If you have plans on Sunday night you best be canceling them because the HALO Awards are ON!! They're airing on Nickelodeon at 8/7c! If you think Halo Awards have something to do with Bey it doesn't. It's even better: the awards will be honoring four teenagers who are already changing the world for the better, and we've got the deets on all of them (plus the celebs they've teamed up with!).
+ Josh Hutcherson Knows That Zachary Kerr Is A Victor For Transgender Rights
While there have been increased awareness and activism for lesbian, gay and bisexual rights in recent years, it doesn't feel as if transgender rights are always getting their fair shake. But Zachary has been bravely standing up as an advocate for the transgender community. Zach grew up as one of three identical triplets and "spent years battling gender identity issues before making a transitional journey from female to male." Along with being involved in various LGBTQ orgs, the 19-year-old spoken at 200 schools (Whoa!) and talked with the Massachusetts governor (Whoa X's 100!) about why we need a Transgender Equal Rights Bill.
His celeb teammate, Josh Hutcherson, said, "Zachary's my hero. I think that the world would be a lot better off with more people like him. He's changing the world." As if that wasn't the biggest compliment in the world, the "Catching Fire" star also said, "Zachary's an inspiration because he helps raise awareness about LGBT issues and he teaches everyone that it's okay to be you, whoever you are, and his message is all about acceptance and equality."
+ Shay Mitchell Teams Up With Miranda Fuentes For Autism Awareness
Miranda loves surfing, and she's using her love for it as part of a cause! Her younger brother Lucas has autism, which led Miranda to get involved with Surfers for Autism. She's been able to really get SFA moving: they used to have events with 40 volunteers, and now they have events with 400 volunteers and 3,000 spectators. NBD, right? Not only is she helping people better understand autism she also teaches autistic kids how to surf! At 16, Miranda is the youngest master instructor for the org.
Shay Mitchell, Miranda's celeb teammate, said, "When Nick Cannon told me about the awesome work that Miranda was doing with Surfers for Autism, I knew I had to meet her. It's absolutely amazing that she's only 16 years old and so giving of her time to help others."
+ Queen Latifah Applauds Denzel Thompson's Green Thumb
When money is tight -- food choices are sparse and this can lead to health threats. Denzel was 300 pounds and surrounded by fast food chains and convenience stores. His obesity lead to depression but then a life-changing trip to New Orleans happened. Denzel realized how much change he could make after helping victims of Hurricane Katrina
The 19-year-old decided to transform his Philly 'hood with the goal of ending the high obesity rate. So Denzel and half a dozen other teens started Philadelphia Urban Creators which grows healthy, sustainable food. He even got the Village of Arts and Humanities to donate three acres for farming. This helps the environment, helps the community, and helps the health of individuals. Since Denzel launched the project four years ago he's lost over 150 lbs by gardening and eating the food he grows.
His celebrity teammate Queen Latifah said, "Denzel's the one changing the world right now. It's in his hands and his generation's hands. I'm really proud of him because when the world gets to see people like him, it shows that his generation is not just about texting all the time or doing a crazy dance. They have gifts and abilities, and they're connecting people in a way that no generation will ever be able to do."
+ NBA star Chris Paul Supports Rocio Ortega's Girl Power
Rocio saw first-hand the importance of girl power in the world. "As a first generation Mexican American you see those traditional roles of women staying at home, cleaning and taking care of the kids," she said. Rocio got a Girl Up chapter going at her East Los Angeles high school to help girls in developing countries get an education, have access to medicine and be respected. She then became a Youth Champion for the campaign. She went on to work with her Representative's office to pass the End of Child Marriage Bill abroad. Did I mention she's also a 19-year old college student?!
Her celebrity teammate, Chris Paul, is in awe of her accomplishments. "When Nick Cannon told me Rocio's story, I was blown away," he said. "She is an inspiration because she helps raise awareness about issues across the globe. She's going to change the world."
Many LGBTQ kids are intimidated or even scared to come out their parents, which is where the Parents Project comes in. It's also about helping parents, by doing things like answering their Q's on LGBTQ facts and teaching them how to talk to their kids and be supportive. Kristin and Dannielle know firsthand what it's like to talk to parents, and while working on their book (which will be out through Chronicle Books in October 2014), they realized how much this project was needed. They're raising funds for it through indiegogo, and you've only got till Monday to join in! To learn more, I spoke with both Dannielle and Kristin.
ACT: What can you tell us about your goals with the Parents Project?
