celebrity, Love & Romance

why can’t I stop thinking about Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande?

Source: BBC


In today’s social media climate, the few weeks that Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande have been dating and engaged feels like a lifetime. Not really because of them, more because of the political hellscape that we’re struggling to survive, but it also serves the dual purpose of blurring our sense of time. Mid-May? What even is that?

Don’t quote me, but I believe that the “zero tolerance” policy that led to the separation of thousands of immigrant children from their parents began roughly around the same time that Pete and Ariana began dating. And bizarrely, those are two things that seem to have had equal play in the media (albeit in different spheres).

And I think that it’s precisely because these two events are concurrent that we find ourselves so obsessed with the new relationship.

In the beginning of the year, The Cut (the fashion offshoot of NYMag) published a piece about the rise of skincare. There was a connection drawn between the stress of the media and the sudden deep desire to self-soothe and self-care, particularly when it comes to something as neutral and inoffensive as skincare. I really believe that there is a reasoning behind the obsession with the benign, and the relationship between a popstar and a comedian is about as benign as it can get. And their relationship is getting so much play in the media that my best friend, who does not care about most pop culture, even brought it up in a phone call.

My theory, I posited, is that Ariana Grande will be one of the long-lasting greats in our pop cultural textbook. And a lot of the greats have had multiple significant relationships. She’s 24, so it’s high time that she’s had her first engagement. Multiple engagements is kind of chic. By the way, if this sounds cynical, that’s not how I mean it. If Pete and Ariana end up getting married and stay together forever, a la Dolly Parton and Carl Dean, that would also be kind of chic. And if they got married, stayed together for five or ten years, then that wouldn’t be the worst thing either.

In the grand scheme of things, Pete and Ariana are in a pretty good position to take their relationship fast. They’re great in their respective fields (which do not overlap but occupy tangential spaces); they’re young; they’re rich; they’re hot; they’re well-liked. Apparently there are people saying that Pete is “beneath” Ariana; first of all, yeah but only because Ariana is…Ariana.

But I think the real appeal is that there’s no real risk of people getting hurt. These are not people for whom money is a real limitation; if they drop a hot thous on a ring, who cares? If they move into a luxury apartment too quickly, will anyone really be worse for the wear? They’re adults, but they’re young, and they’re in control and it’s fun and flirty and a little stupid. I love it.

Now, that being said, it could get dark quickly. If they do get married and divorced quickly, that’s dark. If someone cheats on the other, that’s dark. If there are drugs, that’s dark. But for right now, there’s none of that, so I’m having all of it.

But it’s such a welcome balm to think about Pete and Ariana rather than parse out the meaning (if there is any) behind a snide message scrawled on the back of the FLOTUS’s coat, or pull my hair out over Trump’s horrific press rally, or wonder what exactly that Stephen Miller audio sounded like.

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2018, celebrity, Inspirational, LGBTQ, pop culture, television

I’M SO GRATEFUL THAT I CAN HATE ON “QUEER EYE”

I find Bobby on Queer Eye annoying and I love that I find him annoying. I love that I can roll my eyes at Antoni loving avocadoes, and I enjoy that I can be confused about what Karamo’s actual role on the show is.

There is a criminal dearth of queer representation in mainstream media, and the small amount that we do have disproportionately illustrates cisgender, white gay men of certain attractiveness and privileges. However, I feel like this is the first time that I can remember seeing multiple, nuanced depictions of queerdom. And that makes me super happy.

A few years ago, Looking premiered on HBO. It centered on three white and white-passing gay, cisgender men in San Francisco. While I personally liked it, the show was widely panned by critics (fairly and unfairly) for projecting a narrow and specific type of queer experience. I do not think that Looking in and of itself was a bad show, and I think that it portrayed a certain kind of experience relatively truthfully. However, the problem was that it was the only mainstream show that really had any queer people as the main focus. So from the get, it had this incredible pressure to portray every type of queer person.

