Friday, November 9, 2018

I Am....

I know, it's been a LONG time since I last posted on here!

Well, it was announced on my other social media about a month ago (sorry I'm late on here), but...

I'm still so excited that I am now an AGENTED author with Rhea Lyons of HSG Agency!

Y'all, Rhea is my dream come true for an agent. So far, we've been hard at work with revisions for my upcoming LGBTQ literary/commercial novel, Selena Luz, Queen of Anita. I can already sing my praises about how incredible and wonderful the experience has been so far, and we're literally just getting started!

Hence was why I've been absent from here for some time. Finding an agent is hard, y'all!

But to find THE RIGHT AGENT just for you is so worth it. Rhea is perfect for me.

Stay tuned!

Monday, June 11, 2018

LGBT Film Review: Alex Strangelove (2018)

Synopsis (from Netflix):

He loves his girlfriend. And she’s eager to devirginize him. So why can’t he stop thinking about the boy he just met?

My Review:

Clearly inspired by Love, Simon, Alex Strangelove has as much of the humor and charm, but its heart lies in its incredibly modern, honest, and human exploration on one young man’s self-realization that he’s gay. Even though he thinks he’s straight, and to prove that, he feels like he has to validate that by having sex with his girlfriend. The peer pressure is pretty deep, intense, and even literally, trippy (thanks to a frog!). Sure, a lot of Alex Strangelove is over-the-top and cartoonish, which can sometimes make Alex, his girlfriend, his friends, and his crush seem one-dimensional and stereotypical in their own way, but this film still effortlessly makes everyone and everything relatable. Amidst the silliness, I was impressed by the intelligence of how even when the characters are talking about, or trying to have, sex, there was a lot of soul and depth, giving us insight to how a teen sees not only their own sexuality, but that of others, be they asexual, bisexual, or pansexual. It’s not just a coming-out story, but Alex Strangelove is on a whole a witty and lovely coming-of-age story that makes us laugh, makes us think, and makes us go d’aww. Even though I wish it could have went even deeper, I appreciated how it wasn’t all surface-level, and wasn’t afraid to be pretty weird, even kind of edgy, and still, so adorable and wonderful.

Monday, May 28, 2018

LGBT Film Review: Viva (2016)

Synopsis (by Netflix):

A hairdresser is thrilled when his dream of becoming a nightclub drag performer comes true, until his disapproving estranged father suddenly appears.

My Review:

Filmed in Havana with a cast of lively, robust, and talented Cuban actors, Viva is so much and more. It’s slick, it’s raunchy, and it’s most of all, so full of heart from the get-go with the powerful stage performances, the music, and the gorgeous Havana backdrop. The story, however, is far from new. While the film is more about an estranged father-son relationship being confronted with pain, loss, toxic masculinity, and drama, because of the familiarity of it, I didn’t find it as interesting as Jesus’s journey in finding himself through the power of drag. It’s the latter that made Viva come to life, while the father-son element to me was more of a sub-plot that didn’t really add as much to the story as was intentioned. The father, while obviously is supposed to be unlikeable, was too unlikeable for me to care about him and his relationship with his son and his son’s drag persona, Viva. Not to mention, I didn’t find their meeting to be at all realistic; how could a man who hadn’t seen his son since he was three years old recognize him in drag in a gay nightclub? And what does that say about the father if he’s in such a nightclub, how does it make sense that he’d be outraged at his son for being in such a club when he’s there too? The chances are too unlikely, and didn’t make sense. It just didn’t work. The movie’s direction was all over the place, instead of being balanced and centered to its core. It’s unfortunate: Viva brims with so much promise, and there was so much that I adored, but it didn’t quite make it, and left me underwhelmed and disappointed. Nonetheless, Viva is still absorbing, and most of all, universal.

* Now on Netflix *

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Redefining Beauty: On Harper's Bazaar!

I know, it's been a LONG time since I posted! My life these days is soo busy, and this is one of the reasons why! I'm so honored to be part of this brilliant piece by my good friend, Serena Sonoma, where I share my experience as a trans person and what beauty means to me and our community.

You can find the article here.  

Thursday, December 28, 2017

LGBT Film Review: Breaking Free (2015)

Synopsis (from IMDb):

Filmmaker and gay activist Sridhar Rangayan embarks on a personal journey to expose the human rights violations faced by the LGBTQ community in India due to a draconian law Section 377 and homophobic social mores of a patriarchal society.

My Review:

Filmed over the course of 7 years, Breaking Free (2015) amplifies the voices of LGBTQ people in India. Specifically, it focuses on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, and how it has criminalized a whole community. The heart of this documentary is not only on its brutally honest and graphic look into the harsh treatments that the people face, but on the testimonies on the people themselves who have been subjected to just about every inhumane treatment possible, from rape, blackmail, torture, and so on, that is supported and even encouraged by this law, and who are still here to tell their stories of fear, heartbreak, sorrow, pain, and ultimately, triumph.

Very gritty, an eye-opener, and an emotional roller coaster, Breaking Free tells all, as it emancipates the unsung.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Utopia: My Review

To say that Utopia was overwhelmingly stunning is practically an understatement when you listen to each track deeply, as I did when I listened to it when it immediately dropped on Spotify at midnight:

I listened to the opening track, "Arisen My Senses," with a smile. Admittedly, it's my only least favorite song on the album, but I felt the exuberance and optimism that only makes sense as a way to introduce us to a utopia as how Björk sees it. But it always raises the question: what is Utopia, how do we get there, and does it really exist, or will it, ever?

