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In an age of television that is still blatantly anti-LGBTQ+, one reality show rises above the rest. Love Island, in our view, didn't get enough criticism for it's heteronormativity among other flaws.

Representation of queer people remains massively lacking, especially on reality TV where most people involved are of the same weight, race, age and sexual orientation. They look filtered, pretty much.

MTV's latest series of Are You The One? is back for season eight, but with a beautiful twist: every one of the cast members are sexually fluid. Thank the good Lord, it's what we've been waiting for.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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This glittery MTV show will fill the empty void of your life now that Love Island has ended. 16 singles from all over the US have flown to Hawaii for the summer to try and find love, without gender limits.

“Welcome to the most ambitious matchmaking experiment ever attempted,” said host Ryan Devlin. The cash prize is a little more than the ITV dating show…try $1 million. 

The contestants have 10 weeks, and 10 match-up (recoupling) ceremonies to try and find out who their perfect match is. All 16 contestants are fair game, so it's far more challenging this time around.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Topics surrounding gender identity and sexuality will be approached, and progressive narratives that the LGBTQ community wholeheartedly deserve.

Competitions, dates and truth booths will be part and parcel of the experience every week, but drama, fights, heartbreak, sex and juicy content ensues as a result.

The 2019 cast's perfect matches are discovered through a dating algorithm, based on a vigorous process involving comprehensive interviews, IQ and personality tests, interviews with family, friends and exes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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“The matchmakers got pretty deep into all of the contestants’ past relationship history, so they would do these interviews with the contestants and their family, friends, and exes. All that information was combined and analysed,” executive producer Tiffany Williams revealed to Entertainment Weekly.

The discourse surrounding gender identity still needs to be opened up further, and queer representation is a great place to start. Awareness and education about sexuality can be provided through the medium of reality TV (Drag Race changed the damn GAME).

“It’s still a fun, drama-filled salacious ridiculous reality show but it’s now got a social message underneath it,” Executive producer Rob LaPlante stated in an interview with Variety.

MTV have provided a relationship expert, Dr Frankie, who specialises in working with the LGBTQ community. Proper mental health support is 100 percent needed throughout the process and afterward.

Seeing as much of the drama is usually constructed, many fans have expressed concerns for queer people being exploited for entertainment. MTV appear to be deconstructing heteronormative conversations in a positive way, however. We adore the inclusive cast.

Are You The One? season eight airs on MTV at 10pm every Monday. Grab that queer content by the rainbow. 

Feature image: MTV/Instagram/@areuthe1

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It's been a long time coming, but Marvel have finally unleashed the second phase of the MCU and it's diverse AS F*CK. We're in heaven.

One of the best snippets of superhero news we've heard from Comic Con (apart from Natalie Portman as female Thor, that slayed us) is the first openly LGBTQ+ hero arriving to the party.

Fan-fave character Valkyrie, played by the incredible Tessa Thompson, will have an LGBTQ+ storyline in the fourth Thor movie, due out November 2021.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The character is bisexual in the comics, and was portrayed by the actress in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame.

Thor: Love and Thunder will feature Chris Hemsworth as the titular character, Natalie Portman slaying as his female equal and now Tessa as Valkyrie. Wow.

Appearing at Marvel Studios' Comic-Con panel in Hall H over the weekend, Thompson announced to the audience:

"As new king, she needs to find her queen. So that will be the first order of business. She has some ideas. I'll keep you posted."

When asked whether Valkyrie will have an LGBTQ+ storyline, MCU boss Kevin Feige told io9: "The answer is yes.

"How that impacts the story remains to be seen with that level of representation you’ll see across our films, not in just Thor 4."

Feige added to Collider that Marvel fans will also be treated to an LGBTQ+ character in The Eternals as well: Long may it reign.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Marvel has come under fire for its lack of LGBTQ+ representation in recent years, with Feige promising work on developing this hole in the franchise: 

"We have both ones you've seen and ones you haven't seen," he said.

