Learning to Love Tommy — My Latest for Splice Today

I was 10 when I first discovered The Who’s Tommy. I rented the cassette tape of the 1975 movie soundtrack, and fell in love with the story of the deaf, dumb, and blind boy who could play a mean pinball. Four years later I watched the movie, and hated it. It was over-the-top and confusing. Luckily I bought the original 1969 Who album shortly after, which washed the awful taste of the movie out of my mouth. It’s still one of my all-time favorite albums.

Now almost 35, I’ve grown to appreciate director Ken Russell’s cinematic interpretation of Tommy. Not only did he bring Pete Townshend’s vision to life, but also added his own interpretation to the story. Tommy tells the story of a boy who becomes psychosomatically deaf, mute, and blind after watching his father kill his mother’s lover. He experiences the outside world through vibrations, and his parents subject him to the abuse of his Cousin Kevin, Uncle Ernie, and the Acid Queen. Despite his disability, Tommy becomes a pinball champion, and when he finally regains his senses he’s hailed as the new messiah. Unfortunately, he abuses his power, his followers disown him, and the story ends with Tommy realizing true enlightenment comes from within.

Read the rest here.

The Biskeptical Podcast #46: Scientific Racism and Atheist Movement Drama

On today’s episode, we’re going to first talk about the recent debate between Sam Harris and Vox writer Ezra Klein about Harris’ interview with Charles Murray, co-author of the infamous book The Bell Curve. We’ll talk about what both Harris and Murray got wrong, and go a little bit into the science behind intelligence and genetics. For the second half of the show, we’ll talk about how stress from all the atheist movement drama led me to a suicidal episode last week, and whether or not being part of the movement is worth it.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #145: My Suicidal Episode

As you may remember from the intro to last week’s episode, I recently had an emergency where I almost drank myself to death. I’m doing much better now, thankfully, but I’ve been focused so much on recovery that I didn’t feel like booking a guest for this week, so instead I’m going to tell you what happened and how I’m re-evaluating my life.

Needless to say, this episode has all the trigger warnings, so if you’re not in a good place right now, you can skip this and come back if and when you’re in a much better space.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to do this episode or not because I’m sure I’ll write about it in future articles and mention it on other podcasts. But since most of you all know me best through this podcast, I figured this would be the best place to share my story right now.

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When Monsters Invade Your Happy Place — My Latest for Splice Today

CW: Sexual abuse

When I was a child, I collected various pop culture icons to create an alternate reality for myself called the Happy Place. It was somewhere I could go whenever the real world became too much, which was frequent. Where the Wild Things AreThe Dark Crystal, Nirvana, The Beatles, TommySuper Mario Bros., The Maxx, and The Legend of Zelda were all pieces of media I used to build a fantasy world that made more sense than the real world.

I pretended I was in Hyrule fighting monsters in order to save the princess. I imagined I was in the Pac-Man maze walking through the halls of school on my way to class. I sat on the couch with my Ren and Stimpy plush dolls and pretended I was watching The Muddy Mudskipper Show with them. Living in the Happy Place was the only way I could make it through my grandmother’s violent temper and the kids bullying me daily at school.

As I got older, I realized many of the people who created the works that went into my Happy Place were extremely problematic. John Lennon was abusive to his first wife and eldest son. David Bowie had sex with a thirteen-year-old girl. More recently, I found out the creator of Ren and Stimpy, John Kricfalusi, is an alleged sexual predator.

Read the rest here.

Bi Any Means Podcast #144: Atheism, Bisexuality, and Activism with Amanda Scott

My guest for today is Amanda Scott. She’s a fellow bisexual atheist activist whose first foray into activism was speaking out against having an “In God We Trust” display being installed in a Mobile, Alabama government building. She’s currently a Georgetown University student studying government and American history, and continues to put her humanist values into action through political activism. Today I have her own the show to talk about her story and her activism.

