LGBTQ Lives: A global view (TED Talk Video)

Aloha, friends … as we enter the busy, crazy holiday season, I hope that you have family and friends to celebrate and commune with. There are many in our communities that may be feeling lonely and isolated because they are not accepted, loved or understood for being LGBTQ. Many of you are in positions where you are reaching out your hand to help and welcome those who don’t have a place or people to belong with but, I don’t want us to only dwell on the heartbreak, I hope that we will also celebrate the hope and positive strides that are happening in the journey for marriage equality and LGBTQ rights worldwide.

photo courtesy of TED.com

photo courtesy of TED.com

Today I’m sharing a TED Talk, given by Jenni Chang and Lisa Dazlos in May 2015, which takes us on a quick global journey to peek into the lives and movements of LGBTQ individuals and communities in countries from around the world.

Jenni Chang and Lisa Dazlos’ talk: This is what LGBT life is like around the world.

You can read more about their adventures and access additional resources at their website: Out and Around

May your Thanksgiving be filled with laughter and gratitude, my friends. I am so grateful for each and every one of you – the work that you do and the heart that you do it with. Aloha!


#amreading: Two Boys Kissing



{Our lives are a multitude of stories strung together. For many of us, one of the most profound ways for us to understand, connect and exist in this life is to sink into narratives – the stories and words of others and how they live and move in this world. For many LGBTQ youth, finding narratives and stories that reflect their experiences or explore the complexities, joys and difficulties of existing in this world as an LGBTQ person can be difficult to find. Over time, we’ll be sharing books and stories about and/or by LGBTQ community members. If you have suggestions, please don’t hesitate to share them with us.}
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“We wish we could show you the world as it sleeps. Then you’d never have any doubt about how similar, how trusting, how astounding and vulnerable we all are.”

“We no longer sleep, and because we no longer sleep, we no longer dream. Instead we watch. We don’t want to miss a thing. You have become our dreaming.”

David Levithan has become my narrative idol. Effortlessly quilting together the threads and voices of a handful of characters, Levithan nudges as though all of their stories and then stands aside as the connectedness between us all is revealed.

Craig and Harry are setting out to conquer the record for the world’s longest kiss (which, by the way, is currently held by Ekkachai Tiranarat and Laksana Tiranarat from Thailand – 58 hours 35 minutes 58 seconds). But Craig and Harry have a complicated history and emotions are unpredictable. Although the boys aren’t a couple now, they used to be. And kissing your ex can make things complex and confusing.

Meanwhile, kisses between Peter and Neil say something altogether different. Still together. Still entwined. Peter and neil’s kisses carry through the ridges and seams of coupled young loves. The comfort and safety of a love known and wanted and yet a longing for … well, for what?

Avery and Ryan. Their kisses are new. As is their introduction to one another. Self-knowledge is a skill to be proud of – but knowing how to become a part of an “us” possesses a steep and slippery learning curve – especially when the “us” is a LGBTQ couple in a place and time when teens are callous with themselves and brutal with others.

Alone. There are so many ways to be alone. And Cooper’s steps out of his world without a someone – without his “it” person – and into a reality that can slice through and person’s soul and decimate one’s being. While Tariq knows alone. He also knows what being alone isn’t. And how one can come back from being alone, holding onto the knowledge and wisdom and strength of being alone can forge in someone yet still able to believe that there is so much more – of everything – in human connection.

Levithan reaches deep into the collective history of the LGBTQ community, selecting the foundation threads of our deepest soul-flaying depths and our quiet triumphs to offer up this reflection of humanity through the eyes of our gay brothers.

Two Boys Kissing dares people to say, “it is not okay to be so public about being gay”. In this time, when society is changing by the hour and taking momentous strides in LGBTQ equality and civil rights, its the microaggressions that we experience in our lives and our own fears of drawing “too much” attention to our presence in the daily world which steadily chips away at the wholeness of our presence and happiness as LGBTQ people, families and community.  Levithan’s book steadfastly declares that our disappearing acts will no longer be our M.O. With each generation that comes of age, fear of being gay – lesbian – queer – non-conforming – gender-neutral or simply non-hetero erodes even further. The throat-clenching terror that declared us outcast and unwanted is abating. We’re gathering in the light now – holding each other close, propping each other up, sheltering each other and proudly showing off our loves and our families. Our moments of tenderness and affection are no longer relegated to the privacy of our rooms or stolen moments in shadowed darkness. He will reach out and touch his shoulder with the gentle tenderness of a new-found lover; I will lean into her shoulder and let my hand slide down her arm until our fingers entwine in the familiar way that long-partnered mates know; their son will run to them at the end of the school day screaming, “Daddy! Papa! It was an awesome day!” … and we will not look away in shame. Our shoulders will not hunch in fear or concern that someone will see or hear or judge. Because these beautiful everyday moments – these common, run-of-the-mill lover – parent – partner inclinations are ours as much as they are yours. We no longer need to hide our smiles when we see two boys kissing.

Voices of Change: Bias Breaker – Gaming Style

Never let it be said that our youth are not innovative or wise. Two young ladies, New York high school students who participated in the Girls Who Code program, created a role-playing game (RPG) that challenges sexist, racist and anti-lgbtq stereotypes that are still so prevalent in media and pockets of society. The appropriately named it, Bias Breaker.

How does it work? When players begin the game, they can choose from three diverse characters:

PC BuzzFeed News – Photo Courtesy of Game Creators

These students, Shazim and Jaymi, are using their RPG platform to literally blast away commonly-held stereotypes such as, “all Asians are good at math” or “bisexuals are confused.” Players can choose their character and shoot the bad guys, represented as green blobs labeled with stereotypes. According to BuzzFeed News, Shazim said, “We thought it would be funny if we took ‘breaking stereotypes’ in a literal sense.”

Kudos, ladies! Keep breaking those stereotypes and showing this world that we are so much more than the boxes and labels that others wish to place on us.

This story was brought to our attention via BuzzFeed News. You can find the original story here.

Multimedia Moment: “Fifty Shades of Gay” – iO Tillett Wright

“Who is responsible for equality?” (iO Tillett Wright)

iO Tillet Wright’s TED Talk: Fifty Shades of Gay


iO Tillett Wright                    (photo acquired via Google)

One of the most fundamental elements of our human condition is our deep-rooted desire and hope for connection. We also possess a natural inclination to classify and label aspects of our humanism – our personal characteristics – so that we can find others that we understand and, hopefully, understand us. We connect with the familiar. We find common ground with those with whom we identify.

The TED talk given by iO Tillett Wright is an eloquent discourse about the experience of living in the grey areas of gender and sexual orientation identities – those spaces where we are not quite male or female, not all gay or all straight. Wright was raised by parents and in a place that who she is was matter-of-fact; there was no need for her to claim her difference or employ labels to identify herself – she was who she was. Wright shares with her audience qualitative evidence that demonstrates a large number of people in communities do not identify as 100% gay or 100% straight. There is a long-standing concept of a sexuality continuum and there is greater evidence that gives credence to the fluidity of sexual orientation identity.

Wright poses a provocative question – if so many people identify as not 100% gay or straight, when discrimination is codified, accepted and active, where do you draw the line as to what is acceptable parameters for discrimination? This TED talk is emotional, provocative and sincere. Give yourself 18 minutes to sit down, set aside any of your preconceptions about sexual orientation and differences and listen. Wright’s words and the stories and pictures that she shares just may give you something new to think about.

You can find more on iO Tillet Wright at:

website: DarlingDays.com

project: Self Evident Truths