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The appeal of ‘in between’ in Phuket’s Nai Yang Beach…

If Phuket’s Patong Beach and Phuket Town are too noisy for you; or if the outlying attractions (like Kho Phi-Phi) are too quiet for you, then go for what’s in between. Introducing Nai Yang Beach, a must-try for those who want just the right amount of noise and, well, serenity.

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“Oh, by the way, in Bangkok, the Thai military just declared Martial Law.”

That Viber message was sandwiched in between the “Hi, hope you got there safely!” and “While there, try to at least have fun” from my partner of 11 years, who was sweetly worried that I have been on the road to Nai Yang, Phuket since 2:00 AM in Manila (it was already past 2:00 PM in Thailand), and yet – as usual – still excited for me whenever I travel.

Some of theThai offerings perfected by ambulant vendors in Phuket are Som Tam and Pad Thai

Some of the Thai offerings perfected by ambulant vendors in Phuket are Som Tam and Pad Thai

“Oh, there’s Martial Law in Thailand?” was my question. I have yet to turn on the TV (and while I had glimpses of newspapers at the airports, due to the limitations of print media, this won’t be covered until the following day), or even surfed any online sites, so I was admittedly unaware.

Unaware particularly since I was on the island of Phuket, which seemed… detached from the world (or at least from the goings-on in Bangkok).

At the airport, at least four planes arrived at the same time as ours did – and, basing my observation on the nationalities of the people queuing at the Customs, three of these planes (not ours) were filled mostly with Russian tourists. It was somewhat surreal to actually hear some of the most (sorry for the use of the word) redneck-looking men speak in broken English about their desire to “see beautiful katoey”.

In Thailand, “katoey” is the term generally (and widely) used to refer to transgender women or, at times, effeminate gay men.

“Can have one,” their guide loudly said, also in broken English, as he led them to their rented van, met with guffaws – and I wasn’t sure if he meant (and the way they understood him was) that they could “see” the katoey, or that they can “have” a katoey.

The scene (that fascination with members of the LGBTQ community) seemed somewhat disconnected, somewhat detached from the LGBTQ-hating impression one may have of strapping Russian men, considering the Vladimir Putin-led incitement of LGBTQphobia in that part of the world.

But – again – this is on an island that seemed… somewhat disconnected with the rest of Thailand.

Because there is a world of “in between” in Nai Yang, Phuket.

Phuket is, of course, largely known as a party venue – somewhere in between Bangkok and Pattaya. Yes, here, things can get sleazy (think of Bangkok’s ping pong ball spitting vaginas), to “simply” cruise-y (consider the “Want have fun tonight?” picking up that happens at the beaches of Pattaya). But Phuket – no matter that it is but an island – actually has more to offer than just the parties.

On two sides of the island (generally speaking), they have Phuket Town and Patong Beach that are, if we want to be (stereotypically) Biblical, both centers of sin. That is, they have offerings for the joys of the flesh – those go-go bars, live (sex) shows, and whatever it is that may tickle your fancy.

But Phuket is also a take-off point of everything “untouched” (or at least largely untouched) in Thailand. Think Kho Phi-Phi – reminiscent of Palawan’s Coron because the place is largely underdeveloped to only highlight what’s naturally beautiful there. Yes, it isn’t as big as Palawan; but the natural offerings abound (think: diving, snorkeling, picnic by the beach…).

And then there’s Nai Yang Beach, which boasts the best of both worlds.

Along the beach, you’d find a strip of restos, bars, restobars, spas, saunas… and everything that makes Patong Beach, well, “sleazy”. With them are the people offering the accompanying services – from the barely clad waitresses (at least in a handful of bars) to the (occasional) sex workers plying their wares (that is, themselves) on the street. But, somewhat peculiarly, everything seems to happen here with… caution. As if no one wants to make any loud (or discernible) noise.

And so you’d see honeymooners walking by the beach. Or vendors – as they do in Bangkok – sell Som Tam or Pad Thai or whatever, prepared/cooked right in front of you as you wait. Or windsurfers attempting to brave the (often calm) waters. Or children – after they get off school – chase crabs that surface, and then hide in the (not too white) sandy shore. Or tourists (many from the West) try to get the most out of the sun. Or Western men walking hand-in-hand with their katoey girlfriends, checking the menus of this or that resto, before deciding to move elsewhere if nothing was liked.

This place has, as was said, an “in between” appeal.

And this may be why Nai Yang is worth a visit.

Because if Phuket’s Patong Beach and Phuket Town are too noisy for you; or if the outlying attractions (like Kho Phi-Phi) are too quiet for you, then go for what’s in between.

