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They're gay! Their entire existence is a crime and they belong in Hell! Who cares if they were born that way! They're gay, so they have to change! That'll make it all better! See, isn't life so much better when you're straight! As an 18 year old, I can say with relative certainty that most of the things that are written on the use of the word gay are at least slightly inaccurate, but I think the distinctions are important, especially as it pertains to bullying kids who aren't gay.

Most writers on this topic are adults, and most of the people who read what these writers write are adults. The inside perspective is a bit lacking. The quick synopsis of the word gay usually is, as you said, that it means something along the lines of "stupid" or "bad. A much closer match is the word "lame. In the world of boys, or rather, a lot of boys, the only set of qualities that can be openly expressed to certain positive reception are masculine ones.

Being tough, grounded, strong, stubborn, aggressive, these are all qualities that in some capacity will be appreciated by a typical male audience. It's important to remember though, that boys aren't just compassionless animals. I think the significance is this: the average boy is masculine first, feminine second. To be a successful human being, I think both sides of the coin need to be developed.

But masculine first, feminine second. A boy calling another boy gay can be seen as a challenge to that boy's masculinity or his "coolness. At this point, "gay" is too common a word to just eliminate it. The best defense is to develop a strong sense of self, which is really the best way to defend oneself against any emotional trauma. Friends call each other gay in everyday conversation, so in reality the typical well handled conversation would go something more like this:. A: You're gay! B: No, you're gay! Both parties would laugh, because ultimately they don't mean any of the insults they say to each other.

It's conversation that's almost as natural as trash talking during a pick-up game of basketball. I haven't addressed what this means for the gay community, who most understandably would be hurt by the use of the word "gay" to mean anything negative, but I hope somewhere in my ramblings I've made a few points worth reading. I find it hard to believe a teen could be so clear, articulate, concise and spot on in your response to this article.

I do hope you are in fact a teen, it gives me much needed faith in the future knowing there are young people out there with such impressive skills. I have to say you said everything so well that you made the article sound rather, eh, well, gay. Well done. You don't get kids. At all. Or many adults I've met. When someone insults someone else, they aren't saying it after careful aforethought, it isn't the result of carefully balancing which insult would be most appropriate, which best describes the victim well, 'victim' is a little strong , it's usually just the easiest way to make someone uncomfortable or depressed.

Trying to turn an enemy into a friend, especially in high school, is a fantasy found only in movies and after school specials, and trying to explain to someone who calls other people 'gay' why it doesn't make sense or doesn't work is more likely to end in further insults at least. Of course some teenagers and children might notice, but they're less likely to insult others in the first place.

Besides, the word is just another insult. I'm ashamed to admit that, when two of my friends used it constantly, I slipped into the habit of calling things gay. And after a while I stopped realising it completely. I didn't notice I used the word until a friend looked at me and asked why, exactly, something was gay. Most insults or swear words aren't even heard by whoever says it, just by the recipient, who might be damaged. I'm sure there are more than a few teens on the site, but there isn't really a good way to find out exactly how many there are.

I'm on this site everyday and read probably a majority of the blogs, being terribly interested in philosophy, psychology, and anything else having to do with the mind. Anyway, I think any harsh condemnation of an adult researcher, or any adult, who talks about teens is a little overdone. It's easy to forget a teenage perspective and while I'd prefer avoiding the phrase "out of touch," it applies to a good many adults out there. When it comes to bullying, generally what I see is an extreme overreaction by adults. I enjoy reading this blog in particular because Izzy Kalman typically brings a much more balanced perspective to the discussion, a perspective that at least begins to address how bullying actually occurs.

Total understanding of what it means to be a teenager in today's world is really only for the teenagers themselves. So despite the nuances of some of the issues being lost in translation, this blog is, relatively, quite accurate. You're quite right, I actually came back onto this article to apologise for being a little rude, that was a bad day. Adults trying to explain and understand teenagers seem to have forgotten a good deal about what being a teenager was like, and Izzy manages to add a greater level of clear-mindedness and wisdom to the general views of teenagers and children than I usually find.

