Thursday, February 18, 2021

Superheroes, Queer Representation, Director Lee Daniels. Lesflicks & MORE!

Written by Shane Smith, Editor

Does anyone remember country singer Johnny Lee's 1980 hit, Lookin' for Love (In All The Wrong Places)?. I'm at that place with queer folk (me included) when it comes to Hollywood and LGBTQ representation. At times I feel like Hollywood just doesn't want me as an audience. Or to paraphrase the saying, 'they're just not into me.' So many in our community crave representation and I get it. Films are a powerful medium to tell stories and can have a genuine lasting impact on a person. The first time I saw the love affair between Omar and Johnny in My Beautiful Laundrette I was transfixed. In a movie theatre on the big screen there were two handsome gay lads happily in love in a film with a happy ending. I wanted more

Now, the quest to have the first gay superhero movie is on! It may come as a surprise to fans of the whole superhero film genre but to comic book connoisseurs the source material for Marvel and DC films has been full of LGBTQ superheroes for years. 

"To LGBTQ children, and even adults, seeing a superhero that is confident in their queer identity save the day makes a world of difference as the begrudging evils of homophobia and transphobia continue to permeate society from microaggressions to violent hate. For Marvel or DC to provide space for an LGBTQ superhero in their all-star lineup would validate the queer experience and signal the progress global society and Hollywood have made in uplifting communities considered too “impure’ for film screens less than a century ago." 
Which studio will have the super-balls to do it? Time will tell. 

When I was a young gay man I mainly watched queer movies featuring hot guys. I didn't care if the actor playing gay was gay in real life or not. Now, I want films to have a good story with solid acting and preferably the lead roles being played by out LGBTQ people, because visibility matters. I also find that I enjoy films about lesbian, bi or trans relationships. Cosmo has a list of "The 9 Hottest LGBTQ Movies You Can Stream Right Now", are any of your favorites on this list?

Speaking of lesbian movies! Did you know there's a new digital streaming platform focused on content for queer women? It's called "Lesflicks" and it was launched by Naomi Bennett. Bennett says the women she knew were "desperately seeking more content about their communities" and that's when Bennett said she noticed the marketing was not working. "There was a disconnect between the films and the audience”. The platform is still in its infancy with 17 feature films, 85 short films, and 7 web series. "Lesflicks" relies on a dedicated team of volunteers to help it grow. I love seeing entrepreneurship in the LGBTQ community and to quote singers Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin, "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves".

Truth be told I'm bored with all the superhero movies coming out of Hollywood. I love seeing all the handsome hunk actors showing their muscles - don't get me wrong - but, seriously Hollywood we're begging for better films with better stories. Less CGI and more heart. Please. I was a bit surprised when I read that director Lee Daniels wants to do a "gay superhero movie". Well, at least that would be different. I hope he casts out actors though. It's the 21st Century and there are MORE than enough openly queer actors to hire. Don't give me that "we hired the right person for the role" or "their sexuality is none of our business" crap either. LGBTQ actors deserve to be at the table. Anyway, I digress. Back to Lee Daniels. His latest project is one I'm really looking forward to, "The US vs. Billie Holiday". The movie follows singer Billie Holiday during her career as she is "targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover sting operation led by black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair". Apparently the film will include her relationships with both men and women. Daniels says, "(Holiday) was a woman who bucked the system and sang a song (Strange Fruit) about lynching after they told her not to — and she continued to do it.” He adds, “She kicked off the civil rights movement as we know it with that song.” 

The United States vs. Billie Holiday features an excellent cast: Andra Day as Billie Holiday, Natasha Lyonne, Garrett Hedlund, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Evan Ross and Trevante Rhodes of "Moonlight". 

The film premieres February 26, 2021 on Hulu.

Billie Holiday singing "Strange Fruit" live in 1959


WATCH: Vertical Lines (Gay Short Film)

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