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    Kool People Smoke

    Present me a gold star and validate my positive choices for I do not, and have never, smoked a cigarette! Praise me for I am awesome, I am a…

    Hold up a second! If I’m so great for not smoking, why do I so often feel like the rogue friend?

    The majority of my friends are smokers. Eight friends go out to a nightclub, and three don’t smoke, myself included. We’ve all enjoyed a few alcoholic beverages and keen for a night out on the town. After paying for entry to a club, the group as a collective race for the designated smoking area, as I trail behind unaware of the destination. As they flurry to smoke, I ask one of the nonsmokers if he’d like to get a drink instead as the other had already embarked on his choice of passive smoking. But, to my disappointment, I was entirely ditched by my smoking and nonsmoking friends, all of whom huddled in the repulsive vortex of heavy thick smoke with dozens of people squashed amongst the gray clouds. I left and went home.

    A good friend of mine – let’s call him Nut – doesn’t smoke. Nut and I have been friends for a few years, and smoking has never been a topic of discussion. One night Nut goes to a concert with a good friend, who also doesn’t smoke. The three of us catch up a week later at a BBQ, and I almost collapse in shock when I walked outside to see both friends casually smoking. They explained that they had decided to start smoking the week before and bought a pack of smokes at the concert. The year is 2018, and they’re almost 30 years old. Sigh. Am I being too judgemental here?

    My old work colleague, goes for a smoke break for 15 minutes, casually struts back in and sits right next to me. I’m talking hunched over my desk since we’re working on a project together. She absolutely stinks of cigarette smoke! I’m choking, and not in a fun way. And why don’t I get a paid smoke break too?!

    I’ve been abandoned at dinner parties in favour of smoking, the night turning into an unexpected date with just my right hand and I. My list of smoking annoyances feels seemingly endless. Poor little’ol me!

    Why am I so bothered?! I’m born and raised in a little Australian town, and no one in my family has ever smoked. It wasn’t until I turned 18 and moved to the City that I was exposed to secondhand smoke for the first time. In the City, it’s everywhere!

    My opinion is that people that smoke are selfish. Yep, I said it! They walk around leaving a haze of white smoke all over the place for the people around them to breathe in, their tiny cigarette buds get discarded on the ground without any care and then wash into our lakes and oceans. In Australia, the buds are often thrown out car windows and cause wildfires which burn down houses and destroy property. Smoking adds an astronomical cost to government medical expenses, and for those who don’t smoke, passive smoking is so often forced upon them.

    Do I need more nonsmoking friends or am I just being a bit of a douche? My left-hand gets jealous of the right hand… was that an overshare?! Did this just get weird?

    Comment on Twitter to @GayBoyBible and @AuthorJasonS
    Written by Jason Spark
    February 15th, 2019

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    Identity Crisis | What Identity Crisis?

    I often get asked, ‘I bet you can’t remember what life was like before you got them?’ and every time I’ve managed to manifest a smile stipulating agreement, when in reality; of course I still bloody remember!

    We—my partner and I—had a great life. We’d meet in the pub after work on a Friday and cheers the weekend, we would spontaneously book city breaks away and insisted on a holiday at least once a year.

    Making the leap from coupledom to adoptive parents of twin boys is exciting, exhilarating, and wonderful. It’s also exhausting, exasperating, and worrisome; combinations that can be toxic to the romantic relationship that made us want to be parents in the first place. Maintaining a vivacious relationship (and sex-life) post-children takes a lot of time and energy, exactly what we’ve got the least of right now.

    It takes work! Gone is the social norm us gays our renowned for, I mean who knows how to celebrate better than us, and hello parenthood where spontaneity is a thing of the past! Planning and preparation is cool, getting changed and ready in half hour replaces hours spent on skin regimes and hair products, and you are out that door like a bolt once they are settled, after all, babysitter time is precious. We sneak in from nights out like teenagers past curfew not wanting to wake their parents and we grab those moments of passion when we literally can be fucked (excuse the pun!).

    Our relationship has changed, deepened, and our new set of responsibilities brings unseen challenges. We bicker (a lot!) and we have an irrational fear of making decisions on our own, should it be deemed wrong or will (undoubtedly) piss the other off but working on our relationship has paid off in spades.

    I mean, he still can’t make a bed (which drives me mad!) and I choose 06:30 in the morning to decide to voice an unwanted, unnecessary opinion (making him want to kill me!). Yet in the chaos of everyday life we are slowly starting to find calm. You have to, otherwise it can run away with you, and children can run fast, undeterred, unaffected while showing no sign of lacking in energy anytime soon. I don’t run, and as my partner has recently reminded me, I am a really smelly sweater (did I mention you also have to be thick skinned?) so this is a combination not worth thinking about.

    We have learned to cherish those nights in, with a movie and a bottle of red, to channel what would be quite often weekly date nights into every other month and have somehow managed to expend energy growing resentful of each other, and invest it into enjoying one another. We ban, or at least try to, our phones in the evening. FOMO (Fear. Of. Missing. Out) can often take over, especially when scrolling through friends Instagram stories, all of whom have met in your favourite bar, drinking your tipple of choice. Bastards!

    The dynamic of our relationship has changed but so have we, and part of that is still the person we “used to be” and still very much are. It is imperative that we hold on to that. Our children are only four, and are already seriously independent in many ways. If we forget who we were before them, then who are we going to be once they grow up, move out and no longer rely on us? Old. That’s what!

    So yes, we hang on in there as we know that someday, in the not so distant future, we will relive our youth, with slightly more money and legal ID’s and these little sleep thieves, who we love unconditionally, will be worth their weight in date-night-taxi-gold!

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    Why Did I Lie?

    It’s taken me three years to finally step back into the dating world and only two weeks to screw things up with Clark. F*CK!

    I met him back in January, just a week or two after ringing in the new year and managed to create a rocky territory between us as I lied to him. Think of it like this, he and I are in a giant field of sunshine, glitter, and rainbows; there is a severe attraction, but now there’s a giant brick wall dividing us.

    There were three lies I told during that time of us getting to know each other—something I absolutely regret doing. What’s even worse about the whole situation was that I fabricated stories with those lies. In time and him calling me out (insert face slap here) I’ve confessed, spoke the truth, and haven’t done it since.

    The lies I told:

    I’m currently living with roommates.
    I have an AA in Fine Arts.
    My name is Allister Dean.

    The truth:

    After my ex attacked me, my mother and stepdad moved me back in with them, helping me cope with the devastation that entered my life. That was when I was 27.

    I dropped out of college, years ago, as I didn’t have the drive anymore and wished that I stuck it out. I’m thirty and just got back into school obtaining a BA in English as I have found my passion.

    We won’t get into the reason I chose to go by Allister as it pertains to my father. Though, should have brought up my real name in our first meeting. For the record, it’s a preferred name.

    Everyone knows that starting a relationship based off of lies is never good. I’m learning that now as he’s cautiously pulled back and paused certain feelings he has for me. I’ve accepted that.

    In the past, I’ve never lied to any of my boyfriends. By the way, my poker face is terrible and wouldn’t survive gambling. So, why did I start now? Let me tell you why; I was shamefully embarrassed. A thirty-year-old college dropout living with his parents. To me, that screams loser! Now that I’ve had time to overthink it, why did it matter? Frankly, I don’t care anymore about my current situation as my path has been different than most and has led me to new opportunities. Clark could have accepted me or not on our first date and that would have been okay. But, I let my insecurities dictate my actions rather than telling him the truth and explaining everything. Would have been so much easier than having those awkward conversations and looking like a liar.

    I’ve owned up to my mistake, never doing it again. Thankfully, Clark has forgiven me—knowing the difference between an honest mistake and malicious intent—and is willing to move forward, reset, and giving me a chance to prove myself. The trust isn’t completely broken but doesn’t mean it cannot be repaired. I’m going to break down that wall, damn it! I just know it’s going to take time doing so and know that our road will smooth out.

    He’s worth it.

    P.S. This is the year I’ll be moving out, FYI.

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    Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” Reviewed

    Six months ago, Arianators had only three albums in their favorite’s discography. Today, they have five. After an unprecedented double release for an artist of that magnitude, Ariana Grande is at her peak. She has been slowly and steadily moving towards this moment. This slow ascent has helped the 25 year-old singer collect many achievements on the charts, a legacy that prepared her for her latest studio album, Thank U Next.

    Grande’s fifth album comes after the intense success of her last five singles. Her last two have both debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100. Only two other women have checked that achievement off their bucket list: Mariah Carey and Britney Spears. Interestingly, Thank U Next is reminiscent of both of those legendary pop stars. Grande’s vocals are reminiscent of those of the Elusive Chanteuse, and the production style on the album takes a page from one of the most iconic pop albums of all time, Britney Spears’s Blackout.

    Ariana Grande has “cracked the code”

    With a combination like that, Ariana Grande cracked the code. Ariana changed the title of her third album, Dangerous Woman from Moonlight, a track on that album in hopes to depart from her “cute” persona she’d presented in the past. From that point on, the R&B-influenced young star began an upwards momentum to becoming a main pop girl. The unfortunate and tragic Manchester incident changed Ariana’s life and gave us the beautiful tribute “No Tears Left to Cry,” but Ari was still confused.

    Sweetener failed to tie its tracks together, and we heard two artists, one of whom was Pharrell. However, that album was an important stepping stone towards Thank U Next. Sweetener redefined Grande as a risk-taking “no-f*cks-given” kind of girl. The album gave us massive hits and beautiful visuals, but it’s a new era already. Thank U Next provides the “spice” that Sweetener lacked.

    Weirdly autobiographical bops

    Still sweet, Grande’s fifth studio album is bluntly and unapologetically honest. The album includes an element of Ariana’s personality we knew about but have never seen or heard before. The “cute, but will f*ck you up” energy on Thank U Next is real. Having gone through every dark path pop stardom could send a woman on, Ariana Grande is fed up. She’s letting us all know on tracks like “Fake Smile” and “Bad Idea.” The former is an autobiographical take on her daily life as a pop star from the perspective of Ariana, the girl. The latter is a manic withdrawal from it all, sung over an EDM beat with an R&B twist. “Forget about it, forget about him, forget about me,” Ariana sings on the booty call song, and the standout track of the album.

    Music Mirroring Real Life

    Some of Ariana’s personal dramas came to light over the past six months. Grande discusses those on the title track and in other songs like “Needy” and “Bloodline,” a song that is a guaranteed smash hit, and the one with the most commercial potential. Meanwhile, on “Ghostin,” Ari references her late ex boyfriend Mac Miller, both lyrically and by sampling his track “2009.” Possibly Ariana’s best ballad to date, “Ghostin” digs deep and delivers on all fronts. “Ghostin’” is so honest, it is almost uncomfortable to listen to. Ariana herself admitted to fans and to radio host Zach Sang being unable to listen to or perform the song.

    Thank U Next delivered. Really, it busted the door open and gave the gays what they wanted. The album, in simple gay lingo, goes off. Ariana Grande presents a diverse set of songs, linked in terms of story and sound and are all easy to listen to, without any jumps or skips. The album is a cohesive experience and Ariana’s best representation of herself to date.

