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.

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.

However, 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.

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celebrity, Politics, pop culture, social media

BE OUTRAGED ABOUT SEAN SPICER AT THE EMMYS AND ALSO THE GRAHAM-CASSIDY MEASURE, THE NEW ACA REPEAL

If there’s one thing I hate about the media, it’s the voracious rapidity with which one thing becomes a story across every, single outlet and eclipses everything else. So last night, former Press Secretary Sean Spicer made an appearance at the 2017 Emmys, everyone was (rightfully) pissed-off and weirded-out and annoyed at Hollywood. And while it’s important for everyone to express their outrage and disgust, it’s also super-important to keep an eye on everything else going on, like the new ACA repeal – the Graham-Cassidy Measure.

First, the Graham-Cassidy measure. Put together by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the measure would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. It would be a “last-ditch attempt to repeal Obamacare before the GOP’s power to pass heath care legislation through a party-line vote in the Senate expires on Sept. 30,” according to Politico.

Apparently Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is seriously considering putting the bill to a vote, if he can be assured of the support of 50 Republicans in the Senate (the GOP has a majority of 52). Currently they do not have the support of 50 votes, but Graham has publicly begged Trump to support the cause and private rallying has gone on. If passed by the Senate, it would require being approved by the House with no changes – a steep ask.

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celebrity, Humor, music, pop culture, social media

TAYLOR SWIFT WON’T STOP MAKING ME LOOK AT WHAT SHE DID BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS

The chorus of Taylor Swift’s lead single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” off her new album Reputation (yes, I’ll still give her promo because I’m weak!! I’m only human!!) triggers in me a reaction I did not think it was possible to have. No matter how many times I listen to it, the chorus manages to surprise me, and not in a sexy way. It surprises me in the way of accidentally stepping in something wet when you have socks on.

This, however, does not mean that I have abstained from listening to it or that I’m not excited for the album or that I would ever turn down the opportunity to work for Taylor (being slim and model-like, I would be an excellent to her squad, but would settle for doing some writing for her or even being a lamp in her office. I’m flexible, Taylor, and that’s one of the many positive qualities I would bring to employment with you).

My adverse reaction to “Look What You Made Me Do” is most similar to eating something that you have a previously unknown allergy for. Not bad, but more…uncertain. It’s like me and avocado: I don’t know if I’m allergic, but my tongue sure does feel funny after eating it.

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celebrity, Humor, music, pop culture, social media

THE RETURN OF SNAKELOR SWIFT

Taylor Swift is serving the world Ouroboros realness.


ALERT: AS I WAS UPLOADING THIS, TAYLOR HAS ANNOUNCED HER NEW ALBUM, “REPUTATION” OUT NOV. 10 AND THE FIRST SINGLE WILL BE OUT ON FRIDAY. THIS IS CRAZY.


If you DID have friends in middle school and DID NOT take up reading Greek mythology because you were gay, un-athletic and (for some reason) deeply embarrassed to talk to girls, then you might be unaware of the Ouroboros.

Originating in Egyptian mythology before being adapted and adopted into antiquity lore, the Ouroboros is an image of a snake eating its own tail (ourá = “tail,” bóros = “devouring”). It’s meant to symbolize introspection, infinite rebirth, or (in blunter terms) constant cycles of destruction and life.

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