Archive for the ‘queer’ Category

I have a new book (and film) review of Makoto Shinkai’s your name. on Contemporary Japanese Literature. your-name

your name. is a novelization of director Makoto Shinkai’s your name., an animated film that tells the story of Mitsuha, a high school girl from rural Gifu prefecture who wishes she could be a boy in Tokyo in her next life. After an incredibly vivid dream in which she wakes up as “Taki,” a high school boy living in downtown Tokyo, she discovers it’s not a dream at all – and Taki is also switching bodies with her. As the two teenagers try to navigate each other’s lives and relationships, only able to communicate with each other only by writing notes in each other’s cell phones when they switch, they begin to unravel a mystery involving Mitsuha’s town.


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Halloween PumpkinLet’s wrap this all up with this heartwarming piece about Halloween and being trans. Addison Rose Vincent’s (they/them)  “What Halloween Means to Me as a Transgender Person” gave me life this Halloween season:

I was so excited to put on my costume, and a friend across from my room invited me in to do my makeup. She finished, and when I saw myself the feeling from the year before immediately came back: I felt like I found myself again, a beautiful reunion.


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Poster for Brides to Be, which shows two brides on a wedding cake; the right side of the cake and bride on the right are being swept away in the wind; the bride on the left is holding onto her.

Queer horror in the Pacific Northwest? Heck yes.

Brides to Be (2016) is a film based on the short film Together Foreverin which Robin and Jenna get engaged. The original film is not a horror film, but the sequel, in which Robin, Jenna, and Jenna’s best friend Nate try to set up for the wedding, definitely is. This is a haunted house film as well as a love story, and I really enjoyed getting to see a film with queer heroines, especially two queer femmes who look like the queer femmes I know in the PNW. Also, that twinkle-light aesthetic is how I want my apartment to look 24-7.

Some spoilers ahead.

As much as I enjoyed the director’s genre-bending, queer-positive film, I feel like the narrative could have been tighter. There were a lot of plot holes and unexplained sequences, including

-Whenever Jenna or Robin has an ghostly episode, which is roughly every 15 minutes, why do they just move on as if nothing is wrong?

-Why are Robin, Jenna, and Nate there at the site alone overnight? Is the venue a B&B or does it only have two rooms? Where are all the other guests? (This isn’t an elopement with a photo shoot–we’re told there are guests and that it’s a “big wedding.”)

-Jenna is having trouble writing her vows; she confides in Nate that feels like Robin is so with-it and together and that she can’t be like that. This is never followed up on or explained–is Jenna estranged from her family? Out of work or working an unsatisfactory job? Is she out and supported in her community? Does she have other friends besides Robin and Nate? Does she compare herself to Robin? Does Robin make her feel bad for not having a supportive family and community or not achieving her personal or professional goals? We don’t ever see or hear about Jenna’s problems, or, if not problems, low self-esteem or anxiety/depression to really make her fears seem real.

-Literally WTF is the timeline here–I know the sun goes down at like 4:30 in the winter, but how did we go from brunch doughnuts to driving in the day to a night that lasts forever, in which the three have time to check in, try to set up the entire venue themselves because Gordon didn’t do anything and has no help, have a nighttime photo shoot, have sex, have showers, explore the house, have multiple naps, drink, etc?

Major spoilers below.

Whose horror?

One point of interest in this film is who is suspect and who is the site of horror. In films made by and for straight cis people, queerness and queer/trans people’s bodies are the site of horror–think Silence of the Lambs, Sleepaway Camp, and Valley of the Dolls 2. In Brides to Be, straight people, specifically straight cis men, are the site of horror. Part of it is the constant wondering about discrimination–is Gordon, the venue event planner, actually sick or is it because the wedding party is two brides? Is Bob, the replacement planner/caretaker, creeping on Jenna and Robin because he’s the creepy caretaker or because he fetishizes queer women? Is Nate’s betrayal because he’s always loved Jenna still childhood and she chose another woman instead of him (fucking cry me a river, Nate) or because the house is haunted? Is it sapphophobia or ghosts?

Even though we see the house possess Jenna and Robin as well to a lesser degree, we never find out if Nate’s and Gordon’s treatment of them is queerphobia and how much is the house. And that’s honestly the reality we queer and trans folks live in. People who discriminate against us and murder us don’t always just tell us, which makes it easier for violence against LGBTQ folks to not get labelled as a hate crime and makes intent in queer/transphobic interactions hard to prove.

