A Path Toward Well-Being

It’s been 15 years since I learned that I had Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a set of blood cancers, which, as they say, can be managed but not cured. When I received this devastating news, I thought that my relatively short life would soon be over. How could someone like me, a trim, active man who had a healthy diet, a lovely family, a terrific set of friends and a satisfying professional life, get cancer?

 

 

 

It didn’t make sense.

 

 

 

It made me angry.

 

 

 

The news stunned me. My bleak future flashed before my eyes–chemotherapy, weight loss, hair loss, bone pain, nausea, and fatigue–all leading to an untimely death. I suddenly realized how much time I had wasted on unimportant things. Confronting imminent mortality frightened me. Slowly and timidly, I moved forward on an uncertain path. In the time that I had left could I somehow experience the wonders of life? In a world of endless choice and incessant distraction, could I discover what was important?

 

 

 

Given our culturally-contoured and time-pressed penchant for expedience, it’s hard for anyone to figure out what is important. A diagnosis of cancer, though, can sometimes accelerate a process that sometimes points you in an existentially satisfying direction. A 15-year sojourn on cancer’s path has compelled me to think about how to live well in the world. Here’s some of things I’ve learned about the quest for well being:

 

 

 

1. The destructive force of anger: When I began my journey on cancer’s path, I was angry. Why had I been singled out to suffer such a horrendous fate? I quickly discovered that anger led to feelings of powerless and despair, a state that wasn’t good for me, for the people around me, or for my work as a scholar. In my view anger never leads to well-being. And so, I tried to accept my situation and attempted to cope with the anxieties of confronting an incurable disease–none of which is easy.

 

 

 

2. Combating bad faith. In his incomparable play, No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre confronts the specter of bad faith, a collective set of beliefs based on illusion. In bad faith we construct the world as we want it to be, which blinds us to the world as it is. In bad faith, we make life choices based on wishful fantasy rather an inconvenient truth. The political world is rife with bad faith thinking and decisions–the fateful decision to wage war in Iraq, the denial of climate change, the dogged belief in supply side economics, and the distrust of science. In the world of cancer bad faith thinking and decision-making can compel people to deny their medical status. It can convince a person to seek unproven miracle cures. The negative results of bad faith thinking also tend to reinforce anger, which in turn, leads to bitterness. Long before I understood much about anything, Adamu Jenitongo, a wise man among the Songhay people of West Africa, taught me to consider a situation realistically. He said that a person needs to accept her or his limitations and live well within the parameters those limitations set. That advice only made sense to me when I had to consider how remission from cancer, a way station between health and illness, between life and death, limited my possibilities in the world. Those limitations, I soon discovered, did not prevent me from living well in the world.

 

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3. The importance of human connection: If you live in isolation, chances are you will construct a world shaped by bad faith. If you have the good faith support of friends and family, you are likely to confront your remission realistically, a position that allows for a life filled with little as well as big pleasures. It is well known that social isolation often leads to alcohol and drug abuse as well as to a variety of domestic dysfunctions. It is also well known that the absence of social support contributes to heath declines and premature mortality. No one should be be alone when confronting the physical and emotional challenges of cancer diagnosis, treatment and remission.

 

 

 

4. The value of patience: In America, we live in an impatient, results-oriented society. We take the furiously fast straight highway–not the slow sinuous side road–to get from one place to another. We expect such an emphasis in the corporate world, but we also find it in academe. In academe there is an emphasis on results. Did you get the grant? Did you publish in one of the most prestigious journals? Are your ideas cutting-edge? How many books have you published in the last five years? Are you on the fast-track to a distinguished career? When you begin treatment for cancer, no matter who you might be, the world slows down. You can continue do elementary things like walk or get out of bed, but you have to do them slowly, deliberately and mindfully. When you undergo chemotherapy, you have to sit in a chair for long periods of time–two, three, or, in my case, five hours. The side effects of treatment demand a slower orientation to life; they require patience. This slow approach to learning is consistent with apprenticeship during which novices spend ten, twenty of even 40 years slowly mastering their art or their science, patiently waiting for their paths to open. When they do, they are ready to make important contributions to the world.

