Is it because we’re all swimming together in the toxic Trump pool that makes every new addition to the LGBTQ cultural canon feel like an act of rebellion? Probably. But even if we were living in a queer-friendly political era, 2018’s (they’re calling it #20GayTeen on the Internet, just FYI) pop culture output would still be impressive. And not just among ourselves – the mainstream took notice and we didn’t have to dilute or code ourselves to make a splash there. The receipts:
- Love, Simon took heat for being about a relatively affluent suburban gay white boy, but as a mainstream multiplex entry with very long legs (its budget was somewhere around $15 million and over its run raked in over 65) this teenage coming out and coming-of-age story was the sweet John Hughes-esque comedy Hollywood hadn’t yet bothered to make.
- Broadway went Old School this year with revivals of Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy (closing in January of 2019 and beginning a national tour) and the groundbreaking drama The Boys In The Band, starring Jim Parsons. They’re a reminder that within the lifespan of most members of Generation X, the American public’s perception of queer people has shifted in ways that make the word “dramatic” quite an understatement.
- The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Boy Erased, together, formed one solid movie about the toxic world of anti-gay Evangelical conversion camps for LGBTQ young people. Miseducation had a queer director in Desiree Akhavan, which informed the film’s ability to get the anxiety and power of teenage desire just right, but Erased, based on author Garrard Conley’s lived experience in the church, dove deep into the terror and abuse of fundamentalist belief. See them both.
- Janelle Monae’s “PYNK” and its accompanying video served as a deliriously gorgeous and hypnotic ode to women of color – both cis and trans – loving other women of color, and it turned into a launching pad for best friends Monae and Tessa Thompson coming out, Thompson as bisexual and Monae as pansexual. If you’re confused by the difference, there’s always Google.
- Pose on FX forever smashed ideas about how much trans is too much trans for one show. TV mogul Ryan Murphy stepped back, let transgender actors, writers and directors take over, and it made the show more true, heartfelt and emotional than we even dared to hope for. And over on Viceland, the documentary series My House went into the real 2018 ballroom scene and let audiences know exactly what has changed since Paris is Burning.