As I was finishing up my Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap last night, silently bemoaning the fact that the very lesbian Agent Victoria Hand still hasn’t come out on-screen, an ironic thing happened: Black Canary (played by Caity Lotz) revealed herself as the bisexual ex-girlfriend of Nyssa al Ghul (played by Katrina Law) on CW’s Arrow, making them the first queer female characters in Marvel or DC’s cinematic universes.
Here’s how it went down:
Not too very long ago Sara Lance was rescued by the League of Assassins after nearly drowning in a boating accident. To show her thanks, all they asked was that she train with them to become a super-secret super-killer. And when Ras al Ghul, the leader of the League of Assassins, asks you to do something, you pretty much agree, or you pretty much die. Sara trained with the LoA but decided it really wasn’t the life for her, so she escaped and took up with Oliver Queen/Green Arrow & Co., which has allowed her to explore her superheroic Black Canary side. (They have a lot in common; his Pops was also involved in a shipwreck.)
There’s this girl, her name is Bi. Her last boyfriend, Cheater, cheated on her for months. Despite this, she had the hardest time getting over him. When she finally realized how awful he was, she met a new guy, Phobic. Phobic doesn’t know that Bi sometimes likes the ladies. He treats her really well, spoiling her, and being really understanding about all of the drama in her past. She’s never had a boyfriend treat her so well.
Then there’s Me. Me and Bi have been best friends for practically their whole lives. Last year Me admitted she had feelings for Bi. Bi returned them, but was scared and ran. It almost ruined their friendship. Me has worked really hard to get over her feelings, but she isn’t sure that Bi is over them. Me is also concerned about the new boyfriend’s homophobia. Phobic treats Bi well, but doesn’t know everything about her, so his affection is conditional. Me is also afraid to meet this guy, even though he doesn’t know she prefers the company of women.
Should she say something to Bi? If yes, then what should Me say? Did this make any sense at all?
Plus Brandy Clark is going on tour with Jennifer Nettles and more.
Last night at a Knicks game, noted lady-likers/beautiful people Cara Delevingne and MIchelle Rodriguez guzzled booze, puffed e-cigs, and passionately kissed in a charming display of NO FUCKS GIVEN.
We recall all the reading we did this year.
1. Fun Home, the Musical
The Broadway stage has long been a safe haven for gay men. There, their vital and important stories have been given a much louder voice at a time when the experiences and struggles of the community were barely a whisper to the rest of society. Lesbians however, have not been nearly as much of a focus in popular theatrical entertainment. Sure, we have Maureen and JoAnn from Rent, and the simmering sexual tension between Glinda and Elphaba in Wicked, but lesbian roles and storylines have often been relegated to the background. Fun Home, the new musical by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori based on the graphic memoir by out artist/writer Alison Bechdel, changes everything. The musical is currently running through January 12th at the Public Theatre, and has already been extended four times. And for good reason. It’s a superb piece of theatre, with a brilliant cast and music that will haunt you for days afterward. The show centers on Allison and her troubled relationship with her father, a closeted gay man who committed suicide when she was in college. The show jumps around in time, with three actresses of different ages playing Allison. Michael Cervaris, who plays her father, is remarkable and at his absolute finest in the role. The show has truly become the must see piece of new theatre this season. For those who can’t make it to NY to see the show, the original cast recording will be available in February 2014.
2. Showgirls The Musical
Showgirls the movie has been called one of the worst films ever made. It’s campy without being self aware, offensive without cause, and often, simply terrible. A smoldering pile of dreck and bad choices. Showgirls the Musical however, is the phoenix rising out of the film’s ashes. Writers Bob and Tobly McSmith and their muse, the astounding April Kidwell, bring Showgirls to life in a way that doesn’t leave a dry seat in the house. Kidwell, who bears a striking resemblance to Elizabeth Berkley, plays Nomi Malone with a level of such sheer, manic commitment, that you can’t help but completely root for the sexy drifter. The film has always been a cult hit with gay men, but it’s chock full of lesbionic near misses, and inexplicable sexual tension. The musical embraces these elements, and runs with them at full speed. Also, there are breasts. Lots of breasts. It’s about the most fun you can have at the theatre this year. Showgirls the Musical is currently playing at Theatre 80 in NYC, through the end of January.
