January 10, 2019

Biggest Ever LGBT Asian Contemporary Art Show Coming To Bangkok

“Spectrosynthesis II” is the expanded second edition of a similar exhibition that the Sunpride Foundation co-presented at Taipei’s Museum of Contemporary Art in 2017.
Patrick Sun Kai-yit, the founder of Sunpride, announced today that the 2019 exhibition will be held at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre from November 23.
“Thailand is a natural choice for us because Bangkok, like Taipei, is another home base for me outside of Hong Kong,” Sun said. “The city has always had a reputation for being friendly to the LGBT community, now strengthened by plans for a bill to legalise same-sex civil partnership.”

The foundation was also pleased to find a partner in the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), the city’s biggest contemporary art space, which promotes diversity and inclusiveness as part of its official mission, Sun added. More than 50 artists from various Asian countries will be included in the show, with works belonging to the foundation’s collection as well as loans. There will also be new commissions by artists such as Thailand’s Arin Rungjang and Jakkai Siributr.
Among the highlights will be photographs by the late Ren Hang, a young, gay, Chinese artist who left behind a series of striking portraits of his friends after taking his own life in 2017.
Enid TsuiEnid TsuiA Hong Kong-based charity that uses art to fight sexual-orientation discrimination is taking the largest ever LGBT Asian contemporary art exhibition to Bangkok in November

Sun compared Ren to Lionel Wendt, a Sri Lankan photographer who also died young.
“We will also be showing Wendt’s works, which were avant garde at the time and remain influential even though camera technology has improved a lot. Ren was also doing something nobody had ever done before when he documented his generation in China. I believe his work will live on,” he said.
The foundation will also bring selections from an extraordinary series called “The New Pre-Raphaelites” by India’s Sunil Gupta that it acquired recently. Gupta, who is HIV-positive and a vocal LGBT activist, borrows from Greek myths and Pre-Raphaelite ideals in his portrayal of same-sex couples in India, where there is very limited home-grown iconography that can be borrowed.
Other artists at the exhibition will include Dinh Q. Le, Maria Taniguchi, Ming Wong, Danh Vo and Samson Young. 
“Spectrosynthesis II is a project rather than just an exhibition,” said Pawit Mahasarinand, director of the BACC. “We are also planning, with many local partners, film screenings, stage performances, talks, forums and symposiums at our centre and at other venues. As we’re exploring these issues socially, culturally, politically as well as historically, we’d like to make sure that the public engage in this dialogue.”
Sun believes art can play a role in bridging the divide between policies and public opinion.
“That such a gap exists explains why in Taiwan, a referendum rejected the high court’s ruling that same-sex marriage ought to be allowed. The path to equality is never smooth, and art and culture may help change people’s views and encourage social acceptance,” he said.

The exhibition includes LGBT artists who may or may not make their sexuality explicit in their works, and heterosexual artists whose works feature LGBT themes.
Sun said that an artist’s sexual orientation is relevant to his or her art because all art reflects something about its creator.
“Even if artists don’t think their sexuality is relevant, their identity will still come through their work, I think. Also, the audience may find a fresh way of interpreting a work when it is shown in an LGBT exhibition. For example, Samson Young’s Muted Situation with the silenced choir may be seen in a different context here than when it was shown at the Venice Biennale,” he said. 
The word “spectrosynthesis” merges the words spectrum and photosynthesis, thus shining a light on the LGBT community’s rich and diverse history, he added.

Heading to Bangkok

  • Spectrosynthesis II will be held at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre from November 23
  • More than 50 artists will feature, including Sunil Gupta, Arin Rungjang, Maria Taniguchi, Hong Kong’s Samson Young and the late Ren Hang

Why Not Openly Gay Players in Tennis?

Brian Vahaly in action at the Australian Open in 2004.
 Brian Vahaly in action at the Australian Open in 2004.CREDIT:VIKI LASCARIS
By Charlie Eccleshare
At first glance, men's tennis appears a model of diversity. At next week's Australian Open, the first grand slam of the year, there will be 10 countries and five continents represented in the world top 10 alone. As Jamie Murray puts it: "We have players from all over the world, all different cultures, many walks of life".