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    How often do you steal something?

    Be honest! Your friends Netflix account? Perhaps you’re downloading movies from naughty torrent sites? You can tell me, heck my entire country of Australia was partially colonised from British thieves who stole things, their punishment that of being exiled to the other side of the world.

    My theory is that people steal all the time, but of course, they don’t use such an offensive word. Less harsh words are preferred such as “borrow” when they have no intention of returning the item. The work stationery cupboard is always tempting. “I’m just going to borrow this stapler. And maybe a couple of pens”.

    Okay, my turn. I steal from my local KFC. Now, I don’t like to use that word, but there’s no point glossing over the truth. I found an opportunity to take advantage of them due to their negligence and lack of procedure. So now, whenever I get KFC, I score an additional Pepsi and regular chips with extra salt with my meal.

    The truth is, I don’t feel guilty. Not even for a second. Having been a customer of KFC for a ridiculous number of years, the number of times I’ve received mediocre and, on occasion, horrible food, I feel entitled to get a little something for free. Annoyingly, my local KFC is terrible at cooking chips. They’re often brown with a few golden yellow chips mixed in. I pick out the good ones; the rest are thrown away. My little theft is barely worth it!

    Entitled, that’s the keyword. Nowadays we often feel entitled, so we might take (steal!) a little extra of something. Help ourselves when we’re slightly inconvenienced.

    Parents steal all the time. Telling the cinema their precious Jimmy isn’t a teenager so they can avoid paying the adult price. Telling theme parks their children are in fact toddlers. They jump back and forth from being dishonest to stealing, smudging the two together to ease or eliminate any feelings of guilt.

    Everyone does it! At least I think they do. City life is both expensive and competitive; we’re all competing for space trying to survive our concrete jungle, taking from each other on a whim. We might forget our manners when in a queue and ‘accidentally’ cut in front of someone or ‘accidentally’ not see them approaching a parking space that you then claim.

    On Netflix, have you watched the show The Good Place? Well, we’re not going there, we’re destined for the bad place. I’ll save you a seat!

    Am I too harsh and cynical of people?! Or is the truth too blended to recognise the difference between being dishonest and stealing?

    I want to hear from you! What’s your dirty little secret?

    Comment on Twitter to @GayBoyBible and @AuthorJasonS
    Written by Jason Spark
    February 9th, 2019

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    Debbie Downer No More

    Why are we still afraid of love? Why is it that we cave when the person we’re interested in attempts to climb our wall of vulnerability? Whatever happened to #livingmybestlife mantra everybody’s prominently stating—yet, haven’t seen? The bottom line of it all is we’ve given fear control of our love life rather than suppressing it and handing over the reins to happiness. I can protest to this as I’ve placed severe doubt in my relationship, causing a blockade from moving forward—and other barriers I’m owning up to. But, after a day of thinking things through—and Clark (my boyfriend) urging me to do so—helped me realize that I admittedly was a “Debbie Downer” times a million!

    Reflecting back on that day’s conversation leading up to the point of tension—there it was, an insecure negative monkey wrenched comment I threw randomly in our conversation. But why? What kind of gain was I looking to achieve with it? If anything, it was going to be a loss. The more I read that part, the more I realize of why Clark became furious with me—even though he says he wasn’t. If I read that, hell, I would be too!

    So, I took all my insecurities, all my doubts, any negative aspect I might conjure, and no longer gave my fear power of how I honestly felt. I’ve let my past dictate my future, and that’s something I don’t want to have or do. I’ve come to an understanding we might butt heads—hopefully, not too often—but we both want to be a part of each other lives, and I know Clark will talk to me about anything that might need to be voiced and vice versa.

    For February, let go of the fear and don’t worry, GBB has your back and will be providing fantastic love content! Take that leap of faith, you’ll never know when somebody will be reaching back pulling you to the other side.

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    Valentine’s Day Love Letter

    The reflections of light color the wet pavements of the Berlin streets. You can almost feel the presence of a million tiny pink neon hearts in the air. A vintage filter that you can feel more than see characterizes the image. You have to close your eyes to envision this warm coldness. It’s Lover’s Day, Valentine’s.

    My boyfriend is tall and handsome. I adore the contrast his dark hair has with his pale olive skin. He bought supermarket flowers for his mom and he’s lit up a couple of old candles in the kitchen. We keep one Christmas light all year round. It hangs around a painting his sister gave him for his 28th. That light is lit too and it shines along with the candles brighter than the sunlight that fades into shades of gray thanks to the thick blanket of clouds in the February sky. He’s made me coffee. He smiles when he sees me staring at him pointlessly. I caught him at his most ordinary and still found it exciting.

    We’ve come a long way; he moved to Beirut for me, putting his life on hold for three and a half years. Now I’m finishing things up in Beirut, graduating and translating some documents to submit to the embassy for our marriage. It’s my turn to move for him–to be with him. I walk slowly on the squeaking loose wood floor and I make my way to his arms, his chest, his warm closeness and familiarity. We’ve known each other five years and since then, so many fires have cooled down. Our fights don’t cause as much damage, our issues don’t trouble us as much but his embrace is still ablaze.

    He has fought hard for this moment. He picked me, a pretty flower from an ugly garden, and has tended to my blossoming ever since. Nunu, as I call him, spent money to travel back and forth and kept four walls around us whether we were in Berlin or Beirut. My soon-to-be husband provided the warmth it required for a single flower to become a whole garden. He took such a long, treacherous journey for love, and so have I.

    I just came out to my mother, only because I now love someone more than I love her. “I’m sorry mom, you’re the only woman I’ll ever love,” I said to her at the end of the first battle of our ongoing war. He deserves this war. He deserves me being at peace. I’ve set too many fires with my confusion and conflicting identities. It was time for me to stand in the sun and tell everyone I’m not just “special,” I’m queer. I’m special because I’m queer.

    It’s February. We’re watching Drag Race on the iPad and he’s got opinions. He’s full of them. My man is a revolution in human form. He finds a way to make peace in any situation, but he’ll still politely call a couple out for sitting at a table for four when there are four unseated people waiting at the small pizza place closeby. He’s very anti-conflict but somehow managed to stick with me, a walking contradiction. He promises me cats, dogs and babies. I promise him I’ll one day be good enough. Only one of us will keep their promise.

    When I was single, I wondered what would happen after finding love. After I found love, I fought for it and wondered what was next. Now is next, and the answer is vague. This is what happens after you find love; you love. You love without condition and you love without permission.

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    “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

    ― RuPaul

    When I’ve said to friends about giving more self-love I think they thought I meant wanking or the best sex toy to indulge in. It sounds like an idea out the 60s but it’s something we need to do more on a daily basis. 

    Taking the time for us has never been more important just look at the world around us. 

    Whole countries are divided, the UK faces a messy Brexit and the USA under Trump veers from one crisis to the next. Read or watch the news you are more than likely to see some news of an ecologically disaster, abuse of an ethnic group or attack on the LGBT community. Platforms like Twitter have given rise to the social media trolls, which vilify celebrities and everyday people. Grindr recently launched its Kindr initiative to combat the “No Blacks/Asian/Fats/Skinny” profiles.

    Apple recently added a feature that shows and tracks your phone usage throughout the day and week. I coined the term ‘Social Media self harm’ to a friend recently. The time we spend on social media scrolling through faces on Grindr, liking pictures on Instagram and obsessing over who posted what on Facebook. We swipe through faces looking for a connection through a tiny screen but are actually depriving ourselves of anything meaningful. 

    I have added my own which to my shame from the previous week that illustrates my point.

    Rather than the fours I spent on Whatsapp I could of actually gone and seen my friends in person. Being out in the world meeting people surely would give me a more meaningful connection than nine hours trawling Grindr tapping random profiles and ignoring others. 

    Taking time to do real pleasurable things has such a positive effect on our state of mind. Disconnecting from the world as seen through a screen has a real healing effect. Doing things as simple as indulging in your hobbies and interests is going to benefit you. It may sound stupid to advise you to do the things you like but think about when the last time you enjoyed what your passionate about? When after you did something and thought,  “Wow I feel amazing”. The LGBT community sadly has a habit of relying of drugs and alcohol that are temporary highs that don’t last and do more harm than good.

    Whatever it may be do it and enjoy it. The world around brings us down so taking care of YOU really needs your focus. We naturally take care of family and friends but forget to make sure we are happy. Mental health in our community is a real issue I know taking time for us wont solve all problems but it’s a real start in making you feel whole and happier. 

    Agree? Disagree? Lets us know at https://twitter.com/gayboybible

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    Why Do Our Friends Suck?

    It’s not you, it’s me…

    When I receive an invitation from a friend who would like to spend time with me, I’m always grateful. Time is valuable, and we each choose how we spend it. That person chose to spend their time with me. Mind blown!

    They hit the ball to my side of the tennis court, and it’s up to me to hit the ball back. The options are simple; I can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, suggest an alternative or ignore the invitation. Three choices.

    Here’s my problem: I like to think I’m a good person with good manners. Perhaps a side effect from being raised in a small Australian country town and now living in the big shiny city? It’s my mantra to always acknowledge the invitation and thank the person for thinking of me. If I can’t accept, I always suggest an alternative. I never ignore the person, that’s just rude.

    And yet ignoring each other seems to be the norm. The tennis ball arrives, you look at it approaching and keep watching as it bounces away having made no effort to reciprocate. It lands to the side where it stays and is forgotten.

    Technology in all its wonder should make communication easier. Still, people have never felt so isolated. With most technology, we know when the recipient receives your invitation. We know when they read it. And, worst of all, we know when they ignore it. It’s right there; the word ‘seen’, the little blue tick or the little face. That person, your friend, is ignoring you. When did the expectations of society become so low that we ignore each other entirely?

    We create a Facebook event for birthday dinners, a Halloween party or a BBQ and invite twenty friends. Seven see the invitation and ignore you, 5 say maybe (which we all know means either a ‘no’ or ‘I’ll wait for a better offer before I decide’), 4 say yes , 2 say no and 2 don’t receive the invite because not everyone’s life revolves around Facebook (they prefer Instagram). Out of the 4 that say yes, one or even two will cancel. Such is life, I guess?

    As a 34-year-old Aussie, I was fortunate to have grown-up before Facebook, Twitter and the likes ever existed. There was no such thing as posting your whereabouts to make your friends envy you and the only way to ignore someone was to take the phone off the hook. Gasp in Spanish! Side note: Depending on your age you might need to Google ‘take the phone off the hook’.

    Is technology drowning good manners in a pool of social media? You probably didn’t notice your friends feelings, paddling away in the social media pool with little yellow floaties on highlighting their vulnerability, there to ease the pain of rejection from their friends when their invitation is ignored.

    But is it a generational thing? My vote is no. No, it’s not. I feel that in today’s society most of you are waiting and hoping for a better offer than your friends Saturday night celebratory dinner. So you’ll hit ‘maybe’ with little or no intention of actually attending, but you happily “show” interest. For me, it’s the people who hit ‘no’ that I respect the most. At least they’re being honest and not ignoring you!

