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Travel Pride does not endorse any candidates mentioned; these are purely the opinions of the author.

Never have promises meant so much than when coming from a politician. New York City held its primary elections for local government positions such as District Attorney and Mayor on Tuesday, September 12. Five candidates ran for the Democratic spot on the ballot for mayor for the upcoming general elections in November, and the incumbent, Bill De Blasio, won. Before voting, I researched each candidate so I could make an informed decision, and one person stood out to me: Robert Gangi. I was hopeful that he would stand a chance in the elections, especially after seeing that De Blasio’s ratings as of July 31, 2017 were less than stellar: 50 – 42%. Sadly, my hope was not enough to make Gangi a real contender, with him receiving only 3.1% of the vote.

They Talk the Talk…

From computers to groceries to politicians, when comparing and contrasting, one always looks for what makes each option different or special. When discussing issues that Gangi planned to tackle when elected mayor, there were two mentioned that De Blasio didn’t address:

  1. Ending state and private citizen violence against the LGBTQ community, especially police brutality and private citizen violence against transgender women of color.
  2. Ending discrimination in the workplace against LGBTQI New Yorkers, especially LGBTQ New Yorkers of color.

Both candidates touched on the following topics:

  1. LGBTQ youth homelessness
  2. LGBTQ health care
  3. Third gender option for NYCID

What stood out to me regarding Gangi’s promises were that they expressed his understanding of intersectionality.

Intersectionality: The Ultimate Venn Diagram

Intersectionality is not only a mouthful, but also a concept that is eye opening, and ubiquitous. Merriam-Webster defines intersectionality as

the complex, cumulative manner in which the effects of different forms of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect.”

Gangi showed that he comprehends this notion when he mentioned police brutality, private citizen violence, people of color, transgender women of color, homelessness and the prison system all under the LGBTQ heading.

These challenges are not single-sided, simple, or straightforward.

They are interconnected and overlapping, presenting the ultimate venn diagram. To address one issue without mentioning at least 2 or 3 others is not only ignorant, but also irresponsible. As an elected civil servant, one must be able to see all of the different layers that make up social issues. Not only is it validating, but also the most productive and efficient way to create and implement solutions. For example, when discussing police brutality, if trans women of color aren’t mentioned, then the whole issue isn’t being seen. Topics like police brutality are overwhelming. Intersectionality brings awareness to how there is not one cookie cutter solution to this, or most problems. All of us are more than just our gender, or our race, or our age. We are complex and intricate beings, and it is insulting to assume otherwise.

What’s the Plan, Stan?

Promises are meaningless unless they are backed up by action. Another thing I greatly appreciated about Gangi was how he laid out a plan for how he would accomplish each promise for each issue he addressed.

  • End violence against LGBTQI New Yorkers through:
    • Decriminalizing sex work
    • Promoting programs which provide housing rather than simply shelters
    • Develop social service centers that offer medical and psycho-social assistance
    • Create an “Office for LGBTQI Support” to provide funding and resources, and promote educational awareness
    • End “Broken Window” policing, and divert significant portions of the NYPD’s budget to social services

De Blasio didn’t present any plans or specifics of what he would do if re-elected. Instead, he focused on what he accomplished during his past term as Mayor.

…But Do They Walk the Walk?

The following is a timeline of what De Blasio has accomplished since he was elected in 2013.

  1. December 2015 #PlaySure KitThis is an amazing program. Pep, Prep, HIV meds, lube and condoms distributed for free.
  2. February 2017 Marsha’s House – A homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth.
  3. June 2017 Summer Jobs – The number of summer jobs for New Yorkers between the ages of 14 and 24 with current or past involvement in the shelter, justice, or foster care systems was tripled. While this isn’t specifically aimed at LGBTQ youth, it is an example of an intersectional program.
  4. June 2017 “Bare It All” Campaign – This campaign encourages LGBTQ patients to find a doctor that adheres to the LGBTQ bill of rights. While I agree that being transparent and open with one’s medical team is very important, outing oneself can be a very dangerous thing to do. I don’t think that perspective and fact is considered in this campaign.
  5. June 2017 LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights – A list of 10 requirements regarding treating LGBTQ patients that must be met by any healthcare provider. I find this list frustrating. Making a list of rights of how LGBTQ patients should be treated is very nice, but where is the follow through? How will this be enforced? A lot of responsibility rests on the patient. The local government expects them to file a complaint/report when they are mistreated. When I have been in similar unpleasant situations, I often don’t file reports. I want to leave the environment as soon as possible, and never return or revisit the issue. To file a report would only extend the ordeal, and there is a large chance my complaint won’t be taken seriously. This isn’t meant to discourage you from reporting malpractice; these are just my experiences in handling unprofessional healthcare personnel.
  6. Unknown Gender Identity Confirming BathroomsAll public employees and visitors to public buildings have access to City single-sex facilities consistent with their gender identity.

