Michael Martin, an all-state soccer goalie for Musselman High School in rural West Virginia, came out of the closet to his classmates at their homecoming dance by dancing with another guy — his boyfriend Jem — who also happened to be the Homecoming King from another school. Two weeks earlier they had done the same thing at Jem's school.r
Martin writes about it at Outsports:r
My homecoming dance at Musselman -- two weeks after the dance at Jem's school -- was the big moment I revealed being gay to my school. Jem was the date of girl at Musselman and her outside guest for the dance, while I went "alone." The girl knew Jem and I were together. I was on the homecoming court, which was a big honor and something I never thought would happen. Only some people knew about me before the homecoming, so it was a shocker for some seeing me dance with another guy.r
Jem and I danced all night to the most popular pop songs. But it was the slow dance that I most remember that night at the school cafeteria -- "Remember When" by Alan Jackson. It was the best night ever. Jem and I got asked a lot if we were together and we said yes. "That is so cute!" some girls said. It made us felt accepted.r
Word quickly spread and the following week I sensed that some guys were looking at me differently. My friends even told me people were talking about me in a negative way in different classes. "He is a faggot now," I was told some people said. My friends courageously stood up for me and I am so proud to call them my friends.r
Martin also writes about coming out to his best friend, life in rural West Virginia, the general atmosphere at his school for LGBT students, and how his soccer team reacted when he told them.r
Teammates were curious and I got a lot of questions. I also got teased by my teammates closest to me making jokes or saying sexual things, but I know they were just kidding. Actually, their joking told me they were OK with things. I also knew that even if someone did say something negative that a lot of my teammates would have my back. Recently I was named captain for the Musselman swim team. They all know about my sexuality and gratefully are accepting.r
Martin says he was inspired by L.A. Galaxy star Robbie Rogers ("He gave me hope and confidence to be true to myself. Once he came out I started to contemplate doing the same myself and being proud of who I am."). He graduates this spring.
Earlier this month we brought you the first in Impulse Group NYC's series intended to encourage dialogue about safer sex. That video, which you can watch at this link, explored sex, protection, health, stigma, and status.r
The second in the series goes deeper into the subject of protection, asking the subjects how they protect themselves while having sex, what their thoughts are on bareback sex, how they ensure their safety when hooking up with a stranger, what the term "safer-sex" means to them, and if they've heard of PrEP. An HIV-positive participant is also asked if he would have taken PrEP had it been available when he was negative.r
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...r
Impulse is an organization formed to mobilize gay men for social advocacy, HIV/AIDS health-centered education and community engagement, utilizing volunteer efforts of local community members to create campaigns, events and online content to gay men impacted by HIV.r
President Obama announces an easing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba,
AFTER THE JUMP...
While waiting for the Tube in Kentish Town, North London, a man decided to pass the time by bursting into a musical number, as ITV points out. While the impulse may be fairly common, this man did what many only dreamed of and brazenly threw caution to the wind. His tune of choice? Erasure's 80s hit "A Little Respect." Soon, the entire crowd waiting on the platform got in on the sing-along.r
Watch as the travelers appeal for a little respect, AFTER THE JUMP...rrr
It’s that time of year. Dead of Winter is here in the West, and we’re dreaming of fantastic escapes. Not to put any extra pressure on anyone, but there are some adventures that you shouldn’t pass up forever. Some of them are specific, and some are universal. So we asked our friend Robert Sharp of Out Adventures, one of the world’s top travel experts, to weigh in on some of his all-time favorite trips. Many of these can be enjoyed specifically on Out Adventures experiences, while still others are just worth doing, however you make it there (and possibly even back home).
Without further ado, here are eleven Out Adventures to enjoy before you die…
1. Riding the elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand –Outings involving domestic animals can be dicey, if only for the well being and rights of the animal kingdom, but if you choose the right excursion, you’ll not only be having the experience of a lifetime, but you’ll be contributing to the health and well being of the animals. Just outside Chiang Mai, Thailand, you’ll find Patara Elephant Farm. Here you’ll learn about each Asian Elephant before bathing them in a river alongside your expert guide, then the ride of a lifetime through the Thai jungle.
