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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


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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Travel On A Budget

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It seems to me like people are taking shorter vacations or opting for trips closer to home, for a variety of reasons. Maybe you work a job that doesn’t pay as well as you’d hope, or maybe you’re a millennial (like me) who’s allegedly spent way too much on avocados and can’t afford a vacation (or a house).

Whatever the reason, this new trend of “I want to travel cheaply so I can buy groceries when I get back” is more popular than ever. But how does one manage this? Vacations seem to be expensive no matter what we do or where we go. And it’s true. Vacations always cost money, but there are ways to drastically reduce your expenses while away.

Off season for the win

Why get sucked into the tourist trap every single year when you can hit up the same spots a week before their tourist season begins? This can be tough depending on the area since some tourist seasons are dependent on weather. But you know what places don’t change much from week to week, whether it’s April or August? You guessed it: the beach. Most vacation spots will have dates for their busy season listed online. Once you have the dates, go a week (or two) early. Prices will be lower and hotels will be less packed.

Hostels and B&B’s

Speaking of hotels, don’t go near them. I’m serious. Go anywhere else. They’re expensive and boring, and bed-n-breakfasts are the hip new thing (unlike someone who still says “hip”). Not only are they cozier, they often have decent prices and are more laid back than hotels.

If you’re in Europe, hostels aren’t what the horror movies make them out to be. They’re actually quite comfortable, right in the middle of the city, and way more affordable than a hotel. If you’re in your late teens or early twenties, youth hostels are an even better choice. They’re more youth-friendly and you’ll be surrounded by people closer to your own age. Make friends while you make great financial choices!

ATM vs. traveler’s check

Traveler’s checks were great when ATMs weren’t a thing, and they can still be useful if there’s no ATM in sight and you happen to know where the closest bank is. But more and more, ATMs are the best option on vacation. You don’t want to carry all of your spending money all at once at the start of the trip, so when you get low on cash, find an ATM. Because there might be fees, take out larger amounts at a time, to limit the number of withdrawals while away. To save money, set yourself a spending/withdrawal limit. It’s tempting to treat yo’self while vacationing, but remember that once you get home, bills and food are still a necessity.

Guidebooks!

You are a strong, independent woman/person/man who don’t need no help. If you’re traveling somewhere unfamiliar, skip the travel agency/service. They’re a rip-off. A good guidebook sells for about $20 and will have all the same information you’d get from a travel agent, without the hassle.

Blend in, eat local

If you ignored my hotel advice, then at least listen to this. If the front desk or concierge recommend a great restaurant right down the street, go anywhere else! Chances are they tell literally every guest to go to that one restaurant, and it will be packed (and not that great). You might end up having to go a little farther from your hotel for a bite, but finding local places are a far more interesting experience than the chain places. And are often cheaper, as they’re not targeting visitors and tourists.

Shop big

A couple of months ago I went to Hawaii with my sister and parents. Before leaving, we’d all promised various friends and family that we would return with souvenirs for everyone. A local in Kailua-Kona was kind enough to warn us away from the touristy “ABC Stores” that seem to be taking over the islands. He said that if we wanted good, cheap souvenirs, we should go to Walmart (I know, I was surprised too).

Local shops are nice, too, of course, and it’s good to support small businesses (and not evil Walmart) but for large quantities of souvenirs, going the cheaper route goes a long way in not breaking the bank.

Free activities will free you

This one is easy. Go to the beach and find free parking. Sit in the sand and catch some sun. Splash in the surf to your heart’s content. Go hiking and find hidden waterfalls and creeks to play in. Anything free is your best bet (and gets you some fresh air).

Vacations mean spending some money, but it doesn’t have to empty your wallet. If you follow these tips and stay aware of what you’re spending, you’ll still have money left over for when you get home (and can buy all the avocados you want, maybe).

Originally posted 2017-09-06 11:10:28.


Also published on Medium.

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Love It, Leave It: The Boston Edition

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This little firecracker of a city is one that gives me the warm and fuzzies. It’s known as the quintessential college town, with 35 packed into a city that clocks in with less than 675,000 residents. More specifically though, it’s my college town. This is where my exorbitant student loan checks go every month…heartwarming. Alas, it’s a city where I came into my own — I read a few books, made some friends, stumbled into love and played a little rugby (what a lesbian). Oh, and I ticked off tons of restaurants in the process; I strived for the sophomore, junior and senior 15.

With several visits on my calendar each year, I make a point to pop into long-standing favorites while leaving time to sample some new joints. P.S. I’ll confess something now that I’ll most likely deny later; even though I’m a diehard New York Yankees fan, catching a Red Sox game at Fenway Park is a must-do…just don’t wear a jersey of the aforementioned team unless you enjoy some expletive-laden Bahston heckling.

Love It: The North End

Fuhgeddaboudit. I think there’s an actual official way people phonetically spell this out, but I went with my gut. If you’re a fan of Little Italy in New York City, you’re going to figuratively (not literally) lose your marbles — unless you have a shaky hand and typically travel with loose marbles — over the North End.

This was the OG neighborhood of Boston, settled by English Puritans in the 1600s. I don’t mean to be rude, but you’re gettin’ up there, North End. You can practically feel the rich history seeping through your Frye boots as you saunter down the intimate cobblestone streets; feel free to pause and give a quick shout out to that famous guy Paul Revere who once lived here. After you’ve eyed up some of that Freedom Trail everyone’s always going on about, it’s time for the main event. Head to one of the North End Italian institutions, kiss a large man named Tony (there will be a Tony, trust me) on both cheeks, tuck your napkin in your shirt, and start twirling some spaghetti. There are plenty of cozy, casual, and cash-only joints like Giacomo’s on Hanover Street (aka the main drag), where the menu is written on the wall, portions are anything but small, and you feel like you’re sitting in a Nonna’s dining room. Elevated dining experiences at high-end restaurants can also be found with little effort; spots like Mamma Maria exude elegance and romance with dimly lit, cozy nooks and plate riffs on typical Italian staples–rabbit pappardelle anyone?

