The Gay Superhero Love Story You Didn’t Know You Needed

It’s pretty much a smutty Superman/Batman fanfiction, only Batman kills and Superman glows.

A 6-part miniseries called Midnighter & Apollo was published by DC Comics last year in October, finishing up in March of this year. It has been critically acclaimed, even earning a nomination for Outstanding Comic Book in the 28th GLAAD Media Awards. The comic book features titular superheroes, Midnighter A.K.A. Lucas Trent, and Apollo, A.K.A. Andrew Pulaski, who have recently rekindled their relationship. It’s pretty much a smutty Superman/Batman fanfiction, only Batman kills and Superman glows.

Midnighter is a gritty, violence-loving superhuman with a computer-like brain when it comes to fighting and no qualms when it comes to killing. Apollo is a sun-powered, laser-eyed, super-strong symbol of hope to the people of Opal City who could give Superman himself a run for his money. They juxtapose in more ways than one, which seems to be the whole point of their relationship. In the 6th and final issue of the story, after Midnighter goes to hell and back (literally) to bring Apollo back from the dead, Apollo says that while his tormentor in hell, the demon Neron, believed his chosen superhero name to be named after a god because of his pride and narcissism in his own power – it’s actually because of the myth of Hyacinth. Hyacinth was Apollo’s lover whom, when he was killed, refused to let Hades takes his soul and turned his spilled blood into a flower instead. Apollo in the comics uses the analogy to explain that even though Midnighter believes he’s doomed, Apollo will always pull him, and anyone else who thinks they’ve fallen, back into the light.

In the same conversation, Midnighter explains why he kills and why he will continue to kill despite Apollo being uneasy about it in the beginning. Apollo does not try to change Midnighter, he understands and accepts him and that’s why their relationship is so balanced. Steve Orlando, the writer, believed a comic book focusing on a same-sex relationship was necessary and in exploring their relationship I believe it to also be necessary for the cinematic screen. There’s a lot of history to the Midnighter/Apollo relationship, some of which is touched upon in this mini-series, but it could be fully fleshed-out in a film (or possibly a franchise). The inclusivity and normalisation of LGBT+ relationships hasn’t hit the big screen in the superhero genre yet, despite the #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend trending on Twitter. Let’s also not forget both Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds and ex-Spiderman star Andrew Garfield made it clear they believed their superheroes should have same-sex partners (even sharing a kiss at the Golden Globes).

While the focus of the 6-part series may have been more on Midnighter than it was on Apollo, the characterisation and illustration of both characters has been praised. Midnighter is seen doused in blood for most of the series, as his fighting is mercilessly brutal, while Apollo glows during his time in hell, and the symbolism behind their shared kiss, the light engulfing both of them to pure-white, is beautiful. The religious connotations of hell are traded out for magical realism, and even though it could have been very easy for Apollo to go to hell simply because he’s gay writer Steve Orlando chose to avoid that and make his storytelling central to the characters flaws – Apollo’s pride, lust, anger and even murder are what Neron, the demon, believe to be characteristics that make Apollo’s soul tainted.

From their crime-fighting, to their mundane tasks, the couple come across as vibrantly real characters with an organic relationship that has you rooting for them to triumphantly kiss at the end (they have sex instead) after kicking the bad guy’s ass. Midnighter & Apollo is a depiction of two very masculine men being together, something that doesn’t get much light, and in one of their sex scenes (and even suggested by Apollo himself in a blink-and-you-miss-it quip) it’s made clear that Midnighter – the tougher, rougher, butcher one of the two – is the bottom. In depicting this character as a bottom, it broadens the once-narrow view of homosexuality and masculinity. Orlando himself said, in a panel on sexuality and race at Comic Con, “It feels audacious because of the drought of representation and depiction of queer romance and queer sex acts in fiction… Honestly, from my own mindset, Midnighter & Apollo is actually pretty tame, but it’s interesting because people have not seen this and have not been given what they deserve in so long.”

Hopefully, Midnighter & Apollo‘s success means more comic books portraying positive LGBT+ relationships are due. We can only hope that it also means that they’ll land on the big screen sooner rather than later.

What Does It Mean When You Have A Dream About Your Ex?

It was inevitable.

My boyfriend broke up with me three months ago. It was one hell of a doozy – mostly because it was my first serious relationship and, consequently, my first break-up. I even made a little 5-step guide for myself on getting over him, which for the most part I’ve completed with flying colours. Until… yep, that’s right. Last night, I had a dream about him.

It was inevitable. And looking back on what happened the night before, it totally makes sense. My brain synergised what I had been watching, the scene in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend when Rebecca gets trapped in an elevator with her sexy new boss Nathaniel, and who’s account I had been scrolling through on Instagram, Please Like Me star Keegan Joyce. So even though my ex-boyfriend looked, sounded and acted like Keegan Joyce, I still processed the dire elevator-then-rooftop entrapment situation as a red alert crisis. It also didn’t help that he had messaged me on Facebook, professing how much he missed me and wanted to be with me (something I fantasised about in the early stages of the break-up with an ice cream-pumped stomach and tear-swollen eyes).

