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The ‘Stonewall’ brouhaha

Director says he’s proud of film, despite activist backlash

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Roland Emmerich, Stonewall movie, gay news, Washington Blade,
Roland Emmerich, Stonewall movie, gay news, Washington Blade,

Jeremy Irvine as Danny in ‘Stonewall,’ throws the first brick. The filmmakers have drawn considerable ire for centering the action around Danny, a fictional character. (Photo courtesy Roadside Attractions)

When the world got its first look at the “Stonewall” trailer in August, reaction was swift and withering with some even calling for LGBT people to boycott the film, a dramatization of the 1969 New York riots that were a turning point for gay rights.

The film was assailed, from snarky social media posts (“Ah yes! That wonderful point in gay history where super models got really angry”) to outright vitriol. Pat Cordova-Goff, who identifies as a “transwomyn of color” is calling for a boycott with the Gay-Straight Alliance Network. “Do not throw money at the capitalistic industry that fails to recognize true s/heros. Do not support a film that erases our history. Do not watch ‘Stonewall,’” she writes.

The beefs are essentially that historical events have been “whitewashed,” that trans characters are pushed to the sidelines and played by non-trans actors and that, as Tim Teeman wrote for the Daily Beast, “everyone appears to have been bused in from laughably predictable central casting.” The events are centered around a fictional character named Danny, a white Midwestern teen kicked out of his home for being gay. Ironically, few have pointed out that Jeremy Irvine, the 25-year-old “War Horse” actor who plays him, is straight.

Irvine, director Roland Emmerich and writer Jon Robin Baitz (all white, the latter two gay) have defended the film, which opens on Friday, Sept. 25 (it’s screening at area theaters such as Landmark E Street Cinema, ArcLight Bethesda, Angelika Film Center and more). They counter that most of the criticism is based on the trailer, not the film itself, that the true events of the riots are shrouded in myth and that any dramatization uses artistic license to varying degrees. Legendary gay writer Larry Kramer defended the filmmakers.

Emmerich, widely known for helming major films like “Independence Day” (1996), “Godzilla” (1998) and the Mel Gibson vehicle “The Patriot” (2000), is already at work on his next project. The German-born auteur spoke to the Blade by phone from his Los Angeles home. His comments have been slightly edited for length.

Roland Emmerich, Stonewall movie, gay news, Washington Blade,

Jonny Beauchamp, left, as Ray, and Vlad Alexis as Cong in ‘Stonewall.’ Although the filmmakers have been accused of ‘whitewashing’ history, it does include several Latino and African-American gender-nonconforming characters. (Photo courtesy Roadside Attractions)

WASHINGTON BLADE: What was the genesis of “Stonewall”?

ROLAND EMMERICH: Actually a producer friend of mine, Michael Fossat, proposed it to me. I was kind of like, “I don’t know, with so many great gay directors, why should I do a gay movie?” But then I started checking it out and read a lot and at the same time I took a tour of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center and saw the homeless youth program and I realized that 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT. Compared to the overall population, that’s actually quite a big number and so slowly I kind of started thinking that maybe this is something for me. We started looking for a writer and I read this terrific play by Robbie Baitz and it kind of came together. First we wrote a script and then we took it from there.

 

BLADE: The trailer got a lot of criticism. Did it give the wrong impression of the film or were people too quick to judge the film based on it?

EMMERICH: I like the trailer. We premiered it at the GLAAD awards and it got a standing ovation. Nobody had any criticism of it there. It’s very unfortunate that some people kind of felt it was kind of some sort of whitewashing, but it isn’t. The film itself uses a white character as a catalyst but the film itself is actually quite ethnically diverse. It has, you know, like all facets of the LGBT community both historic and invented. I didn’t comment on it much because I really felt I didn’t want to comment on criticism of the trailer.

 

BLADE: I’m not a filmmaker. What dramatic purpose does it serve to have a character such as Danny to center the action around? Why was that a device you wanted to utilize?

