the title contrasts “guy” with “girl” to subtly infantalize the trans woman in question even before it starts openly infantilizing her, to the constant references to dated transfem memes to emphasize how utterly rizzless and perennially online the author is.

    Seriously, just hire Halimede.

  60. jesus christ dude. has this ever worked for you? did you just never talk to a trans woman in real life and then choose to write this article anyway?

  61. Could’ve just named this one “Disturbed and deeply predatory male explains his sociopathic view on hookups”.
    Terrible advice. Treating transwomen like they’re redditor stereotypes will not make them want to fuck you. You really wrote “I abuse my status as Well I’m Safer Than Cis Men :) to take vulnerable women to a secondary location they otherwise wouldn’t go to” and thought that was like, some great tip for other dudes, and published that. Extremely grim read; possibly the bleakest “trans” article I’ve read in a while. Please stay as far away from transwomen as possible, you are not a safe or kind person.

    • They’re not a male. They’re a self described trasmasculine AFAB nonbinary man lite this and that so they can cry for oppression points in all communities.

  62. It reads like “how do you do fellow kids (t4t trans men)”. To any trans woman who still considers dating trans men, please, don’t think we’re all like that.
    (I agree with the general idea of complimenting things that had a thought put in on it and giving an option of a sober date, but everything else is extremely weird.)

    Gabe, we don’t need to repeat everything after cis men. You’re passing just fine. Try to unpack those weird ideas and where did they come from.

    • Do you really think that someone who is 100lbs soaking wet and draws on a mustache with makeup is “passing just fine?”. That’s just chronically online, sorry. No one outside of Hollywood (or wherever this creep spends their parents’ allowance?) entertains people like this. No wonder most of us live stealth after changing our documents when this is the representation we get in the media.

  63. you know shit’s dire when halimede reads less like a desperate chaser than this

  64. You’re THIRTY SIX years old and this is the best you can do? This is what the extent of your real life interactions with trans women (if you’ve even had any) culminates to? This could have been written by a 19 year old cis male chaser with a reddit addiction.

    • Or…just treat her like a human being instead of some weird walking stereotype, jfc. Just be normal. As a trans guy myself, we really don’t need to adopt the misogyny when we transition.

  65. Okay, so let me see if I understood your points

    1. Open up with a compliment. Be specific and respectful. Try to work in that you’re also trans – or allude to it to ease potential worries about coming out
    2. Exchanging social media is acceptable instead of phone numbers if that presents other problems
    3. Be direct about asking for a date. Ideally pick a first date based on interests learned from initially conversing or something safely neutral or related to shared queer/trans experience
    4. Flowers are nice but don’t go overboard if you go for it
    5. The home isn’t ideal for a first date but have a good place for hosting if you do or bring snacks if the date is hosting
    6. If you want a second date ask for it yourself

    Makes sense. This was an enjoyable read!

  66. This article is an excellent demonstration of how trans men are equally as capable of being misogynistic creeps who objectify women as cis men are.

  67. what happened to actually listening, respecting boundaries and make-a her da chicken alfredo

  68. This won’t win me any friends here, I’m sure, but I gotta say: I’m baffled by the response this article has gotten.

    I’m a trans woman, and I find absolutely nothing objectionable in the advice given here. I see people calling it dehumanizing, objectifying, transmisogynistic, manipulative, etc., and I just cannot understand where they’re coming from. I’ve tried to ask other trans women what they find objectionable about it, but the only responses I’ve gotten have been generic objections to *any and all* dating advice aimed at men.

    I wouldn’t be offended if you tried any of these tips on me, and I’d find a few of them pretty charming and flattering. Unfortunately, I’m not into guys… but I hope that you, and any of your trans bros who need this advice, are able to put it to good use and find the love you’re looking for. 💝

    • I’m happy to read this comment cuz I’m also baffled about the response. (spent way too long reading comments last night trying to understand) I considered most of the article benign at worst but a handful of comments do make sense to me with their objections.

      I’m a fan of Gabe’s so I know that a) he does consider himself to have been previously been a woman b) presented as very feminine once upon a time c) also knows that this isn’t the case for all trans masc people. He doesn’t really explain that here though and kind of generalizations his appearance. Like, yeah, Gabe DOES in fact know how involved the process of “getting dolled up” can be but there’s also an implication that other trans men/trans masc folk do. I eventually got good at performing femininity so I also understand this (and I’m more feminine than Gabe, anyway) but that’s definitely not the case for all trans masc folk.

