Why I’m Unsubscribing From Ageism in the Gay Community

There's a saying that goes: the older a person gets, the less she or he cares about life's small worries. For me, I've found that this is mostly true. Sure, the obvious things still terrify me like being trampled to death while reaching for a sample in Costco or being ravaged by horrible bees at gay pride, too drunk to escape their stings. Everyone has these fears.

Another thing I've stopped worrying about as I get older, is that I'm not worried anymore about getting older. I still take the typical precautions such as working out frequently and rubbing stem cell cream I've illegally acquired from South Korea on my smile lines.


I have gray hairs that began to sprout years ago along with a couple of stray hairs on my shoulders and back. Five years ago, I would have nearly died seeing these, but I've since stopped caring. In fact, I think that my boyfriend's salt and pepper hair is sexy, so maybe mine will be, too.

Unfortunately, almost every time I go out in the gayborhood, I experience some form of ageism. Most of it is self-deprecating, like a white-haired man in an Abercrombie polo shirt telling me how tens of thousands of years ago -- when he claims that he was born -- people didn't have cellphones. I smile and explain that I, too, recall those days. Wide-eyed, he immediately asks, "Wait, how old are you?"

On the contrary, I have younger friends who called me an "Old Queen" the moment I turned 30. My Facebook feed filled with posts about my expiration date and the stench of my old man body wreaking havoc on Fifth Avenue.

I took these comments in stride that day, as age shouldn't matter -- because it doesn't. I've met imbeciles both youthful and aged and wonderful friends 30-plus years my senior. However, I feel as though today's culture magnifies our expectations of age. Madonna gets ragged on for kissing men younger than her, while pop singer Lorde gets applause for being a teenager. Guys at the bar scoff when their buddy dates someone 10 years younger than him. They chastise him for "robbing the cradle" and turn cold shoulders to his new boyfriend.

I don't get it. Why are we placing any eggs in the age basket? Especially since many of us -- if we're lucky -- will live into our 80s and 90s. It's the 21st century, and the only things truly dated about us are our idealisms. It doesn't matter if we're brown, black, white, blonde, silver, brunette, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, cisgender, intersex -- you get it. All of our clocks are ticking, and there's no amount of negative, angst-filled forum rebuffs to this post that will ever stop that.

Honestly, I'm excited about the day that I've worked enough years to retire. Why shouldn't I be? My retired mother has tons of free time to enjoy water aerobics, playing with her grandkids, and watching baby animal videos on Facebook.

If ageism continues as it is, I've decided to retire in the lovely heat of Palm Springs where I can safely unsubscribe from society's ageist pressure. There, I plan to wear denim shorts that reveal my leathery thighs, buy drinks with my government subsidies, and no one around me will give a crap about it. If the pool boy calls me an "Old Queen" as I stare at his tanned body in a tight black Speedo, I'll smile and say: "Yes, darling, I am an Old Queen and I'm wondering why you aren't kneeling."

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The 13 Greatest Sissies Of All Time

It’s never been easy being a sissy. Society has long vilified any behavior in men that even hints of effeminacy—acting like a woman meant that you were weak, that there was something wrong with you, that you were probably a homosexual.

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Here’s What Happened When a Lesbian Photographer Used Art to Promote Love

It all started with a hot shower and a little mind-wandering. Photographer Steph Grant, famous for her lesbian wedding photos, which have won the Internet, started the Promote Love Movement because she realized her true life's mission is, "Promoting love...one story at a time." Grant says that the movement is "centered around being true to yourself, loving others and sharing all of the stories."


Me as an accidental poster girl. Grant shot this when I hired her to shoot my book jacket photo!
Photo by: Steph Grant

Grant is inviting everyone and anyone to upload pictures to Instagram promoting love in any form (like volunteering, falling in love, connecting with family, working to change the world) and to #PromoteLove.

Starting May 1, every Friday, Grant will choose one photo and contact the poster so that she can feature an image of her or him or them along with a Q&A on her site. To assure that the movement serves its purpose of serving the community, a portion of all the proceeds from Promote Love t-shirt and sticker sales, which Grant hopes people will use to show their support of the movement, will be donated to a charity of the month.

Photo by: Steph Grant

Jenny Block: How did the Promote Love Movement come to be?

