INTO Asks: Are Straight People Okay?

Listen, we here at INTO don’t want to come off as judgmental. We’re just concerned, is all. So we’re checking in: Hey, straight people, are you okay?

In this new video, our panelists gather to check in with heterosexuals and make sure they’re doing all right. Judging by some of their social media posts, the answer is a resounding no! For example, take this tweet:

“Is he your child, or is he your boyfriend?” panelist Bella Ja Ja asks. If we’re having to ask, you understand why we’re concerned!

Watch the full video below.

20 Queer Q’s with Matt Rogers

The 20 Queer Qs series seeks to capture LGBTQ+ individuals (and allies) in a moment of authenticity. We get to know the subjects, what makes them who they are, and what they value. These intimate conversations aim to leave you, the reader, feeling like you just gained a new friend or a new perspective.

This week, get to know comedian, entertainer, and co-host of the Las Culturistas podcast, Matt Rogers. Learn about his hopes for the LGBTQ+ community in the future, what his queerness has given him, what he feels insecure about, and more.

Name: Matt Rogers

Age: 28

Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His

Sexually Identifies As: Gay

1. What do you love about the LGBT community? The various point of views you get within it. I think something you think before you’re actually in the community, is that everyone is the same. You see a kind of antiquated image of the gay community on television, especially in the 90’s when I grew up. The community is so varied, interesting, dynamic, and I’m happy to be a part of it.

 

2. Do you think it’s hard to make queer friends? I don’t think it’s hard, but I definitely think you have to get over yourself. We make it harder for ourselves, and I think one of the symptoms of being gay is that you second guess yourself all the time because that’s what we’ve been told to do and that doesn’t make friendships easy. I’m lucky I’ve had my friends that I’ve been close with for 10 years and having people to go out with and meet people with has made it easier, but when you meet someone new when their super interesting, you feel like you want to make sure you’re good enough for them and I think the insecurity that we all have that is ingrained in us just due to the experiences we’ve been through. That’s what makes it hard to open up to people in terms of friendships and romance.

3. What does pride mean to you? It’s the sense of safety in operating in your full potential as a human being and that’s expressing your joy to the max and having that received by the people around you.

4. Do you think LGBTQ+ youth have it easier now? I don’t like this hierarchy of struggle. Every individual is going through something and I think we need more compassion across the board. I don’t like it when my generation scolds the younger LGBT community. I think we have a lot more in common than we think. I’m so reverent and appreciative of the older generation. They had to go through something I couldn’t even imagine. It’s tragic what this community went through during the AIDS crisis and I think that’s trauma that’s with this generation and they’re angry because they never had to go through that.

I think we look at the younger generation and think, “Wow you’re allowed to be gay at 11 years old.” But at the same time, we don’t know what it’s like to have social media surround us at all times. When I say I don’t like the hierarchy of struggle, I don’t like to compete in terms of pain. I think everyone is entitled to their experience and what’s important is that we have compassion, it’s not that we remind each other that we’ve had it harder than anyone else, even if it’s true. Because it is, there are sects of this community that have had it extremely difficult. Specifically speaking about trans women of color, [they] are the most persecuted, disrespected, berated, and pursued negatively people on this planet. I think it would be ridiculous on this planet to say that they didn’t have it rough every single day. But I also think we should have compassion for everyone. In terms of these younger kids, they’re still grappling with their identity and are still in the minority and still need compassion.

5. What advice do you have for LGBTQ+ youth? Don’t be afraid of other individuals that are also different. Foster relationships with people that you find a connection with. If you feel a connection, foster that, because your community is going to be your family one day.

6. Do you believe in love? Yes.

7. What are values that you look for in an ideal partner? Patient, non-judgemental, gets it in terms of humor. You don’t have to be funny, you just have to get it.

8. Describe what being queer is like in 3-5 words. Girl, we are getting there.

9. What are your thoughts on people who say “masc4masc”? They’re people who are not going to get my attention or anyone’s attention who’s worthwhile. It’s a ridiculous thing to say which is a gross symptom of our community which is the app culture. It’s one of the ways in which the ugliness in our community is living out loud. It’s so gross and we’re so much better and [more] beautiful than that.

10. What hopes do you have for the LGBTQ+ community in the future? Happiness. I hope that for everyone, I hope that everyone can just get to a point where they say I love myself as much as I pretend to or as much as I see. I hope we can walk the world and be safe.

