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Russian Kids Voguing

Editorial:

Often NIGRA has had to write or to report by using other reporters on stories which are sad if not down right frightening. Indeed, the fight for LGBT rights is still an ongoing one, which requires our vigilance to stop them being taken away and for us to end up back in the dark!

Today I am going to direct you to a lovely article which gives hope and which also should brighten up your day.

russian_kids_voguing

Kids today are so much f**king cooler than us stupid, boring adults, what with our “responsibilities” and crap.

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Proof positive, these legendary upcoming tikes in Russia who learned to vogue from one Dashaun Wesley, a high-cheekboned dance teacher currently making sure the children are our future over in St. Petersburg.

 

The rest of the article can be seen here, please watch and enjoy.

OUT: The Kids are Voguing

How to Break the Bullying Cycle

OUT dot com logo

 

gay bullying

Author Jonathan Fast discusses his book Beyond Bullying and the danger of ‘gay-neutral’ school policies.

 

Jonathan Fast knows what it’s like to be bullied. As a chubby 8-year-old in summer camp, he was tormented by an athletic boy who broke his arm. Even his father, Spartacus author Howard Fast, was bullied by the House Committee on Un-American Activities for being communist in the 1950s.

In his powerful new book, Beyond Bullying: Breaking the Cycle of Shame, Bullying, and Violence, 67-year-old Dr. Fast takes an unhurried look at the shame underlying violence towards LGBT and straight folks alike. “With this book, I hope readers will be better equipped to deal with bullying of every sort,” he explains, while speaking at his Yeshiva University office. “With time, we’ll be moved, if only by a single degree, closer toward a place where all people are equally valued and respected.” Fast spoke about the danger of “gay-neutral” school policies, fighting back, and whether or not there’s a “cure” for bullying.

Out: Did being harassed as a kid inspire this topic?

Jonathan Fast: In my last book, Ceremonial Violence, about school shootings, a detail was missing about the Columbine killers and other perpetrators. At a conference I heard a talk about shame, and had an epiphany: I realized these vicious guys were carrying huge amounts of that primal emotion. Most likely they were disappointing their parents, not gainfully employed, having trouble socially. Why turn to school shooting? Because they couldn’t express their shame if they wanted to appear mature, powerful, and successful. It’s taboo even to talk about this feeling because it’s associated with little children, weakness, and failure. Ultimately it comes out of their guns.

Gays have been bullied for decades. But during Stonewall, they fought back. Is rioting a useful reaction to feeling oppressed?

It’s a common form of shame management when the feeling is intense, shared by a lot of people, and there seems to be no other peaceful means of managing it. Rioters are usually unaware of their motivations beyond a general sense of rage and frustration. While neighborhoods may be damaged and community members hurt, the events draw attention to grave social problems. Stonewall created a milestone for the gay rights movement and empowered a subculture.

How have LGBT individuals dealt with society’s violence toward them?

Some choose to use their fists, which yields mixed results. Jamie Nabozny invoked the law. In 1988, after coming out in his Wisconsin middle school, he was repeatedly tortured by classmates. The problem persisted into high school. He sued both principals, staff members, and the school district for neglecting to protect him. Lambda Legal came on board, pushing the case into the headlines. A partner at the white shoe law firm Skadden Arps offered his services pro bono. The jury found the school administrators liable for failing to stop antigay violence against Nabozny, who won a 1 million dollar settlement.

In Minnesota, two young women responded with social action. A romantic couple in high school, they’d heard about a series of local gay teenagers killing themselves and wanted to bring visibility to non-traditional gender roles. They got elected to a 12-member Royal Court, and were set to walk in a public ceremony. But days before the procession, a teacher told them their plan was unacceptable because they were two women. They contacted the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center and battled against the school leadership. Ultimately they won the right to proceed on the red carpet, to wild cheers and applause.

Regarding that group of suicides, you point to education policies as potential culprits. One high school had written a mandate for faculty and staff to show respect for all students, and to remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation. It led to a spate of teen suicides over two years. What went wrong?

A lot. The 2009 recession hit that suburb hard. Residents bought big houses and got caught with giant mortgages. Middle class folks became homeless, living in their cars. Kids were told not to speak about their depression and lack of cash. So they couldn’t manage their shame. To begin with, adolescents aren’t working with a full biological deck. The frontal lobe—the part of the brain that analyzes consequences—doesn’t mature until age 25. Influenced by their peers, teens often make poor choices.

