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Best LGBT TV shows you have to see in 2020

Here, we’ve selected some titles will be essential viewing over the months ahead.

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Image from "AJ and the Queen", courtesy of Netflix

2019 was something of a watershed year for LGBTQ representation on the small screen. GLAAD’s latest Where Are We on TV report indicated that there were more non-straight characters on TV last year than ever before, and that some of the best shows with mainstream appeal had an LGBTQ focus. These included titles like Pose, Fleabag and Watchmen. 

So it looks like 2020 has a hard act to follow. Here, we’ve selected some titles will be essential viewing over the months ahead. 

Love Island
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Love Island has become something of an institution among all ages, sexes and sexualities, to the extent that you can even bet on the Love Island winner using online bookmakers. However, the show has come under fire for failing to reflect the real world with its blinkered focus on heterosexual dating. Of course, this is a show that has been franchised across the world, and you can rely on Australia to take any challenge by the horns. Love Island Australia has been the first to introduce same-sex couples, and the rest of the franchise will surely have to follow suit. 

Boys
It’s not all fluff and fun in the sun. This drama series is from the pen of Russel T Davies, the man who brought BBC classic Doctor Who back to our screens and then broke down the boundaries with the amazing series Queer as Folk. In Boys, he tackles the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s through the eyes of three young gay men living in the UK. The production values are everything you would expect from a Channel 4 production, and the cast includes Keeley Hawes, Stephen Fry and Neil Patrick Harris. 

Hollywood
Ryan Murphy has done more to bring LGBT into the Tinseltown mainstream than anyone He’s the man behind Glee, Scream Queens, Pose and lots more. His 2020 project is set in Hollywood’s golden age, and while full most of the details are still under wraps, we know that it will feature Jake Picking in the role of Rock Hudson, a Hollywood legend forced to spend most of his career in the closet. 

I am Not Okay with This
Graphic novels are turning into a rich source of material for TV in the Netflix and Amazon era. First we had The Walking Dead, but there are no zombies here. Directed by Jonathan Entwhistle, he of The End of the F****** World fame, I Am Not Okay With This is a parable for our times. It features Syd, a teen struggling to come to terms with her sexuality, her relationship with her best friend and an irritating outbreak of superpowers. 

The Barking Murders
True crime more your thing? If so, this compelling BBC docu-drama surrounding the crimes of Stephen Port is something you mustn’t miss. In case you missed the original story, Port was a serial killer and rapist who caused panic in London’s gay community about five years ago, selecting his victims on Grindr before meeting them under a false name and committing grisly crimes in his East London apartment. The more sensational aspects of Port’s crimes have already been discussed at length in other series. This one focuses on the effects he had on those additional victims who so often go unnoticed, the families of those that he murdered.  

Katy Keene
True crime stories make for compelling TV, but sometimes you want to watch something that lets you just kick back, switch your brain off and be entertained. If you loved Glee back in the days when it was all about the fun and high jinks, then Katy Keene could be just what you’ve been waiting for. The series follows the eponymous Katy, an aspiring graphic designer, along with her three best friends, including Ginger, a would-be drag queen played by Jonny Beauchamp. The show also features Shangela from Drag Race as Ginger’s nemesis.

The Stand
Stephen King adaptations haven’t traditionally set the world on fire with their representation of LGBT characters. However, the forthcoming adaptation of his apocalyptic epic might just change that, with a crucial update to one of the book’s core characters. Danya Jurgens is set to play a young bisexual who is one of a handful of survivors in an earth decimated by plague. Look out for it on CBS later this year. 

Love, Simon
Disney has taken an interesting journey of its own, from being something of a conservative bastion of mid-20th century attitudes to taking positive steps in featuring LGBT characters in its most recent original series. Love, Simon is a TV spin-off of the 2018 movie of the same name, and will again feature Nick Robinson as Simon. Watch out for Michael Cimino playing the role of Victor, a newcomer at Simon’s school who is struggling to understand his own sexuality. Who better to reach out to for some help and advice than Simon? 

