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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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Tell It Like A Lesbian

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My mother refuses to refer to my partner as anything other than a friend. We’ve been dating for three years and my mother still won’t acknowledge our relationship. Am I crazy for being angry about this and wanting to confront her? I feel insulted and it really upsets my partner. –Clarke

Dear Clarke, You’re not crazy for being upset at your mother. It sounds like you have every right to be angry, especially if after three years your mother can’t even acknowledge your relationship. If talking to her gently about it hasn’t worked after all this time, it may indeed be time to confront her more forcefully, as your partner’s feelings are also being hurt by this behavior. If you decide to confront her and her attitude remains unchanged, it may be time to cut ties. After all, your happiness is what matters most in this situation, regardless of whatever is causing such denial from your mother. You must put the health of you and your partner’s relationship first, and eventually, your mother may come to realize what she is losing because of her denial.

__________

Dear Tell It, Do you have any suggestions for handling depression? I’ve been really struggling with loneliness and I have no energy for anything, even stuff I usually enjoy. I feel like I have no one to turn to. –Otto

Dear Otto, Depression often causes the loneliness and sense of isolation that you are feeling. It’s important that you recognize this as a symptom of your depression and do your best not to isolate yourself as a result. Because depression can take a lot of energy, remember that your brain and body need time to recover. And remember that focusing on self-care is not selfish. Depression is an illness just like the flu and other diseases and should be treated with the same care.

On bad days, make a warm drink that you enjoy, read your favorite book or watch a show or movie you love. Spend some time by yourself to recharge, and then contact a friend or family member to let them know what you’ve been feeling. Make a plan to spend time with them, even if it’s only for an hour or two, preferably away from your house. Getting outside and into a new environment is an excellent way of resetting your brain. While I wish I could tell you otherwise, depression doesn’t just go away. You will likely go through phases of good and bad, and it’s important to learn the symptoms that are specific to you. If you have suicidal thoughts, don’t hesitate to ask for help. The suicide hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. Hang in there, and remember that there are people who care.

__________

Have questions for Tell It Like A Lesbian? Let me answer them! Submit your questions below (you don’t have to use your real name unless you want to), and see your question answered on our website!

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Originally posted 2017-10-26 14:10:06.


Also published on Medium.

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In December, This Round-The-World Cruise Visits 35 Countries

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Imagine being able to visit 66 ports in 35 countries over 141 days.  Such a trip has never been offered in the past, but now Viking Cruises, based in Los Angeles, is planning one.  

The Viking Sun will set sail on 15 December 2017. Furthermore, Cruise Critic has named Viking Cruises as one of the top 10 cruise lines for gay and lesbian travelers because it frequently partners with LGBT travel agencies and past travelers have reported good experiences.  In fact, the 2017 CRUIZIE Awards for LGBT Cruise Travel awarded Viking River Cruises the ‘Best River Cruise Line for LGBTQ Passengers.’  

So what is this journey going to look like?  Let’s have a look:  

Day 1: Depart From Miami

Miami

On 15 December 2017, the Viking Sun will leave Miami, the international city in Florida.  If you are embarking on this trip and are here in Miami, appreciate the barrier islands and Miami beach.  Here, find colorful buildings, surfside hotels and white sand.  If this sounds good, then spend a few days here, before making your way to the Viking Sun. 

Days 2 to 20: The Caribbean, Central America and Los Angeles

The Caribbean

On day 2, cruise the Caribbean Sea,  which covers an area of approximately 1,063,000 square miles. The deepest area in this sea is the Cayman Trench between Cuba and Jamaica.  Between day 3 and day 5, explore the city of Cienfuegos in Cuba, where a walking tour is offered.  This traveler explored gorgeous flamingoes, boat houses and more attractions.  

Between days 6 to 17, visit other countries lying in the Caribbean and South and Central America: Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Then briefly visit  Mexico and Los Angeles, before cruising the Pacific Ocean.   

Days 30 to 43: French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Tonga and Fiji

Nuka Hiva, the largest of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia

French Polynesia, an overseas French possession, consists of more than 100 stunning islands, stretching across more than 2,000 kilometers. Start cruising the South Pacific and visit Taiohae, the main town of Nuka Hiva (pictured above) in French Polynesia.  You will also visit Tahiti and Bora Bora, known for its scuba diving.  

