The GOP Hates Gays — They Even Put It In Writing

I knew that Republicans aren’t pro-gay as a rule, but until recently, I didn’t realize exactly how anti-gay they are. Like, that the GOP actively, explicitly hates queer folks and wants us either not to exist or to pretend we don’t. Or they want us to suffer. They want to break up our families, and they want the federal government to explicitly state that the way we love is unnatural and invalid.

Some may think it sounds like I’m exaggerating, that I’m overreacting, getting too worked over some fear-mongering story pumped out by the “lamestream media.” Being gay is, like, totally accepted these days — even Pew Research Center says so! According to its 2017 study on the topic, 70% of Americans said they believe society should accept homosexuality. Hell, even Republicans as a group have come a long way, with nearly half being in favor of same-sex marriage.

So why am I making these radical claims about the GOP being a collective of homophobic shits? Why would I say its members want to destroy the lives of queer folks? Well, for starters: it’s on their fucking website. I didn’t realize this until recently when a friend pointed it out to me.

Their Republican Platform document, created in 2016 and reaffirmed in 2020 via resolution, is a 58-page statement of the Republican vision for the United States. It’s sponsored by the Republican National Committee and has its own page on the official GOP website. Its preamble states that the platform is “a manual for the kind of sustained growth that will bring opportunity to all those on the sidelines of our society.”

To those on the sidelines of our society.

Is any group in the United States more sidelined than the LGBTQ+ community? Of homeless youth, 40% are gay, often due to familial rejection. 30% of adults who are homeless identify as LGBTQ+. LGBTQ+ youth are five times as likely as heterosexual youth to attempt suicide. 40% of transgender adults report having attempted suicide. These tragic statistics are a direct result of the discrimination this community faces. It’s hard to fathom being more “sidelined” than this.

The GOP platform states that it wants to provide opportunity to “those on the sidelines of our society.” And yet, on page 11 under the section “Defending Marriage Against an Activist Judiciary,” the GOP platform states:

Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values. We condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor, which wrongly removed the ability of Congress to define marriage policy in federal law. We also condemn the Supreme Court’s lawless ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which in the words of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, was a “judicial Putsch” — full of “silly extravagances” — that reduced “the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Storey to the mystical aphorisms of a fortune cookie.” In Obergefell, five unelected lawyers robbed 320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The Court twisted the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment beyond recognition. To echo Scalia, we dissent. We, therefore, support the appointment of justices and judges who respect the constitutional limits on their power and respect the authority of the states to decide such fundamental social questions.

Besides the fact that this is the most bigoted bunch of flaming donkey shit I’ve ever read, let’s also address the bald hypocrisy in this paragraph via comparison of two sentences:

“We condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor, which wrongly removed the ability of Congress to define marriage policy in federal law.”

“We, therefore, support the appointment of justices and judges who respect the constitutional limits on their power and respect the authority of the states to decide such fundamental social questions.”

Hey GOP, you bunch of paradoxical half-wits, learn how to present an idea without immediately contradicting yourselves. Do you want congress to be able to define marriage, or not? Shall religion dictate law, or not? At least be consistent with your bigotry, for fuck’s sake.

Every time I read this passage from the GOP platform, I indulge in a gleeful fantasy in which I slap every single Republican across the face. Yes, even friends and family members. Because seriously, people, are you even paying attention? Half of you believe queer folks should have the same rights as non-queer folks. And, according to Pew Research Center, over half (54%) of you also believe that religion should not dictate government policy. Even of evangelical protestants, arguably some of the most dogmatically religious people in the U.S., 43% still think religion should not influence government policy.

And yet here it is, in plain English in your fucking political party’s playbook, that the GOP — and by extension, you — wants to overturn the Supreme Court ruling that protects queer folks’ constitutional right to marry just as you do. What in the tap-dancing fuck are you people on about? There are over half a million same-sex marriages in the United States, caring for and supporting 300,000 children. For the party who claims to be pro-family, y’all sure are trying your damnedest to break up hundreds of thousands of families via the federal government whom you claim ought not to “decide such fundamental social questions.”

I have no doubt that many Republicans who are in favor of queer rights have no idea that this is what they’re supporting. But I don’t forgive this ignorance because for fuck’s sake, people, do better. Just do better. Stop blindly following. Think critically. Read your own damn party’s literature and come to terms with the hate you’re supporting. If you agree with other parts of the GOP platform but not this part, speak the hell up and change it.

My civil rights are not up for you to debate. You will not make flowery statements about bringing “opportunity to all those on the sidelines of our society” and then sideline me by telling me that the way I love is invalid and that I shouldn’t have the same legal right to marry and enjoy all the benefits and protections that come along with that right that you do.

In my view, the worst thing a person can be is a hypocrite. And any one of you who claims to be in favor of equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community but simultaneously supports this political party is a fucking hypocrite. Do better.

The post The GOP Hates Gays — They Even Put It In Writing appeared first on Scary Mommy.

If You Can’t Accept A Queer Child, Don’t Have Kids

There’s nothing quite like being a teenager with a big, scary secret. As a youth, I spent the vast majority of my high school years on a never-ending loop of pretending I was fine when I really wasn’t. There was some major wear-and-tear on my emotional and physical well being, but no one caught on to anything being seriously wrong because I was an expert at acting like my problems didn’t exist. 

But even experts break down under enough pressure. 

While my peers assumed I was just your average skinny girl with a penchant for high achievement, they had no idea that I was quietly battling an eating disorder, self-harm, an addiction to diet pills, and ongoing abuse at home. They also didn’t know that I was hiding an even bigger secret that felt much more painful to keep on lockdown than all of the rest. I’ve known that I am bisexual since middle school, and no one around me had a clue about it. 

For some reason, this single truth hurt more to push down than any others during my childhood. As a young person, I worked hard to control my behaviors, words, and even emotions as a way of avoiding violent outbursts from my mom at home or the loss of friends at school. I obsessively managed my appearance, constantly monitored my body size, punished myself when I incurred undeserved trauma, and did everything to seem as traditionally feminine as possible. But crushing on girls? That was out of my control. And it fucking terrified me.

