We’ve all done it from time to time, sometimes more than a little often. Judging other people based on appearance alone can become second nature to most of us, even when we don’t mean it to. It can often come down to a thing we all have called unconscious bias, meaning our brains make snap judgements about people without us even noticing. What you might not know though, is that making snap judgements about other people based on their appearance is actually probably more down to how we feel about ourselves than anything else. That’s why we put together this list of 8 things you can do to stop judging others and feel better about yourself. 

Think you need to train away your unconscious bias? Click here

1) Recognise comparison 

We are pretty much always comparing ourselves to others. All day, every day. But especially when it comes to how we look. It’s the easiest way to compare right – without knowing anything about all the people you are sat near on the train, how they look is all the information you have on them to measure yourself against. The thing is, comparison is judgement, and it serves literally no other purpose but to make you feel bad or to put that negativity onto others. Stop it in its tracks next time you find yourself comparing by distracting yourself with something else to do, or humming your favourite song. Soon, you’ll break the habit. 

2) Practice giving others compliments

It’s definitely true that the more positivity you put into the universe, the more it comes back to you. So practice thinking nice things about other people. If you see someone walking down the street and you don’t like the way they look, stop your judgement in its tracks and think of a positive thing instead. Similarly, actually compliment friends and family – even tell a stranger something nice. The more you get used to being positive, the less likely you are to judge people. 

3) Practice giving yourself a compliment 

Just like we said above, the more you get used to being positive, the more you’ll just do it out of habit, and slowly stop judging. The thing is, you need to do this for you as well as everyone else. The kinder you are to yourself, the less likely you are to compare, and therefore the less likely you are to make judgements. 

So, for every compliment you give to someone else, give yourself one. It could be something like “I am clever and kind” “I am fun to be around” “I love my hair today” “my skin is looking great” or anything else that you need to hear. If you had someone in your life that said as many negative things to you as you probably say to yourself, you probably wouldn’t be keeping them around. So it’s time to get kinder. 

4) Clear out your social media

There’s a pretty simple rule to live by when it comes to social media. If you see something on your social media that makes you feel bad about your life, you appearance, your clothes or your body, unfollow them. Just like if you follow people and regularly judge them – whether they are people you used to know IRL or a celeb on IG, unfollow them too. If it doesn’t bring you joy, it’s not worth giving yourself the excuse to be negative or to compare yourself against them all the time. 

5) Or even take a break from it completely 

Even though we all love to scroll through IG, it definitely makes judging people part of our everyday lives, even when we are completely alone. Check out this list of ways you can take a break from social media. By putting a bit of a buffer between you and social media, you might find the amount of time you spend judging people drops pretty quickly, and you have plenty more time on your hands to do some stuff just for you. Win win. 

6) Take care of yourself 

It’s important that you take care of you. It can be easy to be super self critical, especially if you are trying to stop judging others. We are all our own worst enemies, and every time you find yourself making a snap judgement it can be pretty easy to beat yourself up about it. But, you are making real efforts to change, and that’s a big deal. Make sure you give yourself the space to breathe and the time you need to make these changes. 

7) Remember that not everyone’s the same and looking different is not a bad thing 

So it seems pretty obvious, but we judge people because they differ from us in some way. But the world would be a really stupidly boring place if we were all the same right? Humans are made to be different from each other, so people are meant to be fat, skinny, tall, short, of different races, ethnicities, genders and have different senses of style.

Have you been affected by bullying? You can talk to one of our trained Digital Mentors for confidential support and advice here.

So, guys, we have done a bit of digging with our partners over at Brandwatch. Well, actually, a lot of digging. We joined forces to analyse 10 million online posts over the past three and a half years to explore a really serious issue affecting hundreds of thousands of people every day: transphobia. 

The issue is growing with every year that passes, so we wanted to better understand what is driving transphobic hate speech online so that we can evolve and develop the support that we offer, and lead the charge in the fight against it. Because of this, we think everyone should be a trans ally. 

So, what did we find out? Well, here are some of the key stats and issues our research highlighted. Before you read on though, we know that this subject can be difficult for some to deal with, especially if you’ve been the subject of transphobic aggression or abuse, you can speak to one of our trained digital mentors in confidence here

1) There were over 10,000,000 examples of transphobia in just 1,230 days

10 MILLION! Just let that sink in for a second. That’s three times the entire population of Los Angeles. That’s more than everyone who lives in London. Trans people have been constantly under attack for three years, and the numbers do not lie. 

2) That’s an average of more than 8130 examples of abuse per day

Every day, 8130 social media posts or comments were posted attacking trans people and trans rights. This goes from acts of trans discrimination all the way to inciting murder and violence against trans people, simply because they are who they are and are living life as their authentic selves. 

