There are two types of book in the oddly defined genre of “Young Adult Literature” that I've become sick of. The first is, unfortunately, books about queer youth. This is because they almost all have nearly the same plot line- young queer person discovers their sexuality. It gets old. The second type is books by two authors, in which each author narrates from a different character's point of view, simply because I find it grating.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan is a young adult novel about queer youth by two authors, each narrating from a different point of view. Somehow, miraculously, the book is fresh, funny, fascinating, and, without question, good.
Strange, I know.
Green (Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns, also an internet celebrity of vlogbrothers fame, heterosexual), narrates as Will Grayson. Levithan (Boy Meets Boy, The Realm of Possibility, Wide Awake, and many more, very gay) narrates as Will Grayson.
Will Grayson and Will Grayson are two teens from two different suburbs of Chicago and two very different worlds. John Green's Will is a straight boy whose best friend is Tiny Cooper, “not the world's gayest person... not the world's largest person... but I believe he may be the world's largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large.”
Attention Gleeks! (and non-Gleeks),
Looks like this week's Entertainment Weekly is worth a gander. Here is how the EW staff describes the cover story:
Gay teens are suddenly popping up in major roles all over television, with Glee’s popular pairing of Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss) leading the way. How did gay teens go from marginalized outcasts and goofy sidekicks to some of the highest profile — and most beloved — characters on the likes of 90210, Pretty Little Liars, and Skins? And more importantly, how is this affecting real-life teens still facing the daily high-school realities of bullying, discrimination, and ignorance? The new issue of Entertainment Weekly investigates the history of gay teens on TV — from the angsty Rickie on My So-Called Life to sensitive-soul Jack on Dawson’s Creek to the slew of groundbreaking characters on Degrassi. We talk to the producers who fought for such progress, the actors who held the career-defining roles, and the activists who cheer recent advances — but are still pushing for more.
Check it out, and report back with your thoughts!
Wow, it started as a monthly "magazine" style site, is now a community site, and at some point in 2011 should morph into a full-blown social network, but on December 1, Oasis turns 15 years old.
I launched the site in 1995 and am amazed by what it has become, as the site has always been driven, created, and supported by the people who share their lives here.
Some of our biggest assets were accidents that I now take credit for, such as not creating a girls forum and a boys forum, which has led to people realizing the problems are universal and the support is welcome from everyone willing to help. This is also useful more recently as our trans membership increases, saving my inbox from messages about reinforcing gender binaries, etc., etc.
I've been a bit absent lately as I've been at a the tail end of one job that was sort of spiraling out of control, and instead of the unemployment I expected, I actually have a 3-day weekend right into a new job with an even longer commute. The upside is that I will be earning enough now to hire a developer and get this site (and my vegan social network) developed in parallel.
So, thanks to everyone who comes here to share their lives, welcome others, and let people who need compassion and concern feel virtually what they might not feel in their offline lives.
I may have created this thing, but everyone reading this is the reason it has become such a special place online.
By Jeff Walsh
Andy South was the youngest gay contestant on Project Runway this season, and made it into the final three contestants who got to show an entire collection at Fashion Week. He may look familiar on the site because he wrote an article for Oasis about his thoughts on fellow contestant Mondo Guerra revealing he was HIV-positive on the show a few weeks back.
Sadly, Andy didn't end up winning the show, but he seems very aware that Project Runway is an opportunity to build on, and from now, it is up to him to succeed.
We spoke last weekend, two days after the finale aired, and the first day he remembers sleeping in for a very long time, as he transitions from being a reality show contestant back to being a full-time fashion designer.
Here's what we said:
As a support of the Dan Savage-led "It Gets Better" Project, it was great to see my composer friend (and future Tony Nominee) Jay Kuo assemble a lot of Broadway's young talent to capture this message in song. Check it out!
By Jeff Walsh
On last week's Project Runway, one of the best designers this season, Mondo Guerra, created his own fabric for the challenge. The pink fabric with the plus-sign design became high-waisted pants that won him his third challenge in a row. When he was asked about the inspiration for the print, he clammed up and just said it was very personal to him. Nina Garcia, one of the judges, said she wished she knew the story that inspired the fabric.
In that moment, Guerra's life changed. The 32-year-old designer made the decision to share what he had kept a secret for the past 10 years, one that his own family didn't even know. He is HIV-positive.
When Guerra said this, the designer had his fellow contestants crying, and as he finished speaking, you could literally see the weight coming off of his shoulders, and a designer we already adored became that much more human, vulnerable, and less troubled.
HIV is sort of this thing that we hear about, but it rarely is made real to us. I know people that have it, but it's like knowing someone with high blood pressure. They take some pills, and their life seems fine. But it is always important to remind ourselves that this is an important issue in our community, and one that should be taken seriously.