EMMERICH: Well, a friend of mine told me his story and that interested me a lot because it’s still a story that happens today with kids getting thrown out of their homes for being gay. These are often quaint kind of middle-class homes and then they end up on the street and I just felt that would be a unique approach because these stories show that you can be in that situation and hold on to your dignity and your dream and not lose them in the process. So it was a coming-of-age story with kids, which I could imagine very well. Also, the overall theme was one of unrequited love. When you look at the movie, it’s a lot about people who love somebody and it’s not that the other person doesn’t love them, but they cannot be together and yet at the end they all come together and create something great. That was overall, dramatically, I’d say, when I started with Robbie, you first talk about the approach you want to take. We are also big (J.D.) Salinger fans and he was a big writer in the ‘60s, you know. So that was a type of an influence, and it all came together from there. When you do your research on this, you realize there’s not really one standout character in these riots. I loved the idea that it was this group of homeless kids that we know about who were part of it. Just an overall riot of many people who had just had it. You know how riots happen. It was actually really sparked by a lesbian who resisted arrest. That’s what really threw everything into high gear.

 

BLADE: Theoretically could the film have worked with somebody like Marsha P. Johnson as the protagonist? Could you have gotten a green light with that approach?

EMMERICH: Well we never did get a green light. I gave my own green light. I love the Marsha P. Johnson character. I have friends who are trans women, but it felt to me like I’m a white male, I’m openly gay and we can have all forms of sexuality in this film, but I think it’s good to use somebody very close to yourself, you know, and find truth in that. We also didn’t want to make the Jonny Beauchamp character (Ray, a composite) as just Sylvia Rivera because she was the one who said she was at the Stonewall that night. I didn’t want to invent stuff around Sylvia. She was not a club kid and didn’t really have any relationship like that. So all this kind of came together through discussions and we used a lot of historical characters but also with these invented characters. I thought it was a better approach, at least for me, to show the feel this time had. We talked to some Stonewall veterans and we only found white guys, you know? I think actually there was one who wanted to call me but then this person died shortly after.

Roland Emmerich, Stonewall movie, gay news, Washington Blade,

Director Roland Emmerich says ‘Stonewall,’ despite its relatively small budget, was a tough film to get made. (Photo courtesy Roadside Attractions)

BLADE: How was the shoot?

EMMERICH: Well it was odd because we wanted to make it first on location in New York but it was too expensive and we found they’d never let us do what we wanted to do there. … New York is a very expensive town. So we ended up doing it in Montreal where we were able to use some Canadian actors and get a huge tax rebate. Once we decided to film it there, everything came together nicely. We had a very nice shoot, like 42 days, and it was one, big, happy family.

 

BLADE: Was it hard to get it financed?

EMMERICH: It was about $17 million and we got like $4 million back in tax rebates and the rest we did as a pre-sale to Germany and other countries. A friend of mine and I put in the rest. We went to all my usual contacts and they all said, “Oh, this is too niche, there’s no real big name in it,” and blah, blah, blah.

 

BLADE: Are the Hollywood bean counters squeamish about gay themes or is there a legit point in the math?

EMMERICH: No, they’re not. When somebody like, you know, Sean Penn takes on Harvey Milk, they’re all there because they know that’s an actor who can win an Oscar. So there’s more incentive to do films like that where the actor can be the incentive. They also say things like, “Why is he making a movie like that, why is he not making one of his big movies where we can make a lot of money?” And I’m saying, “I will make those movies, but I want to make other movies too.” I like these smaller projects sometimes, like “Anonymous.” Nobody wanted me to do that one either, but it’s fine.

 

BLADE: What’s it like making a small film like “Stonewall” versus a big-budget action spectacle like “Independence Day?” Do the headaches increase with the scope as one might expect or not necessarily?

EMMERICH: I think it is more complex making a film like “Independence Day” because you’re dealing with a little bit more complex techniques, like shooting half the movie on bluescreen, where it’s very, very tough to keep the actors involved. “Stonewall” was a very different method, a very old-fashioned method actually, where we actually built the street and everything, then in the back we had some photographic backgrounds and maybe only one or two scenes were bluescreen, the march and one other scene. It was a very gritty atmosphere on the set and I think the actors get something out of that. … I got a lot of knowledge working on those big movies that I could use in “Stonewall,” you know? I just kind of know how to make things realistic looking when they’re not.

 

BLADE: Sometimes controversy works in your favor. Will it help you here?

EMMERICH: Maybe it brought more attention to the film. I don’t know if people would have known about it otherwise. Now at least the gay people know. Sometimes a controversy works against you and sometimes it works for you. We won’t know till it comes out. It’s an interesting dynamic. Nobody knows what will happen but you never know this with any movie what will happen. I’m quite content. I’m already making my next movie. I’m very proud of the movie we did and everybody who was involved.

