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Issue 14, 2016

Queerlient

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News

  • VUWSA General Manager resigns

  • TFW you steal $500,000 from the University

  • Traci Houpapa joins the party

  • Where art thou funding?

  • Yay a new hall

  • Living Wage gets dat fiddy, but still nothing at VUW

  • Helen Kelly in the Portrait Gallery

  • Auckland University hates the environment

  • “NO DICK PIX” And other bangers from the exec meetings over the break.

  • Board say “bye, bye, bye” to three hour exams

  • Where is the Queer support at?

  • Let the mayoral race begin—Election coverage part I

  • Fun News

  • Features

  • to-bi-or-not-to-bi

    To Bi or not to Bi: the coming out that never ends

    I came out as bi for the first time at the rather ripe age of 19. It came across suddenly—I only began questioning my sexuality a few months prior after I realised what I thought was merely a friend crush on a woman was actually a crush-crush. I only realised it was a crush-crush after […]

    by

  • pride-history

    A history of Pride in New Zealand

    LGBT people have been part of New Zealand society since long before colonisation, but that doesn’t mean they have always been accepted. LGBT people have fought for equal rights in New Zealand for decades, and this fight has built the foundations for the rights and acceptance that LGBT people now live within. A fight that […]

    by

  • gender

    Gender: How Do We Do It?

    Gender is a social construct. You can’t get through a liberal arts degree without either saying this, hearing this, or reading this. But what does it actually mean? As a young transgender person, for me that statement meant that gender was a mental phenomenon, something in your brain. Something that was different to sex, which […]

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  • fa'a

    Fa’a(      )

    Fa’atama. Fa’afatama. These are words that aren’t said very often. You’ll even get people claiming we don’t exist. But we do. So now our existence has been established, I ought to say that so often with minority communities, when we speak, it’s heard as “on behalf of all.” To be clear: this is my perspective. […]

    by

  • to-bi-or-not-to-bi

    To Bi or not to Bi: the coming out that never ends

    I came out as bi for the first time at the rather ripe age of 19. It came across suddenly—I only began questioning my sexuality a few months prior after I realised what I thought was merely a friend crush on a woman was actually a crush-crush. I only realised it was a crush-crush after […]

    by

  • pride-history

    A history of Pride in New Zealand

    LGBT people have been part of New Zealand society since long before colonisation, but that doesn’t mean they have always been accepted. LGBT people have fought for equal rights in New Zealand for decades, and this fight has built the foundations for the rights and acceptance that LGBT people now live within. A fight that […]

    by

  • gender

    Gender: How Do We Do It?

    Gender is a social construct. You can’t get through a liberal arts degree without either saying this, hearing this, or reading this. But what does it actually mean? As a young transgender person, for me that statement meant that gender was a mental phenomenon, something in your brain. Something that was different to sex, which […]

    by

  • fa'a

    Fa’a(      )

    Fa’atama. Fa’afatama. These are words that aren’t said very often. You’ll even get people claiming we don’t exist. But we do. So now our existence has been established, I ought to say that so often with minority communities, when we speak, it’s heard as “on behalf of all.” To be clear: this is my perspective. […]

    by

  • Arts and Science

  • Fighting for reality in television narratives

     

    Although queer representation on television has improved over the past twenty years, this has been very much a case of uneven development, replicating rather than challenging the existing power dynamics within both the queer community and wider society. Critically lauded though it may be, Transparents casting of a cis man as a trans woman continues to imply that trans identity is just a costume to be donned or removed as the situation requires—exactly the same trope used by transphobes in the US to attempt to bar trans people from using public bathrooms without a modicum of consideration for their dignity or safety. It also deprives yet another trans actress of a role that should have been tailor-made for their demographic. Meanwhile the few shows with a good representation of trans people have relatively small broadcast audiences, being largely restricted to those able to afford a Netflix subscription.

    The situation is much better for cis queers who are far more likely to be able to play characters of their own marginalised identity, and also to be given major roles. Shows with major roles for cis queer characters are also more likely to be broadcast on free-to-air channels, and to receive primetime slots on those channels. These shows are more likely to be marketed directly at the cis section of the queer community, and this has been the case for some time—the UK version of Queer as Folks premiered in 1999, while The L Word was first aired in 2004. However this often turns out to be disingenuous; for example Netflix’s teen drama The 100, which heavily courted a queer audience, had one of the two queer women on the show shot dead in its third season. The shooting followed the queer women’s sex scene in an almost exemplary use of the infamous ‘Bury Your Queers’ trope; where queer characters are far less likely to receive happy endings and far more likely to end up dead or dying. This trope is far too common and even supposedly feminist shows employ it; Buffy the Vampire Slayer went so far as to kill the only gay man on the show.

