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Some People Would Consider This Gay Stereotype Insulting. He Shuts That Down Right Quick.

Meet John DeVore. His written piece here is more than an awesomely defiant love letter to a great American art form — it's a radical testament to individuality, love, and truth ... with bonus lightbulb moments about violence in the media, useless gay stereotypes, and singing Batman.Forgive the guy his deliciously strong language — he's having some strong emotions — and take six minutes of reading to see what I mean.*

Some People Would Consider This Gay Stereotype Insulting. He Shuts That Down Right Quick.

"You Hate Musicals Because You Are Dead Inside" by John DeVore:

I love musicals.

Oh, you hate musicals? Really? I’ll get to you and your opinion in a second.


First, I’m making a public confession: I am a white, heterosexual man who loves musicals. I don’t give a shit who knows. You are not your demographic. The people who make up focus groups are demented human beings.

I eat bacon cheeseburgers. I love pranks. I watch professional wrestling. Well, maybe that last one doesn’t prove anything. Pro wrestling is just Redneck Broadway.

But my point is this: “Defying Gravity” is a legit good song. Do I only listen to musicals? No. I’m not a monster. But I’m not here to defend my Dave Matthews and Electric Light Orchestra Pandora channels.

I know musicals can be cheesy. Some can be boring. There are plenty of awful musicals, too.

But any excellent example of anything is excellent. You have to understand that musicals are, mostly, an irony-free artform. There is no way to be ironic, or even cool, when singing a power ballad in the car or a torch song during a booze-soaked karaoke party.

Now, you. You with your opinion. Fuck your opinion.

I will argue with you using, simply, reason. Your opinion is wrong. You’re ignorant. I don’t have to respect opinions from stupid people. All I have to do is let you finish your undercooked thought. Now, you. You with your joyless opinion.

Shut up. Don’t finish your thought. I don’t care. Art doesn’t fail. Humans fail. You have failed art, you magnificent douche.

No one ever says “when I grow up, I want to be an emotional void.”

Let me address some of the basic arguments I have heard from dudes who hate musicals. These dudes, by the way, are always the sort who will punch a wall then run away to cry in the rain the moment fate demands they suffer, as all mortals must.

First: is it really weird that characters in musicals suddenly break out into song when the emotions become too intense? You know what’s weird? When characters in movies suddenly break out into shooting bullets or karate chops when emotions become too intense.

Action movies are just musicals with knuckles. Of course the main difference is action movies celebrate violence. So many explosions. Emotions are dangerous. Most civilizations pacify their citizens with displays of violence. Blood spurts are hypnotic. Distracting.

Feel something for a change. FEEL GOD DAMN YOU.

I have also heard, for years, how musicals are “gay.” Is that an insult? I don’t know what to say to that. I’m a living thinking person who loves? Fine. Whatever. Then I am gay. I am gay. I am gay. I am gay. I am gay. Proud & loud!

“Musicals suck,” is another retort. Why do you hate your father so much?

You’re a tiny pink worm piloting a robot husk that looks like a human. If I cracked that shell open you wouldn’t last a day in the light.

I might be overreacting. No, I’m not. Think before you talk.

Musicals don’t get respect from most people, and that’s fine. I don’t watch hockey, and that’s okay. I don’t talk trash about it.

Just hear me out. Because I’m going deep. I’m basically singing to you right now. Man up. You can take the truth. I’m not suggesting we hug it out, because I think you’d be a crap friend. But, check it: the bar jukebox? You feed it money because your soul needs songs.

Musicals can turn my bones to wind chimes. They make me feel drunk. I know of few American artists who can gut you with a sad, beautiful song like Stephen Sondheim.

Here, step into the time machine of imagination and let’s journey back to when I first fell in love with musicals. Oh, you don’t have an imagination? Okay. Then I will just tell you the tale.

The first musical I ever saw was a production of “Les Miserables” at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. It was a high school field trip. I was 15. My Trapper Keeper was stuffed with love letters I didn’t have the courage to fold up into little triangles that could slip into her locker.

She was in love with someone else, anyway. He was a total puke bucket, with a car.

I spent the day leading up to the musical employing every single form of teenage emotional expression. All three of them. I sneered. I rolled my eyes. I stared off into the distance in despair. Repeat.

So when Eponine took to the stage to sing about her unrequited love for Marius, I could feel my heart try to claw its way up my throat.

