5 Queer Artists Working Now

If art is meant to push boundaries, then some of those should be the boundaries of imposing straightness and cis-ness, right? In other words, the art world ought to be a more open and inclusive place for queer people. And while most of us can think of older queer artists from the past (Andy Warhol probably comes to mind), there are lots of wonderful and talented queer artists working now. Here are five:

Kent Monkman, The Daddies

1. Kent Monkman: Monkman’s work is brilliant and brutal, examining modern Indigenous life and recasting colonial history, sometimes with his alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle. Monkman is known for using classic colonial images and inserting Indigenous people or characters to recast the narrative. He is also known for his stunning installations and large paintings documenting everyday life for Indigenous folks, the beautiful and the heartbreaking. Blending gender, sexuality, and race together in brilliant ways, Monkman is definitely one of the best queer artists out there. He is currently touring the exhibition “Shame & Prejudice: A Story of Resilience” His work can be found on his website here.

Eiki Mori, Intimacy (No. 1)

2. Eiki Mori: This Japanese artist is best known for his beautiful photography that explores male sexuality in the most intimate settings. Born in Kanazawa, Japan, in 1976, Mori has been active for almost 20 years in the art and photography world and has produced several photography shows and three books, including, most recently, Intimacy, which was published in 2013. Mori is never flashy and doesn’t demand your attention, instead he invites you to the quiet, more gentle moments. Some of his work can be seen on his website or his Instagram account.

Joe Average, Floral Fatigue

3. Joe Average: After being diagnosed with HIV at the age of 27, Joe Average chose to commit the rest of his life to his art. While his work may seem a bit simplistic, it is undeniably beautiful, colorful, and bright. You can even see his work on banners around the gay village of Vancouver. He is also a prolific photographer, with bright images of flowers, drag queens, birds, and other daily images of life. You can see all of his work here.

Image from Wet Moon by Sophie Campbell

4. Sophie Campbell: Campbell is mostly known for comic art work like her graphic novel Wet Moon and her webcomic Shadoweyes. What is most admirable about Campbell’s work is her inclusion of a diverse array of characters of different races, genders, sexualities, and body types, a diversity rarely seen in most comics. She has also drawn for the Jem and the Holograms graphic novel series. You can see all of her work on her art Tumblr.

Image from “Sissy” series by Elisha Lim

5. Elisha Lim: Lim first came to prominence for their portrait series “100 Butches”, an ambitious project meant to document many butches Lim came across. They have since worked on numerous different projects, many about documenting other queer, trans, and non-binary people. These include series of portraits about “Sissies“, or works documenting their own life history from Canada and Singapore. Lim’s work can be found in their graphic novels 100 Butches and 100 Crushes.

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Bisexual Heroes in Movies and TV

While in recent years representation of LGBT people as a whole in media has been on the rise, this hasn’t been true for every letter of that acronym. In particular, bi and trans people have been mostly left out. Very few characters are actually referred to as bisexual even if they are shown to have relationships with people of different genders. They are often depicted as being promiscuous and having no interest in serious or monogamous relationships. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with either of those things, but obviously not every bisexual person wants the same thing. Bisexual women in relationships with other women are usually seen as going through a phase, being wild, or “turning into a lesbian.” Bisexual men on screen are almost non-existent. Even while coming up with this list, I found it hard to find characters who say in canon that they are bisexual and are shown in relationships with people of different genders. However, there are a few bright spots of positive representation. Here are some of the best bisexual heroes in TV, Movies, and Comics.

Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley from House, MD: First introduced in season four and known only as “Thirteen”, this badass doctor (played by Olivia Wilde) was known for her secretive nature and sharp wit. While at first she was shown to be wild and promiscuous, this was later shown to be a result of having a terminal illness. When she later comes to terms with her diagnosis, she is shown to be perfectly capable of engaging in serious relationships with both men and women. Strong and confident, Thirteen refuses to let any one box her in and makes a point of identifying herself as bisexual, not as straight or gay.

