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A Brit Queer: Why are people concerned about LGBTQ+ rights in the wake of the UK election?

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Hello and welcome to A Brit Queer, where a queer woman from Britain splits her time between discussing fun stuff like TV shows and events and serious stuff like the political and social issues facing the LGBTQ+ community in Britain.

Some columns will focus on the lighter side of being gay in the UK, like praising medical drama Holby City for tackling two separate storylines dedicated to same-sex couples at the same time because that level of representation was not something I expected.

However, this is not one of those times.

Today, we’re going to talk about the recent UK elections and what that means for the LGBTQ+ community. I know, I know, I’m a little late to the party, but give me a break, Travel Pride only just launched.

So you’ve probably seen some very confusing coverage of our June election (especially if you live outside of the UK) and I’ll try to break it down as quick as possible.

Wtf happened in the UK election?

House of Commons Chamber- UK Parliament via Wikipedia

First, no single party achieved the 326-seat majority needed to form a government, which resulted in a hung parliament (no, not like that).  You need to get 326 seats in the House of Commons (our elected legislative chamber) because that is exactly half the total seats plus one.

The Conservative Party did, however, get the most number of seats in the election (318) and therefore they get to form a government. They can either rule as a minority government and risk the all the other parties banding together to vote their bills down or seek an alliance with another political party.

Trouble is, our last coalition government was not particularly favourable (I mean, it’s referred to as the ConDem coalition) and the Liberal Democrats, who partnered with the Conservatives, have not really recovered.  In 2015, the first election after the coalition, the Lib Dems plummeted from over 50 seats in the HOC to just eight.

So, the Lib Dems haven’t really been champing at the bit to help out this time. Plus, their current (but soon-to-be-replaced) leader Tim Farron faced a lot of deserved criticism for the time he took to say that being gay wasn’t “sinful” and his voting record on LGBTQ+ rights.

Do not adjust your screen, this really is the 21st century.

So the Conservatives are seeking an alliance with is the Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland, who are the only other right-of-centre party to have seats in the HOC.

The trouble is, the DUP have views that are significant to the right of the Conservatives on a few issues, specifically women’s rights to reproductive health, LGBTQ+ rights in general, whether climate change is happening and whether evolution is real.

I’ll give you a minute to stop rolling your eyes.

What does this mean for LGBTQ+ rights?

People are rightly worried about what this means for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and the environment, especially when you consider that the UK now has to start negotiating Brexit and gets to decide which laws from the EU that we will and will not keep.

Leaving aside, environmental rights and women’s rights for a hot second, many of the UK’s current LGBTQ+ protections are derived from the EU, such as the right not to be fired based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and if the DUP wanted, they could influence the Conservatives to weaken or scrap these laws.

I mean the DUP gained Northern Ireland’s exemption from the UK’s equal marriage ruling of 2013, when no one really wanted anything from them, despite the other political party in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein, supporting same-sex marriage.

Luckily, as of yet, the DUP have not been given positions of power within the Cabinet. I mean, it was unlikely because Labour would not be able to form a majority, but it still scared me sh*tless on June 9. However, the DUP has just scored £1bn from the Conservatives and it is likely that over the course of the current Parliament, the DUP will want more.

Nigel Dodds MP- Northern Ireland Executive via Flickr

Nigel Dodds, the DUP MP for Belfast North, said, during the first Prime Minister’s Questions of the new Parliament, that the money in his constituency would go towards mental health services in Northern Ireland.

That all sounds fantastic, but you know what? LGB people in the UK are twice as likely as straight people to suffer from depression, have suicidal thoughts, and attempt suicide and the rates are even higher for trans people.

Let’s be clear, there are many contributing factors for depression (and I don’t claim to be an expert) but I think we can all see that any existing depression is exacerbated when your elected official is voting against your f*cking rights and when others in his party are describing you as an “abomination”. Like…I can’t… It’s…Urrgh!

What can you do?

If you live in the UK, please write to your MP (especially if they’re a Tory) and explain why you are concerned about a #MayDUP coalition. Remember to be polite, even if you’re angry because it’s more likely they will take you seriously.

Outside of the UK but still worried about a homophobic, sexist voice in the ear of our Prime Minister? Share this with your British friends and ask them to contact their MP.

Tune in next week for a (hopefully) happier column of A Brit Queer, perhaps something about the 50 Shades of Gay Season on Channel 4.

Originally posted 2017-07-11 20:35:53.

Emma is a queer British freelance writer specializing in politics, travel, and entertainment. Barack Obama (yes, that one) follows her on Twitter and she’s never been sure why. She takes her coffee seriously and wears odd socks because life’s too short.