Steph Grant: I've spend a majority of my time traveling the world photographing lesbian weddings and corporate events. In the summer of 2013, I photographed a wedding in Los Angeles and the photos went viral. It travelled all around the world and love was spreading like wildfire.

When talking about this wedding, I found myself using the phrase "Promote Love." Since then, just about every lesbian wedding I have photographed has been featured somewhere incredible. What a good feeling to have these love stories told to the world. My goal is to showcase the LGBT community in a positive light and knock stereotypes out the window.

Last month I was singing in the shower and I had this idea to make some products surrounding the idea of promoting love in hopes of bringing people together through my love of storytelling.

Two weeks ago, I walked into a store on lower Greenville in Dallas, TX called Bullzerk. Struck up a conversation with the owner, shared our stories and I told him about my idea with Promote Love. Dan was on board and is really big into helping out small businesses in the area. Right then and there we designed a logo, designed shirts, tanks and he was going to have them all printed in a few days. Basically I watched my entire idea come together in a matter of hours. All because two strangers started talking about their lives.

I had the shirts in time to go to Dinah Shore in Palm Springs, CA where I started talking with people about the brand and passing out stickers. This was all last weekend! I started selling shirts out of my loft and completely sold out of the first batch within a couple of days.

Mike Escamilla catching air in his Promote Love tee.
Photo by: Paul Luna

Jenny Block: Why do you think it's important?

Steph Grant: A few reasons. It's important because I see it changing the way people view others who are different than them. It may be at its very beginning stages but I already see it bringing people together. If it only brings a few people together then my job is done. Also, this project has helped me get out of some dark places. When I refocus during those times and put my energy into helping others, it always brings me out. I hope that this will do that for others who are possibly struggling.

Kat Cole in her Promote Love tee.

Jenny Block: Do you think promote love will help the LGBT movement?

Steph Grant: Absolutely. That is my goal. This is not just an LGBT movement though... that just happens to be my story. Although we have made progress in the world as far as the LGBT community and marriage equality there is still so much hatred and bullying towards our community. Perfect strangers will comment on my images of loving and happy LGBT couples with hateful comments like "first class ticket to hell."

This person does not know that I was born and raised in church. I was a praise and worship leader for years and volunteered in just about every area of my church. A lot of my friends actually come from that same background. So before you spew words of hate in person or online, check yourself. Form your own opinions. Don't just repeat things you were told. Do your research because there is someone on the other end of that hateful comment, someone with a heart and a good story.

Photo by: Steph Grant

Jenny Block: Where are the furthest places you have been asked to ship your shirts?

Steph Grant: I've been asked to ship shirts to Germany, Italy, Australia, Ireland and Canada.

The Instagram account has been live for basically one week and there is such an outpouring of love and support. I am super excited to see how big this can get. I'm determined. People just want to get on board and I love it.

Photo by: Steph Grant

Jenny Block: Why do you think people have responded to it so openly and positively already?

Steph Grant: I think that everyone just desires to be and to feel loved. Accepted. Not tolerated (I think that word is gross.) There are so many of us who go through life not feeling loved and completely alone, dealing with some huge circumstances by ourselves. I don't want that. I want someone to see this message... see all of us wearing these shirts and for it to spark a conversation. Maybe even end with a hug. I want it to bring strangers together.

Steph Grant at Bullzerk in Dallas, TX.

You can see more pics from my accidental poster girl shoot here.

To read even more about the back story, click here.

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10 Novel, Absurd, And Irrelevant Arguments Made In Supreme Court Briefs Against Marriage Equality

Oral arguments for the same-sex marriage Supreme Court case are just over a week away, and just as many groups and individuals from across the country expressed their support for marriage equality, many expressed their opposition. Among them are the more familiar arguments, like that “conjugal marriage” (i.e. “complementary” relationships in which someone with a penis has sex with someone with a vagina) is unique and deserves special recognition regardless of whether such unions result in children, that same-sex parenting harms children even though all valid research points to the opposite conclusion, or that marriage is a states rights issue, not a human rights issue.

