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Why is World War III trending?

While joking to get through fears and trauma is largely accepted and even expected in 2020, it is not our trauma to joke about. War is abhorrent. Below, the infographic will give you an idea of the costs associated with it – it might just open your eyes.

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Photo by Stijn Swinnen from Unsplash.com

Whether you’re a casual or a heavy internet user, you’ve likely noticed that ‘world war three’ hashtags are trending all over the place. For many, this is just a bit of fun, however; other people are actually getting a little scared over the idea of another war starting. 

Many people are worried that the USA’s assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani could spark a war between the US and Iran. President Donald Trump decided to assassinate the military strategist, doing what Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama declined to do. It does beg the question – Why now? 

In some cases, people believe that the president is simply trying his best to draw attention away from his impeachment proceedings. Whatever you believe, is it okay to joke about World War III starting at all? 

Many of the memes received backlash that criticized Americans in particular for joking about US military action that could largely affect civilians in the Middle East.

When you actually sit and think about the sheer number of innocent lives that are in danger, it can send shivers down your spine. It isn’t something to joke about. Many people are worried about their future, their families, and their homes. They are also worried that this will bring another wave of Islamophobia and xenophobia. 

While joking to get through fears and trauma is largely accepted and even expected in 2020, it is not our trauma to joke about. War is abhorrent. Below, the infographic will give you an idea of the costs associated with it – it might just open your eyes. 


check out our infographic about the cost of war

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LGB online daters report positive experiences… plus harassment

LGB online daters are more likely than their straight counterparts to experience a range of negative behaviors on dating platforms, varying from name-calling to physical threats. Among those who have ever used an online dating site or app, they reported experiencing at least one of the forms of harassment measured in this survey on those sites and apps (69%, compared with 52% of their straight counterparts).

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Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adults who use online dating sites and apps generally report that their experiences with online dating have been positive – even more than straight online daters (65% said their experience was very or somewhat positive, versus 56% of straight online daters).

This is according to a Pew Research Center survey, which found that a majority of LGB adults (55%) report that they have used an online dating site or app at some point, roughly twice the share of straight adults (28%) who say the same.

Among LGB adults who are married, living with a partner, or in a committed relationship, 28% say they met their current partner online. This is more than double when compared with 11% of partnered straight adults.

Also, among LGB people who are now single and looking for a relationship or dates, 37% are currently online dating (versus 24% of straight people who are single and looking).

However – and this is worth highlighting – LGB online daters are also more likely than their straight counterparts to experience a range of negative behaviors on dating platforms, varying from name-calling to physical threats. Among those who have ever used an online dating site or app, they reported experiencing at least one of the forms of harassment measured in this survey on those sites and apps (69%, compared with 52% of their straight counterparts).

More than half of LGB online daters (56%) say they have received a sexually explicit message or image they did not ask for, compared with 32% of straight online daters who say the same.

Stalking was also raised as an issue, with roughly half of LGB online daters (48%) saying that someone continued to contact them after they said they weren’t interested, compared with 35% of their straight counterparts.

About four in 10 LGB online daters (41%) say someone called them an offensive name on one of these sites or apps – 16 percentage points higher than the share of straight online daters (25%) who say the same.

Lastly, 17% of LGB online daters said that someone on a dating site or app threatened to physically harm them. This is more than twice the share of straight online daters (7%).

Perhaps not surprisingly, according to the Pew Research Center survey, LGB adults who have ever online dated are more likely than straight online daters to think harassment and bullying is a “common problem” on dating sites and apps (70%, compared to 61% of non-LGBs).

No matter the drawbacks, don’t expect online daters – LGBT or straight – to just dump it.

As per the Pew Research Center survey, even among those who experienced at least one of the asked-about forms of harassment on dating sites and apps, they still said that online dating is safe for the most part. Three-quarters of LGB people who have experienced at least one of the harassing behaviors saying it’s a very or somewhat safe way to meet someone, with 64% of straight online daters who have been harassed agreeing.

And with 78% of LGBT online daters (and 69% of their straight counterparts) still believing that dating sites and apps are a very or somewhat safe way to meet people, this trend isn’t going anywhere soon…

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Demi Lovato expresses support for trans community: ‘Trans rights are human rights’

“I’m Hispanic, but I’m white-passing, so I’m like… what is my responsibility as an ally? I learned that I have to put my fears aside and speak up for all of the people of color that I love, that I don’t know, and the people that are being treated poorly and abused and killed.”

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Screencap from the Instagram account of Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato – the 27-year-old “Sorry Not Sorry” singer – expressed her support to the trans community, writing on Instagram that “Trans rights are human rights!”.

