Charitable Giving for the Holidays

December 18th, 2014 Joseph Pedro
Image via Passport

Image via Passport

They say it is better to give than to receive, but donating to a charity that is close to your heart is a way that everyone wins. Do it in the name of a loved one, who really doesn’t need another snowflake sweater or coffee table book. Here is just the tip of the iceberg of some of our favorite charitable organizations that can help your (tax-deductible) dollars reach the world.

Ali Forney Center works to protect LGBTQ youths from homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood. www.aliforneycenter.org

amFar is dedicated to ending the global AIDS epidemic through innovative research. www.amfar.org

CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty and delivering emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters.www.care.org

The Cousteau Society is an organization that serves to raise funds for ocean exploration, research, and conservation. www.cousteau.org

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is an international humanitarian aid organization providing emergency medical assistance to populations in danger.  www.msf.org

Feeding America feeds the hungry through a nationwide network of food banks and engages our country in the fight to end hunger. www.feedingamerica.org

GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. www.glsen.org

God’s Love We Deliver in New York and Project Angel Food in Los Angeles began by serving the HIV-affected communities, and nationally (with a focus on seniors) Meals on Wheels, all deliver healthy, nutritious meals to those housebound or disabled by illness or other circumstances.www.glwd.org, www.angelfood.org, www.mowaa.org

Heifer International—Buy a farm animal to gift to poor villages to end hunger and increase sustainability. www.heifer.org

Lambda Legal is committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and those with HIV through impact litigation, education, and public policy work. www.lambdalegal.org

ONE (International fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease—AIDS, malaria, etc.)www.one.org

OneNationWorkingTogether is a national network for jobs, justice (including GLBT) and education for all. www.onenationworkingtogether.org

Rainbow World Fund is an all-volunteer, international, humanitarian service agency based in the LGBT and friends community. RWF’s mission is to promote LGBT philanthropy in the area of world humanitarian relief. www.rainbowfund.org

Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behavior. www.rainforest-alliance.org

Ricky Martin Foundation advocates for the well being of children around the globe in critical areas such as social justice, education, and health with particular focus on child exploitation as a consequence of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. www.rickymartinfoundation.org

Service Members Legal Defense Network is a watchdog and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America’s military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity www.sldn.org

Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the US, working to protect communities, wild places, and the planet itself. Their Disaster Response helps clean the Gulf after the BP oil spill. www.sierraclub.org

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. www.thetrevorproject.org

Water.org draws attention to the world’s number one health problem, unsafe and inadequate water supplies, and helps fight this immense problem—one community at a time. www.water.org

World Wildlife Fund is the world’s leading conservation organization working in 100 countries.www.wwf.org

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Happy Holidays from the TSA

December 18th, 2014 Joseph Pedro
Image via Passport

Image via Passport

Thinking about taking Great Grandma Edna’s holiday gravy with you aboard your flight this week? Think again. The TSA has released their list of holiday items to put in your checked bag, to leave at home, or to ship ahead. And number-one on that list… Edna’s sauce.

Other prohibited items include:

• Creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.)
• Gift baskets with food items (salsa, jams, and salad dressings)
• Gravy
• Jams
• Jellies
• Maple Syrup
• Oils and vinegars
• Salad dressing
• Salsa
• Sauces
• Snow globes (those less than 3.4 oz, about the size of a tennis ball are allowed)
• Soups
• Wine, liquor, and beer

Note: You can bring pies and cakes through the security checkpoint, but please be advised that they are subject to additional screening. By additional screening they mean Uncle John’s Pumpkin Cheesecake is going to be break food for airport employees. [TSA]

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Win a Vancouver Dream Vacation!

December 18th, 2014 Tyler Neasloney
Coast Plaza Hotel and Suites Vancouver

Coast Plaza Hotel and Suites Vancouver

It’s no secret that we love Vancouver. A vibrant city in the middle of pristine Canadian wilderness, this coastal gem is true paradise north of the border. We’re giving away a dream vacation in this Northwestern oasis…get ready to fall in love!

