Monday, May 28, 2012

Same Sex in the City: A Book for the lonely

By Angela Thomas

On one random day, my best friend and I decided to take a bus and the subway to Philadelphia in order to escape the annoying bureaucracy of our school. We were planning on just doing homework in the parks like any other school student.

On our way to Rittenhouse Square Park, we stopped into the enormous Barnes & Noble to look at the extremely and unfortunately small Gay & Lesbian section. That’s when I discovered it; my dream book. It was sitting there amongst all the lesbian erotica, waiting for me to pick it up and take it home. However, that was surely not happening for $15.99 (and it was paperback as well!)

So what is this amazing book? “Same Sex in the City” by Lauren Levin and Lauren Blitzer.


 You see, I took a Chica Lit English seminar class this past semester and my goal was to find a lesbian chick-lit novel. Well ladies and gentlemen, I found it on that amazing day. A week later, I ordered it off of Amazon for a much cheaper price. I’ve been searching this past semester for a lesbian novel that included women like me; femme. I normally hate labels but I would say that I can be defined as femme. I enjoy shopping, shoes, clothing, make-up, perfume, etc. and reading about other women who enjoyed these things while also enjoying sex with women was tantalizing to say the least; a little of my own “erotica” in a way.

“If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it,” Toni Morrison is quoted at the beginning of chapter one. This quote was pretty much the mission of my “coming out.” Levin and Blitzer take me back to the days of scanning the aisles of Borders and not standing too close to the gay and lesbian section (but close enough to see what lesbian novels there were.) Even now, reading a novel about women in their middle 20s and their coming out process are hard to find. Never in my 25 years of existence have I ever read a novel’s first 17 pages and felt like crying “THANK YOU, UNIVERSE!”

What I really loved most about Levin and Blitzer’s novel is that they reiterate the whole “label-less” message. Although I can absolutely and confidently label myself as a lesbian, it isn’t always necessary to label yourself as any type of sexuality. Sexuality is fluid and sometimes not black or white.

Blitzer (left) and Levin (right)

 The novel also does an amazing job of not painting one picture of a “lesbian.” We’re all familiar with the Kate Moennig/ Shane image of lesbians but many times, lesbians can’t be defined as having a “look.” You wouldn’t believe how many times my partner and I would be at a lesbian nightclub, see two femme lesbians together, and squeal with joy. We come in all different sizes and shapes. What is appealing is that the book does not just pertain to “femme” girls. The text talks about all different “labels” of lesbians.

The novel reminds me a little bit about Dan Savage’s It Gets Better except this novel is geared towards women who are attracted to women. It is like one big “pow wow” of lady-lovers reaching out to other lady-lovers. However I have to disagree but agree with something the novel touches on and that is experimentation. At one point, Levin and Blitzer encourage women to get drunk and make out with their best friend. I know from first hand experience that this doesn’t always go over well. Experimentation is normal but do it carefully because you might hold someone’s heart in your hands. However, for first-timers, this book gives good advice on how to approach your first time with the same-sex.

 In this world, it is hard to feel a part of every day life, especially for the younger generation of the queer community. Books like Levin and Blitzer’s really help the youth realize that they are truly not alone. Pick this book up, read it, and realize that sometimes, things aren’t as they seem and usually, you’re not alone. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Help: Inspirational or not?

By Angela Thomas

I’ve recently just finished the book, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. That being said, I am not sure how I feel about the controversy over the book. I understand the point of view about the book having the same old “white woman helps and saves black woman.” However, I found the two women of color characters, Aibileen and Minny to be the strongest characters in the book and although Mrs. Skeeter helped Aibileen and Minny with their book, it was ultimately Minny and Aibileen who helped themselves. I haven’t seen the film adaptation of the book, so I am not sure how they portray all the characters and stories. I think what Stockett was trying to prove was that conditions for women and men of color were terrible. The way they were treated was (and still is) disturbing. Stockett was just trying to bring light to a harsh situation.

The book was thoroughly enjoyable for me and had me laughing at some parts and tearing up at some. I don’t think I’ve ever hated a character like Hilly but she was also a fictional character that represents many non-fictional people today. Celia Foote was one of the most amazing literary characters I have ever read. Her compassion, her innocence, who colorblindness, and her strength were extremely inspiring. This novel is absolutely recommended! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Circumstance": More than meets the trailer

By Angela Thomas
It is rare to watch a piece of cinema that in itself was a huge risk. It is even rarer to watch a film in which the actors and actresses have risked not only their reputations but lives as well.

