She was nice to the boy who bullied her. He still turned into a mass shooter.

Julia Suconic, hugs her friend Nathan Schoedl. Both are students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP Photos.

The first time Isabelle Robinson met Nikolas Cruz, he knocked the wind out of her and smirked as he watched her cry.

“The force of the blow knocked the wind out of my 90-pound body; tears stung my eyes. I turned around and saw him, smirking,” Robinson, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, writes in an op-ed for The New York Times. “I had never seen this boy before, but I would never forget his face. His eyes were lit up with a sick, twisted joy as he watched me cry.”

It’s a chilling picture, one made even more frightening by the fact that Robinson assumed that adults would take notice and take care of the situation. She even showed Cruz kindness. Five years later, Robinson writes, she was huddled in a closet as he took 17 lives.

Robinson’s piece isn’t a personal takedown of Cruz. Rather, it’s a reality check for those who believe that “kindness” will stop school shootings.

This is an idea that has been perpetrated by the leaders of the “Walk Up, Not Out” movement that made headlines leading up to nationwide school walkouts on March 14.

On the surface, the idea is deceptively logical: If more people were friendly to those deemed “outsiders,” gun violence would decrease and schools would become safer places.

On March 14, encourage students to walk up. Walk up to the kid who sits alone at lunch and invite her to sit with you. …

Posted by Amy Flynn on Thursday, March 8, 2018

But the reality of the situation is much different. As Robinson recounts in her op-ed, kindness is exactly what she tried to show Cruz. In eighth grade, a year after she says he physically assaulted her, she was assigned to tutor him. She did her best to push down her feelings of fear as Cruz continued to harass her.

“Despite my discomfort, I sat down with him, alone,” she writes. “I was forced to endure his cursing me out and ogling my chest until the hourlong session ended. When I was done, I felt a surge of pride for having organized his binder and helped him with his homework.”

“Looking back, I am horrified. I now understand that I was left, unassisted, with a student who had a known history of rage and brutality.”

The reason Robinson didn’t refuse the assignment? She cites a “desire to please” and to be seen as mature. “I would have done almost anything to win the approval of my teachers.”

That’s what those who believe that kindness alone is the answer are missing: that the children they’re entrusting with the task of ending violence are just that — children.

Make no mistake, Robinson isn’t against the idea of kindness. But kindness isn’t enough. And when it comes to solving issues like gun violence, students — who load up their backpacks and go to school with the expectation of learning in a safe environment — should never be the first line of defense. Nor should the blame for violence be placed squarely on those who have been victimized in school shootings.

Brandon Dasent and Tyah-Amoy Roberts, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

“It is not the obligation of children to befriend classmates who have demonstrated aggressive, unpredictable, or violent tendencies,” Robinson writes. “It is the responsibility of the school administration and guidance department to seek out those students and get them the help that they need, even if it is extremely specialized attention that cannot be provided at the same institution.”

Robinson’s story is both heartbreaking and all too familiar. A tragedy like Parkland has everyone demanding answers and seeking solutions. But too often, the conversation steers to victim-blaming, with fingers quickly being pointed at the survivors for not doing enough to prevent the tragedy. Even when, as in Robinson’s case, students actually put themselves in potential danger trying to be kind.

Asking children to put themselves in danger in the name of kindness is not the answer.

“The implication that Mr. Cruz’s mental health problems could have been solved if only he had been loved more by his fellow students is both a gross misunderstanding … and a dangerous suggestion that puts children on the front line,” Robinson states.

But then what should be done? While children are leading the #NeverAgain movement, they can’t be the only ones who demand change. As adults, we must protect them at all costs. And that means we must listen. And we must take action by recognizing that kindness isn’t the first line of defense against mass shootings — widespread gun reform is.

A sign featuring Emma Gonzalez is seen at the March for Our Lives Los Angeles. Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty Images.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/she-was-nice-to-the-boy-who-bullied-her-he-still-turned-into-a-mass-shooter

Dear America: Kids doing active-shooter drills is not normal.

Image by Tatiana Cardenas/Upworthy.

As thousands across the nation prepare to take to the streets on March 24, 2018, for The March for Our Lives, we’re taking a look at some of the root causes, long-lasting effects, and approaches to solving the gun violence epidemic in America. We’ll have a new installment every day this week.

I was teaching in a high school classroom when the Columbine shooting happened.

In between periods, a student rushed into my room and turned on the television. As other students shuffled in, they caught the scene on TV and stopped in their tracks.

Together we gaped silently at aerial footage of teens pouring out of their school, covered in their classmates’ blood. News reporters struggled to offer details about the shooter or shooters, still unclear if the carnage had ended. Still unsure of the body count.

I looked around at my 15- and 16-year-old students, their eyes wide with a mix of shock and fear. Even the goofy class clown stared somberly at the screen. I considered whether it was prudent to let them see all of this, but the only difference between that high school and ours was geography. Those bloodied students could have been my students. They knew it, and I knew it.

It seems commonplace now, but that was a feeling I’d never felt as a teacher before. And I’d only felt something similar once as a kid.

Tom Mauser walks along a wall at the Columbine High School Memorial; his son Daniel was one of students killed in the Columbine shooting. Photo by Don Emmert/Getty Images.

I remember when I was little, sitting huddled in a ball under my desk, imagining the classroom around me exploding.

It was the early 1980s. I must have been 6 or 7. My class was doing a nuclear-blast preparation drill, a hallmark of the Cold War era in which I was born. I remember staring at the thin metal legs of my desk, wondering how they were supposed to protect me from a bomb going off.

Nuclear annihilation — not being gunned down in school — was the big concern of my childhood. Such duck-and-cover drills disappeared by my middle elementary years, so the threat felt short-lived. Of course, a nuclear blast is always a terrifying thought, but somehow, I just knew it wasn’t likely to happen.

I imagined it, though. And the imagining alone shook me as a young child. Sometimes I look back and wonder how Americans lived like that for so long.

A kindergartener in Hawaii hides under a desk during a lockdown drill. Photo via Phil Mislinski/Getty Images.

Kids in high school now have been doing active-shooter lockdown drills their entire childhoods.

The year after Columbine, my husband and I started our family, and I left teaching. I chose to homeschool my kids, and though lockdowns weren’t part of that decision, the lack of active-shooter drills has been a significant perk of homeschooling.

Unlike nuclear preparation drills, active-shooter drills are meant to prepare kids for something they know has happened multiple times. They’ve heard the news stories. Some kids have been through the real thing themselves.

I try to imagine it — my sweet 9-year-old boy huddled in a closet with 20 of his classmates, forced into unnatural silence as they wait for the sound of a would-be shooter trying to enter their locked classroom. I can see his face, the very real fear in his eyes. I can honestly feel his racing heartbeat.

It guts me just to think about it.

