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Globetrotting: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

July 4th, 2015 Joseph Pedro
Image via Passport

Image via Passport

This is a trip of firsts. It’s my first time in Fort Lauderdale, my first mass wedding, my first time toasting nuptials at 8 in the morning, and my first time welcoming the day with Lance Bass. Yet something about Fort Lauderdale feels familiar.

I’ve traveled to several cities since I was a kid, but as an adult I turned my attention away from Disney and Gulf of Mexico beaches. Miami and Key West seemed the best option for a lesbian on the loose in the tropics. But I kept hearing about Fort Lauderdale. That it had more LGBT offerings than anywhere in Florida, and as the seat of liberal Broward County, it’s the most out-and-proud of the Sunshine State’s mixed political landscape. Plus the city recently rolled out a tourism campaign to welcome transgender travelers, a first in the United States. The more attention I paid, the more intriguing the city became.

Keep reading over at Passport magazine online.

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Over-Packers Rejoice; Airlines Do Not Plan on Making Carry-On Luggage Smaller

July 2nd, 2015 Daniela Mayer
Via Passport Magazine.

Via Passport Magazine.

 

Last week, it was reported that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recommended standardizing and shrinking the maximum carry-on luggage size to 21.5 in. x 13.5 in. x 7.5 in. in an effort to increase the amount of space in overhead storage bins.

Recently, after significant concerns expressed by the North American public, the Huffington Post reported that the IATA was withdrawing the suggestion.

While some European and Asian companies already agreed to the proposal, the U.S.A.’s 3 largest airlines (American, Delta, and United) formally came out against the proposal last Wednesday.

Delta Airlines even issued this statement, “Delta has no plans to reduce the size allowance for carry-on bags, and we are concerned IATA called for a change without input from airlines. Our focus and investment in the carry-on experience have been on installation of larger bins on domestic and international aircraft, and will continue to be on delivering the reliable bag service – checked or carry-on – that Delta customers have come to expect.”

And so it appears that travelers’ extra pairs of shoes still have a home in their carry-on bags – at least for now.

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Celebrate Summer with the Ali Forney Center in New York City

July 2nd, 2015 Joseph Pedro

Image via Passport

Despite the statistics that there are over 4,000 homeless youth in New York City, of which over 1,000 are LGBT, New York State continues to reduce funding for the organizations that help this segment of the population. The nation’s largest resource for these young men and women is The Ali Forney Center, which has been housing LGBT youth since 2002. This organization has proven itself as the safety net for many who are in desperate need of shelter and care. Support this vital organization at The Ali Forney Center’s 2nd Annual OASIS event on July 20. Join others at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers for cocktails on the pier and bid on an array of auction items. The evening includes an open bar courtesy of Chopin Vodka, a raffle prize of a trip for two to Amsterdam provided by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Wyndham Rewards, music by DJ JonJon Battles, an extensive silent auction, and RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Alaska Thunderfet.

Don’t wait to get tickets. 

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World Eats: Hong Kong

July 2nd, 2015 Joseph Pedro
Image via Passport.

Image via Passport.

While Hong Kong’s local tongue and cuisine may be Cantonese, it sure does pack a wealth of international flavor these days. An influx of young international chefs and restaurateurs is shaking up the culinary landscape, and while amazing Dim Sum is still easy to find, dining envelopes are being pushed all over the place. In fact, the Michelin guide, upon the launch of its seventh Hong Kong/Macau edition in January, proclaimed that, “Hong Kong has become an undisputed leader in the international culinary landscape.”

Here are some of our current musts when visiting Hong Kong. Of course, when in town also check out HK (hk-magazine.com), Time Out (www.timeout.com.hk), OpenRice(www.openrice.com/en/hongkong) and their respective smartphone apps for up-to-the-minute restaurant openings and culinary developments.

Keep reading over at Passport magazine online.

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West Coast Road Trip: Buckle Your Seat Belt!