Dreams always have that affect on me; the warping of reality that alters my memories of stone-cold silence and awkwardness between us into a fondness of burning longing. The relationship itself was worse than Mariah Carey’s New Years Eve performance last year and yet I woke up with a freshly picked scab over my heart. Missing him. Wanting to talk to him. Perhaps that was why I freaked out so much, I felt like my mind had betrayed what I had been working on for so long. Reaching a point where I believed to have finally found peace within myself, accepting the relationship was not good, was when my brain decided to conjure up images of a reconciliation.

The truth is the dream meant nothing. The last images I had seen were imprinted on the back of my eyeballs and my brain replayed them with different faces, which just so happened to be him. Brides-to-be dream of their exes the day before their weddings, so hey maybe this dream is a sign of a new relationship on the horizon. Or maybe I should just take my grandmother’s advice and sleep with sage under my pillows to keep the demons away. It could’ve been worse, at least Dream Me resisted his charms. I seriously doubt I could have handled an elevator sex dream without a fistful of muscle relaxers the next morning.

Why Buffy The Vampire Slayer Is STILL Relevant, 20 Years Later

“The most important thing to me is that I have had people come up to me and say the show made me feel different about what I could be, about what I could do, about how I respond to problems, about being or being with a female leader. People getting strength from my own little terrors, there is no better legacy than that.”

SOURCE: Entertainment Weekly

Joss Whedon’s masterpiece Buffy The Vampire Slayer turned 20 years old in March. Entertainment Weekly hosted a reunion and wrote a spread about it in their latest issue, detailing cast interviews, secrets and much more. Whedon said, “The most important thing to me is that I have had people come up to me and say the show made me feel different about what I could be, about what I could do, about how I respond to problems, about being or being with a female leader. People getting strength from my own little terrors, there is no better legacy than that.”

These are the top 5 reasons why Buffy The Vampire Slayer is still relevant today, 20 years after it aired in 1997.

  1. THE METAPHOR: The physical expression of the horrors of high school becoming literal monsters. As Sarah Michelle Gellar put it, “Buffy is the ultimate metaphor, the horrors of adolescence manifesting through these actual monsters. It’s the hardest time of life.” Whedon stated he thought the show would only be good, that the metaphor and the layers behind Buffy would be something only the creators would understand and cherish but, much to his surprise, everyone immediately caught on – the pretty girl chasing the monster, subverting the horror genre, which leads on to the next point.
  2. THE TROPES: As with Whedon’s The Cabin In The WoodsBuffy is known for challenging the conventional rules of horror. Most notably is the pretty blonde girl dying, with Whedon instead purposefully making Buffy a slayer of things that go bump in the night. The Chosen One trope was also addressed multiple times throughout the show, with Kendra and Faith also being introduced as slayers, and then the whole premise of season 7 completely destroying the “in every generation, there is one” mythology of the slayer and distributing her power to all potential slayers in an epic feminist monologue (with a little help from Willow’s magic).
  3. THE ROMANCE: In the EW cover, Whedon says the Buffy/Angel story is the “grandest romance I’ll ever tell, there’s no arguing with it.” But after Angel left for his own titular spin-off, Buffy developed a controversial relationship with her ex-nemesis Spike who even got a soul to be with her. The fandom divided into the original battle over boys with #TeamAngel and #TeamSpike. Angel was Buffy’s Romeo, the brooding tall, dark and handsome first love of her life who became Angelus, his evil counterpart, if he ever achieved true happiness. Spike was the big bad who allowed Buffy to explore her power and darkness but, ultimately, was an abusive relationship that Whedon wanted to portray in length. Gellar made it clear her choice for Buffy was, and always would be, Angel.
  4. THE FRIENDSHIPS: Xander, Willow and Giles made up the reliable Scooby Gang that aided Buffy in her fight against the forces of darkness, which eventually grew to include Cordelia, Oz, Anya, Tara, Dawn and other characters throughout the seven season run. Friendship was a recurring source of strength for Buffy in her times of despair, depicting some of the strongest and most supportive female friendships in TV history. Willow’s sexuality was instantaneously accepted by the Scoobies, without a second of doubt, and they looked out for each other until the very last vampire was staked.
  5. THE LEGACY: Buffy spawned so many same-minded shows like The Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf,  Supernatural, True Blood and Grimm, to name a few. It inspired many networks to take on the strong female heroine lead like Jessica Jones, Supergirl, Orphan Black and iZombie all of which probably wouldn’t have happened without Buffy Summers.

On behalf of so many adoring fans, thank you.

