#IndieGoGo Love: All Of Us Project Making Schools Safer for LGBT Students

#IndieGoGo Love: All Of Us Project Making Schools Safer for LGBT Students

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“Sadly today in Australia, school is the place where young people report the most homophobic abuse. Since 1998 levels of homophobic abuse reported by students, experienced in schools has risen from 69% in 1998 to 80% in 2010.”

- All of Us Read more

The Baby-Makin’ Music YouTube Playlist

Trans* and queer people can’t make babies? Okay, “Naysayers…” really?

Of course queer and trans* folks can make babies. People co-create babies…duh!

Anyhow, this mix doesn’t cover perfunctory, rote or mythical falsehoods. This playlist is all about…ahem. “Practice.”

Queer and Trans* imagery, entertainers and sensibilities are all up in this mix. You might call some of these tracks sensual or romantic. Tried to adhere to the ol’ “Keep it classy” standby, which only happened occasionally.

Sorry, not sorry?

homosexualmen Read more

All Purple Everything: #SpiritDay and Purple Prose Reflections

It seemed like the world turned purple on October 17th. So…did you wear or share purple on Spirit Day?

An unprecedented amount of celebrities (http://www.glaad.org/blog/celebs-showing-support-lgbt-youth-spiritday) and participants took part in celebrating Spirit Day’s anti-bullying mindset and campaign for peace.

spiritday2012purple1_320x245

Most notably, the #SpiritDay thought stream on Twitter, experienced a flurry of activity with somewhat minimal and hardly noticeable newsjacking and hashtag jumping occurring between the many supportive updates and social shares. Unfortunately anti-gay and anti-trans* push back was still somewhat present, but the signal-to-noise ratio tipped in favor of the celebrations at hand.

 

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#LGBTHistoryMonth – The #LGBTHM Come Unity Mix

#LGBTHistoryMonth – The #LGBTHM Come Unity Mix

“‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word/And love dares you to care for

The people on the edge of the Night/And love dares you to change our way of/Caring about ourselves”

– from “Under Pressure,” Queen and David Bowie

In the United States, October Is LGBT History Month

LGBT History Month fills the month of October with celebrations of those we love, those we have unfortunately lost, and those of us who are valued here, now and always. The month-long holiday commemorates LGBT persons of experience and is particularity related to civil rights and LGBT rights history and movements. Enveloped in LGBT History Month is its sister celebration, National Coming Out Day (October 11).

In the UK, LGBT History Month takes place during February, celebrating the 2005 abolition of Section 28, which previously forbade educators and schools from bringing LGBT topics or support to students or teaching it in schools.

Particularity in the United States, no one organization “owns or presides over” the holiday—rather, several groups worldwide recognize and celebrate it conjointly.

HRC  prepares its own events, campaigns and educational brochures to inform folks about LGBT History Month, though much of its efforts during the month focus on its own National Coming Out Day campaign.

Meanwhile, Equality Forum celebrates the day of recognition by designating and recognizing LGBT icons each year—one for each day of the month—voted in by the public and archived in an historical database. (Place your votes for LGBTHistoryMonth.com 2014 Icons here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dFhoRjNZMjIyUzV1cVZGVnRBay16RXc6MQ)

Naturally, several other individual groups, publications, sites and services such as Outhistory.org, GLBTQ.com, Quistapp.com and more celebrate and educate in their own ways.

We’ll save the controversies about LGBT History Month Festivities and Teach-In’s for another day–if you’re reading this, we know it’s because you want to celebrate–not debate.

Icons, anthems and selections abound, which we love. This list of songs that we claim and exclaim are for us or by us is ever-expansive, and we welcome you to add to the mix in the comments box below.

Meanwhile, have fun with these cuts. While there aren’t any new ones, you might find a few that are “new to you.”

