As 2022 draws to a close, we ask some friends of The Queer Review, including prominent creators, performers, artists, and activists to share the LGBTQ+ culture or events that have sustained, stimulated, moved, inspired or brought them joy this year. We hope that you enjoy reading this eclectic selection of theatre, film, TV series, books, podcasts, music, art, photography, and people who created impactful work this year. We would love to hear your own LGBTQ+ highlights of 2022, so please get in touch via our social media channels—including Twitter @TheQueerReview, Instagram @TheQueerReview and Facebook—using the hashtags #TheQueerReview2022 and #TheQueerReview to tell us your reaction to these selections and offer your own.
Actor. Filmmaker. Founder & Editor – The Queer Review.
A Strange Loop on Broadway
An incredible theatrical achievement, fifteen years in-the-making, Michael R. Jackson’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning “big Black and queer-ass American Broadway show” is thought-provoking, profound, challenging, and deeply moving art in a thrillingly entertaining package. Meta and clever, but never arch or impenetrable, it examines the thoughts that run through the head of its writer protagonist, Usher, embodied in a bravura performance by Jaquel Spivey making his Broadway debut. He’s supported by a dynamic and exceptionally versatile ensemble – Antwayn Hopper, L Morgan Lee, John-Michael Lyles, James Jackson, Jr., John-Andrew Morrison, and Jason Veasey – who make Raja Feather Kelly’s captivating character-led choreography look like a breeze. While the play examines the creative process, the struggle for self-acceptance, and the intersections of Usher’s identity as a Black queer man living in a white cis-het patriarchy, I fell in love with the richly layered character at its centre and he’s stayed with me all year.
Jackson has created a collection of stunning, stylistically varied numbers that can live and breath on their own terms, as I found out when I was lucky enough to see him perform a solo of “Memory Song” at the GLAAD Awards in New York. While Michael Korte beautifully reinterpreted some of the numbers in a recent medley tribute to the show, featuring Bob the Drag Queen, Kornbread, Anania Williams, ELYN and Kyle Freeman.
A Strange Loop closes on January 15th, 2023 (so don’t delay if you haven’t seen it yet), but in March we’ll get to see Jackson’s new musical, White Girl In Danger debut Off-Broadway at Second Stage’s Tony Kiser Theater. Read my ★★★★★ review of A Strange Loop, and interviews with Michael R. Jackson, L Morgan Lee, and Antwayn Hopper.
Joel Kim Booster
Stand-up comedian. Writer. Actor. (Fire Island, Netflix comedy special PsychoSexual)
Muna, self-titled alum
Muna is the band I wish existed when I was a teenager and am so deeply grateful to have as an adult. Their latest self-titled release has been the soundtrack for my life in 2022, following me through the highs and lows, underscoring each moment perfectly. From the queer yearning in “Silk Chiffon” to the infectious confidence of “Anything But Me,” this album details the full emotional spectrum of tender Queers and nonconforming rebel leaders alike. 10/10. Can’t recommend it enough.
Filmmaker. Actress. The Queen of Sensual Cinema™. (Lingua Franca, Under The Banner of Heaven)
All The Beauty and The Bloodshed by Laura Poitras, NEON
A searing portrait of the iconoclastic artist and activist Nan Goldin, interweaving the personal (a fraught family history marked by loss) and political (a decades-spanning saga of queer, underground New York) as Goldin battles against a corporate Goliath to protect the most vulnerable and defenseless among her chosen family.
Follow Isabel Sandoval on Twitter @IsabelVSandoval & on Instagram @IsabelVSandoval. Read our exclusive interview with Isabel Sandoval.
Writer-director-producer. (Queer as Folk (2022), Little America, Closet Monster).
Lavender House a novel by Lev AC Rosen, Forge Books
Advertised as Knives Out-meets Carol… I mean, say no more…! This delightful, camp, noir, murder mystery novel is a total page-turner. Set in 1950s San Francisco, Lavender House centers on Evander Mills, a disgraced cop who was kicked out of the SFPD after being caught cruising in a gay bar. He’s at the end of his rope when, from out of the shadows of a seedy dive bar, he is approached by a mysterious woman who begs him to help solve the murder of her wife, Irene Lamontaine, the magnate of the famed Lamontaine soap empire. Through investigating Irene’s death, Evander’s life is turned upside down when he discovers a secret community of queer folks who are living openly and unapologetically behind the walls of Lavender House (during a time when being gay was illegal). But as Evander starts falling in love with this vibrant new community, he has to remind himself that he’s investigating them all for murder.
Actor. Singer. Dancer. (Harlem, Prime Video; The Inheritance & Choir Boy on Broadway).
Fat Ham by James Ijames, Public Theater
The Pulitzer Prize-winning new play, Fat Ham, written by James Ijames, directed by Saheem Ali, and associate directed by Sideeq Heard premiered at The Public Theater in association with the National Black Theatre and will be transferring to Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre in March, 2023. With three queer BIPOC men at the helm and an entirely BIPOC cast, Fat Ham is a refreshing, modern reinvention of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, with the Hamlet figure portrayed as a Black queer college kid named Juicy. Set during a Southern family cookout, the play is funny, clever, tragic, and timely, examining family trauma, homophobia, and acceptance, love and loss, pain and joy. A must-see! Read our ★★★★★ review of Fat Ham.
Follow Jonathan Burke on Instagram @itsjonathanburke & on Twitter @itsjonburke. Jonathan Burke is collaborating with Ahmad Maksoud & Delius Doherty on Not Looking, a TV series currently in development.
Writer. Filmmaker (Films: Framing Agnes, No Ordinary Man. Books: You Only Live Twice (co-authored with Mike Hoolboom), Boys Don’t Cry with Morgan M Page).
Gender Reveal Podcast, episode 126
My Favorite LGBTQ+ thing of the year was Episode 126 of the podcast GENDER REVEAL, in which Jules Gill-Peterson made me cackle out loud in public and imagine new possibilities for our collective future. I didn’t know about the podcast prior to listening to this episode, but I was thrilled to dive backwards into its archive and learn that the project has also distributed almost $250,000 in grants and mutual aid since its beginnings! What a heroic, multi-faceted, community-driven gift.
Actor. Producer. Activist. 2022 GLAAD Vito Russo Award honoree. (Star Trek: Discovery, My So-Called Life).
At this point, I have to admit that the biggest cry I had watching anything this past year was Heartstopper, mainly because it was everything that I wanted Rickie Vasquez to experience on My So-Called Life and it was so meaningful to me that I was able to see it so beautifully and movingly portrayed. I was overwhelmed. Read our ★★★★ review of Heartstopper.
Filmmaker. Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch for 2022. (Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe, world premiered at TIFF).
