WWE Superstars Bring The Pain To Homophobia
It may seem like one of the most macho environments in the entertainment industry, but the stars of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) are speaking out against homophobia – by taping their mouths shut.

Superstars including Triple H, the Bella Twins and World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan have posed for the fearless anti-homophobia campaign NOH8, which aims to stand up to homophobia and promote the rights of same-sex couples to marry.

Now with over 35,000 images to its name, this latest series of NOH8 photos notably includes recently-out WWE wrestler Darren Young, who has worn NOH8 gear during several TV broadcasts to millions of fans. “The most important thing is to be able to live your life the way you want to, truthfully”, he told the NOH8 website. “I love wearing my NOH8 hoodie everywhere I go and I love wearing it to the ring because it sends a positive message to everyone to show tolerance and acceptance to the LGBT community”.

The brainchild of celebrity photographer Adam Bouska, NOH8 was born in 2008 when Californian governors introduced Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage. Bouska set out to raise the voice of opposition by snapping images of pro-gay supporters with duct tape sealing their mouths shut, in order to symbolise the silence ‘Prop 8’ intended to force upon them. The ban was repealed in 2012, but the campaign has since evolved to support the repealing of similar laws around the United States and the rest of the world.

The pros at WWE may soon get back to fighting for the next Title Belt, but at least they can all agree on one thing: there’s no place for homophobia in either corner of the ring. 
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WWE Superstars Bring The Pain To Homophobia

It may seem like one of the most macho environments in the entertainment industry, but the stars of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) are speaking out against homophobia – by taping their mouths shut.

Superstars including Triple H, the Bella Twins and World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan have posed for the fearless anti-homophobia campaign NOH8, which aims to stand up to homophobia and promote the rights of same-sex couples to marry.

Now with over 35,000 images to its name, this latest series of NOH8 photos notably includes recently-out WWE wrestler Darren Young, who has worn NOH8 gear during several TV broadcasts to millions of fans. “The most important thing is to be able to live your life the way you want to, truthfully”, he told the NOH8 website. “I love wearing my NOH8 hoodie everywhere I go and I love wearing it to the ring because it sends a positive message to everyone to show tolerance and acceptance to the LGBT community”.

The brainchild of celebrity photographer Adam Bouska, NOH8 was born in 2008 when Californian governors introduced Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage. Bouska set out to raise the voice of opposition by snapping images of pro-gay supporters with duct tape sealing their mouths shut, in order to symbolise the silence ‘Prop 8’ intended to force upon them. The ban was repealed in 2012, but the campaign has since evolved to support the repealing of similar laws around the United States and the rest of the world.

The pros at WWE may soon get back to fighting for the next Title Belt, but at least they can all agree on one thing: there’s no place for homophobia in either corner of the ring. 

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These Students Prove That Challenging Offensive Language Needn’t Be A War Of Words

Students at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, have unveiled a project that aims to challenge offensive language based on sexual orientation and gender. 

The You Don’t Say campaign features images of students alongside explanations as to why they won’t use typically offensive terms and phrases, such as ‘that’s so gay’, ‘man up’ and ‘no homo’. The project’s Facebook page explains that the campaign “seeks to raise awareness around the misuse of language that relates to the LGBTQ community and gender issues” and that “these words dehumanize and marginalize many within the Duke community and beyond and it is important to understand why.”

“Some have said that the purpose of this campaign is to promote political correctness when we speak”, said Abhi Sanka, who took part in the project, objecting to the saying ‘no homo’. “[But] this campaign strives first to instill understanding of how words can make a difference in shaping identities. Thus, the campaign strives to push thought in a direction that can better improve the climate for marginalized communities in our society”.

To most of us, these people are just faces on a screen. But, in speaking out publicly, they’re putting themselves on a platform for their college peers to bear witness and now – thanks to the power of the interwebs – the world too. The campaign’s purpose isn’t to criticize. And it’s not to patronize. It’s simply to help people understand how loaded these terms are and, like bullets from a gun, how they can wound, regardless of intention.