 

The LGBT History Month Come Unity Mix

* Namoli Brennet – We Belong http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zddc7IUtN3Q

* Queen Latifah – Unity – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8cHxydDb7o

* Cheryl Lynn – Got to Be Real – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoXvDleWJ5U

* Latrice Royale & Manila Luzon — The Chop (Official Music Video) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlHzdXFCJ-c

* Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-mjl63e0ms

* RuPaul – Free to Be – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eaah3_kDLEg

* Elton John – Philadelphia Freedom – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhJHL34DiBY

* Village People – Macho Man – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO43p2Wqc08

* Marilyn – Give It Up – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9t-LcPkoiDM

* Erasure – A Little Respect - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiKVjS3gR88

* David Bowie and Queen – Under Pressure - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gpn8MANhdLU

* Joe Jackson – Real Men – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA65lg1HWt4

* Billie Holiday – The Very Thought of You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPJuFxl0bxY

* Bessie Smith- I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meuwKhPGItk

* Melissa Etheridge – Come to My Window - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1QIuAJoS94

* Cole Porter – You’re The Top – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njzqv5gWt6k

* k.d. lang – Constant Craving - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SraGoEVxOwQ

* Jill Sobule – I Kissed A Girl – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FdwUGwasck

* Ani Difranco – Slide – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eqwww-lLz74

* Garbage – Androgyny – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVs6Fekh0RY

* Velvet Underground – Candy Says – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPgGjUSEWss

* Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Same Love feat. Mary Lambert – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlVBg7_08n0

* Blur – Girls and Boys – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDswiT87oo8

* Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgzGwKwLmgM

* Cabaret – Liza Minnelli – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moOamKxW844

*C_nty – Kevin Aviance – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYTuzFNZftY

* The Origin Of Love – Hedwig And The Angry Inch Cast – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zU3U7E1Odc

* Rent-Seasons of Love - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsj15wPpjLY

* Closer to Fine – Indigo Girls – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUgwM1Ky228

* Madonna What It Feels Like For A Girl – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQeOpTWPBfQ

* Lady Gaga – Born This Way – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV1FrqwZyKw

* Culture Club – Love Is Love – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_5s3yRcohE

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To hear the entire playlist, click the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBRcoGrPV–ZxK3qVocF1q5cz_ovovKM2

 

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For more information about LGBT History Month, visit:

LGBT History Month – Equality Forum & Icon List for 2013

http://lgbthistorymonth.comhttp://www.equalityforum.com/lgbt-history-month-2013-icons-announced

Trans Oral History Project http://transoralhistory.com

The Lesbian Herstory Archives http://www.lesbianherstoryarchives.org

(Book) Transgender History – Susan Stryker http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Stryker

GLAAD: LGBT History Month Celebration Timeline http://www.glaad.org/blog/celebrate-lgbt-history-month

BiNet – A Brief History of the Bisexual Movement http://www.binetusa.org/bihistory.htm

June Mazer Lesbian Archives http://www.mazerlesbianarchives.org

GSA Network’s Class Syllabus and Event Ideas http://www.gsanetwork.org/lgbthistorymonth

Wikipedia’s LGBT Portal  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:LGBT

GLBT Historical Society http://www.glbthistory.org

ONEArchives.org  http://www.onearchives.org

HAPPY LGBT HISTORY MONTH, Y’ALL!

Loving Queer Youth And the Child- As-You: Healing, Support, Recovery from Hate Crimes and Bullying

 

The crimes of hate (I’d rather call them crimes of fear) committed against so many of our youth, and so many LGBTQIA folks in general, all start with the seed of a fearful thought. Thoughts unattended. Unreasonable. Unfounded. Unbelievable. Inexcusable ignorance.

What are some things we can do to proactively alleviate, stave off, prevent, remedy, and ultimately heal such fears–before such poisonous ideation metamorphosizes into, possibly, much worse scenarios? The question feels like a hopeless one, but we must continue to ask it.

According to StopHate.us, LGBTQIA folkss from all racial, social, and religious backgrounds are the third-highest targeted group for hate crimes in the United States. Why are allies included in these statistics? Because allies are often questioning (possibly queer, but not yet aware) people who are mistaken for being gay, or whose gender identity is questioned (after which time the person/their rights are violated).

The psychological impacts of hate crimes continue to reverberate in our general communities at large–let alone our LGBT communities–affecting relationship dynamics between friends, family, and even feeling secure within yourself–whether or not you are part of the LGBT community.

The teenage suicides that the queer community’s becoming more than well aware of statistically came to the fore again this year–in droves. It’s a shock to the system, a totally unpleasant surprise, but we must always stay vigilant, so that we can take good care of our own.