Also, I was super confused by Nate’s treatment of Jenna because I assumed he was a gay friend (who ARE straight people?) right up until Robin and Jenna told him he’d meet a nice girl; so then I assumed he was bi because I want to believe that bi friends respect each other’s relationships. Clearly I read into that differently than what the creators intended.

All in all, Brides to Be feels like an important film in the beginning of a new age of queer horror–one in which we are the heroes and in which maybe, just maybe, our love can conquer all. Or at least fight off ghosts.

*It’s never stated explicitly in the film whether Robin and Jenna identify as lesbian, bi, or queer, so it may also be the case that Jenna isn’t attracted to men at all.

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Wet Nails agaricals

“Wet Nails” art by agaricals via Shira Glassman

Halloween fun for adults doesn’t have to be about “sexy” costumes. “Wet Nails” by queer Jewish author Shira Glassman takes a new angle on paranormal erotica when a Ph.D. candidate gets a sexy manicure from the ghost of a 1950s-era film star.


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“Bette Davis, sumptuously horrific in the title role, in Baby Jane.” Bette Davis as Jane, fake smiling and carrying a tea tray.

A lot of my focus on queer horror this year has been on better representation of queer creators and characters in horror. But what about the films queer folks have reappropriated for themselves?

David Greven’s “Bringing out Baby Jane: camp, sympathy, and the 1960s horror-woman’s film” is an analysis of 1960s melodramas that were reappropriated as camp by (primarily) gay and bi men.


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You ever read something that seems very “no, it’s not queer, they’re, uh, sisters/cousins!” and you’re like


GIF: Rei from Sailor Moon tries to stop her bike, skids past Usagi, Minako, Makoto, and Ami, and crashes into a “decelerate” sign. Source.

Welcome to Christina Rossetti’s 1862 poem “Goblin Market.” Major spoilers below, force-feeding mention.


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Today we have a guest post from Kathryn Hemmann, whom you may know from our collaborative panels on shôjo manga/anime, about the queer horror comic Nico’s Fortune.

The short stand-alone comic Nico’s Fortune is a collaboration between American writer Ryan King and Malaysian artist Daryl Toh. This is their second project together after the disturbing and eerie comic The Games We Played, which was published in October 2016. Nico’s Fortune is still plenty creepy, but the attention it devotes to the inner lives of its two protagonists serves to heighten its emotional impact while rendering its gruesome climax all the more shocking.


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You didn’t think I was going to write Feminist Halloween without talking about NBC Hannibal, did you?


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In his Buzzfeed piece “How Did A Bunch Of Mythical Monsters Become Queer Icons?” John Paul Brammer asks the question I definitely had after the “gay Babadook gets appropriated by the straights” happened this year.

Jeff Lowry for BuzzFeed News Queer Monsters

Image: a person with short hair uses their computer in a darkened room, which casts a shadow of a person alternating with Mothman on the wall. A picture of the Babadook is on the wall over the bed; a pair of bigfoot slippers sit by the bed; and several Venus flytraps sit in the corner of the room. Copyright: Jeff Lowry for BuzzFeed New (the original is a gif!)

Where I’m from, a small town in the middle of nowhere, the gay man was the bogeyman. He was constantly waiting to prey upon the hapless straights in their locker rooms, salivating at the prospect of converting them to the gay dark side with his bite. All things evil and repulsive were his domain — report cards, emotions, curfews, and books, to name a few. All these things were gay, because they were bad.



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Daylight GateIn seeking out as much queer horror as I can find this year and every year, I found Jeanette Winterson’s novella The Daylight Gate listed on some recommended books lists. Winterson also wrote queer classic Oranges are the the Only Fruit, which I have yet to read (and should). That seemed like a glowing recommendation itself, and the reviews of the book often describe the book as “sophisticated…visceral…utterly compulsive, thick with atmosphere and dread, but sharp intelligence, too” (The Telegraph, back cover of the book). This is a case of “I see what the author was trying to do, but–”

Some mild spoilers and mentions of sexual abuse and prison conditions ahead.

The Daylight Gate could best be described as historical fiction with magical realism and bisexuality, all of which are things I love. Yet it reads more like the bare-bones outline of a novel that one writes to get the story down before adding in dialogue, descriptions, and, well, editing.


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