This actually came after she participated in the book launch of a friend of hers, @alokvmenon, who launched a new book called #BeyondTheGenderBinary. Lovato participated in her friend’s Instagram chat, where she talked about being an ally to both people of color and the trans community.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAjaYiDhOn5/

“I’m Hispanic, but I’m white-passing, so I’m like… what is my responsibility as an ally? I learned that I have to put my fears aside and speak up for all of the people of color that I love, that I don’t know, and the people that are being treated poorly and abused and killed,” she said during the chat.

Lovato added: “I need to put my fears aside… I just didn’t want anyone to question my intentions… I’m gonna be an ally, and I think people need to do the same with the trans community. I really consider myself an ally.”

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SATC star Cynthia Nixon says she never had any doubt she’d embrace having a trans child

Cynthia Nixon admitted that she doesn’t know how parents must feel if their children come out at a much younger age. But she said that she never had any doubt she’d embrace having a transgender child.

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Screencap from the Instagram account of Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon – former “Sex and the City” star – opened up about being the mother to a trans son, Samuel, 23, who she revealed was transgender in June 2018. Appearing on the “Homo Sapiens” podcast, she told hosts Alan Cumming and Chris Sweeney that her child “didn’t come out to me as trans until he had just started college – and there was no inkling of this for me, about him before that.”

Nixon also admitted that she doesn’t know how parents must feel if their children come out at a much younger age.

But she said that she never had any doubt she’d embrace having a transgender child, particularly after reading an article about parents dealing with a similar thing.

“Before I ever had an inkling my kid might be trans I read a really extensive article (about) all of these parents of pre-pubescent kids who were really struggling with this,” she was quoted as saying. “There was one dad who said, ‘At a certain point, the decision seemed to me I could have a dead son or a live daughter’ and it’s like, after you say that, what more is there to say?”

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bka88yRFSC3/

She added: “You can make all the arguments that you want… but the fact is, as a parent, as a human, you should listen to what people tell you about themselves.”

Nixon has another son with wife Christine Marinoni

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56% are horny, but 70% of gay & bi men, and trans people are abstaining from sex due to Covid-19 – study

Under Covid-19 lockdown, 40% of respondents are feeling hot and bothered in lockdown. This increases to 55% in 18-24’s. But 70% are not meeting for dates or sex.

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Photo by Elvin Ruiz from Unsplash.com

To better understand the unprecedented, global impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on gay, bi men and trans people, ROMEO (PlanetRomeo) released the results from its international COVID-19 outlook survey. The Europe-based dating platform shows a snapshot of how the pandemic is affecting LGBT+ life. 

75,840 ROMEO users responded to 11 questions about health, economy, sex, travel, and how they are coping with the lockdown, and the results are… interesting.

57% ARE FEELING POSITIVE

Overall people are positive, 57% state they are feeling good to very good. France is leading the world positive mood with 65% placing themselves in this category, a stark contrast to their UK neighbors who are coming in at just 44%. India’s spirits are the hardest hit with only 23% feeling good.

40% ARE VERY HORNY

40% of respondents are feeling hot and bothered in lockdown. This increases to 55% in 18-24’s. When it comes to the horniest countries, Spain is topping the charts in Europe at 49% and India leading the rest of the world at 56%.  

70% ABSTAINING FROM MEETING FOR SEX

70% of ROMEO users are not meeting for dates or sex. This number increases in countries with stricter rules, Italy and Spain (86%). Germany and Sweden rank lowest at 61% and 62% respectively. 48% of respondents are dating online only during the lockdown. 

ECONOMY IS MORE WORRYING THAN HEALTH

On the subject of health and financial future, users are more worried about the economic impact of Covid-19 then health. 43% state they are worried about their health, while 50% fear for their financial future. This spikes in India, 73% worry about what is to come financially. Only 32% of Spain’s respondents are worried about their health. Younger respondents (18-25) fear more for their financial future than the over 65’’s (45% are not worried at all).

57% FEAR FOR GAY COMMUNITY

With the real economic impact still to be realized, we asked if people feared for the future of their local LGBT+ community. Small businesses and community organizations can be a lifeline for many. Globally 35% said they were concerned. The UK is the least concerned at 20% and Germany the most at 46%. The 45-65 age group are the most worried. 45% of 18-35 are not worried at all. 

40% AGREE WITH LOCKDOWN MEASURES

40% of the respondents think their country’s measures were just right. 32% felt they could be stricter or were not strict enough. France and the UK are the least satisfied with Government measures, 53% of French and 49% of UK users think their country should have stricter rules. In Sweden, where there was a different approach to lockdown, 56% claim their government got things right. 

1 in 5 HAVE LOST THEIR MOJO

COVID-19 is proving to be a mood killer, 21% of respondents stated they have no interest in dating during this period. 35-54 age range accounts for nearly half of this figure. Spanish users are experiencing a dampening of desire the most at 40%. 

