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s h i f t e r

VOLUME 1 • ISSUE 1 • JUNE 2020


CONTENT

Cover Photo by Lawrence Perry

03 05 10 15

Editor’s Letter

Art: Enough is Enough by Michael Anton Remember the Names — Honoring those killed and abused by the police Open Letter from an Asian-American Living in 2020


Art: Pride Statement by Gabriela Bajula Feature Story: Becoming Miguel by Samantha N. Olson Art: Life After Death by Michael Anton

mag

shifter

Fiction: A Cutlass is the Key to Our Kingdom by Evyn Tindle

20 25 30 35


EDITOR’S LETTER Hi! Thank you for reading our first issue — it’s such an honor to finally be sharing this with the world. Shifter is a baby that has been in the making for such a long time, and I’m so happy to finally be sharing it with everyone. Shifter Magazine is a collective space for my fellow queers, people of color, outcasts, freaks, fashion lovers, and rulebreakers. It’s a moment full of excitement and rhetoric. It represents You. Me. Us. To the readers — thank you so much for tuning in, for supporting us and helping us grow. Share this with your friends and peers, message us your commentary and feedback, and enjoy all the amazing submissions! To the contributors — y’all — THANK YOU. Because of you, our first issue is here! And it is beautiful, colorful, loud, and unique. Thank you for submitting your work, for believing in me, for believing in Shifter. You all have such a special space in my heart. To my team — I’m speechless. You are all my world. Look. At. What. We. Accomplished! THIS. We did this. And just know we’re going for more. I’m so proud of you all and can’t wait to see what else is in store! With much love, gratitude, and respect, I present to you all to the world of Shifter,

Victor Martinez-Rivera Founder & Editor-in-Chief


CELEBRATION


BLM Art. Michael Anton


DEAR WHITE PEOPLE and White-Passing Latinx people, and Asian-Americans, and LGBTQ+ people, and literally anyone who hasn’t spoken up,

Now is not the time to play the politics game. Now is not the time to stay silent. We are fed up. We are angry. We are hurting. And you should be too. You have all gone too long thinking that if something doesn’t affect you, it doesn’t matter. This does matter. Your activism should last longer than a black square interrupting your Instagram feed. It should last longer than a weekend. For decades, black people have been oppressed, abused, tortured, and killed and, for the most part, people have been complacent. This can’t be the way it’s done anymore. You’ve seen Trayvon Martin. You’ve seen Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. Philando Castille. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. You’ve seen the unjust murders before, after, and in between. It has been too long that you’ve let name after name fade into your memory without the justice that they deserve. It is time to end this. When your voices needed to be uplifted, black people were there to help you. From Stonewall to #MeToo, black people were at the forefront. And yet, here you are, so quick to let them fight this on their own. This isn’t okay. We need to be using our voices. It’s supposed to be uncomfortable. It’s time to return the favor. Take the time to learn the history. Take the time to learn how to be actively anti-racist. Go find petitions and sign them. Go find organizations and donate to them. Send the demanding emails. Make the scary phone calls. Donate to protests AND go to them. Use your platform to educate yourself and others. It is not your black friend’s job to teach you what is right and wrong. This world has spent too long taking from black people and not taking care of them. Check in on your black friends. And after that, start fighting for them. The way they’ve fought for you.

Sincerely,

A Tired Latinx Woman

P.S. If this letter offends you, you probably needed to hear it more than anyone else.

By Alina Alvarez


Danny Ray Thomas Stephon Clark Trey Ta’Quan Pringle Sr. Ronell Foster Arthur McAfee Jr. Geraldine Townsend Warren Ragudo Thomas Yatsko Jean Pedro Pierre Keita O’Neil Lawrence Hawkins Calvin Toney Dennis Plowden Dewboy Lister Armando Frank Stephen Gayle Anthony Antonio Ford William Matthew Holmes Charles David Robinson Davin Howell Herbert Gilbert Thomas Williams Aries Clark Antonio Garcia Jr. Brian Easley Euree Lee Martin DeJuan Guillory Aaron Bailey Joshua Terrell Crawford Marc Brandon Davis Adam Trammell Jimmie Montel Sanders DeRicco Devante Holden Mark Roshawn Adkins Tashii S. Brown Jordan Edwards Roderick Ronall Taylor Kenneth Johnson Christopher Wade Alteria Woods Sherida Davis Lorenzo Antoine Cruz Chance David Baker Raynard Burton Quanice Derrick Hayes Chad Robertson Jerome Keith Allen Nana Adomako Marquez Warren Deaundre Phillips Sabin Marcus Jones

REMEMBER THE NAMES

David McAtee George Floyd Breonna Taylor Ahmaud Arbery Michael Lorenzo Dean Eric Reason Christopher McCorvey Steven Day Christopher Whitfield Atatiana Jefferson Maurice Holley Jordan Michael Griffin Bennie Branch Byron Williams Arthur Walton Jr. Channara Tom Pheap Patricia Spivey Ryan Twyman Dominique Clayton Isaiah Lewis Kevin Leroy Beasley Jr. Julius Graves Marcus McVae Marzues Scott Bishar Hassan Kevin Bruce Mason Mario Clark Jimmy Atchison D’ettrick Griffin George Robinson Jesse Jesus Quinton Lamont Perry Mahlon Edward Summerrour Charles D. Roundtree Jr. Andre Horton Chinedu Valentine Okobi Anton G. Black Jr. Botham Shem Jean Darell Richards James Leatherwood Joshua Wayne Harvey Christopher Alexander Okamato Cynthia Fields Rashaun Washington Anthony Marcell Green Antwon Michael Rose II Robert Lawrence White Marcus-David L. Peters Terrance Carlton Juan Markee Jones


JR Williams Muhammad Abdul Muhaymin Marlon Lewis Ritchie Lee Harbison Roy Lee Richards Alfred Olango Tawon Boyd Terence Crutcher Tyree King Levonia Riggins Donnell Thompson Jr. Dalvin Hollins Philando Castile Alton Sterling Delrawn Small Deravis Caine Rogers Antwun Shumpert Ollie Lee Brooks Vernell Charles Bing Jr. Michael Eugene Wilson Jr. Arthur R. Williams Jr. Lionel Gibson Charlin Charles Kevin Hicks Dominique Silva Robert Dentmond India M. Beaty Torrey Lamar Robinson Peter William Gaines Arteair Porter Kionte DeShaun Spencer Christopher J. Davis Thomas Lane Paul Gaston Calin Devante Roquemore Dyzhawn L. Perkins David Joseph Wendell Celestine Jr. Antronie Scott Peter John Keith Childress Jr. Leroy Browning Bettie Jones Kevin Matthews Michael Noel Miguel Espinal DeOntre L. Dorsey Nathaniel Harris Pickett Cornelius Brown

Tiara Tenee Thomas Jamar Clark Richard Perkins Anthony Ashford Dominic Hutchinson Lamontez Jones Rayshaun Cole Paterson Brown Jr. Alonzo Smith Junior Prosper Keith Harrison McLeod Wayne L. Wheeler Lavante Trevon Biggs India Kager James Carney III Felix Kumi Mansur Ball-Bey Asshams Manley Christian Taylor Troy Robinson Brian Keith Day Samuel Dubose Darrius Stewart Albert Joseph Davis Sandra Bland Salvado Ellswood George Mann Freddie Lee Blue Jr. Jonathan Sanders Victor Emanuel Larosa III Spencer Lee McCain Kevin Bajoie Kris Jackson Kevin Higgenbotham Ross Anthony Richard Gregory Davis Dajuan Graham D’Angelo Reyes Stallworth Brandon Kyle Glenn Ervin Leon Edwards David Felix William L Chapman II Norman Cooper Darrell Lawrence Brown Eric Courtney Harris Walter Scott Donald Dontay Ivy Phillip White Jason Moland Denzel Brown