Amanda Knox’s Ex-Boyfriend Suing Italian Authorities For “Mistakes”

“What fascinates me is why they keep going on about it. They’ve been let free – so why keep going on? It’s bizarre.”

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were convicted and cleared twice by Italian authorities for the murder of Meredith Kercher, Knox’s flatmate, in a drawn-out legal battle that spanned almost a decade and left them incarcerated for 4 years. They were definitively exonerated by the Italian Supreme Court of all charges in 2015 and Rudy Guede was eventually convicted for the sexual assault and murder of Meredith Kercher in a 16-year sentence.

Years later, Sollecito states that he believes Knox has found it easier to move on as a freelance journalist. “She is American and she lives in another state… I’m in Italy, everything occurred over here and I’m Italian and that makes a big difference.” He also claims that the tragedy has destroyed his life.

John Kercher, father of Meredith Kercher – the deceased – states, “What fascinates me is why they keep going on about it. They’ve been let free – so why keep going on? It’s bizarre.”

Sollecito says he is in €440,000 worth of debt and is attempting to sue the Italian authorities for maximum compensation over ruining his reputation, as many in Italy still believe him to be guilty. While the Italian court has rejected his compensation claim, acknowledging his unjust imprisonment but due to his contradictory or “frankly untrue” statements at the beginning of the investigation which constituted “intent or gross negligence” they have ruled out his right to compensation. Ms. Giulia Bongiorno, Sollecito’s lawyer, plans to appeal the decision at the supreme court arguing that the court failed to consider Mr. Sollecito was under duress while giving the contradictory statements.

Meanwhile, on the two year anniversary of her exoneration Knox tweeted: “2 years ago today, the Italian Supreme Court found @Raffasolaries & me definitively innocent. Thank you to all who defended us along the way.”

Sollecito and Knox have both written books about their experiences and are both featured in the Netflix documentary “Amanda Knox” that goes through the lengthy case from start-to-finish. Meredith Kercher’s sister, Stephanie, criticises the documentary for being “unnecessary” in its graphic content and says that neither her nor her family have, or will, watch it. “If it was a program about what actually happened,” She states, “If they were investigating all the possibilities and looking at everything that happened, that might be different, but from what I can gather it is mainly a documentary about Amanda Knox’s experience and it didn’t answer lots of the nagging questions people have.” She goes on to explain, “And there’s still many questions that these documentaries fail to address, key questions the producers avoid including… The fact remains that the court found Rudy Guede guilty of the murder but in the final decision, one of the things the court reiterated, was the fact he didn’t act alone.”

Sollecito has, additionally, begun writing a second book which is in the works to be published.

Chechen Concentration Camp For Gay Men

“They always hit us below the waist — on the thighs, the buttocks, the loins. They said we were dogs who had no right to life.”

Russia’s only independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, has released a publication claiming gay men are being forcefully detained in concentration camps in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Interviews with eyewitnesses and survivors state that Chechen police are using electric shock torture and violent interrogations to force the homosexuals to promise to leave the republic.

“They kept our phones switched on.” One detainee said. “Any man who calls or texts is a new target.” He also described being beaten with a plastic pipe, being forced to sit on bottles and having his hands electrocuted. “They always hit us below the waist — on the thighs, the buttocks, the loins. They said we were dogs who had no right to life.”

The Russian group LGBT Network has released a statement, “No national and/or religious traditions and norms can justify kidnapping or killing of a human being. Any references to “tradition” to justify kidnapping and killing are amoral and criminal.” The group also claimed to be ready to evacuate people.

Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch wrote, “Some of the men have forcibly disappeared. Others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings.” The expectation of the family was to perform an honour killing. She adds, “At least three men apparently have died since this brutal campaign began.”

Last week, Chechen police had rounded up more than 100 men suspected of being gay – killing three of them – only for a representative of the president to claim, later on, “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic.” After suggesting there are no gay people in the federal subject of Russia, he went on to add, “If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”

The president himself, Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been accused of extensive human rights violations, decided to hold his own version of The Hunger Games last year. Children, as young as eight, beat each other senseless in what he called a mixed martial arts “sport” for the entertainment of adults. After MMA champion Fyodor Yemelyanenko criticised the tournament, calling it “unacceptable”, his 16-year-old daughter was beaten up walking the streets of Moscow.

Donations can be made to help the men here and joining the Urgent Action on Chechnya charity would also be very much appreciated. It is unclear what will happen in regards to this camp.

American Gun Laws & Why I’m A Pacifist

Trump has stated that in order to prevent mass shootings, he would like to arm more citizens.

The percentage of households with privately owned firearms in the U.S., based on national surveys distributed in 2016, is estimated to be around 36% to 49%. With Trump in presidency, and already having signed a bill to revoke Obama’s gun check for people with mental illness, this percentage is very likely to increase.

