Here are some of the LGBTQIA books, TV shows and books I really loved so far this year.
By the way, be warned, some of them (all?) are pre-2017. I take a long time to get around to things, but maybe you’ll find something you haven’t seen or read.
A Date for Mad Mary, film
This is a great little Irish gem of a film about a girl who is trying to figure her life out after getting in some trouble, and destroying her relationship with her best friend..
Mary is young, angry, bored and desperately trying to find a date for her sort-of best friend, Charlene’s wedding. She’s helped by Jess, but not exactly how they intended. There’s a sweet girl/girl romance, but be aware it’s not the main focus of the film. But it doesn’t matter because this film is good anyway. It’s sad and funny and very real.
The main actress, Seana (pronounced Shawna) Kerslake, is a truly terrific actress. Kerslake has earned a lot of critical praise for this film, including the way she can play tough, angry, vulnerable and sweet, all in the same breath. Her comic and sad micro-expressions throughout scenes are amazing. She’s truly talented. Jess is played by Tara Lee, for those of you not familiar, who is both a musician and an actor, hence her role as a (gorgeous) singer in the film.
Bonus Irish accents.
The First Girl I loved
This is a terrific little film about first love, and first queer love. It’s not a happy ride, as Anne is a gnarl of confusion over her feelings and her sexuality. The only person out-confusing this sweet, indie, deer-in-headlights baby lesbian is the object of her affections, Sascha.
Don’t expect lots of squee moments, or the happiest of endings, but do expect a touching and realistic depiction of the angst of falling in love for the first time.
Master of None- Denise’s episode, Television series
If you’re not watching Master of None on Netflix I feel sad for you. Asiz Ansari’s show, loosely-based on his life, is funny and silly and original. Ansari is from the Amy Poehler school of comedy, mostly sweet, but not afraid to call people on their shit without being a giant asshole. The shit Ansari calls is mostly racism, which he does firmly but funnily.
One of my favourite characters in this show is the snarky, queer, dry-as-a-bone character of Denise, Dev’s friend. We didn’t see much of Denise in Season two, but that was made up for in episode eight (What I love about Master of None is it will move from it’s main character and focus on other people’s stories, whether it be one of the established secondary characters, or someone else entirely).
In this case the episode took us back in time through decades of Denise’s family Thankgivings at her house in order to tell the story of her coming out, and the way her family dealt with it. This episode told a nuanced story about what it was like to be a young gay woman in a contemporary black family. We don’t get a lot of them. And this one was both hilarious and sad at times.
The coolest part is that this story is, apparently, really the actress Lena Thwaite’s real coming out story. AND we got Angela Bassett playing her less-than-happy mother. It’s a win.
Under the Udala Trees, Book
This book by Chinelo Okparanta tells the story of Ijeoma, a girl learning she’s queer in the late Sixties, during the Nigerian civil war. I probably don’t have to tell you it’s an emotional ride, right?
It’s by turns difficult, tragic, sweet and sad and gives insight into a place and time I’d never known much about.
It was hard to read, but in that way that where you’re so close with this character you have to forge through, hoping they will be safe and happy one day. Hoping they will find what they want in life. What they need.
There’s no other book telling a story close to this time place and situation, which makes it so much worth the read.
Warmish, online short film.
This (long-ish) short film by Braxie Jacobson is quite bloody sweet. It kicks off at a moment when two ex-girlfriend are reconnecting with each other, trying to do friendship. It traces them through a period of confusion where they try to figure out what they still mean to each other, whether it be in the realm of friendship or romance.
The budget is clearly small, and production values show it. However the acting is reasonably solid, the script believable and the story lovely. You can find it on You Tube
Nina LaCour, author
My first impression of Nina La Cour was through her and David Leviathan’s You Know me Well, a book with a plot and characters I felt rushed into and that I never got to really connect to by the time I was done with it. This is why it took me a while to get to her other books.
I definitely didn’t regret getting there when I did, though. I’ve noticed if people complain about Nina La Cour’s works, it’s usually about story or character. It’s never about her writing or her ability to create a mood or atmosphere. She’s such a lovely writer in that realm. I started with We are Okay, a book about grief and friendship and love. A book where the mood stayed longer than the story (and made me cry on a plane). After that little treasure, I took a step backwards to read Everything Leads to You. This one didn’t hit me the same but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s always a treat to read books with queer girls that are written well.
They’re the standouts of 2017 for me so far!