 

11. Is there a LGBTQ+ TV show or movie that has had a great impact on you? RuPaul’s Drag Race had the greatest impact on me, because the concept of “You’re born naked and the rest is drag” changed my life. … I realized that there are no rules, the only rules that you make are the ones that you impose on yourself. And that is so liberating.

12. What’s your earliest memory that you felt you were different? When I was little, the characters that I wanted to act out in the yard were all female — and my parents acted weird about it. My mom even asked our doctor about why I was doing that and the doctor said,  “It’s because he’s very smart, he wants to take on different personas.” I was perceptive enough to understand that my instincts were not “normal,” and it was gauging that from the reaction they had.

13. What do you feel most insecure about? My body,

14. What do you feel the most confident about? My sense of humor.

15. What’s your relationship with your family like? Very good, very positive, I’m very lucky in that regard and I see them often.

16. Have you found your chosen family? How do they make you feel? Absolutely 100%, and I’m so lucky. Oftentimes when I’m at Thanksgiving with extended family I’m like, “Why aren’t i with my real family?” It’s so true what they say, it’s such an integral thing for a gay person is to find those people

17. On a grading scale from F-A, how is life for you right now? A-. In the grand scheme of things, I can eat, I’m out here pursuing my goals, I do what I want, I have good family, my family and friends are healthy.

18. Have you ever felt/do you still feel uncomfortable holding another guys hand in public? Yes, unfortunately because no matter where you go, you are exposed and you hear horror stories. This is something I think people need to understand. You cannot fully understand the full experience of someone who is different or a minority because you don’t have those small instincts. Like when I hold someone’s hand in public, that’s marking yourself vulnerable and there’s a lot of crazy people out there.

19. Who is someone in your life who gets you? Bowen Yang, my best friend understands me 100%. We have a sort of sixth sense with each other, we’re very empathetic to each other, we often speak in the same cadences at the same time.

20. What value/quality has being queer given you? What have you gained? It’s given me my sense of humor and that’s everything to me. It’s given me my point of view which is great to pair with a sense of humor.

Listen to Matt’s podcast Las Culturistas wherever you listen to podcasts. Keep up with him and his upcoming shows in NYC and LA on Twitter and Instagram.

15 Last-Minute Queer Gifts You Can Buy At CVS This Weekend Because Wow, Really, You Waited This Long?

Sure, you still have a few days before Christmas, but do you really want to go to the mall or pray Amazon will come through with that express shipping? Why don’t you just go to CVS where you can find a parking spot and a get a gift for a good deal? 

You may be thinking, “IDK, seems trashy–not chic,” but you’d be mistaken. There are plenty of Santa-approved options for all of those you are obligated to buy gifts for, and why should you have to go out of your way when it’s your Christmas too?! This is physical and emotional labor, tbh, and they will get what they get and they will LIKE IT.

Hanukkah Observant Blue Balls

These socks are a perfect pick for anyone you are giving a belated gift to under the guise of being a pagan who celebrates all holidays this season so is it really *that* belated?

High Femme Reindeer

Behind every Rudolph is a Clarice, encouraging her man to STFU and get it together and sleigh. An inspirational gift for the new year.

Lesbian Snow Birds

Kiss it, kiss it better, baby. (Note: You’d have to purchase both or else she’s flying solo.) Also available in all-blue for the gay mens, or switch it up with blue and pink for bisexual visibility.

Bisexual Barbies 

Speaking of, Babs and her boo are ready to hit the town in their blue and pink lewks, but you can also keep them at home to pose in the images you can no longer find by searching “lesbian” on Tumblr.

Snow Top Minnie

Mickey’s a bottom and you know it. Friends and lovers who hit Disney for Gay Days and the slopes for the Gram will at least say “Wow, thank you so much!” for this, even when they don’t mean it because really, what are you supposed to do with stuffed animals as a grown adult? Not your problem!

Chocolate Balls

A true classic. Stuff that stocking.

Genitals in a Box

An all gender-inclusive take on the Justin Timberlake original. Genitals not included!

Stress Unicorn 

For when you need to brush someone’s hair at length and your S.O. keeps telling you to stop now because OW THAT HURTS.

Stankface McGee AKA Grumpy Cat

Ideal for white elephant gift exchanges because whoever ends up with this one will surely look just like this if everyone else gets vodka and gift cards.

