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The 17 Best Out Longreads of 2016 

The 17 Best Out Longreads of 2016

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This year we saw the deadliest mass shooting in American history and experienced an unprecedented presidential election. We reported through it all.

1. Meet the Woman Who Cared for Hundreds of Abandoned Gay Men Dying of AIDS by David Koon

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Photo by Brian Chilson.

Between 1984 and the mid-1990s, before better HIV drugs effectively rendered her obsolete, Ruth Coker Burks cared for hundreds of dying people, many of them gay men who had been abandoned by their families. She buried more than three dozen of them herself, after their families refused to claim their bodies. For many of those people, she is now the only person who knows the location of their graves. Read more.

2. Pretty Hurts: The Joy and Heartache of Colton Haynes by R. Kurt Osenlund

Colton Haynes

Photo by Blair Getz Mezibov.

"I'm the last person in the world who would say, 'Oh, my dad--pity me,'" says Haynes, whose father, seven times married, split from Dana and was never close with him. "But I was told that my dad killed himself because he found out I was gay. So, of course, I lost it and was like, 'How could you say something like that?' And no one will ever really know the truth. But my brother and my mom went to pick up my dad's stuff, and the only picture on his fridge was my eighth-grade graduation picture. So I was just like, Fuck." Read more.

3. The New Black Vanguard: Queer People of Color Leading the Revolution by Les Fabian Brathwaite

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There's a revolution going on. A revolution of thought, self-expression, and self-actualization. As a society, we have begun to confront the way we talk about identity, whether it be in terms of race, gender, or sexual orientation. Queer people of color, as an integral voice in this conversation, have often had no choice but to confront -- and be confronted about -- their identities. For the first time since perhaps the Harlem Renaissance, the souls of queer black folk have been depicted on our own terms as we take control of our narratives -- but nearly 100 years on, we have earned the freedom to be far more open and honest than Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, or Countee Cullen ever could. This is the new renaissance. Read more.

4. After Shooting, LGBTs Prove What Orlando Strong Really Means by Chadwick Moore and Michael Lambert

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Photo by Yannick Delva.

After an hour of speeches and prayers, the bell from a nearby Methodist church begins to toll 49 times, once for each victim. Each toll resonates longer than the last in the hot, thick air. Framed between the sterile edifices of downtown Orlando, sherbet-colored thunderheads loom on the horizon. Read more.

5. Our Pulse: On Residual Trauma Facing LGBTQ Latinx Communities by Randall Jenson

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From top left to right: Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35, Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26, Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25, Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25, Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35.

For many of us, when we read the initial news reports that this wasn't just a gay club that was attacked, but specifically a gay club that was hosting a Latino night, we were gripped with the reality that LGBTQ people of color would be the majority of victims. We didn't need to await the list of names to know the devastation. Read more.

6. The Looking Round Table: Stars Discuss the Gay Series Cut Short by Jesse Steinbach

Photo courtesy of HBO.

Though it'd be impossible to reach a consensus, Looking made it clear that there was a desire for gritty, real-life drama that just happened to be about gay men. Looking was for those of us who didn't want to escape to some hyper-idealized, queer reality, but wanted to revel in a story about imperfect characters whose lives were often inglorious and mundane--like ours.Read more.

7. Trans in the Military: How the Face of Service is Changing by Chadwick Moore

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Photo by Cassidy DuHon.

By one estimate, there are 12,800 active-duty trans people in the U.S. military. Recent research suggests that transgender people are more likely to have served in the U.S. military compared with the rest of the population. A 2014 study by UCLA's Williams Institute estimates 15,500 active-duty trans people and another 134,300 who have served--amounting to a rate of participation of 21% compared with about 11% for the general population. Read more.

8. For Queer Muslims, Islamic Poetry Represents Solace and Acceptance by Beenish Ahmed

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Illustration by Hilton Dresden.

Given the prevalence of such queer perspectives and homosexual references by poets like Bulleh Shah and Rumi who are often revered as saints, it's hugely ironic that LGBTQ Muslims around the world struggle to live out their sexual and gender identities. Read more.

9. Gays for Trump: Why Some LGBTQ Americans Are Voting for The Donald by H. Alan Scott

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Photo by Daniel Berman.

For a tiny, embattled group of queer Trump supporters, the flip-flopping New York businessman's past support for gay rights has a redeeming quality they did not find in his Republican rivals, or even in his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Read more.

