Feeling Left Behind Growing Up As A Queer Person.

Connor Franta, the YouTuber who famously came out as gay to his audience of over 5 million, made a video titled: My One Gay Regret. Apart from this generally being a brilliant title for a Youtube video, this video expressed something most queer people have experienced but never really talk about. That something is missing out. Specifically, missing out on a normal dating life as a young person.

There are a myriad of reasons for why young queer people often feel like they’ve missed out on an important part of growing up, which is teenage romance, but before I get into that, let me preface this by saying that I was lucky. I, unlike most LGBT+ young people, grew up in London, in a liberal private girl’s school where I never really experienced being bullied or noticed much discrimination amongst my peers against those who were exploring their sexuality. Sure, there were the odd comments from one of the ‘popular’ groups of girls about so-and-so maybe being a lesbian, complete with giggling and finger-pointing. But those prejudices were confined mainly to the younger years, and by the time we had all reached Year 9, sexual experimentation was no longer gross, but actually kind of cool.

What I’m, trying to say, is that I never felt I had to squash down my same-sex attractions in school. This was partly because I had a bit of a fuck-you attitude to all the mean girls at my school, but mainly because of the support of my friends. Not one of them batted an eyelid when I started dating girls, much less turn away from me. One thing I should mention, however, is that I only started seeing girls … differently …  from about the age of 15. Before then, I was pretty boy-crazy. It wasn’t until I started dating a boy that I realised my craziness wasn’t for boys at all. From the ages of 11 to about 14 I blissfully unaware of my latent gayness, so it didn’t occupy my thoughts. But from 15 onwards, it did, and by the time I was ready to start dating a girl, my classmates had grown out of their childish homophobia for the most part and I felt perfectly safe.

This situation is not the case for a lot of queer kids. Many figure out they like the opposite sex sooner, and most grow up in much more homophobic school environments. This causes these teens to set up walls. Walls which prevent them from fully appreciating and exploring their own romantic feelings towards others. When a child or adolescent is led to believe their feelings aren’t normal, you bet they will do their best to bury those feelings deep down. While their straight friends may go on to start dating for the first time, get their hearts broken for the first time, maybe even fall in love for the first time, gay teens are often left behind, watching their peers experience all these fantastic feelings enviously.

One of the greatest enjoyments a teenager can experience is becoming attracted to someone for the first time, in a way that is completely different to any other attraction they had experienced before. The first hints of a crush, while confusing and sometimes a little overwhelming, are always exciting and fascinating to a young person. When someone is denied these feelings due to societal pressures, that is a tragedy. In a heteronormative world, most straight people are oblivious to how growing up gay in a straight world can affect a young person. Queer people grow up, finally come out and often may feel the need to catch up when it comes to relationships.

This feeling is missing out extends to an even greater proportion when it comes to transgender people. Feeling as though you are lagging behind in the dating world is one thing, but imagine feeling that way about you gender; your entire sense of self. A transgender person may feel as though their life had not fully begun until they decided to transition. On the Channel 4 series My Transsexual Summer, Lewis Hancox, a transgender activist told his father in a touching scene that he felt as if he was living out his teenage years in that moment, even though he was in his mid-20s. Lewis hadn’t started to transition until after his teenage years, and so felt as if they had never really begun, at least not in the way they were supposed to.

It may seem like a silly thing to complain about. After all, not everyone dates during high-school. Indeed, it can be argued it’s better for some people to wait to start dating until they are emotionally ready for it. This is certainly true, teenagers can be cruel, and dating as a teen can be stressful as hell. But it can also be great practise for someone to know how to be in a healthy relationship with another person before they become an adult. The fact that many people feel as though they missed out on a part of their lives where they could have experienced what most teenagers experience, just because they wanted to date someone of the same sex, is truly sad.

Bullying, stigma, and lack of positive LGBT sex education are all reasons why many queer teens feel left behind in love and relationships. If kids are taught from a young age that sexuality is fluid, that being attracted to the same-sex is nothing to be ashamed of, and are given access to positive resources, maybe queer teens will grow up and experience life in a similar way to their straight counterparts: with no restrictions.

