• ArcLight and Pacific theaters permanently close doors

    Along with innumerable other businesses, big and small, both the ArcLight (previously at Boing Boing) and Pacific theaters will remain closed after the extreme financial toll brought on by the pandemic. Celebrities from all facets of the entertainment industry took to social media to mourn the loss of the famous theater.

    "Well this sucks," tweeted [Rian] Johnson, director of blockbusters "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and "Knives Out." "Every single person who worked at the Arclight loved movies, and you felt it. Sending love to every usher, manager and projectionist who rocked that blue shirt and made it such a special place."

    "I am cynical," wrote producer, writer and actress [Mindy] Kaling. "I feel like the arclight's not really gone and some corporation has already bought it and this is part of a strategy to cause mourning and then they swoop in and save it and we love them and forget they're a corporation. I mean, that's how I would do it and I'm evil."

    via LA Times

    Filmmaker James Gunn lamented the loss as well, saying he'd "miss talking to the employees about their favorite films, which they had listed on their name tags."

    Upon hearing the news, "The Farewell" director [Lulu] Wang remembered her "first time meeting Quentin Tarantino in the lobby of the Hollywood Arclight," while "Crazy Rich Asians" filmmaker Chu fondly recalled debuting his first feature at the same location, home to the famous Cinerama Dome theater.

    "Devastating," Wang wrote. "Too many losses to process. It's too much."

    via LA Times
  • Get help identifying that mystery plant you bought at the hardware store

    During the pandemic I needed to fill my life with something productive and, hopefully, enriching. I chose plants. Succulents, mostly. Crassulas, echeverias, gasterias, haworthias, strings of pearls and dolphins and coins. Most of the time, I'd get a handy label on the plastic pot describing the plant's name and needs. Other times, when I'd spot something especially spiky and technicolored at the dollar store, I wouldn't.

    Titles like "Asst. Succulent", "Asst. Indoor Plant", and "Asst. Green Foliage" don't exactly provide much in the way of plant care tips. Instead of spending half an hour trying to narrow down leaf shapes; shades of green, purple, and orange; rosette structures; and on and on and on (and still not finding exactly when I'm looking for), I can snap a picture or two and ask for help on r/whatsthisplant.

    If you're looking for something you found on a hike, a plant you saw on a meme somewhere, or an interesting cluster of berries your friend on the other side of the world picked up from a farmer's market, you'll almost inevitably find out what it's called, its scientific name, if you can eat it, and how to take care of it (if you plan on taking it home with you).

    With nearly 500,000 subscribers, r/whatsthisplant is heaving with actual botanists, along with casual (and not so casual) plant lovers and caretakers.

    Whether you're searching for something you found in the trash, or some leaves you found in a 100 year old Norwegian Bible, or some "wild coronavirus", you'll find out if you can (or should) take care of it.

  • Gay TikTok stars lay out the difference between performing drag and being trans

    With 180,00 YouTube subscribers and counting, Cooper and Luca Coyle came out to their mother in viral video back in 2018. Since then, they've made a name for themselves as Sugar and Spice – their drag alter-egos.

    Described as "early 2000s teen fashion dolls brought to life… basically the low budget Mary Kate and Ashley of drag", they currently have a cumulative 3.5 million TikTok followers, and in a recent video, they recently responded to the question: are they trans?

    Cooper said: "No, we identify as men, and we dress up… however you want to call this mess."

    Luca added: "Basically what you're trying to say is, we're drag queens."

    via Pink News

    Luca explained the difference by saying: "Drag is an art form or a hobby that someone can do. Being trans is who someone is."

    "Every day we decide to get up into this geesh and look this crazy, but when you're trans there's not a choice," Cooper said.

    Luca explained: "Drag for us is a character, it's an alter-ego. We take this wig off at the end of the night. But for trans people, it's not for fun."

    Cooper jumped in: "This isn't Hannah Montana for them, this is who they are."

    The twins said together: "Once we start accepting that and educating ourselves, and not judging and not discriminating, the world will be a better place."

    via Pink News

    Along with the TikTok, the twins commented: "Also, drag is for EVERYONE (that includes trans women and men, and cis women too)."

