Ahead of the big-budget Charlie’s Angels reboot set to drop this fall, Kristen Stewart has unequivocally stated that there was a time in the movie industry when she was told that being open about her sexual identity was hindering her ability to land big box office roles.
“I have fully been told, ‘If you just, like, do yourself a favor, and don’t go out holding your girlfriend’s hand in public, you might get a Marvel movie,'” Stewart told Harper’s Bazaar UK. “I don’t want to work with people like that.”
Stewart became a box office phenomenon in the late aughts starring in the Twilight movies while also building a solid portfolio of performances in indies including The Runaways, Into the Wild, and Adventureland. By 2013 she began to be more open with her female partners. In 2015 she answered questions about her sexuality by saying, “Google me. I’m not hiding.” Shortly after Donald Trump was inaugurated, she very pointedly said in the opening monologue of the show that Trump wouldn’t like her because, “I’m, like, so gay, dude.”
While Stewart doesn’t appear to be starring in a Marvel movie any time soon, she has garnered critical acclaim in art-house films including Clouds of Sils Maria (for which she won the César, the French equivalent of the Oscar), Certain Women, Personal Shopper, and Seberg. She’s also got two potential blockbusters on her hands with Charlie’s Angels and the action thriller Underwater.
Regarding why she began to be open about her relationships, she told Harper’s Bazaar, “I think I just wanted to enjoy my life. And that took precedence over protecting my life, because in protecting it, I was ruining it.”
“Like what, you can’t go outside with who you’re with? You can’t talk about it in an interview?” she added.
The first trailer for The L Word sequel, Generation Q, was released last week, teasing its return to TV screens in December. Ten years after The L Word’s run ended, I expected to be cynical about its 2019 incarnation. Right now, in the world of entertainment, there are more planned comebacks than Fleetwood Mac have managed in their entire career. With mooted revivals of everything from The Matrix to Home Alone to Beverly Hills, 90210, you could read an issue of Empire magazine from the 1990s and assume it had come out last week.
Generation Q (I’m trying to get on board, but it still sounds breathlessly perky, like a kids’ cartoon or a supermarket clothing line) is all about the young people, as the title suggests, and appears to be far less glossy and polished than its elite older sibling. Of the three original characters returning to LA’s lesbian scene, every fan will have their favourite. Shane is back, as is her haircut, and Alice, too, but Jennifer Beals’s Bette promises to make the biggest splash.
Beals is an executive producer, but vitally will also reprise her role as alpha female Bette Porter, California’s answer to Swiss art curator and critic Hans Ulrich Obrist, who couldn’t resist booting the impressionists out of her gallery in favour of something modern, shocking and blasphemous, particularly if that enabled a flashback to a sexy, art-based hook-up from the past. In the new world, Bette is going straight to the top and is running to be mayor of Los Angeles.
The original L Word was campy and crass, as over the top as it was revolutionary. But I loved it for everything it was. It gave viewers six seasons that put mostly queer women front and centre. For the first time, those characters were not the subplot, but the main event. Even so, at first I wondered if Generation Q was necessary. Times have changed beyond comprehension in a decade; some of the storylines that seemed less worthy of remark then, such as Alice’s out-of-character transphobia, or Lisa the Lesbian Man, would incite an opinion mob in an instant.
The growth of streaming television has opened up a world of queer storylines on all sorts of shows. If there isn’t a same-sex kiss on a Netflix series you start to wonder if you’ve accidentally skipped an episode. And then the Generation Q trailer brought it all back, gave me butterflies and of course, as if it was ever in doubt, I will be glued to the whole thing.
The bestselling crime writer has nominated her favourite queer and trans authors and poets as part of a showcase celebrating the best in British writing
My first novel was published in 1987. It was the first British crime novel with a lesbian detective. The only route to publication was via an independent feminist publisher. Back then, there were a few radical bookshops that stocked titles like mine. But getting mainstream shops to stock it was an uphill struggle. Finding representations of queer lives took dedication and stubborn persistence.
Gradually, that has changed. Now our words are part of the mainstream of British literary life. LGBTQ writers are not only published by mainstream publishers and stocked by libraries, bookshops and supermarkets; they win major prizes. For so long conspicuous by our absence, we are now conspicuous by our presence.
I wrote a lesbian heroine because I’d grown up in a time and place where there were no templates for the life I wanted to live. The queer struggle for self-definition has been pursued in no small part so that the next generation has a springboard for imagining how to live. Every literary movement requires pioneers to kick open the door a crack. Others spot the opening and push the door wider. Then, at last, there’s room for everyone to walk through and write the lives they want to write.
So I was delighted to be asked by the National Centre for Writing and the British Council to choose 10 writers to showcase the quality and breadth of LGBTQ writing in Britain today. The authors are Colette Bryce, Juno Dawson, Rosie Garland, Keith Jarrett, Juliet Jacques, Kirsty Logan, Andrew McMillan, Fiona Mozley, Mary Paulson-Ellis and Luke Turner. From novels to memoirs, short stories to film scripts, poetry to plays, their work covers a broad spectrum of form, style and content. There is, genuinely, something here for everyone.
Because these writers are writing for everyone. These are not words for a niche readership. These are not writings for a ghetto. These are the works of writers who have something to say that can be – and should be – heard by as many people as possible. Although their words will have particular resonance for some readers over others, isn’t that what good writing always does?
LGBTQ writers have forced their way out of the dark corners where we were pushed by a society that didn’t want to be reminded of our existence. Thanks to writers such as Ali Smith, Alan Hollinghurst, Russell T Davies, Carol Ann Duffy and many more, LGBTQ writers are everywhere. And deservedly praised everywhere, too. Recommended by reviewers, librarians, teachers, booksellers, reviewers and friends.
Some might say the battle is won, the war is over. But a quick scan of news headlines and social media on any given day gives the lie to that. LGBTQ people are still bullied at school and in the workplace. We are still the targets of hate crime. In many places around the world, our very identity criminalises us.
Auden was wrong when he claimed “poetry makes nothing happen”. Words do change the world, reader by reader. They open our eyes, they provoke thought, they make us uncomfortable in our entrenched positions. The work of these 10 writers will do all of those things. But most of all, they will awaken in us fresh delight in the wonder of words.
• The International Literature Showcase, run by the British Council and National Centre for Writing, sees six guest curators focus on different aspects of writing from the UK. Val McDermid’s event will be live streamed at 3pm on Saturday. In October, Jackie Kay will reveal her selection of writers of colour.
• Val McDermid’s latest book, How the Dead Speak, is published on 22 August in the UK and 3 December in the US.