It’s no surprise that I felt anxious and fearful as a queer youth. We live in a society that teaches our kids to avoid embracing authenticity, especially when it comes to their sexuality and identity. The heteronormative standards set in place send a dangerous message that existing outside of them makes a child unworthy and even somehow damaged, and this lie chips away at the mental health of our LGBTQ+ youth. Mine was certainly demolished for many years, and it’s taken a long time to experience true and lasting repair. 

It’s also not lost on me that my decision to finally come out was due to a bunch of privilege and support that many kids and adults live without. And no one has summed up this stark truth more powerfully than Matt Bernstein, otherwise known as mattxiv on Instagram

 

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god said enough

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This queer NYC-based makeup artist and photographer has created a game-changing platform filled with striking images and quotes that shed light on LGBTQ+ issues and struggles. The most memorable post for me was a photo last month that showcased a myriad of painted letters on the side of his face with words that read, “If you won’t accept a queer child, don’t have kids.” 

 

 

With that single statement, Bernstein managed to encapsulate the isolating experience of being a child exploring their sexuality in home environments that shame them for discovering that they live and love outside of hetero and cisgendered norms. No kid deserves to feel unsafe being themselves, and no parent should dictate the course of a child’s identity as it relates to their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. And yet, as Bernstein regularly communicates in his work, so many of our world’s queer youth struggle and suffer greatly for simply existing as they are. 

According to The Trevor Project, LGBTQ+ kids contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of hetero youth and are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide. For transgender adults, 40% have tried ending their life, and a whopping 92% of those are under the age of 25. These children and young people are struggling mentally primarily because they are living in atmospheres that not only don’t support them, but regularly remind them that their existence offends, upsets, and even hurts others. Instead of encountering encouragement, love, and acceptance during some of the most vulnerable moments in their young lives, our queer youth are being led to incorrectly believe that they’d be better off not taking up space in this world at all. 

 

 

“When you ask an LGBTQ+ person about their struggles with their identity, most will tell you not that they’ve always hated themselves, but that homophobic and transphobic pressure created by unsupportive environments, family, friends, and religious groups made loving and accepting themselves an impossible task,” Bernstein writes in a post on Instagram. “The issue is not who we are, but how we have been taught to feel about who we are.”

At nineteen years old, I became hopeful that coming out to my younger siblings would help me feel more comfortable with embracing my sexuality. During a trip back home from college, I revealed to them that I felt attracted to women in addition to men. They were understandably a bit taken aback but otherwise supportive, and if the day had ended with this interaction, I would have chalked it up to a queer-friendly win. But my mom heard us talking in the kitchen and stormed in to stop us in our tracks. According to her, affirming my bisexuality meant that I was a damaging, inappropriate influence on her younger children, and she made this abundantly clear as she ridiculed, yelled at, and threatened me. 

That same day, I moved out of my childhood home to go live with my father, a man from whom I had been emotionally disconnected for much of my childhood. It would take sixteen long years after that to finally muster up the courage to officially come out to the world as a bisexual woman. 

Now that I’m a mom to two kids under five and a stepmom to a teen, a lot has changed. I’ve put myself through years of therapy, am currently in the process of healing a recent complex PTSD diagnosis, and have created an environment of acceptance, unconditional love, and trust for my children. When it comes to their evolving identities, I’ve made a promise to them and to myself that I will keep for the rest of our lives together. I will never place unjust expectations on who my kids are or how they need to be. Being a parent does not give me any right to force a way of living onto my children. My job is to uplift them and allow them to discover who they were always meant to be.

The bottom line is, my children can love whoever they choose, express themselves in whatever ways feel good, and communicate their needs to me safely and openly. As I present them with a household that welcomes all sexualities and identities, I will also give them what I did not receive myself but so desperately needed as a child. I will be generous with my time, energy, and attention as they each grow into unique human beings in this world. And I will do all of this to honor teenage Lindsay, along with all of the LGBTQ+ youth who grow up in undue fear and shame. Because we all deserve to be here. 

The post If You Can’t Accept A Queer Child, Don’t Have Kids appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Let’s Talk About Our First Crush

Let’s do a fun walk down memory lane. Think about your first crush, those first flutters of excitement that were more than friendship. They were waves of affection that maybe you didn’t have words for yet, but you felt them. Seriously, close your eyes for a second and think about the person those feelings were for.

Where were you? Do you remember their name? Magical, right? Those warm fuzzies when the person got close to you or sent attention your way were intoxicating. Or maybe your butterflies made you nervous to the point of losing the ability to speak or make eye contact. Perhaps your first crush made you simultaneously blush and want to vomit. Puppy love is the best. It’s also pretty uncontrollable and can sneak up on us when we least expect it. Now think about, whether told to you directly or overheard, when you knew your feelings of affection were wrong. Did you ever believe you weren’t allowed to express your feelings of attraction or love for someone, either in words or actions?

Now let’s add another layer. Let’s talk about gender, which is different than how we fall in love or develop attractions to other people. Think about the first time you were aware of your gender. Have you ever thought about your gender identity or questioned it?

Everyone is assigned male or female at birth based on their biological sex. Sadly, some doctors and parents choose to force visibly intersex babies into boxes by performing non-consensual surgeries to create or remove genitalia or sex organs that don’t “match” the chosen gender. Along with the assumed gender assignment is the assumption that we will all agree with that assigned gender. But what if we don’t? What happens when we don’t accept the gender label or a binary label at all? Who’s wrong and who holds the answers to our own identity?

If your most authentic self has always been accepted, you may never have considered that someone who experienced the same explorations of self has grown up believing or being told that their experiences were wrong, bad, and sinful. This makes a person feel that they are wrong, bad, and full of sin for something they have no control over.

I and others folks who identify somewhere on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum are constantly being challenged and asked or forced to change who we are. We are expected to prove that what we are feeling is valid or correct. We are asked and expected to answer so many questions, only to then be openly doubted; the difference is that we are expressing ourselves in a way that is not perceived as “normal.” But what is more normal than a first crush? Or a person’s sense of self?

My friend Karen (the good version of Karens) at The 21st Century SAHM posted this meme to call out this double standard.

