Gender Roles in “But I’m a Cheerleader”

The 1999 satirical romantic-comedy film “But I’m a Cheerleader” is directed by Jamie Babbit and stars Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, and RuPall to name a few. The movie focuses on a teenage girl, Megan Bloomfield (Lyonne), who is sent to a conversion therapy camp, True Directions, because her parents and friends suspect she is a lesbian. There Megan soon comes to embrace her sexual orientation, despite the therapy, and falls in love with Graham (DuVall). The movie uses the theme of socially constructed gender roles to “cure” homosexuality.

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The production and costume design of the movie was meant to reflect the idea of gender roles. There is a progression from the organic world of Megan’s hometown, where the main colors are orange and brown, to the fake world of True Directions, dominated by intense blues and pinks, which show the artificiality of gender roles. In the camp, the male campers wear only dark blue shorts, shirts, and ties, whereas the female campers wear only bright pink skirts and blouses. By having the campers wear clothes that are typically associated with the standard male outfit and the standard female outfit, it tries to show the campers how normal straight people dress.

Besides making the campers wear gender specific clothes, they make the campers perform a series of tasks associated with each gender. For example girls are taught how to clean a house, change aBut_I'm_a_Cheerleader_BLUE baby, how to sew, specifically a wedding dress, how to wear make-up and look like a “pretty young woman”. Guys are taught how to change a tire and fix a car’s engine, how to play football, and how to chop wood and spit. The idea is if the campers realize and practice their intended role in society then their homosexuality will be cured.

Along with performing gender specific tasks, the campers are also given cards with images of their gender doing the typical gender roles the campers should be emulating. Megan and Graham are going over the cards, and Megan shows Graham a card of a but-im-a-cheerleaderwoman taking out the trash. Graham responds with “I see a woman” and Megan frustratedly says “ It’s a mother. Women have roles. After you learn that you’ll stop objectifying them.” The concept that is being taught at the camp is that homosexuality is caused by not conforming to the socially constructed gender roles. In order to cure this homosexuality, you have to act and dress like an ideal man or woman performing the gender roles given to you by society.

The idea that performing gender specific tasks and wearing gender specific clothes will change who someone loves is just ridiculous and ignorant. The movie showcases this in a funny light-hearted way but still gets the message across: love is love, and it cannot be cured.

Gender Diversity Creeping Into Society

For so long, we have only been able to choose our gender from a dichotomy: male or female. However, within the past two years, there has finally been some progressive activity towards recognition of multiple and varying gender identities. One of the most popular social media websites, Facebook, created a multitude of gender options for its users at the beginning of 2014. Now, in 2015, there are a few progressive universities following suit. While not as diverse as Facebook’s options, the University of Vermont, the University of California, the University of Albany, and Harvard University have all taken steps towards more open gender expression and recognition. While the simple pronouns of he and she may not seem important, to many people in the world, these small recognitions are giant leaps forward in gender acceptance.

Referring to someone not by their name, but by their gender pronouns is so second nature to the human brain that most of us put little to no thought into it after we see what a person looks like; more often than not, we recognize an abundance of masculine or feminine qualities in a person which is then followed by an immediate and subconscious assignment of the pronouns “he” or “she.” What a good chunk of people do not realize, though, is that there are a significant number of individuals who either do not identify as the gender those individuals outwardly express or who do not even identify as the traditional male or female genders.

“Gender’s very flexibility and seeming fluidity is precisely what allows dimorphic gender to hold sway.” -J.J. Halberstam

As we have read from Leslie Feinberg, transgender habits, thoughts, and ways of life are not new concepts or practices, and, in fact, they have not only been around in most documented cultures, but they have even endured through the worst of hardships. This furthers arguments made by J.J. Halberstam as well; Halberstam understands that we as a society don’t have strictly male and female identities, but rather masculine and feminine qualities which we designate as male or female. Consequently, this leads him to ask why we don’t already have multiple gender expressions and identities in our society. Perhaps we, as a society, have made little progress due to the male and female categories being “so elastic” as Halberstam describes; or perhaps Feinberg’s gender continuum already exists—not in the form of multiple gender identities, but rather with these “elastic” categories of male and female. Maybe this is why the gender binary has endured for so long; maybe the elastic male and female continuum is adequate. However, contrary to what the mass populous has deemed satisfactory for so long, many people and institutions have determined the current gender binary to be sub par.

