Their parents rejected them because they were LGBTQ, but she and her husband took them in.

"Others refer to it as a safe house, we call it home."

Deb and Steve Word's home in Memphis, Tennessee. Photos via Deb Word, used with permission.


Deb and Steve Word are observant Catholics whose house in Memphis, Tennessee, might look ordinary but is anything but.

Over the past six years, Deb and Steve have fostered over a dozen homeless LGBT kids in their home, most of whom had been rejected by their families.

Not in spite of their Catholic faith, but because of it.

Deb and Steve Word.

"[It was a] WWJD kind of thing," Deb told me via e-mail. "We really just welcomed hurting kids into our spare bedrooms."

According to an interview with CNN, Deb and Steve already knew their son was gay when he came out to them at age 23. When they asked him why he waited so long, he made it clear that, because of their faith, he was worried they would disapprove.

It was a wake-up call for the couple.

Deb holds up a sign reading: "I'm a mom and it's up to me to end LGBT youth homelessness."

"We are practicing Catholics, and outreach is something we have always done in some way or another," Deb wrote in her e-mail. "The truth that rejection seriously hurts our kids is not something the church wants to talk about."

"It is what I would want for my kids if they needed help and had no family to help them." — Deb Word

For Deb and Steve, it was crucial for the kids who lived with them to feel like their house was a home and that they were part of a loving, accepting family. The kids did chores and helped at mealtimes. Many continue to call Deb and Steve "Ma" and "Pop" to this day.

"[One] youth was with us when his mother died. He reconciled with her before she died, but he still carries a lot of baggage. He has moved away, but I hear from him every week, and he comes to visit when he's in town," Deb wrote. "Another of my boys was DADT'd out of the Navy [discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"]. [His] mom didn't know he was coming home or that he was gay. He went thru a really rough period, but is doing great now and back in school with a plan for his future. One of the kids I see every week or so, [is] a trans man who is a great advocate!"

At times, Deb and Steve have struggled to reconcile their religious community and their mission.

"A group I volunteer for, Fortunate Families, is a Catholic group of parents of LGBT kids who help support other parents walk the journey," Deb wrote. "As a group, we were denied an exhibit space at a huge Catholic gathering, (World Meeting of Families) ... Some of the greatest harm to these kids has been done in the name of religion (not God, religion)."

A Fortunate Families booth.

Their work has led to some heartbreaking moments.

"We lost one of our kids a year after he left us. His funeral was one of the hardest things I've ever done," Deb explained, "Parents need to understand the harm that comes from rejection."

But despite the rough moments and heartache, to Deb and Steve, the choice to open their home was an obvious one. Though they have retired from taking in new kids, the couple is currently working with the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center to build a larger shelter for local LGBT kids who need housing and support.

"It is what I would want for my kids if they needed help and had no family to help them," Deb wrote.

And while fostering is a demanding, often complicated job, for Deb, the most important thing they've done for the kids they've helped raise is so simple, it can be summed up in two words:

"Loved them."

Deb Word with one of her foster children.

via Ken Lund / Flickr

The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.

The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.

"One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on 'Homosexual Behavior.' The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code, " the school's statement read.

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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Public Domain

A very simple thing happened earlier this week. Dr. Seuss Enterprises—the company that runs the Dr. Seuss estate and holds the legal rights to his works—announced it will no longer publish six Dr. Seuss children's books because they contain depictions of people that are "hurtful and wrong" (their words). The titles that will no longer be published are And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat's Quizzer.

This simple action prompted a great deal of debate, along with a great deal of disinformation, as people reacted to the story. (Or in many cases, just the headline. It's a thing.)

My article about the announcement (which contains examples of the problematic content that prompted the announcement) led to nearly 3,000 comments on Upworthy's Facebook page. Since many similar comments were made repeatedly, I wanted to address the most common sentiments and questions:

How do we learn from history if we keep erasing it?

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