Add to that mix a poorly worded edict that bans any reference to homosexuality, spearheaded by conservative parents. It silenced the few gay teachers who’d acted as a support network for kids coming out. Trying to be neutral, one school psychologist took down the picture of her partner on her desk. Youngsters stopped hearing “it gets better.” All these things contributed to hidden shame, which you tend to turn inward, resulting in acts like cutting, and in this case, a cluster of suicides.

The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy in the U.S. military has been repealed. Marriage equality is the rule of law. But in one study, 95% of gay adolescents reported feeling separated and emotionally isolated from peers because of their sexual orientation. Around 50% of gay adolescents have experienced physical violence by family members. Research has shown that LGBT teens attempt suicide four times more frequently than their heterosexual peers. When will this trend reverse?

It’ll take another generation to change. I grew up in a homophobic home and my father was an intellectual. He’d say a great writer would never be gay, because they couldn’t relate to the basic human experience. Which was absurd. But when you’re a little kid and your father is a celebrated author, you tend to believe him.

In 1963 the New York Times published an article “Growth of Overt Homosexuality in City Provokes Wide Concern.” Its title reflected the opinion of the Times and the times. I see it getting better with my grown kids.

We all carry shame at times. What are healthy ways to deal with it?

Write about it. Express yourself through art. The film The Gift is a good example. It’s about a teenage bully who grows up and doesn’t understand why in high school his target complained about getting beat up. After all, the bully had been abused by his own dad, but believed he’d sucked it up. Of course, instead of sucking it up, the roughneck had displaced his pain and trounced his victim.

Other ways to deal include going to confession, if you’re Catholic. Volunteering. Doing a good deed. The “It Gets Better” campaign is a great example.

Is there a cure for bullying?

No. We have endless examples of maltreatment of people in politics—think Donald Trump—and in media, like certain newscasters. We live in a bullying society. We have the highest homicide and incarceration rate, and the worst income division, which is a big shame factor. Believing that society is a meritocracy can be humiliating to a lot of people. They imagine success yields happiness. But if prosperity is unattainable, people take that personally. They feel ashamed, and unhappy. Sometimes the shame is turned outward, which is how we get bullies

Check out the amazing cakes baked by these school kids for LGBT History Month

The cakes were produced during the grand final of the ‘Ed-u-bake and Cel-a-cake’ Great Rainbow Bake Off: a UK-wide competition for students to help tackle LGBT prejudice

The winning cake

Scott Nunn

The live final of the inaugural Great Rainbow Bake-off competition took place at Stoke Newington School yesterday (6 February). The nationwide competition was launched for school children last year during the UK’s annual anti-bullying week.

Students were invited to bake a rainbow-themed cake or cupcakes and to send photos of the resulting treats to competition organizers, Educate & Celebrate.

From the submitted photos, ten finalists were selected. They were invited to the grand final yesterday, which was officially started by Elly Barnes, CEO and founder of Educate & Celebrate:

‘We welcome the 10 finalists, parents, teachers and families to our first live Great Rainbow Bake-off final. The standard was set in the heats and now we are ready for some top quality rainbow baking to celebrate ten years of LGBT History Month.’

Allegra McEvedy

Also on hand was Scott Nunn, Director of Gay Star News and one of the judges of the competition. The other judge was professional chef, Allegra McEvedy [pictured right]. The children were asked to bake a cake celebrating the theme of ‘LGBT History’.

Among the amazing entries produced on the day was one creation decorated with rainbow colored icing to mark ‘100 year LGBT milestones’, including ‘gender reassignment surgery’ and ‘same sex adoption’ as historical highlights.

Durham’s Hamsterley Primary School’s entry was a team effort by three students to produce ‘gender-bread’ men and LGBTI cupcakes on a journey to LGBTI inclusion. The concept was explained by the head teacher of the school, Damian Hassan:

‘This is about children working together to produce a coherent whole. Our school has been 100% behind the bake-off and everyone in the community has also been supportive.’

Prizes included a meal for four at Allegra McEvedy’s restaurant Blackfoot at Exmouth Market in London as well as two signed books by teen fiction author Hayley Long. All the children received ‘Educate & Celebrate’ aprons made by Zitta Lomax, a teacher supporting the event, and GayStarNews tote bags with cookery goodies.

Rainbow history cake

Teachers at the school also got involved and brought their cakes in to be judged. The winner, Anna Gluckstein, produced a cake in memory of Alan Turing:

‘Celebrating LGBT History Month is part of the culture at Stoke Newington School and this bake-off has been a way of bringing staff and students together in a really positive way.’

