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Announcement :: GLBT/Queer
BI4J's 2nd Annual LGBTQ Health and Wellness Weekend!
16 Jul 2014

Weekend Conference Offers Special Events and Workshops on Health, Sports, and Fitness for the LGBTQ Community.
Boston, MA - BodyImage4Justice (BI4J) is proud to announce the second annual LGBTQ Health and Wellness Weekend, which will take place August 15-17, 2014 at Fenway Health and the Holmes Sports Centeron the Simmons College Residential Campus. This year’s event builds on the success of the first LGBTQ Health and Wellness Weekend with a full roster of workshops, panel discussions, fitness classes and other activities. Presenters at this year’s conference include special guest Carter Brown, Founder/CEO of Black Trans Men, Inc. in Dallas, TX. The theme of this year’s conference is “LGBTQ Athletes and Sports”.

Keynote Speaker

In keeping with the conference theme, BI4J has announced that the Keynote speaker for this year’s event is Fallon Fox, the first openly transgender professional fighter in Mixed Martial Arts history. Ms. Fox will tell her story and share how Mixed Martial Arts and other contact sports can be a source of empowerment at the opening plenary session on the morning of Saturday, August 16th.

Awards Dinner and Other Highlights

The weekend’s activities begin on Friday evening, August 15th, with the annual BI4J Kick-Off Dinner and Awards Ceremony. This year, BI4J will honor two Champions of LGBTQ Health and Wellness: Mike's Fitness in Jamaica Plain and transgender elder, activist, and pioneer Rev. Louis Mitchell. The Dinner will be catered by Norma Rosario of Norma's Catering in Roxbury, MA, offering a menu of delicious vegetarian and meat dishes with a Puerto Rican flair.

On Saturday night, August 16th from 9:00 pm to 2:00 am, BI4J will host the Purple After Party at Club Cafe, 209 Columbus Avenue, Boston, MA , with DJ Spindrift. Admission is $10 at the door for the dance party. There will also be a raffle with prizes donated by event sponsors and vendors.

Tickets and Event Admission

Tickets for the LGBTQ Health and Wellness Weekend are available for purchase online at, and tickets just for the Kick-Off Dinner and Awards Ceremony are available at A limited number of tickets will also be available for purchase at the door, based on venue capacity. BI4J is offering a half-price Youth (under 21 years of age) discount to help make the LGBTQ Health and Wellness Weekend more affordable for and accessible to students. General information about LGBTQ Health and Wellness Weekend activities, presenters, schedule, and more is available at lgbtqhww

About BodyImage4Justice

Formed in the summer of 2013, BodyImage4Justice (BI4J) aims to bring the LGBTQ community together through the common cause and interest of body image, health and wellness. The organization, founded and led by transgender people of color, focuses on empowerment and social justice for the trans community through events, workshops, political action, advocacy, and other activities that further our mission and support the health and well-being of community members. BI4J works to make the connection between body image and health explicit and visible in our communities.

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Crash claims top AIDS researchers heading to Melbourne
17 Jul 2014
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The Malaysia Airlines plane crash in Ukraine has claimed the lives of some of the world’s top medical researchers, including the former head of the International AIDS Society, while heading to Melbourne for a major conference. Organisers of the International AIDS Conference, due to begin next week in Melbourne, have confirmed that a number of expected attendees were on the plane that went down near the Russia-Ukraine border.

"A number of colleagues and friends en route to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference taking place in Melbourne, Australia were on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight that has crashed over Ukraine," conference manager Sian Bowen said in a statement.

"At this incredibly sad and sensitive time the IAS stands with our international family and sends condolences to the loved ones of those who have been lost to this tragedy."

Flight MH-17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was due to connect with another Malaysia Airlines flight scheduled to arrive in Melbourne on Friday night. Many medical researchers have expressed sympathy online on hearing that both World Health Organisation (WHO) staff and well-known HIV researchers had died in the crash.

Friends and colleagues of Joep Lange, a Dutch HIV researcher, have taken to social media to express shock that he was believed to be among the victims of the plane crash. Dr Lange had been researching HIV for 30 years and was the past president of the International AIDS Society.

‘‘He was a kind man and a true humanitarian,’’ US medical professor Seema Yasmin wrote in a series of tweets dedicated to him. ‘‘How do we measure how much a person has done for humanity? People like Joep change the course of epidemics.’’

UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe said he was saddened to hear so many AIDS conference attendees died in the crash. ‘‘My thoughts & prayers to families of those tragically lost on flight #MH17,’’ he tweeted.

