The fierce Teen Boys stirring up the Online Beauty Scene

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Would you be inclined to buy makeup because a 10-year-old boy is showing you how to create a look on Instagram? If we’re talking about Jack Bennett of @makeuupbyjack, then the answer could well be a resounding yes.

Since convincing his mother to start his account in May, young Mr. Bennett, who lives in Berkshire, England, has amassed 331,000 followers and attracted the attention of brands like MAC and NYX, which have offered products to create looks. Refinery29 has celebrated him as the next big thing in makeup.

He is the latest evidence of a seismic power shift in the beauty industry, which has thrust social media influencers to the top of the pecking order. Refreshingly, they come in all shapes, sizes, ages and, more recently, genders. Hailed by Marie Claire as the “beauty boys of Instagram,” the early male pioneers, like Patrick Simondac (@PatrickStarrr), Jeffree Star(@jeffreestar) and Manny Gutierrez, (@MannyMua733), have transcended niche to become juggernauts with millions of followers. And their aesthetic is decidedly new: neither old-school-rocker makeup nor drag queen.

Read on.. 

Submitted by Jon Snow

The weird Science of Homophobes who are gay

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2017 has been a banner year for the armchair psychological theory that anti-gay public figures are secretly gay themselves. Never mind the long-running jokes and memes about Mike Pence covering up some secret homosexual identity. There have been actual examples this year of outspoken anti-LGBT figures exhibiting behaviour that seems to contradict their political ideology.

The same idea emerges every time: The hypothesis is that their bigotry doesn’t just make their sexual behaviour hypocritical, it actually functions as a cover for it, consciously or otherwise.

Recently, there has been former Ohio state Rep. Wesley Goodman, who resigned late last week after it came out that he had had sex with a man in his office. In March, former Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey resigned after being hit with child prostitution charges for allegedly soliciting sex from a 17-year-old boy. Shortey has reportedly decided this week to plead guilty to a child sex trafficking charge.

Both Goodman and Shortey are married men who were clear political opponents of the queer community while in office. After Shortey was arrested, the Associated Press noted that he “routinely” voted for anti-LGBT bills, quoting the director of the LGBT advocacy organisation Freedom Oklahoma who said, “He was never vitriolic about it, but he would make the bad votes.”

More strident was Goodman who, as the Columbus Dispatch reported, “consistently touted his faith and conservative values,” with a Twitter bio that read: “Christian. American. Conservative. Republican.”

As more information about their alleged misdeeds emerges—Goodman now stands accused of fondling an 18-year-old man at a conservative event, and of pursuing several young gay men—there is a certain grim catharsis in seeing such hypocrisy exposed.

The LGBT community will never tire of bringing up the long history of Republican gay sex scandals every time new—and increasingly unsurprising—allegations emerge, precisely because they seem to be so predictable in hindsight. (As GQ sarcastically put it in response to the Goodman news: “Anti-Gay Ohio Republican Resigns After, Surprise, Having Sex with a Man in the State Capitol.”)

A 2012 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology generated a fair number of headlines that year—including The New York Times’ “Homophobic? Maybe You’re Gay”—for suggesting that some self-avowed straight people who showed signs of same-sex desire were more likely to hold discriminatory attitudes.

Two authors on the study—psychologists Richard M. Ryan and William S. Ryan—wrote in their accompanying New York Times opinion piece that they had asked 784 college students to rate their sexual orientation on a 10-point scale and then told them to sort “images and words indicative of hetero- and homosexuality” into categories.

The “twist,” as they put it, were subliminal flashes of the words “me” or “other” before each image that can theoretically reveal subconscious bias based on how long it takes the subjects to sort images that don’t match their self-described sexual identity into the right category.

The result: The researchers isolated a “subgroup of participants”—more than “20 percent of self-described highly straight individuals”—who “indicated some level of same-sex attraction,” and who were “significantly more likely than other participants to favor anti-gay policies; to be willing to assign significantly harsher punishments to perpetrators of petty crimes if they were presumed to be homosexual; and to express greater implicit hostility toward gay subjects.”

“Thus our research suggests that some who oppose homosexuality do tacitly harbour same-sex attraction,” they concluded. The psychological mechanism behind this subgroup’s anti-LGBT vitriol is, in theory, relatively simple: They are taking out their own issues with sexual identity on other people.

