Teen Bodybuilder Inspiring Folks To Take Charge Of Their Lives

Alex Tilinca (image via Instagram)

Alex Tilinca is a lot like other 18-year-olds in their freshman year of college.

Having reached the end of his first semester as a marketing major at Hofstra University, the teen is putting all his attention on his studies for upcoming final exams.

Being a good student, he’s stepped away for a short time from his favorite sport, amateur bodybuilding, where Tilinca doesn’t just compete in competitions, but he’s an award-winning transgender competitor in the sport.

Last August, Tilinca enter the Teen Classic Physique competition in the Bronx and took home the first place trophy beating out cisgender bodybuilders.

“It was like the universe was telling me to keep going. Don’t stop,” Tilinca told New York Newsday. “This is what I’m meant to do with my life. It shows it’s possible to do what I want to do.”

While he’s talking a breather from the sport to focus on his studies, he still has an amazing physique.

In a recent Instagram post, he told his 18,000+ followers he’s letting his 5’3” body “situate” at his current weight (165 lbs)  and giving his body “a breather to really settle.”

Tilinca says he didn’t set out with the intention of becoming a bodybuilder. He started lifting after having top surgery two years ago and wanted to put on some weight.

“I just wanted a little more muscle,” he told Newsday. “But I really think once you get the bug, it’s very, very hard to just stop.”

“When I saw bodybuilding, I saw it as a tool of control over what you look like,” Tilinca said. “For someone being trans, that’s amazing. It’s really empowering. If you don’t like something, you know you can change it. It’s like sculpting your own body.”

Newsday spoke with two-time Mr. Olympia runner-up Sadik Hadzovic, who has coached Alex, about the empowering nature of bodybuilding.

“I can relate to what Alex went through,” Hadzovic told Newsday. “When I was 18 years old, I hated my body. Whether you are a man or woman or transgender or not, it doesn’t make a difference. We are all the same. We just want to improve ourselves and be a little bigger, a little faster, look a little better.”

Obviously, Tilinca’s progress in the eighteen months he’s been working out has yielded incredible results. In the below post on Instagram, he weighed 130 lbs. and had 5-6% body fat.


View this post on Instagram


Anyone wanna guess my waist size about 2 days out here? 🤔 . #throwback

A post shared by Alex Tilinca (@alextilinca) on

The National Physique Committee (NPC) is the largest amateur bodybuilding organization in the United States and often viewed as a stepping stone to competing at the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBF) competitions.

The IFBF hosts the annual competition that awards the Mr. Olympia title. Tilinca says his ultimate goal is to become the first trans man to win the biggest prize of all in the bodybuilding world, Mr. Olympia.

Newsday notes that the National Physique Committee doesn’t have any specific rules in regard to transgender competitors on its official website, and so Tilinca never told anyone he’s trans.

He just put his head down and worked hard on his body.

It’s important to the teen that the world see transgender people not as “victims” but as people who can “do anything they set their minds to.”

And he’s proving that one bicep curl at a time. Go, Alex!

Click here to watch Newsday’s video feature on Alex.

(h/t Outsports, Newsday)

Bullied Teen Shares Back-Story To ‘Slap Heard Round The World’

After going viral on Twitter for delivering the anti-bullying slap heard round the world, Indiana high school student Jordan Steffy sat down with Tamron Hall to explain what led up to the confrontation with his bully.

The junior at LaPorte High School in Indiana told Hall that a friend had shown him a graphic posted on Snapchat that contained a photo of him with the text “I still hate gays” and some emojis.

Steffy says he didn’t even know the student who posted the graphic.

“That hit me like, I don’t even know who this is,” Steffy said after seeing the post. “I just didn’t even know what to do.”

And so Steffy decided to approach the bully before class and ask about the post.

“I had walked into the class and I had the post right on my phone because I was going to ask him why he posted it,” Steffy said. “And I walked to his desk, I met him there, and I showed him, ‘What is this?’”

“It’s just a post.” the bully responded.

“About me right?” Steffy clarified.

“Yeah, and? What are you going to do about it?” the bully spit back.