Trace Lysette’s performance in Andrea Pallaoro’s Monica, Venice Film Festival
Trace Lysette’s performance as the titular character in Andrea Pallaoro’s Monica was at once a revelation and an affirmation. After years of watching Trace shine as Shea in Transparent or blazing trails in Hustlers, none had yet allowed her to transcend, until now. As soon as she comes on screen in faded fiery locks, you’re instantly entranced, similar to the enchantment of a siren that goes beyond her beauty. It’s her embodiment as Monica of survival, vulnerability, and surrender; this woman has nothing to lose. Yet as the audience, you’re instantly overwhelmed with empathy and committed to making sure she’s OK because the years of pain, isolation, and resilience are evident in her eyes. This proves the point; it’s only someone with a similar lived experience who can capture such complexity. Trace injects every emotional moment with depth that speaks to the struggle of most transgender women. But one that doesn’t leave her hardened or hopeless, instead soft with childlike naïveté. Few films about the transgender experience can capture this degree of raw intensity, this one does and Trace is the main reason why. Monica will be released by IFC Films in 2023.
Follow Aitch Alberto on Twitter @aitchalberto & on Instagram @aitchalberto. Read our exclusive interview Aitch Alberto, & our ★★★★ review of Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe).
Drag artist. RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under season 2 finalist. Pasifika royalty.
Drag Race Down Under at AFI’s AACTA Awards
My favourite queer moment of 2022 was seeing Drag Race Down Under recognized at the AACTAs, nominated as Best Entertainment Program, and being present as representatives not only of our LGBTQIA+ communities, but the community at large. Seeing images of my sisters Hannah Conda, Spankie Jackzon, and myself at the event in all of the online magazines as well as on TV was a milestone moment for Australia.
I felt this was especially important following the discussion Senator Antic provoked in reaction (not response) to Courtney Act doing Play School’s Story Time, accusing ABC of “grooming” our emerging youth and reducing Courtney’s character and her work. We were reminded that we as LGBTQIA+ people here in Australia are still not viewed as equal or valid. Especially within our film and screen industries.
Though the packaging of our art maybe confronting to what seems like the majority, our talent, stories and intentions are what is needed to diversify the cultural landscape of our country.
Charlie Amáyá Scott
Indigenous trans-femme with great hair inspiring joy & justice. Creator of Diné Aesthetic(s). Photographer.
Making Love With The Land by Joshua Whitehead, Knopf Canada
This book expresses all the love, hope, and frustrations of being an Indigenous Queer (an Indigiqueer) person in the 21st century and reminds us of our intimate and vulnerable relationship with our selves, our friends, and our homelands. So much is offered and there’s so much to reflect upon, and I have Joshua to thank for that, especially for sharing all this with us through this autobiographical story.
John Cameron Mitchell
Actor. Filmmaker. DJ. Queer Icon. (Hedwig & the Angry Inch)
Young Royals created by Lisa Ambjörn, Netflix
At first I was thinking, OK, this will be my YA guilty pleasure watch about the white-on-white teenage heir to the Swedish throne falling for and hiding his love for a “commoner”, and a gorgeous dark-skinned, working class one at that. Would it just be more of the usual queer-bait Netflix landfill advertised by yet another poster image of two glamorous lads staring at each other in profile? But it really snuck up on me. The wonderful acting, the exotic yet rather mild Swedish upper/lower class tensions, the intra-Royal Family machinations. I was hooked and found myself swooning hard for the magnetic couple. Despite a few too many on-the-nose modern pop songs jammed in to placate the kids, I let my inner-teen enjoy a ride that I could’ve really used when I was their age.
Follow John Cameron Mitchell on Instagram @johncameronmitchell. Read our exclusive interview with John cameron Mitchell.
Actor. Singer. (A Strange Loop, Hair, The Loophole, Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar).
A Strange Loop on Broadway
It would be remiss of me not go on record by saying that the ever so eloquent, QUEER show featuring BLEKNESS-widda-Twist, Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop, is my favouite piece of LGBTQ+ culture this year! This show has brought together so many people in various communities. Convening conversations, with dreams of acceptance being realized and hope coming to people who once had mantras of “I can’t because I am ME.” Loop empowers as well lifts people from their perceptions and allows us to start to ponder (if nothing else) that…”perhaps I am enough.” I am filled with gratitude to the most highest for the blessing of finding my own self through A Strange Loop.
Follow Antwayn Hopper on Instagram @antwaynhopper.
Actress. TikTok creator. (High School).
A League of Their Own, Prime Video
I was very happy to see how gay A League of Their Own was. I was really surprised too, and at one point I was thinking, ‘How is this allowed on TV?!’ Because I don’t watch things on TV, let alone watch things that are gay on TV, so I was so happy to see that. It made me think that hopefully there will be a lot more things like it in the future.
Actress (Monica, Transparent, Hustlers, Pose).
Kim Petras at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100
My fave thing this year was seeing Kim Petras snag number 1 with her single “Unholy” with Sam Smith. I said to myself, “wow, the dolls can do it!” I just didn’t know if I’d see that in my lifetime to be honest. I’m so inspired by the younger generation.
Actor (Wendell & Wild).
The Prince by Abigail Thorn, Southwark Playhouse, London
This year I had the pleasure of seeing Abigail Thorn’s new play The Prince at the Southwark Playhouse. It follows a handful of Shakespeare characters who begin to realize that they are trapped in a play, and takes a look at gender, sexuality, and what it means to play a role. Trans performers make up the majority of the cast but the standout is Thorn herself in the title role; her character’s journey drawing on her own recent experience of coming out as trans. A beautiful, thoughtful exploration of Shakespeare through a queer lens.
Author. Creator, headwriter & showrunner of Young Royals on Netflix.
Everything Everywhere All At Once, A24 Films
Everything Everywhere All At Once did not only manage, in the most imaginary and comic way, to bring a new layer to the complicated relationship between a working-class immigrant mother and queer daughter, it brought back the magic of cinema for me. I cried and laughed along with the entire audience. Pure, beautiful catharsis through an action comedy. Hats off to the entire team.
Entertainment journalist. (Sky News Backstage podcast, Deadline Awardsline)
Fire Island, Hulu / Sort Of, HBO Max / Wreck, BBC Three
The pairing of Joel Kim Booster’s snappy observational script with director Andrew Ahn’s sunny approach made this rework of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice a highlight of the year for me. It helps that the cast features real-life besties Bowen Yang and Booster as the film’s giddy heart and soul, which also allows for the quieter moments to feel extra honest. The fact that the film is fronted by so many Asians is not lost in my praise for Fire Island. But by watching it, you quickly feel the generosity of the film being all-inclusive, yet filtered through the lens of some fabulous AAPI queer voices. Oh, and karaoke plays a huge part in the romantic storyline! Read our ★★★★ review of Fire Island, exclusive interview with director Andrew Ahn, and the movie’s ensemble cast.
Sort Of marks the first sitcom, to my knowledge, centered around a non-binary individual that also happens to be of Pakistani descent. Navigating cultural and personal acceptance all the while seemingly floating through life, Bilal Baig’s portrayal of Sabi is both wonderfully wry and sadly guarded at the same time. Funny and heartwarming, Sort Of normalises the newness of a character like Sabi, all the while pushing open the gates of representation even wider.
