“Why do we need to have this GSA-week?” It’s a good question. It’s also a convenient question because the very act of asking it, provides the answer. If LGBT visibility were more integrated in popular media, a week like this would perhaps not raise such instant resistance. By isolating LGBT-media, a lot of people might think this content is not for them, on account of ‘not being gay’ or ‘not being gay enough’. I have chosen three of my favourite pieces of media as examples of what I consider to be good representation of the diverse group that is LGBT media. The fact that they are all LGBT in one way or another is not the only reason why they are good. They’re just good. So, without further ado, if you are looking for a new comfort movie, some angsty poetry, and homework jams, please keep on reading.
Imagine Me and You (2005)
“Am I gay? I’m ecstatic!”
In this typical British rom-com, Rachel (Piper Perabo) and Heck (Matthew Goode) are getting married and all seems well until, on her wedding day, Rachel meets someone. And it’s not her husband. The person she meets is Luce (Lena Heady), the florist for her wedding. In the rest of the movie, Rachel tries to figure out her conflicting feelings and, spoilers, ends up leaving Heck. As the title suggests, Rachel and Luce end up “happy together”.
This movie ticks all the boxes for a typical rom-com: star-crossed lovers, awkward situations, a car chase, and of course, the epic kiss. All the supporting characters, including Anthony Steward Head, (known for his roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Merlin) are funny in an understated way that only the Brits can pull off successfully. The romance between Rachel and Luce is genuine, non-sexual, and handled beautifully – most of all by how it is instantly accepted by everyone around them. Or, as my dad said after watching it: “Wow, it’s just like any rom-com, except the girl gets the girl in the end.”
Richard Siken – Crush (2005)
“The entire history of human desire takes about seventy minutes to tell. Unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of time.”
This poetry bundle by Richard Siken is currently one of my most-prized possessions. His poetry is unlike anything I have ever read before. It is moody, chaotic, and often written in a stream of consciousness that borders on spoken word poetry. Oh, and he always writes about men.
He pens down the experience of being gay, the overarching aching experience of being human, and all the love, rage, frustration, confusion, desolation and hope that a human life brings. Sometimes manically, always vulnerably, Richard Siken writes poetry that lingers.
Hayley Kiyoko – “Sleepover” (2017)
“At least I got you in my head.”
It has been said that she is for lesbian and bisexual girls what Taylor Swift is for straight and, well, bisexual girls. Her discography so far, taps into the most basic experiences of women who love women. Her song “Girls Like Girls” is both tentative and bold. It’s about crushing on a girl and its main message is: This is how I feel and I’m real. Her song “Gravel to Tempo” is feeling like there’s something wrong with you, and countering that by only falling for extremely unattainable popular girls. In her music video, Kiyoko challenges this idea by walking up to the popular girls and busting some moves that would make Chandler “are you suggesting we dance our troubles away” Bing proud. Earlier this year she released “Sleepover”, which is the most toned-down and vulnerable song she’s released so far. It acknowledges the pain behind the longing. Unrequited love is always painful, but never even having a chance to begin with is a different kind of pain. The video beautifully shows Kiyoko fantasizing about the girl without it ever being predatory. It is sexual but not sexualized. It sends a message that it’s okay to want things.
A large part of visibility has to do with representation, which is what this article is about. Art is a vehicle to show human emotions, and love is a big emotion. All three of the examples I chose help people to see that what they feel is not wrong or abnormal, it’s simply life.
Mijke van Leersum, Class of 2017, is a literature and philosophy major from Huizen, the Netherlands.
Source featured image: NKD Magazine