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An artful homage to LA queer space

The mightily ambitious Dirty Looks: On Location arts festival honors the city’s LGBTQ legacy

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The original and decidedly alt LGBTQ film fest. (Photo courtesy Dirty Looks: On Location)

A 50th-anniversary tribute to LA’s first-ever gay film festival. A one-night-only recreation of iconic LA cruise bar Cuffs. A celebration of the work of Jewel Thais-Williams, in the space that was once her Catch One club. These are just a few of the events that have already been a part of Dirty Looks: On Location, an incredibly ambitious and provocative multi-media exploration of the queer history of Los Angeles, making use of unique and often legendary queer spaces across the city to show rare films and mount special performances, with a different event happening every single evening of the month of July.

We spoke with Dirty Looks Founder and Creative Director Bradford Nordeen about the stimulating and expansive On Location festival, which he organized with 13 local curators, and which continues daily through July 31.

LOS ANGELES BLADE: How did you and your curators go about choosing the films and locations to include as part of the festival?

BRADFORD NORDEEN: We met over a series of dinners and bar moments, talking about the different LA stories that everyone was interested in telling. We passed around some books. It’s not a literal festival, in that what you’re watching doesn’t necessarily relate to the space directly, more like the combination of site and film evoke a historical moment or element. So we took those opportunities to get to know one another and kind of plan how this year was going to pan out.

BLADE: Did the films always dictate the locations, or was it sometimes the other way around?

NORDEEN: In a way, I would say it’s the action that dictates what’s going on. The history that we are celebrating becomes the glue that brings together the venue and the film or performance. I feel like our event above The Masque, LA’s first punk club (now World of Wonder’s production offices) was a good example of this, where the punk films weren’t about that exact venue, but about a distinctly Los Angeles, Latinx punk sensibility. That event was also made up of three separate proposals that we brought together to make a really strong and unlikely night that merged LA video art, documentary and live performance. It was funny, because someone came down from their office upstairs and was like, “I’ve always wanted to know the history of this space,” and I bit my lip and was kind of like, “Well…”

BLADE: The schedule has such a broad spectrum of voices. Was that an important element for you?

NORDEEN: 100 percent! I think the landscape of Los Angeles begets all of these amazing micro-communities of experimentation, with nightlife, noise shows, filmmaking, queer community organizing, so bringing together the performing arts venue Coaxial, with Women’s Center for Creative Work and Young Joon Kwak + Marvin Astorga — who front the band Xina Xurner and collaborate on the project Mutant Salon — covers so many different art forms and approaches, but each shares a kind of mutual respect and collaborative passion towards bringing queerness to the surface of LA 2018. Also, LA’s history felt unwritten for so long, and it pops up in such fascinating and disparate events, so it felt silly to limit everything to movies.

BLADE: What are you most excited about that’s still to come?

NORDEEN: I’m thrilled that we’re screening Gregg Araki’s “Nowhere” on 35mm at The Vista for a midnight screening on July 27th. I’ve watched that movie a million times on VHS, but I’ve never seen a print. I know that Graham Kolbeins from Massive has some great surprises in store for the closing night at Tom of Finland Foundation, which is centered around the art and inspiration of Gengoroh Tagame. The Tom boys always know how to host a real fun time — I never miss their Christmas party!

BLADE: Were there any films or locations that you wanted to use in the festival, but just couldn’t get access to for whatever reason?

NORDEEN: Yes, there were one or two. Los Angeles can be tricky for this approach because of how the industry creates a hypothetical economy for venue rentals. But I would say that, as a whole, the project is easier today than when we founded it in 2012 because now it’s more in vogue to be woke or to honor legacy. A lot of the venues said yes without batting a lash.

BLADE: Along the same lines, any films or locations that you felt especially lucky that you were able to include?

NORDEEN: I have to say, doing our event at the Plaza just felt so amazing, there’s so much history there and it’s such a beautiful location. I’ve also never screened in the main theater at The Egyptian or The Vista. Our night resurrecting Cuffs bar in Silverlake was beyond special, I think because a lot of people went into it thinking it was going to be some kind of neutered, Epcot-style reenactment, but it was probably 110 inside without AC and wall-to-wall sweating flesh, so it felt kind of like the bowels of hell in a way that perhaps fidelitously recreated the original vibe of the space for 2018.

BLADE: I know you’ve been asked about this before, but since On Location is happening at the same time as Outfest, do you see it as an alternative Outfest, or completely unrelated?

NORDEEN: I ran Outfest’s experimental programming for four years. What I was able to do with that platform is SO different from what I’m able to accomplish with this one. Festivals tend to operate as a commercial network, and this project is about Los Angeles history and space. It was great when people went to a Platinum performance last weekend then popped into our event at Chico’s later that night. I mean, we work with film, and so naturally it’s somewhat related. But can’t we all just get along?