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6 LGBT+ TV Shows and Films That Actually Star LGBT+ Actors.

Too often have we had to explain to cisgender, straight people why it is preferable and often necessary to cast real LGBT actors when telling queer stories. While Hollywood studios have made too many mistakes in the past in this area, (namely the poor portrayal of a transwoman in Dallas Buyers Club by Jared Leto, and the disappointing The Danish Girl starring a cisman as arguably one of the most important historical trans figures…), there are several shows and films that do a fantastic job of including trans and LGB actors, making for a much better cinematic experience.

 

Transparent

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Arguably the greatest thing to come out of Amazon Prime, (close second being free one-day delivery), this 30 min dramedy centred around a transwoman coming out to her three adult, and highly dysfunctional children, is a refreshing look at the trans experience.

So, I have to admit, this show is on the list even though none of the main actors are openly LGBT. However, throughout its four seasons, Transparent has introduced a brilliant number of diverse actors. When it comes to trans representation especially, Transparent really knocks every other show out of the park. The show has a record number of supporting trans actors, including Rocco Kayiatos, Zackary Drucker, Ian Harvy, Alexandra Grey, Trace Lysette, Hari Nef, and of course, Alexandra Billings who plays Maura’s best friend and is at the main support of her transition.

The show is also ground-breaking in it’s representation of trans people of colour. The first episode of season 3 features three trans Latina actors, Hailie Sahar, Harmony Santana and Mariana Marroquin, hanging out at a shopping mall, laughing at Maura’s complete lack of awareness as to how to approach them about a missing trans girl.

Transparent is brilliant in its casting of trans actors, but also fantastic in its trans-inclusion on set. Our Lady J was chosen to be the first openly trans writer for Transparent in 2014, and as of that year, over eighty transgender people have worked on the show, including Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst who are transgender consultants and co-producers.

 

Orange is the New Black

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The extremely popular Netflix show is at the heart of most, if not all queer ladies. Hitting the screens (of the internet) in 2013, the series has received 16 Emmy Award nominations and 4 wins, and has been praised greatly both for its portrayal of prisoners and its representation of gender and sexuality.

Samira Wiley, Lea Delaria and Laverne Cox all play central characters on the show and are the most prominent LGBT actors of the series. Other supporting LGBT actors have featured, including the straight-girl-flipping Ruby Rose who plays Piper’s love interest, before she goes ape-shit on her in Season 3.

The queer-ness doesn’t end on screen though, behind the scenes the cast and crew of OITNB have stood up on multiple occasions advocating for LGBT rights, including being a part of the Human Rights Campaign. Also, one of the biggest (and cutest) news stories to come out of the show was OITNB writer Lauren Morelli realising her gayness, divorcing her husband and getting together with Samira Wiley, (aka Poussey on the show), all within the first season.

 

Tangerine

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Tangerine received a lot of press, partly because it was shot entirely on an iPhone, but mainly because of its trans and BME representation. The two main actresses are brilliant as transgender working girls on a mission to find out if the rumours about one of their pimps/boyfriends is true. The fact that the trans characters, played by actual trans actresses, are the heroic leads in this film is certainly more ground-breaking than the fact it was shot on a phone.

Both Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, who plays Sin-Dee Rella and Mya Taylor who plays her friend Alexandra are fierce and unashamed in the way they take on the streets, and the men in their lives. Neither actresses had any major acting experience prior to this film, but with their brilliant performances, we will surely see them on screens again.

 

But I’m a Cheerleader

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Ok so, pretty sure the only openly LGBT actor in this movie is Clea DuVall, (although Natasha Lyonne who plays the main character has appaeared in a number of queer roles in including OITNB), however this movie is SO GREAT and absolutely hilarious.

Despite not receiving the best critical reception when it first came out in 1999, it quickly became a cult classic due to its satirical look at gay conversion therapy and the religious right. Sure, some parts seem stereotypical, but the dynamic between DuVall and Lyonne, plus the brilliant take-downs of traditional gender norms, make this film worth watching.

