Tag Archives: LGBTQ community

Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence Book Review

In 1991, when Anita Hill testified that that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her, it was nothing short of earth shattering. Instead of letting the shame destroy her or pretend that it never happened, she took her case to Congress. This brave choice opened the door for victims of similar acts to get justice and ensure that the perpetrators got what they deserved.

Dr. Hill’s new book, Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence, was published in September. Building on her very personal history of experiencing gender violence, she explores such subjects such as bullying, rape, the constant threat to the LGBTQ community, and the mind blowing comparison to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. In speaking openly about such topics that are often buried under the rug or not taken seriously, she is challenging the reader to speak up, speak out, and ensure that these injustices are finally given the spotlight they should have received a long time ago.

This book is nothing short of mind blowing. If there was ever a fire lit under our collective behinds, this book is the match. Thirty years ago, Dr. Hill opened the door, broke barriers, and inspired multiple generations of activists to stand on her impressive shoulders. She got the ball rolling, it is now up to us to finish the job.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History

Thoughts on The Jagged Little Pill Controversy

Art has a way of changing the world as few things can. But that does not mean that the final product is approved of by everyone in the audience.

When the musical Jagged Little Pill (based on the Alanis Morissette album of the same name) hit Broadway opened at the end of 2019, it was met with rave reviews. The story of the Healy family and their struggles spoke to the shit we all go through everyday. With the show re-opening at the end of the month, there has been some issues with the character of Jo, played by Lauren Patten.

If what has been said is true, Jo was supposed to be non binary, but was written as a lesbian. In the statement released by the producers, they will be reworking the role to reflect the criticism.

One of the topics that has come up with this controversy is representation. I completely agree that representation these days is super important. Though there has been a vast improvement in both the image and numbers of non cis-gender heterosexual Caucasian men in the media, the truth is that we have a long way to go in truly reflecting the audience.

Speaking as a writer, one of the aspects of this conversation that is missing is how Jo evolved from the first draft until the premiere. In the process of writing, both characters and narrative change over the course of the creation of the work. What also may have happened is tryouts and previews, she was tweaked by both the actor, the writer(s), and the director until everyone was satisfied with the final product.

I have two concerns with everything that is whirling around Jagged Little Pill. The first concern is that it will ultimately force the show to close. When a scandal erupts over an IP, one of two things happen. The first is that it arouses interest and brings in audiences who otherwise would have passed it by. The second is that the scandal become so overconsuming that the executive team has no choice but to call it quits.

The second concern is that producers will look the scandal and if they see a script that is similar to JLP, it will go into the “no pile”. Not because of the quality of the work, but because of the possibility of negative press.

Only time will tell if JLP survives or closes. My hope and my prayer is that it survives because it proves that there is room for creativity and new concepts on Broadway.

P.S. Lauren won the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical last weekend. It is an honor that is well deserved.

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Filed under Broadway Musical Review, Music, Thoughts On...., Writing

The Eyes of Tammy Faye Review

Those of us above a certain age remember the late Tammy Faye Bakker for her boundless enthusiasm, her makeup that some might call excessive and how she was portrayed in the press. When she and first husband, Jim Bakker made the news in the 1980’s for the financial scandal surrounding their television ministry, there was no escaping the headlines.

The new movie, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, takes the audience behind the flash and the noise to reveal the real woman. Stepping into the shoes of Tammy Faye and Jim are Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield. The film follows Bakker from her early years, where she is an outcast due to her parents divorce to the high of being the face of televangelism for a generation, and finally when she became a late night punchline that revolved around the fiscal mismanagement of the Bakker’s Christian ministry empire.

First of all, kudos to the makeup and hair department. They were able to recreate Tammy Faye’s iconic look without making it look like Chastain was wearing a Halloween mask. What I liked about the film is that the woman on the screen is much more than was in the news back in the day. She has a big heart, genuinely believes in her mission (and her husband), and unlike others in her world, is willing to embrace members of LGBTQ community.

