The LGBTQ Decade
S1: Hello and welcome to Outward for the month of December. The last episode of Twenty Nineteen.
S2: I’m Christina Cutter Ritchie, a staff writer at Slate and host of The Waves Slate’s podcast about women and gender. And I am currently seeking a pair of statement shoulder pads for my New Year’s Eve outfit. Largest possible recommendations. Welcome.
S3: Oh, my gosh, this is beautiful. I’m Brian Loutre, editor of Outward. And I just want to send a shout out to all my fellow Holiday Quinns out there. I see all the festivity and twinkle edge that you are bringing to the season by your sheer joy, full force of will. And I salute you for it. And if there are people in your life for being grinches about that, pay them no mind.
S4: I also want to salute Reman Alarm, who is with us again and who I am delighted to announce is our official third going forward. How do you feel about that, Ramon?
S5: I feel great. I could not be happier to join this particular montage.
S6: We’re so excited. Okay, so it is indeed the end of the year and the end of the decade.
S3: So on this show, we’re obviously going to reflect on all that recent queer history as we head out of the teens and into the 20s. To do that, we’ve decided to expand our usual opener into a full grown segment reflecting on the major prize and provocations of the last 10 years. And our gay agenda items will point you to our favorite queer cultural moments of twenty nineteen. But first, we cannot help but address another queer milestone. The long and the long awaited and maybe much feared return to television of the L-word. Christina, take us into the brave new world of generation. Q Loving living thing.
S2: So for anyone who’s been living under a rock, the show that launched far too many Sheen McCutchen Shag Haircuts is back. The L-word reboot, which is called Generation Q, premiered on Showtime December 8th. It’s just about a decade after the original version went off the air. It’s no secret that many of us at outward were fans of the original. To some extent, BET’s art exhibition obviously inspired inspired the title of our provocation segment. I have to say, I was, as you say, Brian, the equal parts excited to be back in this familiar world that was so important to me and my baby dich years. And also to just have a show that is totally focused on queers and especially lesbians and and is full of a lot of great queer actors and many new queer actors. But I was also scared that it would repeat some of the missteps of the original or just taint my ability to look back at the original and love it and hate it and, you know, keep it in sort of a place of complicated honor in our collective history. I almost think of the L-word as like a family member. You can only hate it so much because you love it so much and vice versa. We’re gonna be joined by the one the only Joan Thomas for this segment. Hello. We needed to have more LS in this round table. We’ve all watched the first three episodes and I’d love to maybe just go around and get like a first impression from everybody. Maybe I’ll just start with my own. I found it extremely watchable if extremely cringe worthy at times, which is not unlike the way I feel about the original series. I definitely felt myself being pandered to as a fan of the L-word, and I think that’s one of the hard things about doing a reboot. So there’s a new showrunner, Marshall Lewis Ryan. You know, I think she had a really difficult task of taking this show that was so beloved and also so criticized and trying to make something new out of it. So she brought four new main characters into it, along with the three that are back. Bette, Alice and Shane, which worked three of my favorites from the original. And, you know, I think I think she did a good job of balancing the storylines. I feel like the new characters are not extremely well fleshed out just yet. The older ones feel, you know, unsurprisingly, a lot deeper and more complex. But wow, did it feel good to be back in that L word world? And, you know, it feels good to be pandered to every now and then he goes and with sort of cultural references to like feminist luminaries and and being placed in this, you know, utopia where like everyone you encounter is queer and hot and fully dressed. Well, every man. I kind of. I heard you. Saying something as you were coming into the studio, I want to hear what you think next.
S5: Well, I think there is a lot to be said for the power of nostalgia. And I think you’re meeting something that was very significant to you. You’re not alone in that. It was significant to a lot of viewers at a particular time in their lives. The L-word was never a work of art. It was a work of entertainment.
S7: And we can look it’s very own.
S8: I mean, there’s I mean, Shane is super hot and watching her get off the plane. And in this episode’s first few moments, you’re just like, wow. It’s just like seeing this hot person you remember from your past. And nothing has really changed. Also, all three of those actors from the original series have aged Ramaa Mile-High like Rand Hywel. I want that plastic surgery like Knoller’s, in fact, looks younger. Yes, he does. Yeah. So but, you know, the pull of nostalgia, as I said, is very powerful. I found, unfortunately, this new iteration of the show almost unwatchable to the point that I did not complete my homework and actually flash raunchy, just watchable. How I just felt like it was so and I probably I think if I watched the original now, I would probably feel the same way that the script is kind of performing. It’s it’s sort of things you like, hey, recognize this? Do you get this? You understand the joke that we’re telling? It’s really unsubtle. And that’s not to suggest that that’s a problem. Like sometimes things have to be unsubtle and that’s what makes them great. And that’s what makes them fun. And, you know, straight people have every entertainment in the world that functions this way. And so it’s kind of great. I mean, this is the L-word is essentially like Melrose Place plus like a college sexploitation film plus kind of like wealth porn. It’s sort of all these things at once. And why shouldn’t it be?
S9: It’s all things to all queers. Right? See, I’m surprised by your reaction, Reman, because I am one of those people who had a very complicated relationship with the first iteration. I hated it in many ways. And of course, I also loved it because it wasn’t just because it was all we had that that wasn’t just that. But I mean it. You kind of I had to graded on a curve because it’s middle. So there was so much that I hated about it, so much that made me mad. And yet just its existence, the fact that it provided some reference points, some cultural capital for us all to be, you know, joking about and dishing on and dissing felt so wonderful. And I watched every episode multiple times and I wrote about it. And so it was important to me. But there was so many things that were just terrible about it. And I mean, as as many people have pointed out, including Christine in a great piece on Slate, there’s a way in which this is an atonement for the some of the terrible missteps. I mean, the the treatment of Max, the trans character in the first season of a series of her situation, whatever we call it, was I don’t think anyone would argue. Just awful. And I think the thing that made me feel good about this new version is that it felt there was nothing for all of this. I don’t really disagree with anything that anyone has said. But you feel like these people love the people that they’re talking about. They know the people that they’re talking about, the people who wrote it and made it. No transmen. They know trans people. They know younger lesbians. They know rich. Like they know what they speak of in a way that the thing that I always found with the first one is like, do you even know these? Like. Have you ever met this kind of lesbian? And is still I mean, I’m not going to it. It is what it is. And it’s never going to it’s never gonna be seen things. I wish there were some non skinny women. You know, I would like to feel attracted to someone in. But, you know, that is not the biggest. If that’s if that’s my only complaint, that’s fine. And I did feel like the new characters I mean, it was there’s a part. So in this news version that is running for office.
