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Posted on Jul 30, 2014

‘Million Dollar Listing Miami’s Chris Leavitt speaks about what he hopes viewers take from his story

Million Dollar Listing Miami, the newest spinoff of the Bravo series Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, is winding down its first season and out cast member Chris Leavitt spoke with GLAAD about what he hopes viewers take away from his story.

GLAAD: How did you get into real estate? What interested you about the field? 

CHRIS LEAVITT: My parents invested in real estate so I learned the business from a very young age. I also grew to appreciate architecture and interior design so a career in real estate was the perfect fit for me. I was the one who found my parents their home when I was 15 and did the negotiating with the broker because my father couldn't stand him. I also interned for the top broker in Palm Beach at 17 years old during what was called our "senior project" in high school 

GLAAD: What drew you to take part in the Million Dollar Listing Miami series when it was announced?

CL: One of the things I recognized about the show is the intrinsic promotional value. Real estate is a very competitive business and Million Dollar Listing Miami provides unmatched exposure. I am also passionate about helping others and the show provides a national platform for me to speak out about LGBT issues. 

GLAAD: How old were you when you came out? How did your friends and family react?

CL: I was 17 when I came out. They were very supportive and said we love you regardless. Friends that loved me continued to love me and that's all that matters.

GLAAD: What was your childhood like?  Did you have any LGBT role models growing up?

CL: Unfortunately there were no role models growing up. But my father used to take me to see Liberace a few times a year at radio city music hall and I would say if he can be that flamboyant and over the top and fill a room night after night being flamboyant must not be so bad!

GLAAD: What do you hope viewers take away from your story in the series?

CL: I hope viewers understand that anyone can achieve success through hard work and dedication. I love all things luxury but work hard to afford my lifestyle. Despite being bullied and wanting to give up many times, I persevered and succeeded in the end. I would like to say to our LGBT viewers that it does get better. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't fulfill your dreams or not be who you are. If you are flamboyant by nature embrace it, it will be what makes you different and probably what people will love about you.  Anything is possible if you put your mind to it so reach for the stars because success is the best revenge! 

Million Dollar Listing Miami airs on Bravo, Wednesdays at 9:00pm.

July 30, 2014
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Posted on Jul 30, 2014

Rolling Stone profiles trans woman ‘folk hero’ CeCe McDonald in August issue

Today, RollingStone magazine ran a feature story about CeCe McDonald, a trans woman of color whose story gained national attention after she was arrested and charged for the death of her own attacker. GLAAD provided background information and resources about transgender people over the past several months to writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely.

In 2011, CeCe and her friends were walking past a local Minneapolis bar when they were accosted with racist, homophobic, and transphobic slurs by group of white patrons. One of the patrons smashed a glass across CeCe's face, leaving her with a gash through her salivary gland. A fight ensued, and one of her attackers was fatally stabbed.

While the details of the attack have bene reported on more widely, including in this article, RollingStone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely spoke with CeCe about her early life in Chicago, the stigma she faced at school – and at times, from her family – because of how she expressed her identity, and the abuse she endured as a homeless 14-year-old.

CeCe also related how she found support at a drop-in youth center after moving to Minneapolis, gained access to trans-inclusive healthcare, secured a legal name change, enrolled in school studying fashion design, and eventually found her own apartment, where she lived for only a month before being attacked and imprisoned.

Throughout the article, Sabrina contextualizes CeCe's story with information on the widespread issues facing transgender people, and particularly trans women of color, and input from CeCe's peers and friends, including transgender actress Laverne Cox. Cox is a co-producer of the upcoming documentary film, FREE CECE, about CeCe McDonald's life.  

Across many areas of life, trans people face varying levels of harassment, discrimination, assault, and more. In a supplemental article for RollingStone, Sabrina interviewed several trans women about their experiences with violence and danger. A third article looks at scientific explorations of gender identity.

Read the full article on CeCe McDonald from RollingStone.

July 30, 2014
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Posted on Jul 30, 2014

It is getting better for LGBT youth in Chile with Todo Mejora

Many LGBT children and teens have been touched by the work of the It Gets Better Project in the U.S. since it was created in 2010. Millions of videos have been uploaded by people all over the country sharing their own stories, encouraging others, and most importantly letting young LGBT people know that whatever they are struggling with they are not alone and it gets better.

What people may not realize is that the It Gets Better Project has been touching a lot more than just U.S. youth. There are It Gets Better affiliates around the world in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Italy, Moldova, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, and Sweden.

For LGBT youth in Chile and Latin America, Todo Mejora (Chile’s version of It Gets Better) is currently the country’s only organization targeted at helping specifically LGBT youth. The Huffington Post referred to Todo Mejora as a pioneer in anti-LGBT bullying prevention in Latin America. Founded in 2011 by activist Júlio Cezar Dantas, Todo Mejora has taken on an important role in both changing the culture and providing services to LGBT youth.

According to Andrea Infante, a Todo Mejora intern who grew up in Santiago, Chile and is dedicated to bettering the lives of LGBT youth, issues of sexuality and gender identity were never discussed in schools in the country. With the Andes on the East and the Pacific Ocean on the West, Infante believes that Chile is very isolated and closed to new influences. Religion plays a large part in the culture, and people are afraid to question their traditions. She says, “both homophobia and transphobia are very present in our society.” Many still view LGBT people as “disordered” or “deviant.”

In 2012 an openly gay adolescent Daniel Zamudio was beaten to death in Santiago because of his sexual orientation and this prompted the president to sign an anti-discrimination law in order to prevent hate crimes like this from occurring. However, Infante says that discrimination is still a big issue. She outlines 3 main issues that she sees in the country: 1) immense lack of education on the subject, which leads to 2) discrimination in work places, schools and the family environment, and 3) lack of support for the LGBT community in laws and public policies. According to Infante:

“Since there is a big gap of knowledge and many incorrect beliefs about being LGBT, families still struggle with their children, and children still are extremely afraid of coming out. Bullying is an extremely big issue in schools. Being bullied because you act different or you are perceived as gay or lesbian is still more accepted than being bullied for other differences, such as weight, race, or social status.”

Infante says that in comparison to the U.S., Chile still has a long way to go in terms of public policies, support for youth, and general societal acceptance. She believes that as an intern with Todo Mejora, the work she is doing is surprising to the people around her, since it is new, there is little knowledge about the subject, and “working with the LGBT community is entering a new world in Chile.” Compared to the U.S., Chilean youth have very few openly LGBT role models in the media.

However, Todo Mejora is certainly making life better for LGBT youth in Chile. Over the last three years, the small organization has been providing workshops and diversity trainings for health professionals, school teachers, and students to create knowledge of the issues facing LGBT youth in the country. In addition, through their website the organization provides information, news, resources, and of course videos to inspire youth.

GLAAD's very own Monica Trasandes, director of Spanish-language media, is currently traveling to Chile to work with Todo Mejora on media trainings with the country's leading advocates.

Although it will take time, Infante believes that education is fundamental for changing the society. Todo Mejora will continue to create this change. Infante says, “It’s a process and being part of it as an ally is extremely rewarding and fulfilling.”

July 30, 2014
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