What Do You Think?
You Might also like
By Julia Fox
While a major hurdle for LGBT rights in the western hemisphere has finally been overcome in the past few years (legalization of gay marriage in both the United States and the United Kingdom), it looks less and less hopeful that same tolerance can be achieved globally.
In former communist bloc countries, the period for modest LGBT freedoms was brief, and homophobia is still widespread. Homosexuality is often considered an abnormality and in some cases, prosecuted under the criminal law.
These countries have a vast population of LGBT members who have lived in the closet for most of their lives while obliged to form traditional families. Spending the majority of their lives attempting to pass as heterosexuals to gain social approval and often engaging in secret same-sex relationships, these gay men and women end up with irreversible damage to their physical and mental health.
‘Coming out is no longer a matter of popular debate, but a matter of public health,’ claim scientists from Louis H. Lafontaine Hospital in Montreal.
But for some who spent most of their lives in the closet, it might be just impossible.
Whether it is the fear of being rejected by their now grown children, being criminalized by the homophobic society or ostracised by their own community, or the strong belief they would be unable to rebuild their lives with their new identity, these men and women are too broken to start anew.
Here are the main ailments that are likely to develop if you are forced to keep your sexual identity a secret from society and often from yourself:
- Dissociative Identity Disorder. Notable psychiatrist Sullivan and Roughton have discovered that closeted individuals routinely separate their attractions and feelings for the persons of the same sex from their identity. That means these men and women find their desires so unacceptable that they keep them out of their conscious awareness, separating their sexual identity from the rest of their persona. Blocking the anxiety-provoking thoughts about their sexuality forces them to lead a double life and are very often unaware of it.
- Chronic Depression. Increased fear and withdrawal from friends and relatives and the chronic stress of hiding one’s sexuality can lead to excess amounts of cortisol in the body, which contributes to severe depression as well as the general ‘wear and tear’ of the body. Scientists at the Centre for Studies on Human Stress at Louis H. Lafontaine Hospital in Montreal found that staying in the closet weakens your whole immune system in addition to leading to chronicle depression.
- Self-disgust & self-hatred. Socialised into thinking that being non-heterosexual is somehow ‘mad,’ ‘bad,’ ‘wrong’ or ‘immoral,’ many closeted gay and lesbian individuals develop internalized homophobia. They find that they do not belong and do not fit in either the ‘straight world’ or the ‘gay world.’ This painful feeling often leads to self-disgust, self-hatred and contempt for the more open LGBT members.
- Low self-esteem and negative self-view. Both can lead to avoiding fulfilling relationships with others. Spending the majority of their lives attempting to pass as heterosexuals to gain social approval, many closeted individuals develop low self-esteem and negative body image, which brings with them such issues as fear of intimacy, deep shame about their sexual experiences and inability to develop emotional intimacy, psychologists claim.
- Alcohol/drug-abuse & suicidal thoughts. Growing increasingly withdrawn and depressed, closeted individuals often follow unsafe sexual practices and engage in other destructive, risk-taking behaviours. Being ostracised by the community, fearing shame and physical torture and imprisonment, creating heterosexual families and dissociating themselves from gay population altogether leads many to a life of substance abuse and addictions. Constantly haunted by suicidal thoughts, many consider ending their lives.
My relationship with a closeted gay man, Sasha (who was actually my husband’s lover years before I married him and I chronicle in my memoir And Then There Were Three: Sixty Seven Letter to Sasha) opened my eyes to the many aspects of homosexuality and the life paths that LGBT men and women choose in the parts of the world where homosexuality is still considered an abnormality.
The freedoms that sexual minorities enjoy in democratic countries today are precious and unheard of in such places as Ukraine, Russia, Belorussia, Azerbaijan and other post-Soviet territories. Giving American LGBT members a glimpse into the lives of those who are less fortunate and still struggling for their rights will be an eye-opening read for many.
Julia Fox immigrated from Russia in her late teens, settling in the United States in the early 90s. She published two books of poetry before leaving her home country, both in Russian, and published two more in English language after immigrating. And Then There Were Three: Sixty Seven Letters to Sasha is her first autobiographical memoir.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place.
Cover Photo Credit: Carlos Luz/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 47
What Do You Think?
What’s News With This Story:
–Brandon Okpalobi has made waves in Miami’s non-profit space with his organization Dibia Dream.
-The non-profit exposes at risk youth to unique opportunities in STEM fields and in sports.
–Okpalobi is a former University of Miami basketball player. He also runs a for profit youth sports training company.
–Okpalobi has big dreams for the organization and hopes to see it expand to more locations across South Florida and other parts of the world.
Giving is a trait that Brandon Okpalobi exercises every day.
This young CEO of a youth training program works with children frequently to unlock their potential through sports.
A former University of Miami basketball player, Okpalobi became an entrepreneur and nonprofit founder after his playing days ended.
And in many ways, Okpalobi has never been part of a more important team than he is now.
Okpalobi, 35, founded Dibia Athletic Development in 2011.
