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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Image by 5540867 from Pixabay

Figuring out what to do for a mom on Mother's Day can be a tricky thing. There's the standard flowers or candy, of course, and taking her out to a nice brunch is a fairly universal winner. But what do moms really want?

Speaking from experience—my kids range from age 12 to 20—a lot depends on the stage of motherhood. What I wanted when my kids were little is different than what I want now, and I'm sure when my kids are grown and gone I'll want something different again.

We asked our readers to share what they want for Mother's Day, and while the answers were varied, there were some common themes that emerged.

Moms of young kids want a break.

When your kids are little, motherhood is relentless. Precious and adorable, yes. Wonderful and rewarding, absolutely. But it's a LOT. And it's a lot all the fricking time.

Most moms I know would love the gift of alone time, either away at a hotel or Airbnb or in their own home with no one else around. Time alone is a priceless commodity at this stage, especially if it comes with someone else taking care of cleaning, making sure the kids are fed and safe and occupied, doing the laundry, etc.

This is especially true after more than a year of pandemic living, where we moms have spent more time than usual at home with our offspring. While in some ways that's been great, again, it's a lot.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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