Sexuality and gender are fluid, and everyone’s journey is different, but kids have a pretty good sense of themselves from an early age. Unfortunately, some people think transgender or queer kids equate to sexual deviants, then these same people reveal themselves to be hypocrites when they sexualize kids by assuming their relationships will be heterosexual. With the assumption that a child is straight and cisgender, adults tease kids who have different gender friendships by asking when the wedding will be. Adults are quick to tell a child they will be a “heartbreaker,” dress them in shirts that declare “Stud Like My Daddy,” or warn parents to lock up their daughters lest a boy can’t keep his hands to himself. These misguided heteronormative ideas sexualize kids and hurt LGBTQIA+ youth. Gross and more gross.

According to the Human Rights Campaign LGBTQ Youth Report, 67% percent of youth report that they’ve heard family members make negative comments about LGBTQ people. And when queer kids aren’t at home, they are at school where only 13% of youth report hearing positive messages about being LGBTQ. There is damage in the vocal negativity and in the silence that doesn’t let kids know that the negativity is wrong and that they are far from being bad or someone who should live in shame or fear.

People are interesting if nothing else. Some people wonder why there are so many kids coming out these days. People say they don’t remember there being “so many” gay or transgender people when they were younger; this new wave of queer youth must be a fad. But when a person comes out later in life, perhaps even after a straight marriage or a life lived as a gender that wasn’t right, people judge them for waiting so long. How could you not have known? Look at the damage you have caused.

Many of us did know at an early age, but we hid who we are because we knew it wasn’t safe to come out. And when we did finally let the world know our most authentic self, we may have hidden even longer because of too many years of internalized shame and the need to live up to expectations put on us by society and family.

Be this kind of Karen and listen to your kids. Support them. Just like you probably knew who you liked when you were in elementary school, your kids do too. And as sure as you may have always been about your gender identity, trust your kids when they aren’t sure about theirs. Parents need to put the same ease and open-mindedness into accepting the idea their kid may be queer as they put into assuming their kids are straight and heterosexual.

Age doesn’t equal ignorance. If a child trusts us enough to share their truth, believe them.

The post Let’s Talk About Our First Crush appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Why I Love My Old-Ass Kitchen Appliances

Despite its many imperfections, the moment I walked into the cozy old house, I knew it would be mine. Built in 1989, it had all sorts of issues despite having been loved by the single previous owner for 30 years. At less than half the price of the home I was moving out of after my divorce, it was, inarguably, a pretty major downgrade.

The crumbling backyard fence, the roof, the air conditioner—each would need replacing in the next five years. But the kitchen, I was sure, would be my biggest expense in terms of getting the house “to my standards.” The cabinets had that tell-tale ’80s cream-colored veneer with the strip of wood on the bottom acting as a pull. The appliances were original too. Remember the wood-look veneer that was a popular decorative touch to all ’80s appliances? These appliances had those. The stovetop had the swirly metal burners, and the refrigerator was just like the one from my childhood—a Hot Point with a leathery-looking beige coating, metal and wood-veneer handles, and an ice maker that crapped out long ago. The dishwasher was a General Electric, same as the oven, with the same wood paneling embellishments as the refrigerator.

So, updating the kitchen would be an expense. I figured I’d have to live with the cabinets for a while because I wouldn’t be able to afford to replace them right away, but the appliances, at least, would have to go immediately.

Well, it’s been almost a year and a half since I moved in, and the old appliances are still here. Not because I haven’t gotten around to it or because I blew my budget, but I just… I don’t want to. There isn’t actually anything wrong with the appliances, so I just can’t bring myself to trash them. Sometimes water pools in the bottom of the fridge, but even that is a sporadic enough event that it doesn’t warrant purchasing an entire new refrigerator and sending this perfectly functional one to the dump.

And what if I were to purchase a new refrigerator? I’d have to purchase all the other appliances too, because it would look weird having a modern refrigerator and the rest of the appliances circa 1988. I considered buying a whole new set—I did have money set aside for this purpose—but when I imagine putting stainless steel or even something more plain but still modern in this vintage kitchen, it just feels wrong.

The truth is, I’ve developed an attachment to this ugly, outdated kitchen. I know it’s just a room filled with inanimate material objects, but it feels like it’s trying to teach me something. Maybe that’s the guilt from my divorce talking—maybe I need to anthropomorphize household appliances in order to assuage the feelings I have about coming out at age 39 and turning my family’s life upside down.

Prior to my divorce, I was in a constant state of self-remodeling. Get rid of the unseemly, the outdated, and replace it with what magazines and home decor shows and professional decorators say is trending right now. Install a beautiful, tidy life that everyone approves of. I decorated my previous home, a new construction, with a modern, minimalist hotel vibe. White bed linens, white curtains, white towels. No tchotchke. A light, airy, open space, easy on the color. Cool granite countertops against dark, Shaker style cabinets. No photos or kitschy magnets on the front of the refrigerator.

I persuaded my ex to buy that big, modern house, subconsciously hoping that all those clean, modern lines would calm the absolute disaster that was happening on my insides. If you can’t be gay, at least you can have a house that looks perfect. We installed a stunning pool, a fence, gutters, a surround sound system.

That house was and is perfect. So fucking perfect. When I return to it, I feel such a tornado of emotions that I can hardly identify any of them. Guilt, regret, shame, longing. Gratitude, relief, and a different brand of shame—shame that it took me so long to admit to myself and everyone else what was really going on. Shame that I tried to use material possessions to feel better. Shame that I dragged my family with me on that fruitless journey.

There isn’t actually anything wrong with my kitchen, other than the fact that it doesn’t present in a way that most of mainstream society says it should. Not only is there nothing wrong with it, but in many ways it is superior to the “perfect” kitchen in the “perfect” house for which I so meticulously selected every detail. The water pressure is better. The oven heats even hotter than it says it does. The rack in the new dishwasher in the new house began to rust after only a year; here in my vintage kitchen the original rack is still in perfect condition. It’s true that they just don’t make things like they used to.

Here in my vintage house, the timer on the kitchen stovetop, when it buzzes, turns me into a 12-year-old home for the summer with my sister by ourselves cooking mac-and-cheese for lunch. The great room’s popcorn ceiling may be cracked in places, but it’s vaulted and somehow makes the space feel open and cozy at the same time. The two sets of sliding glass doors overlook a sunroom that faces north and allows the room to fill with soft light from sunup to sundown. The house smells like Thanksgiving no matter what time of year it is. I “downgraded” into a place where I can stop obsessing about fixing things that are secretly broken inside of me by fixing everything outside of me.