Brandon David Jones Askari Roberts Bobby Gross Terrance Moxley Anthony Hill Tony Terrell Robinson Naeschylus Vinzant Charly Leundeu Keunang Thomas Allen Jr. Terry Price Lavall Hall Jeremy Lett Natasha McKenna Tiano Meton Artago Damon Howard Andre Larone Murphy Jr. Brian Pickett Leslie Sapp II Jerame C. Reid David Andre Scott Dennis Grisby Rumain Brisbon Eric Ricks Tamir E. Rice Tamir Rice Akai Gurley Keara Crowder Tanisha N. Anderson Kaldrick Donald John T. Wilson III Michael Ricardo Minor VonDerrit D. Myers Jr. Balantine Mbegbu Lashano J. Gilbert Eugene Williams Marlon S. Woodstock Oliver Jarrod Gregoire Cameron Tillman Ricky Deangelo Hinkle Darrian Nathaniel Hunt Michael Brown Kendrick Brown Cortez Washington Vernicia Woodard Arvel Douglas Williams Perry Hall, Maryland Leven Leroy Love Corey Levert Tanner Dante Parker Ezell Ford

Dustin Keith Glover John H. Crawford Jeremey Lake Jacorey Calhoun Briatay McDuffie Iretha Lilly Cedric Stanley Christopher Maurice Jones Jerry Dwight Brown Lavon King Juan May Emanuel Jean Baptiste Mark Anthony Blocker Montez Dewayne Hambric Howard Wallace Bowe Jr. Dominique Franklin Jr. George Vonn King Jr. Tommy Junior Yancy Jonathan Lee Asuzu Justin Griffin Tyrone Davis Gregory Lewis Towns Jr. Eric Garner Zikarious Flint DeAndre Lloyd Starks Hallis Kinsey Treon Johnson Yvette Smith Anthony Bartley Ernest Satterwhite Willie James Sams Jordan Baker Jeffrey Ragland Cimarron Lamar Lamb Willie James Williams Abdul Kamal William Alfred Harvey III Brandon Devone Smith Jack Lamar Roberson Elijah Glay Alexander Jamar Marion Jonathan A. Ferrell Marlon Horton Ronnie Ledesma Jr. Montrell Moss Jeffrey B. Lilly Jr. Jermaine Loxckley McBean Allen Joseph Desdunes Ryan Lee Stokes Larry Eugene Jackson Jr.


Dainell Simmons Deomain Hayman Tyrone West Daryll Eugene Blair III Antonio Johnson George Kent Harvey Sr. Micah Anthony Key Lana Morris Fred Bradford Jr. Keoshia L. Hill Julian Dones Dawkins Terry Laffitte Jermaine Darden Marlon Brown Kendra Diggs Nicholas Walker Deion Fludd Clifton Armstrong Craig Demps Dason Peters Dylan Samuel-Peters Russell Lydell Smith Willie Lee Bingham Jr. Clinton Roebexar Allen Charles A. Baker Jr. Anthony Dwayne Harris Jayvis Benjamin Quintine Barksdale Cedrick Chatman Darrell Banks Yolanda Thomas Trayvon Martin Ramarley Graham Oscar Grant

Black. Lives. Matter.


A RAW AND HONEST PIECE WRITTEN BY

WE

DO

OWE

J UA N A B E R N A L

NOT

YOU

ANYTHING G e n d e r i s , t o s ay t h e l e a s t , a t e r r i f y i n g a n d o f t e n c o n f i n i n g c o n s t r u c t o f h u m a n e x i s t e n c e . O n c e I r e a l i z e d m y dy s p h o r i a w a s n o t j u s t t h e p u b e s c e n t i s s u e s I t r i e d t o c o n v i n c e m y s e l f s i m p l y n e e d e d a P r i n c e s s M i a m a k e o v e r, i t w a s c l e a r — I a m n o t c i s . B u t e v e n t h e n , I w a s n ’t m a g i c a l l y c o m f o r t a b l e w i t h t h a t overnight. I did a lot of research, a lot of going back and forth.

valid?

Did I need a label to feel

N o , t h e y a r e n ’t n e c e s s a r y … r i g h t ? I s t r u g g l e d t i r e l e s s l y w i t h t h e c o n c e p t o f f e m i n i n i t y a n d

g e n d e r b e f o r e e v e n t u a l l y, i n a h a z e , I b r o k e d o w n t o m y t r a n s f r i e n d d u r i n g a m i d n i g h t t r i p t o t h e b e a c h . I w h i s p e r e d t o h i m w h i l e t h e r e s t o f m y f r i e n d s w e r e g i g g l i n g h a p p i l y a b o u t a g l o w s t i c k t h a t I w a s n ’t a l w ay s s o a t e a s e w i t h m y s e l f a n d I d i d n ’t k n o w h o w t o h a n d l e t h a t . H e g av e m e h i s w o r d o f a dv i c e , l o o k e d o v e r t o s ay, “ a n d b r o , w e a l l l o v e y o u ” a n d t h e n w e b o t h m o v e d o n t o m a k e f u n o f a f r i e n d w h o b r o k e s o m e t h i n g .

I came out informally in September of 2019 by putting my pronouns (they/she) in my social media b i o s , a l l o f w h i c h a r e p u b l i c a c c o u n t s t h a t I a m v e r y a c t i v e o n . R e c e n t l y, I q u o t e - t w e e t e d a p i c t u r e with some political opinions, and I received a couple of DMs from angry people whose views, in my o p i n i o n , a r e m e s s e d u p . I n o n e , I w a s c a l l e d t h e f s l u r ( l e t ’s n o t e v e n t o u c h o n t h e f a c t t h a t t h a t ’s n o t g e a r e d t o w a r d s g e n d e r ) f o r u s i n g a “ p l u r a l w o r d n o t a g e n d e r ” s i n c e I ’ m “ o n l y a l i t t l e l i b e r a l i d i o t g i r l .”


I

h av e n ’t

them

yet.

because me

told

I

that

I

struggle

choose my

incredibly

and

from

about so

to

fight

harsh

communities we

are

not

these

often

follow

internal

I t ’s

G e n e r a l l y,

anyone

you

until

with

i d e n t i t y,

still

many

never

the are

welcome.

my

femme

would

feeling

messages

forms lessen

pushback

a

part But

of

with

I

am

because, what

I

f r a n k l y,

am

or

expression. With

from

of. I

now

am also

my

a an

external

incredibly

incredibly

am

those

fight

community

I

h av e n ’t not

messages,

y o u ’r e

white.

allowed

feeding

queer If

processed

a

Latinx I

it

right

not

feel

I can’t even imagine what my POC peers feel.

to

be

struck

into

part

it.

of,

individual. this

Our

w ay,

internal

monologue, the fear of loved ones rejecting us, the fear of not being “normal” is more than enough without worrying about being called slurs, getting jumped, or getting killed. And then, of course, the cherry on t o p i s t h a t w h e n t h e y c a n n o t f i g h t u s , t h e y p i t u s a g a i n s t e a c h o t h e r. To b e g e n d e r q u e e r, t o b e n o n b i n a r y, to be fluid… to me it comes with the knowledge that it frees us of confinement. I know this, yet I feel I d o n ’t h av e t h e r i g h t t o i d e n t i f y a s I d o . I w i l l b e m i s g e n d e r e d f o r t h e r e s t o f m y l i f e a n y w ay, i f I s o m u c h a s w e a r a s u n d r e s s d u r i n g a b l i s t e r i n g , F l o r i d a d ay i n m i d - J u l y. S o , i t m a k e s m e q u e s t i o n i f t h e t h i n g s I d o t h a t present as femme are actually tied to an identity of womanhood, or if I merely like what I like. I mean truly,

is

my

compromise

choice with

of the

“they/she” outside

a world?

