Weekly Lesbian Round-Up


Wondering what took place for queer women around the world this week?  Then read on for Alex and Tay’s “Weekly Lesbian Round Up” in which we scour the web in order to present you with the best of the best in lesbian news. 



The Good:

1) The Queen of England congratulated the London Gay and Lesbian Switchboard on their 40th anniversary.  Notoriously tight- lipped when it came to publicly speaking about LGBT rights, Her Majesty made an exception today and sent a special message to the charitable organization whose aim is to provide resources, support and referrals to members of the LGBT community:  Best wishes and congratulations to all concerned on this most special anniversary.” 



Prime Minister David Cameron also chimed in by stating, “I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard on reaching its 40th anniversary. Since 1974 there has been real progress towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.”  Awww.




2) Former Miss Kentucky beauty queen, Djuan Keila Trent, came out as queer last month and wrote a follow up blog post this week about the endless support she has received since the public announcement. A fellow queer lady feeling supported by the wider community is always cause for celebration. As Trent wrote, “So many gold stars!” We couldn’t agree more.





The Bad:

UC Berkeley students and sorority sisters turned lovers, Kylie Foo and Sophia Chaparro, were told by Christian sorority Alpha Delta Chi, that they had two options: break up or leave.  They were strong enough to choose the latter, but their struggle has been far from easy.




The Awesome:

Chances are that you were first introduced to Erika Linder in Katy Perry’s “Unconditional” music video.  But you may not know that she is also a renowned model, known for her androgyny and effortless gender-bending This week she starred as both the male and female in Crocker Jeans’ new campaign.  As Erika once explained, “I have too much imagination to just be one gender.”  Cheers to that.






Drop us a comment and let us know what the highlight of your week was.  We’d love to hear.  Have a fabulous weekend and thanks for stopping by.


xxx Alex and Tay







Alex and Tay Tackle the Oscar's Best Dressed: Menswear and Womenswear

The Oscar's has been a hot topic in the world of Alex and Tay this year! Earlier this week, we discussed Jared Leto's win and transphobia, and we're now ready to tackle something that might be even more controversial... the Oscar's "Best Dressed"! Alex uncovers the best dressed stars in menswear while Tay takes on the ladies.



Alex says...

 


People say black tie for men is boring and it most certainly isn’t. It’s a beautiful look but in its classic form, it is quite constrictive. I was therefore really excited to see so many men get adventurous with their looks at the 2014 Academy Awards. There were some fabulous examples of the traditional tuxedo – Leonardo DiCaprio wore a perfectly fitted Armani tux with patent shoes like he was born to do it – but My Top 4 has to go to those who were a little more experimental.

1) Matthew McConaughey
 
I really loved Matthew’s white tux. It jazzed up his look and made it pop, without veering from being elegant and classic. I think he could have gone for a more fitted look on his trousers but his Dolce & Gabbana jacket was a beauty. Those sleek shiny ivory lapels – I’m, like, swooning.
 
2) Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen had multiple looks throughout the night (SO excited to write that about a woman in menswear!) and my favourite was hands down her velvet tuxedo. Let me just die a little over her jacket. It was the Yves Saint Laurent Le Smoking in blue velvet: the blue was so deep and the velvet was so subtle and beautifully crafted that at first glance, the effect is just a glow. Her white neck tie was also a sweet, romantic twist.


3) Will Smith


Will demonstrated another inventive spin on his Berluti wool and mohair tuxedo, by wearing his shirt open collared with an absolutely beautiful charcoal silk neckerchief. To pull off wearing an open collar to a black tie event takes real class. Also his shoes! Let me just pick myself up off the floor because they were gorgeous, and my favourites I saw on the red carpet – stunning black velvet dress slippers with piping. If you’re over them, Will, I’ve got a good home for them. Just saying.


