The Boy who Twerked

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A video of a 12-year-old, twerking and having a great time at a Pride is going viral. The short clip filmed at São Paulo Pride in Brazil last week was uploaded just days ago, but in that short time it has attracted a huge amount of negative backlash.

The boy is seen dancing in denim shorts to RuPaul’s Sissy That Walk, while being applauded by drag queens and revellers. Posted by Ovenworthy, they wrote: ‘This kid is such an inspiration! Progressives need to work together to create a whole generation of kids like this.’

But others were not so positive. While you should never go into YouTube comments looking for logic and reason, most of the comments were especially vitriolic. The comments may have been especially bad as the video was also posted onto a white supremacy website.

‘This is exactly what I expect from a gay pride parade,’ one said. ‘If you pay attention you will notice that the homosexual agenda very clearly focuses on converting children to homosexuality.’ Others claimed ‘his “parents need to be shot in the street” while others were calling to ‘kill the faggots’. ‘This is nothing new. This is what the Jew/white liberal celebrates,’ a commenter on that forum said. ‘This is why they have been pushing the faggots for so long.’

Hundreds of thousands gather every year in Sao Paulo for Pride, one of the largest LGBTI festivals in the world.

via GSN

Of course videos like these will always draw criticism, even from gay folks who argue that kids at that age have no idea what they’re doing and are being instrumentalized by the queer movement but personally I have to say that I knew very well what I wanted and who I was with 12 and I think it would be somewhat arrogant to just assume this lad isn’t doing exactly what he wants to do.

It got better

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As a kid, transgender icon Janet Mock felt like her gender identity was policed by those around her. In a recent video for the “It Got Better” project, Mock explained what it was like to grow up as a gender-nonconforming child in Honolulu, Hawaii and Oakland, California, and discussed the obstacles she faced as she began to live authentically as a young trans girl.

Watch the video for some heartfelt advice for young trans people.

Trans Nightmares

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Transgender Europe, a Berlin-based organization working on inclusion of transgender people throughout Europe, recently released a powerful video as a part of their #TransNightmare campaign.

The video portrays the nightmare that transgender people still face today in 34 countries in Europe [PDF]. Prior to changing name or gender in official documents, people in these countries must undergo forced sterilization, file for divorce, and/or receive a diagnosis or psychiatric opinion.

Transgender Europe works to change the situation for transgender people by:

  • Campaigning: In 2014, they launched the Europe-wide Access All Areas! Recognition Opens Doors campaign, calling for quick, transparent and accessible legal gender recognition.
  • Educating: They publish and share information and campaign materials, like this video or the Trans Rights Europe Map, to raise awareness about the problems with legal gender recognition. Learn more.
  • Changing laws: They inform politicians and policy makers about the problems with legal gender recognition and work with them to create better laws in Europe. Learn more.
  • Supporting the trans community: They work with and train transgender organizations across Europe to help them create political change at the country level. Learn more.

Many transgender Americans face the same struggles. Right now 32 states lack explicit protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The levels of violence and harassment transgender people face in the United States constitute a national crisis.

America’s Youngest Gay Kiss

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Straight teens have watched their television counterparts smooch on-screen for years, but The Fosters made entertainment history by showing the youngest same-sex kiss ever on US television.

Teenage love—it’s hormonal, complicated, and makes for great television. On Monday night The Fosters featured a kiss between 13-year-olds Jude and Connor. So what’s the big deal? The boys’ lip-to-lip contact is apparently the youngest same-sex kiss on US television; 13-year-olds getting it on was something you’d only find in European films–until now.

Jude and Connor’s BFF-level friendship has been building over the past two seasons. Connor was introduced to the show when he hesitated to fend off bullies who were picking on Jude for wearing nail polish—only to end up painting his nails in solidarity with Jude, which made for a delightfully heartwarming television moment.

It’s inspiring to see that young characters on television are matching reality. On The Fosters, Jude’s journey of self-discovery regarding his sexuality has been an ongoing plotline. It became apparent that Jude had some sort of feelings for Connor early on, and more recently the chemistry had been bubbling, with subtle flirtation emanating from both sides. In the episode “The Silence She Keeps,” Connor adorably goes to link pinkies with Jude in the darkness of a movie theater, and there have been scenes where they hold their gaze long just enough to imply their true feelings, screaming on the inside.

So on Monday’s episode “Now Hear This,” Jude has that momentous “define the relationship” conversation with Connor to see exactly where they stand, and what all this tomfoolery really means. He brings up the time they’d previously kissed on a school camping trip while sharing a tent (the smooch had been off-screen and kept a secret masked as “something that was wrong”) along with the pinky-holding, and demands answers. Then Connor kisses him and… cue the fireworks.