To s o m e , I a m n o t c e r t i f i e d i n t h i s “ c a t e g o r y.” W h a t t h e y d o n o t u n d e r s t a n d , h o w e v e r, i s t h i s i s n o t a c a t e g o r y but a personal truth, and it is not defined by them but by people like me. In living that truth there is supposed to be solace, but I am still knocking down walls of gross generalizations.

joke, nor is it fake,

Who I am is not a

and it is especially not those things just because you made an assumption

based on my presentation. And I’m sure that had I looked any more androgynous in my presentation that w o u l d b e c o m e t h e t a r g e t . S o , w h i c h i s i t ? A n d w h i l e y o u s t r u g g l e t o f i n d a va l i d a n s w e r, w e ’ l l b e f i g h t i n g y o u r s o c i e t a l f e a r. I t ’s d u e t i m e m y p e e r s a n d I f e e l a c k n o w l e d g e d , w e l c o m e d , a n d m o s t i m p o r t a n t l y, f r e e .


Photo by Lawrence Perry

Open Letter from an Asian Am This

letter should concern everyone. I am a

I have privilege. I have the privilege to currently sit in

22-year-old Asian-American woman living in Orlando,

my chair and not worry about whether I might have

Florida. Currently, I am disgusted with everything that

bad luck and get killed for simply existing. Being

I’ve seen, but not surprised. We have lived in a country

Asian-American means that I am a model minority

that has power ranked us based on the color of our

and frequently used as a tool to put down other races

skin and prioritized the needs of the needs of people

by the white man, whether I like it or not. While I will

in power instead of those of the community since

never be the white man, I wanted to use the privilege

even before the country was established. This “great”

I have to stand for something. Black Lives Matter, and

country ran from oppression so they could have the

I stand by that. I stand for everyone who is no longer

power to oppress others. Don’t forget this country

alive due to injustice. I stand for George Floyd. I stand

was built on genocide and slavery with the white man

for Breonna Taylor. I stand for Ahmaud Arbery. I stand

in the seat of power. Now you may wonder, what

for Sandra Bland. I stand for Eric Garner. I stand for

right or reason does some random Asian-American

countless others who have been robbed of their lives.

woman have to be so loud about such topics?

I stand because I realize that I have the ability to do


merican Living in 2020

By Cat Le

so free of worry and without concern that I may

only protecting their own backs while benefiting

get killed.

off of black people who have built this country. You can’t steal their culture, dance hip hop, wear

To my community, have you analyzed your privilege

braids, and speak in slang, and think that it’s okay.

today? Yes, Asian-Americans have suffered acts of racism and xenophobia for generations since

You cannot sit quietly while your friends say the

immigrating and most notably with the introduction

n-word and do nothing about it. I am absolutely

of the Coronavirus. I want to gently remind my community that we experience waves of racism while black people live and breathe racism. No race

appalled

that

my

community

lacks

such

accountability. I watch many of you sit there and talk such big words when we were being attacked during the Coronavirus who are not SILENT. Your silence is

has been protected from racism; however, I have been pulled over late at night and not concerned that I might lose my life to that. I want to directly address my Asian-American community who is so used to

deafening and in a sea of loud voices standing for what is right and just, your silence is the loudest.


To all those who are religious or like to go do

To put it simply, yellow peril supports black

charity work in third-world countries to then take

power. What those words mean is that as an

pictures with underprivileged kids, where is your

Asian-American woman, I am ready to do what

empathy? Where is your charity? Where is your

I can because black lives mattered yesterday.

love for humankind? Where are your big words of the impact that little black kids have on your life as

They matter today.

you built them a school but now watch America kill black men, women and children? Where are your Instagram posts and your tweets? Once again, your

They matter tomorrow,

silence is deafening. It’s not even debatable anymore about what’s happening in this country. It is very

and they matter every day everyday.

clear and every issue and fault is interconnected in this country. From Black people being killed, to mass shootings constantly happening, to the fact that the government in this country simply does not care about its citizens. If you are doing absolutely nothing, you are a part of the problem.

Please do more with your privilege, whether it is advocating, educating, donating, supporting, or protesting. If you don’t have the money to donate to funds that support Black lives, then please advocate for it. Call out your friends and families for their way of thinking and educate them. Do something! Do anything! Be smart with your privilege and stand against racism. It is not good enough to not be racist anymore —

we must be anti-racist!

Sincerely,

An Asian-American woman


Photo by Lawrence Perry


NO ES LA PIEL, ES LO QUE SIGNIFICA Con el tiempo he descubierto que llevar este color negro en la piel va mucho más allá del pelo rizo, la bomba y la plena. En ser criminal, sin haber tenido la oportunidad tan siquiera de decir “Hola.” Es entrar a un elevador y que se aparten de ti con una expresión de inquietud. Las miradas. El murmullo. Los gestos. Trato de interpretar lo que puedan significar estas acciones. No logro pensar hasta donde pueda llegar la imaginación. Cada uno con sus juicios y prejuicios, lanzándolos a través de la ventana de sus ojos. Reír cada vez que piensas en cómo sería tener otro color. Cuando piensas en cómo sería la vida sin los rizos. Ves la melena, el color tostado y un orgullo que brilla. Porque no serías tú si vivieras en otra piel.

By KKoral Garcia


When you love a black man,

all you can do is

hope you will see him at home, not through the screen on the 5 p.m. news. When you love a black man, you learn to feel the eyes of others burning on your back as they fear the threat they have created in their heads. When you love a black man, your family will make a face, ask questions they have never asked about a partner before. When

you

check

how

exist

in

moving

love

a

many

active

areas

to.

black

you

When

are

you

man,

hate

you

groups

considering

love

a

black

man, your friends will pronounce the words with When

chocolate a

twist

you

on

love

and

coffee

their

tongue.

a

black

man,

it gets scary to turn on the news, your

chest

starts

to

hurt

when

WHEN YOU LOVE A BLACK MAN

another name, life, soul is taken in careless

violence.

When

you

love

a

black man, you think of his name as a

by Adriadna Fragoso

hashtag and pray you never see it that way. When you love a black man, you love as you have always done it. You love with your heart open and vulnerable, slamming against your rib cage shaking up all your organs within you, but your heart is now equal parts love and fear of it being taken away.el


Orra-Zon Desde la otredad

Cesaré toda búsqueda de razón. Halt will we the search for logic.

Es oscuro, violento, un peligro, una demostración de la imponencia del ego frente a la caos humánica.

It is dark, violent, a threat, a demonstration of the ego’s imposition upon our humanic chaos.

Las cosas solo son y así serán, transportándose entre tonos y las paredas que la encierran, dado del seguro vivir.

Things just are and will be, transporting themselves through tones and the walls that firmly enclose the givens of the securely lived.


Pride statement. Gabriela Baluja


“There are endless sexy shapes, colors, forms, and kinds of people who deserve celebration. It’s each one of our jobs to reject that comparison of what we think beauty is and realize we are the motherfucking beauty.”

