How would you like to work in a closet? Stuffy air, not enough light… We've all learned what it means to have to "make do" in less than desirable spaces during the coronavirus shutdowns, but for many transgender people, this discomfort is nothing new.
Andrea Breanna is working to change that.
She founded the highly successful strategic agency and content management system, RebelMouse, before coming out as a transgender lesbian. She believes her coming out story is imperative to the company's success.
"[RebelMouse] did a survey," Andrea tells us, "One of the questions is, 'How safe do you feel being you?' And it was 100%. And I think that's [a] beautiful thing... I should never have hidden it. I never should've stayed in the closet."
Andrea often stresses the suffocation imposed by the closet on individuals and the stagnation it sets on businesses.
"I think the most important impact RebelMouse can have is to inspire young people to help fight back the dark cloak of fear that makes them keep their lives in the closet. I hope our leaders inspire other leaders in other companies to create the types of safe environments that someone could come out and thrive in."
When it comes to representation of her trans peers in tech, she makes a distinction:
"I am less moved, motivated, and inspired by those who have achieved 'visible success' than by those who are struggling against the odds and making it."
Dr. Kortney Ziegler
Dr. Ziegler is of the people Andrea describes. After earning his Ph.D., he founded Trans*H4CK in 2013. The organization was devoted to creating a space for trans people in the California Bay Area's tech sphere.
"I finished my Ph.D. in 2011," he told us, "And it was really difficult for me to find a job. I know this is for LGBT folks, so I'm trans, and I'm really out about my identity. I had an interesting struggle trying to find employment. I ran up against... a lot of anti-trans discrimination. I needed to figure out what to do to not lose my home and my car and all those things that I had at the moment."
Inspired by the tech scene but stalled by the lack of representation, that's when he thought of Trans*H4CK.
"If I can't find a job, I know people who don't have my credentials are probably in way worse situations. So what can I do to kind of leverage being in the tech space and also figuring out how I can use that to help other people to find jobs? So Trans*H4CK was launched as a response to really build technology to make it easier for trans people to sustain our lives."
Trans*H4CK, though no longer in full operation, launched discussions that have since gone on to make the tech sphere a far more inclusive place than it was in 2013 when Ziegler first formed the organization.
"We've been able to really shift the ways that not only smaller folks in tech, but how larger tech organizations operate, as well as helping folks to make their companies more trans-inclusive and respect[ful to] trans people."
The smallest displays of support can build a network that's ultimately life-saving.
"Even if there are no trans employees," Andrea says, "finding a reason to share a story, to put a trans flag up, because it's Pride Month, and if you're a straight CEO and say nothing, you're causing a great deal of pain. And it's one of these moments where it doesn't take a lot, just takes this quick moment of finding some news story to share, something to put in the office or putting it in your signature."
Dr. Ziegler echoes the importance of creating a safe, supportive work environment:
"[M]aking companies inclusive, making people feel safe, adding policies for trans people in the employment policy, making bathrooms safe. I think that there are a number of things that the presence of an organization like Trans*H4CK has contributed to this space."
Andrea Breanna and RebelMouse's success continues to expand with over 55 employees in 26 countries, all of whom work from home. A key to this success in RebelMouse's endeavors and environment has been emphasizing its employees' happiness and personal stability.
"The way we think about it is that there is no such thing as a business decision. It's always a personal decision. And when you put your own personal happiness first in the decision tree, a lot of magical things happen. We, for some reason, tend to put happiness last. Happiness is the most important measure of our lives," Andrea says.
Last year, a poll of 7,000 LGBTQ tech employees in Silicon Valley asked if they'd experienced homophobic harassment at work. 40% said yes.
But while that number is disheartening, the report made no mention of what the makeup of that percentile was.
Leanne Pittsford has an idea on how to address that.
After getting her master's in equity and social justice, Pittsford wanted to continue her work in LGBTQ activism. She began that work with Equality California. While there, she helped overturn the same-sex marriage ban in California but saw the win as bittersweet:
"I was managing the data in the campaign. I had a front-row to the sexism and the inequality that was even happening in the LGBTQ space everywhere I went. I worked in the Castro every day and I saw very few women. We did events and we tried to get women to be a part of the campaign. And not to say there weren't some incredible women, but every time you'd go to an event, every time we hosted our event, it would be somewhere between 80 and 90% male."
The LGBTQ tech industry's preferential treatment of gay men motivated Pittsford to organize. She founded Lesbians Who Tech, "a community of LGBTQ women, nonbinary, and trans individuals in and around tech (and the people who support them)."
"I felt like queer women specifically, and nonbinary folks were missing from the conversation."
