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Beneath My Flannel: Is there scientific basis for stereotyping?

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The fixation on classification remains a consistent theme within humanity, arguably for the sake of trying to understand ourselves and others. There have been times in my life where I’ve been unclear how to identify, and therefore have molded myself into many identities throughout the years. What if a computer could tell us things about ourselves instead?

Recently, a pair of Graduate students of Stanford University’s Business School published an empirical study revealing positive results for computerized, appearance-based categorization. Titled “Deep neural networks are more accurate than humans at detecting sexual orientation from facial images,” researchers Michal Kosinski and Yilun Wang may have provided information that will advance our understandings of human perception and sexual orientation.

Extracting fixed and transient features from over 35,000 facial images, a technological classifier relied on only one photo to correctly distinguish between gay and heterosexual men and women at a rate of 81% and 74% respectively. This was higher than that of human judges, who correctly distinguished the same image at a rate of 61% for men and 54% for women. When the classifier was given five facial images, the rate increased further to an accuracy of 91% for men and 83% for women. The authors related these findings to the ever-present discussion of the biological origins of homosexuality, such as the prenatal hormone theory of sexual orientation and the “gender”-atypical presentations of gay men and women.

Perceived Limitations

This is not meant to invalidate the results, and many of these points have been identified by both readers and the authors alike. Consider this list before using the results to support conclusions or judgments:

  • Only inclusive to white individuals:
    • Straight up, there is a lack of ethnic and racial representation in this sample. Inside and outside of the laboratory, we must work beyond this limitation and continue to embrace and understand intersectionality within the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Only inclusive to “out” individuals:
    • Those who were included in the sample were actively participating on a dating site and/or had a Facebook profile. Therefore, these individuals were likely more comfortable in their presentation of stereotypically “gay” identifying features and revealing their sexual preference in their profiles.
  • Only inclusive to those with access to technology:
    • This is intended to be more of a reminder than a direct opposition to the findings of the article. Without the ability to access the internet and own a technological device, one would be less likely to have a public profile or social media presence. One would also be less likely to access the scientific findings or publish an article in response. Let us all be reminded that our materialistic possessions are not always attainable or a reality for others, including educational opportunity.
  • Relies on a dichotomy and limited definition of sexuality:
    • The author notes that this research was not intended to deny the presence of these factors in the human species, yet there is a lack of fluidity by the A.I. technology as trans*, bisexual, and non-binary individuals are not considered.
    • What is sexual orientation? Sexual orientation can be defined in terms of emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction and/or behavior. One can experience these terms separately or in combination and this cannot be detected from a facial image.

As mentioned in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, “thin-slicing” is the process of obtaining fragments of information to form a larger opinion. These subconscious biases affect how we interact with groups of people and what language we use to describe them. There are benefits to relying on such snap judgments, but there are also consequences.

It is possible that this scientific dialogue will promote the benefits of thin-slicing, as stereotypes have had historical advantages in creating LGBT+ communities. However, it is possible that this scientific dialogue will promote the consequences of thin-slicing. Many people in the community still face serious risks in response to living an open life. Whether an A.I. can read your gay facial alignment or not, we continue to battle LGBT+ youth homelessness and political advances toward discrimination.

Does this computer algorithm reflect a further intrusion into the privacy of an individual; can we expect such information to encourage discrimination by employers and institutions? Is it necessary for more and more individuals to be “out” and identified for us to continue to witness acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community? How does this compare to those minority groupings which cannot possibly hide their identities?

As we continue into a more technological era where humans are challenged to understand and adapt, how do you think this new research will effect the LGBT+ community and allies? Something to think about for the week. Until next round, and thank you for reading!

Originally posted 2017-11-08 18:10:56.

Entertainment

#FiveFilms4Freedom LGBT+ Film Festival

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The #FiveFilms4Freedom 2017 film festival is travelling across the pond this November. Originally hosted in Britain this past March, it is the first and largest LGBT+ film festival, and has featured independent LGBT+ short films from around the globe.

The film festival began in 2014 in Britain, sponsored by the British Council and the British Film Institute. It is a part of the larger BFI Flare film festival, which began in 1986, and is sponsored by the Love is GREAT Britain Campaign. .