    Of course this does not mean there are no good shows aimed (wholly or in part) at queer audiences, one of which is Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. While the show has problematic elements, it is still worth celebrating the fact that it was one of the first shows to not only have a sympathetic portrayal of a trans woman character, but also to hire an actual trans woman (Laverne Cox) for the role, and not a cis man. Also in this category is Sense8, another Netflix show, which has a trans woman (Jamie Clayton) in a leading role, and is in large part written and directed by two (the Wachowski sisters). Other recent or current shows with good representation for queer people include AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, CBS’s Person of Interest, and MTV’s Faking It.

    Mere representation is not enough, however. The fact that a show has queer people in key roles does not necessarily mean it will do anything to advance queer liberation, as seen by shows involving the obnoxious Caitlyn Jenner, or notorious transphobe Ru Paul. What we need are shows that go beyond the tired old stereotypes and stories (how many new variations of the coming out story do we need?), that treat queer characters, actors, and off-screen staff like humans first, last, and always. Yes, things have improved over the last two decades and will doubtlessly continue to do so, but that does not mean we can sit on our laurels and trust that “it’ll get better.” History shows that the only way to win liberation, or even mere tolerance, for queer people (or any marginalised group) is by fighting for it. Stonewall was a riot, after all.

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  • Queer Theatre: A Review

    What even is queer theatre? I was in a play once that on the outset claimed that title, Queer Theatre. We lived and breathed in every vignette and story line the stories of ‘our’ people. Pronouns were varied and often paired same-same, as opposed to different, if they paired at all.  We even had a token straight person. Apart from a big chunk of my lecturers seeing me in my underwear, it was fantastic! The play itself? Average. Outwardly and openly collaborating with queer folk on queer stories, on the other hand, was phenomenal. The weird thing is that it’s not like I hadn’t been in the company of a predominantly rainbow cast and crew for a show before. So what was the difference? Theatre has a reputation for being queer friendly—right?

    We spend most of our time as thespians (heh, sounds like lesbians) in the company of other queer or questioning folk, volunteering our time, energy, a chunk of our sanity, and sometimes money for mostly small time plays that we have to coerce our friends and family into seeing. I could do an in depth analysis of the hegemonic heteronormative culture that arguably influences the socioeconomic status and success stories of the communities typically drawn to community theatre… but that would be a d-buzz and a whole other article! So what came first? The chicken or the egg? Did queers make theatre or did theatre make the queers?

    Perhaps there is something about having to actively get inside someone else’s skin; to put thought, energy, and time into living someone else’s reality and seeing the world through their eyes that forces us theatre folk to reflect on how we see the world in contrast to the characters we play that brings us ‘out’. Maybe our consciousnesses are so susceptible to suggestion that constant reprogramming like having to play across gender lines and other social constructs makes it easier to deviate from the most common social and sexual scripts. Our craft carrying us further from the heteronormative. So maybe the chicken makes the egg?

    On the other side of the fence, maybe we sexual orienteers are drawn to the theatre of pretending because (unfortunately) we spend a large part of our lives doing just that—‘pretending’. To like the boy all the other girls like, or the same kind of porn that your dude-bro mates like, or even pretending to adhere to gender in binary at all. So putting on the costume, character, and cadence of someone outside of oneself could be familiar territory for us, drawing us to the fickle flame that is the stage. Hell, dealing with a character’s emotions and bullshit might even be a reprieve from the mental chaos, magnified by a conscious or not yet conscious ‘outsider’ status (not everyone knows there’s a closet, and not everyone wants to step out once they’ve figured out they are in there), that is our very human—queer—condition. Maybe theatre’s appropriately dense population of queer-does is really just a bunch of people straight up playing into one big camp-gay stereotype! But I doubt it. Way too much effort to sustain.

