Showing posts with label LGBT Related. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LGBT Related. Show all posts

17 June 2021

Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On


Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On
Lucy Lawless as the fierce Xena, the warrior princess (AF archive / Alamy)
Xena the warrior princess, played by Lucy Lawless, captivated audiences around the world for six series with her high kicks, sword skills and distinctive war cry. The series followed her as she fought her way through armies, monsters and gods, alongside her soul mate and moral compass, Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor).

Xena travelled across space and time, taking us from ancient Greece to Rome, Egypt, Britain, China, India, Scandinavia and finally to Japan, where it all came to an end 20 years ago on June 18 2001.

Starting life as an antagonist of Hercules in three episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena was so popular as a character that she was given her spin-off series that ran from 1995 to 2001. At the time, Xena: Warrior Princess was considered groundbreaking as it started a strong female action heroine and was the only popular adventure, action, science fiction or fantasy show that featured female leads without male counterparts.

On the 20th anniversary of the final episode, it worth revisiting this great show and exploring why it was loved by a truly broad spectrum of viewers, from young girls drawn in by an active female role model and ancient history buffs to sci-fi fans and the LGBTQ community.

Xena and the Amazons

A reformed warlord from ancient Greece, Xena was not an Amazon but a friend to the tribes of warrior women. To ancient Greek writers, the Amazons were women who fought and behaved like men and were unnatural barbarians. They have since been adopted as positive female role models who break with misogynistic stereotypes of womanhood – they live in a self-sufficient, female-dominated society as warriors and intellects. The term Amazon feminism is now used to describe a branch of feminism that promotes female physical prowess as a way to achieve gender equality.

Before Xena, the Amazons featured in the 1970s Wonder Woman series. Not quite the feminist icons we expect today, these women wore pastel-coloured negligees as they adopted a peaceful life without men on Paradise Island.

In Xena, while the Amazons may also have been attired in revealing costumes made of furs and skins, their separatist society values martial as well as academic skills. An Amazon tells Gabrielle that the Amazon world is based on “truth and an individual woman’s strength”.

The Amazons from Greek mythology lived apart from men, at the edge of the known world, and fought bravely against male heroes such as Hercules, Theseus and Achilles. In Xena, the Amazons also live in a matriarchal society and are skilled fighters who can hold their own against men.

The Amazons in Wonder Woman (2017) can be seen as Xena’s big-screen descendants. The costumes and fighting prowess of Penthesilea (Nina Milner) in the BBC drama Troy: Fall of a City (2018) has tinges of Xena. While the leadership ability of the immortal Amazon Andy (Charlize Theron) in the Netflix film The Old Guard, can also be seen as inspired by Xena.

But while Troy: Fall of a City and The Old Guard are aimed at older audiences, Xena was popular across all age groups. For instance, episodes of Xena were broadcast in the UK on Channel Five’s Milkshake! Saturday morning slot in the 90s and early noughties for young viewers. This led many young girls to adopt Xena as their role model.

Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On
Xena and Gabrielle (Screengrab)

The Xena subtext

Xena was also popular with gay and lesbian viewers. In the 1990s, openly gay relationships were mostly missing from popular US television series. However, Xena’s relationship with Gabrielle was interpreted as much as that of hero and sidekick as it was friends and lovers. Series producers began to play with this idea, for example, putting Xena and Gabrielle together in a sexy bath in season two fan-favourite episode A Day in the Life, so that for many, the subtext became the main text.

Although a lot of fans were dismayed that Xena died in the final episode they were treated to a long goodbye kiss between Gabrielle and Xena’s ghost. Series producers never openly made Xena and Gabrielle a lesbian couple. But LGBTQ+ fans championed their relationship, which is believed to have paved the way for openly gay relationships we see in television series today.

One of the joys of looking back at Xena 20 years on is its playfulness when compared with dark fantasy sci-fi fantasies like Game of Thrones. It features seriously badass female characters, and at times offers a serious message about female solidarity and feminism, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Some of the special effects may now seem dated, but the storylines still ring true and the characters of Xena and Gabrielle can continue to be inspirational for a new generation of young female viewers.

About Today's Contributor:

Amanda Potter, Visiting Research Fellow, The Open University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

5 May 2021

#BlackTransPrayerBook - Black Trans Artists Say This Film Will End Anti-Trans Violence

#BlackTransPrayerBook - Black Trans Artists Say This Film Will End Anti-Trans Violence
Dane Figueroa Edidi (L) J Mase III (R) photo by Michael J. Eckert
Transphobia is rooted in white supremacy. This is what J Mase III & Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, executive producers of the forthcoming documentary, the Black Trans Prayer Book, continuously remind their audiences. 
At a recent workshop for Syracuse University, the two went through a timeline of ways that Trans & Non-Binary individuals have been targeted in North America since the 1500's. Dane spent some time sharing with the audience a poem for one of her biggest inspirations, Mary Jones, a Black Trans ancestor from the 1800's that lived in New York City; Mase did a call and response piece that moved the virtual room through a legacy of Black & Brown Trans experiences via the lens of a platypus. 