As Netta Weinstein, the study’s lead author, said in a press release, they “may be threatened by gays and lesbians because homosexuals remind them of similar tendencies within themselves.” So if you’re an American politician, there may be no more effective way to prove to yourself that you’re straight than to target LGBT people. The 2012 study is certainly suggestive. It’s continually cited whenever it seems to apply to a homophobic figure, like after Pulse nightclub gunman Omar Mateen was rumoured to have frequented the LGBT nightclub in the buildup to the shooting.

There are other studies that have come to similar conclusions. As Science magazine reported after Pulse, there is a “scattering of research” that suggests “some conflicted gay men might indeed be homophobic,” like a small 1996 study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology that measured penile arousal and found a link between “homophobia” and “homosexual arousal.”

But the keyword in all of the above literature is “some.” There is, at this point, enough research in this area to suggest that there may be something deeper to the armchair psychology. But the “secretly gay homophobe” theory is far from being a complete explanation of anti-LGBT prejudice in American politics.

Twenty percent of people who describe themselves as “highly straight” is still 10 percent fewer than the 32 percent of Americans who oppose same-sex marriage. Just because that 20-percent subgroup is “significantly more likely” to tout an anti-LGBT ideology doesn’t mean we can assume someone like Mike Pence is likely to be covering up a secret past as a gay clubgoer just because of his anti-LGBT track record. So-called closet cases may be abundant, but there’s no way to prove that every Republican who tries to legalize anti-LGBT discrimination is hiding something.

In fact, overgeneralising and joking as if that were the case may hurt LGBT people. As queer writer Lindsay King-Miller wrote earlier this year, “Making fun of ‘closet cases’ only reinforces homophobia” because it “underscores the idea that being gay is shameful and should be hidden.” In King-Miller’s view, it provides an “excuse for straight people” to laugh at a man like Goodman or Shortey while still feeling like “they’re allied with The Cause.”

As it becomes less and less acceptable for comics and late-night hosts to make fun of people just for being gay, the recurrent trope of the closeted anti-LGBT politician can serve as a release valve for society’s lingering casual homophobia. They create a context in which it’s safe for liberals to laugh at homosexuality.

Indeed, when I overhear jokes about these cases, I might laugh—but I’m also wondering how many of the straight people in the audience are laughing at hypocrisy and how many of them are laughing at the mere idea of a man having sex with another man.

Because the less obvious counterpoint to the theory that virulently anti-LGBT people are closeted is the experiential knowledge that people of various political backgrounds are often less OK with LGBT people than they let on. There may be some truth to the notion that loud expressions of homophobia are a case of “protesting too much.” But in the absence of further data—and in a world where sex between men is still a punchline in and of itself—it may do more harm than good.

Sometimes people hate the difference within themselves. Sometimes people just hate difference. But either way, hatred doesn’t necessarily need to be explained in order to be combated. There are better ways to get anti-LGBT politicians out of office, after all, than waiting for them to get embroiled in a sex scandal.

Swedish Pronoun: Hen

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Identifying as non-binary can be difficult but Sweden has an official gender neutral pronoun: hen. It’s  similar to the use of singular “they” in English. It took inspiration from the neutral pronoun in the Finnish language (hän) and after much debate “hen” was officially adopted.

Its use is:
– for talking about someone who’s gender is unknown
– when the gender is unnecessary in the conversation
– for talking about someone who identifies as neither male nor female

It’s been used in various places in Sweden, some say since the 1960s, but was discussed in mainstream media in 2013 and eventually placed into the official Swedish dictionary in 2015.

It has two main uses in Sweden. The first is, obviously, for LGBT+ groups but the second is interesting. Some schools and pre-schools have started using “hen” for their pupils so as not to push gender roles or identities on their students.

First studies suggest that the use of “hen” in early education doesn’t reduce children’s tendency to use gender to categorise people but it reduces their tendency to gender-stereotype and gender-segregate.

The use of hen is the same and just as simple as han (he) or hon (she), for exmaple “hen är vacker” – “they are beautiful”.

19 Years Later

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It has been 19 years since Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, died as a result of being beaten and tortured by two classmates who targeted him because of his sexual identity. His injuries were so severe that the person who found his brutalised body tied to a fence initially thought he was a scarecrow—a lifeless, human form meant to scare.