    But hey, as I said, it’s not you, it’s me. Oh, who am I kidding… it’s you! Why is that? Let’s get talking and find some answers!

    Comment on Twitter to @GayBoyBible and @AuthorJasonS
    Written by Jason Spark
    February 1st, 2019

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    10 Important Moments in LGBTQ History (Part One)

    It’s February which means it’s LGBTQ History month in the UK. A whole month dedicated to educating people about LGBTQ issues throughout history in order to understand where we are, how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. We have it very easy in the UK, despite homophobic and transphobic attacks being on the rise. LGBTQ people are still in a much better position than we were within living memory. 

    Here is a list of ten of the most important moments in LGBTQ history (in no particular order). Just a warning, it’s not all rainbows, love and happiness. We’ve been through a lot to get where we are today and a lot of people have suffered in the fight for equality before us. This list is in their honour.

    10. Stonewall Riots 

    A scene during the 1969 Stonewall riots, as seen in Kate Davis and David Heilbroner’s documentary STONEWALL UPRISING. A First Run Features Release. Photo by Bettye Lane.

    Probably the most iconic of all the moments in this list, the Stonewall Riots all began on the night of 28th June 1969 when police raided the Stonewall Inn, New York. Raids were commonplace and often the Mafia owned bars would bribe the Police to tip them off when the raids were due to occur so that people could be prepared. Arrests were frequently made if someone was found wearing more than one item of clothing belonging to the “opposite gender,” or if people were found in compromising positions. 

    The night of 28th June was different though. There was no tip off and the police raided very late – around 1.20am. A team of undercover police had infiltrated the bar, collected evidence and then called in backup. They operated under the excuse that they had been investigating bootleg alcohol. Nobody knew what had happened until the music died and the lights came up. When the 200 people tried to flee they found the bathrooms, exits and windows blocked. Nobody could escape. 

    The police followed procedure by lining people up and asking to check ID but everyone refused to produce their ID and those in women’s clothing, who would usually be taken to the women’s bathroom for physical checks, resisted. Meanwhile, police confiscated the alcohol and those who had no reason to be arrested were set free and congregated on the streets outside. By the time the police wagon arrived the crowds had multiplied by ten times or more. As the Mafia owners were escorted out and placed in the vans, the crowds began chanting “Gay Power!”

    Moments later, police dragged a handcuffed woman into the street. She shouted about how tight the cuffs were and fought off four police officers who eventually caught her and hit her over the head with a baton. She screamed “Why don’t you guys do something?!” 

    Enough was enough. It was time to stand up. Rumour has it that Marsha P. Johnson, a black, transgender, sex worker, a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and one of New York’s most popular people in the gay and arts scenes, was the first to fight back. However, Johnson always maintained that she didn’t arrive until 2am when the riots were already well underway and the building was on fire.

    The Stonewall riots lasted for six days and are now widely recognised as a major turning point in LGBTQ history and are a symbol of our strength and resistance. 

    9. Pride Marches

    Gilbert Baker (1951-2017), creator of the Pride flag.

    The Stonewall riots were undeniably a turning point in the fight for LGBT visibility and the following year on 27th June, Chicago Gay Liberation led a march to celebrate the anniversary of Stonewall. They held it on a Saturday to coincide with Stonewall riots kicking off on the last Saturday of June. They also wanted the impact of their message to reach as many shoppers as they possibly could on that busy weekend afternoon. 

    The following day in New York, activists in the city organised their own parade which became known as Christopher Street Liberation Day. 

    In the following years, more marches began to appear in different cities and existing marches saw more people join in. While the marches were allowed to happen it was still a dangerous thing to be part of. Those who marched, especially in American parades, risked everything if they were spotted and recognised by family or co-workers. They could lose jobs, family, friends, homes. 

    It wasn’t until 1978 that our iconic rainbow flag was designed by artist Gilbert Baker. He was challenged by Harvey Milk to create a “Symbol of Pride” to represent the community. 

    Baker created a rainbow that was initially different to the one we know today. Originally there were meant to be eight stripes. Hot pink (which represented sex and sexuality) was removed as the fabric was too expensive to create. Turquoise (which represented magic and art) was removed in 1979 when organisers of the Gay Freedom Day parade wanted to fly the flag in two halve at either side of the street. Seven stripes couldn’t be split evenly so one had to go. 

    The six remaining stripes have become the iconic flag we fly today. Their colours represent:
    Red for life.

    Orange for healing. 

    Yellow for sunshine.

    Green for nature. 

    Indigo for serenity

    Violet for spirit. 

    These stripes all represent aspects of humanity regardless of background, age, race, culture, gender or sexuality. It encompasses everyone and is a beautiful, colourful representation of our community. 

    8. Decriminalisation of Homosexuality

    The Sexual Offences Act 1967 allowed gay men to practice homosexuality in private as long as they were over the age of 21.

    Homosexuality had been punishable by death from 1563 up until 1861. However, the last execution took place on 27th November 1835 when James Pratt and John Smith were hanged at Newgate.

    In the century or so years that followed after homosexuality was no longer punishable by death, things were still brutal and a prison sentence was bestowed upon the men caught in the act. Men found guilty were shamed, disowned by family, etc. Those who were brave enough to be open lived dangerous lives on the line of being open while not giving any evidence to be found guilty of a crime. Famous examples of men who were very open include Christopher Isherwood, W. H. Auden, Quentin Crisp and Oscar Wilde. 

    It wasn’t until 1967, when the Sexual Offences Bill 1967 passed, that homosexuality between two men of the age 21 and over and in private was decriminalised in England and Wales. Scotland and Ireland followed later. It wasn’t until 1994 that the age of consent of gay men was lowered to 18. In 2000 it was finally lowered to 16 to meet the standard age of consent for straight couples.

    Alan Turing, a British war hero, was found guilty of homosexuality in the 1950’s. Alan, whose work with the enigma machines arguably won us the war, was given a choice between imprisonment or treatment. He chose the treatment which came as the form of chemical castration and he was forced to have synthetic oestrogen injections for a year. The result of the treatment was impotence and gynaecomastia in which the breast tissue increases. Alan was stripped of his GCHQ security clearance and was even refused entry to the USA based on his conviction of homosexuality. Sadly, Alan died in 1954. It has been speculated that he poisoned himself with a cyanide laced apple, whereas others believe it was an accident. On Christmas Eve 2013 Queen Elizabeth II signed a posthumous pardon which she made public in 2014.

    This led to Human Rights advocate Peter Tatchell writing to Prime Minister, David Cameron. Mr. Tatchell felt it was unfair that Turing was singled out because of his status and notable achievements, when thousands of people had been convicted of similar crimes. This observation led to the informally named Turing Law which passed in 2016. The law pardoned men who had been convicted of historic crimes regarding homosexuality in England and Wales. 

    Strangely enough relationships between two women were never criminalised. 

    Sadly laws that criminalise homosexuality are still in effect around the world today. Our ancient laws still apply in 70% of the Commonwealth (former British colonies). These laws allow homophobia to remain rampant in those countries but the severity of punishment often depends on the country. In 2017 the UK Home Office said that while Jamaica is a regarded homophobic society, “authorities do not actively seek to prosecute LGBT persons,” while places like Uganda, Nigeria and other parts of Africa have strengthened their laws and even changed them. While the original British law only applied to men, these countries apply it to women too.

    As of January 2019 there are still 73 countries in the world where it is illegal to be LGBT.  You can learn more about them out here.

    However, there is a bright side. India has recently overturned some of these laws left over from British rule. While being LGBTQ over there isn’t enough to land you a life prison sentence, there is still no equal marriage but that will likely come in time. 

    7. Declassification as a Mental Illness

    Homosexuality was decriminalised in the 1960’s in the UK but doctors and psychologists argued for decades about classification as a mental illness. It wasn’t until 1992, that the World Health Organisation declassified it as a “Mental illness.”

    As with most “illnesses” there were attempts at cures. Electro-shock therapy. Aversion therapy, Gay Cure therapy. There are many names for many types of torture based in “pseudoscience” or “religion.” Thankfully, it has become a well known fact that these “cures” do not work and are in fact dangerous to the individuals put through them. The sad truth is that many families, often under the influence of religion, believe that they can help their children by pushing them through this. However, medical professionals have given absolutely no proof that it can work and most now stand against the abhorrent practice.

    Examples of “treatment” include making subjects endure electric shocks. One treatment involves drinking a solution that makes them throw up, while being forced to watch gay porn. Some make people pray and even undergo exorcisms. Some have to attend their own pretend funerals while people read eulogies describing their death from AIDs. Those in control play horrendous psychological games on their patient. They coerce people into abiding by rules which enforce strict gender stereotypes under the impression that they can change themselves. They are even told what they can and can’t wear, watch, read or listen to.

    These practices are intense and are designed to break the victims. As a result, lots of young, vulnerable people are driven to depression and even suicide by this torture.

    The UK have made steps to ban the controversial therapy. The NHS does not offer any kind of conversion therapy and, rightfully, even condemns it. In the USA, things are more complex between the individual states but New York has just banned the practice in the last few weeks. 

    The subject of conversion therapy is currently topical due to the release of the film, Boy Erased. The film is a Hollywood adaptation of the memoirs of Garrard Conley who was forced to go through conversion therapy. His story isn’t singular. It’s one of many and according to research over 700,000 adults have been through the same thing.

    6. Queer As Folk

    Cast of Queer As Folk UK: (Left to Right) Charlie Hunnam, Aiden Gillen and Craig Kelly.

    Following on with the theme of representation in the media, Queer as Folk was a shocking landmark in LGBT representation on television. First aired in 1999, on Channel 4, its frank openness and its graphic portrayal of the Manchester gay village and homosexuality at the end of the 20th century was bound to ruffle a few feathers. 

    Russell T Davies, who later brought back Doctor Who, created the iconic program. Queer As Folk opened the public’s eyes to queer issues and drew parallels to the straight world by being as graphic as any romance between a man and a woman would be. Granted, it can make for an uncomfortable watch at times (Nathan being underage and all) but its status cannot be denied.

    The reason the show did so well was because we cared about the characters and their mis-adventures. We both loved to hate and hated to love Stuart. We wanted Vince to find his Prince Charming and we rooted for Nathan when he stuck up for himself against bullies at school. QAF wasn’t just about the sex. It was about the people. It was for this reason that America followed up with their own successful adaptation. The American version retained a lot of the original for the first two seasons but went on its own direction after. It managed to always remain relevant and keep its heart which in turn earned it a lot of love.

    In 2015 RTD followed up with Cucumber, Banana and Tofu: Three separate series that ran parallel. Cucumber followed Henry and his relationship (and breakup) with Lance as well as a host of other characters around them. It dealt with modern, difficult subjects like threesomes, sexual fluidity, pursuing straight men which ended in one of the most harrowing scenes in TV history. It is one that still gives me nightmares and makes me sick to the stomach 4 years later. Banana was a spin off series which gave the spotlight to the supporting characters of Cucumber. Tofu was a short, very frank, documentary series about sex. 

