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My 3-year-old asked me why some people are gay. This was my response.

When my daughter asked why our friends are gay, it reminded me how far we've come.

My 3-year-old asked me why some people are gay. This was my response.

My wife and I count two different gay couples — one female, one male — among our closest friends.

We see these friends often, and they are important people to our two young daughters.

A few weeks ago, we saw both couples in one day. In the morning, one couple came over to celebrate our daughter’s second birthday. We ate cake and drank coffee on the roof deck while the children played. Later that day, we went to the other couple’s house for dinner. There we ate more cake and drank beer while the children ran around the backyard with the two dogs.


On the drive home, our 3-year-old must have suddenly noticed the difference between gay and straight.

From the backseat, she asked me and my wife: "Why are some sweetie-pies men and men? Why are some men and women? And why are some sweetie-pies women and women?”

My wife and I smiled at each other. “It just depends on who you love,” I said.

Our daughter said OK and asked no more questions. Simple as that.

Gay rights have come a long way in the United States. Photo from iStock.

The ease of that brief conversation left me with a rare kind of satisfaction. My kids inhabit an America that is, by one measure, far more humane and decent than the one where I grew up.

I must have been about 12 when I learned that my mother knew a lesbian.

She refused to name this person when I asked who she was. Did I know her? Had I met her?

“You don’t know her well,” my mother said. “But you’ve met her a few times.”

I begged my mom to tell me who this person was. Instead, she made a pledge: When the lesbian died, my mom promised to say who she was. From then on, every so often I’d ask, “Is the lesbian dead yet?”

A few years later, Anne, mom’s elderly church friend, passed away.

It turns out that the mysterious lesbian was Anne’s daughter. Anne shared her secret with my mom, who promised to tell no one. And when Anne died, my mom decided to share the secret with me.

Then, it was like being gay was a stain so deep that only death could wipe away its shame. That was the lesson. I wondered and worried if this thing could happen to me, too.

Being gay seemed like an infection that could quietly enter the body and corrupt the soul. My dad said not to worry, then. I sure hoped that he was right.

It was around this time that I watched Pat Buchanan’s 1992 opening speech at the Republican National Convention with my family.

Buchanan railed against gay people, and I recall being a bit stunned by his anger, but not by the essential message of homosexual deviancy. Back then, that notion could just float weightlessly in the air.

Someday, I hope to talk with my daughters about all of this.

About how things used to be. About a world where a common cruelty simply existed among people who were otherwise quite decent.

That many parents now speak to their kids about sexual orientation without a veil of shame is a welcome reminder that some good changes are underway, however incomplete.

Yes, look at what is happening in North Carolina. Progress is rarely linear.

But I am quite certain that my daughters, like so many children of their generation, will never need to ask such a regrettable question: “Is the lesbian dead yet?”

President Biden/Twitter, Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter

In a year when the U.S. saw the largest protest movement in history in support of Black lives, when people of color have experienced disproportionate outcomes from the coronavirus pandemic, and when Black voters showed up in droves to flip two Senate seats in Georgia, Joe Biden entered the White House with a mandate to address the issue of racial equity in a meaningful way.

Not that it took any of those things to make racial issues in America real. White supremacy has undergirded laws, policies, and practices throughout our nation's history, and the ongoing impacts of that history are seen and felt widely by various racial and ethnic groups in America in various ways.

Today, President Biden spoke to these issues in straightforward language before signing four executive actions that aim to:

- promote fair housing policies to redress historical racial discrimination in federal housing and lending

- address criminal justice, starting by ending federal contracts with for-profit prisons

- strengthen nation-to-nation relationships with Native American tribes and Alaskan natives

- combat xenophobia against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, which has skyrocketed during the pandemic

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True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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via WFTV

Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy were ordering food but told her that the child would be having his dinner later that night at home. She glanced at the boy who was wearing a hoodie, glasses, and a face mask and noticed a scratch between his eyes.

A closer look revealed a bruise on his temple.

So Carvalho walked away from the table and wrote a note that said, "Do you need help?" and showed it to the boy from an angle where his parents couldn't see.

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via TikTok

Menstrual taboos are as old as time and found across cultures. They've been used to separate women from men physically — menstrual huts are still a thing — and socially, by creating the perception that a natural bodily function is a sign of weakness.

Even in today's world women are deemed unfit for positions of power because some men actually believe they won't be able to handle stressful situations while mensurating.

"Menstruation is an opening for attack: a mark of shame, a sign of weakness, an argument to keep women out of positions of power,' Colin Schultz writes in Popular Science.

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