It’s National LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, y’all! This is the time of year where many of us gather to commemorate the Stonewall riots of 1969 which were led by some of the fiercest trans-women of color on Earth! While many of us take this time to celebrate individuality at it’s finest by draping ourselves in glitter, marching & chanting for our continued war against discrimination, we started this month with a national tragedy. In the midst of our celebrations, we mourn the loss of our LGBTQIA+ family in Orlando, Florida. Our hearts and minds are with the victims of Orlando, their loved ones and our nation.
In the spirit of Pride, we decided to take time to celebrate and uplift one another in the nerdiest way possible – by paying tribute to some of the queerest Black moments of 2016! We know that #representationmatters and when you’re a queer person of color, you hold those positive moments close and cherish them like one of Mama Ru’s custom lace fronts. In her most famous words, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Can we get an “Amen?”
Celebrate. Honor. Slay.
Izetta: How To Get Away With Murder
Annalise Keating is Bisexual!
Ummmmm, EXCUSE ME, SHONDA? We’ve seen women kiss on your shows before, I mean… Dr. Torres may have been my first girl crush (yeah… first or second, but no one is counting), but this is HTGAWM’s lead character. This is Annalise Keating! Annalise is the protagonist we love to hate. From season one, is it safe to say we all assumed that Annalise was a straight cis woman? Probably. She was married to a man. She was seen frequently having sex with men. I mean, my bisexual self honestly thought she was straight. What a way to kick heteronormativity in the ass, Shonda.
That first kiss between Annalise and Eve (her college girlfriend) may not have been my favorite girl kiss of all time, but that’s beside the point. The point is that the world has a strong, feminist, unapologetically-taking-off-my-makeup-and-wig-in-yo-face, Black, bisexual cis woman lawyer to look up to. You thought you had Annalise in a box just like you THOUGHT you knew who murdered who! Nah…. Nah. That ain’t how Shonda rolls and the world is all the better for it.
Leslie: The Wiz
Things I love about The Wiz, part the first: This type of musical theatre, in stereotype and in truth, has long been a space where homosexuality has been expected or tolerated or relegated. But it is not a space where Blackness has not been allowed to flourish or find its own way. Meanwhile, on the other hand, Black people have often found their freedom in nightclubs and dance halls — this is especially true for Black LGBT people who mixed Harlem dance styles with their own inventive defiance to develop Voguing in the 1960s. You’ve seen Paris is Burning, right? Those folks were tearing it up for themselves, for their own beauty, and their own joy long before Madonna made a song about it. Her song Vogue almost came to overshadow those inventors as she Columbus’d the dance style as her own.
So what does The Wiz do? It takes her song and re-integrates it back into an All-Black setting with magnificent Black bodies proudly enjoying a dance style that Black gay men perfected. It is a beautiful example of how we can take things that have been borrowed (ahem, stolen) from us, embrace them, remix them, and make our own art, while subtly throwing some shade in the process. It is also just damn beautiful:
Things I love about The Wiz, part the second: Queen Latifah as The Wiz Himself.
You’ll note that in the Emerald City scene, the dancers call The Wiz HIM. So I was floored when the HE that walked out was Queen Latifah. Is this gender-blind casting? Is this a nod to shifting LGBT identities? I don’t know. But I do know that casting a powerful Black woman (who is widely accepted as standing in an open closet) in a traditionally male role and letting the role remain traditionally masculine, without excuse, is epic. And you don’t have to have an opinion on Queen’s relationship with her public sexuality to know this has some serious subtext. (Note: I love subtext.) It also gave us this gif, which is in rotation in my life from now on:
Alec Lightwood here is son of the leaders of the New York Institute, the biggest gathering and headquarters of Shadowhunters, East coast. He is responsible, dedicated, and ferociously protective of his family and ready to do anything for them. He is also gay but not out to his parents. He’s just recently out of the closet and coming to terms with his sexuality. When he learns of his parents’ past involvement with the main villain of our story, he moves to take the bull by the horns and fix things. He’ll marry fellow Shadowhunter Lydia Branwell, and their union will take scrutiny off his parents and help fix the tarnished name of his family.
But here’s the thing—Alec incredibly selflessly in this regard is willing to put his family first. Before himself. This is a big decision. A life changing one. What about his happiness? What about what he desires? In his head, this is his sure fire, win-win way to do right by his family and help usher in a new era to reform Shadowhunters at the Institute as he plans to taking over as head with Lydia. Enter, one of my fictional baes, Magnus Bane, whom I wrote about earlier this year.