    Most recently Russell was the man behind A Very British Scandal which followed the story of Jeremy Thorpe (Liberal MP) and his secret relationship with Norman Josiffe which ends up very dramatic and very public. 

    This brings us to the end of part one of the Top 10 Important Moments in LGBTQ History. Don’t forget to check back for Part two to learn more. In the meantime, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date on all the latest news and gossip.

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    Getting used to being a husband.

    My partner and I got married in November.

    We wanted to tie the knot in November as our actual anniversary, the first time we got together, was during that month. We’ve been together for twenty-eight years.

    All through last year I understood the term ‘wedding jitters’. I had irrational dreams where no one would show up, just because our national postal service didn’t deliver all the invitations.

    I freaked out when I found out we only paid for one lead singer of the band we hired, instead of two. It was the female vocalist that sold us on the YouTube videos. In the end the band were brilliant with just the male singer.

    Then the big day arrived.

    We had a cocktail party rather than a sit down wedding. Our ceremony started ninety minutes into the event so that the sun would be setting as we said “I do”. A bubbly friend was our celebrant. Other friends read letters of love we wrote to each other.

    Then it got political.

    An eleven year old read a beautiful piece she wrote for the occasion. She referenced the battle Oscar Wilde had with society not accepting his type of love. With a cheer from the guests, she championed us for winning the fight for marriage equality.

    Later, two family members welcomed Warren and I to each others’ families. They both found this task hard. As one said, “How do you welcome someone into your family when you already consider them family?”

    A long term relationship is a wonderful thing.

    Warren and I have argued, loved, fought, then loved some more over our three decades together. He became emotional during the ceremony. I didn’t. Ten minutes before the official part, I relaxed, leaving the jitters behind.

    Now a ring clanks on the gear-stick when I drive, reminding me I’m married. And I need this reminder. I’ve been with him for more than half my life. The fact that I’m married is finally sinking in.

    I’m a husband. Not just a partner. And although we’ve referred to each other as husbands before, now we actually are. Something’s happened that’s more than a signature on a legal document. There’s a connection we have that’s different to the one we had before.

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    SEX Q&A

    Q_Foreplay, for me, is much more intimate than sex. Is that strange?

    A_Think of it like this; you’re at a restaurant, and you want to order appetizers to get you started before getting your main course—same thing here. You want to enjoy the build-up before the main course. It’s not strange, to say the least.

    Q_Is there a way I can clean up after sex, so I can get back to cuddling quickly?

    A_What I find best is having moist towelettes or baby wipes in your nightstand. Compact, easy to use, and isn’t going to make a huge mess when done cleaning up. That way you don’t have to worry about getting up and grabbing a hand towel from the bathroom.

    Q_Is there a sensitive spot I can lick during a BJ to up the wow factor?

    A_The head of the penis usually hits the spot. As you’re going down on your guy, use your tongue to lick the urethral orifice aka “the slit.” Doing this will enhance the tenderness. If your partner has a foreskin, he’ll experience more sensitivity in the glans. Remember, some guys are much more tender than others.

    Q_Can a penis pump really help with my erection?

    A_Yes! “The pump can help improve erections preserving erectile function by oxygenating the penile tissues and enhancing blood flow to the penis. The pump keeps blood circulating, responding to better erectile health,” says prostate.net

    Q_Are there any lubes that won’t cause a burning sensation?

    A_You’re preaching to choir, sister! I’m a lube stickler and won’t use certain brands. I’m finding that ID GLIDE works best creating that slip and slide effect we all want to achieve without any of the uncomfortable burns that follow.


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    Mental health for the new year

    “The destination is on your right,” said the robotic voice from Google Maps. I look out the passenger window, only to see a forest of uniform pine trees, each stretching out from the ground, perfectly straight. My hands begin slipping as I guide the steering wheel to the right. My fingers bump into each other as I roll down the window for fresh air. The dirt trail through the woods leads to a large building. The tall walls, sharp spires, and stained glass encouraged humility. I walked toward the front doors, leaving my lonely car behind. The smell of incense and old furniture crept into my skin, transporting me to a grandmother’s home. While the lobby was silent, my mind was screaming. From the back room appears a man. Wearing his all-black ensemble and signature white collar-piece, he motions me to follow him. The absence of light and abundance of crucifixes decorated the long hallway, until we reach his chambers.

    Eventually, these “therapies” wore me down. The guilt of not being the perfect son, the anxiety caused by an unaccepting home, and the depression of thinking about my future became too much to carry. Staring at my grey bedroom ceiling, I wonder if things would ever get better. Those cheery YouTube videos, promising of a better post-coming-out future, fizzle in the background as I realized two years have elapsed and they still believe I can be changed. But maybe this year will be different.

    After the champagne is popped and party winds down, the new year offers a chance to begin anew. Fitness regimens, eating habits, and travel plans commonly shine as resolutions. Mental health resolutions, on the other hand, do not receive the same glamourous attention. For the new year, releasing the guilt and anxiety tops my list. According to the Dictionary, there are two definitions for “resolution”:

    1. A firm decision to do or not to do something
    2. The action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter

    Vowing to follow the latest fad diet, traveling to an Instagrammable location, or learning a new professional skill could fall into the first category, it is a decision to do something. The second definition, however, asks the resolution-maker to solve a problem. Problem-solving takes effort, mental fatigue, and heart. Identifying the problem, researching ways to solve it, and knowing when to ask for help is a tiresome process.

    Resolving mental health issues is a complex resolution, but I am ready for that next step. Letting go of the negative feelings from the past two years will not fit neatly onto a calendar, but the payoff will be worth it. Mental health issues disporportionally affect the LGBTQ community, and finding help can be the most beneficial action. Starting 2019 with a problem-solving resolution sets the tone for an optimistic year, even if the anxious voice in my head tells me otherwise.

    If you’re looking for some helpful LGBTQ resources to start off this year, I’ve listed a few below. Cheers to 2019!

    1. The Trevor Project: provides a suicide-prevention hotline for LGBTQ youth. Callers speak to trained counselors in confidence. The Trevor Project also offers volunteering opportunities and other events for the LGBTQ community.
    2. Find an LGBTQ therapist: Therapy can be intimidating, especially if your therapist isn’t experienced with LGBTQ issues. Psychology Today has a database of LGBTQ therapists. All you need to do is plug in your location, and the database will find therapists in your area.
    3. Find a local LGBTQ center: Want to join your local LGBTQ community, but not sure how? The GLBT National Resource Database contains information about LGBTQ clubs and organizations in your area. From sports leagues, community centers, and more, this database can help you connect with your community.
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    6 Signs He’s Totally Into You

    Hello, my name is Allister, and I’m an overthinker. What that accurately means is that I read way too much into text messages, conversations, or any other forms of interaction at the beginning of the relationship. Everyone does it—however, my overthinking tends to be a bit more predominant than average. Don’t worry gent’s; if you start to head down that unsure road, keep a lookout for these clear cut signs to ease your mind that he indeed does like you.

    1Finds Any Excuse To Touch You
    Believe me, if he didn’t like you he wouldn’t want to give you the wrong impression like touching your shoulder or grazing his fingers along a tattoo you have—which my guy did to me on our first date. For myself, it was a bit more extreme by picking him up and putting him over my shoulder. Got him laughing.

    2Makes Eye Contact
    According to Wellesley College and the University of Kansas, men who are romantically interested would stare at that person’s head or chest frequently. If they weren’t they would just stare at legs and feet.

    3Compliments You On A Daily
    It may be embarrassing to hear how attractive you are—even though you may disagree—take the compliment because it’s how he sees you. Plus, it’s genuine.

    4Teases You—A Lot
    There’s no malicious intent here; remember back in elementary days when boys would pick on other kids they liked—it’s a visible sign of endearment from him. Means that he’s comfortable enough to poke fun at your expense knowingly he can get away with it. Plus, if you can tease him back, it’s a large sign of chemistry between the two of you.

    5Connects On Social Media
    Over time, the exchange of social media will happen. He’ll probably dig deep into your past posts and liking the ones that catch his eye or commenting. Yes, you can breathe, he digs you. For myself, my guy decided to make a big announcement posting it on his Instastory saying, “In case you missed the hashtag…#BOYFRIEND.”

    6 Brings Up Being Exclusive
    The mightiest sign above all. If the guy you’re seeing suggests only wanting to see you—deleting said app if you met on one—then any worries you have should melt away leaving you with utter romantic bliss.

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    Top 20 Albums of the 2010’s

    Since we’ve listed some of our favorite songs this decade, it was only right to make a list of our favorite albums. Here they are:

    20. The Truth About Love – P!nk

    After her late 2000’s rebirth, P!nk became a main topic when it came to pop music. Her 10 year anniversary compilation album, Greatest Hits… So Far!!!, spawned two massive hit singles. The pressure was on. The Truth About Love dove into P!nk’s personal journey, as did most of her previous work. At that point, the singer was dealing with rehabilitating her marriage and becoming a mother. The album reflects those topics boldly, beautifully and with a specific edginess only P!nk can offer.

    Best tracks: “Try,” “The Truth About Love” and “Here Comes the Weekend.”

    19. Dangerous Woman – Ariana Grande

    For Dangerous Woman, Grande tapped into a specific genre of iconic pop music that we’ve only heard through albums like Blackout before. It’s not necessarily the style, rather the substance. Daring, in-your-face and simply iconic, Dangerous Woman covers all the elements of great pop. Its diverse experimentation allowed Grande to reach different audiences and solidified her status while simultaneously setting her apart from other ex-acts who struggled to transition from teen pop stars to main pop girls.

    Best tracks: “Moonlight,” “Into You” and “Touch It.”

    18. Here – Alicia Keys

    Alicia Keys never shied away from tackling issues black women face. On Here, however, the powerhouse delivers the essence of her message in music. Here is a raw musical experience lyrically, thematically and vocally.

    Best tracks: “Hallelujah,” “Holy War” and “Illusion of Bliss.”

    17. Prism – Katy Perry

    Prism is one of the biggest albums of the decade commercially. Not only does it host massive bangers like “Dark Horse” and “Roar,” but it also shows Katy Perry in vulnerable images we’ve seen very rarely prior.

    Best tracks: “Unconditionally,” “Legendary Lovers” and “Walking on Air.”

    16. All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend – Aurora

    Aurora takes listeners on a bizarre fantasy on her 2016 debut. Elements of Björk and Sia appear on Demons, but it’s an Aurora experience all in all.

    Best tracks: “Runaway,” “Warrior” and “Wisdom Cries.”

    15. Halcyon / Halcyon Days – Ellie Goulding

    Goulding’s “Lights” success made the singer herself fear that her debut might overshadow her 2012 masterpiece, Halcyon. Packed with organic sounds and vocals, the sophomore effort from BBC’s Sound of 2010 winner is a highlight of the 2010’s. Its subsequent re-release, Halcyon Days, included global hit “Burn,” which proved Goulding’s versatility and hit-making abilities.