3. Lesbian Love Octagon
Picture it. Lower East Side. Late Nineties. Lesbians, genderqueers, and bisexuals alike, convened, fell into bed, into art, into love and lust with one another at the precipice of great cultural change. The Lesbian Love Octagon brings you right back to that time, capturing the nineties queer vibe perfectly. Kim Kressal and Will Larche brought back their leztastic indie musical this past summer, after a wildly successful run in 2010. The show centers on the recently heartbroken Sue, her bevy of friends and exes, and their plan to help her find new love…or at least something close enough. The melodic score ranges in tone from rompy, sexy fun, to tender and poignant. While the show has closed, you can still listen to some of the terrific songs here.
4. Forever Dusty
Dusty Springfield was best known for her mod style and mega hits like “Son of a Preacher Man,” and “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.” The singer was also bisexual and had numerous relationships with women throughout her career. Forever Dusty, a biographic musical written and starring Kristen Holly Smith had a healthy run this season at the New World Stages. While the show had its pacing issues and challenges with the script, Smith was dead on as Dusty Springfield. She inhabited the role with gusto and detail, even down to Dusty’s live performance gestures. The musical does not shy away from her sexuality, making it a major centerpiece of the story. The show was certainly a love letter to Ms. Springfield a performer who meant a lot to many fans around the world.
5. Shakespeare gets genderflipped in Julius Caeser and Romeo and Juliet
Gender flipping is nothing new for Shakespearian drama. In fact, during Shakespeare’s time, women were not permitted to be actors. Modern Shakespearian productions have been taking liberties with time period and settings for quite some time, and it’s particularly exciting to see male characters played by actresses. In the recent St. Ann’s Warehouse production of Julius Caesar, an all-female, British based cast took the reigns of the traditionally, male heavy show. Set at a women’s prison, the dynamics and power struggles took on a life of their own. The result was a memorizing and transcending piece of theatre. In Philadelphia, the Curio Theatre launched a production of Romeo and Juliet, with two female leads. The modernized, and queerified show received positive reviews, and quite a bit of attention for its button pushing poster of the two lovers, in their skivvies, embracing. “O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?”
What were some of your favorite live performances this year?
With no World Cup and no Olympic Games, this was supposed to be a quiet year in sports. Nope. There was nothing quiet about the year in lesbian and bisexual sports. We saw players come out, marry teammates, achieve lifelong dreams, and pledge to end bullying. A new women’s professional soccer league was born. ESPN paid tribute to the anniversary of Title IX with an incredible documentary series about women in sports. Over the course of the year, individuals and organizations worked to end discrimination and homophobia in sports. This fight has become more important as we edge closer to the Olympic Games in Sochi which will occur under the cloud of Russia’s anti-LGBT laws.
When I asked my ex to join dinners with friends or accompany me to a play, she’d say, “Well, if you’re going out, I’ll use the opportunity to spend time alone.” Initially, I tried to explain to her that if she had taken that attitude on our first date…there wouldn’t have been one, but eventually my self-esteem took a hit. I’m not blaming her for my fear that no one really wanted to spend time with me, but if you’re already afraid of, say, wolverines, and one starts following you around snarling at you, it’s not going to make you less fearful.
Toward the end of our relationship, I remember hesitating to invite an acquaintance to coffee. The idea of reaching out implied desire, which implied need which, if unreciprocated, implied a power imbalance (the wolverine gnashed its teeth). But so what? I suddenly thought. The worst that happens is this chick says no. I can handle that. So I asked, and then the wolverine bit off my hand and I’ve been alone in my hovel ever since. Just kidding: She said yes. And so did other friends and okCupid prospects, including the one I’ve been seeing for months.
Don’t keep score. A friend recently volunteered that if my significant other didn’t give me a Christmas present, I should worry. First of all, do I look like someone who needs to be TOLD to worry? Second, I’m not giving to receive, I’m giving because I want to. This is new. In previous relationships, I kept track of compliments and good deeds. I even noted who initiated sex. If I found myself initiating more, I withdrew. Obviously a relationship requires balance, but the fact is, sometimes you’ll give more and receive less. If I’m trying to tally each small kindness, not only am I focused on the minutiae to the detriment of the bigger picture, but I’m probably doing the math wrong. Because I’m a girl and girls are stupid. Just kidding. That was the wolverine talking.
