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15 of OUT 's Best Long Reads of 2017

15 of OUT 's Best Long Reads of 2017

Out Long Read
Photography: Eivind Hansen

From hitmakers and drag superstars to racism and love stories, we covered it all. 

RuPaul Is Everything: The Rise & Reign of America's First Drag Superstar

RuPaul is Everything

Photography: Herb Ritts

"Drag has always been a tool for me," RuPaul says. "I realized early on that it worked really well to get the audience to react. I knew there was power in drag, like the Superman costume to my Clark Kent. Actually, when I met with J.J. Abrams about the show that we're doing [based on RuPaul's life], the whole pitch was explained to him and he said, 'You know what? I got it! It's the origins of a clan of superheroes.'" Read More

Meet Nick Harwood, the Industry Plant Behind the Year's Best Music Videos


Photography: Ryan Duffin

Nick Harwood might be an industry plant but, by his logic, we all are. The lanky artist whose Instagram is literally "industryplant" certainly fits the bill. Like other industry plants, or artists with major label backing who present themselves as "home grown startups," his internet presence is near-impossible to trace and he's seemingly shot out of thin air. After producing two music videos for Dev Hynes' Blood Orange moniker, "Augustine" and "Sandra's Smile," Harwood fell under the radar before suddenly exploding back with co-directing credits on music videos for Porches' latest singles "Country" and "Find Me" and PC Music savant SOPHIE's debut tracks "It's Okay To Cry" and "Ponyboy." All in the last three months. Read More

Hitmaker Justin Tranter & Courtney Love on Bringing Outsider Perspectives to Mainstream Radio


Photography Mark Squires

When Justin Tranter was awarded Songwriter of the Year at the 2017 BMI Pop Awards, the queer musician used the moment to demand the industry put more women and LGBTQ people in songwriting sessions. It was a simple, straightforward request, but it took the activist and artist his entire life--battling a straight, conservative industry--to have his words taken seriously by music's biggest names. Tranter recently talked with his longtime inspiration and current collaborator, Courtney Love, to reflect on their difficulties navigating the music-biz landscape as marginalized artists. Read More

The Art of Seduction: Armie Hammer & the Hottest Movie of the Season


Jacket & T-shirt: Berluti (Photography: Nino Munoz)

"I've never been so intimately involved with a director before," says Armie Hammer, who plays Oliver, the all-American object of Elio's fantasies. "Luca was able to look at me and completely undress me. He knew every single one of my insecurities, every time I needed to be pushed, and when I needed to be protected." It was a rare experience for the actor, who had wanted to work with Guadagnino for many years. "I probably fell in love with Luca the same way Elio fell in love with [my character] Oliver," he says. "I looked at him with amazement." Read More

Power to the People: Exploring Marsha P. Johnson's Queer Liberation


Johnson, as seen in Netflix's The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

"White gay culture has always found a place for black feminine joy," Winter says, "as a way to express their own pain and suffering." Thus, Johnson gets turned into a symbol for "all" queer people--but "all" almost always means the universalized experiences of white gay men. Johnson's specific pain, her specific suffering, takes a back seat. It's why we know Johnson's smile, but not the thoughts that were running through her head. It's why we can memorialize Johnson as a martyr, but ignore the causes she fought for. Read More

James Franco and Edmund White on Sex, Porn & the Eternal Appeal of '70s New York

James Franco

Jacket & T-Shirt: Coach, Pants: Prada (Photography: Gavin Bond)

James Franco has never been easy to pin down--by design, it seems. The actor-director-writer-artist has been fearless in his career choices--from directing queer-themed art-house flicks to publishing poetry and fiction that confounds those critics who prefer that celebrities stay in their assigned lanes. In that sense Franco, with his restless curiosity, has more in common with Tilda Swinton, eschewing convention in favor of passion projects that reward collaboration. Read More

I Am Not Your Negro Director Raoul Peck on the Need for Baldwin's Brilliance in Trump's America


Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. Photo Credit: (c) Dan Budnik, all rights reserved.