3) There are as many as 9 slurs against trans people that are used often 

Basically this means there were nine insults constantly and repeatedly used when talking about trans people. The most common slur we found was the term ‘tranny’ or ‘trannies’, which was cited 1.2 million times, and accounted for 80% of the abuse that we found. Other terms were ‘Shemale’ at 156,000 times, ‘Gender-bender’ at 56,000 times, ‘transtrender’ at 32,000 times, ‘chicks with dicks’ at 26,000 times, ‘Heshe’ at 18,000 times, ‘Ladyboy’ at 6,000, ‘Shehe’ at 3,000 times and ‘trap’ at 450 times. 

That’s a lot of abuse. 

4) Global politics has a direct impact on the abuse 

We all know that we live in times of a lot of polarised views. But political events like the Trump inauguration and Brexit saw a huge spike in anti-trans sentiment. Not only this, but policies that had a direct impact on trans rights such as the bathroom bills, the Trump military ban and Trump gender bill have all had a direct impact on the ability of trans people to go about their daily lives. If this wasn’t enough, it caused a huge increase in the number of anti-trans speech online. 

5) Trans people, especially trans women of colour are a specific target 

A huge amount of the abuse that we found was directed specifically towards trans women, and that number increased further still for trans women of colour. 

To read the full report, click here

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6) Basic rights are still under attack

It would be hard to have missed the fact that in the last three years, tran rights have been under attack in politics and in the public space. Since the Bathroom Bills, Trump’s military ban and the Gender Bill, the rights of trans people to simply make decisions and go about their daily lives have been under threat. Imagine having to deal with that, as well as all the online abuse that we have found. 

7) Even Pride was taken over by transphobic abuse 

In 2018, Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists took over the London Pride march to express their anger at the inclusion of trans issues in feminist discussion. As a result, anti-trans sentiment spiked in the UK, and more and more people started to voice negative ideas about trans people. It was Pride, a space that was supposed to be safe, to protest about equality, loving yourself, and to not repeat the past. 

8) Acts of violence, and incitement of violence, are growing 

A few months ago, the third trans woman of colour was found murdered in Dallas, Texas alone this year. The death of Chynal Lindsey only shows just how much more at risk trans people are of being injured or killed by violence, and for trans people of colour that risk is higher still. Our research found that transphobic violence was a common theme, which covered everything from threats, calls for violence, vandalism, terrorism, assault, sexual harrassment and more. This is not ok. 

9) Being who you are is always the right thing to do 

Here at the Ditch the Label, we think everyone has a fundamental right to be exactly who they are, free from prejudice and free from hate. Being who you are and living as your authentic is always the right thing to do. One more time for the people at the back. 

Always. The. Right. Thing. 

 10) And we need to stop the hate 

Obviously, lots of work needs to be done to address the growing problem of hate speech online. We want to help. Nobody should be subjected to any type of bullying in any space. Ever. Periodt. 

To read the full report, click here

Need some tips on being the best trans ally you can? Read this

If you have been affected by any of the type of abuse highlighted in our study, or need someone to talk to, you can speak to one of our trained digital mentors in confidence here

A group of runners on a track

Who doesn’t love watching the worlds greatest athletes do their thing? Sporting pros are often our first role models in life so we put together a list of just some of the sports pro’s working towards complete inclusion in sport. Be it opening up about their mental health, overcoming the odds or just being who they are; these stars are as cool as it gets.

1) Gareth Thomas –@gareththomas14

Gareth Thomas was a rugby player for Wales and is still one of their highest try scorers ever. As well as being up there with the greatest players to ever play the game, Gareth was one of the first professional rugby union players to openly come out as gay. To have the bravery to be a trailblazer for LGBT sports professionals in a very masculine profession is more than enough reason to be considered a fantastic role model but Gareth Thomas isn’t done there; he also does a huge amount of charity work. What a hero.

2) Amy Purdy – @amypurdygurl

After becoming a double amputee at 19 and being given a 2% chance of survival, Amy Purdy broke the laws of what’s humanly possible and took up para-snowboarding. Within a year, she achieved silver and bronze medals at the Paralympics and now runs an organisation to help other disabled people get involved in extreme sports. If anyone is proof that you can do anything with determination and hard-work, it’s Amy.


3) Sarah Taylor – @sjtaylor30

Sarah Taylor is a world-class cricketer who plays for England. Being the icon she is, Sarah was the first female to play men’s grade cricket in Australia. What’s really incredible about Sarah is that, despite cricket being male-dominated, she’s widely considered as the greatest wicket-keeper in the sport; be it the men’s or women’s game. Sarah Taylor has also been open about her struggles with anxiety and starting the conversation about professional athletes and their mental wellbeing.