An elementary school teacher (who requested anonymity because the internet is ridiculous and she’s received death threats) posted a description of a recent active-shooter drill in her classroom. The post has been shared close to 200,000 times and for good reason. It’s a simple description of an unfathomable reality.

“Today in school we practiced our active shooter lockdown. One of my first graders was scared and I had to hold him. Today is his birthday. He kept whispering ‘When will it be over?’ into my ear. I kept responding ‘Soon’ as I rocked him and tried to keep his birthday crown from stabbing me.

I had a mix of 1-5 graders in my classroom because we have a million tests that need to be taken. My fifth grader patted the back of the 2nd grader huddled next to him under a table. A 3rd grade girl cried silently and clutched the hand of her friend. The rest of the kids sat quietly (casket quiet) and stared aimlessly in the dark.

As the ‘intruder’ tried to break into our room twice, several of them jumped, but remained silently. The 1st grader in my lap began to pant and his heart was beating out of his chest, but he didn’t make a peep.”

Image via Facebook, used with permission.

Seriously. These are babies we are putting through this. (Well, not literal babies, but still.)

And these drills can be even more terrifying than you might imagine.

At a high school in Anchorage, Alaska, an officer used the sound of real gunfire — blanks shot from a real gun — during active-shooter drills. The idea was that kids would learn what actual gunfire sounds like so they can act quickly when they hear it.

“We don’t want to scare them,” the principal, Sam Spinella, told CNN affiliate KTVA. “We want this to become as close to reality as possible.”

I am dumbfounded. Those two sentences make zero sense together. We’re not talking about a police training academy here — we’re talking about an average day in high school. The reality they are trying to prepare them for is scary — how could a preparation “as close to reality as possible” not be?

A recent article in The Atlantic examined the psychological effects of active-shooter drills on kids. Surprisingly, not a lot of research has been done on the subject. All we really have are reports of young adults who grew up with them.

One interviewee described a memory of his classmate coughing during a lockdown drill when he was 12. Their teacher reacted by telling the class that in a real shooter situation, they’d all be dead now.

Yeah, probably not the best way to handle that.

But what is the best way to prepare children for the possibility of a gunman trying to kill their classmates, their favorite teacher, their best friend?

We want kids to feel safe and secure. We don’t want to scare kids as we prepare them for something that is undeniably scary. But is it smart to scare them a little bit in order for them to understand the seriousness of the drill? And if kids aren’t scared at all — if they are totally unfazed by active-shooter drills — how can we justify them being so desensitized?

Ugh. This is not normal. This should never feel normal.

And yet, this is normal. In fact, some people tell me they feel comforted by the preparation.

I talked to a handful of teens and young adults who grew up with lockdown drills. One described a series of bomb threats at her high school, which she said were scary at first, but eventually became a “boy who cried wolf” situation. Another described intruder drills as simply preparing for the unexpected, not much different than an earthquake or tornado drill.

One high schooler, Joe Burke of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, told me about the first lockdown drill he remembers in the fifth grade. He and his classmates huddled under computer desks along the wall, knees hugged to their chests, with the lights off and door locked:

“When we were sitting under the desks, I had a slight bit of doubt in the idea. To my fifth-grade self, it didn’t seem like the best idea to just be hiding if someone were to come in and try and hurt us. It would only take a few seconds of searching to find 25-plus kids and a teacher all cramped under those tables. … At the time, I automatically assumed that the adults knew more than we did. I figured that we were much safer than I realize we actually were, in retrospect.”

Burke said the new ALICE training his high school has implemented has made him feel better prepared and is “a massive step in the right direction.” (ALICE is a for-profit training program that has been implemented in schools across the country. Here’s an interesting analysis of the praise and criticism of it.)

Joe Burke spoke at his high school’s walkout on March 14, 2018. Photo via Christine Burke, used with permission.

Joe’s mother, Christine Burke, said that she has made it a point to talk to her kids about active shooter situations in detail:

“After Parkland, I sat with my 15-year-old son and showed him the footage of the shooting inside the building. We talked about how the smoke from an AR-15 would disorient his way out, that the gun would be loud, that screaming classmates would make it hard to hear instructions. We talked about how his phone need not be a priority (no filming the scene, no taking pictures) but that he should use it as a means of communication only if he could. And we talked about how the ALICE training would feel in a real situation. That conversation with my son chilled me to my bones because I realized that this is the world we live in now. I have to talk to my son about his algebra grade and about how loud an AR-15 sounds when fired in a classroom.”

Christine, like many parents, finds herself navigating surreal waters. We have accepted the inevitability of school shootings to the point where we actively prepare our kids for them.

Generally speaking, preparedness is good. Preparedness is smart.

And yet, how can we accept that this is the reality for children in America? Parents across the country constantly say to themselves, “We shouldn’t have to do this. Our kids shouldn’t have to do this.” And yet, they do.

Christine Burke (left) and her friend Jen were the only two parents who joined her son’s school walkout for National School Walkout on March 14, 2018. Photo via Christine Burke, used with permission.

Is this really the price we have to pay for freedom?

We’re supposed to be a fantastic, developed country, aren’t we? We pride ourselves on being a “shining city on a hill” a leader among nations, a beacon of freedom to all people.

There is no official war happening on American soil. We are not a country experiencing armed conflict or revolution or insurrection. And yet we live as if we are.

People in other countries look at our mass shootings and what we’ve attempted to do about them and think we are out of our ever-loving minds. I’m right there with them. As a former teacher and current homeschool parent, I feel like I’m peering in from the outside with my jaw to the floor at what we’ve accepted as normal for our children.

I’m a fan of the U.S. Constitution and don’t take changes to it lightly, but maybe it’s time to accept that the Second Amendment has not actually protected our freedoms the way it was designed to. We are not a free people when our children have to hide in closets and listen for gunfire as they imagine themselves the next victims of a mass-murdering gunman during math class.

This is not normal. This should never feel normal.

Kids who have repeatedly and systematically prepared for carnage in their classrooms are taking to the streets, to the podium, to the media — and soon to the polls — in a way we haven’t seen in decades.

It’s easy to see why. These teens have spent their childhoods watching the adults in charge respond to the mass murder of children by simply preparing for more of it. And they’re done.

I’m unbelievably proud of the way these young people are organizing, saying #NeverAgain and pushing for effective gun legislation. Their efforts have convinced the governor of Florida to break with the National Rifle Association and sign a sweeping gun control bill. (Though not perfect, it’s a big step for the “Gunshine State.”) Companies feeling the pressure and momentum have broken ties with the NRA as well.

I can’t help but note how these kids’ successes highlight previous generations’ failure on this issue. The time for taking real action was long before Parkland, Sandy Hook, or even Columbine. But I feel the sea change coming.

These young activists give me hope that maybe future generations will look back in wonder at how we lived like this for so long.


