LGBTQ male models break down gender norms on new boundary-pushing site.

James Anthony hadn't eaten a carb in a decade. Then he started eating whatever he wanted.

"I had this realization I needed to confront the tumultuous relationship I had with my body for my entire life," Anthony, the founder and editor-in-chief of Riot Bear, explains in an email.

He ended up gaining 60 pounds. He never felt better.


Anthony loved his bigger frame. "I felt more like myself taking up a larger space in the crowd," he says. Finally, for the first time in his life, he felt liberated from the chains of body dysmorphia and dieting.

James Anthony, the founder of Riot Bear. Photo courtesy of Riot Bear.

Anthony began chronicling his story in a fashion blog he launched in 2007. It featured self-portraits and personal stories reflecting his experiences in a new body. People started paying attention. Before long, he found himself with a group of fans and followers.

Realizing his story was resonating, Anthony wanted to help others share theirs, too. His blog evolved from one that told his own story to one reflecting the experiences of many. Riot Bear was born.

Riot Bear is a body-positive online community for men of all sizes, ages, colors, and identities in the LGBTQ community.

Model Tanner Jordan. Photo by Paul Lowe, courtesy of Riot Bear.

The platform is about fashion and style first and foremost, Anthony says. But that's only one component.

Model Jonathan Dorado. Photo by Paul Lowe, courtesy of Riot Bear.

“Behind every great look is a story and a journey," Anthony explains. "Style is about expressing the essence of who you are and where you're going."

The website, run by Anthony, features photo series and Q&As with its diverse models who challenge gender norms through their styles and stories. On Riot Bear, men open up about their battles with mental illness, gender fluidity, career highs and lows, and greatest insecurities (and accomplishments) through personal essays.

"For us, real male body types are not a trend."

"I stopped desiring who I couldn’t have and began envisioning what I truly want in a partner. I quit smoking cigarettes, I ended my blog, I started my own business, I made new amazing friends, I started flirting, I did yoga, I learned how to meditate, I cleared my room of junk, I took a much needed social media sabbatical." - Riot Bear model Manulani. Photo courtesy of Riot Bear.

Riot Bear empowers a community of men who've typically been overlooked and slighted elsewhere in the media.

Despite recent historic progress on LGBTQ rights and inclusivity, queer men are still overcoming homophobia and transphobia's deep-rooted and systemic scarring. They're more likely to live with depression, body dysmorphia, and eating disorders. They're also more likely to attempt suicide.

In a media landscape too often blanketed with white, straight, cisgender men with chiseled six-packs, millions of LGBTQ men feel excluded.

Riot Bear is changing the narrative, Anthony says, by giving those in their community a safe space to live openly and proudly. Fashion serves as a terrific medium to express that vulnerability and empowerment.

"Nothing is sexier than a scruffy guy fully in touch with the irony and joy of being feminine," Anthony says.

"Style is really about confidence, it's about not giving a fuck what people think. Style to me means power, it's liberty — it's a call to march to the beat of your own drum." — Riot Bear model Aki Choklat. Photo by Isaac Emmons, courtesy of Riot Bear.

"We love that we can wrap up our models in silk, rhinestones, and pearls. That juxtaposition is what we live for. A dude with a belly in a Gucci cardigan. Perfection."

Model Milo Evans. Photo by Paul Lowe, courtesy of Riot Bear.

Riot Bear isn't just for its models, though. The platform's greater impact can help spur change for men everywhere.

Through its photos and stories, Riot Bear aims to fight the forces of toxic masculinity — the expectation that guys should to be emotionally detached, violent, and sexually aggressive to be "real" men. It's an attitude that ends up hurting everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, says Anthony.

"Earlier in my life, being tall helped me in standing up for people who were bullied, as well as avoid any type of threat from bullies myself. You know it can be awful growing up." — Riot Bear model Andres Gomez. Photo by Paul Lowe, courtesy of Riot Bear.

"What makes [toxic masculinity] so dangerous and tragic is that we all know it's coming from a dark place internally," Anthony says.

"Self-hatred and abuse can bring out the ugliest in a man. We must defuse this behavior with compassion and courage."

"I've always been interested in sculpture. I think my earliest memory was at age 7, when I started with origami. After a while, I got to a point where I wasn't learning anything new and decided to try working with wax and clay which lead me to where I am today." — Riot Bear model Vincent Master. Self-portrait. Photo courtesy of Riot Bear.

Personal style may seem frivolous. But self-expression is a terrific way to heal, grow, and feel great in your own skin.

And doing so in a community that embraces your authentic self makes all the difference to these Riot Bears.

Model Charles. Photo by Paul Lowe, courtesy of Riot Bear.

“I’ve seen these photos open a portal for our models, feel confident in how they look, and provide a safe space to be vulnerable," Anthony says. "It doesn’t matter who you are — when you see yourself in this empowering way, it’s transformative.”

Learn more about Riot Bear and how to join the community here.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via @Todd_Spence / Twitter

Seven years ago, Bill Murray shared a powerful story about the importance of art. The revelation came during a discussion at the National Gallery in London for the release of 2014's "The Monuments Men." The film is about a troop of soldiers on a mission to recover art stolen by the Nazis.

After his first time performing on stage in Chicago, Murray was so upset with himself that he contemplated taking his own life.

"I wasn't very good, and I remember my first experience, I was so bad I just walked out — out onto the street and just started walking," he said.

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