The classic lesbian film Pariah was first released in the United States on this day in 2011. Written and directed by
lesbian director Dee Rees, Pariah was
awarded the Excellence in Cinematography Award at the 2011 Sundance Film
Festival and also earned Adpero Oduye a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award
for Best Female Lead.
Pariah is a character study of a
17-year-old girl named Alike. The film follows her coming out journey as a
young black butch lesbian who is just beginning her process of self-discovery.
After becoming friends with an out lesbian named Laura and frequenting bars and
clubs with her, Alike begins exploring her own sexuality and dressing in men’s
clothing. Her mother, Audrey, becomes suspicious of her daughter’s nighttime whereabouts
and retaliates by forcing her to wear more feminine clothing and to attend
is through church that Alike meets another young girl named Bina and has her
first sexual experience. After spending the night with Bina, Alike returns home and
comes out to her family in the middle of an explosive argument. Although her
father and sister are restrained, her mother attacks her, resulting in Alike
fleeing to Laura’s house and swearing to never return home. Despite the gritty
realness of the film, Pariah ends with Alike off on a journey to California to
start college early. The thesis of the film is summed up in a line from one of
Alike’s poems: “I’m not running; I’m choosing.”
Pitifully Ugly follows the story of a lesbian named Shannon
Brycen. Convinced she is the epitome of ugliness and undesirability, Shannon’s
sister Kalen decides to prove her little sister wrong and play matchmaker.
After a series of bad dates, Shannon takes matters into her own hands and dives
deep into the untamed waters of lesbian online dating. She downs half a bottle
of wine, sets her username to “Pitifully Ugly,” and opens up her dating profile
with “Mid thirties, still single, house broken but rabid. If you’re looking for
something different then I’m your girl. Write me if you dare… P.U.”
This leads to the sweetly generic
and funny love story of Shannon and a woman named Hailey. Although far from
being Pulitzer worthy, Robin Alexander is a competent writer known for her
lesbian romance novels and Pitifully Ugly
is a short, fun read for any wlw readers just looking for some popcorn
On this day in 2011, the book 96 Hours by the iconic lesbian romance
novelist Georgia Beers first hit shelves.
Georgia Beers photographed in her office by Yasmin Jung in 2017 (x).
96 Hours tells the kind of pulpy,
drama-filled romance story that lesbians are not usually afforded in fiction;
set against the tragic backdrop of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City,
the novel follows two women named Erin and Abby. Erin is meant to be flying
back to her home in London after coming to America for a business trip, while
Abby has a plane ticket for New York City where she will be able to visit her
ailing mother. However, once the tragic plane hijackings start occurring, both
women’s flights get deterred to Gander, Canada for safety. For 96 hours, Erin
and Abby share an experience and a connection like no other.
96 Hours is simply one novel in a
long string of lesbian romance novels churned out by Georgia Beers over the
years; if the straights have Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts, then lesbians
have Georgia Beers. She was born in Rochester, New York and began writing at a young age. She has written over 15 books to date and has repeatedly been
awarded the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction. She is also currently a member of the programming board for the ImageOut LGBTQ Film Festival. You can find more
of her work here!
On this day in 2016, the film Baka Bukas was first released in the Philippines
at the Cinema One Originals Film Festival. Baka
Bukas was the directorial debut of lesbian filmmaker Samantha Lee, who says
that the film is “the story of what happens when you fall in love with your
For its English-language distribution, the title of the film was changed to Maybe Tomorrow (x).
Inspired by the director’s own
life experiences, Baka Bukas follows
two girls named Alex and Jess. Alex, played by Jasmine Curtis-Smith, is a semi-out
lesbian with a successful career as a social media manager. Despite having a
family who embraces her sexuality, the one person she has yet to come out
to is her best friend Jess – played by Louise delos Reyes. Things become
complicated when Jess learns that not only is she the only person who Alex is
not out of the closet to, but that Alex is also secretly in love with her.
Unlike other films which deal with friendships between lesbians and straight
girls, such as Almost Adults, Baka Bukas follows Jess on her own journey
of sexual self-discovery as she realizes that she too may have been in love
with Alex this whole time.
