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Weekly: Pride – The Pride Side of Pittsburgh: It’s Not Paris, But It’s Worthwhile

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Pittsburgh is one of the more unique American cities, specifically in that there isn’t a specific neighborhood associated with the LGBTQ spectrum. Sure, there is Liberty Avenue, which hosts the Pride parade that has now come under some new controversy over a dodgy sponsorship – but that’s just a part of downtown. But overall, the Steel City doesn’t have its own Castro District or Fire Island, nor has it really needed such a thing. Nevertheless, there are plenty of options for those who belong on the spectrum in the city that Carnegie built, especially when it comes to dining and entertainment.

First of all, there are the usual spots along with the aforementioned Liberty Avenue, which several of the good gay bars and drag clubs call home. The best among them (though your mileage may vary) is the Three Ultra Lounge. Yes, it is a dive bar, but it’s the fun kind of dive bar, with drag show performances and other fun things as well. Plus, the drinks are nice and economical, so there is a spot for a traveller to just relax with a rum and coke while watching all those yinzers party the night away. If that’s not you thing and were hoping for something a little more sophisticated and in the same general area, there’s always the Backstage Bar at Theater Square. Run by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Theater Square also includes a cabaret with events on the weekend, along with a nice menu that includes a good $8 artisan pizza.

Of course, there is far more to any city than just the downtown area, and Pittsburgh has plenty of good neighborhoods for you to explore. Perhaps the most LGBTQ-friendly area of the city is the Shadyside neighborhood, which has a great coffee shop in the form of Coffee Tree Roasters, and it’s not too far from the spectrum-friendly Chatham University. After all, you’re in a place where people value coffee as much as beer. So if Coffee Tree isn’t your thing, there is also the Crazy Mocha chain, which has plenty of spots around the area. And it goes along in the morning with a good lunch at Doc’s Place, which has some really good burgers that are at a good price. Not to mention that Shadyside has some really good shopping, which includes nice little stories like La Feria and Kawaii, the latter of whom specializes in distinctly Japanese merchandising.

But if drinking and shopping just doesn’t suit your fancy, there’s always just walking around Shadyside, downtown and Lawrenceville. Along with the two campuses of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon, there are plenty of places to just simply take a nice stroll. Although each of them are not connected to each other, they are the areas of the Steel City that will probably be the safest for members of the LGBTQ community (or at least the areas that are not very susceptible to homophobic and/or transphobic violence and abuse). Of these three, Lawrenceville is the area where most people are going to live, as many who aren’t in the upper crust get consistently priced out of the other two.

Then again, there are niche little places that cater to those who are members and allies of the community. Chief among them is the sublime Blue Moon, which is probably the best LGBTQ bar in the city. This is a place that has a really good drag show and some fine music if you don’t mind the standard EDM artists like Armin van Buuren and David Guetta. Plus, it’s got a better selection of drinks besides the usual Red Bull and lemon shot. In other words, you’ve got yourself a fine time in Pittsburgh – as long as you don’t call the Steelers or the Penguins overrated.

Originally posted 2017-06-15 02:49:10.

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Liberal Leader Takes a Stand Against Discrimination

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Disclaimer: I was not raised with any religious affiliation so I may be unintentionally offensive. I mean no offense to anyone who may be religious!

At this point, most of us are aware of the fact that people can’t help being born with a same-sex attraction. However, there are a select few who believe that being in the LGBTQ  spectrum is inherently and morally wrong and that having a same-sex attraction can be cured. Within this select few, there are some who believe that it is fine to discriminate against LGBTQ people because they do not fit their misguided religious narrative.  

“A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation”.

In both the US and Australia, the concept of religious freedom sounds good in theory. What’s wrong with practicing one’s religion? At base level, this does not harm anyone. There are people, though, who abuse this right and claim that discriminating against LGBTQ people is justified because LGBTQ people do not align with religion (although there are religious gay people…) An example of this is Texas’ proposed Senate Bill 522, which would allow county clerks to deny marriage licenses to LGBTQ people because same-sex marriage may go against the clerks’ religious beliefs. This is clearly a problem as LGBTQ people deserve the same rights as everyone else.