Blackhearted Bah Humbag Hat

Goth greetings and to all, eternal night. Pairs well with coal.

Lavender Luxury

Who doesn’t love a gift basket of what-the-fuck-brand-is-this-but-I-love-a-hand-cream-so-that’s-cool-I-guess? Don’t forget to remove the price tag.

The Glow Up

For the mommish figure in your life who has fully transitioned to holiday turtlenecks and brooches, or anyone going to a holiday rave, or both.

Wise Guys

Pair this with a cheeky card that says: “Heard you were into threesomes.”

Pink Shit

This mug is for anyone who overuses emojis and regrets it becoming their thing now.

A Subtle Mint Hint

Best for giving right before the mistletoe, ya hoe.

Images by Bronwyn Lundberg; Santa by Alex Schmider

When Straight Black Comics Keep Homo and Transphobia As Part of Their Sets

In his 2017 Netflix special Equanimity, Dave Chappelle wanted us to know a few things.

First and foremost, he wanted us to know that he’s hilarious. I never questioned his talent. At least not until his opening bit in Equanimity, in which the “and then I kicked her in the pussy” punchline turned him into a weird parody of himself.

The second thing he wanted us to know is that he has nothing against trans or gay people, he just really enjoys making fun of them.

Since his highly publicized comeback, Chappelle made numerous jokes about transgender people where the punchline was that he doesn’t really understand what being transgender means. He deadnames and misgenders Caitlyn Jenner, uses slurs and claims that trans people haven’t faced the same kind of violence as Black people, completely erasing the very visible existence of Black trans folks. Equanimity is no different, and it’s an urgent reminder that we must stop laughing at ignorance.

Even after admitting to feeling guilty about making his trans and gay fans feel bad about themselves, Chappelle refused to do himself the favor of getting educated about what transgender people actually experience. I’m unsure about whether it’s the fetishism of controversy or just flaccid sincerity that makes him content in his own ignorance, but he specifically prefaces jokes with things like: “I have no problem with transgender people,” before saying something transphobic; “not to victim blame,” before saying that the 14-year-old actor assaulted by Kevin Spacey turned out to be gay anyway, as if that at all lessens the trauma.

When Kevin Hart’s response to being held accountable for his past homophobia was to say he “is in a different place” since making those jokes, without actually apologizing for remarks about taking violent preventative methods to ensure his son doesn’t become gay, he didn’t only miss the point of the criticism he was facing, he showed a deep lack of understanding of the contextual experience of queer people. When he was tweeting about threatening violence if his son was gay in 2011, it was still illegal for gay people to get married in this country.

Comedy that concerns itself with punching down is a mode of cultural commentary. Not only does it target people with already limited rights, but it also contributes to their oppression. Just because Hart feels he’s grown as a person and he’s focused on positivity or whatever other nonsense he tricked himself into believing to be true doesn’t mean the actual tangible effects of the homophobia he perpetuates cease to exist. You don’t get to decide what I need or deserve after you’ve actively contributed to my pain.

Michael Che’s subsequent defense of Hart on SNL, where he claimed that if Hart isn’t clean enough to host the Oscars then no Black comic is, brought back my long discarded disappointment in Dave Chappelle and Black comics who separate queerness and Blackness in order to more ardently use the former as a punchline. If you’re going to turn people’s lives into trivial jokes, the least you could do is stop willfully misunderstanding them. The distillation of people’s identities shows a level of privilege straight Black comics aren’t even remotely willing to acknowledge.

But it can’t work like that. You can’t bluntly accuse white people of being privileged and refuse to assess your own cisgender and heterosexual privilege. It’s not enough to say “I understand what you’re going through because of 400 years of oppression but also just wait your turn,” as if queer bodies don’t also bear those wounds.

Black lesbian comics are not an especially large demographic. Wanda Sykes, who I consider to be one of the funniest people alive, is the only person I’ve seen find a way to synthesize my experience so cohesively.

In its 43-year history, SNL only just recently hired its first Black lesbian writer, Sam Jay. That Che, as a head writer on SNL, couldn’t be bothered to check in with someone who experiences the duality of these identities before dismissing Hart’s homophobia is the same level of self-righteousness that made Hart refuse to apologize in the first place.

