n the latest season of Queer Eye, the Fab 5 set temporary roots in Austin to meet their new heroes: a honk-tonk dance instructor; a rancher; an entire prom committee; two restaurant owners; a doctor; and a powerlifter, San Antonio’s own Angel Flores. Flores is a 22-year-old transgender trainer and Olympic weightlifting coach who dominates in the gym but needed a spot in building up her confidence.
The Netflix reboot launched its Austin season on New Year’s Eve after postponing the series for months due to the pandemic. The show stars the Fab 5 – Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, and Tan France – with each bringing their own skill set to makeover, support, and provide guidance into the lives of their heroes.
It’s possible that many “Jeopardy!” viewers are not even aware, 30 shows in, that super-champ Amy Schneider — one of the four winningest contestants in the show’s history — is a trans woman.
But LGBTQ+ viewers know.
They also know that Schneider could be a cultural game-changer.
“She’s phenomenal,” said Leslie Farber, a Montclair lawyer. “With a personality to match her intelligence.”
Mainstream viewers might not know because Schneider herself doesn’t make a big point of it. Neither does the show.
It’s come up a few times, in casual banter with guest host Ken Jennings, in the weeks leading up to Schneider’s big milestone: passing the $1 million mark last Friday. But Schneider, an engineering manager, is so low-key and relaxed, so seemingly comfortable inside her skin, that the issue quickly became a non-issue for almost everyone except some social media trolls who felt the need to throw shade online.
Grey’s Anatomy has announced that its first nonbinary doctor will become a recurring character on the show.
Dr. Kai Bartley, played by non-binary actor E.R. Fightmaster, made their debut on Season 18’s third episode as a Parkinson’s disease researcher.
Dr. Meredith Grey and Dr. Amelia Shepherd meet Dr. Bartley while on a trip to the Minnesota hospital where they work. When the show picks back up on November 11, Dr. Bartley will return as a regular on the long-running medical drama.
ABC describes Dr. Bartley as “dedicated to their craft and extremely talented at what they do,” as well as “confident as hell and able to make even the most detailed and mundane science seem exciting and cool.”
The official Grey’s Anatomy Twitter account also posted the news and wrote that Fightmaster “has been an incredible addition to the #GreysAnatomy family.”
In addition to playing the show’s first non-binary doctor, Fightmaster appears to be the first non-binary actor who has been out while appearing on the show. Sara Ramirez, who played Dr. Callie Torres from 2006 to 2016, came out as non-binary last year.
Trans actor Alex Blue Davis also played trans doctor Casey Parker for three seasons.
Many fans have expressed their excitement to see Fightmaster on the show, as well as their theories about what they have deemed the obvious chemistry between Dr. Bartley and Dr. Amelia Shepherd.
Fightmaster graduated from DePaul University and is an alum of Chicago’s renowned Second City comedy club. They have appeared in the Hulu series Shrill, as well as Showtime’s Work in Progress.
The newly released Nubia & The Amazons #1 by DC Comics has broken new ground, marking the first time Wonder Woman’s Amazons welcome a transgender woman into their society in a touching and unforgettable moment.
Nubia’s time as Queen of the Amazons is showcased in the new DC series from Stephanie Williams, Vita Ayala, Alitha Martinez, Mark Morales, Emilio Lopez, and Becca Carey. Beginning with a flashback to Nubia’s own arrival on Themiscyra, readers are reminded of the Amazons’ mystical Well of Souls: a portal through which women who have died as a result of the terror of ‘Man’s World’ are reborn, given new life among the immortal women. The five new sisters born of the Well (who represent the first group of women to come through the well in some time) wake up without knowing who they were, where they are, or what’s to come next. And for one, it is a rebirth they have spent their entire life waiting for.
“AIDS Diva” was a title Norman, a transgender woman and ex-sex worker who overcame addiction and abuse to become a leader in ACT UP L.A. in the late 1980s, gave herself. It was a hint at the warm, humorous woman behind the forceful activist who got arrested, went on hunger strikes and carried a bullhorn like it was an extension of her hand.
“We’re not doing enough!” Norman can be seen shouting at fellow demonstrators in one clip from the film. “You’re not doing enough, I’m not doing enough. And AIDS is not going away!”
Director Dante Alencastre has documented the experiences of other transgender women, including youth activist Zoey Luna, TransLatin@ Coalition founder Bamby Salcedo and the trans community in Lima, Peru. He was looking for his next subject when a friend suggested Norman.
