I remember hearing the word "fag" tossed around the locker room like it was no big deal.

Like it wasn't the dehumanizing, hateful word that it is.

I am gay. And I, like millions of LGBT people, remember firsthand the pain I endured in locker rooms — and in hallways, and in cafeterias, and sometimes just sitting in class — because I was different.


Teens who identify as LGBT are significantly more likely to face bullying and violence at the hands of their peers than their straight counterparts — and that takes a toll on their mental health. Kids who are LGBT are at greater risk of depression and more likely to contemplate — and commit — suicide.

As a queer kid growing up and feeling less than, it seemed like only straight, macho guys could become heroes...

...which is why a new video made by New York City firefighters is so validating. I know "middle school me" would have loved to hear what they had to say.

All GIFs via FDNY/YouTube.

In the video, which was created in conjunction with the It Gets Better project and in recognition of National Coming Out Day (which falls on Oct. 11 every year), LGBT firefighters in the FDNY opened up about their own struggles being different.

Like, what it's like to feel alone...

Or what it's like to have parents who say things like...

They also shared stories of hope and explained that being different is actually pretty cool.

Because sometimes the most powerful thing you can tell a young person who can't see the light at the end of the tunnel is that, yes, things do get better.


"When I decided to come out, I kind of channeled that ... that defiant, I am 'the other.' And I'm OK with that. I'd rather be 'the other' than the cookie cutter." — Luke Allen, FDNY


"Being able to embrace who you are and say, 'This is me, I'm not changing for anyone. I love who I am,' is such a powerful, empowering experience." — Victor Berrios, FDNY

In a statement, FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said, "As firefighters, paramedics and EMTs in the most diverse city in the world, FDNY members have the tremendous opportunity to inspire young people through their brave work every single day. Through this video, they deliver an important message to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth around the world — it absolutely does get better."

I may not have become a firefighter, but I did become a writer who's very happy with how things are turning out. So I, too, have to agree: Hang in there! Blue skies are on the horizon.

Check out the whole video below. It's worth the watch.

True

It takes a special type of person to become a nurse. The job requires a combination of energy, empathy, clear mind, oftentimes a strong stomach, and a cheerful attitude. And while people typically think of nursing in a clinical setting, some nurses are driven to work with the people that feel forgotten by society.

Keep Reading Show less

Prior to baby formula, breastfeeding was the norm, but that doesn't mean it always worked.

As if the past handful of years weren't challenging enough, the U.S. is currently dealing with a baby formula crisis.

Due to a perfect storm of supply chain issues, product recalls, labor shortages and inflation, manufacturers are struggling to keep up with formula demand and retailers are rationing supplies. As a result, families that rely on formula are scrambling to ensure that their babies get the food they need.

Naturally, people are weighing in on the crisis, with some throwing out simplistic advice like, "Why don't you just do what people did before baby formula was invented and just breastfeed?"

That might seem logical, unless you understand how breastfeeding works and know a bit about infant mortality throughout human history.

Keep Reading Show less

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

True

The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

Your cat knows you better than you think.

Cats are often seen as being aloof or standoffish, even with their owners. Of course, that differs based on who that cat lives with and their lifetime of experience with humans. But when compared to man’s best friend, cats usually seem less interested in those around them, regardless of species.

However, a new study out of Japan has found that cats may be paying more attention to their fellow felines and human friends than most people thought. In fact, they could be listening to human conversations.

"What we discovered is astonishing," Saho Takagi, a research fellow specializing in animal science at Azabu University in Kanagawa Prefecture, told The Asahi Shimbun. "I want people to know the truth. Felines do not appear to listen to people's conversations, but as a matter of fact, they do."

How do we know they’re listening? Because the study shows that household cats often know the names of their human and feline friends.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

Keep Reading Show less