Q Exclusive: Sitting Down with M Lamar
Critically Queer
Culture
Sex
Essays
From the Archives
The 2014 issue is here!
October 14, 2014 – No Comment

Read, share, etc!

Gabriel Christian ’14 takes on drag in New Haven.

Santiago Sanchez ’15 discusses dress coding queerness.

Larissa Pham ’14 reflects on who and what is queer enough.

Q’s map of state marriage equality and housing and workplace nondiscrimination laws, and a breakdown of New Haven’s perfect score of 100 on HRC’s Municipal Equality Index.

An Artist Spotlight featuring Elle Pérez MFA ’15 and her photographs taking us inside communities from aspiring pro-wrestlers to Radical Faerie communes.

Q’s crack advice columnists tackle questions about sex and dating.

Q sits down with filmmaker, performance artist, and opera-singer M Lamar, twin of Laverne Cox of Orange is the New Black fame, for an exclusive video interview. (Video exclusive coming soon!)

Ben Kline digs into Yale Mental Health & Hygiene’s case files.

Ema Kelso ‘16 reviews Welcome to Nightvale.

Andrew Wagner ’15 reviews Dallas Buyers Club…and more!

Welcome to Nightvale
October 16, 2014 – No Comment

By Ema Kelso ’16

Fans of Welcome to Night Vale fill their enthused reviews of the show with exclamations at its surreal postmodern content. They relish the show for its powerful social criticism, and the uniquely prominent yet uncontrived queer relationship between its central characters. Today, the Welcome to Night Vale podcast is the #2 most popular on the iTunes chart, in between This American Life and NPR.

Hearing the plot of Night Vale unfold feels like getting brief glimpses into a kaleidoscopic shadow world where domestic themes are inverted. Images that seem isolated and strange begin to recur often enough to hint at a coherent narrative underlying the behavior of Night Vale’s spontaneous and subversive cast of characters. The medium itself, due to the absence of visual narrative, guarantees a variety of subjective experiences for each listener; each person listening to the podcast perceives their own radically different image of the world and its characters.

Creator, narrator and Night Vale protagonist Cecil Baldwin spins his eerie musings to the fictional audience of the town of Night Vale, all the while unveiling the town to the real-world audience of the WTNV podcast. Alongside traffic updates about ghost cars and rants about the Apache Tracker’s cultural appropriation (that guy is a jerk), Cecil walks the listeners through his infatuation and eventual romance with the elusive scientist Carlos.

Queer individuals and queer relationships have appeared in the media with increased frequency over the past decade. However, few of the fictional works that reach so large an audience contain a queer central character whose relationships neither consume the larger narrative nor are fetishized within it. The show integrates current issues of race, sexuality, class, and education into conversation without compromising the tone of essential surrealism that makes it so compelling.

In a show liberated from the constraints of visual narrative, audience members have complete control over the shapes that their idiosyncratic Night Vales assume. Audience response to Welcome to Night Vale reflects two primary facts about current youth consumer culture. The magnitude and speed with which the podcast rose to the top of the iTunes chart indicates a large population that is not only receptive to but desirous of queer media representation. Thousands of listeners create Night Vale-inspired art, music and other fanworks, immersing themselves in this new online community celebrating and canonizing the show. Unlike in the show itself, where the main relationship occurs in Cecil’s rambling tangents alongside the regular community radio show, fanworks tend to make the portmanteau couple “Cecilos” their main focus.

The question, however, of how to visually represent these characters has come to reveal the majority collective conception of what a factory-settings human being looks like. Despite the absence of visual description for Cecil (save being “neither short nor tall”), the vast majority of his depictions are of a white, often stereotypically Aryan, man. Similarly, Carlos, whom Cecil described as having “dark, delicate skin and black hair,” gets drawn with predominantly light skin. There are, in fact, fans who proceed to argue against his being a person of color at all. However, the dominant representation of cis/het/white characters and the absence of other options in contemporary culture has been proven to negatively impact the self-esteem of non-cis/het/white individuals. Not only that, limited representation reinforces a greater culture of stigma and system-wide oppression.  In this context, it becomes all the more important to stop and contemplate both our notions and our representations of personho

od and how we imagine the future. Night Vale for the most part places the characters into the hands of the audience, so in terms of racial representation the audience becomes as culpable as the show’s writers in shaping the fiction of the present – and, presumably, creating demand for a new reimagining of future media.

The show has the potential to feel excessively obscure, the quintessential adolescent nihilist’s wet dream. Nevertheless, it has wide enough proven appeal, and whether or not you find the story compelling, Night Vale sparks crucial reflection on the present relationship between the production and consumption of media and the possibilities of seeing and hearing new options for representative fictional realities.

 

The 2014 issue is here!
October 14, 2014 | No Comment
The 2014 issue is here!

Read, share, etc!
Gabriel Christian ’14 takes on drag in New Haven.
Santiago Sanchez ’15 discusses dress coding queerness.
Larissa Pham ’14 reflects on who and what is queer enough.
Q’s map of state marriage equality and housing and workplace …

Achieving Heterosexual Orientation
October 16, 2014 | No Comment
Achieving Heterosexual Orientation

By Ben Kline ’14

A gay Yale senior, let’s call him Ben, walks into DUH because he is worried about his friend, “Henry,” who has been too embarrassed to ask for helphimself. Henry appears to be developing …

Drop Me A Q
October 16, 2014 | One Comment
Drop Me A Q

By Anjali Balakrishna ’14 and Nathalie Levine ’14

My boyfriend desperately wants me to top him but I struggle to be dominant in the bedroom. How do I get on top?
Sincerely,
A Better Bottom
Dear Better Bottom,
Ok …

Queer Enough?
October 15, 2014 | One Comment
Queer Enough?

By Larissa Pham ’14
Here I am, age fifteen, hair baby pink and shorn like a lamb in springtime, reading Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, reading What Happened To Lani Garver, reading Brideshead Revisited for …

Dallas Buyers Club
October 15, 2014 | One Comment
Dallas Buyers Club

by Andrew Wagner ’15
Amidst the endless stream of praise Dallas Buyers Club accrued over this past award season, an incident at the Santa Barbara Film Festival hinted at the film’s mostly overlooked (at least by …

Representing Authentically
September 22, 2014 | No Comment
Representing Authentically

LGBT representation in film and television seems to be on the rise. Older shows like Will and Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy paved the way for greater visibility of gay characters, while …

Doron Langberg
March 13, 2014 | No Comment
Doron Langberg

 
Doron Langberg’s paintings would be perverse if they weren’t so romantic, and romantic if they weren’t so perverse. It’s this tension that stimulates his work, rendering his subjects undeniably desirable and yet strange, curious, queer. …

Orange is the New Black at Yale
November 5, 2013 | No Comment
Orange is the New Black at Yale

 

Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black—a memoir about her thirteen-month stint in a minimum-security federal prison—spoke on Monday at a Davenport Master’s Tea.
Her memoir, and even more so the hit Netflix series it …

Being Frank
November 4, 2013 | No Comment
Frank

“Whoever you are. Wherever you are…I’m starting to think we’re a lot alike.” So begins Frank Ocean’s now iconic July 4 Tumblr post, an excerpt from his album Channel Orange’s liner notes in which Ocean …

Anticlimax
November 4, 2013 | No Comment
Anticlimax

The lurid sexology of Dr. Laura Berman, Oprah radio show host and director of an institute devoted to sex therapy, presents a popular idea: “While the man can be satisfied with direct stimulation or the …