 

 

 

I don’t know what the future will bring. I do know that patience shows us the way to a path that opens to the world. On the open path we understand how to proceed. With a clarity of purpose we take small but confident steps. Along this path we understand what we can do in the world. Comfortable in our skins we savor a measure of well-being. That profound feeling leads us to expressions of deep gratitude, which are, answered, in turn, with the embrace of human warmth.

 

 

 

For me, that is path worth following.

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What The Ebola Crisis Can Teach Us About Responding To The Zika Outbreak

 

Every week, The WorldPost asks an expert to shed light on a topic driving headlines around the world. Today, we speak with Georgetown University’s Daniel Lucey and Lawrence Gostin about the global response to the Zika virus.

 

The World Health Organization was widely criticized for delays and mismanagement in its response to the Ebola crisis that ravaged three West African countries in 2014. 

 

The Ebola virus has killed over 11,000 people, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, since 2013. Liberia and Guinea have recently been declared Ebola-free, although experts warn the virus can quickly re-emerge.

 

Now, a new public health crisis is emerging in the Americas. The Zika virus, first discovered in Uganda’s Zika forest over 60 years ago, spread in recent years to the South Pacific and the Americas. The virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes and, like Ebola, has no vaccine or cure, was initially not thought to be very dangerous, mostly causing a mild rash or fever. But a large outbreak of the virus in Brazil last year was linked to an explosion in reported cases of microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads. The possible connection between the Zika virus and microcephaly, which has yet to be confirmed, led Brazil to declare a national emergency in November.

 

The virus has spread rapidly, with reported cases in 23 countries and territories in the Americas. Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert advising pregnant women to consider postponing travel to countries with the Zika virus. 

 

On Thursday, the WHO announced it will convene a special emergency committee on the Zika virus on Monday, the first step towards possibly declaring a public health emergency.  A few days earlier, Georgetown University’s Daniel Lucey and Lawrence Gostin had published a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association urging the WHO not to delay its response to the Zika virus any further. The WorldPost spoke to Lucey, a senior scholar at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown, and Gostin, the institute’s director, about the lessons of the Ebola crisis.

 
 

What lessons do you hope the WHO has taken from the Ebola crisis that can be applied to the emerging Zika pandemic?

 

Lucey: The WHO director general Margaret Chan delayed very, very long the convening of the special emergency committee with regard to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. I was working with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and Liberia during the outbreak in 2014, and it really made a searing impression on me as to the real world, on-the-ground and in this case catastrophic consequences of decisions that are made — or not made — in places like the WHO headquarters in Geneva.

 

That was a large part of what motivated me to write the article with my colleague, Professor Gostin, urging the WHO director general to convene a special emergency committee. She delayed doing it again with Zika, although hopefully not with such catastrophic consequences as with Ebola.

 
 

It was already evident several weeks ago that the Zika pandemic is worth paying attention to.  The question will arise as to how much earlier should the committee have been convened, particularly if there are waves of epidemics of microcephaly in other countries affected by Zika. I hope and pray that there won’t be. But if there are epidemics of microcephaly in other Latin American countries, it’s a tragedy, and there’ll be more lessons to learn from that.

 

When she said on Thursday she was going to convene the committee, honestly, I was overjoyed. The committee has very specific responsibilities — it really galvanizes the international community under the leadership of the WHO headquarters, so the entire world can benefit from harmonized communications and guidance about the outbreak. But it’s only the beginning. It’s like the key that you have to turn to unlock the door, and now you have to go through the door.

 
 

If there are epidemics of microcephaly in other Latin American countries, it’s a tragedy, and there’ll be more lessons to learn from that.

