#SOFFAs in Transition: Resources for Partners and Family of Trans* Persons

Finding a kind and loving support network for all but the world’s luckiest folks is a lifelong project. Multiply that times…what…infinity?…and it’s that much more challenging for trans* persons of experience to cultivate and to find.

Times are changing…we have trans* prom kings and queens, and public shaming or dismissal of trans* folks is becoming the real taboo, as it should be. Unfortunately for every advancement, inexcusable ignorance becomes much more identifiable and still continues to proliferate.

So of course, we still have a long way to go—and the more resources, gatherings and health-related modalities and methodologies that come to light in order to support, help, uplift and empower trans* persons of experience and their loved ones, the better.

If you’re reading this, you aim to support or share supportive resources with trans* persons, friends, families members, peers or others in solidarity. Here’s hoping you find useful resources, places and spaces to share below.

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Embracing Your Strength: A Chat with Dreya Weber

“Now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has been overturned, it’s like…why was it ever in place? Why?…. Let’s make it the world we want to be in….”

- Dreya Weber

Make ‘Em Say “Wow:” On Heart-Opening Compassion In Art

Dreya Weber generously shared her time with me for an interview to promote her tour with Teatro ZinZanni and her upcoming feature film “Raven’s Touch.

The words “embracing your strength” continued to come to mind during this conversation, because the healing alchemy of honoring oneself is swirling all through this interview like glitter in the air.

When you first connect with Dreya Weber’s presence, you might find that you’re forever emboldened. Whether striding forward as a P90x fitness mentor or flying through the air with the greatest of ease along with Pink, Cirque du Soleil, Teatro ZinZanni and many A-list pop stars, Dreya calms the room with an inimitable combination of dreaminess, grace, gentility and earth core-centered strength. Still, her humanity shines through–she’s no unicorn–she’s seen struggle that’s refined her strengths.

Touching upon, even, her first reels in “A Marine Story” or “The Gymnast,” you’re teleported into other worlds. Immediately, you care for the characters Dreya portrays. Even as her characters endure immense struggle and change, there’s an immediate trust that Dreya automatically articulates on-camera and off. Implicitly, you trust that she’ll both have and find her way.

She’s s a multimedia Artist, Writer, Producer, Actress, Dancer/Choreographer, Singer, and muse…the list goes on. But labels don’t define Dreya Weber—they don’t restrict her by any means.

Still, for context, here are just a handful of things Dreya Weber’s worked on and is working on:

She’s a regular musical, theatrical, and dance performer—including her choreography for worldwide tours on her own and with other artists including Madonna, Pink, Cher and Britney Spears. This includes traditional dance and her world renowned specialty, aerial dance and choreography, which she presented to the world in her starring role in her hit movie, “The Gymnast.” She’s an event and movie producer. She’s worked and performed with the Moscow State Circus and performed in an Olympics ceremony. In fact, She’s an Olympian-level trained athlete in many disciplines including baseball and fitness enduring trainer, and you likely know her from the best-selling fitness program P90X.

Of course, there’s always more to multi-hyphenate artists like Dreya—and lucky for us, her story continues to unfold.

What she calls ‘flow’ feels more like the outflow from her damn near Amazonian work ethic, fueled by constant motion and loving everything she does. Dreya embodies an ageless grace with and an absolutely loveable spirit.

A few of the topics Dreya addresses in the interview are:

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Her proactive role in changing the way theater and pop/rock performing companies work

Working and planning with the cast and crew on “This Is It”

The spiritual core in all things creative

Overcoming grief and embracing healing

Her upcoming movie “Raven’s Touch” (Dreya is a featured actress in the film and also wrote the screenplay.)

The quest to encourage men in creative and technical fields see women as real-world peers

Teamwork, meeting in the middle, and living in a space where everyone is always valued.

Her opinion on Russia’s anti-gay policies and the upcoming 2014 Sochi Olympics

The overturning of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and how “A Marine Story’s” cast and crew made a present narrative choice about it before it was overturned

What it means to be a strong woman…and claiming that strength

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Before and as we chatted, the recording equipment hiccuped in fits and starts.

