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28/08/2015

Miss Belding Scholarship Pageant coming to Belding High School

This Saturday, Aug. 29, contestants in the Miss Belding Scholarship Pageant will be taking the stage to see who will be crowned Miss Belding for 2015.

The Miss Belding Scholarship Pageant is an annual tradition that allows young women in the Belding area to show off their various talents, skills, and knowledge. According to Julie Mikek, pageant co-chair, whoever is crowed Miss Belding will hold a number of responsibilities.

The 2015 Miss Belding contestants, from left to right: Kiana Pollock, Desirae Lovell, Hannah Kellogg, 2014 Miss Belding Allison Harrison, Kiley Walch and Alexis Cahill.

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“The winner will represent Belding,” Mikek said. “There is about 10 to 12 parades they’re in every year, and they must show up to those.”

Mikek said that along with representing the city and attending parades, the winner must remember to do one more thing: have fun.

A dress rehearsal for the pageant is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 28, where pageant participants will gather to practice for the event as if it is the real thing to ensure that everyone knows where to be and what to do.

The pageant itself will take place at the Belding High School Auditorium, located at 850 Hall St. in Belding, starting at 7 p.m., and a $10 fee will be charged at the door.

“Basically, the girls are vying for scholarship money,” Mikek said. “The top two title winners will receive scholarship money, as well as the runner up.”

Mikek said that the scholarship amounts vary from year to year, and the amount will be revealed on Saturday.

There are 13 contestants in this year’s pageant, ranging between four categories: Kiddie King and Queen, Junior Miss Belding, Young Miss Belding, and Miss Belding.

Contestants for Kiddie King and Queen are Carlie Willingham, Jordyn Mathews, Brian Hanner, Yaelynn Tayler, and Cayla Nielsen.

Contestants for Junior Miss Belding are Mackenzie Fleser, Lauren Barker, Jenisa Henry, Laken Cheney, Katelynn Walch, and Anastasia Hintz.

Competing for the Young Miss title is Jaslyn Henry and Kayla Walch.

The Miss Belding contestants are Kiana Pollock, Desirae Lovell, Hannah Kellogg, Kiley Walch, and Alexis Cahill.

Allison Harrison was crowned Miss Belding in 2014, Maddie Hubbart was Young Miss 2014, and Lauren Thompson was named the 2014 Junior Miss Belding.

The evening will begin with the contestants performing an opening number. The theme of this year is “The Lorax” by Dr. Suess, so each contestant will be dancing to music from the movie.

Following the opening number, each contestant will introduce themselves, and the Kiddie King and Queen will be named.

Contestants in the Young Miss and Junior Miss categories will then take the stage in their ‘expression wear,’ which is clothing that shows their personality and interests in their everyday lives.

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26/08/2015

Why an anime character can be openly gay in Japan

"I just kind of said it quickly, 'Hey, I’m gay,'" he recalls.

“Stop it. That’s disgusting,” she said, according to Hayshi. That really hurt.

Japan — unlike the US — doesn't have a Puritan history that says homosexuality is some kind of cardinal sin. And for years it wasn't uncommon to see a cross-dresser on TV giving fashion advice or a Japanese cartoon with gay characters.

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But while being openly gay has been OK for famous people or anime characters, on an individual level, it’s been really hard to be out in Japan. Schoolyard bullying and discrimination are known problems. And LGBT individuals often feel isolated.

In college, Hayashi was doing research on the untapped LGBT market in Japan. One day a friend — the only other friend he had who was openly gay — said he wanted to start a company to do same-sex weddings. Hayashi jumped at the idea.

Together they planned a wedding and life services company for the queer community. And they won a huge student business competition. At first they were doing it mostly for fun, but then they started learning about the high suicide rate of sexual minorities in Japan. And then a friend committed suicide. And their sense of purpose changed.

"Say someone like me comes out to their parents in five years, and they’re also told that’s disgusting," Hayashi says. "That’s unacceptable. If we don't do something, the next generation will suffer just as much."

Today Hayashi is the CEO of Letibee — meant to sound like Let it be.

