Author Archives: Jasmine Henry

Jasmine Henry

About Jasmine Henry

With almost a decade of experience as a journalist, it's the need for equality that drives my writing. With my articles I'd like to help dismantle ignorant thinking one word at a time, or, at the very least, make my readers smile. I also like: cute animals, a good cup of tea and debating which character on Orange is the New Black I'd most like to be BFFs with.

‘Love is All You Need?’ Movie Envisions a Heterophobic Society

In movies and films that feature gay characters, it’s incredibly common that their storylines focus on homophobia or the struggles they have as they come to terms with their sexuality. But, despite this, the concept of a world that is prejudiced against someone’s sexuality is often a difficult one to grasp for heterosexual viewers.

Aiming to solve this is new movie Love is All You Need? The film, which stars Ana Ortiz, Leisha Hailey, Briana Evigan, Tyler Blackburn and more, envisions a world where it’s not gay people who are judged for their sexuality – it’s heterosexual people.

In the film’s fictional version of society, teachings against the ‘sin’ of heterosexuality are even taught in church.


In the film, quarterback Jude has a girlfriend but she forms a connection with male frat pledge and journalist student Ryan.

The film also focuses on elementary student Emily who gets a crush on her best friend Ian and is excited to take part in the school’s production of Romeo and Julio (which the school’s theatre director decides to change to Romeo and Juliet) as if she’s cast as Juliet, it means that she’ll get to kiss a boy – but her classmates find out that she’s heterosexual and begin to bully her.


Love is All You Need? is based on a short movie about a little girl named Ashley who is harassed by her parents and even physical abused by her peers just for being a “ro” (the movie’s slur for heterosexual people) and it eventually leads her to commit suicide. The short was incredibly successful, racking up 40 million views online.


Speaking to After Ellen, the director and co-writer of the the project, K. Rocco Shields, explains how the short film came to be:

I went to bed one night after listening to a reporter on the news talk about how she couldn’t understand why kids were killing themselves because they were gay. And I thought about how I wished this woman could feel what it would be like to be marginalized and be the proverbial other, then maybe she would understand. We need to feel things in order to make change.”


The director and co-writer also adds,

I’m not claiming originality. I’m just putting a different spin on it. And the idea is for mainstream America to really understand what it is like to be bullied and mistreated because you are different.”

For more information on where you can watch Love is All You Need? visit the official website.

Changing The Game: The World’s Most Influential Feminists

The people on this list are each encouraging feminist conversation and challenging people to do more to make the world more equal for all of us.

1. Carrie Brownstein

Carrie Brownstein

Actor, writer and musician Carrie Brownstein is an outspoken feminist. As part of American rock band Sleater-Kinney, she has made songs such as #1 Must Have and helped further the riot grrrl (feminist/hardcore punk) movement.

2. bell hooks

bell hooks’ writing on feminism, in which she encourages people to consider gender in relation to race, class and sex, is often cited as one of the reasons why we have the phrase intersectionality. hook’s book Ain’t I a Woman?: Black women and feminism also looks at racism and sexism in relation to black women and it also examines stereotypes of white women and how those have had an impact on black women too.

3. Beyoncé


Beyoncé was once quoted as saying that she wasn’t a feminist because she loves her husband. However, the international superstar has since learnt a great understanding of feminism even including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s quote on feminism on ***Flawless, also educating her millions of fans learn in the process.

4. Amandla Stenberg

Amandla Stenberg

Since rocketing to fame as Rue in The Hunger Games, Amandla Stenberg has begun to use social media platforms such as Tumblr and Twitter to educate people about feminism and how it can be more intersectional.

After being named one of the Ms. Foundation for Women’s feminists of the year, Stenberg said “let’s continue demanding space for women who are not thin, white, straight, able-bodied, neurotypical and cisgender.”

5. Janet Mock

Janet Mock

Although Janet Mock was once proud not to call herself a feminist, the writer, host and activist now wears the label proudly. In a 2014 essay, she wrote “our duty is to use feminism as a tool to check systems that uphold racism and slut shaming and sex worker erasure and anti-trans woman bias and general policing of other people’s choices.”

Andi Zeisler


As the co-founder and creative/editorial director of independent feminist media organisation Bitch Media, Zeisler’s work offers feminist interpretations of pop culture. Bitch Media – and Zeisler’s writing – is a massively useful feminist tool as people look for different angles of the media that they consume.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, who passed away in 2014, was a hugely influential feminist. Angelou’s work discussed racism, identity and social injustices with her autobiographical work I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings being considered a large reason why black feminist writings increased in the 1970s.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton Signs Copies Of Her Book 'Hard Choices' In New York

What could be more inspiring (and badass) then possibly becoming the first female president of the United States? Hillary has always used her platform to speak out for women’s rights – as she did most notably during her 1995 “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” speech in Beijing.

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Marie Steinem is an American feminist, journalist, and social and political activist, who became nationally recognized as a leader and a spokeswoman for the feminist movement. She has inspired generations of feminists since her 1969 article After Black Power, Women’s Liberation.

Lena Dunham


Lena Dunham’s tv show Girls broke the mould by depicting real girls with real bodies and real issues. Since then she’s never stopped encouraging women to love themselves since.

She also makes sure to give feminism-doubters a reality check: “Feminism doesn’t mean women are going to rise, take over the planet, and like cut off men’s testicles.”

Emma Watson


Emma Watson has bravely rallied for women’s rights even after being threatened because of her #HeForShe speech at the UN.

But the attacks only motivated the actress and Women’s Goodwill Ambassador to keep working against all the harmful ways that women are viewed and treated.

Pussy Riot

Russian collective Pussy Riot represents one of the strongest combinations of activism and music out there. Its members stage guerilla protests and performances, speak out against injustices for women in their music (especially against abortion laws), and demonstrate fierce bravery even in the face of jail time and government threats.

Ellen Page

Ellen Page 97

In a time when many female celebrities put a purposeful distance between themselves and the feminist label, actress Ellen Page embraces feminism as a personal mission. Whether at street protests or on Twitter, she rallies for equality, reproductive rights, gay rights and improvement in the representation of women in film.

Meredith Graves


Meredith Graves is the lead singer of Perfect Pussy, solo artist, writer, record label owner. She is a role model who teaches through her actions that passion and drive can help change an entire scene like punk rock.

And she’s never backed down from speaking out against sexism – either in interviews or onstage, confronting misogynist hecklers.

Miranda July


Throughout her career, Miranda July has weaved thoughtful feminism through her seemingly endless list of projects. She’s become an icon for this generation’s young women, especially those interested in artistic pursuits, most recently tackling issues of aggression and violence in her debut novel The First Bad Man.

Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan has helped lead the way for women to understand their rights and fight for them. Friedan helped spur on the second wave of feminism with her book The Feminist Mystique and she co-founded and presided over the National Organization of Women.

Cindy Sherman


Cindy Sherman became one of the few women to dominate the contemporary art scene from the late 70s on. And she says she’s “still really competitive when it comes to […] male painters and male artists.”

Wendy Davis


Wendy Davis made waves when she led the now-famous 11-hour filibuster against Senate Bill 5, which would require stricter abortion regulations in Texas. While the bill eventually passed, we haven’t forgotten the lawyer and politician’s fierce support, and we hope her views on reproductive rights, LGBT rights and gun control continue to be heard.


grimes333It’s probably a scary thing to speak out and potentially alienate people right after your album has become huge, but that’s exactly what Grimes did with her anti-sexism manifesto in 2013. The Tumblr post calls out misogynist fans, condescending male musicians, and the media.

Documentary ‘in particular, barbara findlay’ Details Vancouver LGBT Activist’s Fight for Equality

For the past 30 years, lawyer barbara findlay Q.C has been fighting for the rights and the freedoms of LGBT Canadians.

Not only was barbara findlay one of the first lawyers to practice openly as a lesbian, but she has also broken ground by taking on cases regarding gay adoption, family law, discrimination and in 1995 she represented Kimberley Nixon who was asked to leave the Vancouver Rape Relief organisation because she is trans.

