Deola’s Corner (Edition 26)

Deola’s Corner (Edition 26)

It’s been a while since I have written on here. I have thought about coming out with a piece for a while, but I didn’t want to come back just for the sake of it, I needed to have something to say and it turns out, if you wait for years, eventually you’ll have something to say.

I wanted to talk a bit about representation in the media. I know you’ve heard the complaint of the homophobe – you know, the one about gay people invading all their TV shows and all the media. This can often give off the idea that representation of LGBT is rampant. However, that isn’t the entire truth. I find that because it is increasingly popular to have diverse characters in TV shows/films, Hollywood tends to get lazy with it. They think adding a queer character to a show fulfils their diversity quota and oftentimes, that character is just there to revolve around the lead (often heterosexual) character. Think the classic black girl in the show that is there to be sassy and say lines like “yasss girl” without having their own stories or much of a distinct personality.

The gay character rarely gets their own plot, and when they do, it’s trauma porn. Up until recently, it’s become a classic Hollywood staple for stories involving queer characters to end with the character or their love interest dying, or their relationship ending in some tragic fashion.

Checking trailers of queer films on YouTube, you’ll find comments like “Someone, please tell me this ends happily.” It is indicative of how weary we have become with the trauma. We get it; dating and existing while being queer is hard (oftentimes because the homophobic societies we exist in won’t let us breathe). But that’s not all it is for us. It is also joyous, affirming and loving. I just want stories that run the gamut of the gay experience. We aren’t sad and hopeless all the time.

In the past year, I have consumed a lot of queer content and I can say that there’s been progress, especially in the way queer characters are written and portrayed. Space for them to be 3-dimensional has been created, and I appreciate it. However, there is still a-ways to go.

I watch a lot and so I have sifted through the stuff I have seen this year and chosen films and TV shows where I believe the queer characters are 3-dimensional and complex with their own stories. I have tried to make the list as diverse as possible, with content from various mediums and genres, so that there is something for everyone.

So, below is my list of favorite gay films/TV shows that I have seen this year. Some were released this year, some I have seen before, and re-watched again this year and gained a new appreciation for. They run across the genre spectrum.

So here it goes. Let us start with the films:

1. GOD’S OWN COUNTRY (2017)

I have seen a lot of queer movies, but this one, in this moment, is my favorite queer film of all time. It’s been labelled the UK’s answer to Brokeback Mountain. And like another film that is on this list, I can certainly see why. God’s Own Country had the unfortunate luck of being released in the same year as Call Me By Your Name, which caught more of the world’s attention, much to my frustration, as it is my opinion that God’s Own Country is the better film. It felt like one of those things where the world was only capable of paying attention to one queer film at a time.

God’s Own Country is set in the Yorkshire country, where a young gay Yorkshire farmer’s life is upended when a Romanian immigrant comes to work on his family’s farm. I will say this though: the characters speak with a heavy Yorkshire accent, and if you struggle with that, you will most certainly need to use subtitles.

God’s Own Country is wonderfully shot and magnificently acted. The two leads are brilliant, and the plot is specific and simple. And sometimes simple is perfect. It most certainly is here.

 

2. A MOMENT IN THE REEDS (2017)

A Finnish film that I have titled “The Finnish God’s Own Country”, the plot is eerily similar to that of God’s Own Country. I suspect this is a consequence of the legacy and impact of Brokeback Mountain, with many filmmakers wanting to capture that rustic, country feel.

You’ll most definitely be needing subtitles for this one, as half of the film is in Finnish. A Moment In The Reeds follows a Syrian immigrant worker who has been hired to help with fixing the cabin of a Finnish man. He strikes a relationship with the man’s son, and that leads to interesting revelations. Like God’s Own Country, this film is stunning, the leads are beautiful, and their chemistry is palpable. This format works and I ain’t mad at it.

 

3. BOOKSMART (2019)

Booksmart is a coming-of-age comedy about two friends who finally decide to take their noses out of their books and have a crazy night of fun, and thus, hilarity ensues. One of the film’s lead is lesbian. I like how the film’s story is centered on a friendship between a heterosexual and lesbian woman and it doesn’t treat it as revolutionary. A couple of the supporting characters are gay as well and hilarious.

The film features what happens to the best scene I saw in a film this year as well. It is simply one of the best films I saw this year.

 

4. RAFIKI (2018)

I would have included this on the mere fact that it is revolutionary for queer African cinema. Most of you are aware of the struggles this Kenyan film faced upon its release. It just so happens that it’s actually a bloody decent film. I love when a cinematographer understands how to shoot dark skin and black people; there is so much to play with melanin and the colours of the world. This film is beautiful. I unfortunately don’t get to watch many lesbian films because gay films dominate the queer space. I also of course don’t get to watch many lesbian stories featuring black characters, and I have never gotten one with African characters.

