by Madison Rose

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via Bloomberg

Tropes and stereotypes aren’t just boring and annoying, they can be damaging to the community and our mental well-being. When there is finally lesbian representation, writers almost always kill those characters off or have them go back to marrying a man. The representation of gay men usually consists of flamboyant, fashion-loving, sassy best friends. And transgender representation is virtually nonexistent. How damaging are these portrayals really, and what can we do to solve this issue?

The Social Learning Theory of psychology may be able to explain what the effects of bad representation in the media could do. Social Learning Theory maintains that people acquire knowledge and new behaviors by observing and imitating others. The media, especially now, with so many of us quarantined, is our window to the outside world. We have to think of our brains as not being cemented and unchanging, but rather having plasticity to them. Every day, with each new experience, or lack thereof, neurons are being pruned or developed, even past our adolescence. What we observe can shape our brains physically into how we react or feel about everyday situations. With bad representation, we can be wired to not love ourselves as much as we should. Or for those outside of our community, they could be wired to not love us as much as they should. …


by Ryan Shea

For as long as I can remember I have been fat. Not adorable baby fat, but also not My 600-lb Life fat, or people who are actually in shape that think they’re fat after eating a sandwich that had tons of calories in it. Just fat.

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It didn’t help that I had a mother who was a respected chef & caterer out in Long Island. …


by Sassafras Lowrey

Being part of the LGBTQ+ community can feel scary and overwhelming at times. Although in recent years, within the United States, there has been a tremendous cultural shift of welcoming and acceptance of LGBTQ+ people, but that doesn’t mean that homophobia and transphobia don’t still exist. From structural discrimination, to discrimination in religious institutions, and targeted hate crimes and violence it can be easy to be filled with despair and fear about your LGBTQ+ identity and the state of the world.

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via MOMA

A couple of years ago, I was organizing a panel about queer writing at National Association of Writers & Writing conference. The panel involved me and several other queer authors talking about our artistic lives and practice and how to do that work in community. Towards the end of the presentation someone in the audience stood up and asked something to the effect of “with everything bad in the world happening to queer people, how can you possibly keep creating?” I remember taking a deep breath and responding “when I look at our world I can’t help but see the strength and beauty of our community.” There is no question that world can be an overwhelming place, we hear negative things about the LGBTQ+ community in the news, and it can feel scary and overwhelming seeing statistics but this moment has stuck with me, because it was so honest, vulnerable and reminded me so much about how important it is to me to as often as possible center queer joy. …

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MatthewsPlace.com is a program of the Matthew Shepard Foundation| Words by & for LGBTQ+ youth | #EraseHate | Want to submit? Email sara@matthewshepard.org

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