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When I was 13, my mother tossed a square, thin, hard-cover picture book on my bed. On the front was a cartoon little girl striding into a woman and a boy stepping into a man. Its 20-some pages were supposed to get me through life, love, the locker room and seventh period.
I poured over the contents, studying every diagram, but never really learned anything. I couldn’t ask the book my burning questions or solicit its advice – that was saved for my big sister, friends and older teammates who knew about all the stuff I didn’t.
Like most kids, I learned about growing up and coming out by listening to others. I gathered informational morsels from the conversations of people I knew, and some I didn’t. I would hold a curious ear to anybody who had anything to say about what I was going through. I didn’t have the luxury of learning how to have my first girlfriend at home. Even if my parents had been open and accepting, they’d never be able relate to the tumultuous formative years of their queer kid – try painfully, as they may.
So where can today’s youth find answers and sound advice on their new, big, gay world?
On the intrawebs. Where else?
Fire up your computer and step into a virtual peer counseling network where web cam-enabled folks -- like the members of The Beaver Bunch -- take queer youth questions and share their own experiences.
It's a story, almost, but thankfully not quite as wholesome as Marsha Brady. The Beaver Bunch is an LGBTQ-focused You-Tube channel (voted 'Best Web Series by Cherry Grrl). Every afternoon, Monday through Friday, the five members of The Bunch take turns speaking on a designated topic which aims to inform and support the thousands of LGBTQ youth who watch and email in their questions. The channel has also earned the patronage of parents and friends alike since it is often as entertaining as it is educational.
The five unique host members of The Bunch are each assigned to one day of the week offering an array of perspectives for their audience to sample.
There’s Michelle, the channel’s femme fatal founder whose biting wit rings from New York. There’s AJ, your Long Beach butch, and Lori in Michigan is as endearing and unassuming as Middle America itself. Kade is the crew’s trans correspondent whose gentle articulation and patient delivery is something anybody can learn a lot from. And Jess addresses the world from San Diego with her unsparing honesty and infectious charm.
Yes, that beats illustrated pituitary glands, any day. These days, if something isn’t vlogged on the internet, it’s as if it didn’t happen. Gay is happening. And there’s no right way to do it. We salute The Beaver Bunch for breaking down stereotypes and supporting the youth movement in delicious, easy to digest daily doses of web video.
Check out The Beaver Bunch at: youtube.com/user/beaverbunch and find Jess -- San Diego's correspondent at www.youtube.com/user/cautiousplay