This destination's main appeal is its ability to merge partying with being (at times) solemn

This destination’s main appeal is its ability to merge partying with being (most times) solemn

On my second day in Nai Yang, people started talking about the Martial Law declared by the Thai military in Bangkok. Mind you, these people who talked about this development were the tourists, worried about whether what happened there will eventually affect this place.

But while lost in this wet market near Nai Yang Beach, I couldn’t help but notice how everything continued to move at a slow pace.

“Try! Try!” At least five Thai vendors told (ordered, even) me, shoving what they were selling in my hand for me to taste them. We couldn’t properly communicate – me speaking in English, and them not knowing how to answer my inquiries, and so they just make me taste what they were selling so I can decide if I liked them enough to buy more of the same. Occasionally, I turned red; at times also coughing from the chili coating the food offered to me. And then they laughed at me, offering me water to drink. Though I thought that they just wanted me to shove more food down my throat. With chili-induced tears streaming from my eyes, all I could think was how my partner would appreciate the choices of good food that can be had here.

While buying Som Tam and Pad Thai from an ambulant vendor, I was again told to try another dish – this one, with thinly chopped veggies topped with uncooked shrimps. Again, right after a spoonful, I turned red and coughed. And again, they laughed at me; though a glass of beer was offered this time around. Pulutan comes to mind, Thai style.

While buying some drinks from a convenience store, I had to wait for the one manning the store as she was busy having her pedicure from someone living in a nearby house. She was apologetic – yet gaily laughing – when she finally attended to me, trying to chat with me in Thai, neglecting (or just not caring) that I don’t speak her language.

And then, when the day was through, while I was sitting by the beach, trying to enjoy the breeze that managed to cool the humid air, I saw two couples – one of the Russian men from the airport was with a friend of his (I assumed), and two katoeys clinging onto them. Now and then, the transwomen would disentangle themselves from their men, running – like kids having fun – to the water, and then run away as the waves approached them. They looked… carefree. A few times, the men joined them too, laughing as they tried to tell them in booming voices to “Enjoy the water! Enjoy the water!”.

Because of what we hear (about the plight of LGBTQ people) from Russia, it seemed so out of character. Heck, because of what we hear from Bangkok, the entire scene seemed so out of character.

But then again, this is Nai Yang, which boasts the beauty of “in between”…

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. Though he grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City in Maguindanao), even attending Roman Catholic schools there, he "really, really came out in Sydney," he says, so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing and a developed world". Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies under his belt)... this one's a multi-tasker, who is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language (FSL). Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism. Cross his path is the dare (read: It won't be boring).

Travel

Anti-LGBTQIA ‘conversion therapy’ now prohibited by Albanian psychologists

In a move that effectively bans “conversion therapy” in Albania, the country’s Order of Psychologists announced that it will prohibit registered members from offering attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

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In a move that effectively bans “conversion therapy” in Albania, the country’s Order of Psychologists announced that it will prohibit registered members from offering attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Conversion therapy” is the most widely-used term used to describe practices attempting to change, suppress or divert one’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. It is also called reorientation therapy, reparative therapy, reintegrative therapy, or, more recently, support for unwanted same-sex attraction or transgender identities.

Medical associations are critical of this practice – e.g. the World Psychiatric Association criticized these as “wholly unethical,” and the Pan American Health Organization warned that they pose “a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.”

Other countries deal this this, including Malta, Ecuador, Germany, Brazil and Taiwan. Still other countries are in the process of banning the practice, including Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and the US.

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Health & Wellness

Study finds more severe eating disorders among LGBT individuals

Delays in accessing treatment are especially widespread for transgender and nonbinary individuals with eating disorders. Some of the causes include delayed diagnosis by providers who fail to assess non-cisgender female patients for disordered eating, as well as limited access to trans-affirming treatment options.

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A study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders finds that eating disorder patients who identify as LGBT have more severe eating disorder symptoms, higher rates of trauma history, and longer delays between diagnosis and treatment than heterosexual, cisgender patients.

“While we know there is a higher prevalence of eating disorders among LGBTQ folks, particularly trans and non-binary folks (with rates estimated to be anywhere from 40% to 70%), our field is in its infancy with researching this health disparity, so I believe research like ours is especially important” said clinical psychologist Jennifer Henretty PhD, CEDS, one of the study’s co-authors who serves as the Executive Director of Clinical Outcomes for Discovery Behavioral Health, Center For Discovery.