So important has barbara findlay’s work been to Canada’s LGBT community that it has now been presented in a documentary called in particular, barbara findlay.

Directed by Becca Plucer, the documentary also features the likes of Kimberly Nixon, as well as 13-year-old Tru Wilson (who got a Catholic school board to change its policy regarding the gender expression of students) and other activists and writers who are working to fight against oppression.

Moreover, the documentary looks at some of the low points barbara findlay’s life. For example, in the late 1960s, a time when people didn’t necessarily know what a lesbian was, barbara findlay was locked up in a psychiatric ward for admitting her attraction to women.

The lawyer also faced sexism as one of few women who were in law school.

And there are high points as well, including barbara findlay’s meeting of her partner Sheila Gilhooly, who features in the documentary as an interviewee, meeting her thesis advisor Dorothy Smyth and in 1982 when she discovered that LGBT people had been left out of the human rights code.

In particular, barbara findlay aired late last month at The Rio for Queer History Month, and some of those lucky enough to be in attendance called it an ‘important story to tell,’ massively praising the documentary. For those who were unable to attend the showing of the film, however, a post on barbara findlay’s website explains that the documentary will be available online after June 3 via OUTtv.

Twisted Lesbian Thriller ‘Alena’ Brings Award-Winning Graphic Novel to Life

Based on Kim W. Andersson’s award-wining graphic novel of the same name, lesbian thriller movie Alena is incredibly dark, a bit twisted and definitely not for the faint-hearted. It involves a private all-girls school, a blossoming friendship and a dead girl who just can’t let go.

Silvio Entertainment, behind the movie adaptation explains that “Alena’s life is far from simple. When she arrives at her new elite boarding school, Filippa and the other girls start to harass her. But Alena’s best friend Josefin won’t let her take anymore beating. If she won’t strike back, Josefin will do it for her. Hard.”


The gay bits – that the blurb unfortunately leaves out – is that Josefin is dead and that not only was she Alena’s best friend but she was her girlfriend too. There’s also the fact that Alena strikes up a friendship with her super-cool new schoolmate Fabienne (who Alena also develops a crush on) and that Filippa has it out for Alena because she too has a thing for Fabienne (but Fabienne isn’t interested in Filippa; even in being her friend).


But does this gory and bloody adaptation do justice to its source material? And is Alena, which is Silvio Entertainment’s first feature film, a decent debut movie from the Stockholm-based company?

If viewers are looking for a gory, bloody movie that also ticks a femslash box then Alena does a pretty good job of making a case for itself in the lesbian thriller genre. Though, Variety’s review of the movie also notes that “while sympathetically intended, there’s a rote “girl-on-girl” titillative feel to the depiction of lesbian attraction between various principals.” The film has also been praised for the way that it somewhat avoids tropes as although Filippa could just be made out as another boring bully, is tied into the narrative well.

Alena is currently touring the world at film festivals.

6 Famous Bisexual African-American Women

When asked to come up with the names of famous bisexual women, most people will name Megan Fox, Drew Barrymore and Anna Paquin. African-American women are a lot less likely to show up on the list for whatever reason.

So, to celebrate the identities of those who are both of African-American descent and identify as ‘B’, here’s a list of six famous bisexual African-American women who are often overlooked.

1. Amandla Stenberg

Amandla Stenberg

Best known for her role as Rue in The Hunger Games, actress Amandla Stenberg is also an outspoken intersectional feminist. Aged just 17, Stenberg has made headlines for her writing and opinions on cultural appropriation and race, but most recently she made headlines for coming out as bisexual. On the Teen Vogue Snapchat, the actress explained:

I cannot stress enough how important representation is, so the concept that I can provide for other black girls is mind-blowing. It’s a really really hard thing to be silenced, and it’s deeply bruising to fight against your identity and just mold yourself into shapes that you just shouldn’t be in.

As someone who identifies as a black bisexual woman, I’ve been through it, and it hurts and it’s awkward and it’s uncomfortable. But then I realized: because of Solange and Ava Duvernay and Willow and all the black girls watching this right now, there’s absolutely nothing but change.

We cannot be suppressed. We are meant to express our joy and our love and our tears, to be big and bold and definitely not easy to swallow.”

2. Azealia Banks


While Azealia Banks may be a controversial figure – and is perhaps best-known for her Twitter rants than her music – the rapper and singer has spoken about her bisexuality many times. Asked whether she has a “special affection” for her gay fans, Banks told Rolling Stone:

Definitely. I mean, I’m bisexual, so it makes sense. But I don’t want to be that girl who says all gays necessarily hang out together, of course! I have people say to me, “Oh wow, my friend is gay, too,” and I’m like, “Yeah, so?”

3. Frenchie Davis


Frenchie Davis is a Broadway performer, but most know her from her time on reality television shows American Idol and The Voice. Speaking to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2012, Davis told the publication that she had been dating a woman for the past year and that “I wasn’t out before the relationship, but I wasn’t in. I dated men and women, though lesbians weren’t feeling the bisexual thing. Now I’m in love with a woman I think I can be with forever.”

4. Sapphire

Push is the book that Oscar-winning movie Precious was based on and it tells the story of an illiterate, HIV-positive African-American girl who had also been abused. While both the movie and the book have been massively praised and studied, few people know that the author behind the novel “describes herself as bisexual”, according to an interview with the Evening Standard.

5. Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith, "The Empress of the Blues," gave voice the listeners' tribulations and yearnings of the 1920s and '30s.

Bessie Smith, “The Empress of the Blues,” gave voice the listeners’ tribulations and yearnings of the 1920s and ’30s.

Blues singer Bessie Smith was one of the most famous singers within the genre during the 1920s and the 1930s. Also a major influence on other jazz singers of the time, it’s difficult to quantify just how much of an impact Smith had on the music industry.

Much of Smith’s life is depicted in HBO biopic Bessie (which starred Queen Latifah as the titular performer), including the singer’s bisexuality. While Bessie Smith was not ‘traditionally’ out, due to the times, her relationships with men and women are well-known to those who have studied her life and her career.

6. Tinashe


Tinashe is best-known for her incredibly catch track 2 On, and she has also won fans with recent track Player as well as her feature on Snakehips’ song All My Friends. The singer and performer is also openly bisexual, having posted this gifset on her Tumblr that explains that bisexuality is not a set, 50/50 (50% attraction to men, 50% attraction to women) thing for some people and that she has “an attraction to everyone” and she loves “everybody”.

‘Queer and Disabled’ Is A Must-Watch YouTube Series

According to the United Nations, around 10% of the world’s population (650 million people) is disabled, making people with disabilities people the world’s largest minority. But what if you are a person with a disability who also identifies as LGBTQ+? What difficulties and challenges do you face, then?

A new YouTube series, called Queer and Disabled, aims to explore this, as four women who identify as both queer and disabled (Annie Segarra, Rachel Anne, Robyn Lambird, and Erin E) dispel myths and offer an insight on what it’s like to be both.

In the series’ first video, titled Misconceptions, the women answer the question “what are some misconceptions you think people have about the sexualities of disabled people?”

They explain that people with disabilities are often desexualised, or hyper-sexualised to the point of fetishization. People rarely assume that people with disabilities are queer, either.

The second video, Representation and Accessibility, sees the women answer “do you think media representation of queer disabled folks affects how we are percepted in real life?” and “do you feel like LGBTQ+ spaces are accessible to you? Do you feel welcome in those spaces and in queer culture in general?”

While their answers are perhaps disappointing to hear – they point out that there are few queer disabled characters and that while some LGBTQ+ spaces are accessible, there are still issues with inclusivity – the fact that the series discusses this could hopefully set the ball rolling for change.

Other videos in Queer and Disabled’s six-part series include ‘Dating Apps and Discussing Disability,’ ‘Fetishization,’ ‘Dating DOS and DON’TS’ and ‘Disabled LGBTQ+ Youth’ which are all very much watching too.

Unfortunately, it’s currently unclear whether the four women have plans to make more Queer and Disabled videos in future, but we will keep you posted should they release more parts in the series.