And yet in spite of the multiculturalism, there is still one great anomaly at the heart of the men's game: the absence of any openly gay players. In almost 150 years of being an organised sport, only two openly gay men have ever played at elite level, both of whom competed primarily before World War II - multiple grand-slam champion Gottfried von Cramm who was arrested for homosexuality in Nazi Germany, and the American 10-time major winner Bill Tilden.

A third gay player, America's former world No.63 Brian Vahaly, came out publicly in 2017 - a decade after he had retired. Vahaly revealed last August that a handful of professional players, and about 30 at junior and college level, had told him privately that they were gay, but had opted against going public.
In the absence of LGBT trailblazers such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova in the women's game - and more recent openly gay players, such as Belgium's Alison Van Uytvanck - Vahaly looks to have his work cut out. Because the question is not whether there are more gay male players, but why there is still a taboo around homosexuality.

The reality is that homosexuality in men's tennis will be most discussed this year in relation to Margaret Court, the 24-time grand-slam winner.

Court, a Pentecostal minister, regularly denounces homosexuals, but the second-biggest arena at the Australian Open still bears her name, despite pleas from King and others to rebrand it.

According to the players themselves, men's tennis has never been more welcoming. Speaking to 25 players at the elite level, from world No.1 Novak Djokovic to doubles players further down the hierarchy, the majority insisted the locker room would support someone coming out.

Djokovic's view was typical: "I see that as a courageous move. I wouldn't have anything against that. It's everybody's right to have sexual orientation as they desire, any kind of direction in life they desire. I respect it."

Roger Federer, Kevin Anderson, John Isner and Marin Cilic expressed similar sentiments.

Neither would a gay player have to fear being commercially ostracised, which was a consideration for Vahaly. Quite the opposite - the indications are that many companies would celebrate the courage of someone coming out and rush to support them.

"There's far greater understanding of the issues now, and there would likely be a great deal of interest from commercial backers," says Nigel Currie, a sports marketing consultant.

Tennis also benefits from the absence of partisan crowds, which could reduce the fear players have in coming out. And yet, in spite of this supposedly hospitable climate, tennis' wait for a first openly gay active male player since the 1940s continues. Why?
Justin Gimelstob, the former world No.63 who is defending himself against assault allegations in the US, offered an insight into the locker room culture 11 years ago. "The locker room couldn't be a more homophobic place," he said. "We're not gay-bashing. There's just a lot of normal hetero talk about pretty girls and working out and drinking beer."

Vahaly endorses that view - he says he heard homophobic comments "all the time" in this period - and while there is little doubt that locker room attitudes have since become more progressive, there are isolated incidents that give pause for thought. Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky said in 2017 that he would not encourage his daughter to play tennis because "on the WTA tour, almost every other player is a lesbian," while Pierre-Hugues Herbert, a three-time doubles grand-slam champion, believes it would be harder to come out than some outsiders realise. "I don't think it's going to be easy because there is so much homophobia," he suggests.

There is also a more subtle lack of understanding from some players that helps to explain why a player might feel uncomfortable coming out. While Herbert and I spoke, his doubles partner Nicolas Mahut twice made jokes about the pair being a gay couple. Other doubles players, such as Colombia's Robert Farah, made similar jokes that were not necessarily homophobic in intent but seemed to come more from a place of ignorance.

It was also curious to hear how many players said they would welcome a gay player, but only if they showed "respect". The former Wimbledon doubles champion, Marcelo Melo, for instance, said: "If they keep respect with the players, I'm not going to stop talking to someone who says they're gay. But he has to have respect a lot, this is the most important thing. I think you have problems when they don't respect each other."

Geography can also play a part in framing attitudes, with many players on tour coming from countries where homosexuality is largely abhorred.

