Sam Smith says body dysmorphia helped them realise they are non-binary: ‘I am a shape-shifter’

Sam Smith at Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball 2019 in December. (Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Sam Smith has said that their body dysmorphia helped them realise that they are non-binary, describing themselves as something of a “shape-shifter”.

The British singer told the Sunday Times that learning to love their body played a large part in their journey to coming to terms with their gender identity.

“For me, what triggered everything was the work I was doing with my body issues,” the 28-year-old said.

“I always had body dysmorphia. As I started to address that, I started to address my gender and realised that I was holding myself to these ideals of how a man should look.”

“As I looked into it, I did therapy, I realised there was more to it.

“I have girl’s thighs and I have girl breasts too. It started to awaken this conversation that had always been in the back of my mind.”

Sam Smith says they have ‘always’ been non-binary. 

Smith described their body as “fluctuating”, explaining that they lost 50 pounds after seeing a nutritionist.

“I can lose weight, I can put weight on quickly, I am a shape-shifter,” they joked.

More than a year on since they came out publicly as non-binary and clarifying that their pronouns are they/them, Smith admitted even they get their own pronouns wrong from time to time.

“I mess up, my mum messes up – my family messes up,” they explained. Smith said they don’t get offended when people stumble, adding: “When people correct themselves it is a wonderful feeling because people try.”

“Yes, I have always been non-binary,” Smith reflected.

“I have always felt the way I’ve felt, and just hearing other non-binary stories made me suddenly feel seen.

“This is a way that I can live, where if I tell people this is how I feel and this is how I like to be treated, life is easier.”

College basketball player comes out and feels a sense of liberation and pride

My coming out story began a couple of days prior to June 30, the last day of Pride month, with a group text on my iPhone with my parents.

While the message I sent came out of the blue for them, I had been thinking for three days prior about what to say. It was a long and heartfelt message and I was shaking when I sent it.

When my mom replied, my stomach dropped almost like I was on a roller coaster. At first it seemed like she was not understanding about what I had written, so we talked on the phone to clear up any confusion.

Her overall message was that she did not support my coming out as bisexual but that she would try her best to understand. My dad took more than a week to acknowledge my sexuality.

They asked me why I didn’t tell them when I was home in Bartow, Florida, with them for the previous four months. The reason was simple: It would have been impossible for me to tell them face to face. There were multiple times in high school when I tried to tell them or I got caught with a girl and it did not go well with them.

After telling my parents, I decided to tell everyone else. On June 30, I came out on Facebook and Snapchat.

“The last few months, due to COVID, I have had the opportunity to reflect, analyze, and educate myself,” my Facebook message said. “I’ve also made peace with my true identity. For so long, my insecurities have gotten the best of me, but now I am kicking my insecurities’ butt. [..] The first step for me being confident with who I am, is to stop hiding who I am. It is the last day of Pride month and I want to share my truth. I am bisexual and proud.”

At first, I felt relief that it was sent. But then the comments rolled in and they were amazingly positive. It felt like holding a stretch too long, then releasing it and thinking, “that felt amazing.”

Bri Tollie with Pride flag.
Bri Tollie has been an activist for issues dealing with the LGBTQ and Black communities.
Kristan Grant

It was important for me to share my story because I know there are others struggling just like I was and seeing my story could help them in some way.

The LGBTQ+ community is much more accepted than it used to be and we need to keep pushing so it’s no longer a political issue, but one of human rights. I wanted my family to know that if they had implicit bias about gay people, they needed to understand that I am one of them.

My gender did play a role in my decision to come out. It is really sad that queer women are a lot more accepted than queer men. Who knows the reaction I would have gotten from my dad or my teammates if I was a boy. We say that men have more privileges than women, but in the queer community, it is reversed, at least when it comes to acceptance.

As an activist I have helped lead and put together two successful peaceful protests at my university, Southern Methodist University, for Black Lives Matter. I have also been speaking out on LGBTQ+ issues on social media. This year, I co-founded the Black Student-Athlete Committee, which is dedicated to the advancement and empowerment of Black student-athletes at SMU.

In December, I tore my ACL and that ended my basketball season. It made my spiral into depression that much worse. A lot of my struggles had to do with conflict between my basketball teammates, a lack of confidence and feeling alone. If it was not for my injury, I probably would just have quit basketball all together.

My injury, ironically, was just the spark I needed to relight my candle, so to speak. During the first few months of my injury, it still felt like I was alone. Especially when I saw my teammates getting closer and me just being an outsider.

Bri Tollie on basket.
Bri Tollie is looking for play again after recovering from a knee injury.

