#gay

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.

Must-See Movies for LGBTQ Youth: THE SKELETON TWINS

“Did that feel a bit weird to you? That you and I went to watch that movie?” I asked my sister as we emerged from The Skeleton Twins.

See, she and I don’t go to the movies together very often, since we live in different cities. We only saw The Skeleton Twins by accident; the movie that we had been planning to see had been sold out.

Why would it be weird, though? Well. The Skeleton Twins is about a gay guy and his sister.

“Yeah, I did feel a bit weird” I agreed with her nod. “Let’s go get a drink.”

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Bill Hader & Kristen Wiig in "The Skeleton Twins," directed by Craig Johnson

Although The Skeleton Twins stars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader (of Saturday Night Live fame), and despite the promotional posters branding it as “Hilarious!”, this movie is not a comedy.

It is not a comedy -- but it is a great movie. Writer/director Craig Johnson has created a detailed and nuanced movie about a very damaged family and the struggles they face trying to come to terms with themselves and each other, and somehow move forward with their lives.

Wiig and Hader play the sister and brother and they handle these extraordinarily difficult roles perfectly.

In supporting roles, Luke Wilson nails it as the "labrador" husband, Joanna Gleason wrings the most out of her brief appearance as the mother, but Ty Burrell isn't quite given enough to work with to distance himself from his Modern Family fathercharacter.

It’s difficult to talk in any detail about the plot without spoiling the clever construction of the storytelling, small details revealed as the movie unfolds, building to a deeper understanding and empathy of how these characters became people that are struggling to hold on to any sense of purpose or certainty in their lives.

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Over dinner, my sister and I were inspired to share stories of pain and sadness, talking about some of the low points in our lives. It sounds a bit morbid but it was actually a good, authentic conversation that helped us both understand each other a bit better. It was also a good reminder about how things that felt so bad and bleak at one stage in our lives can fade into insignificance with the passage of time.

Sometimes life doesn’t quite work out as you had hoped, as you had planned, as you had dreamed. Somehow you have to find a way through that. Sometimes your family can be an unlikely source of strength.

Go see this movie. Not many laughs, do it for the great storytelling -- and maybe some important conversation afterwards.

Grindr 101: How to Be Safe & Have Fun with Dating Apps

Whatever age you are, and whatever your sexuality, dating can be hard work.

You have to find ways to meet someone that you fancy, you have to check whether they’re into you, you have to work through the logistics of arranging some sort of date, and you have to see whether there’s enough chemistry there to take that next step.

Fortunately, there is an increasing number of apps to help us connect with each other, including several for gay and bi guys. One of the most popular of these is an app called Grindr, but there’s lots of similar apps out there all delivering a fairly similar kind of service.

What Is Grindr?

Using the geo-location capability of smart-phones, Grindr can show you the profiles of other gay and bi guys within your area (who are also using the app), it gives you basic information about them, shows whether or not they are online and available for chat, and it shows you how far away they are from your location. It always reminds me a bit of the Cerebro machine used by Professor X on the X-men, finding the other mutants out there.

There’s lots of great benefits to using an app like Grindr -- for one, it immediately shows you that you’re not alone, turn on the app wherever you are and you’ll quickly see that there are plenty of gay guys out there, even in some of the most surprising and remote places. You’ll also quickly realize that most of the guys on apps like Grind are keen to chat, keen to engage, keen to meet-up -- that’s why they’re using the app, just like you.

It can be exciting, fun, and self-affirming to meet other guys with apps, but the first priority is always to be safe

Proceed with Caution: Tips for Safety & Emotional Well-Being

There are a few areas of caution though with apps like Grindr (that also apply to Internet dating in general), so I want to share some of the things that I’ve learnt (by experience) along the way.

 

1. Don’t over-share.

You’ll quickly realize that when you start chatting with guys on apps like Grindr, they are likely going to ask you to send some photos. This is one way of making conversation, of seeing if you’re attracted to each other, to see whether you want to take it further.

But, like your profile pic, once you put a photo out there you really don’t have much control over what happens to it -- so be cautious about sending revealing photos or ones that clearly show your face. It’s not ideal if a prospective employer does a Google search on you and what they get is a little more than they bargained for.

While it's fun to chat and get to know someone new -- maybe even meet up for a date -- the reality is, you never know who's on the other end of your convo. Do not give personal information, like your home address, out to anyone you meet online; if you choose to go on a date, do it in a public space and make sure a friend or guardian knows where you are and is able to check in with you. If you can, consider making it a group date.

 

2. Don’t overthink your profile.

Keep it simple and honest: Be yourself, not someone else. I'd recommend not trying to be too funny or kooky, too cool or sexy -- just write what you’re comfortable in sharing with people you don’t know. Another reason to be yourself when app dating: It reaffirms that being gay or bi is nothing to be ashamed of. However, if you’re not ready to be open about your sexuality with everyone, then you want to be cautious about posting pictures, especially of your face. 

 

3. Don’t take it personally

There’s lots of reasons why a guy might not respond to your message, or may have responded a couple of times and then you don’t hear from him again. Generally it’s because they’re busy, or they’ve gone to work, or their maybe even that their boyfriend has come home(!).

Don’t get upset or become a bit desperate if the guys that you'd like to meet in your area aren’t being particularly responsive. If you feel yourself slipping into these emotions, that's a sign that Grindr isn't contributing to your emotional health, and you should consider taking a break from using it. Self-worth and self-esteem come from within, not from someone else validating your attractiveness.

Apps like Grindr require you to kiss a lot of frogs before you get to the Prince Charmings. Don’t obsess about Grindr -- check your messages occasionally but if there’s no one on there grabbing your interest or returning your messages, then go to the gym, hang with friends, or whatever else makes you feel part of a social space.

 

There’s a lot of “Don’ts” on this list, but really the main lesson that I’ve learnt from using Grindr is just to relax, be safe, and have some fun -- that’s what dating is all about.

 

Photo courtesy of dharmasphere / Flickr.