Magnus Bane has killer chemistry with Alec. Alec knows it. Magnus knows it. I know it. Your mama knows it too. Magnus, a powerful 800-year-old warlock who has shut himself off from much of the world and from feeling too much in general has been awakened by Alec, a Shadowhunter who, given the bad blood between their kind, he should avoid. He’s been helping Alec come out of his shell and come to grips with what he wants. To laugh and joke, to live a little. Alec by all means has been trained to be a soldier from an earlier age and has always been saddled with responsibilities and big shoes to fill. He’s been cutting himself off from emotions to finish the mission and be as effective as he can as leader, as a soldier. So when our brooding hero tells Magnus he’s marrying Lydia, I was ready to flip a table or two.
This moment, when Magnus crashes Alec and Lydia’s wedding (and I am HERE for wedding crashers. Fight Me.) is not just a big step for Alec. Magnus is pushing himself for what he wants, what his hearts wants. He is taking a chance here. A big one. He could be rejected by Alec. He could be humiliated. He could be assaulted or gravely injured here due to his Downworlder heritage. But he comes anyway. He stands silent waiting for an answer. And Alec, my gawd, my gawd, ALEC DOES NOT DISAPPOINT. After rightfully apologizing to his not-bride (not for being gay y’all, but leaving folks at the altar is no joke) goes right up to Magnus and kisses him like there is no tomorrow. He kisses him as if I haven’t read enough fanfic reliving this moment to label myself as (shipping) trash. He kisses him as if I haven’t officially renamed the song played in the background in this scene “War of Hearts” by Ruelle as “The Malec Kiss Song”. (IT IS LAW. Get with the winning team.)
You know, I always tell folks to always be someone first choice — never settle to being second best… Here? Magnus is chosen. Magnus is worthy. Alec finally owns up to what and who he wants: making his own decisions about his own life for once, choosing to open about who he is and Magnus, of course. This was a total curve ball. And It’s beautiful and I wasn’t expecting this at all! And while I love watching attractive people kiss onscreen I have to check myself in my straight person feels and make sure I’m not just romanticizing LGBT relationships, you know?
I feel like the Malec kiss was not just (obviously) passion but acceptance and courage too. I can’t image what queer (and bisexual) men have to navigate through in society cause toxic masculinity affects us all differently, and I say this as a woman. Not every member of the LGBT (and ultimately LGBTQIA) community can come out and live freely as who they are. Not everyone can be with the person they love and openly, publicly show them affection. And most certainly not everyone has a great support system of family and friends who love them regardless of their sexual orientation and who they love.
But Magnus and Alec mostly get that here and I think it’s so important representation-wise and it was a hell of a scene to watch even if you aren’t in the fandom. Looking at fandoms like The 100 and more recently Orange Is The New Black, queer characters who have been comfortable in their skin or just finally having moments of intimacy were killed off. There’s still a need to have LGBT folks in the writing rooms so representation of these communities onscreen can be handled well and tastefully and never be reduced to shock value or stereotypes. The MALEC kiss happened, y’all. IT HAPPENED!
Lauren: Alice Isn’t Dead by Night Vale Presents
Nothing. Nothing is better.
What makes Alice Isn’t Dead such an important moment in Black LGBTQ history this year isn’t so much its engrossing and gorgeous story as its unapologetic centering of Jasika Nicole’s voice, the voice of a Black queer actress who has been unapologetically out for years and vocal about desiring the ability to play parts that speak to these intersections of her identity. Any fan of radio and/or podcast narratives can tell you that it’s both a blessing and a curse not to be able to see who you’re listening to; on the one hand, if someone’s voice is “neutral” enough you can technically headcanon their character to look like whatever you want. On the other, this can lead to many dominant production companies not feeling the same pressure to be as inclusive as their visually-based siblings might. By making specific choices about actors, however, you see what happens in the Alice Isn’t Dead fandom: fan art after fan art of brown-skinned, often curly-haired women as the focus.
Perhaps equally important is how the portrayal of the relationship details two fully fleshed out people with their own individual quirks rather than tired tropes. This is a couple who cooks together, travels, invents silly nicknames, and genuinely seem to have a solid friendship that happens to involve being romantically attracted one another, as many of the best romances are.
To start listening to Alice Isn’t Dead episodes and improve your daily commute by 9001%, check out the website here.
What were your favorite moments that are perfect for celebrating Pride Month? Share them in the comments or get us on Twitter. You are following Black Nerd Problems on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or Google+, right?