Pop Culture Fix: “Sweetbitter” Gets a Lesbian Bartender, “Black Lightning” Gets a Bisexual Half-Amazon, “Thor” Cuts a Queer Moment and Other Stories

Welcome to your weekly Pop Culture Fix, a story by dolphins, for dolphins, and also for dolphin friends. I’ve been watching Humans this week, have you seen it? I love it!


Come Out Come Out Wherever You Are

+ Plus-size Australian model Fiona Falkiner, a former spokesperson for eHarmony, is dating a lady named Lara Creber. “I am just focusing on my own happiness at the moment and Lara is a big part of that. She makes me happy and that is all that matters,” she told The Daily Telegraph.

+ Hip-hop artist Keko comes out as lesbian after being granted Canadian citizenship!


Lesbian & Bisexual Characters!

+ Sweetbitter, an upcoming Starz series based on Stephanie Danler’s best-selling novel, has cast Eden Epstein as Ari, “an adventurous lesbian who backwaits by day and DJs by night.”

The CW has added another queer character to the cast of “Black Lighting”: Grace Choi, played by Chantal Thuy, is a bartender who has a thing with Anissa Pierce (Nafessa Williams). She’s gonna be a recurring character. The series premieres in 2018, and is the first CW superhero show to feature a Black protagonist. According to Player One, when reporting on the inclusion of Anissa Pierce, Grace Choi is “unapologetically bisexual” in the comics:

[Anissa] came to hit it off with teammate, Grace Choi, and the two began a romantic relationship. As an Asian-American hero who is later revealed to be half Amazon, Grace carries the gifts of the gods — superhuman strength, durability, speed, stamina and healing. She’s tall, muscular, feminine and unapologetically bisexual. She had much different and more traumatic upbringing than Thunder, surviving a human trafficking ring. When Black Lightning refused to accept Thunder’s desire to follow in his footsteps, it was Grace who was there for her through it all.

+ Mindhunter Casts Masculinity as Society’s True Criminal Element: This piece makes a passing mention of an important issue: that Anna Torv‘s character (who they actually accurately label as a lesbian) is “not given much subplot of her own, except a brief background into her lesbian relationship and a very suggestive story around a cat.”

+ Tessa Thompson on a Decade Defying On-Screen Stereotypes: Tessa Thompson is EVERYWHERE and it’s great and we wrote about her last week and now we get to write about her again. This is a fantastic interview which touches on many topics including her role as Valkyrie, who she announced on twitter is bisexual, and told Vanity Fair, “I think she’s like Loki — she’s gender-fluid and bisexual in the comics. I think that’s something really beautiful about her. It’s something that I talked about with Taika, and something that was a part of my approach for the character.”

Apparently, Thompson fought for a scene in Thor: Ragnarok that would make her character’s bisexuality clear… and then it got cut. This isn’t surprising as big-budget films like that often rely on a widespread overseas box office so they like to play it safe. (See also: Wonder Woman.) But it’s disappointing. The company line is that it “had to be cut because it distracted from the scene’s vital exposition.” 😐

+ I can’t find any evidence that there will be a queer character in this, but it’s a Murphy/Falchuk production and it’s got Connie Britton, Angela Bassett and Aisha Hinds being low-key butch, so: Watch new promos for Fox’s ‘9-1-1’ starring Angela Bassett, Aisha Hinds & Rockmond Dunbar.

+ The Nerdist visited the set of The Runaways and here are 8 Things We Learned Inside The RUNAWAYS Homes:

The Runaways’ only queer hero, Karolina, is an intergalactic alien with the code name “Lucy in the Sky.” But from the quick tour we got of her room, her powers and personality are very much controlled by her evangelical mother, Leslie Dean. Karolina’s room was a vast pink palace, decorated as if it was a showroom rather than a haven for a teenage girl. Huge chandeliers and mirrors took center stage, but it was the minor details that really interested us. Karolina’s room was filled with trinkets from her mother’s celebrity Church of Gibborim, hinting that Karolina is the poster girl for the sinister organization.

+ Interview: Stars of ‘Carmilla the Movie’ Talk Film release, LGBT Representation and More

+ QPOC Horror Movies: These 6 Fright Flicks of Color Are Scary & Problematic

The low-key Princess Cyd is a coming of age without the drama


Cool Girls

+ I love this woman, I love her work, I love her attitude, I love her style, I haven’t been this in love with a new artist since Janelle Monae came into our lives: Hayley Kiyoko Interview: Multi-Platform Star Talks ‘Feelings’ Music Video and Lesbian Representation

In an interview with Elle you’d mentioned that for “Sleepover” you were asked, “Is it gonna be another music video about two girls?” Was there the same sort of resistance this time, or are people maybe starting to get that this is real life, and that it’s not changing?

I didn’t get that resistance this time. I feel like people are starting to get the hang of it, that I’m going to always like girls and there’s always going to be a girl involved in the video. There’s multiple ways of telling those stories, and you know, if I do my job correctly I should be able to tell those stories every time and have it be fresh and unique because there’s so many different parts of relationships. The before, the after, during. But I feel like people are starting to get the picture.

+ Christine Vachon Stays Thriving by Telling the Stories That Hollywood Won’t — People Do Not Talk About Christine Vachon Enough! They simply do not! She is an incredible lesbian producer who is behind films like Hedwig, I Shot Andy Warhol, Boys Don’t Cry and Carol and we love her.

