Tag Archives: LGBTQ

Roseanne and The Conners Character Review: Mark Healy II

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.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

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Roseanne and The Conners to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

One could argue that art is about representation and giving voice to those who are voiceless. When it comes to the LGBTQ community, art has a way of opening minds, doors and hearts. On Roseanne and The Conners, Mark Healy (Ames McNamara) is that voice. The son of Darlene Conner (Sara Gilbert) and David Healy (Johnny Galecki), Mark is artistic, sensitive and polite. Named after his late uncle, Mark prefers feminine clothing and is out to his family.

Though his grandfather Dan Conner (John Goodman) initially expressed some concern about Mark’s identity, his love for his grandchild eclipsed his concerns.

To sum it up: It takes courage to be yourself, no matter how old you are. In being himself, Mark speaks to and speaks for those of us who are different. He encourages us to not be afraid of standing out from the crowd. Though he is young, the lesson he teaches is timeless and ageless.

That is why Mark Healy is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Television

Portrait of a Lady on Fire Movie Review

When it comes to art, it is more than the materials that the artist used to create it. It tells as much about the artist as it does the subject.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire was released in the US this weekend. In 1760, Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is a painter whose newest commission is to paint a young woman who lives on the island of Brittany. Her subject is Heloise (Adèle Haenel), whose marriage is pending on whether or not her fiance will like her portrait. Heloise refused to sit for the previous painter, leaving their work unfinished.

Marianne pretends to be a companion for Heloise so she can complete the portrait. As the women bond, they become friends and then something more. But the reality is that while they are becoming closer, they both know that the end date of their relationship is coming.

To the naked eye, this film appears to be an LGBTQ period drama with the standard narrative and character hallmarks. But it is more than that. The film shows a world in which men are in the background and true equality exists between women. It also reminds the audience of the severe limitations on women during the period in a way that does not hit the audience over the head.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Feminism, History, Movie Review, Movies

Red, White & Royal Blue Book Review

Stories about true love between commoners and a member of the royal family have been around for centuries. But what happens when both are of the same sex?

Casey McQuiston’s debut novel, Red, White & Royal Blue was released last year.

Alex Claremont-Diaz’s life changed forever when his mother was elected President. A PR rep’s dream come true, he is handsome, charming and the all-American boy. But there is a hitch. Alex does not get along with Prince Henry of England. To prevent what could be a major diplomatic row, plans on both sides of the Atlantic are made to mend fences.

What starts out as a PR stunt turns into a friendship and then something more. As much as Henry and Alex love each other, they both know that this relationship comes with complications. Will true love win the day or will politics and fear break up what could be a modern fairy tale?

I loved this book. It felt very modern and thoroughly fairy tale like at the same time. Though the author relied on the tried and true haters turned to lovers trope, she was able too flesh it out in such a way that it did not feel predictable. It was funny, charming, sexy and a dam good read.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Fairy Tales, Politics

Best Books of 2019

To say that I am a bookworm is an understatement. As you might expect, I’ve read quite a few books this year.

Without further adieu, my list of the best books of 2019 is below.

  1. The Women of the 116th Congress: Portraits of Power: This book is #1 because it represents how far American women have come and how far we need to go before we are truly equal. In celebrating the success of these female politicians, the authors are paving the way for the next generation of women to represent their country.
  2. The Unwanted: America, Auschwitz, and a Village Caught In Between: This compelling and true story of one small town and it’s Jewish residents during World War II is as compelling as any fiction novel of the Holocaust.
  3. Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II: Telling the story of Audrey Hepburn‘s childhood during World War II, this book is a must-read for both movie junkies and history nerds alike.
  4. Summer of ’69: History is not just facts in a book. It the lives and experiences of those who lived through that period. In telling the story of one specific family, the summer of 1969 comes alive.
  5. Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators: The revelation of Harvey Weinstein’s actions two years ago was appalling and world-changing. In bringing his actions to the light, the authors are giving his victims what should have been theirs in the first place.
  6. Unmarriageable: A Novel: This adaptation of Pride & Prejudice set in Pakistan proves why Austen’s novels are universally loved and rebooted time and again.
  7. The Mother of the Brontes: When Maria met Patrick: The previously untold story of Maria Bronte (nee Branwell) is a fascinating story of the women who would bring Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte into the world.
  8. Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman: It takes guts to be yourself. It takes even more guts when being yourself means that you are no longer part of the community you grew up in.
  9. She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement: The reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein scandal knew what they were up against. They also knew how important it was for the public to know the truth.
  10. The Winemaker’s Wife: Love and betrayal are enough to handle. Add in war and you have this marvelous novel set in France during World War II.