For more of our look at America’s gun violence epidemic, check out other stories in this series:

And see our coverage of to-the-heart speeches and outstanding protest signs from the March for Our Lives on March 24, 2018.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/dear-america-kids-doing-active-shooter-drills-is-not-normal

Michael Ian Black makes some great points about how we raise boys.

Boys are broken,” wrote comedian Michael Ian Black on Feb. 14th.

Just hours earlier, a gunman shot and killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The tragedy led Black to get a bit introspective about his gender and speculate the role society’s more toxic messages play in these much-too-frequent massacres.

“Until we fix men, we need to fix the gun problem,” he wrote on Twitter. “The last 50 years redefined womanhood: Women were taught they can be anything. No commensurate movement for men who are still generally locked into the same rigid, outdated model of masculinity and it’s killing us.”

A week later, The New York Times published an op-ed by Black tackling the issue in more detail.

“Too many boys are trapped in the same suffocating, outdated model of masculinity, where manhood is measured in strength, where there is no way to be vulnerable without being emasculated, where manliness is about having power over others,” Black wrote. “They are trapped, and they don’t even have the language to talk about how they feel about being trapped, because the language that exists to discuss the full range of human emotion is still viewed as sensitive and feminine.”

The point he was making was that we aren’t doing enough as a society to encourage and support boys and men emotionally. He’s right — and there’s data to back him up.

On March 7, LGBTQ student organization GLSEN shared some interesting findings related to Black’s argument. It’s the same point that’s been made a number of times before by writers like Bryan Epps, Lauren Sandler, and Jennifer Wright: Society’s outdated vision of masculinity can be harmful.

The argument is not “anti-men” or “anti-boys,” but a plea to provide the necessary support to sidestep toxic masculinity.

According to GLSEN, a study of the 31 mass school shootings between 1995 and 2015 found that “each shooter was male and all experienced challenges to their performance of masculinity, through homophobia and other forms of gender policing,” to which they responded by trying to “prove their tormentors wrong.”

Disturbingly, it looks as though teachers are actually getting less involved in trying to protect their students from bullying.

Creating an environment where bullies thrive unchecked is bad for all students. When that bullying centers on how boys express their masculinity, it simply results in more bullies and, occasionally, violence.

The way we talk to and about boys fosters unhealthy personal expectations, leaving many to feel isolated, alone, and afraid to seek help when they need it.

“Globally, boys are allowed far less space than girls to act outside the norms forced upon them,” GLSEN tweeted.

Of course, as the group notes, “most boys experience some gender policing and don’t commit acts of mass violence like in Parkland.” It’s not meant to be an excuse for atrocities, but maybe a bit of an explanation.

There’s nothing wrong with being a man, but maybe we do need to rethink what it means to be one.

“Our society’s typical notion of what it means to be a man might keep boys from reaching out or accepting help,” GLSEN tweeted, continuing:

“It may also lead them to assert masculinity via weapons that are often exalted as symbols and tools of masculine strength and power. … There is no one cause of mass school shootings. Nor should there be one response. Yet, for the wellbeing of young people of all genders, it’s crucial for EVERYONE (in schools and elsewhere) to expand our ideas of what being a man can and should be.”

“We know ourselves to be men, but don’t know how to be our whole selves,” Black tweeted.

The last two tweets from his thread tell the whole story — the fragility, the fear, the need for help. Having these tough, honest conversations, however, are a great place to start changing the world for the better, for children of all genders, not just boys.

“We’re terrified of being viewed as something other than men. We know ourselves to be men, but don’t know how to be our whole selves. A lot of us (me included) either shut off or experience deep shame or rage. Or all three. Again: Men are terrified,” Black wrote. “Even talking about this topic invites ridicule because it’s so scary for most men (and women). Men are adrift and nobody is talking about it and nobody’s doing anything about it and it’s killing us.”

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/michael-ian-black-makes-some-great-points-about-how-we-raise-boys

Teen school shooting survivors are sending a passionate message Washington can’t ignore.

The adults have had their chance. Now it’s time to hear directly from kids about school shootings.

After the 18th confirmed school shooting in 2018, it can be hard to find new ways to confront how the previously unthinkable has become a regular part of our lives.

Lawmakers in Congress were already speaking of a “sense of resignation” following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14, after recent massacres like that in Las Vegas failed to generate legislative action.

So the young survivors of Wednesday’s mass shooting took on that responsibility themselves, speaking out about the importance of gun safety.

“Some of our policymakers and some people need … to look in the mirror and take some action; because ideas are great, but without action, ideas stay ideas and children die,” senior David Hogg, 17, said in an interview with CNN.

This is the first time we’ve seen school shooting survivors respond directly to lawmakers on social media.

And Hogg isn’t alone. After President Trump tweeted about the shootings, a number of fellow Douglas survivors took to Twitter to refute the idea that school shootings are purely a mental health issue.

These aren’t kids used as political props. They are smart teens with real thoughts.

Bringing kids into a political debate can be complicated, even when it’s for a message we agree with. But that’s not what happened here.

The student survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took action on their own, sending a powerful message to lawmakers that they can no longer rest on the sidelines while children continue to die from gun violence.

“I want to show these people exactly what’s going on when these children are facing bullets flying through classrooms and students are dying trying to get an education,” Hogg told CNN. “That’s not OK, and that’s not acceptable, and we need to fix that.”

If the adults can’t take action, maybe they’ll listen to the survivors.

The grownups have been locked in a gun safety stalemate that shows no sign of letting up. Even common-sense changes — like expanded background checks — that have near-universal support stall in Congress, thanks, in large part, to the powerful lobbying efforts of the National Rifle Association.

It’s easy to ignore people on the other side of the political aisle.

It’s not easy to ignore children who just watched their fellow classmates die while also facing down their own deaths.

Image via CNN.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) followed Hogg’s interview on CNN and said that Hogg and his classmate Kelsey Friend confronted him directly with a challenge:

“When they were leaving, I went to tell them how brave I thought they were, and [Hogg] looked at me and he said, ‘We want action.'”

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/teen-school-shooting-survivors-are-sending-a-passionate-message-washington-can-t-ignore

‘Queer Eye’s’ Tan France: I took the job to be blunt to, and befriend, Republicans.

Tan France wasn’t supposed to be a TV star.

But as of publication, the fashion designer has over 183,000 Instagram followers and a number of giddy, straight husbands asking to take his photo to show their wives at his local grocery store in Utah. “I can’t walk the street without somebody stopping me,” he explains earnestly, still surprised that complete strangers would recognize him. (Maybe it’s the hair?)‌‌‌‌

‌Photo by Paige Soviet.‌

France, who’d never held a job in the entertainment world before, says he was reluctant to audition for “Queer Eye,” a Netflix reboot based off the original Bravo series, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” that’s become an overnight cultural phenomenon since premiering in early February.

But France went to the audition anyway. And now he’s a member of the show’s Fab Five — the stylish, sincere queer guys who bombard their “heroes'” homes and make over their closets, diets, and, really, entire existences in just a few days.

