Mighty Real: The New Gay Workout Anthems Playlist


[Please note that some of the visuals in the videos are NSFW – Not Safe for Work. YouTube usually requires a login before those who are over 18 can view them, but we can’t promise this will be the case. Some of the selections are Rated PG-13 due to language and imagery.]

Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something about working out to LGBTQ-inclusive anthems that puts a lil’ extra pep in my elliptical hyper-step.

Living by a gay-owned gym staffed by fab music lovers who know their stuff doesn’t hurt—but when you have your own playlist, you can take all your fab on the road, or stick it in your headphones and jog it out.

Need some suggestions? Thought you’d never ask.

The tracks below have either been co-opted by gay folks or penned and performed by them (mostly the latter). You’ll find some classics and discover some newbies.

Big Freedia – Azz Everywhere http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbR5wPpoOiw

In the words of George Clinton, “Free your mind and your ass will follow.” This track’s less about your bootie and more about your free spirited shaking of said behind. And that’s right Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s the TwerkMaster General, Big Freedia. Girlfriend brings the party on “Overdrive. Overdrive! Overdrive! When you take a ride!” Everything Big Freedia touches is dope. As the Queen Diva of New Orleans Sissy Bounce, she’s spent many years crafting her tracks and performance/recording skills to be at the top of the “bands that make you dance.” You don’t listen to this song—you DO THIS song. Don’t worry, she rocks it like a drill instructor all along the way—you won’t get lost, Boo.

September – Cry for You (Remix) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pf1kcbFzWyI

A regular club and Pride performer, September works that Swedish pop thing in a sweet, coy little way. Interesting tidbit—the riff’s from Bronski Beat’s track “Smalltown Boy” (different playlist for a different day, but an absolutely riveting track about the struggles of coming out. September seems all coquettish, but the song’s saying in essence, “Eff off, Dear.” It’s not like she didn’t try. Mm-hm. She really tried. It’s just time to go. And you can shout that along with her at the top of your lungs in 3…2…

Sylvester: You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oG2ixYJ79iE

You’d be surprised how many college kids aren’t aware of this track. The song used to be utilized as a joke in TV movies or films to wink-nudge at the audience that so and so character, vibe or environment is queer. (No.) Sandra Bernhard reclaimed the beauty of this track in-community by recording her rendition of it, as well as performing a shelarious routine declaring her love for Sylvester and coming up in his era. This is a song about freedom and authenticity—and the bass line, riff, and chorus just won’t quit.

Manila Luzon — “Hot Couture” official music video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gdbbHr1d2A

Consider this to be your water break or cool-down song, as it’s a bit more mellow. Sickenly scrumptious hook and lyrics about dressing yourself up in your own love. It’s a delight to watch Manila Luzon (and Mini-Manila Luzon) pay tribute to fashion *as* function and looking fierce doing it. The little storyline involving baby Luzon in the video is a bit of a misty-eyed sitch, and it’s something they didn’t have to add to a song that’s focused on fashion. Love. It.

Madonna – Don’t Stop (Smegster Remix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VSZIVCJ5ow

From all reports and regardless of past bisexual dalliances, Madonna is “Madonna-Sexual” and Super-Ego-centric–she’s been both loving and loathsome to queer folks including for whatever reasons, her out gay brother (sigh). Still, she’s family and her work keeps the emphasis on the “fun” part of dysfunctional (maybe not so much lately?). Anyway—in itself, “Don’t Stop” from “Bedtime Stories” is anthemic, but needs a little HI-NRG to keep your BPMs and heart rate up and healthy. We aim to please, so here you go. Can’t call this track a “refix,” as the original’s pretty damn delicious.

Hilary Duff – With Love (Rhv Vs. Dave Aude Club Mix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZJE_xSC9pc

Hillary Duff’s kept a pretty even keel and steered clear of cray cray ex-child star drama. (No drag queen harassment or trolling tweets in sight). In fact, Ms. Duff’s set aside some “sweet time” to create some Think Before You Speak gay-ally PSAs (thanks guuurl).  As for this particular remix, the positive affirmations in the lyrics are undeniable. “Tell me I’m wrong, that I’m coming on way too strong. Don’t think I’ll be crushed. Just do it with love. Love, love, love!” We are divas—do we not bleed? Proceed with caution. Just do it with love.

George Michael – Outside http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwZAYdHcDtU Because George made the absolute best out of a terrible arrest, “Outside” makes today’s list. Never one to shy away from social commentary, this song’s about adventure and its subtext flirts with how Michael himself got popped for it. Albeit risky, he certainly went on an “adventure.” This track’s about play in its every connotation, finding the strength to collect yourself and sally forth again and again, and moving your body-body at the party-party.

The Bird and the Bee – Fcking Boyfriend (Peaches remix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpAcqkX7O0Q

Are you asking him or telling him? Eh, same thing. “When you laid down with me, you never slept that night?” Come on. Poetry. Sheer electro-poetry bliss. Work it out.

Flawless (Go to the City) George Michael & The Ones (Mike’s Ultra Clean Extended Remix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYcTlot5evY

Shout it with me: “You’ve got to go to the city!”

Call it what you will—a coming out anthem, a runway ready hit for the children, or absolutely flawless. Here’s yet another track with, like, triply-lovely significance. The track was inspired by  a fantastic movie of the same name and it is indeed “Flawless.” The Ones are at the very least exceedingly queer-friendly (what? Like everyone has to present a card at the border? I’m not walkin’ around with a queer-counting clipboard), and George Michael’s “Flawless” is encouraging a dear friend (or perhaps his younger self) to leave a drab humdrum town and get out…for good. “Well you’ve got to think of somethin’, ’cause your job pays you nothing. But you’ve got the things God gave ya, so the music may yet be your savior…you’ve got to go to the city.” The Ones chime in “Like perfection. Like no other. Flawless. Absolutely flawless.” Mmm. Quelle motivational!

If I find out this song’s about Andrew Ridgely I will start crying tears of joy, right there on the elliptical stair-stepper. I swear before Yeezus I will.

Cazwell – Ice Cream Truck (Dee Jay Tatto Club Mix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Jr3okGlL4A

Brazilian-born and NYC bred, Cazwell is a prolific, hella-experienced rapper-producer, and his label’s got this naughty habit of populating his videos with eyefuls of scantily-clad models. Unheard of! Sure…anyway, the original video is cute, camp and somewhat ironic contraposed with the visual hotness you see here, but his remix amps things up just a notch or two. Qué sabor….