4) Megan Rapinoe – @mrapinoe

What happens when you cross incredible football talent with selfless charity work? You get Megan Rapinoe. She’s just finished a fantastic tournament at the Women’s World Cup, with a winners medal, the golden ball and golden boot to show for it, and is one of the best players for the USA. Despite her glittering career, there is more to why we think Megan deserves her role model status. After coming out as lesbian, she’s become a leading advocate in the sport for LGBT+ causes and donates a percentage of her salary to football-related charities. Legend.


5) Danny Rose

Danny Rose was one of the first footballers to openly talk about the pressures of playing football at the highest level and the effect that has had on him when it crosses with his personal life. After being diagnosed with depression, Danny was asked to meet a club interested in signing him because they wanted to check he “wasn’t crazy’. We all know it’s absolutely ridiculous that these are still views people have in professional sport and he’s working to break them down by normalising the conversation. Danny, we think you’re doing a fantastic job mate.


6) Kevin Love – @kevinlove

Basketball is literally a marathon and a sprint. It’s not only an incredibly fast-paced game but the league is also played over 9 months of the year and all over the USA. Kevin Love has voiced his personal experiences with panic attacks and continues to be one of the biggest mental health advocates in Basketball, along with Demar Derozan and Nate Robinson. He said that speaking out has been one of the greatest things he’s ever done and if that doesn’t prove that anyone can be going through something and it’s better to open up about it, then we don’t know what does.


7) Yuna Kim – @yunakim

If there’s something to be won in figure skating, Yuna Kim has already won it. She is the first female ever to win every official figure skating title; including at the Olympics and World Championships and is regularly referred to as “Queen Yuna” in the media because of her prominence. Having the talent to be one of the greatest in your sport is already incredibly impressive but, to add to that, Yuna has donated around 2.6 million US dollars to charitable causes. Let’s all bow down to Queen Yuna.


8) Raheem Sterling – @sterling7

If you put a quick search in Google for the work Raheem Sterling is doing to battle racism, your screen will be filled with hundreds of articles. As well as being England’s most exciting talent, Raheem also made a substantial donation to those who were affected by the Grenfell tower tragedy and is vocal about the positive influence his mother had on him. Sterling’s doing just as much off the pitch as he is on and his work in the public to combat prejudice in the world’s most popular sport make him someone we think of as a great role model.


There are hundreds of fantastic athletes who are making strides to bring inclusion to all sports. Nigel Owens, Serena Williams, Robbie Rogers, and Heather O’Reilly are all worth a research (along with plenty of others) if you’re looking for more real sporting idols.

For more inspiration, cute pics and everything else, follow our instagram @ditchthelabel.

We are living a full Pride fantasy summer here at Ditch the Label, and as part of the celebrations, influencer, model and all round legend Max Hovey has written about his experiences of coming out.

Coming out is hard, but it doesn’t have to be.

It’s not really a big deal once you’re out, but in your own head, you might be visualizing literally every worst possible reaction from the people you love. It’s daunting, anxiety inducing, and before you come out, it can feel like you’ll do almost anything to hide who you really are. 

It’s better than you think it’s going to be, trust me. Whilst everyone’s experience is going to be different, and heartbreakingly some people have much worse experiences than others, it can be the most liberating thing you’ll ever do. I came out summer 2016, I was 17. There were ups and downs, but compared to some people my experience was relatively plain sailing. Here are the 8 things that I learned from my coming out experience.


1) Most people really don’t give a f**k.

periodt.

2) You don’t have to force yourself to tell people with some grand gesture, or make it a big deal.

Hell, I told literally everyone I care about by text (apart from when I was drunk at parties lol). Both of my parents, my entire family even, simply got the text “I’m gay”. So, don’t feel you need to sit everyone down with big news if you’re genuinely not comfortable doing so. It’s your thing, it’s your story, own it however you like.

3) You will lose people, but not everyone you lose is a loss.

I lost a large group of friends very quickly, and growing up in an all-boys school as a gay man was hard. Trying to fit in, pretending I liked girls (because sorry girls, I’m 110% gay, like not even remotely hetero and never will be). So, it was hard to come out in that environment. It had also taken me a long time to gain the respect and friendship of a lot of the guys in my school, which very quickly vanished from a lot of them. All it showed me was who my true friends were. I had a large group of people who really didn’t care that I had come out, and a lot of them were guys, and I will be forever grateful for the support and kindness that they showed me.