“It is apparent that there are many ways for women and men to be; everything in nature is a continuum.” -Leslie Feinberg

Fortunately, in the past two years, progressive institutions have taken steps forward to queer our normative culture by forcing alternative gender identities into our binary system. These institutions are not simply radically suggesting that individuals should have more than two options when trying to identify one’s gender; instead, they are recognizing these identities by enforcing the various identities under the domain of their own institution. While not standardized between the institutions, each is making small steps towards a, hopefully, national change.

Examples of Gender Pronouns

Some Facebook Gender Options

Recognition as simple as a third gender of neutral—like that at the University of Vermont—or just the option to choose your own gender pronouns—like Harvard University—could make a drastic change in the lives of transgendered and gender-nonconforming people. These smaller changes nationwide could be a more conservative addition to our society’s tight gender binary; after people get used to the small changes, options to have multiple and varied gender options like that at the University of California and the University of Albany—universities at which students can choose between six or more options ranging from the standard male to trans woman to gender-queer—could be a progressive outlook for the future. Although our society may never get to official public recognition of the 50+ gender options listed on Facebook, these institutions are creating a path for future movement in gender expression.

If we’ve learned anything from the past, it is that gender differences and ambiguities exist within the seemingly everlasting male/female binary. We may be destined to stay within dichotomies, but I think we are starting to see that change is eminent. Because of these small, yet revolutionary, changes in gender recognition, I believe these institutions deserve a spot in this archive.

Ivan Coyote and the Roadmap to Being Butch

Ivan Coyote is a Canadian author and spoken word performer who focuses on gender identity, and more specifically, what it means to be butch. Spoken word allows them to use their own butch and masculine identities to offer a very personal, linguistic perspective on female masculinity. A natural storyteller, they have also published eight collections of short stories and one novel. More recently, Coyote has explored the more challenging mediums of audio and film, producing three CD’s and four short films. Many of Coyote’s publications and performances have been collaborations, most notably with queer musician and performer Rae Spoon, who co-authored Gender Failure with Coyote and who toured with them extensively.

Ivan Coyote began performing in 1992 and has done numerous tours across North America since then. Many of these performances can be seen on YouTube, including pieces such as “To all of the kick ass, beautiful fierce femmes out there,” “Dear Younger Self,” “A Butch Roadmap,” and “Hair Today.” Within these pieces, Coyote considers how to navigate different elements of female masculinity, or butchness. These elements include their experience of (almost) passing as a man and how to find solidarity with other butch women. Coyote considers both how they see the world and how the world sees them, without losing any of their authenticity as a queer storyteller.

Essential to Coyote’s lived experiences and to their storytelling style is the concept of the Butch Roadmap, which they present in a performance aptly named “A Butch Roadmap.” This Roadmap, which they describe as “. . . directions so that I can be found, or followed,” serves as history, both personal and collective. Coyote must create this Roadmap because it does not exist. Their history has not been recorded, so they record the parts that they consider to be the most important. Coyote chooses to highlight the importance of solidarity, asking butch women to “Learn to recognize other butches for what they really are: your people.” To be butch is not to live in solitude. Butches must do things together, without belittling each other for having or doing feminine things.

Another performance that stands out is “Hair Today.” “Hair Today” also references the Roadmap of Coyote’s life, showing them the way to the barber’s chair, a place where, in this case, Coyote finds acceptance and comfort. Wary of the judgment of the surrounding world, Coyote knows that their acceptance or dismissal often depends on whether they pass as a man or not. Even in their self-identification as butch, Coyote often passes, at least initially, as a man, something that many butch women experience, as do trans men. Coyote’s storytelling in “Hair Today” also brings to mind Native American queer poetry, such as Paula Gunn Allen’s Some Like Indians Endure. Coyote’s stories, although different from this poem in medium, also carry a message of survival and solidarity.

In a world that often overlooks butch women, Coyote’s message is a simple one: be the best butch you can possibly be. As they remind us in “A Butch Roadmap,” this can be as simple as driving your grandmother to bingo or shoveling her driveway. For those of us who pass as men, it’s our job to be gentlemen who hold the door for big, burly men and little, old ladies alike. Accept yourself, be the best you can be, and never forget to find your family.