Korra and Asami Sato from Avatar: The Legend of Korra: This show, like its predecessor Avatar: The Last Airbender was nothing short of groundbreaking during its run, particularly considering the fact that it was an animated series largely meant for kids. Dealing with heavy topics like discrimination, sexism, war, and trauma, both shows could always be counted on to tackle sensitive issues with nuance and grace, without ever losing their humor. In the last episode of The Legend of Korra, Korra and Asami were seen entering a spiritual dimension called the spirit world together while holding hands and looking fondly at each other. The scene was later interpreted by fans and confirmed by show co-creator Bryan Konietzko to mean that the two characters who had only been shown with male partners had fallen in love and were beginning a relationship.

Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire: A prominent character for the fourth season of Game of Thrones and in the third book, A Storm of Swords, this bisexual badass (played by Pedro Pascal) was also known as the Viper and was explicitly shown to have interest in both men and women, and was in a committed polyamorous relationship with his lover Ellaria Sand (Indria Varma), who also happened to be bisexual. Swaggering and hell-bent on revenge for his family, Oberyn was (spoiler alert) taken from us in a particularly brutish death. RIP Oberyn, we hardly knew ye.

Rachel from Imagine Me and You: There are very few romantic comedies for queer people as media tends to either avoid queerness altogether or write depressing stories of death and discrimination. Luckily, Imagine Me and You avoids both these pitfalls and provides us with protagonist Rachel (played by Piper Perabo), who begins the film with her wedding to Hector (played by Matthew Goode) but falls in love with her florist, Luce (played by Lena Headey). Rachel’s love for Luce is never portrayed as a strange deviation nor is her love for Hector ever dismissed or diminished in this sweet, funny film.

Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who and Torchwood: played by John Barrowman, the good captain was first introduced as a sexy futuristic con man who was, to quote The Doctor (at the time, played by Christopher Eccelston), “a bit more flexible when it comes to dancing.” While Jack was shown to enjoy flirting with people of multiple genders in both shows, Jack eventually began a serious relationship in Torchwood with Ianto Jones, who was also shown to be bisexual. The two went from being more or less friends with benefits to eventually embarking on a full-fledged, loving, supportive relationship.

Kelly from Black Mirror: While pretty much every episode of this British anthology series is depressing, creepy, and generally pretty down on technology and humanity, the episode ‘San Junipero’ is the lovely, heartwarming exception. One of the main characters of this episode is Kelly (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who enters a relationship with Yorkie (played by Mackenzie Davis). Kelly tells Yorkie that she is bisexual and used to be married to a man who later died. San Junipero is generally considered one of the most poignant and beautiful episodes of Black Mirror, and it’s not hard to see why.

Lorraine Broughton from Atomic Blonde: Honestly, Lorraine (played by Charlize Theron) being bisexual is probably the least exciting thing about her. She is badass, sneaky, and a damn good spy. The film makes a point of noting in the beginning that a deceased male agent was her former lover, and shows her engaging in a brief love affair with fellow secret agent Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella). But like I said, the movie is so full of twists and turns and Lorraine beating up bad guys that you don’t have that much time to even revel in how easily the movie gives us a bi heroine.

Ilana from Broad City: Played by and based on a loose version of the show’s co-creator Ilana Glazer, Ilana is a fun-loving, hedonistic, pot-smoking young Jewish woman in her twenties roaming around New York with her best friend Abbi (played by series co-creator Abbi Jacobson). In season two, Ilana sees her doppelganger Adele (played by Alia Shawkat), and the two begin a sexual relationship where Ilana tells her, “I have sex with people different from me. Different colors, different shapes, different sizes. People who are hotter, people who are uglier. More smart; not more smart. Innies, outies. I don’t know, a Catholic person.”