What Now?

Just because the primary elections are over, doesn’t mean that changes can’t be made. Calling leaders of your local government and voicing your opinion may seem like a small thing, but it has a greater impact than you might think. YOU have a voice, and it’s our job as Americans to take action in making this country the best it can be.

Unhappy with the candidates currently running for local office? Get involved!! Join a committee, speak at town hall meetings, or run for office yourself! Now is not the time to be apathetic.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

Originally posted 2017-09-23 20:54:40.


Also published on Medium.

Sara Whittington is a genderqueer artist raised in Central Louisiana, but currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. They have had the good fortune to be able to travel across the country, as well as abroad. Some of their favorite trips thus far have been adventuring across Iceland, spending summers on Lake Michigan, and a family celebration in Mundesley, England. In their spare time, Sara enjoys writing letters to loved ones.

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I Know Where I’ve Been: All Over The Place, As It Seems

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Travelogues are nothing new in the realm of literature. Ever since the dawn of the written word, there have been innumerable people who want to tell the stories of faraway places they may or may not have visited. Marco Polo was just only the most visible one; there was many who came before him, and many who sought to imitate him afterwards. In fact, one of the first modern satires, Gulliver’s Travels, was written under the thin veneer of being a parody of “traveller’s tales”. So in the age of social media, the concept of the travelogue might seem as dated as the rotary phone.

Which leads to Robert Coles’ I Know Where I’ve Been: A Year-Long Journey of Self-Discovery, a new type of spectrum-friendly travelogue. Though he notes of occasional trips to Mexico and Colombia, most of the travels documents are in the United States and Canada. More specifically, it detailed his travels throughout 2015 and the connections that he had made in the process of reaching his goal of visiting 30 cities by the end of the year. In between the stories about random adventures and quirky friends/lovers are a series of sober reflections on not only his life but also the lives of those around him.

It is in these reflections that one can find the emotional core of I Know Where I’ve Been, and certainly makes it stand out from the standard travelogue. These include stories of his family (specifically of his dad, who died of a heart attack at 53) as well as past lovers (such as “Josh”, with whom he had a fun but ill-fated relationship). It also informs the reader of Coles’ mentality about travel, as his family was not able to travel very much, save for the occasional trip to Disney World or a place like Yellowstone. In a household like that with a person like Coles turned out to be, it is no wonder that he turned out to be such a major traveler. And of course, his sexuality does play an important role at certain moments, including an experience with those with a homophobic bent. Specifically, it first comes to a head when a seemingly nice Christian family turns on him with a vengeance when one of its members catches him looking up certain explicit files downloaded from Limewire.  

Of course, the travel stories in I Know Where I’ve Been themselves do stand out in their own right, which is an important part of a work in this genre. And unlike many popular travelogues, there is a tinge of emotional honesty to most of them, which makes it akin to a mix of An Idiot Abroad and Michael Palin’s Around The World In 80 Days in literary form. Coles does not shy away from the horror stories, such as the Airbnb fiasco in Chicago or a miserable night on the bad side of Detroit. Nor does he leave out some of the stranger things, such as the night in Detroit being followed by a slightly unnerving passport check at the Canadian border. Nor does he gloss over several of the tales of him and his company going on full-blown benders, with the results akin to a remake of The Hangover on a college film fest budget.

However, the experiences throughout his 2015 in I Know Where I’ve Been come out as a net positive, especially with all of the people he met. Standouts include the “Denver Death Tour”, the visits to the Second City improv venue, and visiting Toronto ’s famous CN Tower. Perhaps the most accurate statement by Coles is the following: “While I certainly regret some of the behaviors and wish I could erase some of the memories, I wouldn’t change who I am today because of them.” It is likely the reader will share the same sentiment by the end.

Originally posted 2017-07-30 10:04:24.

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Relationships and Monogamy: Does Sexuality Play a Role in Monogamous Practices?

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Whatever your sexual orientation or gender may be, there’s one thing we can all collectively agree on: Monogamy seems a difficult practice for many people.

That is not to say there are not monogamous partners out there. There are, in fact, plenty of happily practicing monogamous partners who are satisfied with their current relationship situation.

According to the Journal of Sexuality and Social Psychology, men, considered the “fast sex,” tend to “maximize their mating opportunities” by increasing the number of sexual partners in their life. For women, a large number of partners holds no physiological benefits, and “would risk producing offspring of low quality if mated indiscriminately,” making it much more likely for men to cheat than women.

However, as we watch the world progress, we observe a greater tolerance of gender and sexual fluidity. With simplicity comes complexity, and, to state the very obvious: Relationships can be rather messy.