If you have access to BBC iPlayer, seek out the UK horror comedy series Wreck immediately! Already commissioned for a sequel, this British slasher-on-a-cruise-ship series, features queer and AAPI leads trying to survive a serial killer who just so happens to be dressed as a duck. Celebrating horror with cheeky references and bloody set pieces, Ryan J. Brown’s creation is a surprise entry to the well-worn genre.
Actor (Young Royals).
The Swedish premiere of Matthew López’s Arv / The Inheritance, Dramaten
There’s this play right now in Sweden, The Inheritance, that’s so powerful. It’s eight hours long and the actors doing it in Sweden are doing it so, so well. It’s such a powerful portrait of being queer in New York during the time when Trump got elected and that whole era, and also the 1980s during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Read our ★★★★★ review of The Inheritance on Broadway.
Follow Edvin Ryding on Instagram @edvinrydings & on Twitter @RydingEdvin & TikTok @edvinrydings. Watch our exclusive interviews with Edvin Ryding & his Young Royals co-star on season 2 and the upcoming season 3.
Co-creator We’re Here, HBO/HBO Max
Heartstopper, Netflix / De’Bronski on We’re Here, season 3 episode 2, HBO
My favorite LGBTQ+ thing of the year is hands down the scene in Heartstopper where Nick (Kit Connor) is discovering his identity in high school and sees his lesbian friends Tara and Darcy dancing together and kiss on the dance floor. This scene shook me and I ugly cried as I recalled my own queer childhood in that moment. It was so powerful, beautifully executed, sweet and about love. I relived and watched this on repeat so much that “Clearest Blue” by CHVRCHES ended up on top of my Spotify wrapped playlist.
My favorite LGBTQ+ person of the year is De’Bronski. In our second episode of the third season of We’re Here on HBO/HBO Max, we feature the town of Jackson, Mississippi. Living with his drag queen fiancé, De’Bronski had a very traumatic religious childhood and grew up fearing drag queens and at one point didn’t even speak to his partner, James, when he found out that he performed drag on the side. Watching his story unfold and De’Bronski put his fears aside culminates in one of the most cathartic amateur drag performances I’ve ever seen in-person or on television. De’Bronski is an icon, an inspiration, and will forever live in my head and heart as one of the most amazing performances of 2022. Special shout out to Bob the Drag Queen, Domino Couture, Wigs & Grace, Miss Leila McQueen and the vocals of Jennifer Hudson for helping bring De’Bronski out of his comfort zone and into the hearts of America. Read our exclusive We’re Here interviews with Johnnie Ingram & Stephen Warren, Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka & Shangela, & our ★★★★★ We’re Here season 3 review.
TikTok Radio Host on Sirius XM.
“Unholy” by Sam Smith & Kim Petras
One of my favorite queer moments in pop culture this year was Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ “Unholy” dominating the pop charts. It makes my queer heart smile seeing the public embrace a non-binary and trans pop star, especially Petras who has been grinding for years. It’s been amazing to witness the mainstream success of queer artists in the face of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, and I hope the track’s success makes room for more LGBTQ+ representation in 2023 and serves as a shining example for LGBTQ+ folks to keep striving.
Autistic Advocate & Writer.
Heartbreak High, Netflix
A show that made a difference to me in 2022 because of its LGBTQ+ representation was Netflix’s reboot of Heartbreak High, a comedy-drama series that centres the challenges pupils studying at the eponymous high school face both at school and in their personal lives. I was—and remain—impressed by the show’s diverse range of LGBTQ+ representation through its queer, non-binary, lesbian, asexual, and bisexual characters, including Darren (James Majoos), Quinni (Chloé Hayden), Sasha (Gemma Chua-Tran), Ca$h (Will McDonald), Malakai (Thomas Weatherall) and several other characters.
Many of these characters are intersectional, being also Australian First Nations, multiracial or autistic (for example). It is unusual to see diverse LGBTQ+ representation on screen, especially intersectional representation. I was particularly touched by Quinni, who is the first LGBTQ+ confirmed autistic character I have seen on screen. As an autistic queer person who is not used to seeing both of these aspects of my identity represented, it was highly validating getting to know Quinni, a character that I and so many within the autistic and LGBTQ+ communities connected with. The challenges she faces in public settings and within her relationship with Sasha were highly relatable. I’m excited to see how Quinni and all of the other characters grow and develop in season 2!
Artist. Actor. Filmmaker. (Mutt, premiering at Sundance 2023)
Nevada by Imogen Binnie / The Inspection, written & directed by Elegance Bratton / “DANCE W/U” by Joey Baby
My sweet friend, Cole Doman, recommended I read Nevada by Imogen Binnie and I devoured it within three days. It was originally published in 2013, but was reissued this year (with a new afterword from the author) which is when I encountered it for the first time. It left me heartbroken and invigorated all at once. I walked around the streets of Oaxaca, Mexico carrying the final moments with me like the last words from a lover. I have never felt more grateful for an afterword from an author, which felt like a much needed cuddle after finishing it. It is the first book I have ever read that captures the internal experience of someone in the time before they can admit to themselves that they are trans. I don’t want to say much more except that everyone should read it, ASAP. Also, absolute icon Jane Schoenbrun is adapting into a feature film.
I had the privilege of seeing Elegance Bratton’s narrative feature debut, The Inspection at the closing night of the New York Film Festival. The film has an undeniable heartbeat; the vision is expertly executed; and the performances are deeply moving. The fact that I could take my cis-het cousin who is an ex-marine to see this movie, and that he too left crying, his heart softened, and his worldview expanded, is no small miracle. It’s a must see, and in theaters if possible!
My absolute homie Joey Baby released their first track this year as a solo artist: “DANCE W/ U”. It is a perfect homage to 90s pop and R&B, and their whole artist persona brings a radical, gender expansive view to the boy bands and girl groups of that era; which honestly is HEALING WORK for us 90s queer kids who didn’t know if we wanted to kiss Nick Carter or be Nick Carter.
Renaissance Act I by Beyoncé
The arrival of any new music by Beyoncé is always going to be an event. So when the Queen of The Beyhive™️ dropped “Break My Soul”, I was prepared for the Internet to explode on that Friday in June. A House Music fan, I was impressed with the sample of the Robin S classic, “Show Me Love”, and waited in anticipation for an album of reimagined 80s and 90s House Classics. I knew it would be special. But I wasn’t prepared for the full-on, unapologetic celebration of the Black queer club life that is Renaissance Act I. Beyoncé came, delivered and served up 16 tracks that paid homage and respect to Black queer life and specifically the Black queer dance floor and ballroom scene. From the disco funk of “Cuff It” to the hard beats of “Cozy” and the sexy, chill out vibe of “Virgos Groove” and “Plastic Off the Sofa” through to the retro yet futuristic “Summer Renaissance”, which sampled disco icon and legend Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”. Nothing gave me more joy this year than seeing countless videos of young Black queer folk across the globe singing along to “Heated”. It has everything any queer person who has have stepped onto a dance floor and spun under a disco ball could ever want. She even threw in a guest appearance from Grace Jones. What’s not to love?
