'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:

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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