 

BLADE: How much straight support will the movie need to be successful?

EMMERICH: That will be a very interesting thing. … When we tested the movie, it actually tested better with straight people than gay because straight people don’t have all this sense of they think they know what it was about. Gay people think, “Oh, it was because Judy Garland died,” and they think they know the story, where as straight audiences don’t think like that. They think, “What was the story like and how did I get into the story and what did I learn?” They were actually amazed at how emotional they got in the story. I hope for a wider audience but it’s also not a big release. It’s like a 100-print release, so it’s perfect for me. We’ll see what happens.

 

BLADE: Have you been out your entire career?

EMMERICH: At the beginning in Germany I wasn’t out because I never wanted to become the gay director and it was kind of a typical thing in Germany, if you were out it was like you were a gay director and you only did gay movies, so I didn’t think it was good to come out. It was also a different time. Then I came to America and, of course, my friends knew, but at a certain point I realized I’m making big movies, I can be out, so I came out. This was like maybe 20 years ago, which was a bit late. I’m 59 turning 60, so it was a little different time. For me, “Stonewall” represents this mythical moment. I went to Christopher Street the first time I was in New York and stood in front of the Stonewall and it was always kind of like Germany to me. A little bit of this coming out, this proud moment because of what happened there.

LGBT film, gay news, Washington Blade

Otoja Abit as Marsha P. Johnson in ‘Stonewall.’ (Photo by Philippe Bossé; courtesy of Roadside Attractions)

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Girls Rock! DC empowers young people through music, social justice education

Organization founded in October 2007

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Youth leaders of Girls Rock DC! (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Girls Rock! DC, an organization operating at the intersection of art and activism, is dedicated to empowering young people through music and social justice education. 

Since its founding in October 2007; Girls Rock! DC has been creating a supportive, inclusive and equitable space that centers around girls and nonbinary youth, with a special emphasis on uplifting Black and Brown youth. At the core of Girls Rock! DC’s mission is a unique approach to music education, viewing it through a social justice and equity lens. 

“It’s a place where people can come explore their interest in music in a safe environment, figure out their own voice, and have a platform to say it,” Board Vice Chair Nicole Savage said.

This approach allows D.C.’s young people to build a sense of community and explore their passion for social change through after-school programs, workshops and camps.

The organization’s roots trace back to the first rock camp for girls in August 2001 in Portland, Ore. Similar camps have emerged worldwide since then, forming the International Girls Rock Camp Alliance. Girls Rock! DC is a member of this alliance, contributing to the larger community’s growth and advocacy for inclusivity in the music industry.

Girls Rock! DC’s annual programs now serve more than 100 young people and 20 adults, offering after-school programs and camps. Participants receive instruction on the electric guitar, the electric bass, keyboards, drum kits and other instruments or on a microphone and form bands to write and perform their own original songs. Beyond music, the program includes workshops on underrepresented histories in the music industry, community injustice issues and empowerment topics that include running for office and body positivity.

“I’ve been playing shows in the D.C. music scene for about six years, and I feel like Girls Rock! DC is the perfect amalgamation of everything that I stand for,” said Outreach Associate Lily Mónico. “So many music spaces are male dominated and I think there is a need for queer femme youth in music.”

Lily Mónico (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is evident not only in its leadership but also in the way it creates a safe space for queer and nonbinary individuals. Language is a crucial component, and Girls Rock! DC ensures that both campers and volunteers embrace inclusivity. 

“It is a very open and creative space, where there’s no judgment,” Zadyn Higgins, one of the youth leaders, emphasized. “It is the first time for a lot of us, to be in a space where we’re truly able to be ourselves.”

In creating a safe environment, Girls Rock! DC implements practices that include name tags with preferred names and pronouns, along with pronoun banners that help kids understand and respect diverse identities. 

“It’s really cool to watch these kids understand and just immediately get it,” said Higgins. 

Zadyn Higgins (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Girls Rock! DC is also more than a music education organization; it’s a community where individuals can embark on a transformative journey that extends beyond their initial participation as campers. Many start their Girls Rock! DC experience as enthusiastic campers, learning to play instruments, forming bands and expressing their creativity in a supportive environment. The organization’s impact, however, doesn’t stop there. This inspiration leads them to volunteer and intern within the organization. 