Y: The Last Man
Here’s another comic book adaptation that has been in the pipeline for so long, we wondered if it would ever see the light of day. The story revolves around a world in which there is only one man left alive on the planet. The original comic came out around 20 years ago, and prompted some accusations of being transphobic. Interestingly, transgender author Charlie Jane Anders has been hired to write for the series. It will be fabulous to find out what they have done with this incredible source material when it is released later this year. 

AJ and the Queen
If you loved RuPaul on Drag Race then you’ll have the time of your life with the LGBT legend’s latest production. She plays a drag queen who’s down on her luck and touring the less salubrious corners of the USA, accompanied by her worldly-wise 11-year-old traveling companion, AJ. Josh Segarra plays Mama Ru’s love interest, and the series has just been released on Netflix, so you can start bingeing right now.

Lifestyle & Culture

Fan of fitness? Four unique ways to get in shape

One of the biggest reasons people don’t exercise regularly is because they get bored with their routines. So, it’s important to switch up your fitness efforts frequently. There are so many different ways to stay active, you just may not think of them.

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Regular exercise is important for everyone. Unfortunately, less than 5% of adults in the US get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise they should each day. 

We probably don’t have to tell you about the extensive benefits of regular exercise. Most people already know it’s great for managing your weight, warding off certain illnesses, and even helping to boost your immune system. It can also improve your mental health by reducing stress and feelings of anxiety

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One of the biggest reasons people don’t exercise regularly is because they get bored with their routines. So, it’s important to switch up your fitness efforts frequently. There are so many different ways to stay active, you just may not think of them.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at four unique ways you can work out on a regular basis without getting bored. 

1. Zumba

Are you a fan of dancing? Zumba has been around for quite some time, but many people still swear by it thanks to its fast-paced aerobic burn. Zumba combines elements of salsa and merengue dancing with upbeat music for a high-energy workout that is much more fun than running on a treadmill!

Plus, because most Zumba classes have several people, you’ll have fun dancing with others and encouraging each other along the way. 

2. Hula Hoop

If you ever had a hula hoop when you were a kid, you probably didn’t realize that it was a great form of exercise!

Hula hooping focuses on core strength and balance, and it can also strengthen your lower back. You can do it on your own, or even in a class setting. For an extra calorie burn, try using a weighted hoop. 

3. Jiu Jitsu

Some people think karate is too fast-paced or advanced for them, so they don’t give it a try. If that sounds like you, perhaps you would prefer jiu jitsu. It’s a martial arts sport that focuses on grappling and submission holds. 

While much of what you do will be on the ground with your opponent, it uses nearly every muscle in your body. It might not seem like you’re doing much at the time, but when you wake up in the morning and your whole body is sore, you’ll know how great of a workout jiu jitsu can be! 

You may need to purchase some special equipment to get started, like a Gi. You can find a wide selection at https://www.sportzbits.com/best-bjj-gi/.

4. Jumping Rope

Another activity from your childhood, jumping rope, can burn up to 200 calories every fifteen minutes. It’s a great aerobic exercise that can cause you to break a sweat quickly. Plus, because jump ropes are lightweight and easy to travel with, jumping rope is a workout you can do just about anywhere, at any time. 

These are just a sampling of different ways to stay active that won’t leave you feeling bored. Don’t be afraid to step out of your exercise comfort zone to try something new. You’ll be glad you did.

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Health & Wellness

Gender harassment and institutional betrayal in high school take toll on mental health

97% of women and 96% of men from a pool of 535 undergraduate college students had endured at least one instance of gender harassment during high school. Experiences of gender harassment, especially for those who encountered it repeatedly, were associated with clinically relevant levels of trauma-related symptoms in college.

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High school students who endure gender harassment in schools that don’t respond well enter college and adulthood with potential mental health challenges, according to a University of Oregon study.

The study, published last month in PLOS ONE, found that 97% of women and 96% of men from a pool of 535 undergraduate college students had endured at least one instance of gender harassment during high school.

Experiences of gender harassment, especially for those who encountered it repeatedly, were associated with clinically relevant levels of trauma-related symptoms in college.