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The Coward: A Look into Homophobia in Queer Spaces

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Theatre has always been a safe space for the LGBT+ community. It has given people of any sexuality and gender identity a platform to explore themselves and their relationships, as well as their fears and trauma, and share those experiences with everyone. LGBT+ theatre shows the truth, but sometimes it’s a hard truth, meant to make audiences uncomfortable but aware of the hardships that the queer community faces.

In her play The Coward, playwright Kati Schwartz explores the effects of homophobia in the queer community. The show focuses on a young actress named Jill, who spends the summer at an isolated summer stock theater company with a small group of actors. This group includes a man named Christopher, who claims to be straight despite his obvious attraction to a male castmate. His homophobia, fueled by his strong religious beliefs, clashes constantly against Jill’s questioning of her own sexuality, leading to a tension-filled show.

Schwartz is incredible at mixing realism and fantasy in her shows, and The Coward is no exception. Jill carries a wand and casts spells throughout the play, though it is unclear whether her castmates can see the spells’ effects or not. However, the plot of the show itself is very much based in reality.

The Coward, as with most of the plays I write, is based off a real life experience,” said Schwartz. “What you see is my interpretation of that experience with some witchcraft and magical realism sprinkled in.” Schwartz is adept at mixing fantasy and reality while still keeping the focus on such a heavy subject matter. She is able to transform her experience with an aggressive person into a story that balances the inherent tension and sadness with the surreal.

Schwartz attempts to figure out Christopher’s homophobia in the face of his own sexuality along with Jill and the audience, and it certainly is not always easy.

“In the first draft, the Christopher character was a female, and the story was much simpler,” said Schwartz. “Once I switched that character to a closeted, self loathing gay man, the themes of the play became a little more challenging for me to explore.” With this switch, Schwartz dove into an exploration of internal homophobia within the LGBTQ+ community and its effects.

“The resulting changes to the script offer more equality between Jill and Christopher, and more opportunity for discussion on who the true coward is,” said Schwartz.   

Though the focus of the show is on issues within the LGBT+ community, Schwartz knows that this show is important for people of any sexuality to see and understand.

“Rifts and prejudice exist within any community,” said Schwartz. “Something I hope that people of any sexual orientation can take away is a keener sense of one’s responsibility to speak up when someone is being mistreated regardless of the immediate social ramifications.”

The Coward is playing at the Duke on 42nd Street on October 9th in New York City, as part of the New York New Works Festival. It is an important piece of theater, that should be seen by many. Share this with the theater lover in your life, and be on the lookout for more from Schwartz soon.

Originally posted 2017-10-10 15:42:41.

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How to Travel to This Gorgeous Liberal European Town With No Roads

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This town is called the land of water, and is also known as the venice of Holland. It is Giethoorn, located in the National Park Weerribben-Wieden in the Netherlands. There are no roads here, and the visitor can view beautiful thatched farms, lakes, reed beds, forests, wooden bridges, and greenery. This town is also gay-friendly, because it is located in the first country to recognize gay marriage in 2001.

Here is a step-by-step guide for travel to Giethoorn, and how to explore its beauty, culture, and community:

Book Your Flight to Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Plan your trip to Amsterdam, because from there, you can travel to Giethoorn.  There are numerous flights that go to Amsterdam, and here are cheap flights that were recently found by travelers. The flight will arrive at Amsterdam Airport Schipol, which has shopping and dining to occupy your time. If you decide you want to stay in Amsterdam for a while before traveling to Giethoorn and have booked a hotel, then the Schipol Hotel Shuffle can take you there.  

Once you are ready to travel, then from Amsterdam Airport Schipol, you can take the bus or boat to travel to Giethoorn.  You can also travel by train, if you wish, and you can use 9292 to plan your trip.  

Plan Your Stay in Giethoorn

Hotel de Pergola. Source: Booking.com

If you plan to stay in Giethoorn for longer than a day, then book your stay in the hotel of your choice. Above is a photo of the Hotel de Pergola, which is situated on the waterfront, but there are also other great options. There are some reasonably priced places to stay, such as the Fletcher Hotel Restaurant de Eese-Giethoorn, which has an outdoor tennis court, a national park, restaurant, and indoor pool. One traveler recommended another place, the Hotel Giethoorn because it was super cozy.  

Day 1: Travel on a Boat in the Town with No Roads

Travelers on boats. Source: A Wanderlust for Life

There are many things you can do on your first day here, and one option is to travel on a boat, because after all, this charming town has no roads, but it does have water. Canoe trails are 90 kilometers long!  In fact, the postman has to travel by punt boat, to deliver mail.  

