For so long, queerness has been seen as the Other—shameful, aberrant behavior to be talked about in hushed whispers. For this reason, many queer figures’ sexualities have been erased from history—that is, if history remembers them at all.
Today, we get to remember them. As more and more queer creators step into the spotlight with authentic and nuanced stories, we build an inclusive culture. This Pride Month, The LaSallian celebrates the courage and talent of various queer creators—and honors the defiant struggle toward liberation.
Dirty Computer, Andy
Unflinchingly tackling power, sex, and liberation, Janelle Monáe’s most personal album, Dirty Computer, is a thoughtful celebration of their identity as a queer person of color. Their honest take on different stages of self-acceptance took me on a kaleidoscopic journey through Monáe’s intersectional identity.
Monáe’s clever allegories throughout the record point out how queerness, blackness, and femininity are treated like bugs in a dirty computer that should be cleaned. However, they argue that these bugs are necessary features that make us unique and human. While relatively simplistic, this metaphor has made me appreciate why the queer struggle is inseparable from the struggle for racial, class, and gender equality.
Fittingly, Dirty Computer culminates with a fervent call to action in Americans, which encourages us to be catalysts of a future wherein discrimination no longer persists. “Please sign your name on the dotted line,” they challenge us.
Lingua Franca, Lizelle
Isabel Sandoval’s critically-acclaimed film Lingua Franca is a tenderly spun tale of a woman’s innate desire for romance juxtaposed with a distraught reality as an undocumented Filipino transgender. From the portrayal of a woman as an active agent–rather than the object–of sexuality to a romance disillusioned by the disrespect of identity, Sandoval proves to be an auteur in the making who perfectly captures the importance of authentic queer storytelling.
Gaining recognition as the first trans woman of color to direct and star in a film screened at the Venice International Film Festival, Sandoval embodies distinctive authorship apparent in her stories of marginalized women amid socio-political crises. Rejecting spuriously dramatized queer representation, Sandoval champions queer visibility through profound characters grounded on a real narrative.
The 2000s Made Me Gay, Criscela
It’s not a mystery that LGBTQ+ acceptance looks a lot different now than it did in the past, in no small part thanks to the media. While iconic hits like Mean Girls, Glee, certain Disney movies, and even Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl may not have had the most accurate LGBTQ+ representation, they were the hopeful beginning to queer stories in the mainstream. This is what The 2000s Made Me Gay celebrates: these specks in pop culture that served as fuel for the next generation of queer people.
Humorous, relatable, and unapologetically queer, Grace Perry’s debut work reads like a long catch-up session with your best friend. Though 200 pages worth of one-sided conversation can indeed get too long and dragging, the wittiness and insight laced into each essay are enough to keep me turning the pages.
Habang Wala Pa Sila: Mga Tula ng Pag-ibig, Alexandra
Juan Miguel Severo pours every facet of love, loving, and being loved in this painfully raw spoken poetry book. Habang Wala Pa Sila feels like discovering a personal diary yearning to be read in intimate whispers and screamed with a deafening roar.
The poems take advantage of anaphora, the lines like incantations for the heart. At its core, Habang Wala Pa Sila is for the hopeful romantic—resurrecting long-forgotten memories and taking you back to what could have been.
As a writer, poet, and activist, Severo vividly paints the innocence and passion of queer love—and how there is freedom found in the very act.
Call Her Ganda, Glenielle
Six years after the brutal slaying of trans woman Jennifer Laude, PJ Raval’s incisive documentary is more powerful than ever. Call Her Ganda follows Jennifer’s mother, Julita, activist attorney Virgie Suarez, and trans journalist Meredith Talusan on their quest for justice.
The documentary’s expansive scope succinctly covers the sociopolitical nuances of Jennifer’s death by thoroughly examining how the colonial shackles tying the Philippines to the United States intersect with the sexual exploitation of women in the Global South. More importantly, Raval delicately grounds the story on the decades-long struggle for queer liberation in the Philippines—firmly emphasizing the importance of systemic policies in achieving true equality.
But what the documentary does best is seeing Jennifer Laude as more than a victim. Through heartfelt interviews with families and loved ones, we get to know her—she lived, she loved, and she dreamed.
These great leaps and bounds across the proverbial queer stage have undoubtedly started a well-deserved revolution in media. And while there is no denying the brilliance and soul of the abovementioned pieces, the celebration of queer identity must not stop there.
As art continues to shape our worldviews, may the freeing narratives we see finally be reflected in our realities.