Along with these tragic deaths has come political backlash–most usually citing LGBT living as a political bargaining chip and point of argument rather than a personal, intersocial, and some might posit, a spiritual/at-birth choice. In light of the resurgence of LGBT youth suicides, children and youth whose only desire is to love and be loved in return (this innate desire is every single soul’s birthright) chose to transition to another plane rather than deal with the pain of bullying, aggressive/inappropriate behavior, and feeling hopeless. At such an age when sexuality is a big question mark, it’s quite likely that these sweet kids and young people’s lives were lost over assumption, presumption, ignorant folks deigning to identify a sexual identity on someone else’s behalf. An identity which at many stages in life–young and old–could very well be in flux and barely solidified or acted upon.

And what of the survivors? Friends and family left behind after a crime’s committed…to unfortunate and fatal effect, or those who are lost and bereft after a teen suicide has occurred, or other queer youth even reading such stories…. A common reaction to such news stories is the perpetuation of even more fear: a young woman or man who may be LGBT or questioning may hold themselves hostage, frozen in a space of perceived hopelessness or powerlessness, which is the unfortunate goal of such crimes and bullying mentalities in the first place. Even Constance McMillen, the lesbian teenager who was fully supported by the ACLU, attended a high school where the very administration itself would rather cancel prom than have an out lesbian attend said prom with a date…just like everyone else.

For all of the anti-LGBT acts of violence that are reported, many more are not, because of that perceived sense of powerlessness. Community, knowing that you have friends, extended family, and resources out there, is key. How can we bring that sense of support, connection, and hope to light? One thought, action, kind and compassionate act at a time.

There are many ways you can create light, enlightenment, and healing in the face of such complicated situations, so that you’re not beholden to the fear of them, and how they might touch upon your life at home, work, or school. Your lighting a candle in any way, shape, or form, can help better the situation for others as well, bringing as much resolution as can be reasonably expected. Your taking action as an activist can most definitely help. Your local–or even state LGBT center always needs volunteers.

Posting and sharing positive and healing resources, clicking a “Like” button on human rights/equality stories on Facebook, anything to tip the scale and bring balance to the number of supporters who remind us “It Gets Better” (like the YouTube series of loving, supporting videos of the same name)…all good. Obviously the more you do and the more public the forum, the more helpful. All actions are born in thought, however, and your Good thoughts, your loving and supportive thoughts, most definitely count. Your positive viewpoint could be just the seed of Compassion that an activist needs to birth a campaign, a book, a video, a–do you follow the meaning here?

These youth we’ve lost…let’s honor their memories by making sure we help them leave in their wake ideas of love, empowerment, restoration, thoughts of universal equality and rights for all. Every single soul.  Let’s stay awake.

Kids don’t always have the life experience to know that they have the Life-given right to hope.  Let’s remind them.  Often.  Hope is key.  Knowing support exists is key.  Visioning and acting, acting out a state of empowered beingness and spirituality and sharing that with others, especially youth, is so very important.  Let’s do this.  Together.  One restorative thought at a time, one healing action, meditation, and activity at a time, we can bring Love, Harmony, and Healing back to our inner, outer, and extended worlds.  Don’t believe this?  Try it and see if you can prove me wrong.

The resources below consist of tangible ways, large and small, that can bring upliftment and love to the tragic, unfair, and quite incomplete idea of hopelessness.  Hope happens.  And you and I can be just the very arms and legs, hearts and minds, bodies and souls and spirits, to put that hope in loving and perpetual motion.

Suggestions for Healing and Resources:

Support our youth. There are many resources for lesbian, gay, transgender, and questioning youth.  The more prominent national resources include COLAGE (Colage.org), The Matthew Shepard Foundation (Matthewsplace.com), and LYRIC (Lyric.org). The Trevor Project, like other supportive spaces for our youth, features a 24/7 hotline for teens and youth. Visit TheTrevorProject.org or call 866 4U TREVOR.