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6 Gay-Friendly Cities to Visit

Hey, straight cis people aren’t the only ones who need a vacation! Of course they generally don’t have to wonder if they might get beaten or killed on vacation just for holding hands with their partner or wearing clothes closest to their own gender identity. Still, LGBT tourism has becoming a thriving new business advent with cities around the world hoping to capitalize on wealthy queers looking for a fun getaway. In fact, many tourism websites of major cities now feature small blurbs about things for the LGBT traveler to enjoy. So whether you’re looking for international drag scenes, gay history, museums, nightclubs, or all of the above, here are six of the best gay cities to visit.

Prague, Czech Republic

While not quite as flashy or expensive as some other European tourist destinations, Prague is still a popular city for tourism due to its long history and breathtaking architecture. However, despite the breadth of history on display, Prague is still a remarkably progressive city within a country that has been generally progressive since the fall of communism, especially when compared to some of its close neighbors. Registered partnerships for gay couples were first introduced in the Czech Republic way back in 2006, and Prague held its first Pride Parade in 2011. Not to mention, the Czech Republic has been home to the huge annual multi-city queer film festival, the Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, for the last 17 years.

Philadelphia, USA

Philadelphia has had a thriving gay scene that dates back to the 1930s and ’40s, beginning with a few discrete bars and coffeehouses before emerging into a full-on “Gayborhood”, as it is affectionately known, with nightclubs, performance centres, bars, restraunts, and shops. In 2004 the city of Brotherly Love put out one of the first ever tourism ads directed toward LGBT folks, featuring the tagline “Get Your History Straight, and Your Nightlife Gay.”

Berlin, Germany

Prior to the Nazis, Berlin actually had a vibrant LGBT scene, with famous cabarets and a cosmopolitan flair for the diverse, not to mention the Institute for the Science of Sexuality (whose papers of groundbreaking research on gender and sexuality were all burned in 1933). It was a hub for gay European expats and artists such as the famous English writer Christopher Isherwood. Today, Berlin has revived this spirit with museums, arts institutions, clubs, and many queer bookstores.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio has always been a popular tourist spot in general, especially for LGBT folks. In fact, it’s been estimated that around a million LGBT people visit Rio de Janeiro every year, and it’s not hard to see why. With its incredible beaches, rich nightlife with clubs and bars, many shops, luxury hotels, and historical neighborhoods, Rio de Janeiro has earned its well-deserved spot on many lists as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. Rio also has one of the biggest Pride Parades in the world and even gay-specific activities during the famous Rio Carnival.

Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa is frequently cited as being one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in Africa. Indeed, the post-apartheid constitution, written in 1994, outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation and in 1998 the Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled that a law prohibiting consensual gay sex was unconstitutional, and South Africa has had marriage equality since 2005. Within Cape Town you can find beaches, nightclubs, and other fun attractions. Additionally, since 1994 Cape Town has hosted the Mother City Queer Project, a yearly costume festival meant to celebrate the multiple and diverse queer communities in Cape Town.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

You might think that the much larger tourist attractions of cities like Guadalajara and Acapulco would be on this list, but in recent years Puerto Vallarta has become a beacon of LGBT tourism in Mexico, attracting both international visitors as well as domestic tourists. Sitting right on the western coast of Mexico, Puerto Vallarta boasts beautiful beaches, pride celebrations since 2013, nightclubs, bars, and restaurants.

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Is Game of Thrones Becoming Feminist?

Warning: this article is going to be chock-full of spoilers, and probably won’t make sense if you’ve never seen Game of Thrones.

If you only saw the first episode, or even just the first couple of seasons of Game of Thrones, you might be surprised to hear me call it a feminist show. After all, episode one gives us Daenerys Targaryen (played by Emilia Clarke) being abused by her older brother Viserys (played by Harry Lloyd) and forcibly married to warlord Khal Drago. Seasons one and two included plotlines of domestic abuse, rape, and general brutality toward the women on the show, not to mention a great deal of gratuitous nudity and the show’s infamous sexposition.