The youngest designer this season, Andy South (who we'll probably interview in Oasis before the season ends) is the same age now as Guerra was when he was became infected, so it really hit home for him. South was kind enough to share his thoughts with us on Guerra revealing his HIV status.
Whether you like Project Runway, fashion, or not, Guerra's story is still reinforcing a lesson that we all need to hear: that whatever private issue is burdening you in life is probably not worth the effort of keeping it a secret.
Here's what Mondo and I said this morning:
After seeing this past week's episode of Project Runway, where Mondo Guerra revealed he is HIV+ during the runway show, I knew I wanted to get him in Oasis (you can read my interview with Mondo here). I think HIV/AIDS is an important issue to bring up with LGBT youth whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Andy South is also gay and the youngest contestant on the show this season, which is why I already planned to feature him in Oasis as the season progressed. Because Andy is closest in age to the members of our site, I asked him to share his thoughts on Mondo revealing his HIV status on Project Runway last week. This is what he wrote:
"Mondo and I are 10 years apart in age, and knowing he has been living with HIV for that amount of time made me really think about where I am in my life. Mondo was infected when he was my age and it really opened my eyes to how unpredictable life is.
By Jeff Walsh
"Promises, Promises" seems to have everything going for it. Recently out Sean Hayes (known for his amazing turn as Jack McFarland on Will & Grace) stars with Kristin Chenoweth (from Wicked and Glee fame) in a revival of a show written by Neil Simon, with music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David, based on the amazing movie "The Apartment," written by Billy Wilder, starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine, and it seems like there's so much going for it, it couldn't miss.
But then, it does.
It's like a lot of good things that never congeal into a great thing. I like Hayes and Chenoweth so much that it takes a while to get over the enjoyment of seeing them perform to realize you don't necessarily want to see them perform this show. Hayes brings out the bubbly charm that made Jack the highlight of Will & Grace, but a lot of strange fourth-wall stuff and one-liners never seem to get us invested in his story here (and no, I didn't have any problem accepting him playing straight).
By Jeff Walsh
I'll be honest. I almost skipped the press screening for Patrik, Age 1.5 (which is now playing in the Bay Area and select cities, details here).
The premise seemed too cute: a gay couple who think they're about to adopt a year-and-a-half old baby, only to find there was a typographical error and they get a 15 year old who is an anti-gay delinquent.
You just knew it was going to have some touching moment where they talked, found common ground, and ended with a warm hug that Patrik wouldn't pull back from. It is nearly a sitcom premise! I don't watch the Hallmark Channel at home, so why go out to the movies to see it?
But the fact that it won the audience award at the Frameline gay film festival here in San Francisco is what made me curious enough to attend. I just don't think a very special episode of Blossom is the kind of thing they would all vote for, especially for a Swedish film for which they all had to read subtitles.
As it turned out, this charming, beautiful movie took every expectation I had and defied it. Every character had their own engaging narrative, and nothing worked out as it might seem at first glance.
By Jeff Walsh
Semi Precious Weapons stormed into our lives with their monster hit "Magnetic Baby" in 2008. It was an online sensation before it appeared on their "We Love You" album in September 2008 (I previously interviewed lead singer Justin Tranter in Oasis).
The band recently released "You Love You," its follow-up after signing to Interscope Records. The new effort repeats the killer tracks with amped-up reworked versions of "Semi Precious Weapons," "Magnetic Baby," and "Rock and Roll Never Looked So Beautiful." Despite the familiarity I had with these tracks from the earlier CD, these new versoins are the definitive versions to me now.
The band is currently opening up for Lady Gaga on her Monster Ball tour and even after playing these songs hundreds of times, they really captured all of their raw energy and dirty glamour.
The new songs bring a cohesive feel to the nine-song "debut," combining up-tempo numbers like "I Could Die," live staples like "Put A Diamond In It" and "Sticky with Champagne," and emotional ballads like "Leave Your Pretty To Me" and "Look At Me."
By Jeff Walsh
I'm an unabashed Kinsey Sicks fan, and love seeing them live as well as listening to their recordings. Their latest CD, "Each Hit and I," (say it out loud), is a great addition to your Kinseys collection.
At 20 tracks, this CD covers a lot of ground. There are parody covers, original songs, and a live track with the Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus. But when I think about the CD, my mind keeps drifting to Ani Difranco.
I used to love seeing Ani DiFranco live, but there was a bit of a dilemma for me. She would always be touring when a new album came out, but if you liked the new album, she was already sort of on to the next thing. So, you had to catch the previous tour to hear her really play the songs that would be on the album you eventually liked. Once the CD was out, you already sort of missed it.
