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Is Lara Croft an LGBTQ+ icon?

Lara Croft paved the way for female representation in action games and movies, and in doing so created an icon and ally for the LGBTQ+ community. While her tomb raiding days are still ongoing, the wealth of other games means that so many more people can find characters that resonate with who they are.

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Screencap from "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" (2001)

Lara Croft is one of the most recognizable and popular characters to ever be created. Whether fans know her from the classic PlayStation games, from the Angelina Jolie films, or even from the remake with Alicia Vikander, Lara Croft is an icon. While female gamers are more aplenty today, back in the early days of gaming, every corner was nearly entirely male-dominated. So Lara Croft was created to appeal to every gamer. As such, she fell between the two demographics and became a broad church to many, but a very niche fandom for some.

While the tomb raiding heroine offers some much-needed female representation in the action genre, is she also an LGBTQ+ icon?

Who becomes and who doesn’t become a queer icon is unpredictable, but since her debut in 1996, Lara Croft has proven she has the mettle to do more than just raid tombs. Action games are coded with high masculinity, so offering a female counterpart helps to take some of the testosterone out of the equation and offer a different kind of character. It has been well documented that LGBTQ+ identifying people are more likely to choose the female character in games – from Princess Peach to Coco Bandicoot and Eevee.

Women in games are often underappreciated, which helps the LGBTQ+ community identify with them. The disregarding of traditional femininity to be an adventurer also bridges the gap towards androgyny. Lara Croft eschews what is expected of her to do what she really wants to do – a trait that is both admirable and holds a deeper meaning for a lot of LGBTQ+ members of society.

But, while there has been wider representation as of late and a more welcoming eye on all communities since 1996, Lara Croft and the strength she embodies still pervades in all forms of gaming today. As the Lara Croft Tomb Raider slot game at LeoVegas Casino shows, that utilises popular themes, artwork, and motifs from the franchise, the theme is still a popular one, still succeeding in offering something different for players. The fact that so long after her debut, and with so many more options available, Lara Croft is still the go-to franchise for many people, helps to prove her appeal.

While some of the marketing may look at Lara Croft through a male lens and focus on her physicality, for queer people, the adventurous nature that contrasts with this image helped cement her as a heroine. The 2013 reboot, written by Rhianna Pratchett, strands Lara on an island with nobody else except Samantha. Her mission becomes to keep Samantha safe and illustrates the true power in their sisterhood.

Lara Croft paved the way for female representation in action games and movies, and in doing so created an icon and ally for the LGBTQ+ community. While her tomb raiding days are still ongoing, the wealth of other games means that so many more people can find characters that resonate with who they are. There wouldn’t be as much representation across gaming had it not being for Lara Croft and the temples she raided, and the doors she unlocked.

Health & Wellness

Loneliness in youth could impact mental health over the long term

Loneliness is associated with mental health problems, including depression and anxiety-potentially affecting them years later.

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Photo by Cristian Palmer from Unsplash.com

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated widespread social isolation, affecting all ages of global society. A new rapid review in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), published by Elsevier, reports on the available evidence about children and young people specifically, stating that loneliness is associated with mental health problems, including depression and anxiety-potentially affecting them years later.

The review, which synthesizes over 60 pre-existing, peer-reviewed studies on topics spanning isolation, loneliness and mental health for young people aged between 4 and 21 years of age, found extensive evidence of an association between loneliness and an increased risk of mental health problems for children and young people.

“As school closures continue, indoor play facilities remain closed and at best, young people can meet outdoors in small groups only, chances are that many are lonely (and continue to be so over time),” said lead author, Maria Loades, DClinPsy, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of Bath, UK.

“This rapid review of what is known about loneliness and its impact on mental health in children and young people found that loneliness is associated with both depression and anxiety. This occurs when studies measured both loneliness and mental health at the same point in time; when loneliness was measured separately; and when depression and anxiety were measured subsequently, up to 9 years later,” Dr. Loades added. “Of relevance to the COVID-19 context, we found some evidence that it is the duration of loneliness that is more strongly associated with later mental health problems.”

From the selected studies there was evidence that children and young people who are lonely might be as much as three times more likely to develop depression in the future, and that the impact of loneliness on mental health outcomes like depressive symptoms could last for years. There was also evidence that the duration of loneliness may be more important, than the intensity of loneliness, in increasing the risk of future depression among young people.