‌Photo courtesy of Netflix.‌

The reason France ended up taking the offer, he says, had nothing to do with fame or fortune. It was the series’ shooting location, of all things, that sealed the deal.

Unlike the original, the new “Queer Eye” found its heroes to “make better” in deep red, rural Georgia. For France — a British-Muslim immigrant to the U.S. with Pakistani roots — the opportunity to build bridges and befriend straight, southern Republicans was an opportunity he simply couldn’t pass up.

I sat down with France to chat about the first season of “Queer Eye,” what it’s like representing gay Muslims on the world stage, and which member of the Fab Five he secretly loves best.

I’m so happy to talk to you. I went through season one of “Queer Eye” so quickly.‌‌‌‌

The response has been out of this world!‌‌‌‌

How so? ‌‌‌‌

I don’t know if you know, but I’m the only one who hasn’t ever worked in the entertainment industry before. I never had any desire to do so. I had to be convinced to go audition for this show. So for me, it’s been really shocking. I receive, on average, a thousand DMs a day.

Oh my gosh.

Yeah. It’s insane. It’s lovely, lovely, and I’m very grateful, but it’s insane. And then not really being able to go out of the house as much anymore, unless I’m either really dressed up or have a hat and shades on — that’s been a major adjustment.

That’s wild. And for many Americans, you’re either the first or one of the first gay Muslims they’ve ever seen on TV. What’s that been like for you?

I just am unapologetically myself, so it wasn’t something I was really cognizant of until people really started asking about it the past few weeks. And so I’ve been like, oh shit, maybe I should be paying more attention to that [laughs]. People all over the world have been reaching out and saying, “I’ve never seen a version of myself on TV.” And that’s really powerful.

How comfortable are you taking on that role?

I don’t feel uncomfortable because I am who I am, and I don’t make any apologies for it. That’s the case for all of [the Fab Five].

But I’ve never seen myself as any kind of role model or trailblazer, and I still don’t. I don’t like that kind of responsibility because I don’t expect that people should live their lives a certain way because someone else lives their life a certain way. However, I do love giving exposure to a community that really hasn’t had the representation it needs.

As a Muslim, how did it feel helping Cory in episode three? He was a big Trump supporter. Was helping guys like him something you considered before heading to Georgia to shoot?

It was something I thought about a lot before accepting the offer. And actually, it was the reason I took the show.

If the show had been filmed in New York or L.A., I don’t think it would have been as enticing for me. [The original “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”] was wonderful for its time. It moved the gay community forward and it gave us exposure we never had before. However, I didn’t want just the original version back. I wanted it to be more [representative] of how we’ve progressed as a community.

So having the opportunity to work with a bunch of Republican people [in the South] was the most enticing part of this job for me. It wasn’t about making them “pretty” — that’s secondary. My job on the show is making sure I’m having very open, blunt conversations with people without hiding who I am.

Unfortunately, some of the conversations didn’t make it [into the episodes]. Like, Cory and I had a very lengthy conversation in the car about Trump and the fact he doesn’t love gays or immigrants, and I represent both of those things. [Trump’s] made some derogatory comments about the Middle East, and again, I represent that.

Photo by Paige Soviet.

I read that Tom had at one point suggested you were a “terrorist”? But then he ended up giving you a yellow rose?

He sure did. You’ve seen the full [first] episode … right?

Yes.

So I had a driving scene in the car with Tom that didn’t make it [into the final cut], where we’re shooting the shit — just talking about everything while I was driving — and then it came up in conversation that I am Middle Eastern. He hadn’t realized I was Middle Eastern. So his first question was, “You’re not a terrorist, are you?”

Wow.

Yeah. That was really important for me to be able to address that in a certain way where he didn’t feel like he couldn’t ask that question — and I told him he can’t ask that question again.

There’s a way of asking questions to find out what you’re wanting to find out without being so offensive. There’s a certain level of tact that’s required [pauses, laughs] …

Sorry, what was the rest of your question?

I asked about the yellow rose.

Oh, right, yes! Sorry, sometimes I go off on a tangent and I don’t remember where I was going! So we had a really open conversation and he actually asked that question [about being a “terrorist”].

We ended up becoming really close. I love Tom. By the end of the week before I left, when the cameras weren’t around, he came over and said, “I got a rose for you, which is yellow — the color of friendship. And I want you to know that I wasn’t trying to be offensive by the question I asked. Now I understand you.”

He said, “I want to have these conversations with other people. I love knowing that now I have a Middle Eastern friend, an immigrant friend, a liberal friend, that I never thought I would have had.”

Oh my gosh.

I know!

Tom was definitely one of my favorites. I also loved A.J. too.

I loved A.J. I mean, it helped that he was really attractive [laughs]. But he was such a sweetheart.

That’s awesome. Well, those scenes with Tom sound so powerful. I wish I’d gotten to see them.

You know, here’s the thing: We’re not trying to make a political show. I guess we make political statements by the nature of who we are. But I think [the yellow rose scene with Tom] would have been way too heavy. Baby steps.

Sometimes, subtlety can make the show accessible for a lot of people who may not have tuned in otherwise.

Exactly. And they can make their own assumptions. We don’t necessarily have to ram anything down their throats.

Photo by Paige Soviet.

So how about some fun questions?

Yeah!

I know the Fab Five are all close with one another. But who do you get along with the best?

OK, I will actually be honest with you. I love them all. When we’re together, we have the best time. I don’t know if you follow my Instagram or if you don’t —

I do.

I mentioned in a post that people seem to have really responded well to in my Instagram story: Antoni sat on my lap, and I [said], “It doesn’t matter how many chairs there are in a room, my lap is always Antoni’s seat.” And that’s true. It doesn’t matter what’s going on, if there are a lot of people around us, we are always so affectionate. We love each other very much.

There are differences between some of [the Fab Five] because, for example, some of the boys like to go experience the night life and go to bars and clubs. And me and Antoni, neither of us drink alcohol. So it made it so much more organic for us to build a bond quickly, because when those guys are out going to bars and clubs, Antoni and I were cooking in each other’s apartments and watching “The Great British Baking Show.”

I now go on vacations with his family. We basically married the same person [laughs], so they get along really well. We’re all very, very close, but me and Antoni formed a bond like no other.

That’s amazing. Can we talk about Antoni for a second?

Everyone wants to talk to me about Antoni! You love him, I know. [laughs]

I do! But he seems to be the most controversial Fab Five member. Is he just the talentless eye candy on the show, like some people have said?

OK, wait, Robbie, let me tell you this. Because you are now the third person in the last couple days who’ve asked me this.

All I get all day is DMs from people saying, “Oh my gosh, Antoni won’t reply to my DMs; can you tell him that I love him?” I’m like, “OK, get a grip, everybody. He’s not just a piece of meat [laughs]!