4) Woody Harrelson


Woody had a tuxedo custom made by Burberry from hemp. That’s enough to make my Best Dressed as it is. He pulled off polished and eco-friendly! I don’t really approve of wearing a classic necktie as opposed to a bow tie to a black tie event, but Harrelson’s actually made his outfit for me. The cute little gold peace sign on his black tie was a really subtle, classy, yet fun, detail.

 

Tay says...

 


There was no shortage of breath-taking dresses at this year’s Oscars.  Notoriously known as the “classy” event of Awards Season, the women on the red carpet were flawless in floor length gowns of every color and cut.  The one thing they all had in common? Effortless beauty.  Picking a top four was challenging, but these women truly killed it in couture. Honorable mentions: Amy Adams and Julia Roberts.


1) Lupita Nyong’o



Like a gorgeous fairytale princess come to life, Luptia stunned in her flowing, light blue gown by Prada. Although her posed pictures are beautiful, the true magic occurred in motion—the dress came to life and seemed to float around her like a cloud. *swoon*

2)  Kate Hudson


If Luptia is a fairytale Princess, then Kate is the Queen.  Dressed in a shimmering white Versace gown, complete with a cape-like back and regal pose, Kate was the definition of elegant.  The cut suited her body beautifully and there was an undeniable luxury associated with the waves of white cascading down her frame.

3. Anne Hathaway


For reasons unknown to me, Anne found herself on the receiving end of some serious backlash this year.  Nonetheless, she arrived at the Oscars looking like epitome of perfection.  Her classic black dress by Gucci was given a facelift with a breastplate of shimmering silver.  That’s right “Hathahaters,” she’s ready for you.

4. Bette Midler


 In a gorgeous orange-based red and nude gown by Reem Acra, Bette was a breath of fresh air.  Looking an enviable mixture of fun, beautiful and sexy, she was a true star. 


Who do you think was the best dressed in menswear and womanswear at the Oscars? Let us know in the comments below!


Jared Leto Being Blase and Appropriative is Not Oscar-Worthy

Personally, I was rooting for Jonah Hill. The Wolf Of Wall Street blew my mind and I was thinking about it for days after. But the first thing I said leaving the cinema was, “Jonah Hill was AMAZING!” and I am completely in awe of how Hill has gone from being in lads’ comedies like Superbad to being such a phenomenal actor. Moreover, I can’t forgive Bradley Cooper for that monstrous portrayal of someone with mental health issues in Silverlinings Playbook and I can’t forgive Michael Fassbender for showing me his penis for two hours in Shame. I know absolutely zilch about the fourth fella (this in itself says something?) but the fifth nominee was the one person I really didn’t want to win Best Supporting Actor at the 2014 Academy Awards. The fifth nominee was Jared Leto – and, of course, he won.

Was a time when I could only place a face to the name Jared Leto because of Girl, Interrupted, in which he plays Winona Ryder’s heavy set, hairy-faced reviews-call-him-boyfriend-but-he’s-more-just-a-guy-she-fucks-a-couple-times. So when I heard he played a transgender role in Dallas Buyers Club, he didn’t seem the most likely candidate to act a female. Although, actually, to be honest, all I initially heard was he was playing “a transgender role”. No specifics on the gender of said transgender person. I thought maybe he acted a trans man. But no, no, far too radical to cast a man to play a man: Leto played a woman.

I haven’t seen Dallas Buyers Club. I’ll tell you that right off. I am glad I haven’t because the clips I have seen of Leto’s simpering lisping make-up-covered character, Rayon, made my stomach churn. Leto’s portrayal of Rayon is appropriative and offensive. He speaks in a silly high-pitched voice. In the clips I have seen, presumably meant to be high points of Leto’s portrayal, he employs said voice to make comments like, “Lookin’ for you, lone star” and “Do you like this dress? 'Cause I think the neckline's a little plunging.” His make-up is over-exaggerated and badly executed, with bright colours on his lips and eyes. In short, he is less like any transgender woman I’ve ever encountered and more like a pretty shit drag performer.