SUMMER VACATIONS WILL BE CLOSE TO HOME

Overseas travel is on hold for 2020. 73% of people do not have plans to travel outside their country. Spain leads this at 85%.  Some UK respondents still are hoping for a vacation this year with 29% planning overseas holidays, and 31% undecided. 

COUPLES ARE THRIVING

Of the 31,899 people with partners, 17% claim that they are getting on better than usual. USA and India top this at 29%, and the UK is just behind at 27%. Italy which has experienced one of the longest periods of lockdown is unsurprisingly behind the global average at 14%. 

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New report documents amplified impact of COVID-19 on LGBTQIA people

While Covid-19 leaves no country and no individual unaffected, the pandemic imposes specific challenges among LGBTQIA people.

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Unsplash.com

Covid-19 shatters the rainbow.

While Covid-19 leaves no country and no individual unaffected, the pandemic imposes specific challenges among LGBTQIA people. This is according to OutRight Action International’s “Vulnerability Amplified: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on LGBTIQ people”, which documents the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on LGBTQIA people.

Drawing on almost 60 rapid research interviews conducted with LGBTQIA people in all regions of the world, some of the specific challenges faced by LGBTQIA people identified in the report are:

  • Devastation of livelihoods – rising food and shelter insecurity resulting from job loss, and economic fall out as a result of over-representation of LGBTQIA people in the informal sector and broad employment discrimination;
  • Disruptions in accessing health care, including crucial HIV medication and gender affirming treatments, and reluctance to seek health care due to discrimination, stigma and refusal of services experienced by LGBTQIA people even outside a pandemic;
  • Elevated risk of domestic and family violence – the most prevalent form of violence faced by LGBTQIA people on a day-to-day basis is heightened in circumstances of lockdowns, curfews and lack of access to support services and community resources;
  • Social isolation and increased anxiety which are further heightened by being cut off from chosen families and the LGBTQIA community;
  • Scapegoating, societal discrimination and stigma – there is an unfortunate history of LGBTQIA people being blamed for emergency situations, leading to further stigmatization, marginalization, violence and danger;
  • Abuse of state power – repression, exclusion, and criminalization are all on the rise in countries prone to authoritarianism and regressive gender ideologies, with some states using the emergency situation to clamp down specifically on LGBTQIA people;
  • Concerns about organizational survival – amplifying the effects even further are the impacts on LGBTQIA community organizations and spaces, which are a lifeline to countless LGBTQIA people. Organizations now face an uncertain future with funding cuts, lockdowns, and having to shift activities on line while calls for direct, practical support are on the rise. 

According to the executive director of OutRight Action International, Jessica Stern: “COVID-19 and the surrounding containment measures affect everyone, everywhere. But those most marginalized feel it more. Even in the absence of a pandemic, LGBTQIA people experience higher levels of discrimination, violence and deprivation around the world. Now we are at a heightened risk of domestic and family abuse, we lack access to crucial HIV and gender affirming medication, get scapegoated for the pandemic, and excluded from relief efforts, while being cut off from LGBTQIA organizations and support networks. For us the situation is dire. I fear how many LGBTQIA people will lose their lives because of the amplified vulnerability we face. We need immediate action from governments, the UN, and the philanthropic sector to prevent an LGBTQIA humanitarian crisis.”

The results of the research report are reinforced by initial data from applications to OutRight’s COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund. Within a month of opening for applications, OutRight received over 1,500 requests for help from LGBTIQ organizations across the world, the vast majority requesting resources to alleviate food and shelter insecurity. As ever, LGBTIQ organizations are being called on to step in where other institutions fail to safeguard LGBTIQ people’s health, safety and wellness. 

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‘Remember. And continue acting.’ – BC marks IACM 2020

There are issues that continue to make the lives of PLHIVs, particularly in resource-limited location like the Philippines, difficult. This is stressed by the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, marked to remember lives lost to AIDS.

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In September 2015, Stephen Christian Quilacio asked Michael David dela Cruz Tan, editor in chief of Outrage Magazine and concurrent executive director of Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center) if he wanted to join a hospital visit to a person “suspected” to have HIV. At that time, Tan was visiting Cagayan de Oro City in Northern Mindanao, documenting HIV-related efforts of faith-based organizations (FBOs) for the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP).

Lor’s case was “suspected” because, while he kept saying he already had himself tested and that he’s HIV-negative, the attending physicians may have known otherwise but were still waiting for the patient’s confirmatory test result (from Metro Manila).

“Lor (not his real name) was having a hard time doing just about everything,” recalled Quilacio, who is also Bahaghari Center’s northern Mindanao coordinator. But “through it all, he was adamant in denying the probability that he may have HIV.”