Between my fangirl’ed out squeals of delight (and a thousand heart-opening “Wow’s!”) you can hear echoes of Dreya Weber’s resonant voice as the meter of our conversation skips.

And about all the recording hiccups and echoes…true to character, Dreya simply said, “I’m grateful that the technology exists at all. Great to be able to chat with you.”

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You can listen to the audio interview with Dreya Weber here, and remember to check out Dreya’s new movie “Raven’s Touch:” opening this spring.

 

Protecting Our Own: About The Wanda Alston House for Queer Youth of Color

 

 “I know there’s a place that you call your own/And you’re safe and warm and you feel like you’re home/

And the peace of it and the faith involved and you go to say…but/There’s no need to explain it / Still you try then you see that it’s okay.

You’re on your own / I see you lookin’ around at the people on the street/Well, things aren’t what they seem. / If you push them hard enough

You’ll find that most of them do not feel worthy of love./Now how did this come to be?”

- From “The Gospel According to Darkness” by Jane Siberry 

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Based in Northeast Washington, D.C., The Wanda Alston House in is the only housing facility and mentorship program of its kind in the area. Fully functioning as a nonprofit, the program cares for and works with LGBT and questioning youth–most of whom are homeless, HIV-positive, have mental or learning challenges–and assists them with job placement, career training and planning, serving as a place transitional housing and finding them permanent housing.

Founded in honor of Wanda Alston (who was a trans* woman, feminist activist, woman of color and LGBTQ ally), The Wanda Alston House is Wanda’s dream realized. According to the team at the House, it was Wanda’s last wish that LGBTQ persons of experience and people of color in the Washington D.C. area be granted temporary housing as a safe space to live as well as opportunities to create a better life.

The organization is always in need of volunteers and donations as well as select items on their wish list.

More About Wanda Alston:

“In the 1990s, Alston served in the National Organization for Women (NOW) as an executive assistant. She was also a co-leader in 1995 to the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing. She was a political organizer for five marches in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. She was an elected member of NOW’s National Board of Directors. Alston also worked as a political consultant and was active in the Democratic Party. She also worked as an events organizer with the Human Rights Campaign. She was active in the recovery movement in Washington, D.C. Alston was an active member of her local church, Unity of Washington.  She was also a leader in the LGBT community and was the acting director of the Washington, D.C. Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs from 2004 until her untimely passing.”

More About The Wanda Alston House:

The Wanda Alston House is the first and only housing program in Washington D.C. that is solely dedicated to offering pre-independent living services to homeless GLBTQ youth ages 16-24. Each young person is assigned a life skills counselor who works each day on issues related to employment/vocational training, housing, and other issues as needed. Each young person is housed in their own room and reside in a house with an advocate with extensive experience with housing and GLBTQ youth issues.

Services Include:

• Individual Counseling
• Support Groups
• Individual Treatment Plans
• Drop In Center
• HIV Prevention Counseling
• Referrals
• Showers
• Laundry
• Life Skills Workshops/Job Training and Educational Assistance
• Computer Lab
• HIV Testing
• Snacks

Wish List:

  • Non-perishable foods
  • Male and Female Hygiene Products
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Office supplies
  • Full sheet and comforter sets
  • Towels and wash cloths
  • New socks, underwear and T-shirts
  • School supplies and book bags.
  • Metro Cards and Fare Cards
  • Gift Cards (CVS, GIANT, Target, Old Navy, H&M)
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Video game systems

 

All donations are 100% tax deductible.

Monetary donations can also be mailed to the center, and The Wanda Alston House welcomes you to get in touch. Please visit http://www.wandaalstonhouse.org/Donate-Contact-Us.html for donation and contact information.

 

Spark Queer Outreach: #SPARKRJ To Host Trans*/Queer Inclusive Healthcare Chat on 9/25

 

“SPARK’s work will be complete when Georgia and the South continuously cultivate communities where we can all make sustainable and liberatory decisions about our bodies, genders, sexualities, families, and lives.”