The problem with early representation is that it’s impossible to depict everyone. But with so few options, people (rightfully) want to see themselves represented. It also runs the risk of preventing other queer stories being told because when, if, things fail, people use that as proof of failure.

I started thinking about this when I watched a video from the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10. They were asked to give their favorite season (season 5), and the simplicity of that struck me. We now have ten seasons of a show about queer people in drag. We have enough to even be able to pick a favorite season. And we have enough to have less-than-great seasons (season 8, I’m sorry). That in itself is a huge victory.

And that feeling reverberated when I was watching Queer Eye. In five years, when Bobby Berk has his own design show and possibly a spot on an HGTV mid-morning show, I’ll probably forget that I found him annoying on the Netflix reboot of Queer Eye. At that point, I’ll hopefully have my own apartment, and I’ll be dying for him to recommend the best way to shiplap the fuck out of my house. In five years, Antoni will be a hot-as-fuck almost-40-year-old in a beautiful New York loft, and Karamo will be…I can’t really imagine but he’ll definitely still be good-looking as hell.

By the way, Bobby definitely has blisters on his fingers from hammering two-by-fours and lower back pain from lugging in antique armoires. In one of the recent episodes, he completely renovated someone’s kitchen, redesigned their closet and all Antoni did was bring the subject to someone else who taught them how to make fresh pasta. I’m screaming!!

I realized how lucky I was to be able to be annoyed by Bobby or Antoni or Karamo; to see a depiction of a queer person and not feel like I have to like them because I have no other option. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my queer forebears. There are so many people who paved the path that I now walk so effortlessly on, people who did it for nothing more than the idea that someday, in their wildest dreams, people like me could breathe a little easier.

I’m working my way through the pilot of Pose (it’s riveting, I’m just totally scatterbrained) and I also listened to a podcast that interviewed Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, one of the two couples involved in the Prop 8 lawsuit that restored same-sex marriage in California. I have the privilege of being white, able-bodied, cisgender and surrounded by a healthy support system, so I forget too often how many people struggled, and still struggle, in my community.

Representation matters, and Queer Eye and Pose and RuPaul’s Drag Race are more than just TV shows: they’re proof that queer people exist, that they can flourish, that they matter.

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celebrity, Mental Health

WHY IS IT NECESSARY TO KNOW HOW PEOPLE DIED?

In the last week, both designer Kate Spade and chef-journalist Anthony Bourdain decided to end their lives via suicide. It is, to put it bluntly, incredibly fucking sad.

It’s sad, yes, because they were successful and seemingly had the means to seek help; in fact, according to Andy Spade, Kate’s husband, she was working with doctors and dealing with her depression and anxiety. It’s sad, yes, because they leave behind loved ones – Kate’s husband and daughter, Anthony’s partner Asia Argento, as well as countless others. It’s sad, yes, because it triggers people with suicidal inclinations or mental illness.

And it’s sad because their deaths become spectacle when news outlets report on the hows of their deaths. I do not understand the impetus behind reporting on how exactly people take their own lives. There is, of course, the argument that that is part of the story, but, actually, it really isn’t. Knowing how exactly someone takes their own life does nothing for understanding the news other than satisfying the base, macabre instincts of consumers.

I was texting with my friend about the death of Bourdain, and he reminded me of a few other celebrities who had taken their own lives. When there were a few names that I didn’t recognize, I googled them and was greeted with explicit, black-and-white details of their death. In their little Wikipedia summary, it included “Cause of death,” like it was just another quirky fact.

I understand the desire to know; it’s the same reason we look at car accidents. There is a curiousity about death, and the people connected to it. But when I saw reporting on Kate Spade, and the rumored way she took her life, all I felt was this triggered sickness. Talking about how people died completely dehumanizes them. It turns the story from them, their lives, their struggles, and forces you to picture them as they literally died. Because that’s all that reporting the cause of death does: forces the reader to envision the reported in their final moment.