July 2nd, 2015 Joseph Pedro
Image via Passport

Image via Passport

Given her gargantuan size, you wouldn’t think I’d have to muscle my way through a crowd of hundreds to see her, but on this August afternoon she is wrapped in layers of tourists as if we are padding her from the passing breeze. Up close, she generates the same automated response from all who see her. First we gasp, then we let out a collective ‘wow’ and we do so because we are so taken by her luscious curves: as enticingly shapely as those of a burlesque dancer, her impressive coloring: as vivid as a peacock’s plumage, and the way she captivates with her immense, unwavering beauty. I am of course referring to a first-time visit to the Grand Canyon. This moment of awe is not the beginning of a journey, but rather a mighty finale.

My trip actually begins more than two weeks prior outside Twedes Cafe in North Bend, Washington where I am figuring out how I’ll make the best out of my short time in the Pacific Northwest. North Bend is a sleepy mountain community 30 miles east of Seattle and made famous as the setting for the TV series Twin Peaks. Much like the Emerald City, it is perpetually draped in a blanket of grey skies that pull back every so often to reveal a beaming and gentle sun. In just a few minutes I will slip into the role of uncle and swing by the farm where my sister and her family share land with visiting herds of elks and the occasional wandering bear.

Keep reading over at Passport magazine online…

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Cyndi Lauper Talks True Colors Fund, Toronto Pride

July 1st, 2015 Chris Roney
Photo via Passport Magazine

Photo via Passport Magazine

Time after time, iconic songstress Cyndi Lauper has been clearing her own path. Her debut solo album, She’s So Unusual, was the first female debut to chart four top-five hits on the Billboard charts. Today, you can find her in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, with a Grammy and a Tony to boot. And in her recent interview with Fashion, the avid LGBT activist makes it clear that she’s not slowing down.

Read on as Cyndi Lauper discusses Toronto Pride, her evolving style, Cyndi Lauper drag queens (or a lack thereof), and her True Colors Fund to benefit homeless LGBTQ people. Via Fashion:

.

In the 80s, you were known for your wacky, awesome style. Would you say that your style has changed over time?
I think I’m very demure now. (Note: Cyndi has bright pink hair and is wearing a punk-inspired plaid blazer, leather skinny pants, and the aforementioned talon shoes.) I do not want to look conservative, in any way, shape, or form. But I think I look very demure.

You were one of the international grand marshals of the Pride parade that happened in Toronto this past weekend…
I [was]! I [went] as Marie Antoinette in her underwear.

Have you ever seen any Cyndi Lauper drag queens?
No, I haven’t actually. I’m not big like Tina Turner. There are a lot of Tina Turner drag queens. I did see a Joni Mitchell one once. They played dulcimer too. I almost died.

You’ve always been outspoken, whether it’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” or advocating for homeless queer youth. What inspired you to start the True Colors fund?
There was a need. [It’s estimated that 40% of homeless youth are LGBT.] Lisa and I were doing the True Colors tour, and at the end of the tour we realized that we just couldn’t leave everybody hanging. So we did the fund, and the kickoff for the fund was going on the Donald Trump show. That was a trip. That’s one good thing Donald Trump did. He supported the LGBT community by having me on and we won some money that we put towards the True Colors Fund.

What would you say has been the highlight of your career?
Winning the Tony, working with Harvey [Fierstein], that was a big thing. The Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. That was big because I always had to fight to get my own songs on my own album. So it was a big deal for them to recognize me as a songwriter. I don’t know if they recognized me as a songwriter because I won the Tony [for Best Original Score]. I was the first woman to win it. But who cares.

 

To read the rest of the Fashion interview, click here.

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International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission Orders Turkey to Respect LGBTI’s Right to Peaceful Assembly

July 1st, 2015 Chris Roney
Photo via Passport Magazine

Photo via Passport Magazine

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission came out in sharp reproach today after Turkish police officers employed tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets on parade goers at Istanbul’s LGBTI Pride Parade on Sunday.

“The Turkish government has a responsibility to protect peaceful assembly, including the annual LGBTI pride parade,” said Jessica Stern, executive director of IGLHRC. “Instead, the police attacked peaceful marchers with water cannons, pepper spray, and plastic bullets. To add insult to injury, the government refuses to even acknowledge the violence of their actions.”