This film felt like home. It resonated with me. As black and gay people, we exist at an intersectionality; for our women, there is an added layer on that. It makes for complex experiences and this film captures that wonderfully. Please watch this.

 

5. JUST FRIENDS (GEWOON VRIENDEN) (2018)

You know what I am a fan of? A queer film that just exists without having to explain and justify its existence. There is something so defiant about it. A couple of the films on this list are like this, but this film best exemplifies what I am talking about. What I mean is a film where the queer character faces struggles that have absolutely nothing to do with their queerness, and no one calls attention to their queerness; if anything, the film isn’t about their queerness. Instead, it’s just a story about a character who just happens to be queer. I love to see shit like that.

This Dutch film is exactly that. The characters meet and fall in love, and that’s it.

The nonchalance was honestly refreshing.

 

6. LOVE, SIMON (2018)

This was one of the films where my perspective changed upon re-watch. I saw this when it came out last year and didn’t particularly like it because of how different the finale was from how it was in the book the film was adapted from. I re-watched it this year and I have softened on my feelings about the finale. I understand that some things have to be cinematic. I still would have preferred if they stuck to the ending in the book though.

In the film, Simon says, “Everyone deserves a love story.” And that couldn’t be truer. It’s crazy to me that this is the first film released by a major studio to be centered on a gay teenage romance. Lol, do you know how many heterosexual films of this type I have seen? Crazy that it took until 2018 before a major studio was “willing” to give the gays a chance.

PS: Disney is currently developing a sequel to the film, not based on the Simon character, but a different gay kid. Although Nick Robinson, who starred as Simon, will be back to serve as a narrator for the show. So, be on the lookout for that.

 

And now, for the TV Shows:

1. DEAR WHITE PEOPLE

Dear White People isn’t exactly an LGBT show, but it features a bunch of Black and POC LGBT characters. The show itself is a satiric dramedy centered around a bunch of black characters and how they navigate going to a predominantly white institution.

 

2. THE BOLD TYPE

I really love this show. “Millennial” YA television shows like this can come off as very inauthentic – trust me, I have seen some that’ll make you cringe. I sometimes think the writer’s room for those shows were littered with 40-year-olds writing how they think 20-year-olds speak.

This show isn’t that though; it is surprisingly well-written, considering the network it airs on, and features dynamic characters that you’ll definitely love. It’s like Sex in the City but with less sex and more unironic wokeness.

 

3. SEX EDUCATION

Never seen a British show feel so American. I guess that’s part of what makes the show work. That and the fact that its superbly written, produced, shot and acted. Also, Gillian Anderson plays a sex therapist! That should be enough to make you go give this a look. But there is more there, a whole lot more. One of the best shows I saw this year.

 

4. ELITE

Someone described this show as Gossip Girl meets How To Get Away With Murder, and that is just apt. It has the high school politics and hotness of Gossip Girl and the murder intrigue of HTGAWM. It’s got just the right amount of soapiness and over-the-top drama. Just right.

Of the ensemble are two gay character who, for me, are the heart of the show. The third season premieres next year.

 

5. EUPHORIA

How does one start to describe this show? Euphoria is about teenage high school students and their experiences with sex, drugs, abuse, friendship and love. I think that about covers it, but it doesn’t do it justice though. Euphoria is a wild ride; I lost count of the amount of times something happened that made my jaw drop. One of the leads is a trans girl and a lot of the story revolves around her. You gotta check this one out.

 

I figured I’d drop shows from other non-traditional platforms and genres as well. That is, web shows, talk shows and reality TV. For the web shows:

1. LOVE AT FIRST NIGHT

Platform: YouTube (Channel: Slay TV)

The truth is that a lot of web TV shows can often lack quality. I always admire the hard work that is put into bringing anything to a screen. However, the budget will always matter. This show doesn’t seem to be more expensive to make than the other ones I have come across. However, it feels like it. The dialogue especially, which is usually my main issue with these web shows, is way better than anything I have seen. It still has that “web feel” about it. Editing can be uninspired, but the show is well written, and the acting is one of the best I have seen on a web show.

The story itself I found to be incredibly relatable; in fact, the “unpolished” often fed the show’s realism. Episodes are short, and so it makes for a really quick binge.

 

2. GIANTS

Platform: YouTube (Channel: Issa Rae Presents)

Giants is written and created by James Bland and produced by Issa Rae (of HBO’s Insecure). It is definitely one of the better shows on YouTube. You can tell this show has a budget. It sometimes gets too poetic for my taste, but it didn’t deter me because this show is the best web series I have seen. The best writing, acting, production, editing, music, direction. Just great quality all round.

The show is about three black millennials, as they navigate their ambitions, sexualities, faith and mental health in the big city.

The show’s second season was nominated for over 10 Daytime Emmys, unsurprisingly picking up a couple because, like I said, it’s brilliant. This show is legit, guys. Still shocked no major network has picked it up.

PS: The queer character on this show is Nigerian.