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Filed under Anne Bronte, Book Review, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Movies, Pride and Prejudice

Marriage of a Thousand Lies Book Review

Living a double life is not easy. But there comes a point in which the person must choose: do they continue to live that double life or be themselves?

In SJ Sindu’s 2018 debut novel, Marriage of a Thousand Lies, Lucky and her husband Krishna are living a double life. On the surface, they fit right in with their conservative Sri Lankan American community. They appear to be a traditional heterosexual married couple. But appearances are deceiving.

Both Lucky and Krishna are gay. Keeping up appearances as a straight married couple allows them to date on the side without making waves. When Lucky’s grandmother’s health takes a turn for the worst, she is forced to return to her family. She also reconnects with Nisha, her childhood best friend, and former lover.

Nisha has agreed to marry a man that she has never met. Both women are at a crossroads. They can start a new life together or continue to live with the lies that have been their comfortable companion since they were young.

I loved this book. The characters felt real and universal. Lucky is an outsider, as both a gay woman and a woman of color. It is that outsider-ness that gives the novel the narrative thrust and sucks the reader in immediately. Great novels are great because the characters have a universal quality to them. As a reader, I felt like I understood Lucky, Nisha and the conundrum they both faced.

I absolutely recommend it.

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The Straight Pride Parade? Wow

It’s no secret that for most of American history (and human history), a minority has ruled the majority. This minority is the straight, White, Christian and (mostly) wealthy male minority. The rest of us have had to fight for our basic rights.

This weekend, a group of citizens decided to hold a parade in Boston. The name of the parade was the Straight Pride parade.

I suppose that the organizers see it as their version of the LGBTQ Pride parade. But this parade is nothing more than a statement of hate and reminding us who is still in charge.

We are thankfully living in an era in which those of us who have been disenfranchised have rights and opportunities that previous generations had only dreamed of. But those rights and opportunities only came about because of those previous generations who fought, marched and protested for their their rights.

I respect their right to march, but I highly disagree with the reason for the march. If we want to better this country, it’s time that we came together instead of dividing us based on superficial reasons.

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Filed under National News

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. Review

Among the numerous death camps that the Nazis maintained during World War II, Auschwitz was the most notorious. At least 1.1 million people died within the borders of the death camp.

The new exhibit, Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away., opened back in June at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City’s Battery Park. The exhibit tells the story of the death camp from it’s time as an average small town to it’s days as the notorious death camp until it’s current state as a museum just after the war.

Containing personal artifacts, interviews, media coverage from the day and historical timelines, this exhibit is as hard hitting, emotional and relevant as any Holocaust exhibit.

I’ve often spoken on this blog about the Holocaust. My family came from Eastern Europe and like many Eastern European Jews, there are stories of family members who survived and those who didn’t.

The artifacts are so incredibly ordinary. A pair of glasses. A variety of adult shoes. A suitcase. Those who walked through the gates of Auschwitz were not so different than you and I. But there were labelled as different, subhuman and therefore ripe for extinction.

The one artifact that stayed with me was the child’s shoe with the sock still in it. I imagine a mother undressing her child before undressing herself. She meticulously kept their clothes together thinking that they were about to enter a run of the mill “shower”. No one could have expected that the “shower” would kill them.

