Entertainment

Tips From A Queer Man About Living Your Most Authentic Life

It’s 2018. The old ways of looking at queer culture are crumbling and fading away. We’re not all the way there yet: there are still plenty of haters out there, and some, well, weird portrayals of queer men and queer culture out there in the media. But the world’s most fabulous alternative lifestyle is giving all that noise a quick up-down, and moving on. Despite the odd stragglers, a lot of true queer culture is getting mainstreamed and a clearer picture of the culture is emerging. LGBT culture is being recognized as creative, devoted, hard-working, hard-playing, courageous, and just utterly fabulous. Ally or enemy, curious or furious, there are a lot of things about gay culture that can help the straight man be way more fabulous. Read on for advice, from gay men to straight men, that will enrich your life, make you more secure, improve your communication, and grow.

Be Your Truest, Most Authentic Self

Credit: To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar/Amblin Entertainment/Universal Films

Be your truest and most authentic self. Many gay men know what it’s like to live a lie, to pretend to be something you’re not, or pretend not to be something you are. For most, the journey out of the closet was a ceaseless uphill struggle against obstacles outside and in. We’ll never forget the time we spent rejecting who we really are, and will never ever go back. And coming out is only half the battle: portrayals in the media, even positive ones, make it difficult to embrace an authentic identity: promiscuous, feminine, educated, creative, loud: these aren’t true of the queer community in general, but, as with many stereotypes, are true of some. How to separate the wheat from the chaff? Easy: Be the definition of yourself, and reject all other definitions. 

Be That Self in All Your Relationships

Credit: Glee/Fox Broadcasting Company

Be your true and authentic self in all your relationships, especially romantic relationships. Most people, gay or straight, give and give early in relationships. That giving is usually returned. But it’s not unusual for one or both of the partners to fall into a role that isn’t authentic, to be a satellite to the other person, and to abandon much of their truest self. Don’t let that happen: it’s destructive to your identity and destructive to your relationship. The healthiest relationships grow and see each partner grow as well. Be sure that you have everything you need in yourself. That’s not to say that a relationship shouldn’t be a source of support and stimulation; just make sure that other other person isn’t rounding out your identity for you, because it won’t really be your identity.

Be Around People Who Care

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Be around people who care. About you, obviously, but also about something, anything. Be with warriors, with knife-fighters for what’s right. Be with the fearless, people who have your back not just because they need but because you’re doing what’s right, and so will they. Gay men don’t associate with the apathetic too much. No time for that. 

Define Your Relationships

Credit: Brokeback Mountain/Focus Features

I see this with my straight friends much too often: a relationship that isn’t defined, or where one partner wants something very different from what the other wants. One wants a long-term relationship, the other just wants some one-and-dones. Or neither knows what the other really wants. If it’s just sex, there’s nothing wrong with that. If the idea is to build something that will last and grow, that’s great, too. But you’ve got to be clear, and be kind. Gay men tend to be pretty upfront about what they’re looking for, and it saves a lot of time and grief.

Don’t Lock Anyone Out, Don’t Burn Any Bridges

Credit: Rebel Without a Cause/Warner Brothers 

This doesn’t really apply with haters, but straight men have to deal with them a lot less than gay men. You don’t have to let everyone in–in fact you’re better off not to; but make sure there’s room in your life, even on the surface, for everyone. For gay men, this hasn’t really been a choice: most people are not gay, and even some of our closest friends don’t agree with some parts of our lifestyles. We can cut off very few people without ending up totally homogeneous, or even isolated. And don’t forget that people can change: don’t burn a bridge that someone will want to get back across someday. 

Talk to Women Like They’re Friends

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The derisive terms for women who are close to gay men come from how threatened straight men can be by those friendships. It doesn’t have to be that way. The reason gay men are so close to straight women is that we don’t distinguish them from our male friends. They’re just friends: we have great laughter, companionship, and support with them. We want to tell them about us and we want to hear about them. I find many straight men struggling to have these kinds of relationships. Don’t focus on the one thing you want: you might not get it. Your chances are better if you actively pursue a friendship.

