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Val Servino
Invincible, Amazon Studios (2021-).

Invincible is, at its core, a story about a teenager — Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun) — who just happens to have superpowers. The pilot follows him in his desperate reach for super-puberty, because to a boy with the world’s most formidable hero for a father (J.K. Simmons as Nolan Grayson/Omni-Man), not having powers isn’t just disappointing. It’s disappointment.

It’s only fitting in this tale of teen angst that Mark’s best friend — William Clockwell (Andrew Rannells) — go through similar trials of adolescence. William is gay. Initially introduced as a comedic footnote in the pilot (nothing like having a crush…


Girl in Red. Credit: Fiona Garden, NME.

You stupid bitch, can’t you see the perfect one for you is me? It sounds like a SheRatesDogs entry, but it’s actually the hook to Marie Ulven, or girl in red’s latest single. Ulven built a cult following as a lesbian crooner in 2017 with “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend,” eventually culminating in the 2020 TikTok meme — “Do you listen to girl in red?” — functioning as slang for “Are you a lesbian?”.

The 22-year-old appears to understand what her status as an LGBT role model means — or at least she did last fall. When interviewed by Reuters


Baked goods, have been centered at the fore of civil rights issues from lunch counter sit-ins during the 1960s to modern Supreme Court rulings over wedding cake

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

May 22, 2015. I was sitting in a hostel in Salzburg, Austria when marriage equality passed in Ireland. It was pure happenstance, a trip planned in the wake of my college graduation that coincided with the Irish referendum. The hostel desk clerk was also from Ireland — it was all just utterly perfect.

Almost.

Let me start at the beginning. I was sitting in the basement of a hostel in Austria doing my laundry because apparently, it rains in Europe in May and I had only packed shorts. My new and only pair of pants on that side of the…


Photo by Zo Razafindramamba on Unsplash

Bridget Stevenson lives in a normal house on a normal street with a normal name. But she is seven the first time she learns that things are not normal on Normal Lane. She is, she thinks, well dressed for this lesson. It is her mother’s funeral, after all.

Aunt Patricia helped her pick out “something Momma would like,” which turned out to be the navy floral dress Mom brought home from Macy’s on a whim a couple of months ago. Three kids from class are at church, with both of their parents. …


A screening of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial featuring music by the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA. Source: Hollywood Bowl.

Growing up, there was a forbidden VHS tape. Two, actually. The “Titanic” boxset taunted my sister and me from the shelves that housed the television and, underneath it, our parents’ movies. And on it went, until one day we convinced the babysitter that we were allowed to watch a PG-13 film in the very same house we moved out of before either of us reached our teens. …


A still of Piper Perabo in “Lost and Delirious” (Cité-Amérique / Lions Gate Films, 2001) with an overlaid meme graphic.

Unstoppable force, meet immovable object. It’s been fifteen years since the first and last time I saw Léa Pool’s 2001 “Lost and Delirious” — an experience that at the time was so distressing I vowed to never repeat it. Well, at now nearly twenty-eight in a world that no longer forces me to search the wild west of mid-2000s YouTube for queer content, I’ve decided its time to call a truce.

Mouse poised over the play button, I could remember little from my initial viewing, but the following stood out in my mind: Shakespeare, enduring sadness, and Ani DiFranco. Her…


Steven Yeun as Invincible in Amazon Prime’s “Invincible” Image: Amazon Studios

“Invincible,” which premiered its first three episodes to Amazon Prime audiences on March 26, is a gory animated superhero series for adult audiences. It features the bulging eyeballs, bloodshed, and splattered guts that would realistically come with a punch from Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons), the strongest man on earth — and not to mention a formidable cast to back it up: Sandra Oh, Seth Rogen, Gillian Jacobs, Mark Hamill, and Mahershala Ali just to name a few.

In addition to being a sought-after hero, Omni-Man is also the father of Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), a 17-year-old who has just hit super-puberty…


The Jump Off — named for Lil’ Kim’s 2003 banger — is a home for LGBTQ creators to respond to the good, the bad, and the ugly of pop culture. Are you still waiting for your favorite ship to sail? Did your most loved lesbian just die? Do you have particularly strong thoughts about the “Jolene” episode of “Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings” or the great divider: “Call Me By Your Name”?

What we mean to say is — if your misspent youth was spent in the depths of LiveJournal, Tumblr, or FanFiction.net…this might be the place for you. …


Transgender, early transition, and facial dysphoria

Photo by Atoms on Unsplash

Masks are a beautiful thing — in every shape, size, color, and pattern, they protect us from not only the deadly pandemic coronavirus that has transformed our daily lives, but smaller things. Allergies. The common cold. Or even the actual cold with just enough coverage to protect against the crisp winter air.

And big things, too. Like dysphoria.

In 2019, I bought myself an at-home intense pulsed light (IPL) laser hair removal kit. I tested it on my inner forearm (a less daunting location than my face) on Christmas Eve, a gift. …


Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, as a child (L) with naturally curly hair and as an adult (R) with straight hair.

Looking back at Duchess Meghan Markle’s life, it is no surprise that she penned a letter to Proctor & Gamble at age 11 campaigning for gender-neutral language in a dish soap commercial. It was 1993, after all. Just a year prior, her hometown of Los Angeles, CA, was engulfed in flames in the aftermath of motorist Rodney King’s assault by four LAPD officers and their subsequent acquittal. Born to an African American mother and white father, self-advocacy became an essential skill early on for Markle amidst the upheaval brought about by the King case.

It is this learned diplomacy that…

Val Servino

vlsrvn.com / twitter: @vlsrvn / LGBT pop culture editor @ medium.com/the-jump-off

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