 

Daniel Lucey

 
 
 

Gostin: The critical lesson is not to wait until a crisis spins out of control. Act rapidly, decisively and with leadership. When the Emergency Committee on Zika meets, actions will speak louder than words. These actions are vast mobilization of funding and international support to drastically reduce the mosquito population in Zika-affected areas, intense surveillance, determining conclusively the link between Zika and infant malformations and accelerated research for a vaccine.

 

Are there other ways the WHO and the international community have applied some of the lessons of the Ebola crisis so far?

 

Lucey: I think so. For example, Brazil responded in a very timely manner to the growing epidemic of microcephaly, and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has done an excellent job at issuing epidemiological alerts. I think the U.S. CDC issuing a level 2 travel alert was appropriate, balanced advice and a proactive step.

 

It’s about the speed of response, the resources put in, and making sure the resources are appropriate. You have to frequently reassess the situation. That’s very important lesson that should be learned from Ebola. After a sharp increase in patients in Liberia it was predictable [that it would spread further], but there just weren’t enough diagnostic laboratories or healthcare workers.

 
 

Zika is very different from Ebola. What new challenges does the Zika virus present to the international community?

 

Gostin: Zika’s challenges come from the mosquito vector. This mosquito is ubiquitous, found in every region of the world. If we are not proactive and attack the problem with overwhelming resolve, the hazard of Zika will spread worldwide. If we see a wave of fetal abnormalities nine months after Zika outbreaks, it will be an enormous ethical and public health failure.

 

Lucey: Brazil has a wonderful medical research tradition and healthcare providers. To my knowledge, there’s no shortage of hands-on patient care that there certainly was in West Africa. There is an urgent research issue and it is being addressed.

 

One challenge is the amount of travel to places where Zika is transmitted. There’s so many more travelers to the 21 or so countries or territories in the Americas with reports of the Zika virus than there was to the three very underdeveloped, impoverished countries impacted by Ebola.

 
 

The critical lesson is not to wait until a crisis spins out of control. Act rapidly, decisively and with leadership.

 

Lawrence Gostin

 
 
 

What lessons should the public health community apply from the development of Ebola vaccines and treatment during the crisis in West Africa to the current response to the Zika virus?

 

Gostin:  What we have learned is you need two things to speed vaccine research. First, there is the need for enormous funding. Second is the need for public private partnerships to harness the best talent in government and industry.

 

Lucey: Even though there’s still no licensed Ebola vaccine, one of the good things the WHO did early during the Ebola crisis was to bring together experts who decided that it would be ethical to do investigational studies for treatments and vaccines in the middle of an outbreak, as long as it’s done in a transparent, ethical manner with the approval of institutional review boards and ethical oversight from within each of the countries.

 

It was really a phenomenal thing that so many partners came together to do a study in Guinea. The results of this research are still going through an approval process, but it’s a remarkable success story. I think if Brazil and other countries affected by Zika epidemic choose to work with international partners, then they can look back to the recent successful precedent with Ebola vaccines in West Africa.

 

The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Interviews were conducted separately with Daniel Lucey by phone, and with Lawrence O. Gostin via email on Friday.

 

 

 

 

Read more Zika virus coverage: 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Also on HuffPost:

 

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If Our Presidential Candidates Think Drug Use Is a Health Issue, Here Are 8 Ways to Prove It

Substance use and abuse touches virtually every family in the United States. The New York Times ran a front page story last week documenting the explosion of overdose deaths throughout the country. 47,000 Americans died from an overdose in 2014 — more than from either car crashes or guns.

 
 

Addiction, overdose, and drug policy reform have become major issues in both the Republican and Democratic Presidential primaries. It has been striking to see how many of the leading candidates have a personal connection to these issues. Jeb Bush has been open about his daughter Noelle’s addiction and time behind bars for using unprescribed Xanax and for being busted with crack cocaine. Carly Fiorina has spoken out about losing her stepdaughter to “the demons of addiction”. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has spoken emotionally about a law school friend who died of a Percocet overdose. The Clintons have lost family friends to overdose and these experiences have been an impetus behind Hilary’s proposals.

