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How many romantic comedies starring straight couples have been made since the dawn of time?

A thousand? A million? There have been a lot!

Americans haven't suffered from a straight rom-com shortage since rom-coms became a thing — "Annie Hall" in 1977, "The Apartment" in 1960, or maybe even "It Happened One Night" way back in 1934.


Rarely do you hear complaints from moviegoers about Hollywood churning out too many of them.

Which is why Jim Parsons has had it.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

The actor visited "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" on May 7 to promote a reboot of the gay-themed Broadway show "The Boys in The Band." As the conversation veered into the need for more LGBTQ representation in theater, film, and beyond, Parsons revealed one thing that irked him about the criticism aimed at the film "Love, Simon" earlier this year.

The teen rom-com — the genre's first to star a gay lead while also boasting a big budget — was dinged by some critics for arriving in theaters about a decade too late. "'Love, Simon' Is a Groundbreaking Gay Movie," one headline announced, "But Do Today's Teens Actually Need It?"

According to Parsons, the answer is a resounding yes.

The wide release of "Love, Simon" meant an LGBTQ-themed movie for teens was in most movie theaters across the country. That's never happened before. And for a gay kid in, say, small-town Kansas, that matters.

As Parsons explained:

"I read a couple of articles that were essentially saying – I loved ['Love, Simon'], by the way — but there were a couple articles that were like, 'That's too late.' ... That we're beyond this now — the kind of tale of coming out that this was. And I thought, 'Maybe if you're a 30-something writer living in New York or L.A. it may be like, 'I don't need to see this,' obviously. But I don't know – I think there are people in many other places that, yes, you do still need to see it."

Parsons then pointed out how absurd it is to argue a gay rom-com is "too late" to make a meaningful difference when no one holds straight rom-coms to the same standard:

"Never mind the fact [they're saying] 'a gay rom-com — it's too late.' Well, tell that to 'When Harry Met Sally,' you know? Which was brilliant, but I'm saying, 'How many straight rom-coms do we need? When is it too late for them?' You know?"

Check out the interview below.

Parsons begins talking about "Love, Simon," at about the 7-minute mark.

He's not wrong, is he?

We often eat up straight rom-coms faster than the popcorn kernels in our buttery palms without thinking twice about their relevance to the social consciousness of the day.

Yet with rom-coms featuring marginalized lovebirds, there seems to be a different standard. Did "Love, Simon" explore queerness in a positive way? Was it relatable enough for LGBTQ teens? Was it timely enough to make a difference? Did it revolutionize the fight for LGBTQ equality in 1 hour and 50 minutes of screen time?!

This is exactly why we need more rom-coms featuring LGBTQ people from all walks of life — people of color, people of minority faiths, disabled people, and everyone else. That way, the few films featuring marginalized people that do get made won't bear the brunt of cramming the experiences of an entire group into one trip to the movies.  

Or, as Parsons quipped, to laughs: "Let me get sick of too many gay rom-coms, then, thank you very much. Bring it on."

All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

It's incredible what a double-sided magnet can do.

This article originally appeared on 04.25.22


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Fifteen-year-old George Tindale and his dad, Kevin, 52, of Grantham, Lincolnshire in the U.K., made an incredible find earlier this month when they used two magnets to pull up a safe that had been submerged in the River Witham.

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