    Best songs: “I Know You Care,” “Only You” and “Goodness Gracious.”

    14. Art Angels – Grimes

    Grimes offers one of the best listening experiences of the decade. Her rock-driven take on electronica is innovative and exciting. The feisty rocker breaks all the rules with Art Angels, proving there are no rules when it comes to catchy music.

    Best tracks: “Kill V. Maim,” “Pin” and “Venus Fly.”

    13. Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded / The Re-Up – Nicki Minaj

    In 2012, Minaj’s album titles were a bit confusing. To be clear, this was her second album and its subsequent re-release. In this era, one of the biggest rappers of the decade experimented with dance-pop and midtempo ballads.

    Best tracks: “I’m Legit,” “Up in Flames” and “Pound the Alarm.”

    12. Anti – Rihanna

    After struggling to build a solid theme for an album for many years, newly-crowned queen of pop Rihanna surprise-drops her best album, Anti.

    Best tracks: “Love on the Brain,” “Consideration” and “Higher.”

    11. Cheers to the Fall – Andra Day

    This vocal masterpiece experiments with retro funk and soul elements and concludes with “Rise Up,” a beautifully pain-filled ballad.

    Best tracks: “Mistakes,” “Goodbye Goodnight” and “Rise Up.”

    10. The Blessed Unrest – Sara Barreiles

    The time period that inspired Sara Bareilles’s fourth studio album was difficult. The “Love Song” hitmaker took these liabilities and turned them into blessings, as indicated in the album’s title.

    Best tracks: “1000 Times,” “I Choose You” and “Satellite Call.”

    09. 1989 – Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift could have worn a blindfold and randomly selected any song from the track list of 1989 and it would have been a massive hit. That’s how good this album is.

    Best tracks: “All You Had to Do Was Stay,” “Wildest Dreams” and “Style.”

    08. BEYONCÉ – Beyoncé

    The surprise release of BEYONCÉ was the first of its kind. It was a well-timed move that made the iconic album remembered forever for more than its great content both in the audio and video departments.

    Best tracks: “Blow,” “Heaven” and “Partition.”

    07. Red – Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift ruled the States with her country pop material. Her full transition to pop hit once so far (1989) and sort of missed once (Reputation). Her experiment of compromising between both country and pop on Red was her most impactful move so far. Red offered the best of both worlds, giving us bops like “I Knew You Were Trouble,” as well as heartfelt classics like “All Too Well.”

    Best tracks: “All Too Well,” “Holy Ground” and “Begin Again.”

    06. Born To Die / Paradise – Lana Del Rey

    Laban Del Rey redifined herself as a rocker chick after the groundbreaking success of her debut album. For Born to Die, however, she unintentionally redefined pop music. Thanks to this album, along with other work by Florence + The Machine, pop married indie music. The doors were wide open for the likes of Lorde and Melanie Martinez afterwards. The album is perhaps one of the most iconic debuts ever thanks to its bluntly honest lyrical and thematic content and its bizarre yet welcome twist on pop.

    Best tracks: “Off to the Races,” “Lucky Ones” and “Gods and Monsters.”

    05. A Seat at the Table — Solange

    Tired of social injustice and society’s negligence of the black woman, Solange delivers a Grammy-winning continuous concept listen. The songs on A Seat at the Table are connected with necessary interludes that intensify the complexity of this glorious body of work:

    Best tracks: “Cranes in the Sky,” “Mad” and “Don’t Wish Me Well.”

    04. 21 – Adele

    Arguably the best album of the 2010’s, 21 is the decade’s most brilliant success story. At a time when the trend was to break boundaries in terms of the pop video, Adele sat on a chair and let her vocals do it all. The results were mind-blowing. A vocalist who did not rely at all on any shticks or stunts sent three songs to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. She sold 5+ million units in the U.S. alone before the album cycle was even done. Adele’s 21 is now the go-to breakup album of the century and one of the most decorated records of all time.

    Best tracks: “Rolling in the Deep,” “Set Fire to the Rain,” “One and Only” and “Someone Like You.”

    03. Melodrama – Lorde

    Melodrama describes the intertwining events of one party night. Its content is accurately representative of young lovers’ thought processes when it comes to love, heartbreak and anxiety. Lorde takes listeners on a ride the ups and downs of which are filled with dramatic melodies and poetic lyrics.

    Best tracks: “Sober,” “Homemade Dynamite,” “The Louvre,” “Liability” and “Writer in the Dark.”

    02. Born This Way – Lady Gaga

    When Lady Gaga released Born This Way, she put a lot at stake for the sole purpose of giving her gay fan base what they needed. Lead by one of the most popular gay anthems of all time, Gaga’s second album treated every song like a number one hit. During the album’s pre-release promo, Gaga seemed passionate about every song on Born This Way. When “Judas” came, the unnecessary controversy followed. Afterwards, in series of unfortunate events, the Born This Way era drowned near the end due to Lady Gaga’s hip injury and some professional relationships falling out.

    Ultimately, however, the album is still engraved in the heart of pop as one of the most beloved albums.

    Best tracks: “Marry the Night,” “Hair,” “The Edge of Glory” and “Scheiße.”

    01. Electra Heart – Marina & The Diamonds

    Marina Diamandis’s second studio effort is the best constructed, most well-thought and most meticulously promoted album this decade. Electra Heart tells a story with its songs. What’s more is that this album is part of a bigger puzzle that is Marina’s incredible discography.

    In 2010, the Welsh singer-songwriter released The Family Jewels, her debut album. It dealt with her decision to become a singer, her family’s reaction to that decision and the expectations that followed. Electra Heart crafts a continuation to its honest predecessor, but frames it with pop lies. The sophomore album is a story about a desperate search for identity within what American culture told women they could be. Sarcastically, Marina wears every stereotypical personality and delivers tracks from the blurred perspective of each character. The move was to commercialize the music in the U.S.while still maintaining Marina’s socio-critical attitude in music.

    Electra Heart’s genius makes even more sense in the context of Marina’s full discography. Heart’s final bow was dying. The final video from the era was for the unreleased title track, where Electra Heart looks at all the characters she’d presented, cuts off half her hair and ultimately, subtly wipes off the iconic heart-shaped beauty mark on her cheek. Diamandis kills off the problematic character in the very look she’d present herself in her next era, Froot. The third album was about rebirth, thus the genius.

    These thought-out subtleties are what makes pop music iconic. Electra Heart not only checks every box, but also creates new standards for what the words “iconic” and “pop” means.

    Also, every song on Electra Heart is phenomenal.

    What are you favorite albums this decade? Let us know on twitter @GayBoyBible and @SoWhatBlowMe

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    January 2019 GBB Featured Interview — Jake Dupree

    You’re probably asking yourself, “Where the hell have I seen this blonde bombshell before?” Let me give you a couple of hints; glitter, sassy, & mythical. Give up? Jake Dupree is none other than Cosmopolitan’s fabulous Glitter Fantasy. Jake though, is much more than the sassy unicorn we’ve come to love and adore.

    Photo Credit: Cosmopolitan.com

    Photo Credit: Jackdupree.com

    Allister Dean: Glitter Fantasy. How did you come up with that character?

    Jake Dupree: Well, it was a collaboration between myself and Cosmopolitan. They were looking for a unicorn correspondent, and a good friend of mine asked me if I wanted to do that. We didn’t know going in what the character was going to be like; they allowed me to play and what we got was what we got. It was really fun just to be this sassy ridiculous version of myself. It was just awesome to make people laugh. It was kind like “say it” meets “luck” meets “bullshit.”

    AD: Did you have any idea Glitter Fantasy would have blown up the way it did?

    JD: No! Certainly not! I mean, when we did the first video of it, we always visioned it to be this one-time thing, and it turned it to this whole thing. We were just like, “let’s go with it.” It was awesome, still cannot believe that it happened. It was great.

    AD: You have a twin brother, has anybody ever come up to him thinking he was glitter fantasy?

    JD: It actually happens to him a lot. He’s also gay, and when he goes out people will ask, “Are you the unicorn?” He would go, “No, but your not far off.” It was really funny; he used to live in Tulsa, Ok last year and now he lives in Austin, Tx—I flew in there for Christmas and drove back to Arkansas together, people were coming up to me while in this bar asking, “Are you the unicorn?” It was just so weird and amazing at the same time.

    AD: Besides becoming a unicorn, how did feel becoming a merman?

    JD: I will say I love unicorns, but, mermaids have always been my favorite thing and have loved them since I was a little kid. I have them in my apartment—tasteful amounts of mermaids. A good friend of mine bought me for my birthday mermaid school a few years ago, and I was like this is the best news that’s ever happened to me. Showing up, it’s me and seven-year-old girls in this pool along with these amazing women teaching how to swim like a mermaid. There are all these games and silly stuff, but after I got done with that mermaid school, the woman who runs the company asked me if I was a professional swimmer and I was like noooo, this is the moment I have been waiting for my entire life. So, its just perfect. I needed to be here in this pool right now for this moment. Then she asked me if I wanted to work with her company and do different things and from there, that’s how I’ve been able to wear a few tails, which is awesome!

    AD: Spill! Is the burlesque show you’re in anything like what Cher or Christina portrayed it to be?

    JD: I love Cher and Christina, but that movie—I love the movie—is not burlesque, they don’t even take off clothes. They’re just wearing like lingerie. The point of burlesque is to take off things—they didn’t take off anything. There are some discrepancies, but I love the movie because it’s so ridiculous and insane. But, it should be called “dancing in lingerie” not burlesque.

    AD: Do you come up with your costumes or is there a designer behind the scenes?

    JD: I actually do come up with most of my costumes myself and my best friend that I live with. She is like my wife, my creative consultant, my creative director; she’ll find stuff, and I’ll find stuff, and all the things that are sparkly, I rhinestone myself—so, I sit there and place each single stone on it, which is awesome. However, I’ve had a few companies that I sort of have a working relationship with that will send me lingerie which has been fun to cultivate that relationship with people. A lot of it’s just me finding things—I also sew. So, like the bigger clothed items pants, shirts, vests, stuff like that I will sew.

    AD: How does it feel blurring the masc. and fem. line in the show?

    JD: This is like my goal in life to represent that line. I always like to say it’s bold and daring, also confusing and titillating in a way. I love that line of making people be like, “should I be attracted to this?” “Am I attracted to this?” “Is this weird?” “Is this hot?” I love that. I think that it’s fun just to confuse people. I’ve always found that—even as a kid, I’ve always liked the aspect of drag. For me, I never related to the female illusion side of that; I just liked the glamour and so, finding boylesque in a way has been allowing me to blur that line of showing off my body like, “it’s a dude?” and having the lingerie on like, “is it a woman?” and find it really sexy.

    AD: You turned thirty back in April of last year, how has that first year of this age bracket treated you?

