Looking for LGBTQ Youth Advice? 'THE IMPACT PROGRAM' Might Help.

As a part of the LGBTQ community, it is vital to find support from organizations and individuals, whether it be family, friends or for- and non-profit organizations. There are specific organizations that work with the wider LGBT community, as well as folks who worth specifically with you: LGBT youth. Searching on the web is a great place to start.

THE IMPACT PROGRAM at Northwestern University is just one of many awesome websites (besides Acts of Greatness!) that caters specifically to you as an LGBTQ youth. The Impact Program is a research-based organization that receives funding from major foundations such as the National Institutes of Health to find ways to improve LGBTQ health, as well as increase understanding about LGBTQ people in society.

That might sound a big heavy and boring, but trust me: Sites like this can provide a means of support you need from people who make it their job to understand teens.

On the Impact Program's site, you can learn about their studies on LGBT youth and sexuality, read their youth-centered blog that answers questions many LGBTQ youth have -- maybe even some you've had.  Like:

You can also participate in interactive media such as quizzes and videos, and create videos of your own to reach out to and encourage other LGBTQ youth.

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Websites like Acts of Greatness and the Impact Program can help you find your sense of self or help others while doing so. You’re not only learning but you can share your own experiences to serve other youth who are in similar situations and need support. 

So, why don't you take some time to check it out and see what it can do for you? 

 

Photo courtesy of The Impact Program.

Gay YouTube Comedy: More Than Just Good for Laughs

In this digital world we now call home, it’s fascinating to see the role that online video plays in our lives. Videos resonate with us. Videos make us cry, make us think, provide us looks into worlds we never knew. And at times even, they can move us into action. Online video is an incredible, up-to-the-minute way of reaching the masses, and for getting information out into the world. 

But today, I'm more interested in, online video's other purpose: To make us laugh.

With this new trend taking shape, let’s take a minute to spotlight some of the notable artists in the LGBT world who are bringing their content to the masses.

    Billy Eichner of Billy on the Street - a loud, manic, over-the-top gameshow, both lampooning and idolizing celebrity culture

 

   Sassy Gay Friend - one of the early adopters of the online video format. Second City brought gay humor to online media, and melded it with classic Shakespearean texts

 

    DWV: The hilarious Drag Queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race - Willam, Detox, and Vikki Vox - three one-of-a-kind artists who put a truly fierce spin on song parodies

 

    Day Drunk Gays - a short form online video series of four friends chatting over Sunday brunch

 

    Davey Wavey - one man who has found a way to get his musings on life, love, and dating, out into the online world

 

    Where the Bears Are - a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek sitcom following the misadventures four hirsute friends

 

    Gay of Thrones - an over-the-top hairstylist rehashes every episode of Game of Thrones for your viewing pleasure

 

These are just a few examples of amazing LGBT artists who are putting their comedic skills to good use. They are being heard and they are making news. And best of all, they are finding new avenues to get their voices out into the world.

Further, their work speaks to the larger issue of connection and communication. Online video provides a platform for artists who, you could argue, wouldn’t have the chance to display their skills on mainstream network television. But with online video, there are no limits to what you can do. If the networks don't want to hear your voice, then who cares? You do it yourself. You make it happen for yourself.

I love this. Online video is the place to bring comedy and drama into the forefront of the public conscious. Artists are putting their work out there. And in doing so, many facets of our community are represented, all bringing forth their own personal style. It doesn’t matter what you’re into, there is content out there for you.

It’s easy to watch these videos, laugh, and neglect to see the power that this content wields.

When you’re an established, out and proud young adult you may not see the true impact these videos have. Instead, think about the men and women who aren’t out. Think about the teenagers who are still struggling with who they are.

These videos, I'd argue, provide a real service, even if that’s not their direct intention. These videos give that man or woman on the other end a real respite from their daily lives. They are funny, heartfelt, and endearing. People see these lives on the screens, and maybe, they don’t feel so alone in the world.

I hope a kid watches this content and takes solace in knowing that there are folks out there like him. People see that there is hope for them. You show different lives, and maybe these folks don’t feel so alone in the world. The next phase to this online platform is to show a little more of everyday lives of gay men and women. Get the characters out of the big city, and throw them into smaller towns. But for now, these guys are making great work, and that’s what is most important.

They aren’t afraid of being who they are. They aren’t worried about what people may say. They know they will find an audience. They are putting their hearts into their work, and they are letting their voices sing.

 

LGBTQ Youth Bookshelf: Some Mind-Expanding Trans* Reads

Transgender people's lives are rich, unique, and complex. Once you get past the "Trans 101" nuts-and-bolts of terminology and medical/legal transition-specifics, there's a whole world of trans* lived experiences to explore.