Since Matthew’s horrific death and the subsequent murder trials of his attackers, the US has taken small, but important, steps to protect queer individuals through legislation—including the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009, which made assaulting an individual because of sexual orientation or gender identity a federal crime. In 2013, President Obama also signed into law a reauthorizing of the Violence Against Women’s Act, which included added protections for LGBT victims of violence.

Yet 2017 has been the worst year on record for hate-related homicides of LGBTQ people in the US. In August, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released a mid-year report that found that as of August 23, there had been 36 anti-LGBTQ homicides—the highest number NCAVP had recorded in its 20-year history of documenting this information. Three-quarters of these victims were people of colour; 19 were transgender or gender-nonconforming.

“This number represents a 29% increase in single incident reports from 2016,” the authors note. “So far in 2017, there has been nearly one homicide a week of an LGBTQ person in the US”

Cathy Renna is a longtime LGBTQ activist who spent more than a decade as GLAAD’s primary spokesperson, and actually travelled to Laramie in October 1998. She says how “extraordinary” it is to have a sense of “the change that has occurred because of the response to Matt’s murder and also how far we still have to go.”

On October 6, 1998—the morning Shepard was found, still alive but barely—Renna was living in Washington, DC. She’d just returned to her office after leaving a press conference announcing national advertising and advocacy against gay conversion therapy. Her phone, beeper, and email, which was still fairly new at the time, were lighting up with messages, she says. One of the people she spoke with was a friend of Shepard’s and the president of the LGBT student group at the University of Wyoming: They were feeling overwhelmed as media outlets began to converge on campus. The next morning, she jumped on an airplane and headed to Wyoming.

“The media and the community paid so much attention to this murder and was so motivated to action that it completely changed the way this issue was dealt with in American culture,” Renna says. “I spent a lot of time educating the media, both local and national, that were there about issues related to hate violence. The media were trying to portray this in a very sensational way … it was such a horrific case, and the reality was that this happens all the time. It had been happening for decades.” She clarified that gender nonconforming individuals and queer people of colour, especially, are often targets of violent crimes that go largely unreported in the media.

In the wake of Shepard’s murder and the subsequent coverage and activism, “there’s been an extraordinary amount of progress in terms of the education and awareness by so many,” she says. “However, with increased visibility can also come a backlash by those who are harboring anti-LGBTQ feelings. In a climate like the one we’re in now, not only do they feel emboldened, but they also feel they have permission to act on their hate and their homophobia and their transphobia. That is the reality of what the current administration has created.”

“It gives us an opportunity not to talk about Matt but to talk about all the other cases that did not get the attention that Matthew Shepard’s murder got.”

There’s evidence, she continues, not only in the political rhetoric used today but the actual policies and the actions that lawmakers are taking. For example, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley recently voted against a measure that condemned the use of the death penalty to punish people in same-sex relationships. And last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a guidance that would make it legal for any business to fire someone based on their sexual orientation.

“What happened to Matt is not unique. It happens all the time, and it mostly happens to those who are more marginalized,” Renna says. “That’s why I think it’s important we always go back and look at what happened to Matt—because it gives us an opportunity not to talk about Matt but to talk about all the other cases that did not get the attention that Matthew Shepard’s murder got.”

via Broadly

Transcending Self

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About two years ago, I began photographing transgender and “gender-expansive” children and young adults in the United States and Europe. I wanted to ask this question: “Who are we beyond ideas tied to our gender?” The answer is critical not only to the transgender community, I believe, but to everyone.

In the younger participants, I have found self-assuredness and confidence; they are clear about who they are. In the older youths — especially the nonbinary ones who identify as both genders, or neither — I see a willingness to break free from boxes society puts us into. In all of them, there is creativity and compassion for peers and strangers alike. — Annie Tritt, photographer

Zak, 13 | Isle of Wight, England. Transgender boy.

“When I was 12, I realized that transgender was a thing. It made sense. I’m straight — I’m a straight guy in a girl’s body. I had very distorted expectations, though, and thought that I would be able to have hormones and operations straightaway. The process is too long. I hate looking like this, I hate the body that I have. I want it to transform, and it is wrong that I have to wait until I’m an adult.”

