GRID. Gay compromise syndrome. Gay cancer. Gay plague. 4H. These are just a handful of the terms used to describe AIDS in the early days — the hideous byproducts of the media, certain religious organizations, opportunistic political figures, and anyone else with an agenda. Ostracism, stigma-related violence, public avoidance, mandatory quarantine, and outright discrimination ensued. Sound familiar?
No laughing matter, the Reagan Admin initially treated the epidemic as a joke — that is, until Ronald’s old chum, Rock Hudson, announced his diagnosis and died two months later.
Ryan White got banned from school, Magic Johnson left the court (the first time), Arthur Ashe’s heart could no longer bear the burden of secrecy, and cases outside of the “four Hs” surged. The cameras started turning towards these “innocent victims” and allies like Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana stretched out their arms (literally) to shift public perspective for the AIDS afflicted.
All the while, the LGBTQIA+ community kept on fighting ‘til the end. Despite its devastation, AIDS ushered in a whole new era of queer art, film, music, dance, activism, and so much more.
Tomorrow, June 5th, marks the 40th anniversary of the first clinically reported cases — an estimated 35 million people have died since that day in 1981. Though entrenched stigmas still linger, support for the LGBTQIA+ community is louder than ever. Hell, there’s nary a Fortune 500 without a rainbow promotional gimmick or, at the very least, a colorful profile overhaul. We suppose that’s better than the alternative but when the sugar high wears off from all those rainbow milkshakes, we’ll be cranking up the Queercore tunes to bring us back down to earth.
Pride and Prejudice / Docuseries Chronicles 6 Decades of Resistance
Battle in the Ballroom / We’re Living for Legendary Season 2
Profile Pronouns / Instagram Gets Inclusive
For Queer People By Queer People / Yang Brings LGBTQIA+ Laughs to SNL
What Are You Into, Hmm? / Closeted Cartoons Come Out
Roast Chicken with a Side of Community / The Gayest Restaurant in San Francisco
Let the Record Show / Must-Read Story of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power)
Ahead of the Curve / The Tale of a Visionary Lesbian Magazine
She’s No Plain Jayne / Trans Pioneer is Man Enough to Be a Woman
Cruise this week’s picks, packed full of essential LGBTQIA+ flicks. Plop your cute buns on the sofa and a dish up a second helping of Big Gay Ice Cream — it’s time to let all the flags fly.
The Watermelon Woman / Cheryl Dunye, 1996 (NR)
“Girlfriend has it goin’ on”. Cheryl (the director) wrote, directed, edited, and starred in this delightful fiction-meets-faux-documentary about an aspiring black queer filmmaker. Cheryl (the character) finds herself as she unveils a forgotten 1930s actress (inexcusably billed only as the “Watermelon Woman”).
Beautiful Thing / Hettie Macdonald, 1996 (R)
Based in South London, this one is a tale of coming out while coming-of-age. Jamie and Ste bond over teenage angst as they fall in love during a hot and heavy summer. We don’t know what’s sweeter — Jamie’s angelic Mum (the incomparable Linda Henry) or the lads’ tender connection.
52 Tuesdays / Sophie Hyde, 2013 (NR)
16-year-old Billie spends every Tuesday for a year with her mother, Jane, who is undergoing a gender transition. Jane becomes James, mother-daughter dynamics shift, and Billie grows up fast. The standout here is the amount of respect the film gives to its subject matter — don’t skip this one, folx.
Queercore: How To Punk A Revolution / Yony Leyser, 2017 (NR)
John Waters. Lynn Breedlove. Genesis P-Orridge. This documentary explores the kickass influence of the Queercore movement and all its parts (spoiler: it was loud, weird and fabulous). You know we couldn’t leave this one out.
Tremors / Jayro Bustamante, 2019 (NR)
An intense portrayal of an evangelical family man coming to terms with his sexuality. Set in Guatemala City, religious and societal expectations demand impossible answers from Pablo: “Do we have the right to be happy if it hurts other people?” Warning: keep the Kleenex closer than arm’s length.
Curated by: The Fast Times Staff
The New York Times @nytimesA neopronoun can be a word created to serve as pronoun without expressing gender, like “ze” and “zir.” It can also be a “noun-self pronoun,” in which a pre-existing word is drafted into use as a pronoun. https://t.co/5Fy3s7bE8i
“The Fairview Mall Story” by Fifth Column
After an all-hands-on-deck search attempt across the deepest, darkest holes of the internet we can only assume that the “The Fairview Mall Story” music video simply doesn’t exist in any searchable format. If any of you should happen upon it, please send it our way (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll mail you something rad. Because you’re a unicorn.
Instead, here’s a teaser of Kevin Hegge’s doc, She Said Boom: The Story of Fifth Column, which is about the only damn thing on this planet capturing the essence of the greatest punk band many of us have never heard of… Fifth Column, duh. This group of badass punk gals not only disrupted the queer scene, it also sent the punk scene into a tailspin, later influencing the Riot grrrl movement — more on that here.
As for the elusive “The Fairview Mall Story” vid, featuring Bruce LaBruce (of J.D.s fame), its origin is one of a horrific outing incident in which the media publicly listed the names of 32 men accused of having sex in a Fairview Mall washroom in St. Catharines, Ontario. One of the accused committed suicide. Fifth Column penned the song as a no-BS stance against homophobia. Alas, Queercore was born.
Special thanks to our dear friends Rhys, Lauren, and Tyler for their contributions this week — this world is much more fabulous because of you.