While this blog does have a number of good points in relation to dealing with and not having to deal with bullying, I can't help but see it as a little overly optimistic and naive, which always pushes my buttons. I think Izzy is right but I agree with Nick that he needs help with his scenes! Find some kids to be your writers. Otherwise they won't listen to your ideas, they will think you're out of touch. That is too bad because your ideas are right -- the best way to get people to stop messing with you is to make it go flat which you can do by joking, like you show, or by taking what they say real seriously, like you're really really interested in their ideas.

Somebody out to mess with you is not expecting you to joke with them or have a serious conversation. They were trying to have some fun by getting you cranked up. If you don't get the person anything to work off of, he's going to get embarrassed or bored or maybe he will even get into a conversation with you.

Most likely he's going to move on and look for someone else to pick on. So Izzy, good ideas but you really need to hire some kids to write for you! No offense, but you really talk old school. I agree. I think that children today are a tad more "creative" in their insults than Izzy's skits would have you believe.

The word "gay" or "faggot" is used not to accuse someone of being homosexual but rather to belittle them. It's analogous to calling a man a "pussy" or a "whimp". I think that for most children this "highschool" lexicon which includes words such as "faggot", "pussy", and, my favorite, "retard", among many others becomes instinctive and habitual.

During highschool, which was not too long ago, I recall using the word "gay" indisriminately without even realizing it. And it's actually quite hard to break the "habit" of using such words, especially when they are ubiquitous during adolescence. I think some of Izzy's ideas are helpful, but he has some misconceptions.

The right to free speech has never been a right to "say whatever you want. Carl Walker-Hoover's right to the pursuit of happiness died with him. Izzy's scenarios are helpful when the bully is one person talking directly to another. However, bullying is sometimes more widespread.


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Several students recently took their own lives because their school environments were full of antigay harassment. Their school districts didn't prohibit the harassment effectively, but some districts do. How many more people have to die before we say "enough"? To the speaker, expressions like the f-word and "you're so gay" may just mean lame or stupid, but to victims like year-old Carl Walker-Hoover, they are intensely demeaning. In a study of high school students, gay people who often heard antigay language were more likely to go into a depression, become addicted to alcohol and drugs, and attempt suicide.

A study of college students showed that even heterosexuals were more likely to be depressed, angry, and anxious if they often heard antigay language. That's why I think we need laws against bullying - and if you hear someone demeaning gay people, I hope you'll speak out. Tell people how harmful those words can be.

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You could save lives. Matt, I assure you I understand that 11 year old boy as well as anyone. I have been helping victims of teasing and bullying for more than two decades and few people understand them better than I do. The reason kids like him take their own lives is that no one has ever taught them how to handle the insults.

What do you think they have been getting in their anti-bully lessons in school? The slogans they have been getting for the past ten years since Columbine are, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words really really hurt! When kids hear authority figures in school repeatedly tell them the very things that you are advocating we teach -- how hurtful words are -- how do you think they respond when kids insult them?

Do they think, "No big deal. They get extremely upset! They think, "My God, they are not allowed to talk to me that way! Words kill! I guarantee you that had I had the opportunity to have just one session with this boy, he would still be alive today. How can I prove this? It is too late do it for this unfortunate young child. No one should have to take their lives when the solution to the problem is so simple and effortless!

Yes, people are saying that bullying hurts and kills. Among others, the American Psychological Association is saying it. So are the U. Department of Education, the U. Dozens of studies have shown it to be true, including an annual study by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. You mentioned Columbine. That tragedy showed how harmful bullying is and helped bring public awareness to the problem.