Today, I took just a small sampling from my own bookshelf of books on trans and gender-nonconforming stories that I've enjoyed, and have made me think. This list isn't in order of "best to worst", by the way -- they're all tops on my list for different reasons.

it's worth noting, too, that some of these are "harder" reads than others -- more difficult subjects or more dense language. But reading is, in part, about challenging yourself to grow, and I've always felt deeply rewarded by pushing myself outside my limits.

So I hope you pick up a book and enjoy!

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The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You
S. Bear Bergman

Trans writer S. Bear Bergman's essays humorously address issues from women's spaces to the old boys' network, from gay male bathhouses to lesbian potlucks, from being a child to preparing to have one.

"The Nearest Exist May Be Behind You" by S. Bear Bergman

Sex Change, Social Change: Reflections on Identity, Institutions, and Imperialism

Viviane K. Namaste

Trans scholar Vivane K. Namaste calls readers to think critically about transsexual politics in relation to feminism, with particular focus on intersectionality and de-centering the American trans experience as the universal "trans" experience.

"Sex Change, Social Change" by Vivivane Namaste

Visible: A Femmethology (Vol. 1 & 2)

Jennifer Burke (editor)

Visible: A Femmethology, the only two-volume anthology devoted to femme and feminine identity, calls the LGBTQI community on its prejudices; celebrates the diversity of individual femmes (including trans women & men); and challenges conventional ideas of how disability, class, nationality, race, aesthetics, sexual orientation, gender identity and body type intersect with each contributor's concrete notion of femininity.

"Visible: A Femmethology" (Vol. 1 & 2) edited by Jennifer Burke

 

Self-Organizing Men: Conscious Masculinities in Time & Space
Jay Sennett (editor)

Self-Organizing Men explores the he roles of paradox and incoherence in the construction and maintenance of the masculine self through poetry, visual images, essays, and humor.

"Self-Organzing Men" edited by Jay Sennett

Transgender History

Susan Stryker

Trans historian Susan Stryker's concise, chronological history covers the transsexual, transgender, and cross-dressing communities in the years following World War II; trans radicalism and social change through to the early 1970s; the mid-’70s to 1990—the era of identity politics and the changes witnessed in trans circles through these years; and the gender issues witnessed through the ’90s and ’00s.

"Transgender History" by Susan Stryker

The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard

Tom Leger & Riley MacLeod (editors)

The Collection represents the depth and range of tomorrow’s finest North American writers chronicling transgender narratives. 28 authors showcase the future of trans literature and the next great movements in queer art.

"The Collection" edited by Tom Leger & Riley McLeod

Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (editor)

Nobody Passes confronts and challenges the very notion of belonging. It explores and critiques the various systems of power seen (or not seen) in the act of “passing." Trans writer Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore sets out to ask the question, “What lies are people forced to tell in order to gain acceptance as 'real'?"

"Nobody Passes" edited by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us

Kate Bornstein

Gender Outlaw is an exploration of gender theory, interspersed with Kate Bornstein's personal anecdotes, and closes with the full text of Bornstein’s two-act play, Hidden: A Gender. Part coming-of-age story, part mind-altering manifesto on gender and sexuality.

"Gender Outlaw" by Kate Bornstein

Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme

Zena Sherman & Ivan E. Coyote (editors)

Sherman & Coyote's collection aims to resist simple definitions and reductive stereotypes of butches and femmes. Persistence gathers leading voices in contemporary queer writing whose hearts pounded the first time they read or heard the words "butch" or "femme."

"Persistence" edited by Ivan E. Coyote & Zena Sharman

Trans/Love: Radical Sex, Love & Relationships Beyond the Gender Binary

Morty Diamond (editor)

Exploring the crossroads of gender and sexuality, Trans/Love offers honest, engaging narratives that depict dating, sex, love, and relationships among members of the gender variant community.

"Trans/Love" edited by Morty Diamond

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

Julia Serano

Feminist writer Julia Serano shares her experiences and observations—both pre- and post-transition—to reveal the ways in which fear, suspicion, and dismissiveness toward femininity shape our societal attitudes toward trans women, as well as gender and sexuality as a whole.

"Whipping Girl" by Julia Serano

 

Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness, and Becoming a Man
Thomas Page McBee

Trans writer Thomas Page McBee's short, lyrical piece of creative nonfiction maps a journey toward self-realization as he suffers the post-traumatic anxieties of two pivotal events: his father’s sexual abuse of him as a child, and his near-death encounter with a mugger.

"Man Alive" by Thomas Page McBee

Manning Up: Transsexual Men on Finding Brotherhood, Family & Themselves
Zander Keig & Mitch Kellaway (editors)

I'd be remiss to not list my own co-edited anthology! 27 trans men discuss their social transitions and roles as male community members: fathers, sons, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, friends, and mentors. Their essays address many topics, including birthing and raising children, gay male sexuality, facing racism, and finding solace in deeply held religious beliefs. 

"Manning Up" edited by Zander Keig & Mitch Kellaway