Eunuch. Sodomist. Homo. Gay. Queer. Proud. 
The queer experience has weathered the waves of history, and each word in the queer lexicon tells its own story. These are stories of identity, experience, oppression, celebration and day-to-day life. Wondering what these words mean? When to use them? Why they came about? 
Stay tuned.

Words of Identity
Queerness hasn’t always existed as an identity. It was the marginalization of queers as a group that changed sexuality from something you did to something you were. As fights for gay liberation climaxed around the world, a sense of unity became increasingly important, in language and action. 
Queer: A reclaimed slur repurposed as an umbrella term for anyone who falls outside the gender binary or has a non-heterosexual sexuality. Reclaiming words sends a powerful message: what you hate about us, we are proud of. Can non-queer people use this word? It depends. Best not use it unless asked to. Some identify as and would like to be called “queer,” while others still have it used against them as a slur. If you’re not sure, just ask!
Enby: An abbreviation of non-binary. Enby isn’t always preferred among the non-binary community because it sounds diminutive. Many have suggested more adult-sounding alternatives. Remember that this too is an umbrella term and be wary of gender trinarism—the idea that there are only three genders: man, woman, and “other.” Think about what makes you a man or a woman. It might be more difficult than you think. Nonbinary people sometimes don’t know why they feel nonbinary either — it just feels right. And you know what? That’s okay.
Zie/zir/zirs: This is a neopronoun, a gender-neutral pronoun. Getting used to new pronouns can be difficult. If you mess up someone’s pronoun, no need to make a scene. A quick apology and correction will do. 

Words for Intersectional Experiences
Sometimes we imagine queer people as androgynous-looking white girls in plaid or well-sculpted white boys, but the queer experience includes all that and more. These words focus on the intersections of multiple identities
Two-Spirit: an umbrella term for Native American gender-nonconforming identities intended to foster pan-Native solidarity. Some love it; some dislike how it lumps experiences of diverse cultures together and prefer words specific to their tribe—if these words survive. Perhaps you heard that two-spirits were revered in Native American cultures, and, again, this is true—sometimes. Other times they were persecuted or, sometimes, just treated as normal people.
Transmisogynoir — paralleling transmisogyny, this word describes the experiences of black trans women. 47 percent of black trans women will have been arrested at some point. The average life expectancy for black trans women is 31. While there’s been significant progress, there’s still a long road ahead. 

Words for Issues Within the LGBTQ+ Community.
Like any group, the LGBTQ+ community suffers from a host of internal problems. The queer community has been continually examining what it means to be queer and what our place is in the world. 
Exclusionist: Does oppression make you belong? Exclusionists try to control who can and can’t be queer, and tend to be frowned upon. After all, experiences of oppression vary wildly. Do people who suffer more belong more? But if your identity has no negative connotations, do you get to claim a label within a community formed to protect its members from oppression?
Pinkwashing: Emphasizing LGBTQ+ friendliness to distract from other oppressive, discriminatory or otherwise problematic actions. It can be easy to ignore that being gay-friendly doesn’t negate other problems. But this word’s existence shows that an effort for self-awareness is being made.

Words that Prove We Were Here All Along. 
Adelphopoiesis: literally meaning brother-making in Ancient Greek, adelphopoiesis was a practice in early Christianity that joined two men in inheritance. While it sometimes joined relatives, it often joined men with no familial relation and is considered by many to be an early alternative to marriage for Christian gays.
Boston Marriage: this is exciting, because it references our very own Best City in the World! Boston Marriage refers to two cohabitating, financially independent, “single” women and references Henry James’ novel “The Bostonians,” which depicts a relationship of the kind.
Bahasa Gay: Around the world, queer communities have used codes to protect themselves from persecution and detection. Bahasa Gay is just such a dialect in use in Indonesia.