 

Freeheld

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I remember waiting for months for this film to come out. Partly because I had always admired the Oscar-winning short film documentary directed by Cynthia Wade in 2007, but also because this was the first undeniably queer role Ellen Page took on since very publicly coming out as gay in 2014 at the Human Rights Campaign “Time to Thrive Conference” in Las Vegas. I’ve probably watched the speech she made at that conference at least 35 times, so to see her playing a lesbian character in a major motion picture was a Big Deal for baby queer me.

The film, which focused on the difficulties faced by a lesbian police detective Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) and her partner Stacie (Page), after Hester is diagnosed with cancer but unable to give her pension benefits to her partner due to them being in a same-sex relationship, is moving but ultimately disappointing due to the narrative moving away too much from the two women’s relationship and giving the spotlight to the lawyer instead. However, the chemistry between Moore and Page is fantastic and definitely makes it worth a watch.

 

I Am Michael

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I Am Michael has been one of my favourite films of this year. It is daring and controversial, touching on the extremely taboo subject of gay conversion therapy, as well as questioning what having an identity in something really means. The film is based on the real life story of Michael Glatze, a former LGBT activist who, after a series of health scares and mental breakdowns, decided to renounce his homosexual lifestyle and eventually became a Christian pastor and married a woman.

Michael (played by James Franco) has two long-suffering partners, Bennett and Tyler, who are played by out actors Zachary Quinto and Charlie Carver. The performances of these three are very tense and believable and certainly make up for the film’s often convoluted narration.

 

On Mansplaining: Why do men treat women like children?

Dear women,

Ever been mansplained to? Probably. If you have, it might go something like this: you’re at work having some trouble with the printer because your boss got a new one in for no particular reason other than that the last one didn’t have a fast enough Wifi setting, which is important enough to spend £430 on a new one apparently.

So you’re just trying to scan something into it, and you’re going through the instructions just fine, it’s taking a little longer than you’d like but you know what you’re doing. Then Tim comes over, that guy from the desk a couple seats over you who only joined a week ago and seems pleasant enough. You figure he’s come over to wait to copy or scan something himself, or even just say hi. It’s hard making friends in a new job, you’ve got to make an effort, after all.

But no, Tim walks up and gently pulls your arm away from the printer saying, “Here, love, let me do it for you”. You politely say thanks, but insist you’ve got it down and don’t need help. You’re only one step away according to the little screen, you tell him. “Oh no let me do it sweetheart, I know how to work these.”

What? You told him you’ve got it. Can’t he do the decent thing and let you get on with your job? What’s he trying to prove? Still, it’s 9.15 and too early to attempt to fight off a man’s ego right now, so you sigh let him help. He jams the printer.

A lot of people, particularly men, may say to themselves: “Well, he was just trying to help, what’s the issue with that?” The issue, is not that he offered to help, it’s the way that he did it. First of all, he didn’t ask her if she needed help, he just assumed she did. Secondly, the way he said it was patronising (don’t say “love” and “sweetheart” to women when trying to explain something – it’s gross). Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, he ignored her when she declined his offer.

 

Earlier this year the Independent wrote an article listing some of the worst encounters of mansplaining that women have experienced and expressed over Twitter. Highlights, (if you can call it that), of what men have tried to mansplain to women include:

 

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Mansplaining happens everywhere, at work, at home, at school. Boyfriends, teachers, work colleagues all do it and the unfortunate reality is that women more often than not just take it. Can you really blame them? If you’re in the middle of doing something the last thing you probably want to do is try to teach some idiot guy that it’s kind of condescending to explain to a woman how her period works when she never asked you in the first place.

These instances of mansplaining so often resemble an adult talking to a child. A parent will often help a child without necessarily asking first, because children don’t know any better. Mansplaining is offensive to women because it perpetuates the notion that women are less intelligent than men and need to have things explained to them in the simplest terms.

Even though it sucks, everyone needs to start calling out instances of mansplaining, which is why Twitter threads such as those above are really important. Once more visibility of mansplaining becomes greater, the guys who do it will (hopefully) take a step back and consider not talking to a women like they are 5 years old.