The biggest dilemma in criticizing a marginalized community that you’re a part of is the fear of giving oppressors ammunition with which to further vilify you. It’s true that I experience racism in the queer community as well as homophobia in the Black community, and the burden of pretending I don’t is one I refuse to bear. Black comics aren’t inherently more homophobic than white comics, but watching Black men actively fighting for their right to be homophobic or transphobic because white comics get to do it without accountability makes all their pleas for racial equality moot. It makes their concern about the vilification of Black men (while dismissing that of queer people) hypocritical.

As a Black lesbian and a comedian, it’s hard for me to outright dismiss certain straight Black comics who have a history of homophobia, because they make me feel seen. They vocalize the internal criticism of my own Blackness so poignantly, yet they’re also a reminder that I have to constantly choose which part of myself I’m willing to sacrifice to feel like a whole person. If I choose to be Black, I can enjoy their comedy without a second thought and brush my feelings as a queer woman aside. But frankly, I’m just not sure compartmentalizing myself is worth feeling seen by an hour-long Netflix special from someone who views violent threats to my queer existence as nothing more than a punchline.

Relax, Gays, Hell is Going To Be Lit

At three years old, I learned about Hell. Since then, I had a clear image of what that unholy place was; a dark dungeon that burned with the heat of one million blue stars. I saw a lake of bubbling lava, where the angel of death rowed a boat made of human flesh and bones. Whenever I thought about Hell, I heard the screams of the trillions of lost souls there.

And when I first started to discover my queerness at eight years old, I saw Hell as the place my soul would reside for eternity whenever the sun set on my life.

My pastor and loved ones (religious and otherwise) championed the idea that all queer people would roast in Hell. I felt myself die whenever the television pastors my mother watched every day had sermons on homosexuality. They always recited 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Afraid of going to Hell, I wanted to cleanse myself of the “homosexual demon” that corrupted my young body — that’s what my pastor called it. I felt my young life fading away quickly, and myself failing to expunge the demon that condemned my soul to a tortured eternity. I didn’t realize it then, but that was my personal Hell: being forced to consider and dread my life after death throughout my entire childhood.

It wasn’t until my grandfather’s death in 2012 that I started questioning my Christian faith. All of my family claimed that my grandfather went to Heaven. But he’d lived an ungodly life. He abused his children. He had an addiction to drugs. He did not believe in God. How could someone like my grandfather go to Heaven and not me?

If God made everyone in his image — as the Holy Bible says — why is my queerness so repulsive to him? Why didn’t he just make me heterosexual? Why do I serve a God that doesn’t want me in his kingdom because of how he made me? Why do I serve a God that forgives the most terrible people and not LGBTQ people, regardless of how good they are?

Obviously, for the same reason he created the tree of knowledge and told Adam and Eve not to eat from it — and that is no reason at all.

When I finally abandoned my Christian faith in 2013, I could not destroy the image of Hell that burned vividly in my mind. I no longer believed or trusted in the Christian God, but I still believed in Hell — and I still believed that I was going there when I died. I wanted to believe that Hell did not exist, but people like Michael Botsford who claim to have died, gone to Hell, and returned to life reminded me that there is a possibility that Hell exists.

Even now, I still believe Hell exists. However, as Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” I can’t change the fact that I believe Hell exists, but I can change how I feel about Hell. As I changed my attitude towards Hell, I felt freedom like I’ve never felt it before.

I stopped seeing Hell as a place for lost souls and started seeing Hell as a place for people who discovered themselves here on Earth. I stopped seeing Hell as a fiery wasteland and a utopia where puritanical hypocrites were not allowed. If Hell truly exists, I’d rather be there than in Heaven. In Heaven, I can’t be my unapologetically queer self — in Hell, I can be. I’d just be hot all the damn time.

The Bible pretty much prohibits fun of any sort. I don’t want to live in a place where I’d be condemned to Hell if I caught a hard-on or accidentally shook my penis too hard after peeing — that is if we have genitals in the after-life.  

Changing my attitude towards Hell gave me an opportunity to finally enjoy my life a little bit without worrying about what will happen when I die.

Besides, if we read the Bible or ask a radical Evangelical Christian who goes to Hell when they die, they list would be great party companions: The entire Stan Twitter — mostly queer idols, Democrats, sex workers and people who love sex. I’d rather be there than with hypocrites who tell children about Hell so that they live in fear their whole lives.