Herbert believes "it would be easier for someone from certain places but maybe not somewhere in Russia," while grand-slam doubles finalist Juan Sebastian Cabal says, of his native Colombia, "we're still a bit more conservative. If you go to towns and smaller cities, it's way more judged".

Even players who hail from liberal countries inevitably live sheltered lives within the professional tennis bubble, away from the diverse realities of many of the cities they are playing in on tour. It is no surprise they make the odd comment that might make someone uncomfortable about revealing their true sexual identity.

"Most players don't have a lot of exposure to LGBT people themselves, and so they don't know what they don't know," Vahaly says. "So much of what I learned about myself was after I came out."

Changing attitudes within the locker room is one challenge; it is quite another to expect someone to embrace the role of advocate for gay players, and the maelstrom of publicity that would surely follow.
James Harden on a roll in NBA, Iskander Zulkarnain is a badminton maestro, NFL spidercam is awesome, hockey goaltender employs strap to foil puck and Alex Carey is a batsman/keeper dynamo.
"I don't have an advocacy personality," Vahaly says, addressing his reluctance to come out and be defined as "the gay tennis player" while he was still active on tour, or in the years afterwards when he first entered into a same-sex relationship.

Now he is a father, however, Vahaly feels a sense of responsibility to be open. "My life changed when I had two twin boys," he says. "But I respect and understand that a gay player now may say, 'Hey, this isn't my gig and I don't want to be that person'."

There are good reasons to think this could also put that player at a disadvantage in their day job. Naomi Cavaday, the former British No.3, believes that the locker room can be a brutal place, where opponents will latch on to anything they think will make their opponent uncomfortable, and the notion that a player's honesty about their sexuality could be exploited by an opponent desperate to find an edge is not far-fetched.

Indeed, according to Andy Lane, a sports psychologist at the Centre for Health and Human Performance, one of the most consistent traits in sportspeople is hiding any characteristic that could be seized upon as a point of differentiation. "Sport is all about protecting your inner self, and top athletes will withhold anything they think could be a potential weakness," Lane says.

The Austrian doubles specialist Alexander Peya agrees. "Sure, coming out makes you vulnerable to that sort of thing [criticism]. Anything that maybe could be explored as a weakness. Being gay is not a weakness, of course, but I think it's just the way sport works. It's man against man or team against team. If you're open to talk about something that worries you or is tricky in some moments, it's not always easy."

If a gay male player is to break the mould in the sport in the next 10 to 20 years - as Vahaly hopes - then encouraging openness and acceptance will be paramount.

The Association of Tennis Professionals has pledged to incorporate more discussion of LGBTQ issues as part of its welfare programme, as well as more knowledge sharing with the Women's Tour Association, but at the moment the main driver is coming from elsewhere.

American tennis journalist Nick McCarvel has been at the forefront of promoting the inclusivity message, hosting an event with Vahaly ahead of the US Open to try to encourage understanding. After the success of the event, McCarvel will host another discussion prior to the Australian Open - this time with former basketball star and gay trailblazer Jason Collins.

So, as 2019 begins, are we any closer to having an openly gay male player?

"Absolutely," Vahaly says. "It needs a person who is at the top of their game and consistently playing at the grand slams to say, 'Hey, this is me, take it or leave it'. But they must also recognise that the world and the sport supports them. It's just going to take the right person at the right time."

The Telegraph, London

Gay Singer Songwriter Oily Alexander: Why Do Gay Men Hate Their Bodies??

Openly gay British singer-songwriter Olly Alexander, the voice behind pop project Years & Years, was photographed for the pages of Teen Vogue when he was 18 years old. What would be a dream opportunity for most young adults was a nightmare for him because all he could think about on set was the catering: a "big delicious buffet with cake." It gave him anxiety because he was expecting cigarettes and water.

Today, in a series of tweets, Alexander, now 28, addressed how he had an eating disorder when he was 18, consumed for years with what he was or wasn't eating. In the spirit of New Year's reflection, he is healthier and no longer triggered by those experiences, but rather, empowered to speak publicly about them. And while he's definitely not alone, as a gay person, Alexander highlights an experience of negative body image that is both isolating and all too common.