- From “Our Vision” / SPARKRJ.org

Spark Queer Outreach: #SPARKRJ To Host Trans*/Queer Inclusive Healthcare Chat on 9/25/13

The Atlanta, Georgia-based reproductive justice organization Spark Reproductive Justice Now works tirelessly to build community and facilitate ever-progressive opportunities for access to affordable healthcare. Executive Director Malika Redmond, and the #SPARKRJ team are seeing to it that services and care connected to the Affordable Health Care Act are proactively made available to all who need it.

Because universal healthcare is more theoretical than in practice in America at this time, seeing #SPARKRJ’s upcoming trans*/queer-inclusive healthcare chat make its way to the top of the Twitter timeline sets in motion an immediate call to arms on traditional healthcare status quo: “Let a sister and a brother know–you deserve access now!”

So check out the det’s:

#SPARKRJ is hosting a Tweet Chat on 9/25 at 3:00 PM Eastern Time: “How Trans*/Queer Hate Impacts Healthcare Access.”

Attendance is especially recommended for medical or mental healthcare workers, practice administrators, physicians, educators/academicians in medical fields, LGBTQ volunteers, allies, gay-friendly professionals and diversity advocates. Still of course, all interested parties are invited to participate.

If you can’t make it, please spread the word, and you can still check back in with #SPARKRJ for a transcript, or follow and visit @SPARKRJNOW to check out their timeline archive of this very important conversation.

What is Reproductive Justice?

Also from the organization’s website:

“SPARK defines Reproductive Justice as a social justice movement rooted in the belief that individuals and communities should have the resources and power to make sustainable and liberatory decisions about their bodies, genders, sexualities, and lives. Reproductive Justice is pro-sex, sexuality, gender, queer bodies, access to abortion and contraception, birth rights and chosen families, and so much more! Reproductive justice is struggling towards liberation within and with community. “

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Recently, Malika Redmond spoke at the National Domestic Workers Alliance Healthcare for All Rally and Press Conference (follow #Healthcare4All on Twitter for tweeted updates on this topic). To give you a feel for the heart-centered passion of this organization as well as select topics to be addressed in the upcoming Twitter chat, check out what Malika has to say below.

“We will be public. We are not ashamed. We know that the people in Georgia deserve to have healthcare. It is undeniable. For our communities that are disproportionately impacted, it is not okay for people to have to chose between rent and necessary X-Rays…to have to choose between their prescriptions and being able to get back and forth to work.”

“In this country—one of the wealthiest countries on this planet…that anyone will have to decide between their livelihood, their ability to take care of their children, and being able to get the necessary healthcare for themselves and their families. We have an opportunity today…to make it right….”

Source

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Healthcare professionals, practices and organizations who fumble the ball when it comes to LGBTQ-specific needs and disparities often do so because the required continued education they seek doesn’t include cognizance of the ever-changing landscape of LGBTQIA culture, so they lack the information—or at least the current information—required to properly treat patients in community.

It will be great to experience ideas and suggestions from folks working on the front lines in Georgia as well as the questions and comments coming from those who are most affected by lack of access to healthcare and those who want to close the disparity gaps.

Everybody say love,”

Jaye

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Click the link below for more information about the #SPARKRJ Tweet Chat and to share it with your friends, family and peers:

http://ow.ly/i/3apS5

 

 

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.

 

Today In #LGBTHealth – New LGBT Health Journal Launches

“President Obama’s commitment to the gay and lesbian communities underscores the importance of providing them with the best healthcare options – both physical health and mental health.”

-Mary Ann Liebert: President and CEO, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers

Today In #LGBTHealth – New LGBT Health Journal Launches

LGBT Health, a new peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers, has now officially launched this month.

According to their website, the academic healthcare journal concerning LGBTQIA issues “will identify crucial LGBT healthcare needs and the means to address them, providing a much-needed authoritative source and international forum in all areas pertinent to LGBT health and healthcare services.”

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. is a renowned publisher specializing in scientific, technical, and medical fields, supplying peer-reviewed publications to the knowledge and information industries. This is their first LGBT-focused publication.