Follow Marc Thompson on Twitter: @marct_01 & Instagram @marct_01. Read our exclusive interview with Marc Thompson about creating and co-curating BlackAndGayBackInTheDay. Listen to his podcast We Were Always Here.
British fabric sculptor. Designer. Campaigner. “England’s Most Eccentric Dresser”, Vogue.
The work done this year by the UK charity Stonewall, The Peter Tatchell Foundation, and Dr. Nas Mohamed (an LGBTQ+ Qatari man) has been amazing and very important. As a community, it’s important to understand that there are all types of activism. They are all valid, even though sometimes we may not agree with them, but I think the work that these three have done in 2022 has been remarkable. As the World Cup finishes, we need to continue to speak out about situations in the rest of the world where human rights are not valid.
In the arts, the Pierre et Gilles exhibition in Paris was iconic. Also, Jennifer Coolidge!
Follow Daniel Lismore on Twitter @daniellismore, Instagram @daniellismore, Facebook, & TikTok @daniellismore. His book “Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken” is available now. Visit his official website DanielLismore.com.
LGBTQ+, mental health & AAPI influencer.
Heartstopper, Netflix / artist Meg
I love the whole cast of Heartstopper. It’s healing and so beautiful to see this group of friends support each other and grow as they discover themselves. I especially love seeing British Asian actor William Gao play an ally and best-friend-throughout storyline alongside trans actress Yasmin Finney. It’s so empowering and beautiful to see.
My wonderful friend Meg is an Asian American, trans non-binary creative and activist. They create art and apparel that represents and fights for the QTBIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities. I love my “protect queer kids” t-shirt and the other shirts that Meg designs to protect queer and trans kids. They are for everyone to wear to outwardly, openly, and proudly share that they believe we all deserve equal rights, love, and protection. With all the policies and changes happening in our country right now it’s even more important to stand up and protect trans and queer kids. You can find Meg’s art and merchandise here.
Follow Owin Pierson on Instagram @owinpierson.
Accessibility strategist. Clinical psychology doctoral student. Founder of Black Neurodiversity.
WNBGAY – queer bball for women, trans, & gnc ballers
When I moved to Los Angeles I had no idea how much basketball would become such a big part of my life (again). I found a best friend and a community. WNBGAY is queer pick-up basketball for women, trans, and gender nonconforming ballers at the Highland Park Recreation outdoor courts. It is truly all levels, and we prioritize fun (well, at least I do) at all times. We ball together, and we’ve also been to WNBA games, supported each other’s ventures, and even gone to the club. I love my WNBGAY fam. It is giving slight L Word vibes, and I am cool with that. Lesbians in LA do indeed ball.
Michael Lamar Simeon aka Black Gay Comic Geek
Black Gay Comic Geek. Content creator.
A Strange Loop on Broadway / Interview With A Vampire, AMC+ / Heartstopper, Netflix / The Sandman, Netflix
A Strange Loop is one of the best shows this year, unlike anything else on Broadway. Not only is it Black as hell, but it’s gay as hell. Written by a Black gay man, this show will have you feeling all types of emotions. See it before it closes on January 15th, 2023.
While you might know the story of legendary author Anne Rice’s groundbreaking debut novel, Interview with the Vampire, you’ve never seen it in the way it’s told in the incredible series on AMC+. What makes this version different from the book, and the 1994 movie adaptation, is that the main character Louis is played by Jacob Anderson, a Black man. It’s a change that adds so many layers and nuances to the story and makes the character of Louis de Pointe du Lac much more interesting. The chemistry between Jacob Anderson and Sam Reid (Lestat) is incredible. Also, unlike the book and the movie, Louis and Lestat are gay as hell. It’s not about subtext or hints, they are a married vampire couple! This show is filled with all the things I love in my fantasy: Blood, Sex, Gore, and Magick.
Heartstopper is one of the cutest and most adorable gay teen romances to be depicted on screen. While the show may seem to follow the standard tropes of a coming out story, there is far more to it than that. The chemistry between its two leads, Kit Connor and Joe Locke, will have you glued to the screen.
Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman has gone down in comic book history as one of the greatest graphic novels of all time and the live-action adaptation on Netflix is definitely one of the best and most comic-accurate adaptations to ever exist. The show is incredible, and while not exclusively queer, has many queer elements. Read our ★★★★★ review of The Sandman on Netflix, our exclusive interviews with Neil Gaiman & Allan Heinberg, & Mason Alexander Park.
Singer-songwriter. Frankie Goes to Hollywood frontman. Queer Icon.
Only An Octave Apart at Wilton’s Music Hall, London
Justin Vivian Bond and Anthony Roth Costanzo’s joyous and surprising musical fantasia, revelling in everything strange and beautiful in the coexistence of contrasts, from Purcell’s 17th century aria “Dido’s Lament” to Dido’s early 2000s hit “White Flag”, from “Autumn Leaves” to “The Waters of March”.
Follow Holly Johnson on Twitter @TheHollyJohnson and visit his official website. His double album Unleashed From The Pleasuredome: Holly Johnson Live at KOKO is available digitally and on vinyl now. Read our exclusive interview with Holly Johnson.
Daniel “Dusty” Albanese
New York based photographer and filmmaker.
Esther Newton Made Me Gay by Jean Carlomusto
This was one of my favorite queer documentaries of 2022. As soon as it was over I wanted to rewatch it just to spend more time with the very charming Esther, a cultural anthropologist who pioneered what would eventually become the field of LGBTQ & Gender Studies. Had I gone to SUNY Purchase rather than New Paltz for anthropology in the 90s, I’m certain she would have quickly become my favorite professor. Thankfully we have Jean Carlomusto’s wonderful film, so we can all learn from her now. She’s also a dog lover and a canine agility coach. No wonder she’s such a hit with the ladies!
Actor. Writer. Comedian.
Bones and All directed by Luca Guadagnino
My favorite queer movie of this year is Luca Guadagnino’s wild and beautiful Bones And All. With echos of 90s new queer cinema and Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark, this outsider fairy tale is gory and gorgeous, tender and mean, wickedly funny and unapologetically romantic; it’s bones and all.
Author. Curator & host of London’s LGBTQ+ literary salon Polari. Founder of the Polari Prize, the UK’s only book awards for LGBTQ+ writing.
Orlando, Garrick Theatre, London
Orlando, adapted by Neil Bartlett, is currently running at London’s Garrick Theatre in the West End starring Emma Corrin as the enigmatic protagonist. It’s a phenomenal production—playful, witty, wise—and has so much to say about gender identity, both in Woolf’s time and our own. Unmissable. Read our interview director Michael Grandage on his history with Orlando.