‘That’s Not Us’ A Long-Term Relationship RomCom, Released Digitally and on DVD

In That’s Not Us, three couples (one gay, one lesbian, and one straight) head to an upstate New York beach house to “enjoy the last days of summer”.” But, “what was meant to be a fun, carefree retreat transforms into an intimate exploration of sex and commitment.”

In this romantic comedy, the couples answer the question of ‘how can we make our long-term relationship last?’


Speaking to the San Francisco Bay Times, William Sullivan, who co-wrote and directed the film, explained the thinking behind it:

The impetus for the entire project was that we were seeing coming out or falling in love stories. We wanted to do something that reflected what we go through and experience on a day-to-day basis.

That was the trigger that made us write down things we were thinking about. We had an outline for the characters and their arcs, and we wanted to explore these themes—the vulnerability, the physical separation of the gay couple, and the sexual offseason.”

When the film made the rounds at festivals last year, the response from critics was fairly positive.


At the Big Gay Picture Show, they said that That’s Not Us “is a surprisingly sweet film, with some moments of humour and lightness, which feed into a drama that’s far more absorbing than you might expect, thanks to interesting characters, some good acting and real chemistry between the couples,” even if the premise “may seem artificial.”

Meanwhile, the Toronto Film Scene said that the movie “is well served by its improvised dialogue” and that although the film is “weightless”, it is “charmingly filmed and inescapably endearing.”

At the Examiner, their review explains that “the 90-minute movie remains strong right up until the end when each of the three narratives gets resolved.”

That’s Not Us is now available via DVD, VOD, iTunes and Amazon.

Ingrid Jungermann Brings ‘Women Who Kill’ to the Tribeca Film Festival

Brooklyn-based filmmaker Ingrid Jungermann is best known for her web series’ The Slope and F to 7th.

The Slope, which Jungermann created with then-girlfriend Desiree Akhavan, followed a couple of “superficial, homophobic” lesbians in Park Slope, Brooklyn as they figured out their power dynamic and realise that they are “ultimately, perfect for one another.”

F to 7th, meanwhile, was perhaps even more successful than The Slope.

In this web series, Ingrid in her “descent into pre-middle age,” as she find herself “in a world where sexuality and gender have left her old-fashioned lesbianism behind.”

The Guardian called it one of the best web series of 2013.


In a similar vein to both series, Jungermann has written and directed feature film Women Who Kill. Women Who Kill, is also set in Park Slope and follows two true crime podcasters, Morgan (played by Jungermann) and her ex-girlfriend Jean (played by Ann Carr), as they suspect that Morgan’s new love interest Simone (played by Sheila Vand) of being a murderer.

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Speaking to Indie Wire, the filmmaker explains that Women Who Kill came about due to an “unhealthy obsession” with (popular podcast) Serial, as well as a “history of failed relationships and a desire to deconstruct romantic comedy structure.”

I wanted to make a movie that felt both familiar and foreign and tap into the universal problem of loneliness.”

While reviews still appear to be in the works, Filmmaker Magazine has called it one of ‘15 Films to Anticipate’ at the Tribeca Film Festival.


Loren Hammonds, who is the programmer and live events producers for the film festival also calls Women Who Kill “an adept and wry comedy on modern romance’s hollow results set in an LGBTQ Brooklyn that pulls ample humor from awkward and, perhaps to confirmed Park Slopers, all-too-familiar situations.”

Hammonds also called it a “marvelous send-up of the search for meaning in modern-day relationships.”

You can visit the Tribeca Film Festival website for more information on how to see Women Who Kill.

NYC Ballet Troupe Uses Dance for LGBTQ Visibility, Activism and History

Although ballet is not known for its inclusivity, one New York City dance troupe is using the style of dance for queer expression and activism.

Founded in 2011 by dancers Katy Pyle and Jules Skloot, Ballez describes itself as a company and community that “invites everyone to witness and celebrate the history and performances of lesbian, queer, and transgender people.”

Ballez also “re-writes the narratives of Story Ballets to tell the history of our lineage, as dancers, and as queers,” “re-imagines Archetypal characters to reflect multiplicity: of identity, desire and expression” and allows its dancers to claims their “inherent nobility and belonging within, around, and on top of a form that has historically excluded us.”

Ballez’ next project is “Sleeping Beauty & the Beast,” with the troupe explaining that it has been re-written “to insert the herstory of lesbian and queer activists into the ballet canon: the striking Garment Workers of 1893, and the AIDS activist dykes of 1993.”

Speaking to Jezebel, Pyle explains that when she was 11 and she saw a ballet production of Sleeping Beauty.

However, when Aurora broke her ankle and the Violet Fairy took her place (still in Violet Fairy costume), Pyle says that “the choreography she performed, the energy in her body, the way everyone addressed her, it was as if she was Aurora, and she was incredible” and it made Pyle realise that “sometimes the ‘wrong’ person can actually be the right person for a role.”

When the show premieres later this month, traditionally female role the Violet Fairy will be played by male dancer Christopher DeVita while Skloot will play the Beast who is described as “a leather clad Butch top…who also plays the Union Organizer in the first act.”

Skloot also explains that “these queer characters [that] are brought to life through the bodies of these particular performers is not only a good thing for LGBTQ people, [but they also] enrich the lives and imaginations of everyone who gets to witness and participate as an audience member regardless of how they identify.”

Find out more about Sleeping Beauty and the Beast and read more about Ballez’ crowdfunding campaign (which it is using to pay artists’ wages) on Kickstarter.

ABC Comedy Pilot Casts Tattiawna Jones as Lesbian Lead Character

An upcoming comedy pilot on American television network ABC has cast Tattiawna Jones as its lesbian lead character.

The pilot does not yet have a name but Jones, who is best known for her role in police-related TV series Flashpoint, plays Hilda.


Hilda is described as “an intelligent and seemingly confident lesbian lothario with a dry sense of humor – that she uses to hide her underlying fear of growing up, settling down and becoming conventional.”

Joining Jones in the single-camera show is Andy Riding who plays Randall, who is Hilda’s best friend.

According to Deadline which broke the news about Jones’ casting in the comedy pilot, Randall is a “neurotic straight guy” and the two friends must “navigate their dysfunctional, co-dependent friendship and the world of dating.”

Also involved in the project is Ed Weeks  (The Mindy Project) and Hannah Mackay who wrote the pilot together, while Leslye Headland is set to direct.

Moreover, Deadline previously reported that out lesbian comic Julie Goldman will feature in the show as JoJo, “a fun-loving Southern biker who runs Austin’s friendliest gastropub.”

Assuming that ABC orders more episodes of the comedy following its pilot episode, the yet unnamed show will not be the only TV program to introduce a lesbian of colour. It was also recently announced that Wanda Sykes will star in ABC’s other new comedy show Dream Team, which is about a football coach who must coach a team of 8-year olds and deal with their parents.

In Dream Team, Sykes plays Leslie a “competitive ob-gyn who has a passion for sports,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Sykes’ character is trying to help her daughter Miley land a spot on a “nationally ranked” football team but her wife, Michaela, is trying to get Miley to stop playing the sport.

We’ll keep you posted should ABC order more episodes of the two TV shows.

Equator Coffees & Teas Becomes First LGBT-Owned Business To Be Named As A U.S Small Business Of The Year.

California-based coffee roaster Equator Coffees & Teas had incredibly humble beginnings as business partners Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell launched the company out of a small, Marin County garage in 1995. Now, the business employs 90 people, has more than 350 wholesale customers and several properties including its 5,5000 square foot flagship roaster in San Rafael as well as retail cafes at LinkedIn and micro-kitchens at Google.

Now, though, Equator Coffees & Teas has another milestone to be proud of as it has just been named California’s Small Business of the Year by the U.S Small Business Administration. This also makes Equator Coffees & Teas the first LGBT-owned business to win the award, as it is has been certified as an LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).


With the win, Equator Coffees & Teas was praised for its commitment to social responsibility. For example, in 2011 the business became the first American coffee roaster to become a certified B corporation which recognised its work regarding sustainable roasting methods, eco-friendly worker housing and more.