Its first editorial piece entitled “A New Era for LGBT Health” was written and published during LGBT Health’s soft launch in July. Written by Editor-in-Chief William Byne MD, PhD, it begins: “This is a historical moment for launching a journal devoted to LGBT health, and it is with great enthusiasm that we do so.”

He then goes on to establish the reasons for the creation of LGBT Health as well as reminding the reader of the fact that in the United States, the potential for universal healthcare is becoming more and more of a reality now that barriers to affordable healthcare have been lowered. He then goes on to detail how much more important it is that the LGBT community’s needs be addressed in light of these opportunities–both in the States and worldwide, where healthcare disparities are even more pronounced for queer populations, and in general.

His ending statement in the article ushers in a forward-looking and forward-thinking approach to LGBTQ-inclusive healthcare. He combines realism and optimism as he writes, “While much remains to be done, there are now many reasons for optimism concerning the health and human rights of sexual and gender minority persons worldwide. Support for LGBT healthcare equality from the principal health institutions and the highest levels of government in the United States and numerous peer countries has never been higher. Yet we should not be lulled into complacency by this recent progress. On the contrary, we must continue to organize locally, nationally, and internationally, to educate ourselves, and to redouble our efforts to ensure that we continue to move forward until LGBT health equality becomes a global reality.”

Other articles in the first edition of the publication reinforce their globally-inclusive mission: while the research focus begins in the United States, LGBT Health’s editorial team and contributors will share clinical studies and reports that help to inform and empower LGBTQ healthcare practitioners and communities worldwide.

Visitors can read this publication online in PDF or HTML/regular website formats.

Please click here to contribute to upcoming issues,  and click here to read the current issue of LGBT Health.

 

#LGBTUK: Ride Out for Human Rights with Peter Tatchell

Bicycle races are coming your way
So forget all your duties oh yeah!
Fat bottomed girls they’ll be riding today
So look out for those beauties oh yeah
On your marks get set go!

- From Bicycle Race, by Queen

#LGBTUK: Calling All Queer Cyclists

Can you make it to London in October? Are you in London already? Good…good.

So: have you got some time to spare to kiki with fellow LGBTQ folks and to pedal for charity?

Lovely!

Then the Peter Tatchell Foundation would love to go on a sweet, scenic bicycle ride with you.

On Sunday, 6 October 2013, The PTF invites you to explore London in an 18-mile long cycling ride-about. You’ll be visiting landmarks and learning a bit of history along the way. More information about the meetup from the PTF’s event page can be found below:

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PTF | Discover London’s Famous Humanitarians and LGBTs

http://www.petertatchellfoundation.org/ride-out-human-rights-sunday-6-october

Do you enjoy cycling?

Want to know more about famous humanitarians and LGBTs?

Want to support the work of the Peter Tatchell Foundation?

If the answer is yes, then join us on 6 October for an easy, fun 18 mile mystery bike ride around London, in aid of the human rights work of the Peter Tatchell Foundation. Or you can also opt for a shorter 7 mile ride and still visit numerous landmarks on the way.

The bike ride
Come join us with your friends or your family. The ride will take you around London’s most iconic landmarks on the way to discovering famous humanitarians and LGBTs. Yes, it’s a mystery bike ride. When you arrive at the start point, you’ll be given a route map and 11 guides to each of the landmarks, with a brief biography of the famous person associated with them. The idea is a ride with surprises. You only open the guide when you get to the landmark address – and then discover the famous humanitarian / LGBT person associated with that address.

A big plus: the ride is not timed, you can take the route, at your own leisure. So take your time and we have mapped the route so you can have a nice ride through Hype Park. Enjoy.

Important Details

Start Time: The ride will be starting at 10.30am

Location: Gays the Word Bookshop, 66 Marchmont Street, London, WC1N 1AB

Registration: £20 per participant. Children under 16 ride free.

Join us: To ride with us simply click here to register and follow the instructions to complete your payment.

Payment: There are two ways you can pay your registration fee. [Please visit the page for specific payment information.]

Facebook: Check out here who is attending through the Facebook event.