Gay conversion therapy has been approved in Rio de Janeiro– how can this be, and what are we going to do about it?

You know what they say – “two step forward, one steps back”. People been saying that more and more now, because of Trump, because of Brexit, because of Ted Cruz, Orlando, ect ect.

It’s not exactly the most comforting saying…but it does seem to hold out hope. Hope that even though things may seem like they are going to utter shit right now, you can bet that it’s all just part of the slow but steady road towards progression.

However, sometimes things happen in the world and that saying just becomes meaningless. It even becomes destructive. Because, if we keep saying to ourselves “oh, well it sucks that this happened, but look how far we’ve come!”, then we become complacent, preferring to sit back and pretend the bad stuff isn’t happening because it’s too much effort to think about.

Recently, a judge in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, approved the practise of gay conversion therapy. This story has got a lot of news coverage probably because Rio de Janeiro is considered one of the most gay-friendly countries in South America. Boasting almost 40 different gay clubs, saunas and bars, it is one of the top destinations for gay travellers and hosts a massive Gay Pride parade every year.

A 1990 ruling issued by the Federal Council of Psychology banned gay conversion therapies and similar practises in the nation, but last week, Waldemar de Carvalho, a federal judge in the capital, overturned this ruling.

Carvalho issued this ruling as a response to an action brought by psychologist, and evangelical Christian, Rozangela Justino. Justino had her license revoked in 2016 after offering to “convert” gays to heterosexuals.

According to reports from the Guardian, this decision by Carvalho comes only a week after a Brazilian queer art festival was cancelled after right-wing campaigners protested against it. The protestors, called the Free Brazil Movement, were supported by evangelical Christians, who accused the Queermuseu art exhibition of promoting blasphemy, paedophilia and beastiality.

Queer people have long been associated with these terms by homophobes, but the fact that this group of protestors were able to actually shut down an exhibition which was promoted by Santander, demonstrates a truly frightening reality.

Parts of the world we thought were gaining momentum when it comes to equality have begun to slow down with the surge of extreme religious fundamentalist and right-wing groups taking cues from figures like Donald Trump and Mike Pence, and speaking their minds, even if that speech is discriminatory and hurtful.

With the horrific rise of Neo-Nazi groups in the US becoming public, and vice presidents such as Pence expressing agreement with conversion therapy, it is no surprise that countries such as Brazil have responded too. Homophobic, racist, fear-mongering groups all over the Western world are becoming more and more confident in speaking out.

We should be very careful not to ignore actions such as those done by Carvalho, as it is just the beginning of an insidious wave of conservatism that will find its way everywhere if we don’t speak out against it now.

A Very Gay Comparison of London vs Toronto

I would say out of all the places I have visited, I have only ever truly grasped the feeling of queer culture in two places: London and Toronto. This is because I have lived in both places long enough to experience the LGBT scene in its fullness. I haven’t just been to a few gay bars, nor only visited each place for Pride, but I have been in both places long enough to know how it really feels to be gay in each place.

 

Let me start off by saying that from a social and political standpoint, London and Toronto are pretty damn similar. Both highly liberal, pro-gay marriage, anti-discrimination and extremely progressive as a whole, there are a large number of similarities between the LGBT communities in both cities.

 

While I have lived pretty much my whole life in London, and only went to Toronto to study abroad for around 8 months, I threw myself much deeper into the queer scene during my time in Toronto. I took part in UofT’s weekly meetings on sexual diversity, took time to volunteer for the city’s best LGBT film festival Inside Out, and helped out at my university’s annual pub crawl.

 

Never had I been so involved in the non-clubbing/drinking aspect of the LGBT community when I was in university in London. What I took away most from my time in Toronto was how much I wanted to continue this involvement when I got back to the UK. So, queue much Google-searching into LGBT volunteer opportunities in London and I discovered just how huge the community reached within London. This, of course, didn’t surprise me so much given the huge mammoth of a city London is. However, there are some aspects of the LGBT community Toronto excels in, despite its smaller size. In this article I will rate the winner of each category of gayness.