    Theatre could well be an indoctrination tank for the ‘agenda’, a breeding ground for the ever increasing hybridity of spectrum life, a hallowed haven for those who do not fit the sexual, romantic, gendered, and relational hegemonies found almost everywhere else or a homely hodgepodge of the lot. We queers might be the chicken, we might be the egg. It makes my heart heavy to count my experiences of being officially involved in ‘queer’ theatre against the countless of not. I do not have the answers. I do know that those who argue that being ‘queer’ (or whichever letter or language in our delicious bowl of alphabet soup you identify) is a ‘choice’, have to have more screws loose than Lear. We all know the statistics. This would be a choice made against our most base instinct of self-preservation and none of us are that dumb. But I also know that it felt wonderfully nice to be explicitly in queer company whilst sharing our stories, and that it would not have been possible had I not left that dark forest to the likes of Mr Tumnus and struck it out on my own. If any of you reading this are still in there… come out. It gets better, we gotchu. And maybe one day we can be in a play together? Where the stories are our own and we don’t need the prefix.

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  • Transfer

    Show One: Tomorrow After All—★★½

    Show Two: Bridges and Doors—★★★½

     

    Transfer was a pair of contemporary dance works, choreographed by expat kiwis Jeremy Nelson (New York) and Joshua Rutter (Berlin), and performed by Footnote Dance Company. Footnote recently celebrated its thirtieth anniversary, making it New Zealand’s oldest contemporary dance company. The company has a fairly consistent record of producing excellent shows, so I went into this with high expectations. However these expectations were not met.

    The format of this performance was fairly standard for Footnote, as many shows in the past have been collections of works showcasing a variety of New Zealand choreographers. The venue however was not, with the show presented at the Massey University Tea Gardens. This place proved so hard to find that the company’s admin team had to put signposts around the campus telling the audience how to get there. At least three people entered late because they got lost.

    The first work presented, Tomorrow After All by Joshua Rutter, was… odd. My girlfriend had a look of intense discomfort throughout the performance. Footnote’s five performers ‘danced’ while wearing long multicoloured wigs that hid their faces, whilst manipulating large inflated tubes made from black trash bags. I tentatively use the word dance as the work did not include anything recognisable as a series of steps. The performance was intended to explore ideas of internet culture, or, to quote the choreographer’s own writing, “virtual environments populated by obscure character design and artificial materialities… fragments scavenged from the internet are assembled into an embryonic culture that starts to generate its own sense of time and place.” Each dancer was dressed to represent some form internet subculture, or at least that’s the straw I grasped at. The piece had strong hints at subtext, but no way to actually ascertain what that subtext may be. Basically it was like a bunch of tumblr aesthetic blogs, both in appearance and in the shallow nature of the content, while attempting to present itself as deep.

    Footnote has in the past taken on choreographers with kooky ideas for shows, but usually the execution is far better. The most notable example being their 2011 show Hullapolloi by Jo Randerson and Kate McIntosh, which, in the manner of presentation, bore a striking resemblance to Tomorrow After All, but with one key difference: it contained actual social commentary. In both works costumes were weird, there was a significant lack of structured or precise movement, and there was a big focus on the use of disposable props. While Hullapolloi received praise from critics, Tomorrow After All simply failed to live up to its full potential.

    Bridges and Doors by Jeremy Nelson, the second work presented, was much more accessible. This performance actually contained the structured movement you would expect from a dance show. Nelson, judging from the performance and his description of the work, seems to be a very down to earth guy, especially for the contemporary dance scene.

    Nelson’s work explored ideas of architecture, and the distinction between building and dwelling; house and home. It included some interesting movements to represent floor plans, walls, and structural support requiring nuanced partner work. It was not a flashy performance, and it wasn’t aiming to express anything experimental, crazy, or even deep. The dancers wore what was probably their own clothes. There was a clever and subtle use of costume when all the dancers removed any jackets, sweaters, or coats they were wearing as though entering a dwelling. Nelson proved in that moment that you don’t need garish long wigs to convey an idea through costume.

    A similar moment was achieved when a dancer placed a table on the stage, marking the transition from a soulless space to a home; however it was slightly disappointing because the table was not used at all after that point. It was refreshing to have something so tame after the mess that was Tomorrow After All. Perhaps putting Nelson’s unextravagant performance alongside Rutter’s mess-terpiece was to its detriment, because it didn’t leave much of a lasting impact on me in the end.

    Overall Transfer was not the best show Footnote has ever performed, but like all Footnote shows it encouraged conversation and analysis—albeit about how much better previous shows have been.

     

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  • Blood Orange — Freetown Sound

    ★★★★★

    What a fucking crazy and painful year 2016 has been so far. In the wake of the mass shootings in Orlando, footage of police violence, and post-Brexit racist attacks, producer and multi instrumentalist Dev Hynes released his third album as Blood Orange, announcing it with a handwritten note on Instagram: “My album is for those who are told they are not black enough, too black, too queer, not queer the right way, the unappreciated, it’s a clapback.”

