Nathan DeJesus
I struggled with accepting that I’m gay, even knowing that I would be accepted much like my sister was when she came out. I was scared, and still am, of my future because I know that being a gay man is often taken worse than being a gay woman because of sexual stigma. In my own case, there are also high schoolers who are figuring out their own sexualities and don’t want my “influence.” I hated the way that others viewed me. I avoided other gay people and I avoided flaunting my sexuality too much. I still do.
School. School. School. A place you go to learn for the betterment of your future. The word “gay” holds so much destruction and hate in a school system. When someone is thought to be gay that rumor spreads like a wildfire — and I’m talking about the Ranch Fire, the largest recorded wildfire in California’s history. People’s reputations can be ruined along with friendships. When I was in middle school I was, of course, called gay as an insult when anything seemingly gay occurred. When I eventually sort of grew into my skin, I was shocked to find out that I was the thing that I had been called as an insult plenty of times.
We live in a heteronormative world, meaning that being straight is seen as normal and “right.” This causes fear within people who may think they are gay. They often start to hate themselves and other members of the LGBTQ+ community. This is internalized homophobia. As University of California, Davis psychologist, Gregory Herek, writes, “internalized homophobia necessarily implicates an intrapsychic conflict between what people think they should be (i.e., heterosexual) and how they experience their sexuality (i.e., as homosexual or bisexual).”
Internalized homophobia is a perfect example of the toxic society that we live in. I identify as a gay male and use the pronouns he, him and his. At times I may act feminine, but this does not mean that I am a girl or that I will flirt with every guy I see. Assuming otherwise is plain rude. So many men (and women) have the idea that since a guy is gay they’re automatically a slut that wants to hook up, and that causes straight men that may be uneducated about the LGBTQ+ community to harbor a certain fear of gay men. To avoid that prejudice, some gay men that may want to act more feminine feel they have to hide behind a shell and “act straight.” I may not dress in rainbows every day, and I also tend to keep my feminine moments like crossing my legs, speaking with hand movements, or using a high pitched voice with certain reactions to myself for fear that I may get judged by those who are afraid. This is internalized homophobia.
A University Of Georgia study showed 35 homophobic men and 29 non-homophobic men erotic videos of lesbians and gay men. Both groups demonstrated the same amount of arousal watching heterosexual and lesbian videos, but homophobic men were notably more aroused during the gay sex videos than non-homophobic men. This goes to show that many homophobic people may be repressing their own thoughts and desires due to fear, which is supported by psychoanalytic theory. It’s unhealthy.
It causes ruptures within your day-to-day life.
Your anxiety levels go through the roof and you become uneasy about everything. At least I did.
I suggest that everyone regardless of identity should go to therapy, and not conversion therapy. That is a horror all of its own. Therapy is a great way to process your own thoughts and feelings, even more so if you are experiencing hate for yourself and a group of people. Many times when you express hate toward a group of people, it may very well be that you in some way relate to them and their struggle. Please don’t hate on that group because you don’t want to be like them. It only makes them and yourself  feel bad. Going to therapy and talking about it with someone who isn’t your immediate family can help you get so many problems and worries off your chest.
When learning to cope with the fact that you may be gay you need to understand that you are nowhere near the only one.
Once you accept it you may still have moments of relapse where you will hate yourself for being gay and will have the fear of being judged. (Spoiler alert: that’s the hardest to get rid of.)
Internalized homophobia is a demon that will never leave. I, and others, will continue to suffer from it because judgment is inevitable. The LGBTQ+ community will always be hated by some and we will continue to work against their hate and the useless fictional hate we have for ourselves.
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When you first walk into a department store, the segregation of products along the colorful lanes is clear to see. Aisle signs line the ceiling above: women’s to the left, men’s to the right. Marketers are accountable for this stunt, finding a way to take people’s money by labeling gender-neutral products as “men’s.” Although most stores keep the gender labeling in the toys section, the barf of pink and blue clearly tells us one thing: marketers are slimy and all about business.
Don’t get me wrong, not every marketer believes boys like blue and girls like pink, but in this kind of business, none of that matters. It’s all about money, and whether or not your product sells. The issue is that these products aimed at children persuade parents to encourage outdated concepts of gender norms. Less rigid rules around gender expression allow people to understand their identity through appearance and individuality, but marketers stifle that.
By 18 months, most children are able to identify stereotypical gender norms. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they agree with them. By the age of five or six, children have established an inflexible view of how they should act and what they should play with based on societal beliefs. “Children use toys to try on new roles, experiment, and explore interests,” Susan Linn, executive director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, told The Boston Globe. “Rigidly gendered” toy marketing tells children how to act and who to be, leaving no room for self-exploration.
Marketers know this, and use it to their advantage. Just look at Bic, a company known for their unnecessarily gendered “Bic For Her” pens and expensive Gillette Venus razors targeted at women’s “sensitive skin.” They know society’s view on gender follows the hegemonic myth that men are the dominant sex, strong and sufficient, while women are feeble and feminine, incapable of carrying their load.
Beginning in early childhood, boys are exposed to the idea of “masculinity” and common refrains like “it’s not okay to hit a girl” or “boys don’t cry.” Schools, parents and most importantly media contribute to this along with marketers, but they are in no way enhancing our society. It’s contradictory to tell boys not to hit girls but purchase toys that stimulate fighting and competition.