S10: So she’s she’s becoming a politician. And there’s a, you know, one of those typical TV politician scenes where she says what she’s about. And she said, you know, I’m a I’m a sister, I’m a daughter.
S7: I’m a. And this is child center, I must say.
S9: And as corny as that was, like, I actually felt, oh, my gosh, yes, I know I can picture you as a daughter because I’ve seen your dad. I can picture you as an ex-wife, because I know about that relationship. I know about your sister. I know I know pretty well. I know about your daughter. I like it. It felt, oh, my God, this is an actual rounded character. And I wish you not Alison Shin. I never. Still still don’t really feel like I understand them. And in Shane’s case, of course, it’s supposed to be unknowable and and all that. But blah, blah, blah.
S10: I I’m I’m just glad that I feel I am actually going to get to meet fully rounded queer characters. And that excites me. Brian.
S11: I I think I’m more.
S3: And this is interesting, maybe I’m more Ramon’s side here. I want it. I was very excited to watch it. I loved catching up on the L-word and not I didn’t watch it when I was on, but I did watch it all later and sort of have a various soft spot in my heart for it. This I found to be very weirdly lagu, intent on undermining every dramatic premise it sets up. I mean, I don’t want to spoil too much by talking about all of that. But what I will say is that anytime there is like a tent, potentially a real time China, I know what it is meant to be a light show. Right. It’s not. It is soapy. That’s fine. I’m down for that. I’m down for wealth power and I’m downfor for that kind of thing. Every time I introduce something that was like slightly serious or like like Frick, for example, I think I can say one like there is about’s daughter is in one part charan to kind of be perhaps like a troubled teen, and that is resolved within like 15 minutes and suddenly it’s like she’s in love with her mom again. And so and that happened like multiple times with multiple characters were like something was set up and you’re like, oh, this is gonna be kind of like a difficult thing for them to navigate. And then it’s solved immediately, almost like the show was afraid to have anything very serious going on. And so it it made it very inert almost because because you just were moving from, you know, beautiful house to beautiful office with beautiful people not really having any problems. And and that was sort of strange.
S5: This is like a particular trope of this kind of thing, though, is that the conventions of the soap opera, you have to have all these villains like you remember on the episode of Seinfeld, where Jerry admits that he’s been watching Melrose Place and he starts screaming about Jane. And Michael is like, oh, I hate him so much. And it’s like, yes, that’s why you watch the show. That’s what makes the show fun. And if they’re all sort of politically virtuous as they’re as they seem to be, at least in the show’s early episodes, then that’s not. Then there’s no drama there. There’s nothing to get mad about.
S10: Super interesting. One of the things that really struck me just to disclose some off the air chat. You know, just a couple of weeks ago when we were talking about the L-word, I said, oh, you know, I I just wonder how it can how it can really fits in the current marketplace where there are so many lesbians on television, there’s so many shows with lesbian characters, with lesbian couples, with blah, blah, blah. And then and you kind of hinted because you’d already watched the first episode, Christina.
S9: But but when I when I watch that first episode, I realized, oh, yeah, the first thing we see is a breast. The first thing you hear is an orgasm. The next thing we see is it was the show in the office. But it is a woman performing cunnilingus and noting that her girlfriend has her period like just only that.
S2: But we see. Yeah. And I’m out with menstrual blood on it which like. Yeah. I fucking love that. Yeah. I mean. Yes, there’s so much sex in the original Alward and also in the new version a little bit that’s like someone plops someone on a counter or a table and like their pants come down and then her elbows kind of moving. But you’re like, what angle is that going? What kind of sex are you having? Like, why unknowns? And I don’t see nudity, but I need to see that clothes are off. Right. And I really appreciated that, you know, very unmistakable statement right out the gate that like this is lesbian sex written by and performed by people at least familiar with the concept.
S10: Well, I have to say to me not to get too obsessed with the sex, but there is a trans guy on the show who has sex and it’s both hot. And also, I felt that I was seeing something that I have not seen and something that I hadn’t even thought of, which is shameful for me. But like that, that felt really powerful and and great, even though at one point was like Jesus. So we just got to see a lot of like men having said his verse.
S12: He’s verse. Exactly. Exactly.
S2: And yeah, I I’d like to talk about the intergenerational potential for this show, which when it was first announced that there would be this Alward reboot with, you know, a new generation of characters and also that it was called Alward generation. Q Like get it queered. That’s. I was like, oh my God, is this show going to be all about like how lesbian older lesbians don’t think lesbians can exist anymore and how younger less younger queer women like don’t think lesbians validate only anymore. They haven’t touched on that yet. And I I really hope that they do. I was scared when I first watched it, how they might get that wrong or, you know, make it so reductive as to be illegible by actual queer people in in service of making it legible for straight people. But now I’m kind of like it feels like there’s not a lot of room for. Differences of experience and differences of opinion, because the show seems so intent on making its older characters, you know, incredibly progressive.
S3: And, you know, with the current discourse, I mean, there’s that that scene where bad has like a sort of political rap session with youths of the LGBT center.
S7: I cried during that, which is all you need to know that my sentiments. Sure. No. And it’s it is beautiful. But it is it is it is a bit idealized.
S6: One would imagine more potential for more confrontation or or, you know, lack of sort of translate ability there.
S2: Then as that has allowed and impact, one of the audience members comes right out and says, like, thank you bet for being a trans ally.