It was during the season, they were traveling a lot to games, so I was usually left in my room alone. It was then that I realized that I need to stop depending on others to give me happiness. When COVID-19 hit, I was sent home for four months. I needed the time away from my teammates and away from school to be around people who truly loved me.

I needed the time to think about all the situations I got myself into, and understand why and how they happened. One revelation was the need to stop playing the victim, understand that not everyone was going to like me and be OK with being myself.

I also needed to find what brought me the most enjoyment aside from people. That is when I got more into human rights. I worked on my confidence daily and on recovering from my ACL. Today, I speak regularly with a mental health specialist and surround myself with people who want to see me succeed. I also don’t let negativity get under my skin.

Basketball has done so much for me since I was a little girl. It gave me a scholarship to a private school, Montverde Academy, and has gotten me to SMU.

It has opened many doors and has given me many opportunities, and being out in my sport lets people understand that I have more to my identity than just basketball. I took advantage of that opportunity this Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day, to record a message for SMU Diversity on being an out athlete:

It is important to be visible because everyone is unique. Our uniqueness means no one should not have to give up a part of themselves to conform. It is called self-respect. If you’re struggling, understand that if people dismiss you once you come out, then they were never meant to be in your life anyway.

I feel like a new person and in a matter of nine months I have accomplished so much. My ACL injury and the long road to recovery, along with my coming out, made me stronger and I can’t wait for the season to start in November.

Bri Tollie, 21, will be graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 2022. She studies political science and human rights. She serves as president of the Black Student-Athlete Committee and as a youth power fellow for Planned Parenthood Texas Votes. She is a small forward on the women’s basketball team. She can be reached by email (btollie@smu.edu), Twitter (bri_tollie), or Instagram (britollie_)

Story editor: Jim Buzinski

If you are an out LGBTQ person in sports and want to tell your story, email Jim (kandreeky@gmail.com)

Check out our archive of coming out stories.

If you’re an LGBTQ person in sports looking to connect with others in the community, head over to GO! Space to meet and interact with other LGBTQ athletes, or to Equality Coaching Alliance to find other coaches, administrators and other non-athletes in sports.

“Tiger King” Star Carole Baskin Comes Out As Bisexual

Animal advocate and Tiger King star Carole Baskin has come out as bisexual.

The former Dancing With the Stars contestant opened up about her sexuality in a new interview with PinkNews published on Monday.

One of the breakout stars of the Netflix miniseries Tiger King, Baskin said that she has “always considered [herself] to be bisexual.”

“I have always considered myself to be bisexual, even though I’ve never had a wife. I could just as easily have a wife as a husband, as far as the way I feel about us,” Baskin shared. “I think we are all one, and we are all — I just don’t see us as being different genders or different colors or different anything.”

In the same breath, Baskin slammed her arch-nemesis, Joe Exotic, saying her disdain for him has nothing to do with his sexual orientation.

“This man is just a deviant in the way he treats human life. I think he’s an embarrassment to the human community,” Baskin said.

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Baskin said she realized she was bisexual in the ’80s, while spending a lot of time with the LGBTQ community. She also said that growing up as a tomboy, she thought she might have been born in the wrong body.

“I was always very male-oriented in the things I did… I never had any mothering instincts or anything, you know, I never played with dolls. And so I always thought that there was something off there, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on,” she explained.

Baskin is on her third marriage, to husband Howard, whom she married in 2004. Her second husband, Don Lewis, mysteriously disappeared in 1997.

Biden Hits Trump After Attacks on Fauci: ‘The American People are Tired of Your Lies’


Joe Biden blasted Donald Trump on Monday after the president called Dr. Anthony Fauci an “idiot” on a campaign phone call, and attacked him on Twitter.

Said Trump on the call with campaign staff: “People are tired of Covid. People are saying, ‘Whatever, just leave us alone.’ People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots. He’s been here for, like, 500 years. He’s like this wonderful sage telling us how — Fauci, if we listened to him, we’d have 700,000 [or] 800,000 deaths.”

On Twitter, Trump continued, whining: “Dr. Tony Fauci says we don’t allow him to do television, and yet I saw him last night on @60Minutes, and he seems to get more airtime than anybody since the late, great, Bob Hope. All I ask of Tony is that he make better decisions. He said “no masks & let China in”. Also, Bad arm! …P.S. Tony should stop wearing the Washington Nationals’ Mask for two reasons. Number one, it is not up to the high standards that he should be exposing. Number two, it keeps reminding me that Tony threw out perhaps the worst first pitch in the history of Baseball!”

Joe Biden responded in a statement.

