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Why LGBTQ+ Stories Matter in 2023

Why LGBTQ+ Stories Matter in 2023

Why LGBTQ+ Stories Matter in 2023
Roger Kisby Getty Images for IMDB / David Urbanke

Now more than ever, queer storytelling has the power to move the hearts and minds of others towards acceptance, writes Out's editor in chief Daniel Reynolds.

In a tender scene from Spoiler Alert, the gay romantic drama featuring Out's January/February cover stars Jim Parsons and Ben Aldridge, Aldridge’s character Kit blows soap bubbles into the wind, and then attempts to photograph them with his camera. His husband Michael, played by Parsons, records the act on his phone. It’s a heartbreaking moment because Kit is dying of cancer. There in front of him shimmers his life, as ephemeral as a bubble.

Spoiler Alert is based on a memoir by journalist Michael Ausiello, and this exchange actually happened between himself and his lost partner; the recording is even played during the film’s end credits. The conclusion is, of course, heartbreaking. But in some ways, it’s also a happy one. Through the power of moviemaking and storytelling, Kit’s life and love endure.

Apart from Spoiler Alert, I was struck by how many films from this Hollywood awards season centered not just on LGBTQ+ characters but also on their relationships. Tár shows how a #MeToo incident unravels a lesbian conductor’s career and marriage. Everything Everywhere All at Once fantastically explores how a rift between a mother and daughter is exposed through the latter’s new girlfriend. The Whale is a tale born in the wake of mourning for a lost partner.

What a time to be queer and see oneself reflected on the big screen! And as GLAAD would say, LGBTQ+ representation matters, not only for the validity of feeling seen but because it has the power to move the hearts and minds of others toward acceptance. (Tár might be an exception to that rule, but as contributor Tracy E. Gilchrist notes in her essay, the film’s queer villain represents an equality of venality and a delicious human complexity.) Let’s face it, after 2022 — which showed a renewed right-wing attack on LGBTQ+ people and drag story hour, as well as the horrific shooting at Club Q — we can use all the heart we can get. The old monsters of bigotry, once thought vanquished, have returned. How can we defeat them?

Our stories can. As Parsons and Aldridge discuss in our cover story, telling one beautiful tale of queer love can change the world. It also sparks compounding interest by inspiring others to do the same. This is the Entertainment Issue, and in these pages, we are fortunate to feature many other storytellers creating these sparks. Omar Apollo, an out R&B singer up for Best New Artist at the Grammys, sings about love in both English and Spanish — and he has no time for gaybaiters. Actor Jonathan Bennett is bringing gay people to the table at Christmas movies. He’s also opening the world to queer folks through a new travel company with his husband.

On Broadway, Jinkx Monsoon, Drag Race’s Queen of All Queens, is taking the Chicago stage and showing that drag won’t be silenced in the face of political vitriol. Multihyphenates Kit Williamson and John Halbach journey out to the desert to make a TV show about a rainbow family and end up moving their own family there to renovate a home. Photographer Ryan Pfluger is letting love guide his lens in Holding Space, a new book of portraiture of interracial LGBTQ+ couples that allows the subjects to tell their stories. Dior Men is blurring gender in fashion against the jaw-dropping backdrop of the Pyramids of Giza. To defy looking ancient, beauty editor Marco Medrano recommends a rainbow of retinol products. And the queer cool kids of NYC explain how friendship — and the right outerwear — can help you survive the cold city.

Like the pyramids, our stories endure — no matter how many times throughout the ages foes have tried to destroy, erase, and silence them. You’re reading them right now. You’re listening to them on the radio. You’re watching them in your living room and at the movie theater. They are as loud as a revolution. And they are also as quiet and as vital as a bubble drifting toward the sky.

The monsters? Spoiler alert: They don’t stand a chance.


Daniel Reynolds

Editor in Chief, Out

This article is part of Out's January/February 2023 issue, out on newsstands February 7. Support queer media and subscribe -- or download the issue through Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.

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