  • "LGBT-free" town faces the consequences of its own actions

    In May of 2019, the small community of Krasnik, Poland was one of the first in the country to  sign a declaration against LGBTQ rights. At the time, Mayor Wojciech Wilk saw the declaration as a "symbolic and legally pointless gesture", and a way to placate religious conservatives in the rural village. He was wrong.

    The declaration has turned "our town into a synonym for homophobia," he told the New York Times, a reputation which he insisted was not accurate.

    "We have become Europe's laughingstock, and it's the citizens not the local politicians who've suffered most."

    via Pink News

    In the past, Krasnik received millions of dollars through  foreign funding, including a twinning programme which quickly dissolved when a French town severed their relationship in protest of the town's bigoted legislation. Norway also pulled nearly 38,184500 zł ($US10 million) for development projects after it refused to give grants to any "LGBT-free" towns. A good bit of this money was supposed to fund things like electric buses and youth programs (because young people keep leaving town for some unfathomable reason).

    As much as he tries to have the resolution repealed, Wilk faces a Sisyphean task, especially with locals like 73-year-old Jan Chamara, who said:

    …he would rather live on a diet of just potatoes than give into economic pressure from outside to repeal the resolution.

    "I don't want their money," he said, admitting that he's never seen gay people in Krasnik but still felt precautions were necessary. "We will survive."

    via Pink News

    Mayor Wilk, however, is adamant about the town's declaration being repealed, not because he supports the rights of LGBTQ people, but "because it's harmful for the town and its inhabitants."

  • Trans woman adopts 8 orphaned children after being abandoned herself at age five

    Manisha, a trans woman in Pakhanjur, Chhattisgarh, India, has adopted eight children – seven girls, one boy. Despite struggling to make ends meet, Manisha is determined to provide them with the loving home she herself didn't have as a child.

    From Pink News:

    "I can understand the pain of not being loved and cared for. So, whenever I come across an orphan, I take that child home with me," she told Gaon Connection.

    Manish was the target of much discrimination and bullying as a child. Even her parents would lock her indoors as to not "malign" their honor. When Manisha was five years old, her parents abandoned her. She was taken in by another trans woman, and now shares her motherly love with her children.

    "My mother and father abandoned me at a very young age," she said. "I had a tough childhood and I spent many days without food. I vowed to myself that when I grew up, I would take care of other children who did not have a family."

    "I never had my mother's love, or my father's. I don't remember getting any affection from them," she told Brut.

    "There are kids like this abandoned, kicked out of their homes. Some talk about killing their child. The way I have been hurt, if I see an orphan or a child that has been abandoned, I will be a mother for them and raise them."

    Manisha earns a living by singing and dancing at weddings and births, a traditional occupation for trans people in Indian culture. Her ultimate goal is to open an orphanage of her own and offer love, care, and safety to children who would otherwise be abandoned.

  • Dutch couples celebrate 20th anniversary of world's first same-sex marriages

    Shortly after midnight on April 1, 2001, Gert Kasteel and Dolf Pasker were among the first legally-recognized same-sex couple to wed in the Netherlands. Along with 2 other male couples and one female couple, they were married by the mayor of Amsterdam.

    "It's nicer to say to other people 'he's my husband, he's my man,'" said Dolf, sitting next to Gert as they flipped through an album of photos and newspaper clippings of the wedding, which made headlines worldwide. "It has helped me to accept myself."

    via NBC News

    All four couples have withstood the test of time, save one, Frank Witterbrood, who passed away from a heart attack at the age of 55 in 2011.

    "People told me that the Netherlands would be the first and the last country (to pass same-sex marriages), the rest of the world won't follow you," said Henk Krol, a lawmaker who supported the bill when it passed the Dutch parliament in 2000.

    "Almost 30 countries in the world followed the Dutch example," he said.

    Other countries, including most of the EU, Britian, Australia, South Africa, the United States, and Mexico, are among the 29 nations that have legalized same-sex marriage since those first in 2001.

    "I'm very proud that it's possible," said Gert, who before he could complete his sentence had Dolf jump in and finish it: "that we could play a little part of it. We made history."