Extra Fun, Funny Goodies, & More Diva Tributes:

RuPaul – Jealous Of My Boogie (Remix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLemKdmoris

Looking So F*kin’ Good – RuPaul & DJ ShyBoy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBG5R_EJ0SM

Depeche Mode – People are People Remix – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yi5uWsI9G6g

Lady GaGa – Bad Romance (David Guetta Remix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_OkDzkSuvQ

Latrice Royale & Manila Luzon — The Chop (Official Music Video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlHzdXFCJ-c

Willam & Rhea Litré in “Let’s Have a KaiKai” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfWeBYd7rkQ

Whitney Houston – It’s Not Right But It’s Okay (Thunderpuss Remix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSOWUwRFwi0

Scissor Sisters – Filthy / Gorgeous http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4RcBZy2jZA

Ru Paul – Workout http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUjUF0mFJ9A

XELLE featuring Mimi Imfurst “Queen” Official Music Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLqW6n29TYE

WERQIN’ GIRL” Music Video by Shangela Laquifa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hArTHxRpKmM

Alyssa Edwards : Drop Dead Gorgeous (B. Ames Mix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOC_VGuc6Sc

Donna Summer – Last Dance (long version) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uW-3Hp1EVdQ [Tempo changes at 1:30]

Willow Smith – Whip My Hair http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymKLymvwD2U

Stardust Vs Madonna – Dance & Sing / Music Sounds Better With You Mashup (White Label Mix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVZrCWNT-yA

Sahara Davenport (with Gomi)– Go Off (Official Video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KziZUnSYRRA

The Ones – Flawless Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_e5oYqNRSM


George Michael – (Funny and funky) Go to the City Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgGDcn46aW8

“’Cause you’re beautiful. Like no other.”


Listen / work out to all these songs at once by clicking this playlist link.



Enough cardio for now, but we’ll bring you more. There will always be more.

Fave workout selections, anyone? (Heteronormative tracks, albums and playlists welcome.)

Grok These, Please: Queer Slam Poems and Creative Poetry Videos


Praising and Raising our Work: On Mindshare and Memory

Riveting. Emo. Uplifting. Heartbreaking. Heart-opening. Poetry heals, helps and heartens all who encounter its majesty, power, artistry.

When a poem is passed from hand to hand, eye to eye, heart to heart, soul to soul, the bearer and the receiver are forever changed.

Writer Neil Hilborn’s touching performance in his slam poem “OCD” has recently gone viral, bringing to mind the many LGBTQIA poets and creatives in our midst with their own stories of love and life.

Slam poems and artistic poetry performance videos dovetail so nicely into the framework of social media, aka “Short Attention Span Theater.” All the while, the popularity of such creatives and their efforts debunk the myth that we’re all becoming bots, drones and distracted Internet denizens who can do nothing but lower the bar when it comes to being entertained. As we praise the art, we raise the art.

Queerly Speaking: Queerious Poems & Artistic Feats

There are many queer artists of late who’ve come to shine brightly, find their audiences and clock hundreds of thousands of views for sharing their feelings, style, art, writing and messages in video form—and thank goodness for them. With each new word experienced, we’re reminded to walk through this life: chin up, spirits high, feet facing forward.

Women of the World Poetry Slam winner Denice Frohman’s “Dear Straight People” video is one of the many gorgeous works capturing our imaginations. Garnering clicks, attention, ongoing #lolz and serious praise, Frohman’s hard-hitting truths hammer out insightful words of witticism and encourage laughs of recognition. Here are but a few gems encapsulated in a handful of minutes:

“Sexuality and gender…? Two different things. Combined in many different ways. If you mismatch your socks, you understand.”

“Dear Hip Hop: why are you fascinated with discovering gay rappers? Gay people rap. Just like gay people ride bikes and eat tofu.”

“Dear straight bullies, you’re right: we don’t have the same values. You kill everything that’s different. I preserve it.”

Words cascade like waterfalls. Prosaic glitter and poetic license, new beats and audio treats make their way towards all who have ears to hear, fingers to snap, hands to clap, and believing hearts to respond.

Visit the links below to watch these and so much more: it’s compelling, queer-powered poetry in motion.

Denice Frohman

“Dear Straight People” (WOWPS 2013)





Tanya Davis

“How to Be Alone”




Shane Koyczan

“Pork Chop” from the To This Day Project


Shanita Jackson and Dakota Oder 

“Civil Rights”


Noah St. John 

“Noah St. John Performs at Queeriosity 2010”


Stayceyann Chin

“Feminist or a Womanist”


Andrea Gibson

The Jewelry Store



To watch all of these videos as a playlist, please click the link below.


Mindshare & Memory: Slam Poems & Creative Poetry Videos


Keep It Together: Resources and Support for LGBTQ Families

It’s All in the Family

“Keep it together in the family

They’re a reminder of your history

Brothers and sisters they hold the key

To your heart and your soul

Don’t forget that your family is gold.”

– Madonna, from “Keep It Together”

For those who may oppose or who may not understand LGBTQIA culture (which often includes ourselves, those in-community), it can be easy to forget we are individuals who come from families. Who make up families. Who make up families of choice.

As we seek out kin, allies, a tribe, BFFs, support, resources and fellowship, because it is so common for LGBTQIA persons to experience marginalization even for supporting queer culture (as well as of course for being in it), we forget about our extended family. We don’t realize the broad spectrum of resources made available to us for finding connections, assistance, and even family-focused entertainment or advantages (such as social, educational financial or medical help).

We may then perhaps lose hope for reconciliation with our birth family, and/or don’t seek alternatives for creating new and more empowering familial networks.

Partying, playing and freedom of sexual expression is all well and good: it’s a blessing to have an opportunity to fully express all sides of ourselves (and fight for our rights in places where this is not yet a reality).

When it’s time to come down, gather together, find home and hearth, your family/family of choice is your go-to place to touch down, reboot, chillax. Find peace of mind.

But what happens if you don’t have a family, your community doesn’t support your family, or you don’t have a stable family?

Here are a few helpful resources, for finding family support and structure, below:


Get Help, Find Fam, Keep It Together

PFLAG / Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – http://www.pflag.org

In addition to education, outreach and public speaking, PFLAG provides regionally-based support groups for queer and questioning persons (including youth), as well as for people who are trying to understand their LGBTQ family members, or people who do not have family support.

Family Equality Council – http://www.familyequality.org/get_involved/programs

Per their website, “The Family Equality Council is a community of parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren who for 30 years have raised our children and raised our voices toward fairness for all families.” While they do quite a bit of advocacy work, they also sponsor Family Equality Pride events and regionally-based family outreach programs (such as support groups and activities for queer parents and the community).

COLAGE – http://www.colage.org

For people with an LGBTQ parent: focused mostly on kids and teenagers, COLAGE unites peer-based networks and helps youth find support. Their specialty, in their own words is to help: “nurture and empower each other to be skilled, self-confident, and just leaders in our collective communities.”