A deaf woman-of-colour, Lauren Ridloff, was also cast in The Eternals, alongside Richard Madden and Angelina Jolie.

The next Captain America (Falcon) is now a black man, a woman will play Thor, Mahershala Ali is starring in the Blade reboot and an Asian-Canadian newcomer Simu Liu snagged his role as Shang-Chi by literally annoying Marvel on Twitter.

Black Panther 2 is also in the works, and hilarious actress/comedian Awkwafina will join Simu Liu in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. 

Much diversity, many feels. Thank Goddess they came to their senses and decided to include people, now we need women and people of colour, as well as people with disabilities in the writing room and director's seats.

Many fans are pointing out that the billion-dollar company waited until it was convenient and profitable for them to bring diversity to the table, but we just have to be grateful they finally stepped up.

Avengers: Endgame has just become the best-selling movie of all time, beating out Avatar in the box office.

Feature image: Instagram/@captainsvalkyrie

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June is Pride month, in case you haven't noticed the onslaught of rainbows on every corporation's logo over the last two weeks, but we've got another matter in mind to address: Dating apps.

Most of us haven't yet realised that the most popular dating apps around are heavily tailored towards heterosexual, cisgender people.

Why not spread the love around, eh? Give queer people, gender non-binary folk, trans people, gay men and lesbians a shot at swiping right.

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We've gathered our top five best dating apps for queer people, so grab your Pride and get on the Swipe Slide. 

1. Her

Her is, without a doubt, one of the best dating apps for lesbian, bisexual and queer women.

Why? It's simple: It was made BY queer women FOR queer women, rather than just creating a heteronormative app and then tailoring it for lesbians.

We absolutely love Her's unapologetic approach to love, and their respect for intersectional inclusion for those of all races, sexes and gender-identities. 

Don't let the name fool you: The site is one of the most popular dating apps for both cisgender and non-binary people looking to meet other queer women or non-binary people.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The app allows users to create a social media-like presence through profiles and queer event suggestions, allowing you to meet people in the flesh. Love is in the air, for everyone this time.

2. Lesly

Dating apps created specifically for lesbians and bisexual+ women seem like few and far between; enter Lesly.

The site works similarly to Tinder, and uses photo-based profiles that you can swipe left or right for.

On this app, however, you'll only find queer women and no straight men looking to creep on lesbian women…Thank the Lord.

Image: Lesly

3. Fem

Fem is a dating app geared towards lesbians and those interested in meeting lesbians. Despite the language, which appears to exclude trans people and gender-non binary folk, the app isn't only for lesbians.

Queer women of any and all sexual orientations and gender presentations use it successfully, and the app encourages users to make video profiles. There's also a group chat setting.

Making a video profile isn't compulsory, so don't worry if being in front of the camera isn't your thing. Just upload a killer selfie, and get swiping.

Image: FEM

4. OkCupid

While OkCupid began by focusing almost exclusively on straight people, it has now developed to become far more welcome towards the queer community.

The site have added a rake of new gender identity and sexual orientation option, and has more extensive user profiles so it's great for finding a real, romantic connection for a long-term, relationship/

They ask a huge amount of questions when you download the app, but the detailed profiles definitely pay off.

5. Hinge

Hinge sets up potential partners through their mutual friends on Facebook.

It only matches you with friends of friends, so you're never meet with someone too far outside of your social circle, rather than basing matches on location.

The site allows you to answer questions about yourself in your profile, meaning it's more in-depth than Tinder or BumbleHinge also sends you daily ‘batches’ of matches, so it's pretty good for progress.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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That sums up our top five dating apps for queer folk, but don't forget that Bumble and Tinder still work for the LGBT+ community, they just weren't initially made for them.

Grindr and Chappy are also KEY for gay men, with Grindr working incredibly successfully for hook-ups and Chappy supporting long-term gay relationships. All we can say is…YAS.