At the start of every year, Americans all set and flaunt their "resolutions," which time-honored tradition shows. Most of them concern the tenets of "happiness," as ingrained as ideas of patriotism, and we don't mean life or liberty. In 2019, happiness is the amount of money in your bank account, where you've traveled, and how hot you look. If you're gay and cisgender, and especially if you're white and/or particularly privileged, resolutions can be about any version of the above.

But ideas of what it means to be gay and "well," promulgated by seeing the same forms of media over and over that tell women they're never thin enough and men they're never buff enough, have had a historically and statistically unfortunate effect on LGBTQ people everywhere, regardless of how they identify.

"Much of our culture tells us that we won't get the things we want in life if we don't achieve these aesthetic conformities," said New York-based writer and editor Alex Blynn, who identifies as gay. "Nothing makes me feel less satisfied with my body or guiltier about my choices than the January-barrage of gay 'fitness influencers' sharing near-naked photos of themselves on Instagram. They show off their hairless chests and abs and quads while beaming ear to ear with impossibly white teeth and a large plastic container of protein powder in their hands. They're usually on beaches or on a balcony somewhere in LA."

For Blynn, who is six feet tall and weighs 245 pounds, because of these messages, and especially at the start of the deluge of New Year #fitspo, he is often left wondering what's wrong with his body. "I can run a couple steady miles, I occasionally lift weights, I practice yoga regularly, I even enjoy hiking," he told PAPER. "I adore pizza and marijuana. I also have a plethora of body hair, a gut, and thick thighs. And most of the time I do feel happy in my natural body, but the majority of mainstream gay culture certainly does not help me feel that way."

Although wellness is a spectrum of thought, habit, and experience, this concept narrows for cis gay men. It is most evident at the dawn of a New Year, when we are bombarded with posts on social media, on which gay men post before-and-after progress photos with vaguely spiritual captions; on which gay men talk and write breathlessly about their fitness journeys as if doing so is totally disconnected from the size of their bank accounts, where they get to travel (and how they fly when they do), what clothes they wear, who they surround themselves with, and what they look like.

As if a post on social media is just for them and not for an audience of occasional thousands; as if being seen as the hottest person in the room isn't inextricably linked to social currency, and all that affords; as if reinforcing a standard of beauty for those who look like you and believe the same things you do doesn't harm or exclude those who don't look like or believe the same things you do.

But what does that mean, really? And is any of it attainable? When is enough good enough?


Andrew Power, a New York-based graphic designer and erstwhile drag queen who performs as Hellvetika, hit a raw nerve on the Internet's reactive current this month, when he posted this tweet, despite having also shared his #TopNine images of shirtless 2018 selfies beforehand. "I just want gay men to be honest with themselves," he wrote, calling out "fitness journeys" as being a disguised gateway for social and sexual access.

The ensuing thread prompted a polarizing discussion online, with naysayers accusing Power of being a bitter and hateful gay criticizing the whole of fitness culture, who was probably also just ugly and jealous. They also called him a hypocrite due to his own online shirtless selfies. Those who agreed with Power said that he was most likely confronting an inconvenient truth and calling out the privileges of those holding this "truth" sacred.

When PAPER spoke with non-binary Brooklyn-based performance artist Blvck Laé D., they echoed similar sentiments as Power's. "I think that we as gay and queer people tend to focus on fitness, not for ourselves, but for other people," they said. "Usually potential suitors."

London musician Neo 10Y (real name: Nik Thakkar) acknowledged the historical pressure tied to all this, citing a "Tom of Finland meets Venice Bitch/Beach aesthetic" that's become a gay goal, but feels that as a community, we've made strides forward. "I feel that queer progressives over the last few years have been leading the body diversity conversation, and helping us all to accept who we are on the outside," he said, though he's shared plenty of ToF-leaning thirst traps online over the years.
"It's hilarious," Power wrote on Twitter. "I've been called ugly & lazy, people assume I don't go to the gym myself and that I'm lashing out because I'm jealous and bitter, several people have made fun of me for being short lol."