The choice whether you use them - or not - is yours.

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Straight Veterans Support Gay Colleague In Colorado Equal Marriage Campaign

Why Marriage Matters Colorado have released a video to promote marriage equality in the state.

Sgt. T. Ashley Metcalfe, along with Army Staff Sgt. Izzy Abbass, US Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Dennis Mont’ros and Marine Sgt. Will Glenn have a combined 45 years worth of experience fighting for their country, in the likes of Afghanistan and Iraq. But, despite his service, Sgt. Metcalfe still isn’t afforded the same rights as his colleagues – because he’s gay.

The short video shows the four men discuss the issue, with Sgt. Abbas – who has been married to his wife for nearly nine years – summing up the purpose of the drive: “He should have the same freedom we have and that includes the freedom to marry”.

Why Marriage Matters Colorado are campaigning for a change to the state constitution that currently discriminates against same-sex couples and propose to fight the ban in court. You can add your voice to the campaign – or story if you’re an LGBT Coloradoan – by clicking here.

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Lesbian Singer Mary Lambert Has A Message For Us. Her Words Are Painful, Beautiful, Poetry. 

Watch the full video here

Mary Lambert - the singer behind the chorus to Macklemore’s Same Love - has a new track out. It’s called Body Love. And it takes no prisoners. 

Part of the #1Mic1Take series, Mary’s spoken word study of self-love - or a lack thereof - dissects the pressure society places on women and their body image. The gut-wrenching lyrics question our world’s misogynistic obsession with make-up, fashion and body weight and even explore darker topics like eating disorders, self-harm and death. 

But what might seem bleak and angsty at first soon climaxes with an important message many women - and indeed LGBT people - may connect with. As the track progresses, Mary spells out a determination desperate to give her own pain a chance for recovery and encourages us to do the same: to love ourselves - ‘flaws’ and all. 

In a world where we’re surrounded by images of so-called ‘perfection’ on our laptops, smartphones and magazines, Mary’s message is a refreshing one that aims to bring us back to centre. “Our bodies deserve to be more than war-torn and collateral”, she says, before adding: “Love your body the way your mother loved your baby feet”. 

Wise words from a worthy rising star and an awesome ambassador for women, the LGBT community and anyone who’s ever been oppressed. 

Body Love is available now on Mary’s Welcome to the Age of My Body EP

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Disability Community Shines At Sydney LGBT Mardi Gras

As LGBT visibility improves around the globe, the Western world in particular is growing to accept Pride marches as something of a tradition. 

It’s the party everyone’s invited to. But the accessibility of Pride festivals, as is still the case with much of society, isn’t always 100% user-friendly for people with disabilities. 

The built environment can provide barriers. Lack of transport can provide barriers. And, perhaps most crucial of all, the attitudes of those around us can provide barriers. So for LGBT people with disabilities, accessing such events can be full of hurdles. 

Which is why it’s so awesome to see this video from this year’s Sydney Mardi Gras. 

Produced by Northcott, an organisation that supports choice and opportunity for people with disabilities, the video sees a group of people with disabilities prepare for and march in the Sydney Mardi Gras parade as crowds whoop and cheer them on. It’s not the first time there’s been a presence for people with disabilities, but with around 100 people involved with the float, numbers seem to be growing year on year. 

"They wanted to do it, so we wanted to make it happen for them", Senior Practice Leader Aby Hutchinson-West told SameSame. “And Mardi Gras were fantastic in making sure we could be a part of it”. 

The message is clear: whether you’re male, female, black, white, straight, gay and/or have a disability, inclusion is about everyone. Diversity doesn’t stop at the L, the B, the G or the T. So it makes me smile to see an LGBT festival celebrate people for who they are beyond their sexual orientation and gender identity. 

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These ‘Gay Jeans’ Really Were Born This Way. 

This crowdfunding campaign may sound like a bad April Fools joke. But it actually comes with a really poignant message. 