But instead of satiating any curiosity, knowing the methods just make me sick, like I had barreled in on these people’s loved ones in their moment of mourning. It turned their private emotion into public spectacle, for public consumption. It operates under the belief that we deserve to know, that we are owed something. We don’t, and we aren’t. god, it literally just makes me so sad – sad for Anthony and Kate, sad for their families and their friends and their fans, sad for people who will be triggered mortally by this, people who will find this affects them in ways that they can’t quite verbalize.

It’s all well and good to publicize the hotlines of suicide prevention (1-800-273-8255 is the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; 1-866-488-7386 is the nymberof the Trevor Project) but I encourage you to reach out to people. It doesn’t have to be “Hey, are you okay?” It can be as simple as texting them hello, or to say that you’re thinking of them, or forwarding them a meme or a joke.

Mental illnesses like anxiety and depression prey on the fear that you are alone; dissuade that notion in the people in your life by showing them that that is not true. No one, ever, is alone. There is nothing so dark that you cannot come back; there is no hole too deep for your voice to echo upwards. Reach out; hold on. Please. Pleasepleaseplease. You matter so much, so greatly.

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Body Health, celebrity, fashion, LGBTQ, pop culture

THINK TWINK: “welcome to the age of the twink”

T, the New York Times Style Magazine, published a piece yesterday called, “Welcome to the Age of the Twink.” Firstly, I love that title and it makes me think of a Jetson’s-era world of beautiful twinks in Lycra bodysuits and astronaut helmets, jetting around on those little space-cars. Oh! They could go to Hamburger Martian’s for drag queen bingo!

But after I got over thinking about that (a good twenty minutes) and after I realized that T is something I’ve not really gotten around to reading much of (it’s shocking!), I put Troye Sivan’s “Bloom” on repeat, took a hit of poppers and read the article. Just kidding, I didn’t read the article!

The thesis of the piece, the piecis if you will, is this: as women begin to dismantle the “legacy of toxic masculinity,” twinks represent a similar departure from the male shackles. “These twinks, after all, aren’t just enviably lean boys or the latest unrealistic gay fantasy, but a new answer to the problem of what makes a man.”

First, after bingeing several T articles, I’ve noticed that they’re (mercifully, because I can’t handle some long diatribe) short and typically include a final graph that pivots to make some larger, societal point. It’s a cute look, and one that I definitely am guilty of, but I wish that this piece was longer. Give me more, hon!

The piece introduces itself with a scene from Call Me By Your Name, where Oliver (Armie Hammer) steals Elio’s (Timothée Chalamet) drink and gives him a brief, tense massage. The author notes that Oliver’s body – broad, hairy and muscled – is in stark contrast to Elio’s – smooth, lithe. In the negative space, it draws comparison and highlights the youth of Elio as well as the older appeal of Oliver.

The author, Nick Haramis, touches upon the rising popularity of “twink” models in more mainstream culture: Ryan McGinley’s photo-series of slim, sloppily dressed Saint Laurent models; leading men Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One), Lucas Hedges (Lady Bird, Manchester by the Sea), Nick Robinson (Love, Simon); singer Troye Sivan and celebrity-child-savant Jaden Smith. As these men, and their bodies, are being pushed to the forefront of culture and propped up as sexual objects as desire, their twinkiness, and its entrenchments in effeteness and femininity, are similarly propelled.

However, It’s a little too close to Chris Pratt having to totally reinvent his entire body in order to get a leading role in a movie for me to safely see the rising prevalence of twinkish body types as anything more than a trend or the beginning of a movement.

I do agree that prioritizing body types other than the traditional “Leading Man” body – any of the Hollywood Chrises – is a step in the right direction, and the appreciation for androgynous, lithe and sometimes-feminine bodies in men is worthy of attention. But what that made me realize is that, for the most part, twinks still operate within a certain paradigm of toxic masculinity.