    JD: I love thirty! It was one of the best years of my life. I allowed myself to finally do the things I wanted to do and not care what anybody else thought about it. I don’t want to say I’ve wasted my twenties because wasted is a strong word, but I think there were some times where I wish I would have allowed myself to go after some of the things I really wanted to do. But, I was afraid of what other people would think—like they thought it was weird and that would limit me. Now, if there is something that scares me that I want to do, I do it. I tribute that to just age and being wiser than I was. My family has this saying, “Life is super short but, it’s also very long if you’re doing things that don’t make you happy.” That’s where I am in my life. If I want to parade around in lingerie and look like a silly prostitute, I’m going to do it. If I’m going to do a backflip in heels and thong, you better believe I’m going to do it.

    AD: If you could have a conversation with your twenty-self, what would say?

    JD: I would say, don’t be afraid to express yourself the way you want to. I know it all takes time and we’re all on a journey. However, I wish I would have been kinder to myself and experience things the way I wanted to. I think that’s the biggest thing I would say, and also be single. In my twenties, I was in three long term relationships, and was concerned about what they would think about the things I was doing, and that would limit me as well. I need the confidence and self-love I have now, then.

    AD: If you weren’t doing fitness or burlesque, what would you be doing instead?

    JD: I’ve actually thought about this a lot because there was time right before I got the unicorn opportunity, I was going to give up and go back to school—like give up performing and go for fashion design. My scholarship to college was in fashion and painting but ended up in dance. There have been those thoughts of what if I had done dance—what if I would have gone after that. And so, fashion design is what I would be doing.

    You can catch Jake and his burlesque performance with Dita Von Teese at The Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood from the end of January 2019 thru April 2019.



    Jake Dupree


    My best friend, Jorgen.

    Fred Astaire.

    His dancing and poise.

    A take burlesque dance class.

    Make me laugh.


    Learning self-love.

    Unsupportive of what I do.

    Are you a bottom?

  • in

    4 Signs It’s Time To Break Up With Your Friend

    Intelligent people tend to have less friends than the average person. The smarter you are, the more selective you become.


    Just like any romantic relationship, friendships aren’t always forever (pass the cookie dough, please.) At times it may be easy when both parties realize the two of you no longer have anything in common and there are others—you’ve shared many memories with—that become toxic. It’s hard to let them go, but necessary.

    One-Sided or Lack of Contribution
    There’s a saying—in order to get, you have to give. Effort should be made on both sides. Key signs to look out for: your friend never starts a conversation or initiate plans—often claims to be busy to hang out.

    My Experience: I had reached out to Roy* through Facebook multiple times asking how he’s been and vice-versa. Anytime I would initiate plans he would say, “I’m really busy or let me check to see if I have anything planned.” Giving Roy* benefit of the doubt, I came across a post—the next day—from one of his friends she tagged him in making arrangements with him to go bowling. Roy* accepted the invite. That’s when I knew it was one-sided.

    Uses You More Like A Therapist
    Being there for someone during a difficult time is the best medicine for our friends. Over time, they’ll get over it and appreciate you in the long run. In return, will be standing by for when you need them. Key signs to look out for: wants to hang out 5 to 6 times a week, giving you the impression of doing something fun when really its just another coffee and couch confessional.

    My Experience: Mindy* was a good friend—until Tinder got in the way. One minute she was fine and the next she would be in tears over the very guy. I have other friends who are in and out of relationships regularly. They understood when one was just a fling—not worth another second of their time and one that needed to be talked out—getting a different perspective. Mindy would constantly ask to hang out and I would agree. By the time she would come over or at her place, the two of us would be on the couch discussing why she can’t find love or why guys can’t be honest about their intentions.

    The Past Is The Only Present
    We all have friends who have been a big part of lives and were there for a majority of those big moments. Sometimes, those very friendships end up looping to the point of reliving the past, never able to move on. If the other party is unable to grow from the past, it’s time snip the cord.

    My Experience: A friend of mine—either through text or face to face interaction—would always bring up how much fun we had partying while attending previous prides in San Francisco wishing it could be like that all the time. As much as I loved those memories—cherishing them—I’m all about making new memories and looking to the future. He was stuck in the past.

    You Can’t Trust Them
    Trust is the blueprint of having healthy friendships. Without it, might as well not invest in any development. Trust has so many different parts to that the slightest fracture in one of them causes the whole foundation to crumble.

    My Experience: Years ago, Andrew* and I met at an old job and became good friends. I felt like I could rely on him for anything. One night—while out at a bar—Andrew was talking to a mutual friend behind my back—literally and how he could no longer talk to me. Little did he know I was right next to him hearing the whole conversation. Turning around, his face read “oh sh*t, he heard me!” From then on, I couldn’t trust him.


  • in

    The Coming Out Journals

    It’s January 1st. At a cafe in Berlin, German rap is adding another layer of noise to the room. People are talking. They’re mostly Serbian, Chechnyan and Middle Eastern straight men, smoking shisha and looking at their phones. My heteronormative nature helps me blend in here although I don’t speak any German. I feel like I’m one of the bros, but I know I’m different. I’m queer. I put my headphones in to cancel out the noise and Taylor Swift asks, “can we dance through an avalanche?” I want to come out.

    The past half a decade has been so strange. It felt like the first five years of my life that I’ve actually lived. I don’t remember much about my life prior to the night I was raped and beaten up in 2014. It’s like my memory was wiped. Today, anything prior to 2014 is a blur. I met my now fiancé shortly after my rape incident. My life changed drastically since then, mostly for the better. I still, however, carried the baggage from the past I remembered very little about.

    I met my partner in February 2014 through Facebook. Back then, I was experimenting with all sorts of dating apps and ways to meet men. I was “putting myself out there,” and in the process, putting myself in danger. On the other hand, my risk-taking, while it landed me in a very traumatic situation, also allowed me to meet a good man. These contradictions were what made my life so strange. On one hand, I was happily experiencing love for the first time. On the other, I was dealing with the trauma of rape.

    I grew distant from my family and limited the information they had about me. As my wedding date approaches, I feel a need to let them know I’m going to be happy with a partner who loves me. I want them to know I’ll have someone who watches TV with me every night. I have someone who wants to raise cats, dogs and children with me. However, I couldn’t do that as the person I loved happened to be a man.

    There’s a lot to go through mentally before getting my mother to realize that all she wants me to be is happy, not straight and not popular in a society that only agonized her and wounded her. It will take a lot of self certainty to try and do the same with my conservative father. In 2019, I will try to take on this huge personal project, to share the happy life I lead with my family. Right now, my work on a film which will serve as my senior project is consuming. The film will debut in June, two months before my wedding. By June, I will attempt to come out, and in these journals I will share this journey with you all.

  • in

    Top 90 Songs of the Decade

    As we almost wrap up the decade, we look back at some of the best songs we’ve heard since 2010. We thought it was appropriate to leave 10 positions blank since we’ve got a tenth of the decade still to go. Let’s get into the best 90 songs of the past 9 years. If you like them, you can add the Apple Music playlist here.

    90. “The Heart Wants What It Wants” – Selena Gomez

    Selena’s premature Greatest Hits album hosted the best of her numerous Top 40 hits. Its purely B&W music video makes the song pop even more.

    89. “Neon Lights” – Demi Lovato

    In 2013, Demi Lovato released what is possibly her best album. A no-skip slapper, DEMI included Ryan Tedder-produced banger “Neon Lights,” a Top 40 U.S. platinum-certified hit.

    88. “Formation” – Beyoncé

    Beyoncé’s 2016 avalanche began with this iconic social anthem.

    87. “SpaceBound” – Eminem

    Eminem’s position as a Rap God remained untarnished with his 2010’s releases. He ventured more into the Pop realm and mixed his still-legendary raps with Pop choruses from Rihanna, most prominently, and P!nk, among others. “Space Bound,” however, stands out as his most perfect Pop/Rap blend.

    86. “Not Myself Tonight” – Christina Aguilera

    Xtina’s trainwreck of a comeback earlier on this decade became iconic. Amidst Lady Gaga and Madonna comparisons, the Grammy winning Pop princess failed to put together a solid hit, but nearly a decade on, Bionic and “Not Myself Tonight” are iconic Pop moments from the 2010’s.

    85. “N****s In Paris” – Jay-Z & Kanye West

    Kanye and Jay-Z’s collaboration album, Watch the Throne, became a benchmark for rap in the 2010’s. On “In Paris,” the two rap experts flow over a classic instrumental that will be remembered for a long time.

    84. “Liability” – Lorde “Liability”

    “Liability” will possibly be the best sad breakup ballad for life.

    83. “I’m a Ruin” – Marina & The Diamonds

    Welch indie Pop star Marina Diamandis may have peaked (yet again) artistically with this song and its accompanying music video.

    82. “Rise Up” – Andra Day

    A vocal event.

    81. “Thunder” – Imagine Dragons

    Imagine Dragons’s massive chart success this decade included “Thunder”’s slow but steady ascent to the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100.

    80. “Let It Go” – Idina Menzel

    This Oscar-winning hit became nearly annoying, but setting its global popularity aside, “Let It Go” is actually a wonderful song.

    79. “Wildest Dreams” – Taylor Swift

    Despite its controversial music video, “Wildest Dreams” is one of Swift’s most endearing songs from her Pop eras.

    78. “Faded” – Alan Walker

    77. “Born To Die” – Lana Del Rey


    76. “Team” – Lorde

    May have possibly been overshadowed by the success of “Royals.”

    75. “Ghost” – Ella Henderson

    This Top 40 U.S. hit is sadly Ella’s only hit. She seems to have disappeared since her 2014 debut, but “Ghost” remains an eternal bop.

    74. “Nightcall” – London Grammar

    On this haunting ballad, the band details a lonely breakup call.

    73. “Ride” – twenty one pilots

    72. “Partition” – Beyoncé

    “Partition” is of the greatest hoe anthems of all time. The “Yoncé” / “Partition” combo on BEYONCÉ is truly one of the decade’s best musical moments.

    71. “Sign of the Times” – Harry Styles

    The 1D boys all gave good music after the boyband’s split. Harry was the one who delivered the highest level of artistry and vocal ability on his debut single, an Elton John-inspired power ballad.

    70. “Radioactive” – Imagine Dragons

    One of the longest runs ever on the Billboard Hot 100.

    69. “Rose Colored Glasses” – Kelly Rowland

    In the late 2000’s, Kelly Rowland struggled to score a hit. “Rose Colored Glasses” was one of the singles she put out which failed to make an impact with sales, but it left a mark as a great song.

    68. “The Night We Met” – Lord Huron

    Perhaps “The Night We Met” relies slightly on a cliche. The song is best known from Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, but it outlived the show’s short buzz and proved the band’s artistry.

    67. “Can’t Hold Us” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton

    Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were huge during their “Thrift Shop” era. Their collaboration with vocalist Ray Dalton made this song stand out.

    66. “Passionfruit” – Drake

    Drake’s latest album releases have all hosted big hits. “Passionfruit” is special because it’s simply fun.

    65. “Replay” – Zendaya

    Before becoming a style icon, Zendaya made this gem a Top 40 hit. “Replay” merges the singer’s soft vocals with a futuristic dance-pop beat.