Sponsorship
Sponsorship is optional. Of course, we will be very grateful if you could get some sponsors for your ride. This will be a huge help for the Peter Tatchell Foundation to help us maintain our vital work campaigning for human rights. You can download the sponsorship form and return it to us on the day, with the sponsorship money that you have raised.

Alternatively, you can invite your friends to sponsor you online.

To find out more and get registered, click here.

 

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Founded by Australian-born, UK-based politician and LGBT activist Peter Tatchell, The Peter Tatchell Foundation promotes and protects the human rights of individuals, communities and nations, in the UK and internationally, in accordance with established national and international human rights law.

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Can’t make it to the event? The PTF welcomes your donations. Visit this page for more specific information about how your donations will be utilized.

 

Initiative for Transgender Leadership Launches Groundbreaking Youth Mentorship Program – Starts October 2013

Initiative for Transgender Leadership

Based in Pittsburgh and Erie Pennsylvania and founded in 1972, The Persad Center is the United States’ second oldest licensed counseling center which was created specifically to serve the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community.

As one of The Persad Center’s many trans* empowering projects, the Initiative for Transgender Leadership (established in 2010) recently announced the launch of their brand new Peer Mentorship Program Kick-off Weekend for Trans* Youth.

ITL posted the following announcement on their blog -

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The mission of the ITL is to positively impact community life through professional and leadership development of transgender youth.

Join us if you want to:

Become a skilled, connected and confident mentor to your peers

Be part of a supportive and awesome group of people committed to making the world a better place for trans* youth

Develop your professional and leadership capacities

Come to our kick-off weekend October 4-6th–

Were you will meet other local trans* youth, learn the basics of being a mentor, practice non-violent communication, eat great food and find out about ITL’s Peer Mentorship Program to see if you want to join. Meals will be provided, bus fare is available, and the whole weekend is free!

Location: ITL co-founder Madeleine Hershey will be hosting the Kick Off at her house [contact ITL for a specific address]. The house is handicap accessible.

Who is invited? The ITL Peer Mentorship Program is for people of trans* experience, ages 16-26. The program will benefit from a diversity of experiences, backgrounds and identities. If you identify as trans*, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, or you feel you belong in this program, we welcome you.

We hope that after participating in the kick-off weekend you will decide to commit to the full Peer Mentorship Program, which will meet for 20 three-hour sessions between October 2013 and May 2014.

Those who choose to join the program will receive a small regular stipend, bus fare as needed, and lunch on program days. The goal of the ITL Peer Mentorship Program is to produce a group of well-informed, confident and competent young trans* people who, by becoming experts in themselves, are ready, willing and able to provide information, mentorship and support to others in their communities. The Peer Mentorship Program was designed by trans* youth and the ITL team to be participant-driven. In other words: YOU decide what information and activities are priorities, and facilitate the program together with your peers.

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On Leveraging Opportunities

One-on-one mentorship, education, leadership training, financial stipend-based support and career opportunities are invaluable for our trans* brothers and sisters, and of particular value for trans* youth in their formative years. Programs such as the California-based Brown Boi Project exist to help address this need, and it’s hopeful, rewarding and encouraging to see ITL launching one more uplifting program for young trans* folks.

Congratulations to The Persad Center’s and ITL!

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To show your support of their helpful work, send encouragement or sponsor a peer mentor, please send a check, made out to Persad Center, with “ITL” in the memo line. You can mail that to The Persad Center, 5150 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224 .

For more information, please visit the ITL Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/PghTransLeadership) or email: [email protected].

Please also spread the word to folks who would benefit from participation in this mentorship initiative.

 

Are You #ComingOut Late? Queer & Questioning Support for Adult Late Bloomers

Are You #ComingOut Late?

The very idea of coming out can seem unthinkable (or at least unmentionable) for people who aren’t teenagers anymore—people who don’t feel confident enough or ready to reach out. People who can’t hide behind the “it’s just a phase” mythology. Fear, guilt, confusion or “taboo” aspects of thought take center stage. Hesitancy to address queer or questioning thoughts seems to creep in around folks in their mid to late twenties, depending on their circumstances at the time.