Gender stereotypes not only affect society on a large scale but also individual families like my own. I have been scolded for wearing men’s sweaters and getting short haircuts. The young children in my family are influenced by the things they play with as well. At the young age of seven, my niece already has the mindset of being a mom and cleaning the house when she sees her mother doing it. It’s not wrong to help out, but I’ve never seen my nephew pick up a broom. He, on the other hand, plays Fortnite on his PlayStation and struggles to express his emotions when he’s upset, turning to banging his head against the wall.
Parents and children are led to believe that this is the way life should be because it’s what’s normally seen. Because of this, marketers continue to profit off of the moldable minds of children and gullible parents. We as a society need to invest in non-gendered products for the sake of the future of our kids and teens affected by them.
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Sally Phan
Movies and TV shows are a great form of entertainment. Everyone gets excited when going to the movie theater or starting a new show on Netflix. However, it’s sad when you don’t see yourself represented in the movies and shows that you enjoy. My favorite show growing up was “Zoey 101,” a show with only one Asian character, and he was a nerdy gamer. At the time, I disliked my culture and believed that everyone wanted to be white, since that was all I saw. Asians are rarely ever seen as cool or popular in media, which made me insecure. 

How representative and relatable are these platforms of entertainment in terms of the actors they cast? With constant whitewashing in movies and television, tracing back to as early as 1915 with blackface and yellow face, diversity has always been an issue in Hollywood productions. The push for diversity is still difficult today. When Halle Bailey was cast to play Ariel in the live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid,” there was a lot of controversy regarding whether Ariel should be played by a black actress. We as a society cannot continue to set up these barriers for diversity, as it has been a constant problem for over 100 years. 

Most movies and television shows have white leading roles, which isn’t an accurate representation of Americans. Only 3% of speaking characters in 2016’s top 100 films were Latino, according to a University of Southern California study, even though Latinos make up 18% of the U.S. population, according to The Guardian. While Hollywood has been making movies and TV shows that project more diversity, it still isn’t enough. The lack of diversity in American media is problematic because it underrepresents large groups of minorities and creates negative stereotypes about them. Movies and television are a platform where news and information can spread easily. However, it can have a negative effect when racist stereotypes are constantly used. 

In many movies, Asians and Latinos are portrayed with broken English and strong accents. Growing up, I wondered if my friends or cashiers would mock my family, even though I spoke fluent English. This stereotype makes me scared of how people will judge me, even if they don’t know me. Asians are also often seen as nerdy or “dragon ladies.” The term “dragon lady” refers to East Asian women who behaved in a domineering way with their husbands. In an interview with Thought Co., Anna May Wong shared her experiences with having to play a dragon lady. She explained that the dragon lady stereotype is inaccurate, since it portrays Chinese women as villains. 

When kids don’t have the opportunity to interact with people from different races, the information they have will be solely based on their parents, society and the media. This demonstrates how the lack of diversity in the media negatively impacts kids and how they grow up. 