Vanity Fair’s Not So Relatable Special Edition Issue

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This “special edition” magazine was created by GQ, the New Yorker, Vogue, Glamour, and Vanity Fair and published on August 18, 2015. The issue of this magazine features a bunch of transgender women and some transgender men. There are a ton of different pieces on transitioning, the struggles of being transgender, gender identity and expression, even the murder of Brandon Teena (which the movie “Boys Don’t Cry” is based off of), and many more things. It is interesting insight from each writer and their article. This issue was making an effort to help people understand the lives of transgender people.

Now, what makes this “special edition” so special? Well as people who are familiar with the transgender community, it should be known that there isn’t much transgender representation in popular media. Although the representation has increased in recent years, it is still not where it “should” be. GQ, the New Yorker, Vogue, Glamour, and Vanity Fair are all really big magazines and the representation that was given here was much appreciated. Yes this issue has some flaws, which I plan to talk about later in this piece, but any attempt to teach cisgender people things about life as a transgender person is very much appreciated by the community. One of the pieces is about a transgender boy named Skylar. The piece, About A Boy, talks about Skylar’s social/internal transition (his feeling like he wasn’t a girl when he was younger) as well as his medical transition. This is what makes this edition so special.

How does this relate to our class? Today we were talking about Caitlyn Jenner’s ability to relate to the average transgender person or lack thereof. This whole magazine is full of transgender people most of us other transfolk cannot relate to. Laverne Cox is the only one that has a relatable story behind her. Now, back to the not relatable people. Each transgender person has a different level of difficulty to relate to. The ones on the “maybe some can relate to” side are Jazz and Skylar. It is difficult to relate to both of them because most transgender children, teens, and even adults struggle with families not accepting that. That’s just how it goes. Also, unlike Jazz, most transgender children don’t have a reality television show. Just saying.

Then on the far side that is “this is not relatable whatsoever to 99% of the transgender community” set of folks. The main person in that category would be Caitlyn Jenner. Really, how many transgender people come out and in less than 6 months look flawless in the body they’re supposed to be in? Not many. Most transgender people are in a lower socio-economic class because there is nothing protecting them in the workplace. Inside the magazine on one of the first five pages it says, “90% of transgender people have faced disrespect, discrimination, or violence in some critical aspect of their life including in employment, housing, and healthcare simply for being who they are”. That really does make it hard to relate to her and to get the “Caitlyn Jenner effect” of transitioning quickly and flawlessly. With that said, however, each transgender person is somewhat relatable. This is only because they all have the struggle and pain of being born in the wrong body. I am not trying to undermine anybody’s struggle; it’s just that, in the words of Nicky Nichols from Orange is the New Black, “some shit stinks worse than other shit”.

The Kids Are All Right, But How Are The Adults?

“The Kids Are All Right” is a 2010 film directed by Lisa Cholodenko, starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo. It tells the story of married, lesbian couple Nic (Bening) and Jules (Moore). They each gave birth to a child from the same anonymous sperm donor. The youngest, fifteen year old Laser (Josh Hutcherson), is interested in finding their sperm donor, and pressures his older sister, Joni (Mia Wasikowska), who recently turned eighteen, into doing it for him. They find their donor father Paul (Ruffalo), a laid-back guy who runs his own farm and restaurant. The kids are interested in continuing to see him, and he starts to get more involved with the whole family’s lives. He ends up asking Jules to help landscape his backyard, and while she’s working for him, they have an affair. One night, when the family is over at Paul’s house for dinner, Nic finds out about the affair after finding some of Jules’s hair on a brush and in the shower. After confronting and getting a confession from Jules, tensions are high at home. Paul believes he has fallen in love with Jules, and suggests her marriage with Nic is already falling apart, she should just take the kids and move in with him, but she declines. Paul turns up at the house the night before Joni is to leave for college, and Nic angrily confronts him and turns him away. After this, Jules apologizes for her actions and begs for forgiveness from her family. The next morning, they all drive Joni to college, without Paul. Nic and Jules affectionately hug Joni goodbye together. On the ride back, Laser says they’re too old to break up, and the film ends with Nic and Jules smiling and holding hands.