 
 

I appreciate the new rhetoric from the many candidates saying that drug use and addiction are a health issue, not a criminal issue. But there’s a huge disconnect between this rhetoric and their actual policy proposals. If candidates truly believe that drug use is a health issue, why have none of them come out in support of ending arrests and criminal penalties for drug use and possession? Well over a million people — disproportionately black and Latino — are still getting arrested each year in the U.S. for nothing more than using or possessing an illegal drug.

 
 

It’s time that we hold the candidates’ feet to the fire and demand real solutions. Here are eight concrete steps that they should all get behind:

 
 

1. Decriminalize drug use and possession. Roughly two dozen countries — most notably,Portugal — and dozens of U.S. cities and states, have taken steps toward ending arrests and criminal penalties for drug use and possession. By decriminalizing possession and investing in treatment and harm reduction services, we can reduce the harms of drug misuse while improving public safety and health. A DPA poll released earlier this week found that 61% of New Hampshire voters support ending arrests for possession of any drug. Punishing people for possessing drugs doesn’t make things better. As long as drug use is a crime, people will be afraid to get help.

 
 

2. Make treatment available to those who want and need it. It is tragic that so many people who need treatment can’t get it. It is outrageous that we taxpayers spend, on average, $30,000 a year to incarcerate someone with a drug problem, but we skimp on treatment programs that are less expensive and more effective in reducing illegal drug use and other crime. Too many people who want treatment are told there are no open slots and turned away.

 
 

3. Offer methadone and bupunorphine to those with opioid addiction. Methadone and buprenorphine have been the gold-standard treatment for opioid addiction for decades. These replacement therapies can allow people to live normal lives without the highs and lows of illegal heroin and other opioids.

 
 

We need to remove the obstacles to making these life-saving medications more readily available and end the stigma that discourages people from seeking out the most effective treatment.

 
 

4. Honest drug education. We urge young people to stay clear of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, but the reality is many will experiment with using substances no matter what. We must teach them the risks and consequences of drug use.

 
 

Most overdose deaths are a result of mixing opioids and alcohol but most people don’t know that. Anyone who receives a prescription for a pain medication, knows a person misusing heroin or other opioids, or who cares about keeping people alive, needs to know the incredible risks of mixing with alcohol.

 
 

5. Good Samaritan laws for 911 callers. Most people who overdose don’t die. But the chance of surviving an overdose, like that of surviving a heart attack, depends greatly on how fast one receives medical assistance. Unfortunately people are afraid to call 911 because they don’t know if the police who respond will focus on arresting those present rather than saving someone’s life.

 
 

More than two dozen states and D.C. have passed “911 Good Samaritan” laws that encourage people to call for help without fear of arrest.

 
 

6. Make naloxone, the antidote to an overdose, more available. Naloxone is a safe, generic, inexpensive, non-psychoactive drug that works quickly and is easy to administer. It has saved hundreds of thousands of lives but could be saving many more.

 
 

Many states are just starting to take some great steps to get naloxone in the hands of more people, including law enforcement and emergency responders. Anyone who uses opioids for any reason at all should have naloxone readily available, and friends and family who know how to administer it.

 
 

There’s no really good reason, moreover, why this antidote should only be available by prescription. If we really want to save lives, pharmacists should be allowed to sell it to whoever needs it.

 
 

7. Supervised injection facilities. Dozens of cities around the world have supervised injection facilities where people can inject their drugs in a clean, safe place with medical professionals on hand.

 
 

These facilities eliminate overdose fatalities, reduce dangerous drug consumption practices as well as HIV and hepatitis C, minimize the public nuisance of people using drugs in public places and more than pay for themselves by reducing the need for criminal justice and emergency medical services. It has been particularly successful in Canada.

 
 

The scientific consensus demonstrating the benefits of these facilities has yet to result in one such facility being opened anywhere in the United States. It’s time already.

