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Ten Reasons I Love Mexico

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Mexico is one of the most colorful and compelling countries in the world. It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite destinations. If you are interested in finding out more, check out https://www.visitmexico.com  In the meantime here are just ten of the many reasons that I love this amazing country.

1} DAY OF THE DEAD

Day of the Dead is a unique festival which celebrates the lives of departed ancestors. It is both an excuse to party and a time for reflection. Families gather at cemeteries to light candles and make offerings. Candy skulls and Day of the Dead bread are sold in markets and placed on altars that spring up in streets and buildings.  Flamboyant parades take place with participants dressed in elaborate costumes, faces painted with skulls. The festivities are macabre, yet touching.  Being in Mexico during Dia de los Muertos is a fascinating and unforgettable experience.

Day of the Dead festivities in Tlaquepaque

 

2) STREET FOOD

Mexican street food is cheap and delicious. Tacos, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, and empanadas crammed with tasty fillings can be found on every street corner. Admittedly, it isn’t always healthy but it usually tastes good. For those with an adventurous palate, grasshopper tacos are a tempting and delicious option in certain regions of Mexico.  

3) MEXICAN FOLK ART

From Oaxacan fantasy animals to skeletons in shadow boxes, no other country produces such a wealth of vibrant, colorful folk art. Shopping opportunities provide temptations galore. Many of the colonial towns, such as San Miguel de Allende and Oaxaca are full of galleries and stores specialising in folk art. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself paying for excess baggage at the airport when you leave!

Folk art in Casa de Venados, Valladolid

4) FRIDA KAHLO

Frida Kahlo is easily the most iconic Mexican who ever lived, man or woman. Her image is everywhere you look, from t-shirts to place mats. Restaurants are named after her. Tourists flock to her home in Coyacoan and her studio in San Angel. Whether you appreciate her art or not, she was a fascinating and complex character and her contribution to Mexican culture is massive. It isn’t until you visit Mexico that you realize the extent of her popularity in her native country.

A shrine dedicated to Frida Kahlo for Day of the Dead celebrations

5) COLORFUL COLONIAL CITIES

Mexico has an abundance of so-called magic towns – San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Campeche and Valladolid are among them. Brightly painted colonial buildings, picturesque plaza, and cobbled streets are something that most of them have in common, although each has a special character of its own. The dazzling Mexican light on the boldly colorful buildings create a striking image and are a gift for photographers. Exploring the hidden backstreets of these lovely towns is one of the great pleasures of a visit to Mexico.

A church in Campeche, one of Mexico’s colorful colonial towns

6) ANCIENT MAYAN TEMPLES

A visit to the ancient Mayan temples of Mexico is an exciting experience. From the sublime Tulum ruins, which overlooks the azure Caribbean Sea to the majesty of Teotihuacan, many of the sites have been restored and are open to the public. Although some of them are swamped by crowds, such as popular Chichen Itza, there are many hidden away in jungles or located in remote corners of the country, offering an opportunity for the adventurous to play at being Indiana Jones.

The ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in Yucatan

7) AMAZING MUSEUMS

Mexico City is a treasure trove of culture and has more museums than any other city in the world. From the home of Leon Trotsky to the superb Museum of Anthropology, you are bound to find something to interest you. One of the most unusual museums in the country is The Mummy Museum in Guanajuato. To make a tour of Mexico’s museums even more tempting, most of them are either free or only cost a few pesos entrance fee.

8) MARIACHI MUSIC

The haunting sound of Mariachi can be heard everywhere you travel in Mexico, whether it be from a radio in a cantina or a live band playing in the plaza. It is such evocative music that you know you can’t be anywhere else in the world. Mariachi was born on the streets of Guadalajara and you can still visit Mariachi Plaza, where bands wander from table to table serenading in street side cafes. In Mexico City, the slightly seedy Garibaldi Square is the place to go to catch some Mariachi action.

The haunting sounds of Mariachi music

9) DIVERSE LANDSCAPES

From the jungles of Yucatan to the deserts of Baja, few countries encapsulate such diverse landscapes as Mexico. Almost two-thirds of the terrain consists of mountains. Whether you prefer glitzy resorts or unspoilt beaches, the coastline is extensive and has something for everyone. With canyons, volcanoes, cenotes, and rivers to explore, there is much to see in this beautiful and immense country.

10) LUCHA LIBRE

Even those who wouldn’t usually dream of attending a wrestling match, surprise themselves by enjoying the experience of Lucha Libre. The sport is so much a part of Mexican culture that no visit to a major city would be complete without seeing Super Mistico or La Mascara in action. Whole families attend, wearing the appropriate masks and shouting support for their favorite wrestlers. Food and drink vendors circulate selling popcorn, nachos, and beer. The atmosphere is electric and it’s a rollicking good night out.

 

Originally posted 2017-07-15 14:58:19.