S7: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
S9: I mean, that is the thing that I the the fear then as well, especially since, as you’ve pointed out, there are there’s there are few antagonists that I don’t want like turfs to be given a pitch. But at the same time, I remember actually feeling that the episode that transparant did around Michigan effectively, I mean, they disguised it somewhat was actually really compelling because it allowed people instead of just saying auteur. It’s like saying, well, these are this is why they this is this group of women. Let’s actually reflect what some of their views might be, what some of their some of the reasons they might feel this way. Maybe they’ve been represent, misrepresent, maybe they’ve got some really awful ideas and then also have like a not a confrontationist surly, but a meeting of an actually have people listening to each other. Still, Terisa terrible is not that that’s gonna be the outcome, but you know that you might just have a representation. And so that’s an opportunity for learning while also having a lot of people in really beautiful suits, you know, actually say some things.
S5: I mean, when one of the challenges with representing Casino, what you’re talking about this generational conflict, is that these three actors who really are the ages of like the Golden Girls.
S8: Yes. Happened to look really well. I mean, the Golden Girls supposed well. So, you know, Jennifer Beals is a 55 year old woman. That’s the same age that blanched overawe was meant to be on the Golden Girls ROOM of mayhem. And, you know, to Jennifer Beals credit, she looks lovely and models and beautiful woman. And this is not like the show. It’s a fantasy.
S5: Of course it’s a fantasy. And like a can’t really enact complex political discussion. I did it once and it doesn’t want to. But it would certainly help make that generational divide more stark if these women actually looked the way that the women I know who are in their 50s. Look, you know, I’m looking beautiful.
S7: Chin Yeah.
S2: The other thing that I’m realizing as I think about this is that I you know, there’s a part of me that wants it to have it both ways to have a show about queer and trans people where they’re not confronting homophobia and transphobia at every turn, where they can actually just have very satisfying lives and sex lives and drama that isn’t explicitly related to discrimination. On the other hand, I want them to have really difficult discussions and to not act like the queer people in the show aren’t facing those things in their lives because that certainly does play into the way they’re dealing with all of the other, you know, conflicts they’re facing in their lives.
S5: I mean, there are many potent fantasies being played out about being wealthy, about looking great and all of that. But maybe the most potent fantasy is the idea of being a trans person of color who’s worried principally about getting laid. You know, I’m not worried for their own safety, as is the case in reality.
S2: Yes, yeah, yeah. I want to know.
S12: I want to do a little poll now and then after the first episode has been watched by many more quieres and see how acceptance of sex on your period has risen over, huh? All right. Listeners, I so dearly want to hear what you think of this show. Please email us your thoughts at outward podcast at slate.com.
S13: All right.
S3: So I don’t know if everyone noticed, but the last 10 years have been kind of intense for queer people. Now pretty intense. Huge shifts, some fantastic, some heartbreaking, some very much still unfolding have played out in the realms of politics and the law and health care and the media and representation art, even in the very words and ideas we use to understand ourselves. Wherever you look, we have been through it. So we’re just going to sit here and process that together today to help. We’ve called him friend of Outward Andy Bellen, who works as a consultant on queer and economic justice issues.
S14: Oh, hi. Thanks for having me, everybody.
S3: Thanks for coming. We’ll do this like our usual pride and provocation session, only much bigger.
S15: Rahman, why don’t you start us off what really mattered in the last decade?
S16: Well, I was thinking about this questions through a personal lens and remembering that in 2008 I was 31 years old. And as happens, I think when you’re at that point in your life with my husband and I were going to a lot of our friends weddings and we were flying home. And he we had this very serious conversation about how we ought to get married. That it it would mean something if we stood up and got married at the time. That was not the law of the land. And then it became the law of California that fall. And we flew to California, where my husband is from. And we were married in the parking lot of the Santa Cruz City Hall where he grew up. And I was I was a g2a jerky 31 year old. And I was surprised by how much that meant to me. And so I was surprised by how much I mean to be in 2015 when the Supreme Court decided in Obergefell versus Hodges that despite what had happened in sort of state legislations across the country with Prop 8, notably in California, that in fact gay marriage had to be the law of the land. And for so long, my husband and I did not know how to mark our anniversary because we were married once legally in California. We were married again, sort of informally in four of our friends in New York. And then our marriage sort of became ratified by the Supreme Court decision. And I am surprised even now in thinking back to how I felt in that moment in 2015 that I felt so ennobled or so much bigger and so much more like it really mattered and that things had really changed.
S5: And in part, I think that that sort of distills the optimism that I think a lot of the culture felt when Obama was the president, because optimism was kind of his platform.
S16: And unfortunately, I no longer feel whole a sense of civic optimism. But I it’s pleasant for me to remember a moment when, you know, that mattered to me and that seemed to really mean something to the culture. And in fact, even now, I think there’s something kind of ridiculous about thinking about gay marriage. I it just feels like a given, which shows the pace at which the culture can change and the extent to which the Supreme Court was just sort of catching up on where the culture and where society already was.
S2: Yeah. And even the Democratic Party, I mean, absolutely. When the Democratic Party first put equal marriage in its platform in 2012, it was years after the majority of Democrats had supported it. And even a year since, you know, public opinion in general flipped up in the history of gay marriage is a lot of sort of people in power catching up to where everyone else already was.
S16: You I’m sure you remember when Joe Biden had to he had sort of said that he supported gay marriage and that Obama did before Obama got out, I to say it. And then he said he went over his skis. And, you know, there was a sense that even the people in power were kind of pretending not to see it. Yeah, because they’re they’re sort of fearful of some imagined, I think, Moral Majority. And it’s just funny how quickly that whole thing just deflated.
