Our 12 Favorite Stories of 2016: The Editors’ Picks
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It’s said that there are only three types of stories in LGBTQ media: political queer-bashings, literal queer-bashings and “man takes off shirt.” But here at Unicorn Booty, we go beyond the usual fare to bring you witty, irreverent articles that challenge conventional thinking and provide newer, queerer ways of seeing the world.
We’ve chosen 12 of our most popular and controversial articles from 2016 that you might’ve missed (one from each month). From serious reads to pop-culture confections, we see each as a mini-adventure for your mind and hope they get you excited for the many great articles we’ve got planned for 2017.
Near the start of 2015, then-59-year-old Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher talked about fans who criticized her for not having the body of a 20-year-old. Sadly, this sexist thinking permeates not only male fandom but the whole of Hollywood, as Unicorn Booty contributor R.S. Benedict revealed. Looking at real-life casting calls, Benedict uncovered a laughably depressing trove of roles reducing young women to non-speaking sex objects (including several particularly egregious ones that asked women to show their tits moments before being killed).
To commemorate The Silence of the Lambs’ 25th anniversary, we asked transgender film critic Nicole Gagne to revisit the controversial Oscar-winning film. But rather than re-hash well-worn arguments about its transphobia (it’s really transphobic), Gagne re-examined the plot holes and odd pacing that undercut its status as a “swift, witty new suspense thriller.” She ultimately argued that the film’s misleading cuts and unbelievable escape render it less swift and thrilling than most critics recall.
Near the beginning of March, the post-apocalyptic-science fiction drama The 100 killed off one of its beloved queer characters, and the fan outcry was immense: Not only did the show’s creators slay a lesbian/bisexual woman moments after consummating her relationship, but they had also betrayed queer female viewers by following the lazy “bury your gays” trope. Islay Bell-Webb’s article about the outcry transcended mere griping with an impassioned cri de cœur demanding better for LGBTQ characters.
In early April, black Twitter activists lit up social media with #GayMediaSoWhite, a hashtag criticizing gay publications for repeatedly excluding men of color. The criticism compelled writer Chaaz Quigley to examine his own internalized racism coming out as a black bear in the South. Raised on white-centric gay media (like Beautiful Thing and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and ignored in white bear bars, Quigley felt undesirable in his own skin … that is, until he discovered a sexy, bearish porn star of color that became his sexual ideal. Now he’s embracing his blackness while unapologetically rejecting the white guys he once lusted after.
In the lusty month of May, regular contributor (and renowned vlogger and podcaster) Matt Baume interviewed Pat Haggerty, the world’s first openly gay country singer. Back in the ’70s, Haggerty released an album called Lavender Country that included a song entitled “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears,” the likes of which got a DJ banned from the airwaves. While the song found new life on the internet 40 years later, Baume got Haggerty to reminisce about the album’s creation, the ’70s gay country scene in Seattle and gay politics today.
Near the start of June, the Cartoon Network show Clarence revealed that one of its characters had same-sex parents, following a trend of gay, lesbian and bisexual parents in children’s programming. Our Managing Editor Matt Keeley found five sets of same-sex parents from recent cartoons—including two Disney films—as well as videos of each showing how today’s kids see LGBTQ families on the small screen.
Eight countries in Africa and the Middle East use forced anal exams to convict men and trans women of same-sex attraction. Far from being a routine medical exam, these inspections inflict abuse and sexual trauma upon political prisoners as a way to humiliate and intimidate queer communities. Senior Editor Daniel Villarreal took a closer look at a Human Rights Watch report on the practice, adding additional backgrounding on LGBTQ rights in each country involved.
When longtime activist Adam Robbins served as a judge in the 2016 Asia LGBT Milestone Awards, he expected an evening honoring the people behind China’s most important LGBTQ initiatives. Instead, he saw the local community swindled by Fu Yiqi (付㦤奇), a manipulative PR huckster who used the event as a glamour vehicle for his sham PR company. Robbins shared his first-hand account—along with some investigative reporting and photos from the infamous awards—as a way to prevent Fu from ever preying off of others again.
From 1999 to 2005, 30-something San Francisco musician Laura Albert published books as JT LeRoy, a 19-year-old, homeless, transgender, HIV-positive sex worker. After she was exposed, Albert revealed that while she wasn’t a 19-year-old sex worker, she had grown up in a sexually abusive household and in state care with people who had experiences similar to LeRoy’s. We watched the 2015 documentary about Albert’s ordeal (Author: The JT LeRoy Story, one of the best films of 2016), and afterwards had a revealing chat with her about the folks behind “the greatest literary hoax of the 21st century” and the trouble of writing as another person.
In October, contributor Ben Allen attended GX4, the fourth annual LGBTQ gaming convention. (Unicorn Booty served as its media sponsor.) After attending a panel led by a queer Native game developer, Allen examined his own retreat from toxic gamer culture. Rather than avoiding the widespread misogyny and racism of the so-called GamerGate movement, Allen suggests that queer gamers and allies meet hatred head-on and help reclaim the gaming world for outsiders everywhere.
If you’ve ever wondered why nature makes some people gay and others straight, Dr. James O’Keefe’s TEDx Talk on homosexuality raises interesting possibilities. O’Keefe sidesteps outdated psychoanalytic theories about absent fathers and domineering mothers as well as the “guncle theory” about gay uncles (guncles) raising their siblings’ offspring and instead focuses on the more recent field of epigenetics and a famous study linking high levels of prenatal stress to gay offspring. His conclusions offer a new framework for seeing same-sex attraction as an evolutionary boon rather than a social liability.
As the year winds to a close and we consider what personal habits to resolve away, Daniel Villarreal listed seven of the worst social sins for gay people (though his list easily applies to anyone). He dispensed with the classic “deadly sins”—lust, gluttony—and suggested new ones like extreme narcissism, constant flakiness and voting Republican. Though his article is tongue-in-cheek, he prescribes a penance for each one so folks can walk the pilgrim’s path to a more loving and authentic life.