Illustration by Bronwyn Lundberg

We’re Coming Out

This year for Coming Out Day, the INTO staff is coming clean about some things related to our identities. It’s not always easy to let people know something so personal about you, especially things that can be potentially stigmatizing.

Thank you for being with us at this difficult time, and sharing in our relief.

Are Trans Men Ready to Laugh About Their Binders?

You’ve probably seen the kind of video that INTO’s new video, “Trans Men Talk About Their First Binder,” parodies. There’s sad music and trans people are asked to talk about their bodies for a cisgender audience.

That’s not this video.

This video features trans men talking about their binders, while allowing them to laugh about the situation. I sat down with INTO’s Head of Video, Rocco Kayiatos, and the site’s talent manager, Alex Schmider, to talk about what it meant to create content by trans men and for trans men and how this is an intervention into a media landscape that treats trans bodies as tragic.

We’ve been talking about wanting to make this video for a while. Do you remember what the genesis of the idea was?

Rocco Kayiatos (RK): Yeah, well, I think after seeing another replica of the video that is so commonplace at this point, of transmasculine people talking about their relationship to their chest binders, I just felt like, “At what point do we get to move beyond talking about the physical experience of being trapped in a body as a trans person?”

Right, and I remember we spoke about moving beyond the physical but also moving beyond media about trans people that is sullen and morose.

RK: Yeah, trans people have whole lives and they have senses of humor. And a lot of trans people are really funny and I think that that’s not showcased frequently because media is being made by an outside lens to depict the experience of what it must feel like to be trans instead of what it actually feels like to be trans, which is — just like everyone else, we have a multifaceted life, multifaceted identities and we’re not sitting around musing on the physicality of how tragic it is. I think, in 2018, we can finally move beyond the narrative of the tragic transgender person and the experience of being “trapped” in a body.

Alex Schmider (AS): The reason why we’re able to do that is because the people producing this video are trans themselves. And so we’re in on the joke that everyone who is creating content that isn’t trans is doing it from an outside perspective. Whereas we know the community, we’ve had this experience. If we’re given the opportunity and the space to actually talk about these issues, there is going to be humor because a lot of our experience, we’ve had to make it funny to survive.

RK: Right, and just like there’s no shortage of trans people who will lend their voice to a video talking about their chest binder, I think that we’re now at the point historically and in terms of media representation that wehn trans people are being put in the space to create media about their own lives, the last thing they’re going to do is create something for the outside lens. LIke especially creating digital content, it gives us the freedom to not have to preface. People can join in the conversation exactly where it’s at.

Working for an outlet like INTO, which is queer media made for and by us, we don’t have to talk about what the joke is. We don’t have to explain the joke that we’re making for trans men or transmasculine people. We’re already in on the joke because we’ve already seen this content of like watching this tragic narrative of how oppressive it is to have to wrap you torse up like a mummy everyday to just be able to go out into the world.

Well, there’s something to be said about how a lot of great comedy is turning your trauma into something, like Richard Pryor joking about his own traumas or Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette. So I think then, for you, you don’t have to translate your trauma for other people to understand. It’s an intra-community kind of humor.

RK: Yeah, the whole video is an inside joke.

At the end, you do have a disclaimer saying that it’s a joke but it’s also not a funny issue, so how do you respond to people who might say, “I don’t think that this is something to joke about.”

RK: Yeah, I think that the joke is not about the experience of wearing a binder or of being uncomfortable in your body. The joke is about the outside gaze on trans people being so hyper focused on the physical experience. So the joke is not at our expense; it’s for us to be able to laugh at the constant curiosity and portrayal of our bodies being these tragic and uncomfortable or unreasonable things we have to wrap and hide and disguise or however the outside lens would turn that. So the joke is for us.

I also think that you can find things humorous or not humorous at different points in your life. Because i’m not trans, I can’t relate to this but I can say perhaps for some gay men when they’re younger, they’re not ready to joke about coming out, but there’s a point where you can joke about being in the closet or some trauma that happened to you. But maybe someone who objects to it may not be ready to joke about that.

RK: Absolutely.

AS: But the availability of something like this or the access to content like this is pretty much nonexistent. Up until this point we weren’t able to talk about this experience from an inside perspective and comment on the stereotypes of trans people being only about their bodies. Now, when that trans person is ready, there will be something out there for them, because now it’s here.  