S14: What one thing my spouse likes to speak to is like, yeah, I was I was in college and she was working at the time like in in in the movement. And she was like, you don’t remember what 2004 was like when we were losing everywhere. And every single time I make some sort of snarky comment about like how I spent so much time working on marriage rights. She’s like, you don’t remember 2004 like I did. And so, you know, there were a lot of messaging switches like various and sundry little tweaks that like as it as a pissy millennial, you know, when I actually think back on like the work that was put into that and how it kind of served as a, you know, train engine, can I say. Sure, like. Much of the rest of the movement. Yes, absolutely. That’s that’s that’s the moment where my Pezzini starts to kind of melt away and I’m like. And in addition, the fact that I’m married and I’m really happily married and really enjoy it. And it’s super, super awesome. It’s like it actually made a lot of things really possible and really quickly. Yeah.
S5: I mean, you’re not wrong. I don’t think in in saying that was it was it a misstep to focus on something so conventional on the right of people to sort of get married? It’s sort of like who cares when when there are others. There are very big things at stake then and now in terms of actual human safety or human rights. It seems silly to focus on that. But I hope that you’re right that in fact, marriage became kind of like the engine that propelled a larger. So, you know, hopefully train of rights and a way in which queer people can be seen as fully human and eat.
S17: Yeah. Even as a rhetorical steppingstone to just have that sort of legal recognition of like this type of family is a family and end and we’re using the same words to describe it as other types of families. Yeah.
S6: Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean I feel like maybe I was gonna ask your guys if you thought that the the discourse of like marriage being the wrong focus or something that was going to ruin queer culture.
S3: That was very much I remember I remember being at Slate in 2015, publishing like ten pieces probably that we’re likes or andtime, you know, that were like marriage is like the wrong thing, even as I can tell from your tone what you thought as well.
S7: Now, I actually I actually have a lot of sympathy.
S6: I’m very much of two months. I’m married to one of my partners. And, you know, that was had certain beautiful things about it. I also think it made my eventual relationship right now involves three people really hard to sort of illegible to to like family members, for example, because marriage had come in and filled in all of this like ideological space that I didn’t even really anticipate it filling in. Like the understanding of what my life looked like and what was possible in a marriage had baggage. Right. And it brought that baggage into my into my life. And so when my relationship changed or evolved, it became it was more difficult to articulate it than it would have been before. I think, actually. And so marriage in that way was complicating even even as it had so much beauty. Mean, I love the word ennobling. I think that that is true, too. And I don’t know that we’re.
S18: I don’t know that we’ve gotten to a point where we can see how all that’s going to fall out. Yeah, maybe we should jump to another one. And do you want to.
S14: Sure. I mean, I have a provocation that I think comes off of that pretty well. But it’s also trying to sort of fight. I mean, like my the provocation are very much so connected. So I don’t know if I should just throw them. But do. I think that’s fine. Yeah. All right. So I’ll start with the pride. And I think, you know, what Raymond just said about marriage, just really spoke to that, like our movement. You learned how to use federalism really well. And that’s like a super nerdy, weirdly weird intellectual. Well, not intellectual, but like that’s like a nerdy thing to say. Right.
S19: But it was really effective.
S14: Like things, policy ideas and ways of changing norms differ throughout the country. And like as a person who like I guess I started doing queer activism around twenty twelve ish and I was working on like a birth certificate named Change Law in D.C. and we were like, I think the fifth jurisdiction to like get, you know, make sure you’d have a clean birth certificate and like not have a publication requirement if you change your name in the newspaper. And it was a funny set list of states like California, Washington State, you know, but, you know, it really set things off to the point that and, you know, the last few years you’re getting like. A bunch of different municipalities, like either getting rid of gender on municipal I.D. or getting, you know, giving us access and giving you gender neutral options. And it’s happening in a bunch of different places. You had advocates all over the country sort of working within funny administrative systems where they knew that they could like change administrative gender requirements mean like everything going from like getting the local DMV to acknowledge, you know, that people can you know, people people have gender and that the concept is, you know, complex at two to also getting the Social Security Administration to do that. And that was that was a gradual build up over several years. But I also think about like health care, like also followed the health care for transition related care, also followed a similar progression of getting from like California, tried a law to make sure transition related care was there. And then you had a bunch of like regulatory changes where folks like a friend of mine, Andy Krey, rest in peace, who is like a brilliant lawyer and knew all this, you know, like sort of figured out like, oh, we can change, right. Like insurance regulations and Medicaid rules and do this pretty quietly. And that also ended up building into like Section 15 57 of the Affordable Care Act helps cover transition related care and helps cover trans people in health insurance. So there’s an amazing march of like our our movement really figuring I feel like figuring out, especially through course this decade like that we can use like these little wins in small pockets and in different parts of government and different levels of government to build up to something significantly bigger. And I think that that’s a really strong model for thinking about how our movement expands justice and economic justice, especially now. To me, that says two things.
S2: One, it is a really elegant repudiation of the Republican Party’s attempt to turn everything related to trans people into some sort of fear mongering culture war. You know, actually, we’re, you know, changing small bits of the code of, you know, X bureaucratic agency. And and and and, look, all that happens is that people get more and better healthcare. Right. Right. It also speaks to the importance of diversity and representation at every level of government and industry, because when you have actual people who are trans or have, you know, trans fat friend, trans friends and family or people who are familiar with the issues LGBTQ people face when they’re, you know, facing the administration in government or when they’re facing the administration of public services, you have people who actually understand what the barriers are. And, you know, it’s not somebody coming from on high theorizing about what you LGBTQ people need. It’s LGBTQ people saying this is what we need. And here are the points of tension where we can make things easier for people.
S14: And I mean, and that is I mean, that’s true. I mean, getting back to sort of like the federalism thing, I mean, like looking at the elected officials, like trans elected officials and other queer elected officials that we had, like Andrea Jenkins in Minneapolis and the city council and then Danica Rome. And, you know, it’s like all these folks are like many different like smaller levels of government. I mean, I mean, even like, you know, there’s a queer person overseeing driver’s licenses in New Jersey. Right. And, you know, like that matters to her.
S5: Also, Indy is talking about like the difference between like when I talk about Obergefell, I’m talking about the sort of like some the symbols, the powerful symbolism of being able to see two men or two women as equal to all of your neighbors. But what you’re talking about is the actual tangible result of changing unjust law.