Ally. Where are you in this story?
Like with many words on this list, there are debates over what it means to be an ally. But it isn’t too difficult to start: just listen and be accepting. You might not understand everything right away. That’s okay. Don’t pretend to. You don’t have to understand to be kind. If someone tells you an identity is important to them, don’t belittle it. Remember: they’re the same person they’ve always been. The world is still a big place. There are always things we might not understand — but that’s what makes the world beautiful.

Read more…
From the pages of Action Comics, to the “Up, Up,  and Away” days of radio serials, to screens big and small, there is hardly a person in the entire world who isn’t familiar with the man of steel, Superman. Since his humble beginnings in 1938’s “Action Comics #1,” Superman has flown above his comic book peers to become one of the most recognizable fictional characters of all time. However, despite his undeniable fame, in recent years, Superman has had a falling out with the public consensus primarily due to the poor reception of his most recent film appearances. To quote the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday,“‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ begins and ends with a funeral, which is fitting for a movie that plays like one long dirge.” 
These opinions, though understandable thanks to the lackluster, bizarro portrayals of the beloved character, should not be held against the entirety of 80 years worth of lore. For a more hopeful and likeable interpretation of the last son of Krypton, we must dig deeper into his mythos and take in the hope he has inspired in his 80-year history.
In the critically panned “Man of Steel,” Kal-El is faced with stopping fellow Kryptonian, General Zod. In an effort to end Zod’s assault on Earth, Superman snaps his neck. 
“He’s shown as this bright character. He’s not Batman; he should find another way,” said 8th grader Jack Channing. “He goes from a farmer to a nobody in the middle of nowhere to the guy who can solve any problem.” In an attempt to make the fantastical world of heroes mirror our own, Superman went from a helpful guy who just so happens to be faster than a speeding bullet, to an angst-filled messiah figure who solves problems by murder. 
“He’s just too powerful to be interesting,” senior film student Jacob Carrasquillo said. “How do you challenge the guy whose whole thing is being unbeatable?” Thanks to a faulty public image, Superman has gone from a symbol of American mythology to the butt of a joke.
However, to truly see what the chest mounted ‘S’ can become, look no further than “For The Man Who Has Everything”, a comic book story written by Alan Moore in 1985 and later adapted for the late great, “Justice League Unlimited” in 2004. The JLU story picks up with Batman and Wonder Woman visiting Superman’s Fortress of Solitude only to find him in a catatonic state thanks to Black Mercy, a parasitic plant that enters its victim into a dream state while slowly draining their life force. Superman, or rather Kal-EL, envisions an idealistic life on Krypton had it never been destroyed, where he has a wife, Loana, and son, Van-El.  After frequent tremors caused by Batman’s attempts to remove the plant, Kal is able to realize that his world, his reality, his family, simply cannot exist.  He remembers the responsibility he has to the people of Earth and is forced to share a tear-filled goodbye with his son, promising that he’ll never forget him or the life he might have had.  
A tearjerker of an episode to be sure, but it serves as an excellent example of Superman's love of humanity. Rather than have a happy ride off into the sunset, Kal’s love of humanity drove him to break free and resume his role as the protector of Earth.  Here we see a more interesting story than the paltry, “let's make him fight Batman” narrative of “Dawn of Justice.” While including superhero action in an admittedly awesome fight between Wonder Woman, Batman, and Mongul, JLU digs deeper into what makes Superman more than a man. 
If Superman’s human element has yet to appeal to you, consider the words of JP Comics’ Paul Bryant.
“What makes [Superman] work is he has to be truly decent,” he said. “He’s best when he is the benevolent helping-hand type. He lends himself well to stories that are all-inclusive of his life, a set beginning, middle, end.” 
This sentiment lends itself well to stories such as Grant Morrison’s “All-Star Superman.” In a plot by Lex Luthor, Superman’s cells are overloaded with solar energy and slowly begin to deteriorate, signaling that his life is coming to an end. Realizing his time is short, Superman sets out to perform a series of tasks to either prolong his life, or ready humanity for a world without him. In this story we see his final moments with not only his closest friends but even members of his rogues gallery. “All-Star Superman” is proof that there is more to Superman than superpowered beatdowns. He’s a genuinely caring guy from Kansas, who just wants to make his adopted home a better place with what little time he has left. Again, this story pits Superman against an internal threat, rather than some villain, which allows us to see more character growth rather than the face punching the superhero genre is known for.