For many young people, loneliness will decrease as they re-establish social contacts and connections as lockdown eases (e.g., as they return to school or college). For some a sense of loneliness may persist as they struggle to resume social life, particularly for those who were more vulnerable to being socially isolated before lockdown.

“It’s key that children and young people are allowed to return to activities such as playing together, even if outdoors, as soon as possible, and that they are able to resume attending school, which gives them a structure for their day, and provides them with opportunities to see peers and to get support from adults outside of the nuclear family,” said Dr. Loades. Furthermore, she added “children need more in their strategy for easing lockdown. Alongside this, the government could target children’s wellbeing in public health messaging. And meanwhile, we should also continue to embrace technology as a way to keep in touch.”

So whilst we do what we can to mitigate the effects of loneliness and re-establish social connections, we also need to prepare for an increase in mental health problems, in part due to loneliness, and also due to the other unintended consequences of lockdown, such as a lack of structure, physical inactivity and social and/separation anxiety that might be triggered when resuming social interactions outside of the home.

There are several levels at which we can prepare for the heightened demand:

  • Take a universal approach to promoting wellbeing through public messaging, and by schools doing activities to promote wellbeing in children and young people as they resume normal activities.
  • Seek to identify those who are struggling with loneliness as early as possible and do so by targeted interventions to help them overcome their struggles. This may be through the provision of extra support in schools, helping them overcome anxieties about returning to school, or giving them an extra hand with reconnecting socially with peers.

For those who continue to struggle over time, and can’t get back to doing the things they normally do as a result of their struggles, we need to ensure that they are made aware that services are open, and can provide specialist help, and to make sure that they know how to access this help and are supported to do so.

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Health & Wellness

Lesbian, gay, bisexual communities more at-risk for dementia – study

Social inequality makes less privileged groups, including sexual minorities, more prone to develop cognitive impairment. So making the society more just and more accepting of diverse sexuality may help prevent dementia and reduce related health care burden on society.

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Lesbian, gay and bisexual — or LGB — people are more vulnerable to one of the fastest-growing health concerns in the country: dementia, according to research from Michigan State University.

“Our study speaks to the unaddressed questions about whether members the LGB community are more likely to develop cognitive impairment at older ages and, if so, what factors contribute to their poorer cognitive health, ” said Ning Hsieh, an assistant professor of sociology at MSU and lead author of the study published in the journal, The Gerontologist.

“We knew that stress and depression are risk factors for many chronic health problems, including cognitive impairment, in later life. LGB people experience more stressful events and have higher rates of depression compared to their heterosexual counterparts,” she said.

Analyzing the elevated cognitive health risks among older members of the LGB community, the study was the first to use a national sample and screening tool to gauge cognitive health disparities between LGB and heterosexual older adults.

Hsieh and MSU colleagues Hui Liu, professor of sociology, and Wen-Hua Lai, a Ph.D. student of sociology — compared cognitive skills of 3,500 LGB and heterosexual adults using a screening tool and questionnaire that tests for six domains. Those areas included temporal orientation; language; visuospatial skills; executive function; attention, concentration and working memory; and short-term memory.

Social inequality makes less privileged groups, including sexual minorities, more prone to develop cognitive impairment. So making the society more just and more accepting of diverse sexuality may help prevent dementia and reduce related health care burden on society.

The researchers found that on average, older LGB adults were more likely to fall into categories for mild cognitive impairment or early dementia compared to heterosexual older adults. The team also tested for specific health and social factors — such as physical conditions, mental health conditions, living a healthy lifestyle and social connections — and the only factor related to cognitive differences for sexual minorities was depression.

“Our findings suggest that depression may be one of the important underlying factors leading to cognitive disadvantages for LGB people,” Hsieh said. “They may experience higher rates of depression than their heterosexual peers for many reasons, including not being accepted by parts of society, feeling ashamed of their sexual orientation or trying to hide their romantic relationships and being treated unfairly in school or at work.”

The researchers felt surprised that other factors — such as fewer social connections, drinking or smoking — didn’t have as great of an effect on LGB people’s cognitive function later in life. But, they also recognized the need for additional research to understand how the stressors sexual minorities experience earlier in life can lead to cognitive impairments as they age. Additionally, Hsieh said, they hope that the study’s findings shed light on the need for greater inclusivity for sexual minorities, as it can have an influence on their mental and cognitive well-being.

“Social inequality makes less privileged groups, including sexual minorities, more prone to develop cognitive impairment,” Hsieh said. “Making the society more just and more accepting of diverse sexuality may help prevent dementia and reduce related health care burden on society.”