Also believed to be among the victims is Glenn Thomas, a WHO media adviser. Several of his colleagues have expressed shock at his death on Twitter. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she understood a number of the victims were heading to the AIDS conference, but she had no further details.

Greens Senator Christine Milne expressed her shock at such a loss to the HIV-AIDS community. ‘‘The ramifications go to all the people who are at that conference this weekend and no doubt as more details emerge this tragedy will touch many, many Australians,’’ she told the Senate.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said it was a terrible tragedy and the sympathies of all Victorians went out to all those affected. Dr Napthine said he was aware that people on the flight may have been coming to Melbourne for the World AIDs Conference.

“This has very very real and significance for Melbourne and Victoria and our hearts go out to those involved,’’ Dr Napthine said. Dr Napthine said on Friday morning the AIDs conference would still go ahead.

Mark Gettleson, a London-based campaigner, tweeted that AIDS activists were also heading from Europe too Melbourne. ‘‘Several on #MH17 flight were @STOPAIDS activists en route to #AIDS2014 conference in Melbourne, fighting to save lives. Tragic,’’ he wrote.

The International AIDS Conference is now in its 20th year. Former US president Bill Clinton, Sir Bob Geldof, the executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Mark Dybul, Indonesian Health Minister Nafsiam Mboi, Swedish Ambassador for Global Health Anders Nordstrom and UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe are down as speakers at the conference.
Transgender sibling of NBA player found slain in Baltimore
18 Jul 2014
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Reuters) - A transgender woman whose brother is an National Basketball Association player has been found slain in a Baltimore alley, police said on Thursday.

The body of Mia Henderson, 26, who was born as Kevin Long, was found shortly before 6 a.m. on Wednesday, the victim of "severe trauma," police spokesman Lieutenant Eric Kowalczyk said.

Henderson's brother, Reggie Bullock, was a first-round draft pick last year for the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers. Bullock played in 43 games for the Clippers during the regular season and averaged 2.7 points.

“All I can say is my brother showed me how to live your own life," Bullock said on Twitter. "Love you so much man. Gone but not forgotten.”

Henderson's is the second killing of a transgender person this summer in Baltimore. Kandy Hall, 40, was stabbed to death in early June. Prostitution may have played a role in Henderson's killing, according to police.

"We are looking into what she was doing before the tragic taking of her life," Kowalczyk said. "We are not ruling anything out at this point." He declined to label the killing a "hate" crime. Police are also looking into possible links with the death of Hall.
OKCupid experiments with 'bad' dating matches
29 Jul 2014
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Dating website OKCupid has revealed that it experimented on its users, including putting the "wrong" people together to see if they would connect. It revealed the tests after the uproar over Facebook manipulating the feeds of its users.

"If you use the internet, you're the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site," it said. "That's how websites work."

OKCupid said one revelation was that "people just look at the picture". As well as allowing users to upload pictures and set up dating profiles, OKCupid asks users questions and matches them with potential partners based on the answers.

In one experiment, the site took pairs of "bad" matches between two people - about 30% - and told them they were "exceptionally good" for each other, or 90% matches. "Not surprisingly, the users sent more first messages when we said they were compatible," Christian Rudder, one of the founders of OKCupid, said in a blog post on the company's research and insights blog.

Further experiments suggested that "when we tell people they are a good match, they act as if they are. Even when they should be wrong for each other." The company later revealed the correct scores to the participants.

"This shows how easy it is for a company to put at risk the trust that users place in them," Daniel Tozer, a commercial technology partner at the law firm Harbottle and Lewis, told the BBC. "There are data protection issues when you're using users' personal information, especially when it appears OKCupid are actually changing things on the page.

"If you're doing anything extremely unusual with people's data, and I would argue this is the case here, it's always best to seek the consent of your users first."

'Words worth nothing'

In another experiment, OKCupid ran profiles with pictures and no profile text for half of its test subjects, and vice versa for the rest. The results showed that people responded solely to the pictures. For potential daters, Mr Rudder said that "your actual words are worth… almost nothing".

The revelations come as a result of Facebook saying that in late June, it changed some "news feeds to control which emotional expressions the users were exposed to" as part of research in collaboration with two US universities. The research was conducted on 689,000 Facebook users over a period of one week in 2012.

Many users and observers felt the actions were unethical. In the US, Senator Mark Warner asked the regulator, the Federal Trade Commission, to look into the issue, while a Labour MP in the UK called for an investigation.

OKCupid said that experiments like the ones that it and Facebook ran are part and parcel of creating websites. "It's not like people have been building these things for very long, or you can go look up a blueprint or something," Mr Rudder said. "Most ideas are bad. Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out."