      I’m also noticing that people seem to think he’s implying all trans women/trans fem folk are super feminine or SHOULD be but… he’s really not. He acknowledges a woman might just have a T-shirt and jeans on and goes on to celebrate the effort and the self expression in that. I think people are also reading into the article that he’s like, “Yeah! Go out and get a trans girl specifically. They’re hot and [blah blah, fetish chaser]”. However, the vibe *I* got was, “Oh, you’re interested in a trans woman? And you’re a trans man yourself? Well, let me give you some tips, partner!”

      Most of the actual advice is just like, real basic getting in to dating stuff to me. I’m not a woman but I’d also be flattered by a few of the tips. I left my own comment summarizing the tips and saying I enjoyed them in a quasi defense of Gabe but also because I was sort of hoping someone would reply to me and point out something insidious or ill thought I hadn’t realized

      You probably weren’t expecting a long reply to your comment. I don’t know. Anyway, have a lovel day, Pearl.

  69. Made my skin crawl…and I’m a trans guy myself. How about you try just talking to her like a normal human being? Imagine if someone wrote an article about trans guys and it was like, “make sure to take Tyler/Kai/Chris to a Cavetown concert and compliment his flannel and craft beer collection”. We don’t need to be PUAs. Can we just be normal men who interact with women normally?

  70. We’re not the first 5 posts you see on r/196 when you wake up in the morning. We’re real, individual people with unique interests separate from the stereotypes you force on us all. I get that you probably don’t know any trans women but at least try.

    Also I don’t get the whole posturing that being trans suddenly makes you cool and non-threatrening. You’re acting like every shitty pickup artist who chases women for sex and leaves and 5am in the morning. Don’t flirt with strangers going about their lives and DEFINITELY don’t clock us at all, especially in public.

  71. This publication should be ashamed for putting out this disgusting transmisogynist drivel. Literally just advice for chasers based on fucking reddit memes. And people wonder why trans women feel alienated in LGBT+ spaces. Fucking disgraceful. You need to be kept away from trans women at all costs. If this publication has any sense of decency towards trans women they must retract this article and issue an apology.

  72. I have this vague recollection of trans guys being normal about women at one point but I’m starting to wonder if it was a fever dream. Kind of shocking to see this kind of transmisogynistic crap on Autostraddle of all places. Consider never talking to trans women if this is the way you view them.

    Gabe please stop writing anything representative of trans masculine people. You’re embarrassing us.

  73. ewwwwww, this is so bad it reads like a case study in why trans guys can actually be the creepiest chasers. no. autostraddle, don’t publish this kind of trash.

  74. Ooof. A trans guy’s guide to be a creeeeeeeeeeep! Autostraddle, please remove this transmisogynist crap and apologize. Does autostraddle have any standards at all? No, no they do not.

  75. Ooof. A trans guy’s guide to be a creeeeeeeeeeep! Autostraddle, please remove this transmisogynist crap and apologize. Does autostraddle have any standards at all? No, no they do not. Yikes

  76. Former Autostraddle monthly donor here, feeling very vindicated in my decision to cut that cord back at the merger. I was stunned to see Autostraddle publishing such a wildly transphobic, creepy piece. The fact that this not only cleared their editorial team for publication, but is still unapologetically live after days of controversy and backlash from all across the queer community – no apology, no retraction – is a testament to where this publication’s priorities truly lie. I will never spend another cent supporting this company, and will make sure my friends know Autostraddle isn’t for queer people anymore. Everybody involved here should be ashamed.

    • Concept: Maybe let trans and cis women tell us how they’d like to be approached. Just an idea. Instead of having a man say how it should be done. Would appreciate hearing from WOMEN about how THEY feel. A neat idea.

  77. Congratulations Gabe Dunn for again proving that trans men are often as if not MORE MISOGYNISTIC and cissexist than cis men! If you’re going to position yourself as a “former woman” and therefore a “safe man” literally why the fuck did you even transition. Your article makes it sound like you still view yourself as a woman at your core since you’re so eager to distance yourself from men even though you are literally a man. You are the reason so many women, both trans and cis, and even other trans mascs/men will choose the bear over a man. Thank you for giving the bears yet another win. You should be fucking ashamed of yourself for this sexist and aggressively white-centric bullshit (not every tgirl is a reddit nerd. Your article makes it obvious you arent in community with any trans women). This is some disgusting chaser bullshit and frankly if you don’t delete this soon I would worry about your career. This shit is fucking embarrassing.

  78. As a transmasculine individual, this is just.. embarrassing. I have never read anything from AutoStraddle prior, and if *this* is the content that’s platformed as being higher quality, I don’t think I would ever want to. Gabe Dunn does a fantastic job at showing just because you’re trans, that it doesn’t mean you’re any safer to women than your cis counterparts. We seriously need to do better.

    So many of the asides and “tips” in this article come across as treating trans women and fems like zoo animals; something to gawk at and have to “tip toe” around because youR