DANNIELLE: We wrote a book for parents whose kids had just come out to them, and it's an advice book. While we were writing it, we were trying to find resources for the resource guide at the end of the book, and we found that there weren't that many. Of those that there are, like PFLAG and the Family Acceptance Project, they're great resources, but they're more about community outreach. There wasn't really anything online where a parent could go, type in their question and get an answer. Even the advice books were very clinical. We felt we needed to provide something for parents of LGBTQ youth who had questions and wanted to get the answers. That's our goal, to provide that space for people.
ACT: Why did you decide to do the Parents Project? Do you have any personal experiences that inspired you to start it?
KRISTIN: I echo Dannielle's thoughts. We know there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of parents who have kids who come out to them and who have a really wide spectrum of experience. Some parents don't want to talk to their child, kick their child out of their house at one end; At the other end, we have parents who are super accepting, and are just confused and want to understand some of the terminology, identity a little bit better, so they know they're talking to their kids in a way that's inclusive and accepting. We want to create a channel so parents can look on the Internet in the privacy of their own home. We're going to have Dannielle and I answering advice, and it will highlight experiences of other families. So you'll see parents talking to their kids who have come out to them about the experience. If a mom and a son are sitting and talking at the table in a video, the son might say, "Mom, when I came out, you asked me if I was sure about it. That was actually really upsetting to me." And you'll hear the mom respond and go back and forth. There's a context for families to put their own experiences in. They can see how that kid felt, they can see how that parent felt. They can get a better idea of how they might handle themselves moving forward.
DANNIELLE: We both had different experiences with our mothers. I feel that if our book and these resources were available when I was coming out, my mother and I would have been able to talk about it. Because I was so uncomfortable and she wasn't necessarily saying the right things, our relationship was strained. And still, a decade later, it is strained because of that. For me personally, it's a huge thing and I hope we can provide anything that can be of any help to anyone in a situation similar to mine.
ACT: How can people support the Parents Project?
KRISTIN: It's pretty easy, actually. Just go to EveryIsGay.com/parents, it takes you to our indiegogo campaign page. You can donate at varying levels.
ACT: What cool prizes can people get for supporting?
KRISTIN: Moments ago, I believe, we announced our T-shirt prize, which is at the $50 reward level. There are exclusive posters. We have things where we'll sing any song you want, if you're into that kind of thing. You can donate at a level that makes sense to you. You can donate from $1 to $10,000. Anything helps. A lot of our readers are younger, and may only have $5, $10, $15 to give. But collectively that adds up.
ACT: If people can't afford to give, how else can they support the Parents Project and Everyone Is Gay? DANNIELLE: Sharing with people is really one of the biggest things. The entire reason our site is as successful as it is, is because of word-of-mouth. We've never done any marketing. It's all been people who have needed what we're doing and talked to friends and family about it. If you can't give, just Tweet or blog or give a Facebook status update. Tell people about what we're doing. Getting it out there is equally as important as donating, in my opinion.
KRISTIN: Social media is an incredible tool. I think adding a personal story or message makes all the difference. Saying, "This is important and this is why it's important to me personally" has a bigger impact than saying, "Hey, there's this cool thing." That's good, too, but I think when you add a personal message when you share, it reaches people and gets them to look at it.
ACT: What other plans do you have for the future of Everyone Is Gay?
KRISTIN: I think that our biggest focus for this year and next year for Everyone Is Gay is to continue to manage the platform we already have, which supports youth in two ways. One, by offering advice online, and, two, by going to their schools and starting conversations about making more accepting environments. And then this year and next are really dedicated to helping young people have the conversations with their parents, so they be themselves within their own home.
What would it be like to have a disease that makes it so you can barely move, and have a doctor suggest that it might be all in your head? The documentary "Canary in a Coal Mine" shows this scary and true scenario in the lives of different people suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis.
Jennifer was a PhD student at Harvard who suddenly wasn't able to write her own name. She continued to get worse, to the point she couldn't even sit up. What was the problem?
"The disease, myalgic encephalomyelitis, was re-branded in the 1980s by the CDC as 'Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,' a name which became both a punchline and a Rorschach: a wastebasket of undiagnosed conditions hiding a very real disease," says a writeup about "Canary in a Coal Mine." "Scientists at the country's top institutions have found evidence of profound metabolic, neurological, and immunological dysfunction in patients with M.E.. However, since the disease is not taught in medical schools, doctors don't know how to recognize it, effectively denying healthcare to a million Americans."
Because of how scary this is, and because of a need to spread awareness, Jennifer has made the documentary "Canary in a Coal Mine," which stars her and other people who have myalgic encephalomyelitis. There's a Kickstarter to fund it, and though they've reached their needed goal, they're hoping to become the most supported doc on Kickstarter ever. Take action below to help!
Tired of all the attacks on women's reproductive health? So are a lot of us. Members of Congress have announced the Women's Health Protection Act, and it's getting a lot of support from women's rights activists, including ones in the celebrity world.