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Travel

Trump-appointed judges void Florida bans on conversion therapy for children

Two south Florida laws that banned therapists from offering conversion therapy to children struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity were declared as unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

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Image by Juan Pablo Mascanfroni from Unsplash.com

Two south Florida laws that banned therapists from offering conversion therapy to children struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity were declared as unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

In the case – Otto et al v City of Boca Raton, Florida et al, 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 19-10604 – the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals sided (in a 2-1 decision) with two therapists who said the laws in the city of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County violated their free speech rights.

American Republican President Donald Trump – the loser in the country’s latest presidential election, and who refuses to concede – appointed the two judges who supported conversion therapy.

According to Circuit Judge Britt Grant, the laws “allow speech that many find concerning – even dangerous,” but the First Amendment “does not allow communities to determine how their neighbors may be counseled about matters of sexual orientation or gender.”

The therapists in the case, Robert Otto and Julie Hamilton, said their clients had “sincerely held religious beliefs conflicting with homosexuality,” and they sought counseling to conform their identities and behaviors with those beliefs.

A study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law noted that 20 American states and Washington, D.C. already ban licensed healthcare professionals from conducting conversion therapy on children. The practice – which aims to change people’s sexual orientations or gender identities – stigmatizes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and is linked to depression, anxiety and suicide.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) also opposes conversion therapy, since the practice often assumes that homosexuality is a mental disorder.

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Lifestyle & Culture

Common whales to see depending on the season

While many people think of whale watching as a seasonal activity reserved for warmer months, interesting and impressive species of whales can be seen in San Diego all year. If you are planning a trip, you should consider which species you would most like to see and book a tour during for when those species are most common.

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While many people think of whale watching as a seasonal activity reserved for warmer months, interesting and impressive species of whales can be seen in San Diego all year. If you are planning a trip, you should consider which species you would most like to see and book a tour during for when those species are most common.

Of course, some species are easier to spot than others. Those looking for the best humpback whale watching San Diego has to offer can find themselves satisfied all year. Blue whales, on the other hand, only migrate through San Diego from April to September.

All Year

Humpback whales are visible in San Diego all year round. Humpbacks are extremely popular with older tourists and children alike for their distinctive appearance. Dolphins are also common throughout the year, and what these brilliant creatures lack in size, they easily make up for in presentation. Dolphin pods love to breach the surface of the water, seemingly for the pure joy of doing flips and rolls for dazzled onlookers.

Summer

Summer is an excellent time for a San Diego whale watching tour. The peak season for blue whales, the largest creatures to have ever lived, is in June, so most times from May until August are good for blue whale sightings. Fin whales, the second largest species of whale, as well as minke whales are also most abundant during summer months. While you may have seen these species on nature documentaries, they have to be seen to be experienced properly. In person, you will be awed by their sheer size and power.

Fall

Humpback whales and rare species dominate fall months in San Diego. Though killer whales travel widely, their migrations take them through San Diego in late fall. Of course, there is plenty of other wildlife in the bay during fall, from seals to seabirds, and some tours have even spotted sharks swimming alongside whale watching vessels.

Winter

The gray whale, a species named for its coloration, is at its peak season in winter. Gray whales love to spout pillars of water into the air, and are highly social animals that often travel together with other cetaceans. February is known as one of the best months for a whale watching tour, as this is when an extremely high volume of gray whales pass through San Diego each year.

Spring

April is generally recognized as the last month for gray whale sightings. While various species can be spotted in early spring, the first blue whale sightings normally begin around May. Dolphin activity tends to ramp up in spring, resulting in awesome photos of playful pods and megapods.

If you are planning a trip to the San Diego area, you can find marine wildlife worth visiting throughout the year. Whether you’re booking a family whale watching tour, or you want to have your wedding reception on a boat San Diego waters have something for you.

Remember that, while no tour at any time of the year can guarantee that you will spot a specific type of whale, you are almost certain to see something interesting or learn something you didn’t know before when you book with a good company.

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Lifestyle & Culture

Eat yourself healthy this winter

Would you like to know how to nourish your body to obtain excellent nutrition and quality of life? Let’s take a look.

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Having good nutrition is an essential aspect of life, the opposite means being exposed to diseases, lack of energy, and a poor quality of life. For this reason, your body needs the absorption of the necessary nutrients and the intake of substitute products that provide the body with the necessary energy to have good health.

Would you like to know how to nourish your body to obtain excellent nutrition and quality of life? Let’s take a look. 