Of the Small Business of the Year win, Helen Russell says that:

It is such an incredible honor to be recognized by the SBA as Small Business of the Year for the State of California, and we are grateful to the GGBA for advocating on our behalf, to Capital Access Group for nominating us for this prestigious award and to the NGLCC for being a champion for LGBTBE firms at the national and international levels.

As an entrepreneur, a women-owned business and a LGBTBE-certified business, I am proud to say that the SBA has been there for Equator at all stages of our growth over the last 21 years.”

Jacklyn Jordan, the CEO and president of the Capital Access Group which nominated Equator Coffees & Teas for the award also added that McDonnell and Russell “have not only created a successful, socially responsible business, they have also helped to influence the overall trajectory of the coffee industry through their early support of the Fair Trade movement.”

Where Does the ‘Criminal Black Lesbian’ Stereotype Come From?

While there is certainly no shortage of negative beliefs regarding black people, those that are particularly prevalent are the ideas that black people are violent, aggressive, and destined for a life of crime.

These stereotypes in particular seems to be regarded of black lesbians too, especially those who seem to appear more ‘masculine’.

The group of black lesbians convicted in a 2006 Greenwich Village assault case know this well as despite the women’s argument that they were acting in self-defence against a man that both catcalled and threatened them, they were arrested and charged with felony gang assault and attempted murder.

An Equity Project report also states that 40% of girls in the juvenile justice system are lesbian, bisexual or transgender and 85% are girls of colour as well.

With with many of these girls finding themselves in the system for non-criminal acts (e.g “running away from home or breaking school rules”), it’s believed that the criminal black lesbian stereotype may have been a large factor.

NPR has investigated the origin of the criminal black lesbian stereotype, with the publication noting that it stretches back to the early 20th century.

The publication cites a recent Journal of African American History article by Cookie Woolner, a historian and teaching fellow at Kalamazoo College, which points to newspaper reports about murders and other crimes committed by black women in relationships with other women.

The underlying tone of the articles seemed to be that their crimes were a direct result of their “perverted affections” and their “insanity”, and they were also referred to as a “class of perverts”.

In the decades to follow, things didn’t get much better. NPR explains that in the 1940s and 50s, women’s prisons became “synonymous with lesbianism” and although “the stereotype of the aggressive lesbian eventually grew to include working-class white women,” black women were generally believed to be the aggressors and white women were described as “temporary partners”.

More recently, 1996 film Set It Off and TV show The Wire, which both feature black lesbians being violent and performing crimes have also contributed to the stereotype’s prevalence.

TV shows such as Orange is the New Black (which features LGBT characters and looks at injustices within the criminal justice system) as well as movements such as Black Lives Matter (which has helped to give black women a platform to share their voice) have had a positive impact.

However, with the stereotype being so entrenched, it may be some time before the worst is no longer thought of black lesbian women.

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‘Aviliaq: Entwined’ Features an Inuit Lesbian Relationship Interrupted by Christianity

Over the past 12 months, wlw (women who love women) moviegoers have been positively giddy about Carol, the critically acclaimed film that features Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett as two women in love in the 1950s.

But it’s not the only film in recent years to show a 1950s lesbian love story and those looking for another fictional romance set in the same time period should also consider Aviliaq: Entwined.

Aviliaq: Entwined, directed by Inuit filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, is about two Inuit lesbians in love.

Set in the 1950s at in an arctic outpost camp, the two women struggle to stay together “in a new world run by outsiders”. The film’s official blurb explains that this story of love and friendship is “interrupted by convention and religion” as “Christianity encroaches on Inuit beliefs”.

In an interview with Daily Xtra, Arnaquq-Baril says that

I decided to make it a lesbian love story because growing up in the north I didn’t really think about it much, but as an adult, I learnt that there are some people in my life who I love very much who are gay and never told me or anyone in their families or close friend circles and I was shocked. I wanted to make this film because I wanted to let the people I love and other people out there that I don’t know, who might be in the same situation, let them know that there are people out there who love them and care for them and accept them for who they are”.

Aviliaq: Entwined, which was released in 2014, featured at the Women In Film + Television Vancouver (WIFTV) event earlier this month, but Arnaquq-Baril says that she would also like to show the film in Nunavut as well. The filmmaker also says that the film has started some conversations in Nunavut, which is a success.

‘Ned’s Project’, About a Butch Lesbian Trying for a Baby, Wins Big at CineFilipino Awards

The CineFilipino Film Festival “aims to support and develop new cinematic, audience-friendly works of artistic merit by up-and-coming and established filmmakers to help define the human experience through a Filipino perspective.”

As well as being a fantastic chance to showcase Filipino filmmaking talent, awards are also given out to the best of the best fictional and documentary films about Filipino people and this year, a film about a lesbian took home the top prize.

Called Ned’s Project, the film, which stars international renowned actress Angeli Bayani as the titular “Ned”, follows a butch lesbian tattoo artist who decides to have a baby.

Ned’s decision to have a child follows a breakup with her longtime girlfriend Gladys (Dionne Monsanto) as well as the passing of her lesbian friend Max (Lui Manansala) and not wanting to die alone, she makes the choice to become a mother.


The film, which is based on the life of a real person, took home the CineFilipino awards for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Max Eigenmann), Best Cinematography and Best Production Design. Bayani also won an award for Best Actress.

Speaking to, the actress also says that Ned’s Project is “more than just another LGBT movie”.


Bayani tells the publication that “it has a lot to do with searching for yourself and your place in life. Sometimes people do a lot of crazy things just to be able to get to who they are supposed to be. It’s about Ned’s journey.”

Moreover, Bayani reveals that the real-life Ned had a “hard time” in finding acceptance from her family.

The actress explains that “eventually she will realize she could never learn from  that kind of relationship with someone else if she herself couldn’t reconcile with her own ghosts, her unresolved family issues, her personal struggles.”

For information on screenings of Ned’s Project, you can visit the film’s official Facebook page here.

Lesbian Pregnancy Documentary ‘Romeo Romeo’ to Air as Part of America ReFramed Series

World Channel’s America ReFramed series of independent films aims to “present personal viewpoints and a range of voices on the nation’s social issues – giving audiences the opportunity to learn from the past, understand the present, and explore new frameworks for America’s future.”

America ReFramed’s fourth series includes a series of hard-hitting documentaries including Revolution ‘67 (a look at The Newark Riots), American Arab (which explores identity and anti-Muslim sentiment post 9/11) and Divide In Concord (a “contemporary debate” about individual freedom vs. collective responsibility).

Romeo Romeo will soon be added to that list when the 2012 documentary about a lesbian couple trying to get pregnant airs on March 22.

Romeo Romeo follows Alexis and Jessica Casano-Antonellis on their journey to get pregnant, with World Channel’s official blurb explaining that “the two women spend their life savings to buy sperm online and then head to the hospital to have Lexy inseminated.”

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However, getting pregnant “turns out to be more difficult than they anticipated.”

Also covered in this documentary are topics such as whether or not the sperm donor should be anonymous, as well as the potential risks (such as a miscarriage and premature delivery).

World Channel notes that Romeo Romeo features “rigorous documentation” of what the couple goes through.

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While having the process documented on camera may have been a little difficult for the couple, in an interview with After Ellen, the two women explain that the decision to go through this was partly because of the lack of awareness and information surrounding the subject.

Romeo Romeo director Lizzie Gottlieb felt that “[IVF] had not been explored enough on film and there wasn’t enough awareness around what women go through that have fertility issues.”

The couple also reveals that when they embarked on the process, there “really wasn’t a whole lot” of resources and information available to them as a lesbian couple.

While the film won’t necessarily teach everybody everything, the fact that Romeo Romeo also looks at the “medical, logistical, financial and emotional costs” of the process should be informative.

Romeo Romeo airs as part of World Channels’ America ReFramed series.

Has It Really Been A Great Year for Female Film Characters?

Although we’ve seen many male-led movies such as The Martian, The Revenant and The Big Short garner a lot of attention, many critics say the past year was good for fans of films with female characters too.