 
 

8. Heroin-assisted treatment. Conventional treatments do not work for many people addicted to opioids and want to stop taking them. That’s why more than a half dozen countries in Europe and Canada have developed a second-line option: heroin-assisted treatment.

 
 

With this treatment, pharmacological heroin is administered under strict controls in a clinical setting to those who have failed to succeed with other treatment options. Virtually every published evaluation of heroin-assisted treatment has shown extremely positive outcomes: major reductions in illicit drug use, crime, disease and overdose; and improvements in health, well-being, social reintegration and treatment retention.

 
 

The hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the drug war has nothing to prevent the dramatic increase in addiction and overdose fatalities. Indeed, the drug war has fueled the number of people who die from an overdose, while filling our prisons with people who shouldn’t be there. Candidates’ words are good. But we need action.

 
 

Tony Newman is the director of media relations at Drug Policy Action, the C4 arm of the Drug Policy Alliance

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Everyone Knows Someone, Right?

I. The Diagnosis

 
 

He eats healthy and is tall and athletic. She was a 3.5-year-old toddler who is full of energy and full of laughter. They have so much in common, from their deep brown eyes to the way they walk. Their commonalities do not just end there. As of November 2015, they both share a cancer diagnosis. They are both members of my immediate family.

 
 

In 1993, when my 3.5-year-old daughter Caitlin was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, my world imploded. How does a 3.5-year-old get cancer? Caitlin just learned how to ride a two-wheeler bicycle. Our family was just finalizing plans to visit Disney World. Now: cancer?

 
 

Fast-forward 22 years. My eldest daughter, Caitlin, has long since triumphed over insurmountable odds. I have long since traded in chatting with doctors in white lab coats before chemotherapy for chatting with fellow mothers in red minivans before soccer practice. It would come as a shock, then, when news came in November 2015 that my husband Paul has Stage 4 lung cancer.

 
 

Again: the questions.

 
 

How does a healthy man get lung cancer if he doesn’t smoke?

 
 

Where did this come from?

 
 

Were there signs I might’ve missed?

 
 

Cancer?

 
 

Just weeks ago, we finished a 100-mile bike ride with our daughter Deirdre. Paul was the one pushing me to finish. “Just around the corner, you can do it, we are almost there.”

 
 

After a routine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test, the doctor tells him, “You have a malignancy.” Paul nearly collapses to the floor, yet turns instead to the doctor and apologizes. “I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you to tell someone they have cancer,” Paul consoles. At that moment, we must embark on a road that seems eerily familiar. How do we provide each other with strength when we witnessed our daughter nearly die from this disease so many years ago? How do I comfort him when we have no idea what type of cancer plagues his body? How do I hold him up when we have witnessed so many children die from this retched disease and the news is littered with famous celebrities all succumbing to this insidious disease. We all know someone, right?

 
 

The process of receiving a diagnosis begins with a CT scan (nodules on the lung, the liver, and the arm) biopsy procedure (lung), PET scan (lit up like a Christmas Tree), to brain MRI tests (oh look: we found another lesion). Each visit brings more bad news and the process of scheduling medical procedures is even more difficult during the holiday season. Finally, we meet with our friend — an oncologist — who says the words no one wants to hear. Stage 4 lung cancer. It is not curable but treatable. Again the news is grim and having a friend you’ve known for 20 years break the news to you makes you appreciate the job doctors must do every day. How do doctors constantly remain upbeat in the face of overwhelmingly negative odds? One word: hope. We nearly lost our daughter to this dreaded disease and now we are facing a battle to save her dad. All we can cling to is hope. The hope that the researchers will continue to find new treatment options that could stop the cancer cells lurking in my husband’s body and the bodies of so many other cancer patients. If Vice President Joe Biden wants to send a moonshot to cure cancer that is fine by me because we all know someone, right?