“We found that the more gender harassment and institutional betrayal teens encounter in high school, the more mental, physical and emotional challenges they experience in college,” said lead author Monika N. Lind, a UO psychology doctoral student. “Our findings suggest that gender harassment and institutional betrayal may hurt young people, and educators and researchers should pay more attention to these issues.”

The study, the three-member UO team noted, served to launch academic research into the responses of high schools to gender harassment, beyond media reports of institutional betrayal by schools since the #MeToo movement began.

Gender harassment, a type of sexual harassment, is characterized by sexist remarks, sexually crude or offensive behavior and the enforcement of traditional gender roles.

Institutional betrayal, a label coined previously by the study’s co-author UO psychologist Jennifer Freyd, is the failure of an institution, such as a school, to protect people who depend on it. A high school mishandling a case of gender harassment reported by a student is an example of institutional betrayal.

“The more gender harassment and institutional betrayal teens encounter in high school, the more mental, physical and emotional challenges they experience in college,” said lead author Monika N. Lind.

Participants included 363 females, 168 males, three non-binary and one who did not report gender; they were initially not aware of the study’s focus.

They completed a 20-item gender harassment questionnaire about their high school experiences and a 12-item questionnaire about their schools’ actions or inactions. Trauma symptoms were assessed with a 40-item checklist that explores common posttraumatic symptoms such as headaches, memory problems, anxiety attacks, nightmares, sexual problems and insomnia.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Unsplash.com

An analysis that considered gender, race, age, gender harassment, institutional betrayal, and the interaction of gender harassment and institutional betrayal significantly predicted trauma-related symptoms, but, Lind said, a subtle surprise emerged.

“We expected to find an interaction effect showing that the relationship between gender harassment and trauma-related symptoms depends on institutional betrayal, such that people who experience high gender harassment have different levels of symptoms depending on how much institutional betrayal they experience,” she said. “Instead we found that gender harassment and institutional betrayal are independently related to trauma-related symptoms.”

That issue, Lind said, needs to be further explored. It’s possible, she said, that the pool of students wasn’t large enough or that the measures used were not robust enough. Another factor may be that the study focused more on institutional betrayal than impacts of institutional courage.

“This is like measuring mood and only letting respondents report negative to neutral mood – you’re missing a bunch of variability that might be captured if you extended the scale to go from negative to positive,” she said. “Expanding the scale to capture institutional courage might increase the likelihood of identifying a meaningful interaction.”

Experiences of gender harassment, especially for those who encountered it repeatedly, were associated with clinically relevant levels of trauma-related symptoms in college.

How schools might respond to the issues identified in the study should begin with listening to students, Lind said. Asking about problems and listening to responses is an example of institutional courage. Interventions that do not do so often fail.

“Schools should engage in self-study, including interviews, focus groups and anonymous surveys of students, and they should take students’ reports and suggestions seriously,” Lind said. “When you’re trying to intervene in adolescence, you’ll do better if you demonstrate respect for teens’ autonomy and social status.”

Researchers have not focused on such issues in high schools, where students are emerging into early adulthood from the physical, neurological and psychological changes occurring in adolescence, said Freyd, a pioneer in academic research on issues of sexual harassment, institutional betrayal and institutional courage.

“Until now, all of the education-focused institutional betrayal research has considered the experiences of undergraduate and graduate-level college students, as well as those of faculty members,” she said. “There also has been work on these issues in the military and workplaces, but we don’t know a lot about gender harassment or institutional betrayal in adolescence.”

UO doctoral student Alexis A. Adams-Clark, a member of Freyd’s lab, was the study’s third co-author.

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Health & Wellness

There are two sides to every story

In the Philippines, one in five people suffers from mental health problems. Between 17% and 20% of Filipino adults experience psychiatric disorders, while 10% to 15% of Filipino children suffer from mental health problems. But addressing mental health is not yet among the priorities in the country.

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It all happened one busy Monday, in between unfinished deadlines and piling up of workload. The conversation suddenly ended, and it left him dumfounded. He kept looking for answers why it happened. He questioned himself; reviewed all his replies. Everything seemed okay.