RK: And sometimes I feel like you need to open a vent for people because it’s like a pressure cooker for trans bodies, lives, rights, etc. When the bathroom bills were a hot topic a couple of years ago, I got to work on creating a video for a different outlet about what trans people actually do in the bathroom and it’s this spoof on a true crime kind of narrated … it’s an investigation into what trans people do in the bathroom and it turns out we’re doing the same thing that everyone is doing. They’re taking a piss, they’re washing their hands, they’re checking to make sure they don’t have boogers hanging out of their nose, they’re brushing their teeth like regular bathroom things. But that’s the gag, right?

And it might not be funny to someone who has experienced violence or trauma in a bathroom, but it was a vent and a moment of reprieve from having the focus be on the danger or the discomfort of being trans it was just for the community to be able to laugh. It was so great to have this moment to laugh about how crazy it is that the outside gaze is so constantly fixated on how dangerous we are and how disturbing our bodies are. So this ideally is another kind of extension of that where it just allows people to hit pause on the trauma and tragedy assigned to our bodies and get to see the humor in the obsession of overdramatizing and obsessing over how sad it is for trans people.

AS: And how rare do we get to relieve that tension. How often do we get to relieve that constant tension?

RK: In media, very rarely.

It’s like that saying, that comedy is tragedy plus time.

RK: Who said that? I love that.

I don’t know, it’s just a saying. Specifically, this is also a video about transmasculine people. I think this video is also an intervention into a landscape of trans-focused media made by non-trans people that is focused only on transfeminine people. What is it like as the producers to be able to assemble a cast of trans men to be in a video together?

RK: I mean, it’s a mix of things for me. Having been a person who is focused on trying to create media representations for transmasculine people and trans men, I always feel a little bit afraid of taking up that space, but I also feel like it’s really important. Being put into a position where I’m the head of the video department here, I haven’t stepped into that space of making as much tran scontent as I’d like to and w’ere slowly getting to the point of where we can make more trans-specific content and more transmasculine and trans male content. It feels powerful and exciting and also scary.

AS: As someone coming from not the creative side of representation, but the consulting and media watchdogging, it’s nice to create something for us, by us and with us. And in the same way Rocco was talking about, it’s a little scary to step into this space, but it’s also really necessary. There’s so little representation for us, so I think you know the more we can take up that space and speak up and share experiences in ways and on media outlets like INTO, the more we can connect with each other over our trauma and the humor of life and the experiences we have.

It always does kinda go back to those really deep issues, but when you’re talking about non-queer outlets that do stories about queer people that always focus on the trauma, that then sends the message to young queer and trans babies that there’s still only trauma ahead. Like, “You’re going to be in your 20s and 30s and still mourning and being sad!” and it’s like what is more important ot show young queer and trans people than laughter?

AS: Yeah, we’re fucking resilient! That’s the whole point. We can laugh and make something out of this.

RK: At something that did occupy a great amount of mental space for each one of us at one point, most likely. The biggest impetus to make this — we’ve been joking about making this video for months now, internally. What pushed me was over the weekend, a friend told me had to have surgery and after surgery, he was unravelling mentally and having this mental breakdown around the relationship to his body and surgery aftercare. He was looking everywhere for anything: an article, a YouTube video. Just desperate to find any kind of connecting point of what to do for his mental health after surgery and couldn’t find a single thing.

I’m not saying this is mental health care, but it is kind of a commentary and hopefully a stepping stone into that next phase of thinking about gender, thinking about the trans experience as less than just a physical experience. Because it hnk more often than not we tend to quote statistics or pathologize but not really think about how to take care of ourselves. And something as simple as making a joke is the first step to having a conversation about a missing piece in the trans narrative in the media landscape, which is how to take care of yourself mentally.

If you are currently struggling with issues surrounding binding or are in need of a binder, visit Point of Pride, FTM Essentials, and The Transitional Male for information about chest binder donations and giveaways. Additionally, read here about how to bind yourself safely.

Queer Women Go Head-to-Head in The Butch Off

Through fun and competitive challenges, co-hosts Brittany Ashley and Laura Zak poke fun at historically “gendered” assumptions about who excels at what, and explore what it means to be “butch” or to have butch energy.

The Butch Off is an homage to those with a butch identity, where they encourage an interpretation of butchness that defies binary gender and exhibits an ability to take care of others, be emotionally vulnerable, considerate, confident, resourceful, and strong. 