Improve your health.

Often, the choices you make in life, what you eat and drink, have great importance since that means a healthy and active life. We all have different needs in calories, always according to our gender, age, and activity level. Health conditions play a role, too, even if you need to lose weight. In short, eating a healthy diet works in your favor because it can help you be at the right weight and always feel young and energetic. It can also help you with specific problems like heart disease.

Unquestionably a healthy diet keeps your body working at its best. The key? Choose only foods that are beneficial for your body. Good nutrition is based on the consumption of food groups so that the whole organism works correctly.

The grains

Whole grains are essential in any diet. The good news is that they are relatively easy to get. one of the significant advantages of grains is that they help us feel full longer and reduce the anxiety of wanting to put something sweet in our mouth between meals.

However, avoid those labels that say “rich.”

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits are vibrant on the palate, with a sugar type that does not affect our health and very low-fat content. Also, fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and many vitamins; they are the perfect food for our health. Therefore it is a mistake to try to add refined sugar, butter, and creams to fruits. Keep things simple, meaning steam, bake, or boil.

If you want to accentuate its flavor, you can add a little salt and olive oil and natural dressings, but avoid processed creams and cream cheese that are harmful to the body. Another option is peanut butter, which, apart from being delicious, has good fats for your body.

Protein

Protein is vital to us all, and therefore you could look at adding whey protein to your diet. In addition to this, you may want to include some meat as long as it is lean. As a suggestion, read the product label carefully; if it says “loin” or “leg,” it is a lean cut that is good for you. Some pork cuts, such as hams, have a layer of fat on the outside that, although delicious, is best removed before eating.

If you are seasoning the meat, avoid excess salt, and give preference to herbs and spices. Lean cuts will taste better with these cooking methods, and if you need to grease the pan, avoid processed butter and oils because they are life-threatening to your heart.

It’s time to get healthy; it is good for both the body and the mind.

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Lifestyle & Culture

Get up to date with what your business needs

Every business has to manage their finances. To do this, take a look at these tips.

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Every business has to manage their finances. So whether they’re wanting to cut down on their rental costs, invest in new markets or find the best delivery service for their goods, there are some new plans to adopt in their quest for this. To do this, take a look at these tips.

IMAGE SOURCE: PEXELS.COM

Look at your outgoings.

In addition, rethinking contracts and carrying out market studies to check competition levels is a strategy that can offer great savings opportunities for businesses. Therefore, improve your purchasing sector. In this way, this department will be able to find business partners that help it boost its business but that do not represent un-viable investments.

As controlling and reducing costs can cause the company to change suppliers, this possible change has to occur with the correct planning. This prevents this exchange from damaging the company’s workflow or the quality of what is offered to the customer.

Automate your cost management

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a solution that enables data integration throughout the enterprise. However, they do not offer all the subsidies for efficient cost management, especially when we want to understand the impact of indirect costs on various products and services. The tool also cannot simply model profitability analysis by customers, channels or regions, which is very critical today. Faced with this demand, companies offer advanced tools for managing costs, profitability and performance through software specifically designed for this purpose.

Reducing costs within a company is the best decision, especially in the face of a volatile and selective market. This decision requires investment in appropriate technology. And just the desire to achieve it is not enough if the company does not have the right tools for this mission.

Outsource Services

There is no reason for a company to absorb hiring and payroll costs from non-priority sectors. Therefore, when working with outsourced labor, the company gains efficiency, since it hires a partner specialized in that market to serve it. In addition, there is more freedom to demand results and compliance with what is agreed in the contract.

The business can also take advantage of the talents of its managers and HR professionals in the management and training of employees that are essential to the objective activity of the brand. Because controlling and reducing costs requires efficiency, outsourcing is a perfect alternative to achieve better financial results without interrupting internal activities. If you have a transport company you may want to look at bidding. Bidding on shipping loads is a good way to grow your trucking business and increase your revenue. If you want to bid on shipping loads, you should find out more beforehand.

Invest in Professional Training

While this topic seems more like an investment than a cost-cutting action, keep in mind that rework can negatively affect the bottom line of a business. So, make sure your employees receive proper post-hire training and are able to perform their duties.

Also, if you identify flaws, turn them into learning, using them as cases in internal training. That way, the company will be able to understand how to control and reduce costs through strategies that keep its staff motivated and feeling valued. After all, educating a professional, improving their performance, can be more beneficial to a company than trying to hire someone who already has certain professional qualities.

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