Another user responded to Power's thread: "I go to the gym because I desperately need serotonin. Also, I definitely would be healthier if i lost weight. All the shit you talked about is at the back of my head as part of a melange of negativity saying that I'm not worthy. I try to work out in spite [sic] of all that." Another chimed in: "You called out 'gay men.' Which refers to all gay men on a 'fitness journey.'"
Power doubled down, writing: "People know that someone going to the gym a normal amount and trying to be healthy is not what I'm talking about right???? Like I'm referring to fitness obsessed guys who do steroids and are always talking about how they need to get bigger."

A video posted to his YouTube further clarifies his position and shows that Power knows he struck a chord of discomfort that also yielded discussion. But he said it is a necessary, and essential step for progress in helping gay men transform the way they see themselves.

According to a 2016 study, of 131 gay and bisexual men deemed the "sexual minority," 32% of them reported having a negative self and body image. Objectification theory is used to explain this experience, which poses the idea that men in the sexual minority face an increased pressure to achieve and maintain an "ideal" body — lean and muscular — in order to obtain the attraction and validation from male sex partners, not unlike straight women.

However, the ongoing negative effects of self-objectification include a cyclical pattern of monitoring one's own body, but focusing more on how it looks than how it feels or functions. Naturally, the study found that this level of physical dissatisfaction, the constant comparison to an ideal, leads to depression, anxiety when having sex, and overall, the undertaking of risky sex decisions. (For example the study found a direct link between HIV transmission between men who have condomless sex with men and elevated levels of body dissatisfaction).

In this 2008 study, co-authors found that among gay men, lesbians, and heterosexual men and women, gay men reported the worst sex quality of life as a function of their body image, with 42% of gay men stating their body image negatively impacted the quality of their sex life.

The perceived lack of transparency around the relationship between idealized gay body image and sex is something else Power called out, writing on Twitter: "You wanna be one of the guys standing in a line on a beach in Mykonos just saaay that [...] I'm not saying you can't DO IT, just stop bullshitting us omg."

Rembrandt Duran, a buzzy New Yorker who's been referred to as the city's most popular top on a mission to normalize gay sex, has arguably leaned into embracing desirable physical traits inextricably linked to having even more gay sex. But it's something he's felt less pressure to conform to, as he's become more comfortable with himself.

"I definitely learned that I had to [conform to gay attractiveness standards] when I first came out, and I was more expressive via the clothing I wore," Duran said. "But as I got older, it bothered me less, and maybe because I became numb to it, but it truly doesn't bother me anymore to 'play the game', especially if it's just a quick hook-up. I've turned it into almost a role-playing experience, but I'd never do that when it came to dating. I'd never date anyone I had to masc it up for or be performative."

Despite stories like Duran's, research might suggest that the widely held assumption of all idealized, hot gay men having the best sex in the world with other idealized, hot gay men could be little more than a myth. Regardless, that assumption continues to be reinforced by pressure within the community that many gay men know intimately.

Power remembers when he first moved to New York at age 22 and struggled to fit in: "I was very blind to what the whole fitness culture entailed," he said. "I didn't know what was possible and who I could be friends with, so I kind of wrapped up in all the wrong stuff. And I definitely spent a few years just working way too hard in the gym trying to look a certain way, trying to gain. Basically, I felt like that's what I had to do. How do I make friends otherwise? Why would people even pay attention to me?"
But this experience is shared by many across the divide.


Let it be known that gay men can engage in fitness for any reason they desire, and are not obligated to share their motives. Let it be known that this is true for everyone. If one's goal in going to the gym is to use the accepted standard of chiseled attractiveness to gain social and sexual capital, that's also an individual choice. But for choices that are so personal for gay men, why are they so aggressively reinforced within the community?