Betabrand's 'gay jeans' look like any other pair of jeans when first purchased, but over time - through washing and general wear and tear - their true self starts to show. No, their true self starts to come out

The five-pocket dark denim pants are, in fact, made with multi-coloured thread, so as the indigo dye over them fades, a yarn of bright colour is revealed in its place. So far, so weird, right? We’ll leave it to creator Steven B. Wheeler to explain. 

"Even in early life, I was not wildly unlike any of the other boys on the playground, but as time went by, I noticed things that set me apart from the others", he told Towleroad. “The same too can be said for Gay Jeans; it takes time for them to uncover the things that makes them unique”. 

"The name is a pun on the issue of science finding the ‘gay gene’ and the debate over whether or not being gay is a choice", he continues. "For these genes, it isn’t a choice. Like me, they were born this way and, like me, they’ll come out in their own time."

Sometimes it’s difficult to find the words when coming out, but with these jeans you might as well save your breath. The fabulous threads will do all the talking for you without even uttering a word. ;-)

10% of all proceeds of the slim-fit and the stretch skinny jeans will go to the San Francisco LGBT Center, a non-profit LGBT community hub. 

Images: YouTube

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This Hawaiian Transgender Teacher Is Challenging Gender Stereotypes For Generations To Come. 

Hina Wong-Kalu is a proud, native Hawaiian. She’s also a teacher, who happens to identify as transgender in a place with a strong cultural heritage. 

Wong-Kalu’s fascinating story of transformation from Collin Wong to the woman she is today has been made into a documentary, which premiered at the Hawaiian International Film Festival and will go on to feature in festivals around the world in 2014. 

Directly translated as ‘Teacher Hina’, Kuma Hina charts Wong-Kalu’s life, from her being bullied in high school for being different, to embracing her ‘mahu’ (male and female spirit) and finding the husband of her dreams. It also introduces us to Ho’onani, a young girl who learns to embrace her inner male spirit and join her school’s all-male hula troop with Wong-Kalu’s support. Watch the trailer for the film above. 

The media exposure this remarkable woman is getting comes at a time when transgender rights are high in the world’s social consciousness - something Wong-Kalu intends to build upon. Not only is she launching #APlaceInTheMiddle, a social media campaign to support people who don’t conform to society’s traditional view of gender ‘norms’, she’s also just announced her plans to enter politics by running for a spot in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. 

Expect Wong-Kalu’s star to continue rising as Kuna Hina travels the globe in 2014, before its PBS television premiere in 2015.

A true inspiration to anyone who’s ever been afraid of standing out. 

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New York Times Open Letter To The Pope: “Embrace LGBT Youth With Love And Acceptance”

An open letter published in the New York Times has invited Pope Francis to visit America’s largest LGBT homeless shelter - and to change church teachings on homosexuality. 

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Written by Carl Siciliano, the gay Catholic Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center in California, the letter urges Pope Francis to ‘take urgent action to protect [LGBT young people] from the devastating consequences of religious rejection’.

"As LGBT youths are finding the courage to speak the truths of their hearts at younger ages, epidemic numbers are being rejected by their families, and driven to homelessness", Siciliano writes. 

"By teaching that homosexual conduct is a sin, and that the homosexual orientation is disordered, it influences countless parents and families in societies across the globe to reject their children", he continues. "In the name of these children, and in light of the love and compassion at the heart of the message of Jesus, I ask that you end this teaching."

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Siciliano, a former Benedictine monk, also cites that Jesus is never recorded as condemning homosexuality or LGBT people and that the Roman Catholic Church, as the largest and most influential Christian organisation in the world, has the power to help. 

"We share a belief in a God of love", he concludes. "I know in my heart that what my kids have suffered is ultimately a violation against love. How tragic it is that the church, through it’s teaching, would contribute to such a violation. Surely God loves his children more than teachings."

Pope Francis has yet to respond to the letter. He has been noted as a more liberal figurehead than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, on many issues - in particular, being less critical of LGBT people. But he has yet to speak in support of LGBT expression. Siciliano’s letter comes with admirable intentions that aim to address that, in favour of our safety and ultimate acceptance by society. It spells out both the shocking truth about how many LGBT young people live in fear and how vocal support from on-high could go some way to remedy that. If this Pope is as liberal as the media would have us believe, then he has the opportunity to prove himself now - as a true man of God and as a human being with a heart. 