4) It’s like a sigh of relief

For anyone that has seen Love Simon (for real I cried throughout this entire film because it just hit home), do you remember the scene when he talks to his mum? If you’ve not seen it just go with it. She says “It’s like the last few years you’ve been holding your breath, you get to exhale now Simon”, and I’ve never heard such a perfect explanation of coming to terms with your sexuality. It is such a sigh of relief when you can finally be honest with the world, and happily be who you want to be. Thinking back to how much I had to worry and care what people thought saddens me, but without those restraints, I am thriving.

5) You will encounter hate, but it’s how you deal with it that matters.

After I’d come out, I actually had someone from my school shout fag**t at me out of a car window driving past. In the moment I was shocked, then I just broke down because it was the first time I had experienced up front personal hate. The fact that it exists today is heartbreaking, and in some cases it can reach physical and even life threatening hate. All we can do is continue to be ourselves. We’ve come a long way, but there is still work to be done.


6) Now on a lighter note, pride is DOPE.

Growing up seeing the LGBT+ community from the outside can give you mixed emotions. You may not want to be part of it as you’re not accustomed to your new feelings, you may feel FOMO when seeing all of the people living their best life as exactly who they were born to be. When you’re out, you get to fully embrace the LGBT+ community at its finest. I recently went to London pride, and what warmed my heart was seeing the whole of London full of people being unapologetically themselves, and nobody batting an eyelid, everyone was full of pride. So yeah, I learned that gays know how to throw a party, and not care what people think.

7) Dating can be tough.

Like it’s not even discriminating, it’s a straight up fact that it is harder to find gay people than straight people (unless you know where to look). You’ll have that “are they gay or are they straight? Dilemma. As if it’s not daunting enough going up to someone in a bar, let alone when you could have their sexuality completely wrong. But hey go for it, like I said most people don’t care, so what’s the worst that could happen? 

8) You will be able to proudly find love

Now for the best part (that I am yet to experience due to the above point). You will be able to openly and proudly find the love of your life, and show them to the world. In most places now you can get married (don’t worry if you can’t, we’re working on it and we WILL get there). You can start and raise a family with the person you are meant to be with. Now if the thought of that doesn’t warm your heart and make you want to this whole exciting side of you, I don’t know what will.

For more from Max, follow him on Instagram @max_hovey

If you have a question about sexuality, Pride, coming out, or anything else, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

A group of cyclists in a race.

Playing sport surely has to be the most popular hobby in the world. The adrenaline from competing and the exhilaration of winning make everything you go through in training completely worth it. Although, there are plenty of things about sports that are, shall we say, less-than-desirable so we created a list of all the problems that sports players will understand, no matter what sport you play. 

1) The Wait

You turn up on game day and the excitement for the match begins to build. We refuse to believe that anyone enjoys the warm up. It’s boring. All you want to do is get out there and play your game. No one turns up to stretch out the hamstring and then thinks “that was good fun, let’s go home”. No. Get us on the pitch.


2) Miniscule Changing Rooms

Is there anything more annoying than arriving to an away game and heading into the changing room to set down your kit bag and find your seat, only to find out your changing room is essentially a rabbit hutch. You may as well be sat on your teammates lap you’re so squeezed in. 


3) Running Laps

Ugh. Do we even need to explain this one? There’s no way anyone enjoys fitness training. We’d rather watch paint dry than run about in the cold.


4) Having a Bad Game

It’s a feeling of absolute fury with yourself when you’ve not played to your best ability. You feel like you’ve let your coach down, your teammates down and, most importantly, you’ve let yourself down. Realistically, it is only just a game and your mates will tell you not to be worried about it but that won’t stop us from being annoyed for the rest of the week. Or year.


5) The Not-So-Great Referee

This one is possibly the most aggravating. Refereeing is an incredibly hard thing to do; you’re always a villian and there are plenty of scenarios where your opinion as a player all depends on which side you’re on. BUT, there’s nothing worse than a ref that both teams agree is absolutely rubbish. It can ruin a game and you’d love to respond saying what you really think but you can’t, because they’re the ref and their decision is final. But still…


6) Very, Very Cold Showers

You’ve finished the game, good win and you’re ready to clean off. Stepping into the shower, you turn on the tap expecting a nice, warm wash. All of a sudden, you’re shocked with what can only be ice water from the Antarctic. Honestly, you may as well make a new home with the penguins and a bloody polar bear because you’ll never really feel warm ever again. 


7) Being Able to Smell the Minibus From a Mile Away

Clearly no one else fancied the cold showers because the minibus stinks! Having to sit for an hour or maybe more, surrounded by your sweaty teammates who have are all asleep. Maybe they’re tired or maybe they’ve been knocked out by the smell. 