 

Bars/Clubs

 

It has to be said, London definitely has a far wider range of LGBT friendly pubs and clubs. While Toronto does have the advantage of one street, Church street, holding most of the gay clubs and bars, those venues are limited. Often quite small and pretty much only catered towards gay men, they lack the diversity that many LGBT venues in East London have.

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From Vogue Fabric in Dalston, to Bar Wotever in Vauxhall, London offers something new and interesting pretty much every night of the week. Drag queen (and king!!) performances, as well as more Avant garde queer shows take place at various venues around London. While London’s queer scene is very much spread out across the whole city, Soho still remains at the centre for queer nightlife.

 

Even the more “tacky” clubs such as Heaven, G-A-Y and Ku Bar always have a great energy about them, with a variety of themed nights guaranteed to keep you entertained throughout the work-week as well as the weekend. Personal favourites include: Porn Idol on a Thursday at Heaven, Ku Bar’s Ruby Tuesdays, and of course, the absolutely amazing £2 drinks deals at G-A-Y which runs through Thursday to Sunday (if you have lived in London for any period of time at all you will understand how magical it is to pay only £2 for a beer in Soho).

 

It is also worth mentioning that London is the home of one of the world’s only surviving lesbian bars, She Bar. While it is essentially just a basement and sort of reminds you of what you would imagine a World War II bunker looks like, it is still a great space for queer women, and remains on one of the most central streets in Soho, right opposite to G-A-Y bar.

 

There are, however some serious logistical disadvantages to nightlife in London. Unless you are lucky (and rich) enough to live right in the heart of Soho, most nights out to the best gay bars in London will also include a 3-night-bus trip home, depending where you live.

 

As mentioned previously, almost all queer venues are on Church Street in Toronto, which makes having a gay night out a lot easier in terms of getting around. Furthermore, the cost of living near to the Gay Centre (while by no means super cheap), is much more doable in Toronto. I actually lived right on the corner of Church Street myself for around 3 months and was the best (and worst) decision as watching a drag show was only a five minute walk away, but I also got horribly drunk at least 3 times a week as a result.

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Top mentions for Toronto’s gay nightlife include: Crews and Tangos on Church Street, Meow Meow social at Holy Oak, Beaver Café on West Queen West and, of course the infamous Buddy in Bad Times theatre – a unique creative space which turns into a busy nightclub every weekend, complete with some of the best drag queens from around the country. There are a tonne more male-only gay bars dotted on Church Street, but as a queer woman I never really ventured inside (apart from that one time I went into Sailor on Church and after realising I was the only woman there, quickly left).

 

Community Feel

 

Being a smaller city, it seemed inevitable that Toronto offered a more tightly-knit community feel than London. London’s queer scene is expansive, but spread out. In order to feel part of a community, you really have to find your niche. In Toronto, however, you’re more likely to run into regulars on Church street, and you are much less likely to lose your friends in Crews and Tango than in Heaven.

 

Despite the fact that Toronto’s queer scene is expanding, the Church and Wellesley Village remains very much the focal point of the community. As well as bars and clubs, the street also holds safe queer spaces such as the 519 Community Centre and the Sherbourne Health CentreQueen West (now often dubbed Queer West), is also fast becoming the second gay neighbourhood of Toronto. It is the home of over 11 LGBT owned businesses which extends beyond typical gay bars to cafes, galleries and restaurants.

 

While there is little semblance of a small-community feel to London, the city boasts some of the best LGBT university groups and hosts the annual National Student Pride event at Westminster University – a weekend event which attracts students all across the UK for panel discussions, a LGBT friendly career fair and club nights. While London may not offer the most student-friendly feel to it, the LGBT societies within the University of London are the quickest way for a young person to find a sense of community.

 

Pride

 

In my opinion, Toronto’s pride festival most definitely trumps London’s. There are a few reasons for this: one being that getting around Pride in London is about 10x harder than in Toronto. Part of this is the scale, but also the sheer number of people who show up to London Pride. Every London university, charities, brands, political parties, they all come out for Pride in London, and although it’s great to see so many people getting involved, it can be demoralising when you’re an LGBT charity being held up for three hours behind a float for Tesco.