Writer. Activist. AIDS historian. Educator. Co-director ACT UP Oral History Project.
README.txt: A Memoir by Chelsea Manning / Nan Goldin retrospective at Moderna Museet, Stockholm / Communists in Closets: Queering the History 1930s–1990s by Bettina Aptheker
I loved Chelsea Manning’s memoir, README.txt. She did an enormous amount of interior work to be able to share her emotional and intellectual growth without losing nuance. My favorite queer experience was attending Nan Goldin’s retrospective at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. It is an incredible show that will be touring for years to come. Also Bettina Aptheker’s history of queers and the Communist Party, Communist In Closets, re-frames our understanding of the queer liberation movement.
Filmmaker. (Frisk, Goodbye Seventies, F***ed In The Head).
The legacy of late filmmaker Charles Lum / Bros directed by Nicholas Stoller, Universal Pictures
When my dear friend Charles Lum passed away last year on the day before World AIDS Day, he left me in charge of his body of work including two unfinished shorts that we had been collaborating on. Death Race, is a poignant and humorous video diary which documents his battle with HIV-related lymphoma in the mist of the COVID pandemic, while reflecting back on his life. My Almost First Time uses archive Super-8 footage that Charles shot on a gay beach as a teenager in the 70s juxtaposed with a present day voice-over that whimsically recalls how he almost lost his virginity that day, in that very place. Completing those films on Charles’ behalf, having them screen at festivals internationally, including London’s BFI Flare, and seeing the impact that Charles and his work had on people all over the world was awe-inspiring and deeply moving. Porn Film Festival Berlin, which was always one of our favourite festivals to attend together, showcased a feature length compilation, Charles Lum: This Is Where I Get Off, with tributes from the festival programmers and others in attendance.
I know that Charles would have been tickled pink that My Almost First Time went on to be honored at several festivals including winning the Audience Award at Norway’s Oslo Fusion International Film Festival, where it played before director Nicholas Stoller’s Bros. Not only did it win the award, but the cinema where it played that night, Vega Scene, loved it so much that they decided to show it before every public screening of Bros once it officially opened there. Co-written by Billy Eichner and Stoller, Bros was another queer highlight of the year, especially getting to see it on opening night in my hometown of Bangor, Maine with my husband and both of our moms. I thought it did an impressive job of both working within and queering the rom-com formula, and most importantly it was very funny. It was also good to see Guillermo Diaz and Becca Blackwell in action in that movie as over the summer I had the honor of working with both of them on my upcoming feature You Can’t Stay Here. Charles helped me produce it up until the very end. Although his spirit will undoubtedly live on through his films, which continue to provoke, challenge, stimulate, and delight those who encounter them, I know I won’t be alone in missing him terribly. Discover some of Charles Lum’s features on Vimeo.
Caden Mark Gardner
Freelance film critic with a focus on queer & trans representation.
Elizabeth Purchell’s film programming / All the Beauty & the Bloodshed directed by Laura Poitras / Casa Susanna directed by Sébastien Lifshitz
There are several queer works in 2022 that I love. Even when you take away excellent films that I saw in 2021 that are 2022 releases, like Terence Davies’ funny and emotional Benediction or Jane Schoenbrun’s ode to web 1.0, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, this was a strong year for new works, as well as revisiting old works that were largely unseen and are now available to more cinemagoers. The theatrical release of the incredible trans documentary Dressed in Blue comes to mind and should be a counterpoint to people who act as though all trans stories from the past are automatically dated and too cumbersome for revisitation. I also think about Texas-based Elizabeth Purchell’s next-level repertory film programming that hit its incredible peak in New York with the Rosa von Praunheim series at Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn and the Golden Age of All-Male films programming of 16mm reels of 1970s gay porn at Anthology Film Archives.
The Rosa von Praunheim series in particular had incredible time capsules like Transexual Menace and Silence = Death. The latter features considerable figures who pop up in archive footage in the time of outsider artists and the height of the AIDS crisis in Laura Poitras’ All the Beauty and the Bloodshed about Nan Goldin’s fight against the present opioid crisis. This film packs an emotional punch for many reasons, but seeing Cookie Mueller, Greer Lankton, and David Wojnarowicz come alive again through Goldin’s eyes had me in tatters. It is one of my top films of the year. Despite the film’s pretty straight-forward presentation, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed is so clear-eyed in presenting tough topics and confronting the powers that enabled the ways in which Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers preyed on and profited from people.
Lastly, I am so thrilled that there was not only a film about the trans and cross-dressing enclave Casa Susanna in Upstate New York, but that was done so well by Sébastien Lifshitz. The documentary Casa Susanna, which I saw at TIFF and will air on PBS in 2023, talks to both veterans of the network who spent summers there, along with family members of former patrons. Over the years, they have come to realize the complicated people in their lives just wanted a place to finally be themselves. It packs an emotional punch, particularly in the reunions between former members who are now well into old age and have been living as trans women for most of their adult lives by that point. Casa Susanna works for me for many reasons, but serves as a reminder that trans histories and narratives often should come directly from the source; the people who lived and experienced it. I cannot imagine this film working without the contributions of the late Katherine Cummings and Diana Merry-Shapiro. Read our review of Casa Susanna.
Non-binary porn performer. Writer.
Raw! Uncut! Video! directed by Ryan A. White & Alex Clausen, Frameline Distribution / Carol Leigh AKA Scarlot Harlot
Raw! Uncut! Video! is an uncensored documentary about the history of a small gay and fetish porn studio called Palm Drive Video. It hits all my buttons as a film about sex: it is political, educational, and also heartfelt. The doc explores how a Bay Area couple helped to combat the AIDS health crisis by producing safer sex videos that promoted kinky and fetish sex as a different kind of sexual possibility. Their films championed sex-positivity in the porn industry. “Raw! Uncut! Video!” is directed by Ryan A. White and Alex Clausen, and was produced by Todd Verow, Paul Lee, and the late Charles Lum (RIP, who sadly passed away last year).
I’d also like to pay respect to a bisexual artist and activist we lost in 2022, Carol Leigh aka Scarlot Harlot. A filmmaker and tireless sex worker advocate, Carol Leigh coined the term “sex work” in the 70s and leaves behind a legacy in sex worker rights. Archives of her work can be viewed on ScarlotHarlot.com, a project in conjunction with the Center for Sex and Culture’s Sex Worker Media Library.
Filmmaker (I Do, Leave It on the Floor). Senior Film Critic – The Queer Review.
