Photo by Kelsey Curtis on Unsplash

White cream on beige surface.

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When choosing our skincare routine, we aim for it to be perfect. To make our face feel and look flawless, to be lightweight, to protect us. These brands promise to do just that – and they come with a plus: they are all either LGBTQ+ owned, socially and environmentally conscious and/or target people of all genders.

Selfless by Hyram

Selfless by Hyram Gang's All Here.

Skincare products from Selfless by Hyram

Photo courtesy of Selfless by Hyram.

If you ever googled skincare-related questions, you might have watched in response some videos by queer YouTuber Hyram; he is known for exposing the truth behind the brands and teaching the viewers how to break down an ingredient list, other than for his crusade against scented products. The skincare guru has launched his own line in 2021, explaining that he “wants to connect the beauty industry with social change”, in collaboration with the brand The INKEY List. They haven’t used any fragrance, essential oils, alcohol, and palm products, creating a minimalist yet effective ingredient list that is also vegan. Every purchase contributes to raising funds to build wells in the Kingdom of eSwatini and to protect the Bolivian rainforest from deforestation; additional information can be found on their website.

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Good Light

Good Light moon glow milky toning lotion.

Moon Glow Milky Toning Lotion

Photo courtesy of Good Light.

Good Light does Very Good Light ring any bell? The website is meant to redefine masculine beauty for the younger generations, and co-founder David Yi developed this line of beauty products that target all genders. Its mission is explicitly “beyond the binary”, focusing on moving culture forward by promoting a more inclusive definition of beauty through product and purpose. Their skincare products are vegan, cruelty-free, sustainably produced, and clean to EU standards, which means they do not include any of the 1.300 banned ingredients and have been tested and approved for sensitive skin.

Shop Good Light

Alder New York

Alder New York Clean Skincare Gift Set.

Skincare products by Alder New York

Photo courtesy of Alder New York.

Alder New York is “a queer and woman-owned independent skincare brand that makes products designed to work for all skin types, no matter your age, gender, or ethnicity”. Founders Nina Zilka and David Krause combined their eye for design with high performative essential care products when creating the line in 2016; their skincare products are vegan and dermatologist-approved and they also follow clean EU standards.

Shop Alder New York

Noto Botanics

two jars of skincare products by noto botanics.

Noto Botanics THE SKIN EDIT SET.

Photo courtesy of Noto Botanics.

Gloria Noto started the company after a “mini-life crisis vacation in Thailand” wanting to celebrate the identities she didn’t see represented in the clean beauty industry at the time: queer, non-binary, trans, BI-POC bodies. With a background in fashion and beauty, she was well aware of what she didn’t want to find in her own products: pollutants, cocktails of chemicals and fillers. The key to Noto products is that they are multi-use, made with uncomplicated yet high-performing ingredients that are vegan and cruelty-free and sustainably sourced. A percentage of their sales is donated to Planned Parenthood, The Okra Project, The Transgender Freedom Fund, Black Mama's Matter, The Love Land Foundation, The Trevor Project, and others.

Shop Noto Botanics

Jecca Blac


Skincare products by Jecca Blac

Photo courtesy of Jecca Blac.

This brand is mainly known for its makeup products, but it is worth mentioning due to the support and tools they have given to the transgender community. Founded in 2018 by Jessica Blackler, the Jecca Blac studio in London, UK, offered a safe space for trans women to learn and experiment with makeup. All of their products provide effective coverage, from skin imperfection to beard shadow; they target all genders, offer tutorials and free makeup help, either via chat or video call and ship in discreet packaging. Their foundation and concealers offer a great option also to people who don’t normally wear makeup but want to include a covering product in their routine.

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Volition Beauty

line of skincare products by Volition Beauty.

Volition Beauty Spring/Summer Survival Kit.

Photo courtesy of Volition Beauty.

Volition Beauty is basically a queer and woman-led crowdfunding beauty brand. Anyone can submit or pitch an idea for a product, and if it is loved and accepted by the community, you work with their experts to make it real. They say only the best ideas are made, and you won’t find any nasties in their ingredient list: no parabens, no sulfates, and no animal cruelty.

