WE TELL OURSELVES STORIES TO LIVE

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live…” I remember reading that recently in The White Album by Joan Didion. Immediately my head went into a spiral. I’ve always proudly lived by the idea that stories are how we live. How we understand each other, and ourselves. Suddenly it was like the world had shifted its axis. Everything turned upside down. Yes, we tell ourselves stories to live – the kind of stories that make people want to love harder and be heroes – but we also tell ourselves lies {lies told so well, they can become stories} in order to live. Lies in order to be loved. Lies in order to feel accepted. Lies to feel like we belong.

This is probably one of the hardest stories I’ve had to write. In fact, it’s not even really a story. It’s more of a letter. I’ve grown accustomed to hiding behind characters and plot lines to speak my own truth, avoiding sharing first hand what I’m actually feeling.

Before I was comfortable in my own identity, I did A LOT of pretending. I told myself this narrative that being bisexual wasn’t real or was “wrong” and I told it to myself so well that I believed it. What I didn’t realize was how damaging pretending was. How this toxic story I was telling myself was dictating my life to the point where I realized one day the life I was living didn’t feel like mine. That is why I choose to label myself; although there are times I wish we could live in a label-less world, society isn’t there yet. I noticed the more I spoke out about my experiences, the more other people spoke out too. The more I identified as bisexual, the more other friends felt comfortable to share they too were. Or even felt safe to explore their sexuality. That is the power of honesty in stories. And building community. The LGBTQ community has finally given me the chance to feel like I belong.

As a storyteller, that is why I feel this immense responsibility to create stories with diverse, LGBTQ characters that are authentic. I was tired of never seeing a “girl next door” who was like me. I was tired of seeing stereotypical LGBTQ characters whose only purpose were the comedic relief or plot twist. We relate to the protagonists we see on screen. Imagine never seeing anyone else like you? No wonder so many kids think loving someone can be wrong. Or living their truth isn’t an option. We need representation in stories to connect. To navigate. And inspire.

My love for the arts & storytelling led me to discover Free2Luv. I started working with them as an advocate when I was directing my first short film. I wanted to work with Free2Luv to reach younger kids, who may be struggling with their identity. Or feel like there’s no place for them in the world. There is power to giving someone the tools to create and share their story. I appreciate so much how the outreach program within Free2Luv empowers youth through the arts.

This letter is mainly for anyone out there who wakes up every day thinking they will never come out. I was you. I know how painful that feeling is and how the “it gets better” seems so far away. Sometimes too far away. But it really does. This is for anyone who feels alone. You are not. There are amazing organizations like Free2Luv out there, ready to provide support and resources. Remember, you have the right to be happy. To live your life to the fullest, authentically. And to tell YOUR story. Happy Pride month!

We invite you to join Ella and help us support LGBTQ youth. Together we can change lives.

Contributed by Free2Luv Advocate, filmmaker and activist, Ella Lentini @ella_lentini

WE TELL OURSELVES STORIES TO LIVE 2018-06-20T19:04:54+00:00

5 Ways to Become an Ally for LGBTQ Youth

Now more than ever, it is critical that we support and ally for LGBTQ youth. Imagine feeling confused, isolated and not accepted for who you are and who you know you are supposed to be.

It’s already hard enough discovering who you are as a human being.

Here are some ways you can support LGBTQ youth along their journey:

  1. Listen to LGBTQ Youth.

Members of the LGBTQ community and youth especially are often not given the respect they deserve when it comes to being able to have their voices heard. This has to change. Be willing to listen to LGBTQ youth and pay close attention to what they are telling you, whether it is in person, or second hand via social media or the news. They know what they want, what their needs are, and how they are feeling more than anyone. Listen with compassion.

  1. Be a role model for kindness and inclusion.

It is essential that we model kindness and inclusion in our everyday life. Go out of your way to be kind to people and always see the worth and dignity in every person. Strive for justice, equity and compassion in human relations. Don’t get me wrong – it is not always an easy task – but something that we all need to work on because the world could always use more kindness.

  1. Show young people that they can be authentic around you.

Being a young person in today’s society is hard enough, add in the fact that you are “different,’ and it suddenly can become even harder than it already is; this is the case for our LGBTQ youth. They often feel that they have to act like something they are not around others because of the fear that they will not be accepted for who they are. Can you imagine the feeling of constantly wondering if it is okay to be yourself around another person or if you have to be someone else? In 2018 it is sad that LGBTQ youth still have to ask themselves this question almost every single day and as an adult and an ally, it is our job to make sure that they know they can always be themselves around us.

  1. Take action & advocate for the LGBTQ youth.

Work with LGBTQ youth to make their lives better. Help them write letters to senators, plan and lead youth-focused events and be the rock they need. Our job as adults is to give them the tools, resources, and support they need to have their voices heard. Today’s youth are fully capable of advocating for themselves when given the chance to do so. They may need assistance along the way and we need to be willing to do the work alongside them and not just do the job for them.

  1. Stay informed and get involved.

Take it upon yourself to educate yourself about the greater LGBTQ community, attend LGBTQ events and be present in times of need. Thank you for taking the first steps to becoming an ally for LGBTQ youth. The more people on the side of love and justice the better.

My hope is if we join together in support, one day we will be able to say that we live in a nation and hopefully a world where we are all treated with the love, dignity, and respect we deserve. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” So let us all work together hand in hand and make it so.

We invited you to join us and support our LGBTQ youth empowerment initiatives. Together we can change lives.