Department of Education on 37 school shootings, including Columbine, found that almost three-quarters of student shooters felt bullied, threatened, attacked or injured by others. In fact, several shooters reported experiencing long-term and severe bullying and harassment from their peers. American Psychological Association, October Bullying is a problem that creates a climate of fear, that affects the whole school, and in some cases, the entire community.

When we fail to recognize and stop bullying behavior as it occurs, we actually promote violence. Today, however, more people are recognizing that it is a basic democratic right for a student to feel secure at school and not to be troubled by offensive and humiliating treatment. Because of highly publicized school incidents, we now know that ignoring bullying can lead to violence or make a victim feel so overwhelmed that he or she sees suicide as the only way out.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to get into a drawn out debate over Freedom of Speech. What it DOES protect is words that can hurt people's feelings, and the great majority of bullying incidents, such as insults, rumors, and social exclusion, are things that hurt people's feelings. These things can't be criminal acts because feelings are objective. You can say something to one person and they will get upset about it. You can say the same thing to someone else and they will thank you for it. If you insult me and I get upset, I upset myself.

Should you be punished because I upset myself? If you call me gay or dirty Jew or whatever insults I can't stand, and I go and kill myself, you did not kill me. I killed myself. Quoting all these government agencies does not change my mind because they do not know that freedom of speech is the solution to bullying.

They haven't attended my seminars and no one is teaching them about the true meaning of Freedom of Speech. The government is not God; it is people just like us. It is run by politicians who want the votes of the public. Just because a government agency says that "bullying is not a fact of life," it doesn't make it true. If bullying isn't part of life, why can't the government get rid of bullying within the government. In fact, the government is the biggest bully of all. Government is the only institution that can force to do what it want at the threat of a gun! If bullying isn't a fact of life, tell me about one social social group of living people where it doesn't go on?

The truth is, I happen to know of such a place, and I plan to write about it soon. But the philosophy of these people are the exact opposite of what the anti-bully movement teaches. They practice what I preach, though they've been doing it for thousands of years before I was ever born. If you think bullying isn't a fact of life, can you tell me that in your own family, or the family you grew up in, did not have it going on? In the place you work, does no one bully anyone else? If you aren't a parent yet, just wait till you have children.

You will see plenty of bullying going on between them, and you will discover that the more you punish them for tormenting each other, the more they will torment each other -- and you, as well. The more we punish students for the way they treat each other, the worse they treat each other. Both the American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists condemn zero tolerance policies for aggression. Amazingly, both organizations in favor of zero tolerance for bullying.

When it comes to bullying, people can't see what's staring them in the face. Do not be concerned if you don't agree with me. You are in excellent company. The entire modern world is on your side. The fact that every country in the world that passes anti-bullying laws seems to experience an intensification in bullying doesn't bother anyone but me.

Please remember my words -- you will see, Matt, as the years go by, that these laws against bullying in schools will have been no more successful at making schools free of bullying than the No Child Left Behind Laws have made student underachievement disappear. Why people are so eager to put their faith in government is beyond me. I guarantee you that if schools were to take half the time that they spend teaching the horrors of bullying and use it to teach the meaning and practice of Freedom of Speech, they would have a greater reduction in bullying than can be achieved by all of the intensive ant-bullying laws.

Of course, you don't have to believe me. But watch the videos on my website. If they don't convince you, nothing will. I would like to close with something I have said many time before: When we fight for laws against bullying, we are declaring the failure of psychology. It means we have no idea how to solve this problem by psychological means; we need the government to do if for us. Your article was well written with excellent points but the comments about the priest molestation was unprofessional.

I would think that you would know how child abuse occurs at the same rate in all churches and professions, psychologists included. The media has blown this our of proportion. Your comments about priests and Christianity is a form of bullying and offence is taken. I'm sorry you felt offended.

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The bit about the priests is clearly a joke. All humor makes someone look bad. If we were to avoid offending anyone, we would have to get rid of all humor. I also find it interesting that people seem to like the idea of freedom of speech, until they discover that something was said that they themselves don't like. Good general ideas, but your conversation examples are truly ridiculous.

