Pop Culture Fix: It’s Your Big Gay Duty To Watch Queer TV and Other Stories

Welcome to the pop culture fix, your weekly journey into the world of magic stories on screens and in your ears!

+ Despite me telling all of y’all to watch When We Rise, apparently not enough of you DID watch When We Rise, according to Daniel Reynolds of The Advocate. Around three million people tuned in, which sounds not bad at all, but apparently is bad, ’cause it put ABC at the bottom of the big four networks on Monday night. However, none of these articles acknowledge that a big chunk of WWR’s potential audience simply don’t watch live broadcast television. According to our 2016 Autostraddle reader survey, only 21% of our readers watch broadcast or cable television live, and the vast majority of those readers also watch streaming services. Furthermore, two shows with huge fandoms and passionate queer followings obtained similar ratings or lower on Monday night — When We Rise tied with The CW’s Supergirl, and beat Jane the Virgin.

But Daniel Reynolds, who also was discouraged by the swift cancellation of Doubtsuggests we do some reckoning:

LGBT people and their allies are doing an abysmal job in viewing and supporting queer content. Moonlight, a film about a black gay youth, made history by winning the Academy Award for Best Picture — yet it had the lowest box-office numbers of all the nominees. Last week, poor ratings also caused CBS to pull Doubt, the first network TV show to feature a trans actress (Laverne Cox) in a regular, main-cast trans role. The timing was cruel and horrible, occurring in the same week that the trans education guidelines were rescinded and celebrities cried “protect trans kids.” Do you want to know how to protect trans kids? Protect trans TV shows.

He concludes:

This is a business. If you want to see a transgender lawyer, a queer activist of color, or a bisexual president on TV, then you’d better view the show. Support it. Tell your family and friends about it. If you don’t, then the production will fail. And if it fails, that decreases the likelihood that another show showcasing queer characters will make it to air…

Start tonight, when When We Rise debuts its second installment. Watch it.

However… if you’re not a Nielsen Family, it’s unlikely anybody will know if you watched it, and have you ever known a Nielsen family? I haven’t. But! Moonlight is back in theaters and you can watch it on Amazon, so please do. And please for the love of all that is good and holy in the world, do not pirate positive LGBTQ content.

Also does he know any queer women? We support our queer television characters with INCREDIBLE PASSION.

Animated Disney Show *Star vs. the Forces of Evil* Features the Network’s First Same-Sex Kiss: A recent episode depicted same-sex couples kissing onscreen, including a lesbian couple!

+ The new live-action Beauty & The Beast production will feature Disney’s first on-screen same-sex “moment” in which manservant LeFou will have feelings for his friend, Gaston. I mean, I think we all saw this one coming.

+ Variety could’ve celebrated Moonlight, a black LGBT film, winning best picture at the Oscars, but instead it celebrated the white people who didn’t win and how GRACEFUL they were to give the award they didn’t win to the movie that did win the award, La La Land!! NEAT!

But Alaina wrote a great thing about it, and so did Teen Vogue.

An Explainer of the Lesbian Drama on This Season of Real Housewives of Atlanta

+ This was a headline I was afraid to click on, maybe you are braver than me: Who is Katie Salmon? Love Island star, Danielle Whittaker’s girlfriend and guest on Celebrity Sex Pod

+ I saw Get Out on Friday night and if you did too then you will want to talk About All The Amazing Little Details In Get Out.If you didn’t DON’T READ THAT POST. Just go see it! Then read the post. Thank you.

+ What’s Queer At SXSW 2017? GOOD QUESTION. I think that article answers it.

+ Okay: Is Whitney Thore a Lesbian? The ‘My Big Fat Fabulous Life’ Star Kissed a Girl — and She Definitely “Liked” It!

+ Quick heads-up for Sally: Nancy Kerrigan will be in the next season of Dancing With The Stars, as will Heather Morris. I have a weird feeling that Heather Morris might have this thing in the bag?

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Join AF+!


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 3211 articles for us.


    • It totally isn’t. Lol. Yall are just going to cast one of Beyonce’s former backup dancers(whose best friends are former Lady Gaga backup dancers) like she isn’t a ringer and going to at least make top 3? ABC is wild for this one. But I’m looking forward to seeing Heather and Normani anyway.

    • It’s not fair, but I suspect that after a few episodes she’s going to have an “injury” that will take her out of the competition. The same thing seemed to happen to Janel Parrish, and I believe she has dancing experience.