Said Biden: “Coronavirus infections are spiking across the country, but President Trump decided to attack Dr. Fauci again today as a ‘disaster’ and call public health experts ‘idiots’ instead of laying out a plan to beat this virus or heeding their advice about how we can save lives and get our economy moving again. President Trump even criticized me yesterday for listening to the scientists — that’s not an attack, that’s a badge of honor.”

“Mr. President, you’re right about one thing,” Biden continued. “The American people are tired. They’re tired of your lies about this virus. They’re tired of watching more Americans die and more people lose their jobs because you refuse to take this pandemic seriously. Now, more than ever, we need a leader to bring us together, put a plan in place, and beat this virus — but you have proven yourself yet again to be incapable of doing that.”

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Political & judicial appointments for LGBTQ people are also on the ballot

Under the Constitution, the President is responsible for appointing a Vice President, 15 members of the Cabinet, and more than 50 heads of federal agencies. These appointments are then responsible for the execution and enforcement of the laws created by Congress.

LGBTQ representation in these political positions, as appointed by the President, is imperative for the future of equality. We have a long way yet to go. To date, no person from our community has served as President, Vice President, or Supreme Court Justice. There are two LGBTQ members of the 100 member United States Senate and seven in the House out of 435.

Related: Voting deadlines, registration & what’s at stake for LGBTQ voters in 2020

Out LGBTQ Obama Appointments (2 Terms):

U.S. District Court Judges — 9

U.S. Court of Appeals Judges — 1

U.S. Ambassadors — 7

U.S. Attorneys — 1

U.S. Commissioners on Civil Rights — 1

U.S. Commissioners on Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — 1

U.S. Marshals — 1

U.S. Secretaries of the Army — 1

TOTAL Obama appointments: 22

Openly LGBTQ Trump Appointments (1 Term):

Cabinet Members — 1*

U.S. Court of Appeals Judges — 1

U.S. Ambassadors — 5

TOTAL Trump appointments: 7

*Richard Grenell made United States history as the first out LGBTQ cabinet-level official when he was appointed on February 20, 2020, as Acting Director of National Intelligence. He resigned from the position on June 1, 2020.

Katya Serves Serious Nosferatu Vibes With “Vampire Fitness” Debut EP

Katya has been keepin’ busy this year.

This past summer, everyone’s favorite Russian red scare from RuPaul’s Drag Race hit the New York Times bestsellers list with her first book, Trixie and Katya’s Guide to Modern Womanhood. She then launched a new podcast, The Bald and the Beautiful, as well as a makeup line, all while continuing to co-host UNHhhh! and I Like to Watch with her partner in crime, Trixie Mattel.

Now she’s following in Trixie’s footsteps by releasing her own original music with her debut EP, Vampire Fitness.

Katya describes the five-track collection as a “dark and brooding international musical boat ride through the brain and mouth of famous cross-dresser Katya.”

“This brisk and beefy debut explores themes and topics such as eating food, dancing, having sex, relaxing, and DIY dentistry, all delivered in a variety of award-winning languages like Russian, Italian, Portuguese and English,” she continues. “With sexy, fly, hot and beautiful features from song-writing legends Alaska Thunderfuck and Trixie Mattel, it’s hard to believe it’s only $5. Wow!”

In case you’re wondering, the collaboration with Alaska is called “Come In Brazil,” and Trixie guests on the track “Ding Dong.” The EP will be released digitally on November 13, with Katya creeping out of her coffin to debut the first single, “Come In Brazil,” a week earlier on November 6.

“Can I just say I have heard this whole thing and none of you have any way of preparing yourselves for the sounds featured on this lively EP,” Ms. Mattel tweeted when Katya announced Vampire Fitness.

We are not prepared for whatever tunes are coming out of Katya’s rotted brain, but we are here for what will surely be a unique musical journey.

I write about drag queens. Dolly Parton once ruffled my hair and said I was “just the cutest thing ever.”

@chrisreindeer

Women Politicians More Likely To Reply To People Who Reach Out In Need, Study Shows

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In Europe, women politicians were even more likely to respond to female constituents who asked for help.
Ponomariova_Maria via Getty

Zoila Ponce de Leon, Washington and Lee University and Gabriele Magni, Loyola Marymount University

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The big idea

Women politicians are more responsive than men when people come to them seeking health care and economic support, our newly published study on gender and government responsiveness reveals. Our research, conducted in 2017, was published in the Journal of Experimental Political Science in August.

For our experiment, we posed as citizens of different genders and emailed a request for help to a total of 3,685 national legislators in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay. In Europe, we asked for assistance signing up for unemployment benefits. In Latin America, we requested help getting medical care without health insurance.