8) Forgetting to Unpack the Kit Bag

Whiff, stench, stink, funk – whatever you want to call it; there is no smell on earth worse than a kit bag that’s been accidentally left to sit for a few days after the game. I was going to try and describe it but there’s absolutely no words that will do it justice. Grim.


9) Cleaning, Cleaning, Cleaning

It’s just annoying isn’t it? The effort involved in having to put your kit in the wash or scrape the mud off your boots – especially if you’ve just left them in your bag for a week. We know, “take care of your kit and your kit will take care of you” but when your clothes are covered in mud and sweat and more mud, it’s hard to get motivated to clean when you know they’ll never be properly clean again.


10) The Next Day Aches

You’ve had a great time and enjoyed the match but jeez, was it really worth it? Your legs feel like they’re going to fall off. Trying to get out of bed? Ouch. Walking? Ouch. Sitting down? Ouch. Best thing to do is complain and get everyone in the house to do things for you instead. 


11) Losing the Beloved Boots

A sad moment. Be it your favourite racquet or boots or jersey, it’s a painful loss to have to say goodbye to your favourite equipment. If you’ve not been sent cards to console you for your loss then have a word with your friends. We reckon you could stage a goodbye service to your broken gear to give them the send off they deserve. Although sometimes it’s best to get rid of it before it’s broken; especially in the case of lucky socks.


12) Injury FOMO

Yeah of course the pain is bad but it’s not what really hurts. An injury is nasty for sure but the real source of pain comes from not being able to get out there and do what you love. Watching your team carry on without you when all you want to do is join them. Injuries come as part and parcel of sport but that doesn’t bother you when you love it as much as you do.


For more inspiration, memes and cute pics, follow our instagram @ditchthelabel.

Pride month may be over, but we still cover lots of different types of LGBT+ bits and bobs all year round. We wanted to share our list of 8 key things to remember when your sibling comes out to you so that you can support them and be there for them the very best way you can. 

1) Keep it to yourself

Just because they have come out to you does not mean they are out to anyone else, including your parents. It’s important to remember that this is their coming out journey, and even though it’s great to help and support them, this is their business to tell, even if it means you have to keep it from your parents for a little while. 

2) They are still your sibling, no matter what 

It can feel like a lot to deal with when your sibling first comes out to you. The most important thing to remember is that this does not change who they are, and they are still the same sibling you have had your whole life. 

3) Remember, it matters to them 

It is really tempting to use phrases like “it doesn’t matter to me” and “it’s no big deal”. We know, and they will probably know, that this you trying to be accepting. Remember though, it matters to them enough that they wanted to sit you down and tell you this. Why not try something like “that means so much that you told me” and “I will love you no matter what”. 

4) Let them say what they need to say 

This is their time, and a huge step that they are taking. Whilst you might have opinions or things to say, let them say everything they need to first. They have probably had this conversation in their head a hundred times before actually sitting down with you, so let them get through it in their own time. 

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5) It might affect you, but the this is not the time to talk about that 

So, with the above in mind, make a bit of a mental note of the things you want to ask them and the stuff you have to say and wait for them to invite you to speak. If you have a lot, try and be supportive in the moment and hold off. Remember, this has been a huge deal for them to tell you, and they might still be getting to grips with it themselves, so they might not be able to answer all your questions. Keep them in your brain, or write them down somewhere private until you can sit down and talk about it.

6) Have a think about the plan for coming out to the rest of your family… 

If your sibling has told you before anyone else, it’s probably because they would like a bit of moral support when it comes to telling the rest of the family, especially your parents. Have a chat about what their plan is, if they have one, and work on it together. They will probably be super grateful for all the help and support. However, if they want to sit the parents down on their own and tell them, don’t push in. It can seem tempting to protect them, but you need to respect their wishes.

7) … and have a think about what you’ll do if it doesn’t go well

In an ideal world, no one would be homophobic, no one would have to come out and this would never be an issue. Unfortunately, this is not always going to be the case. If you think your parents might not react that well for whatever reason, try and have a think about what you will do. It might not be something your sibling can think about right now as it’s a pretty scary thought, but you should have a bit of an idea of how to help them, or how to talk your parents around. Read this article on coming out to homophobic parents to get a little help. 

8) Be there. 

Really, the best thing you can ever do when your sibling, or anyone else, comes out to you, is just be there for them. Let them know that they can come to you at any point during this process and that you want them to feel like they can still come to you with all the same relationship dramas and joys that maybe they used to before. 

If you have a question about sexuality, relationships, families or anything else, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen to you.

Hi everyone! I’m Yasmin Benoit, a model and asexuality activist. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to write another article for Ditch the Label. This time I’m here to tell you how you can be the best ace ally during Pride this year – and all year round! It doesn’t take much to be an ally and make a real difference for an asexual person, or the wider asexual community. 