Transforming Family http://transformingfamily.org/about-us

Championed by Chaz Bono. With a trans* focused outreach in its purview, Transforming Family is a Los Angeles based family support group creating a positive environment for children, adolescents and their families to explore issues of gender identity.

Our Family Coalition http://www.ourfamily.org/programs

This is a community of leaders who provide family-based policy and advocacy for change as well as sponsoring various family functions and social events.

Gay Parent Magazine –http://www.gayparentmag.com

A leader in gay parenting resources – founded in 1998.

API Family Pride http://www.apifamilypride.org

The mission of Asian and Pacific Islander Family Pride is to end the isolation of Asian and Pacific Islander families with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members through support, education, and dialogue.

Soffa Support – http://soffasupport.tumblr.com

An online zine that helps to connect people with support and advice for significant others, family, friends, and allies of the trans* community.

National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth http://ncfy.acf.hhs.gov

The National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth is an information resource of the Family and Youth Services Bureau within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They help to provide various resources of support for many, including LGBTQIA-specific assistance, referrals and education.

Intersex Society of North America

Support Groups and FAQ (For FAQ, Click FAQ Link on this page) http://www.isna.org/support

The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) was founded in 1993 in an effort to advocate for patients and families who felt they had been harmed by their experiences with the health care system. From these scrappy, brave, and confrontational beginnings, ISNA evolved into an important resource for clinicians, parents, and affected individuals who require basic information about disorders of sex development (DSDs) and for how to improve the health care and overall well-being of people with DSDs.

R Family Vacations – http://www.rfamilyvacations.com

R Family Vacations is an LGBT vacation entertainment company that provides luxury cruise ship trips with a focus on inclusive activities for children and services including same-sex marriage ceremonies.

National Resource Center on LGBT Aging –http://www.lgbtagingcenter.org

Resources include – Caregiving services, Aging in Place Providers, LGBT Organizations, referrals, help for LGBT older adults or caregivers.

JQY / JQYouth – http://www.jqyouth.org

JQY is a nonprofit organization supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Jews and their families in the Orthodox community.


A Word About Finding Local Resources

If you find these suggestions aren’t close to you, don’t be afraid to shout them out on social media, email or call them, and ask for help finding resources that are local for you. Should they be unable to, they’ll be able to provide other alternatives for you. Never give up.

There are many more resources where these came from. Have you got a good recommendation? Please let us know.

When times get tough or you’re looking for support, who do you call your “family?”


Why LGBTQ or GLBT? Why Trans* or Trans? A Look at Queering the Acronym

We communicate, therefore we abbreviate.

Social media may be viral, but without the words we say and the language we speak, it would have no foundation from which to travel and spread ideas.

Culturally, words are important to LGBTQIA folks. Not only for communicating concepts, but for fighting for our rights, for inclusivity, for assisting in diversity training, and of course, for us to find and to connect with each other among many other helpful purposes.

For instance, writing the word trans* with an asterisk at the end has its own special meaning. In short, the addition of the asterisk is more inclusive. Please click here to learn more about that in a full context.

Also, there are many people who find the word “transman” or “transwoman” to be dehumanizing or offensive, and who feel you should insert a space between each word for that reason.

But then of course, language is complex and contradictory. For example, the organization Black Transmen articulates the experience of trans* men by writing “transmen” as one word in their official parlance.

This brings to mind similar linguistic differences reminiscent of calling oneself “gay” versus calling oneself “same gender loving” or SGL. (“SGL” was a term created in generally African American circles, initiated to take one’s focus away from sex and place it on relationships, but SGL automatically excludes many trans* persons).

Or, there’s articulating queer culture as being “gay” rather than the more inclusive “LGBT” “GLBT,” that’s another example. Too, people can be attached to the order of the letters, favoring starting with “G” or “L.”). Next, there is “LGBTQ.” However, writing or saying “queer” can be an issue to some, as if there is something so-called “wrong” with being gay or having another sexual or gender orientation, rather than the intended meaning of reclaiming the insult as a word of empowerment (“We’re here, we’re queer. Get used to it.”).

Also, many acronyms and terms exist to behoove inclusivity-focused communication (e.g. LGBTQIAU for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, intersex persons, allies and undeclared), and the lists go on and on.

Here are a few others:

SOFFA – Significant Other, Friends, Families and Allies – Generally used in trans* culture.

GAY – (This word didn’t begin as an acronym, but it has become one. Aside from literally meaning “homosexual,” “happy” or as shorthand for “LGBTQ”) – Gifted and Young, Good As You, Gay. Are You?

IMRU – I’m Queer/Gay. Are You?

LGBTQ / TBLG / LGBTQQIAAS / GLB / LGBTQIAP Any combination or order of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, straight, pansexual and so forth. When letters are excluded, this might have to do with, for instance, trans* activists who are exploring ideas of inclusivity when it comes to trans* culture. They might say, “We deserve to have a voice at this convention where the majority of the speakers are LGB-only.”

LGBTIH Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexed and “hijira” (third gender).

TS Two-Spirit.

FABGLITTER Shorthand for Fetish and BDSM community, Allies or Polyamorous.

QUILTBAG Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender/Transsexual, Bisexual, Allied/Asexual, Gay/Genderqueer.

Social critics and in-community critics tend to think of all of these acronyms as “over-corrected political correctness,” too focused on sexuality, not separating sexual and gender expression properly, or too exclusive in nature.

Generally, living in queer culture involves many elements of culture, lifestyle, privilege, preference, sexual expression, race, class, gender identity, social and hierarchical challenges, religious and moral backgrounds, geographical diversity, preferences not to be labeled, and so much more that is exceedingly difficult to encapsulate or summarize.

If anything, the acronyms can become a code, a way of transacting in the world, a way to find and befriend allies, a way to encourage others to think differently or more broadly, or a way to regain respect and grounding among others in our environment who would seek to derail or exclude others.

As a communicator and mediator myself, this can make communication, sharing information and reportage seem somewhat challenging, but not impossibly so. Prosaically, I do tend to use many different terms interchangeably as well as alternating them—so it’s likely that will offend some or many without having an intention to do so.

Personally, I tend to go by the M.O. of: “I’ll address you respectfully and earnestly in the way you prefer to be addressed. I’ll do my best to honor y/our culture going on what I know, today, and using the breadth of terminology that’s available to us, so that we can all connect.”

Which acronym, term or shorthand do you prefer? (“None” counts, too.)

Cowboys Are Secretly Fond of Each Other:” Singing Gay Cowboys and The Wild, Wild West

This Cowboy Ain’t Found the Right Woman Yet

“John Wayne and Will Rogers, they made real cowboy movies. They portrayed us like we are. There ain’t no queer in cowboy and I don’t care for anyone suggesting there is.”