This year’s #FiveFilms4Freedom festival marked 50 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality in Britain. As such, all five films were created by UK filmmakers.

After the films premiered in the UK in March, they were brought to Washington, D.C. on November 1, and will be shown in Los Angeles on November 13 and in New York City on November 16. The festival will also feature a panel of prominent LGBT+  rights advocates from the US and the UK, as well as two participating directors.  

The films focus on a range of LGBT+ relationships and issues. The majority of them are love stories; Crush tells the story of a young girl who finds herself smitten with another girl she sees at a train station, Heavy Weight deals with a young male boxer and his reaction to the arrival of a new fighter, and Jamie is a very modern story about a man who bravely decides to meet with the man he has been talking to on a dating site. The other two films explore very different experiences in the LGBT+ community. Still Burning is about a young migrant living in Paris who shows his brother the exciting and freeing voguing movement. The title is taken from the film Paris is Burning, a documentary about the voguing movement in New York City and its effect on the African American, Latino, gay and transgender communities. The final film is a documentary set in Scotland, entitled Where We Are Now, and focuses on a transgender parent and her bisexual daughter.

The BFI Flare festival as well as #FiveFilms4Freedom have given the LGBT+ community an excellent place for celebration and representation, especially in the UK. With the decriminalization of homosexuality 31 years ago, British LGBT+ representation is extremely important because it has only been able to exist for a short amount of time. The festival allows filmmakers to make LGBT+ people and relationships extremely public, and continues to encourage and support the idea that LGBT+ people can make and star in incredible pieces of media. The move from showing the films in Britain alone to showing them in the US will hopefully continue to encourage the rise of LGBT+ relationships in mainstream media as well as in independent media.

Tickets for the festival in New York City are still available for reservation here. The festival is on November 16 from 6 – 9 PM at the Barclays-ASK Auditorium on Seventh Avenue. The festival is also currently accepting submissions for next year’s festival here.

Originally posted 2017-11-13 21:00:23.

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Online Dating While Genderqueer #notokcupid

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Anatomy, pronouns, sexual orientation. These suddenly become much more important when talking to cis men online. I often don’t disclose my gender identity or pronouns in conversation because I don’t want to scare folks away. I also figure it’s more of a 2nd date conversation. I do mention my pronouns in my bios, though. I don’t want to hide my gender identity, but I also don’t want to talk about it a lot. There’s more to me than just my gender (or lack thereof), and I’m not interested in teaching Queer Theory 101 courses when we could be talking about movies, or where we grew up, or which Disney Princess is our favorite. It’s an exhausting thing to talk about – there’s a lot of emotional energy and work involved, often met with even more invasive questions, a sense of entitlement, and arguments.

Living in Brooklyn, dating can be exhausting. A major pro is the seemingly endless amount of options/available folks. At the same time, a major con is the seemingly endless amount of options/available folks. There is a lot of sifting and sorting that needs to be done before even meeting someone in real life. Here are three dating apps I’ve used, and my experiences with each.

OKCupid

OKCupid is one of my favorite dating platforms thus far. The expansive options for gender identity/sexual orientation, and the option to not be seen by straight people, is validating and creates a safer space for an already vulnerable venture. OKCupid does require a bit more work – not only in filling out your profile, but when looking for cuties. There is a swipe feature, just like Tinder and Bumble, but OKC is a better platform for folks interested in dating, not just hookups.

Bumble

Bumble has been a recent favorite of mine, simply because of fast results. I get to know within seconds of a swipe if someone also likes me, and I have to message first within 24 hours, giving me the power to initiate conversation. If the other person doesn’t reply within 24 hours, then the connection is lost. I enjoy this feature because I get to set the tone. Getting a dick pic instead of “Hello, I also adore the film ‘Nacho Libre’” is a much less successful and appealing opener. Bumble is not as trans or queer friendly. There are two gender options for your identity and who you are looking to talk to, and you must select one for each. You can also only change your gender once – so you better decide which end of the binary you’d like to claim, and stick with it!

Side note: I’ve also heard that Michael Che is on Bumble. Michael – if you’re reading this, let’s get coffee?

