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Valentina Sampaio, Sports Illustrated, and trans women under the male gaze.

Trans model Valentina Sampaio is the definition of “threatening” to fragile masculinity. 

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Brazilian-born Valentina Sampaio is one of eight rookies in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit class of 2020 and she’s the first openly transgender model to grace the pages of the magazine. Since taking over the Swimsuit issue in 2015, editor MJ Day has pushed for inclusiveness in the magazine. She joined the staff as an intern in the 90s who had to sort through thousands of bikinis in a closet to send back to designers, and now she heads a team of only four SI staff-members who work for the Swimsuit edition full time. What she says goes, and she’s been going for diversity.

The inclusive spirit of Sports Illustrated’s current model lineup can be credited to the publication’s longtime editor in chief, MJ Day. Day included Graham as the first plus-size model in 2016; Halima Aden as its first hijabi face in 2019; and had Banks return at the age of 46 to dazzle on the cover in 2019, all of which has heightened the relevance of the annual issue.

(cont. Vogue)

Of course, none of those picks will draw the same pushback as Sampaio, but I think she can handle the criticism. Trans models are the bravest women in the industry because everyone has an opinion on what is or isn’t in their pants, and for the segment of the population being courted by SI, Valentina is the definition of “threatening” to their fragile masculinity.

And those last two are the crux of the issue: straight men who think being attracted to trans women is a statement on their heterosexuality.

Men who are quick to express their disgust over trans women are weak. If you were attracted to her before you knew she was trans, you still are. You don’t turn it off with a switch. You’re just pretending not to be because you think it says something about your sexuality, which is still linked with your masculinity in the minds of most people.

And you can save the the “but I don’t like dicks” argument. I promise you she has no intention of sleeping with you, so what she does or doesn’t have between her legs is absolutely none of your business. If the only thing that stops you, a heterosexual male, from being attracted to  someone or makes you, a heterosexual male, attracted to someone is the space between their legs, then what you’re saying is, this man (Trip Richards, who does porn, so we know what his genitals look like) who has a vagina is someone you can be attracted to:

TRIPLE

And this woman, who may or may not have a penis, is someone who disgusts you:

valentina1

Let’s also be very clear: no straight man is disgusted by a penis. If he was, he wouldn’t watch porn. And porn wouldn’t be dominated by men with large dicks getting hard for other men to watch go in and out of women, sometimes alongside other men with large dicks (seriously, gangbangs and DP should make you question your heterosexuality way more than a woman who was born with a penis).

The bottom line is, if there is a trans woman in front of you and you are attracted to that woman, be secure in that attraction without commenting on what is or isn’t under her skirt. You don’t ask cis women to confirm that you like the way their vagina looks before you decide whether they can have the honor of appearing in your little fantasies, so don’t ask trans women. The only time anybody’s genitals should be of your concern is if they personally want you to experience them. Otherwise, go back to your basement and keep flipping through Sports Illustrated. I hear the Swimsuit issue is especially good this year.

 

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LGBT

Watch: Kids Ask About Gender

“Do you like being called a boy or a girl?”

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Courtney Act is a gift to this world. She’s so good at talking to anyone, and everyone looking to be a queer ambassador should be following her lead. She’s not trying to be Oprah and pull out your deepest trauma. She’s not trying to be Dr. Phil to coach you into realizations with psychobabble. She never comes from a place of preaching, just existing and being authentic.

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Athletes

Carl Nassib is the NFL’s first active gay player.

Another pride month win for representation!

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Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out of the closet earlier today and his statement almost brought me to tears.

Nothing he said was particularly emotional, but it just took me back to junior high school, having rocks thrown at me, getting into fights on the bus, hearing faggot every day, and seeing no way past the torture of being bullied by jocks who thought it was fun to beat up on the gay kid.

It was just cool to beat up on the gay kid. Whether you were actually homophobic or not didn’t matter — you bullied the gay kid because other guys bullied the gay kid and that’s just how it was. It’s not as cool as it once was. Homophobia still exists, but outright support also exists in a way I didn’t experience, and sometimes that counterbalance is all you need for a homophobe to seethe quietly since he doesn’t have enough peers to feed into the bullying.

I’m trying to picture how I would have felt in junior high if an NFL player came out and his commissioner, coach, and teammates were all behind him. I probably would’ve been bullied anyway, to some extent at least, but I definitely would’ve believed it actually does get better, because I didn’t at the time. Saying “it gets better” doesn’t mean anything to a kid who wants to die because he’s the only gay person he knows, he dreads facing his peers because he doesn’t know if someone will light his homework on fire or hit him with a flagpole, and the only gay people on TV are fictional comic relief. Seeing a gay man in the center of a hypermasculine, heterosexual, aggressive environment means much more. It means not everyone is out to get you and you won’t be tortured forever, because if he can find support in the NFL, you can find support somewhere too.

 

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LGBT

Casey Frey has a boyfriend.

Watch his coming out video on Theo Von’s podcast. The kids are so blessed!

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I know who Casey Frey is, because I’m online all the time, but I don’t really know who Casey Frey is. I just have a passing recognition of him and I can pick him out of a lineup because every once in awhile, one of his “dancing” videos goes viral.

Back in the days of Vine, Casey amassed a huge following from his awkward dance clips that were oddly charming in that Gen Z way of being earnest and silly at the same time. Now he’s a bonafide Instagram comedian, but I don’t follow him, because I’m pretty dry and subdued, and I don’t think very many people are funny enough to watch over and over (or at all!).

The kids who do follow him had that young man trending for a couple of days in a row because he has a boyfriend now.

I had never put much thought into who Casey Frey sleeps with. I just assumed he was straight because, if he was queer, he would’ve popped up on my social media feeds more often from being shared by the gays in my social networks. The few times I saw his sexuality discussed, it was usually a gay man either alluding to Casey’s queerness or making a light-hearted joke about it and they would immediately be corrected by his fans. So, Casey coming out with a boyfriend made a  big ripple on social media.

I really don’t care. I don’t even know anything about him past what I just Googled.

What I do care about is his coming out video with Theo Von, who some of you Gen X and Millennials may remember from Road Rules.

Not gonna even front: I had a huge crush on Theo growing up. He was a Southern good ol’ boy (my weakness at the time) who was genuinely nice, wasn’t a bigot, and read books. And he had nice arms. I’ve lo-key followed his career as a comedian and I still think he’s genuinely charming but don’t tell anybody I said that because we do not praise straight white men in this household!

Casey went on Theo’s podcast and I want y’all to watch how casually he comes out as bisexual and how everyone reacts to it.

No one cares. Look at that! No one cares!

When I saw that clip yesterday, I surprised myself by how emotional I got. I just remember growing up in the South with Theo’s accent all around me calling me a faggot on a regular basis. Straight guys tortured me for years. I saw a couple of gays on the Real World, Queer as Folk, and Will & Grace, but that was about it for my exposure to queerness in the big bad world. No part of my brain would’ve thought that twenty years later, a male comedian presumed to be straight would be on another straight male comedian’s radio show and casually say he has a boyfriend.

I’m so happy the little gay boys in conservative pockets of the country facing taunts and bullying have clips like this. It doesn’t necessarily affect what’s happening to you in that moment day to day, but it’s gotta be so nice to see that there is a wider world where everyone doesn’t hate you.

As Theo says in the clip, “That’s awesome.”

 

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