– (Heterosexual) Rancher Dave Miller, to The Telegraph

When we think of “the cowboy,” we envision Old West or the Wild Wild West. “Rugged America.” Ranch Hand Nobility. Tobacco-Stained Chivalry. Guys who were tough, but fair. We think of heroes. We think of—well—men’s men.

In the States, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers became popular studio-cowpokes, wearing white hats and sweetly singing nostalgic, lonesome songs, wailing to the desert sky in a series of B-movies from the 30s and 40s. “Happy Trails,” anyone? “‘Until we meet again?”

Even Good ol’ John Wayne sang a rare cowboy song, playing the role of Singin’ Sandy Saunders (“Riders of Destiny,” 1933). Somehow, singing cowboys were not seen as effeminate—just dreamy. The trope became popular and took hold worldwide. So much so, inspired Italian/European directors began recruiting American actors to film their own “spaghetti westerns” overseas.

All this is to say that it’s hard to separate the engrained stereotypes from the reality that carries through to this day, and once established, tropes, metaphors and stereotypes therein can leave lasting impressions in others’ minds about how they think things were versus how they truly are. Masculinity, when contextualized in the world of cowboys, incorporates entirely new meanings when you include LGBTQ experience in the mix—this includes modern-day trans* men and women who, living in rural areas and on farmland (or close to it) embrace rodeo/cowboy culture and lifestyle.

“There have been gay cowboys for as long as there have been gay people…. It’s always been a part of the Western frontier lifestyle that wasn’t talked about. It was just there.”

– Brian Helander, for the International Gay Rodeo Association

As for cowboys, the most often looked-to idea in the Old West, the lyrical romanticism of Ang Lee’s brilliantly crafted film “Brokeback Mountain,” begin to build a bridge to speak to LGBTQ desert/rural/migratory experiences, but that too veered toward the tragic, therefore dropping one stereotype to pick up another (gay romance and agreed-upon rules in relationships don’t always have to end in tears).

Interestingly enough, world-famous country musician Willie Nelson’s soundtrack work on Lee’s film (“He Was a Friend of Mine”) and his cover of “Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other” (the first LGBT-focused mainstream country song by a major label artist) brought the idea back into our consciousness beyond the Gay Rodeo circuit.

Gay Rodeo culture represents our (still) unsung heroes: the underground men and women athletes and community made up of the unofficial historians who’ve always cherished this way of life, and who’ve shared it for generations.

Cowboys Never Kiss And Tell

“I’m…a heterosexual guy without any apparent sexual hang-ups. I say that so you know where I stand. Gay people don’t scare me. They don’t repulse me. And they sure as hell don’t offend me. I know that there are gay athletes. There were gay cowboys…. Greeks took homosexuality to whole new levels, as do some Middle Eastern cultures…. Homosexuality is not new, it is not strange. It is also not going away. So why the fear and backlash over a movie? Easy. Men are cowards. They are also more confused and uptight than they should be.”

– Doug Brunell, for “Film Threat”

“There is a fair amount of sexual contact among the older males in western rural areas.”

-Alfred Kinsey, from a 1948 sexuality study

Picture gay cowboys—or even lesbian nuns—having more than a platonic relationship. Do the words “know duh” come to mind? Not when it comes to cultural constructs, facades and fears. In a world so tethered to binary/compartmentalized thinking, it can be challenging to look back retroactively and tease out more accurate versions of the truth.

Of course not all man-man and woman-woman situations are queer-only. Neither are they heteronormative only. Such is the case many historians make, and oftentimes we need pictures and additional documented evidence to firmly believe in the truth of it, even for ourselves. And we need to see and experience not only one image or piece of evidence, but several. It still seems somewhat otherworldly. Unbelievable. As we begin to hear the stories and to bear witness, then the truth begins to unfold itself to us so that we can accept to be true in our souls.

In These Here Cowboying Circles:” No More Secrets

Geographically, the Old West is image and ideation most often dreamed of and seen. But of course, cowboys and gals rode the open range and worked on ranches from California to Montana and beyond.

More and more urban cowboys and cowgirls as well as out gay country stars help to modernize our imagery and understanding. They continue to sing, share, reveal our stories, letting those of us who are in-community write and experience our own narratives.

Just as we (LGBTQIA persons) are everywhere, so are cowboys and cowgirls who are “especially fond of one another.” Euphemisms are still used for literal survival (to avoid violence or shame-based thinking or incidents). Small-town gay and lesbian bars, any cow-town dance-halls in remote or rural areas, community centers near sprawling green pastures and wide open spaces, that’s where folks folks reside. So, that’s where love, lust and all good things in between will reside. So of course, that’s where queer cowboys work and play, and reside.

Coming full circle: just a handful of years ago, the Autry Cowboy Museum took an in-depth look at gay and trans* cowboy culture via their Out West exhibit. They continue to study queer culture and to blog about it. (See: http://blog.theautry.org/tag/brokeback-mountain)

To check out a gay cowboy movie in a post-Brokeback world, click on over to watch the Rom-Com “Adam and Steve” (featuring Parker Posey, no less!) and have a laugh on us. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=970IMbt9JkE

And to you queer theory and gay film elitists out there, sheep herders (Jack and Ennis from “Brokeback”) can also be called cowboys. Did you follow them around all day and night? Did you pay their well-earned wages? We thought not.

A “Brokeback Mountain” opera will premiere in 2014. Even if you’re not into opera, aren’t you curious?



Admired and Desired: Checking In With Margaret Cho

I’m the One That I Want: Can We Reclaim the Word “Tranny?”

“I refer to myself as gay, but I’m married to a man.”

– Margaret Cho

LGBTQIA identity isn’t about who you do it with. Until, of course…it absolutely is.

Margaret Cho (“Drop Dead Diva,” “I’m The One That I Want’) is as scrappy as she is electric. She’ scrappy because she’s taken so much guff, sharing her multiple talents on and off-screen (she acts, sings, directs, writes, designs clothes, is a walking tattooed work of art and is a standout standup comic). Cho can transition from an elegant purr to a lioness’ growl with no hesitation. She’s electric, because she sings the body electric: she’s sensual, naughty, flirtatious, often bawdy and ultimately playful.

If you’ve seen her comedy flick “I’m The One That I Want,” the efforting in her journey to long term success is palpable. You get the sense she’s had to claw her way all the way up to the glass ceiling and had to brace herself with her back up, and kick the glass away with a pair of steel-toed Doc Martens just to disappear the damn thing.

