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TheAdvocate Editors' Favorite Articles of 2018

TheAdvocate Editors' Favorite Articles of 2018

favorite stories

Here are the interviews, reviews, op-eds, and investigative reports that the editors of The Advocate's digital team are most proud of.

favorite stories

It has been quite a year for the news cycle. The mercurial nature of the Trump administration and its attacks on the LGBTQ community have sparked a barrage of headlines that have left us all reeling -- especially in the newsroom of The Advocate, where it's our job to cover the chaos.

Below, the editors of The Advocate's digital team review their favorite articles that they've written and edited during this tumultuous year -- stories that show the struggles faced by queer people but also their triumphs in the face of great odds. Here's to continuing those victories in 2019.

Neal Broverman

I'll Never Forget My First Gay Friends
With disarming honesty and an acute sense of detail, a successful gay federal judge recounts the cadre who shaped him in the '80s; the headiest time ever to be a young gay man.

The Alice B. Toklas Society: Love and Literature in the Time of AIDS

Part of my job is faciliating op-eds and commentaries for The Advocate. We'll receive unsolicited pieces from LGBTQ leaders, politicians, and regular folks. By and large, the articles are fascinating, personal, enlightening; some are exceptional. This article from Judge Michael McShane, a federal judge serving Oregon and appointed by President Obama, blew me away. With the gifts of a seasoned novelist, McShane shared the true story of his circle of friends in 1980s Portland. The young men were not much different than queer friends (or even straight) growing up today -- except the specter of AIDS loomed. It's impossible to discuss this piece without giving too much of it away. I want to thank Judge McShane for sharing his history with The Advocate and our cherished readers; now the stories of these men will live forever. [JANUARY 25, 2018]

Enter the Queer Wrestling World of Lucha VaVoom
The flamboyant undercurrents of Mexico's wrestling culture provide a needed outlet for sexual and gender rebellion.


I'll quote my amazing colleague Allison Tate when it comes to this fascinating video:

"A glitter-covered, fiercely flamboyant wrestler smacks down a hypermacho luchador. Gender-bending dancers perform vintage burlesque routines in between the action. Crowds roar. That is Lucha VaVoom. It's called America's most outrageous show for a reason. The high-octane hybrid show offers Mexican wrestling, circus artists, seductive dancers, and even aerial acts by Violet Chachki. The show has brought together performers of diverse ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations into one unparalleled found family ready to entertain you. The new documentary Lucha VaVoom: Inside America's Most Outrageous Show takes the viewer onstage, backstage, and into the lives of the individuals who make the show the spectacle it is." [OCTOBER 6, 2018] Watch the doc here.

Unknown Victim of Deadly 1973 Arson in Gay Bar Finally Identified
Forty-five years after one of the worst mass killings of LGBTQ people, a John Doe who died in the massacre becomes known.


This incredible story first appeared in our print edition. In this article, documentarian Robert Camina -- who recently made the film UpStairs Inferno -- recounted the New Orleans fire that killed 32 patrons in a gay dive bar in 1973. Only 29 men were positively identified from the arson, with many reasons for that; many were closeted and some of their families wouldn't claim them when they realized they died in a gay bar.

Though Camina has received many false leads about the unidentified New Orleans men, a call from a woman named Lynette Moreland seemed to carry weight. After many interviews with Moreland and her relatives, Camina became convinced that Lynette's uncle, Larry Frost, was one of those never positively identified. A portrait of a warm wanderer emerges, a 32-year-old who doted on his siblings and their children; a man who spent many of his defining years in the South, where he was loved, but never as he truly was. [NOVEMBER 15, 2018]Check out Camina's documentary here.

I'm Pregnant, But I'm Not a Woman
A young pansexual, agender, nonbinary, and trans masculine person discovers they're pregnant. It's complicated.

Non Binary Parenting TKTK

What a wonderful surprise this piece was. Rory Mickelson, assigned female at birth, never felt like a girl. "Nonbinary" fit for Rory, as did pansexual, agender, and trans masculine. Living on a military base, Rory didn't blend in, but things got infinitely more complicated when they found out they were pregnant. The 26-year-old decided to keep the baby, working through the complications that pregnancy brought; and we're not talking morning sickness.

As an agender, trans masculine person, Rory cut their hair short and wore adrogynous styles. But with their body changing, Rory had to adjust. "I look down at my much fuller hips and much bigger belly and I just see femme, femme, femme. To be trans masculine, and to be pregnant, is a huge emotional undertaking when you don't have a vast support system."