As performers and educators, the two have been skillful at combining a robust stage presence with insightful historical analysis and humor. Having co-edited a book published last year, the Black Trans Prayer Book, they have set their sights on producing their first feature length documentary using this text as a framework.

#BlackTransPrayerBook - Black Trans Artists Say This Film Will End Anti-Trans Violence
'The Black Trans Prayer Book' - The Book (image via

About 'The Black Trans Prayer Book' - The Book:

The Black Trans Prayer Book is an interfaith, multi-dimensional, artistic and theological work that collects the stories, poems, prayers, meditation, spells, and incantations of Black Trans & Non-Binary people. Often pushed out of Faith spaces and yet still deeply connected to a historical legacy of spiritual essentiality, Black Trans People face unprecedented amounts of spiritual, physical, and psychological violence. The Black Trans Prayer Book is a tool of healing, and affirmation centered on uplifting Black Trans & Non-Binary people and celebrating our place within faith.

What does it mean to have a faith practice that simultaneously challenges white supremacy and transphobia? Where is there a theological framework that centers the most marginalized and creates pathways towards an active spirituality moving alongside social justice? How might a spiritual practice not in tune with these questions cause harm? The #BlackTransPrayerBook, is holding these very questions.
  • Having launched a GoFundMe to call attention to this daring project as well as raise funds for its completion, these two have begun production all while keeping COVID safe. 
When asked what they imagine this film will do, Dane shared she believes it will, "Help build a world free from oppression." While Mase views it as, "the first film of its kind to connect white supremacy to transantagonism, by centering the experiences of Black Trans people."
SOURCE The Black Trans Prayer Book

12 April 2021

Transgender & Non-Binary Youth Influencers Launch Book Collection with Kids Media Disrupter 'A Kids Book About'

Transgender & Non-Binary Youth Influencers Launch Book Collection with Kids Media Disrupter 'A Kids Book About'
The GenderCool Project has teamed up with A Kids Book About to create a collection of books hoping to bring clarity and positivity to a national conversation that’s in need of support.
While many teens took e-learning as an opportunity to level-up their gaming skills, a group of young people chose instead to write a collection of books about their lives.
The GenderCool Project, a storytelling campaign turned global movement led by 18 young people known as the "Champions," has teamed up with A Kids Book About, the company making kids media that matters, to create a collection of books hoping to bring clarity and positivity to a national conversation that's in need of support.

There are three books in the collection:

  • 'A Kids Book About Being Transgender' by Gia Parr
  • 'A Kids Book About Being Non-binary' by Hunter Chinn-Raicht
  • 'A Kids Book About Being Inclusive'  by Ashton Mota and Rebekah Bruesehoff
Launching on preorder today, and shipping in June for Pride celebrations across the globe, the collection aims to open conversations about topics that are complex and important, a hallmark of A Kids Book About that helped land 10 of A Kids Book About's titles on the coveted Favorite Things 2020 list in the December issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.
At a time when the American nation is seeing an unprecedented level of harmful legislation targeting transgender and non-binary youth, this book collection will help bring to communities everywhere the real stories of Gia, Hunter, Ashton and Rebekah, written by these young people who are thriving.
"The GenderCool Project will be our first-ever non-profit partner on a themed collection; we felt it was critical to help bring these topics to kids everywhere in a relevant and honest way," said Jelani Memory, co-founder and CEO of A Kids Book About. "Our unique publishing model and writing process will elevate the underrepresented voices of transgender and non-binary teens with real, lived experiences, to spark productive and positive conversations around this topic a priority for kids and grownups everywhere."
Gia Parr (screengrab)
Gia Parr (she/her), age 17, author of A Kids Book About Being Transgender, said, "It's been a dream of mine to return to my elementary school and be able to read a book that I wrote to help my school and its students understand who transgender kids are, and show the younger kids coming out that their lives can be great!"
Hunter Chinn-Raicht (screengrab)
Hunter Chinn-Raicht (they/them), age 15, author of A Kids Book About Being Non-binary, added, "It's awesome to be able to help grownups and kids have conversations about re-imagining who human beings truly are. Not all people are binary, which is a fancy way of saying 'one thing or the other.' For me, I am able to express myself outside of the pink and blue stereotype. I am grey, white, and all the colors mashed up into one!"
Ashton Mota (screengrab)
Ashton Mota (he/him), age 16, co-author of A Kids Book About Being Inclusive with his Champion peer Rebekah Bruesehoff (she/her), age 14, hopes people will understand how important it is to embrace and celebrate each other's differences. 
He said, "My life as an Afro-Latino kid growing up is totally different than Rebekah's. When we wrote this book, we learned so many new things about each other. It brought us closer together as friends."
Rebekah Bruesehoff (screengrab)
Rebekah added, "I've always wanted to be an author. For me, stories are bridges to empathy, courage and hope."
GenderCool co-founders Jen Grosshandler and Gearah Goldstein believe this collection is an organic evolution of the work GenderCool has done since launching in 2018. "We waited for the right opportunity to partner with a publisher who believed in the power of young people to drive change in the world," said Grosshandler. "We are proud to partner with A Kids Book About. They are the future of what kid content should be."
Goldstein added, "These beautiful books will help people replace their opinions with real, positive experiences learning about our Champions who are thriving throughout the country with the love and support of their family, friends and community."