His name is Andy. He considers himself as an introvert. There may be times when he can be talkative, but “that is different; I am not face-to-face with the person.”

Sometimes, people call him a “player,” claiming that he just wants to hook them into his “game”.

What not everyone knows is that whenever he starts to be close to someone, he (un)consciously builds walls around him, preventing anyone to get through particularly when he feels there is an attempt to make a deeper connection.

Andy said his intentions are always good. But most of the time, “I am read wrong and taken negatively.”

And every time that kind of thing happens, it just contributes to the sound he has been hearing in his head.

Running away

Sometimes it takes on the form of fear… fear of the current situation or the unknown. There are times when it invades his dreams, waking him up in the middle of the night with either a bad headache or heavy breathing. It is usually mistaken as stress.

A glass of warm milk or chilled rosé, a dosage of paracetamol or Valium, counting backwards from 100 while listening to calming music – any of these usually help, but only temporary.

“I found out a few years back that I am dealing with emotional and psychological trauma. I never knew I had one,” Andy said.

A type of mental health condition, trauma is a response to a stressful event. This is usually triggered by a terrifying situation, either experiencing or witnessing it firsthand.

Edgewood Health Network Canada listed down some of the most common symptoms of psychological trauma, i.e.:

  1. Disruptive recollections of the trauma, including flashbacks
  2. Emotional and physical reactions in response to reminders
  3. Negative beliefs about oneself or others
  4. Inability to feel close to others
  5. Being easily startled
  6. Dissociation
  7. Emotional numbness
  8. Inability to remember aspects of, or all of the traumatic event
  9. Avoidance of anything that reminds one of the trauma
  10. Hypervigilance (Always being alert, scanning and assessing for threat)
  11. Difficulty concentrating and focusing on reality
  12. Inability to fall asleep or to remain asleep, frequent and frightening nightmares

“When I am interested with someone, to either date that person or befriend him, after a few days, all of a sudden I will shut down,” Andy said. “There are even times when I would literally run away towards the other direction.”

Studies show that trauma also causes anxiety. When there are frequent occurrence of situations related to what caused the trauma or constant exposure to trigger points – confusion and overwhelming emotional and psychological pain will set in – and these translate into anxiety.

In the Philippines, one in five people suffers from mental health problems. Between 17% and 20% of Filipino adults experience psychiatric disorders, while 10% to 15% of Filipino children suffer from mental health problems.

Dealing with trauma

“Sometimes it is better to be alone because you do not need to explain yourself or adjust to them,” Andy said.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are three common ways to cope with trauma:

  1. Avoiding alcohol and other drugs
  2. Spending time with loved ones and trusted friends who are supportive
  3. Trying to maintain normal routines for meals, exercise and sleep

How long will it last? Unfortunately, there is no way to find out since it is not possible to expedite the healing process of trauma. But the intensity of emotional and psychological pain reduces with time.

“I create distractions whenever I feel I am placed inside a box,” Andy said. “Just recently, when I did something like that, the person suddenly disappeared. I was left hanging, I felt like I was all alone.”

Distractions are created by anyone to give themselves breathing space, a moment to take a step back and look at the big picture.

Knowing the other side of the story

Before dismissing someone who seems “different” in terms of how he/she deals with situations, it is better to look a little longer first.

Here are few ways you can help someone who has experienced trauma, as listed by HuffPost:

  1. Realize that trauma can resurface again and again
  2. Know that little gestures go a long way
  3. Reach out on social media
  4. Ask before you hug someone
  5. Do not blame the victim
  6. Help them relax
  7. Suggest a support group
  8. Give them space
  9. Educate yourself
  10. Do not force them to talk about it
  11. Be patient
  12. Accompany them to the scene of the “crime”
  13. Watch out for warning signs

Keep in mind that it is not your experience/story that you can freely make judgements on, else “attack” it after feeling sour.

Photo by Ian Espinosa from Unsplash.com

“Some five years ago everything fell apart with my life, in my career and health, my partner at that time chose to fool around and left me alone. It was shit. My friends told me that I was broken for four years,” Andy recalled.