A Common Theme
Andrea Breanna—wife, mother, and transgender lesbian—feels the same way.
Breanna is the founder and CEO of RebelMouse, "a creative agency with the best [content management system] in the world." RebelMouse arms its users with the tools it takes to grow and publicize online content.
"We're really excited about how we help media companies and brands that are genuine about their content really grow organic reach," Breanna says of her system.
Genuineness is the lynchpin of Breanna and RebelMouse's success story.
In 2017, Breanna began coming out as trans to her family and, a year later, her employees and clients.
"It's really hard to do," Breanna says. "But it's been really beautiful. I've thought about trying to understand how I could be helpful [for] people who want to come out and how it could go well."
She decided the best way was by setting an example in being her authentic self.
"Trans people need hope right now more than ever. They need to know that they can be successful if they're very good at their job. They need to know that people will follow a trans leader, sign deals with them, and allow them to grow their businesses," Breanna says.
A Common Hope
Pittsford agrees. And both see hope in numbers. Lesbians Who Tech now has over 50,000 members and dozens of chapters worldwide. RebelMouse has over 55 employees across 26 countries.
"I'd love to see us get to 100,000 people," Pittsford says. "I'd love to see us have more presence in some of the countries that need us the most. And I'd love to see, you know, more CTOs or CEOs who are LGBTQ women."
Breanna acknowledges her unique story. "I very much hope that the story of RebelMouse will not just be about how we helped the open web build a better product, but also about how we showed a different way to build an organization that cares about itself. What if Google and Facebook realized that three in 50 of its employees were trans?"
We're all still waiting on that answer.
Baby Gets Fitted For His Very First Hearing Device, And His Precious Reaction Is Lighting Up The Internet
A man shared a video of a baby being fitted for his first hearing aid and being able to hear his parents' voices for the first time.
Because of the baby's sweet reaction, the baby's first adventure with hearing sounds to go viral for the second time since 2014.
In the original video, we first see the hands of an audiologist, fitting the seven-week-old baby, named Lochlan, with a hearing aid. The baby cries at first, which audiologist deems as normal, since wearing the device can be uncomfortable and takes some getting used to.
But almost immediately, as a result of hearing the audiologist explaining this, and hearing his parents' reactions to the hearing aid, Lochlan visibly pauses and processes the new stimuli.
Then, somewhat hesitantly at first, the baby smiles, probably realizing this is what his parents sound like.
You can watch the video here:
This little boy got his first hearing device. His smile says it all. 🙏🏻 This is the Twitter content I’m here for... https://t.co/3DMRsQ3ljt— Buitengebieden (@Buitengebieden)1582181816.0
The video is an extremely sweet moment of a baby's totally wholesome reaction to what surely felt to him like a whole new world.
And the internet clearly was not upset to see this sweet content reemerge.
@buitengebieden_ I'm not crying, I just have something in my eye 😭 https://t.co/CFhbrBSBEf— Grizzly's Lab (@Grizzly's Lab)1582182807.0
@RexChapman This is moment man... https://t.co/t9QuEn01w1— Dread XCII (@Dread XCII)1582217173.0
@RexChapman SPECTACULAR!!!!! Tears of joy welling up in my eyes!!!!!! 🤗🤗🤗🤗💯💯💯💖💕💖💕💖— Gangsta Granny 🌊 (@Gangsta Granny 🌊)1582216815.0
@RexChapman @thenehaabalodhi Wow , this is really cool. His faces were precious. He went from being angry that some… https://t.co/7is7Z5kTia— Conspiracy Analyst (@Conspiracy Analyst)1582221476.0
@RexChapman https://t.co/4WP8DqLuCh— CA Rider 🌊 (@CA Rider 🌊)1582219004.0
But February 20 was not the first time we were able to see this special moment, as it actually premiered back in 2014. While the video from this year has nearly 8,000 retweets, it had over 26,000 retweets back in 2014.
When it went viral that year, shortly after the baby had actually been fitted with his hearing aid, BBC News and other media streams contacted his parents for comment.
You can watch the BBC News coverage here:
It's a heartwarming video to watch, as these parents have clearly found comfort in being able to provide a special tool for their child. They acknowledged the possibility of using sign language with their child but clearly preferred the use of hearing aids.
Lochlan was previously diagnosed with a severe hearing impairment in both ears, which not only meant he would not be able to perceive sound, but he was also extremely unlikely to be able to develop his speaking skills without some form of intervention.
Lochlan's parents, Michelle and Toby, shared their feelings surrounding that first moment of witnessing their son hearing sound with BBC News.