This doesn’t have to be the case — as a society we can do better than to accept the lack of diversity shown to us in the media. We can push Hollywood to cast more actors who resemble America’s diversity in the 21st century. It’s necessary for us to encourage Hollywood’s actions of casting people of color. Let’s have our next generation watch movies that actually represent and empower them.
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With right-wing terrorist attacks and hate crimes on the rise, a radical conservative president who makes racist statements, and multiple hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and alt-right organizations having their numbers bolstered, many conservatives are in a sticky situation. While the violent attacks and racially aggressive statements made by radical members of the right are horrific, they serve to help those with opposing viewpoints.
There are many moderate conservatives and Trump supporters that haven’t fully bought into the hateful origins of right-wing ideals. These people can still be swayed to the left, and this political migration is encouraged by right-wing leaders expressing radical hateful sentiments.
To counter this drift in political thought, right-wing rhetoricians have employed a number of tactics used to undermine the true horror of their actions, as well as radicalize naive internet users—a deceitful process that must be prevented. These tactics are often deployed or created consciously and with malicious intent.
While using deceptive or simplified language in an argument to get a point across isn’t morally wrong, the right often attempts to indoctrinate or inspire hate using these methods. As someone who was at one point indoctrinated by right-wing ideology, I am constantly in conflict with these methods as I attempt to de-radicalize as many conservatives as I can.
A tactic often used by the right is the insistence that for every right-wing group, there is a left-wing group with an equally negative impact on the world. The massive turnout at the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017—a unification of multiple right-wing hate groups—was not seen by many as the horrific event that it was. This lack of understanding stems from the fact that left-wing, anti-fascist groups also come into public view around the same time. Right-wingers stoked fear by building these left-wing groups up as far more horrific than any right-wing terrorists, branding them the “alt-left.”
The media was soon flooded with comparisons of the alt-right and this new alt-left, which served to turn media attention away from the tragic attacks on counter-protesters that occurred at the rally. Even our right-wing president chimed in, saying there were “good people on both sides,” a declaration that failed to address the hateful sentiment which caused the conflict in the first place.
Another tactic often used when right-wing speech has crossed a line, is labeling it as “comedy.” A recent example is a conflict between far-right YouTuber Steven Crowder and Vox News. Crowder made a video commenting on a video posted by Vox, in which he mocked the fact that the Vox reporter in the video was gay, calling him a “wispy q---r,” and other slurs on more than one occasion. Crowder received backlash, with the possibility of YouTube suspending his channel, and decided to defend his words. He claimed they were “comedy,” and received support from multiple right-wing media figures, who used similar justification. His channel avoided deactivation.
Calling something offensive “comedy” as a defense is an especially clever tactic because it not only gives you the freedom to say what you want, but it also allows you to portray your detractors as “sensitive” or “lame” when they are offended.

The most desperate and absurd tactic used by right-wing media to make themselves seem less violent is to provide false information, as we saw in the aftermath of the Charlottesville rally. After a man intentionally drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters and killed a woman, many right-wing media outlets spread false information that she actually died from a heart attack near the scene of the crime. By spreading this lie, the radical right was able to make itself seem less dangerous, and, in doing so, retained their more moderate supporters.
As liberals and leftists, we should fight against these types of deception. However, simply being able to predict these verbal gymnastics is only half the battle. When coming into verbal conflict with either a member of the right or a centrist who has bought into their falsehoods, be sure to know how to counter these tactics.
In order to avoid the spreading of false information, be sure to research the topic you are debating. If you do not understand it, admitting that you don’t know is better than being humiliated, which would invalidate your stance on other topics you may understand.
When the defense of “comedy” is used, quickly explain that even if something is meant as a joke, comedy is almost always used as a way to express real beliefs or ideas in a more relaxed way.
Finally, if your opponent tries to defend a right-wing organization by comparing it to a left-wing one, know that the facts are in your favor. Be sure to reference the origins of both movements, illustrating that those of the right are based in hatred and discrimination, while those of the left are not.
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People of color need to stop killing each other. We are often of the same pigment and sometimes look the same, so why do we endanger ourselves more than white people endanger us? I believe the violence rate amongst people of color in America needs to decrease. We are killing our own kind, but only complain when cops kill us. This is not right. We need to join together. People might say, “How does this affect you?” and to that I share that one of my closest friends was killed by a firearm, and I’ve been shot at multiple times just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
An eight-year-old girl was shot in Dorchester on the night of the Fourth of July. No one knows why the suspects shot at her and an adult who was with her. It’s ridiculous how children my age are being targeted every day.
From the outside, the black community looks like a jungle, but in the life of a black male living in the projects, it’s just a way to survive. The main reason why these crimes happen is gangs. These gangs only formed because white kids started terrorizing black neighborhoods during the Civil Rights movement. Also, there is a lot of violence because there are not a lot of ways for people in these communities to express emotions.

This can lead to people feeling angry and depressed, which can lead to violence in the community.
I’m tired of seeing faces on a t-shirt. I don’t want to have to wake up thinking that I’m going to be next, not because of who I am, but because of who I look like.
One way to address the problem is to bring the community together for a positive event, such as the Save R Streets Basketball tournament in Roxbury, hosted by non-profit Score4more. I know that may not fix things, but it can help create a more positive vibe to the city to have people of all identities come together to watch or play basketball. When people from different communities and neighborhoods come together and socialize, they get to know each other, instead of acting violently. At the event, they provide food, candy, slushies and bouncy houses for free. It provides a fun environment and it also attracts children and parents, which brings a lot of people together. People want the best for their children, so in a space designed for them, they will act more appropriately.
Gun violence prevents people like me from feeling safe in our own neighborhoods. We have to find a way to protect our own people, before any more lives are lost.
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