Real Life with Soup

Real Life with Soup

“Babe, I’m making soup, do you want any?” says a woman at the stove, heating up some Campbell Soup. That doesn’t seem like a very unusual opening to a soup commercial but when the camera pans, the viewer sees another woman.

Campbell Soup has just released another commercial in their Real Life campaign. Click here to see the quick fifteen second ad.

I thought when I Googled the ad, I would see many “conservative” or “Christian” sites recommending the boycott of Campbell Soup, but I didn’t.  The results of my Google search was minimal for negative or positive feedback.

However my Google search results did bring up Campbell’s Real Life ad in 2015 that featured two dads and a Star Wars theme. View that ad here. That promo received a boycott threat from the group One Million Moms. Campbell Soup issued a statement defending the ad and late night talk shows did segments about the controversy.

I would like to think that we’ve come a long way in the last two years and that a soup commercial featuring an LGBTQ couple is just not a big deal. But as I scroll through my google search results again, I see that in the last 6 months One Million Moms has protested LGBTQ ads from Chobani and Zales. What are your thoughts Hayden’s Listers?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Camille’s Anderson’s Journey to the Miss International Queen Pageant

Camille’s Anderson’s Journey to the Miss International Queen Pageant

Camille Anderson was in Thailand in early March preparing to compete in the Miss International Queen pageant. The Miss International Queen pageant has been held annually since 2004 in Pattaya City in Thailand. The pageant is open to female contestants between the ages of 18 and 36 who were born male. The contestants must represent either the country of their birth or the one listed on their passport. Gender-reassignment surgery is not required, and most contestants haven’t done it. Previous winners of the Miss International Queen pageant have gone on to movie, TV and singing careers in Asia and elsewhere. The only past American winner, Mimi Marks, has been a regular at Baton, a drag club in Chicago.

Its been a long road for Anderson to achieve her goal of competing in the pageant. Anderson was born as Mark Cordeta in Tacloban City, Philippines. Mark preferred playing with girls and by the age of 9 he was sneaking into his mom’s closets to try on her heels or bras. “I always felt like I was different,” Anderson told CNN. Mark’s devoutly Catholic family knew he was different, too. They thought he was gay, but nobody really talked about it. “It was like a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ thing. I was always afraid of what my family would say, and what other people would say.” Anderson said.

Not until he immigrated to the United States at age 21 did Mark begin to show more of a feminine side in public. Two years later, he began transitioning to becoming a woman. Mark then became Kim, complete with a legal name change.
The transition created some distance at first between Kim and her parents. She found herself acting differently around them than with her friends. “I felt like I was living two lives,” said Anderson, who asked to be identified by her pageant name. Eventually they adjusted and became supportive.

In 2013, Anderson married her boyfriend, Marco Hudec, in a glamorous outdoor ceremony. He was the one who encouraged Anderson to compete in beauty pageants. “I never had the confidence,” said Anderson, who now lives in Torrance, California, and works as a registered nurse. “He believes in me more than I believe in myself.”

Anderson proved proved to be a natural on the pageant circuit. Within two years she had won three local and national pageants: Miss Los Angeles Pride 2014, Queen USA 2014 and Queen of the Universe 2015. Anderson met Caitlyn Jenner. And her previous crowns qualified her for the big one. It was time to go to Thailand for Miss International Queen.

Pageants for transgender women are not that different from other beauty pageants. There’s an evening gown and a swimsuit competition. The finalists are asked about their hopes and dreams by a panel of judges. Winners wear a tiara and carry flowers. There is one key difference, though. Most traditional beauty queens haven’t faced discrimination, or worse. “Many of the contestants have had trouble being accepted by their families. So we’re trying to bring up their self-esteem,” said Alisa Phanthusak, chair of Miss International Queen’s pageant committee. “It’s not just beauty we are looking for. It’s confidence.”

For Anderson, the past week in Thailand has been a blur of costume fittings, media interviews and other appearances. She likes the message she’s sending to young LGBTQ people who may be watching. “…if you become a beauty queen you become a role model. There’s a lot of visibility for our (transgender) community these days. But there also are a lot of people who will hate, so you have to stay strong. Our voices are being heard now more than before. It’s just going to take a while.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,
The Controversial Gay Character

The Controversial Gay Character

What is more offensive bestiality or a gay character? The world’s reaction to Disney’s new movie Beauty and the Beast may be able to answer that question.

The controversy is a scene in the movie where the supporting character LeFou, is depicted as having a romantic fascination for Gaston and is shown dancing with another man in a ballroom. This scene is three seconds long. The movie’s director, Bill Condon, stated that LeFou, has “a nice, exclusively gay moment.”