 
 

Now how do we tell our five children their father has cancer? The task comes down to a family dinner during the holidays. Paul reveals the news and starts by apologizing to all of us. “I am so sorry,” he admits over sobs. Paul is upset that he has to break the news to our five children that he has a dreadful disease. Paul is upset that he has to break the news to our five children that their lives will now change. Shock and disbelief paint their faces. The boys fall silent. The girls rally with a positive chorus of, “You’ve got this Dad — we will beat this.” Caitlin is especially emphatic. “Dad, you’ve got this beat.” Thoughts of friends, colleagues and neighbors who have fought valiantly but who still have lost their battle cross my mind. We all know someone, right?

 
 

We begin by entering a world we thought we had shut the door on and never wanted to enter again. This world is filled with appointments, oncologists, radiologists, lab technicians, pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners, and insurance companies. Suddenly your time is not run on your own schedule, but run on someone else’s schedule. This world is marked by the remarkable ability of our children as they create new roles for themselves as executive assistants, organizers and prayer warriors. This world features questions like “how do you feel?” that have no appropriate answer. This world presents new challenges every day. Most of all, this world unleashes a new determination within yourself to find a cure for this awful disease. We all know someone, right?

 
 

My husband and I have a positive team of doctors rallying around us who are all anxious to find a cure. The doctors have hope and if they don’t they aren’t on our team. The friends and neighbors who supply food, cards, prayers, and of words of encouragement help us every day in ways they may not even realize. Now they too know someone.

 
 

As we face this uphill climb, we stare at an uncertain future of job uncertainty, health uncertainty, and a daily struggle to remain positive despite the odds. Perhaps it is my turn to guide him. Perhaps it is my turn to encourage him to continue to fight this beast and push him toward the finish line. “You can do this, just around the corner, we are almost there.” We will fight to survive because after all we all know someone and this beast must be tamed.

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This Man Celebrated His 29th Birthday By Doing 29 Death Drops

 
 
 

A New York City gay man is celebrating turning 29 years old by death dropping in 29 different locations all over the metropolis.

 

Juan Torres-Falcon, an actor appearing in Broadway’s hit “Kinky Boots,” shared the hilarious video on his Facebook this week featuring him death dropping — a move that involves dramatically falling backwards — everywhere from the heart of Times Square to outside of Trump International Hotel & Tower.

 
 

“To properly do a death drop you have to be unafraid of falling (knowing full and well you will get back up) and trust that YOU GOT YOU, otherwise you will break your whole LIFE,” Torres-Falcon told NewNowNext. “Now I’m just worried about what I’m going to do when I turn 50.”

 

Unfamiliar with death drops? They’re pretty major in the world of queer performance — and you can actually injure yourself pretty if you don’t know what you’re doing (so don’t just start death dropping all over snowy NYC). 

 

Instead, let us take you back to of our favorite videos of all time: “Sailor Moon” and “Wonder Woman” competing in a voguing battle and death dropping all over the damn place.

 

Enjoy!

 

H/T NNN

 
 

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Naz & Maalik: Black, Gay, Muslim, And In Love

2016-01-17-1453060770-589850-NazMaalikposter.jpg

 
 

“For the longest time I couldn’t put a name to who I was. I didn’t have an image to who was like me. It was torturous,” Jane Lynch notes in Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema, the savvy documentary from 2006 by Lesli Klainberg and Lisa Ades.

 
 

A few minutes after Jane lets loose, Todd Haynes, the director of Carol and Poison, adds,” I think films do make a difference. They get under people’s skin, and they reflect our lives and our experiences back to us.”

 
 

But if you’re gay and don’t check off Caucasian on various surveys, you have had a harder time finding yourself on the big screen. There’s been Pariah (2011), The Watermelon Woman (1996), Brother to Brother (2004), and a handful of others of varying delight. But what if you are a gay, black, Muslim teenager residing in Brooklyn and are in love with another gay, black, Muslim teen, where will you get media support? Certainly not on Modern Family or even The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

 
 

2016-01-17-1453061366-8433862-OnSubway.NazMaalikjpg.jpgMaalik and Naz at peace on the subway.