They point to films like Carol, Room and Mad Max: Fury Road as prime examples of films where the women were the stars of the show, and of media where leading ladies kicked ass first, taking names later in their own way.

Some critics argue that it hasn’t just been a great year for female characters, numbers wise, but in how they were presented as well.

The characters in these films, including Inside Out and Grandma, don’t necessarily fit into the typical ‘strong female character’ mould either, as they’re flawed and messy and imperfect in the same way that actual, real-life women are.

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But does that mean that we’re in a new era of movie-making, where women get to take the lead in more pictures, and are written in ways that won’t make us want to throw the nearest piece of pottery?

Not necessarily.

We may have made some real strides in terms of both numbers and the actual depictions of these female characters, but the work is far from over.

For example, although we are quick to praise the diversity of movies like Grandma, Freeheld and Carol for starring lesbian characters, it‘s also important to consider that these three movies, like many of the others being praised for positive representation of women, star white women. (All three films were also massively snubbed at the Oscars, with misogyny being blamed).


Also important to note is how the 2016 Oscars featured no nominees of colour in any of its acting categories, sparking a revival of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.

While this is incredibly frustrating, it’s both an ugly symptom of the Academy’s massively lopsided voting pool and of Hollywood itself and it was massively disappointing to see films like Tangerine (a movie about two trans women of colour) get shut out.

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It’s also worth noting that one film that has been praised for its black female ‘heroine’ character, Chi-Raq, has also been criticised for its own misogyny, as it involves ending gun violence via the means of women withholding sex.

Straight Outta Compton, another movie starring people of colour that many felt should have been nominated by the Academy, also overlooked the violent acts committed by Dr. Dre against women.

Whether we will see the trend of female-led films (hopefully with more diversity) continue into 2016 and beyond is unclear.

Although Hollywood blockbusters make far more at the box office when starring female characters, who’s to say that Hollywood will pay attention when it’s been ignoring that factoid for years?

Additionally, with so few female film-makers holding Hollywood’s top jobs, decisions of these female-focused films are largely in the hands of men.

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What Lesbian And Bisexual Women Need To Know About Sexual Health

Unfortunately, despite many schools having good sexual health education, these lessons are far from comprehensive and very often ignore the sexual health of (cis) women who sleep with other (cis) women.

Left to learn about sexual health on their own, naturally, there may be some things that are unclear, unknown or overlooked, so, with this post, we list some incredibly important things that lesbian and bisexual women need to know about sexual health.

1. Lesbian and Bi Women Are Not Immune from STIs

One common misconception is that lesbian and bisexual women cannot get STIs (sexually transmitted infections) through sleeping with women. However, although the risk is significantly lower than for women who sleep with men, STI transmission is entirely possible. This can occur with sexual acts that involve any skin to skin contact, contact with bodily fluids, or the sharing of sex toys – regardless of the gender/sex of the people involved.

2. Few Lesbian and Bi Women Use Dental Dams

Perhaps it’s because of this misconception (that women who sleep with other women cannot contract STIs) that the use of dental dams (a latex square that can prevent the transmission of STIs during oral sex) is incredibly low. In an interview with BuzzFeed, sex therapist Dr. Madeleine M. Castellanos revealed that “less than 10% of women use them at all, with only a fraction of them using dams regularly”.

3. Condoms Can Be Turned Into Dental Dams

For those who do want to use dental dams to keep themselves protected during oral sex, then in then absence of an actual dental dam, condoms can be turned into dental dams instead. Details of how to to turn a condom into a dental dam can be found on the Sexuality and U website.

4. Many Bisexual Women Don’t Tell Their Doctors Their Sexuality

According to a Scottish Equality Network survey of 513 bisexual people in the UK, 28% of those surveyed said that they would never feel comfortable informing their doctors of their sexuality and 66% felt pressure to pass as straight. A further 42% of people passed as gay or lesbian to their doctors instead of bisexual.

Although this is understandable, it is often quite important for doctors to know a patients sexuality in order to make accurate treatment suggestions and diagnoses.

5. Lesbian and Bi Women Should Still Get Tested (Even in Monogamous Relationships)

As noted by Amplify, women who are in a monogamous relationship with one another shouldn’t suddenly stop practicing safe sex – even if they’ve been tested. As it can take between three and six months for HIV results to come back positive, it’s advised that you go back and get tested again six months into the relationships.

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How The First Lesbian Kiss On American Television Changed TV Forever

While representation of wlw (women who love women) on TV isn’t perfect (TV shows keep killing lesbians off, for example), there are plenty of mainstream television shows that not only feature f/f couples but let them kiss each other too.

But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1990s until two women locked lips on American television.

Officially, it was a 1990 episode of 21 Jump Street which saw two women kiss, but the camera cut off their actual lips, thus not really showing the kiss at all.

As a result, the ‘first lesbian kiss’ title goes to a 1991 episode of legal drama L.A Law, in which bisexual lawyer C.J briefly kisses her female colleague Abby Perkins on the lips.


A romance between the two women never really happened as Abby left the show and C.J eventually got a boyfriend (though her ex girlfriend did show up briefly) before being written off of the show altogether.

Sadly, when the kiss happened, L.A Law did face some backlash.

As Unicorn Booty notes, five advertisers pulled advertising from the show and the network that aired the drama, NBC, was unable to replace them until it offered those ad spots at reduced rates.

Meanwhile, the American Family Association (a non-profit that opposes same-sex marriage, abortions and the ‘homosexual agenda’) tried to organise a boycott.

This boycott ultimately failed, as although NBC saw hundreds of calls come in about the episode, most of them were in support of the show.

Michele Greene, who played Abby Perkins, previously admitted that the kiss was just a ratings ploy, and thus L.A Law led the way for the ‘sweeps week lesbian kiss’.

Sweeps week is when TV shows try and get higher ratings in an effort to up their advertising rates and the sweeps week lesbian kiss (in which two women kiss to draw in ratings) has since become a trend.

Plenty of shows, from The O.C and Ally McBeal to Desperate Housewives, Heroes and Friends all pulled the sweeps week lesbian kiss stunt, with these kisses very often forgotten about or one of the characters involved leaving the show not long after.

This isn’t the prime representation we’re looking for, of course, but the support of some of these sweeps week kisses and the fatigue with the trope (viewers demanded real f/f relationships not tropey one-time occurences) has in turn led to proper representation that matters.

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How Free Gender Khayelitsha Is Fighting For South Africa’s Black LGBTI Community

For LGBTI South Africans, the struggle to be recognised and accepted goes on and not just within greater (cisgendered, heterosexual) society either.

Within the LGBTI community itself, there is a huge racial divide, with white organisers seemingly not willing to play ball with black LGBTI people.

This is something that came to a head last year when Alternative Inclusive Pride protested at Cape Town Pride, calling out the event for its racism and its exclusionary practices.

While the AIP’s protest was largely deemed successful in that it raised awareness about the issue, it is not the only thing that organisers are doing to help further their cause.

Funeka Soldaat, who was also involved in the AIP protest, is part of Free Gender Khayelitsha, a non-profit organisation that aims to both offer a voice for non-heterosexual black women (and black LGBTI people), as well as addressing their problems and needs.

A recent report on IOL (via the Cape Times) further explains Free Gender’s mission, saying that “Free Gender gave hope and freedom to young black women and black people to know and believe that they could and should exist in South Africa on their terms, according to their sexuality and lifestyles”.

Moreover, the organisation “encourages [its members] to speak out, to find their voice and protect them from the vicious assaults of ill-informed and negative community members”.

According to Cape Times reporter Cheryl Roberts, Free Gender doesn’t “wait for those outside the community to look after them” either; instead, it “acts when the need and demand arises”.

And perhaps most impressively, the organisation, which has been around for five years now, does so with very little funding. Roberts explains that the organisation doesn’t have international funding, big sponsorship or funding from the city of Cape Town itself.

While it seems that Free Gender is seeking to tackle all of the difficulties faced by black, non-heterosexual women and black LGBTI people, right now, the organisation seems to be specifically addressing attacks and Pride.