Cho doesn’t “play the queer card,” or the race card. Rather, she is queering play. She is queering entertainment. When you can let the cameras roll and share  minute details about your open relationship on morning chat shows, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/28/margaret-cho-i-refer-to-m_n_180383.html) segue into outing fellow celebs (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/21/margaret-cho-outing-john-travolta_n_3478594.html), put the world on notice that you will get down with anything that moves as you like (just like men do), and always leave ’em laughing…if anything, you could say Cho plays “the laughs card.”

But to what end? Her comedic M.O. Doesn’t feel like a manipulation, rather it’s a weapon.

As she’s currently promoting her latest venture, the MOTHER TOUR (http://www.margaretcho.com/2013/07/29/mother-tour-get-pre-sale-tix-today), thoughts and themes come to mind about Margaret Cho’s presence in the world.

There’s Some Tranny Chasers Up In Here

“ A few words about ‘trannychasing.’ I am not a trannychaser. Ok, actually I am a trannychaser. No I am not. I am a trannycatcher! Just kidding!” – Margaret Cho

As a self-confessed “tranny chaser,” Margaret Cho’s taken a good amount of flak for her feelings and affirmed desires, without too much apology. It’s a tough concept to think about, as she’s done so much brilliant work and she’s really been out there on the road, touring with Ani  DiFranco and Lilith Fair, indie all the way for decades on end, fearlessly advocating for queer rights, feminist and race equality, and respect in the entertainment industry.

There’s no doubt Cho is sex positive (she’s on the Good Vibrations board alongside much of her other activist and fund-raising work), queer-identified and trans* inclusive: she directed the highly acclaimed “Young James Dean” video  by Girlyman (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue_ia7Dikq0), featuring trans* peers and allies, covering lyrics about coming up as genderqueer. And her routines, filmic work and writing boasts a high trans* visibility ratio, including clearing the floor for trans* folks, often guys, to speak as well. She supports fellow trans* comics and entrepreneurs and leverages her celebrity to help folks make a steady income who might not do so otherwise. She will tweet, promote, and help to encourage business ventures for others—often tirelessly.

Folks have voiced concern with her humor about her “trannychaser” (or catcher) jokes and statements, and Cho has formally explained her viewpoint (http://www.margaretcho.com/2007/06/26/true-colors-break), stating these are just jokes based on reverence and respect, and that folks are taking things out of context—too seriously.

Fellow Tobi Hill-Meyer states Cho is objectifying trans* men (http://blog.handbasketproductions.com/?p=7) as cisgender men often do with  trans* women, fetishizing them and changing people into “things.”

“Trans IS a legitimate gender” is a defense against the objectification idea, posted by Cho’s comedic peer, Ian Harvie (http://ianharvie.com/trans-is-a-legitimate-gender).

Harvie wrote on his blog, “ If you believe Transgender IS a legitimate gender, how can you argue that it’s wrong to eroticize Trans people? If you do not see Trans as a legitimate gender, then what’s wrong with you?!I’m Trans, I’m Butch, and identify as a Trans man, regardless of my given biological sex. I absolutely believe it’s okay to be attracted to, exoticize, fetishsize, and eroticize any and all Trans people. After all, a fetish is something that we desire or that turns us on.”

Too, RuPaul penned the song “Tranny Chaser” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQOu2d0L1qE) as a declaration of sexuality, desirability, and a playful take on the concept. “Do you wanna be me?” the song bridge begins.  Fully aware of the seduction in the words, RuPaul goes on, “That don’t make you gay.” “Or do you wanna [beep] me? That don’t make you gay….”

It’s hard to laser-focus down to one “right take” on the issue when so many folks in-community with so many different experiences feel empowered by the erotic aspects of being queer and desired. Other bloggers have called Cho’s comments disgusting, meanwhile, she is blowing heteronormative minds open simply by sharing the concept. Rhetorical questions arise: is it better to be vilified, “romanticized, dehumanized, or eroticized? If we’re all “in on the desire,” is it wrong? Is there a happy medium that requires no context?

Cho grew up in San Francisco, which could explain matters somewhat. In the City, you are what you say you are, even if you change your mind about it tomorrow. Middle America doesn’t quite dovetail with such a mindset (yet?).

Issues of class and power can’t be ignored: though they all had challenging beginnings in their careers, now relatively better-paid or well-paid performers, Cho’s, Harvie’s and RuPaul’s experiences differ by definition from that of a queer or trans* man or woman who doesn’t have the same means or sense of empowerment to lead with sexuality, or who might lead a different lifestyle, might have experienced more harassment with less resources and so on.

When these issues arise consider them to be a gift: because they grant us the opportunity to talk about them, and hopefully to come to kind conclusions at the end of the day. There are no easy answers, and let’s hope we can all find ways to continue to ask the right questions and uplift one another, wherever we meet—even if it can never be in the middle.

Let’s hope we can amicably find ways to “agree to disagree,” and let’s keep shining, living, loving and relating.

Can a person really be a “fetish?” Is that even the issue here? Please share your experience.


Where Kids Can Just Be Kids: Summer Camps For Trans* Youth

Childhood can be as magical as it is challenging. Having parents who care enough to walk you through the highs and lows of life, to tend to your feelings, restore your peace of mind, guide your education and plan your health care helps to ease the stress and eustress that kids go through as they’re finding their way in the world.

Kids, just like adults, need to have survival needs met, to interface with a supportive and growing community, and to enjoy plenty of extra time for play, recess, hobbies and making same-age friends who share their interests. (remember scheduled play dates and slumber parties?)

Because people often confuse sexuality with gender, trans* kids might be introduced to ideas, bullying or teasing comments that have nothing at all to do with what they’re interested in or thinking about in terms of their identity. They won’t even understand the words or concepts in grown-up ways, which is all the more hurtful and confusing.

These reasons among many make summer camp that’s not only trans* inclusive but just for trans* kids a very pronounced need. Kids in school, in both public and private shared spaces where children gather, may be in relatively secure environments, but much of their time might be unsupervised, or not monitored closely. Multiply that by the weeks and months packed into the summertime, and now you’re dealing with formative experiences that have the potential to imprint themselves on children’s innocent  little hearts and minds. So why not set them up to be joyful experience?

Why not set them up for having…just plain fun?

There are many parents and supportive organizations who’ve taken it upon themselves to create trans* inclusive and/or trans* specific spaces where kids can just be kids. Here are a few suggestions below.