A nice counterpoint to Tammy Faye is her mother, Rachel, played by Cherry Jones. Rachel is down to earth and practical. She does not exactly want to burst her daughter’s bubble, but wants to bring Tammy Faye back to reality. What I did not realize is that in her own way, Bakker was a feminist. She was not the typical wife of religious leader who quietly stays in her lane. Tammy Faye was an equal partner in sharing their message with viewers and fans. My only complaint is that towards the end of the film, a few minutes could have been cut from the final presentation.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is presently in theaters.

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Filed under Feminism, Movie Review, Movies, Television

Clueless Character Review: Christian Stovitz

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Love sometimes makes us believe what we want to believe, regardless of how far from the truth it is. It is up to us to decide if we are devastated from the truth, or accept it and move on.

In Clueless, Christian Stovitz (Justin Walker) enters the scene, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is intrigued. Due to his parent’s divorce, Christian spends one half the year with one parent and the other half of the year with another parent. She immediately sets her romantic sights on him, but her attempts to claim him for herself ultimately fail. Like his literary predecessor, Frank Churchill, he is elusive, but in a different manner.

When her friends tell her that Christian is gay, Cher does not believe it. When they hang out at her house, he prefers to watch a movie than sleep with her. He is oblivious to her unsuccessful attempts to seduce him. Ultimately, they remain friends due to her appreciation of his love of art and fashion.

To sum it up: Not every love interest is going to walk into the sunset with the main character. Sometimes they are better off as friends. opening the door to not only growth for both characters, but for each to find a partner that can make them happy. Christian stands out because his relationship with Cher leads to her ending up with her step-brother, Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd).

P.S. Back in the 1990’s, the idea of members of the LGBTQ community being visible and open with the world was only beginning to find acceptance. Though Christian is just one character, his mere presence in this film is a significant one in the long and hard march towards equality.

This will be the last character post for Clueless. Come back next week to find out the next group of characters I will be reviewing.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen

History of the Sitcom Review

The beautiful thing about art is that it is never static. It adapts to both time and culture, giving creators the ability to match what is going on in the wider world.

The new eight part mini-series CNN miniseries, History of the Sitcom, premiered on Sunday night. Each episode focuses on how the sitcom evolved over time and reflects on how it explores the different aspects of our lives from family to work to school, etc. Interviewing actors, writers, and producers, it delves into how this genre has shaped American culture.

I really enjoyed the first two episodes. The first one focused on the evolution of the family sitcom and how it has evolved from the white, suburban Father Knows Best and The Donna Reed Show programs that populated the television schedule of the 1950’s. The second one talked about how sex, sexuality, the LGBTQ community, and the different variations of gender have been seen by audiences.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

History of the Sitcom airs on Sunday night at 9PM on CNN.

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Antigone Rising: The Subversive Power of the Ancient Myths Book Review

Myths from the ancient world are not just stories of the past. There is a universality and a humanity that still speaks to us today.

Antigone Rising: The Subversive Power of the Ancient Myths, by Helen Morales, was published last year. Using the myth of Antigone, (told to us by the play of the same name by Sophocles), she outlines how the myths from ancient Greece and Rome reflect feminist issues that were are prevalent then as they are now. Though they may seem innocent on the surface, a deeper dive reveals how these characters were to take a stand against injustice.

I loved this book. Ms. Morales is able to break down the specific elements of these tales to show us that things haven’t changed. The sexist bull shit that girls and women deal with today existed thousands of years ago. If there was one section that caught my eye, it was the chapter on the LGBTQ experience in that time period. It can be broken down by one sentence “same shit, different century”.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2021

Change is never easy. Especially when the change is overcoming and dealing with cultural, racial, and religious stereotypes.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Dr. King was one of many who fought for equality. Though his ultimate goal was equality for African-Americans, it spread to the rest of the country. Women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and other Americans of color who have been disenfranchised heard his message and understood exactly what he was saying.