Report, Relate, Inquire: The National Center for Victims of Crime – NCVC.org – For all victims of all types of crime – includes anti-stalking resources, women-only and teen only resources, and more.  You can also send them anonymous emails through the site and call their helpline toll free from any phone: 1-800-FYI-CALL (1-800-394-2255)

Release The Past And Heal Today: RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline is a resource for male and female survivors of abuse as well as current reportage, and has both a toll-free and virtual helpline for folks of all ages.  Call 1-800-656-HOPE.

Meditate.  Send thoughts of healing, hope, and light to the situation for all involved through a Higher Power that feels best to you.  Upon reflection, perhaps you might send a letter of thanks and appreciation to organizations, activists, and government officials who are taking immediate, genuinely helpful, and appropriate measures to rectify situations.

Entertain yourself with good ideas: Rent relevant films with healing themes and debrief afterward.  You might even want to hold a small local screening at your place of worship/community or at home with friends and family.  Movies can prove to be a great catharsis when you don’t quite have the right words on hand.  Focus on cinema that offers up constructive alternatives and supportive scenarios.

Express yourself: create a song, a piece of artwork, a photograph, a story, anything that metabolizes your feelings, whatever they may be, into a new, transformative energy.

Get political: Your local LGBT Center (ask at 646-546-5126/LGBTCenters.org), or other groups like HRC, and ask how you can be of support, volunteer, or donate time or money to help hate crime survivors to heal.

If you are straight-but-not-narrow and want to know what you can do to help, organizations like PFLAG and GLSEN (PFLAG.org, GLSEN.org) have an abundance of literature and resources specifically created to educate and empower to act those who support those in the LGBT community.

Last but hardly least, take the best care of yourself that you can and then some, allow yourself to know it’s okay to reach out for help even if you’re “only” dealing with heavy emotions in light of challenging issues, news, and events (you are precious to the Universe–whatever you are dealing with is relevant and precious), and continue to thrive and grow in the most important relationship of all: the one within yourself.

 

New #ComingOut Models: LGBT Sibling Study Seeks Participants, Aims to Educate.

New #ComingOut Models: LGBT Sibling Study Seeks Participants, Aims to Educate.

As “tolerance” for out, queer persons of experience shapeshifts its way through to LGBTQ-friendliness and inclusion, “coming out” isn’t necessarily the simultaneous beginning and ending of a life story anymore. It doesn’t always have to end in tears. While it’s not necessarily an expectation or assumption that queer or questioning folks come out formally (rather than just “being out”), academicians, researchers and activists continue to inform us that closeted existence is unhealthy, to say the least….

A new LGBT-focused study seeks to make a substantive difference in achieving and enjoying an optimal life experience: doctoral researcher Katie Barrow is co-leading a research study and actively recruiting participants who are LGBT siblings. How might two siblings who are LGBTQ thrive within families and in our culture?

If you can help them out, you can also earn a bit of cash in the process. Please read and forward the call for participants below:

When A Second Sibling Comes Out – Call for Participants

Are you interested in talking about your experiences as being the second sibling in your family to come out as a sexual minority/LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender)?

If so, please consider participating in a 30-45 minute interview via telephone or face-to-face.

To be eligible:

*You must identify as a sexual minority/LGBT and be 18-35 years of age

* Have a sibling who also identifies as a sexual minority/LGBT

*You and your sibling must be out to at least one parent/caregiver in your family

*If possible, you must identify as the second sibling to come out as a sexual minority/LGBT

If this sounds like you, please consider participating! Eligible parties will receive a $20 Visa gift card for completing the 30-45 minute interview!

For more information, please contact K. Barrow at [email protected]

To see more, please check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EheXko63azs

Feel free to tweet your questions, concerns or interest at  Twitter to : @gaysiblingstudy

This study has been approved by the Virginia Tech IRB #13473.

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How The Study’s Results Will Help

Katie Barrow generously shared with us how she plans to use the study results. In an email sent earlier this month, Katie wrote:

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I’ll be happy to clarify how the results will be used.

This study serves a multitude of purposes, and they go hand-in-hand. Two purposes are listed below:

1.) Advancement of knowledge. This is the most basic, yet vital reason we are conducting this study. Beyond biological studies looking at when a family has more than one son…there have been no developmental, contextual, or familial investigations asking the question of, “What happens in a family when two children both identify as a sexual minority?” It’s a broad stroke, yes, but we are casting a wide net to see what kind of information we can get!