    The first single from the album, “Augustine”, serves as the prism through which the album’s historical, personal, and political themes are refracted. The opening lines—My father was a young man, my mother off the boat / My eyes were fresh at 21, bruised but still afloat—trace his mother’s journey from Guyana and his father’s journey from Freetown, Sierra Leone and draw them in parallel with his migration from London to New York. In the chorus he filters the Confessions of St. Augustine of Hippo through a queer lens—Skin on his skin / A warmth that I can feel with him—as a way of reconciling the faith that Augustine spread to Africa down through his parents’ with his queerness.

    The accompanying music video with its heavy grain and muted colours calls to mind the New York of the late 80s and early 90s. It features Hynes making music in his apartment, surrounded by writings on queer black studies, on Trayvon Martin, on St. Augustine. He wears a yellow cap adorned with the Guyanese flag and dances in front of a painting of the Sierra Leone flag. Surrounded by a bevy of diverse artists he dances freely in parks and on rooftops. It feels like an invocation of the spirit of the era of Marlon Riggs, Octavia St. Laurent, and Essex Hemphill.

    This nostalgic bohemian spirit carries through the sound of the album. Vocally, Hynes channels Prince and Michael Jackson without coming across as imitative. Tracks are frequently intercut with audio snippets expressing varied experiences of queerness and blackness and textured with street recordings from New York. A quote from Marlon Riggs’ documentary Black Is… Black Ain’t speaks to delineating boundaries of black identity: Black is and black ain’t / Black is blue, black is red / Black is tan (Black will get ya) / Black is light (And black will leave you alone).

    As an artist and producer Hynes collaborates almost exclusively with women, noting that there’s “a particular power that women can put across that men just can’t.” Demonstrated in the album, the strongest songs here are collaborations with women. Opening track “By Ourselves” features slam poet Ashlee Haze fiercely championing the importance of seeing Missy Elliott perform and the importance of representation. Nelly Furtado duets on the stunning ballad “Hadron Collider” which recalls 2006 banger “Say It Right”, and Debbie Harry brings fire to the new wave funk of “E.V.P”.

    On the standout, “Best To You”, Honduran-American singer Empress Of, who released her outstanding self-produced debut album Me last year, takes the lead. Her voice soars over cello, marimba, and tropical dance percussion. Posing as an unrequited love song, the lyrics speak to subsuming self-identity to please another and the pain of hiding otherness. I feel my bones crack in your arms / And I can’t be the girl you want but I can be the thing you throw away—she repeats the last two words as the song reaches its euphoric climax. It’s a thrilling moment, finding a sense of strength and pride through the pain of being marginalised and minimised.

    While drawing inspiration from the past, this is an album that is also firmly rooted in the present. Identity, belonging, liberation—as an exploration of these themes Freetown Sound is coloured by the socio-political context of our times. The movement Black Lives Matter and the larger issue of what it means to be black or other in a world that violently attacks otherness is woven into the fabric of the album—a dissertation on identity. It’s generous, engaging music that champions individuality and self expression even when it’s dangerous to do so. Get it.

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  • Games for inclusivity

    Though initially stereotypical and unsympathetic, there have been queer characters in video games for at least thirty years—the first exemplar (from a then-major publisher) being Ultima VI: The False Prophet in 1990. However the first game to make being queer an integral part of the protagonist, rather than a choice in a single scene with little impact on the rest of the plot, would not come for a further six years. This was Sierra’s Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh, whose protagonist was explicitly bisexual. Yet the first game with large numbers of queer characters to penetrate outside the so-called ‘gamer community’ was EA’s 2001 title The Sims, which was explicitly advertised on the basis of allowing all characters to be bisexual.

    This did not mean there were large numbers of games with queer characters released in any given year: it was not until 2004 that five major games with queer characters were released in the same year, and even then at least one (Rockstar North’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) used a highly stereotypical portrayal, designed to insult the main antagonist faction at that. More recent games, however, tend to be more genuinely inclusive of queer characters, even though they can otherwise be problematic. The Mass Effect series is a case in point; the ability for the player character to act like what amounts to a racial supremacist is hardly made up for by the inclusion of at least one bisexual non-player character, with later entries having characters exclusively attracted to their own gender. Dontnod Entertainment’s 2015 title Life is Strange is problematic in a different way; even though both female leads are explicitly bisexual (and can enter relationships), the game’s climax forces the protagonist to choose whether to save the other female lead or their home town, with the former choice being directly responsible for the town’s destruction.