1) Educate yourself about asexuality

If you’re going to be an ally for asexual people, it’s important to understand what asexuality is, and what it means to be on the asexual spectrum. There loads of information online about asexuality. It might also be helpful to speak to an asexual person and ask them respectful questions, if they’re open to it. Keep in mind that there are a range of asexual experiences, which vary depending on where you are on the asexual spectrum, and what your romantic orientation is. If you want to find out more you can read about asexuality here and this article on 10 Things You Need to Know About Asexuality here

2) Don’t exclude asexual people from Pride events

Pride is supposed to be a welcoming and inclusive space for those who don’t fit into the heteronormative box, so there is definitely a place at Pride events for asexual people. Debates surrounding whether or not asexual people should be included in Pride celebrations are alienating for the community. If you want to be a good ally to asexual people, then you should support our right to celebrate who we are in an LGBT+ space, as part of the wider queer community.  

Yasmin posing in front of the asexual flag

3) Be morally supportive

There is nothing wrong or abnormal about being asexual, but pressures from our society can make asexual people feel like they’re broken. If you know someone who is coming to terms with their asexuality, listen to them and be encouraging, just as you would to someone who is coming out as gay or transgender. Don’t be dismissive of their asexuality, or think that you know more about their bodies and their minds than they do.   

4) Use inclusive language

Asexual people have a rather unique perspective of sexuality and romantic relationships. It’s important to keep that in mind with the language you use. Statements that make sex, sexual relationships and romantic love sound like a universal necessity for every human being might seem harmless, but they’re actually alienating for those who don’t feel that way. It’s important to remember that not all sexual identities or romantic relationships actively involve sex, and they don’t need to involve sex to be valid. 

Yasmin holding a pink sign saying activist

5) Include asexuality in the conversation

With Pride celebrations comes discussions around sexuality and relationships. These conversations are incomplete without an asexual perspective. Whether you’re just having a casual chat in the park or whether you’re hosting a panel in front of a hundred people, remember that asexual people exist and our experiences count. It doesn’t take much to add, “But not everyone’s interesting in that,” during a conversation, or to find an asexual writer or speaker to lend their voice on a larger platform. Anything that contributes to positive asexual visibility is helpful for the community. 

6) Do your part to spread the word

There are a range of resources online about asexuality – whether you want blog posts, journal articles, YouTube videos, fiction, or advice straight from the mouth of asexuality activists. Even if you have come to understand asexuality, there are many people out there who don’t, and this contributes to misunderstandings and stereotypes surrounding the community. Share asexual content with people you know. You might intrigue people who are eager to learn more about asexuality, as well as people who might be asexual themselves without realising it yet. 

For more from Yasmin, you can follow her Instagram here

If you have a question about sexuality, relationships, or anything else that might be bothering you, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen to you. 

As part of Men’s Health Week 2019, influencer, model and mental health advocate Max Hovey talks about his journey with social anxiety, and gives his 4 top tips to helping you cope with it.

Did they just look at me? I don’t feel comfortable today. No clothes suit me. What if I annoy them? What if they don’t want to talk to me anymore? Am I being too needy? What if I’m not needy enough? Do I look ok? There are too many people here. Why don’t I look like them? 

Social anxiety. I’m not saying you need to have said ALL of the above to yourself to have social anxiety – don’t worry, it’s not a checklist. What I have learned over the years is that social anxiety can manifest in so many different ways, and everyone can experience it differently. I’m Max by the way, and I struggle with social anxiety. 


A few years ago, my friend told me that she did too, way before I even knew what it was. When she told me, I remember thinking to myself ‘she’s always so confident? She loves performing in front of people? She seems so confident in her appearance? She always seems so bubbly and happy to speak out?’ This can be a pretty common misconception about social anxiety – that you can’t have any confidence and don’t like public speaking or ANY form of attention. 

Over the years I have been learning a lot about myself and have realized that I have social anxiety. It’s weird, because for anyone that knows me personally or that follows my Instagram, they will probably see me as being quite confident, and happy to put myself forward publicly. I also love public speaking and talking in front of groups, and I’m also pretty confident in front of a camera (duh). 

Whilst all that is true, it doesn’t mean I don’t have anxiety. My social anxiety stems from relationships. I can be in a great place, feeling confident, happy with my appearance, career, education, and generally feeling pretty damn wonderful in my life. Then a boy comes on the scene, and holy shit everything changes. My confidence is shattered, and I end up critically judging everything, from what I say, to how I act, to what I wear. My self-esteem can just evaporate. Anxiety can be a lot to deal with, and I am still a work in progress, but I still wanted to share my tips for dealing with it. 