About The GenderCool Project:

The GenderCool Project is a youth-led movement replacing misinformed opinions with positive, powerful experiences meeting remarkable kids who identify as transgender and non-binary. Our movement is creating positive change by influencing understanding, business and culture. 

 About A Kids Book About:

A Kids Book About is a media company that created the industry's first direct-to-consumer kids book brand and publishing company. On a mission to make kids media that matters, A Kids Book About works with authors and creators from all kinds of backgrounds and identities.

With two book series for kids ages 5-9 and 0-4 respectively, and a flagship podcast that launched in 2021, A Kids Book About explores themes like racism, feminism, disabilities, death, community and belonging. 

1 February 2021

Education Policies in England Overlook Bullying of LGBT+ Pupils

Education Policies in England Overlook Bullying of LGBT+ Pupils
Education Policies in England Overlook Bullying of LGBT+ Pupils (photo via spixel)

Nearly half of LGBT+ pupils are bullied in school because of their gender or sexual orientation. In fact, LGBT+ bullying is the most common type of bullying in schools. Just 27% of secondary school pupils believe it would be safe to come out as LGBT+ in their schools.

Despite this, a 2020 report shows that only one-fifth of secondary school students report learning about LGBT+ identities and homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.

While schools are now required to teach LGBT+ content as part of Relationships and Sex Education, guidance from the Department of Education leaves it up to schools how and when they approach this content. There is no specific mention of the need to tackle bullying aimed at LGBT+ pupils as part of the curriculum.

The content of LGBT+ education needs to be standardised across schools, and a more explicit stance needs to be taken against anti-LGBT+ bullying.

Taking care

Protecting the wellbeing of young people is hugely important, and teenagers from sexual minorities are more likely than their peers to suffer from mental health problems. The experience of discrimination at a young age can have long-term implications for people’s mental health. In the short term, being bullied in school affects pupils’ attendance and educational performance.

Education Policies in England Overlook Bullying of LGBT+ Pupils
Bullying can affect students’ school performance. (photo via wavebreakmedia)

However, funding for LGBT+ anti-bullying projects in English schools, provided by the Government Equalities Office, was withdrawn in March 2020. Since September 2020, Relationships Education is a compulsory subject in primary schools, while Relationships and Sex Education is compulsory in secondary schools. Schools are required to teach “LGBT content” as part of this new curriculum.

The explicit reference to LGBT+ content is laudable, given that the previous curriculum does not mention this at all. But the curriculum guidance leaves it up to schools to determine how and when they teach LGBT+ content. The only specification is that it must be taught at a “timely point”. The guidance continues to make allowances for religious schools to teach in accordance with their faith perspectives.

In principle, then, a school could get away with teaching very little about LGBT+ inclusivity, on the basis that it was not timely nor appropriate to do so with their pupils. For example, the Catholic Education Service’s Model Curriculum for Secondary Schools, which has been cited as an example of good practice by Nick Gibb, the minister of state for School Standards, merely discusses the need to teach about diversity in sexual attraction and developing sexuality, but makes no mention of LGBT+ content.

We cannot assume that all schools will offer comprehensive teaching on LGBT+ identities, especially when the guidance is vague. A further issue is that some teachers still feel they need more support to teach LGBT+ inclusive relationships and sex education.

A missing focus

Also, while the new curriculum guidance makes some reference to anti-bullying education, the emphasis falls mainly on cyberbullying, rather than LGBT+ bullying. Schools are required to identify any homophobic incidents and to deal with them appropriately. But beyond this, there is no specific mention of the need to tackle homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying as part of the curriculum.

The Government Equalities Office has claimed that it is “misleading” to state that the government has de-prioritised anti-LGBT+ bullying, because the Department for Education has awarded £750,000 to three charitable organisations for anti-bullying projects. The three organisations are the Diana Award, the Anne Frank Trust and the Anti-Bullying Alliance, none of which are LGBT-specific.

The lack of suitable emphasis on LGBT+ content, coupled with the withdrawal of funding for anti-bullying projects in schools that are specific to LGBT+ students, reflects a deliberate stance on the part of the government to sit on the fence, perhaps due to the contentious nature of the subject matter.

In 2019, parental protests erupted over the “No Outsiders” programme – which aimed to teach children about the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 (including, but not limited to, sexual orientation). The government’s lack of clarity on their expectations for schools’ teaching on LGBT+ topics was highlighted by the National Association of Head Teachers.