Art work by Alanis Flores

Jonathan Van Ness, Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love


Organizations for

Black Queer & Trans Rights

01

The Marsha P. Johnson Institute Marsha P. Johnson was a n activist, self-identified drag queen, performer, and survivor. She was a prominent figure in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. Marsha went by “Black Marsha” before settling on Marsha P. Johnson. The “P” stood for “Pay It No Mind,” which is what Marsha would say in response to questions about her gender. It is the consideration of who “Black Marsha” was that inspired The Marsha P. Johnson

02

Institute — which defends Black Transgender People and their rights.

03

& Trans folks exist separately from the Black community.

04

access

Black Trans TV Black

Trans

promote

unity

TV

is

and

a

digital

dismantle

media the

idea

platform that

used

Black

to

Queer

Black Trans Travel Fund The

Black

resources

Trans to

safe

Black

Travel Trans

transportation

Fund

works

Women and

to travel

on

providing

be

able

to

alternatives.

National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network The National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network is committed to transforming mental health for Queer and Trans people of color.

Information and Resources gathered from Camp Brave Trails


Just minutes before the clock struck

and their lips were plump with shimmering

midnight, I found myself guarding the

gloss.

door inside Miguel Vargas’ humbly-sized

handbag

bedroom. The lights were dim, as was

they

Miguel were

on

adjusted their

ready

the

mini

shoulder for

the

crystal

and

knew

grand

reveal.

the rest of the tiny apartment. Above Miguel’s full-sized bed, which was piled

The sounds of Nicki Minaj, Kim Petras and Lady

with high heels and guests’ handbags,

Gaga that echoed through the apartment earlier

hung an abstract painting with thick

that evening began to fade as I stepped out of the

strokes of pastel hues. Fake plants

bedroom and tried to quiet down the guests. Filled

occupied several corners of the space,

to the brim with joy, I announced Miguel’s arrival as

and accessories and fashion magazines

a 21-year-old. I stood behind them as they strutted

were stacked on the surfaces of their

through the other side of the door. The crowd

bedroom. We kicked people out of the

cheered them on for simply existing, and in that

bedroom to have a moment of privacy.

moment, I knew that I was in the presence of a star.

There were two other girls in the room helping them stumble

into

embellished

a fishnet

crystalmini

dress with a bejeweled black

becoming MIGUEL

If you thought you knew the most extra person to ever exist, erase them from Eternal

your

memory

Sunshine-style.

jockstrap to match. Once the clock I’d like to introduce you to Miguel Vargas.

struck 12, it would officially be the night of their twenty-first birthday, and they couldn’t have anything less

Fast forward five months — we’re in the midst of

than an elaborate themed party jam-

a global crisis and racial pandemic. Normal as we

packed

friends.

once knew it no longer exists. We haven’t seen each

Of course — in true Miguel fashion

other since February due to social distancing and

— that included an outfit change.

we’re chatting on a Zoom call at our parents’ houses.

with

their

closest

the full-body length mirror. Their face brought as much attention as their outfit did, especially since their hair was shaved down to a buzz-cut at the time. With the help of some highlighter, their skin glistened; gold and bronze shadows smoked their eyes out into a wing

Samantha N. Olson

Miguel gave themself one last look in They’re sitting up against the wall with glasses resting on the bridge of their nose. Their hair grew out à la Kris Jenner, and they look just like they did when we first met. We reminisced and laughed about our first encounter, when I drunkenly told them of their resemblance to the Kardashians’ momager at a UCF tailgate.


“That’s so funny. I don’t even really

their early childhood. They expressed

remember

laughed.

that the bullying never got physical, but

Clearly, it left an impression on me, or

that it still left a mark on their character.

that

day,”

they

else I wouldn’t have even mentioned it. “It wasn’t like, traumatic to the point Miguel is a rising senior at the University of

where I couldn’t sleep at night,” they

Central Florida in Orlando. They’re majoring

said. “It was a lot of ugly, under-the-table

in human communication with a minor in

remarks. At the end of the day, it still hurt.”

diversity and social inequality. Outside of the classroom, they’ve been involved

Miguel

acknowledged

with UCF’s leading fashion organization,

the receiving end of bullying impacted

Fashion Society, since 2017 and served as

how empathetic they felt toward others,

its modeling chairman from 2019-2020.

calling it a silver lining. They’d find themself

Through the organization, they explored

and

befriending

making

them

that

being

on

other

outcasts

feel

included.

their sense of style, which is bold yet simplistic. They gravitate toward edgy

They expressed how they feel stronger

gender

and

than their past self, but still feel like they have

often wear sequins and sky-high heels.

a ways to go when it comes to personal

Their involvement in UCF’s fashion world

growth. Although they felt dejection as

ultimately sparked inspiration within the

a result of bullying, they never pitied

local LGBTQ+ community, and they are

themself and felt total defeat; in fact, they

seen by many as a trailblazer. However,

said that despite the hardships, they never

they didn’t always feel they were such.

gave up on being their true, authentic self.

Colombian-born

grew

Miguel came out of the closet their junior

up in Weston, Florida with their parents

year of high school, when they gradually

and

began growing into their own through the

non-conforming

older

adolescence,

Miguel

brother. they

pieces

Vargas

Throughout were

a

their

target

of

bullying through several avenues, like being queer and overweight. They also had

a

prominent

stutter

throughout

way they dressed and expressed themself.


In a family full of dentists — his mother, father and uncle studied dentistry for years —

Miguel

for

more

parents “My me

felt

creative

let

them

parents to

they

get

upbringing.

“To

According

to

my

different

career

options.

explore

were good

were

never grades

their

parents,

Miguel,

me

college

really do

was

in

going

developed their

through

strict.

well

not

they

Through

creativity

like, and

when

an

adolescence, hobbies really

only

school,”

Miguel

says

college

their

like

They

to

interest

wasn’t

an

acting. pushed of

their

option.”

always

in the cards.

“That’s when

They admitted that upon graduating high school,

they

didn’t

feel

any

sadness

or

I knew I was really going to snap and shut the world down.

longing for the past. At that point, they were ready to have a clean slate at UCF. “That’s when I knew I was really going to snap and shut the world down,” they said.

“I knew that I was going to go to college one day, lose weight and wear whatever the fuck I want to wear,” they said, a smile breaking through. “I knew I was going to be different and explore myself through fashion. It’s weird that that’s what I’m living now. I didn’t think it would

happen so fast; I always had this belief in myself.” With their degree, Miguel hopes to venture into the fashion industry or find a career in psychology with a focus on helping people with their mental health struggles. They also expressed an interest in attending fashion and design institutions down the road. Other knew

than it

was

working their

toward time

to

these shine

goals, and

they become

also Miguel.


“The moment my parents left my dorm and said goodbye, it was like a switch had turned on,” they said, recounting the moment their slate was rid of the past. Miguel said that upon arriving at UCF, they started branching out with the way they approached shopping for clothing and meeting people. Inevitably, they began dabbling in Orlando’s nightclub scene and started going to LGBTQ+ friendly clubs like Southern Nights. “When I’d go home for holiday breaks and stuff, my parents started noticing that I was dressing and acting differently,” they said. “My mom was totally on board and my dad initially had a really hard time with it, but he’s more accepting now.” Without asking for it and not always being fully aware of it, Miguel said that the way they dress and their way of being is a political statement. To them, they just get ready and go on about their day like anyone else normally would. “I genuinely never thought that people would even notice or be inspired by the way I carry myself. I don’t know, you just don’t think that when you’re doing it,” they shrugged. Miguel said that sometimes — especially when they first got to college — a lot of their peers failed to understand them. People would see them wear heels and associate it with the online culture of gay boys clad in six-inch shoes for comedic effect. For Miguel, wearing makeup, heels and other traditionally feminine clothing is far from a joke. It’s who they are. Their

inner

circle

of

family

and

friends

have expressed that their ability to dress—

“[My style is] a

process that’s never going to end. I’m like a chameleon. I’m always on to something different, something new,” they said. “I have eras and phases, my style is constantly changing.