Max, 13 | Bay Area, California. Nonbinary.

“I asked my mom if I could text her something. I texted her that I am attracted to boys and that I feel more girl than boy. Later that year, I found the term nonbinary. It just felt right. I still am often scared of the reactions of people when I tell them. As a trans person who has experienced hate, I want people to understand that nobody deserves to be hated. Everyone deserves love, regardless of race, gender, sexuality.”

Azaj, 17 | Oakland, Calif. Transgender girl.

“It is really different living as myself. Before, I felt like I was always trying to squeeze into jeans that were six sizes too small, but now it feels like I am in jeans that were made just for me. I no longer wake up hating myself or this world that does not understand me. I want to make sure the world does not take as long as it did to be open to gay and bi people. I hope that I am able to help girls like me, so they don’t go through what I did. I want to slay the gods 100 times over doing things that trans girls have never done. I want to be the face of equality.”

More on the photographers website…

Enforced Common Sense: How Iceland keeps its Teens healthy

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In Iceland, teenage smoking, drinking and drug use have been radically cut in the past 20 years. How did they do it, and why won’t other countries follow suit?

It’s a little before three on a sunny Friday afternoon and Laugardalur Park, near central Reykjavik, looks practically deserted. There’s an occasional adult with a pushchair, but the park’s surrounded by apartment blocks and houses, and school’s out – so where are all the kids?

Walking with me are Gudberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor who teaches for part of the year at Reykjavik University. Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. “There were hordes of teenagers getting in-your-face drunk.”

We approach a large building. “And here we have the indoor skating,” says Gudberg. A couple of minutes ago, we passed two halls dedicated to badminton and ping pong. Here in the park, there’s also an athletics track, a geothermally heated swimming pool and – at last – some visible kids, excitedly playing football on an artificial pitch.

Young people aren’t hanging out in the park right now, Gudberg explains, because they’re in after-school classes in these facilities, or in clubs for music, dance or art. Or they might be on outings with their parents.

Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 per cent to 7 per cent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 per cent to just 3 per cent.

The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based, but it has relied a lot on what might be termed enforced common sense. “This is the most remarkably intense and profound study of stress in the lives of teenagers that I have ever seen,” says Milkman. “I’m just so impressed by how well it is working.”

If it was adopted in other countries, Milkman argues, the Icelandic model could benefit the general psychological and physical wellbeing of millions of kids, not to mention the coffers of healthcare agencies and broader society. It’s a big if.

Read on…

An American Trans Life

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Many people wouldn’t be surprised to learn that transgender people experience discrimination in the United States (see: North Carolina’s HB2), but now there’s a 300-page report to back up that gut feeling, and the levels of inequality are far more than many people would expect.

The study, released by the National Center for Transgender Equality, shows that transgender people face a shocking amount of discrimination. The study involved a survey of almost 28,000 people across the U.S. The researchers found devastating levels of discrimination in every aspect of life, from work, family, housing and general safety.

“The findings reveal disturbing patterns of mistreatment and discrimination and startling disparities between transgender people in the survey and the U.S. population when it comes to the most basic elements of life, such as finding a job, having a place to live, accessing medical care, and enjoying the support of family and community,” the researchers said.

Family Life and Support

Respondents reported varying levels of support from family members. 60% of the respondents who were out to their families said their families were supportive of their gender identity. 18% said their family was unsupportive and the remainder said their family was neutral.

For transgender people, family support can have a significant impact on the rest of their lives. Those with supportive families were less likely to experience other forms of discrimination and hardship or to experience them to a lesser extent. Those with supportive families were almost 20% less likely to experience homelessness and less likely to attempt suicide.

Unfortunately, not all families are supportive. One in ten transgender people reported that a family member was violent toward them for being trans and 8% were kicked out of the house by their family. Another 10% ran away from home.

Mistreatment in School

Discrimination against transgender people starts at an early age. Almost 80% of people who were openly or believed to be transgender while in school experienced mistreatment. More than half experienced verbal harassment, a quarter experienced physical assault and 13% were sexually assaulted. 17% of transgender K-12 students left a school because the experienced severe mistreatment.

