Margaret Cho, Tomás Matos, Bowen Yang, Joel Kim Booster and Matt Rogers in ‘Fire Island’
5 things to watch, read and listen to this Pride
To me—and I suspect to many other LGBTQ Americans—there’s a profound duality to Pride. The month offers me an opportunity to celebrate: the milestones US society has reached on the path toward LGBTQ equality, the joys I find in no longer having to endure the spectacle of heterosexuality or “playing it straight.” I can be fabulous!
Yet Pride also offers me an occasion to engage in sobering reflection. Already, 2022 is on pace to see a record number of bills introduced in state legislatures across the US that would scale back the rights and status of transgender Americans. This assault is part of the dedicated efforts by many conservatives to further marginalize their fellow citizens.
Put a little bit differently, Pride can be a bittersweet season, one marked by pleasure and pain.
Here are five things—two TV shows, a movie, a novel, a pop album—that, together, capture the month’s complexities:
Kit Connor and Joe Locke in ‘Heartstopper’
If “cozy queer” were a genre, then Euros Lyn’s “Heartstopper,” based on Alice Oseman’s graphic novel of the same name and currently on Netflix, would be a prime example of the category. At a time of renewed attacks on LGBTQ rights, “Heartstopper” feels like a balm. The show’s focus is the blooming intimacy between gay teenager Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and his classmate Nick Nelson (Kit Connor), who’s wrestling with his attraction to Charlie. Rounding out the series is a compelling, diverse set of characters, including Tao Xu (William Gao), who’s Charlie’s fiercely territorial best friend, and Elle Argent (Yasmin Finney), who’s part of Charlie and Tao’s circle and moves to an all-girls school after coming out as transgender. Even as it mines the anxieties that attend being a queer teenager, “Heartstopper” is a shot of pure joy.
Conrad Ricamora and Joel Kim Booster in ‘Fire Island’
Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Margaret Cho, Conrad Ricamora: Andrew Ahn’s delightful new film, “Fire Island,” on Hulu on June 3, marshals bold and brilliant actors to riff on “Pride and Prejudice,” Jane Austen’s 1813 novel of manners. But while Austen’s beloved book focuses largely on class, “Fire Island” casts a wider gaze. The romantic comedy follows a tight-knit group of queer friends over the course of a weeklong sojourn on Fire Island, a legendary gay holiday destination. Hijinks and misadventures ensue. The friends, many of whom are Asian American, confront how race, class and masculinity hang over queer communities. Those are heavy themes. But the movie never loses its sense of humor: Be on the lookout for a hilarious sequence about Marisa Tomei that perfectly distills gay men’s protectiveness over their cult icons.
The cover of Imogen Binnie’s ‘Nevada’
First published in 2013, Imogen Binnie’s debut novel, “Nevada,” will be reissued on June 7; the timing couldn’t be better. The cult classic charts the adventures of Maria Griffiths, a transgender woman with “punk values” who steals her ex-girlfriend’s car after they break up and embarks on a cross-country road trip, heading west from New York City. The book is considered a landmark of transgender literature and has inspired authors including Torrey Peters, whose “Detransition, Baby” was published last year to critical acclaim. “Nevada” gives fresh dimension to transgender Americans during a political season when the conservative movement is working overtime to chip away at LGBTQ rights and the rights of other groups.
Michael Cimino in ‘Love, Victor’
Who’s it gonna be: Benji (George Sear) or Rahim (Anthony Keyvan)? That’s the question that viewers are asking as they prepare for the release of the third and final season of “Love, Victor,” created by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger and on Hulu on June 15. Part of the power of the series, inspired by the excellent 2018 film “Love, Simon,” is that it takes the usual beats of a teen drama—think of anything in John Hughes’ oeuvre—and applies them to Victor Salazar (Michael Cimino), who’s gay, Latino and, well, the kind of character only rarely depicted on mainstream TV. The series allows Victor to navigate the same issues that straight White teens have always been allowed to wrestle with on screen, including the challenge of figuring out what the heart wants.
The cover of MUNA’s self-titled third album
With their third album scheduled for release on June 24, MUNA—made up of Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson, all of whom are queer—seem ready to keep redefining the pop music world. The band stands out in part because of how it displays a kind of ownership over the members’ queerness, transforming into text what in the past had to be subtext. Consider “Silk Chiffon,” the lead single from the upcoming album. “Silk chiffon / That’s how it feels, oh, when she’s on me,” Gavin declares on the chorus. The track is an ode to the delights of sapphic desire—a theme that seldom gets serious attention in pop music. The members of MUNA have long openly embraced their identities. In 2017, McPherson, who’s non-binary, wrote that the beauty of the term “queer” is that it’s “deliberately ambiguous” and a middle finger “to the specific confines of identities themselves (which as a mixed-race Black person resonates with me entirely).” This keen self-awareness keeps fans hungry for MUNA’s music.
“We were devastated by the recent surge of hate crimes, including Asian American hate crimes. To put a stop on this and support the cause, we’d like to take this opportunity to voice ourselves once again.”
Happy Pride: June is Pride month, when LGBTQ communities around the world come together to celebrate hard-won rights and reflect on the work still to be done on the road to LGBTQ equality. Here’s a closer look at the history and meaning of Pride.
The fight to protect voting rights: The US Supreme Court on Tuesday denied an emergency request from three Texas state legislators seeking to quash subpoenas from the US Department of Justice and voting rights groups related to a challenge to state legislative maps.
Anti-Black racism and fandom: The “Star Wars” franchise is sticking up for the actor Moses Ingram after she revealed that she had received hundreds of racist messages and comments on social media.
‘A Great Day in the Stoke’: It’s an oft-repeated stereotype—Black people don’t swim. But for Nathan Fluellen, who grew up in a Black middle class neighborhood in Chicago where everyone knew how to swim, the idea couldn’t be further from the truth. A regular surfer, he’s the founder of “A Great Day in the Stoke,” an event taking place on Saturday in Huntington Beach, California—and billed as one of the largest gatherings of Black surfers.
International African American Museum: One of the US’s most prolific slave trading ports is to open as a museum in Charleston, South Carolina, after more than two decades of planning. The 150,000-square-foot facility will be at the former site of Gadsden’s Wharf, where slave ships docked for years and unloaded at least 100,000 slaves.