Full schedule and ticket info for Dirty Looks: On Location is at dirtylooksla.org/map

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Online Culture

Google erases part of LGBTQ+ community in new online glossary project

The tool, a glossary of 100 words that used the company’s Google Trends to track the popularity of LGBTQ+ terminology and definitions

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Graphic via VideoOut

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Ca. – A new online tool designed to help mainstream, freelance and even LGBTQ+ journalists navigate definitions of what can be a complex world of LGBTQ+ vernacular, left out definitions of bisexuality and pansexuality in a new Google “LGBTQ+ language initiative.

The Google News Initiative announced the project in partnership with VideoOut, titled the “LGBTQ+ language and media literacy program, last week in a press statement. According to the company, they partnered with Men’s Health magazine to “help contextualize the research and data in the program.” 

The tool, a glossary of 100 words that used the company’s Google Trends to track the popularity of LGBTQ+ terminology and definitions, was created with the assistance of several queer PhD linguists.

However, in a review of the glossary today, Friday, Nov. 26 the terms and definitions for bisexuality and pansexuality were missing.

According to the Google release: “It’s a way to understand the LGBTQ+ community, and hopefully, it will transform the way journalists – and all of us – write and talk about LGBTQ+ people.”

Jordan Reeves, the Executive Director of VideoOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit and the founder of VOE, a production company centering LGBTQ+ narratives in television and film, answered the self-asked question of; “WHY WOULD VideoOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit, partner with Men’s Health magazine?”

“So many people assume that Men’s Health is only for cisgender, heterosexual, masculine presenting men. I’m here to tell you, as a queer trans nonbinary human, that’s false.”

According to a recent Gallup poll, “One in six [U.S.] adults in Generation Z identifies as LGBT.” At the same time, a GLAAD report found 45% of non-LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. say they’re confused by the different number of terms to describe individuals who comprise the LGBTQ+ community.

In a response to late Friday evening, Jordan Reeves, the Executive Director of VideoOut in a direct message on Twitter told the Blade:

“Recently we launched The LGBTQ+ Language and Media Literacy Program, a living and breathing resource that we will continue to add to over time. We left out some terms and phrases at launch — bisexual, for example — that should have been included from the very beginning!

We are keenly aware of bi-erasure and the persistent confusion around bisexual identity. We are sorry we didn’t include it at luanch, but we are adding it (along with pansexual) very soon. We started with 100 entries (definitely not a comprehensive list…yet), and we are really excited to add entries as the community gives us feedback and suggestions.

We are really proud of the depth and breadth of terms that exist in the resource and hope it continues to be more and more useful as we add to it.

We’ll also be adding features so that this resource is the most useful for anyone using language about the LGBTQ+ community. If there are other words you can think of that we’ve left out, or ways to make the tool more dynamic, let us know and we’ll queue them up to be added!”

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Arts & Entertainment

2022 GRAMMYs announced & showcases LGBTQ+ narratives

“The inclusion of LGBTQ artists in this year’s nominees highlights growing shift in acceptance & dominant impact LGBTQ artists are making”

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Graphic courtesy of the Recording Academy

LOS ANGELES – The nominations for the 64th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony to be held on January 31, 2022, were announced Tuesday. Topping the list of nominees were Out Black rapper Lil Nas X for his smash gay narrative hit ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’ and Out Lesbian country/pop artist Brandi Carlile for her song ‘Right On Time.’

Lil Nas X, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, celebrated his nominations for song of the year, record of the year and best music video and thanked his fans in a string of Twitter posts.

“don’t have to win a single award, truly thankful for all the insight this year has brought me. and thankful for the journey. love u guys,” the 22-year-old rapper wrote.

LGBTQ artists who received Grammy nominations Tuesday also include pop star Halsey and singer-songwriter Arlo Parks.

“The vast inclusion of LGBTQ artists amongst this year’s Grammy nominees – including Lil Nas X, Brandi Carlile, Lady Gaga, and many others – highlights not only a growing shift in cultural acceptance, but also the dominant impact that LGBTQ artists are making across the music industry,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “With 5 total nominations, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year, Lil Nas X continues to open doors for greater LGBTQ inclusion in rap and hip-hop, which will undoubtedly inspire and empower a new generation of artists to embrace their authenticity and individuality.”

The Grammy Awards ceremony recognizes the best recordings, compositions, and artists of the eligibility year, running from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021.

The Recording Academy will present the 2022 GRAMMY Awards show on Mon, Jan. 31, on the CBS Television Network(opens in a new tab) and stream live and on demand on Paramount+ from 8–11:30 p.m. ET / 5–8:30 p.m. PT.

Prior to the telecast, the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony will be held at the Microsoft Theater at 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on GRAMMY.com and the Recording Academy’s YouTube channel(opens in a new tab).

Entire list of nominations here

Lil Nas X – MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)

Brandi Carlile – Right On Time (Official Video)

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Arts & Entertainment

2022 Best of LGBTQ LA Readers’ Choice Award Nominations

Nominate your favorites in our 2022 Best of LGBTQ LA categories through December 5th.

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It is Decision 2022! Nominate your favorites in our 2022 Best of LGBTQ LA categories through December 5th. The top 5 nominees from each category will become a finalist with voting starting December 15th. Our 2022 Best of LGBTQ LA will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ LA Awards Party and special issue on January 28th, 2022.

Nominate below or click HERE.

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