From the outside, Michael Martin was the model of a flourishing high school student — the all-state soccer goalie for Musselman High School in West Virginia also played on the school’s football, tennis and swim teams. He’s thoughtful, articulate and optimistic. He had a secret, though: He’s gay. But it wouldn’t stay a secret for long.
And it’s how he decided to come out that initially got our attention. It just screams feel-good tearjerker, and even comes complete with a Taylor Swift soundtrack. How very now.
Michael had begun to see a boy from another school, Jem, and when Jem’s homecoming dance came around (and he happened to be the homecoming king), the two worked it out so they could both be there. Michael’s “date” was another girl from Jem’s school (even high school kids have beards), but as the dance progressed, the two boys got braver.
It wasn’t until the final song, though — Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” — that Michael and Jem walked on to the dance floor as an excited duo and slow jammed in each other’s arms.
Well once you have a taste of that freedom, there’s no going back. Later that night Michael asked Jem to be his boyfriend, and when Michael’s homecoming dance came up, there was only one option.
This time, though, the two danced all night, and for most of Michael’s classmates, it was the first time they knew he was gay.
“It was the slow dance that I most remember that night at the school cafeteria — “Remember When” by Alan Jackson. It was the best night ever. Jem and I got asked a lot if we were together and we said yes. “That is so cute!” some girls said. It made us felt accepted.”
Word quickly spread around school, and despite some chatter of “faggot” going around, Michael was impressed by how many people stuck up for him.
The same went for his teammates, and now Michael is not only a promising athlete, thoughtful, articulate and optimistic, he’s also open about who he is. Oh, and finally happy.
“For me to be happy, I needed to come out. I didn’t want to hide how I really was any more. I didn’t want to live every day with a secret hanging over my head. I told my team before my own parents. My family was not accepting at first but is starting to come around and support me. I just had to keep telling them that I can’t change who I am and that I am the same teenager that I was before.”
The Scottish singer/songwriter/record producer recently bared some skin while prepping for a new campaign for Emporio Armani. Harris shared a preview of the campaign with People Magazine (pictured above) and opened up about his excitement to work with Mr. Armani. People, in turn, shared their excitement about Harris' physique:r
“It’s incredible to be working with Mr. Armani and his team at Emporio Armani,” Harris said in a statement. “I feel an affinity to the brand ethos and have been a long time admirer of their designs.” And apparently, he also feels an affinity for the gym, judging by his abs [...].r
Harris shared the more revealing shot on Twitter, displaying a picture perfect smile (though your eyes may wander elsewhere).r
Check out abs sure to make you grin, AFTER THE JUMP...r
(Photo via People)rr
(Photo via Twitter)
The Irish government yesterday announced that a referendum on same-sex marriage will take place in May 2015, reports The Journal.r
Although an exact date has not yet been set, it is thought the vote may be held in the first week of the month.r
Calling for a respectful campaign from all sides, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said her officials would now begin work on the wording of the proposed constitutional amendment.r
A recent Irish Times poll found that 71 percent of people intend to vote in favor of gay marriage.r
Welcoming the announcement, Gay and Lesbian Equality Network chair Kieran Rose said:r
“We do not take the outcome of the referendum for granted. Despite the strong support in the polls currently, we know that we will need every single possible vote on the day in order to win the referendum.”r
Backed by government parties, the referendum was announced earlier this year by Prime Minister Enda Kenny. Kenny made headlines this month when he visited Dublin's Pantibar for Christmas drinks.r
In what was seen as an opening salvo on what is likely to be a highly divisive campaign, the Catholic church in Ireland has released a manifesto outlining its opposition to same-sex marriage.r
Watch Armagayddon, a video about absolute horror of marriage equality reaching Ireland, AFTER THE JUMP...rr