    • When I read the rumors around this I thought she was coming on as a pro dancer. I don’t think its fair, which makes me think she’s a wild card for people to vote for. She said that ballroom was different but she also did like swing/jive/lindy on Glee during the Valerie performance so don’t tell me you can’t do ballroom. I’m torn to vote for her because as much as I like her I don’t like her partner Maks; his brother’s won twice and his fiance’s won twice and he’s only won once so I’m sure his level of cockiness is way high right now that he and Heather have it in the bag.

      • Not to be too much of a conspiracy theorist but the fact that they have her paired with Maks and Normani(another one with more dance experience than the majority of the cast) with Val has me believing that they are trying to get one of the brothers the Mirror Ball this year. It’s like when Derek was on the show and they would give him the choice pick of partner ensuring that he made it far every season.

        • That’s exactly it no conspiracy theory needed. They lost so many male pro dancers that probably to get Maks back they told him they’d give him a winning partner. And his ego is so bruised that he only has 1 trophy (with an ice dancer) to Peta and Vals 2 that they earned with “regular people”, though last season Laurie had a little advantage.

  1. Okay, serious question. It’s 2017. The Internet of Things means we have smart fridges and toaster ovens and teddy bears and the NSA can tap all our phones, but no one can tell what TV we’re watching unless we have a Nielsen box? Not that I necessarily want everyone to be able to see what everyone else is watching, but seriously? Isn’t there a better way yet?

    • it’s not as if it matters to the networks what the hell we’re watching if they can’t make ad dollars off of it. if forty million of us pirated when we rise and abc got word of it, it wouldn’t matter in the slightest because abc can’t make money off of those views.

      • This is true, but When We Rise is also on Hulu…which is a heck of a lot cheaper than most tv packages, at least, and does allow for some revenue stream (even if its not what a tv station might want). So there are ways to stream and not pirate (though I also remain steadfast in sympathy for kids who want to watch but not have an obvious notation on ‘past views’ in a family account)

      • I don’t know how it works in US but I watch most of my programmes through BBC I player. Surely it’s not hard for tv to track their own sites?

  2. And also, “LGBT people and their allies are doing an abysmal job supporting queer content.” Did that strike anyone else as being incredibly tone deaf and insensitive? It really feels like he’s trying to pass the buck. Instead of blaming queers for not watching the media you want them to, maybe we should be focused on making that media more accessible.

    As Riese said, a lot of people, especially those who are younger and poorer, dont or can’t watch broadcast and cable tv live. Moonlight is an incredible and important film, but it’s initial release was only in a very small select number of theatres. It’s only getting a wider distribution now after winning at the Oscars.

    • Yeah I thought it was a little absurd, honestly. Every queer women I know is pretty dedicated to watching ourselves represented on the television and in movies, even terrible movies!

      Doubt wasn’t a good show. I wanted to watch it because of Laverne Cox, but I couldn’t get through it, it just fell flat. Katherine Heigel was terrible.

      • I love Laverne Cox, obviously, and I’m a big fan of Dule Hill from his West Wing days, but I can’t stand Katherine Heigl, and frankly, the premise sounded boring and unoriginal.

      • I, too, would have watched Doubt if it starred LITERALLY ANYONE other than Heigl. I love Dulé Hill and Laverne Cox, so I probably would have given it a shot eventually, but Katherine Heigl just put me right off. (See also: Jenny’s Wedding.)

        Also, a lot of the shows that feature wlw are soapy dramas (Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters, The L Word, HTGAWM, Grey’s), and I personally do not enjoy that genre at all. So I’m probably not going to watch those, although I’m glad they exist.

        But, listen, Hollywood. If you make ANY sci-fi with lesbians in it, I will absolutely pay money to watch it. Even if it’s not very good. Heck, I bought an entire season of Wynonna Earp sight unseen. And if there are any lady-lovin’ ladies in the new Star Trek show, I’ll even pay for CBS’s ridiculous streaming service. (JUST JOIN HULU LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, CBS.)

        And as for When We Rise, I was kinda planning to watch it all at once over the weekend. I imagine lots of other folks had the same idea.

      • Yes, I very much agree! I was watching it for Lavern Cox,everyone not Katherine Heigel, and like you said terrible(I think there is a reason why she’s not doing movies).

      • I watched both episodes of Doubt for Laverne Cox and Dule Hill. Katherine Heigel definitely was NOT a positive impact on the show, and it really, really, bothers me that they thought they had to center the show on the cis white person. But it seems weird to me that they pulled it after only 2 episodes. The ratings system makes me crazy!