—the way they want in a world where it isn’t

“Obviously, there’s times when it’s called

fully accepted is inspiring, but they feel that

for, but at times, I’m just not going

it shouldn’t be celebrated as a big ordeal.

to waste my energy or ruin my night because someone decided to be dumb.”

“Although those kinds of comments don’t come from a bad place, I wish, in a way, that

Most of the time, they just brush off extended

people wouldn’t even pay it any attention,”

glares and comments and try not to let it affect

they said. “Like, I wear heels because I like

them. They said that distasteful comments

them, not to make this big statement.”

are the extent of the hate they’ve received and that, thankfully, they’ve never had an

Even if they’re just wearing something

act of violence inflicted on them because

a bit more modest, Miguel said that they

of their demeanor. Every time they walk out

constantly

get

the door, they’re aware of the possibility that

while

in

out

stares

strangers gotten

they’re subject to hate crimes and physical

used to the attention, be it negative or

assault. For that reason alone, they feel that

positive, as it’s part of their day-to-day life.

to be queer is to be a political statement.

“There was one time I walking through

Despite the negativity they face, Miguel says

my neighborhood wearing leggings and

they are queer and they are here — and

I

they aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

had

a

guy

window

and

‘Faggot,’

or

recounting they

public.

from

had

They’ve

roll

drive

down past

me

something,” a

car

yelling

they

negative back

his

said,

encounter

in

Weston.

In their own sense of style, they are inspired social

by

people

media,

art

on

the

house

street,

couture

and

independent films like “The Neon Demon” “It was so unnecessary. Like, you had to slow

(2016) and “Nocturnal Animals” (2016).

down your car and roll down your window just to insult someone? It’s so weird.” In they

such don’t

instances, tend

to

they

said

fight

back.

“[My style is] a process that’s never going

to

I’m

always

different,

end.

I’m on

something

like

a

to new,”

chameleon. something they

said.


“I have eras and phases, my style is constantly changing. It ebbs and flows.” When

it

comes

to

specific

people

they

look

up

to

for

fashion

guidance,

they admit there aren’t many. “There’s one woman who really does inspire me… and it does sound a little crazy and might be a little clockable, but it’s Kim Kardashian-West, honestly.” They a

said

that

Kardashian,

although

it’s

more

people for

her

wouldn’t sense

expect

of

style

them in

to

the

glorify

mid-2010s.

“She has looks that I still think about, that I still dream about. She’s a woman who

really

“This

girl

thinks

about

her

actually

knows

fashion;

She’s a style icon in my eyes.”

looks,

she’s

she

very

knows

simple,

how

to

minimalistic,” put

an

outfit

they

said.

together.


For their 21st birthday looks (yep, that’s

“You could either go through life and

plural), Miguel heavily drew inspiration

have a hard time while nonconforming

from a Miami-hot look that Kardashian-

and being yourself or you can conform

West wore in September 2016. From the

to the normalities and be miserable,”

vampy color scheme to the sheerness

they said. “It would induce my anxiety

of the ensemble to the thick diamond

knowing that I gave up on myself.

choker — Miguel got her aesthetic down to

I’d rather go against what everyone

a T and left very little to the imagination.

expects me to be and still be Miguel.”

Miguel’s

so

As a word of advice to anyone — queer

unforgettable that it felt like a page in

or not — Miguel says to stick with who

the history books. They said that since

you are despite others’ misconceptions.

21st

was

an

evening

their 20th birthday celebration was a big success, they felt obligated to upstage

“Don’t give in to other people’s ideas of

it. The next birthday was planned six

who you should be. Don’t be what other

months in advance with the Rich $ex

people want you to be. If you’re just

theme inspired by Nicki Minaj’s 2018

authentic and yourself and you do what

track

you feel is right, the journey [for some] may

of

the

same

name.

be extremely rough but incredibly worth it.” “I’m a Barb through and through. Always have been, always will be,” Miguel laughed. “I was like, ‘that’s a very fun theme for people.’ They can wear lingerie, they can wear fucking like… a robe and come as Hugh Hefner. You can dress as a pimp, a stripper, whatever you want.” And

the

$ex

dress

sentiments code

are

of

the echoed

Rich in

their everyday life — dress however you want and be whoever you want.


LIFE AFTER DEATH Art. Michael Anton


by Adriadna Fragoso

TO LOVE A MAN AS A BISEXUAL WOMAN

To love a man means I am invisible To love a man means I escape the harsh prejudice in their glares To love a man means I am unwelcomed in June’s vibrant celebrations To love a man means I make a comfortable home within people’s assumptions  To love a man means I am often forgotten; your eyes do not recognize me as one of your own  To love a man means I am a fake, a liar, a greedy cheat To love a man means I am guilty of complacency within society’s acceptability  To love a man means his friends might think of me as his gateway to threesomes  To love a man means sometimes he thinks I am his gateway to threesomes To love a man means I do not need to tell my family, I do not need to, but I long to To love a man means I am happy, but stir in the wonder of the life I would have had To love a man means some think I have chosen, eliminated my “wrong” desires To love a man means that despite what the world might think, I am real, I am valid, I am enough.


A Cutlass is the Key to Our Kingdom Evyn tindle

You

spot

above

the

spire

sea

of

the

to

Princess

throbbing in your temples eases just a little. Curses

You’re not a child, you remind him, you can survive

and prayers that you can make it in time slip

at a theme park for a few hours by yourself, but then

from

god

Pa’s on the phone. He’s not even trying to keep the

hovers in the sky above as you push through

anger out of his voice, and the two of you are feeding

the sweat-slicked park-goers.

off of each other’s highly charged emotions until

to

whatever

you,

and

Frustration claws at your stomach, because they should be here, not chastising you through the phone.

lips

before

twisting the

your

heads

Hall

birthday

the parents in line around you are staring. It’s your You

do,

Ever

birthday and you’re alone, you want to scream into the

attendant

phone, but you don’t. Instead, you end the call

doesn’t make a comment about the three other

abruptly and shove the phone into your pocket.

After

if

only

magic.

by

a

The

stroke

Express

of

Happily

Lane

tickets in your hand when he waves you through, but you catch his eyes scanning the crowd behind

The

device

vibrates

you.

you

ignore

it.

for

You

don’t

—who

think

looking

he’s

of

sight.

Out

of

Out

but mind.

when you do answer, but that’s a problem for

going

future you.

Princess

instead

texts

yourself smile for the first time today. You aren’t meeting

and

looking

and

They’ll no doubt have a hefty punishment ready

miss

for—

what

calls

let

to

he’s

about

with

Adelaine.

It’s

the first reassurance you’ve given yourself since you slipped from the hotel room this morning.

The

line

inside You you’ve

try

to

relish

done—this

opportunities

in

very

without

the

success

adult

thing

of

what

of

seizing

supervision—but

your

phone is vibrating in your pocket a moment later.

array

has

of of

shifted

Princess curtains

so

Hall. that

now It’s

you’re

standing

decorated

canopy

from

in

the

an

ceiling

and run down the walls. They’re a patchwork of color, ease

blending you

into

each

forget

that

you

Adelaine

is

other aren’t

with

in

a

such

fairytale.

Dad’s voice comes through the line, it’s even but laced with worry and frustration. You know the

Princess

tone, it’s the same one he uses when your little

room, traipsing around her space with a young

brother gets into something he shouldn’t when he

girl.

knows better. He asks you where you are, and

dresses,

his voice gets exponentially higher when you tell

properly

him.

plastic cutlass.