“I had heard of her, but I knew very little,” said Alencastre, who moved to Los Angeles 14 years ago. “Almost like she was a ghost from the past.”
Around the time he started his research, someone put up an alumni page on Facebook for members of the L.A. chapter of ACT UP, or the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. They used Norman’s picture for the cover photo.
“I immediately reached out and said, ‘I want to talk to anyone who knew her,’” Alencastre said. “It was like opening up Pandora’s box.”
He was put in touch with Peter Cashman, a journalist and founding ACT UP L.A. member, who appears in “AIDS Diva.” Cashman filmed Norman extensively and had boxes full of VHS tapes.
“He told me he never looked at them, but we were welcome to use whatever we wanted,” Alencastre said. As he digitized hours of Norman’s interviews and speeches, he said he could tell how ahead of her time she was.
“I was kind of surprised by the frank and explicit way she would talk about herself,” he said. “Back then, I imagine people were taken aback. But she was bold enough to make an audience look beyond her appearance. There was no consciousness of trans back then. There was no ‘T’ in LGBT.”
Michael Weinstein, president of the L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, recalls working alongside Norman and credits her willingness to engage with friends and foes alike.
“She’d speak to people I would ignore, who I didn’t think were worth the time of day,” Weinstein said.
One of those people was Wally George, a conservative Southern California talk show host whose stage she appeared on. (In “AIDS Diva,” we see Norman stand up to taunts from George’s audience.)
“She believed that through the force of her personality and her words she could get people to think and feel,” Weinstein added. “And she succeeded a lot more often than I thought possible.”
Being a professional activist requires a thick skin and a loud voice. And Norman had both.
“She had a mouth on her. Thankfully it was connected to a mind,” David Reid, producer of XEK-AM’s short-lived “The Connie Norman Show” radio show, told The Pride in 2016. “And she was a she; on many occasions, I heard her say, ‘I paid $50,000 to be who I am, and I get to pick my pronouns.’”
Torie Osborn, director from 1987 to 1993 of what was then known as the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, said it was sometimes shocking to see the anger Norman could summon with a megaphone.
“She’d say, ‘Oh, I’m just a Midwestern girl.’ But I don’t think she ever forgot her struggles or where she came from,” Osborn said.
That ferocity was tempered with a genuine sweetness, Osborn added. “I think it’s a gift of the LGBT community to be both tough and soft, if we allow ourselves to access those parts. And Connie did, absolutely.”
Longtime transgender activist Valerie Spencer, who was mentored by Norman, jokingly called her “a fake and a fraud.”
“Publicly she was this bombastic warrior. People thought ‘Oh here she comes!’ And, yeah, she could shake the building with her vibrato,” Spencer said. “But inside, she was so tender. She gave me jewelry — a beautiful garnet necklace. … At the heart of who she was, she was a tender pussycat.”
“AIDS Diva” co-producer John Johnston remembered Norman lending him her jacket to keep warm during a vigil at the University of Southern California in 1989.
“In the height of everything, even as she was battling for her own life, she’d ask if you were OK,” Weinstein said.
Born in small-town Texas, Norman ran away from home at 14 and lived on the streets of Hollywood before getting off drugs and transitioning in the mid-1970s. She was diagnosed with HIV in 1987 and soon became active with local AIDS groups.
“I often tell people that I am an ex-drag queen, ex-hooker, ex-IV drug user, ex-high risk youth and current postoperative transsexual woman who is HIV-positive,” Norman told The Los Angeles Times shortly before her death in 1996. “I have everything I ever wanted, including a husband of 10 years, a home and five adorable longhaired cats. … I do, however, regret the presence of this virus.”
She didn’t have the education or polish of other activists, but she had the survival skills she learned on the streets, Spencer said. And more important, “she was a person confronting her own mortality and the lack of compassion in our society. When you’re in that situation it can just fuel you with a powerful rage.”
Among other roles, Norman was director of public policy for the All Saints AIDS Service Center in Pasadena, California, and sat on the L.A. County Commission on HIV. She wrote a bimonthly column, “Tribal Writes,” for the San Diego gay magazine Update and co-hosted “The Gay and Lesbian News Magazine,” a cable-access show out of Long Beach, California.