The film is an excellent representation of a normal, same-sex couple. It portrays a family going through difficult times. One child about to leave for college, another in the troublesome teenage years, and a struggling, long-term marriage. The major problem has little to do with the fact that Nic and Jules are a lesbian couple, other than that Paul is their sperm donor. Though sperm donation isn’t simply unique to lesbians. Straight couples and even single women can and do get sperm donors. Jules cheats on Nic with Paul, not because she’s “becoming straight” like Nic questions, but because Jules desires support for her landscaping work, and Paul is offering that while Nic is extremely critical. The tension on their marriage is from them being together for so long, like many straight marriages. The problems they have with their kids, such as Joni about to leave for college and Laser hanging out with the wrong crowd, are similar to the same problems straight parents have. All the struggles they face have very little to do with their sexual orientation, showing that same-sex marriages go through the same matters as straight marriages.

One major critique is that the film follows the idea of the straight mind. Nic is clearly supposed to be the “man” of the relationship, and Jules the “woman.” Nic has a very masculine poise, is the breadwinner of the family, turns to work and wine when she feels lonely, and even has an ambiguously male name. At one point, Paul even refers to her as “my brother from another mother.” Jules is the more feminine character, trying to start her own business at home, and dresses more feminine with longer hair. Instead of adopting children, they both decide to go through pregnancy and childbirth, similar to what straight couples tend to desire. They experience little to no discrimination for their sexual orientation, and while ideal in a perfect world, doesn’t accurately represent what real lesbian couples experience.

Any possibility of sexual spectrum is removed and bisexual erasure is promoted in the scene where Nic confronts Jules about the affair. She asks Jules “are you straight now?” as if sexuality is something that can be turned on and off with no gray area.

Overall, the film is great representation of an average, lesbian marriage. It’s a normality that needs to be promoted more often in the movie industry. Though nowhere near suitable to represent all same-sex marriages, it’s headed in the right direction.

Timeless love — Love is Strange

Love is strange. It is strange because it can make two totally unrelated people become the most important one in each other’s life. It is strange because people can be bonded together no matter their sex, and no matter their age. The reason why I chose to write about this movie is that it is about a very unique kind of homosexual relationship.

‘Plain but touching’ is what I will use to describe this movie. It does not have a climax, nor a dramatic twist in the story line. Love is Strange directed by Ira Sachs is about two old gay couple, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina), who have been together for 39 years and just got married. After they get married, George get fired by the christian school which he has been teaching for many years. The couple cannot afford their apartment in Manhattan anymore so they have to rely on their family and friends for support.

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The first scene of the movie filmed the two old man’s feet side by side on the bed. We can see their rough skin and saggy belly exposing to each other without any discomfort. Everything seems to move so smoothly as they shower, change, and get ready for their big day. The many little details in their life show how they have accepted each other’s flaws. Their relationship is just like any other couples, except that they do not have the particular ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ that straight couple have. Halderstam’s article about female masculinity discussed about the heronic masculinity and the alternative masculinities, but I am wondering after watching this movie, does a relationship must have a “muscular” and “feminine” side? In Ben and George’s relationship, we really cannot tell who is more muscular who is not. Society give people these classifications which I found really useless sometime because many people just can not be included in these classifications. Many people believe that there must be a more ‘man’ or ‘girly’ side in a relationship but Ben and George disproved this view. 

The movie also touches upon the society’s view toward homosexual. During Ben and George’s wedding, everyone is blessing the couple. However, the scene turns to George being fired. It shows the contrast between acceptance and resistance. In the scene when Joey (Eliot’s son)’s friend is posing for Ben’s painting, Joey said, ‘This is so gay!’ and then apologized to Ben. This reflects that people still use ‘gay’ as a negative word, although the society seems to accept gay marriage. Also, when Eliot and his wife Kate realized that their son was hanging out with his friend everyday, they start to worry about their son being homosexual. Kate talked about how Ben and George influenced her during their wedding ceremony, but when it comes to her son, she is still resists this sexual orientation. However, this make us wonder how Ben and George strive through all those years together and finally being able to get married.

The scene I loved the most is when they are walking in an alley after having their little drink in a bar. The two old man walk side by side but not holding hands. It seems like they are the only ones in the busy Manhattan. George walk Ben to the subway and gaze fixedly at Ben as he walk down the stair and until he disappear. The director always uses long shots to give the audience a lot of space to wonder, and to think deeply.

