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Watch: Kids Ask About Gender

“Do you like being called a boy or a girl?”

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Courtney Act is a gift to this world. She’s so good at talking to anyone, and everyone looking to be a queer ambassador should be following her lead. She’s not trying to be Oprah and pull out your deepest trauma. She’s not trying to be Dr. Phil to coach you into realizations with psychobabble. She never comes from a place of preaching, just existing and being authentic.

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Athletes

Carl Nassib is the NFL’s first active gay player.

Another pride month win for representation!

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Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out of the closet earlier today and his statement almost brought me to tears.

Nothing he said was particularly emotional, but it just took me back to junior high school, having rocks thrown at me, getting into fights on the bus, hearing faggot every day, and seeing no way past the torture of being bullied by jocks who thought it was fun to beat up on the gay kid.

It was just cool to beat up on the gay kid. Whether you were actually homophobic or not didn’t matter — you bullied the gay kid because other guys bullied the gay kid and that’s just how it was. It’s not as cool as it once was. Homophobia still exists, but outright support also exists in a way I didn’t experience, and sometimes that counterbalance is all you need for a homophobe to seethe quietly since he doesn’t have enough peers to feed into the bullying.

I’m trying to picture how I would have felt in junior high if an NFL player came out and his commissioner, coach, and teammates were all behind him. I probably would’ve been bullied anyway, to some extent at least, but I definitely would’ve believed it actually does get better, because I didn’t at the time. Saying “it gets better” doesn’t mean anything to a kid who wants to die because he’s the only gay person he knows, he dreads facing his peers because he doesn’t know if someone will light his homework on fire or hit him with a flagpole, and the only gay people on TV are fictional comic relief. Seeing a gay man in the center of a hypermasculine, heterosexual, aggressive environment means much more. It means not everyone is out to get you and you won’t be tortured forever, because if he can find support in the NFL, you can find support somewhere too.

 

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LGBT

Casey Frey has a boyfriend.

Watch his coming out video on Theo Von’s podcast. The kids are so blessed!

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I know who Casey Frey is, because I’m online all the time, but I don’t really know who Casey Frey is. I just have a passing recognition of him and I can pick him out of a lineup because every once in awhile, one of his “dancing” videos goes viral.

Back in the days of Vine, Casey amassed a huge following from his awkward dance clips that were oddly charming in that Gen Z way of being earnest and silly at the same time. Now he’s a bonafide Instagram comedian, but I don’t follow him, because I’m pretty dry and subdued, and I don’t think very many people are funny enough to watch over and over (or at all!).

The kids who do follow him had that young man trending for a couple of days in a row because he has a boyfriend now.

I had never put much thought into who Casey Frey sleeps with. I just assumed he was straight because, if he was queer, he would’ve popped up on my social media feeds more often from being shared by the gays in my social networks. The few times I saw his sexuality discussed, it was usually a gay man either alluding to Casey’s queerness or making a light-hearted joke about it and they would immediately be corrected by his fans. So, Casey coming out with a boyfriend made a  big ripple on social media.

I really don’t care. I don’t even know anything about him past what I just Googled.

What I do care about is his coming out video with Theo Von, who some of you Gen X and Millennials may remember from Road Rules.

Not gonna even front: I had a huge crush on Theo growing up. He was a Southern good ol’ boy (my weakness at the time) who was genuinely nice, wasn’t a bigot, and read books. And he had nice arms. I’ve lo-key followed his career as a comedian and I still think he’s genuinely charming but don’t tell anybody I said that because we do not praise straight white men in this household!

Casey went on Theo’s podcast and I want y’all to watch how casually he comes out as bisexual and how everyone reacts to it.

No one cares. Look at that! No one cares!

When I saw that clip yesterday, I surprised myself by how emotional I got. I just remember growing up in the South with Theo’s accent all around me calling me a faggot on a regular basis. Straight guys tortured me for years. I saw a couple of gays on the Real World, Queer as Folk, and Will & Grace, but that was about it for my exposure to queerness in the big bad world. No part of my brain would’ve thought that twenty years later, a male comedian presumed to be straight would be on another straight male comedian’s radio show and casually say he has a boyfriend.

I’m so happy the little gay boys in conservative pockets of the country facing taunts and bullying have clips like this. It doesn’t necessarily affect what’s happening to you in that moment day to day, but it’s gotta be so nice to see that there is a wider world where everyone doesn’t hate you.

As Theo says in the clip, “That’s awesome.”

 

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LGBT

Pride doesn’t need to “think of the children”

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Me as a baby gay: I can’t wait to sneak off to Pride and see men kissing and guys in jockstraps!

Baby gays today: Pride is for THE CHILDREN! Why do you grown men want to show minors your bare asses?

I remember walking through the men’s underwear department at K-Mart and getting warm looking at the models. The thought of MEN ALMOST NAKED DANCING IN THE STREET was so liberating to me. I wanted to be one of them one day, spirited and free and to hell with Puritanical straights.

I don’t think Gen Z has that. Even closeted kids from rural areas can go online and just see gay people existing on Twitter and Instagram. If I wanted to see gay things, it was on the family computer listening for any creak in the floorboards so I could X out before Mom or Dad came in.

I didn’t have a frame of reference for life as a gay adult or life as a gay person just going about their day. Pride was this almost mythical event where gay people came out from under the rocks to frolic with each other and be sexy and joyful. They weren’t thinking about KIDS. The last thing they cared about was CHILDREN and FAMILIES.

Those were the people making them live under rocks in the first place. They couldn’t kiss in public at home, because “not in front of our CHILDREN!” Children were the oppressors, not directly because they have no power, but “think of the children” was always the reason why queer people had to hide. Gay marriage is the wrong example for children. Gays on TV will make the children gay. Gay affection scares the children. Parents would say “I don’t have a problem with gay people personally, but I shouldn’t have to explain homosexuals to my five year old,” as if queer existence should be dependent upon your ability to talk to your offspring.

But Pride didn’t care about the children.

If you don’t wanna explain men holding hands? Don’t go to Pride. If you don’t wanna see women shaking their tiddies? Don’t go to Pride. If you don’t wanna see a jockstrap and a harness? Don’t go to Pride.

Pride meant “I don’t care about your children and families today.”

But Gen Z has decided Pride belongs to them, because for them, Pride is a big event for STRAIGHT people to see how fun and fabulous the gays are, so they will like us, so they will give us rights, so they will let us hold hands back home. For Gen Z, Pride isn’t the mythical event where queer people can be free. Pride is the corporate event where straight people can see how harmless the gays are. Pride isn’t “to hell with the establishment!” Pride is McDonald’s and babies with rainbow stickers on their cheeks.

I think it’s wonderful that the kids have grown up in a country so welcoming that Pride isn’t a protest for them, because they don’t feel the same sense of urgency to show a middle finger to power. Gen Z has grown up with public support for gay marriage. The #1 talkshow host has been a lesbian for their entire lives. Gay people deliver cable news. A gay man ran for President, and did well! They have reality TV, movies, social media. A gay movie won Best Picture. Gen Z has seen the NYC Pride March on television, which is just BEYOND to me. It was nominated for an Emmy TWICE! The Pride they know is not the Pride we mythologized and couldn’t wait to experience when we were their age.

I can’t tell anybody how to feel about Pride or the sanitization of Pride, but Gen Z doesn’t have the same attachment to Pride being a Protest or queer people being radically anti-establishment. They’ve grown up with so much more visibility and freedom to live. And I’m glad the kids aren’t growing up in the dark like some of us did, but “think of the children!” as a means of oppression and censorship has never served any marginalized community well.

 

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