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‘One Big Happy’ Star Kelly Brook Loves Her Show’s Unconventional Family

NBC's new series "One Big Happy," the story of a lesbian who's having a baby with her dude best friend, may have been considered outlandish 20 years ago. But as one of the show's stars, Kelly Brook, told HuffPost Live on Thursday, it's just a reflection of the ever-expanding definition of what family means.

Brook, who plays the soon-to-be father's new girlfriend named Prudence, explained to host Ricky Camilleri that the show's creator and writer, Liz Feldman, had a similar situation of wanting to have a child with her best friend. While that didn't work out, Brook said it is just one example of families becoming less traditional.

"The whole premise of the show is just to kind of show people that nowadays, what is a kind of conventional family?" she said. "It can be pretty much anything."

Brook said it's "fantastic" that the show is airing on a network like NBC and added that it's important for television to represent all different types of people and situations.

"It's not like we're ramming it down people's throats that you have to accept this now," she said. "It's just, this is our situation and this is how we're trying to make it work, and it's fun and sometimes tricky."

Watch the full interview with Kelly Brook here.

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Sharing the Stories of LGBTQ Youth: Caitlyn, 18, From Las Vegas

We Are the Youth is a photographic journalism project and book chronicling the individual stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth in the United States. Through photographic portraits and "as told to" interviews in the participants' own voices, We Are the Youth captures the incredible diversity and uniqueness among the LGBTQ youth population.

Below is the story of Caitlyn.

* * * * *

By Caitlyn, as told to Diana Scholl

2015-04-17-1429290583-8874466-Caitlyn1819x1024.jpgIt's been really hard for me to find a solid community. I always felt like I fell in the middle with all these identities. I'm always not enough or too much. Being mixed, I might not be gay enough. I might not be straight enough. I might not be Latina enough, or white enough. I felt alone until I found my group of friends and these multiracial spaces. The best thing that has ever happened to me is finding people who have loved me and supported me.

The queer community are my people. I think the word "queer" overall is a pushback [against] normalcy. My partner identifies as straight and is an awesome, awesome ally. I always say I am not in a straight relationship, because if I'm in it, it's at least a little queer.

My partner and I live in a pretty big house with a lot of queer folks. We moved in after me and my mom were evicted from my house earlier this year. I was homeless and couchsurfing. We've been through that before, but this was the first time I was on my own. My mom moved in with one of my family members, but I didn't want to complicate the situation.

My mom always taught me I could survive. Thankfully she was able to support me, albeit not in the most traditional way, and then I found a job that helped me scrape by. But trying to keep up in school was a whole 'nother ball game. All of my friends are in college, and honestly, it's been hard to figure out how to keep doing high school. I'm expected to pay rent, and then I have teachers hounding me about quizzes due last week. I've had a couple different jobs in the last couple months, and now I'm working as a caregiver and medical technician. I also work as a peer educator and really like the work I do with politics and sex ed, doing peer education around sex ed. I do know I want to end up working in nonprofits and working with youth.

Last legislative session, I had a chance to go up to lobby for a comprehensive sex-ed bill in Nevada. I was raped when I was 13. I was assaulted when I was 4. I was able to explain to legislators that when I had sex education, I entered that room as a rape survivor, and the education I got hurt me more than it helped. I never had the words to figure out what happened to me. When the first thing I heard was that if you have sex before marriage, you're unpure and disgusting, it really set me into this spiral. At that point I was questioning my identity, and I asked about girls who liked girls, and the teacher said, "I can't talk about that, because of my religion." I knew I didn't want anyone to go through that shitty sex ed.

The most rewarding parts of doing this work and being able to reach out to my communities has to be that I have been able to meet such amazing people, and particularly, amazing womyn of color. ... I use "womyn" as a rejection of the inextricable connection of the seemingly inferior femininity to men and manhood. If I can help just one of these people find the resources they need to live healthy, happy, responsible, and safe lives, I will have accomplished enough for a lifetime.

Photo by Laurel Golio, taken in Denver, 2015

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The Way Forward On Religious Freedom And LGBT Civil Rights (All Together Podcast)

Welcome to this week’s ALL TOGETHER, the podcast dedicated to exploring how ethics, religion and spiritual practice is informing our personal lives, our communities and our world. All Together is hosted by Paul Raushenbush, Executive Editor of HuffPost Religion. and the host of All Together. You can download All Together on iTunes, or Stitcher.