Contributed by Free2Luv Advocate and LGBTQ Activist, Roddy Biggs @roddybiggs.official

5 Ways to Become an Ally for LGBTQ Youth 2018-06-20T19:07:40+00:00

Feel “Alive” With This Moving LGBTQ Music Video

Altruist Now explores the dangers of conversion therapy for LGTBQ youth.

Need a little inspiration? Danielle Palmer, Avi Garvin, and Delilah Kujala, the creators of Altruist Now, are here to deliver. With their debut project “Alive,” Altruist Now takes you on an intimate journey of a family tackling the physical and emotional dangers of conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth. This music video has received more than 200,000 views across social media and Free2Luv is proud to be holding hands with Altruist Now to support LGBTQ youth.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights defines conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, as a practice that attempts to change or reduce same-sex attraction or alter someone’s gender identity. Conversion therapy doesn’t work, and every mainstream health organization rejects it. Not only is there no scientific proof, but it is also harmful. According to the Human Rights Campaign, conversion therapy may lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide. Minors are especially vulnerable to this anti-LGBTQ practice.

We know how important it is for youth struggling with their identity to feel loved and supported. We have the opportunity to strengthen their self-love by providing unconditional love and acceptance. Research shows that family support can improve self-esteem, social support, and general health. It is also shown to reduce depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors among LGBTQ youth.

Watch and listen to Danielle Palmer, Delilah Kujala, Avi Garvin, and Hannah K. Watson in Alive.

As a bonus, the proceeds from this powerful video will benefit Free2Luv’s empowerment initiatives, including our LBGTQ youth outreach. We believe that everyone is perfect the way they are, and everyone’s uniqueness should be accepted without judgment. By partnering with Altruist Now, we want to create a kinder, braver, and more loving world where every voice matters.

Share with family, friends, and your communities to spread awareness. Join the Free2Luv movement and use your voice to uplift and inspire.

You can find Altruist Now across social media @AltruistMusicUS.

Feel “Alive” With This Moving LGBTQ Music Video 2018-03-05T23:42:40+00:00

LGBT SHORT FILM ‘PIECE OF CAKE’ MEETS WITH RAVE REVIEWS

Did you know 9 out of 10 LGBT teens have reported being bullied at school because of their sexual orientation and 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBT? Can you imagine not loving your child based on their sexuality? Coming out isn’t always a PIECE OF CAKE. We’re delighted to have co-produced the award-winning LGBT short film, PIECE OF CAKE with The Riot Life to support LGBTQ youth. YouTube star of NowThisIsLiving channel Shannon Beveridge and actress & filmmaker, Ella Lentini shine in this production that has raised over $10,000 to date to support our youth empowerment programs and LGBTQ youth.

“Proud to stand with Free2Luv and be a part of a film that gives back to a cause that means so much to me.” ~ Shannon Beveridge

What does PRIDE mean to you? Check out this heartfelt, beautiful letter to LGBTQ youth from Ella.

PIECE OF CAKE has met with critic acclaim, winning several film festival awards and the feedback from fans was overwhelming and moving.

At Free2Luv, we believe every story matters and we’d love to share yours. Tell your story of coming out, experiencing bullying or overcoming hardship and be part of our THIS IS MY STORY series. Your story matters.

LGBT SHORT FILM ‘PIECE OF CAKE’ MEETS WITH RAVE REVIEWS 2018-06-16T18:22:19+00:00

‘PIECE OF CAKE’ HITS THE FILM FESTIVAL CIRCUIT

Super excited for the world premiere of PIECE OF CAKE at Portland Film Festival! So proud to have co-produced this LGBT short film with The Riot Life starring Shannon Beveridge, YouTube star from nowthisisliving and Free2Luv Advocate Ella Lentini.  This labor of LUV is a coming out story demonstrating the power of love and connection and the importance of embracing every human for who they are.

Next stop, Long Beach Indie International Film Festival!

Join our mailing list to hear the latest on our LGBTQ content! 

‘PIECE OF CAKE’ HITS THE FILM FESTIVAL CIRCUIT 2018-03-22T18:19:39+00:00

LGBT SHORT FILM ‘PIECE OF CAKE’ BEGINS FILMING

Did you know that 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBT? Can you imagine not loving your child based on their sexuality? Coming out isn’t always a PIECE OF CAKE. We’re proud to be co-producing this short film with Riot Life and the amazing and talented Ella Lentini and honored a portion of the fundraising benefits our youth empowerment programs and LGBTQ youth.

We’re on set with Ella (creator, director and co-star) and her co-star nowthisisliving YouTuber Shannon Beveridge! 

Lights, camera, action and day 1 of filming begins! 

What does PRIDE mean to you? Check out this heartfelt, beautiful letter to LGBTQ youth from Ella.

LGBT SHORT FILM ‘PIECE OF CAKE’ BEGINS FILMING 2018-06-16T18:24:10+00:00

Free2Luv Co-Produces LGBT Short Film

Did you know that 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBT? Can you imagine not loving your child based on their sexuality? Coming out isn’t always a PIECE OF CAKE. We’re delighted to be working on this short film with Free2Luv Advocate Ella Lentini and The Riot Life in support of LGBTQ youth. We’re proud to have Shannon Beveridge, YouTube star of NowThisIsLiving channel, join the cast as the lead opposite Ella. A portion of the fundraising benefits our youth empowerment programs and LGBTQ youth. We look forward to sharing this journey with each of you!

BREAKING NEWS … Delighted to announce that Piece of Cake has won an IndieFEST Film Award and is an official selection at the Long Beach Indie International Festival!  So proud of Ella and Shannon and the entire Piece of Cake team!

Free2Luv Co-Produces LGBT Short Film 2018-03-05T17:00:17+00:00