The death of Ben also went very smoothly without any tears shown. Joey brings Ben’s unfinished painting to George. I think it may symbolizes that their love is still not finished.

 

My One Temptation (Noah’s Arc)

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http://www.logotv.com/shows/noahs_arc/noahs-arc-my-one-temptation-season-1-episode-2/1710609/playlist/#id=1710609

Noah’s Arc is an African American Queer based show. That goes on to give it’s audience an overview of the lives of four gay males, in which they struggle to deal with different situations. Such as same sex dating, marriage, parenthood, infidelity, promiscuity, Gay bashing, and Homophobia. The show first premiered in the early 2000’s as a pilot, due to it’s immediate success the show automatically became a hit. When watching the first episode you’ll see that the show takes place in Los Angeles, California. In the first episode you’ll also go on to meet the four individuals by the names of Noah, who is the leading character in the show, Alex, Ricky , and Chance. Noah is a struggling screenwriter who is naïve to relationships. Whereas Alex is an outspoken HIV counselor who demonstrates self-confidence, jealousy issues and a take charge attitude. Ricky on the other hand is more of a free- spirit. Ricky is a sexually promiscuous owner of a men’s clothing store on Melrose Avenue who tries his best to avoid commitment. Lastly there’s Chance who is an economics professor who tries to

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         In season 1 episode 1 the leading character (Noah) runs into a guy by the name of Wade who is a former screenwriter who befriends him. From the beginning you can see that Wade is a perfect match, he handsome, masculine, and is very successful. The only issue is that Wade struggles with his sexual identity. Therefore he has difficulties with the person he actual is and the person he wants everyone else to perceive him as. In this episode Noah wants Wade to be more than just a friend of his, but he also doesn’t want to get hurt. Wade continues to hang out with Noah then realizes that he might be gay, but is scared. While Wade, Noah, and Noah’s Friends are at a gay club Wade whispers something into Noah’s ear. Which brings Noah into shock. When Noah is asked what happen he freaks out and says that Wade told him that he finds him sexually enticing. Therefore if anything were to happen between them there would have to be a female involved.

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I feel as though the situation between both Wade and Noah falls under Judith Butler’s ” Gender Performativity”. Due to the fact that because being gay isn’t what society portrays as normal. Wade feels as though he can’t be gay and if he is gay it would have to be behind close doors. I also feel as though because he (Wade) wants to remain in the closet, or cares to much about what people might think of him. He believes that if Noah and him were to have sex and a woman is present. Then that would mean that he isn’t really gay or queer it would just be considered a 3some. Gender performativity is similar in the way that because something isn’t apart of the regulatory regime that society has created or pushed on to us it cannot be considered normal.

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Some Assembly Required

Some Assembly Required is a memoir by seventeen-year-old Arin Andrews. Published in September 2014, it shares the many experiences Arin had growing up transgender. Beginning with stories about his early childhood (like loathing performing in dance recitals) and leading up to high school milestones (like going to prom), Arin discusses his gender reassignment and the struggles he faced while transitioning.

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This memoir does more than just speak to transgender teens. It resonates with readers of all ages and genders and informs them on what being transgender is really like in today’s society by providing a modern, honest and vulnerable journey for readers to relate to and does an excellent job on educating readers of the difficulties faced while growing up transgender, as well as on the transition process itself.

One of the most significant points in the memoir is when Arin begins his hormone replacement therapy. A reoccurring idea made throughout the text is that it’s extremely difficult to feel complete and comfortable with yourself if “the outside does not match the inside”. Arin refers to the day he started taking testosterone supplments as his “second birthday”, and notes that even one day after the first injection there were changes in how oily his skin was, how fervent his appetite was and how cracked his voice was. Arin said, “It was all happening – just one more step to becoming the person I was meant to be.” Casey Plett, the author of “Balls Out: A Column on Being Transgendered”, also recounts in one of her articles the stretching ritual that became a part of her daily life. She said that likes to stretch out before and after she goes to sleep in order to feel the difference in her body that was due to her hormone pills. “It’s an added pleasure to the bookends of my day now,” she says. Moments like these, coming from real-life people in the transgender community, help best explain to anyone their simply joys and desire to feel perfectly comfortable in their own bodies.