The unique progression from camper to volunteer or intern, and eventually to a full-fledged role within the organization, exemplifies Girls Rock! DC as a place where growth is not confined to a single week of camp but extends into an ongoing, impactful journey. It’s a testament to the organization’s commitment to nurturing talent, empowering individuals and fostering a lifelong connection with the values for which Girls Rock! DC stands.

One of the highlights of Girls Rock! DC is its summer camp, where kids between 8-18 learn to play instruments, form bands, write songs and perform in just one week. Higgins shared a poignant moment from a showcase,

“To see them go from, like, crying a little bit about how scared they were to going out on the stage and performing their little hearts out was so sweet,” said Higgins.

(Photo courtesy of Frankie Amitrano of Girls Rock! D.C.)

Nzali Mwanza-Shannon, another youth leader, agreed that the camp is the highlight of the program. 

“The summer camp, I’ve met so many friends, and it’s always kind of scary coming up to the end, but after we get to perform and everything, I’m so grateful that I’ve gotten the opportunity to perform and meet new people and be so creative and do it all in a week,” said Mwanza-Shannon.

Forty-three young people who showcased their original songs and DJ sets at D.C.’s legendary 9:30 Club attended the first Girls Rock! DC camp in 2007. They performed to a crowd of 700 enthusiastic fans. The organization since then has grown exponentially, with each passing year bringing more energy, vibrancy and fun to the camp experience.

Since the pandemic, however, the organization has struggled financially, experiencing a funding shortage as well as reduced growth in attracting new members. 

Augusta Smith, who is a youth leader and a member of the band Petrichor, expressed concern about the potential impact on the unique and friendly environment that Girls Rock! DC provides. 

“We’ve kind of been really slow and barely making enough money. And this year, we’re having a funding shortage,” said Smith. 

The impact of Girls Rock! DC extends beyond musical skills, fostering leadership, self-expression and a passion for social change through creative collaboration and community power-building. Mwanza-Shannon hopes to be a part of Girls Rock! DC for a long time, 

“I want to keep on meeting new people,” said Mwanza-Shannon. “I want to keep on being able to perform at these different places and have different experiences.”

(Photo courtesy of Frankie Amitrano of Girls Rock! DC)
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‘Blindspot’ reveals stories of NYC AIDS patients that haven’t been told

Former Blade reporter’s podcast focuses on POC, women, trans people

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Kai Wright, a former Blade reporter, hosts the podcast ‘Blindspot.’ (Photo by Amy Pearl)

“We said that people had The Monster, because they had that look,” activist Valerie Reyes-Jimenez, said, remembering how people in her New York neighborhood reacted when people first got AIDS.

They didn’t know what to call it.

“They had the sucked in checks,” Reyes-Jimenez, added, “They were really thin…a lot of folks were saying, oh, you know, they had…cancer.”

“We actually had set up a bereavement clinic where the kids would tell us what they wanted to have when they die,” Maxine Frere, a retired nurse who worked at Harlem Hospital for 40 years and was the head nurse of its pediatric AIDS unit said, “How did they wanna die?”

“Nobody wanted to come on,” said former New York Gov. David Paterson, who in 1987 was Harlem’s state senator.

At that time, Manhattan Cable Television gave legislators the chance to do one show a year. “So I decided to do my show on the AIDS crisis and how there didn’t seem to be any response from the leadership in the Black community,” Paterson added.

These unforgettable voices with their searing recollections are among the many provocative, transformative stories told on Season 3 of “Blindspot,” the critically acclaimed podcast. 

“Blindspot: The Plague in the Shadows” is co-produced by the History Channel and WNYC Studios. The six-episode podcast series, which launched on Jan. 18 and airs weekly through Feb. 22, is hosted by WNYC’s Kai Wright with lead reporting by The Nation Magazine’s Lizzy Ratner.

The show is accompanied by a photography exhibit by Kia LaBeija. LaBeija is a New York City-based artist who was born HIV positive and lost her mother to the disease at 14. The exhibit, which features portraits of people whose stories are heard on “Blindspot,” runs at the Greene Space at WNYC through March 11.