They’re

wearing

Adelaine fend

on

off

the

matching

teaching enemy

her

far

side

red visitor

pirateswith

of

the

and

gold

how a

to

small


She commands the eyes of everyone around her— from the children to the parents to the photographer. You feel like you’re ten again, watching her in Defender of the Seas with rapt attention. It’d been hard to watch anything else when she brandished a sword the way many other princesses had a crown and was unafraid to speak her mind. Adelaine was one of the few women deemed the princess and the knight in her story, relying more on herself and her trusty crew than the halfbrained prince that spent most of the movie offering one-liners and standing in the background.

You admired the way she defied everyone’s expectations. The way she balanced the qualities everyone deemed “masculine” with the femininity of princess-hood until the line blurred enough and she was just...Adelaine. It was that singular way in which she wielded her dual identities by the end of the movie that encouraged you to accept how your own identity differed green your

from eyes

that and

sinuses

fictional

of an

clog

normal even

with

characters.

brighter

excitement

Adelaine

speaks to you with unwavering light,

tapping

the

birthday

pin attached to your shirt and commenting

on

the

excitement

that comes with being eighteen. Her eyes soften when you speak adamantly about the badassery of the character, and even with the flash going off around you both, you can’t pull your eyes away from the look she’s giving you. Like she understands exactly what Adelaine The green eyes before you no longer belong to the character, but whoever lies

beneath

the

costume.

had

done for you in your adolescence.

You’re asks or with

spellbound you

princes on

about

until any

you’re your

she

princess

celebrating

special

expectations.

day.

smile that

Adelaine when is

turns

you’re

reserved

to

next for

you in

dead

with

line.

bright

You

feel

celebrities

and


The sharp voices of your dads reverberate through your

of the bigger-than-life air that surrounded her earlier.

skull and the magic of the moment is filtering away. A half

For one she’s blonde with smudged black eyeliner

intelligible explanation about plans falling through with

running under her eyes, a jarring juxtaposition from

your dads drops from your lips and she snorts out laughter.

Adelaine’s brown hair and seemingly make-up free face.

“Princes are overrated,” Adelaine gives you a knowing

The

look and you laugh, because it’s so effortlessly said—

scrutiny. “It’s Sam out here in the real world.”

girl

shrugs,

uncomfortable

under

your

like you aren’t standing in the heart of the Happily Ever After theme park surrounded by picture-perfect

“Jaz,”

you

offer

with

a

tearful

smile.

you’re

alright.

princesses with picture-perfect happy endings that all result in men—and she couldn’t be more right.

And

then

she

asks

no,

that

was

Which,

you

if

pretty

obvious

from

the

The sun has dipped well below the horizon when

tears. You tell her what’s going on. Your dads.

she emerges from the character exit of Princess

Your

Hall. It’s obscured from view by tall shrubs and

them picking your brother’s Cub Scout adventure

you’re so absorbed in a phone call with Pa that

over going to the park with you. It’s easy to

you don’t notice her taking the seat next to you.

look into the eyes of a stranger and let all of your

birthday.

feelings Don’t

blow

regret

it.

at

once.

feel

Maybe

at

it’s

Pa’s voice in your head telling you not to talk to

inside

strangers. Maybe it’s the way Sam pulls you to

you twists and the anger is no longer contained.

your feet when you’re done and promises that the

There

last few hours of the day will be the best yet.

on

your

aren’t

cool.

patience

enough

yourself,

you

you

are

your

urge

through

betrayal

that understanding look in her eyes. Maybe it’s

Keep

you

sheer

you’ll

grating

up,

wash

The

But and

his

words

something

onlookers

milling

around

the carousel to keep you from screaming at his demands to know where you are. He barks out

She

delivers

empty

The

two

threats

that

bring

tears

to

your

eyes

regardless and you end the call before he can apologize.

on

of

her

you

promise

weave

within

between

an the

hour. crowd

thickening near the castle and conquer more rides than you thought possible. Sam has a way of

She

offers

takes

you

you

green

a

eyes

endless

a

tightly

moment and

to

voice

smirk.

folded place that

tissue, those

and

it

talking

sparkling

letting

sounds

“Adelaine,”

like

You

if you

imagined

your

things

childhood

crying,

but

the

hero girl

playing ever before

out

concede.

differently

walked you

is

in

you

express sneak

lane

through.

attendants

You

can’t

into

complain.

an She insists you get to know each other better while

You’d

the

on

devoid

filing

in

line

for

the

Rickety

Railroad.

Pa’s voice warns against strangers and the teenage rebellion

alive

and

well

in

your

stomach

has

you shrugging at her suggestion of Never Have I Ever.


“Isn’t

that

a

game

about

exposing

your

sexual

encounters?”

This

game

is

sure

to

be

boring with your inexperience, but you don’t tell her that.

“It doesn’t have to be,” she wiggles her eyebrows at you. “Unless you want to reveal all your darkest secrets to a stranger.”

You make her go first because there’s no way you’re setting the precedent for questions. She admits to never having set something on fire and with a huff, you drop a finger. It had been a grill mishap years ago during a family barbeque that left Dad’s garden charred. It’s a vague question

You

and

bat

her

a

insistence

petty

for

part

of

explanations

away

you

with

struggles

a

to

statement

of

stay

your

lighthearted.

own.

“Never

have

I ever worked at a theme park.”

Sam doesn’t back down from the challenge and accuses you of having a crush on a fictional princess. You drop a finger begrudgingly. The night slips away

As if on cue, your phone rings. It sounds angrier...

from you like that. The rides are fun but you’re eager

or

to get back to the game and company of Sam after

bearing down on you through the screen. You don’t

each one. You find out about her early years sailing

answer and instead, turn to Sam who is tugging

with her mom— you make a comment about actor and

you through the storefronts of the gift shop area.

maybe

you’re

imagining

Pa’s

fierce

scowl

character becoming one that she rolls her eyes at—and in turn you tell her about your dads and homeschooling.

“I played sports,” You offer, dumbly, your words coming a moment too late for it to seem natural.

“You

have

without become

great

classmates.” less

social The

skills roll

exasperated

of as

for your her

someone eyes

has

company

“What

sports?”

scanning

the

Sam display

isn’t

cases

becomes more comforting with every minute that passes.

It’s odd how someone you just met can spread a warmth of friendship and comfort under your skin. Like feeling the sun’s rays on your skin for the first time. You shake the feeling. Sam is a stranger—stranger danger, a voice in your head rings. It sounds like Pa.

looking

“Wouldn’t you like to know.”

with

at

you,

she’s

urgent

eyes.


Sam

stops

and

Her

How did she know about this view? Is trapesing across

eyebrow is raised to her hairline and a playful

the park with strangers a normal thing for her? There’s

smile

an uncomfortable twist in your stomach at the thought.

is

turns

her

pulling

gaze

at

on

you.

her

mouth.

“Yes, I would, actually.”

Sam catches a piece in her mouth then flashes you a smirk. “Only the special ones.” You roll your eyes

And, she

well,

if

she’s

probably

going

already

to

would

kidnap have.

you

then

What’s

a

story about bumbling around the soccer field like

and let a comfortable silence settle. The crickets chirp hidden in bushes and the crowd near the castle murmurs.

an idiot going to do to deter that? So, you tell her, that nasally excitement pulling at your sinuses again the

while

you

winning

recount

goal

in

the

a

time

you

scored

championship

game.

“Why is Adelaine so important to you?”

Sam’s question shouldn’t surprise you, but somehow it still does.