 

That being said, the historical views of London make the Pride parade a truly great experience. There’s nothing like passing Nelson’s Column at Trafalgar Square whilst marching alongside thousands of LGBT folk.

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Of course, Toronto’s Pride does not come without big brands trying to milk advertisements out of the event, but having been to each Pride once, I can say that I did feel Toronto’s Pride had a more political feel. When I was there marching with UofT in 2016, a Black Lives Matter protest group stopped the parade during the start, asking for a list of various demands including the removal of uniformed police from the Pride parade. It was certainly a historical moment, and even sparked a similar protest in New York’s Pride a year later.

 

Ending thoughts…

 

At the end of the day, the different histories of LGBT culture as well as the starkly different sizes of both cities are what makes them unique in their own right, and although they share many similarities – namely a sense of open-mindedness and a vibrant, expansive queer community that both has great nightlife and a strong political edge, the differences between these cities are what make them both worth visiting.

I Am Michael Review

Homosexuality came easy to me, because I was already weak”. – Michael Glatze 

 

I Am Michael is a moving film about a subject matter taboo not only in the LGBT community, but also in the straight world. It is not only a film about conversion therapy, but a film about identity, and the extreme way in which one man’s own shifted. The film is based on a true story about famous gay rights activist Michael Glatze and hero in the LGBT community, who seemingly overnight changes his entire understanding of his own identity, choosing to renounce his homosexuality entirely in order to become a Christian pastor and lead a fully heterosexual life – complete with a wife and house in rural Wyoming.

 

Oftentimes an uncomfortable film to watch, we witness the painful breakdown of a man’s identity and mental health, then the slow rebuilding of it, along the way witnessing the destruction of many of his most meaningful relationships.

 

The film takes us through in roughly chronological order the epic internal transformation Michael goes through, beginning with doubt, then a climactic conversion, and finally a resolution and new way of life. The film’s markedly non-biased take on Michael’s story is refreshing, but also clearly the source of much of its controversy. We switch back and forth between locations, from liberal San Francisco to rural Wyoming, (the same place which saw the infamous death of gay man Matthew Shepard – a moment the film actually touches upon). The film takes place over a long period of time, and involves a plethora of different characters and events, meaning that if you’re not paying attention you could miss something.

 

We see Michael begin in San Francisco, a proud gay man and the editor of XY magazine, a gay lifestyle mag for gay youth. This Michael lives and breathes queerness. His identity as a gay person has formed the bulk of his adult life, which makes his sudden want to lead a heterosexual lifestyle all the more intriguing.

 

Kelly’s filmography reveals a passion for telling queer stories. Having written and directed King Cobra, a film about the 2007 murder of gay porn producer Bryan Kocis, I knew going into I am Michael that Kelly wouldn’t shy away from depicting the physicality and sensuality of gay relationships. While the relationship between Franco and Quinto does appear genuinely loving and not just sexual, Kelly does at times focus a bit too much on the hedonism often associated with the “gay lifestyle”.

 

Although I understand that Kelly is trying to create a clear contrast between the Old Michael (read: the gay Michael) and the New Michael (the straight Michael), the lengthy references to drug taking and group sex come off as tacky and stereotypical. One scene in particular, involving a threesome between Michael, his partner and a younger man was apparently very far from the real story about how these three men formed a relationship, according to an interview with Michael’s real-life ex Benjie Nycum, who Bennett is based on in the film. Nycum expressed his frustration with how that part of the story was portrayed in the film: “…I have nothing against saying I was in a three-person relationship, but we didn’t just pick up at the bar one night. It was a six month courtship where we were all friends for a really long time.”

 

Despite some of these scenes of threesome make-out sessions and pill popping being a little overly predictable, they do show the openness of Michael and Bennett’s relationship, and Kelly reveals the nuances in Michael’s own understanding of identity as queer person. While one could argue that Michael’s whole life, (job included), revolves around being gay, he is quick to insist to his friends he believes labels like “gay” or “straight” are social constructs, and they shouldn’t be used to define anyone.