Happy Pride, folks. Find some romance, even if it's just self-love. If you can't love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love anyone else?"

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Pride month is one of the greatest, and most colourful times of the year: Fashion needs to follow suit.

The entire month represents the LGBTQ+ communities around the world showing strength and defiance in the face of hate and discrimination, and with their strength comes rainbow flags, glitter and a welcoming atmosphere.

Online retailers boohoo and boohooMAN have created an exclusive collection just in time for Pride, which launched globally this week.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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'Love Without Limits' is all about empowering and celebrating the queer community by offering designs which appeal to people from all walks of life, no matter who they love.

A wide range of trend-led designs were inspired by the idea of unity and standing together. Loving one another ultimately makes a more accepting world, and slogan prints embody this messaging this year,

T-shirts with the words; 'Validity’, ‘Unity’, ‘Proud To Be’ and most importantly ‘Love Without Limits’ are all available for those inside and outside the queer community.

The range features over 100 pieces spanning hats, jewellery, shoes and other accessories, as well as colour-pop clothing and slogan t-shirts.

There are some gorgeous tie-dye outfits, festival tops, block colours and cropped clothing pieces for you to enjoy, with stripes being incorporated to reflect the inclusion of the colours within the new Pride flag.

There are pieces for those who want to make a bold statement, but also more subtle styles. We absolutely adore these unisex multi-coloured denim jackets:

You may have noticed that the male model in the incredible campaign is Shae Pulver, a rising star influencer who is part of the LGBTQ+ community.

CEO of boohooMAN, Samir Kamani, commented on the launch of their Pride collection:

“Both boohoo and boohooMAN are proud to come together again to create their third Pride collection. We believe as a brand that diversity and inclusion are to be celebrated and what better time to celebrate self-love than during Pride."

The products are available in sizes XS – XXL and ranges from €5 – €45 and 10 percent of all profits will be divided between OutRight Action International and the LGBT Foundation.

OutRight Action International fight to protect and advance the dignity and human rights of LGBTQ+ people around the world.

Founded in 1990, OutRight strengthen queer communities through trainings and grants, holds governments accountable and prove through data that discrimination has very real consequences. 

LGBT Foundation is a national charity which offers advice, support and important information services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities. Both charities are working to secure a safe, healthy and equal future for all LGBTQ+ people.

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Regina Doherty, Social Protection Minister, has confirmed Government approval for the preparation of the Civil Registration Bill 2019, which introduces vital new changes for LGBT+ parents in Ireland.

Parental rights of same-sex couples on birth certificates of children born through donor-assisted births have now been officially affirmed.

According to the Department of Social Protection, the Civil Registration Bill will; “resolve a number of difficulties in the registration of donor-assisted births and will be brought forward as a priority”.

“This bill will extend the required particulars for registration of a birth to include ‘parent’ on a birth certificate,” the Department continued.

“At present, birth certificates issued in respect of donor-assisted children born to same-sex couples only allow for the recording of the mother’s details," it said, highlighting issues for lesbian parents.

“These changes will facilitate the registration and re-registration of births of children of same-sex female couples, and this will affirm their parental rights.”

Parents of non-donor assisted children may also utilise the label “parent”, if they so desire.

Regina Doherty expressed her happiness surrounding the crucial changes;

“While the changes proposed will affect a relatively small number of people, they touch on matters that are very sensitive and of great importance to those families affected."

She continued; "I have met with and spoken to many affected by this issue and I am now very pleased to be able to bring these changes forward as a priority to ensure that they can be introduced as soon as possible."

The bill will be published and brought before the Houses of the Oireachtas hopefully early in early spring.

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"I feel like the term 'queer athlete' is a funny term because it puts sexual orientation before a camp that is more important. We're all athletes, and then we're who we are."