    64. “Jar of Hearts” – Christina Perri

    Perri’s first U.S. hit came as a surprise when “Jar of Hearts” was used in American dance competition show So You Think You Can Dance? The song was covered by the Glee cast and it has become one of the most dramatic and theatric breakup ballads of the past 9 years.

    63. “#Beautiful” – Mariah Carey & Miguel

    This retro class-A vocal duet deserved better.

    62. “If I Could Change Your Mind” – HAIM

    One of the decade’s most beloved girl bands went 80’s on this beauty and it paid off.

    61. “Don’t You Worry Child” – Swedish House Mafia

    SHM broke the mold and scored an EDM global success with “Don’t You Worry Child.”

    60. “Take Me To Church” – Hozier

    Hozier delivered a vocally and lyrically complex and exciting song in 2013.

    59. “Give Me Everything” – Pitbull, Ne-Yo & Nayer

    This NYE banger helped Pitbull transition into a certified hitmaker.

    58. “Primadonna” – Marina & The Diamonds

    Marina started off as an “indie star with Pop ambitions.” Her Electra Heart era was incredibly complex with metaphors and intriguing characters. Primadonna was the kind of girl Pop stans lived for. Marina presented the character both seriously and sarcastically, which raised interest in her as an underrated talent in Pop’s underbelly. This electropop anti-chorus banger served eargasmic beats and powerful vocals. 

    57. “Starboy” – The Weeknd

    56. “No Light No Light” – Florence + The Machine

    Florence + The Machine introduced their magnum opus, Ceremonials, with this soundtrack-to-a-revolution of a song.

    55. “Written in the Stars” – Tinie Tempah feat. Eric Turner

    54. “Down On Me” – Jeremih feat. 50 Cent

    53. “Into You” – Ariana Grande

    One of the most popular gay anthems of the 2010’s.

    52. “F*ck You” – Cee Lo Green

    An exciting funk retro track from the artist who gave us “Crazy.”

    51. “Pity Party” – Melanie Martinez

    Melanie’s indie concept venture, Crybaby, included this mesmerizing indie pop experience.

    50. “Rude Boy” – Rihanna

    One of the decade’s earliest hits, “Rude Boy” stands out as a song and as a music video among Riri’s numerous hits.

    49. “Just Give Me a Reason” – P!nk & Nate Reuss

    On this collaboration, P!nk redefines herself as a singer, songwriter and artist.

    48. “Wrecking Ball” – Miley Cyrus

    Perhaps one of the most iconic songs and music videos of the decade, “Wrecking Ball” is a beautifully-written Pop ballad with an incredibly catching chorus.

    47. “Scars to Your Beautiful” – Alessia Cara

    This Grammy winner inspired millions of girls with “Scars,” her biggest hit so far.

    46. “Feel It Still” – Portugal The Man

    45. “Ship to Wreck” – Florence + The Machine

    Florence + The Machine crafted beautiful music in the 2010’s. Their work in 2015 followed one of the decade’s best albums, Ceremonials, and it did not disappoint. “Ship to Wreck” is one of their many poems-turned-songs. It depicts the fallout of a relationship as well as the internal struggles that hinder one’s personal life.

    44. “All Too Well” – Taylor Swift

    Despite never being a single, “All Too Well,” one of Swift’s final rounds in the country realm, is a big fan-favorite. The song sits on this list for its standout incorporation of storytelling with song.

    43. “Stay” – Rihanna & Mikky Ekko

    Ever the non-conformist, Rihanna once again served up a dish she’d never cooked before. “Stay” is the 2010’s ultimate Pop piano duet.

    42. “Kill V. Maim” – Grimes

    Special shoutout to this banger’s epic music video.

    41. “Love on the Brain” – Rihanna

    In a surprise twist, Riri went full on Soul on her 2016 surprise album ANTi. “Love On the Brain” ultimately became a Top 5 hit without a music video. (Still mad about that).

    40. “What About Us” – P!nk

    Straying from her usual habit of releasing a pop rock banger for a lead single, P!nk went social-critical on “What About Us.” This global hit continued P!nk’s tradition of criticizing the leaders. The singer-songwriter famously sneaks in her messages inside Pop frames and her 2017 hit stays true to that.

    39. “Firework” – Katy Perry

    “Firework” is of the most iconic songs of the 2010’s, and one of overall six Hot 100 number-one hits from the Teenage Dream era. During the It Gets Better era, “Firework” helped many people cope, and continues to be one of Perry’s best songs.

    38. “Do You Miss Me At All” – Bridgit Mendler

    This song sadly did not help Mendler’s career. The ex-act experimented with R&B/Soul elements on her last EP, Nemesis, and served up good songs. “Do You Miss Me At All” balanced that experimentation with good Pop.

    37. “Symphony” – Clean Bandit feat. Zara Larsson

    Frankly, Clean Bandit are the equivalent of throwing 10 balls at the ring and hoping one goes in. “Symphony” is a slam dunk.

    36. “When Love Hurts” – JoJo

    After years struggling to put out material, JoJo gave her thirsty fans a dance diva moment with “When Love Hurts.”

    35. “Crying for No Reason” – Katy B

    34. “Airplanes” – B.o.B. feat. Hayley Williams

    One of the decade’s best rap/sung team-ups, “Airplanes” is a beautiful moment in music. The song presented Hayley Williams in a new, very well-received way.

    33. “This Is What You Came For” – Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna

    Calvin Harris and Rihanna make an excellent team. Co-penned by Harris’s then-girlfriend Taylor Swift, “This Is What You Came For” is an outstanding dance experience. We can’t help but wonder, though, how the song would’ve sounded if Taylor had stood behind the mic that day.

    32. “I Follow Rivers” – Lykke Li

    The remix (below) is as good as the original.

    31. “Blown Away” – Carrie Underwood

    Underwood’s discography can find repetitive themes and styles, but with “Blown Away,” the country singer took a new approach. This Wizard of Oz-inspired song earned Underwood a Grammy and a Top 20 hit in the U.S.

    30. “212” – Azealia Banks ft. Lazy Jay

    No one can say Azealia Banks isn’t an immense talent, and “212” is proof. The song showed so much promise for a new rapper who could possibly take over and have massive impact.

    29. “Cold Little Heart” – Michael Kiwanuka

    This 10-minute masterpiece is a testament to Kiwanuka’s musical abilities.

    28. “Sweet Nothing” – Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch

    The few times Florence went dance, it went very well. The incredible vocalist left her dark indie style with The Machine and cooked up a dance banger with Calvin Harris.

    27. “Wings” – Birdy

    “Wings” was singer-songwriter Birdy’s interpretation of Pop rock. With some help from Ryan Tedder, the message was delivered meticulously and beautifully. “Wings” made us yearn and reflect with its lyrical depth and production.

    26. “Ex’s & Oh’s” – Elle King

    Elle King kicked the door and walked right in with attitude and that rock n’ roll spirit with “Ex’s & Oh’s.”

    25. “Only Love Can Hurt Like This” – Paloma Faith

    This Diane Warren-penned heartbreaker is one of the most pain-filled, most passionate love songs of the decade.

    24. “You Ruin Me” – The Veronicas

    Having served up “Untouched” the previous decade, the Australia twins reshaped their pop formula and hit us with a remarkable breakup piano ballad in 2014.

    23. “It Will Rain” – Bruno Mars

    A highlight from the Twilight era.

    22. “Teenage Dream” – Katy Perry

    21. “Praying” – Kesha

    Kesha’s comeback could not have been more beautiful. The “TiK ToK” singer stripped away all the glitter and confetti for a somber ballad telling the story behind her five-year absence.

    20. “Sail” – AWOLNATION

    A marriage of alternative rock to edgy electronica, “Sail”

    19. “E.T.” – Katy Perry

    18. “Habits (Stay High)” – Tove Lo

    17. “Dancing on My Own” – Robyn

    16. “Flesh” – Simon Curtis

    A not very well known Pop star, Simon Curtis crafted a massive banger with “Flesh.” Despite not being very active in the music industry, his mark was made with this epic dance number. A sex song for the ages, “Flesh” gives the full pop fantasy with influences from Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake laced to its bombastic elements.

    15. “Counting Stars” – OneRepublic

    OneRepublic always came out with songs that took their sweet time turning into hits. “Counting Stars” stands out as their first song to top the success of their Timbaland-assisted debut “Apologize.”

    14. “The Edge of Glory” – Lady Gaga

    Of all the hits Lady Gaga served up in her decade-old career, “The Edge of Glory” is most likely to be performed by the Pop chameleon when she’s 80 years old with nothing but her voice and piano.

    13. “Try” – P!nk

    As one of the best Pop stars of the decade, P!nk thrives when she goes deep. On “Try,” one of her very few songs she did not write, P!nk successfully details the burning fires of a long term relationship in all its ups and downs.

    12. “Gemini Feed” – Banks

    Banks, an autobiographical songwriter, captures the essence of a toxic relationship on her catchiest song yet.

    11. “Blank Space” – Taylor Swift

    One of the most honest moments in Taylor Swift’s discography, “Blank Space” employs intelligent lyrics over Max Martin production. It mocks the public’s perception of Swift’s love life with both its lyrics and its iconic music video.

    10. “Wide Awake” – Katy Perry

    Of all the bops Katy Perry sent to the top of the charts, “Wide Awake” is one of her most special songs. Lyrically honest, well-produced and vocally good, “Wide Awake” was a peak moment for the decade’s top hitmaker.

    9. “Let It Happen” – Tame Impala

    This strange nearly 8-minute track is why Tame Impala is lovable. From its subtly-told message of letting it be, to its experimentation with various sounds and instruments, “Let It Happen” is an inflection point for Alternative music.

    8. “No Tears Left to Cry” – Ariana Grande

    Ariana Grande’s first post-Manchester tragedy song did the victims of that tragedy honorably. This mournful anthem is unaftaid of delving into sadness but still inspires hope and redemption. It does not accomplish this lyrically only, but also with its tone and melody. The music video’s “upside down” concept was done beautifully and showed Ariana in a new light.

    7. “Wildest Moments” – Jessie Ware

    Jessie Ware is one of the best vocal talents of the 2010’s. “Wildest Moments” is the proof. On this otherworldly track, the singer subtly displays her glamour and femininity over a classic beat.

    6. “Lights” – Ellie Goulding

    “Lights” launched the careers of one of the most underrated hitmakers of the past nine years. Its shimmery instrumental is absolutely infectious and blends perfectly with Goulding’s effortless vocals.

    5. “Chandelier” – Sia

    Sia’s reinvention proved that an artist can be successful without necessarily carrying the baggage of fame. “Chandelier” reintroduced Sia and gave the “U.S.” section of her Wikipedia discography good numbers.

    4. “Do I Wanna Know” – Arctic Monkeys

    This alternative rock experience is the crowning jewel of Arctic Monkeys’ discography. A detailed mental journey of falling in love, “Do I Wanna Know” is subtly sexy and unapologetically honest.