S20: And it’s a power to affect lives like the ability to marry could make you happy. Right. But nobody has died from an inability to marry.
S5: And really, what the marriage legislation did is correct things like survivor benefits, descriptives. It’s it’s writing actual job loss. Yeah. Yeah. You know, and that’s that is really interesting and remarkable. And I think especially given the climate we live in, knowing that you have to look at those victories and relish them for what they are, you know.
S21: Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s given the movement a lot of. There are a lot of really smart people, the movement thinking about how to operate on different levels and what small actions mean. Like I was just, you know, is listening to some folks, some very smart friends of mine who work on regulatory law and talk about like the benefit of sending a billion regulatory comments in to like. The Trump administration, when you tried to do horrible things that like even if the Trump administration passes horrible rules, having this admin, an amazing administrative record where all these people, the majority of people said no. Right. Yeah. Helps judges, you know, enjoin it later. So like even that is like our movement is thinking on that level. And it’s amazing. Yeah, that’s so great.
S2: That’s really. Did you have a related provocation?
S14: Yeah. I mean, probably. I mean, my provocation is it’s not resource distribution and the correction of injustice. My provocation is that I think the AR movement has not adequately prioritized different levers that we can use to improve people’s lives. Can you say more? Yeah. Yeah. So the one that I am like most obsessed with lately is social program creation and government funding. Right. Like one of the first victories that the AR movement had like in the early days of the HIV AIDS crisis was like burrowing into HHS and figuring out how to get resources for people with HIV and AIDS building into the Ryan White Care Act. But then we kind of like lost that thread that links federal funding really matters. There’s a morbid moment at the beginning of the band played on where one of the folks it like follow. Yeah. Thinking about Reagan winning in 1980 and is like, well, at least our movement doesn’t actually need any social program. And like, that’s not true. And so like. And I mean, you know, whatever bitter joke at the beginning of the book. And so, I mean, like I worked with folks in this city to, like, create LGBTQ health care navigators recently and like get funding for like an LGBTQ runaway homeless youth workforce program. And they’re like. There are people who are working on like distributing resources, but it’s relatively small. And I’m just using that as one example. And then getting to like, how do we fund? I mean, the most obvious, like glaring example. How do we fund really effective strategies for stopping black trans women from getting murdered, you know, on a regular basis? And there are activists very burrow down who are doing amazing community care work, who need emergency response funds and struggle to get them. And so and, you know, so that’s that’s another piece, resource allocation. And I you know, I think back to like in like 2013 or something I was working with this trans woman have been thrown out of a women’s women’s shelter in D.C.. And like, we got a radical lawyer to write a complaint like 10:30 in the evening. And like, we we got the judge to, you know, tell the shelter, you got to let trans women and and whatever there were, there was a remedy. And I was doing this like the lawyer was working for free. Obviously, the trans woman was working for free. I mean, the the other Trentham and I’m also a transmen, the one who went to the shelter and tested it. And I was like working on behalf of like an anarchist inspired, like all volunteer trans activist orig. And it’s like we did this for no money. Imagine what we could do if we had more money thrown towards this kind of work. And like still like even in New York City, I mean, we just had this settlement around a trans man who is thrown out of shelters repeatedly. And like, it’s great that we had that. But like that’s a recent settlement to get some remedy around trans people being mistreated in shelters. So it’s like just thinking about like the bevy of issues from black trans lives through just like getting our community and jobs, getting our community like actual affordable housing. It’s like the money from multiple levels, whether it’s public funding, whether it’s philanthropy. And I’m like, I’m not meaning to piss on anything. I’m just saying that like to say like we have a lot more. It’s amazing that we haven’t dug in on this more. There’s so much more that we can tackle. And I am like I’m occasionally like it’s 2019 and we’re still like figuring out like the beginnings of models about how to like House members of our community and save shelter. Like you still haven’t really figured that out. That’s my provocation, Christina.
S17: So my provocation was the pulse massacre in June 2016 and and the response from people on the right. So at the time, Pulse was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history because the U.S. is terrible. It’s not anymore. There has been a deadlier one. Forty nine people were killed, dozens more were injured at Latin night at an Orlando gay club. My experience after the shooting was similar to that of my experience after other mass shootings, which is that I’m all of a sudden hyper aware of the danger of everyday life in this country with, you know, a country with such ready access to firearms that could allow somebody to kill dozens of people in minutes. But the way this one particularly affected me was I felt that way in places where I normally felt safe. Queer Parties, the one that the Queer Party that I throw, which is a daytime dance party at, you know, a a great bar on a very queer strip in D.C., a place where normally we feel safe. The bouncers are incredible, the bartenders are incredible. And all of a sudden and I was like, you know, I run this party. It’s my responsibility to make this a safe space. And I’m not positive that I can do that anymore. You know, thinking about what just happened at Pulse and occasionally our Facebook page, our Instagram, we’ll get a random message from a guy who’s like, you’re not sure if he’s a bot or he saw your picture and wants to hit on you. But I all of a sudden became hyper aware of, you know, is this person trying to like case the joint for some attack? And I know it’s ridiculous, but I know how ridiculous it was, you know, and I should say, like, it’s actually been pretty well determined that the perpetrator actually wasn’t motivated by homophobia or at least didn’t realize, you know, it was a gay club. But the effect was particularly terrorizing for queer and trans people who really trust in gay bars and queer spaces to be some of the few places that they can rely on. And it was Pride Month, too. I remember, you know, there was heightened police presence at Pride events, which made many people feel even less safe. For a long time, we didn’t know what the perpetrators motive was. And, you know, it was also the summer of Trump. So there was rising fear watching this guy go around the country, speaking to crowds of people who were chanting, Trump that bitch. And then we had this moment where we had to watch Republicans try to mold this tragedy. Two toward their own ends and use it to gin up Islamophobia. You know, Trump. It’s so terrible that it’s it’s ironic and sickening that there was this moment at the RNC, which has been sort of credited by gay Republicans as a moment where Trump really proved his allegiance to the LGBTQ community. And he stood up at the RNC and said he’s going to protect LGBTQ people from this Islamic terrorist, from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology. And there was applause, you know, for the Islamophobia or for this statement of support for queer people. I guess we’ll never know. But Trump, you know, thanked them and reflected for a moment about how nice it was to hear Republicans clap for gay people. And it still chills me to think about watching the right try to use the murder of LGBTQ people to paper over the way that they make LGBTQ people less safe and less able to live full lives.