 
 
 

Writer/director Jay Dockendorf tries to remedy this situation with Naz & Maalik, a film based on interviews he had with several genuinely gay, black and Muslim adolescents. The result is a film that often comes off as thoughtful, authentic, and poignant, that is until a little too much plot rears its ugly head.

 
 

On the plus side, there is a believable chemistry between the kufi-capped Naz (Curtiss Cook Jr.) and Maalik (Kerwin Johnson Jr.) who spend their after-school days selling overpriced lottery tickets, Christian saints cards, and bottles of scent on the neighborhood streets. They are scammers in love, who steal a kiss now and then in doorways while also finding time to pray in the local mosque. Seems almost idyllic.

 
 

Yet, in the opening scene, Naz’s younger sister, Cala (a very fine Ashleigh Awusie), attired in a black hijab, finds a used condom in the family bathroom’s garbage can. Immediately, she runs into her brother’s bedroom, holding up the evidence, and scolds, “It’s haram.” It’s forbidden.

 
 

Naz: It’s not mine.

 

Sis: It’s in our bathroom.

 

Naz: It’s probably mom and dad’s.

 

Sis: You can’t be having sex. You can’t be having sex.

 
 

She then blackmails Naz for $25 to keep his secret. If she had known he was gay, too, she could have gone up to $26. No wonder Naz is in the closet.

 
 

2016-01-17-1453061440-3335074-directorofNazMaalik.jpg

 

The highly talented director of Naz & Malik, Jay Dockendorf, decided to include a photo of himself sitting in a car in the film’s press kit.

 
 

The cash deal behind him, Naz runs out of the apartment to hook up with Maalik, and their day begins with buying supplies, hawking their goods, eating pizza, riding the subway, and philosophizing. Is the world getting better? Can you be gay and Muslim? What does the Quran say on the matter? And after that, even gentrification gets its due: “Everyone wants to live in Manhattan. That’s why they’re making Brooklyn look like Manhattan.”

 
 

Further highlights include a pickup by a white, yuppie, Beanie-Baby collector and the lads’ plans to kill a chicken halal-style as a birthday gift for Maalik’s mother.

 
 

But instead of concentrating on these gems and further developing the closeted couple’s relationship, a ridiculous, poorly-scripted FBI subplot is thrown in. An undercover agent tries to sell Naz and Maalik a gun, the boys joke about it, and for the rest of the film, an inept government agent (the frightful Annie Grier) trails them as if they were potential terrorists.

 
 

What could have been a hard-hitting exploration of the healing power of redemptive love in an unreceptive world nearly becomes a cartoony look at government paranoia in the post-9/11 New York. Thankfully, Jake Magee’s truly superb cinematography and Andrew Hafitz’s agile editing, along with Cook and Johnson’s performances, help you to overlook the more amateur aspects of the screenplay and allow you to focus on a brave attempt to explore budding queerdom among the Muslim populace.

 
 

(Naz & Maalik will be released theatrically in New York City on January 22 and on DVD/VOD on January 26, 2016.)

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A UK Columnist Suggested Female Doctors Are Hurting The System. They Had The Perfect Response

When Sunday Times columnist Dominic Lawson claimed this weekend that female doctors are to blame for England’s department of health problems, expect a great Twitter hashtag to be born, stat.

 

#LikeALadyDoc took off on Twitter Monday as people responded to Lawson’s sexist article, which claimed that an increasing number of women doctors are the reason England’s NHS is having trouble with its contract for doctors. 

 

Lawson referred to the “feminization of medicine” and said that “increasing numbers of female graduates will create a major shortfall in primary care provision.”

 

He goes on to state that female doctors are less inclined to work longer hours than their male counterparts because women have — you know — families to take care of.

 

Doctors, both female and male, adopted the hashtag #LikeALadyDoc and have responded to the sexist claims with humor, irony and straight up dismay.

 

Some of our favorites are below.

 
 

Also on HuffPost:

 

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