The Trevor Project supports queer kids via text & chat 24/7 now

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As of today, the Trevor Project’s suicide prevention and crisis intervention services for queer kids are more accessible than ever. The organisation has long provided a 24/7 phone line, but now its text and chat services have gone 24/7 as well, for the first time in the Trevor Project’s 21-year history.

The Trevor Project made the move with Generation Z in mind – kids who grew up owning smartphones They are more comfortable with text and chat services than with speaking on the phone or in-person interactions, according to Trevor Project officials. A third-party evaluation of the group’s services found that 63% of those who used its text and chat services reported doing so because they felt like it was easier to be themselves on those platforms.

Converse Pride collection got a bit queerer with new trans sneakers

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Pride sneakers have become a common sight around the season and Converse is the first out of the gate this year with a new collection. The popular brand is currently advertising the line on social media. The shoes are available for purchase now. They’ll set you back $60-80 (including shipping).

For the first time, trans-themed sneakers are also available. Most other releases have been rainbow-themed as a nod to the pride flag. Converse’s lineup includes eight different designs. All designs have rainbow-flags on the bottom of the soles. They’re available in both adult and children’s sizes.

The latest line doesn’t seem to be accessible in Europe yet but it’s probably just a matter of time before retailers across the pond start stocking them. In previous years, they have been available for purchase from places such as Schuh and Office. The former is actually stocking LGBT-themed Vans at the moment.

Rest in Peace, Nigel

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Nigel Shelby, a 15-year-old Hunstville, Alabama took his own life last week after he was bullied for being gay at his high school. He was in 9th grade.

Since his death, friends and family have spread messages of love and tolerance across social media. A fellow schoolmate of Shelby, Nadia M. Richardson, started a mental health awareness campaign called No More Martyrs.

“I am still processing this loss, we have so much to understand and so much work to do. Racism, sexism, homophobia, classism; all of this plays a part. Bullying is a by-product of a world ill-equipped to include that which is deemed different. As a result, psychologically damaging othering occurs and leaves many isolated, self-loathing and depressed. Don’t shy away from the necessary conversations around this. The cost is too high.”

And the bullying didn’t stop after his death. A police officer was suspended after writing an anti-gay post on an article about the suicide. Deputy Jeff Graves wrote the comments on a post shared by a TV station from Nigel’s hometown.

He wrote: “Liberty, Guns, Bible, Trump BBQ. That’s my kind of LGBTQ movement. I’m seriously offended there is such a thing such as the movement. Society cannot and should not accept this behavior.”

Recommended Reading: Our culture of shame is failing LGBTQ+ youth. Nigel Shelby’s story is a tragic reminder of how we’re failing our most at-risk young people.

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The UK’s porn ban will be catastrophic for small porn sites

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Porn is not illegal. Please write this down on a sticky note and put it on your fridge at some point before 15 July this year, when the UK government will begin blocking porn sites. It’s important to remember that porn is not illegal, because although the aim of the new law on age verification is to prevent under-18s from accessing adult content, the actual effect will be far broader than that.

The UK government is concerned about youngsters accidentally seeing porn, so for a long time it’s been exploring how to implement robust age verification checks. Not just a tick-box to say “I am over 18” (which, let’s face it, doesn’t work) but forcing adults to prove they are adults. In practical terms this means that you’ll either have to type in identifying details to prove your age (credit card number, drivers’ licence, passport) or visit a shop and show them your ID to purchase a one-off “porn pass”.

Not keen on having to register personal details to watch porn? You’re not alone. There are huge privacy concerns – not only does it encourage users to be freer with this sensitive data, any database that collects this info will be a tempting target for hackers. Just last week a hacker was jailed for six years for blackmailing porn site users, and organisations such as the Open Rights Group have already sounded alarm bells about the huge problems with the way AV will be implemented. It turns out the government is perfectly capable of highlighting these problems without their help, though: the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in an act that looked like deliberate self-parody, announced the new date in an email that it sent to hundreds of journalists … exposing all their email addresses because it forgot to use the bcc: feature.

Read on…

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The UK’s porn ban is coming. Here’s why it’s a terrible idea.

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The UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport has announced that the government’s plan to block online porn will go into effect from July 15, 2019.

The scheme will see sites that host porn needing to implement strict age verification measures to ensure that no one under the age of 18 can access them. Experts noted before that the measures likely won’t have the desired effect, due to the ease of circumvention.

But no matter how easy it might be for tech-savvy users to get around laws like these, it’s important to consider the chilling effect they have. They won’t just result in a loss of visitors for porn sites because many people just don’t know how to set up a VPN.

The law will contribute to the stigmatisation of porn, sex work and sexuality in general. Something that happens at an alarming rate lately, mostly at the hands of the British and American governments.

One consequence is that the internet is slowly turning into a puritan dystonia where communities like Tumblr, once a safe haven for queer people and sex positivity, ban even the slightest hint of nudity.

Another is that we’re teaching kids that sex is something dirty and perverse, that their bodies are something to be ashamed of and that masturbation is something so dangerous, it has to be regulated by the government. The chances of all these factors contributing to children growing up with a healthy body image and relationship towards sex are slim, to say the least.

Once in place, laws like these are incredibly hard to repeal because no one wants to be the politician with the Wikipedia page saying that they made sure kids can watch porn.

And we didn’t even touch on the implications of building such a censorship infrastructure yet. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to be concerned when a Western government gets inspired by the famous Chinese internet wall. Especially when we consider that the same politicians just a few years ago day dreamt about blocking online “terror propaganda” but kept the definition of the term so vague that even political satire could be affected.

There are plenty of examples of technology being introduced for an allegedly noble cause just to promptly end up being used for something entirely different. Like when German conservatives pushed for online data retention: Instead of fighting terrorism as promised, police used the data to track down people pirating music. Because of course they did.

So even if you don’t mind handing over your credit card data to random porn sites just to jerk off, there are still plenty of reasons to be upset about this law. Politicians are counting on folks being to ashamed to talk about the fact that they enjoy porn. Let’s hope that enough people find the courage to speak up anyway.

Troye Sivan on being effeminate

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“I have to get comfortable with the fact that I am kind of effeminate sometimes–or really effeminate sometimes. That I want to paint my nails. Overcoming all those stupid rules that society embeds in you as a kid about gender and sexuality is a conscious task. I have almost exclusively LGBT people around me [now]. That instilled a sense of confidence in me. That I have every reason to be proud of who I am.”

Read the whole interview with Troye over here.

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NBA player Dwyane Wade supports his son at Pride

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There are some things that should be normal and not worth mentioning in a news post. Like the unconditional support of a family for their child. But until we live in a world where these things are indeed the norm, it’s awesome to see people with a lot of influence set good examples.

Like when NBA player Dwyane Wade, though he couldn’t be there in person due to having a game in Toronto, made sure his 11-year-old son Zion felt supported at the Miami Beach Pride parade last Sunday. He first posted a photo on his Instagram story of Zion and stepmom Gabrielle Union. He captioned the post: ‘We support each other with Pride!’

Regardless of how Zion identifies, having the support of his parents, family, and friends in attending an event like Pride is crucial. Several studies have shown that queer kids are more at risk for mental health problems including suicide attempts, as well as discrimination and bullying.

This is amplified even more for queer kids of colour. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 71% of all victims of anti-queer homicides in 2017 were people of colour.