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W3ll People

W3ll People Plant Power Skincare Starter Mini Set.

W3ll People Plant Power Skincare Starter Mini Set.

Photo courtesy of W3ll People.

Founded by lesbian make-up artist Shirley Pinkson, this brand offers skincare and makeup completely plant-powered and ethically sourced. They guarantee clean, multi-tasking, and cruelty-free ingredients, offering a wide range of skincare products as well as essential workers discount after lockdown, showing they really care.

Shop W3ll People

Roots and Crowns

Roots and Crowns Daily Face Care Bundle.

Roots and Crowns Daily Face Care Bundle.

Photo courtesy of Roots and Crowns.

Roots and Crowns is “a queer-owned small-batch apothecary based in Portland, Oregon” offering skincare products as well as essential oil rollers, blends, herbal teas, tinctures, and witchy vibes. They harvest the ingredients themselves when possible, and when it’s not, they purchase them from “places that focus on organic, ethical harvesting practices”.

Shop Roots and Crowns

Pure for Men

Pure For Men Face Care Kit.

Pure For Men Face Care Kit.

Photo courtesy of Pure For Men.

Targeting mainly cisgender gay men, this company is based in Austin, Texas, and was born out of a group of friends in college. They started out with a line of fiber supplements, which they now sell with a vegan formula (and in smaller sizes targeting cisgender women with the line Pure for Her), then moved on to offer skincare products as well. Although they are mainly a sexual wellness brand, they promise their face products are botanical-extracted, cruelty-free, non-toxic, and non-comedogenic.

Shop Pure for Men

Non Gender Specific

Non Gender Specific Everything kit.

Non Gender Specific Everything kit.

Photo courtesy of Non gender specific.

Born in 2018, this company was founded by Andrew Glass, aiming to create products that didn’t target either women or men, but people in general, as they say, “for all humans”. They wanted to simplify the beauty routine, while cutting down on consumer waste, creating products that target different concerns in one formula. Their products are vegan and cruelty-free, bottled in recyclable glass containers, and they use eco-friendly sourcing methods.

Shop Non Gender Specific
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Like many of the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe films, LGBTQ+ fans awaited the release of Thor: Love and Thunder in open anticipation of the inclusivity that both Marvel and Disney had promised. However, the fans were only setting themselves up for disappointment when the film was finally released.

Despite passionate assurances from studio heads to key actors, Thor: Love and Thunder was NOT spectacularly gay. It wasn’t even that good…

Premiere Night Promises

A bolt of lightning cuts across a rainbow on a dark and stormy night.

Lightning bold across the sky

Photo by Bill D.

Standing on the red carpet at the London Premiere of the film, director and actor Taika Waititi and fellow cast members Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson were offered up the inevitable question: “How gay is the film?

Amidst some laughter from the crowds, Waititi gestured towards Portman to respond. The actress (who plays Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster, throughout the franchise) raised the microphone to her lips and thought for a moment, before delivering a quiet yet fateful: “So gay!

Barely a moment had passed before the gathered fans went wild and Taika Waititi gave his own verdict: “Super gay!”. Tessa Thompson made no statement on the ‘gayness’ of the film, instead opting to swing her microphone around suggestively. As more cheers erupted, a second round of “super gay” slipped out of Waititi’s mouth, before he urged the fans to enjoy the film.

Thor: Love and Thunder’s LGBTQ+ Potential

Thor’s movie-goers were definitely hyped up for a gay extravaganza and they had a specific character in mind. The fan-favorite Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, stumbled her way into the MCU during Thor’s third film, Ragnarok. The Asgardian warrior won many people over with her wit, sarcasm, and pure badassery.

After the events of Avengers: Endgame *spoilers*, Thor Odinson gives up his claim to the throne of Asgard and names Valkyrie as king in his stead. This left many fans excited to see what would become of the character, especially after certain revelations were made at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con:

“As a new king, she has to find her queen. So that’ll be her first order of business.”

