Music Lists

Happy Non-Binary Week: 9 Non-Binary and Genderqueer Indie Musicians You Need to Know

Celebrate Non-Binary Week 2021 with these musicians we love.

It's Non-Binary Week, dedicated to those who don't fit within the traditional gender binary.

This week in mid-July has been defined as "a week by, for, and about non-binary people," dedicated to uplifting and celebrating them. It's an extension of Non-Binary People's Day, typically celebrated on July 14.

Though genders outside of the male-female binary have existed in a number of ancient cultures, terms like "non-binary" and "genderqueer" were first used in the 1990s. Since then, many people have come out as non-binary — whatever that means for them. Some non-binary people still use the pronouns they were assigned at birth, while others might prefer "they/them" or other neutral pronouns.

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Culture Feature

A Brief History of Shakespeare's Possible Bisexuality

Recent research suggests now, more assuredly than ever before, that the Bard wasn't straight.

What do cuffed jeans, bob haircuts, septum piercings, the song "Sweater Weather" by the Neighborhood, and Shakespeare have in common? They're all tenets of bisexual culture.

Yes, you read that right: William Shakespeare, inarguably the greatest English-language writer of all time, has been inducted into bisexual culture—a celebration of things that are generally thought to be affiliated with, in one way or another, people who are bisexual. Speculation surrounding Shakespeare's sexuality is nothing new, but recent evidence proves that the English playwright was almost definitely not straight.

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CULTURE

Remembering Marsha P. Johnson, a Leader in Gay Liberation

As Pride month ends, we look at the life of one of the most important figures in the push towards gay rights.

Content warning: This article contains a brief mention of sexual assault.

As Pride Month comes to a close, we remember Marsha P. Johnson, one of the principal figures in the gay liberation movement.

A Black transgender woman, Johnson was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1945. Her parents were blue collar workers who raised Johnson with her six siblings. At age five, she began wearing dresses, but stopped after boys in her neighborhood began bullying and harassing her over her outfits. She later recalled being violently raped by one of these boys, who she remembered being around 13 at the time.

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TV

Is Jameela Jamil Queerbaiting (Even Though She's Queer)?

The Good Place actress received backlash for accepting a judge role on HBO's new voguing competition show. Then, she came out.

This week, The Good Place star and self-proclaimed "feminist-in-progress" Jameela Jamil received a great deal of backlash for being cast as a guest judge on Legendary, a new voguing competition show to be aired on HBO Max.

Voguing is a style of dance that rose in popularity from the Harlem ballroom/drag culture between the '60s and '80s, and it's since become a crucial aspect of black and Latinx LGBTQ+ culture and history. Some participants of ballroom culture also belong to "houses"—or shared residences with friends who become more like chosen family members—as many of them have been alienated from their biological families. All of this is to say that voguing, as popularized by the Madonna hit song and documentaries like Paris is Burning, is much more nuanced than just a bunch of fun dance moves.

It's great that many of the hosts and judges of Legendary, like Jamil, are people of color, but critics were quick to point out that Jamil was presumably straight, thus unfit to serve as a judge. She countered these arguments by coming out as queer.

"Twitter is brutal. This is why I never officially came out as queer," Jamil wrote. "I kept it low because I was scared of the pain of being accused of performative bandwagon jumping, over something that caused me a lot of confusion, fear and turmoil when I was a kid...It's also scary as an actor to openly admit your sexuality, especially when you're already a brown female in your thirties."

Nobody, Jamil included, should ever be forced to come out–but accepting the role as a judge on Legendary without having publicized her queerness seems hypocritical. Last year, Jamil turned down a role to play a deaf character because, although she was born partially deaf, she has since regained her hearing. "It wouldn't be appropriate for me to take that role and they should find a brilliant deaf woman to play that role," Jamil explained. "I think you have to make those choices and not be too greedy and make space rather than take space...I don't want to be part of erasure."

Ballroom is an incredibly particular subculture of the LGBTQ+ community, and as Jamil even admitted in her statement, her being queer doesn't automatically qualify her for a judging position, because she's not a member of that specific community. Still, she took the job, despite being completely new to the ballroom scene; is that not erasure?

Hustlers star Trace Lysette, a trans woman who used to work as a dancer, shared her feelings about Jamil's casting on Twitter. "Lol.. I interviewed for this gig," Lysette wrote. "As the mother of a house for nearly a decade it's kind of mind blowing when ppl with no connection to our culture gets the gig. [sic] This is not shade towards Jameela, I love all that she stands for. If anything I question the decision makers."