Summer Camps for Trans* Youth

Camp Aranu’tiq A week-long, overnight summer camp for transgender and gender-variant youth ages 8 – 15, with locations in New England and California. Also, Aranu’tiq Family Camp is a long weekend event in autumn for the whole family.  http://www.camparanutiq.org

Trans Youth Equality Foundation Youth Retreats Twice a year, TYEF organizes transgender youth

retreats, an opportunity to get away for a little while and enjoy activities like swimming, hiking, boating and arts and crafts. The difference between summer camp and TYEF retreats is that all of the youth who attend TYEF retreats are transgender. http://www.transyouthequality.org/youth_retreats.html

NYC LGBT Center  Y.E.S. Program Summer Community Camp The Y.E.S. Summer Community Camp program is a week-long residential camp designed to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people with the support, knowledge and skills they need to take charge of their own health and well-being.  http://www.gaycenter.org/youth/summercamp

Camp You Are You Camp You Are You  is a four-day camp experience for gender fluid boys and their families. The name and location is private, however Slate.com wrote a piece about it recently, and you can contact Lindsay Morris, who is in touch with the organization, at LindsayMorris.viewbook.com and find out more about the camp at this link:


You can find many more trans* inclusive summer camps at Dreams of Hope here: http://www.dreamsofhope.org/page/summer-camps

Do you think trans* only summer school and camps shelter kids too much, or are they absolutely necessary?

I’m Not Sure…Am I Gay? – Coming Out Q & A

Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up and start to fight.

– Harvey Milk

“I’m not sure…am I gay?”

Young men and boys commonly ask this question during the coming out process. They might say it differently, and they may not have begun the process yet. If the question “Am I gay?” is pressing on someone’s heart, he’s probably going through the process.

Shorthand for “coming out of the closet,” coming out could mean, more accurately, coming out of confusion.” This connotation removes possible stigma or blame.

 “Be fearless / be honest / be generous / be brave /

be poetic / be open / be free / be yourself / be in love /

be happy / be inspiration.”  –

– Beyonce, writing words for Frank Ocean

“So am I gay, or what?” If this question remains or someone asks you to “evaluate them” with this question, there’s no definitive, easy answer. Just breathe, take a step back, and think about—or pass along—some of these ideas:

1) Empower Him to Find His Own Answers. – Possible feedback: “I can’t answer that for you. This is a question only you can answer. I can support you in your stages of learning, discovery, research, and even play (try to refrain from saying things like ‘experimentation.’ He is not a science project.). But this is your hero’s journey.”

2) You Don’t Have to Lose your Religion. You aren’t coming out to God or your Higher Power. Spirit already knows you. There are several gay-inclusive churches and organizations happy to support and encourage you.

3) Discourage Binary Thinking. Free him up from binary thought. Kids grow up in an overpoweringly heterosexual-defined world, yet heterosexuality is as much of a social construct as the next idea. The best kept open secret in the world is that heterosexual-identified people are also fluid, as sexuality Is fluid (see: Kinsey Reports). Make sure he knows that.

4) Respect Boundaries. Keep it real: if you find yourself attracted to someone who’s newly queer or questioning, first consider his age. If there’s a huge imbalance and/or he’s a minor, please do both of yourselves a favor: don’t take advantage of his twice-vulnerable state (one due to age/inexperience, two due to his sexual uncertainty). The mentor / mentee sex narrative is a common coming of age story—that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate. He needs friends and support, not just sex. If you find you have conflicted interests and he’s not of age, telling him you’re into him also further confuses matters. Even if the attraction is mutual, be smart and be fair.

5) “I’m A Trans Guy Who Likes Girls, Period.” Of especial note, questioning sexuality is often a second or third lap around questions that come up for transgender guys who may become fascinated by images of men as they’re creating the life they want to lead. They’re looking for affirming images, like-minded peers, role models and allies, and checking out pictures of men for medical [surgery, anatomy], social [presenting as “male”], empowering and of course arousal reasons [how to please self and others, for pleasure’s sake, curiosity]).

If he says he’s attracted to women, he thinks he is, or he flip-flop, that’s his prerogative and right. Keep snarky “Yeah right whatever, you’re gay” comments and feelings to yourself. You might encourage him to talk to or discover more about other trans guys (depending, some guys might fixate on cis-gender guys only during this time).  If you’re really a true friend or ally, don’t get into the eye-rolling. That helps no one.

6) He May Realize He’s Straight. You may crack jokes about straight folks. Try to tone those down around him, especially if he’s just a kid. What if it turns out he’s “coming out straight,” or he’s just not ready? There are many people who’ve never been in doubt about their sexuality, or heterosexuality. If he’s not in that “majority,” or he’s a bit more passive with girls or women, that doesn’t make him automatically gay. This could take him a while to realize.

7) “Have You Ever Thought About Getting Help?” Even if you’re helping him, guys can be notorious for refusing help, asking for it in a roundabout ways, or not seeking out support or counseling. Share resources and if necessary, walk with him as he researches, explores, visits LGBT centers, picks up “coming out newbie” brochures, etc.

8) For Teenagers, For Young Boys Puberty can really suck. Boys are still figuring out how hormones make them feel, bodies change, crushes unfold. Peer “pressure” and bullying is a minefield that’s so difficult to get through. His anti-gay friends, family or elders might see you as trying to “recruit or convert him” rather than as a sounding board. This makes finding professional allies, especially if he’s underage, extra important. You might need some backup.

9) Keeping Secrets You can keep his journey between the two of you without making him think coming out is a dirty little secret. Help him understand the difference between confidentiality or privacy and shame-filled secrecy.

10) “Are You Using?” He might feel insulted: however, if in the context of “because I really care,” check in to see if he’s using/abusing drugs, if he’s having risky or unsafe sex (with men and/or women), or if he’s acting out in other erratic ways. Help him find support around balancing out all aspects of his life, including but not limited to sexual and other gratification.

11) Gender Expression: “Is There Something Wrong With Me?” He doesn’t have to present as butch, or he might feel so in his heart. He doesn’t have to present as fem, he might be genderqueer, and so on. If he’s trans, there’s nothing wrong with the desire to be stealth (presenting in a certain gender-centric way without immediately telling people he’s trans). Remind him he’s free to explore these ideas. Ask him about preferred terms (he may prefer to call himself “same gender loving” rather than “queer or gay,” etc.).

“Is There Something Wrong With Me?”

“We have to show ’em there’s nothing to be afraid of. If we don’t get over our fears, they never will.”

– Lisi Harrison, from Monster High

12) Undeclared. This life can be like having an undeclared major in school: he never has to come to any conclusions about himself. Remove all expectations: love and accept him for the person he is. It will make such a positive difference in his life and in yours.

13) Re-frame “Normal.” Nature has always made room for gay and lesbian or variant gender expression in all species, of which we are but one.  We may not all understand why this way of being exists, but according to “Gaia,” nature considers a multiplicity of sexual and gender expressions to be normal.

