Also.Also.Also: For Lena Waithe, Queen Latifah’s Cleo Was a “Queer Awakening” (Get in Line)

Hey! How are you today? I’m having one of those days where everything seems to be taking me like three times longer than it should. I’m not really sure why, but nonetheless here we are! If you’re having one of those days like me, I hope you get a popsicle at the end of this.

Queer as in F*ck You

Queen Latifah as Cleo in Set It Off, blowing smoke out of her mouth while dancing with her girlfriend

There have been times when the headline of this column has been something like Kristen Stewart names Neve Campbell as her gay root… and listen, I’m happy for her! But this? This is for me.

Lena Waithe, on Queen Latifah’s Cleo in the Black lesbian classic Set It Off  — “I recognized her, if you get my drift… I was wearing T-shirts and jeans and cornrows. If I’m not a little young lesbian in training, I don’t know what it is. Seeing her, there was something that normalized me.”

This comes to you from the Vulture podcast Into It hosted by Sam Sanders, which dedicates its most recent episode to Pride and “The Movies That Caused Our Queer Awakening” which is 100% exactly the kind of easy listening I look for when I’m cutting up bell peppers to make stir fry for dinner. I highly recommend it to you for these same reasons!

(If you’re curious, Alex Newell lists To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar as one of their core movies, which I’m taking to prove that Black queer people continue to have exceptional taste across the board. If you want to read more about my own lifelong love of Queen Latifah’s Cleo as my gay root, can I recommend the following: “Set It Off” Is a Queer Tribute to Black Women’s Friendship and There’s Something About a Stud With Dimples)

Yesterday was Juneteenth and while this article was actually written last year, let’s be honest it’s a forever mood: My Pride Is Black, My Juneteenth Is Queer by Preston Mitchum for Learning for Justice.

LGBTQ+ Americans Have Stronger Support Than Ever — And Fiercer Backlash. “Since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, Republican state legislators and their allies have pushed an increasing number of measures to restrict the rights of gay and transgender Americans.” Tell us something we don’t know.

A Federal Judge Strikes Down Arkansas Ban on Gender-Affirming Care For Transgender Minors

Estonia Becomes First Central European Country To Allow Same-Sex Marriage

Flags Vandalized at Stonewall National Monument 3 Times During Pride Month

Suspect in Mass Shooting at Colorado Gay Nightclub Is Expected To Take a Plea Deal

Saw This, Thought of You

😅 German Tabloid Bild To Replace Range of Editorial Jobs With AI (Also.Also.Also, Apple Is an AI Company Now)

The TV Writer Seeking Hot Sex While on Strike. Hahhahaaa, well! I promised you updates from the writers’ strike!

This was burning through my group chats yesterday. It’s not a surprise that known abuser Russell Simmons is… exactly who his accusers said he was. But my heart goes out to Kimora Lee and her daughters, especially Aoki. This is such a burden to have to bear. Kimora Lee Simmons Tells Russell Simmons ‘Enough Is Enough’

If you haven’t seen the documentary about Russell Simmons, On the Record, you can find it on Max and it’s really worth your time.

Political Snacks

LET’S FUCKING GO, MITTEN STATE!! 🧤🧤🧤 Why Gretchen Whitmer Has What It Takes for a White House Run

Republicans Aren’t Even Hiding Their War on Young People. “A new GOP budget scheme would force the next generation to work longer and guarantee them an unlivable planet.”

What Running on a Jobs Guarantee Could Mean for Democrats. “Candidates hoping to win in 2024 should look to A. Philip Randolph, who knew an economy stuffed with good jobs would gain a political advantage.” (Black history nerd alert! But I’m a huge fan of A. Philip Randolph and am loving the idea of any political strategy built on his work.)

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Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 698 articles for us.


  1. Saving these for later but I have to say I hope Gretchen Whitmer doesn’t run yet! She’s doing such good work in Michigan and she’s only been head there for a minute.

    (Will return to say if the piece changed my mind!)

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