In Jamil's defense, she's made respectful endeavors in promoting inclusivity and gender equality; her secondary Instagram account, @i_weigh, celebrates body positivity, and she spent much of her time in the public eye as a persistent LGBTQ+ ally before coming out herself. But as many users have observed, the timing and circumstances of her coming out feel, unfortunately, like queerbaiting.

Are queer people in hetero-presenting relationships, like Jamil, valid? Absolutely. Is it fair to gatekeep within the queer community, questioning whether or not somebody is "gay enough?" Absolutely not. But for Jamil, in her relentless pursuit of divine wokeness, to denounce erasure of marginalized voices only to end up doing just that? It's incredibly disappointing.

FILM

Marvel To Feature Its First Transgender Superhero

Fans think the character will be an angel.

Here's some good news to start your new year off right: A trans superhero is coming to Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Kevin Feige confirmed the news in a Q&A at New York Film Academy. When asked if the studio would ever have a transgender character, the Marvel Studios president said, "Yes, absolutely. Yes," adding that a trans character is appearing "very soon, in a movie that we're shooting right now" and clarifying that more trans and LGBTQ+ characters would be making an appearance.

It seems that Feige and Marvel are finally understanding that representation matters—and pays. "You look at the success of 'Captain Marvel' and 'Black Panther.' We want the movies to reflect the audience and we want every member of our global audience to see themselves reflected on the screen," he said.

While it's unfortunate (although expected) that Marvel's decision to increase diversity in its casting is connected to whether or not these choices will make a profit, the decision to create a trans superhero is an important step in normalizing the trans identity.

Most likely, Marvel's trans character will appear in Thor: Love and Thunder, as last summer the film's cast list included a trans woman. Fans believe that the character will be the angel Sera, who "descends from a group of all-male angels but who has transitioned to a female identity," according to MSN.

Marvel's History of Transgender Representation

Regardless, Marvel's new trans characters won't technically be the franchise's first trans superhero. That honor belongs to Rebekah, a child transgender activist who was the subject of a recent Marvel documentary, which aired on Disney Plus as part of their Hero Project series. They turned Rebekah, a Christian and a transgender girl, into a hero named "Mightly Rebekah."

Marvel's Hero Project Clip: Mighty Rebekah www.youtube.com

Whoever plays Marvel's first big-screen trans character also won't be their first trans actor. In 2019's Spider-Man: Far From Home, trans actor Zach Barack played one of Peter Parker's friends, though his gender identity didn't feature into the plot.

In an interview, Barack emphasized the importance of trans representation onscreen. He explained that superhero movies, in particular, always "felt like [trans stories] because [they're] talking about identity." Superhero films, he explained, are "about separating what people know about you and what they don't. And I think that's something I kind of live with every day. And on top of that, I don't see a lot of trans-masculine people on television or trans men specifically, and getting to be part of that is beyond unreal."

What Is Your Origin Story? | Zach Barack | TEDxBoulder www.youtube.com


Ramping Up Representation: The Eternals and Representation Firsts

The MCU's first trans character is just the latest in a series of firsts for the company in terms of LGBTQ+ representation. The franchise will also feature its first gay character in the film The Eternals, which will star Richard Madden as Ikaris, "a levitating immortal with teleporting and vaporising powers and abundance of cosmic energy," who also happens to be in a committed and loving gay marriage.

Marvel's Eternals (2020) Teaser www.youtube.com

Among other upcoming firsts: The Eternals will also feature the MCU's first deaf character, and Marvel's first Asian-American star will feature in the film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, set to debut in 2021.

The MCU character Valkyrie is apparently bisexual, according to actress Tessa Thompson, who stated, "In the canon, [Valkyrie] is bisexual. You see her with women and men, so that was my intention in playing her," she told Variety. "Obviously, at the forefront of most of these stories is not typically their romantic life. They have big stakes, like saving the world, so that tends to sort of trump." Even so, the film Thor: Ragnarok received some criticism for erasing Valkyrie's bisexuality.

In most superhero movies, in order to save the world, heroes have to learn to embrace their inner strength and the powers that make them special and exceptional. Maybe the parallels between trans narratives and superhero stories aren't exact—but they're certainly not mutually exclusive, and combining the two will likely only strengthen them both.

Let's hope that they continue this tradition and hire more diverse representation across all their teams, including their writing staff and managerial board. Marvel is incredibly influential in shaping ideas about masculinity, heroism, and cultural norms at large, and therefore their decision to question and challenge archetypal gender roles will likely ripple across culture in the way that no number of tweets or academic papers about transgender identities could.