Arin has a story that is not uncommon. The transgender community continues to grow and has been getting a lot of coverage for some time now. Arin and his ex-girlfriend Katie Hill received a ton of media attention for being a trans couple (more specifically a trans couple that was “safe for the masses – white, telegenic and heteronormative”). Arin noted that it bothered him that no one was interested in filming any of the other trans teens in his community, but at least they were getting the conversation started on a larger scale. It’s important to reflect on the fact that Arin is neither a fictional character nor a prominent member in society. As discussed in class, Caitlyn Jenner has nearly become the face of the trans community, and her story is one that is difficult to relate to being that she has lived her life in the spotlight. Although Arin and Katie’s lives were certainly glamourized, it’s important to recognize them as more suitable advocate for the trans community simply because of how relatable and raw their journeys have been.

Below is an interview Barcroft TV held with Arin and Katie about their transitions and relationship.

Game of Thrones: Oberyn Martell

The popular HBO series Game of Thrones, written for television by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss is well known for creating a buzz among its viewers. This is not solely because of its renowned writing and production, which is based on the famous fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin. Throughout its run the show has featured many characterizations of today’s society’s ‘taboos’, which are meant to get viewers talking. One character in particular who has stood out in my mind is the Red Viper of Dorne, Oberyn Martell.

Oberyn is portrayed on screen as a macho, pansexual man with a love of lust and violence. Within seconds of his introduction to the show (already notorious for its sexually explicit content) viewers were thrust into a brothel bed where Oberyn was sexually engaging multiple men and women at the same time. Naturally his presence has created a stir in both the straight and queer communities and many have developed differing opinions on his portrayal.

“Then everyone is missing half the world’s pleasure. The gods made [women], and it delights me. The gods made [men]… and it delights me. When it comes to war I fight for Dorne, when it comes to love — I don’t choose sides.” – Oberyn Martell

Pedro Pascal, the actor who plays Oberyn, has expressed his own interpretation of the character:

“I think that he gives no explanation and makes no apologies for the way he lives his life, and I think that was very exciting and important to portray, that he has no hang-ups around the experience of pleasure, and he will take any opportunity to experience something beautiful, and I think he finds that in lovemaking. He doesn’t see the sense in limiting oneself of experience and pleasure, and I think that is very cool.

However, individuals from the queer community have expressed disappointment over the lack of label associated with Oberyn’s sexuality. While many simply do not like labels, others argue that Oberyn never definitively declaring the nature of his sexuality makes it seem like he is in some way ‘half-closeted’ and not truly willing to be associated with the bi or pansexual community. Many sources have him listed merely as gay, despite his clear attraction to women in addition to men. The bi and pan communities are seeking visibility and perhaps Oberyn’s on-screen actions are not enough to legitimize his (or their) sexual identity.

There has also been criticism over Oberyn’s characterization. He is not only incredibly masculine and hot-tempered (he is widely considered as one of the best fighter’s in the world), but he is very promiscuous with his sexuality. Many argue he is only two-dimensional for this reason. On top of this he is from a nation that has far different cultural values than that of most of the character’s on the show, and is viewed as an outsider. Again, bi/pan visibility may not be the same as promoting bi/pansexual identity, and to many the inclusion of Oberyn’s sexual tendencies might feel like a gimmick.

Alternative to these criticisms, a positive queer-centric dialogue has definitely been started by the introduction of his character. In my personal experience I can point to many of my straight, male friends who have fallen in love with his character despite their disconnect from queer culture. A community titled “GayForOberyn” has even formed on the website reddit and is filled with straight men discussing how Oberyn is making them question their sexuality. Well many in the community might be there out of mere appreciation for his suave personality and badass moves, I have perused the forum and even found a few posts were people have confessed that their crush on Oberyn has helped them come to terms with their bisexuality. When asked how he feels about his portrayal of Oberyn leading countless men and women alike to reconsider their sexual orientation, actor Pedro Pascal replied:

“That makes me feel wonderful. I think that that’s key to Oberyn. That he is the kind of person that is attractive and sort of breaks boundaries. He doesn’t play by the rules, so the fact that anyone would be attracted to him, no matter what their sexual orientation is, is very in line with the kind of character that he is. So I think that’s great.”