All the judges agreed that the standard of entries was very high, with all the students demonstrating impressive skills.
At the end of the day Elly Barnes who was one of the judges said:

‘All the finalists produced thoughtful and inspiring cakes representing LGBT History,’ said Elly Barnes. ‘It was virtually impossible to choose a winner, however we all agreed that the cake which fulfilled all the criteria was the pink triangle cake by Jude from Stoke Newington School, which won on theme, style and taste!

‘It was a successful day and we are already looking forward to next years entries for anti-bullying week November 2015.’

Jude Costley’s cake was a bold and delicious design featuring multi-colored hundreds and thousands and bright pink triangles. Runners up were fellow Stoke Newington School pupil, Liam Charles, and Sadie Soverall, from London’s Emmanuel School in Battersea Rise.

‘It was an amazing and fun day,’ said Scott Nunn. ‘Congratulations to everyone who took part.’

 

Rainbow Bake Off winning cake

The winning ‘Pink Triangle’ cake (above) by Jude Costley
Rainbow Bake Off

Sadie Soverall

An entrant with her ‘Lesbians Do Exist’ cake
Rainbow runner-up

Liam Charles and his runners-up entry

Frida Kahlo cake

A cake inspired by artist Frida Kahlo
LGBT History Month Cake

Sadie Soverall with her colorful runners-up entry
Genderbread People

‘Genderbread people’!
Judging the cakes

Scott Nunn, Allegra McEvedy and Elly Barnes judge the cakes
Rainbow Bake Off finalists

The finalists and their finished entries

Edu-cake and Cele-bake

Photos by Samantha Hayhurst and Scott Nunn

– See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/check-out-amazing-cakes-baked-these-school-kids-lgbt-history-month070215#sthash.MdsHYgTs.dpuf

This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids: A Question-and-Answer Guide to Everyday Life

Life for gay teens has changed, but advice books for parents have lagged behind – until now. Zoe Schlanger meets the authors of a manual that even ‘cool’ parents should read

When Kristin Russo came out at the age of 17, her Catholic mother withdrew – for a short spell, anyway. This was in 1998. Like many parents of gay kids, Rose Russo was struggling to reconcile her daughter’s sexuality with her own religious life. Extended family referred Rose to Bible passages. She spoke with her priest, who advised her that “under no circumstances should she close her door to her daughter or anyone else important in her life”, Russo remembers her mother recounting. It helped, but Rose was still grasping for perspective. After a while, she sought advice from a few gay people she found through family and friends.

“My mum would just corner lesbians and just be like: ‘I don’t understand, how did you do this, are you having kids?’ She would ask them a hundred questions, and that was her only information about how my life might turn out,” Russo says. For nearly a decade, any trip Russo took home from college and later New York City ended with her mother bursting into tears. “I think she was just wanting it to go away,” Russo says.

As far as Russo, who is now 33, knows, in those pre-Google days Rose never went to the library to find books on parenting gay teens. Even if she had, the few books available may have made her mother feel worse, not better. Their approach was largely clinical and gloomy, and they escorted parents through a grieving process and toward acceptance, as if their child had been diagnosed with a disease.

Now, in 2014, the internet is awash in parenting blogs. Dozens of books are published each year on raising children and teens, but the literature landscape for parents of gay kids is virtually unchanged. A handful of books, mostly updates of editions written in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, relate stories of parents struggling to come to terms with their children’s sexuality.

Popular culture has undergone a revolution in attitudes toward LGBT people in the past five or so years. A generation is coming out younger, and parents are more willing to embrace them. But resources for those parents have lagged behind. That is, until September, when Russo and her co-author Dannielle Owens-Reid, 28, released a remarkably simple book.

Kristin Russo, left, and Dannielle Owens-Reid

 

 

Kristin Russo, left, and Dannielle Owens-Reid

This Is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids is for parents who want to be accepting, but “maybe they aren’t right now and maybe they’re really uncomfortable, and maybe they think their kid is going to hell”, Owens-Reid says. But it is also for a “new breed of parent”, as Russo puts it: those who are so eager to be accepting that they fail to recognise the difference of their child’s experience. “I see it so often,” Russo says. “These parents are so cool with their kid being gay that they don’t ask any questions, either because they think it would betray that they are indeed struggling, or because they think they don’t have any.Their kid is gay, they still love them, case closed.”

