“Carol” Rescues Lesbian Culture From Obscurity, Samira Wiley Drinks A Lot Of Water and Other Stories

Samira Wiley

Samira Wiley did an interview and photoshoot with with Mimichatter Magazine on topics mostly related to her hair and skin (’cause it’s a beauty magazine), but also about LGBT issues, Orange is the New Black and her role in 37, a film about the murder of Kitty Genovese (who, unbeknownst to most people, was a lesbian).


Photograph by Stephania Stanley for Mimi Magazine

According to the interview, Samira Wiley rarely wears makeup, uses a fancy face wash, eschews caffeine, drinks a lot of water, and wants to a be a role model for young queer people. She also spoke about her relationship with Lauren Morelli and feeling flexible about her gender presentation:

“I don’t really have a word for myself, or a category that I put myself in. I don’t think about it too much, I just wear what feels good. If I can look in the mirror with whatever I have on, if it makes me stand a certain way, if it makes me smile, then I don’t care whether it’s from this end of the spectrum or the other end. I remember this belief: That Sunday is for God, and that you wear your best for God, your most glamorous dresses on Easter Sunday, and feeling like a million bucks. And growing up and learning more about myself, I feel like life is all about finding the middle, so I have gone back and forth to different styles, from girly to dressing completely like—as we would say in society and for lack of better words—like a “boy.”


+ The renowned Frank Rich of New York Magazine has written a feature story about Patricia Highsmith and Carol and “the invisibility of lesbian culture.” There’s stuff about how gay men have always been more prominent on film and television — behind the camera and in front of it — and stuff about why that is. (Here’s 50 queer and trans women who are working behind-the-camera in television, by the way.) There’s stuff about Patricia Highsmith’s career and also her personality and personal beliefs, which by all accounts sound pretty dreadful. There’s stuff about the impact of The Price of Salt, the legendary lesbian novel that dared to have a happy ending upon which Carol is based.

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I’ve read every issue of New York Magazine for 11 years now, and I think this is the first feature magazine story specifically about lesbian pop culture since The L Word graced the magazine’s cover in 2004 with “Not Your Mother’s Lesbians.” Yes there have been other feature stories that are about lesbian life (e.g., Ariel Levy’s The Lesbian Bride’s Handbook) and stories about sexuality in general that feature lesbians and other queer women (e.g., The Cuddle Puddle of Stuyvesent High School), and lesbian pop culture appears frequently in smaller stories. But this is a big story. This is a Frank Rich essay. WHICH MAKES IT ALL VERY META.

Vulture has also gathered “28 Life-Changing Lesbian Culture Artifacts” in a companion piece, asking women like Ann Bannon, Christine Vachon, Alison Bechdel, Rose Troche, Terry Castle, Sarah Schulman, Lea DeLaria, Carrie Brownstein, Maggie Nelson, Cristy C. Road and Ariel Schrag for their favorites. Cited works include Harriet the Spy, Trash by Dorothy Allison, Madchen in Uniform and Zami: A New Spelling of My Name.

+ Cate Blanchett is on the cover of W Magazine to talk about Carol, which I should remind you Heather says is the best lesbian movie ever made. This article also claims that gay and lesbian critics were disappointed that two straight actresses had been cast in gay roles, which is the first I’ve heard of it. Perhaps it’s true that some Cannes reporters did feel this way. But I believe the truth is that we were all disappointed that Cate Blanchett hadn’t had a number of private sexual affairs with women, because we are terrible people. Regardless, of the apparent disappointment over Blanchett playing a lesbian despite not being one, Blanchett has this to say: “Who cares if I had lesbian relationships or not? Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always thought that my job as an actor was to raise and expand the audience’s sense of the universe.”


+ The Chicago Tribune talks to Felicia “Snoop” Pearson about her role in Spike Lee’s new film Chi-Raq, in which she plays a gay “tomboy-slash-tomgirl.”

+ The documentary Deep Run is about a trans man searching for love, faith and acceptance in rural North Carolina.


+ Vogue talks to Lena Waithe about her new book with Lena Dunham, Master of None, and being a weirdo who spent a lot of time watching TV with her grandmother.

+ “Actress Drew Barrymore remained tight-lipped when she was asked if she had ever had a lesbian encounter during a live TV chat on Monday.”

+ Tina Fey is perfectly okay with the stereotypically gay characters she has written and also the internet isn’t a force you have to obey.

+ Believe it or not, there were lesbian characters on television as far back as 1961 — they just had a really bad habit of um, being psychotic muderers. Read about the ten first-ever lesbian characters on television and prepare to have your mind blown.

+ MTV aired a special about being genderqueer last night and Anna reviewed it for you.

+ In India, MTV’s The Big F is “doing its part in bringing lesbian love into the realm of the normal.”

+ The Real Housewives of New Jersey have added a lesbian couple to its cast. I can’t wait to watch Julie & Brandy watch it.

GLAAD is thirty years old, making GLAAD yet another thing I am older than.

+ Is Supergirl an empowering show for women or is Supergirl Straight-Up a Show about Women Tearing Each Other Down? Regardless, Charlie Jane Anders thinks “weirdly, the show makes this dynamic not just fascinating, but actually cute.”

+ Are you ready for The Wiz: Live? I AM NOT EVEN SURE IF I AM READY!


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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.


  1. I’m not saying I think only queer actresses should ever play queer characters (because I want queer actors to play non queer characters too), but I’m always a little annoyed when straight actors completely blow off any suggestion from a queer person that hey, maybe a queer person should have been cast in this role. Like maybe at least be open to engaging in the conversation?

    • I think what frightens me about that is the reverse argument — but this might be due to me being an obsessive pop culture consumer in the 90s: after Ellen came out, everybody was obssessed with how now nobody would want to see six days and seven nights, Anne Heche’s movie with Harrison ford, because they wouldn’t be able to believe Anne heche playing a straight woman now that she’d come out implicitly by being Ellen’s girlfriend. And everybody made a lot of jokes about how Mr. wrong was a flop, etc.

    • Yeah. It’s awesome that Sarah Paulson is playing queer (for the third time) and Carrie Brownstein. This is often a thing, the main gays can’t really be queer, but the supporting ones can.

  2. I have no problem with non-queer people being cast to play queer characters (or the reverse). My gripe with queer stories is when it is obvious that no attention has been paid to on-screen chemistry. Surely the most important criteria for any romantic/sexual story must be that it is acted convincingly – look like you’re into it, actors! And let’s be honest here, lots of lesbian stories are not. I hope Carol is a movie wherein one can see with one’s eyeballs that the characters are obviously into each other – I’ll find out when it hits a theater near me.

    • case in point: Jenny’s Wedding.
      i could barely even believe they were roommates, let alone girlfriends, let alone soon-to-be-wives

    • right. Or when you can tell the movie has been made for the male gaze… (I’m looking at you, Blue is the warmest color)

  3. Is anyone else’s world a little bit shaken by the sight of Samara Wiley with long hair? No? Just me?


  4. I have been saying this all over the internet today, but I have so many feelings about everything lately and need commiseration, so I will express it again. I am so, so heartbroken that Carol is not going to be opening in any movie theater near me. I so badly want to go to a movie theater by myself and just revel in it because I loved the book and based on the trailer and Heather’s review, I think I will love the movie.

  5. “28 Life-Changing Lesbian Culture Artifacts”.

    A list with Monique Wittig, Valerie Solanas and Chantal Ackerman in the same place? That was amazing.

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