Stay at the Coast Plaza Hotel & Suites and explore everything Vancouver has to offer from its vibrant West End, just steps away from the world-famous Stanley Park and English Bay beaches. Every one of the spacious guest rooms features a private balcony—and many offer stunning panoramic views of the city, waterways or North Shore mountains. Unwind at the 18,000-square foot fitness centre, including an indoor pool, whirlpool and sauna.

Enter here.

Find out more after the jump…

Read more…

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The Time to Visit Cuba is Now! Uncovering Gay Havana, Cuba with PrideWorld Travel

December 17th, 2014 Joseph Pedro
Image by DennisDean/PassportMag

Image by DennisDean/PassportMag

A recent announcement from Barack Obama may mean big things are about to happen in Cuba. Many are concerned that open borders may destroy Cuba’s charms and its oh-so-different-world feel and transform the island nation into another Caribbean playground. But this is a selfish thought. Open boarders will bring much-needed relief from the embargo that has weighed heavily on the backs of Cubans for a generation, it will reunite families, and it will ultimately allow the island to enjoy a renewed sense of freedom.

This summer, we were fortunate enough to visit Havana, and we hope our experience there will inspire you to uncover an island…before the rest of America does.


UNCOVERING GAY HAVANA, CUBA 

By Joseph Pedro 

In old Havana there is a tree that’s said to be older than the city itself. It was here, though it was very young, when the Taíno people would worship, venerate, and respect her as Ancient Mother. It was here too, though a little older now, in 1519 when the Spanish first established a settlement. The land was claimed, right beside her growing roots, as San Cristóbal de la Habana. She provided shade for the first mass and bestowed a breeze for the first council meeting. And as she reached toward the heavens, so did a city. Becoming resilient and strong, prosperous and wealthy, devout and ideological—she soon had a home overlooking churches and plazas, statues and mansions that rivaled those of Europe. She felt the breeze of independence and briefly felt it taken away from her. As times changed, though, she witnessed the plight of the Cuban people under a dictatorship and felt the mumblings of revolution brush through her leaves. Then, in 1959, as winter drew to an end she was here still to feel the rumbling of a tank shake her roots to usher in spring and a new hope for her land. More than half a century later, the wind again sways her branches and one of her leaves falls in 2014, twirling like a Sky Dancer, landing flatly on my head.

Keep reading over at Passport magazine online.

 

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Ireland is Set to Vote on Gay Marriage in May

December 17th, 2014 Joseph Pedro
Image via

Image via

The same-sex marriage referendum, the first of its kind in the world, will take place inMay. Currently, well over half the country now supports marriage equality (with 71% supporting a referendum allowing civil marriage). Student unions around the country have held voter-registration drives in the hope that college-aged men and women, who traditionally have a poor voting record, will help with passing the referendum. Ireland has come a long way, with homosexuality only being decriminalized in 1993.

Be sure to check out our coverage on gay-friendly mondern-day Dublin and its past through an Oscar Wilde lens.

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Yeehaw! Texas Gets its First Openly Gay Federal Judge

December 17th, 2014 Joseph Pedro
Image via USDOJ

Image via USDOJ

Last night the Senate confirmed three judges in Texas—positions that have remained vacant for years—and among the chosen is the state’s first openly gay judge. The fact that US Attorney Robert Pittman of San Antonio is a non-issue when looking at his prestigious resume. He worked as the top federal prosecutor for the Western Distric of Texas and was a federal magistrate, according to Dallas News. He will fill a position that has remained vacant since 2008.

 

 

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Broadway Buff: Charlie Williams of ‘Peter Pan Lives’

December 17th, 2014 Joseph Pedro
Charlie Williams. Photo by Daniel Robinson.

Charlie Williams. Photo by Daniel Robinson.

Name: Charlie Williams

Hometown: Cary, North Carolina

The best & worst parts of doing Peter Pan Live on television were: The worst part was the commute. We filmed in a sound stage out in Bethpage, Long Island. It’s a little over an hour commute each way on the Long Island Railroad. That means a lot of early mornings in Penn Station and a lot of late nights on the train. I live in Hell’s Kitchen so I’m not used to such a long commute! The best part was definitely the people. We had such a special cast and I really feel like we all became true friends through the entire process. I miss them all!