Vocal reproductive rights supporter Sarah Silverman Tweeted:
Did you know that in the past two years there have been about TWO HUNDRED restrictions made by legislators to make it harder for women to make their own decisions about their body?
Some states have stricter restrictions and laws than others, so the Women's Health Protection Act is a bill that's designed to protect women's reproductive rights, no matter what state they live in. In order to show politicians that women's bodies belong to women, not Washington, you can sign the petition, write to your representatives, and spread awareness on social media. Because women's rights are human rights.
Ariana is just one of many people who are discussing elephant poaching and the ivory trade this week. Yesterday the government pulverized six tons of contraband ivory that it had been collecting for over 25 years, in an attempt to tell poachers, illegal traffickers, and collectors that, "it (ivory) has no value unless it is attached to an elephant."
Several people are arguing that instead of sending a message to traffickers and poachers to stop what they are doing, the U.S. government is actually making the remaining ivory (and thus, the remaining elephants), even more valuable, and that this could lead to more slaughter.
One thing is for sure, there are a lot of baby elephants who are left behind. There are so many young orphans who are in dire needs of homes and foster situations. I reached out to The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and they told me that, "getting the word out is key. Too few people are aware of ivory trade and extent of elephant poaching."
A few things we can do to begin to help this cause would be to never buy ivory, spread the word, and support fab organizations like the one above! So, take a few seconds and take action below! #WeLoveYou
Not only is it Movemeber for men's health, Lung Cancer Awareness Month, but Novemeber is also Diabetes Awareness Month! According to our pals over at DoSomething.org, "25.8 million people (or 8.3 percent of the U.S. population) have diabetes".
So, it's clearly a big issue that many Americans face and DEF worth taking a few minutes to discuss. As it's a health issue that many face, many celebrities have spoken out on their personal experience with this chronic illness. From the studly Nick Jonas, to the beyond talented Tom Hanks, they have used their platform to get people talking (which we love)!
+ Nick Jonas
Nick Jonas is a worldwide heartthrob, musician, actor, and a massive advocate when it comes to Diabetes. After being diagnosed at the young age of 13, Nick began to create a national dialogue on young teens dealing with this disease. He recently opened up to the Huffington Post by saying, "It's a daily struggle. From the time I was diagnosed, almost eight years ago, until now, it's just been about taking it day by day and really trying to find the small victories."
+ Halle Barry
After Halle Barry collapsed on set in 1989, and went into diabetic coma, she woke up seven days later realizing something was totally not right. She quickly learned she was a diabetic. Although it may have been a scary thing to hear at the young age of 19, Halle turned it into a positive. The actress bravely revealed, "Diabetes turned out to be a gift," she says. "It gave me strength and toughness because I had to face reality, no matter how uncomfortable or painful it was."
+ Tom Hanks
Last month, Tom appeared on Letterman where he shocked many by revealing his diabetes diagnosis. The Oscar winning actor told David, "I went to the doctor and he said, 'You know those high blood sugar numbers you've been dealing with since you were 36? Well, you've graduated,' " Hanks told Letterman. " 'You've got Type 2 diabetes, young man.'" By appearing on a massive late night show like Letterman is a great way to shine a light on the cause! Bravo to Mr. Hanks!
+ Salma Hayek
While Salma was pregnant with her daughter, she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This particular type of diabetes often occurs for pregnant women who have no previous history of diabetes, but have a high blood glucose level during pregnancy. Salma stated, "I got gestational diabetes, which I didn't realize at first. I was nauseated for nine months, which can be one of the symptoms. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't eat so much fruit at the beginning. I didn't know that eating fruit that is high in sugar is not recommended when you have gestational diabetes."
+ Ray Allen
Miami Heat star, Ray Allen, became a fierce advocate for juvenile diabetes after his son was diagnosed. Ray even went straight to Capitol Hill to testify at a senate hearing! He spoke honestly by saying,"The Miami Heat, we played 106 games this past season. We had game days, practice days, travel days, even a few off days; days to rest, days to heal, days to rejuvenate, recharge. But for Walker here, and … a lot of kids here in this room and a lot of people living with diabetes, there are no off days."
+ Crystal Bowersox
After capturing the attention of many through her talented vocals on season nine of American Idol, she also became known for battling diabetes. During American Idol, the singer went to the hospital for a complication of her diabetes and decided to share her journey with the world. Crystal told Diabetes Health, "I didn't want anyone to know I was diabetic. I didn't want that special attention, I wanted to be on an equal playing field with everyone else there." We are glad you did take that leap into a vulnerable position, and by doing so you are helping so many others out there!