A 9-year-old student wrote a heartwarming letter to her teacher after he told his students he was gay during a lesson on bullying reports Pink News. The letter comes after the teacher, listed as Mr. R., was teaching a lesson during the school's anti-bullying week and asked the Head of the school if he could tell the class that he was gay after learning that nearly the entire class heard the word "gay" used as an insult. The Head of the school supported R. and allowed him to share his life with his students; he was thrilled with the results after confiding his sexuality.r
"The reaction was fantastic – there were a lot of gasps and shocked looks and some basic questions – do you have a boyfriend, etc., but after a couple of minutes they were over it and we moved on to the rest of the lesson."r
A few days after sharing his sexuality with his students, one of them slipped him a letter. Names in the letter have been blocked out for privacy.r
The letter in its entirety:r
"Dear Mr. R.r
"Even though you’re gay, I will always treat you the same way as I do now. I still think about you the same way as I used to. You’re a great teacher and these are just some of the word’s (sic) that I would describe you as: great, amazing, fantastic, brilliant, awesome and brave.r
"The reason why I say brave is because you shared a personal secret which was very brave.r
"You don’t have to feel scared because I know that everyone in the class feels the same way as I do.r
“From A x xr
PS. Mr. R., We are proud of you”r
The letter brought R. to tears, and upon thanking her for the touching letter she simply replied, "It's just your life." For R. it's a relief to finally unveil a part of his life that he kept hidden, and use it as a compassionate educational experience for his students.r
"For my class it was a surprise sure but, to them, it was just something simple and easy to file away as another piece of information. There was no judgement, no follow up, just acceptance.r
"Now, I can mention my fiance as easily as any other teacher and my class know me a little better. I’ve had a lot of letters and cards over the years, but this one I know I’ll keep forever."
Thanks to the support of two rabidly anti-LGBT senators, Texas is getting its first openly gay federal judge.r
The Senate on Tuesday night confirmed Robert Pitman to fill a San Antonio seat that's been vacant for more than six years.r
President Barack Obama in June nominated Pitman, who was backed by Cornyn and Cruz, both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Cruz also inadvertently aided Pitman's confirmation when he forced the Senate into session last weekend.r
Pitman will become one of about 10 openly LGBT federal judges in the US. When Obama took office, there was only one.r
Eric Lesh, fair courts project manager at Lambda Legal, said in a statement responding to Pitman's confirmation:r
“For the judicial system in the United States to be truly fair, it must reflect the tremendous diversity of the country. President Obama has made great strides in promoting and ensuring that diversity with his nominations of people of color and of openly gay and lesbian individuals to the federal bench. We celebrate the confirmation of Judge Pitman, which brings welcome diversity to the federal bench in Texas while simultaneously filling a seat that had been vacant for more than six years.r
"While great progress has been made to bring diversity to the courts, we still have a long way to go. There are nearly 900 federal judges in the U.S., and most are straight white men. Federal courts are charged with providing everyone with equal access to justice, and yet justice has not always been a reality for some. A judiciary diverse in race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation and lived and professional experience serves not only to improve the quality of justice, but to boost public confidence in the courts."r
Pitman is a Fort Worth native who attended Abilene Christian University and earned his law degree from the University of Texas. He currently serves as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas.r
When Pitman was first recommended for U.S. attorney by Cornyn and former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2009, the pick riled some fellow Republicans, but Cornyn stood behind it.r
“A person’s sexuality has no bearing on his qualifications for a job. … It’s just not even remotely considered,” Cornyn spokesman Keven McLaughlin said at the time.r
Based on that statement, one might think Cornyn would be a supporter of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but he voted against it last year and received a zero on the Human Rights Campaign's most recent Congressional Scorecard.