Max’s Top Tips for Dealing with Social Anxiety 

Am I going to wake up, be fierce and achieve everything today? OR am I going to wake up with a crushing pain in my stomach, panic in brain and just want to cry? WHO KNOWS! My point is that no one should stereotype or stigmatize social anxiety. Everyone experiences it differently, everyone has good and bad days, and everyone copes with it differently. Here are a few things you could try to try to take the edge off. 

1) Be kind

We have no idea what a person may be going through. Give them that compliment, boost their mood, make someone smile for NO reason at all other than the fact that you can.

2) Talk to someone

Like I said, we have no idea what someone is going through, and that includes you. We can give you compliments; we can try and boost your mood and make you smile, but sometimes what can really help is allowing us to understand how you’re truly feeling. So, open up to someone you can trust, believe me, it helps.

3) Try a thought diary

Literally type CBT thought diary into an app store and you’re bound to find it. It’s a great way of writing down what’s going through your head, and training your brain to spot your irrational thoughts, and turn them into something positive before you get carried away. I’ve tried it and believe me it works.

4) BREATHE

Like you’d think it’d be obvious but you have no idea the impact that it can have. Focusing on your breath brings you into the present, as we know anxiety is normally worrying about something that has not and may not even happen, so just taking a moment to breath can help you distance yourself from those thoughts. It can also calm your physical symptoms too, bringing your heartbeat back to normal, and halting that feeling of panic.

I’m not saying this is necessarily going to work for you. Sometimes these techniques don’t work for me, so I try something else. But the main thing is to practice, keep trying the same and new methods. Things will not get better over the night, but one thing is certain – they will get better. 

For more from Max, check out his Instagram @max_hovey

If you are struggling with anxiety, or have anything else going on that you want to talk about, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

Coming out can be a long and pretty scary process for most people. As it’s Pride Month, so we wanted to share a little bit of wisdom on things to keep in mind for after you’ve come out!

1. Walk, don’t run

So it might feel like you want to run and dance and sing and throw yourself into the culture of the world that you are now a proud and open part of. It’s important to remember though that your life has changed between hiding your sexuality and being open about it.

Take a bit of time, think about all the other parts of you that might have taken a sideline whilst you were building up to coming out. Learn about your sexuality, talk to those around you about if they need more information, meet others in the community and outside of it, and enjoy this time as something for you.

2. Not everyone will ‘get it’ and that’s ok

You might encounter people who find it challenging to support or understand your sexuality; remember that this is their issue to work through and not yours. If this is the case with people close to you, try not to react in anger to their difficulties in accepting you. Give them some time and hopefully they will come around.

3. Never go back

As our lives continue to change, we meet new people, move jobs, cities – maybe even countries! It is important that you meet these new scenarios and people as your authentic self. Don’t undo all the work that you put in – embracing and accepting yourself as you are can take time. You’ve made it this far, so try not to revert back to old habits.

However, it is also important to trust your instincts. If you don’t feel safe, or think it is better to pause before you speak, do it. It sucks that the world can still be like it, but your health, safety and wellbeing should always come first.

4. There is no right way to live

Your sexuality is just a small fraction of who you are as a person. It does not define you. Our society still has many outdated stereotypes around gender and sexuality, but how you choose to live your life is entirely up to you. There is no right or wrong way to live – carve your own path.

5. Connect

A community is extremely important. Reach out and find people that accept you for you. Finding support and connecting with people who understand you and what you are going through, will help you deal with any changes and transitions that might lie ahead.

6. Don’t feel pressured to conform

Now you have come out, you might have expected to easily assimilate into your local LGBT+ community. There is a possibility that you might not feel 100% like you belong, or maybe you feel like you don’t fit in – don’t worry if this is the case. You are a unique individual and everyone expresses themselves differently, so don’t feel pressured to dress or act a certain way if it doesn’t come naturally. This is true for all aspects of life too, and all people, regardless of sexuality.

Remember that you are perfect just the way you are and not alone in sometimes feeling alone.

7. Life might not instantly get better

Not having to deal with the daily stress of having to hide your sexuality is a massive relief. But don’t be alarmed if things don’t fall into place as quickly as you would like or exactly how you imagined they would. For some people, it can get worse before it gets better. The freedom you are searching for will come, but it takes time.

8. Dating

This can be very nerve-racking, especially on a first date. Putting yourself out there is scary whatever your sexuality. You might feel paranoid that everyone is watching you, but they really aren’t. The good news is dating does get much easier as you become more comfortable with not having to hide who you are to others and yourself.