Nelly & Nadine directed by Magnus Gertten, Wolfe Releasing
This year has been pretty awe-inspiring in terms of LGBTQ+ achievements in cinema. One need look no further than such high profile queer films as Bros, Spoiler Alert, Fire Island, My Policeman, They/Them, and especially the beautiful mother/queer daughter epic showdown in Everything Everywhere All At Once. And is there a gayer film than Pearl, which is devoid of overt queer content but oozes an aesthetic, which, to quote a great episode of Roseanne, “couldn’t be any gayer if your name was Gay Gayerson”. The film which stuck with me the most, however, is Nelly & Nadine, Magnus Gertten’s incredible documentary; a beautiful exploration of a lesbian relationship that endured the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp and beyond. The opening footage of women stepping off a Red Cross boat to freedom in Sweden which lands on the haunted face of an Asian woman (Nadine Hwang) roused my interest immediately and started the waterworks. What was she doing in the camps? How did she meet the love of her life? What happened once they were freed? If you think you’ve had relationships filled with obstacles, you may find yourself humbled and awestruck by this one. It’s one of the most moving stories I’ve ever heard. It’s currently playing in New York at Cinema Village and opens in more cities and on digital platforms in January, 2023.
Bright Light Bright Light
Singer-songwriter. DJ. Cat daddy.
The legendary Mx Justin Vivian Bond
My queer highlight of the year is Justin Vivian Bond. From seeing their triumphant return from COVID-cancelled shows to sold out runs in New York and the revival of An Octave Apart in London, all the shows I could see at Joe’s Pub, and DJing alongside their appearance in Provincetown, the sense of community that their talent and amazingly warm heart nurture is unrivaled. It’s an honor to call them a friend and it’s a privilege being able to witness so much of their magic up close.
Follow Bright Light Bright Light on Twitter @BrightLightx2 & Instagram @BrightLightx2. Visit his official website. Read our exclusive interview with Bright Light Bright Light.
Ryan A White
Educator. Documentary filmmaker (Raw! Uncut! Video!)
Frameline Fangs On Location
In October, Frameline Fangs came to California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). Fangs is the seasonally-spooky horror program put on by Frameline LGBTQIA+ Film Festival, and this year’s screenings were The Demons of Dorothy by Alexis Langlois and HeBGB TV by Jake McClellan, Eric Griffin, and Adam Lenhart. These two films are totally bonkers; bloody, hilarious, and oh, so queer. True Halloween classics. Don’t Miss Them!
A lot of the university’s LGBTQIA+ students love scary movies and the idea of a Queer Horror Film Festival on campus hit a nerve. In the lead up to the screening, four student volunteers—Katherine Divas-Juarez, Cameron Karr, Jasmine Rhodes, and Alex Romero—enthusiastically threw themselves into planning the event and organizing a costume contest for their peers. Alex’s hand-drawn poster was not only plastered everywhere on campus, but it was also shared on Frameline’s Instagram, where it caught the attention of the Fangs’ featured filmmakers. “Best poster ever!” Alexis Langlois declared from France, “It’s perfect!” said the HeBGB TV filmmakers. Everyone was excited! On the day of the event, Frameline’s Director of Programming, Allegra Madsen, visited the campus to meet with students, present the films, and help judge the student costume contest. Monsters, Anime characters, and Cockroaches strutted in their DIY outfits while an energetic crowd filed into the university’s World Theater. Once the movies began, the laughter and screams didn’t stop until the theater lights came up. And then, the theater lobby was buzzing!
The Monterey Peninsula is stunningly beautiful, but it’s a quiet place. Finding a tranquil hike or a romantic restaurant is easy, but locating lively queer get-togethers usually requires driving 100 miles north to San Francisco. While the college students love it here, they also talk of feeling isolated and wishing for more community. But, this semester, Frameline’s dynamic horror program was a much welcome breath of hair-raising queer joy.
Follow Raw! Uncut! Video! on Twitter @rawuncutvideo and follow Wohler Films on Instagram @wohlerfilms & visit the Wohler Films website. Watch our exclusive interview with Ryan A White & Alex Clausen from Outfest.
Filmmaker. (Edge of Seventeen, Swan Song)
The White Lotus season 2, HBO Max / That Which Makes Us Stronger by Greg Triggs
Let’s call Mike White what he is: a genius. This season of The White Lotus was as good, if not better, than legendary first season and Mike’s twisted perfection is up there with the best television ever.
Greg Triggs’s protagonist in his novel That Which Makes Us Stronger, Warn Barns, is my new queer hero! So often did I see my own life in Greg’s heartwarming and hilarious prose that by the end I felt like part of his tenderly dysfunctional family. The book made me laugh and cry, often at the same time.
Disability Awareness Consultant. Storyteller. Co-founder of Bump’n.
Queer As Folk episode 4, F*ckDisabledPeople
I loved it because it highlighted disabled people being sexy and having sex.
Angelo Madsen Minax
Multi-disciplinary artist, filmmaker, & educator. (North by Current).
Unprofessional Variety Show, New York / Anna Campbell’s Dress Rehearsal for a Dream Sequence, Participant INC
Unprofessional Variety Show is a new Lower East Side gem of 2022. The show runs quarterly at the Parkside Lounge. I can now say that I’ve witnessed a performative lecture in homage to the artist’s dog’s beautiful vulva (Ciclón), I’ve time traveled to Weimar Berlin’s lesbian bars with host-performer Maya Suess, I’ve been indoctrinated into bizarre mythic birthing rituals (Peter Cramer and Jack Waters), and have been persistently reminded that there is humor and joy still in the world. I will also do a shout out to Anna Campbell’s show at Participant INC, Dress Rehearsal for a Dream Sequence, simply to say that the erotic potential of wood grain is not to be underrated.
Drag king. Singer. Host.
None of the Above: Reflections on Life Beyond the Binary by Travis Alabanza
I’ve always found Travis Alabanza’s work to be a stunning combination of smart and insightful, brimming with compassion. And there’s a delicious ‘don’t-fuck-with-me’ edge that they imbue all their art with, a defiance that seems born out of the exhaustion that comes from being a working class trans non-binary person of Black heritage in a classist, racist, cis-heteronormative society. So it made sense to me that in the book they released this year, None of the Above: Reflections on Life Beyond the Binary, they speak about angling the work towards those who care, rather than pitching it to cis-het folks as a sort of ‘explanation’ of the trans and non-binary experience. Nevertheless, they structure the chapters around common phrases and ideas that get hurled at them by cis-het folks like a metaphorical burger (see their work Burgerz if you don’t get the reference). Then they dissect these phrases, beautifully illustrating the writing with their lived experience. And rather than finger-wagging or over-explaining to cis folks why these phrases and ideas can be hurtful, violent, or just plain wrong, they often dissect the phrases over the course of the chapter with a curiosity and thoughtfulness that leads to compelling explorations.
The book reads like a far more articulate version of those sorts of conversations we trans/non-binary folk have at an afters, once we’ve looked around and noted that all the cis folks are in a different room, and we can finally talk freely about our experiences, hopes and fears without having to stop to explain or defend ourselves. Travis’ personal debate about whether they want gender-affirming surgery for themself, or to give the world one less reason to be hostile to them runs through the book. It’s a topic many trans/non-binary folks have grappled with, but I realised I’d never seen it spelled out on a page like this. The book felt intimate. It felt like a revelation. I wish I’d read it years ago.