OKCupid is owned by media conglomerate IAC/InterActive Corp, which owns 50 brands across 40 countries. These include other major dating sites, like, as well as news website the Daily Beast and web properties like
Why You Should Never Pay For Online Dating
29 Jul 2014
Today I'd like to show why the practice of paying for dates on sites like and eHarmony is fundamentally broken, and broken in ways that most people don't realize. For one thing, their business model exacerbates a problem found on every dating site: For another thing, as I'll explain, pay sites have a unique incentive to profit from their customers' disappointment.

As a founder of OkCupid I'm of course motivated to point out our competitors' flaws. So take what I have to say today with a grain of salt. But I intend to show, just by doing some simple calculations, that pay dating is a bad idea; actually, I won't be showing this so much as the pay sites themselves, because most of the data I'll use is from Match and eHarmony's own public statements. I'll list my sources at the bottom of the post, in case you want to check.

The "20 Million Members" Paradox

eHarmony claims over 20 million members on their homepage, and their CEO, Greg Waldorf, reiterates that number regularly in interviews1. If your goal is to find someone special, 20 million people is a lot of options—roughly a quarter of all singles in the U.S. This sounds awesome until you realize that most of these people can’t reply, because only paying customers are allowed to message.

So let's now ask the real question: of these 20 million people eHarmony claims you can flirt with, how many are actually able to flirt back? They closely guard their number of paid subscribers, with good reason. Nonetheless, we are able to deduce their base from known information. We'll give eHarmony the highest subscribership possible.

1.We'll start with their yearly revenue: $250M in 2009 as reported by the industry analysts at Piper Jaffray and CNBC2.

2.Since eHarmony charges users by the month, we'll divide that big number by 12 and, rounding up, get $21M.

3.Now all we need to know is how much the average user pays per month. If we divide that into the $21M they make, we know how many subscribers they have. Their rates run this gamut:
$19.95 per month, for a 12-month subscription
$29.95 per month, for a 6-month subscription
$59.95 per month, for 1 month at a time

From those numbers, we can see that they have somewhere between about 350,000 and 1,050,000 subscribers (the lower number supposes everyone is month-to-month, the higher supposes everyone is yearly).

4.What's the exact number? Well, I found this helpful nugget in eHarmony's advertising materials3: The most charitable way to interpret this last sentence is to assume their average account life is 6.5 months.

5.We're almost there. To get eHarmony’s total subscribers, we divide their $21 million in revenue by the average subscription price. Therefore maximizing total subscribers is just a question of minimizing the average monthly fee. First off, let's do them the favor of assuming no one pays month-to-month.

6.Our remaining dilemma can be expressed mathematically like this:

7.After some dickery with a legal pad we discover, in the best case for eHarmony, 1/13 of their users are on the yearly plan, and the rest subscribe 6 months at a time. Thus the minimum average monthly fee is $29.18. They have at most 719,652 subscribers.

8.For the sake of argument, let's round that up to an even 750,000.

So, having given eHarmony the benefit of the doubt at every turn, let's look at where that leaves their site:

Yes, only 1/30th of the "20 million users" they advertise is someone you can actually talk to. That's the paradox: the more they pump up their membership totals to convince you to sign up, the worse they look. And the ironic thing is that although they basically admit their sites are filled with chaff, pay sites have little interest in telling you who's paying and who isn't. In fact, it's better for them to show you people who haven't paid, even if it means they're wasting your time. We'll show that in the next section.

First I want to show you what 29 to 1, advertised people to real, feels like. Here are some single, attractive OkCupid users. And here are those same people behind a subscriber wall. That's pay dating in a nutshell.

. . .'s numbers are just as grim. They're a public company, so we can get their exact subscriber info from the shareholder report they file each quarter. Here's what we have from Q4 20094: Pay Sites Want You To Message These Dead Profiles

Remember, sites like Match and eHarmony are in business to get you to buy a monthly subscription. There's nothing wrong with profit motive, but the particular way these sites have chosen to make money creates strange incentives for them. Let's look at how the pay sites acquire new subscribers:

As you can see from the flow chart, the only way they don't make money is to show subscribers to other subscribers. It's the worst thing they can do for their business, because there's no potential for new profit growth there. Remember: the average account length is just six months, and people join for big blocks of time at once, so getting a new customer on board is better for them than squeezing another month or two out of a current subscriber. To get sign-ups, they need to pull in new people, and they do this by getting you to message their prospects.

