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Proper Skin Health Techniques

Skin health is an important issue for everyone but it is especially important to the LGBTQ+ community. Finding a health care doctor that understands your medical history, gender identity, and sexual orientation is difficult. It's very important for a healthcare provider, including dermatologists, to have a better understanding of the needs of the LGBTQ+ population.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the number of melanoma deaths in the U.S. is expected to increase this year by over 5 percent. Studies show that gay and bisexual men are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with skin cancer due to indoor tanning and unprotected sun exposure. Even transgender people dealing with acne due to hormone therapy are susceptible.

We spoke with dermatologist Dr. Cuong Le with the U.S. Dermatology Partners to find out the ins and outs of skin care health. Dr. Le treats patients of all races and provides a safe space for LGBTQ patients. Education and understanding are his main concern and here is what he had to say regarding LGBTQ skin health:

Q: Why Is It Important To Moisturize?

A: Everyone should be moisturizing daily and make it a part of their routine. Moisturizing helps repair the skin barrier- which can be damaged in certain diseases like eczema or if you are using products that contain ingredients that can dry or irritate your skin. Moisturizing also helps hydrate the skin. This can make your skin look plumper, fill out fine lines and wrinkles, and healthier.

Q: What Are the Proper Steps To Moisturize?

A: Moisturizers work best if applied to damp skin. In the morning, wash your face with a gentle cleanser, apply a moisturizer, and then apply sunscreen. At night, wash the face with a gentle cleanser and apply the moisturizer to damp skin. If you have toners, serums, retinol, or retinoids, they would usually go on before the moisturizer.

Q: Does Moisturizing Matter by Gender? 

A: Everyone should be moisturizing regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. There might be a difference in how dry or oily the skin is - but even then that doesn't matter. Both dry skin and oily skin will benefit from moisturizing. Something else that might play a role is how complex your skin care regimen or routines are but that is specific to each person- not necessarily a gender or sexual orientation.

Q: What Are the Best Ingredients for Moisturizers?

A: Some ingredients to look out for are ceramides, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid. Humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid attract water. Ceramides help repair the skin barrier. Petrolatum is an occlusive that helps retain moisture in the skin.

Q: What Are the Worst Ingredients for Moisturizers?

A: There are some things that you should avoid if you are looking for a moisturizer. Fragrances, parabens, and dyes can be allergenic or irritating to some people with more sensitive skin. It might be good to avoid them if you are not sure. Night creams can contain retinol - which can irritate the skin and cause redness, peeling, and make products sting when applied. If you want to use something with retinol in it, I would introduce it slowly so your skin can get used to it. Some night creams also have AHAs or BHAs- these are weak acids that can also be irritating especially if they are overused.

A good skin care regimen does not have to be complicated and can consist of just a gentle cleanser, a good moisturizer, a good sunscreen, and retinol or retinoids.

white box with the words good skin club printed on it.

Good Skin Health

Photo by Good Skin Club on Unsplash

Based on the interview from Dr. Le, we put together a little skin care routine that is very easy to follow and you can add to it as your skin care health needs. Remember, the different seasons also play an important role in skincare. During the summer months, you will most likely need a lighter moisturizer while during the winter months, you'll need a more thicker and richer moisturizer.

For Proper Skin Health, Start with a Basic Skin Care Routine

Every morning you should use the following routine:

  • Cleanse. Use a mild cleanser to remove dirt and grime that has built up overnight.
  • Moisturize. Use a moisturizer that works with your skin type and for the time of the season.
  • Sunscreen. You should be protecting your skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

Your nightly skincare routine should look something like this:

  • Cleanse. Again, use a mild cleanser to remove dirt and grime from the day.
  • Toner. Refresh your skin without stripping it of natural oils.
  • Treat. Use a product such as serums, spot treatments, or retinol to help repair skin damage, treat acne, or whatever your skin health needs may be.
  • Night Cream. Use a thicker moisturizer that will help with skin repair and hydrate your skin while you sleep.

What Skin Care Products Do You Need?

There are plenty of skincare products out there. It really comes down to your skin type and skin health. At the minimum, you should have a mild cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. You can build from there. For instance, if you wear makeup, then having a makeup remover will clean a lot of the residue from your face before actually cleaning it. The cleanser will then remove any leftover residue that the makeup remover didn't get.

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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.