    3. “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele

    No one saw a powerful vocalist like Adele catapult into global success when this gem was released. It slowly worked its way up the charts and became one of the biggest hits of the 2010’s. This is not why “Rolling in the Deep” is up here. The song’s massive vocal element in terms of power and layers, as well as its retro production style are what make it one of the defining moments of the 2010’s.

    2. “Mirrors” – Justin Timberlake

    Timberlake’s return followed the formula of releasing a ballad as a second single. The song was a hit in the U.S. but is somehow one of JT’s underrated gems. “Mirrors” saw the singer reunite with Timbaland for another massive hit, and its music video won Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards.

    1. “Euphoria” – Loreen

    This Eurovision winner is arguably one of the best entries in the contest’s 60+ year history. The infectious dance song combined powerful vocals with a catchy melody and surprising twists.

    Love this list? Add the entire playlist on Apple Music here.

    What are YOUR favorite songs from the 2010’s?

  • in

    The “We” Effect

    I’ve been watching some of the president’s rallies; listening to the troublesome rhetoric. I hear the chants of “lock her up” as if were a broken record or a CD that has a scratch embedded in it. I hear the leader of the free world stirring up fear, anger and hatred to get his supporters to go out and cast their votes for his party…which is not the socially and fiscally conservative party that it had at one time proclaimed themselves to be.

    And as much as I don’t want to give attention to the rallies, I had to understand what the draw is to Trump that keeps his base in lock step and completely loyal to him. I realize that it doesn’t matter what he says or does, they will follow and support him. It doesn’t matter that he lies constantly. It doesn’t matter how many investigations he’s under. It doesn’t matter that he refuses to show his taxes like he promised and never did. It doesn’t matter what his moral character is. It doesn’t matter who he insults, denigrates or belittles and they don’t seem to mind who he pledges his allegiance to.

    His core supporters are loyal to him and they will give him a pass for every single questionable thing that he says and does…and I keep asking myself why.

    One of the things I noticed is that he uses the term “we” frequently when he addresses his audience. It’s a simple pronoun but when used correctly, it is a powerful tool. I call this the “We” Factor. The “We” Factor is a very effective tool because it endears the speaker to his audience. When used, it bonds the audience to the presenter, making it appear that the speaker is one of them. It’s a useful tool and the president wields it brilliantly. He will use the term to address his base, and then skillfully direct the attendees to become angry with anyone that he deems a threat to his policies and subsequently, his presidency.

    When he assumed the role of the commander in chief, he addressed his followers by saying “we” won. When he addresses them now, he says that the press is “our” enemy. He will say that the democrats will take away “your” healthcare even though it was common knowledge that he was doing everything in his power to dismantle Obamacare without having a replacement. When he uses the pronoun “your” he is directing the anger of the crowd to a designated group. And after he uses the pronouns “yours” and “we” he then begins to systematically attack the people that he deems his enemies.

    And his base will cheer and applaud him which in turn feeds his ego. His attendees at the rallies don’t stop to think that he has dedicated weeks of his time to whip them up into a frenzy in the hopes of getting them to vote and to become angry at imaginary foes.

    He will say “us” to pull in his base and then direct them at anyone that he deems a foe to himself.

    The attendees have never stopped to think that he is spending more time campaigning than governing even if that governing is for them and them alone.

    Mr. Trump does not have the capacity to govern or institute policies that will lift the nation in its entirety. He needs to have a base to placate his ego. He needs to hear the cheers of the crowd, even if the cheers are for the wrong reasons.

    He has successfully polarized the nation into people that support him versus people that do not. And indeed, it is sad that we are witnessing the division of a nation.

    We are in desperate need of someone that will lead us; someone that will bring us together instead of pitting us against one another. We need someone that will embrace every single citizen of the United States instead of a third of the country. We need someone to bring a sense of humility and pride to the oval office.

    Mr. Trump has masterfully shown us that the moral fabric of our country is somewhat weak and that some of us lack the capacity and possibly the humanity to care for others. He has skillfully taken us to a place that no great country should have ever gone.

    And with that being said, the “We” Factor is a powerful and useful tool.

    But instead of using it to divide, it can also be used to unite. The “We” Factor can be used to unite all of us that feel as if we have been left behind. We can be united in compassion for individuals that are in need while simultaneously maintaining the safety that our nation requires.

    We can be united behind candidates that are running to make this country great for all of us and not a designated few.

    We all can enjoy the fruits of this land and rejoice in its rich diversity. We can lift each other up because when one of us falls, we all fall.

    We can protect the rights of women and provide affordable healthcare for everyone. We can protect our land from the effects of climate change to ensure that we have a world for our children and their children.

    We can be a nation of inclusiveness which is what made this country great from the beginning. Our country never needed to be made great again because we already were. But admittedly, we can be better.

    “We” is a powerful pronoun.

    But “We” can bring about unity…or “We” can sow division.

    So what kind of country do you want us to be?

    ~ J.L. Whitehead

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    The Back Story

    Everyone has a back-story.  Everyone.  And included in that back-story is pain…the type of pain that we have a tendency to hide from everyone else.  But it is within that pain something that will indelibly makes us human.  Some of us will not allow ourselves to view anyone who may not look, worship or love like us as being equal to who we are.

    But what if we looked at ourselves through a different lens?  What if we looked at ourselves through the back-story that each one of us has; the story that lends itself to our humanness.  Each one of us has experienced pain, hurt, disappointment, loss and fear.  We as human beings have fear; fear of the unknown…the uncertainty of the outcome of any given circumstance.  Every mother, regardless of race or ethnicity, has feared for their children.  Will my child come home safe from school?  How can I protect my children in a world that seems to be loaded with twists and turns that at times seem to be designed to lead them astray at any given moment?

    Our nation’s citizens, regardless of their political affiliation has experienced disappointment; perhaps in people that we assumed to be sensitive to our needs; friends that we thought would always have our back in the most difficult of times, only to realize in the end that they never did.  We have all experienced loss; whether it is the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of good health…or loss of anything that we may have held dear to us, regardless if the thing is something as simple as an ideology or belief.

    I often wonder if we as a people have the capacity to look beyond ourselves to see or even imagine someone else’s back story.   Can we begin to imagine someone else’s pain amid a personal loss or tragedy?

    We spend so much time reveling in our own problems that we often

    forget that there are others who are just like us experiencing pain just like us.  Sometimes, what we have a tendency to do is strip away their humanness and instead focus on what makes them different and therefore less than.

    We do not want to acknowledge that those we’ve deemed as “other” are really us in a disguise that we have devised in our own mind.  We will purposefully view people that are LGBTQ, Black, Jewish, Muslim through a narrow lens while silently taking away the very thing that should make us an equal.

    Because we know that once you do that, it makes it easier for you to ignore the issues that are important to that demographic of people because somehow, in your mind’s eye, they have been deemed less than you.

    There will be many who will simply refuse to change their perspective because it is within that perspective that they will find comfort.  Their perspective will grant them a certain self-righteousness that entitles them to their belief system.  They believe that they are better and more deserving if they can take the humanness away from another group of people because to acknowledge that demographics hurt, pain or disappointment would take away from their own hurt, pain or disappointment…even if that isn’t really the case.

    To survive, we have to understand that every single one of us has a back story.  We have to at least acknowledge the reasons as to why we feel and take it from there.  We have to understand that even if another group doesn’t agree with our ideology, we have to at least acknowledge its validity even if it is in direct contradiction to our own set of values.

    We don’t have to agree, but we must accept that it is okay to disagree which is admittedly very hard to do given our current political climate.

    Perhaps if we can collectively look at ourselves and everyone else around us through a different lens, we can get on the road to a better way of living and loving.

    We have spent so much time as a people fighting because we have been successfully divided.  We have had our differences highlighted and magnified to make us enemies instead of members of the same country that we love.

    Maybe we can move to a better place by purposefully seeking the back-story in all of us because it is in this that we will be able to see our similarities as opposed to our differences.  And once we see our similarities will we then be placed on the road to the massive healing that this country needs.

    ~ J.L. Whitehead

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    InstaHotties and Daddies, Oh My!

    This quick shot has our blood flowing!

    View this post on Instagram

    📷by @lulu_time

    A post shared by A N T O N (@lap_nyc) on

    Couldn’t believe he forgot to put on shirt and pants again.

    So, whose up for Madrid?!

    Giving the speedo a day off.

    No need to be shy!

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    Letter from the Editor

    For a month or two, all that I could talk or think about was starting 2019. I’ve designated it as my “clean slate” year as I’m leaving all the twenty-something mistakes and dumb-ass moments where they belong, in the past.

    Quoting one of my idols, Carrie Bradshaw, “Your 20s are to make the mistakes. Your 30s are to learn the lessons.” She’s absolutely correct. I’ve made a mess of my twenties—honestly, more like setting off a nuke bomb destroying everything around me. Luckily, I’m turning 30 this year. A chance to rise from the ashes like a phoenix—renewed/reborn.

    My twenties have taught me a lot though. To be more kind, never judge a book by its cover, love can come in different forms—not just sex or from a man, hang on to the friendships that matter most, giving second chances, thinking before doing, and it’s okay to be happy. I’m not trying to sweep the last ten years under the rug, but merely, closing that large chapter of my life and taking the newfound knowledge gained forward.

    It’s perfect timing, to be honest!

    Some may not be on board, discouraging the idea. Don’t let those people dictate or stray you away from achieving a bold new you. So, the writers of GBB and I have put together “clean slate” articles to help you get started achieving this outcome. It’s not going to be easy as there will be many moments testing you throughout this 2019 year.

    Remember, rise from the ashes and don’t give up.

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    Don’t Make These 6 Style Mistake Going Into 2019

    It’s a new year! Let’s throw what you know out and give you a fresh start with a couple do’s and don’ts for your wardrobe.

    1. Suit / Blazer Jacket Too Big

    A common mistake most men make is wearing a jacket one or two sizes bigger. When shopping for a new jacket, the important part to consider is the shoulder fit. Tailoring can always fix sleeve length and torso—there’s little room for shoulder area. A key sign that that jacket doesn’t fit properly is when there’s a divot or bunching in the arm.

    2. Leaving the Stitching in the Jacket Vents

    So, you thought those stitches were just for the store? This is correct! It helps maintain the shape while in transit or in stores. Once home, remove not only the vent stitches but the side pockets and breast. Don’t forget the brand tag!

    3. Long Pants / Jeans

    Hemming! It’s not as hard as it sounds and a major sign you put care into your appearance. As far as jeans go, if you’re skeptical about getting hemming done, rolling them up will work just the same.

    4. Printed Novelty T-Shirts

    It’s time to grow and own your age. It was probably fun back in the day, but nobody will take you seriously. Prime example: had a date with a guy where I wore a polo and jeans while the guy I was with wore a hoody, jeans, & Pokemon shirt.

    5. You’re Friend The Tie Bar

    Investing in a tie bar will save you in the long run. The purpose is to keep your tie in place and adds to your look. Your closet should never be without one or two.

    6. Footwear

    Shoes are just as important as everything else. It’s another sign about caring how you appear to others and treated as an investment. Don’t throw your money away on poorly designed versions.

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