It’s Who You Love.

It’s Who You Love.  

Dear …,

I want you to know that how you feel isn’t crazy.  I know that it seems scary and like you’re doing the wrong thing by loving as you want to. It takes so much courage and strength to love openly and freely…. I promise you can do it no matter how tough it may seem. I know that you’re afraid things will get messy with your family finding things out and that they may not be the most accepting at first but this doesn’t mean you need to live constantly fearing what comes next.  I’ll keep this short, I just want you to know that you are strong and you’re the author of your own life. Be bold, I love you. – MT

I’ve never understood the individuals who are hateful towards people who do not allow society to put a label on their love.  Friendships, families, communities etc. are being torn apart by the societal expectation that an individual needs a label in order to fit in.  These are the individuals that fail to understand, It’s Who You Love.  It’ll never be up to them to decide how you feel.  

This serves as a message to the individuals out there that are living in apprehension, WHO YOU LOVE, IS WHO YOU LOVE. A message to those who think they are  “different”, the ones who can’t form the same intimate connection with one gender, however, instantly click with another, the ones that fall in love with “who they shouldn’t” unexpectedly, and “mistakenly,” desperately wishing it wasn’t the case. This isn’t a topic that you need to dwell upon or let keep you up at night, it is something that you just need to accept, you need to be able to love yourself for who you are and look past the hostility.  It’s your life.

The desire to feel accepted by those who you love often acts as an impediment to truly being yourself.  Individuals are constantly living in fear of how the ones who care most will react to their truth, this isn’t how it should be.  Love shouldn’t have labels.  Love shouldn’t be circumstantial.  

Love isn’t forced, and it isn’t wrong.  These are two concepts that I feel are frequently blown out of proportion by individuals within society who believe that they are better off conforming to what the collective views as “normal.”  Despite our progressive movements within the past few years, traditionalist manners persist throughout our societies across the globe acting as an obstruction to some people’s’ freedom.

  1. You can’t be forced to fall in love.  People often forget this, they believe that just because their parents say this or their friends say that, that their emotions can only be validated through an outside or external force. This isn’t the case and it should never be, you should never attempt to fabricate your emotions in order to fit in with the “norms of society.”  WHO YOU LOVE, IS WHO YOU LOVE, no one should make you question this.  Regardless of whether those acting as “stressors” are your parents, friends, or merely a random passerby with nothing more to offer than a judgemental glance or snarky comment, you should be proud of who you are and who you love,  I can’t stress that enough.  
  2. It might feel scary but it  isn’t wrong to feel the way you do. I feel like this is such a common concept, people try to instantly convince themselves that it’s wrong to feel new emotions because it’s just, “not the way they are,” or it’s, “only this one person.”  Your emotions are not meant to scare you, listen to yourself and yourself only. There isn’t something wrong with you simply because you’re open to loving freely. Love is a beautiful thing once you find it, be open to finding it, don’t deny this from yourself.  

So if you’re an individual who needed this message, if you have been up all night wondering why you feel the way you do, if you feel like you just can’t accept how you feel, if you feel like your love depends on your friends or your family, like it isn’t in your hands…. Look further than the backlash, conquer your fear; don’t let it get to you, love yourself and others freely.  This is your life, only you get to decide what you do with it.

Orange County Communities Enraged Over Viral Hate Crime

Orange County Students Face Repercussions For Hateful Image

Just recently a photo was published on social media depicting a series of Orange County high school students posed in front of swastika made from beer cups while holding out their arms in a Nazi salute. This image, taken at a party, pictures students from several schools within both Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. The students now identified via classmates etc. are facing serious repercussions and backlash from communities across the US and especially within Orange County.

Communities of Jewish individuals have come together to speak out about this topic and the sadness and anger it provokes. Students from schools within the OC/LA area mentioned they were not surprised and that, “swastikas are carved into bathroom walls and desks on campus.” Anti-Semitism still exists and it is becoming more and more prevalent as time progresses. Other students have turned to social media to express their disappointment in their community for allowing Anti-Semitic behaviors to persist while asking individuals to open their eyes and work to create change.

Angered parents of students across Orange County have spoken out about this issue, many of them members of the Jewish community as well. Amongst the parents was Mr. and Mrs. Bernstein who spoke out about this issue that touched home.

In January of 2018, college student Blaze Bernstein was murdered within Orange County, CA. Bernstein, a 19-year-old student at the University of Pennsylvania and member of both the LGBTQ+ and Jewish community, was found deceased and brutally stabbed in what seemed to be an inhumane act rooted in both homophobia and hate.

Both Blaze’s parents spoke out about the current situation recently stating it was hate like this that murdered their son. Anti-Semitic and homophobic behavior that led to the loss of a beautiful life. Truth lies in their statements as, unchecked hateful behavior within high schools not only in Orange County provides an outlet for hate crimes across the country, Blaze’s tragic death being only one of many.

What Can We Do As A Community?

Promoting the rights of all individuals within our society is imperative when looking for solutions to the wave of hate we have been facing. The behavior of these students is disgraceful and hurtful to our community, reflecting ignorance and a lack of knowledge. Many of the students have taken the defensive side justifying their actions mentioning it was merely, “fun and games” or that it was, “humorous.” It is important to speak out and report this type of behavior as it it truly has the power to divide our communities.

If you witness something it is important you report the crime to a hotline or your local police station immediately.