To read the full letter, published as an advertisement in the paper and paid for by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Home Furnishings, click here

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Denmark To Marry Same-Sex Russian Couples For Eurovision 2014

Organisers of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest have announced that host country Denmark will perform 30 marriages featuring couples from around the world - both straight and gay and including same-sex couples from Russia. 

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The ceremonies will take place in the run-up to the 58th edition of the annual competition in the capital Copenhagen from May 8th-10th. While no confirmation has been made as to whether to weddings will feature in the televised show, it is expected they would at least be referenced. 

"Last year Denmark had new legislation that made it easier for us to marry foreigners of the same sex," Eurovision manager Flemming Otto told Reuters. “We would like to strike a blow for the diversity and openness we have in Denmark. We are looking forward to marry all the happy couples, and I’m convinced we’ll be very busy.”

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The move comes a year after Finland entered the equal-marriage affirming song Marry Me and is likely to send an increasing message of acceptance to the 31 competing countries, including Russia. Interestingly, Eurovision is also popular outside of Europe, which should allow the message to spread even further. The 2013 final was watched by over 170m people worldwide, being broadcast in countries from the USA to South Korea and Australia to Brazil. 

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2014 marks the 25th anniversary of same-sex civil partnerships in Denmark, which became the first in the world to introduce such legislation in 1989. And given that Eurovision’s current motto is the all-embracing ‘Join Us’, the message to the rest of the world is loud and clear: it’s time to catch up. 

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Condom Company Responds To Lack Of Same-Sex Representation With A Harmless Gay Kiss
Condom company Durex have posted an image of two gay men kissing on their Facebook page, in response to criticism for not including any same-sex couples in a recent marketing drive. 
The company’s Turn Off To Turn On campaign - prompted by the energy-saving ‘Earth Hour’ on March 29th - encouraged lovers to switch off technology and make use of the dark in order to ‘see less and feel more’. But given that all nine couples featured in a promotional video were all heterosexual, the question was raised - where exactly are the gay men? 

Many companies would gloss over such a mild social media stir in the hope that the storm would pass, particularly as the focus date (sorry, hour) was ten days prior. So kudos to Durex for admitting their mistake by answering in a positive, respectful and inclusive fashion. It’s the perfect example to any company wishing to make amends with minority audiences, all of whom are deserving of consumer representation. 
The move shows that company bosses are listening, but the real test will come when their next viral video campaign does the rounds. Then we’ll find out if they are, in fact, converted allies or if the aforementioned image was purely a form of lip-service (no pun intended) to the gay community. Hopefully, we’ll find them on our side.
And on that note, I’m off to save another hour of electricity.
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Condom Company Responds To Lack Of Same-Sex Representation With A Harmless Gay Kiss

Condom company Durex have posted an image of two gay men kissing on their Facebook page, in response to criticism for not including any same-sex couples in a recent marketing drive. 

The company’s Turn Off To Turn On campaign - prompted by the energy-saving ‘Earth Hour’ on March 29th - encouraged lovers to switch off technology and make use of the dark in order to ‘see less and feel more’. But given that all nine couples featured in a promotional video were all heterosexual, the question was raised - where exactly are the gay men? 

Many companies would gloss over such a mild social media stir in the hope that the storm would pass, particularly as the focus date (sorry, hour) was ten days prior. So kudos to Durex for admitting their mistake by answering in a positive, respectful and inclusive fashion. It’s the perfect example to any company wishing to make amends with minority audiences, all of whom are deserving of consumer representation. 

The move shows that company bosses are listening, but the real test will come when their next viral video campaign does the rounds. Then we’ll find out if they are, in fact, converted allies or if the aforementioned image was purely a form of lip-service (no pun intended) to the gay community. Hopefully, we’ll find them on our side.

And on that note, I’m off to save another hour of electricity.

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