Tinder

OH GEEZ. I had a tinder account for quite a while, and haven’t been back on it in over a year. Apparently, it has gotten more trans inclusive, with a total of 37 gender identity choices. Tinder is the ultimate hookup app. That doesn’t mean one couldn’t find folks seeking other types of interactions, the likelihood might just be slimmer. To me, Tinder feels like a frat party, and I’m not in Greek Life.

When Life Gives You Interactions with Dumb Bois, Make a Hashtag

On any dating platform, you’re bound to have some … interesting conversations. The internet is powerful – it makes people braver, ruder, and sometimes dumber. When I’m getting harassing messages from dumb bois, I feel safer telling them off than I do in real life. I’m less likely to get assaulted, physically and/or emotionally. I also screenshot EVERYTHING. If you feel comfortable talking to me that way, then I’m sure you won’t mind me sharing that with the entire world. Here are some memorable interactions I’ve had that I’ve posted to my personal Instagram:

Notice how he doesn’t deny it… #notokcupid #smelly

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So greedy. #notokcupid

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When he’s a dumb boy but also loves @rupaulofficial ? #notokcupid

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LET THE GAMES BEGIN!! #notokcupid

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… but you're not a feminist? #thingsthatmakeyougohmmm #notokcupid

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Boy, can I relate. #notokcupid

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Originally posted 2017-11-13 18:58:09.

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That Looks Like A…: Provocative Holiday Foods

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(*Article contains mature themes.*)

 

Have you ever looked at a food or read its name and instinctively turned into a tomato?  (Or better still, maybe you and your freaky self were actually turned on by it!)  Well, you don’t have to be depraved or even gay to enjoy these three provocative foods, but you’ll have more fun with them if you are.

 

SPOTTED DICK

 

While this dessert has a wonderfully raunchy name, it is sadly tame in appearance.  It hails from Britain (go figure), and does unnatural things with currants or raisins.  It is typically categorized as a pudding, but looks more like an odd-shaped muffin, to be honest.  Here’s just one recipe:  https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spotted-dick-103210

 

The best way to pervert this dish is to shape it, but I won’t be graphic in my description of the ways you can do that.  If you’re not handy in the kitchen, just go to a naughty bakery!  However, you should always be a good (or slutty) host and serve this dish with vanilla custard, as is tradition…

 

HIDE THE SAUSAGE

 

Another British treat, this spongy, sausage infested con-cock-tion is little more than cheap meat in dough.  To the bane of the straight community, it is still a popular dish to serve to a large dinner party because it is not difficult to make.  (Note:  It’s also called “Toad in the Hole” because heterosexuals are often uptight about where they hide their sausages.)

 

In my opinion, this dish looks less sexual and more like something the cast of Duck Dynasty would serve to their guests.  If you like odd tasting desserts, though, this recipe could be just what you’re looking for.  https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5822/toad-in-the-hole-in-4-easy-steps

 

AN INSTANT CLASSIC:  THE BANANA SPLIT

 

Ok, so I’m gonna catch hell for throwing this popular dessert into the mix, but I do so by request.  We all know how to make it; two scoops of vanilla or chocolate ice cream, one banana, some hot fudge sauce, and a cherry.

 

There are so many jokes I could make out of this, but I will simply describe something I saw at a holiday party that will forever change the way you look at this ice cream treat.  The banana sat in the center, two gobs of chocolate ice cream, one on each side… Need I go on?  I’ve never seen more suggestively placed hot fudge syrup, all of it lying at one end of the plate.  Even the cherry looked like it was blushing, sitting daintily on the banana’s tip with its vein, er… vine facing backwards.  It was quite a sight – I only wish I had quit laughing long enough to snap a picture.

 

If you’re a fan of the more traditional approach, just be sure you combine the standard ingredients in equal proportions around the plate.

 

So, there you have it ladies and gents, three foods that you imagination can run wild with. Other top contenders were the meatball grinder (also the name of a sex act), beef jerky (just because it sounds funny), and the buttery nipple cupcake (for obvious reasons).  

 

Feel free to leave your comments and recipes for more depraved sexual foods for all of us at TravelPride to investigate.  

 

Have a happy holiday season!

Originally posted 2017-11-13 16:20:13.

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