Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Gay Agenda: 21 Things You Should Be Talking about Right Now

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Gay Agenda: 21 Things You Should Be Talking about Right Now

Article excerpt

1. B.D. WONG ... ... PLAYING TRANS (AND BADASS) IN TV'S HIT CYBER-THRILLER MR. ROBOT

"I was incredibly nervous," says B.D. Wong of taking on his role as a transgender hacker in the first season of USA's Golden Globe-winning tech thriller Mr. Robot. Yet if anyone could, well, hack it, why not him? The versatile actor brought Broadway to its feet playing a male spy disguised as a female opera diva in 1988's M. Butterfly. Still, that did nothing to assuage his anxiety about portraying the mysterious Whiterose, who returns for Robot's second season in July. MICHAEL MARTIN

You were anxious about playing trans, but you received such acclaim for playing another gender before.

When you get an offer to do a TV show, you don't always know where the producers are coming from. I said, "Whoa, I don't want to exploit a maligned community of people." The last thing I wanted to be was a man disguised as a woman. I think that's old.

What sold you?

Sam [Esmail, Mr. Robot's creator] was able to allay my fears: He said Whiterose wasn't a man disguised as a woman--she was a woman disguised as a man. And that was very different to me. There are things in the second season we keep having dialogue about: "Tell me why this is happening, so I can be comfortable with it."

Had you had the chance to play another gender since M. Butterfly?

It hadn't come up in 25 years. My 28-year-old self thought I'd never do it again--that if I did, I'd never get out of doing it. Besides, there was never going to be a part again as good as that one. But I thought. This is interesting. It's time for me to bury any stigma I had about doing it again.

How did you adjust to Whiterose's hair and makeup?

[Laughs] I had to dismantle this hard drive with these really long fingernails on. And I had these toweringly fabulous shoes. Nobody ever saw them, but I insisted on wearing them all night. There was a lot of physical discomfort involved. It was a nightmare of props and costumes crashing together.

2. Little Men's Big Heart

Ira Sachs doesn't so much make movies as offer intricately carved keyholes into the lives of modern New Yorkers. While 2014's Love Is Strange traced the financial woes of an older gay couple, the director's latest, Little Men, follows two Brooklyn teens: shy artist Jake (Theo Taplitz) and his outgoing aspiring actor pal Tony (Michael Barbieri), the son of a Chilean seamstress who runs a dress shop she's rented from Jake's grandfather for years. As with Love Is Strange, the drama here hinges on real estate. Jake's grandfather has died; his parents (Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Ehle) want to raise the shop's rent. Tony's single mom (Paulina Garcia) can't afford it, the tension simmers, and things get ugly. All the while, the boys stay tight, navigating the city and nurturing each other's talents, resolute in their friendship. Theirs is a special kind of love, fleeting but formative, a blessing for them and a joy to behold. JASON LAMPHIER

3. The Must-See Summer Doc PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW

What does it take to go viral? For Samantha Montgomery, a struggling queer New Orleans singer who uploads her music under the name Princess Shaw, all it took was the help of a guardian angel 7,000 miles away: the Israeli video artist Kutiman (a.k.a. Ophir Kutiel), who arranges clips of amateur musicians into intricate, full-fledged compositions. Presenting Princess Shaw follows Montgomery as she fights to find an audience amid a blur of empty club gigs and packed-stadium auditions for The Voice. She also hopes to be seen and heard on YouTube, where her more than 150 videos contain stripped-down original tracks and confessions about the loneliness of chasing fame. But Montgomery's luck, unbeknownst to her, is already turning by the time the film begins: Kutiel has discovered one of her tunes and is creating something from it that will vault them both onto the Internet's main stage. …

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