The film became a finalist at the
Cinema One Originals Film Festival and won the overall awards for Audience
Choice, Best Actress for Jasmine Curtis-Smith, and Best Sound. It eventually
got a wide release in March on 2017. In an interview with CNN Philippines, director
Samantha Lee said, “I conceptualized the film because I wanted to see a
representation of the LGBT community that went beyond the portrayals that are
shown in mainstream media. The characters in this film are fully flawed
functional human beings. They are more than just an accessory to the plot, they
are the plot.”
On November 14, 2017, the people
of Australia voted yes to legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the nation.
A crowd celebrates in Melbourne, Australia, as the same-sex marriage survey results are announced. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images) (x).
The national poll survey to see if the
Australian legislature should legalize same-sex marriage began in September of
this year. After two months of relentless campaigning by LGBT activists, it has
been reported that a 61% of the population has voted to legalize same-sex marriage.
Over 12.7 million people took part in the poll, roughly 79.5% of the country,
and every state and territory returned a majority “yes” vote.
The Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm
Turnbull, has called for Parliament to approve the legalization of same-sex
marriage by Christmas 2017. In response to the poll results, Turnbull said, “They
voted ‘yes’ for fairness, they voted ‘yes’ for commitment, they voted ‘yes’ for
love. And now it is up to us here in the Parliament of Australia to get on with
The film Blue is the Warmest Colour was first released in the United Kingdom
on this day in 2013. After becoming the breakout film of the 2013 Cannes Film
Festival, lesbians everywhere waited with baited breath for the roll out of Blue is the Warmest Colour into theaters.
Blue is the Warmest Colour was first released in its home country of France on October 9, 2013 (x).
Based on Julie Maroh’s 2010
graphic novel of the same name, Blue is the Warmest Colour tells the story of a
15-year-old girl named Adèle whose life gets turned upside down when she meets
and falls in love with a blue-haired girl named Emma. After bumping into Emma
on the street one day, Adèle becomes fixated on her and daydreams of her at school, home, and even during sex with her boyfriend. While partying at a gay club with her friends, Adèle
wanders off and finds herself at a lesbian bar and in the presence of the
mysterious blue-haired girl once again. The two enter
into an exciting new relationship, but one that eventually becomes a rocky adult
relationship as Adèle and Emma struggle with keeping the spark between them throughout
In May of 2013, Blue is the Warmest Colour unanimously
won the Palme d’Or and the FIPRESCI
Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It also made history by its two lead
actresses – Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos – being just the second and
third actresses to ever be awarded the Palme
d’Or. Although the film came into great controversy for its use of the
straight male gaze and the sexually exploitative working conditions established
by director Abdellatif Kechiche, it still placed at the top of many
publications “Best of 2013” lists and was even nominated for a BAFTA and Golden
Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In spite of its flaws both in front
of and behind the camera, the success of Blue
is the Warmest Colour has afforded it a place in lesbian culture and film
On this day in 2014, Maura Healey
became the very first openly gay state attorney general to be elected in
America. She has been making headlines throughout 2017 for openly opposing the
presidency of Donald Trump and joining lawsuit challenges against his executive orders.
Most recently, Maura Healey led a group of 15 attorneys general in filing a court brief opposing President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving openly in the U.S. military (x).
Maura Healey was born on February
8, 1971 in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. She grew up in a midde-class
household; her mother was a nurse, her father an engineer, and her step-father
taught history at Winnacunnet High School, which she and her 4 brothers and
sisters also attended. She would go on to graduate from Harvard College in 1992
and then Northeastern University School of Law in 1998. Between finishing her
undergraduate and receiving her J.D., Maura lived in Austria and played for a
professional basketball team in Salzburg.
She began her legal career as a
clerk and had worked her way up to Chief of the Public Protection &
Advocacy Bureau by 2012. It was in October of 2013 when Maura announced her
campaign for state attorney general of Massachusetts. During the campaign, she
was endorsed by many notable Democrats and in September of 2014 it was declared
that she had officially defeated the Republican nominee John Miller. On
November 4, 2014, Maura was sworn in as the new attorney general of Massachusetts and became the first attorney general in American history to be a member of the LGBT community. She remains in
office today and resides in Charlestown, Massachusetts with her partner Gabrielle
On this day in 2013, the musical Fun Home made its Broadway debut.