Luckily, people are fighting against this antiquated belief system and realizing that change is an inevitable part of life and it is better to be on the moral side of change. One such person is Nick Greiner, federal president of Australia’s Liberal party. Greiner urges both liberals and conservatives to support same-sex marriage as he believes that “great institutions evolve all the time.” This statement can be proven true by looking back in history, whether it be the advancement of LGBTQ rights or the ratification of the 19th Amendment. I am hopeful that Australia will soon achieve marriage equality but, of course, there are objections.

As an American, I can say that this is true and that the above video holds no merit, as since same-sex marriage became legal in the US, being gay/lesbian/bisexual/trans has not become “widespread and compulsory.”

This campaign was aimed at the Australian population to dissuade citizens from voting yes on marriage equality as the people in this video claims that it will damage religious freedom. This, of course, is not true as the United States achieved marriage equality and did not damage anyone’s right to religious freedom. In the words of Nick Greiner, “Any case for enhancing protection for religious freedom exists today and is not dependent on a change to marriage laws.” He also realizes that no negative consequences arose from the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage.

“The experience in these countries has been that no one has become more gay, or less married, and the achievement of the reform has been a unifying moment for people across the political spectrum.” -Nick Greiner

Greiner also recognizes that in heavily religious countries like Spain, same-sex marriage has not taken away anyone’s freedom of religion. The argument that it does is inane because it is simply not true. The legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia will not take away anyone’s right to practice their religion, nor will it create an increase of LGBTQ people. Nick Greiner recognizes these facts and, hopefully, he will be able to lead Australia in the right direction and have same-sex marriage legalized across the country. By legalizing same-sex marriage, Australia can become a more cohesive nation and convince other countries to become frontrunners in the name of equality.   

“Together let’s celebrate the many achievements of this government and focus on the real challenges and opportunities our nation faces.”

 

Originally posted 2017-09-04 17:32:11.


Also published on Medium.

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Top Destinations for LGBTQ Weddings

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Picture it: You and your soon-to-be spouse staring into one another’s eyes. The sun is just about to set, colors painting the sky, and you only see each other. Around you, your family and loved ones sending love and good wishes throughout the ceremony. Through the romantic haze, a foreign setting, ambiguous to your mind, somewhere new, somewhere magical.

Sounds beautiful, right?

Planning a wedding can be one of the most stressful times in an adult’s life. Never mind the never-ending detail preparations that overburden most brides and grooms, the ultimate stress usually boils down to one very large detail: Which venue to choose.

For those wanting a local celebration, choosing a place to have your wedding, be it a church or ballroom, will be slightly less bothersome since there are only a handful of options to pick off of. For destination weddings, options are more varied, therefore can appear more confusing.

I’ve boiled down the top 5 destination locations that are LGBTQ-friendly. Your wedding day should be all about you and your partner, and all newlyweds should feel content enough spending a couple of days with their family, friends and loved ones in the heavenly scene of their dreams.

A Californian Wedding

One of the greatest places for gay couples to thrive, California’s endless views remain as diverse and its people.

Depending on what you’re aiming for, California offers you much more than gay liberation and awesome nightlife. From mountainous terrain scenic views to Napa Valley’s wine culture, you can be sure to find something that works for you in Cali.

And rest assured, if a beach wedding is where your heart is set, there are plenty of options in California to choose from that offer shore-backdrop packages.

A Caribbean Wedding

With colorful sunsets, the ocean breeze surrounding you, white-sand beaches and friendly islanders, a Caribbean wedding gives you plenty of options to choose from.

The Caribbean Islands are as diverse as their cultures. Some research is required regarding acceptance of gay marriages in the Caribbean, but rest assured your choices are not limited.

Whether it’s Turks and Caicos’ all-inclusive beach weddings you’re after, or the chromatic scenery of Puerto Rico’s residential homes, you can be sure you’ll find the wedding of your dreams in the Caribbean.

Caribbean wedding and honeymoon packages are available to help make planning your romantic getaway a whole lot easier.