2.) And because there is no research that looks at how a family responds to two same-sex siblings, our second goal is to apply our knowledge. We would like to begin creating coming out models so that community professionals (e.g., therapists, PFLAG groups) who come in contact with someone who is LGBT and also has an LGBT sibling, or a parent/caregiver who has two same-sex children, can be more informed of this phenomena and therefore offer more comprehensive treatment and/or guidance.

Thank you so much!

Best,

Katie

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Again, please spread the word about this study—we trust it will help many LGBTQ persons of experience, families, allies and organizations out there, which is turn, helps our community and those who seek to understand us. If you qualify for the study as indicated above, please click here to begin the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7WLM5ZZ.

 

A Good Mama Is A Great Ally: Russia Might Listen When Cher Tells Them “No.”

 

“You don’t know what your beliefs are until you’re tested and have to really stand behind them.”

                                                                                                                                                  – Cher

Remembering Your Spirit – Chaz Comes Out, Part 1

“I wanted [my then-daughter] to grow up, get married, have a child, get divorced and live happily ever after.”

-Cher (to Oprah’s audience, half-jokingly)

Cher has had a Top 10 Hit every decade for the past 40 years. She could phone in whatever she wants to at this point—from her recordings to her performances, to her chat show guest spots. But she refuses to: she shows up and she remains present.

Aside from the fact that Cher is your Gay Icon’s favorite Icon and your Diva’s favorite Diva, queer fans who’ve loved Cher over time have realized that loving Cher is a full-time job.

If you’ve loved her during any era of her megawatt super-stardom, you’ve got to give it to her, she’s an incredible talent. If you’ve discovered her or followed her family’s story since the mid 90s, you’ve realized that you’ve had to give her some space while she caught up with all the parts of being an ally. You’ve had to watch and wait for her to continue to catch up as she enlightens herself all along her LGBT ally’s path. All the while, she’d lost the love of her life (though long since divorced, Cher’s love for the late Sonny Bono was complicated and made very public).

Loving and learning from Cher and her journey is an interesting study in what it means to be an ally, and ways in which we can even support our allies (should we choose to).

Though Cher was one of the first people to introduce drag artists to mainstream culture at the level we see today (professional, showgirls, on television), gender expression and LGBTQ culture was still something of abstraction to her—not related to her own immediate family, per se.

When Chaz Bono first came out to Cher as a “lesbian,” well before Chaz himself was aware of being trans* (by his own account), Cher had an exceedingly hard time accepting the fact that Chaz was (at that time self-identified as) a woman who loved women. In a joint interview with Oprah (video here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CupvzhC8_4), Chaz and Cher confirmed that Cher really saw Chaz her the only child. A child made and raised in her own image (dressing alike with the same andro/tomboy vibe that Cher rocked, someday growing up to meet and marry a man). Cher said she “always knew, way before [Chaz] did,” that Chaz was [at that time] a lesbian.

Holding on to the dream of “living in your parents’ image was an idea that took so long for Cher to let go of, while Chaz’s dad Sonny warmed up to the fact that Chaz is a trans* man much more quickly.

Cher, in her own words, went “ballistic” when she realized what she “always knew” Chaz was not going to change.

Meanwhile, Chaz wanted to grow up to be just like his dad, Sonny.

And God/dess bless both Chaz and Cher for outing Chaz’s many realizations with Oprah, many other journalists and the world not once, but twice.

Cher, as we know, did eventually came around (though she still made little jokes from the side of her mouth about having a gay child, reliving that frustration repeatedly).

The fact that Cher has so embraced the LGBTQ community as a whole (rather than just gay folks in her fan base), includes her own child in her appreciation and does so publicly is to be commended. She and Chaz both saw Chaz’s truth an “elephant in the room,” yet they continued to work through things together (enlisting the assistance of gay-affirming therapists also helped), leading by example to all onlookers.

Chaz, composed, articulate and helpful with the press and his mom all along the way, cited statistics about queer youth who need help alongside his own personal story. Such selflessness…it’s why we love Chaz all the more.

 

Remembering Your Spirit – Chaz Comes Out: Part 2

“How can we persecute people for being who they are?”