Black women are often attacked because of their sexualities, something which Free Gender has also taken to the street to protest, and the group continues to rally for a more inclusive Pride; most recently it voiced its concerned with a proposed “Colourblind” theme for this year’s Pride celebrations.

Finding Acceptance: What Happens When You Are A Minority Within A minority?

As an LGBTQ person or as a black person, deeply held prejudices and systematic oppression threaten to deny you your human rights and keep you from prospering (e.g being turned away from jobs or housing or being mistreated by the police).

But what happens when you are a black LGBTQ person, and you become a minority within a minority?

Aziza Miller explores this in an article for The Gazette, explaining that

there is a struggle for people who are both black and queer to deal with two identities that tend to conflict with one another”. Miller notes that “homophobia in the black community and racism in the queer community make it difficult for queer black people to feel accepted in groups that also experience marginalization”.

Although it’s often glossed over with the excuse that there are ‘more important’ things to talk about, racism is rampant in the LGBTQ community. This is made quite clear in videos such as ‘Gay Guys React To Racist Grindr Profiles’ in which some gay men using the app are simply not open to dating gay men of colour.

It’s also not uncommon for non-black LGBTQ people to ‘act black’ (e.g mannerisms and instances of blackface), with famous white gay YouTuber Tyler Oakley having been called out several times for his ‘sassy black woman’ accent.

Miller also notes that gay bars have a habit of discriminating against employees and patrons of colour too.

A 2005 investigation by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission found that S.F Badlands (a popular bar in the Castro neighbourhood) routinely discriminated against African American customers and job applicants. The commission found that the bar’s owner, Les Natali, had also referred to African-American people as “non-Badlands customers”.

Miller’s article looks at homophobia within the black community as well. One belief that some people within the black community have is that black people simply are not LGBTQ (something that perhaps stems from poor ethnic diversity when it comes to LGBTQ characters in media).

Other black people – just like people of other minorities – may use religion as a basis for bigotry.

Recent findings from that Public Religion Research Institute dispelled the idea that African-American people are more likely to be homophobic, and may actually be more in support of LGBT equality than their non-black peers (the hope not to see LGBTQ people denied human rights as black people are is a factor).

That said, it doesn’t make the anti-LGBTQ prejudice from the black community felt by black LGBTQ people any less real, and the struggle to make both communities as welcoming as they can be continues.

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‘Survival Sex’ the Only Option for Some Homeless LGBTQ Youth, Says Ali Forney Center

Although much of the recent focus on LGBTQ rights has been on same-sex marriage, it is by far the only pressing issue faced by the community. Also of huge concern is the issue of LGBTQ youth. The United States’ Department of Justice estimates that 1.7 million teenagers are homeless in the country, while a Williams Institute study from 2012 notes that around 40% of homeless youth is LGBTQ.

As homeless shelters are often run by religious groups and often see gang involvement too – both of which are intolerant to LGBTQ+ youth and their identities – they can be incredibly hostile places to stay. So hostile in fact, that many homeless LGBTQ youth find themselves engaging in ‘survival sex’ as they are forced to sell their bodies.

Speaking to Teen Vogue, Carl Siciliano, the executive director and founder of New York City-base charity Ali Forney Center (“making a difference by rescuing kids from the dangers of the streets and placing them into our safe”), shed more light on this issue. Siciliano explains:

“When I started working with homeless kids, I saw the desperation and degradation that forced them into trading their bodies for survival. One of the fundamental issues is that you’ve got a situation where there are all these LGBT youth that are disproportionately making up the homeless youth population.

A lot of the youth shelters are run by religious organizations, so LGBTQ youth have a difficult time getting off of the streets, and when you’re outside, and you’re scared and hungry and desperate. Who’s going to hire you? You’re dirty, you’re a mess, so how do you survive? [Survival sex is] something these young people are forced into it by a broader neglect of the reality of youth homelessness.”

Siciliano also notes that “there isn’t a range of reasons for survival sex” and that is really does boil down to homeless young people finding themselves with “no way to support yourself, no food, no place to sleep”. The Ali Forney Center director also described instances where these young people have had to sneak into buildings to sleep in hallways or even had to sleep on the subway.

Despite being the United States’ largest organisation tackling the issue of homeless LGBTQ youth, the Ali Forney Center notes that it “cannot do this alone”. The organisation asks that people consider donating money or purchase an item from its Amazon Wish List to “directly help homeless LGBTQ youth”.

Was ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Author Harper Lee Gay?

Famed for writing 1960’’s novel To Kill A Mockingbird, and, most recently, 2015’s controversial release Go Set A Watchman, author Harper Lee’s works have been the subject of much debate and discussion.

However, Lee’s sexuality was also a talking topic for some of her readers and following the author’s death in February of this year, these discussions have flared up once more.


Addressing the rumours that Lee was a lesbian is Gay Star News, which collates the speculation in a recent article.

One reason people believe the assumptions that the author was not heterosexual is the Marja Mills biography, The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee, as Mills asked Lee (as well as her sisters) if they’d ever dated people, to which Lee and her siblings said “a little”, but, Mills adds, “that was that”. (It should also be noted that Lee opposed the release of the biography).


Others have also looked at the content of To Kill A Mockingbird for clues. “Scout was a tomboy,” notes Lee’s best friend Tom Butts, who adds that so was Lee and that “she kind of kept that almost masculine way about her as an adult”.


Meanwhile, the character of Dill, who has what some people describe as having ’effeminate mannerisms’, is based on Lee’s childhood friend and gay author Truman Capote.

But is this enough to suggest that Lee was in fact, a lesbian, albeit one who wasn’t out to the general public? Many would argue that Lee’s friendship with Capote and her choice of clothing (“always pants and kind of baggy clothes sometimes,” says Butts) don’t prove anything and that drawing such conclusions is offensive.

Regardless of whether or not Lee was gay, though, there’s no denying the impact that To Kill A Mockingbird had on its LGBTQ+ readers.

As Gay Star News notes, the book was number 67 on the Publishing Triangle’s list of The 100 Best Lesbian and Gay novels while Lambda Literary’s Victoria Brownworth wrote that “no lesbian or gay reader of To Kill a Mockingbird came away from the book without feeling that there was someone else like him or her”.

So, even if questions remain about Lee’s sexuality, clearly the book means a lot to those who have found (or are looking) for answers about their own.

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2016 Presidential Race: Where Do the Candidates Stand With LGBT Women?

With the United States’ 2016 presidential election taking place in November, the five remaining candidates are pushing hard to gain support and establish their policies and viewpoints.

LGBT rights may have been mostly overlooked in favour of immigration and foreign policy (both of which are important) but here, we’ll highlight the candidates’ views and how they may affect LGBT women.

Donald Trump

By far the most controversial candidate in the field, Donald Trump has consistently opposed same-sex marriage. Following the Supreme Court’s ruling that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide, the candidate also said that he would appoint Supreme Court judges who would work to overturn the ruling.

On discrimination, Trump has previously advocated for laws that protect against discrimination based on someone’s sexuality but he has also supported things like the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) which would prevent legal action being taken upon a person if they acted based upon their religion (e.g a religious store owner would face no repercussions for refusing to serve a gay couple). Trump also supports the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz has been described by some as the most anti-LGBT candidate vying for the presidency as while his stance on same-sex adoption and anti-bullying are unclear, his stance on other LGBT rights has been described by some as ‘harmful’. In addition to working to prevent same-sex couples in Texas from getting married, Cruz has previously stated that he wouldn’t want the federal government to recognise marriage equality and he has opposed protections against discrimination for LGBT people.

Moreover, if elected, Cruz would push to to enact FADA within his first 100 days in office, he believes that being LGBT is a choice, and has also said that it’s “lunacy” to allow children to use bathrooms that reflect their gender identity. He also believes that Planned Parenthood sells body parts and would defund the organisation.