The 15 gorgeous islands that make up the Cook Islands could provide a hint of paradise.  Warm tropical waters, crystal clear waters and aquatic life are just a few of the treasures that can be found here. Then in Tonga, discover white beaches, coral reefs and tropical rainforest.  Continue this tropical holiday in Fiji, which also has beaches and coral reefs.  

Days 44 to 113: New Zealand, Australia and Asia

New Zealand

In New Zealand, go on an extensive tour that includes the Bay of Islands, an enclave of more than 140 islands with beaches and water activities. Find an abundance of wildlife, including penguins, dolphins, marlin, whales, and gannets.  There’s even a camping ground here.

Go on to cruise the Tasman Sea, and discover several attractions in Australia. The Great Barrier Reef, located in northeastern Australia, consists of golden beaches, thousands of reefs, and hundreds of Islands with dolphins, sharks, and colorful fish.     

Then cruise the Timor Sea and start exploring the culture and beauty of Asia. See Indonesia, and then go on to visit Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, China, Hong Kong , Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore and India.  During this journey explore Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, which has beautiful islands topped with rainforests.  

Days 114 to 131: The Middle East, North Africa and the Central Mediterranean

Malta in the Central Mediterranean

Cruise across the Arabian Sea, and tour several countries in the Middle East and North Africa: Oman, Jordan, Egypt, and Tunisia. There is also a stop at Malta, located in the Central Mediterranean.  See wildflowers, plants, prehistoric sites, and walk to discover Malta’s natural beauty.  

Days 132 to 141: Europe

Murcia (Cartagena), Spain

See Portugal, England, and explore the beaches and hiking trails of Sardinia, the Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea. In Spain, Murcia is a university city with beaches, water sports, wine, and historical sites.    

Want to explore these countries, and Interested in this cruise? Call Viking at 888-850-6260 or find out more here.

Originally posted 2017-10-26 14:08:07.

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Same-Sex Marriage in the US: A Decade of Change

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On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court announced the decision to make same-sex marriage a right in all 50 states. People all over the country celebrated, pride flags were flown, and for the first time, the White House was lit with rainbow lights. The decision was a landmark victory for the gay-rights movement, but behind it all was decades of litigation, activism, and advocacy.

In 1996, a law called the Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. It defined marriage as “the union of one man and one woman” in the United States constitution. Individual states were able to recognize same-sex unions, but on a federal level, the words wife, husband, and spouse, were reserved specifically for heterosexual couples. Same-sex couples were also denied social security survivor’s benefits and were unable to jointly file taxes. For almost a decade, the DOMA remained.

After 40 years of being together, Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer traveled to Toronto to get legally married in 2007. A year later, their union was officially recognized by their home state of New York . In 2009, Spyer passed away at the age of 77. She left her entire estate to her wife, Windsor. Because of DOMA, the federal government did not recognize their union as a marriage and Windsor was required to pay over $300,000 in taxes on her inheritance. Windsor decided to challenge this because she was legally married and should have therefore qualified for an unlimited tax deduction on the inherited estate. After approaching several gay-rights advocacy groups, she was repeatedly denied and was unable to find representation.

Finally, Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP agreed to take on the case. In 2010, her case was filed and made its way through the circuits and in 2013 it had reached the United States Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled in favor of Windsor and announced that DOMA had been unconstitutional. By the same margin, the Supreme Court would legalize same-sex marriage three years later.

In September of 2017, Windsor passed away at the age of 88. She left behind a legacy of activism and change, and hope. At her funeral, Hillary Rodham read a eulogy. “Because of her, people came out, marched in their first pride parade, married the love of their life. Thank you, Edie,” reported the New York Daily News.“Thank you for being a beacon of hope, for proving that love is more powerful than hate.”

Edith Windsor has helped to change the lives of thousands of LGBTQ couples and her legacy will continue to live on. Do you have a story of how legalizing same-sex marriage changed your life? Tell us in the comments!

Originally posted 2017-10-25 13:58:13.

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