If you think of AIDS, you’re likely to think of white cisgender gay men. (That’s been true for me, a cisgender lesbian, who lost loved ones to AIDS.)

From the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic, most media and cultural attention has been focused on white gay men – from playwright and activist Larry Kramer to the movie “Philadelphia.”   

“Blindspot” revisits New York City, an epicenter of the early years of the HIV epidemic.

The podcast reveals stories of vulnerable people that haven’t been told. Of people of color, women, transgender people, children, drug-users, women in prison and the doctors, nurses and others who cared and advocated with and on their behalf.

“Blindspot,” through extensive reporting and immersive storytelling, makes people visible who were invisible during the AIDS epidemic. It makes us see people who have, largely, been left out of the history of AIDS.

Wright, 50, who is Black and gay, cares deeply about history. He is host and managing editor of “Notes from America with Kai Wright,” a show about the unfinished business of our history and its grip on our future.

Recently, Wright, who worked as a reporter at the Washington Blade from 1996 to 2001, talked with me in a Zoom interview. The conversation ranged over a number of topics from why Wright got into journalism, to how stigma and health care disparities still exist today for people of color, transgender people and poor people with AIDS to the impact he hopes “Blindspot” will have.

“I came to work at the Blade in 1996,” Wright said, “the year after I got out of college.”

He’d done two six-month stints at PBS and “Foreign Policy.” But Wright thinks of the Blade as his first proper journalism job.

From his youth, Wright has been committed to social justice and to understanding his community. Reporting, from early on, has been his connection with social justice. “I often say, journalism has been my contribution to social justice movements,” Wright said.

His first journalistic connection to the Black community came when he was 15. Then, Wright became an intern with the Black newspaper, the Indianapolis Recorder.

“That’s how I got the [journalism] bug,” Wright said.

Since then, Wright said, he’s worked almost exclusively with media that have a connection with the community.

Wright grew up in Indianapolis and went to college at Emory University in Atlanta. He didn’t intend to be a journalist, he wrote in an email to the Blade. At Emory, he studied international politics.

Wright’s life and work changed direction when he began working at the Blade. “I was a kid,” Wright said, “I’d just come out. I used journalism to find out what it meant to come out.”

Wright, when he came to Washington, D.C., was, as he recalled, just a kid. He didn’t know anyone in D.C. and there was a Black, queer community. This helped Wright to come out. “I couldn’t have told you that at the time,” he said, “but in retrospect I can see that I moved to  D.C. to come out.”

Journalism was Wright’s way of finding his way through coming out.

“I didn’t know if the Blade was hiring,” Wright said, “I just walked in.”

He didn’t have a deep resume but he had a lot to say. The Blade hired him and immediately put him to work reporting on AIDS.

“It was a pivotal cultural and political moment – a pivotal moment for the community,” Wright said.

That year, when Wright began working with the Blade, life-saving treatments (early drug cocktails) were emerging for AIDS.

“There was no way that HIV and AIDS wouldn’t become a central part of my journalism,” Wright said, “I really wanted to report on it.”

With the emergence of treatments, white gay men with health insurance began to feel that they were turning the page and that AIDS was no longer a death sentence.

“But, as a reporter, I was meeting Black gay men who were going into emergency mode about the AIDS epidemic,” Wright said.

Black people, poor people, drug users and others without health insurance and access to treatment were still dying and transmitting AIDS. “‘This is getting more and more dire,’ the activists said,” Wright recalls.

They told Wright, “The rest of the community is starting to turn the page. We can’t turn the page.”

In D.C., Wright could see, through his reporting, the racial discrimination in the community at large in the AIDS epidemic, and in the queer community.

Two things are true simultaneously, Wright said, when asked if there is still stigma and discrimination around HIV and AIDS today.

“Science has made so much progress,” Wright said, “It’s no longer necessary for any of us to die from HIV.”

“I take a pill once a day to prevent me from catching HIV,” he added, “I can do that. I am a person with insurance…with a great deal of social and economic privilege.”

But many people in the United States don’t have health insurance, and exist outside of the health care system. The divergence in treatment and stigma that he saw as a young reporter in 1996 are still there today, Wright said.

“The divergence in class and race has grown even more profound,” he said, “among people of color, young people – transgender people.”

Wright hopes  “Blindspot” will make people who lived through the epidemic and whose stories weren’t told, feel seen. And that “they will hear themselves and be reminded of the contributions they have made,” Wright said.