Eating disorders are a serious mental health concern: At least 30 million people—of all ages, sexual orientations, and gender-identities—experience an eating disorder in the US alone, and every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result of an eating disorder. In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

The most common eating disorders are binge eating disorder, where people regularly eat a large amount in a short period of time; bulimia nervosa, where people regularly eat a large amount in a short period of time and then try to offset the food using harmful behaviors (like vomiting); and anorexia nervosa, where people regularly eat too little due to a fear of gaining weight and thus are malnourished.

The causes of eating disorders are not clear but both biological and environmental factors are thought to play a role. Eating disorders typically begin in adolescence but it appears that the rate of the disorder may be on the rise in middle-aged and even older adults.

The peer-reviewed academic study analyzed data from 2,818 individuals treated in residential (RTC), partial hospitalization (PHP), and/or intensive outpatient (IOP) levels-of-care at a large eating disorder treatment organization; 471 (17%) of the participants identified as LGBT. The facilities were operated by Center for Discovery, a US healthcare provider specializing in the treatment of eating disorders.

Research shows that individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or other non-heterosexual/non-cisgender identities have significantly higher rates of mental and physical health conditions compared to their heterosexual, cisgender peers.

“LGBT individuals are more likely to experience housing and employment discrimination, and to struggle with multiple mental health challenges related to minority stress; this perfect storm of barriers means eating behaviors are often overlooked,” said Vaughn Darst, RD, who serves as Operations Advisor for Discovery Behavioral Health, Center For Discovery and who also discussed in a TedX talk the complex issue at the intersection of gender, body image, food and identity.

The study found a full 12-month delay in treatment for LGBT patients compared to non-LGBT patients.

“Delays in accessing treatment are especially widespread for transgender and nonbinary individuals with eating disorders. Some of the causes include delayed diagnosis by providers who fail to assess non-cisgender female patients for disordered eating, as well as limited access to trans-affirming treatment options, particularly at the residential level of care” said Darst.

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Health & Wellness

Greater availability of non-alcoholic drinks may reduce alcohol consumption

The findings suggest that interventions to encourage healthier food and drink choices may be most effective when changing the relative availability of healthier and less-healthy options.

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Photo by Joyce McCown from Unsplash.com

People are more likely to opt for non-alcoholic drinks if there are more of them available than alcoholic drinks, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.

A team of researchers at the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre, and the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge, UK found that when presented with eight drink options, participants were 48% more likely to choose a non-alcoholic drink when the proportion of non-alcoholic drink options increased from four (50%) to six (75%). When the proportion of non-alcoholic drink options decreased from four to two (25%), participants were 46% less likely to choose a non-alcoholic drink.

Dr Anna Blackwell, the corresponding author said: “Alcohol consumption is among the top five risk factors for disease globally. Previous research has shown that increasing the availability of healthier food options can increase their selection and consumption relative to less healthy food. To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that increasing the availability of non-alcoholic drinks, relative to alcoholic drinks in an online scenario, can increase their selection.”

Participants in the study completed an online task in which they were presented with a selection of alcoholic beer, non-alcoholic beer and soft-drinks. The drink selections included four alcoholic and four non-alcoholic drinks, six alcoholic and two non-alcoholic drinks or two alcoholic and six non-alcoholic drinks. 808 UK residents with an average age of 38 years who regularly consumed alcohol participated in the study.

When presented with mostly non-alcoholic drinks, 49% of participants selected a non-alcoholic drink, compared to 26% of participants who selected a non-alcoholic drink when presented with mostly alcoholic drinks. These results were consistent regardless of the time participants had to make their decision, indicating that the findings were not dependent on the amount of time and attention participants were able to devote to their drink choice. The findings suggest that interventions to encourage healthier food and drink choices may be most effective when changing the relative availability of healthier and less-healthy options.

Anna Blackwell said: “Many licensed venues already offer several non-alcoholic options but these are often stored out of direct sight, for example in low-level fridges behind the bar. Our results indicate that making these non-alcoholic products more visible to customers may influence them to make healthier choices. The market for alcohol-free beer, wine and spirit alternatives is small but growing and improving the selection and promotion of non-alcoholic drinks in this way could provide an opportunity for licensed venues to reduce alcohol consumption without losing revenue.”

The authors caution that as the study measured hypothetical drink selection online, results may differ in real-world settings. Further studies are needed to determine how the relative availability of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks impacts the purchasing and consumption of alcohol in real life.

Alcoholism is a big issue in the LGBTQIA community.

In 2017, a study found that bisexual people had higher odds of engaging in alcohol use behaviors when compared with people from the sexual majority. This study also found that bullying mediated sexual minority status and alcohol use more particularly among bisexual females.