Twinks, at least the ones that came to mind when I read the piece as well as the ones who were mentioned in the article itself, are typically portrayed as white or white-passing. The cover photo of “Welcome to the Age of the Twink” includes men of color, but the overarching notion of “twink” is young, cis, white, attractive, slim.

There is the notion that twinks are, inherently, slim. There can be branches:  Haramis discusses “twunks” (he mentions Zac Efron; I counter with Tom Holland), Euro twinks (the BelAmi boys) and femme twinks (Adam Rippon). I would argue that otters – slim, hairy men – exist on the twink spectrum; and who among us has not fallen in love with a tattered-knee skater boy or a stoner, drawn gaunt by the love for their respective crafts?

So twinks can be slim, or muscular, or hairy, but they are never fat. They always adhere to the beauty standard that thinness is ideal. Through the promotion of twinks in mainstream culture, we are saying that we are widening the lens of attractiveness – but not that wide. We will dip outside of our ideals, but just slightly.

An essential part of twinks is the idea of prioritizing youth. I’m not saying there aren’t old twinks, looking at you Charlie Hides, but when you look at that through a critical lens, you realize: if twinks are young, then they are meant to idealize youthful, boyish figures. I wonder if their bodies are prized only because it is implied that they are temporary; no one stays young forever, so the twink body will eventually evolve into something else. You can be feminine, but only because eventually you will become something else.

The point of the piece, in my eyes, was acknowledging and celebrating that different types of bodies are being seen as viable, valuable and attractive. And I loved thinking about twinks and bodies and queerness for an hour, so I’m grateful for the piece. But I love it more for reminding me that we still have a long way to go in terms of body inclusivity. Ugh, I did the T thing of putting my thesis (my piecis!) at the very end!


Alternative titles include, but are not limited to, “Pretty N’ Twink,” “Twink Twice,” “Twinkin’ About You,” “Twinkpiece,” or “Twink or Swim.”
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2018, celebrity, LGBTQ, Politics, social media

AM I A BAD GAY PERSON FOR NOT CARING ABOUT JOY REID’S BLOG POSTS?

I’m young, and I love my computer, so I didn’t come across Joy Reid, an MSNBC host, from her show, A.M. Joy, or guest-hosting on other programs. I discovered her through Twitter, when I noticed that several writers and journalists whose opinions I respect retweeted her. I scrolled through the profile, enjoyed what she had to say, and hit the follow button.

She remained largely out of my mind except for the occasional tweet in my timeline. Her opinions were always valid, sharp when needed, and seemed to be well-researched and reported.

Then, the first story popped up – a Twitter user posted screenshots of blogs using homophobic rhetoric written between 2007 and 2009 on the Reid Report, a now-defunct blog of Joy Reid. I felt disappointed, like “Ugh, someone I liked did something bad.” But I didn’t unfollow her, because I still trusted her political opinion, and expected the story to blow over. There are plenty of journalists who I personally might be annoyed by, but whose reporting proves valuable, so I didn’t give it a second thought.

Until the next story popped up. More screenshots, more homophobia. More crassness.

When I say that this story does not matter, I do not mean, “It does not matter if someone is homophobic.” It does matter; and it matters very much to me. But in the context of everything else going on, I find that I care very little about what Joy Reid said about gay people a decade ago. She does not make policy; she is not in charge of any government programs or bodies. She is not promoting active anti-LGBTQ laws. If she were a lawmaker, or campaigning on a platform of equality, then yeah, it would be good information to know. But she is not. She is a journalist, she had an opinion, she said that opinion. A decade later, that opinion is seen as ugly and inappropriate.

I do not agree with the words she used; I do not agree with her trying to out people, or the way she spoke about Ann Coulter, or Lindsay Graham or Charlie Crist or any of it. I think it was offensive, petty, hurtful and mean-spirited. I think it was a shitty thing to do, even in the social climate in which it was written.