I know it’s just a house. I know it’s just a kitchen, just appliances, just ceilings and walls and windows. But this worn-out old house, and all the old things in it, have become a reminder for me about the immeasurable value of honesty, about how sometimes being honest with yourself isn’t pretty, sometimes isn’t at all what you thought you wanted, and definitely doesn’t look shiny and new. Honesty doesn’t always look like a decorator magazine, but it’s solid, reliable, and does the job it promises.

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You Might Be Homophobic If … (No, Seriously, You Might Be A Little Bit Homophobic)

I know what you’re thinking. “Not me! I can’t possibly be a homophobe! I read Scary Mommy! I’m a progressive!”

Well, turns out, sometimes homophobia manifests itself in progressive circles, too. You might even be a tiny bit homophobic yourself!

Allow me to provide a few examples of well-meaning, nice, gay-rights-supporting people being unintentionally homophobic. If you see yourself in any of these examples, I hope you’ll take the time to do the work to root out these tendencies in yourself.

Several months ago, a friend of mine posted on social media asking for recommendations for a book series for her tween. I told her my kids devoured the entire Wings of Fire series by Tui T Sutherland and then re-read it, and I mentioned the “added bonus” that there was an LGBTQ subplot in the series. My friend came back because she wanted to double-check with me that there wasn’t any “actual sex” in the books.

Did you catch it? I don’t even think anyone on the comment thread noticed my friend’s unintended microaggression. What does her follow-up question imply, given that her original question asked specifically for book recommendations for her tween?

It implies that she either thinks I would recommend books for her tween that have sex in them (and would also allow my kids to read them), or she subconsciously equates queer topics with sex. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter. Now, this friend is a wonderful, generous, caring human being. She is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ rights, I believe that 100%. But her response is an extremely common — like, nauseatingly common — microaggression that LGBTQ folks deal with. Whenever we talk about our relationships or even just ourselves in exactly the same way a heterosexual person would talk about their relationships or themselves, for some reason people assume we are talking about sex.

(Why are heterosexual people always so fixated on the sex they think other people are having? Stop it. *squirts water bottle*)

On another thread on Facebook, a popular writer friend of mine posted in celebration of LGBTQ relationships. One of the most-liked comments was from a member of the LGBTQ community thanking my friend for the post and reminding everyone that love is love. Many others responded with their support. But then some random woman piped in with, “Love is love, as long as it’s not a 52-year-old man after a nine-year-old boy!”

Imagine someone popping in on a thread about heterosexual love with “BUT WHAT ABOUT PEDOPHILES?” Y’all know that the vast majority of abusers and pedophiles are heterosexual men, right? The worst part is, I tried to point out to the woman why her comment was not only irrelevant to the conversation but also hurtful, and she fucking argued with me about it and brought up NAMBLA. I’m not giving that bullshit organization the words, but I assure you the gay community does not claim fucking NAMBLA. Get out of here with that noise.

If your first thought when someone brings up gay love is pedophilia, or some ridiculous shit about “slippery slopes” with sexuality and identity, my friend, you are not a tiny bit homophobic. You are super fucking homophobic.

Imagine someone talking about a heterosexual wedding they are planning on attending, and someone says out of the blue, “Yes, but did they invite pedophiles? Because if they invited pedophiles, I’m sorry but that’s just not right.” People would be so fucking confused. Um, why are we talking about pedophiles? I thought we were talking about two people engaging in an adult, mutually consenting, loving relationship? What is happening? Help?

Well, gay people like me are just as confused when you suddenly pipe in about pedophilia when we’re talking about our adult, consensual love lives and when we don’t fucking claim pedophiles. Just because you found two fringe psychopathic gays buried in the gurgling bowels of the internet who think pedophilia should be a recognized and accepted sexual orientation, doesn’t mean that gays collectively condone that shit. Seriously, yuck. Adults can consent, children cannot. It’s that simple. Gays condoning pedophilia is not a thing.

There are less obvious forms of homophobia you may want to check in with yourself about, things that hurt us queer folks when we notice them, and believe me, we notice. Do you claim you’re totally cool with gay folks but kind of cringe a little when a couple of men make out on TV just like a heterosexual couple would? Do you save your naughty eyebrow waggles for when it’s two women? The former is homophobic, but so is the latter because it tokenizes lesbians, and can you not?

Are you pro gay rights but kind of wish they wouldn’t be “so obvious” about their relationships in public, especially when there are children around? Um, hi, when gay people hold hands or peck each other on the lips, your kids are not thinking about sex and they are not suddenly confused. You are. And you need to work on your homophobia.

Are you “fine with all the gay stuff” but think that “this whole ‘they/them’ thing is taking it too far”? Nonbinary people exist, and if that makes you uncomfortable or you feel more protective of your antiquated (and wrong) ideas about grammar than a living breathing human being, you are hella homophobic. You also know less about grammar than you think you do.

When someone says the word “transgender” within earshot of your young child, do you get a sudden itch to change the subject because oh dear god, what if we have to talk about genitals or sex? I have seen people who claim to be supporters of LGBTQ rights just about leap out of their seats at the mention of this word. Sigh. Here’s how to explain what “transgender” means to a kid: Transgender is when a person is born with a boy (or girl) body but really has a girl (or boy) brain and heart.

The conversation can and should deepen and become more nuanced as kids ask more questions and as you incorporate talks about acceptance and inclusion into your daily routines. But at a bare minimum, if you find yourself tensing up when someone uses the word “transgender,” you have some work to do. Same for all the other “gay” words.

Homophobia is everywhere, in all kinds of big and small ways, but when people who claim to be progressive engage in this kind of “I’m super accepting but ew, not like that” homophobia, it’s almost more disappointing than the obvious, flashy hatred of someone who is openly, proudly homophobic. So do us queer folks a favor and check in with yourself, as a little personal inventory may be in order. We’d really appreciate it.

The post You Might Be Homophobic If … (No, Seriously, You Might Be A Little Bit Homophobic) appeared first on Scary Mommy.