 

For the talk shows, there is:

THE X-CHANGE RATE

Platform: YouTube (Channel: The Build Series)

I was on the hunt for a talk show that was queer positive and black as well, and The X-Change Rate was exactly what the doctor ordered. Fresh off her historic Drag Race All Stars win, Monet X Change’s talk show is very much Wendy Williams show, but hosted by an incredibly charismatic drag queen. It manages to take the Wendy Show’s formula and makes it fresh.

The most surprising thing about the show is that Monet is an incredibly good interviewer. She manages to be funny and gets the guest to get comfortable really quickly.

The show is still building its audience, but Monet has landed a lot of exciting guests – Trixie Mattel, Dyllón Burnside, Iggy Azalea, Bob the Drag Queen, Gia Gunn and the recent Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi. My personal favorite is her interview with the iconic TS Madison.

 

And for reality TV, there is:

ARE YOU THE ONE? (Season 8)

I don’t even recall how I found out about this show. I’m glad I did though, because this is a concept I have been begging to see for ages! I remember seeing the E! network dating show, The Bi Life, and thinking: ‘What a missed opportunity.’ How do you have a dating show about single male and female bisexuals and not have them date each other?

Well, the eighth season of Are You The One? definitely corrects this. All the cast members were sexually fluid and identified as bisexual or pansexual. The show also featured trans and non-binary cast members.

This made things incredibly interesting as anyone really could match up with anyone. The possibilities were endless, and this made for some incredible drama. More importantly though, it was incredible to see such representation on such a scale. The series was educating as much as it was entertaining.

The dating hook and format of the show can be quite confusing at first, especially if you hadn’t seen the previous seasons. However, it quickly starts to make sense after a while.

PS: Only the 8th season of the show features this twist. The other seasons are extremely heterosexual.

 

I’ll end this episode here to come back again with my list of favorite queer characters in film and television. Meanwhile, do sound off in the comments about the films and TV shows you’ve seen that had queer content the way you like it.

Written by Deola

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12 Comments

  1. KingB
    December 27, 07:54 Reply

    Giants was so interesting. My dick Springs up whenever I see Mordecai. What i’d do to that guy in bed sha,but then wishes aren’t horses.LOL
    Hown come no one watches TRIANGLES? You guys are missing a whole lot oooo. It’s on YouTube

    • BRYAN PETERS
      December 27, 14:56 Reply

      Triangles is real cool. Got to see a lot of YouTube LGBT series this holiday and it has been fun, entertaining and enlightening.
      Awesome write up Deola. Now I have been inspired to see some more of these shows and movies

  2. Colossus
    December 27, 08:47 Reply

    What a comeback 👏👏

    Welcome back, deola.

  3. Mitch
    December 27, 10:13 Reply

    This is how to make a comeback!!!
    Welcome back, Deola.

    For me, God’s Own Country was the most relatable queer film I saw this year. Love, Simon had me feeling a little bit weird. I mean, for teenagers, Simon and his friends dilly-dallied between either being too world smart or being extremely dumb. The book was so much better than that movie.
    Call Me By Your Name was a beautiful film. But, I couldn’t help but keep cringing every time I saw Elio and Oliver together. The disparity between their perceived ages was just too much for me to handle.

    As for queer TV, Elite and Euphoria and Dear White People take it for me. Dear White people especially. There’s something so refreshing about how everyday issues are trashed on that show. It’s beautiful.

    I’d make it a point of duty to check out the Web series. That’s something I haven’t really let myself do in a long time now.

  4. Mike
    December 27, 13:57 Reply

    What would have killed this, is if you had added links

  5. Gaia
    December 27, 22:01 Reply

    Where do you download your movies from biko?

  6. K
    December 27, 22:36 Reply

    Hi please I have a question, is this platform just for gays??… I mean I’ve been following and reading up on lots of really nice and inspiring stories I learnt a lot from, but I’d also like to ask if you also have a platform solely for lesbians

    • Francis
      December 28, 09:14 Reply

      It’s for everyone but gay contributors outnumber the lesbians I guess.

  7. Francis
    December 28, 09:13 Reply

    Welcome back Dee. Dusted and binged Elite 2 yesterday. So glad they didn’t drop the ball. Looking forward to Season 3.

    Highlight for me too was the gay couple especially Omar. Funny how people start acting strange when you finally decide to live your true authentic gay self and not the gay version curated for mass appeal.

  8. Rudy
    December 28, 15:50 Reply

    Such a lovely compilation you’ve got on there Deola 👍🏽.
    I must have watched half of the content you’ve listed and definitely willing to complete the other half of it.
    I’d add to what you’ve mentioned on here my own personal dose of lgbt contents I binged on this year namely;

    .Rocketman (A movie biopic of Sir Elton John)

    .Why Women Kill (TV Show)

    .Pose 2 (TV Show)

    .And the countless number of queer oriented Ted Talks on YouTube which are educative, fun and Inspiring.

    Thank you Deola!

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