The queer press plays an important role in the LGBTQ community, Wright said. “We need a place to hash out our differences, share stories and ask questions that put our experience at the center of the conversation,” he emailed the Blade.

“There’s more space for us in media than when I started my career at the Blade,” Wright said, “but none of it is a replacement for journalism done by and for ourselves.”

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Valentine’s Day gifts for the queers you love

From pasta and chocolate to an Aspen getaway

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Share the love on Feb. 14 with our thoughtful Valentine’s gift picks for everyone you like and lust.

Centrolina V-Day Pasta Kit

Washington, D.C.-based Centrolina’s seasonally inspired restaurant menu gets the delivered-to-your-door treatment with Chef Amy Brandwein’s holiday gift baskets featuring four handmade pastas and from-scratch sauces, including heart-shaped beet ravioli with ricotta and lemon butter, a mushroom and black truffle ragu, sunchoke tagliolini and oyster cacio pepe, and chestnut pappardelle, among other elevated-Italian recipes that you and your lil’ meatball can whip up on date night. $175, CentrolinaDC.com

La Maison du Chocolat

Heart-shaped candy clichés are much more palatable when the contents within are made in Paris instead of Hershey, Pa., and your intended will be sufficiently satisfied with La Maison du Chocolat’s selection of premium confections – including melt-in-your-mouth ganaches, pralinés and bouchées, oh my – available in festive and indulgent 14- and 44-piece boxes. $60-$140, LaMaisonDuChocolat.com

‘Spread the Love’ Plantable Pencils

SproutWorld’s set-of-eight Love Edition pencils set themselves up for seed-spreading jokes given Cupid’s context, but the real sentiment is sweeter: Plant the lead-free, graphite writing utensils (engraved with romantic quotes on certified wood) in potted soil and enjoy striking flowers and fragrant herbs in one to four weeks. $15, Amazon.com

W Aspen Getaway

Missed Aspen Gay Ski Week? No sweat. You’ll fight fewer crowds as the season winds down – without compromising your commitment to luxury – during a late-winter getaway to the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains at the W Aspen. Book unforgettable outdoor adventures, like heliskiing and dog sledding, with the property’s always-available concierge; spend après hour on the rooftop WET deck before diving into delicious dishes at onsite restaurant 39 Degrees; see and be seen at Ponyboy, the property’s cocktail-focused modern speakeasy rooted in New York City nightlife; and pour yourself a nightcap from your in-room mini bar before relaxing in the suite’s deep soaking tub – because, ya know, all in a day’s work. Marriot.com

Nexgrill Ora Pizza Oven

Not a fan of fancy dining out? Slip into those grey sweats he won’t let you wear in public, top off the Veuve, and fire up Nexgrill’s Ora 12 portable propane pizza oven wherein a to-temp cordierite baking stone will cook your personalized pies to perfection at up to 900 degrees. That’s burnin’ love, baby. $299, HomeDepot.com

‘Just Happy to Be Here’ YA Novel

Have a they/them in your life excited to expand their winter reading list? Gift a copy of Naomi Kanakia’s newly published YA coming-of-age novel, “Just Happy to Be Here,” about Tara, an Indian-American transgender teenager seeking quiet support and acceptance within her school’s prestigious academic group but instead becomes the center of attention when she draws the ire of administrators and alumni. $16, Amazon.com

Perfect Pairings 

Set it off this Valentine’s Day with a curated selection of wine and spirits, including the Pale Rosé, created by Sacha Lichine, of Whispering Angel fame; Flat Creek Estate’s red-blend trio, featuring the 2017 Super Texan, 2018 Four Horsemen, and Buttero; Ron Barceló’s Imperial Premium Blend 40th Aniversario rum; and the Bourbon Rosemary cocktail-in-a-can from Spirited Hive. $17-$199

Moon Bath Bomb

Stars aligned for that little meet-cute you told everybody about on TikTok, and you can trust the universe to provide ample relaxation when you plop Zodica Perfumery’s Moon Bath Bomb in the tub – there’s a specific formulation for every sign, which promises vibe-setting aromatherapy, activated charcoal for deep cleansing, and skin-soothing olive oil for the self-love glow-up you’ve been waiting for. $18, ZodicaPerfumery.com

Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels.

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