The 11 Best NewNowNext Essays Of 2017

Emotional, insightful and, yes, sometimes outraging.

As we screw the lid on 2017, we revisit some essays from this year that lingered in our minds and solicited strong response from our readers. Ranging in tone and perspective, these NewNowNext writers posed brave questions and shares personal stories that made us see the world a little differently.

  1. Bigotry is rarely as simple as we’d like to believe. We say we’re not racist because we’re not burning crosses on lawns, that we’re not homophobic because we have a gay friend. Not wanting to date a woman with a penis isn’t transphobic, we say, it’s just a preference. But every time we make or laugh at a joke about a woman who it turns out is “really a dude,” every time we applaud the performance of a cis man playing a trans woman, every time we look sideways at a male celebrity caught with a trans sex worker, we’re contributing to the idea that trans women are really men, and that it’s therefore at least a little gay for a man to be with one.

    Read the full essay.

  2. Love isn’t colorblind because in America and in 2017 nothing quite is, which is why I tend to think black men who exclusively date white men, black men who refuse to date other black men, do so because they’ve put their faith in a logic of black inferiority. It’s impossible to love your reflection if you don’t discern it when it arrives.

    Read the full essay here.

  3. Gay men, first and foremost, are men. We’re not immune to the cultural conditioning that comes with growing up in a society that views femininity as “weak” and “lesser.” Even if your best friends are women, that programming is difficult to break. Sexism among gay men persists because many of us don’t feel the need to change, especially when the hierarchy that glorifies maleness seems to benefit us.

    Read the full essay here.

  4. People in gay bars would refer to me and my boyfriend as a straight couple, or to me as a straight woman, which made me feel like an outsider in what was supposed to be my own tribe.

    Read the full essay here.

  5. Alice Xue Photography, 2017

    It’s not hard to understand why queer men often view me with trepidation. They’re nervous and scared. They don’t know how to react to my body, which is one that, both onscreen and in real life, hasn’t been available to them.

    Read the full essay here.

  6. Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

    While many women are now speaking about their experiences with [Harvey] Weinstein, I related to Delevingne’s on a very basic level: His harassment of her was not just a demonstration of sexism and ownership, but of homophobia. He attempted to use her queerness against her (and for him), trying to take away any agency she had—over herself and her body. He wanted details about women she may have been sleeping with, and then told her she couldn’t be gay or she’d never make it in Hollywood.

    Read the full essay here.

  7. When the nurse saw the tumor she almost burst into tears. She couldn’t believe a doctor would send me away with such an obvious problem. And so, in November 2014, just a few months after my 30th birthday, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

    Read the full essay here.

  8. The guilt I feel for my attraction to white men is a reflection of my own inner machinations, as well as of the current climate in America. What kind of black man am I—the militant voice of my conscience asks—to seek intimacy with my oppressor? The resolution isn’t easy, but comprehensive: decolonize my desire. Stop asking white men to love me and thus I free myself from oppression. My only problem is, I don’t feel like I should fucking have to.

    Read the full essay here.

  9. Facebook

    We had never done drag in front of an audience, so we strutted up and down that stage, serving it as Ru sat behind us, approving with his signature laugh. Then the moment came—and the glamazon announced we were the winners!

    Read the full essay here.

  10. With my open relationship and newly-minted Tinder profile as the catalysts, I began to examine the physical attributes I’d deemed ’flaws’ in a more neutral light. If I couldn’t love my body, maybe I could at least look at it through someone else’s eyes.

    Read the full essay here.

  11. In middle school, as my classmates became more worldly, being teased for sounding like a girl transitioned into being made fun of for sounding “gay.” My voice was instantly Other-ing, and gave people permission to make assumptions about my sexuality before I had even figured it out for myself. When you’re a late bloomer and haven’t sexualized anyone male or female, being told by everyone that you’re gay is confusing, if not devastating.

    Read the full essay here.

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