Hate Crime National Hotline (USA)
206-350-HATE (4283)

It is also important to support your local organizations promoting the rights and equality of all individuals despite race, ethnicity, sexual orientation etc. There are myriad organizations members of all communities can join that focus on providing protection and a sense of security to the many marginalized communities within our society.

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King.

Racism In The Queer Community

LGBTQ+ representation has grown massively in the last ten years. There is no denying that in today’s’ western society we have come far in terms of agenting love that isn’t traditionally heteronormative. As wonderful as this is, the representation tends to focus on able bodied, cisgender white males. There is a stereotype for gay men that is yet to be challenged in mainstream media. Just like in any group of people, there is more than one type of person living within it which isn’t realised, in many cases, by 21st Century inhabitants.

Queer love shown on TV to bring ‘diversity’ to the shows is so likely to be between two impossibly good looking white men with ripped bodies, one of them playing a more  campy, overdone effeminate ‘gay best friend’ character. The other tends to be a hyper masculine guy with intense muscles, showcasing the two extremes of gay stereotypes. If there is a show or film with a gay character in, they are rarely the main character or play a powerful role, like a CEO or any type of leader. If anything they are a b*tchy personal assistant with pursed lips and high cheekbones, drinking lattes in high fashion outfits. If there is a black gay character, he is once again the sassy gay best friend personality, playing to the stereotypes where, like before, he is in a position where he has no significant power or authority.

As a young queer teen myself, I was constantly looking for shows and films that could validate my feelings. At the time, the Netflix ‘LGBT section’ was somewhat limited and I found myself re watching the same films about white boys falling in love. To contradict myself however, films like Moonlight and the channel 4 series of Cucumber, Tofu and Banana have been big steps in achieving suitable representation that shows off real diversity within the LGBTQ+ body. There IS some representation out there for communities of minorities but work should be done to be more inclusive to the many types of people living within the queer world. It isn’t just ethnicity representation that should be recognised either. Disabled, transgender, bisexual, Muslim, intersexual and many more groups are failing to be represented as their respective communities and the queer folk within them.

The terms ‘no femmes, no Asians, no blacks’ is a phrase that comes up a lot. It is most likely to be found on a Grindr account, or any page looking for gay relationships/hook-ups. There is a line between preference and racism, in my opinion ‘no blacks, no Asians’ no favours the latter. Even as a young female, who is not yet able to join such popular sites, I have seen the term been tossed around far too casually. When you actually dissect the phrase what are they saying? They are eliminating entire races and types of people as if they are too good for them. As if they are not worthy of the likely average sex the likely average guy has to offer. To group whole races and assume they are all the same is outdated and seems reserved for conservative thinkers. Queer people can be mistook for liberals, a believable theory however not always so true. In the last US election, presidential elect Donald Trump boasted that he had LGBT supporters, who turned out to unsurprisingly be made up of a majority of white men. Rich, white men. Men that create racist, sexist, islamophobic statements…whilst claiming to be liberals. Milo Yiannopoulos is the perfect candidate for this title. A far-right, British media personality who, whilst being openly gay, furiously supports the republican party, is a strong opponent for the Black Lives Matter movement but claims that he can’t be racist because of  “the intimate relationships he is easily able to strike with African American individuals”  He also sells hoodies reading ‘feminism is cancer’ titling himself a second wave feminist and calling women ‘common prostitutes’.  The way he peddles hatred and offensive material yet is still a supposed ‘representative’ for the gay community is sad. He represents nothing the community stands for, which is, in my eyes, generally and simply equality and love between all people.

The whole truth is that the LGBTQ+ Community is more than just able bodied white folk. It is a beautifully diverse community full of people from all ethnicities, body abilities, backgrounds, heritage, body types and genders. There are There should be more media focusing on other parts of the community, like Muslim, Latino, Trans and disabled people living within the body. In the first world we have come far in showing women in positions on power in adverts and TV. I can only hope we are not far off doing the same for queer people.

Rolling Back The Frontiers Of Representation

featured image via The New York Times

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With Film and TV viewings being at an all time high, the disconnect between people in the ‘real’ world and the people in our TV and Films is more noticeable than ever, with all of this, one question emerges being, ‘Where does that leave minorities?’, you only have to watch a film or TV programme to see limiting stereotypes reinforced, the question I ask is ‘If times are changing and we’re in a good place in terms of social change, then why are there hardly any film or TV shows where harsh stigmas and stereotypes come into play’. Personally, I don’t think this is okay.

 

Black and Minority Ethnics (BAME) have had enough, disabled people have had enough and LGBTQ+ communities have had enough, these people are special, one of a kind, we shouldn’t be limiting and patronising them the way that we are currently, we should be celebrating them.

 

Admittedly, there are a small few programmes which challenge these social norms and they are praised, but this shouldn’t be considered amazing to make a film that doesn’t paint minorities in a negative light because we should be doing this all the time, being fair and impartial to those minorities. This, accompanied by the fact that gender norms and roles are being foisted on viewers show how not only are we not fully inclusive as a generation, but we still adopt outdated ideologies that are not only sexist, racist, homophobic and hurtful to those with disabilities but, we are making these minority groups doubt themselves in their own personal ability and this is unacceptable.

 

So, let’s look past these barriers, let’s drive social change, and challenge these outdated status quos for ourselves, let’s be understanding, respectful and inclusive of each other. The power as consumers of film and television lay in your hands.

 

Here’s to better days.