Watch the new INTO video below:

Cindy Foster Makes Lesbian Jokes Funny Again

Never underestimate the power of a dyke with a cell phone in the middle of the woods the content could be riveting.

Cindy Foster is the 52-year-old Massachusetts-based comedian who has created one of the latest viral videos you’ve likely seen being shared online. Her sarcastic sense of humor and charming demeanor are infectious.

In 2016, Foster recorded herself chanting lesbian hymns in the middle of the woods and posted it to her personal Facebook page. The intent was to spark some laughs within her friend group (which, she says, numbered only 80). One share led to another, and in turn, Lesbian Nature Calls has continued to go viral, reaching a staggering 3 million views.

“Being a lesbian,” she begins, “I have to come out to the woods every single morning to make sure that Iam in touch with nature, grounded into the earth and filled with lesbianism.”

She invites the viewer “to her sacred journey of lesbianism,”holds her necklace into the air and, in a Xena-like bird call, yells out “Lllllllllesbian! Ddddddyke dyke dyke dyke!”

“I never imagined this would happen,” Foster tells INTO. “I’m just this 52-year-old mom from Western Massachusetts.”

Foster always wanted to be a comedian, but didn’t pursue it until later in her life after she decided to take a stand up comedy class at her local community college. Her first gig was at a gay club in Northhampton called Diva’s.

“After the first time I performed stand up, I got off the stage and was brought to tears by all of the positive energy I was receiving. I love how I have the ability to help people escape even if it’s only for 20 or 30 minutes.”

Foster says her original comedy inspiration was Lucille Ball. “Of course I’ve always loved Ellen, too, and I miss her stand up very much,” she says. “I love what she’s doing now, though, and I am determined to someday be on her couch.”

Not all of Foster’s content has been received positively. Last year, when a Christian mom blogger canceled her family’s trip to Disneyworld after learning thatthere was a gay character in the remake of Beauty and the Beast, Foster created a spoof making fun of the issue. The video was picked up by a few hate sites and she says she received death threats.

“This situation is how I learned to not read the comments unless they’re on my personal Facebook page,” Foster says. “I do this because I love to make people laugh — I don’t want any negativity to interfere with that. At first, I wanted everyone to like me, but I got over that real quick.”

Foster’s video “Follow this guide to track your own bisexual in the woods” was another that posed the potential for some controversy. Foster made sure to express how much she supports inclusivity within the LGBTQ community.

“I remember back in the day where the bisexuals were forced to have their own Pride parade. I always thought this was wrong,” she jokes. “Why are we going to exclude 80% of our dating population?”

“Even when I do standup, the only person I make fun of is myself,” Foster says, “and my parents a little but I’m not mean.”

Foster has only been doing comedy for five years now, but this year in particular was a game-changer for her.

“I’m enjoying this ride immensely,” she says. “I was out in P-town recently and some women started crying when they saw me and wanted to touch my necklace.”

In most of Foster’s videos, she wears a metal tree of life necklace around her neck. The necklace, given to her by a friend, is easily recognizable in Lesbian Nature Calls where she uses it to assist her in lesbian chants.

“I like it because it’s kind of heavy and it keeps me grounded. Also Scott Baio, who I was always in love with and met in 1979, wore this necklace his grandmother gave him and girls loved it,” she says. “I knew I needed a decoy.”

Foster says she’s heard from many fans of Lesbian Nature Calls, including some who felt the courage to come out after watching, and another who said she appreciated the laugh while going through chemotherapy.

“That is something I just can’t possibly wrap my brain around,” she says gratefully.

In September, Foster will be performing at Worcester Pride in Worcester, Massachusetts for the sixth time. She also has plans to perform in Boston following a tour with stops in Texas, Colorado, and Canada, and the hopes of a four-day Cindy Foster Fan-Fest Cruise.

Foster is writing a sitcom with her best friend that she hopes to eventually find a home for (Netflix, she says, is ideal).

“We have a couple of amazing ideas in the works,” she says. “I want to surround myself with an all-women team on this journey.”

The journey, she says, has been fast-paced, but exciting.

“I think of it as that part on Finding Nemo when the turtles were in that current that was moving so fast,”she says. “Then along the way, I keep picking up other turtles I want to continue the ride with.”