I Really Need The Final Season Of “Schitt’s Creek” Right Now

Everywhere I look these days, there’s drama. We’ve got Karens and Kens throwing whiny ass tantrums in grocery stores because they’re feeling too inconvenienced to wear a face mask. Teachers and students are about to be treated like specimens in a fucking petri dish because our nation isn’t patient enough to sit through a global pandemic. And then we’ve got Ivanka fucking Trump taking a stupid photo op with an 89-cent Goya can, because nothing says white privilege more than the daughter of arguably one of our most racist presidents pretending like she ever actually eats canned beans. 

Oh, and did I mention there are a bunch of giant killer wasps in Texas that look almost identical to those pesky murder hornets that wreaked havoc in the U.S. a couple months ago?

I’m so damn tired of all the drama. As royally ridiculous as some of this shit is, I am in dire need of some good old fashioned comedy right now. I want comedic fireworks of epic proportions that take my mind off of the current shit show that is our country, and there’s one series I’m in major withdrawal over because it tickled my funny bone and tugged at my heartstrings like no other. I miss you, Schitt’s Creek. I miss you a lot. 

I marathon-style watched this Pop TV show like my life depended on it earlier this year. Netflix had the first five seasons available, and I’ll admit I was feeling a tad bit curious to know why there was so much fanfare around it. Glimpsing at the first episode, I found myself laughing in moments, but wasn’t completely hooked. A rich white family loses all their cash and needs to hide out in a small town, and I’m supposed to care? It just didn’t seem like enough to keep me interested. 

But then I watched the second episode. And the third. And before I knew it, I was knee-deep in Schitt’s Creek. In fact, it’s now one of my all-time favorite shows. Hell, it even inspired me to reflect on my own life’s priorities and celebrate living with purpose. Thanks, Rose family! 

If you forced me to pick a favorite character, I’d probably start crying on the spot. There’s just too much hilarity to choose a favorite. Catherine O’Hara is a force of nature as Moira, a veteran television actress who is basically still starring in her own real-life soap opera. There’s co-creator Eugene Levy, whose Johnny Rose is packed to the brim with robust sentimentality. Every single time I hear Annie Murphy end her character Alexis’s sentences with “Daviiiid,” I bust a gut. And Emily Hampshire takes a role that’s basically the Rose family’s fifth wheel and jam packs Stevie with a sarcastic punch anyone would love. 

But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a forever place in my heart for co-creator Dan Levy’s show-stopping role as David, the pansexual son who defies societal norms with so much humor and chutzpah that he steals focus in just about every scene he’s in. Watching David catwalk his way into each room, fall in love with a bundle of hilarious insecurity, and find his footing as a small business owner was a sight to behold. I’ll also never forget the scene where Stevie and David are walking through a wine store, and the new BFF’s get to chatting about sexuality. The meaning behind it quietly snuck up on me, caught me by total surprise, and had me happy dancing at the screen.  

“I do drink red wine,” David says. “But I also drink white wine. And I’ve been known to sample the occasional rose. And a couple summers back, I tried a Merlot that used to be a Chardonnay, which got a bit complicated. I like the wine and not the label. Does that make sense?”

 

In that magical moment, I felt like Dan Levy’s character was speaking directly to me. Yes, David, it makes a lot of fucking sense. As a 36-year old mom who just came out to the world as a queer and bisexual woman last year, it makes so much sense that I’ll never forget how much sense it makes. 

While I’m not personally swimming in exorbitant wealth like the Roses, I do have a shit ton of experience in making life choices from a place of solely prioritizing success. I chased the dream of being a famous actress for many years, in the hopes that I’d finally be loved and valued for something I accomplished. I had my sexual identity on complete lockdown, kept myself impossibly thin, was people pleasing out my ass, stayed stuck in a first marriage that felt safe, and hustled hard for an impossible kind of perfection I never achieved. When a new relationship, stepmomdom, and first-time motherhood hit me like a ton of bricks, I found myself broken down and completely lost. The career basket I had placed all of my eggs in wasn’t fulfilling me in the way I had once hoped, my body changed in ways I never anticipated, and I ended up temporarily moving from the bright lights of Los Angeles to a quiet spot in New Hampshire to raise my family and tend to my mental health. And that’s when a whole other career path unexpectedly fell into my lap. 

On one particularly non-eventful day back in December, I caught myself smiling for no reason. As East Coast snow quietly fell down in front of me in big fluffy pieces for the first time in years, I realized something quite profound. While life looked radically different than how I expected it to turn out, it finally felt like it made sense to me. 

The magic of Schitt’s Creek is that it catches you off guard in the best of ways. One minute, you’re laughing at a bunch of privileged wealthy people bemoaning the loss of their cushy mansion and bundles of money. And the next, you’re ugly crying as you witness a family do things like actually care about each other for the very first time. Moira joins the town council and her local choir, and she learns how to finally be a real friend to the women around her. Johnny begins managing the motel his family’s been semi-squatting in and makes tangible connections with his community. Alexis prances around in fancy heels as she finds herself unexpectedly committing to a sweet, small-town veterinarian she previously wouldn’t have given the time of day. And lovably reclusive David meets his soulmate in Patrick, played with adorable sincerity by Noah Reid. 

When I got to the fifth season finale with no promise from Netflix of an airdate for the final episodes, I sank into a pile of goopy sadness for a couple months. How was I going to get through this fucked up pandemic without the Rose family’s infectiously melodramatic delightfulness? Thankfully, enough online investigating led me down a rabbit hole that brought me to Amazon Prime Video, where I saw that I could purchase the sixth and final season. I couldn’t not do it. I had to find out how Schitt’s Creek ends.

I’m only three episodes in, and I’m taking my time this go around. It’s driving me bonkers to slow-date the rest of this enchanting series, but I can’t just breeze through it like I did last time. To be completely fucking honest, I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to move on once it’s over. The Rose family may be done with me after six hysterical seasons, but I’m definitely not done with them.

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Still Not Sure Why Cisgender Actors Shouldn’t Play Transgender People? Watch Laverne Cox’s ‘Disclosure’

Halle Berry was the latest Hollywood cisgender actor who thought she could and should be able to portray a transgender person in a film. She said in an interview that she thought she could “experience that world, understand that world” in reference to playing a transgender man. As if this ignorant guffaw wasn’t bad enough, she couldn’t even get pronouns or terminology correct during the interview, and her overwhelming concern seemed to be that she would have to cut her hair short. Oh, Halle. You sweet, misguided fool.