What the curators and the museum have done brilliantly is to make the connection between Europe before World War II and our current world. Germany was a democracy before the Nazis took power. If the democratic rule of law and acceptance of all citizens is not upheld, the slippery slope to dictatorship and murder is sharp and quick.

I’ve been to quite a few Holocaust exhibits over the years. What made this one different is the that spotlight is also on the other victims. LGBTQ and Romani (Gypsy) were just two of the groups that were tortured, starved and murdered.

If you must go to one museum and one exhibit this year, Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. is it. Not only do I recommend it, I would say that it should be mandatory given the world we currently live in.

I would also recommend that if you visit, you carve out 2-3 hours, as it takes that long to go through and absorb this story.

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. will be open until January 3rd, 2020 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Check the website for tickets prices and exhibit details.

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Filed under History, New York City, Politics

Throwback Thursday-A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila (2007)

Dating shows seems to be one of the most popular within the reality show genre. The question that I think a viewer has to ask is if the show is “real” or staged for the sake of good television?

A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila aired on MTV in 2007. The premise of the show was the same as an reality dating show, with one exception. The star of the show, Tila Tequila, was bisexual. 16 straight men and 16 gay women competed for her affection. At the end of the series, like all reality dating shows, the final competitor was chosen as the star’s significant other.

As much as I dislike reality dating shows, I really disliked this one. The creative team had an opportunity to give a voice to the LGBTQ community. While it appeared that this was another opportunity to open the doors of communication and acceptance, it was in reality just another dating show that took advantage of the “exoticism” of the LGBTQ community to increase ratings.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely not.

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Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Rocketman Movie Review

A good biopic more than tells the story of the film’s subject. It reveals their humanity.

The new film Rocketman tells story of legendary musician Elton John (Taron Egerton).

Born Reggie Dwight in 1947, his early years were not exactly sunshine and roses. His parents, Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Stanley (Steven Mackintosh) don’t have an easy relationship. The ruptures in their marriage extend to the relationship with their son. Stanley is cold and demanding. Sheila is slightly more maternal, but I wouldn’t describe her as the ideal mother. The only person who genuinely loves and supports the future rock star is his grandmother Ivy (Gemma Jones).

As a young man, Reggie starts to build a career as a musician. That career becomes a reality when he meets Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). But as often happens, success gets to Elton’s head. While his career thrives, so does his relationship with John Reid (Richard Madden). Adding to all of this is his growing addiction to alcohol and drugs.

This movie is interesting, especially in the sub-genre of music biopics. The narrative can be described as musical-like, with the songs driving the narrative. Instead of lip syncing to pre-recorded songs sung by the real life Elton John, Egerton does his own singing and is surprisingly good.

What strikes me is that the narrative underneath the music is the story of a man who is fighting lifelong demons of mental health and self esteem. His story, regardless of one’s sexuality, is a reminder that one can overcome one’s demons and live a full life.

I recommend it.

Rocketman is presently in theaters.

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Filed under Mental Health, Movie Review, Movies, Music

Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience Book Review

It’s 2019. In an ideal world, we would judge each other as an individual, not by factors such as skin color, religion, sex, etc. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where we judge each other based on external factors without knowing who the other person really is.

Anuradha Bhagwati knows all too well about the reality of the world we live in. The only child of strict Indian immigrants, Ms. Bhagwati was on the traditional academic track until she dropped out of grad school to join the Marines. She tells her story in her new memoir, Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience Book. Among the branches of the US Military, the Marines is by far the toughest. Especially for a bisexual woman of color who has the balls not only to succeed, but to stand up the misogynistic and racist men who make it clear that her presence in the Marines is not wanted.

After leaving the Marines, Ms. Bhagwati used her experience to break barriers. Her efforts opened the doors for women to be treated as equals by their commanders while speaking out about the pervasive sexual assault and sexual harassment that women in the military face every day.

 

This book, from my perspective, should be a must read for every woman. I find the author to be nothing short of inspiring. She could have taken the easy way out and followed the expected path in life. But she took the road less traveled, leading her to pave the way for other women to take the road less traveled.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, Politics