Two weeks after that hospital visit, Lor passed away; this time, from confirmed AIDS-related complications.

Lor’s case is actually still not rare.

From October to December 2019 in the Philippines, for instance, 116 people died from AIDS-related complications. From January 1984 to end-December 2019, 3,730 Filipinos with HIV already died. And – this is worth stressing – this is only the reported cases, which may be lower than the real figures because of under- or non-reporting.

For Tan, the saddest part of this is that “we’re at a time when we’re often told that HIV is no longer a death sentence.” He added that “for many, it still is.”

And exactly because many lives continue to be lost to HIV and/or AIDS that the world marks the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial (IACM) every 17th of May, as a time for everyone to remember these lives lost. Started in 1983, IACM has since evolved to also honor those who dedicate their lives to helping people living with and affected by HIV.

Themed “We remember – We take action – We live beyond HIV“, this year’s IACM is said to be “much more than just a memorial” as “it serves as a community mobilization campaign to raise social consciousness about HIV and AIDS. With almost 38 million people living with HIV today, (it) serves as an important intervention for global solidarity, breaking down barriers of stigma and discrimination, and giving hope to new generations.”

“This is apt,” said Quilacio, “because even now, we still need to act to really make an impact on HIV.”

STILL AN ONGOING STRUGGLE

There are issues that continue to make the lives of PLHIVs, particularly in resource-limited location like the Philippines, difficult/challenging.

In the Philippines, at least, the HIV situation continues to worsen.

To start, the rate of infection keeps getting higher – i.e. 35 Filipinos now get infected with HIV every day. And from October to December 2019, there were 3,029 newly confirmed HIV-positive individuals reported to the HIV/ AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP). Sixteen percent (474) had clinical manifestations of advanced HIV infection at the time of testing.

Younger people also continue to be infected with HIV. In HARP’s report, almost half of the October-December 2019 cases (49%, 1,475) were 25-34 years old, and 31% (926) were 15-24 years old at the time of diagnosis.

Then there’s the stigma that leads to discrimination, said Quilacio. “It remains common to hear stories about PLHIVs kicked out of their homes, or from work because of their HIV status.”

Close to Quilacio’s heart is the “disconnect” in the services offered in metropolitan areas versus those in provinces/rural areas. “As a Mindanawon activist, we know that there are supposedly ‘must-have’ services that are not provided to us – e.g. viral load, and even regular/steady supply of anti-retroviral medicines.”

And then there, too, is the profiteering that happens in the HIV community – e.g. organizations supposed to render life-saving services not doing so unless they profit from PLHIVs.

According to Ico Rodulfo Johnson, who helms The Red Ribbon Project, other issues have been emerging, seeming to steal attention away from HIV – e.g. Covid-19.

However, “despite (these), we continue to fight for our rights to improved health care, for awareness and education and against stigma and discrimination related to HIV,” he said. “The challenge is greater but our passion for the HIV advocacy is stronger.”

And this – the stronger passion that pushes people and/or organizations to act – is what’s needed.

CONTINUING THE STRUGGLE

Tan urges more action.

“From HIV testing to linking those who test positive to treatment/care/support services to holding non-performing treatment facilities responsible for their failure to do their mandates… a lot still needs to be done,” he said.

For its part, and among its HIV-related efforts, Bahaghari Center – with Outrage Magazine, The Project Red Ribbon, Pinoy Deaf Rainbow and TransDeaf Philippines – trained Deaf Filipinos on community-based HIV screening. This was because of the lack of readily available HIV counselors who know of Filipino Sign Language (FSL). This way, “we empower Deaf Filipinos to start testing among themselves, instead of relying on Hearing people who may not always be there for them.”

And then backed by Youth LEAD and Y-PEER (Asia Pacific Center) – which eyed to address Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) needs of Young Key Populations (YKPs) in Asia and the Pacific – Bahaghari Center released PSAs on HIV for Deaf Filipinos.

For Fritzie Caybot Estoque, past president of MOCAN – an organization providing support to HIV-infected and -affected Filipinos in Mindanao: “We can’t afford to be complacent. We need to do more.”

Estoque – like Johnson – noted how the Covid-19 pandemic “has taught us one good lesson – that stigma and discrimination can do harm more than the disease itself.” And so she calls for people to “end it.”

“To make us more compassionate, extensive and effective, education is still a must both for HIV… and (in this case, also) Covid-19. We can’t afford to be complacent. Still. All the more,” Estoque said.

And so for Tan, “yes, let’s remember – the people whose lives were cut short by HIV, the advocates who paved the way and those who continue working to curb HIV, etc. But let this also be a call for us not to stop now.”

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