S2: And that was one of that was probably my biggest provocation of the decade.
S22: It’s really unsettling to remember that. And as you say, there are so many mass shootings that it can be hard to hold them all in your head. In fact, there was one yesterday. So it can be very difficult to what you’re describing is so inexplicable that digesting it and making sense of it as impulse, as an impossible task anyway. Right. So to be reminded of it and just realize like, oh, we never really reckoned with that did we? You know. Yeah. I don’t think I did. Anyway, it’s like, oh yeah, that’s this thing happened and there’s absolutely no guarantee that it’s not going to happen again and again and again. And it is. That’s a good one because it’s really unsettling, but it’s worth remembering. Yeah, absolutely.
S19: It also I mean, I think about there’s been like saying that.
S14: Pay attention to the idiot Bruce Bower. No. Is that a Bruce Bauer wrote this book in the early 90s kind of place a table as he was a gay man writing about his hatred like pride parades. It was like one of those books. And in the 2000s, I guess, he moved to one of like the lowland countries in Europe. And he started writing about as a gay man, his fear of of of Muslims. Right. And during this whole like there was a thing starting again. I think in the mid odds. And so, you know, it’s like thinking about all these disparate strands of stuff that like I thought was really fucking fringe. They were like like GamerGate, an eight chapters like that became like a thing in regular conversation, like, you know, it’s a NA now like in the there at the White House and administration. Right. And that’s like Bruce Bower Aligarh, remember the professor, like I wrote, like all this stuff on like a gay Republicans when I was in college and like I had this professor is like Evan Reading Bruce Bruce Bower and what he’s been saying about the Muslims. And this is like 2006 or something. And I’m like, this is appalling. And to see it come full circle ten years later is like talking to somebody who is like the right wing is so good at investing in small, like tiny little things like don’t mention anything anywhere. And it’s like they’ve been investing. And like, I feel like there’s pride in some sort of like line item in various and sundry, like right wing funders, spreadsheets or whatever. Like, I’m I’m being conspiratorial. So like, are you. Maybe. I mean, I think I might be biased, but like, you know, it’s like thinking about like, oh, there actually there is like kind of a history here of like employing at least like gay sex bodies, I think against against Islam and towards racist ends like Sean, that that comes to fruition in this decade and this terrifying mainstream way.
S6: Yeah. I was just I’ve been sitting here thinking about what Paul’s meant to me. And it’s I don’t know if this. I don’t know how to make this transition very easily. But it was also as true as everything you’ll have said is it was also a moment. So I went I went down there and reported on it over the weekend after. And it was also for me this moment of intense pride in seeing how the community in Orlando and around the country sort of came together to mourn and fight back in ways that are very particular to us.
S18: You know, if there was anything beautiful, I almost hesitate to say that. But if there’s anything beautiful that could come out of that event, it was the kind of protest actions I saw there. It was, you know, the drag queens doing these. Incredible. I don’t know what else to call them, except for performances of mourning for the community in Orlando. People coming out to dance the next weekend and the two remaining large clubs that are without were there at the time. There were some incredible, incredible resilience. I got shown by our people in the wake of that massacre. And as you know, overwhelming as as the kind of the loss is to think about. And you can’t as Ramon said, he can’t even really process it still.
S3: There was also a lot of beauty in the way the community responded. And so I I just am reflecting on that as as we think about, you know.
S5: Yeah, definitely. So you’re talking about pulse, but what did you bring in to talk about today?
S6: So when I was reflecting on the decade, the biggest thing that came to mind for me that I think really caused like a sea change. And in my life and a lot of queer folks lives around me, especially gay man was prep. We so prep it for folks who don’t know is a daily pill. That’s a drug combo approved for a prophylactic use in 2012. It existed before this, but it was approved by the FDA in 2012 as an HIV prevention drug. And so it really took off in 2014 or so in terms of uptake. I guess that’s the word or use in urban areas. And so so this is why this will be both a pride and a provocation, because there’s there’s positive and negative parts to this thing. You know, this this pill prevents the spread of HIV and apps like 99 percent efficacy. It’s it’s incredible that it exists. It changed the way that, you know, many people have sex, particularly gay men for him in the way. The AIDS crisis. Sex was associated with death. I remember when I started having sex at 19 or 20 every time you would leave the encounter, even if you’d used a condom and been safe and thought about everything you were supposed to do. If not in that immediate moment. Certainly when you went to get your six month tests or whatever you would, you would be certain that you had HIV. It was just the way the psychology worked for a lot of us anyway. Certainly for me, that has gone away for a lot of us. That is completely not for all. And that’s. I’ll talk about that. But it has really for those of us with access to this drug, that trauma has been I don’t know if it’s been like dissipated completely, but it’s been certainly shifted in weird ways. I think we’re still dealing with and it’s it’s just changed what sex looks like, what it means. The weight of it. It’s also allowed for, you know, for easier Sarah discordant relationships for folks, which is when one person’s positive, a person is negative, that can be dealt with pretty easily now. So it’s just a real revolution. Again, for the folks who have access to it. And so there’s two sort of sides to the provocation here. One is that this one drug company, Gilliard, controls the patent and is refusing so far to allow a generic to be made, which would make it far more accessible for many people. It is about if you buy it sort of on the open market without insurance. It’s like about fifteen hundred dollars a month for a bottle, for a 30 day supply, which is just, you know, prohibitive for it for anyone without without coverage. Or maybe your city has a good public health program. But even then, it can be difficult. So that is that is a huge provocation. There are activists now if you look at the hashtag, break the patent. There are folks that are working on getting that broke and getting a generic out there so that more people have access. But it also has meant that the difficulty of access and that expense has meant that Propp has been something that has all these all these revolutionary changes they’ve been talking about have been something experienced largely by white, says gay men who have the privilege to access it. And so the community right now is really split in our experience of whether this is a pride or provocation, actually. I think you could put it it’s something that should really just be a thing you can get if you want it. And, you know, certain municipalities and states and stuff are working on that. But until that pattern is broken, that’ll be difficult. And so, you know, again, when I when I reflect on this decade, that that is just so major. And I think the reverberations of it are still being figured out as we go forward between generations, between, you know, the past community and the new community, just like all of that is is pretty wild to think about.