Ben Carson

Ben Carson has also been outspoken about his opposition to LGBT rights, having said that he does not believe that marriage equality is a civil right. Carson has also stated that discrimination claims are often just “political correctness”, he believes Congress should fire judges in support of same-sex marriage, he thinks that being LGBT is a choice (because of prison) and has compared same-sex marriage to bestiality.

Carson doesn’t support adoption by LGBT couples, as he would like to know how it affects the sexual orientation of the adopted child, first. It’s slso unclear where he stands on conversion therapy. Carson is opposed to Planned Parenthood.

John Kasich

During his political career, John Kasich has said that he doesn’t’ support the LGBT “lifestyle”. Kasich opposes same-sex marriage, as well as domestic and partner benefits for LGBT couples and he also voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Additionally, Kasich has prevented LGBT couples from obtaining birth certificates for their children and voted against allowing funding for LGBT couples in the District of Columbia to adopt. However, he did require Ohio schools to develop anti-bullying policies. Kasich also supports the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio is another Republican presidential candidate who has been outspoken against same-sex marriage, but he also opposes protections on sexual orientation regarding civil rights laws. The politician also supports FADA, has voted to end the Employment Non-Dismcirnation Act (ENDA) and he has helped to raise money for a backer of conversion therapy.

Moreover, Rubio doesn’t support LGBT couples’ right to adopt children as he doesn’t’ think they should “be part of a social experiment.” Rubio also supports defunding Planned Parenthood.

Hillary Clinton

Although Hillary Clinton has stated that if elected president she would “fight for full federal equality for LGBT Americans”, she has a mixed track record when it comes to LGBT rights. Controversially, Clinton didn’t support same-sex marriage until 2013 and she also supported DOMA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (which forbade LGBT people from serving openly in the armed forces). Moreover, her foreign policies particularly regarding drone warfare and intervention, have been called out as they harm LGBT women in other countries.

Clinton has previously supported federal non-discrimination legislation to protect LGBT employees and Clinton supports ending conversion therapy, securing affordable treatment for those living with HIV and Aids and ending discrimination against trans people. Clinton has also been a staunch supporter of women’s rights, and has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign.

Bernie Sanders

Like Clinton, it took Bernie Sanders a a while to come around to the idea of same-sex marriage, having not expressed his support for it until 2009. However, Sanders did vote against DOMA and DADT and co-sponsored the Uniting Families Act which would have allowed partners of any legal citizen of the United States to obtain lawful permanent residency.

Additionally, Sanders has voted in favour of ENDA, has co-sponsored the Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 and he has also consistently supported women’s rights issues such as the fight for equal pay and access to abortions. Sanders would also expand funding for Planned Parenthood.

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Queer Viking Comic ‘Heathen’ Gets Vol. 1 Compilation

If you’re looking for queer female representation in the mainstream comic world, then it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

For example, although new Marvel and Netflix show Jessica Jones introduced lesbian character Jeri Hogarth, Hogarth is only the first gay character in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).

Meanwhile, while DC fan favourite Batwoman (Kate Kane) is an out lesbian, DC refused to let her get married to her fiancée (which prompted the creative team’s resignation) and in one issue, she was also sexually assaulted.

It’s reasons like these why so many queer female comic fans have begun to look elsewhere for representation.

One such comic that has garnered attention is Heathen (written and illustrated by Natasha Alterici), which made headlines last year following its successful Kickstarter campaign.


Heathen stars Viking warrior Aydis who is banished from her tribe after she is caught kissing another woman. The official blurb for the comic explains that Aydis then goes on a mission to “end the tyrannical reign of god-king Odin during a time of warfare, slavery, and the subjugation of women.”

On her quest, Aydis gets help from “legendary immortal, the Valkyrie Brynhild” and she “battles, befriends, and outwits the various gods, demons, and fantastic creatures of lore she encounters along the way.” One of these friends includes Freyja, who AfterEllen describes as both “queer” and “polyamorous”.

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While it gets major kudos from us for starring a queer protagonist on a journey to bring down the patriarchy and it has also been called “the best self-published comic of 2015” by Comixology, there is one major criticism about Heathen.

Some readers have taken issue with the fact that Aydis is scantily clad, something that seems a little odd given the cold climates of the comic’s setting.

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Other than that, both Heathen‘s backers and critics seem to be happy with the comic and so it seems like a standout choice if you want something with both queer content and Norse mythology.

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The first four issues of Heathen are no available in a Volume 1 compilation here.

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These 6 Countries Are Making Big Strides With LGBT Rights

Across the world, LGBT people face different challenges to their non-LGBT peers. This may be the risk of being fired from your job, being ostracised by your friends and family and even being faced with verbal or physical abuse.

Clearly there is a lot of work that still needs to be done, but with the changing attitudes of LGBT people, some countries are making huge strides.

A new report from The Guardian details some of these steps forward, and the publication also speaks to activists about the positive changes coming to their countries.

Taiwan has a reputation for being the most ‘gay-friendly place in Asia’ and though Victoria Hsu, chief executive officer of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights calls this an “illusion”, there is big change on a government level.

The country’s newly elected president, Tsai Ing-Wen, supports same-sex marriage and same-sex couples can record their partnerships at household offices in Taipei, giving them access to more rights. Hsu and other activities are currently lobbying for social housing rights, equal opportunities for government employees and more.

Elsewhere in Asia, Nepal recently allowed people to add a third gender, O, to their passports, as opposed to M or F and in September, it added LGBT protections to its constitution.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, same-sex marriage is “tolerated” by the state (though same-sex couples don’t have the same rights as opposite sex ones) and in December, a law was passed to allow people who have had reassignment surgery to register as a new gender.

In the Americas, The Guardian highlights big changes in Jamaica and Colombia. A historically, homophobic country (which stems from colonial times), Jamaica still has a law against sodomy but this year, activist Maurice Tomlinson will challenge that law in court.

The country’s justice minister, Mark Golding, and the mayor of Kingston, Angela Brown Burke, have both voiced their support for Pride events. On the other hand, Colombia may be an incredibly Catholic country but its government has voiced its support for marriage equality and late last year, it lifted restrictions on same-sex couples adopting children.

And finally, in 2015, Mozambique decriminalised homosexuality. There are still serious challenges posed LGBT people in the African nation though, as the country’s only gay rights organisation, Lambda, has been waiting for seven years for recognition fro the government (which will give them access to funding and allow them to be tax exempt).

Sabrina Jalees Discusses ‘Portrait of a Serial Monogamist’, NBC’s ‘Crowded!’ In New Interview

If you keep up with the Canadian comedy scene, or if you’ve seen shows such as The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and Best Week Ever, then it’s likely that you know who Sabrina Jalees is.

If you’re not familiar with the out comedian’s work then you soon will be as not only does she star in new gay film Portrait of a Serial Monogamist but she’s also a writer for the upcoming NBC sitcom, Crowded!


Portrait of a Serial Monogamist follows Elsie, a television producer who always finds herself in relationships and yet cannot recognise the fact that she’s a ‘serial monogamist’. Jalees’ character Sarah on the other hand, “thinks she knows everything about picking up women” but by the end of the movie, the comedian tells AfterEllen, Sarah is “not the player that she thought she was”.

Jalees explains to the publication that Sarah “does talk like she’s pretty smooth, but she also fucks up” and she also notes that the film was “made by and stars a lot of people in the queer community in Toronto”.


Queer films about honest queer characters that are made by actual queer people are hard to come by so it’s probably worth checking out Portrait of a Serial Monogamist during its run in select theatres.

As for her work on the small screen, NBC sitcom Crowded! will debut in March. Jalees explains that the show’s premise is that “two daughters move back in with their parents, who were just about to enjoy having the empty nest and all of a sudden everything’s crowded”.

Jalees also describes one of the daughters, Stella, as “sexually fluid” and that in the first episode that she writes on, Stella “makes out with a girl”.

Rather than being a cheap grab for views though, Jalees confirms that Stella’s fluidity “is part of her identity and she in the first season” and that “she’s very much open to dating more women in the second season”. Set your DVRs for Crowded!’s premiere on Sunday, March 20.

