One Equal World

A photo of the dictionary definition of bisexual.

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Mara Wilson is a special kind of celebrity, the kind who was a child star and was, and continues to be, important to people right around her own age. With her online presence small but buoyed up by appearances on popular podcasts and Youtube channels, she handles social media with a blunt sort of grace. She’s not Matilda anymore. She’s 29, she’s Mara, and she’s a nerd household name.

And she’s bisexual, too.

Wilson came out almost by accident in the emotional aftermath of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in June 2016.

“The LGBTQ community has always felt like home, especially a few years later when I, uh, learned something about myself. So thank you,” she tweeted.

Shortly after, she confirmed that she is “Bi. But yeah,” in response to people accusing her of appropriating the sympathies evoked by the tragedy.

“I know a lot of people don’t like the Kinsey scale, and that is fine by me. But I’m pragmatic at heart and find comfort in numbers. … Let me put it this way: I’m a 2,” she continued. For those not familiar with Kinsey, a two on the Kinsey scale of gender-based attraction means one’s attractions are ‘Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual.’ Which means bisexual.

Wilson, whose memoir went up on shelves September 13th, didn’t expect her casually made statement to go viral on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, the three giants of social media, and the response overwhelmed her, even though it was vastly positive.

We know that many children are aware of their own labels pretty young. It’s very good to imagine young bi girls being able to watch Matilda and see that little superhero and know they belong with her. And it’s good to know that Wilson, who is funny, clever, and worldly, belongs with the LGBT community.

An image of a red stamp that reads, "banned."

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In case you don’t know who Steven Anderson is, here’s a quick breakdown: he’s a homophobic preacher who loves hate speech and hates everybody. Specifically, he made headlines when he led a sermon praying for the death of President Barack Obama, and again for saying that gay and transgender people should be murdered. He also celebrated the Pulse nightclub shooting. Oh, and he said that the Paris bombings happened because France is a sinful nation and that the Eagles of Death Metal concert attendees (not, by the way, a death metal band) were devil worshippers.

So yeah, sorry about that, but it’s important to know that this guy is not pleasant. He’s a pastor in his own little church in Arizona which who, for whatever reason, loves to travel to Africa to try and bolster the ranks of his hate group church (as in, the Southern Poverty Law center declared them a hate group). But here’s where we get to the good part: he’s failing miserably at that mission.

Having made it known that he was planning to visit South Africa, a country with a really discriminatory history which is trying hard to do better, the United Kingdom banned him from entry. He couldn’t even have a connecting flight in London. Then, South Africa barred his entry as well. He is on record as thanking God that he had a wide open door to Botswana, but guess what? Yeah, Botswana has declared him a “prohibited immigrant” which means that he is to be deported from the country.

Why is this important? Because it shows that, throughout the world, homophobia is losing ground, and hate-speech is becoming less and less acceptable. South Africa is a perfect example of a country with a violent, terrible history built on racism and oppression, which is now home to some of the most progressive laws in the world. They’re working hard to make their country a better place, and if they can come this far this fast, then the U.S. certainly has hope.

A photo of crime scene tape that reads, "crime scene, do not enter."

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On July 4, 2016, transgender woman Deeniquia Dodds was shot in the neck in Washington D.C. The 22-year-old spent nine days on life support before she passed away. After more than two months, police finally have a suspect in custody.

Yesterday, September 15, police apprehended 22-year-old Shareem Hall in connection with Dodds’ murder. However, Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham said there’s no reason to believe the shooting was a hate crime.

“In all likelihood, we believe the motive in this case was robbery,” Newsham stated.

But that doesn’t make members of the transgender community feel any safer. A 2013 national report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) reveals that 72% of all hate violence homicides were transgender women. To make matters worse, 67% of these victims were transgender women of color.

Earline Budd, a transgender activist and friend of Dodds, was both shocked and heartbroken by her murder.

“We always expect that we’re in harms way in terms of robberies and assaults and things that happen, but murder? No,” Budd stated in an on-air interview.

Dodds’ is estimated to be the 15th transgender person murdered this year. Joeann Lewis, a family member who helped raise Dodds, said that Dodds was a prostitute. Lewis often worried about Dodds safety. Dodds being African American, transgender, and a prostitute put her at a much higher risk.

“Regardless of what their sexuality is, they are human beings just like we are,” Lewis stated.

Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham assured the community that they’re taking the crime seriously, and will prosecute the murderer to the fullest extent of the law.

“Whenever we lose a life in our city, we take it personally,” Newsham stated. “We want folks to know that we are going to continue to work to make sure we hold people responsible for this kind of violence on our streets.”

A photo of a homosexual male couple consulting with a tax professional.

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Last year, the Supreme Court finally recognized the rights of same-sex couples to get married. However, the IRS has just now managed to catch up with the tax side of things. On September 2nd, the changes finally went into effect which removed language like “husband and wife” from tax documents and regulations.

A variety of regulations have been affected, such as Income Tax, Estate Tax, Employment Tax and others, meaning that people in same-sex marriages can finally, legally, enjoy the same tax benefits as people in heterosexual marriages. It’s been almost a year since the IRS and Department of the Treasury suggested making these changes, so it’s not like the IRS was just twiddling their thumbs. They proposed the changes in October of 2015, and SCOTUS only recognized same-sex marriage in July of 2015, so all things considered, that’s a pretty quick turnaround.