You can rent kayaks, sailboats, and rowboats. If you want to boat by yourself, consider renting a whisperboat, which are open punter boats equipped with a silent electric motor (why it’s been given the name ‘whisper’). You can book your boat in advance, and you can even book a day tour which includes the whisperboat, coffee, sandwiches, drinks and dinner.  

Day 2: Go Cycling

The Giethoorn Weerribben cycling route. Source: Holland-Cycling.com

Another popular activity here is cycling. The Giethoorn Weeribben cycling route is 46 kilometers long, and there are thatched cottages, narrow bridges and wetlands on the way! You will see these at the farming village of Giethoorn. The route will also take you through the historic town of Blokzijl, the National Park De Wieden, and the villages of Jonen and Dwarsgracht.  

Day 3: Hike and Explore

Giethoorn. Source: Holland.com

If you want to explore Giethoorn more, and are a hiking enthusiast, then consider the 15.3 kilometer walking route, which starts at Eendrachtsplein, and then follows the green route.  There is a walking network which guides you, so follow the colored arrows. Sights to watch out for are canals, thatched farmhouses, and the largest lake of the Kop van Overikssel, the Beulakerwijde.  

Before You Go: What to Bring With You

Sunscreen

As you plan your trip, including flight, accommodation, and activities, consider what to bring with you.  Expect warm weather here, so bring sunscreen, lip balm and a hat.  But it can rain, so be sure to bring a raincoat and umbrella, so that you’re on the safe side.  Other items to include in your backpack are a camera, first aid kit, hiking boots, a torchlight, SD card, and shorts or pants with pockets.   

Where do you plan on vacationing this year?  If this European destination sounds good to you, then consider planning a trip.

 

Originally posted 2017-10-09 17:23:57.

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Love It, Leave It: The NYC (Pizza) Edition

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You’re beautiful, saucy, and sometimes too hot to hold. Aside from my family and friends, you’re the most important thing in the world to me. We could hang out every night of the week and I wouldn’t get sick of you. I love you (don’t tell my girlfriend). Oh boy — it’s a bit weird saying that aloud for the first time — especially in such a public forum. But, it just feels so right. The two of us were made for each other. You complete me, pizza.

I’m an Italian girl from Staten Island–what did you expect? :: insert stereotypical phrases like fuhggedaboudit and ay oh! here :: Eating pizza is one of my favorite pastimes and I’ve got plenty of favorites in NYC; this list will give you a feel for my top three joints.

Love It: Roberta’s. Denino’s. Rubirosa.

Roberta’s: A pie I’m willing to trek to Brooklyn for. This wood-fired pizza has been a Bushwick staple since before Bushwick was the hipster mecca it is today; it’s nearly a decade old. You’ll most likely have a hearty wait to fold (please don’t use a fork and knife) a slice here, but don’t give up. Once you get a spot, the bee sting is an inventive (soppressata, chili, honey), go-to order. I bet 10 pepperonis that you’ll be back.

Denino’s: Ah, puppy love. Denino’s and I have been in a long-term relationship since I had enough teeth to physically chew a slice. (Who are we kidding, I would’ve gummed it.) IMO, this is the OG pizza parlor from Staten Island — cash only, surly career waitresses, and no ambiance or dessert menu. If you want the authentic experience, take the ferry over and grab a cab here. But you lazy folk are in luck, because a new outpost opened up on MacDougal street this year. Despite getting asked without fail: “sauce on the whole pie?” I always order sausage and broccoli rabe, red. Never disappoints.

Rubirosa: This trendy, dimly-lit Italian spot is thankfully only a few blocks away from my apartment in NoLita. Coincidence? #nope. The iconic, thin-crust pizza has a sweet spot in my heart, as it happens to be crafted with the same recipe that has been around for decades at Joe & Pat’s (another must-try spot) in Staten Island. I maybe worked there in high school simply so I could eat slices on my break.

Leave It: Anything that says “99¢ or $1 pizza”‘

RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN. Unless you have consumed enough drinks to knock out Floyd Mayweather, this is a terrible, horrible, unforgivable decision. You’ll have more regrets than that guy who got the “no regerts” tattoo. People who may love Domino’s or Pizza Hut might find nothing wrong with a cheap slice slathered in Prego-style sauce and an ambiguous Sargento cheese blend. But, any sensible ‘za lover will walk spritely by these unrefined joints with interrogation room lighting and never look back.

Originally posted 2017-10-09 16:45:50.

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