That's some much-needed wisdom from Katelyn, a rugby player who you'll learn more about. I felt I needed to start with this quote because I'll probably throw around the term 'queer athletes' a lot in this piece, simply because it's a bit less tortured than saying 'athletes who happen to be queer' over and over again. 

Make no mistake though – I agree with her. She has a valid point about a person's queerness simply being a part of who they are, and sport being an active choice. 

One thing I learned through these conversations, however, was that people vary in the way they express their queer identity, and sometimes that expression can impact a their experience as an athlete. 

The four people I spoke to in the lead-up to Pride Week are passionate athletes and they're queer. Seeing as it's Pride, I wanted to shine a light on what it's like to be an LGBT person in sport.

Their answers varied, as much as queer athletes do themselves. 

Michael Kavanagh

Michael is a trans man, and being trans, his queer identity comes into direct play with how he expresses his identity as an athlete.

He currently plays rugby on women's teams, but once he medically transitions he will have to switch to a men's team because he'll be on testosterone. 

The 22-year-old says that sport can be a 'grey area' regarding gender at times:

"While I'm legally recognised as a male, because of my body, my biology and everything, I'm still considered to be in a female league, so I still play on the women's team even though I'm a man.”

The flanker says that he feels a 'bit of conflict' when it comes to playing on a women's team, but that overall he doesn't mind because, "Have you seen rugby women? They are tough. They are tough as nails."

He explained, "I feel very at home with the women on the team and they've seen me grow up, basically. So I'm not uncomfortable with them at all. Sometimes yes, the fact that I'm a guy on a girls' team rubs me up the wrong way.”

However, he feels that before he medically transitions, he’d feel uncomfortable physically on a men’s team, such as in the locker room.

As for as trans athletes in Ireland, the rugby player says he feels bolstered by the fact that trans men are getting great recognition in Ireland, such as the GALAS Sport Award winner Cameron Keighron.

Michael says that trans women have a much more difficult time remaining involved in athletics, though. He thinks the stigma around trans people must be dispelled in order for trans athletes, especially women, to be accepted:

"It's this whole idea that to be taking hormones, or if you were assigned male at birth and you're coming in to play against people assigned female at birth, it's this assumption that male bodies automatically have better qualities and an upper hand compared to female bodies.

"I don't know a trans person who's trying to use their biology to come in and dominate a sport. They just want to play the sport in the team or in the category that matches their gender."

Michael hopes that national sports teams will make an open show of trans-inclusiveness, saying that vocal support coupled with education can help end the stigma around being trans.

For now, Michael will continue playing rugby and move to a men's team when the time comes in his medical transition.

The Emerald Warriors, a men's team, have already told him that he's welcome to join, as they've had men who are pre-, mid-, and post-transition play with them.

When I asked if he had advice for fellow trans men who're athletes, he replied:

"I suppose, my advice would be that you don't have to compromise one identity for the other. I always thought my trans identity and my sporting identity were in conflict, that if I wanted to excel in one I had to subdue the other. And it's just not like that.”

Katelyn and Louise

When Katelyn joined Trinity's women's rugby team during her year abroad, she didn't realise she meet her now-girlfriend, Louise.

They're on a club team together now, with Katelyn, 23, playing flyhalf and Louise, 25, playing flanker.

The couple said that their team is made up of women of a number of sexual orientations.

The main issues they spoke about arose from less from being queer, in their eyes, and rather the expectations around women's place in sport.

"Realistically, most clubs in Ireland – I'm reluctant to include the GAA but I think I have to – are run by men of a certain age, of a certain wealth. And their impression of women in sport is to stay in good shape, to attend the dinner with men – and that's just the way it is!" Louise said.

"We're really lucky that we're definitely not in a club that's like that, and there's a lot of clubs that aren't like that.”

Women's rugby hasn't been given the respect that it deserves for years, especially in the IRFU. Recently, women in the game have been more vocal about their frustration with how the IRFU treats them, but they've also been met with much backlash.