To find Superman boring is to admit you have the most superficial awareness of the character. At his best, he is more than your run-of-the-mill crime fighter.  He isn’t your standard “I’ll stop the bad guy, get the girl, and fly off towards the camera” hero anymore. He is a symbol of what we all should aspire to be—because without the cape, without the tights and without the super, he is just a man, and we can all relate to that.
Read more…
Growing up dreaming of becoming a professional soccer athlete is something that many teens, like myself, experienced. Up until now, I have spent a lot of effort playing as a midfielder on a good team.  
If I become a professional soccer player I would make more money than girls who also dream of becoming professional soccer players. These are girls, who just like me, put effort into running, learning and spending money to train and be on a good team. Why do male and female soccer players who put the same effort into their careers get different salaries?
“The salaries for the 2018 NWSL [National Women’s Soccer League] season are a $350,000-team cap, with the minimum salary of $15,750 USD and a maximum of $44,000,” according to the NWSL website. An article titled Wage Equality in Football, by John J. Merdham from Duke University writes, “MLS [Major League Soccer] league rookies makes over $20,000 USD a year more than the highest paid non-allocated player in the NWSL.” According to the same article the U.S. men’s soccer team received $9 million after they lost on the 13th round in the 2014 World Cup, while the women’s soccer team won the Women’s World Cup in 2015, and received about $2 million for the tournament.
The next  FIFA Women's World Cup is starting on June 7th of this year. “I think it’s absolutely wild that FIFA has allowed the 2019 Gold Cup and Copa América to coincide directly with the World Cup, but that’s to be expected and doesn’t make me any less thrilled or eager to support this summer’s main event,” states Jessica Lopez, a Public Relations Manager at the Minnesota United FC. She continues, “the NWSL bumped its salary cap up to $350,000, with a minimum salary of $15,750 and a maximum salary of $444,000. In MLS, by contrast, the average salary in 2017 was somewhere around $326,000. The gap remains stark.”
The salary and pay is a really important in a soccer career, so female athletes should be aware of the gender discrimination. In athletic careers there is extreme sexism, which could tie back to the salary gap, caused by the lack of support from associations like FIFA. This is why, “they might feel like they are not getting appreciated for what they are doing, especially if they are a girl,” claims Lismeidy Valenzuela, a student of a Boston Public School.
There are many ways to contribute to the solution of this problem. “In addition to better funding, better media coverage and access would go a long way to benefit women’s soccer and the young girls who aspire to one day go pro—or simply to see themselves in professional athletes on TV, in the news, etc. Hearing more women in soccer commentary, seeing more women quoted in the news, interviewed on TV,” explained Lopez. 
Gender discrimination has always been a problem here in the United States. A new era is just starting, and there must be equality for both men and women in sports.
Read more…
As city kids, it is easy for us to go about our day-to-day lives without seeing anything but large, smoky buildings. Therefore, we don’t necessarily recognize the efforts of wildlife preservers in the city. While their work often goes unnoticed, these people strive to keep the community in good shape. With Earth Day just around the corner, here is a reminder to have gratitude towards the people who work with the environment.
One non-profit organization dedicated to the environment in Boston is the Charles River Conservancy. Their mission, according to their website, is to progress the “renewal, and enhancement of the urban parklands along the Charles River, for the enjoyment of all.” Thousands of volunteers come together each year to maintain the Charles River parklands.
Curious about what taking part in the Conservancy would entail, I reached out to Sasha Vallieres. Vallieres currently works at the Charles River Conservancy as the Volunteer Program Manager and has over ten years of experience in the non-profit sector.

How would you describe your occupation?
I am the volunteer program manager, so I'm taking groups out into the Charles River parklands to do various horticulture tasks in gardens around the parklands.