S5: Just to go back to what Andy was saying before, you sort of have to imagine that some some canny public health lawyer somewhere is going to figure out some particular loophole that undoes all of what you’re talking about. And it’s sort of like is redress to these weird sort of systemic inequalities. They’ll just find some weird workaround that maybe has nothing to do with that. And, well, who knows? And that’s the hope that those like invisible activist are out there doing that work that actually moves things forward in a more equitable way. Yeah. Yeah. Christina, did you have a pride?
S2: When I do have pride. I’m going to challenge every queer with a bunch of money to invest in your local lesbian bar in the 2020s. My pride was that first I just want to do a quick little overview of my decade at lesbian bars. I went to my very first lesbian bar here.
S7: The montage music. Thump, thump, thump.
S12: I’m staring at the camera right now and behind me. January 2010 was my first trip to a lesbian bar.
S2: I went to phase one in Washington, D.C. My college roommates brought me weed, jello, wrestled. I didn’t know it at the time, but my now wife was in the audience that night watching me jello wrestle. We wouldn’t meet for a couple more years. But, you know, it’s it’s almost an overly cinematic start to the decade. It was the moment when I was like, oh, yeah, I could do this for the rest of my life. Like, I’m actually gonna be queer now. And over the decade, there has been, you know, a A nationwide and I want to say global trend of lesbian bars shutting down.
S17: They have continued to play an important role in my life, even as many bars that were important in my life closed, including phase one. So is extremely heartening and life affirming to see two new lesbian centered queer bars. Open in D.C. over the past couple years, there’s one called X, X plus above a restaurant and there’s one called a league of her own in the basement. What a good name.
S7: A good name.
S2: It’s attached to a know predominantly gay male bar, which to me speaks to new business models for lesbian bars to survive. Which I always love to see.
S17: I’m going to put in that category area, which is a predominantly queer bar in San Francisco, which was recently that its building was bought by the city and and given to an affordable housing nonprofit. Anyway, I’m excited to see new businesses or new models for, you know, keeping lesbian bars afloat.
S2: And I also know that the success of these bars in DC and particularly elite of her own, which has become sort of revolutionized the way my friends and I hang out. We have a standing date there every Friday night because three of my friends live in the neighborhood.
S7: It has become oh, we’re just.
S12: It has really, you know, and we’re mostly in our thirties.
S2: And yet it it you know, I think there are a lot of false narratives around the world. The reasons why lesbian bars have been closing down. I think it is. There’s a prevailing idea that young people are, you know, fine going to straight bars don’t need queer gathering places in the same way that previous generations did. They do. They do need them. There’s another idea that gender diversity and, you know, growing numbers of people who identify as trans and non-binary have made women centered spaces moot or exclusionary. And it hasn’t it just has required that they keep up with the times and be inclusive. And, you know, people are able to have expansive ideas for the way bars market themselves and treat their customers in the same way that, you know, identities are expansive. So it’s been great to see a wide range of age groups at a low ho, which was what we call it. And, you know, even the bar gets so packed that women even trickle up to the male floors and on the dance floor.
S12: It’s just like an incredibly gender diverse space.
S17: And the fact that now, you know, I’m hanging out even more with my friends and we’re able to have this spot where we can just meet every Friday has emphasized to me how essential these spaces are.
S2: And so, again, to any queer million billionaires out there or even like hundreds of thousand shares, I implore you to invest in these spaces in the 2020s. In addition to all the other resource shifting that we’re going to do, Bishan and I gave.
S5: Reminded you have one where you and I did, I wanted to talk about a children’s book called Hoolihan as a Mermaid just by a woman named Jessica Love that came out in 2013. And I wouldn’t use the book just to sort of talk about a bigger thing. It’s a lovely, illustrated book about a little boy who sees some people on their way to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade and then is inspired to get all dolled up. And his grandmother sees that he’s doing this and like it helps him get really fancy dress up. And they they had out of the house together. It’s a lovely, very straightforward little story, but. I might be a reach, but I you know, I have two children of my own, they’re 10, 7, and I feel like my children’s generation have a very different way of thinking about gender. And I think that this is a way in which we can really look to the kids. When you if if you tell one of my sons, like, oh, this is person uses the pronoun they instead of he or she, my sons will just say, OK, that’s cool. And the language is fluid and ever changing. And it is the people who are sort of inheriting language will determine where it goes. And the fact that my children in their peers and I know I live in New York City, but this is like, you know, I I don’t think this is a bubble issue. I just think that for kids of this generation, they are less worried about enforcing the binaries that we inherited from our parents. And I think that that is one thing that really gives me a lot of hope about what the future language and all that the language effects will will be like in this country.
S15: That’s a little of that. I love that pride.
S6: Well, that is our review of the decade that was in queer life. Listeners, we’d love to hear from you about what you’re thinking about as we intrude into the 20s. Please e-mail us at our podcast at Slate.com this week for the gay agenda.
S5: We’re sort of taking a retrospective look at the entire calendar year.
S22: What did we what did we love and what what did we maybe miss? And that we think that those of you listening to this podcast absolutely have to commit to. And so, Brian, what did you what did you love this year?
S6: So I you know, you may remember that Stonewall’s 50th anniversary happened this year. I don’t know. I noticed.
S5: I forgot. This year has been going on for so long.