According to eyewitness reports, simmering tensions began to erupt after police forces disallowed speakers to read from their press releases, arresting journalists soon thereafter. Officers consequently charged peaceful protestors at the Istanbul Pride Parade with pepper spray, pressurized water, and plastic bullets.

In a striking counterdemonstration, attending parliamentarians from HDP [People’s Democratic Party] and CHP [Republican People’s Party] built a human chain by linking arms to protect protestors against oncoming officers.

Turkish authorities have yet to address their police’s use of force. Organizers were initially warned that authorities would possibly threaten the parade because it interfered with the holy month of Ramadan. Yet, the Istanbul Governorate cited security concerns  “based on intelligence gathered from the social media and the media outlets” in a press release on Monday, as rationale behind the last-minute “ban.”

“The authorities in Turkey keep changing their story about what happened,” said Hossein Alizadeh, IGLHRC program coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa. “However, media reports about police only resorting to force after some demonstrators erected banners to protest the government indicate the real interest might very well have been to silence anti-government voices.”

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Meet Lily, The World’s First Throw-and-Shoot Camera

July 1st, 2015 Chris Roney
Photo via Lily

Photo via Lily Camera

 

Just toss it up in the air to begin.

Lily, the world’s first throw-and-shoot camera, self-maneuvers using a GPS tracker in its owner’s bracelet, soaring though the sky at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. The Lily Camera also shoots high-quality photos and videos, fits snug in your average backpack, and doesn’t mind getting wet.

But, did we mention it takes a mean selfie?

Engineered with an accelerometer, barometer, GPS, and not one, but two lenses, the “Waterproof Selfie Drone,” as dubbed by photographer Von Wong, has stirred quite the buzz on social media for its capability to potentially revolutionize just how we snap our photos.

“Our medium- and long-term goal is to democratize flying cameras,” CEO and co-founder Antoine Balaresque told CNBC. “Make it available for kids to professional filmmakers. There will be different price points and user experiences, but in the next five years we’d like everyone to have cameras.”

Anyone can pre-order a Lily of their own for $599, but after pre-sales, Lily will soar to $999 plus applicable taxes and shipping.

Not sold just yet? Check out the video demonstration below:

Read more…

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Celebrating 10 Years of Marriage Equality In Vancouver

July 1st, 2015 Chris Perry
Image via Vancouver Tourism

Image via Vancouver Tourism

When we heard the news about the SCOTUS decision to legalize same sex marriage in the US last week, we were celebrating 10 years of marriage in Canada at a breakfast with Vancouver in NYC.  The city with the largest gay population in Western Canada has been celebrating the anniversary with a contest, “Celebrate 10 Years of ‘I Do’ in Canada Sweepstakes.” Enter here.  #equalinvan

Before same-sex marriage became a reality that morning, in true Vancouver spirit, Carlotta Gurl, Vancouver’s own drag queen extraordinaire, entertained the crowd.  In a sparkling off-white (bien sur) wedding gown, she served us wedding inspired songs like ‘Going to the Chapel,’ ‘White Wedding,’ and ‘Love & Marriage’ with ‘Single Ladies’ and ‘You’re Gonna Love Me’ thrown in for good measure.

After that she and Vancouver slid down a rainbow right to the steps of Stonewall to celebrate with the rest of the city. Plan your trip to gay Vancouver here!

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Here’s How You Can Fly to Fiji For $800 or Less

June 30th, 2015 Daniela Mayer
Via Passport Magazine.

Via Passport Magazine.

To those of you dreaming of an exotic getaway without breaking the bank, good news is here – but you need to act fast.

Fiji Airways (formerly Air Pacific) is celebrating its birthday with a special treat; Round trip flights to Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia for $800 or less.

If you’re shipping out from somewhere other than L.A. or Honolulu you will have to pay for the extra legs of your flight separately, but as a somewhat frequent traveler to the Pacific, I can attest that these are probably the cheapest tickets you will find.

The sale is only through July 1, aka tomorrow, so don’t wait to book!

For more information or to book tickets visit Fiji Airways sale website.

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