Maybe I am jaded because we’re so close, but I see him as the heart of the show. Truly. He’s got a way of connecting with our heroes — that’s what we call the clients we help — he has a way of connecting with heroes like none of us can. He’s so truly genuine.

And look, people can have their own opinions with what he does with food. But in the first episode where he made Tom guacamole, he actually made a full meal. But we’ve only got time to show one thing! He’s actually an amazing chef. He cooked for me almost every night because our apartments [when we were shooting on location] were right next door to each other.

For the record, I’m pro-Antoni.

Good! Honestly, no joke, he’s probably the best person I’ve met in my entire life. Like, he’s an angel sent down from heaven.

Photo by Paige Soviet.

So, I’m already craving season two. Any news?

OK, here’s the thing. Netflix doesn’t tell us anything [laughs]. All we can say is, we hope it’s doing well. Instagram’s fucking blown up, so I assume that’s a good indication of how the show’s doing.

It seems like it’s doing great, but I don’t know if I’m just being trapped in my own gay bubble.

[laughs] You know what’s funny though? In Utah [where France lives], they have a very high Mormon population. And when I’m out in the grocery store, one of my favorite things in the world to do is go to the grocery store. For a British person, coming to America and seeing the ridiculous abundance in a grocery store is fascinating.

And every time I’m there now — at least three or four times — I’ll get stopped by a man who I assume is straight and wants to take a picture with me to show his wife and kids. It’s always straight men! It’s always straight men.

That’s so funny!

I know, I love it.

That about covers my questions, Tan. Is there anything you want to add?

I’d love to go back to the relationship thing with the other boys, because you’re the only one who’s asked who I am closest with.

Of course.

I am the closest with Antoni, but I never expected that my colleagues and I would become my best friends. Of course, every now and then there’s going to [be a fight]. Actually, I like that we argue every now and then, because it’s usually about the hero and what we want to do that episode — we have those kinds of arguments. And that makes for a better show.

But on the whole, [the show creators] chose five people who could be, and thankfully are, the closest of friends. And I think that’s why the show works so well.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/queer-eye-s-tan-france-i-took-the-job-to-be-blunt-to-and-befriend-republicans

32 images that highlight the kind of movement the Parkland teens are building.

It’s been just over a week since the horrific massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, but survivors have already been busy pushing for gun reform.

Within a day of the shooting, Douglas students became cable news fixtures, many calling on Congress to restrict access to semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 used to kill 17 of their teachers and classmates.

On Feb. 17, students gathered outside the Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Cameron Kasky, Delaney Tarr, and Emma Gonzalez, among others, led the crowd in calls to reject the pro-gun narratives of groups like the NRA.

“The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and … call BS,” Gonzalez roared into the microphone in an instantly iconic speech. “Companies [try] to make caricatures of the teenagers these days, saying that all we are self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submission when our message doesn’t reach the ears of the nation. We are prepared to call BS.”

Cameron Kasky speaks at the Feb. 17 rally. Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

Delaney Tarr. Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

Emma Gonzalez. Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

On Feb. 20 and 21, students from nearby districts staged walkouts and marched down to Douglas High School for a vigil.

Many of the students came from West Boca High School, and traveled the 10 miles to Douglas High School on foot.

West Boca students Jakob Desouza and Ruth Williams hug as they gathered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 20. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

More West Boca students arrive at Douglas. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Students from Coral Glades High School, less than five miles from Douglas, staged a walk out of their own on Feb. 21.

Coral Glades students march. Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

“Stop protecting guns, start protecting kids.” Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

On Feb. 21, to mark a week since the shooting, students in  the Washington, D.C., area marched to Capitol Hill for demonstrations.

Students from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, took part in the action.

Students from Montgomery Blair High School. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

“Your child is next.” Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Hundreds of protesters, many of them students, carried signs and spoke out about gun violence outside the White House.

Signs with slogans like “We will not be next,” “NRA, stop killing our kids,” “Make America Safe Again,” and “You can silence guns but not us” were raised in public protest of the pro-gun lobby.

Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images.

Protestors march to the White House. Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images.

“Protect our lives, not your guns.” Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

“Why are kinder eggs banned but not assault rifles?” Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

“We don’t have to live like this, we don’t have to die like this.” Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

“Enough is enough.” Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

That afternoon, President Trump met with a number of families affected by the shooting in a televised event, highlighted by an emotional question from Douglas senior Samuel Zeif.

Zeif was one of few people at the event to actually raise questions about inaction on gun control, asking, “How is it that easy to buy this type of weapon? How did we not stop this after Columbine? After Sandy Hook?”

Samuel Zeif wipes his eyes after asking his questions. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Trump deflected calls for gun control, instead suggesting that we arm teachers.

Trump’s notes for the event, which included a reminder to say “I hear you,” were roundly mocked on social media afterwards. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Also on Feb. 21st, students, activists, and supporters gathered at the Florida State Capitol building to demand action.

Earlier in the week, the state’s House of Representatives voted against opening debate on new gun measures.

Douglas students, parents, and gun safety advocates march on Tallahassee. Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images.

The rally at the Florida State Capitol building. Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images.

Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images.

Students rally outside the Florida State Capitol building. Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images.

Douglas student Kevin Trejos speaks at the Florida State Capitol building. Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, students from across Broward county again gathered at Douglas High School for their largest rally yet.

Kasky addressed the crowd from atop a car, yelling into a megaphone. Later that night, he would confront Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) at a CNN town hall.

Cameron Kasky addresses area students at Douglas High School. Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

It’s easy to be cynical, to again say that nothing will change — but maybe this time is different? Only time will tell.

Let’s hope so.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/32-images-that-highlight-the-kind-of-movement-the-parkland-teens-are-building

Bea Arthur gave big to homeless LGBTQ youth in her will. This is what came of it.

Back in 2009, Carl Siciliano wasn’t sure if his nonprofit was going to survive the throes of the Great Recession.

The Ali Forney Center, a group committed to helping homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City, was on the brink of eviction. Between paying rent, payroll, and the critical services it provided to its youth, Siciliano, director of the center, had doubts Ali Forney could run much longer.

Carl Siciliano. Photo by Michael Calcagno/Upworthy.

Then he got a phone call from the estate of Bea Arthur.

Arthur (“Maude,” “The Golden Girls”) had recently passed away. And Ali Forney was in her will.

It wasn’t necessarily shocking news — the late actor had been a supporter of the organization, giving donations to the group and using her one-woman show, “Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends,” to raise funds for the nonprofit’s work.

But Ali Forney, Siciliano learned, was at the top of her will’s list of charities.

Bea Arthur (right) attends the Emmys in 1987. Photo by Alan Light/Flickr.

Arthur left $300,000 to The Ali Forney Center.

In times as tough as they’d been, the donation was the buoy keeping Ali Forney afloat. “I honestly don’t know how we would have made it through the recession without that extraordinary gift,” Siciliano later blogged about the experience. “Bea Arthur truly meant it when she said she would do anything to help our kids.”