    • Also i’m sorry but as a lesbian i don’t necessarily wanna watch stories about white cis dudes, and I bet a lot of POC queer folks don’t wanna necessarily watch queer stories centered on whites etc.

      We’ve discussed this already, but we’ve moved past the age of “we’ll watch anything” and towards an age where we actually demand quality in content so. Step up, tv procurers/writers/directors.

  3. Damn, they got rid of Doubt that quick! They didn’t even give it a chance to find an audience. I feel bad for the cast and crew. I hate when networks do that.

  4. “…do not pirate positive LGBTQ content.” Guess I’m going to hell, but I live in a place were we don’t get a lot of queer content in the mainstream or even semi-mainstream. Let me give some details, Carol was in the theaters here only for two fucking weeks and then it was replaced with one of those fucking typical Hollywood movies. Yeah, I saw Carol 7 times in 2 weeks, but I don’t have a bunch of money to spare.

    And don’t make talk about the choices we get in queer content with Nexflix and their regional piece of crap rules.

    I’m sorry for this but for me it’s going to be “TORRENTS FOR LIFE”. And I’m really sorry but it’s not my decision if we get our movie theaters bombarded with Comic books’ crap and our TVs filled with shit like Dancing with the Stars or reality shows.

    • I bought “The Fosters” on iTunes, even though I couldn’t stomach Brandon anymore after a while and the show became unwatchable for me.
      In HD.
      Also, all seasons of Faking It.
      And Strut.
      Now Supergirl and Jane the Virgin.
      And I will buy “When We Rise” on itunes. With a Us iTunes gift card in the US iTunes Store.
      Queer content is for me to support so that it may live and thrive and so that some kid in the middle of the woods somewhere, sitting on their raggedy old couch, squeezed in between his/her parents has that one show, that one moment that resonates.
      And also so that this one person in that retirement home can watch something they’ve never seen before and say “Now I get it.”
      For visibility’s sake.
      I watch queer content and I certainly have an opinion about it, but it’s not primarily for me to enjoy or consume, it’s to love and support.
      That kind of thinking is a luxury, which I’m very grateful for,but I’m the kind of person who checked box office mojo daily to see whether Carol would be a success.
      My plea would be to not forget the support side to queer filmmaking and not just see it as something to be consumed.

      • I think part of Freakazoid’s point, and what Riese said in the article, and what I pointed out in a comment above, is that almost by definition, queer audiences have less cash to throw around than straight audiences, so expecting us to support queer media financially isn’t always possible. If content producers want us to support their media, they have to make it accessible to us. And that means accessible financially too. For a lot of queers, buying entire seasons of TV shows on iTunes just isn’t financially feasible. Yes, we should obviously all support the things we love financially when possible, but no one would rather pirate stuff than buy a better version legally if they were able to do so.

        (Also, if stuff isn’t accessible initially, and therefore doesn’t get the support it’s creators are looking for, like Doubt, it’ll never get to the point of being accessible in the iTunes store. You can’t buy stuff on iTunes if it wasn’t successful enough in the theatres/on tv.)

        • Money is always the key especially when I talk about accessibility. Like I said I don’t have a lot of money to go around and this led me to a, let’s called it, executive decision: BOOKS. Most of my money goes into that and fortunately, thanks to Amazon, I don’t have a problem with access there, there’s not regional limits I can get whatever the hell I want, particularly independent LGBTQ publishers. Every single extra buck I have goes happily to Amazon.

          • Won’t work with Netflix, but you can use free VPN services like Hola to watch Hulu from outside the US (you are not supposed to, but believe me, it works!).

    • I totally get it.
      I may or may not have left the computer on while I was in school to upload torrents of gay content (mostly movies and TV shows). Fucking Amal and Milk might have been popular ones.

    • yeah, i live in china….so unless I stream or download, there’s no lgbtq content to be had….most of the streaming sites (hulu, netflix…) aren’t even available here so i can’t even pay for content.

    • I mean yeah of course if there’s no other way to access it. I pirate stuff when it’s not otherwise available — like U.K. Skins back when I watched it, or movies that don’t come out where I live. And then I say to nobody “I would pay for this if you let me!”