Folks begin to establish a career, to take a serious look at their goals and relationships, or to set the idea in place that “people know them one way,” and that’s the way things will be or have to be. Add spiritual and community-related concerns in to the mix, and here you have another layer. Too, there could be an inability to articulate or figure out questions around gender. Soon enough, habits of avoidance and denial solidify.

When you do feel they desire more information to make changes, sometimes the older you are, the harder it gets to make those changes..

Resources do indeed abound. While we are including resources and spaces for support below, don’t “study the process” so much that you isolate yourself.

 

Coming Out Resources for Late Bloomers

Sexual Orientation

HRC: http://www.hrc.org

The Human Rights Commission is in the business of making information easy to find for those who are queer and questioning, for those who need allies or want to mentor others, or for those who have needs or concerns in relation to gender identity. Leverage their years of research, experience and funding, why don’t ya? You can take advantage of their solid support and availability by asking them questions and browsing their archives online.

The Bisexual Index: http://www.bisexualindex.org.uk/index.php/Bisexuality

Bisexuality is not a mythical unicorn of a concept, and being bi doesn’t mean you’re fluctuating from one reality to the next. The Bisexual Index’s Frequently Asked Questions pages are extremely helpful in tackling other such myths and explaining the facts.

 

Gender & Identity

From the ISNA:

“What’s the difference between being transgender or transsexual and having an intersex condition?” http://www.isna.org/faq/transgender

FTMTransition.com (FTM, Female to Male) FAQ: http://www.ftmtransition.com/transition/faq/faqtranst.html

A helpful primer website for trans* guys and others who have questions about what life is like for trans* men as well as family, friends and allies. FTM means “female to male.”

MTF (Male to Female) Transition – Calpernia Addams and Andrea James: http://www.andreajames.com/calpernia-addams.html

As trans* activists, advocates, speakers and coaches for women who seek to make their transition, Calpernia and Andrea have also co-created many multimedia projects—fiction and non-fiction films, books and more—to both educate and entertain folks about trans* culture from a woman’s perspective.

 

Coming Out Stories & Support

Empty Closets:  EmptyClosets.com

Coming out resources and a safe place to chat.

I Am Coming Out of the Closet – The Experience Project: http://www.experienceproject.com/groups/Am-Coming-Out-Of-The-Closet/108866

Read and/or share your comments and ideas in terms of coming out.

 

Much Love For Seniors

Over 50 years of age? We can’t ignore the fact that queer culture can be, unfortunately, terribly ageist. AARP (yes, the AARP.) and many other organizations are all too familiar with ageism and proactively fight for all-inclusive human rights. We encourage you to reach out to them. Here are some helpful points of light and points of entry for you.

Old Lesbians Organizing for Change: http://www.oloc.org

OLOC is a national network of “Old Lesbians” over age 60 working to make life better through support networks and by confronting ageism in our communities and our country using education and public discourse as primary tools. They hold events and gatherings regularly.

AARP Pride: http://www.aarp.org/relationships/friends-family/aarp-pride/

AARP Pride deals with, in their words, “The Biggest Issues Facing Older LGBT Americans.”This organization is already quite understanding and helpful in advocating for seniors. They work hard to strengthen their AARP Pride-specific presence and programs each year as well.

SAGE: http://www.sageusa.org/index.cfm

Sage stands for services and advocacy for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender elders.

FORGE’s T.A.N.: http://forge-forward.org/aging/

TAN/The Trans Aging Network exists to improve the lives of current and future trans/SOFFA (significant others, friends, family and allies).

 

Recommended Reading:

The Original Coming Out Stories: Expanded Edition. Julia Penelope and Susan J. Wolfe, Eds., Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press.

The Gay and Lesbian Self-Esteem Book: A Guide to Loving Ourselves. Kimeron N. Hardin, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

A Family and Friend’s Guide to Sexual Orientation. Bob Powers & Ala Ellis, New York: Routledge.

Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out. Loraine Hutchins & Lani Kaahimanu, Eds., Boston: Alyson Publications.

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This Is An All Ages Club

It might feel like it makes more sense to say you are an ally, rather than declaring anything else at this point. That’s normal.

As you’ll discover along the way, one resource will inevitably lead you to another, and another and another.

