More

This 'Parks and Rec' star came out in a powerfully candid must-read essay.

'You're not bad. You're not unholy. You're exactly what God intended you to be.'

This 'Parks and Rec' star came out in a powerfully candid must-read essay.
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

On "Parks and Recreation," Natalie Morales' character, Lucy, was the confident, funny girlfriend every fan was rooting for. Behind closed doors, however, Morales wasn't always the self-assured star she became on screen.

The 32-year-old came out as queer in a new essay for Amy Poehler's Smart Girls. In the powerfully personal piece, Morales discussed the confusion and pain she had to overcome as a teen who found herself attracted to both girls and boys, and why — as an actor who values her privacy — she chose to come out in such a public way.


"I thought I was sick," Morales wrote. "I know I thought something was really wrong with me. I was ashamed and I thought I was dirty."

Falling for another girl in high school was a beautiful thing, Morales recalled, but it also came with an onslaught of shameful feelings.

She continued:

"I knew that the church said it was wrong and that God said it was wrong (even though I couldn’t exactly figure out why, if it wasn’t hurting anyone). I was told bisexuals were degenerates who are selfish and just want the best of both worlds. I was told gay men are fine because they’re funny and have good taste, but lesbian women are wastes of space. I was told the idea of two women kissing was disgusting.”

Now an adult who's more comfortable in her own skin, Morales hopes her own story inspires all of us to act and think differently — whether we're LGBTQ or not.

Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images.

"The reason I decided to share this ... is because even though me telling you I’m queer might not be a big deal these days, things are still pretty bad out there for people like me," she wrote.

"There are gay concentration camps in Chechnya where people are being tortured right this second," Morales noted of the human rights abuses quietly taking place halfway around the world.

You don't have to cross an ocean to see how bigotry causes real harm, though, she noted:

"In our very country, 49 people were killed and 58 people were wounded just last year because they were dancing in a gay club. Our safe spaces are not safe. I think it’s important that I tell you that this familiar face you see on your TV is the Q part of LGBTQ, so that if you didn’t know someone who was queer before, you do now."

Morales' point touches on an important finding: Research shows that when you personally know someone who is LGBTQ, you're far more likely to support their rights. When we see queer people as fully human and deserving of respect, that means fewer stories like the atrocities developing in Chechnya or the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting. Coming out still makes a difference.

"You're not bad," Morales concluded in her essay. "You're not unholy. You're exactly what God intended you to be."

It's a message she wishes she understood a long time ago, Morales said after her essay spread far and wide.

True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

4-year-old New Zealand boy and police share toys.

Sometimes the adorableness of small children is almost too much to take.

According to the New Zealand Police, a 4-year-old called the country's emergency number to report that he had some toys for them—and that's only the first cute thing to happen in this story.

After calling 111 (the New Zealand equivalent to 911), the preschooler told the "police lady" who answered the call that he had some toys for her. "Come over and see them!" he said to her.

The dispatcher asked where he was, and then the boy's father picked up. He explained that the kids' mother was sick and the boy had made the call while he was attending to the other child. After confirming that there was no emergency—all in a remarkably calm exchange—the call was ended. The whole exchange was so sweet and innocent.

But then it went to another level of wholesome. The dispatcher put out a call to the police units asking if anyone was available to go look at the 4-year-old's toys. And an officer responded in the affirmative as if this were a totally normal occurrence.

Keep Reading Show less