With these words, Tessa Thompson threw her LGBTQ+ fans into a frenzy, with heavy expectations for the then-upcoming fourth installment of the Thor films. Indeed, in an interview with the LA Times, shortly before the film's release, Tessa Thompson was asked to comment on the sexuality of her character. She responded with several promising remarks, including “there’s a lot of folks that are righteously very hungry for that representation to exist in these movies, as am I”.

*Warning: spoilers ahead!*

So, How Gay Was Thor 4?

To put it simply: not gay at all. Not only did Valkyrie end up without a fabulous new queen, her non-heteronormative sexuality only got the barest mention (a brief line about a previous, now dead, girlfriend). Valkyrie may have made bedroom eyes at some pretty ladies before an action scene spoils the moment, but that’s about as much as we get.

The film does get some credit for introducing a trans character in a minor yet significant role. Thor returns to his people (after a brief stint as a Guardian of the Galaxy) only to find out that the daughter of one of his closest (and deceased) friends is now a boy. The issue is, whether due to personal prejudice or some alien inability to grasp the concept of being transgender, it does take Thor a frustrating few moments to come to terms with the change. And to stop deadnaming.

In fact, the only concession to the queer community was Taika Waititi’s extraterrestrial character Korg finding a husband in one of the closing scenes. This heartfelt moment was somewhat underscored by the revelation that Korg’s entire species is male, meaning he had no other choice but to be ‘gay’.

This Is Not Marvel’s First Queerbaiting Attempt

Close up of an eye reflecting an unknown scene as a rainbow crosses the image.

Photo by Harry Q.

This is, by far, not the first time that LGBTQ+ fans have been sorely disappointed by the workings of Marvel and Disney. In fact, people across many social media platforms have been chiding expectant viewers for once again falling for classic queerbaiting tactics. “Being queerbaited by the MCU is like being a golden retriever with a human who always pretends to throw the ball”, one Tumblr user declared.

Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, was the perfect moment for the MCU to introduce its first lesbian lead. Larson’s character seemed to have an intense relationship with another woman, going so far as to help raise her child (before Larson’s Carol Danvers disappeared from Earth for 6 years). Despite leaning into several romantic tropes, the status of their relationship was never fully fleshed out. However, it was also the franchise’s first female-led superhero movie, so maybe they thought that introducing her as a lesbian would make the film too awesome.

The heavily anticipated Avengers: Endgame was also slated to introduce the MCU’s ‘first gay character'. While many fans were excited, particularly as this would be the second of Larson’s appearances on screen, the big gay build-up was a massive letdown. The film’s director Joe Russo made a cameo as a blip survivor mourning the loss of his husband. A five-second throw-away scene that had no impact on the outcome of the film. Big whoop...

Even when we did see a film with a gay lead, The Eternals, there were also ten other straight leads. At that point, it just seemed more like basic probability than an attempt at pushing LGBT+ superheroes into the spotlight.

Why Can’t Disney Let Marvel Be Gay?

The big problem with allowing a few characters to be anything other than cishet is that there are still many countries in the world that outlaw homosexuality. As much as we like to think that the MCU is being made for comic book fans, we all know the purpose of the films is to make money for Disney. And without certain markets in Asia and the Middle East, Disney wouldn’t be raking in up to (and over) one billion dollars per theatrical release.

Is There Any Hope For LGBTQ+ Fans In The MCU’s Future?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the second in the much-loved Black Panther arc, will be released in cinemas this November. The studio has confirmed that the film will contain a queer character. Actress Michaela Coel will play Aneka, a warrior, and trainer of the king’s guard. Whether or not her diversity will stand out in the film (let alone endure for more than a 10-second scene that can be easily cut) remains to be seen.

Next year’s The Marvels film, starring Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, and Lashana Lynch may offer the MCU a chance to redeem itself in the eyes of its LGBT+ fans. The studios may feel it’s finally time to offer us the heartwarming lesbian relationship between Larson’s Carol Danvers and Lynch’s Maria Rambeau that seemed to be teased in the first Captain Marvel. Don’t raise your hopes too high, though, as you may yet end up as a stubborn golden retriever waiting for a cinematic universe to finally throw that rainbow ball.