Things That Matter

#LoveWins for Harriet & Alley

Harriet and Alley planned their wedding date two weeks ago not knowing June 26th would become a historic day for the United States. They woke up on their wedding day to text messages breaking the news that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all 50 states must recognize and license same-sex marriages. Here’s their journey to the aisle …

Meet Harriet and Alley.

Courtesy of Alley and Harriet

Harriet Phillips-Woods (left), 24, and Alley Brito (right), 21 met online over four years ago.

They’ve been in a long-distance relationship for four years.

Courtesy of Alley and Harriet

And we don’t mean an-hour-away type of long distance. Harriet lived in London while Alley, a Cuban-American, was in L.A. Harriet says the most difficult part of their relationship was the huge time gap and of course, the normal ‘missing you’ cheesy stuff.

“The biggest struggle was timeframe being that the U.K. is eight hours ahead of the West Coast. It would be like 4 a.m. in the U.K. and Alley would be getting home from work. The time zones were really baffling and just the normal, cheesy missing each other and missing events – those were difficult, like birthdays and Christmas,” said Harriet.

READ: How Gay Marriage Broke the Internet

They did a lot of traveling between both countries.

Courtesy of Alley and Harriet

To be closer to Harriet, Alley studied abroad in the U.K. for six months. Then Harriet moved to the U.S. on a Visa.

“We visited back and fourth for a really long time, probably for about two and a half years. Alley came to the U.K. to stay for like six months and then it’s been back and fourth ever since then. I moved to the states last year,” said Harriet.

Finally, they decided to take the plunge.

Courtesy of Alley and Harriet

They decided to head down the aisle in mid-June this year.

“We’d been together for four years and we’d been thinking about it for a year – and [because] of logistics too, since I’m from the U.K. and Alley’s here [in the U.S.]. It just made sense to make it official so no one could deport me [laughs],” said Harriet.

Harriet has been in the U.S. just over a year on an F-1 student visa. Now that she is done with school and married a U.S. citizen, she’s begun processing her paperwork to become a U.S. resident.

Then they received MAJOR news the morning of their big day.

Courtesy of Alley and Harriet

After weeks of planning, they woke up to the news that their wedding day, Friday, June 26th had turned out to be…let’s just call it a “national holiday”… now that the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples can marry nationwide.

“It was literally one of the first things I saw. One of my buddies text me saying, ‘OMG you’re getting married AND the Supreme Court filed same sex marriage everywhere [in the U.S.]… I woke Alley up and was like ‘Ah, it’s a big day! They passed it everywhere, what a coincidence! What a good day. It makes me very happy that our day means something else as well,” said Harriet.

“Harriet woke me up this morning and was like, ‘OMG, the news broke that the Supreme Court passed the bill that same-sex marriage is legal across all states.’ It was really exciting and nice to know that because I’ve heard a lot of stories from other people that have had to leave their home state to get married. It’s a feeling of joy that other people are allowed to get married in their home state and be free to do that without any hassle,” said Alley.

Basically, they’re going down in history.

Credit: mitú

To add to their good news, they were the first same-sex couple their commissioner at the Beverly Hills courthouse married today. He was VERY excited.

“The commissioner was very nice. He kept saying that he was hoping he would get one same-sex couple today – and we were the first of the day! I was joking with Harriet saying that they were going to put us in textbooks” said Alley.

How are the newlyweds celebrating?

Credit: mitú

“My family booked us a night in a hotel with dinner and a ‘surprise,’ so we don’t know too much about it. But first, brunch and strong margaritas!” said Harriet.

Do you know any great love stories like this one? mitú wants to know.  Leave a comment below.

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Gay Men Took Over #ProudBoys On Twitter And The Results Are Exactly What We Needed Right Now

Things That Matter

Gay Men Took Over #ProudBoys On Twitter And The Results Are Exactly What We Needed Right Now

@CarlosGSmith / Twitter

Although social media is so often ridiculed for being filled with self-obsessed, attention-seeking content, for the past few days its been filled with messages of love and compassion.