On all those fronts Norman called out those she felt had allowed the epidemic to continue, either through action or inaction, including the Reagan and Bush administrations, the FDA and the state of California. When Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican, vetoed a bill that would have prohibited discrimination against workers because of sexual orientation, Norman helped lead a march on the state capital in Sacramento.
“It boils down to how much you want to live,” she wrote of her advocacy in POZ magazine in 1995.
“I want to be here on this planet every minute that I can and I’m willing to do whatever I can do — comfortably — to stay here,” she said. “Sue me, but I believe that all of the medicines and all of the prophylactics are eventually going to come up against this virus and lose. You can either sit and wait for that to happen or you can go ahead and live your life.”
Norman threw herself into her activism until the end, likely at the expense of her own well-being.
On Monday, in celebration of National Coming Out Day, the R&B singer revealed that he will be starting hormone therapy as he opened up about his transgender journey.
Writing that he was “afraid” of sharing the news and accepting his identity, he explained that he previously would “pray my thoughts would lessen” and would ask God if they would ever stop. However, today he has come to terms with his identity and shared that he’s excited to share it with the world.
“I would talk to myself in public just to calm my anxiety, have to run to the restroom and check in with the version of me I felt no one else could see… even though I never felt like I wasn’t myself, engaging with ppl, I just knew nobody knew what I thought of myself when I looked in the mirror,” the 20-year-old wrote. “And why I was so sad. I saw a boy. In a girl’s body who was hiding and doing a good job at it…”
“There would also be times I just felt like everyone around me knew my secret,” he added. “I created a version of myself that was toxic, I demonized myself, and convinced myself I’d never be able to love. After moving away from home and just experiencing the world and how my dysphoria (before I even knew what that was) worsened, I finally did what I was dreading … I looked up the word ‘transgender.'”
The singer explained that he read many stories from trans people and “cried so much I could feel so much more than I ever had.” It was then that he realized, “I had to come to terms with myself.”
“I thought if I just came out to my immediate circle it would be fine it would be cool maybe even eventually it would go away… I was in love and that’s another story but… 3 years later I’ve broke down….got up.. after intense therapy, I have joined communities, I have been more and more vocal with my friends and family…I’ve survived… and now… I’m LIVING 😌✨,” he wrote.
“In two days I’ll be beginning hormone therapy,” he added. “It feels like I’m saying goodbye but I’m saying hello. I’m Nevaeh. The mf playa”
Several artists left comments on his post supporting the decision to come out.
“WE LOVE YOU!!!!!” wrote Tommy Genesis. “You are powerful.”
“yesssss LIVE ur BEST LIFE,” wrote Bria Myles. “live for uuuuu.”
“I’m crying rn,” wrote Mallory Merk. “Love you so much.”
Signed by DefJam, the singer has already released songs such as “Screwed Up” featuring A Boogie wit da Hoodie, “Sorry I’m High” and “Too Much.”
Philadelphia unveiled its first mural celebrating transgender and gender-nonconforming people last week.
The mural, “We Are Universal,” was created by the artist Kah Yangni in collaboration with the residents of Morris Home, the only residential recovery program in the country that offers services specifically for trans people, according to its website.
The 2,200-square-foot mural features bright colors, flowers, a butterfly and the faces of two Morris Home residents.
Some of the residents’ quotes are included on the mural, which reads, “we’re trans,” “we’re survivors,” “we are joyful,” “we feel rage” and “we are universal!”
“I picked the words that describe people at Morris Home, but also the broader community of trans folks and folks in recovery,” Yangni said. “I tried to pick things I felt like a lot of people could connect with.”
Yangni said they also wanted to create something positive that instilled a sense of warmth and comfort in trans people.
“I think it’s really awesome to be trans,” they said. “I’m really proud of what I am, but I know that we live in this world where not everybody thinks that, and people in our community go through a lot. So I wanted to make something that would feel like a huge hug and acknowledges some of the things that are hard about our lives, but ultimately is really loving and really warm and says, ‘We’re here, and we exist.’”
They said that during the design process, someone suggested taking inspiration from a well-known quotation from the novelist and activist James Baldwin and using the phrase “To be Black and trans is to be in a constant state of rage” on the mural.
But Yangni said they wanted to balance the hard parts about being trans with joy.
“It’s really hard to see death and destruction all the time and we’re about more than that,” Yangni said. “I wanted there also to be a story out there about how great we are.”