I appreciate the apology she issued soon after the backlash, but the role should never have been pitched to her, and she should never have considered it. There is an irony in how easily transgender folks are dismissed because people don’t think we know ourselves well enough to be transgender, yet there are some cisgender folks so sure they could understand what it’s like to be transgender that they could enter our world by playing dress up and getting a haircut. It’s 2020 and Berry should have known better, but her industry is notorious for this. The media is both the cause and the solution to this problem.

To get a better understanding of the history of transgender representation in film and television, please watch Laverne Cox’s documentary, Disclosure. The Netflix film is made by, and for, transgender people, because when is the last time we were given the time or space to tell our own stories? The film highlights several transgender actors and activists as they examine how transgender people are portrayed in the media, and how that has impacted society’s views of transgender people as well as our own ideas of ourselves.

The film is a must-see for everyone, however, because cisgender folks need to know that the way we are portrayed on screen is rarely accurate. The biases cisgender people hold because of this negative and false representation hurts the transgender community.

Laverne Cox is a special kind of brilliant. Her intelligence, vulnerability, and ability to create a safe space for other transgender folks to tell their stories about how they saw, and continue to see, transgender people represented was both heartbreaking and validating for me.

As a kid, I knew I was not just a girl, but it wasn’t until I allowed myself to wonder if I was a transgender man that I knew I wasn’t that, either. Finally, in my late 30s I found the language to know I am nonbinary. I am not female or male but a mix of both. On most days, I feel genderless. Yet we live in a binary world, and with that is the idea people must be male or female and then follow guidelines that reinforce stereotypical gender roles and expression. I, a queer, transgender person, got these messages too — so for a long time I chose to fight and suppress authenticity rather than embrace it.

I tried so hard to find others like myself in books and movies, but I was constantly left with the feeling that I was either never enough of one gender or that I was too much of both. Media portrays transgender folks as being laughable cross-dressers, deviant tricksters, or disgusting. Some of the common played-out tropes include: cisgender men dressing as women to be funny, transgender women being attacked or killed while selling their bodies, transgender people being the crisis and emotional burden of their loved ones, and the idea that the only good stories worth telling are those about transgender women. Transgender men and trans masculine folks are largely underrepresented in TV and film. And because 80% of Americans say they have never met a transgender person, according to a survey done by GLAAD, they don’t have much reason to challenge these tropes.

I craved seeing masculinity in females and was drawn to tough, tomboy characters, and to characters who pretended to be boys in order to fit in. But nothing I ever saw was right, or felt like me or what could be my life. Instead, I watched people in movies feel either revulsion when they realized they had developed intimate relationships with a transgender person (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective) or relief when they realized the person they had feels for was actually just pretending to be the gender they are not (Just One of the Guys). Both of these films were examined in Disclosure, and are pointed to as mirrors to the way society treats transgender people in real life.

It also sets up a frustrating and dangerous cycle when transgender people like me tell our stories and demand to be seen as actual human beings and not caricatures that can be laughed at or dismissed. It’s easy to see transgender people as the butt of a joke, and in many ways film and television have encouraged that; it’s much harder to let go of biases or comfort to realize transgender people are not just in drag and playing make-believe or out to trick anyone. Homophobia and transphobia are strong; the proof is in the fact that hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ folks are on the rise. Add in racism, and you will quickly learn that Black transgender women are killed in disproportionate numbers.

So, thanks but no thanks, Hollywood. Stop trying to “experience our world” and start listening to the experiences of actual transgender people. Start hiring transgender actors if you want to see the world through our eyes. Because when the director yells “cut,” society needs to see that the transgender character they got to know, understand a little better, and maybe even love is still a transgender person.

It should be just as easy to praise trans folks as it is cis folks when it comes to giving awards for our stories. Our lives are worth more than jokes and shocking reveals, and media needs to do a much better job of representing us with positive and factual visibility.

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Coming Out To Loved Ones Shouldn’t Feel Like You’re Confessing A Sin

Nearly two years ago, I came out as gay. My coming out was incredibly late by most standards as at the time I was 39 and in a heterosexual marriage with two children. Though it’s been two years, there is still an entire branch of my family tree I haven’t come out to or even spoken to about my divorce. I’m public about it since, as someone who writes personal essays as a living, it’s kind of impossible not to be, but I haven’t sent any texts or emails, haven’t made any phone calls, haven’t invited anyone for coffee to discuss my gayness.

And I’ve been feeling guilty about it. Some of these people I grew up with, some I babysat, some babysat me. When I was a kid, we would gather regularly on Sundays after church at the house of the reigning matriarch — my grandmother for many years, and later, when the large groups of people became too much for my grandmother to entertain, my aunt. I spent long hours sharing secrets with my cousins and peeling eggs for deviling or stirring gravy alongside my aunts. We were a tight-knit family.

Over the years, we scattered. Many of us remain in-state, but not close enough to gather on a regular basis. Still, for years we would get together every six months or so at one cousin’s house or another. These family members are kind, caring humans. Whenever we spend time together, we laugh until our cheeks hurt. We reminisce, sipping light wine as we watch the children play as we did when we were their age. We always say we wish we could do this more often.

But not for the last two years. I was recently invited to an anniversary party that got cancelled because of the pandemic, and every time I thought of it, my heart would nearly stamped itself right out of my chest. I could guess how my gayness would go over — probably the same as when my cousin came out as gay. Everyone pretended his gayness didn’t exist and referred to his boyfriend as his “friend.”

I think my family would tell me they love me no matter what and will always be here for me. I also think some of them believe with all their hearts that being gay is a sin.

And so I haven’t come out to any of them directly because honestly, if they were to love me in spite of who I am, it would be almost as painful as being rejected altogether. Listen, I love you no matter what, but you are definitely going to burn in hell for all eternity. 

To be fair, these are only guesses. I’m not really sure what my family’s reaction would be to my coming out, as I have avoided facing it and they have not reached out. When I did come out, I told only my husband of the time and three close friends. Months later, when I finally began to widen the circle of who I came out to, I did so strategically, deliberately choosing people I believed would support me.