I wish I still had the book to refer back to while writing this, but I no longer have it. I finished reading the book while visiting my mum in the US, and had travelled solo into New York to see the important queer sites (Schomberg Centre for Black Cultural Research, The Stonewall Memorial Garden, Carrie Bradshaw’s house). And so it happened that I finished the book in The Stonewall Inn. I planned to re-read it one or two or seventeen times more, however I got chatting to another patron at the bar who confided in me that she had recently started questioning whether or not she was non-binary. She didn’t feel like a woman but used the label for convenience’s sake, the idea of not being a woman, of being something beyond and outside of that, seeming too intimidating (even though it felt right). So I placed Travis’ marvelous book into her hands. I had already had the pleasure of feeling affirmed, understood, and emotional as fuck at their beautiful words. She needed it more than I did.
Follow Beau Jangles on Instagram @BeauJanglesDrag.
Actor. (How to Get Away with Murder, Fire Island).
Close directed by Lukas Dhont, A24 Films
Lukas Dhont’s film Close had a HUGE impact on me. It’s about how male intimacy in childhood gets squashed out of kids and is replaced by toxic masculinity with tragically devastating results that we’ve all witnessed in our own lives. I was SOBBING. A24 Films will release Close in US theaters on Friday, January 27th, 2023.
Tony-winning playwright (The Inheritance, Some Like It Hot).
Larry Stanton: Think Of Me When It Thunders edited by Fabio Cherstich & Arthur Lambert, Apartmento
A beautiful and poignant book about the late artist Larry Stanton whose life and career was cut short by AIDS in 1984. Portraiture is my first love as an artist and I was drawn to Stanton’s intimate drawings and paintings of his friends, loves, and family as well as his series of intimate self-portraits. Stanton had a natural grace with his lines and sense of color that sit beautifully within a simple yet strong composition of space. His work magically evokes the spirit and personality of his subjects. The effortless ease evident in Stanton’s work is the underestimated skill of a talented portraitist. As Stanton’s friend David Hockney said: “People make their own faces, and Larry knew this instinctively.”
Arthur Lambert was Stanton’s “partner, mentor, adoptive father and close friend” narrates throughout, sharing his personal memories about Stanton, as well as details about the models and their portraits. This book also shares stories from those closest to Stanton, from Hockney and the famed curator Henry Geldhazer to Stanton’s sister Laureen Stanton Knutsen, his close friend Alice Sulit, and his therapist Dr. Julia Mayo. Many of those who posed for Stanton also sadly died of AIDS-related complications. In a way that neither Stanton nor his subjects could have predicted, these portraits have now become a beautiful and lasting memory of those we lost too soon and too young. To quote Dr. Mayo, “Nothing dies that is remembered.”
I purchased Think Of Me When It Thunders earlier this month and could not put it down. Although I had been casually familiar with Stanton’s work, it wasn’t until this book that I discovered the breadth and beauty of his art and a young man who was discovering his creative voice amidst his own personal struggles. Like so much of his art, Stanton’s story is not only beautiful and inspiring but honest and emotional, and it lingers in my heart and mind. I can only imagine what he would have accomplished if he were alive today.
Follow Justin Teodoro on Instagram @justinteodoro.
Actor. (Queer As Folk, Grey’s Anatomy).
The Inspection directed by Elegance Bratton, A24 Films
I recently saw The Inspection starring Jeremy Pope by myself in a theater. It was such a blessing for me to be alone because I got to bare witness to one of the most impactful, raw and emotional performances I’ve seen in a while without feeling the need to mask how much it moved me. Jeremy is a revelation of strength and beauty in this film and his performance sent me through every emotion there is to feel. Hands down my favorite queer story of the year. (Oh, and Queer As Folk is streaming on Peacock!)
Follow Devin Way on Instagram @thedevinway & Twitter @thedevinway. Watch our exclusive interview with Devin and his Queer As Folk co-star Johnny Sibilly.
Writer – The Queer Review.
Two long-running X-Men characters finally came out and became a couple after 30+ years of queer-coding. In the book Knights of X by Tini Howard and Robert Quinn, Betsy Braddock (formerly Psylocke, now Captain Britain) and Rachel Summers (formerly.. ugh too many codenames, anyway she’s now called Askani) become a super-powered Power Couple in the Marvel Universe. While the big screen MCU can barely dip their toes in queer waters, the original Marvel Universe is doing laps around them.
Queer film historian. Writer. Archivist. Filmmaker.
Altered Innocence’s releases of restored Forbidden Letters (1979) & Passing Strangers (1974) directed by Arthur Bessan Jr. & Saturday Night at the Baths (1975) David Buckley
I have to say that I did really love Billy Eichner’s Bros (which I worked on as a historical research advisor), but I generally get more excited about old gay movies rather than new ones. One of the things I have felt especially grateful for this year is being involved in various LGBTQ film preservation projects.
As co-director of the Bressan Project (devoted to the restoration and re-release of the films of pioneering gay filmmaker Arthur J. Bressan, Jr.) the highlight of my year was seeing the gorgeous double-feature Blu-ray & DVD release in July of Arthur’s gay adult classics Forbidden Letters (1979) and Passing Strangers (1974) on the Altered Innocence label. The disc features so many great bonus extras including several never-before-seen early shorts of Arthur’s, an audio commentary by queer adult film historian Liz Purchell, and an onstage interview I did at the San Francisco Porn Film Festival with actor Robert Adams who co-stars in both films.
As a second highlight, this year I also got to help facilitate the new 4K restoration of David Buckley’s classic gay-bi feature Saturday Night at the Baths (1975) which was also released on Blu-ray and DVD by Altered Innocence.
So, I realize that what I most want to highlight here—what these two projects have in common—is the amazing work of the film distributor, Altered Innocence. The company has been releasing LGBTQ and coming-of-age films since 2015 and has an incredible track record of not only getting behind edgy new queer releases but also really important queer classics. Keep an eye out in 2023 for the disc release of a 1983 film they restored that is currently playing in theaters and festivals, the Spanish trans documentary, Vestida de Azul (Dressed in Blue).
Digital media artist. (Creative Director, The Pantheon of Queer Mythology).
Anne Imhof – Youth, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Anne Imhof’s Youth exhibition at Stedelijk in Amsterdam is a labyrinthine installation which explores themes of isolation and ubiquitous numbness or apathy, nostalgia and dread. I was moved profoundly while I was there. I could see how the aesthetic curation of the room flaunted all the shit the world is throwing at us—war, ecological demise, political corruption and moral highjacking—but in a way the immersion in the space gave me a sense of: ‘yes, the world is burning, and we’re endlessly doom scrolling and feeling uncertain, now watch what I do with that’.
I left so inspired that I immediately felt the need to write notes about my own work, and about my own aspirations. I was reminded of the role of art, my place as an artist, the insignificance of being human and equally the magnitude of meaning behind what we do. Powerful work by Imhof, it made me reflect on the immersive experience as a tool that subjects the audience to sink into a different dimension. Because of my work in VR and new media, I saw my own process through fresh eyes, and understood it with more depth than I had been able to before. I loved how the physicality of her installation mixed in with digital and film elements to reconnect the physical and the digital, while persisting in the power of immersion throughout. Anne Imhof – YOUTH runs at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam until January 29th, 2023.