Other sections of the interview that are well worth reading include Jalees’ “unauthorized” beginnings in stand-up comedy as well as her thoughts on being a queer Muslim role model. She explains why she was hesitant to come out, how her parents supported her and how her career has grown since she made that decision.


Carol Is ‘Misunderstood’, Say Critics And Fans

Carol, which stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (who play Carol and Therese, respectively) as two women falling in love, was one of the standouts of the many LGBTQ+ films released last year. In fact, the 1950s-set movie has even been called the ‘best lesbian film of all time’ by some.

However, despite the overwhelming praise that has been bestowed on the Todd Haynes-directed piece, some viewers and film critics have called the movie ‘cold’. Admittedly, Carol is a film of few words, opting to go for the subtle approach, but have some people misunderstood the film or is this an appropriate criticism?


Writing at The Atlantic, David Sims notes that criticisms of “chilliness” come from the fact that “so many of their early interactions are centered around fleeting touches and glances, or pleasant small talk that doesn’t remotely stoop to the level of innuendo”. However, Sims argues, this is where Carol’s “brilliance” lies, as the film “aligns” with “the terrifying experience of falling for someone without knowing how they feel about you.

Fans of the movie (particularly bisexual and lesbian women) who have seen Carol, also call this lack of ‘obvious’ language a reason why some viewers (particularly heterosexual ones) may have missed the point. The subtle clues between the two women – who must figure out whether this is a deep friendship or if there are romantic feelings – will be familiar to women who love women (wlw) watching the film who will have struggled with similar questions of ‘is she queer’ and ‘does she like me in that way’.

Arguably, it would be ludicrous to ask a film about lesbians, based on a book by a lesbian, with a screenplay written by a lesbian, to make things more obvious for heterosexual viewers. This is an important point especially as other films such as Stonewall, have tried to pander/be more understandabe for straight viewers and have failed tragically as a result.

Moreover, the so-called ‘coldness’ of Carol accurately reflects the time that Carol and Therese were living in. In an interview with Indiewire, Todd Haynes explains that

… Therese can’t even find the syntax for describing her feelings for this woman. There is no example in the world that she can point to to put it into language. And there’s something radical, and frightening and wonderful about that.”

Haynes also called the 1950s a “very anxious, anxiety-ridden time” and while the intricacies of this may have been lost on some, many others would agree that he has presented this perfectly. And this realism, and the truth of the piece, is perhaps why the rest of us love Carol so very, very much.

Agent Carter Season Two: Dottie Returns As We Rage About Angie

When Agent Carter premièred last year, Marvel fans were ecstatic.


Starring Hayley Atwell as fan favourite character Peggy Carter, the first eight episode series saw Carter kick butt, save the day and shut down sexism in the workplace.

While that was entertaining enough, viewers also enjoyed Peggy’s dynamic with best friend (and new roommate) Angie Martinelli.

The two characters’ friendship is wonderful to watch as not only do they have each other’s backs, but the roomies are also just really cute together (a hug towards the end of the first season is a particular highlight).

Naturally, some fans began to ship them (as ‘Cartinelli’) and have been encouraged by both Atwell and Lyndsy Fonseca (who plays Angie) – most notably, Fonseca tweeted “#Cartinelli forever”

Unfortunately, Angie will not feature in most of Agent Carter’s second season and instead, she will have a small cameo in the ninth episode where Peggy (and hilarious sidekick Jarvis) get knocked out and have a musical, black and white dream sequence.

Since the second season kicked off at the end of January, fans have continued to be more vocal about their disappointment, noting that the decision doesn’t make sense, especially as Peggy and co. relocated to Los Angeles, a place where Angie (who had dreams of stardom) had been desperate to go to.

One of the most serious accusations that has been put forward by fans since the season two premiere is that the team behind the show wrote Angie out for fear that Cartinelli shippers would demand that the pairing is made canon.

Fans say that if this is true (and we should note that there is currently no evidence that it is) it would be especially insulting as Cartinelli fans campaigned fiercely for the show to be renewed.

But, while it doesn’t look like Peggy and her gal pal (platonic or otherwise) will embarking on proper adventures any time soon, some fans have at least found comfort in the return of Russia spy, Dottie. While Dottie was a bad seed in season one (at one point she kissed Peggy in order to knock her unconscious), viewers have still been entertained by her shenanigans.


In the season two premiere Dottie is arrested before being handed over to the FBI, and while there’s no word on whether Peggy/Dottie will become canon (it seems unlikely as they seem to have put Peggy in a love triangle with two men), the chemistry between the two women is palpable.


These Peggy/Dottie breadcrumbs certainly don’t replace Angie and they also spark fears of queerbaiting/the queer villain trope, but it will be interesting to see what other hijinks Dottie will get up to (and Peggy will try to foil) over the rest of the season.

Iconic Lesbian Book ‘The Ladies Almanack’ Turned Into a Film

In 1928, Djuna Barnes published The Ladies Almanack. Complete with illustrations and writing that has been described as “archaic”, Barnes’ book detailed the lesbian social circle that was based in Paris at the time.

And while many of the names have been changed in order to protect the women (some of whom include Natalie Barney, Radclyffe Hall, Dolly Wilde, and Janet Flanner), the events of The Ladies Almanack and the settings (such as Natalie Barney’s Paris salon) are very real indeed.


While The Ladies Almanack isn’t Barnes’ best known book (that title goes to Nightwood), it is still an incredibly important one.

With Barney, Hall and Flanner being some of the most important artists of their time, across poetry, literature and painting, the book offers a rare insight into their social and personal lives from someone who was actually right in the middle of it.


That’s why it’s especially good news that The Ladies Almanack has been turned into a film.

Having been in the works for three years by filmmaker Daviel Shy, it is described as “not just a movie, it is a movement.”  The filmmaker explains that “the film takes place in an imaginary city comprised of Paris and Chicago, using architectural similarities to suggest that both cities are one and that “in Paris, the center of our creative community is a living room in Aubervilliers. (An inner-ring suburb just Northwest of the city proper.)” and “in Chicago, the spaces that have served and fed our artistic community for many years figure prominently in the film.”

The film, which mostly features non-professional actors (including Eileen Myles and Hélène Cixous), has already been filmed. However, there is still work to be done until it is totally complete, which is why The Ladies Almanack has a Seed & Spark page.

The goal is $15,000 (with just over a month to go) and pledges will go towards things such as final sound mixing, colour correction, and festival costs.

Dinah Shore Weekend to Feature The L Word and The Real L Word Cast Members

The L Word television franchise has a pretty long history with the Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend. In season one of the scripted show, The L Word, Alice, Jenny, Dana and Shane road-tripped their way to the event and got themselves into dramatic (and comedic) hijinks while the cast of the reality spin-off, The Real L Word, attended multiple times during its three seasons.

At Dinah Shore Weekend 2016, that history is set to continue as cast members from both The L Word and The Real L Word will be headed to Palm Springs next month.

Attending the event (which takes place between March 30 – April 3) will be Clementine Ford (who played Molly Kroll), Elizabeth Keener (who played Dawn Denbo), along with The Real L Word cast member Tracy Ryerson.

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The three actors will be at the event as part of the tellofilms-sponsored Dinah Film Fest. All three have featured in tellofilm projects – Tracy Ryerson starred in the Kiss Me I’m Famous web series, and Clementine Ford and Elizabeth Keener will both star in the upcoming project Skirtchasers – and this should give fans of queer female media a chance to watch some great shows, shorts, films, and documentaries.

Moreover, fans will be treated to a special, ‘farewell’ performance from another set of The Real L Word cast members, Hunter Valentine.

The band’s music and personal lives featured heavily on the reality show and now, the pop/punk band (made up of Kiyomi McCloskey and Laura Petracca, along with touring members Leanne Bowes and Lisa Bianco) will perform their last show as they prepare to go on an indefinite hiatus.

Other big draws to this year’s Dinah Shore Weekend include a night of comedy and music from Orange Is The New Black’s Lea Delaria, DJing from both Samantha Ronson and Mary Mac, and a performance from Grammy-nominated artist Elle King.

To find out more about the Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend, visit the official website.