- Cher

Around mid-2008, Chaz Bono began to make his gender transition, and has made so much progress all along the way in terms of the peace of mind he says he feels and in terms of his relationship with his mother.

While Cher admits she still has problems using the appropriate pronoun to this day, at least she’s trying. She knows that each time she uses the wrong pronoun, she’s more the butt of the joke than anyone else. It seems like she does so to cope, and then quickly corrects herself. In a way, she’s modeling the process for parents with each new mistake she makes (oops, fumble, quick sincere correction). And as Cher stumbles along through her journey to continued enlightenment (as we all do), there’s a grace in the fumbling for truth and comfort. It’s a pleasure to see the both of them working together amicably for LGBTQ advocacy when Chaz had once been—however temporarily—kicked out of the house for revealing his truth to his mom.

Remembering your Spirit – You’ve Come A Long Way, Mommy.

“Your job as a parent is to support your children.”

- Cher (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CupvzhC8_4)

Cher went from Mama Scared to Mama Bear, as she’s come to call out Chaz’s opponents, haters and trolls on Twitter and in the media without hesitation.

The evolution of Cher’s journey continues as the word “No” falls from her lips most effortlessly when Russian Olympic officials ask her to perform in Sochi, Russia for the upcoming Olympic Games. There’s no way that will happen until Russia’s anti-gay legislation and environment changes. As Russia’s embroiled in the debate regarding the IOC’s degrees of homophobia and Russia’s governmental clarity around the issue, Cher doesn’t care about the so-called degrees and semantics involved.

Cher recently told Maclean’s:

I can’t name names but my friend called who is a big oligarch over there, and asked me if I’d like to be an ambassador for the Olympics and open the show. I immediately said no. I want to know why all of this gay hate just exploded over there. He said the Russian people don’t feel the way the government does….

[But] people hated Sonny and I in the early days because we looked and acted so different. Sonny was always getting into fights—people would called him ‘fag’ and he’d get his nose broken—only because we were dressing different. And these were our street clothes! You can’t forget that.”

Coming out isn’t always safe (family-wise, financially, etc.,) and some of us don’t have parents, families or friends who will take us back and come to understand us. However, when we can and as we can come out and share our experiences, we need substantive support. When people can’t admit their shortcomings or lack of understanding, that’s one thing. But when they lash out violently or destructively in light of their confusion or lack of understanding, everything escalates, and everything’s dangerous.

Kudos to Cher for realizing how dire the situation in Russia is and for boycotting the Olympics and being a “heart-core” ally, in theory, in practice and in love.

 

Related Links and Resources

Websites

Chaz Bono Official Homepage: http://chazbono.net

PFLAG: Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays: http://www.pflag.org/‎

 

Books

Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming-Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, & Their Families – by Chaz Bono http://www.amazon.com/Family-Outing-Coming-Out-Lesbians-Families/dp/0316115967

Transition: Becoming Who I Was Always Meant to Be – by Chaz Bono http://www.amazon.com/Transition-Becoming-Always-Meant/dp/B004XFYIBU

 

Film

Becoming Chaz Documentary: http://chazbono.net/becomingchaz.html

 

It’s In our Hands: On #Russia4Love, Lesbiru.com and Our LGBTQIA Activist Family In Russia

 

Use Your Words: On Activists Inside Russia

“It’s also no surprise that Russian deputies continue to reintroduce the question of recriminalizing LGBT people, since society still widely regards homosexuals as mentally ill, perverted pedophiles. Any homophobe trying to isolate them can always count on the support of the Russian people. Even the legislation that outlaws the stirring of national or religious hatreds is silent about us. The young generation will need a lot of time to begin speaking openly about their rights and finding the courage to come out.”

- Vdova, Co-Founder of Lesbiru.com

Founded in 2001, Lesbiru.com is a lifeline for lesbians and LGBTQIA folks in Russia and worldwide, advocating for human rights from within Russia and speaking for lesbians in-country. They also create content for–and host a myriad of–sister sites and social media pages. On perusing its latest English language updates, you can’t help but to reflect on the perilous fate of Russian activists at this time.