Adapted by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori from Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical
graphic novel, Fun Home became a
nationwide sensation for its bold depiction of a young butch lesbian coming to
terms with her childhood and the fact that her deceased father was a deeply
closeted gay man.
“Fun Home: A True Story Becomes a Tony-Winning Best Musical” (x).
Fun Home first premiered in
September of 2013 at The Public Theater, but it officially made the jump to
Broadway on October 22, 2013. Starring Beth Malone, Emily Skeggs, and Sydney
Lucas all as Alison Bechdel at different ages throughout her life, the musical
follows the same structure as the graphic novel; the story begins with the
adult cartoonist living out and proud in the modern day and follows adult Alison’s narration as she tells the story of her relationship with her father
from the time she was a 10-year-old child, a questioning teenager, and as a college student writing a coming out letter to her parents.
The main cast of Fun Home poses for a publicity shot (x).
Although gay identity is not
foreign territory to the theater world, it could be argued that lesbian identity had never been so
thoroughly studied and cherished before Fun Home broke onto the scene. Invigorating the original work with 22
songs, when the official cast album
was released in 2014, it debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top Cast Album Chart.
Fun Home’s phenomenon status was reached when it was nominated for the 2014
Pulitzer Prize for Drama and then nominated for over 12 Tony Awards – winning 5
of them including the culminating honor of Best Musical.
Happy one year anniversary of the release of the film The Handmaiden, which first premiered in the U.S. on this day in 2016. Based
on Sarah Waters’s iconic lesbian novel Fingersmith,
the film adapts the story of a pickpocket falling in love with an heiress in
Victorian England into Victorian-era South Korea.
Similar to other iconic LGBT films such as Carol or Moonlight, The Handmaiden has grown its very own pocket of devoted lesbian fandom ever since its release last year (x).
In the film, Kim Min-hee and Kim
Tae-ri star as the protagonists, the wealthy Lady Izumi Hideko and trained pickpocket Sook-hee.
Sook-hee comes from a long line of con artists and the tale picks up with her in the midst of her latest project working for a man named Count Fujiwara. With Sook-hee posing as a maid,
Fujiwara invades the home of the single and rich Lady Izumi with the intent of
marrying her, committing her to an asylum, and then divvying up what’s left of
her fortune between himself and Sook-hee. The plan seems airtight until
Sook-hee and Izumi sleep together one night and begin to feel themselves
falling in love.
The Handmaiden made its first big splash after premiering at the
2016 Cannes Film Festival and making headlines as the new thrilling South
Korean lesbian drama that everyone couldn’t wait to get their hands on. At
Cannes, Ryu Seong-hee won the Vulcan Award of the Technical Artist for her art
direction. It was also shown at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and
was lauded as one of the top 15 best films to be shown there. To date, it is
the highest grossing film director Park Chan-wook has ever released in the
On this day in 2012, the book Ask the Passengers by A.S. King first hit shelves. Chronicling the life of Astrid Jones, Ask the Passengers tells the story of a young girl coming to terms
with her place in a small town and her attraction to other girls.
The cover art to Ask the Passengers by A.S. King shows a young girl lying in the grass and reaching up to the sky (x).
Having just moved from the big
city to a small town in Pennsylvania, Astrid Jones is thoroughly bored. She
spends her days contemplating her high school philosophy class, having secret
make out sessions with her female co-worker, and lying on the picnic table in
her family’s backyard to watch the planes go by and “ask the passengers.” It is
only the anonymous and unseen passengers of those planes that fly overhead Astrid’s
small life every day who she can admit her most secret desires and questions –
namely, what should I do if I’m falling in love with a girl?
Wholly a young adult novel, Ask the Passengers is the type of book
that many of us have probably been waiting our whole lives for. With all the
teenage angst, confusion, and nihilism of classics like The Catcher in the Rye
and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Astrid is a regular lesbian Holden
Caulfield or Charlie Kelmekis. The entire story doesn’t revolve around a romance
like many lesbian YA books, but rather how the main character’s identity is affected
by the taboo-ness of the romance she craves. A.S. King unabashedly adopts the
teenage point of view and is not afraid to center her story on love – romantic,
familial, and just the overwhelming love Astrid seems to have for the entire
world around her.