Steffy admits the physical altercation began at that point when he shoved the bully.

At this point, Hall tried to get to the deeper causation that years of bullying creates asking, “When you shoved him first, was that about him, or just years of this, and he’s the breaking point?”

“Years – it was years and years, over and built up,” Steffy shared.

“In that video, he [the bully] called you the slur multiple times?” asks Hall as Steffy shakes his head yes.

“When you saw the video, Angie, and you saw what he was going through – it’s one thing for your child to come home and say I’m being bullied. It’s another thing to see it on video. What did you think?” Hall asked Jordan’s mother, Angie Steffy.

“It just makes me mad,” said the tearful mother. “I’m tired of it. I’m tired of him going through that. I’m happy he stood up for himself. I’m not happy he was cussing like that. I don’t like him hitting.”

“But he knows – he had enough. He had enough,” added Angie as the audience applauds.

Steffy is currently suspended from school due to the incident, and his mother had decided to homeschool her son after seeing how he was being treated at school.

Talking about going back to his high school one last time becomes an emotional moment for both son and mother to such a point that Hall comforts them both saying, “This is breaking your mom’s heart. The people watching, we’re rooting for you in every way. It’ll be ok. It’ll be ok.”

The effect of LGBTQ bullying, folks. Here it is. And it’s heartbreaking.

Indiana Teen Beaten In High School Locker Room

Video footage of a high school student in Alexandria, Indiana, being attacked and beaten in the boy’s locker room was widely circulated among students and even sent to the boy’s mother.

The reason for the attack? Being gay.

Speaking to local NBC affiliate WTHR the young man said, “I’m not ok, but I will be.”

The assault took place following gym class after he’d gotten dressed

“The guy who attacked me was standing next to my locker and wouldn’t stop staring at me, so I had a weird feeling that something was about to happen,” the student told WTHR.

What ‘happened’ was the student began shoving the teen.

“He kept pushing me, but then he stopped pushing me and everything got quiet, so I thought he walked out,” said the young man.

But the attacker didn’t leave, he’d merely paused before he began punching his victim.

“I felt him punch me a couple more times and I got hit my face on the mirror and then he punched me in the head twice,” said the student.

“It happened so fast. I can remember them holding me against the wall,” he added, explaining that two other students helped restrain him so he couldn’t fight back.

The boy says he knows who his alleged attackers are and that they’d teased him before about being openly gay.

“I’ve gotten so used to it over the years that it doesn’t phase me much,” he said.

Eventually, another student stepped in and stopped the assault. When the teen’s mother took him to the hospital he was told his nose was broken.

“I just tell myself to forget what happened and try to act like it never happened,” he said.

School officials and Alexandria police both say they are investigating the incident.

The alleged victim calls what happened a hate crime and has a message for others students targeted because of their sexuality.

His parents say they’re not going to let what happened to their son get swept under a rug. They’ve been told by school officials that two of the students involved have been expelled, but WTHR was unable to confirm that.

(source: WTHR)

“Where Did You Get The Courage To Come Out” Ask Queer Eye Guys – “You” Say Queer Teens

As part of the new season, the Fab 5 head to the Kansas City high school where cast member Jonathan Van Ness spent his teens to 'make better' his favorite teacher.  As a bonus for that episode, the guys sit down for a chat with the school's Gay/Straight Alliance for a candid conversation on subjects ranging from coming out, burgeoning self-awareness, bullying, and allies.
(images via Netflix)

In case you missed it, Netflix dropped Season 4 of the Emmy Award-winning series, Queer Eye.

As part of the new season, the Fab 5 head to the Kansas City high school where cast member Jonathan Van Ness spent his teens to ‘make better’ his favorite teacher.

As a bonus for that episode, the guys sit down for a chat with the school’s Gay/Straight Alliance for a candid conversation on subjects ranging from coming out, burgeoning self-awareness, bullying, and allies.

Van Ness openly shares that during his days at Quincy High School, “”I couldn’t walk in these halls – I got called the F word every ten steps I took.”

“At that time Gay-Straight Alliance was something I didn’t think would be literally allowed,” he added. “As someone who got so bullied and so tormented, you guys are light years ahead of where I thought the movement would be.”