For New York artist and graphic designer HeyRooney, who identifies as queer, the reinforcement of a "gay adonis" standard means that the culture of wellness, then, fails to be an inclusive one. Take, for instance, what feels like an endless stream of Instagram accounts dedicated to showing only the bodies of toned gay men.

"We have to consider how or whether we invest energy in perpetuating that culture," Rooney said. "That doesn't mean everyone cancels their gym memberships, and it doesn't mean we shame fit bodies. It just means we spend less time worshipping them or feeling bad we don't look that way."

Tommy Hart works as an instructor for Equinox, an international, high-end chain of gyms, in which some clubs are considered gay meccas. In New York, an "all-access" membership runs well over $200 a month. For many members, it's simply a luxurious place to work out, accommodating of aspirational lifestyles. But in many ways, it also represents an undeniable intersection of social status and body politics. How can a toned, taut physique get you ahead, and what does it take to keep it up? Few feel that pressure more intimately than gay men. And for Hart, his literal job involves staying in "ideal" shape, and helping others achieve similar fitness goals.

"We're kidding ourselves if we say we're spending at least an hour a day lifting weights six times a week because 'it's good for your heart,'" Hart said. "Whether it be the movies that glamorize masculine men with massive shoulders, social media 'celebrities' with shredded abs and hundreds of thousands of followers, or even a lot of the porn that I watch, I feel like I'm not sexy or worth anything as a young gay man if I don't have a strong back and a big chest to show off when I post a photo or when I'm at the club. The real problem is, I feel like I need a great body so that I get attention from people who wouldn't otherwise look twice at me."

For Paris-based artist and musician Casey Spooner, who is one-half of electronic pop duo Fischerspooner, working toward having a "great" body became part of a performance, a personal politic, and ensuring his success. "I was under immense pressure to perform as my career was in free fall due to the banking collapse of 2008," Spooner said. "I started chanting, My body is a weapon, my body is a tool, my body is a language, my body is for you."

This chant became a mantra that he explored through his music over the next nine years. When his album  SIR was released last year, Spooner debuted an archetypal new image, complete with an aforementioned Tom of Finland physique, handlebar mustache, leather chaps, and all. This visual narrative was intentionally employed to take a close look at homosexuality and its relationship to the ideal cis male body, but this artist's experiment had its own real-life consequences.

"In my pursuit for visual perfection, I found myself struggling with self-esteem and dysmorphia," Spooner said. "I never felt that I could fully achieve the body I wanted so that I could draw connections between art history and gayness." Where life imitated art, Spooner, too, became lost in an image, though he said he did attain what he was after. "I've learned happiness and perfection are painfully allusive."

Like Spooner, Power also once believed he could achieve a fit body if only he tried hard enough. "I've spent all this time thinking that I could become a certain kind of image," he said. "I really thought that I could do it by being healthy and that it would be maybe three or four years in the gym really pushing myself that I could become this ideal. Once I realized that there's often so much dangerous risk and sacrifice at stake, I let a lot of that go."


A legitimate danger of chronic body dissatisfaction among gay and queer people, and especially gay men, is overdoing it. In addition to more mental and social symptoms of body dysmorphia including depression, poor job performance leading to unemployment, sexual anxiety, and high-risk behavior, there are more severe physical symptoms resulting from dysmorphia: steroid abuse, muscular injury, and disordered eating habits including overly restrictive diets, such as over-reliance on dietary supplements are a few.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, at least 30% of people diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) also have an eating disorder. BDD is also a form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and people with OCD may feel as though taking action on those thoughts is the only way to make the thoughts stop. It's easy, then, to see how an obsession with muscles, translating to hours in the gym, could be considered part of an OCD lifestyle.

Most of the people quoted for this story mentioned any of the above afflictions affecting how gay and queer people view themselves. Still others only wanted to speak off the record about their harrowing experiences with forms of body dysmorphia.