Hole’s Patty Schemel On Fighting The Patriarchy And Her Sobriety Journey:

“As a lesbian who started drinking at 12 years old, I have a lot of compassion for the people who are currently navigating these issues in their own lives, in private and in public; addicts and confused kids are both master secret-keepers. Now more than ever we have to stand up for ourselves and each other. If we want to change things in the culture or in our private lives, we can’t be ashamed to make noise.”

+ Tegan Quin on ‘The Con’ and how it almost broke up Tegan and Sara

+ What Hollywood Needs to Do to Combat the Culture of Sexual Harassment


ETC.

+ The Evolution of Queer Cinema

+ These Media & Culture Stars are Pioneers for LGBTQ Equality

+ “This is Us” Star Mandy Moore On Her Lesbian Mom And Gay Brothers: “There Are No Secrets In Our Lives”

+ Julianne Moore To Play Gloria Steinem In “My Life On The Road”

+ Hayley Kiyoko, Fischerspooner, Kim Petras & More: Billboard Pride November Playlist

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," 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. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2739 articles for us.

34 Comments

  1. Yay Grace Chou!!!! But also, I had NO IDEA that Nafessa Williams’ character in Black Lightning is going to be queer! I’ve had this show on my watchlist since Mara Brock Akil (showrunner of Girlfriends, Being Mary Jane) signed on to produce. And now I am feeling SO RIGHT about that decision!!!!!!!! Many exciting things on the horizon!!

    (That had a lot of exclamation points. But, well earned I believe.Yay!)

    I am so excited for Tessa Thompson and so excited for Valkyrie! I’m a bit disappointed that the bi scene got cut (congrats to Tesa for fighting for it though). It reminds me of similar “#NoHomo”/ Straightwashing practice surrounding Ayo in the upcoming Black Panther movie. Let these black queer women be queer for crying out loud!

  2. I really love the Feelings video, partly because I love any single-take music video but also because I can’t ever recall seeing that kind of simple flirty narrative done gay before.

    However, there can be side effects of watching too much Hayley Kiyoko because I left YouTube autoplaying while my sister was visiting this weekend and she was like “why is it only playing teen lesbian breakup songs”

    • We went down a lesbian music YouTube rabbit hole a while back and we had been watching Hayley and Mary Lambert and bunch of other ones intended for queer audiences and it YouTube jumped to the video for “Te Amo” and it went from full body shots of girls in silhouette, and running, and in bed making direct eye contact with the camera to just weird quick cuts of body parts with absolutely no eye contact with the camera and I was like “oooooh that’s the difference between the lesbian gaze and heteosexual male gaze. In the lesbian gaze women are still people, got it.”

  3. Okay, this “the gay stuff gets cut cause we don’t want to hurt the box-office in China” thing is horseshit! If they don’t want gay stuff in the movie for Chinese audiences then release the cut version THERE and release the uncut version HERE. But no, they’re just using China as an excuse. Doing what I said would be very easy so obviously they are cutting out the gay for US audiences because THEY WANT TO.

  4. I wonder if Patty is also trying to keep Courtney’s racism in check. Remember there is footage of Hole live in concert where Courtney is encouraging people to use the n-word.

    • Why can’t people recognize Patty Schemel as a person who exists apart from her relationship to Courteney Love? Why is Patty responsible for Love doing a problematic cover of 99 problems at a 2013 concert when she was kicked out of Hole in 1998? What if we could celebrate her musical talent, survival, and memoir instead of bringing up Courtney Love?

  5. I love one-shot music videos and “Feelings” has got excellent cinematography, but surely I can’t be the only one who got uncomfortable fuckboi vibes watching it the first time through?

    The second viewing was better since the other actor responded flirtatiously after a while, but like… this MV is essentially a bit of a homage to Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” (which clearly portrays street harassment). And isn’t it essentially a fuckboi fantasy that someone actually responds positively to street harassment?

    And then you’ve got Hayley Kiyoko saying this stuff in the linked interview: “We see men pursuing women down the street all the time… Why can’t I do that? ‘Cause I’m not being a dude, […] I’m being a girl in the video, and I’m just pursuing another girl down the street.” Or that she intentionally channeled “stereotypical straight guy” cocky vibes.

    ???

    Yes, the song is really catchy, and I kind of enjoyed the MV the second time around, and I’m probably going to watch it a third time. But she is literally saying street harassment towards women is okay because she’s a woman.

    I just don’t think we should forget calling out bullshit just because it’s got queerness coming out of its ass.

    • Man harassing women on the street isn’t just the act itself: it’s all the loaded baggage that comes with it. It’s the constant threat of assault, the very real threat of experiencing violence for rejecting a man, the power dynamic.

      Consider a man whistling at another man on the street – obnoxious and unwanted? probably. Loaded with the implicit threat of violence if rejected? No.

      It’s just always going to be a different situation when you take away that man/non-man power dynamic. Like, should we be encouraging queer women to harass women on the street? Duh, no…but that’s clearly not what’s happening in this video and it’s clearly not what Hayley is saying in that quote.

  6. I keep trying to avoid any thing in which Ryan Murphy is involved. This helped me avoid many terrible episodes of Glee, Scream Queens and American Horror Story.

    Then he announces Pose and its cast of incredible trans women…and now 9-1-1 with Connie Britton, Angela Bassett and Aisha Hinds? How am I suppose to resist all this?

    • I think he’s like… He has really innovative ideas I think, so my theory is that incredible actors are drawn to his projects cause they get to do stuff that they’ve never done on TV before, even when it’s bad or offensive it’s wacky and weird and campy and therefore at the very least interesting. His failures tend to be in the execution, not the concept. Its a challenge and a gamble and that’s exciting for them. And often they’ll end up scoring a hit

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