Siciliano stands with Skye Adrian, who has benefited from Ali Forney’s services. Photo by Michael Calcagno/Upworthy.

Eight years after her death, the folks at Ali Forney can still remember how crucial Arthur’s generosity was when times were tough. They made sure her legacy of helping homeless LGBTQ youth will live on for decades to come.

In December 2017, Ali Forney opened its doors to its latest facility for homeless LGBTQ youth: the Bea Arthur Residence.

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

Nestled in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the 18-bed residence will save and change lives, acting as a safe and nurturing environment for youth in transitional housing.

Image by Erin Law, courtesy of the Ali Forney Center.

It doesn’t look like your average shelter either — because it’s not.

Young people who stay at the Bea Arthur Residence enter a 24-month program aimed at giving them the tools they need to succeed on their own. They deserve every bit of help they can get too; most homeless LGBTQ youth were either kicked out by unaccepting parents or ran away from hostile home environments.

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

Homophobia and transphobia at home leaves far too many queer youth high and dry, and it shows in the numbers. While some estimates suggest about 7% of all youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ. A disproportionate number of them are transgender and people of color too.

With warm beds, comfy sofas, and a kitchen to prepare meals, the residence provides an ideal space for young people to transition into stable, independent housing.

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

They benefit from a range of programs provided through Ali Forney too, like job readiness and education, health screenings, and free legal services.

These programs are vital, and Arthur understood it.

“These kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families because of the fact that they are lesbian, gay, or transgender,” Arthur once said.

“This organization really is saving lives.”

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

“I would do anything in my power to protect children who are discarded by their parents for being LGBT,” Arthur had said.

It’s a promise Arthur is still keeping long after she said her goodbyes.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/bea-arthur-gave-big-to-homeless-lgbtq-youth-in-her-will-this-is-what-came-of-it-2

‘Matilda’ star Mara Wilson has a message for the LGBTQ community: Come out.

Before I ever spent hour upon hour with my nose buried in the pages of a “Harry Potter” book, there was “Matilda.”

I’ve always loved to read and have hauled too-big piles of books home from the library (although not in a red wagon, I will admit) more times than I can count. Plus, what 7-year-old budding queer femme doesn’t dream of discovering a secret superpower and running away from her loneliness into a beautiful world of friendship where she can play games and eat cookies all day long?

I mean, it always seemed like a pretty solid life choice to me. Matilda has followed me ever since childhood. And I’m not necessarily talking about the Danny DeVito movie or even the Roald Dahl book. I’m talking about Matilda herself; Matilda the person; Matilda Wormwood, the character made real by a young girl in a 98-minute-long movie I’d wager nearly every millennial (in the U.S., at least) has seen. I’m talking about Mara Wilson.

It felt like fate that Wilson and I would meet.

She went to college with one of my family members and, once I moved back to New York, kept showing up at various comedy events I attended around the city.

Then, in early 2017 —  after coming out publicly the previous summer  —  she became a Lambda Legal donor. These aren’t even all the connections we’ve had over the years. But ultimately, I knew that it was only a matter of time.

So when we sat down to talk last week, to say that I was excited might be an understatement. Little did I know just how much her own experience as a queer woman would mirror mine.

Wilson came out publicly as bi  —  although she now tends to prefer the label queer (“I like queer more than I like bisexual, but I have no problem with people calling me bisexual,” she says)  —  on Twitter in the wake of June 2016’s tragedy at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. At the time, she’d recently come out to most of her close friends and family (they took it well — her brother “did not even look up from his enchilada” when she told him, she tells me through laughter), and she felt that it was important as someone in the public eye to show solidarity with her community.

The news quickly went viral, spreading across social media and trending on Facebook. “I think that if you’re in a place of security and privilege  —  which I can admit that I am  —  it’s important for you to [come out],” she says. “I don’t see myself as anybody’s savior, but I’d rather it were me — who can afford therapy and afford this platform — getting harassed for being who I am than a young LGBTQ kid. I think it’s important.”

But the response to her news — while mostly supportive — was not entirely positive.

“I often wish that I hadn’t done it then because I got accused of taking advantage of a tragedy for personal attention,” she says. “Now, clearly I like attention, but I am not so callous as to make a tragedy about myself, my life and my story. That isn’t what I was going for.”

“A lot of people like to tell women — and especially queer women — that they are doing things for attention,” she adds. “And it is strange to me that the worst thing a woman can do is do something for attention.”

Wilson’s words resonated with me more than I can even fully describe. I’ve written about what it’s like to come out and be out as a queer femme woman before but have never really been able to put into words the intense anxiety surrounding the “attention stigma” that comes with having a non-monosexual identity.

See, a few things can happen when you come out as bi (or queer or pan or any of the many varied non-monosexual identities that exist), particularly as a woman.

The first is that folks don’t believe you. Another is that people ignore it. And a third is that a lot of assumptions are made about who you are and what you like.

But the theme underlying all of these reactions is attention. If someone doesn’t believe you, it’s because either they think that bisexuality doesn’t exist or that you’re confused, or they think that you’re saying you’re bi to get attention (frequently all of these thoughts occur synchronously).

If someone ignores it, it’s — again — because they likely believe you’re “doing it for the attention” and don’t want to give you the thing they think you’re seeking. And if someone begins to make assumptions about you, those assumptions are usually — surprise — that you like attention and are innately promiscuous.

“There’s definitely a stigma,” Wilson says. “One of the reasons I didn’t come out for a very long time was because I grew up hearing that bisexual girls were ‘crazy,’ [which is not a term I would use]. I heard that all the time. I heard that bisexual girls were ‘crazy,’ they were greedy, they were selfish and they caused drama. They were the worst. They wanted attention.”

There’s a lot here, but certainly the most interesting (to me, at least) thing about biphobia is the sexism, slut shaming, ableism and mental health stigma that is disguised within it.

“Throughout history, women and women-identified people have had to struggle to get any kind of power or control over their lives,” Wilson says. “And control is seen as a bad thing. It’s seen as being manipulative.”

“When you think of bisexuals, you think of villainy. You think of people using their sexuality to get what they want, using other people and hurting other people,” she adds. “Or just having a lot of sex, and … if you are ‘promiscuous,’ that is seen as being inherently a bad thing.”

Just think of Jenny from “The L Word,” Barbara from “Gotham,” Piper from “Orange Is the New Black,” and Monica from “Shameless.” The list goes on, and this is certainly not a trope limited to only women. But all of these fictional women hold the labels of evil, “crazy,” or promiscuous.

And that’s not even to wade into the deep stigmatized waters of being a person who is bisexual and not a woman. Though we didn’t talk much about it (as it is neither of our experiences) being transgender or gender-nonconforming obviously brings with it its own set of stigma, and similar  —  albeit similarly nuanced  —  stereotypes exist for male-identified people. As Wilson says, “People are punished for femininity or punished for sexuality.”