About three years ago, I was in a place of financial ruin that I'd never previously experienced. I had just returned to New York from Indiana after two years away "finding myself." I returned, nursing the wounds of a breakup that left me feeling unlovable and worthless. I was 26 going on 27; I struggled to find work for months, and had to settle for a string of minimum-wage service jobs to make ends meet, and one of them was working the front desk at a downtown Equinox. I had to pay my rent in installments as money slowly came in, both from those jobs and kind loans from friends. I survived for months on one $1 pizza slice per day, and I lost some weight and got compliments from men who had never noticed me before the weight loss.

The sole perk of my gig at Equinox was a free membership, and so, at the pinnacle of high social standing, class privilege, and attractiveness was me, a Black, non-binary, queer, femme-presenting person, spending up to two hours at a time on a Stairmaster. I lost even more weight, could fit a 27 waist for the first time since high school, and still more gorgeous gay men told me how good I looked and that I was skinty. I posted my first-ever shirtless selfies online and my sex life improved. I loved the attention. The broken heart was buried with idealized self-image. I really loved that, too.

After about a year of this, I got higher paid jobs, dropped that free luxury membership, and my monetary outlook improved. I started eating more regularly because my body craved it, and I noticed my body return to a more "normal" weight. Though I was fully self-supporting financially and started looking and generally feeling healthier, the compliments and sexual attention stopped. That's when I started throwing up. At first, once a day, then, after every meal.

I told a friend I felt myself spiraling, and I got psychiatric help. It has taken years of professional opinions and personal choices, but I have a fuller view of myself than ever before. And even though I still feel invisible in a Venice Beach lineup of shirtless gays — because, to so many of them, I am — I don't feel pressure to look a certain way. I do feel obligated to make sure I feel my best. Sometimes that's in tandem with a regular, manageable (for me) fitness routine. Mostly it's about my support system. And in the three years since my body-image rock bottom, I've become more grateful for the strength of it, and the strength within me.

And thankfully, for every story like mine, there are other antidotes to toxic sides of wellness culture. One online trend that emerged at the end of 2018 was #TopNine posts. Here is one from activist and writer Adam Eli, who told PAPER, "I thought it was true for so long that in order to have a voice or a platform in the queer community you have to look a certain way. But now I know it isn't."

Additional reporting by Brendan Wetmore

Photo via Getty

January 9, 2019

Rod Rosenstein to Resign and Trump Threatens to Withhold FEMA Funds For CA. Fires

Report: Rod Rosenstein expected to resign once new AG confirmed 

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has communicated to the White House and President Trump that he plans to leave office once William Barr is confirmed as attorney general, ABC News, and CNN report. 
The big picture: There is no indication Rosenstein is being forced out by the Trump administration, ABC writes. In September, Rosenstein offered his resignation after reports surfaced that he suggested the 25th Amendment be invoked. 


Trump threatens to end FEMA funds for California wildfires President Trump threatened to cut off FEMA funding for California's wildfire relief in a Wednesday tweet, blaming the state's poor land management. 

"Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest fires that, with proper Forrest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!"
Our thought bubble from Axios science editor Andrew Freedman: Climate change is extending wildfire season year-round and increasing the frequency of extreme fires that spread quickly and are harder to contain. Forest management, including "raking" brush, which President Trump has previously advocated, would not reduce the risk, fire experts have told Axios.

Bayard Rustin A Black Gay Activist with Dr. King, A Nonviolent Fighter Until he Died at 75

We have published the story of Bayard Rustin before and its amazing the work this man did for the black community and as a nonviolent LGBTQ social justice activist.
 Bayard Rustin (R) and his Love Walter Naegle


Newly released audio of gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin reveals the extent to which he valued the intersection of his racial and his sexual identity — and how his life as an openly gay man nearly derailed his ability to fight for equality.

Rustin, an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. who became more vocal on LGBTQ issues later in his life, said during an interview with the Washington Blade in the 1980s that he recalled a time in the 1940s when a mother warned her daughter not to touch him because he was black. He felt that it was important to educate the young child about race, and as a gay man, he also realized that she needed to learn that gay people also existed. That attitude prompted him to be more open about his sexuality that was at all customary for public figures of his era.