Today, it was announced that Britney Spears would remain under the conservatorship of her father, Jamie.

This comes after Spears attempted to free herself from her father in court. A judge turned down a bid to stop her father from returning as her conservator, ignoring Britney's requests to make her interim conservator, Jodi Montgomery, permanent.

Spears also requested that a corporate fiduciary, the Bessemer Trust, be put in charge of her fortune instead of her father. "My client has informed me that she is afraid of her father. She will not perform as long as her father is in charge of her career," said Britney's lawyer Samuel D. Ingham III. At the hearing, attorneys for Spears and her mother Lynne urged her father to step down.

But Jamie Spears' attorney was able to successfully defend his role, claiming that there is not "a shred of evidence" that could support his suspension. Spears did achieve one small win in court: The Bessemer Trust has been appointed as co-conservator, and the judge also didn't rule out the possibility that Jamie might someday be removed from his role.


Not the first conservatorship drama

In September 2019, after more than 10 years under the conservatorship of her father, Jamie, Britney Spears was appointed a new conservator.

This came after widespread controversy following a difficult August for the Spears family. Over the summer, Jamie fell ill—and was put under a restraining order after he apparently attacked his 13-year-old grandson, Sean Federline. Jamie underwent a criminal investigation and was banned from seeing his grandsons for the next two years. Following these events Britney was appointed a new interim conservator, named Jodi Montgomery.

An experienced fiduciary worker, Montgomery had already been working with Britney in the context of a different role—her care manager. Previously, Montgomery was responsible for communicating with Spears' healthcare professionals. She has since been in charge of hiring security and caretakers for Spears, as well as managing restraining orders and health records.

What is a conservatorship?

A typical conservatorship is defined as a legal scenario where a "guardian or a protector is appointed by a judge to manage the financial affairs and/or daily life of another due to physical or mental limitations, or old age." In Britney's case, she was appointed a conservator after her public breakdown in 2007.

The specific details of the conservatorship have not been made public, but we do know that conservators control the financial and personal decisions of the conservatee. However, conservators are not allowed to force drugs or mental health residencies on anyone.

Why does Britney Spears need a conservatorship?

In addition to being one of the biggest stars of the 21st century, Britney has struggled with mental health issues for years. According to TMZ, Britney requires a conservatorship because of health issues that "prevent her from making sound decisions." Spears has a "disorder affecting her personality that can affect her state of mind," the article reports. "We're told she is doing 'extremely well' but needs the safety net of a conservatorship."

There is no clear consensus on what mental health issues Britney has, but we do know that she is on a cocktail of medications designed particularly for her. A change in these medications may have resulted in her April 2019 hospitalization, which sparked a new firestorm of speculation about Britney's autonomy and well-being.

What is the #FreeBritney movement?

The #FreeBritney movement began in 2017, when a podcast called Britney's Gram began investigating suspicious incidents around Britney's social media presence, speculating that Britney was somehow being held against her will. Apparently, they received a call from an anonymous source who said, "You guys are onto something."

The movement really took off after Spears canceled her Las Vegas residency in January 2019, and soon after, her father was appointed sole conservator. Then she checked herself into a mental health facility due to the stress from her father's illness. The podcasters continued to speculate, and the hashtag #FreeBritney took off.

Britney eventually slammed rumors that she was being held there against her will. She posted a video on Instagram with the caption, "My situation is unique but I promise I'm doing what is best at this moment." She also asked that fans respect her privacy as she "[deals] with all the hard things life is throwing [her] way."

Since then, the hashtag and movement itself have faced criticism from people who have defended Britney's personal life and privacy, as well as those who have lambasted #FreeBritney as a mental healthcare-shaming movement.

It's important to remember that there's nothing wrong with needing long-term healthcare or with allowing others to take charge and advise us. For someone like Britney, who was thrown into the public eye at a young age and who has faced endless harassment and traumatic experiences with her family, it's totally understandable that she might require assistance. Though our highly individualistic culture may tell us otherwise, there's nothing wrong with getting help, and having professional assistance is not a sign of weakness.

Fans call BS

Though it's very possible that Britney needs a conservatorship, Britney's consistent efforts to free herself from her father's clutches reveal that something is definitely afoot. Even if Britney needs a conservatorship, she shouldn't be forced to remain under her father's control; she should be granted the dignity of a professional caretaker or service at the very least.

Protest on, #FreeBritney martyrs. It seems Chris Crocker was onto something all along.


Leave Britney Alone (Complete) www.youtube.com