'Immigrant, homosexual, all-around badass': America, meet one of your military heroes.

Hey! Here's a thing many Americans don't — but should — know:

All illustrations by Levi Hastings and Josh Trujillo. Comic published in full on The Nib.

That's right! A gay dude played a pivotal role in America's independence.

Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand Steuben — known in the history books as Baron von Steuben — was one of America's most prominent and influential military officials during its war for independence. He was also gay.


"Every kid grows up looking for role models," says Levi Hastings, who created the comic images in this article alongside fellow artist Josh Trujillo. (The comic is published in full on The Nib.) "Queer people have changed the world since the beginning of time and there is no excuse to hide that fact."

Von Steuben, originally from Prussia, made a name for himself fighting in Europe's Seven Years' War. After the conflict, however, his queerness got him kicked out of Germany, where homosexuality had been criminalized. (I guess it didn't matter how much of a badass he was on the battlefield — a guy who likes guys was just a no-go.)

Benjamin Franklin wasn't hung up on von Steuben's taste for the fellas, though.

Franklin, an American, was in Paris searching out bright and promising military talent to help the embattled rebels defeat the British. (And by "embattled," I mean struggling hardcore — seriously, the Americans were in dire shape.)

Even though Franklin was aware of von Steuben's controversial past, he also knew von Steuben's military know-how could be vital in helping the Continental Army pull off an upset. So he wrote to George Washington, pushing the nation's future first president to consider von Steuben's accomplishments.

And voila! Washington liked what he learned, so Von Steuben cruised stateside to join the revolution.

Von Steuben quickly became a critical leader who helped the Americans turn a corner in the war.

He was a fierce fighter and drill master, sure. But von Steuben's genius was most visible in how he kept military camps up and running, and its men in tip-top shape. He streamlined basic protocols — like how to set up camp and ensure the area remains clean and disease-free — which played a crucial role in saving resources and keeping men alive.

He was a (literal) life-saver. And his leadership is why some historians have dubbed him "the father of the American military."

Also, he barely spoke any English! (Shoutout to those handy translators in America's earliest, most vulnerable years.)

Artwork full on The Nib.

Von Steuben's ideas on camp operations and personnel management eventually made it to print in the "Blue Book" — a set of standards adopted by the U.S. Army. Incredibly, many of its same ideas are still used today.

After the Revolutionary War, von Steuben lived out his final days on a nice property in Valley Forge given to him by a grateful Washington.

There, I imagine he napped his afternoons away and enjoyed the company of his ... um ... "sons."

Yes, von Steuben — who never married or had biological children — officially adopted Gen. (and future U.S. Sen.) William North, as well as Capt. Benjamin Walker, with whom he had an "extraordinarily intense emotional relationship." Laws — and certainly our understanding of LGBTQ relationships — were a bit different back then.

By now you may be thinking, "OK, so one of our military leaders was gay. Who cares?"

But von Steuben's identity as a queer man — which, in many ways, has been brushed over or erased entirely — really does matter.

"For every Von Stueben, there are a thousand other queer people we forget about," Hastings says. We often don't realize it, but LGBTQ people helped shape history throughout the ages in ways both big and small. "There's so much work to do, but I hope our comics help expand our understanding of history."

"Especially now, we have to celebrate the achievements of queer figures," Trujillo adds. "There are those that will purposefully overlook us, or try to forget that we exist at all. It's vital everyone recognizes that we're here, we have always been here, and we always will be here."

Captivated by von Steuben's story? Same. You can check out the whole comic that tells the story of his role in the Revolutionary War over at The Nib. You can also watch von Steuben's story — told in hilariously drunken fashion — on Comedy Central's "Drunk History" below:

Courtesy of Creative Commons
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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

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Cats are notoriously weird. Everyone who's had cats knows that they each have their own unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, habits, and flat-out WTFness.

But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

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