James Baldwin died almost 30 years ago and you can best believe he is rolling his eyes in his grave right now. This morning, Donald J. Trump--the least qualified, most divisive, least popular, most vulgar presidential nominee ever, and generally the personification of liberal comeuppance--was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Some are still in disbelief--how did this happen? How did we get here? Really, him? But the signs were there, the signs have always been there, and James Baldwin was reading them aloud way before anyone else even bothered to take notice. Read More

Emma Stone, Andrea Riseborough & Billie Jean King on Tennis, Equality & the Battle of the Sexes


Riseborough: Dress by Bonnie Young, Stone: Top & pants by Tom Ford, Earrings by Jennifer Fisher (Photography: Kai Z Feng)

Emma Stone: "In my career so far, I've needed my male co-stars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them. And that's something they do for me because they feel it's what's right and fair. That's something that's also not discussed, necessarily--that our getting equal pay is going to require people to selflessly say, "That's what's fair." If my male co-star, who has a higher quote than me but believes we are equal, takes a pay cut so that I can match him, that changes my quote in the future and changes my life. And this is Billie Jean's feminism, and I love it--she is equality, man: equality, equality, equality." Read More

No Apologies: Queer Latin Artist Baby Yors is Out to Change the Pop Landscape


Robe: Manzanares (Photography: Andres Burgos)

I hope that what I'm doing will take some of those taboos out, break down that hypocrisy, and transcend it. Most of all, I'd like everyone to be more open to understanding people who are different than they are. Like a theatrical, queer Latin male, for instance. And I hope that when people are at my shows or listening to my songs, like 'New York,' they can, for a least a little bit, leave the planet with me. And escape. And think." Read More

Love in Black and White: Perspectives on Sexual Racism


The election of Donald Trump last November may have caught some Americans by surprise, but for many people of color it was just a reminder of the country in which we are living -- a country that has validated white supremacy since its inception, and one that continues to do so in both insidious and overt ways. In the already marginalized LGBTQ community, white supremacy exists by default -- as if whiteness is an aegis against that marginalization, cherished and rested on like ill-gotten laurels by those who possess it; sought after and exalted by those who don't. Read More

The Handmaid's Tale and the History & Future of Queer Oppression


History, as it is wont to do when it is ignored, is repeating itself in Chechnya, where gay men are currently, in 2017, being hunted, captured, and tortured. As the world seems to be sliding ever closer into its own dystopian reality, the world of The Handmaid's Tale serves a warning. And one you should probably pay the fuck attention to. Read More

A Moonlight Revolution: The Black Queer Experience Comes of Age in America

Boys In The Band

Photography: Blair Getz Mezibov

Moonlight is not just any gay movie. And Trevante Rhodes is not just any young actor. He is a black man in 2017. And he is completely at home in his skin, obsidian dark and carrying the weight of America's sins; in his sexuality -- straight, if it matters, and it somehow always does; and within his body, powerful, gladiatorial, that of a college and lifelong athlete. It was this body -- both his comfort in it, and its discomfiting presence -- that earned him his breakout role as the adult version of Moonlight's central character, Chiron. Read More

Lydia Polgreen: Meet the Queer Black Woman Changing Journalism


Photography: Jill Greenberg

The last time Lydia Polgreen felt boredom -- real boredom, the soul-crushing kind--she was 21 and working for a company in suburban Virginia that helped applicants for H-1B visas. The job was a stopgap between college, where she'd studied Marx and Hegel, and a hazy, uncertain future in which she imagined she might teach philosophy. In the meantime, there she was toiling in some random job, waiting for each day to end. "At some point I thought, This can't be how my life is going to go. This isn't for me," she recalls. "I'm not a person who should ever be looking at the clock, waiting for things to be over--that's not my destiny." Read More

The Inexorable Rise of Masha Gessen


Photography: Daniel Seung Lee

For a woman living in the Soviet Union of the 1970s, Masha Gessen's mother was unusually bold--telling her daughter that the Soviet regime was a totalitarian state, much like Nazi Germany. This was tantamount to treason in a country that had sacrificed so many lives to defeat Hitler, but true nonetheless. Like mother, like daughter, it would seem: Today Gessen is one of our most urgent and iconoclastic journalists. A queer Russian Jew who spent her adolescence and young adulthood in the United States, where she was galvanized by AIDS and molded by the gay press, few journalists are better placed to understand the parallels between the two egomaniacs who now dominate world affairs. Read More

The Love Portfolio: Samira Wiley + Lauren Morelli


Shirt and pants by Lanvin. Morelli: Sweater by Lanvin. Pants by Bally. (Photography: Roger Erickson)

Samira Wiley: "Maybe a year after we were officially together, we went on our first trip. We are so opposite in how we operate, so we'd bicker. We showed our true selves -- maybe the ugliest, nastiest parts. We were out of our comfort zones. We were in Thailand riding elephants. We always say it's amazing we survived that trip, but however horrible it was, it helped me know I want to be with her -- because she could see all these parts of me and still want to be with me, and I could see all these parts of her and still want to be with her. I would rather have the worst day with Lauren than the best day with someone else." Read More

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