Because we can “Google” just about everything, coming out tends to be more self-directed and self-paced for adults, which can be a mixed blessing. Coming out is a process of “beginning again,” and so you will indeed encounter resources that are just for kids, teens and younger people during your travels. Try not to internalize it or become so sensitive to it that it discourages you from searching for more answers.

Don’t let it irk you so much that you resent your age and/or your process: just keep moving forward.

Use “youth” as a metaphor. You’ll find you’ll feel like a kid again during the process, but you’ll have the advantage of experience to add to the pot.

 

You’re The “I” At The Center of All Storms

Stories especially can provide so much loving, compassion-centered inspiration in the beginning stages of your process. They can also, however, facilitate a form of stalling or keeping your questions and concerns to yourself.

Too, LGBTQ culture intersects with political ideologies, many of which are extremely heated, for various reasons. Please try not to let landmines of debates deter you from your own personal search for true meaning and identity.

Allow yourself the space to create your life the way you want to, and seek to find your peace of mind above all else. That will always be your North Star: returning time and time again to your own center. To your own peace of mind.

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LGBT-Empowered: Shaun T Partners Up With Athlete Ally

‘Haters Cannot Touch My Shine:’ From Rockin’ Body to #Shaunspiration and Beyond

When we last checked in with Shaun T, we found him out, proud, and happily married, emphasizing equality by weaving positive social shares in with his personal life and daily goings on, on all fronts.  They say that “slow and steady wins the race,” even when you’ve created mind-numbingly hardcore workouts.

In the wake of his heartfelt story of love, celebrity fitness trainer Shaun T. continues to inspire and capture the imaginations of his fan base with his latest venture: signing up to be Athlete Ally’s newest celebrity ambassador.

Forging a unified front with celebratory tweets sent on July 11, Shaun T and Athlete Ally shared a graphic of a ripped Shaun T striking a workout pose.  With inimitable positivity in tow it reads, “Inclusion is essential in sports.  It can never be secondary.”

In the organization’s own words, “Athlete Ally is a nonprofit that empowers athletes to be role models and challenge homophobia and transphobia in sports.”

Founded in January 2011 by self-defined “straight ally” Executive Director Hudson Taylor (currently a competitive wrestler and coach at Columbia University), Athlete Ally is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization emulating the “gay-straight alliance” model.  The nonprofit brand emphasizes inclusivity and learning opportunities.  It has co-led educational awareness campaigns with athletes such as Olympic wrestler Ellis Coleman, NBA star Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets), WNBA Player Kristi Toliver (Los Angeles Sparks) and more, while promoting Public Service Announcement multimedia awareness drives to honor sportsmen like Jason Collins.

Co-launched alongside their social media campaigns, Athlete Ally’s press release, also published on July 11, further explores the value Shaun T brings to the table.  In their release, Hudson Taylor continued, “It is a true honor to have Shaun T join the Athlete Ally Movement.  He is a catalyst for the inclusion and positive change that we are continuing to see in the venue of sports.  Another vocal, recognizable fitness and athletic personality on our team will undoubtedly help spread our message.”

While Athlete Ally also works closely with the National Basketball Players Association, the NCAA and the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center among many other prominent alliances, Shaun T continues to exert influence in the fitness world.

As one of Beachbody’s most prominent fitness coaches, he just launched his official Fly Fitness Wear line and released his FOCUS T25 program which continues to lead Beachbody to profits of $250-500 million yearly.

Shaun T has worked out with everyone from Dr. Oz, to Ellen to Tyra Banks and regularly does in-person meet and greets and worldwide in outreach for his Beachbody-trained coaches and fans.

In the press release mentioned above, Shaun T enthused, “The joy of feeling free to be oneself in all aspects of life is not something that can endure if there is an underlying stressor. The ability of an athlete to step into their arena and feel free to be 100% focused on competing in their sport is the catalyst which separates the elite from the dedicated.  This is essential to an athlete’s success—it cannot be secondary.”

Learn more about Athlete Ally at www.athleteally.org, and Shaun T’s official homepage can be found at http://shauntfitness.com.