So how do we go about changing these media tropes? Wilson has some ideas.

“I think that, in the entertainment world, there need to be more bisexual characters for whom bisexuality is just kind of a common thing. It’s ‘so-and-so has red hair and they’re also bisexual,'” Wilson laughs. “That’s definitely something that I’ve tried to write into some of my more recent writing. We’ll see where that goes.”

“The Most Boring Bisexual You’ve Ever Met,” I joke with her. “Exactly!” she exclaims. “It’ll be like, ‘Me the other day, getting up and running on the treadmill, writing a little bit and going to CVS to pick up my prescriptions, and then binge-watching ‘Orphan Black’ because I love Tatiana Maslany so much.'”

“I’d like to see more male-identified people shown as bisexual,” she adds. “Because I think there’s still this belief that men can’t be, which just isn’t true.”

In the end, Wilson believes it’s all about respecting others  —  an issue the LGBTQ community at large has much experience with.

“Is it making somebody happy? Is it improving their life? Is it something that they enjoy? Is it a part of who they are? Yes? Then respect it,” she says. “You don’t need to understand something completely to be OK with it.”

Wilson and I spent about an hour talking, and I could’ve let it go on for so much longer. We joked about our celebrity crushes, chuckled together fake-writing scenes of “The Most Boring Bisexual You’ve Ever Met,” and gave each other advice for meeting other queer women. I’ll never forget that. It felt like I was catching up with an old friend. And in a way, I was.

This story first appeared on Lambda Legal and is reprinted here with permission.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/matilda-star-mara-wilson-has-a-message-for-the-lgbtq-community-come-out

20 things Mike Pence did while you weren’t looking and why it matters.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

With the exception of an infamous trip to see Hamilton last November and a controversy about whether it’s OK to dine with women other than his wife, we’ve heard relatively little about Vice President Mike Pence since the election. In May, CNN even ran a story with the headline, “Mike Pence’s Disappearing Act.”

He’s a heartbeat away from the presidency and seems interested in following his own political ambitions beyond this administration, so what exactly has Mike Pence been up to lately? A lot, actually.

Here’s 20 things Mike Pence has done since taking office:

1. In January, Pence and others lobbied Trump to take hard-line positions on abortion, making good on some of his anti-choice campaign pledges.

Just days after taking office, Trump signed a slew of executive orders. Among them was the reinstatement of the so-called “Mexico City policy,” restricting foreign aid from going to groups that offer abortion services.

The Independent wrote about the decision to reinstate the policy, saying that pro-choice activists “feared [Trump] would reintroduce the policy as a gift to Vice President Mike Pence, known for his staunch opposition to abortion rights.”

2. Pence has led the charge to advance Trump’s policy agenda.

You may have seen him popping up on the Sunday morning political talk shows to push Trump’s agenda items. This has especially been the case when it’s an issue where Trump himself may not appear to have a total grasp of the policy being discussed, such as health care.

3. He’s been very vocal about supporting the use of tax dollars to fund religious schools.

Under the guise of “school choice,” Pence has been a long-time supporter of using tax dollars to fund charter schools and religious schools. As governor, Pence expanded Indiana’s charter school program and opted out of the nationwide “Common Core” standards. One of the side effects of Pence’s reign in Indiana was an uptick in the number of publicly funded schools teaching creationism. Pence, himself, hasn’t given a clear answer on whether he believes in evolution.

Trump was short on specifics about education policy during the campaign. In office, he’s rallying behind Pence’s ideas.

4. In January, Pence met with anti-abortion activists at the White House and delivered a speech at the annual March for Life.

During his address at the anti-choice march, Pence riled up the crowd with a pledge to “work with Congress to end taxpayer funding for abortion and abortion providers,” along with promises to support Supreme Court nominees who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

5. Pence spent much of February selling the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court as “mainstream.”

Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat on Jan. 31. Gorsuch, who had a record as a far-right, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ judge, would face an uphill climb. That’s where Pence came in.

Rather than nominate someone who could receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, Trump picked Gorsuch, and Pence immediately began work urging Republican leaders in the Senate to blow up the filibuster. They eventually did, and Gorsuch was sworn in on April 10.

6. Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as secretary of education, the first time a vice president has done so on a cabinet pick.

In February, DeVos was under immense scrutiny from Democrats and moderate Republicans. The billionaire heiress had zero education-related qualifications to run the department, but she did have a history of donating to far-right causes and championing the use of public money to fund schools that would “advance God’s kingdom,” in line with Pence’s own views on education.

With Republicans Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) voting against DeVos’ confirmation, the 50-50 vote went to Pence to break the tie. He voted to confirm her.

7. In May, Pence was named the head of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

This commission was established based on Trump’s unproven and unfounded claim that there was widespread voter fraud during the 2016 election. Pence was named commission chair, with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as vice chair. Together, Pence and Kobach have begun making requests for extensive voter information from states, with many voting rights groups worried that the commission will lead to widespread voter suppression.

8. Pence invited anti-abortion activists to the White House to discuss how to merge their agenda with that of the administration.

On March 9, Pence met with anti-abortion activists to discuss what sort of provisions they would like to see in the American Health Care Act bill, later pitching it to conservative members of the House of Representatives.

9. Later that month, he would cast the tie-breaking vote to nullify an Obama-era rule allowing that Title X funds be used for family planning services.

In his eight years in office, Joe Biden never cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate. Pence, just months into the job, has broken four ties (confirming DeVos, the motion to proceed on blocking the Title X rule, the final vote on blocking the Title X rule, and the motion to proceed on the Senate’s health care bill).

Gutting the Title X rule is bad news, especially for low- and middle-income women across the country.

10. Pence has met with members of the financial industry and championed efforts to roll back Dodd-Frank consumer protections.

Shortly after taking office, Pence addressed the GOP retreat, promising to dismantle the legislation enacted in the aftermath of financial collapse and its “overbearing mandates.” In May, he spoke out in favor of Republican Rep. Hensarling’s (Texas) CHOICE Act, which would deregulate the financial markets once again.

11. In May, Pence addressed the Susan B. Anthony List “Campaign for Life” gala.

Touting the administration’s successes when it came to curtailing reproductive rights, Pence declared, “For the first time in a long time, America has an administration that’s filled top to bottom with people who stand without apology for life.”

To cheers, he would later promise to ensure that people receiving health care subsidies would not be able to purchase insurance coverage that includes access to abortion.

12. Pence played a role in urging Trump to sign a “religious liberty” executive order during a National Day of Prayer ceremony.

While the final order was viewed by many conservatives as simply being one step in the right direction and not everything they wanted, the move showed just how much pull the extremely religious vice president has over his boss.

13. Pence addressed the first-ever World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians on May 11.

The speech bolstered the administration’s narrative that Christians are the true victims of terrorism in the Middle East. The truth is that people of all faiths have been targeted by ISIS, and messages about how Christians are the most persecuted only help advance some of the inherent Islamophobia in actions such as the travel ban — which only helps ISIS.