To that end, watch out for so-called “normal” language like “That’s so gay, gaylord, butt-hurt, calling lesbians Klondikes, saying tranny or freak,” etc. Whatever side you’re on surrounding such humor, things are different when you’re learning how to walk before you run. This kind of language is common, but isn’t necessarily normal. He might not see reclaiming the word “fag” as empowering.

14) “How do I know for sure?” The answer “You just know” isn’t entirely correct. It would be more accurate to answer, “Whatever way of sexual expression and identity gives you the most pleasure (sexually and otherwise), whatever predominates,” these are good indicators. If comfortable enough, you can use your own experience as an example.

15) Pride In the Name of Love Share with him what “pride” means to you. Parades aren’t required for all gays to attend, or he may not be able to attend one for logistics reasons, but explain to him why we celebrate Pride, and how activism has influenced and affected gay culture over time.

16) Gay Role Models Help him learn about LGBTQIA role models—and gay role models in particular. If he’s also a person of color, help him to discover role models that mirror his nationality, ethnicity, background, etc. Share with him stories of people who’ve come out later in life (different age, same process!). Sexual orientation and gender haven’t stood in the way of well-known kings and queens, artists, designers, athletes, philosophers, scientists, writers entertainers and others throughout history. It shouldn’t stand in the way of his progress either. Coming out and thriving-as-out stories are important—and these shouldn’t all be rich and famous people’s narratives. That adds the extra pressure of having to be famous or wealthy in order to get “special treatment,” which is a myth.

 “‘Faggot, faggot…’ Do you hate him ’cause he’s pieces of you?”

                                    – Jewel

17) Outing, Safety Issues Outing is not the same as coming out. Being outed in inopportune ways can cause safety, social or financial challenges. Best and worst case scenarios are important to discuss. Don’t push him out, as the most important person he needs to come out to is himself. Depending on where he lives and his age, coming out might be physically unsafe for him at present, but you can help him to prepare. Unfortunately, there is also the possibility of someone outing him without permission, or falsely accusing him of something he hasn’t even stated or realized yet. Help him to have plans and solutions prepared as much as you can, realistically.

18) “I’m Not the Right Person to Ask.” Sharing these words honestly is also helpful. You can still direct him to many other people or resources who can support him with his questions and concerns. Let him know you respect him and it’s got nothing to do with him (sharing helpful resources reinforces this truth for you.)

19) “How Long Have You Been Gay?” And Other Leading Questions. In short, don’t ask things like that. Don’t try not to lead the conversation. This is his deal, not yours.

 “Being gay is not living any type of lifestyle (at least not for me).

It simply pertains to my sexual orientation.

I am sexually attracted to guys. That’s it. It’s life, not a lifestyle!”

– Scott Penziner

20) “Things Are So Much Easier These Days.” No, they’re not. Don’t belittle his experience by equating your pain with his. Everyone needs a support net, almost everyone has a rejection and/or bullying story, and this life is his to live. Be present with him rather than disowning him or silencing his voice.

21) Celebrate! Debutantes have coming out parties, why can’t we? Remember to praise him for his courage and self-love. He’s brave enough to ask these questions and cares enough to make this his quest. You don’t have to whip out the glow sticks or anything (unless you want to?), but remember, this is all about finding joy and holding onto it.

You can find some starter resources below.

Book Recommendations

Now That You Know by Betty Fairchild & Robert Leighton

Beyond Acceptance by Carolyn Welch Griffin, Marina J. Wirth & Arthur G. Wirth


LGBTQ Inclusive Religions http://gaylife.about.com/od/religion/a/gaychurch.htm

Coming Out As Intersex  http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2013/06/12/op-ed-intersex-final-coming-out-frontier

Family of Choice Holiday Support http://www.yourholidaymom.com

Coming Out Bi http://www.biresource.net/comingoutasbi.shtml

Coming Out As A Straight Supporter  http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/straight-guide-to-lgbt-americans

National Coming Out Day http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/national-coming-out-day

Safe Space Network List http://safespacenetwork.tumblr.com/post/23388828318/the-safe-space-network-tumblr-list

PFLAG Coming Out Help http://community.pflag.org/page.aspx?pid=539

Resources for LGBT People of Color http://guides.ucsf.edu/content.php?pid=211162&sid=2009927

HRC / Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Coming Out Resources – http://www.hrc.org/resources/category/coming-out

E. Lynn Harris wrote, “My heart knows who I am and who I’ll turn out to be!”  Isn’t following your heart rule number one in everything?


Why Are You Trippin’? Choosing LGBT-Friendly and Inclusive Travel Options

Where In The World Is…

Summer’s still in full bloom, and there’s still plenty of time for carving out some sweet getaways, whether or not you hook up with a sweet travel agent. Where do you want to play today?

And… are you sure about that?

Choose Your Own Adventure

You’ve seen all the advertising hoopla before: “Come fly with us.” “Queers welcome here!”

Rainbow flags go up, and you trust you’ll be well cared for on your “gaycay,” so all you’ll need to worry about is, perhaps, simply having the best “vaycay” ever.

Queer travelers’ tales can be a hit-and-miss kind of deal. We’re not here to share horror stories, but to provide better, more affirming options for you.

The last thing you want on a honeymoon voyage, a BFF’s night out, or a romantic weekend rendezvous is to see scowling waiters, resentful concierges, easily-offended hotel managers, or even B&B owners who “don’t dig your friends’ vibes,” especially when you have an honest to goodness question, need or desire as a paying customer.

So, are LGBT-owned companies best? Or, is “gay-friendly” acceptable enough for you?

The truth of the matter is, you should always follow your gut.

Just because a lesbian friend of a friend owns a business, they may or may not be ethical, or they may be gay-friendly in theory but not in practice. Or, maybe they’re open to gay travelers, but not trans* travelers. And just because your Yahoo search unearths a keyword-friendly link to a major airline or travel planner doesn’t mean “gay-friendliness begins here.”

What’s a roaming soul to do? Take some extra time, if you can make some of it.

 LGBT-Inclusive Travel Options

Where to begin? First, ask questions.  Make a call or post a question on a timeline in a forum.

Scroll and stroll through a few of the options here, and if time permits, be sure to do at least a little sleuthing before making plans. Visit not only an official homepage, but find Yelp, Yahoo and Google reviews, see if you kind find some blog posts about the business, and you might even check out Twitter or Facebook timelines (not just posts, but visitors’ and customers’ feedback).

A quick click tip: check out amenity offerings in advance: if you find a hotel isn’t hooking you up, make sure you “fight for your right to party” (mini-bars aren’t just for straight folks).

A Word About Transgender and Intersex Travel

Because there are less folks (so far!) who proactively hang out Transgender Pride pink-blue-white flags alongside those rainbows, a bit of creativity is required should you want to plan before hitting the road, and if you want that extra vote of trans-inclusive confidence.