Sam

buys

from

a

you

Princess

storefront

after

Adelaine’s that,

pirate

dropping

it

hat on

“I think you know why.” That look of understanding

your head with a, “Now we can both be pirate

in Sam’s eyes flashes in your mind. You feel her shrug

princesses.” You try not to squeal too hard. You

next to you.

fail, miserably. “Tell me anyway.” “I think it’s your turn,” Sam says, tossing some popcorn

in

the

air

and

catching

it

with

her

So, you do.

mouth. Adelaide doesn’t care. But she has the most caring heart You’re sitting atop one of the buildings that face the

you’ve ever seen. It’s what she chooses to care about,

castle, the two of you pressed shoulder to shoulder. Sam

the battles she decides to fight, that has always left

had dragged you up through a staff door—for a moment

you in awe. No one holds power over her, but she offers

you thought she was actually going to kill you—and after

strength and accepts it gratefully from those around her.

a few flights of stairs, you both emerged on the roof. The floodlights of the castle twinkle up at you as the rest of

Coming out to your two gay dads wasn’t racked

the park lights dim in anticipation for the firework show.

with

the

fear

of

rejection

or

wavering

love.

You’ve only ever known love at home, but that “Do here?” the

you You first

bring grab thing

all

your

new

a

handful

of

you’d

thought

friends

up

understanding was left at the threshold. “I knew I

popcorn.

It’s

was

upon

arrival.

don’t

a

lesbian

know

when

what

their

I

was favorite

ten. color

Most is

kids then.”


Sam

is

looking

at

intense

“Adelaine is a badass woman who doesn’t need a man,

understanding again and you have to look away as

even if they gave her one. I saw myself in her. She also

the

reminded me of my mom, so that’s nice too.”

goosebumps

“I

love

think

them

they

you

erupt

so

spend

with

that

across

much,

but

more

time

your

skin.

sometimes saying

I

You rest your head down on her shoulder. It feels

they

right, the way the dip in her body presses perfectly

understand me and not enough just listening.” A

against

little laugh erupts from your throat. It’s strained

been

the

way

most

talk

about

this.

things “We

are

butt

when

heads

ominous

curve

huffing

too

a

lot.”

“Never

Have

ready

to

emerged

voice

ripples

of

your

much

head.

Happily

Maybe Ever

you’ve

After

air.

you

Sam chuckles. “I’ve noticed.”

An

the

around

you,

I

fall on

Ever off

the

roof

been your but

kissed.” tongue only

It’s

been

since

you

out

now.

slips

Sam goes stiff. “Come again?”

announcing that the show will begin momentarily. “I

never

knew

my

dad,”

Sam’s

voice

is

barely

above a whisper.

“Well, when two people like each other or are really drunk or play dumb games like this one-”

“I know what kissing is. I just find it unbelievable that you’ve never been kissed.”

“Maybe

I’m

just

waiting

for

someone

to

help

me

out.

I

know

a

princess

who

might

be

interested.”

Sam

shifts,

and

you’re

suddenly

worried

you’ve

read

all

the

wrong

signals.

Had

there

ever been any signals at all? And then her mouth is on yours, tentative at first. It’s nicer than you imagined, warm, and she tastes like popcorn. There are fireworks, you think, either going off under

your

eyelids

or

around

you,

somewhere.

Maybe

it’s

Happily

Ever

After

magic.

And yeah, your phone is still ringing angrily in your pocket and you’re going to be in so much trouble when this fairytale day ends, but as far as you’re concerned that’s a future you

problem. Right now, you’re living in a movie and the credits are rolling with a

‘And they lived Happily Ever After..’


Photo by Lawrence Perry


HERE

Presente está la sangre Sangre Negra Sangre Roja Sangre del Alma Presente está el orgullo de una raza. Rápido vamos mostrando quiénes somos. Gritando en las calles Lo que corre por nuestros cuerpos. Que somos más que una simple etiqueta. Mujer Hombre Cuir Otres Hecha a un lado el odio y la amargura Date la tarea y reconoce, El amor que sabes merecer Dale espacio a tus raíces a crecer. Con calma y con premura pero con frenesí te enseñaré lo que soy y lo que somos. Por mi sangre corre rabia Por nuestra sangre corre valentía. No hay mejor forma de estar orgulloso de si Que reconociendo lo que se es, Negro.

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Desde La Otredad

Like pulling weeds from a wheat ton or scalping follicles from a shower drain, I picked up the pieces of furniture lying up against the wall.

I was not alone. She was there with me. The reassurance was strong enough and genuine most to remind me that fortitude was in numbers.

ii.

mid-introspection

I hate saying the word “I”. Something about it is noisy, pretentious. I can’t shake off the feeling of being and attributing a letter to oneself just as much as words derive from “existing”, or whatever this may be.

iii.

reminder

Let me reestablish that I was not alone. I’ll boost the idea: there was company. The moment was shared, but was is there to share? To hand out? We have nothing.

iv.

holding on

We have love. Although a construct, it is most fortifying and credential and a true emblem of socialization. That hug, joint, hairy leg over another… incites a spectrum of energy, of emotion.

v.

ni(h)iliness

Whatever. None of it means anything.


13 Films That Got

Samantha N. Olson

the LGBTQ+ Experience Right The

stories

we

television — impact

our

consume

whether

it

be

through

books,

music,

movies

or

have the power to shape the way we live our lives. Media can also perspectives

on

other

people

in

groups

we

aren’t

directly

part

of.

It goes without saying that LGBTQ+ culture has influenced many character arcs in our favorite films and TV shows. What’s rare is for these stories to be told and depicted accurately through mainstream media. When it comes to the LGBTQ+ experience, there are plenty of angles from which these stories are told — be it a campy comedy or

heart-wrenching

01

drama.

Here

are

thirteen

“Love, Simon” (2018)

Where you can watch: YouTube ($3.99), Amazon Prime Video ($3.99)

Known as the first gay teen movie released

by a major studio, “Love, Simon” tells the story of Simon, a closeted gay 17-year-old

who’s trying to discover the identity of the

anonymous classmate and penpal he’s fallen for through the internet. Simon also balances his friendships, familial relationships and a

blackmailer threatening to out him to his entire school (as if being closeted wasn’t difficult enough). This coming-of-age flick

ushered in a new era of representation

with its diverse cast and inclusivity. It even inspired a Disney+-turned-Hulu spinoff, “Love,

Victor,”

which

debuts

June

19.

films

that

02

got

these

stories

right.

“Hurricane Bianca” (2016)

Where you can watch: YouTube ($3.99),

Amazon Prime Video ($3.99)

If you’re a fan of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,”

or drag in general, then you’ll love this campy comedy! RPDR season six champion Bianca Del Rio plays former New York schoolteacher

Richard,

who

relocates

to small Texas town and is immediately

fired for being gay. Richard returns — in drag, this time — with a vengeance for the

cruel townspeople. This film also features

cameos from other drag queens, including Alyssa Edwards, Willam Belli and RuPaul

himself. With Bianca’s signature bits and

a storyline to follow, what’s not to love?


03

“The Color Purple” (1985)

Where you can watch: Amazon Prime Video ($1.99)

Directed by Steven Speilberg and based

on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, “The Color Purple” is a period-

piece set in the early 1900s that follows the tumultuous life of Celie, a black woman in rural Georgia who’s faced sexual abuse from her father and a man who her father

gave her away to. Celie later meets showgirl Shug, who she forms a deep connection with.