It’s been proven that men show, “a greater interest in uncommitted sex.” It’s also been proven that out of all couples, gay men are by far the least committed to staying faithful in a long term relationship (numbers change based on national averages.)

And while lesbian affairs are the least likely of all, let’s not forget emotional cheating, and how damaging the effects can be on a relationship. More importantly, over the past couple of decades, the percentage of women who have admitted to cheating has risen 40%, while the percentage of men has stayed the same.

We know these numbers also depend on different factors, such as socioeconomic conditions, lack of self-satisfaction, and poor emotional validation,   

Gender norms may have you believe that men are more likely to cheat, but in a 2016 study, statics show that while 57% of men are likely to cheat, this is just a small incline from the 54% of women who have admitted to some type of affair.

In a Psychology Today study, Dr. Elizabeth Sheff finds a common theme among cheating in monogamous relationships over two-decade study, “Some people become polyamorous, starting swinging, or attempt other forms of CNM after they have tried – sometimes for many years – to maintain monogamous relationships and found themselves cheating repeatedly.”

Thus, a question remains: Does your gender and sexual orientation play any type of role in your participation of monogamous relationships?

In short: The answer is no.

Your sexuality does not play a role in whether or not you are more inclined to monogamous practices, but a New York Times article explains that the answers may be found in your genes.

The culprit seems to be “vasopressin,” a “hormone that has powerful effects on social behaviors like trust, empathy and sexual bonding in humans and other animals,” which strongly affects your inclination to cheat.

In a study using prairie and montane voles, sexually monogamous and sexually promiscuous creatures, Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, noticed a change in the animal’s behavior when vasopressin receptors were induced and when they were blocked.

When blocked, the animals were disposed to monogamous sexual behaviors. When injected, “pair bonding,” the scientific term for infidelity, was promoted.

It seems vasopressin is the key to “social bonding” between animals and can be speculated that this is the reason such a large number of people are naturally against monogamy.

Although this research is not 100% proven and is still debatable, it seems that human’s polygamous nature comes naturally from within.

Of course, we are not set to one standard or one type of relationship with our partner(s). Relationships, much like sexuality, comes in all different shapes and sizes. Everyone should have the freedom to explore whatever they should so choose, but bear in mind that respect, honesty and mutual happiness are the most important factors of any relationship between partners.

Originally posted 2017-07-29 15:01:00.

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Trump’s Trans Military Ban

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The LGBTQ community has made significant progress in terms of equality. A person was not allowed to be openly gay in the US military until former president Obama repealed the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in September of 2011. Gay men and women are now allowed to be out, proud, and active members of the military. Unfortunately, this is not the case for transgender individuals. On Wednesday, July 26, 2017, president Donald Trump tweeted that transgender people are not allowed to serve in the armed forces “in any capacity.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images via goo.gl/mSw8hr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How alarming! This is a clear violation of human rights and extremely detrimental to the fight for equality for the LGBTQ community. (We also have to appreciate the irony of the tweets considering that on July 26, 1948, former president Truman desegregated the military).

What Trump is basically saying is that allowing transgender people in the military would be a financial detriment. I’m assuming that he is referring to the cost of hormones for transgender people. What he doesn’t realize that the cost of hormones is significantly less than what the military is paying for medications such as Viagra. According to the United Press International, the US military spends ten times more on erectile dysfunction medication than transgender care. 

So, what does this mean? Well, it may mean any number of things:

  1. Trump has no idea what he’s talking about
  2. He’s pandering to the conservative right
  3. He’s transphobic

Who really knows? Whatever the reason, it is definitely a step back for equality. However, hope is not lost as many people are taking a stand against Trump’s ban. Celebrities such as Lady Gaga had some things to say about this ban.

 

 

 

Images via goo.gl/JmdNo2

 

Lady Gaga is not the only person fighting against Trump’s un-American ban. The Human Rights Campaign, or HRC, is fighting for the rights of transgender people, saying that the ban is an “all-out assault on service members” and that the ban would affect approximately 15,000 currently serving troops. This will clearly have a negative impact on the US military as it consists of millions of brave men and women who fight for the freedom of the American citizens and losing even one soldier due to bigotry can cause the military to weaken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The American Civil Liberties Union, or UCLA, is also fighting against Trump’s ban.

Image via goo.gl/RxN1n9

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t give up hope! This ban is definitely a step in the wrong direction and it hopefully won’t spiral into something even more horrible which is why it is very important that we speak out against this hateful action. Voice your outrage anywhere where your voice can be heard and stand with the transgender community during this trying time, use the hashtag #protecttranstroops on Twitter, repeat the maxim “trans people are not a burden,” and fight for what is right. It may not be easy but as long as we fight, the rights of transgender individuals can and will be protected.

 

 

 

 

 

Originally posted 2017-07-28 21:19:21.


Also published on Medium.

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