Just today two reports of gun mortality have been announced. Two people were killed in a murder-suicide school shooting, with police having stated that they believe the teacher killed was known to the gunman, who shot himself shortly after. In the process, two students were fatally wounded. In Chicago, a father and son exchanged bullets over a dog-walking dispute that ended with the son pronounced dead at the hospital he was taken to, and the father in critical condition.

Time and time again we have seen mass shootings make headlines in the U.S.

50 killed, 53 injured in Orlando, Fla. (June 2016)

14 killed, 22 injured in San Bernardino, Cali. (Dec 2015)

3 killed, 9 injured in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Nov 2015)

9 killed, 9 injured in Roseburg, Ore. (Oct 2015)

5 killed, 3 injured in Chattanooga, Tenn. (July 2015)

The list goes on.

Trump has stated that in order to prevent mass shootings, he would like to arm more citizens. The sheer contradiction of that statement alone doesn’t need commenting on. The right to bare arms is written in the American Constitution, it’s built bone-deep into American society. Many politicians are even funded by the National Rifle Association.

The Global Peace Index indicates Denmark, Austria, Portugal and New Zealand as being in the top 5. They each have restrictive laws on gun ownership, directing resulting in far fewer firearm-related deaths.

Firearm-related death rate per 100,000 population per year:

Denmark 1.28 (2011)
Austria 2.63 (2011)
Portugal 1.58 (mixed years)
New Zealand 1.07 (mixed years)
United States 10.54 (2014)

In Denmark, a person must take a written multiple choice test and a practical test to acquire a hunting licence. If the tests are passed, police must determine if the person is fit enough to receive the licence. You even require a permit to keep edged weapons in the home. Similarly, self-defence is not a legal reason for owning guns in Portugal and New Zealand.

I am a pacifist because countries like Denmark, Austria, Portugal and New Zealand have proved that we don’t need guns to settle quarrels.

I am a pacifist because the number of guns surpasses the population of people in America.

I am a pacifist because war and violence is not the answer and humankind should have realised that by now.

13 Reasons Why – Netflix Review (SPOILERS)

“It is very likely that there are, and unfortunately will continue to be, Hannah Bakers living through harassment and abuse. Similarly, it is also very likely that not far behind them are Bryce Walkers, Justin Foleys, Jessica Davises, Alex Standalls.”

Adapted from Jay Asher’s novel of the same name, 13 Reasons Why is a much-needed fresh spin on the over-saturated teen drama genre. Centred on the suicide of Hannah Baker, played by Katherine Langford, Clay Jensen, her classmate, co-worker and longtime crush, portrayed by Dylan Minnette, embarks on a slow-burn journey to discover her truth through pre-recorded cassette tapes she leaves him.

Unlike most of its predecessors, 13 Reasons tackles far more than just popularity and the quest for dates before winter formal. It opens up conversations about the stigmatised social issues of sexual assault and consent, oppressed feminine sexuality and encouraged hegemonic masculinity. The depictions of rape are uncomfortably real, almost unbearably so, as is the final scene in which we witness Hannah slicing her wrists with the razors she stole. The importance of authenticity is expressed through the gore of that bathroom scene, the underlying message clear that suicide isn’t a romanticised notion of revenge—but a last resort.

“Suicide is for the weak.” Skye, Clay’s estranged friend with scars on her wrists, says.

Hannah’s alienation, her escalated situation from school pariah to broken rape victim, is well-written and well-acted out. While the characters she condemns in her tapes scramble to excuse and defend their actions, by the end of her 13th tape we’re left with nothing but sympathy for her. The self-preservation we see in the other characters that are called-out by Hannah’s tapes is perhaps the scariest part of the whole narrative. It is very likely that there are, and unfortunately will continue to be, Hannah Bakers living through harassment and abuse. Similarly, it is also very likely that not far behind them are Bryce Walkers, Justin Foleys, Jessica Davises, Alex Standalls. The characters, even the typecast ‘baddies’, are complex, diverse and so flawed they’re as three-dimensional as Hannah.

As for a second season, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Jay Asher states, “I’d just like a continuation of all those characters.” He goes on to elaborate, asking, “What happens to Clay? How do people react to what Alex did at the very end? What’s going to happen to Mr. Porter?”

Originally, Jay Asher planned on having Hannah revealed to be alive in the end. Not only does the reality of Hannah’s suicide reflect just that—reality—it also highlights Clay’s speech to Mr. Porter about how we treat each other, consequences to actions and all the other philosophically moral questions the show imposes which would have all been undermined if Hannah was alive. A second season would, additionally, undermine the great strides taken as it would focus less on Hannah as a human and more of her as an afterthought. As a standalone series, 13 Reasons Why is a sensitive portrayal of a girl who couldn’t ask for help when she needed it and serves almost as a forewarning to teenagers and adults alike to never act when you don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life.