As Vdova’s words indicate above, LGBTQIA persons of experience in Post-Perestroika Russia were at least somewhat tolerated. Now, with Putin’s anti-gay about face instituted by the government, the fate of LGBTQIA activists and allies in Russia is under serious question. Many activists are being fined, jailed (see Pussy Riot and others), pressured to disassociate from the community and work for the government, and otherwise penalized. This is taking place in addition to the festering climate advocating anti-LGBTQ bullying and violence.

We’ve recently lost Nikolay Alexeyev from our ranks, a prominent Russian gay activist, journalist and filmmaker, as Russian authorities raided his home and confiscated his effects. Shortly thereafter, he publicly denounced the LGBTQIA civil rights movement. It isn’t hard to guess why he too has had to make a sudden about face and “change” his philosophies and decades-long solid track record of human rights activism in a matter of days.

The hobbling of Pussy Riot and other Russian queer activists, celebrities, journalists, people and groups in addition to the Sochi controversy makes the fate of in-country activists seemingly uncertain. However, the endgame, according to Russian officials, is certain. The aim is to silence anything or anyone LGBTQ or affiliated—this includes people or organizations who seem queer or who advocate LGBTQ persons, period.

 

Use Your Outside Voice: How We Can Help

These laws aim to force LGBT people into lives of secrecy. They will especially have a devastating impact on young LGBT people who will be left unable to be open about themselves and unable to access relevant services, with all the potential physical and mental health issues which may arise from this. In addition, it sends a green light to extremists that LGBT people are legitimate targets. This is reflected in the rising violence against LGBT people in recent times in Russia. These new laws represent a serious attack on human rights in Europe. They send out the clear message from the Russian government and parliament that intolerance of others is acceptable and that human rights are not inviolable but rather are political notions which can be rowed back when it is politically advantageous to do so.”

- GLEN

With its official event launch on Red Tuesday (9/3/13), The Speak Out for Russia campaign includes performances, artistic and activist projects, and public speaking and forums all around the globe, expressing solidarity with the Russian LGBTQ community. We’re still speaking out.

We can help our Russian allies by joining this campaign or starting our own. Too, the GLEN recently published a few suggestions of ways you can help:

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What Can People Do As Individuals?

Let the LGBT communities in Russia know you are standing in solidarity.

Use the Internet and social media to let them know that they are not alone. Ireland is an amazing example of a country which has come a long way in quite a short period of time. The Irish story is a profound message of hope and of what is possible, even at times when it appears progress is impossible.

Be a political/ethical consumer. Buy products from companies that have come out in support of LGBT equality, regardless of what country they are made in.

If you plan to travel to Russia then make sure you check with [your] Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for safety updates.

Finally and most importantly, be committed for the long haul. The sad truth is that these laws will probably not be rescinded in the short term. This is the beginning of a long campaign to change laws, hearts and minds.

Source

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Real-Time Support, Moving Forward

The more we make our quest for human rights known, the more the world responds. Don’t believe it? You can believe it: per the prodding of GLEN, their sister organizations in Ireland and many activists worldwide, the Irish government has now publicly condemned the anti-gay actions of the Russian government. Governments are imperfect to be sure–but when they set precedents like this, it indicts them to advocate for its own citizens’ human rights that much more, and to advocate for human rights worldwide that much more.

We simply must keep hope alive.

There’s so much more that you can do: support independent thinkers and bloggers around the world. Make your voice heard. Perform at, attend or donate money to benefits supporting LGBTQ culture and causes.

Follow the #Russia4Love hashtag on Twitter or visit AllOut to find events near you, and please connect with us or comment to share more ideas and support.

Peacefully,

Gay Agenda

 

This Is What Love Looks Like: How to Take Your ‘Best Shot of the Day’ Travel Photos

And Now For Something Completely LGBT…

National Geographic magazine’s Photos of the Day are stunning, filmic and take your breath away, no doubt.

But, clicking through Out Traveler’s newly launched travelers’ Shots of the Day,  you’ll find you’re in remote, exotic locales that represent queer travelers’ hopes, dreams, thoughts and love. You’re taken to a magical, relaxing getaway in a matter of moments. More to the point, you’re afforded a sweet little peek into a happy couple’s memory. They’ve shared their photo op with you, and you get a glimpse into “the soul of the trip:” they’re planning, their mood, and the reasons they chose to take a snap in that nanosecond of time.