Have you been around or spoken to year old boys lately? Thanks for your comment. You may have not paid attention when you read the blog, but just preceding the dialogues, i wrote:. If you want to rewrite the scenarios with more up-to-date conversation, please submit them to me and i will post them.

There is a lot of confusion these days about free speech vs hate speech, including in the minds of the ACLU, who are defending, of all people, Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church because of an old-fashioned, misguided lack of understanding that free speech does not include hate speech. Many people mistakenly believe that all speech is free in this country, but it is not. The founders of this coutry rapidly saw the ways in which speech could be harmful, and made laws about harmful speech:.

If I say I'm going to kill you, that is threatening, and it is against the law in this country. If I own a bakery, and go around town saying that my competitor's bread is full of worms in order to try to drive her out of business, that is slander, and that is illegal. If I own a tabloid, and make up a nasty story about a Hollywood star that is so vile that no one will ever want to see his movies again, in order to sell papers, that is libel, and that is illegal.

If you spent hours writing something, and I steal your words and present them as my own, that is plagarism, and that is illegal. It used to be that only straight white men had power, and they could say whatever they wanted to whoever they wanted. But as other groups have achieved some measure of power, it has become clear that words hurt and words kill in other ways than those described above.

He was being teased and taunted at school on a daily basis for being gay. His mother pleaded with the school every week to do something, but nothing was done. That was the fourth time that year a middle-school-aged child suffered such bullying and committed suicide. And with the Internet, cyber-bullying and cyber-harrassment have become possible, and people feel free to say even worse things through anonymity than they would to someone's face.

But with all the suicides, it has become clear that these deadly words cannot be ignored.

Introduction and summary

Hate speech is illegal on most Internet sites, so Fred Phelps has his own servers, so no one can shut him down. Hate peech is designed to do one thing, and one thing only; make someone else feel badly about themselves. We have slowly made other forms of harmful speech illegal; it is only a matter of time until hate speech is illegal too.

You are absolutely right. The right to freedom of speech does not protect speech that can cause objective harm to bodies and property. Threats of violence, incitement to violence, slander and libel are punishable crimes. But words that hurt people feelings are not crimes. They are part of life.


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  6. And even when we do invoke the power of the law to prosecute people for what they say, it does not reduce hostility. It usually escalates it. Most not all of the kids who took their lives, including Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, did so after they informed the school authorities.

    The school intervention escalated hostilities and got the victims known as snitches. And the words did not kill them. They killed themselves because they got upset by the words and had no idea how to handle the verbal attacks. These kids could have been taught in a few minutes to use freedom of speech to solve their problems. But no one taught this to them. Instead, they are being constantly taught that words can kill them.

    Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here. Back to IndieWire. The Best Movies of the Decade The best movies from a decade that changed everything. Deadline 4 hours ago. You are encouraged not to drink. You cannot exercise for fear of ovarian torsion, a twisting of the ovary that cuts off its blood flow, inducing severe pain and vomiting. You cannot under any circumstances have sex.

    The risk of fertilization is far too great and, ironically, nothing could be less desirable or more dangerous than getting pregnant. The compression of reproductive time in the present is accompanied by a corresponding expansion of reproductive scale: from one unknown offspring to twenty-five forking paths into parenthood, from one unknown future to a multiplicity of futurities.

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    Now she goes to the clinic every day for an ultrasound. The doctors track her follicles closely to predict the day they can retrieve the maximum number of eggs. Optimization is key: if they perform the retrieval too early, they will not get as many mature eggs as they would like; if they wait too long, some of the eggs will get too big and self-destruct. There is nothing left for her to do but arrive at the clinic, submit to anaesthesia, and sleep while the doctor passes a needle through the top of her vagina, into her ovaries, and aspirates the eggs from her body. S undergoes the treatment twice.