If you're a subscriber to a pay dating site, you are an important (though unwitting) part of that site's customer acquisition team. Of course, they don't want to show you too many ghosts, because you'll get frustrated and quit, but that doesn't change the fact that they're relying on you your messages are their marketing materials to reach out to non-payers and convince them, by way of your charming, heartfelt messages, to pull out their credit cards. If only a tiny fraction of your message gets a response, hey, that's okay, you're working for free. Wait a second…you're paying them.

Now let's look how this skewed incentive affects the dating cycle, especially on sites like, where it's possible to for users set their own search terms.

The Desperation Feedback Loop

Even more so than in real life, where fluid social situations can allow either gender to take the "lead", men drive interactions in online dating. Our data suggest that men send nearly 4 times as many first messages as women and conduct about twice the match searches. Thus, to examine how the problem of ghost profiles affects the men on pay dating sites is to examine their effect on the whole system.

There are two facts in play:
» When emailing a real profile, a man can expect a reply about 30% of the time. We've conducted extensive research on this, and you can read more about it our other posts. Let's couple this 30% reply rate with the fact that only 1 in every 30 profiles on a pay site is a viable profile. We get:

3/10 × 1/30 = 1/100

That is, a man can expect a reply to 1 in every 100 messages he sends to a random profile on a pay site. The sites of course don't show you completely random profiles, but as we've seen they have an incentive to show you nonsubscribers. Even if they do heavy filtering and just 2 of 3 profiles they show you are ghosts, you're still looking at a paltry 10% reply rate.

» There is a negative correlation between the number of messages a man sends per day to the reply rate he gets. The more messages you send, the worse response rate you get. It's not hard to see why this would be so. A rushed, unfocused message is bound to get a worse response than something you spend time on. Here's a plot of 12,000 male users who've sent 10 total messages or more.

The effect of the second fact is to magnify the effect of the first. For a user trying to meet someone under such constraints, a feedback loop develops. Here's what happens to the average guy:

Basically, because the likelihood of reply to each message starts so low, the average man is driven to expand his search to women he's less suited for and to put less thought (and emotional investment) into each message. Therefore, each new batch of messages he sends brings fewer replies. So he expands his criteria, cuts, pastes, and resends.

In no time, the average woman on the same site has been bombarded with impersonal messages from a random cross-section of men. Then:

The Pudding

Finally, in the spirit of "don't take my word for it", here's how eHarmony and themselves show that their sites don't work.

This is from Match's 2009 presskit: Okay, Match is double counting to get "12 couples", since a couple that gets married also gets engaged. So we have 6 couples per day getting married on the site, or 4,380 people a year. Let's round up to 5,000, to keep things simple. My first observation is that made $342,600,000 last year5. That's $137,000 in user fees per marriage. Now here's where the demographics get really ugly for them. It turns out you are 12.4 times more likely to get married this year if you don't subscribe to

I figured it out like so: Remember this is the minimum ratio, because from Match's perspective, we've made a lot of very favorable assumptions along the way. And it also doesn't matter that some portion of Match's customer base is overseas, because however you account for that in their subscriber base, you also have to adjust their marriage total accordingly.

eHarmony seems to do quite a bit better than Match, claiming in their ads to marry off 236 people a day:

Their higher rate shouldn't be too surprising, because eHarmony's entire site philosophy centers around matrimony, and furthermore that's the primary reason people go there. It's explicitly not a place for casual daters.

As they've told us, their member base of 750,000 people turns over every 6.5 months, which means that nearly 1.39 million people go through eHarmony's "doors" each year. eHarmony fails at least 93.8% of the timeFrom the ad, we can see that just 86,140 of those subscribers get married, a mere 6.2% of the people who paid the company to find them a mate. And what of the other 93.8%, the 1,298,475 people who do not get married and then leave the site? Those people paid an average of $190 each for a personality quiz.

In Conclusion

A major selling point for the big for-pay dating sites Match and eHarmony is how many millions of members they have, and they drop massive numbers in their press releases and in talks with reporters. Of course, there's a solid rationale to wanting your dating site to seem gigantic. When people look for love, they want as many options as possible.

However, as I've shown above, the image these sites project is deceiving. So next time you hear Match or eHarmony talking about how huge they are, you should do like I do and think of Goliath—and how he probably bragged all the time about how much he could bench. Then you should go sign up for OkCupid.

1.Looking for a Date? A Site Suggests You Check the Data
2.The Big Business Of Online Dating's Advertising Splash Page's Q4 2009 Report MetricsQ42009.pdf.'s 20 million membership claim is here:
6.Centers For Disease Control Not sure why they care.
7.The U.S. Census "Unmarried and Singles Week"