As of March 23, the movie has earned over $350 million world wide, but it has also been banned in the US and abroad. A drive-in movie theater in rural Henagar, Alabama said that it would not show the movie because it has a gay character. “We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches,” the drive-in said in a Facebook post. Henagar has a population of 2,344 and Disney did not respond when asked if the film was set to show at this particular theater.

In Kuwait, the nation’s government-owned cinema company, which runs 11 out of the 13 theaters in the Persian Gulf country, announced that all screenings had been canceled and offered a full refund to anyone who had purchased a ticket.

One board member of the National Cinema Co. told the Associated Press, “We were requested to stop the screening and further censor the movie for things that were deemed offensive by the Ministry of Information’s censorship department.”

The treatment of gays and lesbians in the Middle East is mixed. In Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, homosexuality is criminalized and can lead to fines, lashings and imprisonment. In Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Yemen, it can also lead to the death penalty. But in Jordan, Bahrain and Iraq, homosexuality is not illegal.

Kuwait’s ban comes after censors in Malaysia tried to edit out the controversial scenes. Disney refused to edit and was not going to release the film there but then Malaysian authorities decided to allow the film to be released in its entirety.

The movie has also stirred controversy in Russia. Vitaly Milonov, a lawmaker, tried to get the film banned. But it was allowed to be screened uncensored, accompanied by a warning that it was not suitable for children younger than 16.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
The Face of Uganda’s LGBTQ Movement

The Face of Uganda’s LGBTQ Movement

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera is an openly gay woman in Uganda, a country where homosexual acts are punishable by prison sentences. Nabagesera is not only open about her sexuality but she’s made fighting for the rights of Uganda’s LGBTQ community her life’s work.

At 13 is when Nabagesera started writing love letters to girls. “That’s when reality kicked in and the word ‘lesbian’ started (having) a meaning to me,” she told CNN. Nabagesera says she received countless suspensions and expulsions from various schools as her sexual orientation became increasingly apparent. At Nkumba University, Nabagescera says she “…was made to sign a memorandum of understanding with the university administration that I would start dressing like a ‘proper’ woman and I had to report every day to show them that.” She was forbidden from wearing baseball caps and any other clothes that were considered to be for boys. Nabagesera was also banned from being 110 yards of the female dormitory rooms.

Nkumba University was set to expell Nabgesera until her mother intervened. Nabgesera’s mother told her “Kasha I am going to have to say something you will not like, but I have to do this.” Mother and daughter went back into the university’s administration office and Nabgesera’s mother said “Kasha is sick and her sickness has no cure. Just let her finish her studies and she will leave.” Nabagesera says she was shocked. “But after the meeting my mom told me she had to do it to save my education because this time they were determined to expel me.”

Despite the charade at the university, Nabagesera says her family have provided her with unconditional support.
Nabgesera says her mother and father created a very liberal home environment. “I don’t think I’d be able to do this work if it wasn’t for my family,” she says. “My parents always encouraged me …they just took me for what I was.”

These events during Nabagesera’s education motivated her to found Uganda’s LGBTQ movement at the age of 19. “I became interested (in gay rights) and wondered: ‘Why is this such a big deal?” It was only after doing some research that she realized it was illegal to be gay in Uganda. Deciding she had to do something, Nabagesera began holding meetings in a ‘den’ with friends to discuss LGBT discrimination. “I’ve realized there’s a lack of information, education and a lot of ignorance and naivety (in Uganda),” Nabagesera says.

In 2003, Nabagesera co-founded Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) to defend the rights of Uganda’s lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The organization was the first of its kind in Uganda. FARUG took it upon itself to defend marginalized women by meeting with politicians, increasing positive media coverage around LGBTQ issues and conducting workshops and conferences. The website says the organization “recognizes diversity, challenges male chauvinism, patriarchy and cultures that aim at oppressing women.”

Taking such a prominent role in the fight for LGBT rights in Uganda was not only a brave decision, it was a dangerous one. She says it’s scary not knowing what could happen to her at any moment. “It’s a strange and weird life I lead. Today things can be calm, I can go anywhere and nothing happens, then the next day it’s all hell. The good side about growing up gay is that my openness brought so many people like me together which resulted in building a movement. The downside of it is the insults, ridicule, abuses, threats.”

In 2015 Nabagesera created Bombastic, Uganda’s first LGBTQ magazine. The free magazine publishes personal stories and the experiences of the LGBTQ community in order to raise awareness and fight discrimination. Nabagesersa says it is unlike any other publication in the country. “We can freely share our stories and work without any bias,” she says. Nabagesera and her team distributes the magazine nationwide in Uganda, leaving it on doorsteps and car windshields, as an attempt to educate as many Ugandans as possible about the LGBTQ community. “I’m seeing changes in the community and people now realize they’re not alone,” she tells CNN. “Now no one can ever say we, the LGBTQ community don’t exist.”