Before I go on, for the straight readers, I need you to know what it feels like to come out when you don’t know what to expect. Think back to a moment in your life when you accidentally damaged something expensive and had to confess, and you were worried about the reaction. Remember how your face and neck heated, how your heart pounded, your palms dampened, your voice shook. Remember how, after you confessed your mistake, your body was overtaken by a wild rushing sensation, a tingling warmth all through your limbs that was a mix of relief at having gotten the secret off your shoulders and a fearful anticipation of what happens next. That’s how it feels.

Obviously I don’t speak for every gay person. I’m sure for some, coming out can be a purely joy-filled experience. That’s pretty impossible, though, when you’re 39 years old and married with kids. For me, even in the best of circumstances, even in situations where I’m fairly certain I’ll be accepted and supported, coming out often still feels like letting people down. It feels like confessing I have broken something expensive, like I have done something for which I must apologize.

At this point, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve come out, and yet I have not come out to this big branch of my family tree because I don’t know how they’ll react. I can’t be sure they will accept me. Everyone says “If they can’t accept you, fuck them!” but it’s not that easy. If they don’t accept me, it will feel like all the love of my childhood was a lie — that it was conditional. The potential pain of rejection prevents me from reaching out. It’s easier not to know.

And so here is what I want everyone — and by “everyone,” I mean, straight people — to learn from my situation: Be loud about your support of the gay community. Be clear that you love and support the gay community, and that your love and support is unconditional, with no addendums attached like “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Show your support by sharing queer-positive articles on social media, shutting down homophobes when the opportunity arises, and voting for representatives who support the LGBTQ+ community. If a loved one comes out, send them a quick message to let them know you love and support them. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Just “Hey, I heard you came out. I love and support you.” That’s it. Just make sure they know. Don’t leave it up to them to “confess” their gayness to you.

I have no idea how my extended family feels about my gayness, but the silence has hurt me.

I was feeling guilty about not having reached out to them, but the more I think about it, the more I realize… this burden isn’t on me. I know they know. If they haven’t reached out to me, not a text, nothing, they have effectively withheld their support — even if that was not their intent.

It is hard enough to come out over and over and over again on a regular basis (another thing no one tells you — coming out never ends). I shouldn’t have to add to that meekly approaching people who are supposed to love me unconditionally, confessing my gayness, and hoping they won’t withdraw their love from me. And neither should any other person in the queer community.

Do you love the friend or family member who has just done one of the most terrifying things a person can do — come out? If the answer is yes, it is your responsibility to reach out and voice your unconditional love and support. I promise you, your family member’s emotional plate is full to overflowing, and they don’t need the additional burden of wondering whether or not you’ll reject them.

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Drag Queens Are Taking The Drag Out Of The Pandemic

Most folks are working from home in stained t-shirts and sweat pants—or no pants at all. We are dragging ourselves through the day, throwing our arms into the air, and shaking our fits at all of this. Life is uncertain, homeschooling is all but officially cancelled, and it feels like the demand of all of the roles we have to play will break us.

But if anyone can teach us about adversity, it’s the drag community. Marsha P. Johnson was a self-identified drag queen and one of the prominent figures of the Stonewall riots. She led the fight for LGBTQ rights and paved the way for so many queer folks to live safe and authentic lives. Drag queens continue to do this work, but the way they have shown up during the pandemic has highlighted the resiliency and goodness we can all learn from. *Glares at the gun-toting protesters, conspiracy theorists, and entitled assholes who are too “bored” to stay home.* Even during a national lockdown, the show must go on.

Drag Queens Are Taking The Drag Out Of The Pandemic
Courtesy of James Buck

When social distancing went into full effect, the places where drag performers earned the bulk of their income closed. Without bars, restaurants, clubs, Pride centers, or other venues that draw a crowd, drag queens lost their audiences and regular gigs which included substantial tips.

Queens have had to cancel all performances and aren’t sure when they’ll be able to resume their in-person entertainment, but they have found a way to turn their living rooms into stages. Facebook Live, Zoom, and websites like StageIt have allowed performers to still earn money while unemployed and stuck at home. It’s not just their resourcefulness, but also their determination to uplift people’s spirits that make drag queens stars.

A restaurant in Indiana called Fiddleheads is offering Dragside Pickup. Wearing heels, gloves, and a mask with lips drawn on, Jayda Pill is one of the performers who will deliver food to people’s car. The community loves it and feels infected with joy. One customer said, “This is for fun. This is to put a smile on your face. This is to show that better days are ahead for all of us.”

Taylor Small, Director of Health & Wellness at the Pride Center of Vermont, performs as Nikki Champagne with her stage partner Emoji Nightmare. She knows the importance of representation for the queer community. She tells Scary Mommy that when she performs, “Not only am I able to create space for folx of all genders, sexualities, identities to come together in a safe(r) space, but I am also creating that for myself. Emoji and I pride ourselves on creating events that are inclusive beyond LGBTQ+ identities, and are always working to improve and expand.”

Drag Queens Are Taking The Drag Out Of The Pandemic
Courtesy of Taylor Small

Drag queen story hours have become increasingly popular safe spaces at school and public libraries for kids and adults. Even Sesame Street invited Billy Porter on air to show the beauty in diversity while breaking down gender stereotypes. Most in-person story hours are trolled by idiots who think drag queens reading books to kids about kindness and love are child abusers, but Small says the hate is always eclipsed by the love and support of people who show up to listen to stories and sing songs with fabulous queens.

Representation reduces bullying, increases self-esteem, and improves the feeling of isolation. We’re all feeling very isolated right now, especially the queer and gender diverse kids and students who don’t have allies or clubs at school to find support. COVID-19 has forced story hours to go online, but libraries and LGBTQIA+ organizations have made sure to create virtual safe spaces. Family Equality recently had Nina West from RuPaul Drag Race host a live story hour, and it was amazing.

Drag Queens Are Taking The Drag Out Of The Pandemic
Courtesy of Tal Saidon

We are all looking for ways to find meaningful connections within our communities. We want to help, but feel helpless ourselves at times. There are many resources, suggested guides, and programs available, but it can be hard to cut through the noise of so much information.

In order to best reach community members, Taylor Small tells Scary Mommy that the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington created a PSA called Coronavirus is a Drag to educate citizens on ways to access support during the pandemic. The stars of the PSA were drag queens and local queer icons. Small, AKA Nikki Champagne, says, “They chose [these people] to deliver the information in an approachable, easy-to-understand, and comical way. LGBTQ+ community members see themselves reflected in community initiatives, but it is also providing a form of education for the cis/het folx out there who may need to do some more learning.”