However, the show has changed gears recently. Daenerys has gone from being a scared, meek young woman with little agency to being one of the most powerful characters with three dragons and a very large army. Sansa Stark (played by Sophie Turner) went from being a spoiled, naïve girl, to being a victim of cruelty from King Joffrey (played by Jack Gleeson) and Ramsay Bolton (played by Iwan Rheon), to becoming a powerful young woman with agency and intelligence.

That’s not to say the show isn’t still experiencing issues. Game of Thrones has been roundly criticized for its lack of diversity. As it stands, there are very few people of color with speaking roles whose characters are still around at the start of season seven. Off the top of my head, I can mainly think of Missandei (played by Nathalie Emmanuel), Grey Worm (played by Jacob Anderson), Ellaria Sand (played by Indria Varma), and some of the Sand Snakes, Obara Sand and Nymeria Sand (played by Keisha Castle-Hughes and Jessica Henwick, respectively). Considering that the cast is well into the hundreds, this is a pretty unimpressive list. Not to mention, there are precious few LGBT characters or storylines, with notable exceptions like the love story between Renly Baratheon (played by Gethin Anthony) and Loras Tyrell (played by Finn Jones).

Also, I do wish that the show could figure out how to deal with sexual violence. In the first episode, Daenerys is raped by her new husband Khal Drogo (played by Jason Momoa), but their marriage morphs into some kind of a love story. Queen Cersei (played by Lena Heady) is raped by her lover/brother Jaime Lannister in season four, but this event is never mentioned again nor does it seem to have any effect on the plot or characters. And while the most recent episode, Stormborn, did a good job showing Theon Greyjoy’s (played by Alfie Allen) trauma from his time being tortured by Ramsay, they’ve given no such indication that they’ll show the trauma that a character like Sansa would likely suffer from after being in two separate abusive relationships from what are quite possibly the two most evil characters Game of Thrones has ever had. Which isn’t to say that I want to see Sansa merely crying and feeling bad about it, but I think there could be space here for a deeper dive into the effects of sex trauma, but the show has yet to do so.

Still, the show has recently made a point of giving its female characters ever-increasing agency and power and more ways to exert this power. We have female warriors like Brienne of Tarth (played by Gwendoline Christie) and Arya Stark (played by Maisie Williams), just Queens like Daenerys, villainous ones like Cersei, and everyone’s favorite little badass, Lyanna Mormont (played by Bella Ramsey), who had one of my favorite lines in last week’s episode when she let the men of the North know that she wasn’t going to be knitting by the fire when the white walkers come. With Jon Snow (played by Kit Harrington) off to Dragonstone, this season is poised to have women in control over much of Westeros, from Sansa in the north, Daenerys in the south (ish), and Cersei in King’s Landing.

Plus, while watching Jon attack creepy pedophile Petyr Baelish (played by Aiden Gillan) for preying on Sansa was quite satisfying, I’m more excited to see the women of Westeros protecting each other and supporting each other, especially Arya now that she’s headed back to Winterfell to hopefully, along with Brienne, protect Sansa (not that she can’t protect herself), and Daenerys’s newfound alliance with Olenna Tyrell (played by Diana Rigg), who lets her in on the secret to surviving and outliving men: ignore them. Also, it’s worth noting that so far this season has been light on the sex and nudity, with the one exception being the sweet and romantic encounter between Missandei and Grey Worm.

We’ve only just finished the second episode of season seven, but if the season continues on this track, I think it’s poised to be the most feminist seasons on Game of Thrones, and prove itself a far cry away from its initial ways of portraying women.

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Top 10 Urban Photography/Architecture Instagram Moments in 2017

I scoured the internet to find the ten best urban photography/architecture Instagram moments of this year so far. Here are the results:

@kevinhjc

@ceeesk

@nicanorgarcia

@hirozzzz

@dirtybrite

@shotblot

@berns_ta

@visualkiev

@raufslife

@edgar_ballestas

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