The response rate ranged widely, from 6% in Mexico – where government accountability to citizens is a documented problem – to 89% in Ireland, where the small district size likely increases legislators’ accountability.

In all European and most Latin American countries, women politicians were more likely to answer our request than male politicians. Female legislators replied 28% of the time, compared with 23% of male legislators. The gender responsiveness gap was bigger in certain countries – up to 13 percentage points in Colombia.

Furthermore, women seeking help receive significantly more responses than men – 26% versus 23% of the time. In Europe, female legislators in particular were more likely to reply to our queries when we posed as women – 44% versus 36%.

In Latin America responsiveness did not significantly vary based on the petitioner’s gender.

Why it matters

These differences, while relatively small, are important because they deviate from earlier experiments on gender and the responsiveness of public officials. One past study found no difference in responses to men and women. Another actually identified a slightly higher response rate of male legislators to women.

Though our study was conducted before the pandemic, it offers timely insights. Because of the health and economic crises prompted by COVID-19, people in many countries need more information and assistance than ever from their elected representatives.

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Yet women constitute less than half of national legislators in all but four countries in the world: Rwanda, Cuba, Bolivia and United Arab Emirates. None of those countries is a full democracy.

[Expertise in your inbox. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter and get expert takes on today’s news, every day.]

What other research is being done

There is tentative but contested evidence that, worldwide, women have been more effective leaders during the pandemic. Our political science research on representation supports this conclusion.

Even before the pandemic, experts in the U.S. were examining the influx of women into Congress, where they bring new perspectives to longtime policy debates and, evidence suggests, more consensus-building to the legislative process.

Our research adds to this literature by revealing that women are more responsive leaders – and, in some countries, particularly responsive to women.

The coronavirus crisis has not affected everyone equally. Beyond the well-documented racial disparities in infection and death rates, women worldwide have also been deeply harmed by the pandemic. Women comprise the majority of front-line health and social care workers, are disproportionately affected by job losses and are taking on ever more child care at home. This situation puts women in a higher need for information and support.

What still isn’t known

We do not know yet why women politicians are more responsive than men. Nor do we know why European politicians – and women in particular – reply more to female citizens seeking support.

Part of the answer may be the motivation of female elected officials to promote the interests of women. Observational studies show female politicians worldwide are more likely to promote legislation advancing women’s rights and interests, such as sexual harassment policy and equal pay – though not without resistance.The Conversation

Zoila Ponce de Leon, Assistant Professor of Politics, Washington and Lee University and Gabriele Magni, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Loyola Marymount University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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LGBT+ Italians protest in 63 cities to demand protection from violence

Protestors in 63 Italian cities have come together with 24 organizations to demand LGBT+ people receive protection from violence.

Meanwhile 69,000 people from Italy and all over the world have signed a petition asking the Italian parliament to approve new legislation against homophobia, transphobia and misogyny.

The protests over the last few days have included Italy’s most famous cities, such as Rome, Milan, Naples, Pisa and Palermo.

However, LGBT+ people and their allies have also taken to the streets in smaller towns and cities too, including Agrigento, Pescara and Lecce.

Viterbo.
Viterbo. AllOut
Vicenza.
Vicenza. AllOut
Varese.
Varese. AllOut
Salerno.
Salerno. AllOut
Rovigo.
Rovigo. AllOut
Rimini.
Rimini. AllOut

The socially-distanced protests, over a wet and blustery weekend, expressed frustration with Italy’s slow movement on protecting LGBT+ people.

One protestor in Rovigo, in the northeast of the country, summed it up with a sign in English reading: ‘I can’t believe I’m still protesting this shit.’

Unlike other European countries, Italy doesn’t give specific protection on the basis of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.

The opportunity to pass legislation has arisen multiple times in the last decades. However, politicians have always blocked it.

Now that may change with a proposal extend anti-racism laws to outlaw discrimination and hate crimes against women, gay, bisexual and transgender people. 

The proposal arose after multiple attacks on LGBT+ people received widespread publicity. One in particular, that saw a young gay man needing reconstructive facial surgery after an attack in the city of Pescara, provided extra motivation for LGBT+ Italians and their allies.

‘The time has come to fight hatred’

Regio Emelia
Regio Emelia. AllOut
Pescara.
Pescara. AllOut
Novara.
Novara. AllOut
Naples.
Naples. AllOut
Bagheria.
Bagheria. AllOut
Agrigento protest.
Agrigento protest. AllOut

In a big push, LGBT+ organizations have united to support the hate crime legislation. One of those supporting is international digital campaign group AllOut.

