Nobody wants to be fat and men don't often want to be seen as effeminate, but for those in the gay community who live at the intersection of such identities, life can be like the worst case of double jeopardy. For Jamal Lewis however, who is also black and gender deviant, being fat and effeminate is a source of power, and a subject worthy of exploration in a documentary titled "No Fats, No Femmes." "For me, I'm just interested in the spaces that people are afraid to occupy," said Lewis, who uses "he-she" as a gender pronoun. "I think there is something to be learned from what we are most afraid of and so, if that's what I was taught to be afraid of, well [forget] that. I am the Fat Femme."
This is One Good Thing, a weekly column where we tell you about one of the few nice things that happened this week. Between the loss of queer publication Into and the partial closing of AfterEllen, it's been a crushing few years for queer people in media. So it was downright uplifting to see Out Magazine feature the women and non-binary femmes otherwise known as the "Mothers and Daughters of the Movement" in its latest issue. It's so rare to see this community represented in media, forget gracing a cover. Here's how the editors of the magazine describe the "Mothers and Daughters:" Queer media has long been criticized for being too white, too cis, and too closely aligned with corporations.
You've probably heard of the idea of a queer "scene," perhaps most often from people who don't care for it. But what, exactly, is this scene? Is there more than one? What happens when a scene evolves--or when it doesn't? These are the questions we've gathered a group of writers to consider for an Outward special issue on "the Scene" in LGBTQ life today.
"Kiki," a new documentary in the spirit of the seminal 1990 film "Paris Is Burning," takes its audience into New York City's underground ballroom scene. But your granny's waltz or cousin's Argentine tango won't be found here. This is a space for "butch queens," "femme queens" and "sex sirens," primarily black and Latino LGBTQ people who use ballroom and the dance floor as a form of expression, an outlet for gender interrogation and therapy. Voguing, the now-almost-mainstream dance form, hails from this community. Many recall Madonna's single from the '90s, but before her, Malcolm McLaren paid homage to the ball scene with his song "Deep in Vogue" featuring Willi Ninja, the godfather of voguing.
This piece is part of the Passing issue, a special package from Outward, Slate's home for coverage of LGBTQ life, thought, and culture. Some names in this piece have been changed. The concept of "passing" within the transgender community is a touchy subject at the best of times. Many, if not most, transgender people dislike the term itself. They regard the term passing as implying a deliberate deception, when what they want is simply to be at peace with their bodies and their gender expression.