An Italian Wedding

Italy is the home of Renaissance art, fine food, the Alps, and diverse historical sights, so it only makes sense that having an Italian destination wedding would give your big day the dash of classical elegance you deserve.

Whether you’re taking up one of Italy’s known Villa-Venues, or Sicily’s mountain-sea ridge, Italy provides you with the right amount of history and variety that you’re looking for.

Plus, the food is exemplary as it is iconic. Fresh Fiorentina Steak with a side of Risotto? Uh, yes, please!

Check out wedding venues and resort packages for your Italian getaway. You won’t be disappointed.

A United Kingdom Wedding

Not really feeling a beach wedding? The United Kingdom’s historical scenery might be what you’re looking for.

With elegant 18th century buildings and traditional manor houses to choose from, the UK offers several options when it comes to wedding venues.

The UK’s preservation of historical landmines and sites, you will have an assortment of locations (and countries) to choose from. Venues range from ancient marquees, hotels and even castles.

A New Zealand Wedding

New Zealand is no stranger to stunning sites, and houses everything from scenic mountains, to boiling mud pools- there’s always something to see in the breathtaking terrains of New Zealand.

If beautiful scenery is your most important wedding concern, New Zealand is the place for you.

The best part? All of those pretty scenes don’t go to waste. For the adventurous couple, New Zealand also offers a range of activities, such as scuba diving, hiking and bungee jumping, all offered within proximity of package hotel and resorts.

Of course, you are the king and/or queen of your wedding day, and your wedding destination should be fit to cater your needs and wants. Whether you’re after a beach wedding or an adventurous getaway with your family and friends, your options for your big day are endless.

Originally posted 2017-09-01 15:47:54.

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Metalhead Transgender Woman is Making Political History

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As a long-time fan of metal music and an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, I am ecstatic that Danica Roem, band member of her band Cab Ride Home and transgender woman won a four-way Democratic primary on June 13th. In addition to being a musician in a metal band, she was also an experienced journalist in Prince William County, which is the county she wishes to represent if she wins the position a seat in the House of Delegates in Virginia.

However, while Roem has won the battle, she’s still fighting a war. In order to gain a seat in the House of Delegates, she will have to defeat Republican Bob Marshall who is currently serving his eleventh term. Bob Marshall supports one-man, one-woman marriage, believes that same-sex marriage has a negative effect on heterosexual marriage, introduced the Physical Privacy Act which would have prevented transgender individuals from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity (luckily this bill failed), supports the idea that employers can fire someone based on sexual orientation and gender identity, has a weak idea of what equality means and twists around words to fit his agenda,

“There never were ‘heterosexual’ only water fountains in Virginia or other Southern states.  Separate elementary or secondary schools were not built for GLBTQ children.  Homosexuals and lesbians could sit anywhere they wanted on buses, trains and other public transportation.  Homosexuals were never enslaved as a class or brought to America in chains.  Homosexuals never were forbidden from ‘marrying’ heterosexuals.  Homosexuals did not have to engage in nationwide ‘sit ins’ at restaurant lunch counters to be served a meal.  Lesbians did not have to take “Literacy” tests as a condition for voting.” 

and many more discriminatory ideas. In comparison, Roem supports adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the Prince William School system’s nondiscrimination policy, protecting transgender students, and values people individually, not by what religion they belong to or what sexual orientation they may have.

With the current presidency comes a resurgence of ultra-conservative ideas and, because of that, it is a possibility that Bob Marshall will serve a twelfth term. However, Roem is off to a good start. By winning the Democratic primary, she is showing the US that even the most conservatives of states can switch courses and realize that members of the LGBT community deserve the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

Since 1991, when Marshall was elected, Prince William County has become more left-leaning as the population grows. It was one of the Republican-controlled counties that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump which shows that the district leans more toward to progressive side, which is definitely good news for Danica Roem. Because of this, Roem has a real chance of winning a seat in the House of Delegates. Even if she does not earn the position, by running and winning the Democratic primary, Roem set the stage for future transgender individuals to run for a position in the government.

Originally posted 2017-08-24 11:48:44.


Also published on Medium.

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