I think these conflicting viewpoints relate well to some of our in-class discussions about Caitlyn Jenner’s representation of the transgender community. Even if Oberyn doesn’t perfectly reflect the community’s struggle, he’s still an important presence. Shows like Game of Thrones thrive on being edgy and relevant (other examples in the show include cannibalism, zombies, incest, etc.) and while they may play up certain aspects of sexual identity, the visibility they allow for is not inherently good or bad but allows for a dialogue. Personally, Oberyn is one of my favorite characters, and at least in my own experience I cannot point to many other bisexual characters in any medium who have caused such a fan frenzy. At the end of the day everyone is different, so not every person in any of these communities is going to be completely satisfied by how an individual character represents their community as a whole, but the representation alone is a step in the right direction.

A “Weekend” You’ll Never Forget

With his critically-acclaimed 2011 British modern romantic drama, “Weekend”, Andrew Haigh has created something truly special. “Weekend” is the tale of Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New), two very different people who meet at a Nottingham gay nightclub, have a one-night-stand (which turns to something more throughout the weekend), and are never the same again.

Russell is a single lifeguard who attends a house party with friends one Friday night, but leaves early to go to a gay club (partly for more drinks, partly to find a one-night stand). He finds the latter in Glen, a student artist. This is a romance film, so of course, they fuck. The next morning (Saturday), Glen asks Russell to describe the experience of the night and their meeting on a tape recorder “for an art project”, and from that point forward, 2 things are clear: these people couldn’t have less in common (making their life-changing relationship that much more amazing), and that this isn’t your ordinary LGBTQ+ romance movie.

Throughout the description, and at other points in the film, Russell is noticeably hesitant and reserved, while Glen is more open and blunt and descriptive. They meet again after Russell’s shift at the pool ends, and learn more about each other (Russell grew up in foster homes with his friend Jamie, who he’ll see Sunday for his daughter’s birthday; Glen’s moving Sunday afternoon to Oregon for 2 years studying art). With the latter revelation, Russell is sad, but they still promise to meet again at Glen’s goodbye party to his friends later that night. There, they talk more, fight, make up, and make out.

Sunday comes, and there’s no fairy-tale magic or wish that undoes what both said they’d do on this day. Their paths cross in the morning with more talking, and at night they’re able to meet one last time at the train station. Though who’s to say it’s the last time, or that it’s goodbye, because after all 4 days before neither of them even knew the other existed. Russell breaks his reservedness in public for a beautiful moment that also serves to express the many ways both change from this experience, this weekend-long fling. In another way, the fling changes Glen’s anti-relationship thoughts (he starts out not wanting to get in a position where he could be hurt again, but discovers some people are worth giving that risk a shot).

“Weekend” is one of a few LGBTQ+ movies deemed important enough to receive a DVD and Blu-Ray distribution release from the Criterion Collection series, which is dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world throughout history, and releasing them in high-quality with historic bonus features. It’s been compared in numerous ways to Richard Linklater’s 1995 great “Before Sunrise”, which also lingered on the beginning of a connection. That film had a sequel, “Before Sunset”, which had the same characters retain their relationship years later, and while “Weekend” likely won’t receive a sequel, the ending leaves the possibility that this might not be a permanent end to their friendship and relationship. But even if it is, they’ve both been changed for the better.

Gay love stories have been more prevalent in cinema over the last two decades than ever before, with two in particular getting widespread mainstream praise and Criterion Collection releases (this and “Blue is the Warmest Color”). You’ll find few that are as important or realistic as “Weekend”. One of the best-reviewed movies of 2011, it’s also likely one of the best LGBTQ+ movies ever made. It’s a tender, honest, story about falling in love. It’s a tale of identity and self-definition. And it’s about love between two gay men. And that’s probably why it stands out so much among other LGBTQ+ films throughout history: the latter aspect is just a small part of it amidst the rest of the tale. Most people can identify with at least one of these two characters, and most people can sympathize with this tale, and most people can understand and agree with the potential tagline “Weekend” could conceivably have: “Sex is easy, love is hard.”

In conclusion, sometimes you meet a person truly special, that your life would never be the same with or without meeting, that you never forget. Glen and Russell were never the same after their “Weekend” relationship. And after watching “Weekend”, you’ll never be the same.