 

The nuanced approach Michael has to identity helps lead him down the path of spiritual enlightenment, which comes as a result of a series of health scares. After a series of panic attacks which he interprets as symptoms of a heart disease his father died from, he wakes up each day believing he could drop dead at any moment – a situation that would certainly cause anyone to start looking through the spiritual Yellow Pages for any life-saving options.

 

Michael’s health scare is a crucial turning point in the film. Once an energetic and optimistic person, he becomes deeply afraid, moving further and further away from those who love him most.

 

Bennett becomes increasingly frustrated with him, especially when Michael starts finding solace in the Bible rather than his long-term boyfriend. One particularly moving scene shows Michael in the bathtub the night before finding out test results which will determine whether he has indeed inherited his father’s illness. Close to tears, he tentatively puts his hands together in prayer. Here, at his most vulnerable, we see Michael giving himself over to something else – to faith.

 

Despite Bennett being right and Michael’s test results coming back negative, the only person Michael thanks is God, and this is where we see the New Michael truly form. He starts reading the Bible, and in what seems like a short amount of time his identity shifts away from the queer spokesperson he had spent his whole life building, and into completely new, religious territory.

 

Kelly depicts Michael’s inner turmoil at juggling these two lives well, with one scene in particular standing out for me – Michael is asked to speak on an LGBT panel about his work and we see him watching the footage back in his hotel room over and over again, eyes fixed on himself, clearly confused as to who he really is.

 

Eventually, Michael makes the drastic decision to leave Bennett for good and spends the rest of the film on a spiritual journey, hopping from the Mormon church, to a brief stint at a Buddhist retreat, finally settling in Wyoming where he attends a Bible college and meets Rebecca (Emma Roberts). He is immediately drawn to her, and she to him. She is also the most supportive and understanding when articles old articles of Michael announcing him as an “Ex-Gay” begin to circulate the small Christian community. More could have been done to develop the relationship between Michael and Rebekah. Some of Robert’s lines come off as quite wooden, as she is hardly given any material to work with. Michael’s first relationship with a woman is a defining moment in his journey, and should definitely have been given more time.

 

Where I feel the film fails in its telling of Michael’s new found faith is that it does not delve deeply enough into why Michael decides that continuing to lead a homosexual lifestyle would be detrimental to his spiritual well-being. There is no real discussion of whether he finds only the physical act of homosexuality suddenly repulsive or if there is something deeper going on. The film does not even attempt to reflect on passages in the Bible often interpreted as anti-gay, taking Michael from gay activist to sudden anti-gay religious fanatic without much explanation.

 

Of course, this ambiguity as to how Michael decided his homosexual behaviour was holding him back probably reflects the experience of Michael Glatze’s partner Benjie in the real life story. From his perspective, Michael left suddenly and with no explanation started bashing homosexuality online.

 

While I do think I Am Michael is affective in showing the strain and ultimate failure of Michael and Bennett’s relationship, Kelly could perhaps have spent less time covering so much narrative ground and more time unravelling how Michael’s decision to leave his homosexual life behind affected those closest to him. Quinto and Roberts are fantastic in the film, but they definitely don’t get enough screen time.

 

It is hard to say how this film made me feel. Throughout the story, you feel sad at how Michael’s pursuit of faith has left his closest ones behind, confused and missing him greatly. However, by the end of the film, you just want Michael to find peace. Ultimately, Kelly doesn’t guarantee Michael’s peace, with the last shot being a powerful reminder that he still may not really be sure of what he’s doing.

Is It Only Straight People Who Give Bisexuals a Hard Time? Apparently Not…

 

From an outsider’s perspective, whether gay or straight, you may think that bisexuals have it easy. They have the largest possible dating pool and they have both the privilege of heteronormativity when in a “straight” relationship, as well as the community feeling that comes along with being LGBT+.

 

They have the best of both world’s surely? Well…maybe not.

 

The assumption that bisexuals somehow have it better than gay or straight people could not be further from the truth. Research from the “Bisexuality Report” published in 2012, found that bi people actually experience the worst mental health, on basis of sexuality alone.

 

It is easy to understand why this may be when you look at the unique way biphobia can negatively affect bisexual people.