Swing the Bat

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That said, I find many straight men hesitating to talk to women at all. That’s a tough field to cross. Consider this: before a gay man approaches a man they’re interested in, they have to know or guess whether they’re gay or straight. That can be pretty scary. Swing the bat: you have nothing to lose and so much to gain. Chances are she will be polite and kind, willing to talk and learn more about you, and won’t reject you outright unless there’s a really good reason, like a current relationship or a different sexual identity.

Value the Circumstances and People Around You Right Now

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It’s okay to strive for more in life, work, and relationships, but don’t lose track of what you do have. You worked hard for it. Many gay men grew up with their very identities at stake, and continue to face the prospects of losing friends and opportunities because of who we are. So we value the friends, the life, the work that we have right now. 

Style: Make Some Decisions (or at least look like you have)

Credit: Boys in the Band/Cinema Center Films

Style is intimidating. It can be costly (but doesn’t need to be), and it opens you up to judgment. But making decisions is easy and free. Many of the cultural role models for gay men, plus our mothers and sisters and aunts, have shown us what it’s like to make decisions. So if you’re heading out to a job interview or a matinee of La Boheme with your double-breasted navy suit jacket with the gold buttons, wearing khaki pants, a black belt, and brown shoes, you haven’t made any decisions. If you’re throwing a lavender comforter on the bed in the room with the powder blue walls, you haven’t made any decisions. Design some color schemes and stick with them. Just make it clear that you’ve tried, and haven’t just thrown around whatever is available.

Learn a Little About Food and Wine and Non-Pop Music

Credit: Will & Grace/Warner Brothers

It’s a stereotype, for sure: not all gay men are educated, cultured, and refined. But many are. We expose ourselves to new and better things, refine our tastes as much as we can, and strive to learn about the finer things in life. It doesn’t take much effort to slowly introduce a little bit of that kind of finery. It’s really just a lot of very pleasant experimenting. There is so much more to life beyond the boundaries we grow up with.

Beards Yes; Moustaches, Goatees, Sideburns No

Credit: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One/Warner Brothers

Very few men, straight or queer, can make moustaches, goatees, or sideburns work for them. If you don’t know if you are one of them (it’s unlikely), err on the side of caution and try a full beard: it makes up for a lot. A beard can hide blemishes and scars, help to shape your face and define cheekbones, and add a little maturity to even a very young man. Just keep it neat. And clean. Remember, though, that if your partner doesn’t like it, all bets are probably off.

Design Your Life

Credit: Call Me By Your Name/Sony Pictures Classics

Don’t settle, and, if you can help it, don’t build your life around your work, relationships, or social connections. It should be the other way around. This is pretty much Life 101 for gay men, who can’t be in a place that rejects them. We do our best to be in situations where we can grow. This includes everything from work to relationships to the part of the world you live in and more. You don’t often find gay men settling for anything, but always making things work for them and fit into their lives.

Develop Positivity and Positive Habits

Credit: Moonlight/A24

There’s a lot of noise in being gay, both in person and from the media: the endless stereotypes, even the best-intentioned ones, can drag you down and leave you feeling negative. Gay men try to block it out as much as possible, and straight men should, too. Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum: negativity is everywhere. Trying to limit exposure to negative people and situations only goes so far. It’s important to learn to be positive in a negative situation and with negative people. Develop your own positivity about things, and positive habits. Learn to see challenges as opportunities. The positivity you earn this way feels better, goes deeper, and lasts longer than simply cutting negativity out of your life.

Be Fearless

Credit: Philadelphia/TriStar Pictures

It’s getting better now, but there was a time when a gay man was taking a risk every time he stepped outside. Giving in to that kind of fear would have been worse than death. It’s a lesson learned, but not easily: Be intimidated, be anxious, be frightened, be worried, but don’t let those things stop you. Courage is retroactive: you get the bravery to do the crazy-scary thing after you’ve done it. I know it should be other way around, but that’s how it works. Trust me. You’ve just got to be made out of something more than flesh and bone. Something that can’t be broken.