In September of 2012, the Rev. Emily Heath wrote a blog for The Huffington Post called: How To Determine If Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions.

It was just before the Presidential elections and the topic of religious liberty was very hot. She wrote: "I'm a religious person with a lifelong passion for civil rights, so this is of great interest to me. So much so, that I believe we all need to determine whether our religious liberties are indeed at risk."

The questions offered a pointed distinction with the "A" response representing a true religious liberty issue and "B" being an example of religious liberty used against another individual or group.

For example:

1. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am not allowed to go to a religious service of my own choosing.
B) Others are allowed to go to religious services of their own choosing.

2. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am not allowed to marry the person I love legally, even though my religious community blesses my marriage.
B) Some states refuse to enforce my own particular religious beliefs on marriage on those two guys in line down at the courthouse.

And the list goes on. The battle around the American protection of religious liberty continues with recent bills proposed in Indiana and Arkansas, which purported to protect religious liberty, but were clearly targeting the LGBT community. The bills and the public outcry around them have revealed a deep division within religious communities and America at large about the meaning of religious liberty and how it can be protected while respecting the civil rights of other citizens.

On this week's All Together, Raushenbush speaks with Jay Michaelson, the author of five books including "Gay vs God", "Evolving Dharma" and "Redefining Religious Liberty: The Covert Campaign against Civil Rights"; Michaelangelo Signoreli, host of The Michaelangelo Signoreli Show on SiriusXM, and the author of "It’s Not Over’ Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia and Winning True Equality"; and Jonathan Merritt who is a columnist with Religion News Service, contributing editor at The Week and The Atlantic and the author of Jesus is Better than You Imagined.

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Great interview with Patricia Velasquez on “Al Rojo Vivo”

Actress, activist and former supermodel Patricia Velasquez's memoir is coming out in Spanish and one of the first Spanish-language interviews, with "Al Rojo Vivo" on Telemundo, aired today. In it, Velasquez beautifully explains what it's like to struggle with self-acceptance. Tune in on Monday for the second part of the interview, in which Velasquez and her partner, actress Ileanna Simancas, will talk about their family. Sin tacones, sin reserva is the Spanish-language version of Straight Walk: A Supermodel’s Journey to Finding Her Truth published by Post Hill Press. Their story will undoubtedly reach millions of viewers throughout Latin America who may not know any openly gay or bisexual men or women.

April 17, 2015

A Short Note to the Supreme Court on Marriage Equality

A few years ago I -- a gay adoptive father -- published an op-ed in the New York Times on gay parenting: it dealt with the fact that a mother is not part of the daily life of the children. It is a pretty obvious problem for our families, but it was not very often publicly discussed as a serious issue that has to be addressed in raising 'motherless' children. Not having a mom in the home has, without doubt, to be regarded as a painful loss for our kids.

Here the first paragraphs:

The piece attracted a lot of attention and won praise from an unexpected group: the anti-gay marriage and anti-gay adoption crowd: 'honest' and 'courageous' were the words they used. The conservative Ruth Institute ("Cleaning up the mess of the sexual revolution") embraced it, as did The Catholics for the Common Good. I was positively quoted by prominent reactionary activists like National Review pundit Maggie Gallagher and by Right Wing Watch darling and blogger Professor Robert Oscar Lopez. My piece became an argument in the marriage equality debate.

That my op-ed discussed motherless-ness the same way as I would discuss race in transracial adoption in a later piece, as one of those difficult obstacles families face and have to deal with, like single parenthood, illness and death, physical and mental disabilities, was overlooked or willfully suppressed. I am not against gay marriage -- I am actually in favor of it -- as I am not against transracial adoption, not against single parenthood, and I won't support to take away kids from widows and widowers, or re-home kids of parents with serious psychiatric and physical issues.

Until now it felt, honestly speaking, pretty good to be praised by people I fundamentally disagree with. I had to smile every time I found my name in yet another crazy Evangelical, ultra conservative or orthodox Catholic publication. If they only knew!

I don't smile any more, however, since my piece is now used in US Courts. First by Robert Oscar Lopez and two others in February 2014 in an Amicus Brief in the case against same-sex marriage for the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Salt Lake City, Utah. I see my piece in 'Other Authorities' next to an article by Mark Regnerus, the discredited sociologist on same-sex parenting and more futile sources.

