Didn’t you hear? Word on the net is that 2018 has been canceled, replaced by 20gayteen, which sounds much cooler and much more diverse. Jokes aside, this year counts many amazing contributions in the entertainment industry by queer artists and about LGBTQ+ narratives. They were much needed and will continue to be if we are to win the fight towards de facto equality. Yes, the road to equal rights is still long, and entertainment is by far less important than laws and policies, but it’s a step in the right direction.
How does a marginalized group come to be tolerated, accepted and finally beloved in society? A phobia always originates from ignorance. We fear what is different, what is unknown. As long as something is conceptualized as Other, there will always be a certain fear that translates into hatred. The necessary normalization should take place in common spaces that are constant sources of information for society: the easiest way to change people’s minds is to do it through entertainment.
Films and television have an almost omnipotent power that is expressed in a vicious circle: they are reflection of our society, yes, but our society also mirrors what it sees in the media. Therefore, without further ado, here’s a list of relevant media events that might not be perfect, but that are definitely helping changing people’s minds little by little.
1. Janelle Monae and her Dirty Computer
Janelle has always been an outspoken activist. This year, she’s gone above and beyond to express herself in the most creative and artistic way, not only through her music, but visually as well, through videos and fashion choices. Her music video for Pynk is, quite literally, an ode to vaginas. It also teases a not-so-hidden jab at Donald Trump, with “pynk grabs back” written on panties. Iconic. Dirty Computer, her 46-minute dystopian sci-fi “emotion picture” companion to her album of the same title, is a metaphor for being Other in a white patriarchal heteronormative society that represses anything that is different. Janelle’s multiple identities conflict with the repressive societal standards: she is Black, wild, free, and in a queer polyamorous relationship with the character played by Tessa Thompson and a man. The futuristic visual vibes of her creations are always evocative and tell a story as beautiful as the lyrics.
2. Love, Simon
The film Love, Simon directed by Greg Berlanti, based on the book Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli was a real pioneer, as the first mainstream teen comedy about gay love. A globally acclaimed hit, it grossed $60+millions at the box office. The takeaway message from the film is that being gay really shouldn’t be a big deal in 2018, it should be normalized. See the hysterical sequence of Simon’s friends coming out to their families for being straight. In fact, the film was marketed not as a niche product for a specific audience of LGBTQ+ and allies, but as a story about love, the way all stories should be presented.
3. Hayley Kiyoko and her Expectations
Everything our Lesbian Jesus does, every interview, every social media post is a blessing for the LGBTQ+ community. Expectations is Hayley’s first album and it is impossible to pick a favorite song or music video that she released this year. From the Pride anthem Curious to What I Need ft. Kehlani, and the less known tracks like He’ll Never Love You. Sadly, until recently, Hayley’s audience was limited to queer communities online. Now she’s finally being recognized by the media and even won the Push Artist of the Year Award at the VMAs in September. It’s only fair she’s finally made it into stardom. After all, she’s the one who came up with the hashtag 20GAYTEEN.
4. Bloom by Troye Sivan
Troye’s second album is full of beats, but nothing will be as aesthetically pleasing as the Bloom music video. Glamorously vintage, steamy, visually daring and stunning, Bloom also challenges gender norms, with Troye proudly wearing make-up and clothes that are considered feminine by heteronormative patriarchal society. As usual, he’s having none of that. He dances in bright red lipstick, skirts, dresses and sings in front of elaborate flower arrangements, because boys should be allowed to wear whatever they feel like.
5. Call Me By Your Name
The film by Luca Guadagnino based on the novel by André Aciman got four nominations at this year’s Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and brought home the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Before you say that the age gap between Elio and Oliver is illegal, I’ll tell you that it’s completely legal in Italy, where CMBYN is set. This story had a powerful impact on thousands of people because it is a common tale about finding oneself in and through others. It’s about human connection and self-discovery, self-acceptance and – only at the end – romantic love, that just happens to be between two Jewish males. The film’s cinematography is one of the most beautiful of this decade, and it will make you feel nostalgic of places you’ve never been in a time you weren’t born yet.
According to you, what are the media events, films, videos, songs, television episodes, personalities, etc. that made 20GAYTEEN?Let us know by tweeting me at @ladymultifandom, and you could be featured in a future The Tempest article!
The queers thrived in the media in 2018. Let’s keep it up next year, shall we? Twenty-nineteen also rhymes with 20gayteen. Or maybe it’ll be twenty-bi-teen? And then, what, you ask? Twenty-gaynty anyone?