That moment did not leave his mind until now. And it affected his trust issues with anything and everything.

A 2016 report by MIMS Today noted that in the Philippines, one in five people suffers from mental health problems. Between 17% and 20% of Filipino adults experience psychiatric disorders, while 10% to 15% of Filipino children suffer from mental health problems.

Unfortunately, it seems like addressing mental health is not yet among the priorities in the Philippines.

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Health & Wellness

LBG individuals use stimulants at higher rates than heterosexuals

Higher drug use among LGB individuals is likely a result of minority stress – that is, the fact that exposure to stigma and discrimination based on sexual orientation results in health disparities. Structural stigma (e.g. employment or housing discrimination) drives psychological and physical health morbidities among LGB populations, and perceived stigma is associated with cocaine use.

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Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) individuals report higher rates of medical, non-medical, and illegal stimulant use compared to heterosexuals, mirroring patterns seen in other substance use.

The study by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health researchers provides the most detailed picture to date on stimulant use by LGB subgroups and gender. Findings are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The researchers analyzed data from the 2015-2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health to examine associations between sexual identity and past-year use of medical and non-medical stimulants (i.e., Adderall, Ritalin) and illegal stimulants (i.e. cocaine, crack, methamphetamine). They found that bisexual women’s illegal stimulant use in the past year was fivefold that of heterosexual women (7.8% vs. 1.5%), while gay men’s use was threefold that of heterosexual men (9.2% vs. 3.2%).

Non-medical use of prescription stimulants was higher among gay and bisexual men than heterosexual men (5.4% and 6.6% vs. 2.4%) and among gay/lesbian and bisexual women versus heterosexual women (3.3% and 6.8% vs. 1.6%). Past-year medical use of prescription stimulants was higher among gay men than heterosexual men (6.6% vs. 4.1%) and bisexual women than heterosexual women (7.9% vs. 4.9%). There were no differences between bisexual men and women compared to their gay/lesbian counterparts.

Potential consequences of stimulant include substance use disorder and overdose, particularly given increases in fentanyl contamination in illegally produced pills and cocaine and methamphetamine. As many as half of LGB individuals who reported nonmedical and illegal stimulant use also reported nonmedical prescription opioid use.

“This study highlights the need for future interventions to target stimulant use among LGB populations, with a particular focus on harm reduction approaches,” says first author Morgan Philbin, PhD, assistant professor of sociomedical sciences. “The findings have important implications across sexual identities, and demonstrate the need to disaggregate stimulant use by subgroup and gender, particularly related to polysubstance use.”

Higher drug use among LGB individuals is likely a result of minority stress – that is, the fact that exposure to stigma and discrimination based on sexual orientation results in health disparities. Structural stigma (e.g. employment or housing discrimination) drives psychological and physical health morbidities among LGB populations, and perceived stigma is associated with cocaine use.

Bisexuals can also experience “double discrimination” from heterosexuals and lesbian and gay communities, which the researchers say may account for the particularly high substance use among bisexual individuals.

The paper outlines several avenues to address stimulant use, including by educating healthcare providers who focus on LGB communities to screen for and discuss substance use, including stimulants. Communities and providers can also scale-up access to medication disposal and harm reduction services.

The researchers note that their dataset started assessing sexual identity among adults in 2015, so these relationships could not be examined in earlier years or among adolescents. The options for gender included only “male” or “female” and thus did not allow researchers to differentiate between transgender and cis-gender individuals. The dataset does not assess sexual behavior, so this study only captured associations based on individuals’ sexual identity.

Authors include Morgan M. Philbin, Emily R. Greene, Silvia S. Martins, and Pia M. Mauro of the Columbia Mailman School; and Natalie LaBossier of Boston University School of Medicine.

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Lifestyle & Culture

Why you should see redundancy as an opportunity

If you are concerned about the stability of your job, take a look at why you should see redundancy as an opportunity.