And now I find my piece in another Amicus Brief from March this year by Heather Barwick and Katy Faust for the Supreme Court, which will start hearing arguments on April 28. Lopez c.s. rather smartly use my piece and argue against it, Barwick and Faust just abuse it. My quote from above is preceded by: 'This is how one gay father describes his daughter's suffering because of her missing parent:' And that's it; the context and the content of my piece is fully disrespected.

I am certain that the Supreme Court judges will look through the sentimentality of the Barwick/Faust Amicus Brief and will understand the difference between common human family problems and common human values. But I just wanted to make sure that they -- and Lopez and Gallagher and Barwick and Faust -- know that I am on the other side.

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This Teacher Is Using Fairy Tales To Teach Kids About Gay Rights and Gender Equality

Who said every princess needs a prince?
Who said a princess can be kissed in her sleep?
Who said true love only exists between a prince and a princess?
Who said only a prince can save a princess?

An elementary school teacher in Uruguaiana, Brazil, creates alternate versions of beloved fairy tales, and asks her students questions like the above to teach them about complex issues like sexual abuse, romantic relationships, gay rights and misogyny.

During one of her fourth-grade classes, Sandra P. (her name has been changed) read “Sleeping Beauty” to students. They later watched the Disney movie “Maleficent,” which shows a different version of the classic fairy tale. The teacher then compared the two stories -- and one of the students brought up the issue of the kiss that awakens the princess. In the movie, the kiss is given by the fairy godmother, whereas in the fairy tale, it is the prince who gives it.

"Watching the movie’s surprising ending, I had the idea to discuss these issues with my students in the classroom, and the results were very positive. They asked questions and talked openly about the subject. I always try to make my students discuss what they see and read," Sandra said in an interview with Brasil Post.

‘Couldn’t the princess’ mother’s love be true as well?’ ‘Does only the prince’s love count?’ and ‘Why can only men save women?’ were some of the questions the students asked, Sandra said.

Their classroom work actually ended up on social media earlier this year, where it was shared over 13,000 times:

Ah, as professoras femininjas... <3 (Este exercício em sala de aula foi feito pela professora Sheila :)

Posted by Eta mídia machista on Terça, 3 de fevereiro de 2015

This poster depicts the results of a fourth-grade class vote about “Sleeping Beauty.”

Text: Is it right to kiss a princess while she is sleeping? (Class 4A)
2 votes - Yes // 13 votes - No
Answer: Nobody deserves to be kissed by a stranger while sleeping.
That's a crime!

BrasilPost tried to contact the teacher at the time, but due to some offensive comments she had received via social media, Sandra declined an interview. Now, more at ease with the response to her work, she tells BrasilPost that she “has agreed to talk about it so that other educators can use [her] idea and develop the same kind of class work with their students in other schools."

The idea of using fairy tales to discuss serious issues came to her last year. “I have also worked with a version of a fairy tale where the princes were gay, to talk about homophobia, which is another major social problem nowadays,” she says. Her project is named “A different look at fairy tales” and is supported by the school where she works.

“I believe that the creation of a fairer society begins in the classroom and with children, since they’re very young. Teachers must always ask themselves: what kind of citizen am I helping to form?” noted Sandra.

aula direitos humanos
Translation of poster: Another look at fairy tales… True love is not always about the "prince"!

To discuss gender issues, Sandra used the movie “Frozen,” establishing a parallel with Maleficent’s story. In both tales, it is clear that true love isn’t always found with a man, as many fairy tales teach, but can be found in any other person, regardless of gender.

“It doesn’t help if I close my classroom’s door and build a new universe inside it when there is another one out here, full of serious social problems. Educators can’t ignore the reality of the facts; we must face it and always search for the best way to change it,” said Sandra.

In response to her work, Sandra has been called a “femininja” on social media -- for being one among many women who fight for feminism and for a fairer, more egalitarian society. She agrees: “I don’t accept the model of a patriarchal society and don’t feel like I belong to it. And I fight every day to change the situation a little. I know it’s tough work with no end in sight– but we are many, and we are strong.”

This piece was originally published on the Huffington Post Brazil (BrasilPost) and was translated into English.

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