Of course, there are a lot of hoops to jump through when you’re trying to change an entire system. But rest assured, the new regulations will be there for the next tax season so that same-sex couples can file their taxes the same as their heterosexual neighbors. Good news for tax advisers who have access to a whole new field of clients!

Depending on whom you talk to, joint filing is either a boon or a curse; for some people being married comes with tax benefits, while for others it puts them into a higher bracket. The details vary from state to state, so if you’re filing as a married couple for the first time (gay or straight!) you should definitely consult a professional to ensure you get everything right.

On the bright side, straight and queer folks alike can now complain equally about taxes.

A photo of a protester holding a sign that reads, "love Trumps hate."

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Donald Trump has been saying for a while now that he’s a better candidate for LGBTQ+ voters than Secretary Clinton. You can go ahead and take a moment to laugh at that.

His argument is that LGBTQ+ voters can’t trust Clinton because she has taken money from Saudi Arabia, but like most things Trump says, that’s not true. The Clinton Foundation did receive money from that country’s king before Clinton took her job as Secretary of State. Trump, meanwhile, has made at least $10 million off that same king, who owns the 45th floor of the Trump World Tower.

Of course, it’s possible that Trump doesn’t actually know what Saudi Arabia is, because he seems very confused on a lot of issues that deal with Muslims, the Middle East, and the LGBTQ+ community. For example, his response to the Pulse shooting was “extreme vetting” of Muslim immigrants (even though the shooter was an American born and raised here). But aside from that, he chose Mike Pence as his running mate, you know, the guy who tanked Indiana’s economy after pushing a “religious freedom” bill through legislation. Oh, and he thinks Phyllis Schlafly was a “Champion for Women.”

But Trump isn’t pulling one over on the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ voters are smart enough to realize that Trump and Pence are an awful choice for the highest office in the country. But that doesn’t make these kinds of comments any less troubling, hilarious though they may seem. There are a lot of people who aren’t as well educated about the community or the struggles it has had to face. There might even be people out there who consider themselves LGBTQ+ friendly but still support Trump. It’s on us as a community to continue to educate the public until all acts of hate and discrimination are eliminated from our system.

A photo of a teenage boy sitting on a bed at a homeless shelter.

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Though Bea Arthur died in 2009, the Maude and Golden Girls star is still giving. She bequeathed $300,000 to the Ali Forney Center, which she had long supported throughout her life. The Center is dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ homeless youth in New York City, who make up about 40% of the city’s estimated 4,000 homeless teenagers.

Despite a general trend toward acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in this country, there are still a lot of families who, upon finding out that their children are lesbian, gay, transgender, or otherwise identify within that community, cut all ties with those children. These kids are kicked out and often wind up on the street, because it’s hard to be a teenager without a home anywhere, much less in a city like New York.

But thanks to Bea Arthur, the Ali Forney Center has been able to help a lot of those kids get by. They have 12 housing sites and a 24/7 drop-in center geared toward helping homeless LGBTQ+ youth. Her gift helped the organization make it through the recession, and now they’re nearing completion on their newest youth home in the East Village, the Bea Arthur Residence. The new residence will have 18 beds and is expected to open in February of 2017.

Though 18 beds may not sound like a lot, the new residence will help to alleviate New York City’s homeless crisis, where every little bit helps. Remember, too, that New York is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and real estate there is not only difficult to come by, but expensive as well. Getting 18 beds into a building is a pretty impressive feat, and it will allow those kids to stay in the city that they already call home, while they get on their own two feet and find ways to move on with their lives.

A photo of a woman laying down on a couch, clutching her lower abdomen in pain.

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Periods, and the various side effects thereof, are often made light of on sitcoms and in movies, even in everyday life. Men in particular don’t understand just how disruptive menstruation can be. A lot of women don’t even understand it, because the experience varies from woman to woman. What is important to understand though is that 1 in 5 women suffer from painful menstruation that can be, in the words of one researcher “almost as bad as having a heart attack.”

That is nothing to joke about, and it’s something that we should be taking seriously, but modern medicine knows close to nothing about the problem. There’s a good reason for that though: medical science doesn’t put a very high priority on treating or even investigating the issue. For any number of reasons, we don’t like to talk about menstruation, and we don’t like to treat it like a real problem. The same field that will bend over backwards to help old men deal with erectile dysfunction, and treat that like a serious, life-threatening problem, doesn’t want to bother funding research into an actual painful, disruptive issue.

There are a handful of doctors and researchers who are taking the problem seriously and are trying to do something about it. The problem of erectile dysfunction might even help in the process, as one team has found that Viagra can help alleviate painful menstruation, but further research is needed before any final conclusions can be made. But getting funding for that research is proving to be difficult.

In the meantime, 1 in 5 women suffer, usually in silence. But for those women who do have painful menstruation, there is one thing they can do: they can talk about it. Menstruation is a part of life, and it’s not something that we should be embarrassed to talk about. We need to have a larger, world-wide conversation about the issue in order to start giving it the respect it deserves.