October is such a fitting time for LGBTQ+ History Month. I’m a huge fan of October. I love the Midwest crisp mornings and nights, it’s warm afternoons. The option of a heavy cardigan or a denim jacket is everything to me. I love the leaves, their colors cascading across my lawn before it sinks in that I’ve got to clean it all up soon. Autumn is such a perfect picture of the passing of time. It is both messy and jubilant, exciting and sorrowful. Autumn is the best time for snuggling up on the sofa for a good t.v. binge. It’s a time for getting lost in a good book or winding down with your favorite song.
In honor of LGBTQ+ History Month here are five of my favorite queer moments in media. These moments hightlight the amazing people who paved the way for those of us who fall across the Kinsey Scale to be in living rooms across America. These moments are for Marsha P. Johnson and Bayard Rustin. They are for Audre Lorde and James Baldwin, for Alvin Ailey and Bessie Smith. These are the moments in media that make the chill that comes along with October worth it.
- HBO’s 2015 Bessie Smith biopic has to be one of my favorite biopics of all time. LGBTQ+ History is full of artists; singers and dancers, writers, visual artists and more. For HBO to highlight a bisexual Black woman of the 1920’s and 30’s without making it look it look like smut is one of the best compliments to Black queer folks ever. HBO gave us an insight into Bessie’s (Queen Latifah) struggles as not only an enterainer, but a bisexual woman. My favorite thing from the biopic is the way they highlighted Bessie’s tutelage from Ma Rainey (Mo’Nique) who was a gender-fluid genius.
- Girl Down! You already know (or should know) Big Freedia the Queen Diva of Bounce! Big Freedia became a household name to many after her voice cameo on Beyonce’s “Formation.” Prior to that glow up, Big Freedia had been making waves for years in New Orleans with her bounce music. She has her own reality show on Fuse entitled “Big Freedia Bounces Back” which just hit its sixth season. Big Freedia is a walking homage to artists before her like Little Richard who took gender stereotypes by the hand and placed a shovel in it to bury everything you ever thought you knew. Freedia, herself, has gone down in LGBTQ+ history as a ground breaker for the portrayal and accomplishments of genderqueer folks in music. Honey, Freddia did not come to play with any of us. She came to slay and every Tuesday at 10pm EST on Fuse, besta believe I’m watching her put it down.
- “Queen Sugar” went down in LGBTQ+ history this year for one of the most endearing “coming out” episodes that I’ve ever seen. Actor Brian Michael Smith used his character on the show to come out as trans. Smith has been acting for five years, but prior to this hadn’t disclosed his identity. National Coming Out Day was October 11th this year. Since it’s inception in 1988, it is known as the day in LGBTQ+ History month where people may choose to come out to their family, friends, etc or share their coming out stories. Coming Out Day is a time in which some of us may choose to celebrate our coming out as activism in it’s most personal form. Unfortunately, we still live in a day and time in which it is still unsafe for many people to share this part of their identities. Trans people of color, especially Black trans women are being killed at alarming rates. For “Queen Sugar” to give Brian a vehicle to come out that also highlighted the friendship of his character Toine and Ralph Angel was momentous and truly cannot be forgotten.
- I somehow found time this past spring to dig into a YA novel that was so good, I forgot I had adulting to do and found myself reading all night. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz has to be one of the most endearing reads ever. This books explores being POC and queer, but specifically being Mexican and queer. It is a coming of age story that gives an honest and in depth look at identity and friendship. The book follows two young men, Aristotle and Dante, and is tender and honest in it’s walk through friendship and romance. Sáenz’s strong voice for representation in the queer Latinx community couldn’t have possibly gone without mention. If you’re looking for a new novel to get lost in, this one is for you.
- That one time when Doc McStuffins taught a same sex couple how to be ready in case of an emergency is definitely going down in LGBTQ+ history. An eighties baby, I am a fan of Saturday morning cartoons. That really isn’t a thing anymore, but what was a never a thing in my youth was seeing a lesbian couple portrayed in a cartoon. Inclusion and representation for LGBTQ+ folks in media is at an all time high. It’s good and hopefully forever getting better, because there is still so much work to be done. Disney made a major move in visibility with this episode. What a major step in the right direction for same sex representation. Preschoolers seeing same sex couples as real human beings could, I don’t know, leave us to be elderly and gay in the hands of open-minded accepting individuals who won’t look at LGBTQ+ folks as subhuman someday? Sign me up for that future. Doc McStuffins just became part of my emergency plan.
As October and LGBTQ+ History Month come to an end, let us remember these and other precious moments of today. These moments are big parts of the future that LGBTQ+ activists of the past fought for and glimpses into the future that we continue to fight for today. The need to highlight our achievements as LGBTQ+ folks, especially those of us POC, will never become a thing of the past. I just hope that one day, we’ll no longer be screaming or dying in order to be heard/seen.