 

Promiscuous, unfaithful, disease spreaders: these are all terms often associated with bisexuality. Many people, whether heterosexual or not, apparently cannot look past the “sex” in bisexual. In fact, a quick Google search of the term “bisexuality” offers up the first picture as a woman and two men, nude, and ready for an apparent threesome, (which, obviously, all bisexuals want).

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Pushing stereotypes? Why are threesomes the first thing we think of when we think bisexual?

 

Straight discrimination

 

While heterosexual people across the Western world have become generally much more accepting and supportive of same-sex relationships over recent years, the stigmas straight people hold against bisexuals have appeared to stay the same.

 

Despite more people coming out every year than ever before, the idea of dating a bisexual person remains taboo for many straight people, particularly for heterosexual women, who are often very opposed to the idea of dating a bisexual man.

 

During a Facebook Q&A, Amber Rose, an actress who had previously mentioned being “very open” with her sexuality, even leading the LA SlutWalk in 2015, admitted that she wouldn’t want to date a bisexual man, saying; “I just wouldn’t be comfortable with it and I don’t know why”.

 

Even for a woman apparently as open minded as Rose, the idea of dating a man who is also attracted to men can be a deal-breaker. This is despite the fact that studies have shown bisexual men make better partners and fathers, mainly due to their more liberal attitude when it comes to gender roles and masculinity. One Australian study which interviewed a group of straight women’s experience dating bisexual men, reported that many of the women interviewed would never go back to dating straight men again.

 

Discrimination from the Gay Community

 

One possible reason why bisexuals seem to suffer worse mental health is due to a lack of community support. Despite bisexuals making up the highest percentage of the LGBT community, they are often pushed to the side and forgotten. This year’s London Pride faced backlash for not dedicating enough time to bisexual awareness within the parade.

 

Lesbians and gays have fought extremely hard to be taken seriously from both a legal and social aspect. However, it is shocking just how much discrimination against bisexuals come from the mouths of those who supposedly should be their biggest allies. Unfortunately, many gays and lesbians hold the same assumptions about bisexuals that straight people do, and this results in a lot of in-fighting within the LGBT community.

 

Prominent gay activist Dan Savage has written some rather unsavoury columns on bisexuality in men and women, concluding in one instance that because women have been found to demonstrate sexual arousal at images of straight and gay sex, whereas men were more likely to only be aroused by one or the other, this meant that “female sexuality is a fluid and male sexuality is a solid.” To say Savage was missing some of the nuances of sexuality would be an understatement.

 

Additionally, the fact that not much is written about bi suicides compared to gay or trans demonstrates the total lack of awareness there is towards bisexual mental health.

 

Only ‘til Marriage Are You Bi

 

A famous case of bisexual erasure came from the mouth of Larry King when he interviewed actress Anna Paquin in 2014. Referring to her marriage to True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer, King appeared confused by her current identity, calling her a “non-practising bisexual”, and referring to her bisexuality in the past tense.

 

This “bi-until-married” idea, is by no-means limited to mind’s of straight men like King. In a 2016 Buzzfeed video titled: “Questions Gay People Have For Bisexual People”, a lesbian-identified woman appeared to imply that you could only be interested in both men and women “until you get married”.

 

This assumption is, of course, fairly ridiculous, and perpetuates the notion that bisexuality is somehow a temporary identity. As Paquin rightly told King: “Are you still straight if you are with somebody — if you were to break up with them or if they were to die, it doesn’t prevent your sexuality from existing. It doesn’t really work like that.”

 

What Can Be Done

 

Ultimately, more research needs to be done on bisexual people and their relationship experience to really grasp the true reasons why behind why bisexuality is still so taboo.

 

Positive exposure, whether through education TV or film, of bisexual lives is crucial in fighting against negative taboos.

 

Until changes are made, unfortunately bisexual people will continue to feel out of place in the LGBT community as well as the heterosexual world. However, with TV shows like Orange is the New Black which portrays sexuality in a more accurate and complex way beginning to take up mainstream space, we can only hope bisexual people will feel far more understood in the near future.