This came up to me when I saw the Kinseys multiple times during a two week run in San Francisco. In concert, they were singing "BP is Creepy," an original song about the oil spill (see the video below), and "Bedroom Ants," a Gaga parody about ants largely to "Bad Romance." The new CD came out the day the run began, and these two crowd pleasers weren't on it. But tracks about Michael Jackson ("Dead," to the tune of "Bad") and Britney Spears ("Fertilizer," to the tune of "Womanizer") seemed to be getting a tad dated. So, I figure these were previous live gems that finally found their way onto my iPod, and that lag was unavoidable.
Now, I realize I'm reviewing a funny a capella drag queen album the way other publications are scrutinizing the new output from Arcade Fire, but it's just an observation I had.
SAN FRANCISCO – In a landmark decision today, a federal judge ruled that Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that excluded same-sex couples from marriage in the state, violates the United States Constitution. The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Lambda Legal filed two friend-of-the-court briefs in the case supporting the argument that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
"Today’s decision is a huge victory for the LGBT people of America. For the first time, a federal court has conducted a trial and found that there is absolutely no reason to deny same-sex couples the fairness and dignity of marriage," said James Esseks, Director of the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project. "At the same time, we know that this is not the end. In order to give this case the best possible chance of success as it moves through the appeals courts, we need to show that America is ready for same-sex couples to marry by continuing to seek marriage and other relationship protections in states across the country. It’s simply not fair, and not legal, to continue to exclude committed same-sex couples from marriage."
In the case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco ruled that Proposition 8 violates the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection. The lawsuit was brought by two same-sex couples after Proposition 8 passed in 2008, amending the California Constitution to deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry.
The ACLU is working with same-sex couples throughout the country to secure the freedom to marry by working to pass marriage bills in New York, Rhode Island and Maine and by seeking domestic partnership recognition in Montana, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico and Alaska.
The court’s ruling can be found at: http://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/perry-v-schwartzenegger-decision
By Jeff Walsh
Stonewall Uprising is a new documentary that details the birth of the modern gay rights movement in New York City on June 28, 1969, when a group of patrons at the Stonewall Inn fought back during a regular police raid, leading to three days of riots and our first "pride parade."
Unlike today, where every song at a Lady Gaga concert is covered from every angle by 400 different cell phone and video cameras and uploaded to YouTube, there isn't much footage of the Stonewall Riots, but when this documentary finally gets to that famous night, hearing the oral narrative from the people who were there, combined with photos and talking heads, is still gripping.
Hearing about that night, you understood why this film (which opens in the Bay Area this weekend) was made. But, it did seem to take its time getting to that fateful night. Don't get me wrong, I think context is great, but seeing the old news footage of how homosexuality was treated back in the day seems to run a bit long. Every time we see a talking head, we know they are setting the stage for the riots, and then we drift into more backstory, teased again.
I think recently seeing an oral history so expertly told with We Were Here, made seeing one that just doesn't measure up as effectively more obvious. I saw the same talking heads throughout this film, but it seems they were used more to advance the history of a people. They were there to serve the story of Stonewall, when in fact, they are the story of Stonewall. I'd rather hear them contextualize the history, weave in their own personal narratives, and use that to advance the story.
By Jeff Walsh
Easier With Practice is one of those movies that is impossible to review on a gay site, especially for someone as spoiler-adverse as me.
Because the distributor sent me this with another title, and I didn't even bother to read about it in advance, I just converted it so that I could watch it on my iPad and review it on the plane to or from Hawaii. And, for 90 percent of the movie, my thought was "Why did they send me an interesting, albeit seemingly heterosexual movie?"
In the back of my mind, of course, I thought, "The only way this would be a gay movie is if..." and, of course, that is what ends up being the case. So, we have a gay movie that is sort of a twist gay movie, except to review it on a gay website almost requires you to tell people the twist, so that it actually seems like a gay story.
The question I have, of course, is... if you watch this movie based on knowing it will eventually be a gay movie, even though it doesn't seem like it for most of the film and, because of that knowledge, figure things out in advance that you otherwise wouldn't or shouldn't, is it still a satisfying movie?
And I don't know the answer to that question.
"Strings Attached" by Nick Nolan is a great story of how a closeted teen's life changes and he becomes a man (see review below).
We have three copies of this book to give away. One grand prize winner will get a signed copy, and two others will win copies of the book, as well.
To enter, send me a private message with a subject line of Strings, before July 6, and you're entered. Only one entry per member. And, of course, if you enter, you have to be Ok receiving a gay book in the mail, obviously.