If Nabagesera wanted a safe, peaceful life with more sexual freedom, the easy answer might have been to leave Uganda.
But leaving her home country is out of the question for Nabagesera. “It’s a big sacrifice but there’s no place I really want to live and call home like Uganda. I founded this movement …if I leave I will be abandoning the community. But when they know you are here and they know you are around it gives them some kind of safety … Some kind of solidarity.”

And Nabagesera says that while it’s slow, change is happening. “I know my children and my grandchildren will not have to go through what I’ve gone through. There’s a shift in mindset and that’s really something to celebrate.”
Nabagesera says there is an increase in the number of Ugandan LGBTQ activists, particularly from the younger generation. “It doesn’t mean everything is OK but at least there’s a very, very big difference from where we began.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Disney Channel Airs First Same Sex Kiss

Disney Channel Airs First Same Sex Kiss

The Disney Channel has just aired its first-ever same-sex kiss and decided to make it a double.

The Disney animated show Star vs. the Forces of Evil, follows the teenage space warrior Star Butterfly while she navigates high school. In this specific episode Star and her best guy friend Marco attend a concert. During the song titled “Just Friends,” the audience begins to pair off and kiss. As the camera moves across the audience it reveals two men and two women kissing along to the tune.

Even though this is the first instance of a kiss between a same-sex couple, Disney has been introducing more LGBTQ characters such as:
– In 2014, popular family comedy Good Luck Charlie featured a lesbian parenting team
– In 2016, animated show Gravity Falls revealed a same-sex couple in two male police officers

You can view the kiss here.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Connecticut Protects Transgender Students

Connecticut Protects Transgender Students

The day after President Donald Trump rescinded federal protections for transgender students in public schools, Governor Dannel P. Malloy strengthened Connecticut’s protection for these students.

Governor Malloy signed an executive order to protect Connecticut transgender students in public schools to use a public bathroom associated with their gender identity. “Discrimination of this kind is outrageous and has no place in our society,” Malloy said in a statement. “This shouldn’t be a partisan issue, the President’s regressive action must be rejected by all compassionate people, regardless of party affiliation.”

But several transgender students and advocates in Connecticut feel that even with state protections, they are worried and angry about Trump’s action.

Owen Schwartz, a Hebron, Connecticut teenager who is transgender, arrived home after Trump’s action and told his mother “Donald Trump hates me.” Schwartz said the president’s decision makes him feel less accepted, less respected and more fearful. “If the president doesn’t support who I am,” Owen said, “it’s kind of hard to go on with my daily life because it’s like the White House is against me. It’s a big deal.”

Robin McHaelen, Executive Director of True Colors, Inc., which provides support and services to LGBT students, said that transgender youth are among “the most vulnerable of the children that we serve” with the highest rates of suicide and the highest rates of “self-medication through substance abuse. For the federal government to send a message that they don’t matter is, in my opinion, absolutely unconscionable,” she said.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Connection Between Social Policy & Mental Health

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in the United States for people aged ten to twenty-four.  The Trevor Project, an organization that works to prevent suicide among LGBT youth, states that young lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth are particularly affected, attempting suicide at four times the rate of straight youth.

Julia Raifman is a study leader and a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Raifman and her team analyzed thirty-two of the thirty-five states that legalized same-sex marriage between 2004 and 2015, before the Supreme Court legalized it nationwide.

Raifman’s research found that suicide attempts by high school students decreased by seven percent in states after they passed laws to legalize same-sex marriage.  Among LGB high school students, the decrease was especially significant, with suicide attempts falling by fourteen percent. But in states that did not legalize same-sex marriage, there was no change.

Raifman told the NewsHour she was interested in studying same-sex marriage laws “as a marker of equal rights in general,” adding that other laws that pertain to LGBT rights, such as employment and housing protections, still vary widely around the country.

The study noted that the laws themselves reflected larger social trends toward support for the LGBT community, a possible factor in the fall in suicide attempts. Raifman said that the decrease was especially concentrated around the time that same-sex marriage laws passed. It is possible that the laws “communicated to young LGB populations that they were equal, and that improved their mental health,” Raifman said. “It’s also possible that increased visibility for same-sex marriage, both in politics and media coverage, increased LGB adolescents’ sense of social support,” she said.

A study published in Pediatrics in 2011, stated that LGB youths were twenty percent more likely to attempt suicide if they were living in unsupportive environments. Raifman said the study suggested a lot of ideas for further research on how different environments can add to, or detract from, the risk for suicide.

“Regardless of political views, I think everyone can agree that reducing adolescent suicide attempts is a good thing,” she said.

The results give more context to the potential effects of social policy on mental health.

Tags: , , , , , , ,