    Games not made by major companies are often more inclusive, possibly due to the lack of need to please conservative shareholders and marketing departments. The highly abstract Dys4ia is a good example. Coded entirely by Anna Anthropy the game is designed to emulate the high levels of frustration often felt by those seeking to medically transition—in an attempt to create empathy with that section of the queer community. Read Only Memories is another good one as, not only does it include characters from a range of different sexualities and genders, it also allows the player to specify what pronouns should be used, even allowing for entirely custom sets. Highway Shadows focuses on the relationships (romantic or otherwise) between its protagonist and her social circle, as does Brilliant Shadows—the former even skips the tired coming out subplot.

    These advances in the quality and quantity of queer representation should not be settled for. Rather than simply accepting the presence of queer characters, no matter how shallow, we need games that fully integrate queer people into their world and plotlines, that treat us as a market worth catering to in our own right. Yes, things are vastly better than they were thirty years ago, but the existence of organised reactionary groups such as Gamergate means that we cannot just sit back and relax. Doing nothing will condemn us to the status quo; if things don’t go backwards. History shows that if we wish to be tolerated, let alone liberated, we must fight for it.

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  • The Queer Bechdel Test

    The film Carol, a portrayal of two women in a relationship in the 1950s, starred Cate Blanchett as the lead and was nominated for Best Motion Picture Drama at the 2016 Golden Globes. Yet it had no LGBTIQA+ (queer) actors. Queer representation in film is an issue that spans more than just casting, it includes how queer characters and issues are portrayed to a non-queer audience. In film we are beginning to see queer main characters, rather than tokenistic representations.

    Blue is the Warmest Colour won the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, but prestigious film awards do not reward accuracy in showcasing queer topics. Despite being a lesbian film, Blue is the Warmest Colour had no openly gay actors in its two lead roles and had a male director, Abdellelatif Kechiche. Despite winning the Palme d’Or it was heavily criticised for its negative and fake portrayal of lesbian relationships. Julie Maroh, the creator of the graphic novel from which it is based, called the film pornographic and critiqued its artificial representation. The film has extensive close-ups of sexualised parts of the female anatomy and lengthy sex scenes, with one lasting over six minutes! Parts of the film seem more like pornography than a lesbian film. One of the lead actresses Léa Seydoux described the extensive time Kechiche spent on shooting sex scenes and said she felt as if she was a “prostitute.”  Regardless of who was cast in it, Kechiche’s film exemplifies the cisgender-male obsession with lesbian sex and unfortunately, to the non-queer audience, could be passed off as an accurate portrayal of same-sex female relationships.

    Other widely released films have managed to provide realistic depictions of same-sex relationships. Freeheld, rather than focussing upon desire, depicts a couple that is forced to fight for legal equality. One of the protagonists (a police detective) is diagnosed with cancer, and finds that her same-sex spouse cannot receive her pension in the same way that a heterosexual married spouse would. We see a more honest depiction in this film, of a lesbian couple who want similar things to a straight couple. It also grapples with keeping the relationship a secret in order to avoid the negative judgement of colleagues. Confronting homophobia is more central to Freeheld than Blue is the Warmest Colour—the latter has only one scene engaging with homophobia, when Adèle (main character) is the target of slurs from her friends when they see a “Tomboy” waiting outside school for her. Freeheld also has romantic scenes, but they are not sexualised to the extent of Kechiche’s film and they are free of close-ups on sexualised parts of the female anatomy. Furthermore Freeheld features an openly lesbian actor, Ellen Page, as a lead character, Stacie. Same-sex relationships in films do not need to be needlessly over-sexualised to be considered for awards.

    The Danish Girl presents issues of gender dysphoria and transition to a non-queer audience. As the film progresses the lead character Lili can only bear to live as a female and not as Einar, who she was born as. The film communicates the euphoria of being Lili and the dysphoria associated with being Einar. Reasonably early in the film a scene shows her dressed like a male, as she was assigned at birth, running off to the arts academy to dress herself as Lili. Criticism was placed on the film for its casting of a cisgender male actor, Eddie Redmayne, as Lili in the film because it shows being transgender as dressing in drag. While this presents a valid concern for films it does present how unbearable it was for Lili being trapped in the wrong body of Einar. Directors seem reluctant to cast transgender actors into major roles in movies. In stark contrast to this is Tangerine, a low-budget film presented at Sundance, which probably received more attention for being shot on iPhones than for casting two transwomen of colour in its leading roles. The supporting actor Mya Taylor is the first transwomen actor to receive a Gotham film award and she also worked as a sex worker after being unable to find other work. Despite its budget, Tangerine has a sense of a genuine story. It does not necessarily reflect negatively on a film if transgender actors are not cast as transgender characters, however more must be done to showcase transgender talent, like Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black.