  • Tucker Carlson forgets straight people can still have children

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed on April 7 that transgender people are "a challenge to the perpetuation of the species" when a guest claimed there was a staggering "20,000 percent increase" in the transgender population.

    "It's hard to think of anything more profound than that," Carlson said on Fox Nation's Tucker Carlson Today.

    via LGBTQ Nation

    While speaking with Kentucky State University pol-sci professor Wilfred Reilly (who has written a book called Hate Crime Hoax: How the Left is Selling a Fake Race War), Reilly made some eyebrow-furrowing claims.

    "The percentage of people that identified as transgender, traditionally, was about 0.01%, which would be one in 10,000," he said, not citing a source.

    "It's now two percent or a little more, which is one person in fifty," he said. He was referring to a 2019 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of high school students where 1.8 percent of respondents said they were transgender.

    "You've seen it go from this to, again, not too far under five percent of all kids," Reilly said, the number inexplicably increasing again.

    "Is society self-sustaining?" he asked. "If 30 percent of men simply aren't willing or able to sleep with women, if another two or three percent of in particular young women want to modify their bodies so they cannot in many or most cases have children."

    "I mean, that's something that's an issue almost at the structural level. And you might ask, 'Why is that going on?'"

    via LGBTQ Nation

    Reilly's point is eerily similar to one made by Republican Albany County Legislator George E. Langdon IV, who claimed that if everyone were gay, people would stop having children:

    "When you have homosexual relationships, it's not perpetual. Give them an island, they'll be gone after 40 years, OK? Because they can't — God created us to be this way," he said. "There's so much common sense that needs to be applied to our policies, our procedures, the things that we do in our government."

    George Langdon resigned this week.

  • West Virginia approves anti-trans sports bill

    West Virginia's Republican-led senate approved House Bill 3293 on Thursday afternoon with vote a of 18-15. Much like legislation passed in South Dakota, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee, this bill prohibits transgender women and girls from competing in college and secondary sports teams. The bill now heads to the House where, if passed, it will continue to Republican Governor Jim Justice for consideration.

    "It is (in) the best interest of the state to protect women and girls and protect the opportunity for them to participate in sports. Supporting this is simply doing that," Republican state Sen. Patricia Rucker said just before the chamber approved the measure. She did not address the fact that the bill limits the opportunities for trans girls and women in the state.

    HB 3293 states that secondary and college sports teams in the state must be designated based on "biological sex," and that "athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex where selection for such teams is based upon competitive skill or the activity involved is a contact sport."

    "Biological sex" is a term the lawmakers use to refer to the sex determined at the time of a student's birth.

    via CNN

    The language of this bill has been called "overly simplistic and misleading" by CNN, as "biological sex" is determined by factors including genetics, hormones, and anatomy, and even these factors are naturally variable.

    Opponents of the bill call it discriminatory and harmful, while the Republican House Education Chairman Joe Ellington advocated for its passage using transphobic language, claiming transgender athletes would be more likely to injure their teammates and competitors.

    "An individual that may have different characteristics that makes their abilities stronger or physically stronger or their habitus is different, maybe that might affect injury to other participating students in the same sport," he said.

    via CNN

    According to the American Civil Liberties Union's anti-trans bill tracker, at least 30 other states have introduced similar bans this year.

    LGBTQ groups, along with some of West Virginia's Democratic Senators and Delegates, have opposed the bill, calling it cruel, discriminatory, mean-spirited, and narrow-minded.

    The Human Rights Campaign stated that "West Virginia's legislature is pushing harmful legislation that would discriminate against transgender kids who simply want to play sports with their friends."

    "Bills like this are based in fear, not facts, science, or medicine, and they are targeting and excluding transgender kids at a critical time in their lives, making them more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and dysphoria," Ryan Wilson, HRC's regional campaign director, said in a statement.

    via CNN

  • Kristal Larson becomes first transgender person elected to nonjudicial office in Illinois

    Kristal Larson declared victory in her race for Avon Township clerk. She will be the first transgender person elected to a nonjudicial office, as well as the second openly transgender person elected in the state. Despite the win being historic, Larson commented that her gender identity was a "footnote" compared to the rest of her campaign.