It took me exactly one year to get my hands on a copy of “Circumstance,” but I finally did it. I saw a preview for the film last summer while checking out the various Hulu film trailers. The film offered a few things that interested me; Iranian youth culture, potential love story between two women, and a risk. While watching the trailer, one could get the premise of the film by assuming it is a story of two Iranian women coming to terms with their sexuality and feelings for one another. However, “Circumstance” was so much more than that. “Circumstance” was a risk, and huge one that director, Maryam Keshavarz took.

Sarah Kazemy (left) who portrays Shireen and Nikohl Boosheri (right) who portrays Atefah
Photo courtesy of
“It’s all about being trapped in the system,” Keshavarz said in an interview. Not only were these two women, Atefah (Nikohl Boosheri) and Shireen (Sarah Kazemy) thrown into a society where women are not treated as equals and judged by their class, but also have to appear to play along with society’s norms while having romantic and sexual feelings for one another.

The story behind “Circumstance” was originally Keshavarz’s Master’s thesis at New York University. Keshavarz’s professor encouraged her to write about what she knew. As a teenager, Keshavarz was familiar with the underground culture. Although the film is based in Iran, because of the content of the movie, Keshavarz was forced to find another location.

Keshavarz (far right) directs Kazemy and Boosheri
Photo courtesy of
“There are a lot of similarities,” Keshavarz said about picking her new location, Lebanon, to film “Circumstance.” Because of the exposure the film was giving to Iran, its youth culture, its inequality; it was a huge risk for the crew and actors to take. None of them would be allowed to visit or go back to Iran.

The film really did surprise me. Expecting a lesbian story, I instead received a background on Iran and the underground culture. Most of my opinions of Iran come from the media. I suspected it was conservative country but I had no idea there was an underground culture. The youth are no different from our youth here or anywhere for that matter.

What I loved most about the film was the theme of equality. The fact that the youth in the movie are willing to risk everything in order to get the message out that human rights should exist by exposing the film, “Milk,” which was about the first openly-gay Mayor, Harvey Milk, to the country of Iran was inspiring. But even more engaging was that Atefah and Shireen were two best friends just like any other girl; they liked to shop, go to parties, socialize, dance, and enjoy life—however with restrictions from their society. It is no different from any other country and that is what I liked about the film. Keshavarz wasn’t just exposing Iran but she also linked this movie with the way other country’s societies are because no society is perfect.

This movie is a must see for everyone. It isn’t a film to make viewers hate the country of Iran but to point out that many countries don’t preserve the rights and equality of their citizens. “Circumstance” is a lesson that everyone regardless of race, sexuality, gender, religion, etc. should be treated equally.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Johnny who? Hello Eva Green! Dark Shadows surprises long time fans

By Angela Thomas
The Cast of Dark Shadows
Photo courtesy of:

 It’s rare that I go to the movies. To be fair, it is not the movie content but really the prices. However, when I do go, you better believe there will be some magic involved, i.e. vampires, witches, and werewolves.

A week ago, long-time Dark Shadows fan, my mom, asked me to accompany her to see the movie. You see, while the rest of the world thought vampires were “too dark” of a subject, my mom huddled up watching her favorite vampires appear on the small screen. Many don’t know that Dark Shadows was once a TV drama in the 60s. Directed by Dan Curtis, the TV series was a fan favorite.

Now, famous and quirky director and producer, Tim Burton, has taken it upon himself to adapt the TV show into a film based off of the original series. Question is, has he done a good job?

After the movie was over, my mom just looked at me and said “that was nothing like the television show,” but she wasn’t surprised, this is Hollywood after all. It isn’t that Tim Burton didn’t do a good job but when something is supposed to be “based off of” a television show or book, you expect that to be true. According to my mom, the only things that held true were the names.

But as a newcomer into the Dark Shadows world, I must say that I enjoyed this piece. Although Johnny Depp usually catches my eye because of his brilliant acting, I wouldn’t say that he was the star. Going into the movie, I even expected youngster, Chloe Moretz to steal the spotlight but even she didn’t do it for me. My attention was focused on Eva Green who portrays the evil and seductive witch, Angelique Bouchard. Not only is Green extremely beautiful but she was extremely creepy in the film.
Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard
Photo courtesy of:

The set, the make-up and costuming would be the best aspect of this film. Burton does an amazing job of making human actors look ethereal or animated. However, after looking at a few reviews of the film, the one that stood out to me the most was Movie Fone’s. I must agree with them in my disappointment with not hearing Danny Elfman’s music throughout the film. Burton and Elfman go together, one without the other is like macaroni with the cheese; disastrous and sad. The script was also something to be missed. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand me when I say “When the heck was Carolyn turned into a werewolf?” These instances as well as others were a few to question the writing on the movie.

