That's What She Said

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Melissa Carter: How can we help LGBT youth be not only out, but proud?

Melissa CarterIt seems that suicide is spilling into our headlines more than ever before, with another gay teenager falling victim to this tragic trend a couple weeks ago.

Kenneth Weishuhn Jr. of Iowa took his own life at the age of 14, after being tormented by classmates for his decision last month to come out. His mother told The Washington Post that Kenneth quickly became the target of threatening cellphone calls, voicemails, and online comments.

Kenneth was a popular kid in school, but only when classmates thought he was straight. Once they learned his truth, Kenneth’s peers quickly turned on him and that rejection led to his death April 15.

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Melissa Carter: TV made me smarter

Melissa CarterI am a smarter person because of Made-for-TV movies. I realized this the other night when Katie Jo and I were sitting on our back porch talking. The topic of Helen Keller came up, and I began to tearfully recall the scene from “The Miracle Worker” where Patty Duke’s Anne Sullivan finally gets through to Melissa Gilbert’s Helen at the well.

W. A. T. E. R. Who doesn’t get choked up at that memory? Katie Jo.

When I realized my other half gave no reaction to my description of that pivotal scene, I questioned if she had ever seen “The Miracle Worker.” She had not, and went on to tell me she really wasn’t that familiar with Helen Keller’s life. I was shocked, but remembered that if it weren’t for Duke and Gilbert, I might not be either.

So much of my early education came from those mini dramas, which provided greater opportunities for learning than books or theatrical releases ever could. That’s because Made-for-TV movies came on one of the only three or four channels available then, and the lack of choice forced everyone in the family, and the country, to watch it together.

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Melissa Carter: My mother is going blind, but her artistic vision remains

Melissa CarterMillie Pete is going blind. My 82-year-old mother was diagnosed with macular degeneration two months ago, and the condition is quickly taking away her vision because of damage to her retina.

As an artist, this has posed a serious challenge to her lifestyle, since the result of the condition is the inability to see detail or recognize faces. As the daughter of this artist, I have come to realize these past few weeks that is was through her art that I learned my most important life lessons:

• Shadows. My mother taught me never to use black when shading paintings. Instead you use complimentary colors to show depth to an object. As a child I saw shadows as dark places to avoid, but Millie Pete allowed me to see they are never as black as they seem, and that shadows actually help enhance the world around you.

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Melissa Carter: Chill pill anyone?

Melissa CarterDoes your family accept your sexuality? Do your friends and co-workers? If the answer is no, and there was a pill that would cure them of that prejudice, would you give it to them? I’m sure most would say yes and the possibility of such a pill is not science fiction.

British researchers have been studying the issue of racism and found that a common heart disease drug seems to lower racist attitudes as well as blood pressure.  The study was conducted at Oxford University where volunteers were divided into two groups.  One was given the drug Propranolol while the other took a placebo.  Propranolol is a beta blocker used to treat blood pressure, but can also be used in managing panic and anxiety disorders.

In one test, the groups were asked to sort pictures of black and white faces into categories along with positive and negative words.  In another, they were asked to report how warm they felt towards certain groups, including blacks and Muslims.