Troye’s Coming Out

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Born in Johannesburg, raised in Perth, Troye Sivan is the 21 year-old YouTuber turned pop favourite whose legendary Coming Out video has been watched over 8 million times.

His outspoken stance on issues of identity and sexuality has made him the voice of the internet generation – earning him a place on Time’s ’25 Most Influential Teens’ list in the process. In a video by i-D he spoke about the ‘efficiency’ of coming out online and how he got into the music business.

Sweet Pool

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It’s amazing how visual novels have taken off in English-speaking regions over the last decade. Even so, one genre has had an especially tough time breaking through via official translations. This is the boys’ love, or BL, genre featuring male/male romantic relationships. JAST USA then announced their brand JAST BLUE to exclusively focus on these titles.

It was huge news and meant that games from the Nitro+Chiral catalogue would finally receive an official release despite being years old at this point. Sweet Pool is the first game available from the JAST BLUE brand. It’s one heck of an initial title to make available to English-speaking audiences.

The game begins with our protagonist Youji returning to school after an entire year off. He didn’t want to miss school — his poor health made it a necessary move. Fortunately he has one friend in class with him named Makoto. The two make quite an odd pair. Makoto’s playful behavior contrasts with Youji’s reserved nature.

As the school year begins it looks like Youji has hope for having a pleasant, if uneventful high school experience. Almost immediately, however, he finds himself in trouble. For some reason, it appears he is getting new symptoms from his ailment — and they’re far more distressing than anything that came before. The weird thing is that they somehow seem connected to interacting with his stoic classmate Tetsuo. Everything spirals out of control from there. Read more…

One Night, Hot Springs

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A great thing about video games is that they let us experience things from a point of view we won#t otherwise be able to take. Even better is when you are given the opportunity to play out different scenarios from that person’s perspective. It allows you to not only learn about what the world can be like for another person, but to, in a small way, inhabit and experience it because of the agency that games can provide.

One Night, Hot Springs is a visual novel that does just this by having you experience a very specific moment in the life of Haru, a 19-year-old trans girl from Japan. One day, seemingly out of the blue, she gets a call from her oldest friend Manami. Manami is turning 20 (the legal age for an adult in Japan), and her parents are paying for her and two friends to go on an overnight trip to a hot springs resort.

Haru is reluctant to go on the trip because traditional hot spring baths in Japan tend to divide by gender. She’s worried about potentially making a scene regardless of which bath she goes to, as she is still legally male and hasn’t gotten gender-affirming surgery, but lives as a woman. Things unfold like in most visual novels; the crux of the experience lies in you being presented with different choices to make on Haru’s behalf.

Only playing through the game once doesn’t give you the full picture. Completing all of the endings gives a much greater sense as to who Haru is and what she goes through. And there is a level of empathy and caring that the other characters have for Haru that manages to show how important an accepting environment can be.

One Night, Hot Springs is free to play on Steam

Slowly but surely, we’re winning the war against the gay “cure”

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New York bans gay conversion,  protects trans people

In the state of New York bills to ban therapists and other mental health providers from engaging in gay conversion therapy with minors and prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression passed the state Assembly and Senate.

The bill makes it a an act of professional misconduct for mental health providers to engage in any practice that seeks to change the sexual orientation of any individual under the age of 18, including “efforts to change behaviours, gender identity or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings towards individuals of the same sex.” Read more about the the ban of gay conversion on minors here and about the new protections for trans people here.

The long war against a gay “cure”

For most of human history, homosexuality has been condemned on three grounds: that it is a sin, a crime, and a sickness. Despite the emergence in recent decades of gay-affirming scriptural exegeses, many major religious denominations continue to regard homosexual acts, if not the homosexual inclination itself, as immoral. As to the second rationalization, only in 2003, with the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, was gay sex decriminalized across the United States, thereby lifting the menace of legal sanction that had long shadowed gay lives. And thirty years earlier, a similar liberation had taken place when the stigma of mental illness was officially disassociated from same-sex attraction.

For this latter advance in human understanding, we largely have Frank Kameny to thank. A Harvard-trained astronomer fired from his job in the Army Map Service in 1957 because of his sexual orientation, Kameny was the first person to challenge the federal government over its anti-gay discrimination policies. Understanding that the rationale for barring highly qualified homosexuals like him from public service rested not only upon the McCarthyite claim that they were liable to subversion, but also that they were mentally unfit, he took it upon himself to change the scientific consensus. Kameny’s most consequential insight as an activist was that it was not the homosexual who is sick, but rather the society that deems him so.

Read on…