  5. Speaking of queer history and Beauty and the Beast, the live-action film is the most poignant moment for them to commit to same-sex characters in film. Beauty and the Beast’s lyricist, Howard Ashman, suffered from AIDS throughout the height of his career and died of it before he could accept the Oscar for Beauty and the Beast’s score. The Telegraph has a great article about it. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/0/disneys-first-gay-hero-beauty-beast-lyricist-howard-ashman-didnt/

  6. I am a “Neilsen Family,” but only received questionnaires and a log book for my radio habits rather than TV/online video streaming. The questions were seriously strange considering they ignored any way of accessing music and spoken word stuff outside of a radio. I did my best (and wrote in a bunch of podcasts, including Gaby Dunn’s Bad with Money) but it was such an out of touch artifact. I imagine they’re not getting very good data with the TV “families” either.

    On the other hand, if you get an envelope from them, go ahead and answer their questions—they send you cash up front just hoping you will reply, and pay a few bucks every time you send them something back.

  7. Some guy in class was whining that La La Land deserved the Best Picture win. I told him LLL was a cute bland white bread movie, but Moonlight deserved the win. He said “yeah, but without the black and gay thing….” Buh? Reminds me of great-grandpa’s joke about bananas. He hated bananas, because you peel off the skin and you throw away the bone and there’s nothing left.

  8. Lol at some dude shaming people for not watching TV and somehow that means we don’t support our own community? Anyway I watched When We Rise on Hulu the next day and it is a beautiful show.

  9. LeFou’s name literally means a madman. He’ll be a lowkey crazy character in love with a friend who treats him like trash & dies at the end of the movie.

    “Exclusively gay moment.” Ugggggh. Makes my skin crawl.

    Can we stop applauding Disney for doing jack shit? ‘Too late too little’ sums up background same sex kisses, blink-and-you-miss-it lesbian couples and gay parents, and doofus characters in love with straight dudes.

    I’m just so tired, tired, tired..

    • I completely understand being tired. It’s an exhausting long road.

      Personally, I’m excited to see Lefou in Beauty and the Beast. I know it’s not the “perfect” representation or even the ideal. But it shows Disney is willing to finally go there–and add gay content into a mainstream big-budget production. To do it and proclaim it loudly. We haven’t seen that before. It is risky for them–they are known as the family-friendly company and will encounter a lot of angry people for this decision.

      I see it as them taking a baby step in the right direction, so that hopefully soon they can start taking larger steps and start progressing to more prominent characters. Once they make it a thing–that Disney may have gay characters–then it may not be so shocking when they do it again.

      Yeah, Lefou is not the ideal, but I know there are some new approaches with this film and I hope they do some work to make his character more sympathetic. Besides, they imply some sort of payoff, other than just his attraction, so maybe they’ll take his story somewhere new by the end. I guess we’ll see.

      But I really wasn’t sure we’d ever see Disney blatantly admit to putting in a gay character. It’s not an awesome first step, and lots of other places are doing much better, and yes it’s too little too late–but on the other hand, it IS a step forward, and better late than never. Disney has huge power and influence. I think it’s awesome to think that they are opening the company up to allowing gay content. That’s a sign of better things to come. This has only made me more eager to go see the film.

      • You’re right, of course. Non-ideal first step is still a first step. I shouldn’t let my negativity be in control of myself before I’ve even seen the movie.

        It’s just been some frustrating times: my country just legalised same sex marriage, and instead of celebrating I’ve had to be at work in a religious and homophobic environment.

        But!! Yes, Disney taking this step is a good sign even if I still do mean everything I said in my first comment. Maybe slowly and surely Disney will get better at this – and maybe other people will follow, because even if many ppl are doing this better than Disney, so many more are still doing worse. Film industry IS in a place where it has to change for the better – for lgbt people, for people of colour, for women. It just has to. It already is.

        Sometimes it’s just so hard to see how far we’ve already come when there’s so much still to go.

        Keeping my fingers crossed for LeFou having a good storyline in Beauty and the Beast & also working on keeping positive.

      • To be honest, I’m very much “I’ll believe it when I see it” sort of stance. A lot of descriptions I’ve seen on this seem to couple “undeniably gay” with “subtle” and so I’m pretty primed for it to be “gay if you want to see it that way but easy to brush away if someone’s uncomfortable with that”.