LGBT+ anti-bullying projects are needed alongside LGBT+ education under the new relationships and sex education curriculum in order to truly embed short and long-term positive changes for the LGBT+ pupils. The government can no longer afford to take a back seat on this

About Today's Contributor:

Rachel Heah, Lecturer in Law, Lancaster University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

30 October 2020

This Halloween Season, Nina West is 'Nina The Vampire Slayer'! [Video Included]

This Halloween Season, Nina West is 'Nina The Vampire Slayer'!
Nina West in 'Nina The Vampire Slayer'
Drag Superstar Nina West has come to SLAY this Halloween season, literally! 
Her new Spooktacular Variety Special HEELS OF HORROR began streaming on VIMEO on October 28th 2020. As part of the special Nina created an ode to one of her favorite TV shows of all time, Buffy The Vampire Slayer

  • Written by Nina West and Mark Byer, with a video Directed by Brad Hammer and animations by Kevin Posnanski and Shawn Adell, NINA THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, features the voice of SNL's Taran Killam as well as an appearance by original Buffy The Vampire Slayer cast member Anthony Stewart Head
This Halloween Season, Nina West is 'Nina The Vampire Slayer'!
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Animated cast in Nina The Vampire Slayer by Nina West
It tells the story of a group of friends gathered around a campfire to listen to spooky stories about vampires on Halloween. However, Buffy The Vampire slayer superfan Nina keeps interrupting the storyteller (the voice of SNL's Taran Killam) with "OMG, IT'S JUST LIKE THIS ONE TIME ON BUFFY!.." and her excitedly singing how each ode likens to her favorite episodes of Buffy through recaps using animated versions of the original Buffy The Vampire Slayer Cast.

The Video:

About Nina West's Heels of Horror:

In 2020, due to the pandemic and the need for social distancing protocols, Nina and her producing partner Patricia Taylor, searched for ways to bring Heels of Horror to the stage safely and with the highest quality possible. Ultimately, it was deemed that a Live show would not allow for a large number of people to attend the show and for the safety of performers and fans it would be best to move the show to a digital space. 

  • However, this opens the show for a whole new worldwide audience to see what Nina and her spooky friends have been up to! The entirely new show is split into 3 episodes each featuring a different Halloween theme. 
They are streamed exclusively via a ticketed event on VIMEO and feature some of Columbus's finest performers as well as special guests Sydney James Harcourt (Original Cast Member Hamilton on Broadway), Jennica Tastrophe, Gretta Goodbottom and The Skeleton crew, Jamz Dean and surprise cameos from the world of stage and screen

  • The show is sponsored by the generous support of the presenting sponsor Equitas Health. Equitas is a regional non-profit health system serving the healthcare needs of the LGBTQ+ in 13 cities in the Midwest. Throughout the run, Nina will be asking for donations to Equitas Health to continue its mission. The production is also supported by the Columbus-based, national companies White Castle and Big Lots.
"I'm so excited to continue the tradition of Heels of Horror with an all new Digital show." Said Nina West. "I went back and forth on how to provide a safe and fun in person event that would be both memorable and safe as I have with the past 12 years. Ultimately the safety of my performers and fans won out. There are tons of surprises in store, even some Tricks and Treats! Tune in Beginning October 28th ! You won't want to miss it!"

Nina West's Heels of Horror - The Trailer:

  • Tickets for Nina West's Heels of Horror Halloween Spooktacular are on sale now at with support from charity partner and presenting Sponsor Equitas Health.
This Halloween Season, Nina West is 'Nina The Vampire Slayer'!
Nina West Feat Taran Killam - Nina The Vampire Slayer Single art

About Nina West:

Nina West is an American drag queen, actor and singer based in Columbus, Ohio played by Andrew Levitt. She rose to national prominence with her appearance on RuPaul's Drag Race Season 11, where she placed sixth and won Miss Congeniality.
  • She made history at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards in Sept 2019 when she became the first ever person to walk the carpet in Full Drag, while her season won 5 Primetime Emmy Awards including best Reality Competition Show. 
  • In June 2019, New York magazine named West one of the top 100 Most Powerful Drag Queens in America. 
  • On November 8th, she released her first Christmas EP, "The West Christmas Ever" featuring Disney Legend Jim Cummings which debuted at #5 on the Billboard Comedy Charts. 
  • Her animated short "Coaster", was shortlisted for a 2020 Oscar, 
  • Her Podcast "Dragcast with Nina West" relaunched in 2020 with guests including Glenn Close, Patricia Clarkson, Daisy Ridley, Jared Harris, Tituss Burgess, Kristin Chenoweth, Orfeh, Caissie Levy, Pentatonix and more.
West has been performing in central Ohio and around the United States for the last 18 years, doing regional theater and of course, drag. As Nina West, she has produced over 35 main stage production shows. West hosts the annual "Heels of Horror" show at Axis Nightclub and has also hosted the competition "So You Think You Can Drag?'. In 2008, she won the Entertainer of the Year award, and was included in Columbus Business First's "40 Under 40" list in 2018 and 2019. 