While they were initially filled with fear and dread, those feelings turned to understanding and, even, excitement. Thank you, Rory.

Trudy Ring

Why This Mid-Century Lesbian Playwright's Message Endures
A new documentary, Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, tells the story of a gifted artist and passionate activist.

Lorraine Hansberry

I interviewed several fascinating figures from the world of entertainment this year, including the great theater director George C. Wolfe (about his Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh, starring Denzel Washington), Philadelphia screenwriter Ron Nyswaner, director-choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, and actors Allen Leech and Tyne Daly. So it's hard to pick a favorite among my entertainment stories, but one that still stands out is my interview with Tracy Heather Strain, the director, writer, and co-producer of Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, the first feature-length documentary on this mid-20th-century playwright. Hansberry is best known as the author of A Raisin in the Sun, the first play by a black woman to be produced on Broadway. But there was so much more to Hansberry, including her outspokenness on civil rights and her proud claiming of a lesbian identity years before Stonewall. Strain's documentary provides a comprehensive and compelling portrait of Hansberry, who was only 34 when she died of cancer in 1965. If she had lived longer, just imagine what she would have accomplished. If you missed the documentary when it premiered on PBS in January, or if you want to give it a repeat viewing, you can stream it here. [JANUARY 19, 2018]

12 Homophobes We Defeated in the Midterms
The midterm election's blue and rainbow waves washed away a lot of homophobic incumbents.

Homophobes We Defeated in the Midterms

Politically, this was the year of the blue wave, with Democrats winning enough U.S. House seats to have a majority when the chamber starts its new session in January, and the rainbow wave, with more than 150 out LGBTQ candidates winning election at the federal, state, and local levels. I interviewed several of them before the November 6 election, including such victors as new California Congresswoman Katie Hill, Colorado gubernatorial winner Jared Polis, and Michigan's incoming attorney general, Dana Nessel -- and some who didn't prevail but made history nonetheless, such as Vermont's Christine Hallquist, the first out transgender person to be a major party's gubernatorial nominee. The blue and rainbow waves succeeded in taking out some leading homophobes, including Rowan County, Ky., Clerk Kim Davis, infamous for her stand against marriage equality, and California Congressman Steve Knight, who was defeated by Hill. So my favorite political story is the one that encapsulates several of these accomplishments, "12 Homophobes We Defeated in the Midterms." [NOVEMBER 29, 2018]

Daniel Reynolds

Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz Go Where None Have Gone Before
The out actors make history playing the first queer couple in Star Trek's TV universe, becoming the heroes we've all longed for.

Cover Story

I was assigned to interview Star Trek: Discovery's Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz as a cover story for the January edition of The Advocate magazine. Initially, the angle was one of queer representation. I spoke with the actors about how they, as the first gay people (and couple!) in the Star Trek universe, were "going where no man has gone." For a show that has purported to show a diverse vision of the future since its initial airing in 1966, the absence of LGBTQ representation was an alarming vision. That Discovery shattered this ceiling was a milestone event in culture that spoke to how far the movement has come -- and the casting of two out actors in the roles was indicative of how far Hollywood has progressed, as well.

I interviewed Cruz and Rapp in October 2017. That same weekend, The New York Times and The New Yorker broke reports of dozens of accusations of sexual abuse against producer Harvey Weinstein. Soon afterward, Rapp recounted his own story of alleged sexual abuse at the hands of Kevin Spacey to BuzzFeed, which reported that Rapp had first recounted this to The Advocate in 2001. Suddenly, the piece I had written had to be rewritten, because everything had changed. I interviewed the former editor in chief to gauge why the information had been redacted. I reached out to Discovery's showrunners for a statement on Rapp. And I reframed a conversation about diversity to discuss how men -- and queer men -- are also survivors of sexual assault and deserve a voice in the #MeToo movement. The result is a more far-reaching piece than had been intended, but one that shows how our LGBTQ actors, by virtue of their visibility and the bravery required to be out, are also some of our greatest activists. [JANUARY 3, 2018]

Why Atypical Is Part of the Queer TV Revolution
Actress Brigette Lundy-Paine discusses how marginalized people are finally taking center stage.