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The Atheist Movement’s Future — My Latest for Splice Today

CN: Sexual misconduct

I have a love/hate relationship with the atheist movement. On one hand, I’ve experienced more grace, fellowship, and healing among my close-knit group of atheist podcaster friends than in a church. On the other, many prominent atheist activists have either been outed as sexual predators or tried to deny any problems within the movement. The latter has only intensified with the recent BuzzFeed article detailing the sexual misconduct allegations against Lawrence Krauss. While some organizations, like the American Humanist Association and the Center for Inquiry, have cut ties with Krauss, others feel most prominent atheist activists aren’t doing enough to address this issue.

For example, Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist podcast, has received pushback for statements he made on social media regarding sexual misconduct in the atheist movement. While he did call Krauss’ behavior “inexcusable” in a Facebook post, he also referred to several friends of mine in the comment section as “extremists,” and claimed they believe in “a vast conspiracy of frontline male activists who don’t care about respect for and the safety of women.” One of these so-called extremists is Minnesota Atheist associate president Stephanie Zvan, who told me on my Bi Any Means podcast a few weeks ago about the history of prominent men in the atheist movement misusing skepticism as an excuse to not believe in women’s stories. While I’ve deliberately avoided online disputes with Andrews, I’m still disappointed at his poor response to those telling him misogyny in the atheist movement is a systematic problem.

The incidents involving Krauss and Andrews are just the latest examples in a long line of controversies—Elevatorgate, “Dear Muslima,” MythCon, etc.—that have stirred up heated debates about the atheist movement’s future. Some have left the movement altogether, some have formed smaller sub-communities, and others suggest the problematic elements of the movement are just a few bad apples. So where does the atheist movement go from here? Can the movement survive? If so, how?

Read the rest here.

The Biskeptical Podcast #45: NaNoCon ’18 Recap

Today on the show we take a break from the dumpster fire we’re all living in, and instead share our experiences attending NaNoCon a few weeks ago. We talk about our favorite sessions, all the cool people we met, and why you shouldn’t give me special Colorado chocolate.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #143: Going Godless with Max Tang

My guest for today is Max Tang. They were born and raised in a Chinese American Baptist church where they were taught that they must decrease while Christ must increase. After a four-year long process of deconstructing their faith in high school and a painful coming out process, Max is just now giving themself permission to be their true authentic self, and blogs about their experience at Max Goes Godless. Today I have them on the show to tell their story.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #142: How to Avoid Activist Burnout—Live from NaNoCon ‘18

Today’s episode is my NaNoCon presentation “How to Avoid Activist Burnout.” The audio you are about to hear is the 20 minute opening talk and my closing words at the end. What you won’t hear is the discussion questions I asked the audience to discuss among themselves because I didn’t want to put people’s voices online without permission. But overall people said they enjoyed my workshop, and I hope you will do the same.

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We Need To Talk About How Non-Binary Invisibility Affects Mental Health — My Latest for Ravishly

It’s no secret that many LGBTQ people struggle with mental health issues, but some struggle more than others.

For example, a 2011 study shows that out of 33% of LGBT students surveyed that reported suicidal ideation during the previous year, 44% of them were bisexual. Other studies have similar results, and they all suggest bisexual invisibility is the underlying cause. Indeed in my own experience as a bisexual, being caught in the middle of the binary of straight and gay often made me feel like I wasn’t queer enough for the LGBTQ community and not straight enough for the heterosexual world, leaving me feel lost in space in the end.

Recent studies reveal being in the middle of the gender binary isn’t any better. A 2017 study, for example, surveyed over 900 trans youth (ages 14 to 25) and found that non-binary participants reported struggling with mental illness more than binary trans participants. As the study authors speculate, “This group [non-binary youth] is likely to be less understood and acknowledged than transgender youth whose gender identity fits into the man/woman binary, and this may mean nonbinary youth are less likely to have social support.” Another study from last year, conducted by Transgender Europe, found similar results; specifically, that twice as many non-binary people reported struggling with mental health problems as binary trans people.

I asked my non-binary Facebook friends about their experiences with non-binary invisibility. Some, like Ingrid, said their transition would have been a lot easier if they had more support.

Read the rest here.