S4: Yeah, that’s been a decade and a year. And now that did happen. That was that was around pride this year. And as an LGBT section editor, I was quite busy. Also, it’s just like a gay person who’s very busy during that month, but also doing that month, a number of wonderful books republished sort of on the occasion of of that anniversary. And so I was thinking it might be useful, certainly to me. I have some plans to this over the holiday break. And you’re into listeners as well to check out some of those books that you may not have seen. So I just brought four and I’m sure there are more. But here here for that, I am happy and I’m excited to look at what is called the Stonewall reader. It was from it was put together by the New York Public Library. It is a collection of sort of primary source documents and excerpts and speeches and things like that organized before Stonewall, sort of during the immediate period of Samaan after that. Give context to that event. It’s fascinating. It’s just full of really exciting things that I want to look at. There is another collection called In Search of Stonewall the riots at 50, which is more essays from sort of leading queer thinkers. And most of these, I believe, were published in the Gay and Lesbian Review. And so it’s it’s stuff those holes from 1994, from the 25th anniversary until 2018. So that’s another essay collection. And then in sort of the more art focused area, there is a book called Art After Stonewall 1969 in nineteen eighty nine that’s out was out from rizoli. That is exactly what it sounds like. It’s sort of a retrospective of how Stonewall inflected artistic practice and in those two decades following. And then a really beautiful book called We Are Everywhere A Protest, Power and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation, which was put together by the folks behind the ad LGBT underscore history into account, which many of you probably follow. And it is a lot of photographs with sort of short essays associated explaining who the person is or the event in question. So all four of those are available. Great Christmas Eve, Christmas gifts, absolute holiday gifts for Get because I think they are really special. And, you know, they don’t I don’t want them to fall out of out of focus just because the anniversary is passed. So that is my recommendation.
S22: Christina, what about you?
S12: The artworks that touched me most this year, I believe I recommended this on the waves, too, when they first came out. So Tegan and Sara released a memoir of their high school Years Come High School, along with their latest record called Hey I’m Just Like You.
S2: The memoir of their high school years is, you know, the story of how they grew up in Calgary in the 90s and came to terms with their sexuality as they went to a lot of raves. They did a lot of drugs. There’s a lot of cold and snow. Obviously, it’s Canada.
S17: And the record that they put out is actually. Apprised of newly recorded versions of songs that they first wrote and recorded during their high school years. And, you know, they sort of found these early recordings as they were doing research for their memoir.
S23: And it’s it for for to read the book not only brought me back to high school, but also sort of felt like a bomb to my teenage self.
S17: It’s almost like I imagine a therapist might, you know, suggest going back in time. Think about giving your younger self a hug and telling them they’re important and loved. That’s what this book feels like to me. And the record, it’s it feels like just this extraordinary gift to these teenage girls who were told at the time that this sort of emotional intensity that they brought to their music was immature. And and I think a lot of people can write off teenage life that way or or teenage feelings. And as puppy love and and especially queer relationships, which they talk a lot about the relationships they had with girls that were more than friendships, but something not quite like romantic relationships, often very secret. And the Tegan and Sara coming out, stories are very different, too, which was really interesting. You know, they’re twins. But I just think to treat the emotional lives and the emotional intensity of these girls as valid as a gift, as something adults can learn from, was extremely touching to me. And I highly recommend that everybody read that book and listen to the record, the sensor grant.
S5: It’s funny, we’re all such nerds. I was also going to recommend two books. There’s a book by Philip, a song called Lie With Me, which came out in April of this year. He’s a French writer.
S22: It was translated into English by the actress Molly Ringwald, weirdly, but it is quite a lovely book of adolescent love between these two boys and I highly recommend it. It’s especially a nice corrective to call me by your name, which is the book that I feel like people really love does similar things that people really love. But I think Life with Me is a really lovely book. It’s really it’s quite short. It’s very much worth reading. And if you have to get a seat on your Christmas list, they are going to love it. And by contrast, I wanted to talk about in the Dreamhouse, which is the memoir by the writer Carmen Maria Machado, the documents, her experience of a an abusive relationship that she had when she was a graduate student.
S5: Carmen talks in the book explicitly about queer villainy and uses this language of not wanting not wanting her her girlfriend at the time to be that way, because, like, didn’t she know they were being watched? Didn’t she know that, like its response, it’s the responsibility of gay people to live a sort of idealized life? And I think the book undoes that a lot in a very thoughtful way. It’s a really interesting book. It’s a really well-written book. And yeah. So I think those are the two texts from the year that I would recommend for, you know, especially because I know people don’t have a lot of time to read. So it’s possible that you missed those two books this year, but I think they’re both worth looking at.
S3: So it’s wonderful. Now I have that song.
S15: It’s good. I’m so excited. It’s kind of hot. Yeah. Highly recommend. Yeah. Wow.
S5: What a great reading material we’ll have for going into the. The cold. The cold week. The cold. Yes. Being Christmas and New Year’s Carol up there.
S12: Exactly. Well, that’s it for our show. And then the darker our decade and the here. Thank you so much to our listeners for sticking with us through this year. Please keep sending us your feedback, your topic ideas and your questions to outward podcast at Slate.com. Or you can find us on Facebook and Twitter at Slate outward. Thank you to Rosemary Bellson, who provided engineering assistance for this episode. Our producer is Daniel Schrader. June Thomas is the senior managing producer of Slate Podcasts and the Bette Porter of Our Planet. If you’d like outward, which we hope you do, please subscribe in your podcast app. Tell your friends about it tenure to tell your lovers about it. Right, and leave the show a good review. We’ll be back in your feeds on January 22nd.
S6: But before that, please look there for a special bonus episode in which we’ll have an intergenerational roundtable of gay men discussing the inheritance, which is a seven hour, two part very gay play currently on Broadway that has been called the spiritual successor to Angels in America.
S18: Is it a revelation? Does it stumble before it gets to the threshold?
S6: That’s a tune to find out.
S24: Well, it’s been a gift unpacking the. Decade with e-tail. See you soon. Bye, Mirman. Bye. Happy New Year. Happy New Year. By Brian Gallaudet’s discount steak, everyone.