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Us versus Them: How We Perpetuate Conflict

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As the discrimination that is still so rampant in our world is being brought to light, we must remember that we are all one, regardless of our individual beliefs. Being inquisitive and open may be the only way to bring neutrality to the “us versus them” mentality to which we’ve all contributed. Even with a pure intention, “fighting” for our rights can oftentimes inadvertently perpetuate the problem. Of course, it’s important to know our differences and also focus on the fundamental interests that will allow us to collaborate and peacefully coexist.

We are seeing many different groups take to the streets to give their perspectives a voice. I admire the unity that these groups bring within their organization and the awareness brought to people from different walks of life. And, as much as I don’t like to admit it, even the groups that I disagree with wholeheartedly have the same rights that I have. I agree that it’s important to express what you believe is right, but there is a fine line between standing up for oneself and being aggressive and intolerant. At what point does a peaceful protest turn into a riot?

Who instigates the abuse? Who is an innocent bystander? Who is full of love and who is full of hate? Who wants the best for the world and the greater good? The answer: all of us. I’ve had a very hard time swallowing this reality – the reality that sometimes I have beliefs and behave in ways that make me both the victim and the perpetrator.

This viewpoint was spurred by the speech that President Trump delivered after the horrific events in Charlottesville. The statement that infuriated millions across the country included me. How on earth could he say there was “hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides”? Many sides…is he serious?! Through my lens, there was hate on one side and one side only; however, upon further contemplation, I reluctantly admitted that perhaps Trump had a point.

Sometimes, even when a group shows up in defense of their rights and to give their side a voice, behaviors can shift and people with the purest of intentions can react in the same way as the opposing group. Calling people names, screaming profanities, throwing judgements, and pushing personal beliefs on others ensues. We can fight hate with more hate – that is, if we want to fuel the fire and perpetuate the conflict. Or we can defuse hate by choosing to actually embody what we’re “fighting” for. As Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” I thought we didn’t want to fight anymore, so why are we out engaging in fights? We as individuals have to evolve.

You may be thinking that when we bring awareness, we aren’t looking for a fight; we’re trying to promote love and acceptance of all. I’m suggesting that we look at conflict through a different lens. Whomever opposes your/my viewpoint believes that they are simply defending their rights, as well. Even those who display blatant racism and intolerance are loving fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. They actually believe that they’re doing the right thing. It’s hard for me to understand their viewpoint, but throwing more hurtful things at people who are so obviously in very deep pain will not help matters. It only justifies their belief that they were right about us; all the people with a different religion, different sexual orientation, a different color skin, etc.

It’s hard to reprogram our belief systems, but we must if we want to evolve and truly be the change we want to see. Love all the perspectives and sides, even if you don’t agree. After all, each of us embody the light and the dark, the love and the hate, the courage and the fear. When we accept all of this in ourselves, we can accept it in others and collectively begin to shift the culture.

How can we remind the world and each other that we are all one and come from the exact same place? How can we remember that we are just individual expressions of a diverse and wonderful existence? How can we finally accept that we are all humans created in love? How can we coexist without hurting each other and/or trying to change each other?

I believe the answer lies within ourselves; when we become aligned in love as individuals, we are directly affecting the collective, but it takes all of us. We’ve made great strides over the decades in regard to civil rights, thanks to the trailblazers who have come before us – the brave souls who stood up for their rights and the rights of all who have followed. The actions and perseverance of those people have allowed me to be who I am today, and I am forever grateful. It’s now our turn to bring a different approach to the table.

I would love to hear thoughts and recommendations, dear readers.  It’s important to have a safe space to express ourselves, brainstorm, and have an open discussion without attack, hate speech, name-calling, or threats. TravelPRIDE is a place where we can do just that. Be innovative. Be kind. Be loving. How can we all set an example of what being open, tolerant, and respectful of everyone’s beliefs actually looks like?

Originally posted 2017-10-01 17:12:16.


Also published on Medium.

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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.

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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.

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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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