For the record, I also don’t believe Reid’s claim that she was hacked. I think she said those things, and she’s embarrassed now, and because the internet trolls would have a field day if she admitted that. I am not defending her; she was and is an adult who wrote those things, regardless of whatever excuses she’s using now. I think it’s stupid that she’s lying, but I also think this entire thing is stupid.

I also recognize that I, as a white, cisgender, able-bodied queer person, largely have the ability to say, “This story does not matter.” I’m sure it matters to other members of my community, and I do not diminish that, their feelings, or their reactions.

But to lampoon Reid for thoughts she had a decade ago would require us to go back and lampoon every single thing like that. In the early 2000s, most people in the mainstream media were not doing a good job talking about queer issues. Because, frankly, Will & Grace was homophobic – it was femme-shaming and white-centric. Modern Family portrays Mitch and Cam more like platonic roommates than a couple. Golden Girls had a gay cook that mysteriously disappeared after the pilot episode. I will never forget you, Coco (his name was Coco!).

The reason I care about this (and why I’ve spent 700 words saying I don’t care) is that there are queer stories that desperately need to be told. And while I think it’s nice that support has rallied around Reid – no one should be an island – I resent that this still is the story that’s rolling around in everyone’s head. In a world that already prioritizes everything above queerness, there seems to be precious little bandwidth dedicated to covering queer stories. It’s like arguing about the curtains when the house is on fire.

For instance, it’s been a year since news broke that, in Chechnya, gay and bisexual men were being targeted, persecuted and abused. There were stories of concentration camps, luring and violence via social media apps, and many victims are still missing. There has been no significant response from the Russian government, and the leader in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, denied the allegations by simply stating that there are no gay people in Chechnya. Other than outlets that specifically traffic in queer stories, such as NewNowNext and the Advocate, and papers such as The Guardian, there has not been significant media coverage.

Stateside, there are still seven states with “No Promo Homo” laws on the books – “local or state education laws” that expressly prohibit the “promotion of homosexuality” and, in some cases, “even require that teachers actively portray LGB people in a negative or inaccurate way,” according to GLSEN.

The Human Rights Campaign reported that, in 2018, eight transgender people have already been murdered. Transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, are disproportionately affected by fatal violence. Insider recently reported on the health gaps that the LGBTQ community faces in receiving medical help.

These might seem like separate issues, and you could argue (rightfully) that reporting on Joy Reid’s past blog posts does not mean that we cannot also report on other things affecting the LGBTQ community. And you’d be right, except that that’s not always the case. Too often, we focus on click-driven news, too often we focus on things on little consequence.

What do Joy Reid’s past writings have to do with the very real risks that the queer community is facing today? In reality, very, very little. So why does this continue to be a story? Report on it, lay it all out there, and then move on.


Header source: Vimeo

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2018, celebrity, Movies, pop culture, social media

2018 GOLDEN GLOBES: MEN, WE NEED TO BE DOING BETTER

Header source: MIKE NELSON/EPA-EFE via USA Today


Last night was the 2018 Golden Globes. I did not watch, but *shocker* I have opinions.

While scrolling through Twitter because Keeping Up with the Kardashians was boring – if it’s not a pregnancy confirmation, I’m rapidly losing interest – I saw that Greta Gerwig, the writer and director of Lady Bird, was snubbed for a Best Director nomination. One could always make the argument, “Oh maybe she wasn’t the best director?” which would be valid if not for the fact that she was nominated for Best Screenplay and Lady Bird was nominated, and won, for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and Saorise Ronan, the actress portraying the lead character in the film, was nominated, and won, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Laurie Metcalf was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture.

Sis, Saorise Ronan won when nominated against Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Margot Robbie and Emma Stone. And while Saorise Ronan is an incredible actress, she was directed by an incredible woman – Greta Gerwig.