Be Honest with Yourself

Credit: Milk/Focus Features

Lies are a currency that too many people pay with. Lying can seem inevitable, but it’s not. Learning to accept yourself no matter what society thinks is a key to being an honest person and it’s a step most gay men have had to take at some point. Be honest with yourself in all things. Don’t deceive yourself about who you are, about the people around you, or about what you want. Find the truth and live it fully. 

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5 Tips So You Can Succeed At Your 2021 Resolutions

Culture

5 Tips So You Can Succeed At Your 2021 Resolutions

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Your resolutions are your goals and aspirations. This means you can’t leave it up to anyone else. That is a surefire way to fall behind and not accomplish everything you put your mind to. Here are some tips to help you get through the new year and achieve your goals.

Don’t feel bad about being seflish.

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You are trying to better yourself. That is the point of making resolutions. This means that sometimes you have to be selfish and think about yourself and only yourself. If you want to get in better shape, you might have to tell your friends you can’t go eating with them all of the time. Or you want to follow your passion and need to create time to do you and block off time to do it. You deserve the investment so take the time to invest.

Your mom will love to keep you accountable.

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Latina moms are always here for you for anything. This also definitely absolutely goes for keeping you accountable. This is something that she already does naturally. You never have to remind her of a goal of yours because she will always remember and she will always follow up. She wants to know that her baby is getting everything they want out of life. Let them know your resolutions and you will get weekly check-ins to be held accountable.

Don’t go for those fad diets.

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Be good to yourself and your body. Make better food choices. We all have some kind of healthy food that we like. If you are trying to lose weight, let yourself enjoy the journey Find those foods that you already love that are good for you and your goal. Now, find ways to introduce more of that into your life. Those foods and replace the not-so-good foods to give you a better food option. Don’t go to the place of scarcity and famine. That won’t do you any good.

Light a candle to Saint Anthony, the Saint of Lost Causes.

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We have seen abuela and mami light candles to Saint Anthony so many times. At this point, he is legit a part of our family and there is a reason that he is so beloved in our homes. If you find yourself really struggling, go ahead and give this a trick. You might be surprised by the results of putting your faith in him.

Visualize the moment you are working towards.

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Take the time to see this through first. Don’t just jump into it without knowing where you are going. This will give you a roadmap that will lead you right to where you want to go. It is so important to visualize our goals if you want them to become realities.

READ: Reddit Users Are Sharing Their Craziest New Year’s Eve Stories And I Can’t Believe Some Of Them Didn’t Make The News

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This Digital Posada Is All About Helping The LGBTQ Migrant Community, Who Face A Uniquely Challenging Reality

Things That Matter

This Digital Posada Is All About Helping The LGBTQ Migrant Community, Who Face A Uniquely Challenging Reality

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

With homosexuality still illegal in more than 60 countries around the world and attitudes towards transgendered people often even less welcoming, it’s obvious why so many people risk their lives to migrate to the United States.

However, that journey to a better life is often one of many dangerous hurdles and often times, once swept up in immigration proceedings, things don’t get much better.

LGBTQ detainees across the country have shared harrowing experiences of being mocked or tortured for their gender identity or sexual orientation. Many others have been sexually assaulted while in ICE custody or while waiting for their asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border. And transgendered and HIV-positive detainees have both been denied medically necessary healthcare that has posed a risk to their lives.

LGBTQ migrants have the same issues and problems to worry about that all other migrants face, however, the LGBTQ experience comes with several extra hurdles.

LGBTQ migrants coming to the U.S. face unique challenges that often put them at increased risk of violence.

Credit: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

Like so many others, LGBTQ migrants are often fleeing violence and persecution in their native countries. But despite often fleeing sexual violence and trans- and homophobia, so many migrants are sexually assaulted while in U.S. custody.

While just 0.14 percent of ICE detainees self-identified as LGBTQ in 2017, they reportedly accounted for 12 percent of sexual abuse and assault victims.

Based on a new report from the Center for American Progress, a public policy research and advocacy organization, LGBTQ migrants in federal detention centers are 97 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other detainees.