Nina is a LGBTQ advocate and has raised over $3million for charitable causes in the last decade alone through her charitable foundation The Nina West Foundation

  • On June 17th 2020, Nina released a charity partnership with Country Music Legend, Dolly Parton - The "Dolly X Nina Kindness is Queen" Collection - with all proceeds going to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and The Nina West Foundation to benefit LGBTQ+ youth and Illiteracy. 
For more information about Nina West, please visit here.
SOURCE: Nina West

17 October 2020

Design Competition for Canada's LGBTQ2+ National Monument Launches

Design Competition for Canada's LGBTQ2+ National Monument Launches (Photo by Andre Furtado from Pexels)
A major step has been taken toward creating a national monument remembering the historic discrimination against LGBTQ2+ people in Canada, including those who suffered and continue to suffer due to the LGBT Purge between the 1950s and the 1990s.
Teams of professional artists, landscape architects, architects and other urban design professionals are invited to submit their credentials and examples of work for consideration as part of the Request for Qualifications for the LGBTQ2+ National Monument. The deadline is January 5, 2021. The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, and the LGBT Purge Fund—the project proponent—issued the request in cooperation with the National Capital Commission.

The monument site will be located at the northeast side of Wellington Street near the ­Portage Bridge, next to the Ottawa River, close to the Judicial Precinct. The LGBT Purge Fund selected the site after consultations with LGBTQ2+ communities. The NCC approved the choice of site in January 2020.
The Monument will memorialize the profound impact of the discrimination experienced by Canada's LGBTQ2+ communities and will celebrate the achievements of those who fought for equality. It will also help educate visitors and inspire hope as well as change for the future
  • .The site will have the capacity to host gatherings of as many as 2,000 people and balance public visibility and space for contemplation.
The design competition jury will include experts in the fields of visual arts, landscape architecture, architecture, urban design as well as LGBT Purge survivors, representatives from key stakeholder groups, and subject-matter specialists. The jury will review the submissions and select up to five teams, who will then be invited to prepare design proposals for the monument. 

The jury is comprised of the following members:

  • Aaron Betsky, architect
  • Maya Desai, architect and urban designer
  • Michelle Douglas, Executive Director, LGBT Purge Fund, and LGBT Purge survivor
  • Grant Fahlgren, landscape architect
  • Reverend Dr. Brent Hawkes, C.M., O.N.B, subject-matter expert
  • Bernard Lamarche, art historian and curator
  • Ann-Marie Macdonald, O.C., author, actor, playwright, affected community member
  • Courtnay McFarlane, visual artist, poet and curator
  • Martine Roy, Chair of the Board of Directors, LGBT Purge Fund, and LGBT Purge survivor
  • Megan Torza, architect and urban designer
The LGBT Purge refers to the period when LGBT members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian federal public service faced systematic discrimination, harassment and often firings due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression as a matter of policy and sanctioned practice.

Over time, survivors and their allies worked hard to secure apologies, gain recognition, win compensation, and change Canadian law. A ground-breaking settlement was reached in 2018. Canada was the first country in the world to provide substantial compensation for the harm inflicted on its own people through decades of state-sponsored discrimination.


"I am confident Canada's design community can create a fitting memorial telling the story of those who were persecuted, dismissed and marginalized. Thousands of lives were devastated during the Purge. Careers were ruined and families were torn apart. I thank the LGBT Purge Fund for its vision of a monument that will inspire us to strive for a future that is free of LGBTQ2+ discrimination." — The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage
"The Purge was a disgraceful period in Canadian history. It had an effect not only on those who faced discrimination, but all members of LGBTQ2+ communities across the country. Unless we learn from our history, we are bound to repeat it. This monument will remind us that we must challenge normative values that perpetuate oppression in our society." — The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth
"The LGBTQ2+ National Monument will be an enduring and important marker to commemorate the deep, state-sanctioned discrimination experienced by LGBTQ2+ people in Canada for many decades. The LGBT Purge Fund is proud to provide the funding for this project and to ensure that that the voices of the LGBTQ2+ community are extensively consulted on the vision for this project." — Michelle Douglas, Executive Director, LGBT Purge Fund

Quick Facts:

This first phase of the design competition will evaluate qualifications and select up to five teams to continue to the Request for Proposals phase in 2021, when the finalists will be invited to develop their design concepts.

Members of LGBTQ2+ communities and the public will be invited to review the finalists' proposals before a design is chosen.

  • The monument is scheduled to be completed by 2025.

Associated Links:

About The LGBT Purge Fund:

The LGBT Purge Fund is a not-for-profit corporation established in 2018 to manage memorialization and reconciliation projects mandated by the settlement. They are responsible for building an LGBTQ2+ National Monument that will "memorialize the historical discrimination against LGBTQ2+ people in Canada, including with respect to the LGBT Purge." 

As the proponent of the project, the LGBT Purge Fund is providing $8 million for the project and is working with Canadian Heritage and the NCC to ensure the monument meets the objectives of the settlement agreement and embodies the vision developed with Purge survivors and Canada's wider LGBTQ2+ community.

