Taylor Swift believes elections matter and just wrote a huge check to prove it.
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Taylor Swift has been really upping her game. The singer, who's remained staunchly apolitical for most of her career, has made one thing very clear in the past year: Our current civil rights climate isn't one in which anyone can afford to keep quiet.

Now she's using her sphere of influence (and buckets and buckets of hard-earned) cash to make certain that the LGBT+ residents of Tennessee — many of whom I speculate have also warmed to "Look What You Made Me Do" via repeated listens — aren't ever treated like second-class citizens.

If you're unfamiliar, Tennessee has recently proposed a set of 12 bills that have quickly garnered the collective name "the slate of hate." These bills include proposals to reverse gay marriage, criminalize trans people in public spaces, and allow adoption agencies to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, even though there is already overwhelming evidence that, guess what, kids who are raised by same-sex couples are doing hella good (and should just keep on dancing). That sounds like a lot...but it's only the tip of a very hate and shame-filled iceberg.


That's where Tay Tay comes in. After publicly denouncing Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn for her anti-gay views during the midterms, Swift is putting her money where her mouth is and donating to organizations that promote and support inclusivity for all.

Earlier this week, Swift donated $113,000 (could this number have anything to do with a new album? Everything's a clue!) to The Tennessee Equality Project, which is working to fight the "slate of hate." She also included a handwritten note, which was shared by the org's Executive Director, Chris Sanders.

"Taylor Swift has been a long-time ally to the LGBTQ community. She sees our struggle in Tennessee and continues to add her voice with so many good people, including religious leaders, who are speaking out for love in the face of fear," Sanders wrote in a post accompanying Swift's note.

Image of letter sent by Taylor Swift. Photo via Chris Sanders on Facebook.

Of course, the news of Swift's donation was met with...some excitement.

One could view this donation as a celebrity doing the right thing for people who continue to be oppressed and marginalized (and please don't come at me with this "everyone has equal rights now" card because: no), but it's even more than that.

It's a call for all of us to get involved, to get out of "the lane" that so many people on Twitter would like you to remind you should stay in, and fight until all Americans have the equality we're promised as citizens.

You got an anthem for that, Taylor? We're waiting.

Courtesy of Verizon
True

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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