Want to learn more about LGBT issues without sacrificing your integrity as an unmotivated college student? The Leader sifted through the realms of gay media to compile our favorite totally queer, totally fun books, movies, and television shows that are sure to entertain and enlighten even the most hetero of normies. All photos are from the internet.
DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION
Canada’s ever-running, tween melodrama, Degrassi: The Next Generation, has managed to play out every single one of life’s sticky situations, ranging from taming your teen-aged boner to school shootings and abusive relationships. Unsurprisingly enough, over the years, Degrassi has been quick to address issues within the gay community by developing a handful of leading gay characters, a few fledgeling lesbians and, more recently, a transgender teen, sidelining the “token gay character” mentality.
QUEER AS FOLK
Before Kurt and Blaine traded G-rated smooches on Glee, Showtime made history with an explicit little show called Queer as Folk. Following the lives of five gay men and two lesbians living in Pittsburgh, Queer as Folk set new media standards with the first no-holds-barred gay sex scene on American television. Sure, dialogue could be overdramatic and quippy, but the show managed to juxtapose a fantasy world of glittery gay clubs with real world issues like AIDS, hate crimes and marriage laws.
Simultaneously coming out in real life, and as her character on the mid ‘90s hit, Ellen, Ellen DeGeneres quickly moved from 1997’s “Entertainer of The Year,” to a cancelled TV show and attacks on all sides. The critically lauded reveal on Ellen’s fifth season made DeGeneres’ character the first gay lead in network television, creating a flurry of controversy which forced ABC to actually slap a parental warning on the opening credits.
Mysterious Skin, directed by Gregg Araki, stars brooding, bad boy-type Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Difficult to watch but beautifully told, this melancholic story follows young Levitt coming of age while simultaneously dealing with homosexuality and the repression of past instances of molestation by his baseball coach.
WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER
It’s the last day at Camp Firewood and everyone’s trying to get it in. Unfortunately – and The Leader knows this all too well – when you’re young, nervous and way too eager, things don’t exactly pan out. But amongst the missed connections and romantic fumbles is Wet Hot’s lone (anal) sex scene between McKinley and Ben. In a shockingly quick decision to wed, the two are discovered as gay by their fellow counselors who interject, “Ew, McKinley’s a faaag!” just to turn around and gift ‘em a Crate + Barrel chaise lounge a few scenes later.
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
Hedwig Schmidt is pissed. Back in communist East Berlin, a botched sex change left Hedwig (then Hansel) with, well, an angry inch. So she starts a rock band, touring the country with her stories of lost love and gender confusion. Based on the one-man show written and directed by John Cameron Mitchell (who plays Hedwig in the film) Angry Inch blurs the lines between musical, comedy, and drama in the same way it questions the distinctions of man, woman, and everything in between.
The ultimate gay memoir, Dry chronicles Burroughs’s descent into alcoholism and resulting rehab stint after suffering performance issues with a Catholic priest who delicately suggests he “might have a bit of a problem.” Dry addresses tricky subjects like: how does one turn sober after years of swallowing 13 Benadryl followed by an entire fifth of Dewar’s scotch? How do you get rid of the Meathead Mistake the morning after a raging coke binge? And what do you do when your best friend is dying of AIDS, and you don’t know if you can look at him anymore? Laughter, sorrow, and feelings of fremdschämen abound.
Sprawling and complicated, Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex definitely isn’t light summer reading. The novel follows a mutated gene through three generations of the same Greek family, ending on the transformation of hermaphrodite daughter Calliope into son Cal. The detailed family history outlines every step of Cal’s transformation, from his grandparents’ incest to his Detroit youth. Middlesex grafts occasionally gratuitous background with Cal’s first-person wit, taking a masterful look at immigration, gender identity, and the failed American Dream. Plus, it won the 2003 Pulitzer—no big deal or anything.
So, maybe Scott Pilgrim is about Scott trying to woo his lady-love Ramona by fighting all of her exes, but that’s not all it’s about. What about Scott’s witty and responsible roommate, “Pretty Darn Gay” Wallace Wells? Would there even be a six-volume story without him supporting Scott (and drinking copious amounts of alcohol while turning seemingly-straight characters gay)? Think of Scott Pilgrim as a big middle finger to the old “comics code,” which once banned any same-sex smooching.