I had a similar experience in high school growing up in Texas. As a gay man today, I’m not impressed by the support these kids get via a GSA, but how they have such confidence to deal with who they are at such a young age.

Karamo Brown asks the kids, “Where did you get the courage to come out?”

With no pause a student chimes in, “You,” pointing at the Fab 5.

“I was having a lot of anxiety and doubt, but then I discovered you guys, but you don’t seem to have much stress at all,” she continued.

Check out the 5-minute clip with Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski – and some really amazing kids – below.

Teen’s Heartbreaking Letter To Homophobic Parents Goes Viral

Kent Mendez (image via Instagram)

A gay teen shared a heartbreaking note he left his parents explaining why he had to leave home after they rejected him for coming out as gay.

The letter, penned by 19-year-old Kent Mendez, was shared on Twitter Monday and quickly went viral. At this writing, the post has been retweeted 15,000 times.

“There hasn’t been a day where I haven’t cried or struggled to find the energy to get out of bed,” begins Mendez. “This doesn’t feel like a home and I don’t think it ever will.”

“You have accused me of being a bad person, of being an embarrassment, and telling me I have a psychological disorder,” he continues. “I don’t think you guys will ever understand what it’s like to hear that from your own parents and how harmful and damaging it is to a child.”

Mendez goes on to share the ways his parents “used money” to “control” and “suppress who I am,” from forcing him to choose between his happiness or his education to forcing him to watch videos “to make me feel ashamed of who I am and who I love.”

“The other day you asked me what parents were for: Parents are supposed to love an accept their children unconditionally,” writes the teen in one of the most affecting passages. “That’s all I asked for but sadly I guess I asked for too much.”

After detailing his journey of self-acceptance, he tells his parents, “I refuse to live a lie, not for you or anyone.”

He closes the note writing, “I’m leaving because I refuse to become another statistic.”

The response on Twitter has been overwhelmingly positive.

He followed up by telling his Twitter followers, “I’m not sharing this for pity or for attention, but because I know there are people out there just like me who are scared and stuck in abusive homes and I want to be an example that you’re never stuck and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

He also shares that he’s currently living with a friend, adding, “As f*cked up my life is right now I’m glad I’m finally in a place where I can laugh and crack jokes again.”

Tuesday morning, Mendez tweeted that his parents hadn’t contacted him since he left home.

He has launched a crowd-funding campaign to help him get through school.

On the GoFundMe campaign page, he explains he “made the decision to leave a very toxic environment for the sake of my mental health and happiness.”

His goal, for now, is to “at least attend community college and be able to get back on my feet.”

Study Of 12,000 LGBTQ Teens Shows Only 26% Feel Safe In Classrooms

After interviewing over 12,000 LGBTQ teenagers, the HRC Foundation and the University of Connecticut has released the largest-of-its-kind survey detailing the anxiety and challenges so many of them face going regarding their daily lives at home, at school and in their communities.

With teens ranging in age from 13 to 17, and from all 50 states and Washington D.C., the survey reveals teenagers are not only experiencing stressful levels of apprehension and angst, but only a small minority (26%) feel unsafe in their own school classrooms.

The researchers found that:

• 79% of LGBTQ teenagers surveyed report feeling depressed or down over the past week

• 95% of LGBTQ youth report trouble sleeping at night

• LGBTQ youth of color and transgender teenagers experience unique challenges and elevated stress — only 11% of youth of color surveyed believe their racial or ethnic group is regarded positively in the U.S., and over 50% of trans and gender expansive youth said they can never use school restrooms that align with their gender identity

• More than 70% report feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness in the past week

• A scant 5% say all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of LGBTQ people

• 76% report that they’ve heard family members make negative comments about LGBTQ people

To protest the harmful effects the Trump/Pence administration is having on young LGBTQs, artist Robin Bell and HRC projected a message on the U.S. Department of Education building (above).

The projection read, “Betsy DeVos, How do you sleep at night when only 26% of LGBTQ youth always feels safe in class?”

You can read the full survey from HRC and the University of Connecticut here.