The company runs Letibee Life. It’s a media site featuring everything from news to stories on trans- and gay-friendly hair salons to people writing about their own coming out experiences. It’s the first of its kind in Japan.

They do corporate consulting, teaching companies about sexuality, sexual minorities — and how to respond to LGBT as customers and employees. And they’re about to launch an app they hope will provide a safe space for LGBT to connect and build community.

It hasn’t been easy. On top of the ups and downs of running a startup, Hayashi has been a running a startup aimed at a community no one thought was important.

And then in April, everything changed. Shibuya, one of the most well-known districts in Tokyo — think — Times Square mashed up with the West Village, but with more governing power — recognized same-sex marriage. Hayashi says until that moment, seeing LGBT rights splashed across the front page of the newspaper was unimaginable.

"We went from, 'Can you really be a company providing services to the LGBT community?' To: Letibee, your time has come," Hayashi says.

In July, Setagaya, another influential district in Tokyo, recognized same-sex marriage.

James Welker, a professor who studies gender and sexuality in Japan, says although neither district’s decision is legally binding it’s created a certain momentum about same-sex partnership and LGBT rights in a really short period of time.

The Japanese Parliament now also has a committee looking into how to end discrimination. And Yokohama, Japan’s second biggest city, adjacent to Tokyo, recently announced a city-supported LGBT festival for this fall.

"Because of the more positive normalizing — and normal is a problematic word in media discourse — ... more people are open to the idea that, hey, some people are gay or lesbian or bisexual. It’s not as big of a deal any more," Welker says.

One big way to tell perceptions are shifting is by looking at what’s happening to Tokyo’s gay pride festival. In 2014, 15,000 people participated in the festival. In 2015, the number was 55,000.

Since coming, Hayashi and his mom have made amends.

On a societal scale, Hayashi says Japan really is getting better. But on an individual level, there’s still a long way to go. But Letibee, Hayashi says, will play a part in changing that.

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22/08/2015

13-year-old joins models at Belfast Fashion Week launch

A 13-YEAR-OLD schoolgirl from Co Down was among 20 of Ireland's top models who helped launch Belfast Fashion Week, despite concerns she is too young to take to the catwalk.

Darcy Brittain-Dissont modelled several of the hottest trends for the upcoming Autumn Winter season, which were showcased at the show's launch in Life Church on Bruce Street.

Crowds packed into the city centre venue where they saw the Hillsborough teenager model ahead of her catwalk debut at Fashion Week in October.

It comes just weeks after criticism that the schoolgirl, who attends Friends School in Lisburn, is not old enough to enter the world of adult modelling.

13-year-old joins models at Belfast Fashion Week launch

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The 13-year-old was unveiled by CMPR managing director Cathy Martin on her Facebook page, along with a series of professionally-shot photographs in which the child posed suggestively in denim hot pants in a children's play park.

Children's charities expressed disquiet with Barnardo's NI commenting that it "supports... guidelines that models should be at least sixteen".

Ms Martin defended her decision earlier this month and said all potential models "are interviewed with parents or guardians - to assess their personality and maturity for the job".

"We found (her) to be a responsible and mature 13-year-old who wants to model, and has chosen to do so with her parents' consent," she said.

Darcy's mum Brenda also spoke publicly of her support and stressed her daughter's education was also vitally important.

To mark the twentieth season, 20 models hit the stage yesterday for the launch of the West Coast Cooler Fashionweek, which returns from October 15 to 18.

Some of Ireland's top models showcased the new Autumn/Winter 2015 styles - giving fashionistas a taste of what to expect at the show itself, including suede, bright colours and fringe detailing.

Local designers and independent boutiques will showcase their ranges as well as international high street brands.

Speaking at the launch, Ms Martin said: "In terms of trends for this season, fashion fans should prepare for a stunning palette of winter brights, particularly oranges and pinks, and these will be used a lot in modern, graphic prints as well as in bold, block colours.

"It’s also time to rummage through your Grandma’s wardrobe for inspiration, as tweeds and prints akin to chintzy interior fabrics abound.

"In terms of fabrics and textures, winter often brings more interesting tactile looks, and this season suede and luxurious velvet are celebrated as well as a bit of fluff and fur."

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