14. At the University of Notre Dame, Pence delivered a fiery commencement address, targeting “political correctness.”

The idea that college campuses are suppressing freedom of speech is a popular talking point, especially among conservatives. Pence used his platform to stoke that fire, saying, “Far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness — all of which amounts to nothing less than the suppression of freedom of speech.”

15. In May, Pence started his own political action committee called the “Great America Committee.”

Marking another first for a sitting vice president, the formation of a PAC signals that maybe he has some larger political ambitions that go beyond the Trump administration and his role as VP. Coupled with outgoing White House press secretary Sean Spicer saying that he’d be on board with a Pence run in 2024, this is worth keeping an eye on.

16. In June, Pence was put in charge of U.S. space policy.

Pence, being someone who likely doesn’t really believe in that whole “evolution” thing and once claimed that “smoking doesn’t kill,” seems like an odd choice to dictate anything related to science. But that’s what President Trump did after signing an executive order bringing back the National Space Council.

It’s still unclear what sort of direction Pence will take, though he has made promises to put people on Mars.

17. He’s raised money for his own PAC and other political causes.

What’s the point of having a PAC if you’re not going to raise money for it, right? In July, The New York Times reported that Pence has been playing host to “a string of dinners held every few weeks at the vice president’s official residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory in Washington,” courting “big donors and corporate executives.”

18. On June 23, Pence addressed Focus on the Family, a powerful anti-LGBTQ organization, for its 40th anniversary.

Speaking about the administration’s commitment to helping “persecuted people of faith” and protecting their right to discriminate against LGBTQ people under the guise of “religious liberty,” Pence told the crowd, “This president believes that no American, no American should have to violate their conscience to fully participate in American life, and he has taken action to protect the expressions of faith by men and women across this nation.”

This is the same organization, mind you, that has called homosexuality “a particularly evil lie of Satan” and has called transgender people “mentally ill” and “like Cinderella in a fantasy world.”

19. As special elections have popped up across the country, Pence has been hitting the campaign trail in support of his fellow Republicans.

It’s not so surprising that Pence is getting out there. A little curious, however, is how little Trump has done comparatively — and how little coverage Pence’s presence has garnered. This once again shows Pence for the shrewd politician he is, able to help prop up other candidates. Trump, on the other hand, is mostly good at promoting one person: Trump.

20. Pence has been pressuring Congress to implement anti-transgender policies in the military.

Days before Trump tweeted that he was banning trans people from serving in the military, Foreign Policy reported that Pence was lobbying hard to fight back against trans inclusion in the military. Pence was reportedly putting pressure on members of Congress to hold the 2018 defense authorization bill hostage unless it included a rider barring funds being used on transition-related health care.

According to Politico, Trump was motivated to outright ban all trans people from the military for fear that the defense bill would stall and he wouldn’t receive the funding he requested for his wall. In the end, however, Pence got what he asked for and more. Though the Department of Defense is holding on implementing the tweeted policy until Trump formally submits a plan, it’s nearly a done deal.

This matters because Pence might not always be in the background.

It’s pretty clear that Pence’s political ambitions don’t end with being Trump’s vice president. With scandals rocking the White House on what seems like a daily basis — including calls for investigations and even some for Trump’s impeachment — it’s pretty important to take a long hard look at the man next in line for the position.

During the campaign, Pence’s extreme positions were largely whitewashed. His extreme anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion views were rarely talked about. As vice president, Pence has shown himself to be the man he’s always been: a smooth-talking politician with far-right social conservative views. So let’s keep a watchful eye on what he’s doing now because he might just be president one day.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/20-things-mike-pence-did-while-you-werent-looking-and-why-it-matters

Nick Offerman’s thoughts on men crying are the perfect antidote to toxic masculinity.

Actor, author, and accomplished woodworker Nick Offerman had the best response to a question about emotions in an interview with Men’s Health magazine.

With his classically masculine roles (most notably Ron Swanson on “Parks and Recreation”), handy skills, outdoorsmanship, and remarkable facial hair, many see Offerman as the very picture of classic manliness.

With that in mind, writer Sean Evans asked Offerman about the last time he cried.

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival.  

Here’s Offerman’s applause-worthy response in full (emphasis added):

“I went to theatre school. I took two semesters of ballet. I’m the sissy in my family. I cry with pretty great regularity. It’s not entirely accurate to equate me with manliness. I stand for my principals and I work hard and I have good manners but machismo is a double-sided coin. A lot of people think it requires behavior that can quickly veer into misogyny and things I consider indecent. We’ve been sold this weird John Wayne mentality that fistfights and violence are vital to being a man. I’d rather hug than punch. Crying at something that moves you to joy or sadness is just as manly as chopping down a tree or punching out a bad guy. To answer your question, I recently saw Alicia Keys perform live. I’d never seen her before and the sheer golden, heavenly talent issuing from her and her singing instrument had both my wife and me in tears. What a gorgeous gift she has. Her voice is so great. And I had no shame [about crying.] If you live your life openly with your emotions, that’s a more manly stance than burying them.

BOOM! That’s the kind of thinking we need to dismantle toxic masculinity.

And apparently, the internet agrees. The quote was shared by Twitter user @TylerHuckabee and has already been retweeted more than 31,000 times in two days.

Offerman’s words are vital, especially for men and boys who are socialized  to  believe “boys don’t cry.”

Though it may seem like a different world, gender roles and expectations have changed very little in the past 30 years, and a bias against men crying — especially in public — persists.

“That crying is a sign of weakness and a reason for shame is a lesson most males learn by the time they reach adolescence,” wrote Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D., for Psychology Today. “Whether by ‘swallowing tears’ or actively avoiding situations that might lead to crying, males actively suppress their emotions or express them in other ways that seem more suitable for their gender roles.”

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

Actively suppressing tears can lead to other physical and emotional concerns. Stifling this natural response can temporarily raise a person’s blood pressure or heart rate since the body’s fight or flight response has to work overtime to figure out what’s happening.

Not to mention, crying is almost exclusively a human trait, and it’s one of our body’s built-in mechanisms for emotional release. It also reveals our capacity to have empathy for others. When we see a sad movie, learn good news, or as in Offerman’s case, witness a remarkable talent, our bodies react with emotional, empathetic tears. That’s not weakness (or “fake”) — that’s a physiological marvel.

So take it from Offerman, a multi-faceted, talented, emotional man: Let it allllllll out.

No matter your gender, having emotions or feelings so strong you’re moved to tears is nothing to be ashamed of. Offerman is right. We should never be afraid to have a good cry when the mood strikes — no matter what Ron Swanson says.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/nick-offermans-thoughts-on-men-crying-are-the-perfect-antidote-to-toxic-masculinity