As it’s January, I thought I’d do a summary of my queer pop culture highlights of 2021. I say “my” to cover the fact that I might have missed some things or am not into others. I promise to remember the glaring omissions shortly after this post goes live!
Despite 2021 being a nightmare in many ways, there were just enough gems in queer pop culture to pull us through. Let’s begin!
As it’s me, I’ll start with comic books. The big stories of the year, for me, were us getting a gay Superman (it’s the original’s son) and a bisexual Robin (the third one to hold the mantle – Tim Drake). I don’t follow either the Batman or Superman books so my mainstream pick of the year was an X-men book, Marauders, as it included Ice-man living his best gay life and featured the machinations Emma Frost (who seems to be very popular with the gay geeks).
The book will be elevating itself LGBTQ-wise in 2022 with new queer characters being added to the cast (including Wolverine’s bisexual son, Draken) and queer writer, and a personal favourite of mine, Steve Orlando, coming on board.
Indie-wise I think a lot of people were talking about The Impending Blindness Of Billie Scott by Zoe Thorogood (myself included – I recommended it on this very site in June). It tells the story of Billie Scott who has a debut gallery exhibition opening in a few months. However, she discovers that she is losing her sight and within a fortnight she’ll be completely blind. She decides to find ten people to paint for her exhibition. Wonderful art and writing especially considering this is Thorogood’s graphic novel debut.
On the Irish side of things, Anna Fitzpatrick continues to impress with her webcomic, Alien Heart (which I also recommended mid-year). It is about a teenager called Ivy who finds it difficult to fit in with everybody else due to being different (and is mistreated for being so). This all changes when she meets Rosa who she instantly befriends but then Rosa disappears and Ivy has to try and save her.
We also had the follow-up to Fanny Galactic by Dublin-based writer Chris Fildes and artist Ed Bentley.
My reading consisted mainly of classic stuff which included James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and William S. Burrough’s Queer. I do have a couple of 2021 books on my read pile. The first is My Name is Phillipa by Phillipa Ryder. I have been an acquaintance of Phillipa’s for a while (through meeting at the Octocon convention) and she has an interesting life story so I’m looking forward to reading about it.
The other is Apocalypse… Whenever by Ken Mooney which is a humorous look at the apocalypse.
This is short and sweet – Troye Sivan! He released a couple of singles in 2021 that I enjoyed and I’m still hooked on his 2020 stuff. I wrote about his stuff this year too.
2021 was all about It’s A Sin and I am with everyone on that choice. Even though it took me a couple of months to work up to watching it. I knew it was going to be an emotional onslaught and it was. I particular rate Callum Scott Howells as Colin. I thought his story was particularly poignant. Great cast. Great music (I’m an ’80s boy).
On the other side of the emotional spectrum was season 2 of Special. It is nice to see a show about navigating life written by and starring a differently abled person. In fact, it is the charm of that person, Ryan O’Connell, that pulls you into it.
A quick comics-related mention, Doom Patrol, with season 3, continued to be the queerest comic book adaptation.
I discussed some of Marvel’s progress not long ago so I’ll just say, Eternals! One of the highlights for me this year was Wish You. One of South Korea’s first forays into the Boy Love genre. Lee, a keyboardist working in a record company, runs into singer song-writer, Kang, playing on the street and instantly falls for him. There was just a sincerity to it.
Gaze had an excellent selection of movies this year but I will highlight just two of them. Shame//Less, starring some of the creatives I became familiar with as a part of the Spice Bag shows, was an excellent variety show with a mixture of music, comedy and dramatic. Spice Bag host Stefan Fae is uber talented and ties the whole thing together. It was lovely to have agony aunt Attracta Tension providing advice (next to an iconic photo of Deidre Barlow).
The other movie was No Straight Lines which was as interesting and informative history of queer comics in the United States. It left me with a better understanding of underground comics and a pile of books to pick up.
You can check out more of David Ferguson’s queer pop culture musings here.
© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.