"There's a sentiment for maybe another generation of people in those high positions that see women's rugby players as these angry, unappreciative lesbians who will fight, and fight, and fight, but are angry about a life they've chosen," Katelyn told me.

They said that even in Trinity, the women's team has been continually passed over in favour of the men's team.

Katelyn explained, "The girls that are good in rugby want to go somewhere they're taken care of, like DCU or UCD or Carlow, where they're given coaching and made to feel like they're important.

"That's where the attention needs to be – forget about queer athletes, let's just talk about women athletes. That's really where the difference is."

Louise made the point, though, that image is an area where you can sometimes see a difference between queer and straight athletes off the pitch. 

Katelyn said, "I think that is one of the big differences between queer athletes and straight athletes is that, especially in Ireland, straight athletes have an additional game you have to play with keeping up your appearance and almost pretending that you're not an athlete."

"…You’re compensating for how good you are on the pitch because you wouldn't want to be perceived as manly or gay, god forbid," Katelyn imparted.

When I asked for their last words on the subject, Katelyn said that she thinks talking about queer athletes or other groups of queer people can sometimes put a label on something that doesn’t need to be labelled.

Thinking about this, Louise said she'd be interested to see the topic from another angle and understand how straight people perceive queer athletes.

Katelyn concluded, "It's almost like you need to be having the opposite conversation."

Oli Riordan

Oli was an avid football player growing up, and he's kept on kicking as a 22-year-old.

Being bisexual, the striker said that he was comfortable talking about girls with fellow club players growing up and just didn't bring up guys.

Now, though, he's playing on one of Ireland's two gay and inclusive football teams – the Dublin Devils, which welcomes players who are gay, straight, and everything in between. He's been with the Devils going on four years.

They’re heading to the Paris Gay Games in August to represent Team Ireland alongside athletes from other sports as well. Oli told me he’s excited to meet queer people from all over the world.

"It's not just about sports, it's about community and bringing everything together and celebrating diversity. There's going to be an awful lot of social aspects as well as the sporting competition which I'm really looking forward to," he expressed.

I asked if he preferred playing on a team where being queer is a central focus.

"I prefer playing with a gay team just because it's a lot easier, there's a lot less pressure, to just be yourself," the footballer replied.

"When you first come out to a group of people, you're never quite sure how everyone's going to take it. So, being able to turn up to football training or just a kick about and not have that expectation of having to bring it up and having to weather the storm."

He thinks, though, that we have a massive way to go until the presence of queer athletes is normalised in sport, particularly in football. Oli feels that the system needs to change in order to make coming out a viable option for professional footballers.

"The football association in England, their basic approach to it whenever someone goes up to them and says 'Are you going to legislate to make it easier for players to come out?', they say, 'Well, this would be a problem if there were any gay football players'," Oli explained.

"You're talking about tens of thousands of men, and you're telling me that there's not one queer man in that entire – that's not even including the club staff! So I think there needs to be a massive change, especially in football… It has to happen at a club and organisation level."

As for his own experience, Oli says that it can be tough at times being on one of Ireland's only gay and inclusive football teams.

He said, "I think probably the worst thing is how we have to keep justifying our existence as a team, because… every time we're in the press, there are all sorts of people saying, why is there a gay team? You know, it just becomes… it's fatiguing."

Before the interview ended, I asked if he had anything else he wanted to say about being a queer athlete.

He took his time before responding, "I think what I would want to say is that if there are queer people out there who are also into sport, who have been told that they can't be into sport because they're queer, don't lose hope. There are places for you. There are people that will accept you.

"And if I had known when I was younger that one day I would be playing for a gay team and having the best time playing football ever, that would have been really, really great for me to know…

"Whatever sport you're into, you can find a group of people that will accept you. And if not, start your own…

"Whatever city you're in, if you are queer and you love football or you love whatever sport, get a group of you together, play, and you can start your own team. And we'll look forward to meeting you on the pitch."

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