Is 2021 shaping up to be a year of queer joy in entertainment?
At the midpoint of Moxie, the Amy Poehler-directed Netflix movie about a Gen Z high-schooler discovering the riot grrrl movement through a collection of her mother's old zines and music, there's a raucous concert held at a VFW. The Linda Lindas, riot grrrl homage band made up of middle schoolers, wails away at Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl" while the main characters bop around joyfully. During the song, one of the main characters, Lucy (the wonderful Alycia Pascual-Pena), reaches over and kisses fellow Moxie group member Amaya (Anjelika Washington), much to both their surprise and delight. No angst, not shame. Just joy.
It got me thinking about the television and film I've seen lately and how there is something special about what's been coming out of this Covid-haze of the last year. It's joy. Moxie isn't the only one getting in on the J-word.
In Ginny and Georgia, best friend and tornado of a gay, Max (Sara Waisglass) is practically busting at the seams with any emotions. Yes, she has the anxiety that follows all teens, trying to make their way in the world, but behind all that is an overwhelming feeling of joy and often time in front of it. Joy at her friendships, her part in the musical, her crush liking her back. Her friends don't blink an eye at her queerness and support her joy. How about that, 2021. I like you already.
After two seasons of poems and slow-burning passion, Dickinson's Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) and Sue (Ella Hunt) finally pushed aside their fears and made the first steps to being together. After the anger, the hurt, the confusion, they celebrate their love with cake and kisses. Joy is sprinkled in the bath along with violet petals.
And that's not all. Batwomen's Ryan is thriving. Black Lightning's Grace is out of a coma and into a wedding ring. Wynonna Earp's Nicole and Waverly are spending every minute joyfully gazing into each other's faces, even when there isn't a Cupid spell afoot. Kelly Marie Tran is down with fans thinking her Raya and the Last Dragon Character is gay. Hayley Kiyoko is out here making perfume and spraying citrus-forward queer joy into the world. Even RuPaul's Dragrace has found a new lightness and joy in this new season. (Ru actually looks excited!)
After a year, a whole year, full of sorrow and sadness, the joy is trickling through. Having so many new queer media pieces embrace joy is a wonderful sign for things to come.