We’re preaching to the choir here, but trans folks are most concerned while traveling at home or abroad when it comes to medical care. Trans vacation-goers: be sure to have copies of all documentation you feel comfortable bringing, especially when traveling abroad.

Take extra supplies, supplements or items you need for personal and medical care, and get situated with the paperwork ASAP, so you can relax into the pleasure of traveling.

Though lived experience for trans folks changes exponentially by the day, finding trans-friendly or trans-owned companies with trans-exclusive or best interests in mind is harder. You can check out some of the LGB resources below, too.

But for more trans-inclusive options, it’s best to ask around, and consult folks and/or online destinations that have a history of solid trans advocacy and helpful advice, along with LGBT places such as:

* TS RoadMap Int’l

* Laura’s Playground Forums (FTM and MTF)

* Sparta (Military folks are often experienced travelers


* The Brown Boi Project

* Ask local (or closest, or in-state/country) LGBT or PFLAG center/groups

* Gender.org US State-by-State

* Search LGBT Housing resources in the area (by default, you’ll get a better feel for environments)

* Find trans-friendly or LGBT-friendly advice that comes directly from a governmental source (e.g. this one from the UK)

* Surf Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube, and ask questions – tons of indie trans groups and bloggers pop up all the time.

Also again, like with all else, follow your instincts.

Though the sites above don’t specifically have to do with travel, trans* folks share many empowering resources, and connecting with folks online or in trans-specific support groups or health-care focused groups is invaluable for all kinds of referrals, including travel spots, the most trans-inclusive travel agencies, or places, what’s most cool, amazing or best avoided, and how keep safety in mind.

LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Alternatives

For Bi Folks

If you desire bi-specific travel experiences, you can review some more general resources below (such as centers and the like), or inquire with bi-affirming support groups or forums, as it’s not yet common for folks to hang out an “Open” sign for bi-only travel experiences. You can find that information with a bit of investigation, or by approaching an out, bi travel agent or bisexual travel-related business owner (check your local or state-based LGBT chamber of commerce or business directory).

The Random Factor: Pick A Pride, Any Pride

If you’re not sure exactly where you want to go and have a hankering to explore, you might just want to plan a trip to a Pride event in a new city or country. Interpride’s got you covered.

If you’d rather have a walkabout, look for destinations in larger metro areas (preferably ones that hold yearly pride events and/or are near colleges, which tend to attract more diversity-aware business owners, for financial reasons, at least).

Got a little extra cash? Then search for LGBT-only and LGBT-specific travel groups, agencies, and travel agents (not just travel packages, which may or may not diversity-minded).

A couple of recommendations: Olivia,  IGLTA or Out-Adventures.com. (Al and Chuck Travel, for example, is a gay-owned branch of another company, and often has to negotiate LGBT travelers’ experience around a main travel group’s preferences—you don’t just have the cruise ships to yourself or your group).

Also check out:

* Airbnb (search for “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” and more—don’t just click go but read and talk to the owner(s) first

* Craigslist (yes, you can still find more than just bootie calls there.)

* Dinah In Color

* Gaydays.com, Gaydaysanaheim.com

* Spiritjourneys.com

* Damron.com

* Rfamilyvacations.com

* Kimpton LGBT Guest Loyalty Perks

* Sweet

* PurpleRoofs.com

All told, if someone’s going to be n “LGBT-unfriendly” jerk—or worse—you can’t control it.

But you can, with a little forethought, try to better the odds, and you can always control your actions and reactions in the face of discrimination.

The point of traveling (beyond that kind you need to or have to do) is all about the frolic, comfort and joy. So, “go and get you some o’ that!”

Happy Travels.

Would you rather know for sure that your travel agent is family? Does that even matter to you?

The Invisible Transman: Black Transmen’s Poetry Video Big-Up’s Trans* Consciousness

If you didn’t know this guy was trans and you were attracted to him, would you be heading to Grindr right now to connect? Would you change your mind when you discovered he was trans? Would you even, then, call him “he?”How might your perceptions change, or would they change at all?

For all our postmodern and progressive activism in the LGBTQ community, dissent still arises along the lines of race, gender, class and more, even in “men’s only” or “women’s only” so-called shared spaces. As we work for full equality in real-life and real-time, the conversation surrounding these issues must continue.

This month on the Black Transmen, Inc. Twitter timeline, a tweet came across the ethers that demanded attention, reading:

#BlackTransmen Inc – TRANSMEN STAND UP!!!!! http://youtu.be/Weo5EQyqxnM via @BlackTransmen

Once you settle in to view it, you are immediately taken into another world that is grounded, centered, fierce, and empowered.

Resonance washes over you and you are reminded it’s the same world that you’re living in. Yet you know, from the minute the poet in it speaks to you, you’re moved into Xavier’s world, as he navigates who and what seems to be misguided on this guided tour.

As he claims his space and launches into “experience telling,” you are forced to think about one man’s life trajectory as a trans* man…he’s not speaking about “the black experience,” or “the trans* experience,” but the course and the work of living, according to one man.

As they say, what’s personal is most universal. This artistic work compels you to  harmonize, and frankly,to  deal.

Naturally, lived experience for trans* folks articulates in ways that may be challenging to fully articulate, even for trans* folks themselves. The telling of personal stories provides a clearing. A beginning. An open window, door, opportunity. Speaking truth to one’s own power is where power begins, and where it lives. Self-appointed entitlement to create and carve one’s own path is the only language power understands and it must be claimed.

African American transmen–and transmen of color–have additional hurdles that they encounter in terms of day-to-day livelihood that cisgendered folks or folks who don’t share the same background origin might not even be able to imagine.

Black Transmen Inc. creates multimedia work, press campaigns, outreach materials, workshops and creative projects to help invite, welcome and keep transmen in the conversation, no matter where they are, and to help others to better understand and support our trans brothers of color.

You must remember–we’re all family.

In the video, a poet named Xavier launches into an avant garde poetic diegesis on what one black transman’s experience feels like, and how he embraces–rather than disgraces or dismisses–his pre-transition identity.

As he waxes rhapsodic on the struggle for equality, he shares lines such as:

“You want me to deny my feminine nature…” [He won’t.]

“They have their realities, and I have my own.” [He asserts.]

“I prefer the term trans before man….this is my reality, and I embrace that…I will do things that suit my reality….” [He notifies you, regardless of your opinion on the matter.]

Going on to explore misconceptions around assumed gender trickery, privilege, what it means to “be stealth,” ostracism and ultimately empowerment, you’re compelled to think differently about what you think you know about begin a trans* person.

Have a look. No: on second thought, have a “Stop, look, and listen.”

How does the video make you feel? Does it inspire you? Share your comments and share your love in the comments area below.