The kiss between Jude and Connor isn’t a first in the world of American television teenagers. When endgame Blaine and Kurt kissed for the first time on Glee, it wasn’t even the first time the show displayed some same-sex lip-locking. And Teen Wolf has featured some steamy same-sex scenes between the students at Beacon Hills High School.

But Jude and Connor are in the 7th grade (their actors are 14 and 15 respectively), a good few years younger than their Glee and Teen Wolf counterparts. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey of LGBT Americans, 12 is the median age at which members of the community first felt they might not be straight, and gay men reported that at around age 10 they first thought that they might be gay. It’s inspiring to see that young characters on television are matching reality. Jude and Connor’s nervousness—capturing the nuances of a young friendship—turning to something more is teen naturalism at its finest, and in some ways more so than the passionate sex scenes that LGBTQ characters are chalking up in pop culture nowadays.

The Fosters is already lauded as one of the most progressive shows on TV, with the heads of household being an interracial lesbian couple raising a family of biological, foster, and adopted kin. With the kiss on The Fosters setting a fantastic standard, we’re inching toward more accurate representation of LGBTQ youth in entertainment. It reassures all the real-life Judes and Connors out there that their feelings of self-discovery during those middle school and junior high years are valid, while also providing a heartrending example for those who don’t endure this to understand and learn from.

Via The Daily Beast

Swallow Troye’s Happy Little Pill

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Teen idol Troye Sivan had a Hollywood gig at age 13, a lead role opposite John Cleese at 14 and a recording contract on his 18th birthday – all after a career “failure” at 12. How, exactly?

To most shoppers out at Perth’s Murray Street Mall, 19-year-old Troye Sivan probably looks like any other local teenager – albeit an elvishly pretty one – out running errands with his mum and little brother. But to girls of a certain age (say, 12 to 17), Sivan seems to exist on a different plane altogether. Sporting his trademark quiff and oversized T-shirt promoting Tumblr, he could be a good 100 metres away and still the girls somehow sense him, the way birds detect unseen disturbances in their immediate environment.

Soon enough – in Topshop and City Beach; outside Fossil and the newsagency – Sivan is surrounded by teenage girls in the process of thoroughly losing their minds. To be fair, most of them are lovely and sane, asking Sivan to pose with them in selfies before running off for a private group squeal. But on other days, Sivan’s fans have proper, pituitary-induced meltdowns. Some scream at his face point blank, while others shed hot, silent tears.

Last Halloween, fans tracked down Sivan’s home address and waited outside the front door, calling out tauntingly, “Trick or treee-eeat?” Troye’s younger brother Tyde – who has a face that belongs in Dolly magazine and is fast becoming famous in his own right – deadpans that it was more like “Troye or Tyyy-yyde?” The brothers spent the evening hiding indoors, held hostage in their own home. Later, Sivan tells me that this kind of behaviour is why he avoids being near local schools after 4pm. Sivan’s mother, Laurelle, adds that she’s in the process of having their home de-listed from the White Pages.

Read on…

Stay Weird

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Graham Moore gave a very candid speech while accepting the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, a film about gay codebreaker and computer pioneer Alan Turing.

”When I was 16 years old I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong, and now I’m standing here,” he said on stage Sunday night. ”I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes you do. I promise you do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn, and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message along.”

The Fosters: Queer Childhood

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The Fosters Explores the Fear and Possibility of Queer Childhood

the-fosters-connorIn the Feb. 9 episode of ABC Family’s The Fosters, 13-year-old Jude goes to the movies on a double date with Connor, his best friend, and Daria and Taylor, two girls from school. It seems Connor and Daria are there to make out, and they have brought Jude and Taylor along as cover.

When Jude takes his seat, Connor pointedly lowers the armrest between them. But after the lights go down, their pinkies touch and then cross. The camera cuts back and forth between their flushed faces, their eyes wide with nervous excitement and surprise at the intensity, while Daria and Taylor absently watch the “chick flick” they’ve supposedly come to see.

The scene is unexpectedly and palpably erotic—a feat that speaks to the richness and complexity with which the show has developed Jude’s storyline over its first two seasons. And yet it is clear that this touch will not provide a neat resolution to the questions about Jude and Connor’s relationship or sexuality, but, rather, will only deepen the exploration.

Jude is not the first queer teenager on television, but he is among the youngest—and he is the first to be raised by queer parents. The Fosters follows a modern family of a kind rarely seen on television—an interracial lesbian couple, Lena and Stef Adams-Foster, and their five racially diverse children: one biological; three adopted, including Jude; and one whose adoption has been repeatedly stalled—Jude’s sister Callie.

It’s a sentimental teen drama that manages at moments to show foster care and LGBTQ parenting with sensitivity and texture. But its most radical move may be in its depiction of Jude, played with thoughtful nuance by Hayden Byerly.

Read on…