There are a lot of reasons why I’m upset that Greta Gerwig wasn’t nominated. Lady Bird was an incredibly beautiful, and personally moving, film. It portrayed Catholicism and high school and youth and parental relations in a way that felt seen, not dumbed down, and funny.

In fact, despite directing passionate, beautiful and interesting films – Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, Dee Rees’ Mudbound (the latter of which Mary J. Blige was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture) – Gerwig and other female directors were not even nominated in that category. Instead, the list of nominees for Best Director were entirely male and entirely white.

Again, you could make the argument that the nominations were based on merit – these are all incredibly talented nominees. But, hon, you’d be wrong. How can a film win Best Picture if it had an awful director and writer? How can a woman win Best Actress if she were not guided by an amazing director?

Natalie Portman remarked on the inequity while presenting the award for Best Director. “And here are the all-male nominees,” she said.

And here’s the thing: this is not the moment to be snubbing talented female directors, and it belies the troubling nature of Hollywood. Sexual abuse, harassment and assault was rampant in the entertainment industry – it is not limited to that industry; harassers and abusers plague every work industry – but Hollywood is quick to applaud their own action. Men wore “Time’s Up” pins on their tuxedoes; Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic replaced their “Who are you wearing” with “Why are you wearing black?” But that’s a lot like politicians offering up “Thoughts and prayers” after tragedies. What we want is action; we want reaction; we want laws and retribution. There were sexual predators, assaulters and abusers in that crowd; some of them probably even received awards. We’re not ~done~ with this movement, and I don’t think we will be done for a long time.

There were highs of the night: women like Debra Messing and Eva Longoria mentioned Catt Sadler’s pay inequality. Seth Meyers, as much as a white, straight man on NBC’s payroll could, addressed the fact that this is the first awards show after the massive saying of names.

Oprah received the Cecil B. DeMille award and gave a speech that touched upon sexual assault, the heartbreaking way it affects black women and women of color in particular – she told the story of Recy Taylor, a black woman who was raped and who Rosa Parks investigated on behalf on; Recy’s white assaulters were never charged. “She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. And for too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.”

It’s frustrating to see that women are shouldering the burden of reminding us about sexual harassment and assault and urging us to act. It’s frustrating to see that more men have not stepped up to the plate. This culture of harassment, misogyny and sexual abuse was allowed to continue entirely because of the passivity of men. They, we, need to be doing more. We need to be stepping up and showing that we do not co-sign the actions of men like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. We need to be doing more, and I hope that we will.

“In my career, what I’ve always tried my best to do, whether on television or through film, is to say something about how men and women really behave: to say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, and how we overcome,” said Oprah in her speech.

“I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too’ again.”

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Books, celebrity, Halloween, Politics, pop culture, social media, television

THE CATCH-UP: 9/18-9/25

This is a new little column I’m starting. I read a lot (a lot, a lot) and there are often some great articles and videos that I stumble upon during my week. I thought I would create a space to round them all together.

The Catch-Up

1. Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Donald Trump Is The First White President”

I love Ta-Nehisi Coates. His writing at The Atlantic is always really beautiful and thought-out and timely. The one thing I will say about this piece in particular is it’s a little dense, so I’m linking an interview Coates did with Chris Hayes here.

2. Vox, “Treating hurricanes like war zones hurts survivors”

“The Strike-Through with Carlos Maza” is one of the great explainer series that Vox does. In this one, Maza dissects the way that the media portrays natural diasters as an “us-versus-them warzone.” He also examines the negative effects of doing so, like painting looting as a much more powerful threat than it actually is, which stops people from evacuating dangerous situations.

3. Dahlia Grossman-Heinze, “Who Did the Real Housewives Vote For?” 

This should be dumb, but I read through this entire piece. Nothing is actually confirmed by the writer except for what the Housewives have already confirmed, but it’s still fascinating. We watch these extremely wealthy women live out their lives every week, and it’s a grim fact to realize their politics might not align with yours.

Continue reading

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