As if Leto’s depiction of Rayon being transphobic and appropriative wasn’t enough, it is also sexist. Why, just because Leto is playing a woman, does he suddenly become an ignoramus with make-up scribbled all over her face? Since when are women like this?? Just because one is a transgender woman, it does not mean that you are a caricature of the gender. Transgender women are, simply, women, and reducing them to mindless, clothes and make-up obsessives who speak like retro prostitutes and live their lives in impractical high heels is not a realistic portrayal. It is a sexist portrayal.
 
 

Predictably, the very fact that Leto played a transgender role was probably scandalous enough to get him the Oscar. As far as I can see, the Oscars are the most appropriative awards ever. As parodied in Tropic Thunder, there have been many Oscar wins for able actors portraying disabled people.
 

 
Jennifer Lawrence won for what I considered to be a mind-blowingly stereotypical and simplistic portrayal of a mentally ill person. Be someone who is considered “normal” playing someone who is considered “unusual” and you can basically start bragging about your Oscar before you were even nominated.


What shocks me most of all though is Leto’s seeming indifference to the honour he had of playing a transgender woman.
I googled “Jared Leto’s research for transgender role” and found NOTHING. All I found was articles saying it was appropriative for him to play Rayon. Which it was. Like, did he do any research for this role?? Has Leto met a trans person other than the ones who heckled him for acting said role? At least when Hilary Swank portrayed Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry, she lived as male for a few weeks to experience – however briefly - living as a trans man.



And another thing Swank did which Leto didn’t: when she won an Oscar for playing Brandon, she put emphasis on how important transgender rights are. Leto? Didn’t really seem to care! This news website believed Leto’s speech paid tribute to trans people. Like hell it did. It was mostly about his mum, his brother and his band, and then he tacked on the end some token words during which he couldn’t even say the word “transgender”. Personally, I think it would make a world of difference, even if Leto had just said, “It was an honour to portray transgender experience.” “My character was an amazing woman and I admire anyone who has the courage to live their life like she does, as transgender.” Something as token as that. Just say the word “transgender”, for Christ’s sake! Because, no, “those of you out there who have ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love” just doesn’t cut it for me.
 

 

People always ask me if I don’t believe cis people should play trans characters. And my answer is, frankly, no I don’t.
What’s my reasoning behind this? Transgender actors have a very limited pool of roles that they can play. They are not given cisgender roles so they can only play transgender ones. If all the trans roles are handed out to cisgender actors, the transgender actors are left with no roles. I am not anti cis people playing trans roles in theory, but I am anti it in the world we currently live in. If cis people can play trans roles, then I should be seeing trans people playing cis roles. And I’m not.

The same goes for actors with disabilities. The only roles they are given the option of playing are characters with disabilities, and so, no, I do not approve of handing out those precious few to able-bodied actors. Once again, in an ideal world, actors with disabilities would be given roles where ability is not strictly required. Which, when you think about it, is the majority of roles, and certainly applies to classic stage roles such as Hamlet or King Lear.
 

The very classy Laverne Cox
plays an inmate on OITNB.
But there aren’t even any transgender actors, I hear you protest. (In fact, I even hear Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Valee protest this.) Well, actually, yes, there are. You just haven’t heard of them because they don’t get roles. Here you can read a list of 10 transgender actresses who could have played Leto’s auto-Oscar role, including the fabulous Laverne Cox of Orange Is The New Black fame. Such a role could have completely made a transgender actress’ career and probably would have seen a transgender woman in the running for Best Supporting Actress. In short, the world would have been changed over night.