Workplace Discrimination

Discrimination against trans people doesn’t end when they get their diploma. In fact, discrimination at work can be so serious for them that many end up unemployed and even homeless. For example, 13% of the respondents had lost a job because they were transgender and 19% had been fired, denied a promotion or not been hired for a job because of their gender identity. In the past year, 15% said their were verbally harassed or physically or sexually assaulted while at work because they were transgender.

Experiences in Bathrooms

The survey took place before North Carolina’s discriminatory bathroom bill, HB2, was legalized. And yet, transgender people already faced discrimination and violence in public restrooms so great that 59% avoided them altogether. As a result, they often experienced urinary tract infections, kidney infections or other kidney-related issues. About one-third of respondents limited what they ate and drank during the day so they wouldn’t have to use public restrooms.

9% said they’d been refused access to a public bathroom because of their gender identity and 12% reported being verbally, physically or sexually assaulted in a public bathroom. Despite what North Carolina’s lawmakers believe, it’s trans people who are in danger in public restrooms.

Harassment, Violence & Homicide

The survey found that transgender people face horrific levels of  harassment, sexual assault and physical violence. Almost half of respondents had been sexually assaulted in their lifetime, with 10% reporting they’d been sexually assaulted in the year prior to the survey. More than half had experienced intimate partner violence. In the past year, almost half had been verbally harassed for being transgender and 9% had been physically assaulted. These experiences were even more common for respondents who had experienced homelessness or who had engaged in sex work.

While not included in the research, transgender people also face alarming rates of homicide, with black transwomen being specifically targeted. According to Mic, if everyone faced the same risk of murder as a black transwoman, the murder rate would increase from 15,696 to 120,087 in the Unites States.

Of all the transgender murders in the U.S. between 2013-2015, not one was prosecuted and none were reported as hate crimes. To make sure these lost trans lives are not forgotten, Mic created a database called “Unerased” which includes over one hundred murdered trans people.

via care2

The Queen is not aroused

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…because if she’d be, she would probably get arrested. You’d think the British government would be kind of busy right now. The war in Syria. The economical disaster that the Brexit will bring. Homeless kids. There are plenty of  important issues to deal with. But alas, these things will have to wait because we have another crisis on our hands: People are having sex! They’re watching porn! They’re masturbating!

That is unacceptable of course but worry not, the Brits are on the case! First point on the agenda will be banning teens from sexting as suggested by health secretary Jeremy Hunt. That should be easy, kids are, after all, known for staying the fuck away from everything they’re not allowed to do. Especially during puberty. Good. The world will be a bit safer once we know the wee ones will jerk off to hardcore porn instead of pictures of classmates!

But wait, porn? Why not ban that as well while we’re at it? Because, actually, adults shouldn’t watch that either. Now you can’t clean the whole internet so instead we’ll shame people watching porn by forcing porn sites to verify the age of all visitors with methods that will let us identify them easily. And if that doesn’t work? Back to banning.

Also, let’s make all that super icky stuff illegal. Let’s ban everything that isn’t the missionary position. After all, only criminals are into such perverted acts as spanking or female ejaculation.

But we’ll have to make sure that people won’t secretly circumvent all these sensible measures. So let’s also store Every. Single. Website. any Brit visits for one year. Well, except when they’re politicians of course, they will be exempt from these spying laws since they’re all honourable, decent humans beings.

And don’t even think about using encryption or other security software to get out of this Orwellian nightmare because the UK will, force tech companies to put in a backdoor for them because they just love fucking their subjects in the butt.

Rule, Britannia! (no jerking off!)

Sleep Naked!

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sleep-naked

Why? Oh, there’s so many reasons… Sleeping naked keeps your body cooler than sleeping in clothes, obviously, but it’s that slight temperature difference that can lead to deeper, more restful, and uninterrupted sleep.

It’s not the only benefit to sleeping naked though. Sleeping naked can be especially good for reproductive health as well, it can minimise the chance of infections, it helps  with keeping the testicles cool and avoid low sperm count.

Of course, sleeping naked has other benefits, especially if you have a partner, as skin-to-skin contact is not only therapeutic, but a great form of medicine for both your mind and your body. Touching helps you build a stronger emotional bond with your partner, and kicks off the release of oxytocin in your brain, which helps regulate mood. The video below goes into a little more detail about each of these.