SOURCE: Canadian Heritage

20 July 2020

Dallas Children's Theater Paves The Way For Online Access To 'Andi Boi', A Groundbreaking Play Focused On A Transgender Teen

Dallas Children's Theater Paves The Way For Online Access To 'Andi Boi', A Groundbreaking Play Focused On A Transgender Teen
Dallas Children's Theater Paves The Way For Online Access To 'Andi Boi', A Groundbreaking Play Focused On A Transgender Teen (Photo credit: Karen Almond)
Dallas Children's Theater (DCT) is pleased to be announcing the online release of 'Andi Boi'. This groundbreaking play about a transgender teen is part of DCT's series of internationally-recognized teen issue plays. 

  • Originally presented on stage in February 2020, the video-on-demand production also includes a talkback with members in the LGBTQ community. Co-produced with Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in partnership with First Unitarian Church Dallas, the production will be able for viewing for $20 beginning Monday, July 20, 2020 at
'Andi Boi' is a great tool for schools, churches, corporations, and LGBTQ organizations that are interested in creating meaningful dialogue within the community. As part of DCT's mission to integrate the arts into classroom academics, for schools, a downloadable Behind the Curtain Resource Guide is also available. 

The guide is intended to provide helpful information for a teacher to use before and after seeing the production. The activities presented in the guide are designed to stimulate lively responses and multisensory explorations of concepts in order to use the theatrical event as a vehicle for cross-cultural and language arts learning. It is an opportunity to use theater as a springboard for dynamic learning, extending the dramatic experience of the play.

'Andi Boi' is about Andi, a transgender teen entering his first day of high school identifying as a male. Former classmates recall his last name when they hear it, but there is something different about Andi that keeps the dots from connecting clearly in their minds. Soon his new teachers, classmates, and his classmates' parents will figure it out. How will they react? With aggression? With compassion? With confusion? 

Inspired by one teen's journey, 'Andi Boi' is told with a sensitivity towards Andi and uses wit, heart, and warmth to help audiences find their way to greater compassion and awareness.
"DCT has made it a priority to present stories about teens caught in difficult situations and the tough barriers they face, in part, because so little energy is focused on teens. This means a wall of confusion and rejection often meets them," said Robyn Flatt, Founder and Executive Artistic Director of DCT. "By offering 'Andi Boi' online, we will broaden awareness and understanding of these young people as human beings, as vulnerable young people among us. Hopefully through this knowledge and experience, we can provide a supportive space during their search to find true identity, and as a result, we make the journey less painful."
A recent report from the CDC (Center for Disease Control – the USA's health protection agency) reveals that two percent of high school students in the United States identify as transgender. Yet, it is clear that the experiences of each child are distinct and run the gamut from very difficult and life threatening to that akin to any teen going through a challenge. As such, the producing team wants to be clear that this play is far from an attempt to suggest every child's journey is the same. 'Andi Boi' is one story about one life that is largely devised by a playwright. It is not intended to represent an entire community, but rather be a starting point for conversation.

DCT commissioned local playwright, Bruce Coleman, to write 'Andi Boi'. His first decision was to speak with some of the two percent of high school students who identify as transgender. For Coleman, this included talking to a young boy who recently transitioned and his parents. Using these conversations and research as inspiration, Coleman said he deliberately decided to use honesty and humor as tools for telling this story in hopes that it would have the broadest possible appeal. Coleman hoped to create an atmosphere of good will and understanding that will help audiences begin an important conversation around this topic. "I hope as people get to know Andi, they'll also get to know something about themselves," Coleman said.
"As a gay man, I too kept a secret from my family until it became impossible to deny who I was anymore." Coleman continued, "I feared rejection from family and friends as they discovered who I am, but I ultimately took that rejection and turned it into strength. I have been pushed at by a society that wants to squeeze me into a box and force me to be a thing that goes against everything that makes me this person I am. But when all has been said and done and because of a strong belief in myself, I can finally achieve my heart's desire: To be seen, to be respected, and to be treasured. It's all Andi and I are asking for."
DCT co-produced 'Andi Boi' with Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and in partnership with First Unitarian Church of Dallas. Texas Instruments, Capital One and PwC are part of the collaboration which has national funding support from the Theater Communications Group (TCG) and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Theatre Communications Group (TCG) awarded DCT and its partners a grant to support the production and the events surrounding 'Andi Boi' to help theater organizations implement and refine ways to increase audience engagement and community development with a focus on young audiences.

Over the past 15 years, DCT has offered several teen issue plays that examine topics including bullying, learning differences, teen brain development, eating disorders, and dating violence. Subject matter resources lead a discussion after each of these types of performances. At the performances, teens and parents are provided information and perspective on the topic, as well as guidance on how to navigate the inherent trauma imbedded in these situations. Online, DCT has amassed a host of links and resources for audiences.
"I believe theater provides a powerful tool during our children's transition to adulthood by spotlighting some of the serious challenges they and their peers encounter along the way," Flatt said. "It is up to us to help all our children, irrespective of color, creed, or gender orientation, to have a safe space for physical growth, an environment for creative discovery, and an open door for tolerance and acceptance."
Dallas Children's Theater Paves The Way For Online Access To 'Andi Boi', A Groundbreaking Play Focused On A Transgender Teen
'Andi Boi', courtesy of Dallas Children's Theater. (Photo credit: Karen Almond)
  • 'Andi Boi' partnering sponsors are: Texas Instruments, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Capital One.