When I was a performer at the Kennedy Center Honors (airing Tuesday, December 30th on CBS), I was most starstruck meeting: Pentatonix. I’m a huge Pentatonix fan and we were dancing backup for them on the honors this year! It was great meeting them and finding out that they’re just as cool and down to earth as they seem to be.

Keep reading over at The Broadway Blog…

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Breaking: InterContinental Hotels Group Purchases Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

December 16th, 2014 Joseph Pedro
Image via Facebook

Image via Facebook

It was announced today that InterContinental Hotels Group has aquired LGBT-favorite boutique-brand Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in a whopping $430 million cash deal. The aquisition now makes IHG the largest boutique hotel brand in the world as it combines with IHG’s other boutique brands Hotel Indigo and EVEN Hotels. The aquisition shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise for those in the know in the travel industry, as Kimpton has been shopping around for buyers for a couple years.

Image via Facebook

Image via Facebook

Here are highlights from the press release:

- IHG has agreed to acquire Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants (“Kimpton”) for $430 million in cash.

– Kimpton is the world’s largest independent boutique hotel operator and a sophisticated food and beverage operator.

– Kimpton is a fully asset-light business that manages 62 hotels in the most attractive cities and resorts in the US with a further 16 hotels in the pipeline. It operates 71 hotel-based destination restaurants and bars.

– Acquisition makes IHG the clear market leader in the boutique segment, the fastest growing segment in the industry.

– Highly complementary with IHG’s Hotel Indigo and EVEN Hotels brands; creates a leading boutique and lifestyle hotel business, with over 200 open and pipeline hotels across 19 countries.

– Significant opportunities identified for IHG to accelerate the growth of the Kimpton brand within the US and to launch it globally.

– Compelling financial rationale with Kimpton EBITDA expected to double by the end of 2017.

– The transaction will be earnings enhancing in its first full year and achieve returns above IHG’s cost of capital by year three.

All the deal specifics, like how or if anything will change within the Kimpton brand have not been announced—we’ll keep you updated.

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Gay Vets to March in Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade for the First Time Ever

December 16th, 2014 Joseph Pedro
St. Patrick's Day Boston. Image via Passport.

St. Patrick’s Day Boston. Image via Passport.

Things are changing at St. Patrick’s Day celebrations across the nation this year. First New York’s parade will allow at least one LGBT group to march, and now Boston’s Irish-American celebration will include an LGBT veterans organization in their parade line-up. The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, who legally fought to exclude gays from marching in the parade in 1995, agreed in a 5-4 decision to allow OutVets to participate. According to the AP: “They will be allowed to carry a blue banner with five white stars representing the branches of the military and six vertical rainbow stripes. The group represents lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans and participated in the city’s Veterans Day parade last month.” The office of Mayor Walsh praised the victory.  “Mayor Walsh has been advocating for an inclusive parade for quite some time…We’re thrilled to hear that the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council has decided to make the 2015 parade an inclusive event.”

 

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Hero Australian Hostage Remembered by his Longterm Partner, Coworkers, and the LGBT Community

December 16th, 2014 Joseph Pedro
Tori Johnson. I

Tori Johnson. 

The Lindt Chocolate Cafe manger, Tori Johnson, who died attempting to rip the gun out of “lone wolf” terrorist Man Haron Monis is being rememberd today by his longtime partner, his coworkers, and the gay community. Johnson, 34, is said to have wrestled with Monis to obtain his gun, but was shot in the unselfish act just shortly after 2 A.M. and died in the hospital shortly after. His parents released a statement saying: We are so proud of our beautiful boy Tori, gone from this earth but forever in our memories as the most amazing life partner, son, and brother we could ever wish for.” Johnson, who was the son of Australian artist Ken Johnson, was also in a 14-year relationship with Thomas Zinn.

“Tori had been with us at Lindt for just over two years and he was a great ambassador for our company and the store that he managed, which he cared about passionately…By nature he was a perfectionist and he had a genuine passion for the hospitality industry and people. He was a really important part of our management team in Australia and his loss is absolutely tragic,” a statement from Lindt read

Johnson also had a connection to the travel world. He worked in the US, Australia, and the Madlives and received his dregree in hospitality and business managmenet from Washington State University.

Katrina Dawson, a barrista at the cafe, also lost her life when she supposedly shielded a preganat woman from a bullet. [Independent]

 

 

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