Studies show LGBTQ migrants are among the most vulnerable, more likely to be assaulted and killed, especially trans migrants. Of Central American LGBTQ migrants interviewed by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in 2017, 88 percent were victims of sexual and gender-based violence in their countries of origin; two-thirds suffered similar attacks in Mexico.

Human rights group allege that ICE fails to provide proper medical care to LGBTQ migrants – particularly trans and HIV-positive detainees.

Migrant advocacy groups and several lawmakers have demanded that ICE release all LGBTQ detainees and anyone with HIV in the agency’s custody, because the government has repeatedly failed to provide adequate medical and mental health care to them.

“We know that lack of medical and mental-health care, including lack of HIV care, is the norm,” Roger Coggan, director of legal services at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “By the Department of Homeland Security’s own count, 300 individuals identifying as transgender have been in custody and at the mercy of ICE since October of 2018.

For detainees with HIV, antiretroviral treatment is necessary to help kill and suppress the virus which ensures a healthy life but also reduces the risk of transmission to basically zero. Yet ICE is failing to provide this life-saving care.

Johana Medina Leon, a transgender woman who was detained at Otero and had tested positive for HIV, fell seriously ill and died at a hospital in nearby El Paso. Leon, 25, was the second trans woman to die in ICE custody in New Mexico in the past year. Roxsana Hernandez, 33, died in November 2018 after falling ill at the Cibola County Correctional Facility.

Meanwhile, Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy is presenting additional challenges to the LGBTQ community.

Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

While the Trump administration has severely limited asylum qualifications for Central Americans fleeing gang violence and domestic abuse, migrants can still request asylum based on persecution because of their gender identity and/or their sexual orientation. But their path is far from easy.

The administration continues to return LGBTQ migrants to Mexican border cities where they face assaults, kidnappings and death while they await U.S. court hearings.

“Here, the same as at home, the police discriminate against us,” Alejandro Perez told NBC News in early October. “We’re very vulnerable. I don’t feel safe here in Mexico.”

Border Patrol officials initially said “vulnerable” asylum seekers would be exempted from the Remain in Mexico program, including those who are LGBTQ, pregnant or disabled. But that hasn’t been the case.

Thankfully, the LGBTQ Center Orange County is working hard to protect and help the most vulnerable.

Southern California is home to the nation’s largest undocumented community, which means organizations like the LGBTQ Center Orange County have their work cut out for them. However, the center has proudly stood up to help in powerful and life-changing ways.

The LGBTQ Center OC is one of the leading migrant outreach centers in the region, attending numerous events throughout the year and providing outreach at the Mexican consulate in Santa Ana – each year reaching more than 5,000 people. The center also played a pivotal role in ending the partnership of Santa Ana Police and the Orange County Sheriff with ICE, bringing an end to ICE detention within the county.

As those migrants were detained at facilities outside the county – sometimes more than two hours away – the center mobilized volunteers to help stay in touch with detainees. This team helps provide much needed companionship through letters and notes, as well as providing legal representation and even cash payments that help detainees get everything from a filling meal to in-person visits.

And the work the center does is so important because it shouldn’t just be on detainees to speak out. All of us as part of the LGBTQ and migrant communities should support those in detention and speak out about the injustices they’re suffering in detention.

The Center is hosting a digital posada and you’re invited!

We all know the tradition of a posada. So many of us grew up with a holiday season full of them and although this year will look very different (thanks to Covid-19), the LGBTQ Center OC wants to keep the tradition and celebration alive.

Posadas commemorate the journey of Mary and Joseph in search of a safe refuge, a sentiment that so many migrants and refugees in our communities can relate to. It’s with this spirit that the center is hosting it’s annual posada – but virtually.

The important event is free for all to attend but is a critical fundraising event that enables the center to do all that it does for the LGBTQ migrant community across Southern California. You can learn more and RSVP here but just know that it’s an event you do not want to miss.

Not only will you be able to virtually hang out with members of the community and leaders from the LGBTQ Center OC but there will also be a screening of the short documentary, Before & After Detention, a spirited round of lotería, raffle, and a live performance by the LGBTQ Mariachi Arcoíris de Los Angeles.

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