    Her doctor retrieves twenty-five eggs in total, fifteen of which are viable. They allow her to mute the questions she no longer wants to think about: Will I have a long-term partner? Will I have a hard time getting and staying pregnant? Will I deliver a healthy baby? Before there was a timeline, they insist. Now there is none.

    She has greater control over her reproductive future than ever before, yet she seems even more shackled to the spectre of the natural now that the choice is hers to make. B , a forty-year-old writer and university lecturer, waits for the next instalment of her book advance so she can pay off the debts she has incurred for her in vitro fertilization IVF treatments. They covered her classes when the pain from the hormonal therapy became debilitating, when lying flat was the only position that made sense.

    When she miscarried after her first and only intrauterine insemination IUI , they were the only women she told, until one day she found the private knowledge of her pain too onerous. She wrote a post on Facebook about what she had endured: hormones that were poorly calibrated, a humiliating insemination, a miscarriage.

    There is a peculiar invisibility to undergoing IVF as a single person. The stories we read and the pictures we see on clinic websites are almost always of couples: two handsome people—a man and a woman, two men, two women—beam as they open their arms to a happy, impossibly healthy-looking child, preparing to enclose her in the safe harbour of a clearly defined family. We look at couples without children and wonder: Do they want them? Are they having trouble? But it does not occur to people when they speak to a single woman that she too might be trying to have a child—or that she might have lost one.

    When B miscarried, she was in the middle of a job interview. She knew what was happening to her, but she had no idea how to express it. She spoke and smiled through the pain as women so often do; she got the job. Yet the intensity of her loss was at odds with the invisibility of her desire to have a child.

    Even when we talk, she seems unsure how much grief she is entitled to voice. When she went in for her first evaluation, her follicle count was unusually high for her age. The doctors who saw her kept smiling and complimenting her ovaries. She was proud to hear that having children might be something she was made to do well. She had always known she wanted to care for others, but she had never felt a strong biological imperative to give birth or have a child who was genetically related to her. She considered adopting at first. She went to a ten-week training for potential foster parents, but she soon learned that the important part of becoming a foster parent was guarding yourself against attachment.

    In the state where B lives, parents whose children are placed in foster care have a year to demonstrate that they are fit to care for their children.

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    As the foster parent, you are instructed to root for the parents. The training teaches you how to create barriers to love, how to pre-emptively detach and grieve the loss of a child who, you are told repeatedly, was never yours to begin with. B did not want her inaugural experience of parenting to be a year-long rehearsal for losing and letting go.

    B has a retroverted uterus—the top of it tips backward rather than forward—and this confused the young male resident who was responsible for performing the IUI. After two unsuccessful attempts at placing the sperm inside B, he grew flustered.

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    B got pregnant and, though she lost the pregnancy, though the world seemed to shrink from her obliterated, exhausted body and she from it, her doctor was eager to try again. If she was going to get pregnant again, she wanted it to happen outside her body first where the viability of embryo could be determined in advance of implantation; she wanted gradual attrition—the calculated paring down of her eggs and embryos after tests and screens—not sudden and singular loss.

    She opted for IVF and, after only a week of injections, looked in the mirror to find an altered version of herself staring back: a woman who had gained fourteen pounds, who looked like she was already halfway through a pregnancy. After two weeks, her heart raced when she climbed the stairs to her apartment.

    She could feel her ovaries growing suddenly alert to gravity, tugging at her and weighing down her steps. The next ultrasound showed that she was on the verge of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. There was an alarming amount of fluid splashing around inside her ovaries and now her heart beat so fast when she walked that she worried she might have a heart attack.

    It struck her as an especially cruel irony: her acute responsiveness to the treatment meant that viable eggs would have to be sacrificed to keep her healthy when all along she had known that something was wrong, that the hormones had pushed her body into alien territory. A different male resident performed the retrieval and, even through the haze of fentanyl, it hurt.