About Dallas Children's Theater

Dallas Children's Theater features professional actors performing for an annual audience of 250,000 young people and their families through mainstage productions (9 in the 2019-2020 season), a national -touring company, and an arts-in-education program. As the only major organization in Dallas focusing solely on youth and family theater, DCT builds bridges of understanding between generations and cultures, instilling an early appreciation of literature, art, and the performing arts in tomorrow's artists and patrons.

15 July 2020

Black-Owned Superhero Brand Offers Hope & Escapism in Times of Pain

Black-Owned Superhero Brand Offers Hope & Escapism in Times of Pain
Aza Comics Supports Black Lives Matter
Aza Comics, owned by black woman creator Jazmin Truesdale and known for its roster of multicultural female superheroes, is aiming to continue providing hope and escapism for the world as people support the Black Lives Matter movement. 
"Aza Comics has always addressed the issues of black people in its storylines," says Truesdale, "I'm just happy that now people are finally understanding what is happening and joining this fight that is truly everyone's fight."
The Aza Universe is centered almost entirely around women of color and has always tried to provide hope and inspiration for women around the world as they face various issues like racial inequity, sexism, misogyny and homophobia. 

This hits especially close to home for Truesdale as countless black women like Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor have yet to see justice in a time when black women face the highest rates of homicide in the US. 

During this time, Aza Comics received an incredible growth in sales and exposure as more people discovered what the Aza superhero universe is all about. 
"I just want people to at least feel safe in their imagination," says Truesdale. "For black people and many other people of color, everywhere we look pain is reflecting back at us. I want Aza Comics to be that escape where you can feel heard and empowered to fight another day."
Black-Owned Superhero Brand Offers Hope & Escapism in Times of Pain
Aza Comics
Aza Comics has a lot in store this year for its growing number of fans. "We will do what we've always done," says Truesdale," Continue to grow and enrich the lives of people of color around the world and partner with people and brands who truly care about the lives of others.
 The company plans to use its revenue to invest in entrepreneurs of color, support women athletes, expand its universe with more inclusive superheroes and do what it can to continue being a voice.
Aza Comics is a superhero brand based in Durham, North Carolina founded by serial entrepreneur and author Jazmin Truesdale. The company is known for its multicultural female superheroes and philanthropic initiatives that have been featured in Vogue, TIME, USA Today, and various other national and international publications.

For more information visit
SOURCE: Aza Comics

1 July 2020

Acclaimed Artist & Activist Madame Gandhi Debuts New Music Video For "Waiting For Me" [Video Included]

Acclaimed Artist & Activist Madame Gandhi Debuts New Music Video For "Waiting For Me"
Acclaimed Artist & Activist Madame Gandhi Debuts New Music Video For "Waiting For Me" (Photo Credit: Sajna Sivan)
Multi-talented artist, percussionist, producer and activist Madame Gandhi has recently released her newest video for Visions track "Waiting For Me".

Directed by Misha Ghose, "Waiting For Me" was conceptualized and produced by an all-female team and features queer, trans, female and gender non-conforming cast members and marks Madame Gandhi's first-ever video shot in India.

With its contrasting industrial imagery and color palettes, the visual brings to life the song's empowering message, an eco-feminist call to action that eschews institutionalized power structures in favor of forging new narratives of self-expression.

Of the video, Madame Gandhi explains:"We as artists have the power to use our art to vividly reimagine the world we wished we lived in. 'Waiting For Me' is a song about questioning societal norms as they exist. The video opens with the quote, 'We always assume our own powerlessness, but never our own power.' With the interconnected social justice movements happening around the world, we are seeing a larger belief in the power of the collective for change. This music video is a call to action for each of us to examine how hierarchy, capitalism and systemic oppression serve to keep us obedient, with little space for dialogue or critical thinking. My hope is that this video inspires folks to ask, 'Are my behaviors contributing to the oppression of somebody else? And what contributes to my own oppression? What does my version of freedom look and feel like?'"
The video for "Waiting For Me" launches the next chapter in Madame Gandhi's already critically-acclaimed career, as she announces her signing with Sony Music Masterworks. With an imitable pairing of complex percussive rhythms and empowering messages of liberation, Madame Gandhi is known for her passionately uplifting body of musical work that continues to elevate the female voice and redefine notions of gender, identity and politics. Having released her first two EPs as part of an overarching short-form album trilogy, most recently 2019's Visions, Madame Gandhi begins her new partnership with Sony Music Masterworks ahead of the third and final installment in the series.
Today's news and video arrive on what has been a massive week for Madame Gandhi, who made her NPR Tiny Desk (Home) Concert debut this Wednesday, performing tracks from both her Visions and Voices EPs – watch hereSelected as 2020 TED Fellow for her commitment to creating meaningful and positive change, Madame Gandhi will also participate in TED2020 this summer, joining multidisciplinary individuals across the globe for an online gathering of conversations, sessions and performances. She returns to the TED Stage after her 2018 TED Talk about the importance of making music accessible to those hard of hearing. The talk now has over 200k views – watch here
Madame Gandhi also recently provided a song to the new two-part documentary series And She Could Be Next, working in collaboration with Gingger Shankar on a track entitled "Freedom Cries" for the Ava DuVernay-produced show. Out later this year, the song will be included on the official soundtrack to the show, which chronicles the defiant movement of women of color who are transforming American politics from the ground up. 