Though we can proudly say that we have made progress in the multiple decades since he was taken from us, it is more than clear that true equality is still too far off for many. I remember a cartoon in a book when I was in school. The image was of a tree had been cut at its base, but the roots were untouched. The analogy about racism and prejudice was obvious.

The fact is that we have a long way to do. Between the riot in DC almost two weeks ago and the murders of multiple African Americans last year, the dark side of the United States revealed itself in a way that was opening.

What Dr. King started almost a century ago, we have to finish. It is the only way to make his dream a reality.

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World on Fire Character Review: Albert Fallou

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. It would be nice to live in a world in which whom one loves is just another aspect of who they are. But the reality is we are judged based on our sexuality and based on that judgment, assigned a value. On World on Fire, Albert Fallou (Parker Sawyers) is a Frenchman whose family is originally from West Africa. He is also gay and in love with American doctor Webster O’Connor (Brian J. Smith).

Before the Nazis invade, Albert just lives his life as anyone does. But things quickly change under German rule. Targeted for his West African heritage, the Nuremberg Laws state that Albert is a second class citizen. Fearing for his and Webster’s lives, Albert asks Webster to smuggle him out of France. He knows that while his partner may be able to fly under the radar for a short time, Webster’s sexuality could be revealed at any time.

To sum it up: It takes courage to be yourself in a world that at best denies your rights and at worst, wants you dead. But, it also takes courage to know when it is better to leave your home and stay alive rather than stay where you are and risk being killed. Albert is aware of the world he now lives in and the tough choices that must be made in order to survive.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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World on Fire Character Review: Webster O’Connor

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. The truth of human sexuality is that it has always been a spectrum. But for most of our time on Earth, the only acceptable sexual relationship has been between a man and a woman. It is only in the last few decades (depending on where one lives) that members of the LGBTQ community are free to live and love as they want to.

On World on Fire, Webster O’Connor (Brian J. Smith) is an American doctor working and living in Paris as World War II rumbles on the horizon. He is also gay. Before the Germans invade the country, Webster is able to live openly as a gay man (well, as much as one could back then). Happily involved with Albert Fallou (Parker Sawyers), Webster does not listen to his aunt, Nancy Campbell (Helen Hunt) when she strongly recommends that he return to the States.

Then the Battle of France happens and Webster is stuck behind enemy lines. As both an American and a member of the LGBTQ community, he knows how dangerous it is to remain in France. But his Caucasian complexion and his assumed Christian faith have so far kept Webster off of the Nazi’s radar. Feeling that he has to do something, Webster and his colleague/nurse Henriette Guilbert (Eugénie Derouand), hatch a plan to get prisoners of war out of France before the Nazis can get their hands on them.

To sum it up: I suspect that many people in Webster’s situation would have taken his aunt’s advice. Having stayed for love, Webster is completely aware of the situation he is now in. But. he also knows that doing his part to save lives is dangerous. Having the courage to do that makes him a hero in my book.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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A Vote For Decency is a Vote For Joe Biden & Kamala Harris

If there is one thing that Americans have lost over the last four years, it is that we have lost a sense of decency.

On Thursday, in lieu of the cancelled Presidential debate, each candidate held a televised town Hall. You know who’s town hall aired on NBC with Savannah Guthrie as moderator. Vice President Joe Biden’s town hall aired on ABC with George Stephanopoulos moderating.

I didn’t watch you know who’s town hall. But I watched enough clips to know that it was not worth watching. Instead of talking about what he would do for the American people if he is re-elected, he once again claimed the spotlight and whined.

One of the questions that was asked of the Vice President, was his stance on the rights of the LGBTQ community. His response is as follows:

This is the type of person I want to be President. Is he perfect? No. But at the very least, he understands that the role of a public servant is to serve the community. It is not intended to be used for personal gain or to fill an emotional hole created by difficult parent.

If I were to list the reasons to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the number one reason is a vote for decency. If we are to move forward as a nation, we need a President and an administration that represents that sense of decency. That administration will be led by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

#BidenHarris2020

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