Over the weekend, the words Proud Boys took on a whole new meaning as gay men flooded Twitter with messages of love and acceptance using the hashtag #ProudBoys.

This has caused two very different groups of men to face off on the same hashtag: the far-right cadre known as the Proud Boys—and the thousands of gay Twitter users who flooded that platform with pro-LGBT images, marking those posts with #proudboys. 

Tens of thousands of gay men have taken over the #ProudBoys on Twitter and the actual Proud Boys are pissed.

#ProudBoys, which members of the hateful, far-right group have been using, was trending over the weekend after tens of thousands of gay men on Twitter hijacked it and flooded the feed with photos of their loved ones and families and with memes.

The celebration of LGBTQ pride was a clear attempt to drown out voices of the far-right group with the same name, which made headlines after getting mentioned by President Trump during last week’s first presidential debate.  

“Let’s replace the hashtag with images of love, positivity and true PRIDE,” tweeted Carlos G. Smith, an openly gay member of Florida’s House of Representatives. 

Many tweets attached to the trending hashtag showed photos of couples who had been together years or decades — at their weddings, posing with their children, marching in pride parades or just looking happily in love.

At least one of the many tweets from gay men using the #ProudBoys hashtag referenced Trump’s debate words. “We will never stand back and stand by! Together for 25 years with two amazing children,” Dan Ort-Patrick wrote

It seems that we can thank actor George Takei for the brilliant takeover idea!

The hashtag takeover appears to have originated with Star Trek star George Takei, who wondered aloud Thursday what would happen if gay men tagged themselves as #ProudBoys on social media. 

“What if gay guys took pictures of themselves making out with each other or doing very gay things, then tagged themselves with #ProudBoys? I bet it would mess them up real bad,” Takei tweeted.

The Proud Boys – a racist, hate group – began trending last week after Trump refused to denounce their actions and beliefs.

The Proud Boys group entered the mainstream conversation last week after Donald Trump seemed to call them to action at the first presidential debate. During an exchange between Trump and moderator Chris Wallace about white supremacists, Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

Following the debate, members of the group celebrated Trump’s reaction, using “stand back” and “stand by” in their logo and posting videos from the debate with the caption “God. Family. Brotherhood.”

The Proud Boys referenced in the debate are “self-described ‘western chauvinists’ who adamantly deny any connection to the racist ‘alt-right,’ insisting they are simply a fraternal group spreading an ‘anti-political correctness’ and ‘anti-white guilt’ agenda,” according to civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center. The SLPC maintains, however, that the group, founded in 2016, affiliates with extremists and is known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.  

All sorts of people showed their support – even the Canadian Armed Forces.

The official Twitter account of the Canadian Armed Forces in the United States took part, too, tweeting a picture of two men kissing—one a corporal named Brent Kenny—with #proudboys.

“Love is love,” the group wrote in a reply tweet. (It was perhaps not a surprising piece of activism from an institution that describes itself in its Twitter bio as: “Nice people. Maple syrup.”)

The Canadian Navy’s Twitter account later retweeted the image, as did the account for the ship that Kenny sailed on, the Winnipeg.

Couples from around the world got in on the viral hashtag to help spread love, not hate.

So many couples shared their wedding photos, images of their families, pictures from their first date, and so much more – to help deliver a takeover of a hashtag so often used to spread hate.

Gay men shared their pride in themselves, their community, and in their love.

But back on Twitter, it was all love and rainbows, with Takei expressing gratitude for the enthusiastic response to his idea.  

“Brad and I are #ProudBoys, legally married for 12 years now,” he tweeted Sunday along with a photo of him and his partner. “And we’re proud of all of the gay folks who have stepped up to reclaim our pride in this campaign. Our community and allies answered hate with love, and what could be better than that.”