The company, which trains young people in various athletic skills operates in Miami, New Orleans and overseas in Bermuda and the Bahamas.
He also expects to expand the program to Latin American and Nigeria soon.
In 2014 he was able to expand the brand to Dibia Dream, a non-profit that helps underserved youth develop life skills.
Okpalobi said that he gives back to his community because of the example he saw from his father.
“In 2007 my father took me to Nigeria and built a community center for his village,” Okpalobi said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “I saw the impact from it and I realize I need to give back more because that is going to bring the change we want to see.”
Okpalobi grew up in New Orleans to a Nigerian immigrant family.
He was a standout high school basketball player and attended the University of Miami in the early 2000s.
He was a guard on UM’s basketball team from 2001 to 2005 when he went undrafted in the NBA Draft.
When playing in the NBA was no longer his goal, Okpalobi used basketball as a vehicle to pursue other ventures.
“Basketball is my everything,” Okpalobi said. “It brought me to Miami, it kept me in Miami, it allowed me to start my for profit and opened up doors I never had.”
Dibia Dream is Okpalobi’s nonprofit that he launched in 2014.
This venture exposes under-served children to activities like art enrichment, science education and athletic training so they can develop new skills.
It has quickly become established in Miami’s growing non-profit space.
Through this program, Okpalobi has helped expose over 4,000 children to experiences they would have never otherwise experienced and has given out 600 scholarships for summer enrichment experiences.
One of the major features of Dibia Dream is STEM Saturdays.
On Saturdays during the school year, Dibia Dream allows students to participate in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) projects.
Okpalobi designed the program to be a “safe haven” for at risk kids during the weekend.
In 2016 Okpalobi was a recipient of the BMe Community Award.
This is a $10,000 grant given to black men leaders in South Florida who are trying to better the community.
Okpalobi used his grant to expand the STEM and arts program at Dibia Dream.
“We want to give the kids as many options as possible,” Okpalobi said. “When kids have more exposure to these things they tend to look at different career opportunities.”
According to Okpalobi, Dibia means “master of knowledge/wisdom” in Igbo.
According to the Dibia website:
“The term refers to traditional healers, experts and doctors. The process of becoming a DIBIA involves years of training and many levels of initiation. DIBIA means TRAIN TO BE GREAT.”
In July 2017, Dibba Dream partnered with the Nyah Project to bring 10 students to South Africa.
The group worked with three schools on various projects and made an impact in the area according to Okpalobi.
Okpalobi has done a lot to serve the children and he plans to do even more in 2018.
Coming up in January, Diba Athletic Program is organizing the sports clinic for Zo’s Winter Groove, the event hosted by former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning.
He also plans to open two more facilities for Dibia Dream in North Miami and Liberty City.
Okpalobi’s latest act of giving was a toy drive he organized with Eneida M. Hartner Elementary School on December 20th.
The goal was to give toys to the less fortunate and homeless children at the school, but there was a problem.
How do you give toys to poor kids without embarrassing them in front of their classmates?
To keep the privacy of the children who were less fortunate, Okpalobi worked with 14 year old Ransom Everglades High School student Jack Fitzpatrick to provide a lunch from Jimmy Johns and a toy.
Fitzpatrick and his family raised $10,000 on GoFundMe for the kids at Eneida M. Hartner.
Last year, he raised $5,000 for the same cause.
Okpalobi is highly regarded at the school.
“It’s a blessing to have someone within the community to reach out and wants to be apart of the school,” Dr. Derick R. McKoy, the Principal of Eneida M. Hartner Elementary School told RISE NEWS. “He wants the best for children and he helps Eneida Hartner bring the world to the children.”
McKoy drove the point home further.
“You know the African Proverb, ‘it takes a village’?,” McKoy asked during an interview. “Well, I’m happy Brandon is in my village.”
RISE NEWS is South Florida’s digital news magazine. Follow us on Facebook to make sure you never miss a story!
Have a news tip about this topic or something completely different? Send it on in to email@example.com.Post Views: 224
What Do You Think?
By Nick Hickman
It is both exhilarating and intimidating; the fuel of the youth and the burden of the curmudgeon; the moment when overwhelming hysteria meets eager anticipation, uniting in triumphant beauty. Court storming.
Some have experienced the sensation but many more have watched the familiar scene unfold on the T.V. in front of them.
And thanks to Arizona head coach Sean Miller, we now have a reason to dispute and debate the prospect of court storming until, once more, we lose interest after a lack of action.
After his team’s 75-72 loss, Miller spoke out saying, “eventually what’s going to happen in the Pac-12 is this: An Arizona player is going to punch a fan… out of self defense.” Miller continued on to voice a specific frustration over a lack of concern for player safety.
And the hard truth is that he’s not wrong. The decent of hundreds of college students down onto the same floor as the visiting players is nothing but an unruly, chaotic mess, and has long been a nightmare for coaches. As a fan, you want nothing else. It is the unspoken marketing pitch for every big game; if we beat the unbeatable, we storm the court and we go berserk.