    Tangerine illustrates issues of transgender sex workers by following two trans women on Christmas Eve, one of whom has just been released from prison that day. Instead of dysphoria, Tangerine places an emphasis upon transphobia in wider society. There are many transphobic comments made by minor characters about being born males and labelling relationships between men and transwomen as homosexual, and a car pulls over and yells transphobic abuse at Sin-dee, one of the main characters, and urine is thrown at her.

    Showcasing LGBTQIA+ talent in major roles in films should not be our sole litmus test for queer representation. Ultimately it matters less to inform a non-queer audience about queer culture and lives if directors and writers are going to be providing inaccurate representations anyway. While these films are not without their problems, hopefully we will continue to see progress towards accurate and positive representations in future.

     

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  • Dare Truth or Promise (1997)

    ★★★★

    Author: Paula Boock

    Publisher: Longacre Press, Dunedin

     

    My family lives in Christchurch. More than five years after the devastating 2011 earthquakes, our house has finally been given the green light to be demolished. This trip home is likely one of the last times I’ll stay in the house I’ve called home for almost 20 years. This means there is a lot of stuff to sort through to empty the house for the demo team. Part of this trip was sitting with my mother to go through our study, picking out the treasures that we couldn’t part with—the things that would stay with us to the new house and beyond. Photos, memories, books, trinkets, childhood artwork—this room is like a time capsule of mine and my families lives. During this search, I found a book I had forgotten about. Almost.

    Dare Truth or Promise is a book that will probably be familiar to many young New Zealand queer women. It was written in 1997 by Paula Boock, published in Dunedin, was shortlisted in the USA for a 2000 Lambda Literary Award for LGBT-themed fiction, and won the 1998 NZ Post Children’s Book of the Year Award. The book explores the growing relationship between two young girls, Louie and Willa, and provides an exemplary example of many queer tropes and classic characters, lines, and experiences. Willa is a free spirit with an accepting family, but has a dark past. Louie is a studious drama nerd, who never really liked kissing boys but definitely crushed on her drama teacher. They meet at an after-school job at a burger joint where Willa threatens the manhood (literally) of a creepy manager, impressing and intriguing the straight-laced Louie. From there, they share furtive glances, stolen kisses, nighttime explorations, and plenty of lingering hand holding.

    The book definitely shows it’s age—no Snapchat streaks or Facebook stalking for Willa and Louie. Instead they hide in the library at school, talk on the (home) phone, and sneak into each others rooms at night. This book has so many classic and familiar elements, up to and including the quintessential staple of young queer relationships—the ‘sleepover’. This book is so familiar, because I lived much of what it describes: high school crushes, cute teachers, confused attractions, sneaking around, ‘sleepovers’ with my ‘friend’. This story is not shy about what it is and who it’s for.

    This book was probably one of my first exposures to queer female relationships in youth literature—or any literature for that matter. In the late 1990s to early 2000s positive models of queer relationships were few and far between, and were definitely not aimed towards young people. While the narrative is simple and sweet, it provides a platform for a faction of society that is so often ignored or neglected. When queer storylines do exist they often focus on male relationships, and women’s sexuality (especially young women’s) is frequently minimised or suppressed. While Willa and Louie have trials and struggles in their relationship—again, classic tropes of homophobic parents, misguided friends, and problematic exes—their troubles aren’t unrealistic, and reflect many hurdles that young queer women often experience in their early relationships. The book also engages with consent and sex in a mature but understandable way, given it’s target audience. It is refreshing to see a book that doesn’t shy away from admitting that teenages have sex (and enjoy it!), and shows sex and consent in a normal, positive, healthy light.

    Although Dare Truth or Promise is aimed at young adults, and is almost 20 years old, it’s still a wickedly cool story that a lot of queer people (especially queer women) will be able to relate to and see themselves reflected in. When you’re a part of a minority, that’s an experience that makes a book hard to ever forget.

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  • About the Author ()

    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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