Learning is something I have been worried about, and not in regard to my children’s homeschooling. As a LGBTQIA+ educator, all of my trainings and speaking engagements have been canceled. I’m worried about the regression that will happen for queer rights and the basic understanding of what queer youth and students need at home and school. But when it feels as though all momentum has stopped, seeing events like virtual Drag Brunches or LGBTQIA+ Sex Trivia hosted by Pride Center of Vermont and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England reminds me that we may have been slowed down, but we can’t be stopped.

Nikki Champagne does have one piece of advice about our coronavirus wardrobes, however. “When you’re working from home, continue to dress to impress—it will not only make your coworkers jealous, but it has also been shown to improve your mood. Folx believe that we put on beautiful outfits for other people but truly it’s for us! We know how fabulous we look and it feels so much better because the only person who matters is you.”

Through Zoom or bedazzled masks, the drag community shows us that now — maybe more than ever — is the time to sparkle.

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If Your Safety Is At Risk, Please Don’t Come Out During A Pandemic

For someone who identifies as LGBTQIA+, coming out can offer freedom; we are free of secrets, shame, and relationships that were covers or based on lies. We are free to live an authentic life, find love, and let go of masks we hid behind.

But that freedom often comes with fear and pain. We inadvertently hurt people who say they love us. People mourn what is no longer their truth when we find our own. And often people take their hurt and disapproval out on us in the form of rejection and abuse.

I have been aware of my queerness since childhood, and I know what it is like to be on both sides of the closet door. Before coming out, the feeling of being trapped was suffocating. My heart breaks for the closeted queer people who are feeling imprisoned during this pandemic. I am all about risk, authenticity, and living your best life even when it’s hard, but coming out right now could be unsafe — so I am asking you to please wait.

The longer people are asked to stay home, the harder it is. Being asked to shelter in place or stay inside is frustrating and inconvenient at best. However, for some people who are in homes where verbal, physical, and sexual abuse is prevalent, the violence against women and children has increased as tension of the situation rises. People are worried about money, are overwhelmed by their kids and homeschooling needs, and many are drinking their way through this pandemic.

LGBTQIA+ youth and adults are in danger now more than ever. Queer youth, in particular, are stuck in homes with unsupportive parents and are navigating life without schools, support groups, and Pride centers. My hope is that an out, yet unsupported queer kid has access to online groups or at least one friend or adult they can chat with through text or video calls. My hope is that they can hold on while being misgendered, humiliated, and denied their right to be their true selves.

We will get to the other side of this, but being on lockdown causes anxiety and panic and a sense of unease. These feeling have triggered emotions in me that are linked to situations in my life when I wasn’t out, and forced to stay in situations that were isolating, terrifying, and unsafe. I remind myself I am not there anymore and that I do have support, but I have been struggling with depression, increased levels of dysphoria, and moments of panic and shame. I feel stuck. I feel confined and closeted. I am thankful these are stirred memories of trauma in my body rather than being caused by currently lived experiences. I am honoring these feelings, and using them to feel empathy for the stuck queer youth or adult who can’t breathe.

I am an LGBTQIA+ educator, and after speaking at a high school event prior to social distancing, a student sheepishly approached me and told me that she was pansexual. She wanted to know if and how she should come out to her dad who, according to her, wasn’t supportive of LGBTQIA+ “stuff.” I thanked her for sharing her story with me and then asked if she had another parent or adult at home who was supportive. She told me that her mom was understanding “for the most part” but she also agreed that Dad would not be okay with a queer kid. I asked if she felt safe at home; she told me sometimes, but not always. I asked her if she self-harmed or self-medicated. Sometimes. I asked her if she had supportive friends, a therapist, or confidence in a teacher or guidance counselor. Thankfully, that was also answered with a yes.

I told this student that I could not tell her how or when to come out to her dad, but that it was important to consider all scenarios. I suggested she, with the support of her therapist and guidance counselor, should make a plan for the worst-case scenario. I didn’t scare her with statistics, but they ran through my head.

A third of queer youth are rejected by their parents; suicide attempt rates are up to eight times higher for queer youth, LGBTQIA+ youth report more physical and sexual abuse than cisgender youth, and up to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQIA+, which is directly related to family rejection. If this student’s father was knowingly unsupportive of any sexuality that wasn’t straight, then I wanted her to know what that could mean for her. She still had three more years of school left and had to rely on her parents for food, shelter, clothing, and ideally love and support. If she wasn’t getting the last two, could she count on the first three? What happens when a parent demands you (literally) straighten up or get out?

In the midst of COVID-19, there are few to no places to go if a parent or partner forces their child or mate out of the house. LGBTQIA+ Pride centers, Safe Spaces, and shelters specifically for queer folks were already full or underfunded, but now they are either closed or only offering assistance through online meetings or check-ins. Being forced to stay in an unsupportive home may offer shelter, but it likely won’t offer safety.

Please know that your time will come, but coming out right now isn’t fair to you. Let’s get through this pandemic with as little emotional and physical abuse as possible. You deserve to be heard and celebrated. And you deserve options if home isn’t the place where that will happen.

I know how trapped you feel, in both your truth and in this health crisis. But let the schools, Pride centers, and access to supportive friends and extended family members become available again. In the meantime, there are virtual resources available, too.

The Trevor Project offers a toll-free, crisis intervention hotline (1-866-488-7386), an online TrevorChat, and a TrevorText (text START to 678678) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year long for LGBTQIA+ youth to talk to trained counselors. TrevorSpace is an online, peer-to-peer community for queer youth 13-24 to talk, ask questions, and make friends.

The It Gets Better Project empowers and reminds LGBTQIA+ youth that life can and does get better. The website is home to thousands of stories told by queer adults who were once closeted and scared too. Being queer does not mean a life of unhappiness.

Set up specifically for the lockdown, The Validation Station will text daily affirming messages to transgender and nonbinary people.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline offers free and confidential 24/7 emotional support for anyone contemplating suicide or under distress.

Please reach out. You are enough. You are loved. You don’t have to be alone.

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