I, too, am on my own! Holy Christ, just like her! I wanted to stand up and sing along with her. I didn’t know the lyrics or melody, but I would have bravely bleated along in solidarity.

Finally, as she lays dying in the arms of the SHIT HEAD WHO OBVIOUSLY SHOULD HAVE LOVED HER AND NOT THAT DOOFUS LADY COSETTE, singing the song “A Little Fall Of Rain,” I suddenly saw myself on my deathbed. The cause of death? Heartbreak, probably. Terminal heartbreak.

And there she was, sitting next to me, sobbing. Maybe someone had given her my Trapper Keeper? Maybe she had read my nearly illegible insane hobo cursive handwriting that covered both sides of multiple pages of torn out spiral notebook paper?

Had she broken up with the total puke bucket, with a car? It did not matter. I forgave her. Cough, cough.

“Les Miserables” is a sprawling singalong opera about a superstrong sensitive dude, an uptight maniac cop, and a failed French student uprising. It’s a musical that loves weepy solos, endless crescendos and synthesizers. So many synthesizers.

It’s great. So is “Phantom of the Opera.” That was the next musical I saw after “Les Miserables.” Look, to me, as a kid, “Phantom of the Opera” was basically “Singing Batman.”

A year later, my wonderful father begrudgingly took me to see my first Broadway show in New York City. IT WAS A MUSICAL ABOUT THE VIETNAM WAR.

I have spent a lot of time sitting in theater seats. Not just for musicals, either. Plays, performance art, Shakespeare in parking lots. Theater is the original social network.

I love it. I also love, in no particular order, Music Man, West Side Story, Fiddler On The Roof, The King & I, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, Sweeney Todd, Hedwig & The Angry Inch, Chicago, Spring Awakening, Assassins, Book of Mormon, and, honestly, it’s a long list that also includes musicals performed at midnight in basements in the Lower East Side, years before Manhattan turned into Bankhattan.

The American musical is the cradle of contemporary pop music. It’s an art form that connects us to the vaudevillian music halls of our shared past. The musical is what happens when the church meets the saloon. These songs are all pagan hymns to first kisses and lost loves. There is so much cruelty in the world, and the American musical knows that. Sometimes it tells us everything will be okay — the curtain will come down on dancing and singing and triumph. Sometimes it tell us everything won’t be okay and that kind of honesty can set you free.

Love what you love. This is a truth you can only read on a non-ad supported internet digital web blog platform. I’m not selling anything. I’m not telling you what to love. Just that you should love what you love. Love what you love.

Bear hug it. Whisper to it. Cut any bitch who tries to diminish that love.

We cool, and all that jazz, bro?

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Cipolla's graph with the benefits and losses that an individual causes to him or herself and causes to others.

Have you ever known someone who was educated, well-spoken and curious, but had a real knack for making terrible decisions and bringing others down with them? These people are perplexing because we're trained to see them as intelligent, but their lives are a total mess.

On the other hand, have you ever met someone who may not have a formal education or be the best with words, but they live wisely and their actions uplift themselves and others?

In 1976, Italian economist Carlo Cipolla wrote a tongue-in-cheek essay called "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity" that provides a great framework for judging someone's real intelligence. Now, the term "stupid" isn't the most artful way of describing someone who lives unwisely, but in his essay Cipolla uses it in a lighthearted way.

Cipolla explains his theory of intelligence through five basic laws and a matrix that he believes applies to everyone.

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Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Chris Nikic wins the Panama City Ironman

The great Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu is known for saying, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." It's a simple but powerful way of approaching goals by seeing them as a series of simple actions, rather than a massive undertaking.

Chris Nikic, 22, has a similar life philosophy that he says helped him become the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman. An Ironman is an incredible feat of endurance where athletes must complete a 2.4-mile swim in open water, a 112-mile bike ride and a full marathon of 26.2 miles, in 17 hours or less.

In November 2020, Chris completed his first Ironman at Panama City Beach, Florida.

Chris attributes his success by trying 1% more every day. That could mean an extra push up, a few more seconds on the treadmill or one more sit up. "It represents me better than I was yesterday," Chris told News 6.

Chris' father, Nik Nikic, says the philosophy is a way for people to achieve great things without overdoing it and injuring themselves. It also prevents people from biting off more than they can chew and giving up.

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Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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