The dedication for the mural, which took place last week, also kicked off Mural Arts Month, which will take place in Philadelphia throughout October and includes mural dedications, panel discussions, artist spotlights and walking mural tours, among other activities. The theme of this year’s Mural Arts Month is resilience.
Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden said during the dedication for “We Are Universal” that murals, in addition to being beautiful, are meant to address social issues.
“I think that the mural obscures the power behind it,” she said, according to WHYY, a public radio station in Philadelphia. “For every project that people see, like the one we’re standing in front of, that’s two years of work with Morris. It is workshops, it’s programs, it’s very deep, meaningful, hard conversations that were really both sorrowful and incredibly triumphant.”
Yangni said that they hope there will be a wave of queer murals in other cities to help queer and trans people feel seen.
Trans people are often “in the background” they said, “or maybe on the internet, and it’d be nice if we were in real life, too.”
If any doubt remained that documentaries depend, for their emotional power, on the same sort of directorial artistry as dramatic features do, the French director Sébastien Lifshitz’s new documentary “Little Girl” (in limited theatrical release, including at Film Forum) would suffice to dispel it. The film is centered on Sasha, a girl who’s growing up in a town near Reims and who has been, from earliest childhood, aware of her gender dysphoria. Assigned male at birth, she expressed, in early childhood, her identity as a girl; her parents, after some initial incomprehension, have been strongly supportive of her, but she endures cruelly indifferent rejection, both social and official, because of her identity. At her school, the principal and her teachers insist on treating her as a boy, and “Little Girl” depicts the family’s effort to help Sasha gain formal recognition of her gender at school and social recognition by her classmates and their parents.
Lifshitz could have made a conventionally informative documentary, using sound bites, interviews, and film clips; the political significance of the subject nearly invites such an approach. Yet he has done nothing of the sort. “Little Girl,” instead, is an immersive, experiential film, a work of creative nonfiction that, above all, portrays Sasha’s experience with an ardent, dramatic attentiveness; its distinctive style seems uniquely crafted to the implications of her story. Lifshitz introduces Sasha as she chooses her outfit, putting on a glittery dress and then selecting between a plain, cloth headband and a tiara in the mirror. She sees herself and Lifshitz sees her, in a fixed and concentrated closeup that, in the movie’s wide-screen cinematography (by Paul Guilhaume), offers a resonant moment of self-contemplation that would be so in any child’s life but which gains power from the specifics of Sasha’s childhood.
Sasha’s mother, Karine, discusses the child’s situation with an empathetic psychologist from the family’s home town. She explains that Sasha described herself as a girl before the age of three—or, rather, all the more remarkable, said that she would become a girl when she “grows up.” The psychologist recommends that Sasha see a specialist with expertise in gender dysphoria, who’d likely be found not locally but in Paris. This scene, in combination with the closeup of Sasha at home, sets the tone for the movie. It features no formal interviews, except with Sasha’s parents, who are seen in long closeups or side by side, discussing their experiences at length while addressing the unseen and unheard filmmaker just off camera. Lifshitz doesn’t trim their remarks to significant snippets but lets voices be heard at length, observes discussions advancing in intricate detail as if watching thought in motion, and, above all, looks closely at Sasha, contrasting, with fierce cinematic clarity, the undue conflicts that she’s suggested and the crystalline integrity of her identity.
Sasha is identified as a girl everywhere she goes, except in school, where the stiff-necked administration refuses to honor her identity. As a result, Sasha is treated as something of a pariah there, and she’s deprived of the most ordinary sorts of self-expression that define French childhood. The school’s administration claims merely to be following bureaucratic dictates in continuing to identify Sasha according to her official documents, but her parents take the refusal for something more ideologically motivated. (Her father hints at the school’s, and the community’s, religious conservatism.)
Although the look seems understated, Page’s pop of green is a statement in itself as a symbol of queer love, originating from poet Oscar Wilde who often wore a green carnation on his own lapel.
The green carnation came to represent queer men, as it “embodied the decadent and the unnatural,” according to Oscar Wilde Tours. For Page, the inclusion of such an homage was likely important after years of disconnect between his public image and true identity.
“I just never recognized myself,” Page told Time of his prior red carpet appearances and magazine spreads. “For a long time I could not even look at a photo of myself.”
And while people are quick to make judgments on the best dressed on the carpet, Page also shared his stance on those “crushing standards” that he was subjected to for so long.