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"Do it. Just say something. No, don’t. Don’t stare," actress Alyson Stoner wrote of her fumbling, adorable first thoughts while falling for someone new. "Side-hug and leave."

Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

The now-24-year-old was crushing (and crushing hard)on a dance instructor she'd met at a new workshop. There was just one small — well, overwhelming and disorienting — issue: The instructor was a woman. And these new, uncomfortable feelings were puzzling for Stoner, to say the least.


In a powerful new essay in Teen Vogue, the actress and dancer — known for her roles in Disney Channel's "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody," and films like "Cheaper By the Dozen" and the "Step Up" series — reflected on the first time she fell in love with another woman. It's a story that's equal parts heart-wrenching and delightful.

First came all the relatable feelings of irresistible puppy love.

"My heart raced wildly and my body grew hot," the actress wrote, describing a moment when the instructor corrected her form in class. "Was I nervous to fail in front of an expert? Was I breathing heavily from being out of shape?"

But these butterflies, Stoner soon discovered, went far beyond sisterly or platonic love. The train had already left girl crush station.

Stoner has some fun on a red carpet in 2017. Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Awesomeness.

The two women started to hang out outside of class. They began opening up to one another. They Netflixed (and chilled). Pretty soon, it became abundantly clear: "OK, we were in a relationship," Stoner wrote. "I fell in love with a woman."

But, unfortunately, it just wasn't that simple.

Stoner, a person of religious faith, had to unpack many confusing thoughts. She even attempted conversion therapy to avoid embracing these new feelings.

"Like many, I had internalized some of the harmful beliefs and misconceptions about LGBTQ people and identities," Stoner wrote.

She dissected all the factors that could have led her down this road. Was it because she'd experienced abuse from men before? Was it because she was surrounded by open-minded artists and she — even on a subconscious level — wanted a queer identity to help fit in? "Maybe I actually want to be her, and I'm mistaking idolization for romance," she wrote.

Stoner prayed. She turned to reading — both "contemporary and ancient" texts — hoping the words would leap off the page and make it all make sense. She didn't have many queer-affirming voices telling her these feelings were totally normal and perfectly OK.

"Certain pastors and community members tried to reverse and eliminate my attraction to her," she wrote in Teen Vogue.

Conversion therapy — a harmful practice that aims at altering a person's sexual orientation — has been discredited by every mainstream medical and mental health organization in the U.S., according to the Human Rights Campaign. Not only does it not work, but it can lead to depression, anxiety, and suicide for young people at risk.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

"Some people in the industry warned me that I’d ruin my career, miss out on possible jobs, and potentially put my life in danger if I ever came out," Stoner wrote. "My dream and all I’d worked tirelessly for since the age of 6 was suddenly at risk by my being ... true to myself."

Finally, after hitting what felt like rock bottom, things began falling into place for Stoner.

"I’ll never forget the night I finally collapsed on my bed with tear-stained cheeks, saying, 'God, if I’m evil, then I accept this and give up,'" Stoner wrote. "I’ve believed you are loving, but I don’t want to live a lie."

Instead of devastation, however, the breakdown filled her with a sense of hope. She began seeing the world around her — "life, God, love, humanity, and (literally) everything" — in a new light.

"I, Alyson, am attracted to men, women, and people who identify in other ways," she finally felt comfortable proclaiming. "It is the soul that captivates me."

Stoner is one of a growing number of young Americans who feel comfortable coming out as LGBTQ.

According to Gallup analysis published last year, 10 million Americans — or 4.1% of U.S. adults — identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer. That's up from 3.5% in 2012. Millennials, the analysis found, were the most likely age group to identify as LGBTQ, reflecting the growing acceptance of queer Americans — particularly among young people.

Things really are changing for the better, Stoner believes. And if you're wrestling with your sexuality or identity, she's got your back.

"If you’re questioning or struggling with your sexuality, gender identity, or anything else, know that I and so many who’ve gone before us are with you," Stoner wrote. "Whatever your identity, you are lovable and wonderful and enough. I’m on the other side of some of these battles internally, but it’s still a challenge in the outside world. It’s OK. Dare to be yourself anyway." ❤️

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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Education

All-female flight crews known as 'Night Witches' bombed the crap out of Nazi targets in WWII

The Germans were terrified of these pilots whose silent planes swooped in like ghosts.

The Night Witches were feared by the Germans for their stealth bombing runs.

If you like stories of amazing women, buckle up, because this one is a wild ride.

During WWII, the Soviet Air Force's 588th Night Bomber Regiment flew incredibly harrowing missions, bombing Germans with rudimentary biplanes in the dead of night. The Germans called them Nachthexen—"Night Witches"—because the only warning they had before the bombs hit was an ominous whooshing sound akin to a witch's broom.

The "whoosh" sound was due to the fact that the women would cut the planes' engines as they approached, gliding in stealthily before dropping their bombs. And the Night Witches moniker was fitting, considering the fact that the 588th was an all-female regiment.

Their missions were incredibly dangerous, especially considering how the women were equipped. Most of the recruits were in their late teens to mid-20s, and crew members had to learn how to pilot, navigate and maintain the aircraft so they could serve the regiment in any capacity. They underwent an intensive year of training to learn what usually took several years to master.

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This article originally appeared on July 2, 2019


Sadly, a lot of men go out of their way to avoid learning anything about a woman's period.

(That could be why throughout most of the United States — where the majority of lawmakers are men — feminine hygiene products are subject to sales tax.)

So we should give some love to the guys who make an effort to learn a bit about the menstrual cycle so they can help their family members when they're in desperate need of feminine hygiene products.

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