10. Donald Trump's Presidency Is a LGBTQ Mental Health Crisis Waiting to Happen by Nico Lang

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For LGBTQ people, the 2016 race wasn't just about their preferred candidate not getting elected. It was about harm reduction. With Trump now the president-elect, the focus for many is on surviving the next four years. Read more.

11. I'm the Gay Son of a Muslim Immigrant Emboldened by Trump's Victory by Khalid el Khatib

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Photo courtesy of AP.

While there are no shortage of new challenges LGBTQ people will face--from support for conversion therapy to repugnant discrimination policies in the form of the First Amendment Defense Act--it's now incumbent on us to take what our community has learned over decades of successful advocacy efforts and support other minorities and marginalized populations. Read more.

12. Bridal Party Problems: How Bachelorettes Are Ruining Gay Nightlife by Chadwick Moore

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Photo by Dougie Wallace.

You see them marching down Commercial Street in bejeweled armadas--three, four, sometimes 10 deep--sheets of flat-ironed hair slappingat the tiny straps of their backless minidresses, and airbrushed makeup the hue of Easter decorations. As they trot by in their towering heels, horror seeps from the faces of the beach bum locals, who consider whether to call the police, or the Environmental Protection Agency. Read more.

13. 80 Years Strong: How a Trans Woman Became a Legendary LGBT Advocate in Mexico by Celia Gomez Ramos

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Photo by Benedicte Desrus.

I grew up halfway between religion and homosexuality," says Samantha Aurelia Vicenta Flores Garcia, one of Mexico's most prominent transgender activists and the force behind a groundbreaking day shelter for LGBT senior citizens. On the phone her voice sounds soft and bright before turning powerful. 20 years ago she was transformed from a hyper-successful publicist into a high-profile activist by the death of a close friend with AIDS. She has not looked back. Read more.

14. The Artist's Round Table: Legendary Figures On Generating Queer Counterculture

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From left: Ron Athey, Durk Dehner, Sheree Rose. Photo by Rhys Ernst.

Ron Athey: "I was born in 1961. I was fucking in the '70s! I was aware of the cultural movements that had made me possible, but I look backwards. I never contemplated attending a Pride celebration without thinking about its catalyst, the Stonewall Riots of 1969. And being raised in a primarily black area of Pomona, I am sufficiently aware of the Black Panther Party to be able to appreciate the antecedents for today's Black Lives Matters (not to mention the style and gestures offered up in a recent Beyonce video). There were separatist movements for women, gays, and people of color. This was the era of the commune and the safe space, a time when the cruising space became affirmative in a pre-AIDS reality." Read more.

15. The Instahunks: Inside the Swelling Selfie-Industrial Complex by Chadwick Moore

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Jesse Fox, an assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University, has studied men's use of and self-presentation on social media and found a strong correlation between selfie-taking and a not-too-pleasant cluster of personality traits known as the Dark Triad: narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. Read more.

16. F*** White Boys: The Agony of White Assimilation and the Ecstasy of Black Liberation by Les Fabian Brathwaite

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Still from World of Men.

To assimilate is to give up, or dull, certain parts of yourself, so that you run the risk of not recognizing who you are anymore. But as "white" as my life and my surroundings are, I've never been able to escape my blackness. I would be lying if I said I never wanted to, if only to experience sex and love without the complications I associate with both. Embracing my blackness, however, has led me to greater understanding of myself. Read more.

17. Still Crazy--And Absolutely Fabulous--After All These Years by Aaron Hicklin

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Not surprisingly, gay men found much to identify with in this portrait of two ridiculous women refusing to relinquish their dance ticket. As with Lisa Kudrow's Valerie Cherish in The Comeback, it's the ways in which Edina and Patsy trade their dignity for relevance that is so painfully funny -- and sometimes just painful. In the movie, we get to see Edina experiencing a rare moment of lucidity. "It's all about being loved, being high-profile, everyone respecting her again because she's top of her game, and it all goes hideously wrong," says Jennifer Saunders. "It's the first time, I think ever, that she and Patsy admit to knowing what she really is, which is this machine of consumerism, and she goes, 'All I've wanted is to keep the body going and now here I am just fat and old and hated.' It's my favorite moment." Read more.

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