She ultimately discovers love for herself

through liberation, and Celie and Shug’s romantic relationship is one that helps her through many obstacles. “The Color Purple,”

which covers themes from race, class,

gender, sexual assault, domestic abuse,

lesbianism, and the South, was nominated for 11 Academy Awards including Best

Picture. It didn’t end up winning any,

and we have to say it was definitely

snubbed as it’s a love story for the ages.

05

04

“Saturday Church” (2017)

Where you can watch: Tubi (Free!)

“Saturday Church,” which premiered at the

Tribeca Film Festival in April 2017, tells the story of Ulysses, a shy and feminine 14-year-

old who’s taken over the responsibilities of his

late father as the “man of the house.” Along with coping with his father’s death, Ulysses is

slowly coming into his own and discovering his gender identity alongside his mother, younger

brother and disapproving conservative aunt.

He ultimately finds comfort in ballroom culture and the transgender community at Saturday church, which is a program that feeds and

provides shelter for LGBTQ+ youths. This film, stars newcomer Luka Kain and “POSE” actors Mj Rodriguez and Indya Moore, realistically

depicts someone finding themselves in times of uncertainty, which is a feeling all too

familiar for a lot of LGBTQ+ youth. You can stream “Saturday Church” for free on Tubi.

“Call Me By Your Name” (2017)

Where you can watch: Vudu ($1.99), YouTube ($3.99)

Did you really think we were going to leave Armie and Timothée out of this? Based on the novel of the same name, “Call Me By Your Name” has quickly become a cult classic in the LGBTQ+ community. The film follows 17-year-old Elio and doctoral student Oliver in the summer of 1983, when their romance heats up in Italy. The film was received well by critics and was even nominated for Best

Picture at the 90th Annual Academy Awards. Let’s be real — CMBYN has changed the way we see peaches and the way we listen to “Play Date” by Melanie Martinez. It’s just the way the world works.


06

“The Thing About Harry” (2020)

Where you can watch: YouTube ($17.99), Hulu (With Subscription)

07

“But I’m a Cheerleader” (1999) Where you can watch: Tubi (Free!)

The thing about “The Thing About Harry”

Natasha

that doesn’t follow the “I’m-gay-so-my-

— if you want to see Natasha Lyonne play

is that it’s a heartfelt romantic comedy life-must-be-difficult”

trope.

Instead

of using characters’ queerness as their

defining characteristics, this film focuses on

developing natural character arcs, making them more dimensional and humanlike. If you’re looking for a film where you’ll relate to most of the characters, check out “The

Lyonne

playing

another

queer

character? Groundbreaking. No, seriously a lesbian cheerleader whose parents send

her to conversion therapy while she’s just

becoming aware of her sexuality, this is the perfect satirical flick for you. Also, RuPaul plays a straight man trying to convert

others… who wouldn’t want to see that?

Thing About Harry” on streaming platforms.

08

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)

09

“Carol” (2015)

Where you can watch: Vudu ($3.99), Amazon Prime Video ($3.99)

Where you can watch: YouTube ($3.99), Amazon Prime Video ($3.99)

“Carol” is the film adaptation of Patricia

Our beloved Rocky Horror has made this list

in which she depicts a lesbian love affair

for three specific reasons. One: Tim Curry

plays Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a cross-dressing

mad scientist. Two: Killer musical numbers… seriously. And three: Who doesn’t love the

iconic golden mini shorts? If you haven’t yet blessed yourself by watching Rocky

Horror (sorry, but the “Glee” episode and few seconds in “Perks of Being a Wallflower”

don’t count), lovebirds Brad and Janet get stuck at Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s with a flat tire during a storm. They meet a ton of wild

characters and lose their innocence along

the way when Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest creation: Rocky. If you’re into horror

and musical, campy films, sit tight and feast your eyes on this iconic cult classic.

Highsmith’s 1952 novel “The Price of Salt,”

in 1950s New York. Highsmith’s work was considered one of the first novels with a

gay theme and happy ending, whichn is possible. In the film, Rooney Mara plays shop girl Therese, who falls for married

sophisticate Carol (played by Cate Blanchett).

While the story follows two white women, it recounts how they fall in love during

the McCarthyism era in the United States, when accusations of subversion were made

without evidence. This was also a time when same-sex attraction was considered taboo

and “anti-American.” The film scored tons of Oscar buzz during the time of its release

and went on to receive six nominations at

the

88th

annual

Academy

Awards.


10

“The Half of It” (2020)

Where you can watch: Netflix v(With Subscription)

There are a lot of things to celebrate about

Netflix’s “The Half of It.” Writer and director Alice Wu, best known for her 2004 film “Saving Face,”

highlights coming-of-age queer experiences

for Chinese-American women in both films, but

gives us a twist with her latest. High schooler Ellie Chu is the resident introvert who has a side-

hustle of ghostwriting papers for other students to help her non-english speaking father pay

the bills. When jock Paul asks Ellie to help him woo — you guessed it, yet another manic-pixiedream-girl — Aster Flores with love letters, Ellie

discovers that she, too, might be falling for Aster. It doesn’t matter who gets the girl in this flick,

because at the end of the day, Ellie and Paul gain friendship through an unforgettable experience.

12

11

“Struck by Lightning” (2012) Where you can watch: Tubi (Free!)

Spoiler alert: the structure of “Struck by Lightning” differs from most films as it kills its protagonist in its opening scene by — you guessed it —

striking him with a lightning bolt. “Glee” alumnus Chris Colfer stars as high school student Carson Phillips, who has big dreams of becoming the youngest editor-in-chief of The New Yorker

literary magazine. Carson feels that he must gain admission to Northwestern University to be on

the right path of reaching his dream, so he plans an elaborate scheme to blackmail a bunch of

misfits at his high school to create and contribute to their school’s literary magazine. The dramedy

also contains an all-star cast, featuring Christina

Hendricks, Angela Kinsey, Rebel Wilson, Sarah Hyland, Matt Prokop, Robbie Amell and Ashley

Rickards. Did we mention that Colfer wrote the

screenplay, too? We stan a multi-talented king.

“Moonlight” (2016)

Where you can watch: Amazon Prime Video ($0.99), Netflix (with subscription)

13

“Viva” (2015)

Where you can watch: Tubi (Free!)

The Best Picture we so rightfully deserve. In an

Set in Cuba, “Viva” depicts what happens when

director Barry Jenkins and writer Tarell Alvin

with his estranged father (Jorge Perugorría)

own upbringings in Liberty City, one of the

being a drag performer. While the protagonist

Chiron, a young black man who faces a journey

tangible, he comes to terms with his sexuality

homosexual feelings. The film depicts the harsh

father faces the challenge of overcoming his

home as a queer black person. “Moonlight”

he is. In 2016, the film was selected as the Irish

black cast and a homosexual main character

88th annual Academy Awards. It’s dubbed in

interview with The New York Times, “Moonlight”

young hairdresser Jesus (Héctor Medina) clashes

McCraney shared that the film parallels their

when he works toward making his dream of

poorest parts of Miami, Florida. The story follows

overcomes obstacles to make his drag dreams

of self-discovery and coming to grips with his

and discovers his true identity. His macho-man

realities of what it’s like to grow up in a broken

toxic masculinity and accepting his son for who

made history as the first film with an entirely

entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the

to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Spanish, but you can watch with English subtitles.


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Shifter | Volume No. 1 | Issue No. 1  

The Shifter team welcomes you to read and enjoy our first-ever issue! This issue is all about LGBTQ+ and human rights. In this issue, you'...

Shifter | Volume No. 1 | Issue No. 1  

The Shifter team welcomes you to read and enjoy our first-ever issue! This issue is all about LGBTQ+ and human rights. In this issue, you'...

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