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Hallmark Pulled Four Ads That They ‘Deemed Controversial’ After ‘One Million Moms’ Had A Fit Over A Lesbian Kiss


Hallmark Pulled Four Ads That They ‘Deemed Controversial’ After ‘One Million Moms’ Had A Fit Over A Lesbian Kiss

Zola / Youtube

Although the Hallmark Channel is technically an apolitical brand, it has a reputation for representing “traditional” (read: stereotypical, nuclear, cookie-cutter) family values. For this reason, it’s become wildly popular over the years with politically conservative viewers in suburban and rural parts of the US and Canada—in fact, most Hallmark movies are actually filmed in Canada and feature Canadian talent.  So, it may not come as a surprise that the network pulled four ads that they had “deemed controversial” from circulation last week. What was so controversial, you may ask?

The commercials were for Zola, a wedding planning site that helps couples organize their big day. Originally, Hallmark was set to run six Zola ads, all of which featured different couples celebrating their wedding day. The primary focus of the ads landed on one lesbian couple, while a few heterosexual pairs occupied the periphery. In some of the ads, the couples share a meaningful kiss . . . you know, like they would at an actual wedding.

But One Million Moms, a branch of the conservative American Family Association, started a petition that urged Hallmark to “please reconsider airing commercials with same-sex couples.” And they did.

The mission of the American Family Association is to “fight against indecency,” and according to their website, nearly 25,000 people had signed their petition within just a few days of its publication.

When Zola was notified that four of their six ads would be pulled, an ad buyer representing the company asked for an explanation.

“We are not allowed to accept creatives that are deemed controversial,” a Hallmark account representative responded. He added, “The decision not to air overt public displays of affection in our sponsored advertisement, regardless of the participants, is in line with our current policy, which includes not featuring political advertisements, offensive language, R-rated movie content and many other categories.”

But Zola had previously advertised on Hallmark without any problems, and Mike Chi, the chief marketing officer of Zola, didn’t buy this explanation. He expressed frustration with the network, asserting that Zola would cancel its partnership with Hallmark.

“The only difference between the commercials that were flagged and the ones that were approved was that the commercials that did not meet Hallmark’s standards included a lesbian couple kissing,” he said. “Hallmark approved a commercial where a heterosexual couple kissed. All kisses, couples and marriages are equal celebrations of love and we will no longer be advertising on Hallmark.”

The internet was also not pleased with Hallmark’s behavior. On Sunday, the hashtags #boycotthallmark and #BoycottHallmarkChannel were trending on Twitter, with more than 8,000 adamant tweets from LGBT families and allies—many of whom also identified as Hallmark viewers.

But after facing days of backlash for their decision not to air Zola’s ads, Hallmark has apologized—and the responses to their apology are also pretty polarized.

In an early statement, Molly Biwer, senior vice president for public affairs and communications at Hallmark, said that “the debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of [the] network, which is to provide entertainment value.” However, Mike Perry, the president and chief executive of Hallmark Cards, offered a more direct and compassionate follow-up.

“Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives,” he said. “Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”

Hallmark even insisted that it would work with GLAAD, a national LGBTQ media advocacy organization, “to better represent the LGBTQ community across [their] portfolio of brands.”

But as the controversy initially unfolded, GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis issued a statement that read, “The Hallmark Channel’s decision to remove LGBTQ families in such a blatant way is discriminatory and especially hypocritical coming from a network that claims to present family programming and also recently stated they are ‘open’ to LGBTQ holiday movies.” In spite of this assessment, Hallmark has reiterated its focus on learning how to better advocate for diversity in collaboration with GLAAD.

Hallmark also claimed that it plans on contacting Zola to “re-establish [their] partnership and reinstate the commercials.”

But before that happens, Chi said that he first needs to “understand concrete actions they are going to take.” A Zola representative confirmed that Hallmark has reached out to Zola to begin a conversation.

While many folks are praising Hallmark’s apology and attempts to mend the situation, Monica Cole, the director of One Million Moms, critiqued the network’s change of heart. “One Million Moms is extremely disappointed that the Hallmark Channel caved under pressure,” she said in a statement Monday. “This is an enormous mistake that will cause a majority of its viewership to turn the channel.”

Well, Monica, if progress means losing a few viewers, those viewers should probably get ready to just turn their TVs off.

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