Netflix's Atypical is one of my favorite shows on television. Its first season did not have any out queer people, but it was refreshing to see a show that centers on an autistic character that is also filled with strong women who push against gender expectations and what it means to be "normal." So (spoiler) it was a real treat to see Atypical's second season incorporate LGBTQ representation through Casey, one of the show's main characters who embarks on a journey of self-discovery. I interviewed the actress who portrays Casey, Brigette Lundy-Paine, about her character's path this season, but also about her own. As it turns out, Lundy-Paine is an extraordinary queer woman in her own right, who had many insights about the queer revolution happening on television and among young people. Don't miss the interview -- and her show! [SEPTEMBER 9, 2018]

Tracy E. Gilchrist

The Bold Type's Frank Oral Sex Talk Is Breakout TV for Queer Women
Actors Aisha Dee and Nikohl Boosheri discuss how their queer female characters made TV history in speaking openly about going down.

Nikohl Boosheri and Aisha Dee

Freeform's breakout series The Bold Type, which premiered in 2017, had fast become one of my favorite new shows before heading into its second season. The series, with female friendship at its core, focuses on three best friends, Kat, Sutton, and Jane, traversing career, love, and the current state of politics in and around a socially conscious women's magazine.

The first season saw Aisha Dee's Kat come out as bisexual as she fell hard for Adena, a lesbian Muslim (TV's first) photographer played by Nikohl Boosheri.

When Kat and Adena returned for season two they were a full-on couple, but the truth soon came out that Kat had yet to go down on Adena, a sticking point in the relationship. With humor and heart, a frank, thoughtful conversation about sex between women ensued -- one I'd never heard in my life in film or TV. And here it was happening on Freeform, a network geared toward stories about young people.

I had the chance to speak with Dee and Boosheri about what it meant to them to be the conduits for that conversation and for underrepresented queer women. [JUNE 18, 2018]

Indigo Girls Gifts a New Generation of Fans With Queer Anthems
With the release of a double album of their classics sung with a full symphony, the Indigo Girls discuss nostalgia, road trips, and overcoming being the brunt of the joke.

Emily and Amy of the Indigo Girls

I still remember I was driving on Route 72 near New Britain, Conn., the first time I heard the Indigo Girls's "Closer to Fine" on the local college radio station. A fan of folk music from the Peter, Paul & Mary and Joan Baez albums my dad had handed down me as a kid, I was stopped in my tracks by the music of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. Of course, they would go on to become touchstones for my generation of queer women, providing us with infectious, sing-alongable anthems about love between women like "Power of Two" and "Virginia Woolf."

This summer, when Ray and Saliers released a live album of new arrangements of several of their greatest anthems and road trips songs backed up by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, I jumped at the opportunity to chat with them about the nostalgia their songs invoke, road music, and the intersection of music and activism.

The "Girls," now in their 50s shared lively stories with me about their partnership and the evolution of their catalog while also discussing their admiration for the new generation of queer artists, like Janelle Monae.

"I think Amy and I write songs that people can take along with them -- that's the kind of music that we listen to that we've taken along in our own lives," Saliers told me about their songs that helped define my coming-out years. [JULY 13, 2018]

Allison Tate

We Won't Be Erased
They're not going anywhere.

200 Transgender People Share Why They Won't Be Erased

This video was created in response to the Trump administration's attempt to define sex as only male or female and thus legally erasing transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals out of existence. I'm so proud of Jessie "Gender" Earl's compassionate concept of inviting our transgender audience to be vocal and visible in response to this unprecedented discrimination. I felt incredibly moved by the more than 200 video responses that we received. Seeing the incredible spectrum of faces all stating that they will NOT be erased brought chills to my spine and tears to my eyes. It made a big social media splash, and even Sen. Kamala Harris shared it on Twitter! Their combined voices, brilliantly visualized by Jessie's editing finale, showed the force, power, and presence of the transgender community. It brings me faith that, no, they won't be erased, they will lead us toward erasing hate. [NOVEMBER 14, 2018]

Harper Watters: The Man Behind the Heels
Many know him for his treadmill videos, but this dancer is as thoughtful as he is graceful.

Harper Watters: The Man Behind The Heels

It was such a joy to meet and film ballet dancer extraordinaire Harper Watters. He shines onstage, and through interviewing him, I learned that his shine definitely comes from the inside out. As an adopted gay black man in a historically white art form, he literally puts his body on the front lines of visibility and change. His gifts extend past the stage and onto social media, where he has amassed thousands of followers who adore seeing him slay in stilettos while dancing on a treadmill! In our piece, I was proud to showcase that he is so much more than a man in heels. He is making strides forward in the dance world and looking fierce while doing it. [AUGUST 9, 2018]

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