Dr Emily Garside
Writer. Researcher. Contributor – The Queer Review.
Ca$h & Quinni on Heartbreak High, Netflix / Different Not Less by Chloé Hayden, Murdoch Books
Heartbreak High is a great example of queer representation done well. It’s also a show which doesn’t shy away from the more complex, difficult aspects of teen life. In dealing with a mentally ill parent or violence against First Nations people, this remake of the Australian drama is harder-hitting than many of its teen drama counterparts. Despite the darker elements, it’s also laugh-out-loud funny and incredibly feel-good. The reason it meant so much to me, way past my own teen years, were two of its characters; people I wish that I’d seen on screen as a teenager. Firstly there’s Ca$h (played by Will McDonald), an asexual character, who we watch going on a date and trying to have “normal” teen experiences, but never quite managing it. We watch him try to explain how he feels to his partner, and many asexual folks will have felt that same sense of alienation in their soul that Ca$h feels. That it addresses the struggles of going through that phase of life so honestly, and captures that sense of feeling so removed, so alien from your peers was something I’d never seen before. That things end on a hopeful note for Ca$h and their partner Darren, left me with a sense of hope for asexual characters in TV. Above all it made me, an asexual adult, feel seen by a teen show.
Similarly, Quinni, a queer autistic character played by an autistic actor, Chloé Hayden, made me feel seen in ways that TV aimed at adults never has. Never before had I felt so represented by a character, not so much in the “big things” (though they were there too), but in the smallest details, mannerisms and phrases. Quinni led me to discovering Chloé herself. Being led by queer characters to people who make us feel less alone, less “different” in the world, is a really powerful thing. Chloé made me realize, through her book and just by being her authentic self, that different is indeed not less.
Follow Emily Garside on Twitter @EmiGarside & Instagram @emigarside. Visit her website. Love that Journey for Me: The Queer Revolution of Schitt’s Creek by Emily Garside is available now from 404 Ink.
Culture Writer & Critic. NewFest Film Programmer.
The Inspection directed by Elegance Bratton, A24 Films
Gay sons and their mothers; always a complex relationship full of love, guilt, and drama. This year writer-director Elegance Bratton, inspired by his own tetchy relationship with his mother, gave us one to bask in and wonder at in his feature narrative debut, The Inspection. The film is ostensibly about a gay marine’s (Jermey Pope) journey to self discovery bookended by two heartbreaking scenes with his mother (Gabrielle Union) who doesn’t accept him. Pope and Union chart an acutely believable history in mere minutes and every queer who’s ever been frustrated by family feels pangs of recognition.
Musician. Digital creator.
The Whale directed by Darren Aronofsky, A24 Films
I went into The Whale expecting it to be a trauma narrative and to feel really sad for this character, but all I felt was love and tenderness for him. It’s a perfect example of why movies are important in enabling us to see through the eyes of other humans, fictional or not. Years before we meet Charlie (played by Brendan Fraser) he had hit a moment in his life where he realized he wasn’t living his truth and in choosing to live more authentically, and leaving his wife and child, he fell in love with his boyfriend. When tragedy struck, he became a depression gainer. For some people, including myself, there’s a kink or something really attractive about that, but the idea of food being a joy tool can also be really destructive if you’re not careful.
I liked how the film explored the ways that we deal with grief and complex family dynamics. Time potentially can heal everything, but there are some people who are not ready for that kind of forgiveness or resolve. Charlie is looking at the end of his life and saying, ‘I know what matters and I know what love is.’ He wants to be absolved of his emotional pain because it hursts so much. To experience the story of an American family dealing with grief through the eyes of all of these characters, knowing that there was an element of queerness to it too, really stuck with me. I left that movie feeling really uplifted by the performances and by the resolution.
Fashion Designer. Founder maison blanche. Winner of Making the Cut season 3 on Prime Video.
Lovers (2022) by Doron Langberg
I saw a painting by Doron Langberg, Lovers (2022), at Art Basel Miami at the beginning of the month which I adored. It’s very sexual, intense, and at the same time well done. Very “straight” forward. I loved it.
Follow Yannik Zamboni on Instagram @yannikzamboni & their “conscious, fair, Swiss made, slow, anti-fashion” clothing brand @maisonblanche.swiss. Visit the official maison blanche website. Read our exclusive Making the Cut interview with Yannik Zamboni.
Oscar-nominated filmmaker. (Coming Out Under Fire, Licensed To Kill, Family Fundamentals).
Gay Night @ Hollywood Chinese
When I was commissioned by the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures to guest program a Hollywood Chinese film series, I knew I had to include a gay element somehow. After all, an important task in my curating the series was to undo the erasure of the Chinese from American film history, and as a gay Asian American, I wanted to make sure that the gay part of my identity would be out front.
I envisioned a 100-year arc for the series, from 1900 to 2000, and was struck by the films Hollywood studios released in 1993. Not only did Buena Vista Pictures release The Joy Luck Club, but Warner Bros. released M. Butterfly, and the Samuel Goldwyn Company distributed The Wedding Banquet. It was an unprecedented year for studio films about the Chinese (LGBTQ or not), and I wanted to mark that milestone: all three are in the series.
As films, The Wedding Banquet and M. Butterfly are seemingly as dissimilar as night and day. The former is a contemporary comedy set in America that tells a story of family and cultural values, while the latter is an examination of sexual presumptions between the East and the West during the Cultural Revolution in China. What they have in common, though, are explorations of love, and the way sexual identity can be fluid. The two films formed a titillating double-bill that I titled “Gay Night @ Hollywood Chinese”.
On that November 18th, 2022 evening, director Andrew Ahn joined me for an on-stage conversation to discuss the state of AAPI LGBTQIA+ filmmakers today. He directed two award-winning films by and about these communities, Spa Night (Sundance Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance) and Fire Island (Gotham Awards’ Ensemble Tribute) — different in tone, but both advancing representations of gay AAPI’s in mainstream media. The audience was thoroughly engaged with Andrew’s stories of growing up gay in Los Angeles (he first saw The Wedding Banquet when he was eight years old!) and developing into a vital voice for a new generation. Indeed, when preparing my introductory remarks for Andrew, I read over his official bio, which unapologetically began with: “Andrew Ahn is a queer Korean American filmmaker”!
The Queer Review 2022 – LGBTQ+ highlights of the year compiled by James Kleinmann, Founder and Editor – The Queer Review
Get in touch via social media using the hashtag #TheQueerReview2022 and #TheQueerReview on Twitter @TheQueerReview, Instagram @TheQueerReview, or Facebook to let us know your reaction to these selections and to tell us your own favourite LGBTQ+ culture and events of the year.