        I *can* think of some great ways that it could be addressed in narrative… but I have trust issues. And if its ‘bury your gays’, well…

    • (not the same erin as above lol. hi other erin!)
      personally I’m so mad at Disney. no representation would be better than a pathetic character meant to be the butt of every joke who’s in love with his horrible rapey straight friend and was described as “confused” by someone involved in the movie. its so incredibly disrespectful to me that they made lefou gay. First of all, what a freaking insult to Howard Ashman that this is the representation they chose for gay men. They could have made literally any other character gay. What about lumiere and cogsworth? I thought that coding was obvious! Or what about replacing the two stale bread straight leading roles with LGBT characters and making it a gay romance? Disney is a multi BILLION dollar company. they can do whatever they want and people will still pay for their movies, their merchandise, their theme parks, etc. Making a positive gay character wouldn’t be a risk for them. and if it is, who cares? That doesn’t make me feel anymore sympathetic to a company that owns half the media we consume.
      This isn’t a step forward. A gay character who is a joke, in love with his abusive, straight best friend (who dies in the end), and who’s name literally means madman (cause homosexuality was never pathologized or treated as a mental illness, no, never) is worse than having no gay characters in the movie. At this point, I wish they’d take any mention of lefous’s sexuality out before it causes more harm to young LGBT kids watching this or to people’s perception of LGBT people. We need happy endings and supportive, loving storylines, not… whatever this is.
      my tone is a little acidic because I’m so mad at Disney but I’m not directing any sarcasm or negativity to anyone in this comment thread! I just had to get that out lol

  10. The lead-in to When We Rise was The Bachelor. I see few of those viewers stuck around, I find myself utterly unsurprised and wonder how anyone could be. Scheduling: not ideal.

    Half the Supergirl audience disappeared for Jane the Virgin. For all we know that’s a solid 100% queer women audience that migrated to ABC for When We Rise when they otherwise wouldn’t go to ABC. I mean, if we’re just throwing wild theories out there!

    I just love that they’re calling this Beauty and the Beast thing ‘an exclusive gay moment’. This will be how I refer to all my moments from now on. My wedding invites will read ‘we invite you to join us for an exclusive gay moment’.

    Also I have dragged everyone to see every gay movie in the theaters but Moonlight is only now coming to theaters here. Don’t worry I’ve got 10 people going who previously didn’t know of it’s existence. Where’s my toaster oven? I think I’m pretty typical in that regard, though?

  11. Whoop! Nancy Kerrigan alert! Thankyou for your constant attendance to my Tonya/Nancy needs, Riese.

    FYI I have decided I’m going to rewatch the entire ’94 figure skating competition from YouTube clips some time in March/April because I still have a lot of feelings to process about it.

  12. Let’s all be real here — Doubt was canceled because Katherine Heigl is blacklisted from TV because Shonda Rhimes is all powerful.

    • I don’t know what it is about Katherine Heigl but she seems to have one of the worst reputations in Hollywood when it comes to people she’s worked with in the past. Shonda Rhimes isn’t the only person she’s burned bridges with.

  13. “responsible consumerism” is a garbage idea that functions to give us the illusion of power and an excuse not to do actual activism. what, this guy tunes in to his non-nielsen monitored tv and pats his own back for supporting the community? the idea of responsible consumerism lets so many people off the hook for doing jack shit but watching tv and buying garbage. even if you think responsible consumerism is a society-changing activist movement, every member of the lgbt community tuning in to this stuff isn’t going to be enough. i’m just pissed at this guy imagining he’s some saviour because he watches lgbt shows, looking down his nose at all the people who do real activism for their communities and are too broke or live remotely so they download these snapshots of their culture or don’t even watch them at all. what horrible activists they are.

    pirating positive representations of yourself does not make you a bad member of the community if you are doing other things. paying for lgbt content does not make you a good member of the community if you are not doing anything else.

    • “pirating positive representations of yourself does not make you a bad member of the community if you are doing other things. paying for lgbt content does not make you a good member of the community if you are not doing anything else.”

      Here here (or is it Hear Hear? I’ve NEVER KNOWN)

    • Uhm, about Variety – they predicted that Chazelle would win an award for best director so they booked him for the cover. (It’s a tradition.) Jenkins was invited by Chazelle and he said on Twitter himself that he’s the quest on that cover. I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

  14. I’m in a Nielsen household and I watch a fair amount of queer tv, including When We Rise and Supergirl, so I’m trying.

  15. That article on Housewives of Atlanta is pretty hilarious. Also, it reminded me that Vanderpump Rules has had some problematic moments recently when Jax’s girlfriend Tiffany’s homophobic mom comes to visit. And actually, Tiffany herself acted pretty homophobic when rumors of her hookup with Kristen surface. Has this entertaining garbage been talked about??

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