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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.'

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.

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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Arming school personnel as a response to school shootings is a terrible idea.

Every time a school shooting happens, the idea of arming teachers and school administrators gets floated out by folks who believe the NRA mantra, "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." That notion is so ingrained in parts of the American psyche that a common response to repeated mass shootings of schoolchildren in their classrooms is to add more guns to the equation.

I understand the argument being made. If someone already on the scene was armed and prepared to respond to an active shooter without having to wait for law enforcement, perhaps a maniacal killer could be stopped sooner. And if maniacal killers knew that teachers and administrators were likely to be armed, perhaps they wouldn't target schools as much. I get the seeming logic of the idea. I really do.

However, there are several fatal flaws with the argument, starting with the fact that the data simply does not back it up.

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Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

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