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If you are facing the prospect of losing your job, it can feel personal and the feelings of nervousness about where you will get your next paycheck will soon set in. While redundancy is a traumatic experience for most people, you shouldn’t assume that it will make your life change for the worse. Following your career path religiously, you may think that redundancy will put a halt to your promotion prospects. However, work through the obstacle of redundancy and you can show any potential new employer just how resilient you are.

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If you are concerned about the stability of your job, take a look at why you should see redundancy as an opportunity.

Retraining

If you have recently been made redundant, you might be online every minute of every day looking for potential new roles. Don’t just scattergun a range of jobs and instead take a step back to upskill or retrain. If you have some savings in the bank, think about investing some of this cash on yourself by heading to a university like Suffolk Online to undertake an MBA. By honing your business administration skills, you can re-enter the job market as a more attractive candidate than your competitors. 

If you would rather reassess your career options, you could embark on a change in professional direction. Retraining is not out of the question. Take a look where there are job shortages and retrain as an electrician, an educator, or a plumber. This may be vastly different to your high flying managerial position, but it could give you more job satisfaction.

Travel

Redundancy can come as a shock and you may not be ready to re-enter the job market straight away. If you want to take a sabbatical and make good use of your time, think about traveling. Traveling overseas and going on a self-funded adventure can be massive amounts of fun and can give you the opportunity to see the world. While your career is important to you, so is your ability to enjoy the world around you. Travel, see new vistas, immerse yourself in new cultures, and figure out what it is that you really want to do. You may find yourself finding work as you travel and you may fall in love with a region that you later go on to settle in.

Start Your Own Business

If you want to leave the rat race, redundancy could give you the perfect opportunity to start your own business. You may have had the amoeba of an idea for a decade or more. Now may be the perfect time to morph this dream into a reality. Think about creating a business plan, sourcing funding, and launching your money making venture. You may want to use your contacts and network within the industry you already have experience with. Alternatively, you may want to change direction and follow a passion for ultimate job fulfilment.

You don’t have to assume that redundancy is the death knoll for your career. Follow this guide and view redundancy as the ultimate professional opportunity.

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Health & Wellness

Sexual minority men who smoke report worse mental health, more frequent substance use

LGBTQ+ people are more likely to smoke than their cisgender and heterosexual peers to cope with an anti-LGBTQ+ society, inadequate health care access and decades of targeted tobacco marketing. Those social stressors drive the health disparities they face, which are compounded by a lack of LGBTQ-affirming healthcare providers, research shows.

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Cigarette smoking is associated with frequent substance use and poor behavioral and physical health in sexual and gender minority populations, according to Rutgers researchers.

The study, published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine, examined tobacco use by sexual minority men and transgender women to better understand the relationships between smoking, substance use and mental, psychosocial and general health.

The researchers, who are part of the Rutgers School of Public Health’s Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies, surveyed 665 racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sexual minority men and transgender women, 70 percent of whom reported smoking cigarettes.

They found that smoking was associated with participants’ race/ethnicity, marijuana and alcohol use and mental health. Current smokers were more likely to be white and reported more days of marijuana use in the past month. The study also found that current smoking was associated with more severe anxiety symptoms and more frequent alcohol use.

“Evidence also tells us that smoking is associated with worse mental health and increased substance use, but we don’t know how these conditions are related to each other, exacerbating and mutually reinforcing their effects,” said Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health and the study’s senior author.

LGBTQ+ people are more likely to smoke than their cisgender and heterosexual peers to cope with an anti-LGBTQ+ society, inadequate health care access and decades of targeted tobacco marketing. Those social stressors drive the health disparities they face, which are compounded by a lack of LGBTQ-affirming healthcare providers, research shows.

“Our findings underscore the importance of holistic approaches to tobacco treatment that account for psychosocial drivers of substance use and that address the complex relationships between mental health and use of substances like alcohol, tobacco and marijuana,” said Caleb LoSchiavo, a doctoral student at the Rutgers School of Public Health and the study’s first author.

The study recommends further research examining the social determinants of disparities in substance use among marginalized populations and how interpersonal and systemic stressors contribute to poorer physical and mental health for minority populations.

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