"We were completely overwhelmed and so emotional when the hearing aids were turned on. We were crying from happiness. Our baby not only smiled for the first time but more importantly, he heard, and his whole world just opened up."
"His future changed. Being able to hear, the opportunities in life now have grown a lot more. We chose to go the hearing way. There's other parents who choose more sign language, but we thought Lochlan would have better opportunity in life to be in the hearing world."
Though some may disagree with Michelle and Toby's assessment of being successful or not via hearing aids or sign language, surely everyone can agree that Lochlan's reaction in the video is adorable.
New Footage Of Whitney Houston's Hologram That Will Tour The World Is Giving Everyone The Major Creeps
Our greatest love of all, Whitney Houston, is being resurrected in the form of a hologram and people are getting goosebumps.
The music industry was devasted when fans learned that the legendary singer died on February 11, 2012 after paramedics found her unconscious in a hotel bathtub from an accidental drowning.
She was 48.
No other singer has come close to matching her soul-stirring vocals since her death.
But last year, Houston's estate had some exciting news for fans. At least they thought they did.
Eight years later, the singer will be making a comeback in a way fans never expected.
It appears the deceased R&B diva is going to "run to you" and perform in arenas around the world.
Video footage from a preview of An Evening With Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour made the rounds on the internet ahead of its Sheffield, England premiere on February 25.
@PopCraveMusic @PopCrave and a lot of people will be scared...— ♒︎ (@♒︎)1582141347.0
The posthumous concert tour is a partnership with Whitney Houston's estate and BASE Hologram and will feature Houston as a three-dimensional image accompanied by a live band and backup dancers choreographed by Fatima Robinson.
Last year, Houston's former manager and sister-in-law Pat Houston said she was excited to reunite audiences with the iconic singer.
"(Whitney) adored her audiences and that's why we know she would have loved this holographic theatrical concept."
"An event at this level is something special. . . . This upcoming tour will allow audiences to experience Whitney's amazing voice and passion for music for a long time to come and help them share that magic with future generations."
However, ghost Whitney is already creeping people out.
@PopCraveMusic This makes me feel So weird. Sooo weird.— abby (@abby)1582141926.0
@PopCraveMusic @PopCrave What episode of Black mirror is this— miguel (@miguel)1582141238.0
@PopCraveMusic @PopCrave It’s not even Whitney 💀 I’ve seen better Whitney performances at drag shows— Monte 🦖 (@Monte 🦖)1582143538.0
This user saw her as a Sims video game character.
@PopCraveMusic she looks like a sims— remy 🍒 (@remy 🍒)1582141417.0
Some fans were offended.
@PopCraveMusic The disrespect— My Name Is James (@My Name Is James)1582141314.0
@_JamesGtfo @PopCraveMusic Exactly. I know for a fact that she wouldn't want this.— Better Than God (@Better Than God)1582141460.0
Many expressed we should let the singer rest in peace.
@PopCraveMusic Y’all should have appreciated her when she lived. But, to many were making jokes. I disapprove of th… https://t.co/m7fcSwq3fq— ᎷᏗᎴᏋᏝᎥᏁᏋ (🅻🅸🅽🅰) (@ᎷᏗᎴᏋᏝᎥᏁᏋ (🅻🅸🅽🅰))1582159690.0
@PopCraveMusic let her rest! https://t.co/Ey4NAxLQJ5— #1 half of me stan (@#1 half of me stan)1582143505.0
@PopCraveMusic They need to leave my girl whitney alone! https://t.co/2y0gstroqo— 𝓢𝓹𝓻𝓲𝓷𝓰. (@𝓢𝓹𝓻𝓲𝓷𝓰.)1582141092.0
@PopCraveMusic This.... is disturbing. Why not just be respectful and let her rest? This seems wrong— 𝘼𝙃𝙎 🅂🅆🄴🄴🅃🄴🄽🄴🅁 (fan account) (@𝘼𝙃𝙎 🅂🅆🄴🄴🅃🄴🄽🄴🅁 (fan account))1582152665.0
@PopCraveMusic Whitney looking down on this like.... https://t.co/ovVFuKtG7H— GeminiOC (@GeminiOC)1582160054.0
Her concert from beyond the grave will never be as close as seeing her performing in the flesh.
@PopCraveMusic imagine buying tickets to a computer show— angel (@angel)1582141098.0
@PopCraveMusic Chile she's stiff this ain't Whitney and will never be— @Mariah_ Army (@@Mariah_ Army)1582156132.0
@PopCraveMusic So they expect people to pay (which I’m guessing will be hundreds) to see basically a video of her sing.— Brand ❌ (@Brand ❌)1582145801.0
@PopCraveMusic What a sad and beautiful ghost— Kalben (@Kalben)1582237933.0
Last September, Pat Houston told Hot 96.9 Boston:
"Whitney is not with us, but her music will live with us forever. We know we made the right decision partnering with BASE because they understand how important it is to produce a phenomenal hologram."