Again, although I have a lack of knowledge on the original TV series, Dark Shadows was a new Vampire story for me. I enjoyed it for what it was meant to be, which is entertaining. However, I understand what it feels like to be a diehard fan of something only to see it adapted on the big screen in a totally different way. If you’re a fan of the Gossip Girl book series, you’ll know what I mean!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Ting Tings rock the Troc, mesmerize fans with music

By Angela Thomas, News Editor, The Quad
On Friday, April 13, a versatile group of fans lined up outside of theTrocadero Theater in Center City, Philadelphia to see The Ting Tings perform live. One fan held a sign, asking The Ting Tings if she could play the guitar during their 2008 hit single, “Shut Up and Let Me Go.”
Interacting with fans outside of the theater, the excitement was apparent. One fan said that they were excited for The Ting Tings to play.
“It was my birthday two days ago, so my friends bought my ticket for my birthday,” the fan said. Like that fan, my Ting Tings ticket was also bought for my birthday.
While excitingly waiting outside of the theater on a warm and sunny day, we discussed the songs that we hoped The Ting Tings would play. Songs like “That’s Not My Name,” “Soul Killing,” and “Hit Me Up Sonny” were the few named out of many that fans hoped would be played. Sadly, the only thing that disappointed me during the concert was the lack of presence of my personal favorite, “Soul Killing.” However, the concert as a whole was one of the best that I have seen.
While most fans were dancing along to The Ting Tings most popular song off of their debut album, “We Started Nothing,” which was released on May 16, 2008, that sign-holding fan was brought up to the stage to play part of the guitar riff to “Shut Up and Let Me Go.” Before bringing the lucky fan on stage, The Ting Tings teased the audience, playing the beginning part of the song and encouraging fans to clap along before diving hard-core into the song, where loyal fans sang their hearts out to The Ting Ting’s most known tune.
This is how their entire set was—encouraging and adoring their fans.
The Ting Tings released their second album, “Sounds from Nowheresville” in March of this year. The album, one of their strongest, launched The Ting Tings’s current tour around the United States and the world.
Bringing with them a fresh sound that does not stray too far from their original, The Ting Tings opened up with their song, “Silence,” off of their second album. Lead singer and guitarist, Katie White, hopped onto the stage, encouraging the audience to be silent while Jules de Martino, guitarist, drummer, and vocals for the band, began playing the beginning guitar riffs for their song, “Silence.” Audience members were drawn to White’s seductive, powerful voice as she sang the lyrics “hold, hold your tongue now and let them all listen to your silence.” As the song sped up, fans were blasted into the core of the song, jumping and dancing around to the beat.
The whole show was electric from then on, with de Martino and White playing and singing in harmony under the bright and flashing strobe lights.
“Thank you Philly for having us,” White shouted to the audience. “This is the best crowd we have had on tour.”
The Ting Tings played a collection of songs from their debut album and from their new album.
The petite White danced and belted out the words to “Hit Me Up Sonny” off of their new album, “Sounds fromNowheresville,” getting down on the stage to shake hands and sing to the fans. De Martino joined in with supporting vocals, casting out adoring fans who were excited to see both talented musicians back in the music scene.
Many jokes were thrown around by fans, and even while standing in line, there was the occasional out-of-tune admirer cranking out the lyrics of “That’s Not My Name,” which by popular opinion is the Ting Ting’s most recognized and entertaining song. However, as fun as the song is to sing, it is even more amazing to listen to White sing it.
If there ever was a band that was exhausted after a show, it was probably The Ting Tings. The band “brought down the house.” Their show was an energetic mix of both the old and the new, bringing together both the young and the old to enjoy this band’s eclectic music and unique style.
Overall, The Ting Tings brought a style that was both familiar and unique to a crowd that was mesmerized by the music.
*Article originally published in The Quad.