“It occurred to me shortly after that that it was an absolute necessity for me to declare homosexuality because if I didn’t, I was a part of the prejudice,” he said several years before he died at age 75 in 1987. “I was aiding and abetting the prejudice that was a part of the effort to destroy me.”

An activist who believed in nonviolent resistance, Rustin spearheaded the organizing effort of the 1963 March on Washington and helped play a major role in the civil rights movement alongside King. But his sexual orientation wound up becoming a serious roadblock in his work.

“At a given point, there was so much pressure on Dr. King about my being gay — and particularly because I would not deny it — that he set up a committee to explore whether it would be dangerous for me to continue working with him,” Rustin recalled in the newly available audio, which will be aired on the Making Gay History podcast.

Robt Seda-Schreiber of the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, which provides advocacy, education, and a safe space for LGBTQ and intersex people, said the newly surfaced clip “solidifies and spotlights the undeniable truth” of Rustin’s courage.

“Too few folks nowadays are aware that Bayard Rustin planned the March, inspired the Freedom Riders, & brought non-violence to Dr. King himself, among many other extraordinary accomplish­ments,” Seda-Schreiber said in an email message. “This lack of recognition is directly related to him not hiding in the shadows at a time when it was de rigueur for one’s very survival.”

Rustin’s surviving partner, Walter Naegle, provided the audio, according to NPR. Naegle, who lives in Chelsea, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gay Football Player Jake Bain From Indiana State Tells His Story

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Jake Bain's football team had just won the state championship his sophomore year of high school. He was so proud. Everyone kept telling him what an amazing athlete he was, what an incredible future he had in sports. That he'd play running back at a Division I college.
As the accolades poured in, all Bain could think was: "But...I'm gay. Can a football player be gay?"
At night, alone in bed, Bain would cry himself to sleep, begging to wake up straight.
"I was at an all-time high and I was getting so much attention for athletics," Bain, a running back for Indiana State University, said Monday on the "The Ellen Show." "But at the same time, in the back of my head, I had started questioning my sexuality and what it was I truly wanted."
Weeks later, Bain was standing in front of his classmates in an assembly at John Burroughs School in St. Louis coming out. Ellen DeGeneres showed that clip before introducing Bain on her show.
Standing in a T-shirt with a rainbow and the word "Pride" on it, Bain told his high school:  "I wanted so badly to be straight. There were countless nights where I would cry myself to sleep, begging to wake up straight, asking why it had to be me."
DeGeneres looked at Bain after the clip and told him "I admire you. I'm proud of you. I know how hard it is for anyone to come out, especially a football player in a small town." 
Bain, who was a three-time all-state player and also broke Missouri state and school records in track, said his high school was extremely accepting. College was his next worry.
"I had a lot of nerves coming out," he said. "At that time, there weren't... there aren't very many out openly gay football players."
He wasn't sure any college would want him on its team. But once he got to Indiana State, Bain said, his worries were put to rest.
"Even before I committed there I talked to my coach about my sexuality and I wanted to be openly gay at Indiana State," Bain said. "And he assured me from the very beginning that I was going to be accepted by my community at Indiana State and that my teammates were going to treat me just like anybody else on the team. That just meant so much to me."
After hearing that, DeGeneres told Bain: "Life can be beautiful. Life doesn't have to be hard." She then introduced Bain's boyfriend, Hunter, who was in the audience.
"NCAA regulations say you can't accept gifts because you are an athlete or some stupid thing like that," DeGeneres said. "So Hunter is going to get a six-night stay at (a resort) in Fiji and maybe he will bring you."
Bain fought back tears as Hunter joined them on stage. Earlier in the show, Bain told DeGeneres she had been an inspiration to him.
"Before I came out I used to watch your show all the time and it just means so much to me to actually be here now," he said. "You've done so much for the entire LGBT community and just humanity as a whole so it means so much for me to be on the show."
Follow IndyStar sports reporter Dana Benbow on Twitter: @DanaBenbow. Reach her via e-mail: dbenbow@indystar.com.

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