My mom always asks me what I can do to nurture myself (possibly because after 30-some years she’d like me to stop asking her to do it for me.). “Nurture.” The very word galls me. Show me a woman, neck deep in bubble bath, candles lining the tub and a glass of red wine in her hand and I’ll show you my naked ass. Because I’m mooning you. As a statement of knee-jerk dismissal. Lately though, I’ve been thinking that my aversion to votive candles might have more to do with feeling undeserving than with anti-capitalist feminism or whatever I usually shout through my megaphone outside of The Body Shop. I’m not saying I have to go all women’s magazine-generic, rather; I can identify what I personally find soothing. So white Christmas lights, singing along to “What I Did For Love,” waffle knit pajama bottoms, and yogi Kava tea it is.
Three weeks ago I got hit with the kind of cold about which they write epic poems. Really boring epic poems. Involving lots of mucus. On my worst day, I found myself slogging across my neighborhood in a snowstorm in search of provisions. When I got home I realized I’d forgotten cold medicine. Now, a close friend lives about two blocks from me, but instead of texting her, I pulled on my boots—the ones that make me look like several shaggy dogs are making violent love to my calves, and plunged back into the night. A week later, I happened to mention how sick I’d been.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” my friend asked.
“I wanted to prove I could take care of myself.”
“Now you have,” she said. “Next time, you call me.
Back when my ex and I were breaking up, one friend was going through a divorce, two were moving, two others were in the midst of break-ups, yet another was in that murky post-grad school “What do I do next?” area, and another was trying to manage two young kids while her partner worked 80 plus hour weeks. Needless to say, no one showed up on my doorstep with a fruit basket. Though part of me—the red-faced, tantrum-throwing part who never stopped wearing footie pajamas—sulked. The rest of me—I picture that part looking like across between Joan Jett and Anthony Hopkins—realized that my friends had their own lives. Even so, most did their best to provide emotional support. And those who didn’t? There’ll be other chances. No matter what my sulky three-year-old self wants to believe.
In the past, if a “Call me, I’m freaking out because Whole Foods ran out of soy seasonal eggnog” text pinged on my phone, I felt compelled to spring immediately into action. But just as I’m learning to accept the fact that my friends can’t always take care of me, I’m realizing I can’t always rescue them. Here’s what I do now: I ask myself what I’m comfortable providing and then I offer it. Sometimes that’s just an expression of sympathy: “I know just how you feel. I still can’t talk about the time they discontinued my favorite soy yogurt flavor,” sometimes it’s an offer to help, “My co-worker just bragged about having a whole case of eggnog. You bring the lock pick, I’ll drive the getaway car.” Either way, I make sure to check in with myself about how willing I am to go to prison over a non-dairy beverage.
Crazy, right? But really. My girlfriend doesn’t text me back? Likely her phone died. That demented woman screams at me on the subway? Maybe five minutes ago she found out her car was being repossessed. Some guy punches me while I’m in line to see New Direction? That one’s probably deserved. But other than that, why assume someone is reacting to you? To paraphrase Walt Whitman, “We’re vast. We contain multitudes. I like having sex with burly dock workers.” What I mean is, we all have whole worlds inside of us. Half the time we’re responding to something internal. Before you take offense, check in. But not with subway lady. Better to let that one go.
Somehow for me, each moment extends endlessly in every direction like a vast ocean, and I’m in this shabby rowboat in the very center. But at least I’m not dramatic about it. When you experience your emotional reality as infinite and unfathomable, you’re apt to be pretty intolerant of negative feelings. For years I ran from them, but like so many things in my life, that’s begun to change. Now when I feel disappointed, for example, and my brain spins out a story about how this is the first of numberless disappointments, a harbinger of a future devoid of hope, I actually say to myself, “Hey, you didn’t get what you wanted. And that feels bad. It’s OK to feel it.” This works surprisingly well. Especially when I want a seat to myself on the bus.
9. Trust my intuition.
A few months before my ex and I broke up, I found a word doc in a folder on my desktop In it, I’d listed each issue which over time, combined to weaken and ultimately destroy our relationship. I’d created the file after a month of dating. In other words, I knew going in the sort of problems we’d face, but I overrode my qualms. It’s not that I regret spending six years with my ex—I learned invaluable lessons (many having to do with car maintenance), however; if I hadn’t overridden my gut instincts, I might have learned what I needed to more quickly. Plus I don’t even own a car.
Or the Reaper. Or the Blue Oyster Cult. But really. I read a quote recently that said, “Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.” If that’s true, I thought, I’ve spent the last two decades in prayer. Pretty odd behavior for an agnostic. Well, going forward, I’ll try to focus on the present. I’ve got better things to do than worry. You know, like put the wolverine on Ebay.