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. Read More

Gay Conversion Therapies

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US-based Vice, known for its controversial documentaries, has released a three-part documentary investigating gay conversion therapy – a practice that has been denounced by medical communities and partially banned by several states. For the documentary, Vice sent their cameras to Journey Into Manhood, a gay conversion program, where men pay more than US$600 to attend a weekend retreat where they participate in exercises and activities to ‘cure’ themselves of their attraction to other men.

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Dr Joseph Nicolosi, the founder of reparative therapy, is seen saying in the film, ‘Everyone is heterosexual. The idea that some people are naturally homosexual, or naturally gay, is just a social construct. So when you have individuals with same-sex attraction, we see it as something went wrong developmentally and we try to resolve the issue and put them back on the path toward their natural heterosexuality.’

It also investigates the controversial legal battle to fight conversion therapy for children.

Sam Brinton, a survivor of reparative therapy who is today a nuclear engineer as well as co-chair of Born Perfect which works to end reparative therapy, spoke of being physically tortured during his therapy sessions during which he was shown erotic pictures of men while his hands were ‘wrapped in hot coils’ and ‘shocked with electricity.’

The documentary also travels to the annual Gay Christian Network Conference in the US and speaks with former ‘ex-gay’ leaders including John Smid of Love in Action, who is now married to his gay partner. He says in the documentary, ‘Today I’m very offended at the concept of change therapies for homosexuality because the message that someone who is gay has something intrinsically wrong with them is a shame-producing, negative message that hits at the core of a human life and I’m offended that the message is still in any way communicated.’

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Magic: The (Queer) Gathering

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Wizards of the Coast has revealed Magic: The Gathering’s first ever trans character. The new character, named Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, is part of Magic: The Gathering’s latest expansion, Fate Reforged. While her card doesn’t mention her gender, a story published on Wizards of the Coast’s website reveals the details of her origin, weaving her background into the tale of combat.

magic-aleshaAlesha’s clan tradition allows its members to pick their own name after earning glory in battle, with members usually picking names that reflect battle feats. “She had been so different—only sixteen, a boy in everyone’s eyes but her own, about to choose and declare her name before the khan and all the Mardu.”

When it comes time for Alesha to choose her name after killing her first dragon, she goes in a different direction and takes the opportunity to come out to her battle comrades. “And the whole gathered horde shouted ‘Alesha!’ in reply. The warriors of the Mardu shouted her name. In that moment, if anyone had told her that in three years’ time she would be khan, she just might have dared to believe it.”

Alesha does eventually go on to become kahn, leading the horde of humans, goblins, and orcs into battle.

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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.

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Skyclad Saturday *4

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Photos by AFK

“Jessie and Sam at Jimmy’s place, in San Francisco, California. We all met there in May of 2010 and spent about 5 days hanging out. These are some of the photos we took during the week. Jessie and Sam are now living in Canada and are happily married”.

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Shadow Sex – Boy, Girl & Beyond

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In November, 18-year-old Sasha Fleischman was set on fire by a teenager after falling asleep during the bus ride home. The assault resulted in third-degree burns and several surgeries. Sasha’s “crime”? Presenting as a boy while dressing in traditionally feminine clothing.

Born Luke Fleischman, the American teen wore a skirt for the first time to school sophomore year. Soon after, Fleischman started questioning the binary definitions of gender, and has since identified as agender, preferring to use the pronouns “they” and “them.”

Fleischman’s story made national headlines and led to a broader conversation about gender-identity issues. Now the teen, who expressed hope that their 16-year-old attacker would not be prosecuted as an adult, was also featured in a photo project by LA-based photographer Chloe Aftel.

Hoping to raise awareness of this diverse, often-overlooked community, San Francisco magazine published Aftel’s photos in an attempt to shed light on what it means to be a gender-fluid teen in the wake of Fleischman’s attack.

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Comprised mostly of young people, the San Franciscans in the series use umbrella terms like “genderqueer” and “nonbinary,” Rachele Kanigel explained in San Francisco magazine’s story accompanying the photo series. “This growing community encompasses people who see themselves as agender (neither male nor female), bi-gender (both genders) and gender-fluid (shifting from male to female).”

But the agender community shares more than just an affinity for plural pronouns. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, the most extensive study of its kind, 78% of gender non-conforming people face harassment at school, 90% suffer mistreatment at work and 53% experience being verbally disrespected in a public place.

“Transgender and gender non-conforming people face injustice at every turn: in childhood homes, in school systems that promise to shelter and educate, in harsh and exclusionary workplaces, at the grocery store, the hotel front desk, in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, before judges and at the hands of landlords, police officers, health care workers and other service providers,” the report says.

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