"They also know that engaging her fans with an authentic Whitney experience would resonate worldwide because of the iconic status that she created over three decades. Her fans deserve nothing less because she gave nothing less than her best."
Some fans think "it's not right," but is it okay?
@PopCraveMusic This ain’t right 😳 RIP— b❁ (@b❁)1582141329.0
@PopCraveMusic I loved Whitney and I respect the technology, but ... ew 😱— ⭐ 🇩avid 🇦ppleby ⭐ (@⭐ 🇩avid 🇦ppleby ⭐)1582153466.0
There are no North American dates announced but the tour is expected to arrive in the U.S. sometime in late 2020.
Will you stay? Or will you run awaaaay?
Mom Goes Viral After Conquering Her Fears By Absolutely Crushing A Gymnastics Move That She Was Afraid To Do As A Teen
There's nothing like living your childhood dreams as an adult.
That's what Nicole Clemens, 37, did when she executed a perfect roundoff back layout—a gymnastics move she wasn't quite able to conquer in her competitive days.
Clemens, mother-of-two from Missouri, works as an English teacher full-time. But she also moonlights as a part-time gymnastics coach—mostly to offset the costs of her daughter's investment in the sport.
Despite referring to herself as a "mediocre competitive gymnast" as a child, Clemens was able to perfectly land a move that she couldn't master back then. And she's darn proud of it.
In the spirit of being freaking proud of myself and also knowing I'm about to be fat shamed on the Internet, I pres… https://t.co/L1NY00T5H4— Nicole Clemens (@Nicole Clemens)1581996845.0
Clemens spoke to Buzzfeed News about her accomplishment, after her video went viral on Twitter.
"I put my daughter in a recreational gymnastics class to just keep her busy. She took off in the sport and is now a level 9 out of 10," she said. "But that means my life has been consumed by gymnastics in new ways."
"I'm always in and out of the gym as a mom. Gymnastics is also such an expensive sport so I started coaching a bit at the gym to offset costs. I now coach a small competitive team."
In addition to coaching, she began getting more involved herself. Clemens joined a class with a fellow mom friend, who was also both a former gymnast and a parent of one.
"I've stuck with it for over a year now because it's just fun. There's no pressure, no anxiety, just reliving the glory days I never really had and learning to fly. That's the best part. The simultaneous in-control and out-of-control moment where I get to show gravity who is the boss."
And boy, did she.
The video sparked a huge response on Twitter, with many amazed at what this mom could do.
@Nicolemens ARE YOU KIDDING ME— Spanny Lee Tampson (@Spanny Lee Tampson)1582023872.0
@Nicolemens @CandiceAiston Total props to you!!! Going after our dreams and working hard for them is what counts, n… https://t.co/AeZGN7gThK— Paige Carita (@Paige Carita)1582059498.0
@waltshaub @Nicolemens This is amazing. I have been watching kids doing gymnastics and I'm super impressed. I wish… https://t.co/mMucreYCAH— Nicole DiDio Johnson (@Nicole DiDio Johnson)1582076563.0
@Nicolemens Well done!🙌🙌 https://t.co/J8JIkktpuA— Renzo (@Renzo)1582062151.0
@Nicolemens Amazing!! And here I am, 31 and struggling just to walk around without falling down. https://t.co/yoyD79JdmE— Ida Skibenes ❄️ (@Ida Skibenes ❄️)1582071823.0
@Nicolemens @CandiceAiston That’s awesome. I never got past cartwheels myself... if you don’t count unintended flip… https://t.co/tUmctOl8NZ— Douglas Tschetter (@Douglas Tschetter)1582060132.0
@Nicolemens Anybody who shames you needs to post a video of said bully performing the same move with the same form.… https://t.co/l6f7zUOX08— EllBee (@EllBee)1582068311.0
@Nicolemens @Jamie91893384 That's excellent. Don't listen to the creeps that try to fat shame you. You've just done… https://t.co/gJGULLEFlb— Joe Kapler 🌊🌊🆘 (@Joe Kapler 🌊🌊🆘)1582176970.0
@Nicolemens I am in awe of powerful you, Nicole.— Connie Schultz (@Connie Schultz)1582062576.0
@Nicolemens @CandiceAiston That’s rad!! Well done!— Patricia Arquette (@Patricia Arquette)1582059807.0
You go, Nicole!