9. Keep reaching out to those who love you unconditionally

Keep reaching out to those that love you and support you. If you experience any negativity make sure you tell someone – even if you don’t want to report it, it is important you share with someone what you are going through.

 

If you don’t feel like you have anyone to talk to, you can always talk to us. For more information on coming out, sexuality and relationships, reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen.

It’s Pride month guys, and we are just as excited about as you are! Pride has become increasingly popular all over the world, with millions of people flooding the streets of cities such as London, New York, LA, San Francisco, Paris, Berlin, and hundreds more to support and celebrate gay rights. With the allyship movement also growing year on year, we ask, do we still need a pride month? 

Well, spoiler alert: the answer is yes. But why? 

1) Transphobia is still everywhere 

Trans people are still massively struggling for their basic rights. Things like being able to have your gender on your driving license or passport is something that can be a really long and difficult process for trans people. Being able to use a bathroom, walk home, use public transport or go to work feeling safe is something that most people are lucky enough to take for granted, but for trans people, all of these can still be a source of fear. It is 2019, and it has ONLY JUST been declassified as a disorder by the World Health Organisation sooooooo we think it is definitely still necessary. 

2) LGBT+ rights are still under attack across the globe 

When Brunei made being gay a crime punishable by death earlier in 2019, it was a pretty harsh reminder of what LGBT+ people go through all over the world in the continued fight for the basic right to love the people they want to love. Even in the UK, a teacher who wanted to teach about LGBT+ relationships in school received death threats from parents in the local community just shows how far society still has to go to achieve true equality. 

3) Violence against trans people continues to happen

Recently, the third trans woman of colour was found murdered in Dallas, Texas alone this year. The death of Chynal Lindsey only shows just how much more at risk trans people are of being injured or killed by violence, and for trans people of colour that risk is higher still. Violence against trans people happens all across the world on a daily basis, and the high rate in one city in America reinforces just how much action is necessary. 

4) LGBT+ young people are still at an increased risk of being homeless 

Coming out can be a really difficult process. For some, it can even mean losing their families, friends, job, and homes. LGBT+ Youth are 26% more likely to be homeless than their straight cis-gendered peers. If pride can help increase the awareness, understanding and tolerance of LGBT+ issues, as well as the number of people who feel safe in coming out, then hopefully this number will get lower. 

5) Homophobia/biphobia and transphobia is still everywhere, even if you don’t see it

There is still homophobia and discrimination everyday all the time, even if it is not out in the open. Like, do you know how often same sex couples get mistaken for siblings, business partners or best friends?! Also, people still stare, all the time. Even if the people who stare are not screaming homophobic slurs in the street, the stare says everything it needs to say. 

6) Basic rights are still a subject of debate

Some basic rights such as the right to marry, have children or follow a religion are still being debated every single day. Even in countries where all these things are technically legal, it does not stop LGBT+ people being discriminated against in real life. Everyone should have a basic right to do these things, and have these aspects of their lives be accepted all over the world. 

7) Visibility for some groups is dwindling

Everyone has probably at least heard of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Whilst it is a huge leap forward that a show about queer culture has won a collection of Emmy awards and is popular around the world, it is only a tiny part of gay culture, and other groups are waaay less visible in mainstream culture. For example, when was the last time you saw an ace person on TV?  Or can you name more than one openly LGBT+ politician? 

8) Being an ally is more than it is right now 

One thing to remember about being a straight ally is that it is so much more than following drag queens on social media and carrying a rainbow flag at pride. If you are interested in being a better ally, try watching some documentaries on YouTube about LGBT+ history and the struggle for rights. The more you understand what LGBT+ people have gone through and continue to deal with every day, the more you can know how to support them. 

Whether you are going to a Pride Parade near you this year or not, and whether that is as an LGBT person or an ally, Pride is still super important to all the people who attend. If you are straight, why not read up on how to be the best ally you can be in this article here

9) Forgetting is not an option

As much as Pride is a fun event that is often the highlight of many LGBT+ and straight ally calendars, it is also a time when the gay community can reflect and remember the people and the issues that came before them, and celebrate and pursue a right to exist without persecution. Pride means that LGBT+ issues remain visible and talked about so that equality can get closer every single day, and rights are never taken away again.

10) Love should always be celebrated

As much as Pride is about all of the things above such LGBT+ history and current issues, it is also just an awesome celebration of love, identity, uniqueness, queer culture and equality. Everyone who wants to support or be a part of queer culture is given a place at Pride, regardless of age, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. In a world where everything seems pretty damn negative, THAT is something worth celebrating, and so so worth continuing.

 

 

Happy Pride Month, from everyone at Ditch the Label!

If you are thinking of coming out or have questions about your sexuality, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.