Dessert is another hotly debated topic in the North End. You’re either a Mike’s Pastry or a Modern Pastry person (gasp, I’m into both). Grab a cannoli at either spot and maybe some napkins to wipe the powder off of your goofy, satisfied smile.

Leave It: Faneuil Hall’

Historically speaking, this is also a place you should swipe right to. Quincy Market has been in existence since 1826, slowly creeping up on its 200 year anniversary. The Mayor of Boston — Josiah, you guessed it, Quincy — thought the overflowing marketplace, full of wooden stalls hawking seafood and vegetables, in Faneuil Hall had become what we today would calleth a “hot mess.” Thus, the market was born. Today, the Faneuil Hall area is jam-packed with parents donning cheesy souvenir store t-shirts, with family in tow, heading to the kitschiest of chain restaurants; yes, including the likes of Cheers and Dick’s Last Resort. Plenty of smaller vendors like the Boston Chowda Co. line the market’s walls, but this is more for the 9-5 downtown work crowd that needs to pick up something for a fast bite. It’s not the place to head for memorable Boston grub. Pro tip: if you are looking for some quick eats, head to the Boston Public Market just a few minutes down the way; it showcases tons of local purveyors and has stands that sell everything from ramen to doughnuts.

Originally posted 2017-09-05 17:00:46.

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8 Homophobic Brands to Avoid

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Here at TravelPRIDE, our goal is total inclusivity and acceptance. Bigotry of all kinds is all too common, and we like to promote a message of love as much as possible. If you’re looking to do the same, knowing where not to spend your money is a great place to start. There are plenty of gay-friendly companies, but there are also plenty of homophobic ones. Boycotting these companies (not giving them your support/money) is the perfect start to ending hate.

Chick-fil-A

Plenty of LGBTQ people already avoid Chick-fil-A already (partly because the food is not great, but that’s my opinion) because of company president Dan Cathy’s open homophobia. According to Huffington Post, a report was published saying that as of 2010 the company had donated almost $2 million to anti-gay groups across the country. So if you want a chicken sandwich, I suggest going somewhere that’s open on Sundays.

Urban Outfitters

People are getting whiplash from Urban Outfitters’ stance on marriage equality. With a conservative chairman and recent push back for pulling a pro-gay-marriage shirt from its shelves, Urban Outfitters reportedly, according to an article from SFist, “donates 100 percent of its ‘Marriage Equality’ t-shirt sales to EQCA and NCLR,” which are two group leading the charge against the recent Supreme Court challenge on legalizing same-sex marriage.

With its history of flip-flopping on the gay marriage issue, it’s best to stay aware of Urban Outfitters’ current stance. They seem to be supportive now, but this could change as homophobia remains present across the United States.

Barilla

My little gay heart has been overjoyed at seeing gay couples featured in various advertisements. But according to Barilla’s chairman, you’ll never see this from the pasta company. In an interview with LGBTQNation, he went even further in his attack on the LGBTQ community, saying “I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose.”

So much for gaining more customers, Barilla. I think I’ll be buying generic from now on.

Exxon

This one will have you taking the bus to work from now on. With a history of eliminating domestic-partner benefits for same sex couples, according to an article on Queerty, you might want to reconsider that gas-guzzling car as your go-to mode of transportation. Taking the bus will not only take money away from big oil’s profits and homophobic practices, you’ll help the environment too.

Salvation Army (according to the same article from Queerty)

Between Salvation Army’s open homophobia and Goodwill’s exploitation of differently-abled employees, as revealed by Huffington Post, I’m at a loss as to where to donate my stuff. That being said, knowing that Salvation Army actively fights pro-gay-marriage legislation, I think I’ll be holding a lot more garage sales in the future, and you should too if you’re part of the LGBTQ community.

Purina

On the same Huffington Post list as Exxon and Salvation army, the Fancy Feast company refuses to provide benefits to same-sex couples. While they haven’t confessed anything more openly homophobic than this, partner benefits are still a huge deal and spending your dollars on other pet food brands might be a wise choice.

Boy Scouts of America

Surprise, surprise. A male-dominated group not supporting same-sex couples? Astonishing. This isn’t a company, per se, but the BSA relies on donations, and you can decide to support a better, more gay-friendly organization. While the Boy Scouts do allow openly gay males to join, it’s still taboo to be an openly-gay leader. It’s progress, but not nearly enough. If I were you, I’d donate to a worthier cause, such as the Girl Scouts of the USA, a group that is openly pro-gay and pro-choice

Cracker Barrell

While not at all shocking that a southern-themed restaurant wouldn’t support the LGBTQ community, it’s not exactly funny. In another Huffington Post article, it was reported that “In 1991, 11 employees were fired for not displaying ‘normal heterosexual values,’ as was prescribed by an intra-company memo.” The same article reports the company has been known to segregate its customers in restaurants. So add racism into the mix, and you get a company not looking good for any minority. So if you’re craving grits and biscuits, I’d recommend finding your favorite southern dishes elsewhere.

I think we all know that this list is far from complete. It would take weeks or maybe months to find and list every single company with anti-gay practices. If you want to help out your fellow readers, let us know in the comments what other companies you boycott because of their homophobic policies. We’d love your participation in adding to this list, so we can continue to fight hate wherever it appears.

Originally posted 2017-09-05 13:55:21.


Also published on Medium.

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