You’re transported to many more destinations than the destination itself: you see possibility, desire, joy. You see yourself reflected.

Now, About Those Photographs…

With even the smallest tricked-out cell phone or iPhone, already we’re able to take technically brilliant photographs. Want the turbo-powered photographers’ stuff? Search for “best cameras for travelers” online and you’re all set.

But if you want to take memorable photos that take you back to your own, your fam’s and your crew’s best “You Are Here” wrinkles in time, here are a few rules for the road to keep in mind:

Take a camera everywhere you go. You don’t have to snap photographs or upload them every other minute, but you’re making memories, here! There could be a hidden path you and your Honey explore during a light hike, or an adorable book nook you discover in the middle of nowhere. You start to read, you take a breather, perfect photo op. Keeping a camera on hand helps. As long as you’re living in “travel journal mode” or “vacation scrapbook mode” rather than “Facebook/Instagram/Twitter Selfie mode,” you’ll be fine. In other words, don’t let “what will they think about this?” or “Eat it, betches” creep into your travel plans and photographs. Not cute.

It’s okay to take “boring photographs.” A run-of-the-mill or “typical’ picture of the California coastline is still gorgeous. A “hum drum” photo of Hawaiian dancers still captures the authentic moment. If you spend more time orchestrating the pictures than living in the moments, then you’ll come home to a ton of cheesy photos in your memory stick. You’re capturing moments so that you can savor the memories. You’re sending postcards to yourself. So just click, snap, enjoy and repeat.

Landmarks, tourist traps? Check. Scenic routes, off-the-beaten path spots? Check. Stay open to every opportunity: if a tour guide gives you options for lollygagging or a little off-roading, choose those options. Along the same line of thought, if you simply must circle ’round the Eiffel Tower and there’s no crossing it off the agenda, rather than griping about its infamous surrounding traffic, remember where you are…effing France! So meanwhile, stuck in traffic, don’t be such a drama queen, Queen: sing a made-up Frenchy-Frenchy song and ask, “Is there a photo op here?”

Got an extra camera on hand? Fiddle with your second cam’s features, extras and apps. If you find you have a little extra down time or waiting around time and have a second camera, mess with its settings a bit to take a stab at creating some artsy shots. Why do so with a second camera? You want to keep your main camera photo-ready at all times. You may tweak with your main camer’s features so much that you can’t un-tweak them! That’s a no-go no-no.

Hold off on the Instagramming altogether. This bears repeating: Instagram is already addictive when you’re at home, alone. It’ll be waiting for you when you get back home. Give it a rest and allow yourself a little mystery: if some photos turn out to be blurry or “imperfect,” oh well! Such is life. Do you really want to be staring into the lens or your phone instead of at a gorgeous skyline? M…kay.

Enjoy yourself. Solo travel, couples vacations and group tours are distinctly unique in scope and benefits. They provide unique ways to explore and to see the world. Try to have fun all along the way, even if for whatever reason, a disappointment or negative event happens. Appreciate your time away and the luxury of being able to travel, for however long. Your appreciation will also show up in your “photo finishes.”

Exotic, Romantic, Sexy, Adorbs: Queer Shots of the Day

Get in the mood, Darlings! Check out a few of Out Traveler’s Shots of the Day below.

Boyfriends at the “Golden Gay Bridge”

http://www.outtraveler.com/destination-guide/san-francisco/2013/08/30/shot-day-golden-gay-bridge

Partners Clothed and Happy at Hawaiian Nude Beach

http://www.outtraveler.com/shot-day/2013/08/28/shot-day-hawaiian-tropic

An Adorbs Boy-Boy Couple in the City of the Eternal Spring

http://www.outtraveler.com/shot-day/2013/08/27/shot-day-southern-exposure

Dinosaur Eggs in the Rainforest!

http://www.outtraveler.com/shot-day/2013/08/23/shot-day

On a Glacier in Middle Earth

http://www.outtraveler.com/shot-day/2013/08/26/shot-day-glacier-middle-earth

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Two snaps up: let’s see your pics, please.