Dev mixes pop-rock and hip-hop styles, charms crowd in Center City

By Angela Thomas, News Editor of The Quad.
“The album is finally out,” popular singer, Dev, shouted to the audience during her April 17 concert at The Trocadero in Center City, Philadelphia.
She was known for the longest time as the girl who provided the back-up lyrics for The Catarac’s and Far East Movement’s top 40 single, “Like a G6.” Now, Dev is making big waves for herself, producing and singing top-40 songs with artists like Enrique Inglesias and Fabolous.
Her debut album, “The Night the Sun Came Up,” was released in March of 2012. However, before her debut album was released, Dev teased fans with singles like “Killer,” “In the Dark,” and “Bass Down Low,” before releasing her very own anticipated album.
The 22-year-old pop sensation performed both songs from the new album as well as performing the song thatskyrocked her to fame, “Like a G6.” She mixed things up a bit by including techno and dubstep tracks into her songs, with fans screaming, jumping, dancing, and enjoying themselves. Although her partners during both “Like A G6” (TheCataracs and Far East Movement) and “Naked” which featured Enrique Inglesias, were both absent during the performance, Dev made the song her own and did a fantastic job without either artists.
Dev has started a trend in the music field, creating a pathway for young women with a unique style to enter the industry with no shame. Her collective sound can range from hip-hop to pop-rock while providing an indie-edge to her image.
During the show, Dev thanked her fans as well as dedicating her song, “Perfect Match,” to her fiancĂ©, Jimmy Goreckiand her baby daughter, Emilia Lovely. Dev brought an energy to the audience that was like no other, laughing and joking with the DJ on stage, dancing with her back-up singers, and waving, blowing kisses, and shaking hands with her fans. She was endlessly thanking her fans for making her the artist she is today.
Dev has three more gigs left in Pennsylvania. She will be performing at York College of Pennsylvania on April 26, at The Crocodile Rock CafĂ© in Allentown, Pa. on May 2, and The Community Arts Center in Williamsport, Pa. on May 7. For more information, visit
*story originally published in The Quad

Dan Savage and partner publishes life-saving book, inspires youth

It is amazing how something can randomly catch your attention.
A few weeks ago, I was standing at the computer lab in my University’s library when, while waiting for a PDF to download, I browsed the “popular books” section where the University displays the new books they have received. One in particular caught my eye and a flash back appeared when that same book was at a Borders 50% off sale and it still wasn’t cheap enough for me to buy. What book was is, you ask? “It Gets Better” which was edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller.
Photo credit:
I’ve been drawn to the “It Gets Better” project and have watched countless videos from celebrities, youtubers, and strangers. The project is an inspiring one and watching all of those videos made me realize that I was never truly alone and that there are hundreds of us out there living gay and okay lives.
However, the book did bring up some memories for me as a straight ally in a huge high school where sitting with the gay kids meant that you got orange juice and milk cartons thrown at you daily. Till this day, I still have a twinkling of remorse whenever I hear one of our torturer’s names.
The book, edited by the amazing Dan Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, has countless letters from politicians, religious leaders, social workers, high school kids, college kids, celebrities, etc talking about the rough times, the good times, and the much better times of being a LGBTQ person of society.
What I enjoyed most about the book was sense of reality because sometimes, things do not get better but they also do not get worse. A passage from Gabrielle Rivera was absolutely riveting to me because Gabrielle starts out her letter with “as a gay woman of color, I just want to let the youth know that it kind of doesn’t get better.” (45) However, Rivera follows with “you get stronger.” Rivera does a good job at pointing out that the straight and upper-class celebrities that tell youth that it does get better, really have no idea what they are talking about because some of them have never been in a bullied child’s “shoes” so-to-speak. I love the reality of her passage because yes, it does get better for some people but some people do not have the resources to make life better but although things do not get better for them, they gain strength from the experience.
I especially loved the letters from religious leaders. One in particular by Bishop Gene Robinson, was especially inspiring considering all the hateful messages religious leaders can have towards the queer community. Robinson wrote, “”It gets better, I promise. And it is getting better all the time. Things are changing. So if you’re considering hurting yourself, please don’t. God wants you to live…so hang in there. Be strong. And know that despite the messages you get…God loves you beyond your wildest imagining and only wants the best for you.” (31). Robinson is the first openly gay male to hold the position of Bishop of New Hampshire.
Dan Savage, picture above, is co-edited of the book, It Gets Better
photo from:
It Gets Better is one of the books that should be in every high school and college library. In fact, the great thing about Dan Savage is that on the It Gets Better website, for $25, Savage will donate a book to a public library, which is wonderful for students, who like me, can barely afford their textbooks let alone a book that is life-saving.  Savage and Miller do a great in putting together this book of positive and affirming messages, telling the LGBTQ youth that things get better, you get stronger, and there are people out there who love them. I can only imagine the lives this book could save if it was in high school libraries across the country and world.