The follow up question is always if I think straight people shouldn’t play gay roles, and vice versa. Leto himself used this comparison when challenged about playing a trans role, which clearly illustrates he does not understand the difference between gender and sexuality, aka Transgender 101, which in turn clearly illustrates his unsuitability for a transgender role.
Of course, straight actors playing gay and cis actors playing trans are fundamentally different.
Gay actors play straight all the time so their opportunities are not limited to solely gay roles. Also being gay does not manifest itself in one’s body in the same way as being transgender does. Wider society may disapprove of or not understand transgender bodies and it is for this reason that transgender actors experience prejudice. Gay actors do not face this issue, as being gay manifests itself in one’s personal lifestyle rather than in one’s body and appearance. Lifestyle does not accompany an actor into the roles they play. Appearance, and all other aspects of the body, do.

Actress and butch, Lea Delaria.
However, there’s a fine line even with this. Actors such as Lea Delaria (again of Orange Is The New Black, aka That Show That Pretends It’s About A Women’s Prison But Is Actually About Minority Visibility, fame) who “look very gay” do not get roles because of how they are perceived. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Delaria commented, “Boys want to look at lesbians as their little shiny sex toy… Whenever they do send out something in show business and say they’re looking for a butch, my manager calls up and goes, ‘How about Lea Delaria?’ and they’re like, ‘Yeah, maybe a lighter butch.’” Therefore, I think if you’re casting a butch character, you should cast a butch actress whose career is compromised by how she looks. Of course, being butch does not even necessarily mean also being a lesbian. Take for example roles such as the tuxedo-sporting transvestite/drag queen Victoria in Victor/Victoria.


Leto's sexuality is not the issue.
The cisgender community seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding which can be summarised best as: “What… Who… Where… How… YOU’RE JUST MAD COZ HE’S STRAIGHT!” This ridiculous article claims people are annoyed because Leto is a STRAIGHT actor playing a transgender role. As far as I’m aware, Rayon herself is a heterosexual, so how would this be an issue? The problem is not that Leto is heterosexual. The problem is he is cisgender. Sexuality has absolutely zero to do with the present topic.

Cis people playing transgender characters is less like gay people playing straight characters and more like blacking up.
Two actors have won Oscars for transgender roles and there has never been a transgender Oscar winner.
I mean, just imagine if actors were winning Oscars for black roles and there had never been a black Oscar winner! Nobody would stand for it!! I read this very interesting article which said it wouldn’t be long before Leto’s stereotypical portrayal of Rayon was considered akin to Hattie McDaniel’s Mammy in Gone With The Wind, which also won an Oscar and which is a painful-to-watch racist stereotype. However, at least McDaniel herself is black.
 


The world at large just do not seem to get it. I know there are some really great cisgender allies out there and I am thankful for that, but moments like Leto winning an Oscar for his appropriative role is a moment when I realise how little cis people know about trans people on the whole. It’s a shocking slap in the face, like when one of my best friends (who is FTM) told me friends were happy he could put his “real” gender on facebook now you can customise your gender, even though his real gender is, simply, male. It’s like when people tell me they have a friend who is a trans man before calling him “she”.

I’d love to say I’m an example of a cis ally but I’m not. I haven’t discussed it on the blog before, but I identify as genderqueer. However, before this identity, I lived as and firmly identified as male for nine years. I have many, many trans experiences under my belt: gender counselling, crippling and damaging body dysphoria, chest binding, negotiating passing, negotiating name change and coming out as trans to friends, family, teachers and everyone else in existence, just to name a few. But I do know some wonderful cis allies and it is a comfort to know there are cis people out there who will be as angry as me about this.

And yes, I’m angry at Leto’s win. I do not, cannot, will not EVER understand why the world has such a hard time understanding that being transgender is a serious, beautiful, dignified way of life, which is incredibly hard to admit you are experiencing. It’s one which seriously limits one’s options and one of the ways this manifests itself is in careers, especially ones which focus on the individual and their body, for example, acting, modelling or sports. One of the reasons why living as trans is so hard is because of portrayals like Leto’s car crash of a character. Being transgender is a human way of life. Not a fucking perma drag show.