The Real Hosewives of Beverly Hills' Brandi Glanville stopped by Bravo's Watch What Happens Live Clubhouse yesterday and got a chance to put host Andy Cohen in the hot-seat. The perma-opinionated housewife grilled Andy about whether he's had any work done -- or would ever get work done (he's thought about Botox as a tribute to Joan Rivers) -- and whether he plays favorites with his housewives.r
Watch as Andy gets up close and personal and plays a game of "Marry Shag, Kill," AFTER THE JUMP...r
And in case you missed it, Andy was grilled last week by another resident of the 90210, Lisa Vanderpump, on whether he is a Gold Star Gay.rr
If the name "Nash Grier" sounds familiar it might be because we reported on the infamous Vine personality last July when it came to light that the teen behind the most popular Vine account had created a homophobic video a year or two prior. Nash has now resurfaced with an editorial on The Huffington Post explaining his actions and apologizing for them. Said the teen in part:r
I had almost 1,200 followers on Vine and I posted six-second video on HIV/AIDS, using a very offensive term ("fag"). The next day, I went to school and I received so many responses as to how funny the video was. At this point, what I thought I had done wasn't just okay, but I thought it was funny.r
[...]At first, I didn't really understand how someone could have so much hate for me, but then I put myself in their shoes. I read more and more comments and even did research. I had a realization that I hadn't had in my life up until that point: Everything I had said on or off camera could've been harmful to others.r
[...]I realize that I made a mistake. At the time I didn't, but I have learned from it[...]From the bottom of my heart, I am truly sorry to each and every person I have ever offended.r
Jase Peeples at The Advocate is having none of it, however, calling Grier's statement a "justification" and providing screenshots of Grier's past tweets that were equally anti-gay in nature.r
Peeples should be taking a few things into account, though. First, there's a thin line between explanation and justification, but Grier seems to be genuinely repentant. He doesn't try to evade responsibility for his videos or diminish the hurt they delivered, and for bonus points he actually delivers a real apology. Whether or not he's sincere could be debated, but at the very least it's not the oh-so-common non-apology of, "I'm sorry that people were offended by what I said." He apologizes for his actions, not others' "misinterpretations" of his actionsr
Second, Grier did indeed make tweets that were anti-gay and disparaging of equality. But they were all around or before the time that the video was made or went viral. One tweet in particular held as evidence against him was made in May, 2012 when Grier was about 13-14 years old. Grier claims to have learned from this experience, so holding past crimes as evidence to counter current alleged beliefs isn't particularly fair or rational.r
Lastly, Grier is 16, an age group not exactly known for having the life experience necessary for empathy, foresight, and rational decision-making. This does not excuse his actions, of course, but it's important to apply the appropriate perspective: this is a teenager learning from moronic mistakes, not a full grown adult who should know better.r
Grier claims that, "someday, I want to make a positive impact on all of you." He's going to have an uphill battle that he's created for himself, but if he can follow through on his claim then he would be a welcome addition to our legions of allies.
Admit it. You’ve considered cheating on your most reliable — albeit old, run down — pair of briefs with 2(X)IST. Bold, sexy, and a little bit dangerous, there’s something undeniably tempting about the New York-based brand. In this Underwear Expert exclusive, model Michael Shea and Marco Ovando are here to let you know how normal the feeling is.
Presenting styles from the 2(X)IST Pima Stretch Collection, Michael flaunts his body and his underwear in every photo. It turns out you can match your underwear to your eyes, with the Pro Blue Pima Stretch Trunk. The No-Show Bikini Brief in Barbados Red shows off how 2(X)IST underwear slims the waistline, flattering your figure for a fitter, tighter look. The black pairs Michael wears have an attention-grabbing sheen to them, plus a touch of transparency. Bringing his infectious masculinity and the clean-cut designs of the underwear, Michael and Marco Ovando show us how it feels to fall in love with 2(X)IST.
You can see more of this photo shoot at The Underwear Expert.
Photo Credit: Marco Ovando