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Sex Talks For Teens Part 2 of 3

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Trans Youth Need Guidance and Love, Not Ridicule Part 2 of 3

This one is for trans youth and the people who love them. Staying safe while navigating the maze of choices during teen and young adult years requires the basics of self-love and a support system. Both are important. For trans kids who may have far fewer supports, it’s imperative they connect with conscious adults who can lend positive direction.  

Navigating Sexuality Is A Real Process For Trans Kids

I have advocated for trans women for a long time, decades. Because I worked with queer youth many of which identified as trans (m to f) or were just getting used to being gay and out, I saw their hearts. I saw tears and gave hugs to kids who were trying to find their way in a heterosexist world where they didn’t have many safe spaces.Teen rap sessions where “tea” was spilled and real issues dealt with, were part of the weekly schedule. It was and is needed. For many, safety wasn’t found at school. Not in a district where the superintendent told me to my face, that Gay Straight Alliances (GSA’s), would not happen on his watch.

Trans Kids Need Safe Spaces

For many, safety wasn’t found at home either. Kids were put out on the suspicion that they were gay, or when they were caught in sharing a kiss with a boy. Church, you already know. While LGBT churches are welcoming they may not necessarily be on the radar of teens. Many kids attended traditional churches with family in order to keep peace at home and a roof over their heads, while being beaten down emotionally and spiritually from the pulpit.

Can Trans Kids Live?

When they came to the queer youth center they didn’t get judged. Weave in all colors and lengths, nail polish, and femme geared ruled as teens swapped stories, clothes, and Lawd, the shoes! They weren’t told that they were crazy, or deranged. Nor were they told that they were boys who needed to stop acting like girls.

Let’s Deal With Disclosure

As a working queer, I was tasked with guiding youth. I think disclosure matters. The question is, when should a trans girl or woman open up with the fact that she was born a boy? Dating today is confusing in part because people don’t communicate effectively.

Text messages lose context and people live on social media and not all profiles are honest. Hell, not all pictures are honest. The point is if people are having choppy text based convos and exchanges through GIFs, it’s kind of shallow. Netflix and chill isn’t an invite to get to know another person on an intellectual level, it’s an invitation to sex. So if we agree to “hook-up,” another term for sex, the needed conversation of gender and STD’s may not happen.

Positive Role Models Needed

Let’s not get crazy and think that queer kids don’t need advice on dating and choosing suitable partners. Adults don’t even have it right all the time, or even, most of the time. Good role models are definitely needed. People with good character, who understand that mentoring means hands off. Period. Remember, Urban Bush Sista!, keeps it real. There are posers in the community who will take advantage of youth. We’re not having that!

Words of Advice: Be Your Best Self – The Universe Will Handle The Rest

What I want teens to overstand is that good sexual health requires responsibility, and moral responsibility requires honesty. What you do with that information is up to you. I’m not here to tell you when to disclose, just that I think it needs to be done before spit is swapped, or sex is on the agenda.If you need additional resources check out the list from the Gay & And Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD). Remember, it’s also about self-love and valuing who you are.

Image Credit:  Picserve

http://www.picserver.org/images/highway/phrases/dating.jpg

Originally posted 2017-08-08 22:34:25.

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Brighton Pride 2017 – ‘Summer of Love’

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Welcome to Brighton Pride 2017

Saturday 5th August 2017. The blustery winds and rainfall that had blighted the south coast the previous week ceased. The clouds parted and sunshine came to Brighton just in time for Pride. Apart from a couple of short sharp showers, the sun shone down on the biggest and brightest Brighton Pride ever.

Brighton’s two-day Pride Festival is now the largest in the UK. Thousands of revellers filled the rainbow-adorned streets of the city to enjoy the parade, which included over one hundred floats. The parade kicked off on the seafront with a sky dive display from the Tigers Freefall Parachute Team, who delivered the rainbow flag to the head of the parade in spectacular style. The parade then proceeded to wind its way through the streets of the city center.

Amongst the festive fun and frolics, there was a reminder of why celebrating Pride is still so important in these days of so-called enlightenment. The event this year was marking fifty years of partial decriminalization of homosexuality in England and Wales, a monumental year in LGBT history.

Human Rights Campaigner, Peter Tatchell and friends showing support for LGBTQ people in Chechnya

LGBTQ refugees and immigrants were well-represented in the parade and received great support from the spectators. Peter Tatchell, the human rights campaigner, marched in solidarity with LGBTQ people of Chechnya, whose suffering has been very much in the news of late.

On a lighter note, it was great to see that the ‘Oldest Gay in the Village’ is still going strong. George Montague, aged 94, is a regular participant and drives the parade route in his motorized wheelchair, always receiving a big cheer from onlookers.