  • And She Could Be Next is currently airing on local PBS stations, streaming online at and on the PBS app on your smart TV.

The "Waiting For Me" Video:

About Madame Gandhi :

Kiran Gandhi, who performs as Madame Gandhi, is an artist and activist whose mission is to elevate and celebrate gender liberation.

  • She has toured as the drummer for M.I.A, Thievery Corporation and most recently Oprah on her 2020 Vision Stadium Tour
  • Gandhi holds a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics and Gender Studies from Georgetown and an MBA from Harvard. 
  • In 2015, she ran the London Marathon bleeding freely to combat period stigma around the world, sparking a global viral conversation about how we treat menstruation in various cultures. 
  • She has been listed as a Forbes 30 Under 30 member and is a 2020 TED Fellow. 
  • Her mathy percussion, uplifting music and inspiring talks have been critically acclaimed by The New York Times, Billboard, NPR and more. 
  • Her song "The Future is Female" reached #8 on the Spotify Viral US Charts following the 2017 Women's March. 
  • She has released two short-form albums, Voices (2016) and Visions (2019), accompanied by a series of music videos produced and concepted by women and gender non-conforming creatives. 
Gandhi is currently working on her third short-form album Vibrations

28 June 2020

KIND Illuminates New York City Skyline as Tribute to Canceled Pride Marches Around the World and to Pay Homage to the LGBTQ Rights Movement

KIND Illuminates New York City Skyline as Tribute to Canceled Pride Marches Around the World and to Pay Homage to the LGBTQ Rights Movement
KIND Illuminates New York City Skyline as Tribute to Canceled Pride Marches Around the World and to Pay Homage to the LGBTQ Rights Movement (PRNewsfoto/KIND Healthy Snacks)
For the first time in 50 years, people from all over the world will not be marching the streets of New York City to advocate support of the global LGBTQ community. To honor the origin of the Gay Rights Movement and the first NYC Pride March, KIND Healthy Snacks (KIND) is paying tribute to those who've marched, fought and advocated for equality and respect with a rainbow light installation, while also continuing the battle for intersectional justice. 

The installation is placed in the West Village, adjacent to the iconic Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the Gay Rights Movement, illuminating New York City on the eve of the 50th NYC Pride March anniversary.

  • KIND is proud to partner with the Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBTQ youth, to advocate for those most vulnerable to inequality and discrimination: LGBTQ people of color, especially transgender youth.
KIND Illuminates New York City Skyline as Tribute to Canceled Pride Marches Around the World and to Pay Homage to the LGBTQ Rights Movement
KIND Illuminates New York City Skyline as Tribute to Canceled Pride Marches Around the World and to Pay Homage to the LGBTQ Rights Movement (PRNewsfoto/KIND Healthy Snacks)
"There has never been a more critical time for people to remember how Pride all began," says Alexander Roque, President and Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center. "About 90% of the homeless LGBTQ youth we serve are people of color. The rights our youth have today are because of people, who looked just like them, protested and marched. We're proud to partner with KIND and hope we can bring more awareness during this revolutionary time." ­
In tandem with the light tribute, KIND is offering its special-edition KIND PRIDE Bar, donating 100% of bar net sales to the Ali Forney Center, with a maximum donation of $50,000, assisting in its efforts to protect and empower homeless LGBTQ youth across the country. 

KIND's Pride advocacy is part of the KIND Snack & Give Back Project, a multi-year program to inspire kindness and empathy. 

Since KIND's founding in 2004, KIND has championed kindness as a transformative force for good – it encourages people to step out of their comfort zones, connect in authentic ways and discover each other's humanity.
"KIND is proud to support the global LGBTQ community, its allies, and the important work of the LGBTQ Rights Movement," says Daniel Lubetzky, Founder & Executive Chairman of KIND. "With our light tribute, we seek to keep the spirit of Pride Marches alive while inspiring future generations to continue demanding freedom, respect, and equality for all."
KIND Illuminates New York City Skyline as Tribute to Canceled Pride Marches Around the World and to Pay Homage to the LGBTQ Rights Movement
KIND Illuminates New York City Skyline as Tribute to Canceled Pride Marches Around the World and to Pay Homage to the LGBTQ Rights Movement (PRNewsfoto/KIND Healthy Snacks)
  • Part of the multi-year KIND Snack & Give Back Project, the second-annual KIND PRIDE bar incorporates the colors of the Pride flag. The special-edition snack comes in one flavor, Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt, and is available on,, in store at Wegmans, Duane Reade and New York City corner stores, while supplies last.

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