What is an important aspect of your job that you think a lot of people don’t know about?
One part of my job that people don’t see is that I work a lot with invasive plant species. Invasive plants are plants that are in this area that are not native. Invasive plants are particularly detrimental because they have this ability to really outgrow other types of vegetation, so they basically take over and create monoculture. Biodiversity is essential to a healthy ecosystem, so you need lots of different types of plants that can support all different types of lifeforms instead of just one type of plant.

What is the biggest challenge of your job?
I work outside, even in winter. There's work to be done all year round in horticulture!

Conservationists lend a huge helping hand in preserving the greener areas of the city. Many people do not realize the importance of the individuals who resurrect our green spaces. The Charles River Conservancy does admirable work with regards to preserving the Charles River, such as strengthening wildlife, creating picnic areas and playgrounds, broadening the open space, and organizing events to encourage people to go outside. They host community swims in the Charles River, and they are also advocating for a cycling underpass at the Anderson Memorial Bridge.
A great way to help this organization is to volunteer—it is very easy to sign up for a volunteer date. The Charles River Conservancy website has an easily accessible sign up schedule on their website, with projects that typically take place on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Don’t have time? Feel free to donate monthly; all it takes is a click. This Earth Day, do something that counts!


Read more…
When President Kennedy first proposed affirmative action in 1961, it was revolutionary, and, like any revolution, it sparked conflict that resonates to this day. This fall, Harvard faced a lawsuit from a group representing Asian-American students, accusing them of using race-based applications that discriminate against Asian Americans. The topic, if anything, has only gotten more contentious and frankly, it’s time to reevaluate the efficacy of affirmative action.
Affirmative action, “an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women” (Merriam Webster) was started to alleviate the effects of the racist policies of segregation and the lasting effects of slavery. It was meant to give traditionally disadvantaged minorities the same opportunities as those who didn’t have to contend with the same struggles to get to the same place. Affirmative action has been criticized for being racist, for disadvantaging certain minorities, and for being unnecessary in a “post-racial” world. But whatever your opinion on affirmative action’s fairness, perhaps it’s time to examine whether it’s even accomplishing what it set out to.
“Affirmative action is a way of rectifying the wrongs of discrimination and segregation,” said Boston Latin School sophomore Ruth Shiferaw. “White privilege still exists...Especially seen in the rise of hate crimes in the past few years, implicit and explicit biases against minority groups clearly remain to this day. Therefore, affirmative action should continue to be implemented in hopes of balancing the playing field between those who have constantly had an advantage, and those who have been pushed down.”
Many who believe in affirmative action’s goals nevertheless want reform. “I believe in the message of affirmative action,” said recent Boston Latin School graduate Ting Li. “The massive disparities between urban and suburban schools, redlining of districts, and other discriminatory practices...is indicative of a systemic failure in our education system, which is rooted in racism that has yet to fade. Affirmative action is…[only] a band-aid on a grave wound.”
Diversity isn’t just a number, but affirmative action allows colleges to tout percentages as signs of inclusiveness. If different groups of people aren’t equally set up to succeed, the impact of diversity is only nominal. Getting into a college is only the first step. Colleges are not consistent with supporting minority students throughout their academic career. 
More individualized application processes and active efforts to assess and create cross-cultural interactions and support on campus need to be universal equity measures. The National Institute for Transformation and Equity created a five-part metric for equity measure efficacy, which asks about opportunities for students to connect with their cultures, contribute to their community, communicate across backgrounds to solve real-world problems, among others. In addition to implementing practices reflective of these measures, colleges should also start earlier and invest in low-income communities. Extracurricular college-preparatory programs are hugely beneficial to students. Such programs could be a great way for college students to put their work to real-life action as well. Students in teaching programs could set up after-school programs; students in engineering programs could help build playgrounds. While getting rid of race-conscious decisions might not be an option in a race-conscious world, affirmative action needs to be only one in a series of steps. Equity is a big fight, and we’ve got to be committed to fighting it. 
Read more…