George Montague – ‘The Oldest Gay in the Village’ is always a hit with the crowds

Tie-dye, love beads and flares were very much in evidence in line with the Summer of Love theme. Speakers blasted out ‘San Francisco (Be sure to wear flowers in your hair)’. You could almost smell incense in the air. Drag queens camped it up in their spectacular costumes and even a few rainbow-festooned dogs were enjoying the jubilant atmosphere. The vibe was upbeat, happy and life-affirming, and provided a huge dose of positivity in these uncertain times.

A glamorous parade participant

Just as the parade reached Preston Park, a huge deluge of rain came down, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the crowds and luckily was short-lived. Inside the park, various marquees offered dance music and entertainment for all tastes, from the women’s acoustic tent to the Wild Fruit dance tent. In addition to a funfair, there were bars, food trucks and lots of stalls to peruse.

Hippies Rule!

The headliners this year were the Pet Shop Boys, who wowed the 40,000 strong audience with a full set from their ‘Super Tour’, complete with stunning effects. The supporting artists included Years and Years, Louisa Johnson and Becky Hill.

Elsewhere in the city, restaurants, and bars were buzzing, customers spilling out onto the sidewalks. Many offer special Pride food and drinks. At the local Gap, a woman with a funky afro danced in the store window. On the beach, groups of people were enjoying their own parties. At the Pride Pleasure Gardens at the Old Steine and Victoria Gardens, there was cabaret, live music, DJs and clubbing galore.

Glitter and Glitz

As the sun went down, Kemp Town, the scene of the Pride Village Party, was heaving with throngs of people enjoying themselves in the fading light. With an abundance of LGBTQ bars, clubs and pubs, it is a popular spot throughout the year, but during Pride the atmosphere is dynamic. The seafront and St. James Street were closed to traffic, an area which has been extended over the last few years to accommodate the growing crowds who attend.

The partying continued on Sunday, and the remainder of Pride was blessed with beautiful sunny weather. Culminating in a spectacular firework display over the English Channel, one thing has been made clear over this weekend – Brighton sure knows how to throw a party.

http://www.brighton-pride.org

Originally posted 2017-08-07 19:55:46.

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Love It, Leave It: The NYC (Bagel) Edition

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(Photo Credit: Unsplash)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love It, Leave It: The NYC (Bagel) Edition

Any time a random stranger shouts in my face for “bumping into them” on the subway or my landlord ignores my pleas that our hot water has mysteriously gone on hiatus, I slip into deep contemplation about why — Lord, why — do I live in New York City? But then, I wake up on a crisp fall-like summer day, grab an iced latte and a freshly-baked NYC bagel and have a mini-picnic in Washington Square Park. Then I can’t seem to picture my feet anywhere but on this tightly packed grassy knoll, with these amazing (but still random) strangers. Not trying to get all sentimental here — let’s focus on the bagels, OK? Just like the pizza, most locals (including myself) swear that the water is what sets these beautifully boiled and baked rings apart. A bit of a shiny, crisp exterior, with a tender, chewy inside…now that’s what’s up.

Love It: Sadelle’s. Black Seed.

Photo Credit: Erin Oliveri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadelle’s: This may be a sit-down, Jewish appetizing establishment at its core (from the crew behind Parm, another favorite of mine), but the low key take out counter is where you want to slink up and order a bagel to go from. Feel free to sit down with a group and have rosé paired with a variety of caviar and smoked fish, if you don’t mind a wait or a typical SoHo scene. Maybe you’ll even get a celebrity sighting while you’re there. As I waited for my small but mighty everything bagel with dill cream cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions, Kendall Jenner ducked in as the paparazzi shouted her name. For just over $3, I kept up with NYC breakfast trends and the Kardashians.

Black Seed: Living a few blocks away from the original Nolita outpost is a blessing in a curse. Do I need to eat bagels multiple times a week? Of course not. But do I do it anyway? You bet I do. These bagels are part New York, part Montreal. Boiled in honey water (delicious) and then tossed in a wood-fired oven (just to one-up themselves), these bagels come in classic flavors like everything and sesame, only to be dressed up with additions like beet-cured lox and horseradish cream cheese. If you’re hungry go for two, if you’re hangry, come with a snack in hand as this locale draws a crowd.

Leave It: Ess-a-Bagel

An NYC icon, Ess-a-Bagel has been around since the 70s. The well-known Gramercy location shuttered after nearly four decades in operation, but re-opened just a few blocks away near Stuy Town, with pretty solid, New York-style bagels. My gripe is that these bagels (a bit larger than my aforementioned favorites) typically come smothered in cream cheese, the staff can be bristly, and the lines are always lengthy. Since Ess-a-Bagel is definitely on plenty of peoples’ go-to lists, I suggest grabbing a container of scallion cream cheese, a few bagels, assembling at home and consuming on your couch.

 

Originally posted 2017-08-04 13:19:35.

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