Of course, that support is a great start. But, Russo says: “It kind of forecloses the way that you can love your kid if you can’t let yourself ask any questions. It is different to walk down the street as a queer person than it is to walk down the street as a straight person. I think there is a real danger in saying no one is different.”

The book consists of a big, blunt Q&A: “How should I handle sleepovers?”; “How do I talk to my child about safe sex?”; “Who should I tell?”. A glossary in the back decodes the mystifying constellation of words – heterosexism, FTM, queer, genderqueer – that a straight parent is likely to hear for the first time. Personal stories are sprinkled throughout, from kids and parents everywhere on the experience spectrum – gay, bisexual, transgender, religious, bullied, the parent who always knew, the kid who threw everyone for a loop. It is such a necessary resource, it is hard to believe it didn’t already exist. Then again, Russo and Owens-Reid are the duo behind the websiteEveryoneIsGay.com and its corresponding YouTube channel, known to LGBT teens on the internet as the place to go for straightforward advice.

On video, the pair lip-synch to pop songs and respond to questions from viewers, such as “How do I get the person I’m interested in to know I’m queer?” or “I want to talk to the other gay girl at my school without being awkward. Help?” Other questions illuminate darker worries: there’s the caller who is worried she might be going to hell for being gay, or the guy who isn’t sure how to come out, because his sister already came out as gay and their parents turned out not to be accepting.

Even when the advice gets serious – when addressing questions about homophobic parents, for example – there is still humour.

“We still keep things very light-hearted. Because I think before you talk about anything, it feels so heavy. But once you do it, you’re getting over that little hump,” Owens-Reid says.

Russo and Owens-Reid never really meant to start an LGBT advice empire. In fact, their site began as something of a joke. At the time, in 2010, Owens-Reid was stocking a Tumblr called “Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber” with, yes, photos of lesbians whose aesthetic and swoopiness of hair resembled those of the boyish pop star. The blog attracted attention from media outlets such as the New York Post, and from lesbians who were offended.

“There were people who were fans of the site who would be asking me questions about love and heartbreak, and then there were a huge chunk of people telling me I was stereotyping the community and making lesbians look bad,” Owens-Reid tell me. They began EveryoneIsGay.com in 2010 as a place to respond to the Bieber Tumblr criticism. “We didn’t really have any intention of doing anything past, like, sassily talking back to some people and answering some advice that was funny and very light-hearted,” Russo says. The first request was “How do I know if my dog is gay?” It was submitted by Russo’s sister.

Soon, the requests for advice came pouring in, and they weren’t all light-hearted. “It was like, ‘Oh, this person is afraid to come out to their family because they might get thrown out of their house’. That was a turning point for us. And so we sort of looked at each other and decided to try it,” Russo remembers.

In the autumn of 2010, within a matter of weeks, four American teens between the ages of 13 and 18 killed themselves after enduring harassment from peers for being gay. The news shed new light on the pressures faced by gay teens. By 2011, colleges and schools began asking Russo and Owens-Reid to speak in their classrooms and auditoriums. Bullying of gay students had gone unaddressed for so long. Now, schools knew they had to talk about it, but didn’t know how. The pair have been to more than 100 schools to date.

Meanwhile, Russo and her mother, Rose, have come a long way. Rose, 61, now accepts and embraces her daughter, and her daughter’s wife. “I don’t know exactly what happened. The only thing I can tell you is that in 2001, I was very sick,” says Rose. “A gall bladder operation went wrong. I could have died. You have these near-death experiences, and afterward you reflect. Kristin was my biggest reflection. I didn’t know if she would have known how much I loved her, if I passed away.”

Rose recalls feeling deep regret for the years of strife. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, how could I have done that to her?’ I’m almost ashamed of how I was. I thought, ‘This is my child; if I can’t accept her for who she is, I’m not such a good mum’. I just didn’t care any more what people thought. That totally changed things for me.”

It was a number of years before Russo felt that her mother had fully come around. Six years ago – 10 years after Russo came out – she says she could tell for the first time that Rose felt comfortable around Russo’s then-girlfriend. “I would say 27 was the age,” Russo says. “That was when I could go home without her sitting me down and bursting into tears.”

But now, Rose says she’s proud of Russo and Owens-Reid’s work with LGBT youth, and wishes something like This Is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids could have existed then.

“I was struggling so badly then with her being gay, and I didn’t know if I could ever overcome that. Now, I look back and can’t believe I went through all that turmoil,” Rose says. “She’s a wonderful girl. She really is. To me, the book is a wonderful thing. It’s all coming full circle.”

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