    "We've been working to bring some sanity to Avon Township for a very long time," she said. "This was about the people of Avon, and not about me."

    via Chicago Tribune

    Larson found herself at the center of some expected, but disappointing, controversy due to a political flyer.

    …a flyer went out that "deadnamed" her. Deadnaming is when somebody uses the name by which a transgender person was identified before they transitioned or came out, either accidentally or intentionally disregarding their new name.

    The flyer, which made reference to her previous name, and made a series of statements about Larson and her history, was mailed out to homes in the community by Wilke's Avon Community Engaged political organization.

    via Chicago Tribune

    Larson was furious when the news broke, stating that Wilke was aware of her name.

    "He's been there for the entire journey. There's no way he didn't know what my legal name was," she said. "He should have known better."

    via Chicago Tribune

    Due to the controversy, Terry Wilke resigned from his role in the committee, offering to sponser "Safe Zone training" in a letter to board members.

    "It is important to me that Lake County remains welcoming and inclusive space for all people, especially the LGBTQ+ community," the letter said.

    "I was not aware of (deadnaming) being a thing, or being offensive in any way," he said.

    via Chicago Tribune

  • Germany bans surgery on intersex infants

    Last month, German lawmakers voted to ban unnecessary surgeries on babies born with intersex characteristics. The legislation was officially adopted on March 25. While it makes Germany only the third country to end these unnecessary procedures, intersex rights organizations like the  Organisation Intersex International (OII) GermanyOII Europe, and Intergeschlechtliche Menschen want more.

    From them.:

     …it limits protection to children who are diagnosed with an established "disorder of sex development," a diagnosis which, if changed, could leave children no longer included under the definition of that term unprotected.

    About 1.7% of children are designated intersex at birth, an umbrella category which can include variations in chromosomes, gonads, hormones, and other sex characteristics that do not fit the typical medical establishment's definitions of "male" or "female."

    Between 2005 and 2016, 1,871 children under the age of 10 were given "feminizing" or "masculinizing" surgery in Germany, according to the University of Bochum. These types of surgical interventions are often cosmetic and considered medically unnecessary by doctors. Most of these procedures are performed on infants who are too young to give consent, as intersex activists have pointed out.

    Advocates from the World Health Organization and the  American Academy of Family Physicians have argued against these surgeries in the past, citing the potential for long term negative psychological side effects, including higher rates of suicide, depression, and anxiety among those reassigned at birth.

    Between 2005 and 2016, 1,871 children under the age of 10 were given "feminizing" or "masculinizing" surgery in Germany, according to the University of Bochum. These types of surgical interventions are often cosmetic and considered medically unnecessary by doctors. Most of these procedures are performed on infants who are too young to give consent, as intersex activists have pointed out.

    The new legislation is a massive step in the right direction, but there is still concern that doctors and parents could work around the law by operating on children who don't have a formal intersex diagnosis.

    "We're very happy that there is finally a law about this, but the ban has loopholes and leaves many questions unanswered," Charlotte Wunn, head of Intergeschlechtliche Menschen, told Reuters.

    Similar legislation has been introduced in Spain's parliment, and several US states have proposed a handful as well, including Senator Scott Wiener of California and lawmakers in New York City.

  • Nauseating literary descriptions of women by authors you know and love

    With more than 456,000 memebers, r/menwritingwomen contains some of the most hilarious, rage-inducing, stomach-churning descriptions of women's bodies ever put to paper. From Joss Whedon's rejected Wonder Woman script to Issac Asimov's "From the Stars" to excerpts from "nice guy" Tinder profiles and beyond, r/menwritingwomen has plenty of ways to paint grotesque pictures of generous breasts, quivering uteri, and winking nipples right onto your brain.

    posted by u/jbeldham

    Breasts, of course, are a favorite topic of discussion and disillusionment.

    posted by u/kat_stratford

    Underaged characters can't escape the sweaty, grimy pens of authors and their characters, either.

    posted by u/Suspicious_Pay7686

    And of course, a woman can't help but have her loins stirred by the glance of a handsome man.