However, more than that is another hard reality; court storming is near impossible to stop. The S.E.C. is the only conference with a formal penalty in place, an incremental fine that extends up to $250,000.
While it has reduced the frequency of occurrences, it has far from stopped them. In the waning seconds of a 2014 South Carolina upset win over 17th-ranked Kentucky, the public address announcer warned Gamecock fans not to storm the court for risk of fine. The school ended up coughing up $25,000, something the students—most of which pay between $26,000 – $45,000 to attend—didn’t seem to mind.
What we can do, however, is be smart. In the face of a crisis we must not blink, but instead learn from our past blunders.
This is, perhaps, the kind of situation that would benefit from a sort of last resort, instructive list of principles. Allow me to digress.
Rule #1, always protect the players. Security for the players and coaches alike is no longer debatable. While coaches receive an escort, it must be customary for players to receive the same protection while leaving the court. It is far easier to protect twelve players than it is to prevent hundreds of students from storming the court. What’s more is that it allows security personnel to act with justified authority in the event that a student posse a threat to a visiting player.
After Kansas St.’s upset win over rival Kansas last season, campus police issued a student a disorderly conduct citation for forcefully bumping Kansas forward Jamari Taylor in the midst of a court storming celebration. The current policy states that it’s the responsibility of individual conferences and schools to provide appropriate security, which only leaves 351 different Division One schools each with their own protocols. There is no excuse, with several designated officers in charge of immediately securing the players the chances of a violent altercation decrease exponentially.
Rule #2, the game must be over. It is unrealistic to think that security ought to restrain students for 2-3 minuets following the game to give players enough time to escape the scene, not to mention, it essentially defeats the purpose behind court storming. But there is, however, a remaining responsibility that must be assumed by the students; do not storm if the game is not yet over.
In a 2009 matchup between Washington St. and Oregon, fans began storming the court after a late Washington St. basket… with .3 seconds still left on the clock. The team was issued a technical, allowing Oregon the opportunity to send the game to overtime where they eventually won. Waiting is hard, but what’s even harder is earning a loss for a team that you don’t even play for.
Rule #3, do not go over, under or through game staff and officials. It’s a pretty straightforward and encompassing rule. There are numerous reporters, analysts, cameramen and officials all surrounding the court. There are also numerous points of entrance to the court. Above all, there are hundreds of students all eager to share and take part in the celebration. The individuals who are being paid for their services at the game do not share the same feeling.
Rule #4, protect the players! I need not touch on the dynamics of college sports revenue and how it’s allocated, but the priority of player safety is unparalleled.
Even the prohibition of court storming, which would initiate outrage from fans, would likely have a greater financial impact than hiring a few extra security guards.
Rule #5, remember that you don’t want to fight a player. The evolving technology that we’ve all gotten used to can be deceiving, let me assure you, you do not want to engage in a fight with the 215lb, six-foot-eight forward that you’ve been mocking all night. Those are, already, not great odds and when you combine them with the raw emotion following a heartbreaking loss you are perfecting the ingredients for a recipe that you do not want to taste.
Rule #6, do not enter the court if you cannot also exit it. Yes, this is a necessary rule. In 2013, following their win over Duke, North Carolina St. forward C.J. Leslie assisted a student who had fallen from his wheelchair in the midst of storming the court. The student later admitted it was, the “dumbest thing” to do. If you are not readily able to fend for yourself amongst a heard of wild and crazed fanatics, please do not even attempt the exercise.
Rule #7, don’t forget that we’re all on the same team. Before the game it was a mass migration with everyone heading for the arena. During the game and as the camera pans over the student section a roar erupts in unison, a collective and exultant battle cry. It’s a sad tale when group members are hurt by their own, but it’s a story that has been told before.
In 1993, what became known as the “Camp Randall Crush” left 70 Wisconsin fans injured after storming the court in their team’s win over Michigan. It’s undoubtedly a moment to cherish and celebrate, but in doing so, you must also look out for the kid that sits three rows ahead of you in class.
Report on the Camp Randall Crush:
RULE #8, ALWAYS PROTECT THE PLAYERS!!
Rule #9, remember what you’re celebrating. Just like the Cup Noodles that sits ominously at the back of your pantry, court storming can get old real quickly. It is a rare gem that must be kept scarce in order to preserve its value. Storming the court in light of any circumstances beyond a notable win is a disservice to every basketball fan in the country.
In December of 2014, University of Alabama-Birmingham students stormed the court after a marginal twelve-point victory in order to protest the school’s cut of the football program. But fear not, it’s not too late to save the name of court storming for future generations.
Rule #10, don’t look stupid. This is your chance. Many schools never grace the highlight tapes of ESPN, but you can guarantee that a court-storming win will earn you a spot. Don’t blow it. You don’t want to be the person that hurdles sideline reporters and falls on their face on national T.V. You don’t want to run on the floor with .3 seconds left and cost your team a win. You don’t want to be the headline, you want to save that for the big win.
Cover Photo Credit: John Smith/Flickr (CC by-SA 2.0).Post Views: 57
What Do You Think?