Yuri Guaiana, AllOut’s senior campaigns manager in Italy, said:

‘Italy needs an effective law that protects women and LGBT+ people from discrimination and violence. The time has come to fight hatred.

AllOut is currently sending a billboard truck around Rome so politicians also get the message.

Guaiana added: ‘The time has come for Italy to follow the example of other European countries. Time is up: the parliament must approve a serious and effective law now.’

However, the right-wing opposition Lega Nord is opposed. Perhaps even more significant is the opposition of Brothers of Italy – which represents Italian bishops.

Indeed, the bishops said that if the proposal was put into law it would be ‘the death of liberty’.

One priest in Puglia, a region in the south of Italy, even held a vigil to pray for the law’s failure.

Moreover another in Sicily claimed during a sermon: ‘If you express an opinion against homosexuals, or don’t agree with two men adopting a child, you could end up in jail.’

And Jacopo Coghe, president of the conservative Pro Life and Family organization, is mobilizing opposition. Using similar language to anti-LGBT+ bishops and politicians in Poland, he said the law sought to ‘impose a certain culture’.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis – whose record on LGBT+ rights is checkered at best – has remained silent.

Trans woman tragically died by suicide after being ‘constantly fobbed off’ by mental health services

Trans woman Alexandra Greenway, who tragically died by suicide in May 2019 (Inquest.org.uk)

A trans woman tragically took her own life after being passed “from pillar to post” by mental health services, a coroner’s court was told.

Alexandra Greenway, a 23-year-old recruitment consultant, was found dead in her Bristol flat on May 11, 2019, having waited in vain for the talking therapy she needed.

A month earlier she was detained after another suspected suicide attempt and taken to a psychiatric hospital, after which a consultant psychiatrist wrote to her GP recommending the therapy. But at the time of her death, no treatment had been arranged.

“The fact is people keep dying, and they die because the treatment doesn’t materialise,” the Guardian reports Greenway’s mother, Jacqueline, telling Avon coroner’s court.

“Alexandra had complex needs that were not fully explored. She felt constantly marginalised and fobbed off.

“There are too many people waiting for CBT [cognitive behavioural therapy]. They just didn’t have the capacity. Alexandra didn’t see any signs of the CBT materialising, she couldn’t wait any longer, that’s why we believe she took her own life. All services appeared to be under too much pressure.”

Greenway also experienced “a long and difficult road in achieving gender reassignment surgery”, and was left waiting so long for treatment that she felt forced to self-medicate with costly hormones she bought from abroad.

The inquest was told that after her first apparent suicide attempt police officers tried to call their own mental health triage team, but nobody was on duty. They decided to detain her under the Mental Health Act, but with no hospital beds available in Bristol she was instead taken to a secure psychiatric unit in Wiltshire.

Greenway was discharged the same day with a recommendation that she received CBT. She was relieved at the idea that she was finally going to get the treatment she needed, but she died weeks later without having spoken to anyone.

Giving evidence, her parents said they felt she had been passed from “pillar to post” as she sought help for her mental health issues.

“We are left with what-ifs,” said Jacqueline. “We can’t move on from that grief and frustration.”

She called on the area coroner, Peter Harrowing, to make sure that action was taken to “make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else again”.

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans.

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email [email protected] or [email protected]

In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

1,500 New Egyptian Officers Show Off Their Six-Packs In The ‘World’s Gayest Parade’

A video of Egypt’s newest police officers flexing their muscles and showing off their six-packs during their graduation ceremony has gone viral.

In the clip widely shared on social media, more than 1,500 shirtless officers can be seen leaping through rings of fire and towing an SUV at the premises of the Police Academy in New Cairo on Friday, reports The Sun.

To impress their dictator, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the cadets split into teams, with some officers somersaulting over a rack of sharp spikes.

During the parade, the shredded officers showed off their six-packs as they posed on a moving trailer.

At the end of the ceremony, el-Sisi congratulated the new officers and greeted their families, saying “they prepared their sons and devoted them to the country to defend us.”

Twitter users compared the ceremony to a Pride parade while others said it looked like a circus show.

One wrote: “No, this is not a gay pride but the closing ceremony of the Egyptian police academy.”

A second said: “That’s probably the most gay thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

LGBT activist and actor George Takei noted: “For a terrifyingly homophobic and dangerously anti-LGBT government in Egypt, this screams pretty gay.”

Author Mona Eltahawy tweeted: “The more they undress, the more #Egyptian men are celebrated for virility, masculinity, strength. These are students of the Police Academy on display on Thursday for our fascist dictator Sisi, whose regime has been arresting women for dancing and singing, fully clothed, on TikTok.”