    While most of the subreddit is dedicated to some of the most upsetting mistakes in writing by (mostly) male authors, there are also days and tags set aside for female writers, satire, and positivity. Much like its sister subs, r/mendrawingwomen, r/badwomensanatomy, r/NotHowGirlsWork, and r/whitepeoplewritingPOC is a place to simultaneously enjoy, mock, and rage about how people can be so terribly, awfully bad at understanding and describing one another (as well as wondering whose idea it was to allow anyone to be so bad at basic human anatomy).

  • North Carolina Republicans want to deny care to transgender youth

    Republican leaders in North Carolina have introduced Senate Bill 514. If passed, this Bill would ban people under the age of 21 from receiving medical care vital to their transition. While this is shocking enough, it would also require state employees to out LGBTQ children to their parents.

    From Intelligencer:

    If a child displays "symptoms of gender dysphoria, gender nonconformity, or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner incongruent with the minor's sex," they must notify the child's parents or guardians, the legislation mandates.

    Similar to bills introduced in other states (Arkansas's House Bill 1570, South Dakota House Bill 1076), North Carolina's bill is devious in that it allows (read: requires) state employees to seek out and assume the potential for transgender or otherwise queer behavior in children. If a child displays any sort of "gender nonconformity", they are to out that child to their parent or legal guardian.

    For legislators like Ralph Hise, the bill's lead co-sponsor, anti-trans hysteria is a way to signal membership in the Republican Party's furthest-right wing. It's also a little ironic, in a way that's almost become trite. The party that complains most about the cancellation of its members is more than happy to visit similar or worse fates upon others. Hypocrisy, however, is too narrow a frame for comprehending the motives of Hise and his two co-sponsors. They consider the law a weapon. It exists for their own use: to defend their power, both in a political and cultural sense, and to attack apparent threats. A trans child might not seem like an obvious threat, not to most of us. To social conservatives, however, a trans child in search of medical care represents a future they do not want. The bill might not become law, but they've pressed the attack, and to them, the attack is all that matters.

  • Virginia bans gay and trans "panic" defense in murder and manslaughter cases

    Virginia has become the first southern state (and the first state in 2021) to ban the gay and trans panic defense in cases involving the assault and/or murder of LGBTQ+ people. In the past, this defense was used to barter for lesser charges and reduced sentences.

    The legal defense has allowed individuals accused of murder or manslaughter to argue that the victim's gender identity or sexual orientation was what provoked them to commit the crime. The legislation was introduced by Virginia House Delegate Danica Roem, who in 2017 became the first transgender lawmaker elected to a state legislature.

    Democracy Now
  • Study finds young people would support transgender friends

    A survey conducted by Just Like Us, a UK-based LGBTQ youth charity, found that most young people would support their close friends if they came out as transgender. The survey included children aged 11 to 18 years old across 375 schools and colleges. They released their findings on the Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31.

    Of the 2,934 students surveyed, 1,140 (nearly 39% of the group) identified as LGBTQ. In total, 84% said they would be supportive of a close friend who came out as transgender. Of the LGBTQ students, 96% said they would be supportive, while only 76% of non-LGBTQ students shared the same sentiment. Along with these statistics, only 76% of students thought that their teachers would be supportive of them or their friends. 57% of respondents also noted that they already know a friend or peer who is trans.

    A few of the students backed up their positions:

    A respondent that identified as lesbian responded, "I've seen previous friends dealing with transphobia and now want to support others so the same thing doesn't happen as much."

    "Being transgender isn't really a choice," one straight respondent stated. "If we are close friends then we are close friends for a reason and them being trans wouldn't change that. It would have no negative impact on my life so there is no reason for me to not be as supportive as possible and make them feel comfortable."

    Another student who doesn't identify as LGBTQ stated, "I don't think it really makes a difference — they're still the same as they were before, just more honest."

    Chief executive of Just Like Us, Dominic Arnall, said:

    "The last few years have shown an increase in tensions and hostility towards trans people – particularly trans young people. This research shows that thankfully, for the most part, the majority of young people are supportive of their trans peers…secondary school age young people are clearly incredibly supportive of trans people and would have no problem with a friend coming out as trans. We hope that this is positive motivation for parents, schools and the media at large to embrace trans and all LGBT+ young people and accept them for who they are."

    via LGBTQ Nation