First: it's about love as it first begins with "Blissing Me" (track 2), and is then very quickly about how when a new love begins, "The Gate" (track 3) explores a deeper world within this thing called love.

From "The Gate," we enter into "Utopia" (track 4): a world of not just light, but birds, and oh, those GORGEOUS orchestra of flutes!

I don't normally like to be too comparative because each Björk album is its own unique world and creation, but I LOVE how Utopia is like a throwback to Vespertine, but, more like, a more forward-thinking version of Vespertine with the essence of Biophilia's love of nature.

"Body Memory" (track 5) is also a slight nod/continuation to Vulnicura, where even though Björk  (or the character of this album) may be looking to a more positive and uplifting future, but without being too polly-anna about it: still have to be grounded in realities too.

"Body Memory" is the "Black Lake" of Utopia. So. Fucking. BEAUTIFUL. Not nearly as heart-wrenching, but oh, the feels: the choir, Arca, the epicness of it all to its darkness and overwhelming depth. It might make you cry. It certainly did for me, it was here where it started since me getting choked up by the flute orchestration, the drums, the beats, the birds, and just...the message of it all.

"Features Creatures" (track 6) is so haunting in the most delicious way. Like a ghost singing in the dark.

As someone who has been taught/playing wind instruments (flute, clarinet, and recorder) for most of my childhood, Utopia is truly a gift and a dream. And on that note along with this aside, the flutes in "Courtship" (track 7) made me swoon. Beats and flutes make a beautiful marriage.

That seamless progression from "Courtship" to "Losss" (track 8) made me teary-eyed. Utopia creeps us through a dream world and a reality world all at once, and both worlds are valid, somehow.

From "The Gate" all the songs after it are my favorite songs, honestly, but of them all, "Losss" is my favorite. The flutes are so haunting and hypnotizing.  With "Sue Me" (track 9) the flutes, beats, and drums alike are a character in this overwhelming, gorgeous, floaty/air-y journey into a vision of utopia. "Sue Me" is definitely a continuation to "Quicksand": not only a warning, but a mission. We must not repeat mistakes and we must break curses. We don't only owe it to ourselves, we owe it to the future to be and do better.

"Tabula Rasa" (track 10) makes it louder and clearer to me that the message of the album is not about a PERFECT world, but a more balanced one. Light and darkness can coincide without one overtaking the other, where they both serve their purpose, in their own way. This song is also telling us to STOP: we have to think about our children and the world we're bringing them up in.

Back to when I mentioned how Utopia has some of Biophilia's essence: "Claimstaker" (track 11) reminds me so much of "Thunderbolt," but with more urgency, in ironically a very gentle, but still defiant, way.

We're back into that seemingly perfect world of Utopia again with "Paradisia" (track 12) with more flutes, bird calls, light, and hope than ever before. It's the shortest song on the album, but is still so chock full of majesty. "Paradisia" takes us into "Saint" (track 13): it's here where it's as if we're basking in this new world, taking the time to stay still and soak it all in.

With the final track, "Future Forever," as cheesy as it will sound, it encompasses how Björk will always be the future and she'll always be forever. Utopia really is about love, so full of it, and blooming with reality, darkness, anxiety, doubt, and pain. But still: it's love.

As to my final thoughts:

Utopia is rooted on a vision that more than likely the hardcore Björk fans will warm up to immediately while leaving the rest of her fanbase cold. But we all know this: Björk music only gets more challenging with every record. And for that, we're blessed.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

LGBT Film Review: How Gay Is Pakistan? (2015)

Synopsis (from Netflix):

This documentary explores the lives of gay people and the challenges they face in Pakistan, a country whose laws explicitly outlaw homosexuality.

My Review:
Oh, this was everything and more. Mawaan Rizwan, born and raised in Pakistan as a kid, takes us back to his homeland where he journeys through what life is like for his fellow Pakistani gay men. Mawaan didn't grow up to know what it is really like to be gay and Pakistani other than having it ingrained in his head by his parents on how wrong it is, so for him, being back home as an adult, he not only is reminded of his roots, but how much has changed, and not changed, since he left. We learn about the gay parties, organized by gay activists, where gay, trans and lesbian people alike are free to be themselves in ways that they can't possibly be outside of the party. We also learn what it's like to be trans in Pakistan, and what it's like when a gay couple wants to get married, but can only dream and hope for it when shopping for bridal gowns and imagining that marriage equality was real. What's most striking is not only us getting to know these wonderful and beautiful people, but how Mawaan navigates through this local and underground world with humor, honesty, respect, and grace even when we're faced with harsh, cold, and deadly realities. There's the hate crimes, the secretive "MSM" (Men who have Sex with Men) sex dens, and Mawaan even dares to go to a clinic where they swear that taking herbal pills will cure the gay away and convert their "patients" to heterosexuality in 2 months. It's as entertaining as it is truly heartbreaking. How Gay Is Pakistan is inspiring. This documentary is only 50 minutes long, but gives us an everlasting impression that will last a lifetime.

* Currently on Netflix *