Still in 2017, another study noted higher levels of alcohol use among men who have sex with men (MSM), which is closely associated with intimate partner violence (IPV). The same study found that over half of MSM experienced IPV, and just under half of MSM perpetrating IPV themselves, including physical, sexual, emotional or HIV-related IPV.

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Lifestyle & Culture

Slot game guide for Rainbrew

Looking at the masses of very good online slot games out there today.

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Among the masses of very good online slot games out there today, there is a rather large number of games at 666 Casino that adhere to the same theme.

One of these such themes is that of Luck o’ the Irish, with the old Irish charm clearly being an attractive trait for both developers and online gamblers. The amount of games made with this aesthetic and narrative in mind, makes it a little harder to stand out from the rest of the rainbows and leprechauns at times, but Rainbrew does just that with a unique twist of the format.

This 3, 5, 5, 5, 3 reel slot game with 243 ways to win, turns rainbows into a brew, enjoyed by leprechauns, themselves. The unique layout and this slightly humorous narrative combine to make a fine addition to the many Irish themed slot games out there already. 

About the developer 

Rainbrew was developed by Just For The Win in collaboration with Microgaming.

The latter is a name that regular players of online slot games will know well, as Microgaming have a huge collection of online slot games and slot machines to their name, with many of them using interesting and original themes.

Microgaming have done well to add a different dynamic to the Irish themed slot game here, adding some of their smart, trademark animations to make a very playable slot game. 

About the game 

As already mentioned, Rainbrew has a different narrative to most Irish themed slot games. We aren’t just chasing rainbows and pots of gold here, as the leprechauns featured are crafting their own brew which, judging by the colour of it, looks as if it is made of rainbows.

Bubbles in pipes provide the border for the reels, with a blue tube and a green tube at the top and bottom of the screen respectively. The symbols of the reels look woody, with smoking pipes, mugs full of this special rainbow brew, barrels and the game’s 2 leprechaun characters appearing on them.

The game has quite an interesting layout but one that many gamers will have seen before, as 243 ways to win are made of the 3, 5, 5, 5, 3 reels on display. On them you will see wild symbols that are able to substitute for almost all other symbols to create a winning combination. The only symbol that a wild cannot be swapped for is the scatter, which is crucial to the bonus features.

Bonus Features 

The bonus features in Rainbrew come in the form of a classic free spins round and the more custom-made feature, which is the Sidewinder Feature.

The former is triggered when the scatter lands on reels 2, 4 and the horizontal reels, with up to 10 free spins being the result. 

Verdict 

All in all, this is a fine addition to the slot game collection that Microgaming has and a fine addition to all of the popular Irish-themed slot games out there, too. The free spins feature is key to big wins, so let’s hope you land those scatters.

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Love Affairs

Unique gifts for the man in your life that you can both enjoy

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember when shopping for a gift for your partner is to be thoughtful. Try to find a gift that is personal and unique, so that they feel supported and valued.

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Finding the perfect gift can be hard, particularly when you’re buying for a man who already has a lot of gadgetry and an independent income.

Often, they tend to buy themselves the gadgets and garments they want, leaving you with limited options when it comes to finding them a present they’ll love. 

Don’t despair, because there are still loads of ways to surprise them and give them an unforgettable treat. If you’re trying to find a gift, be it for a birthday, holiday or special occasion, then read on to find a selection of ideas that you can share with them. 

An Experience Voucher

One of the best ways to give a unique, unforgettable gift to the man in your life is to buy him an experience voucher. There are many options to choose from, ranging from supercar track days and hot air balloon rides through to cooking lessons and cocktail masterclasses, meaning there’s something for everyone. You can choose an experience that you will both love and book it for them so that they have something to look forward to in the future. 

You can choose an experience that you will both love and book it for them.

A Sex Toy

If the love of your life is a fan of spicing things up in the bedroom, then there are these options here for sex toys that will entice and engage them. You can use them on your partner, or allow them to use them on you, to create intimate experiences that neither of you will forget. A sex toy is also a great way to start experimenting in the bedroom, so buying one as a gift way to start your journey towards a fulfilling and exciting sex life. Just make sure he doesn’t open it in front of his family! 

A sex toy is a great way to start experimenting in the bedroom.

Designer Underwear

Many men wear the same old underwear for years, but this can be uncomfortable for them, as well as unappealing for you. Try to find them some new underwear made by a designer brand, so that they can look good and you can feel even better. Try to buy them in a style that suits their body and a color that will set off their skin tone, so that their underwear will look good and well as keeping your partner snug and comfortable. 

Try to find them some new underwear made by a designer brand, so that they can look good and you can feel even better.

A High-End Electric Guitar 

If your partner is an avid guitar player, but you want to enjoy some respite from the sound of their favorite songs coming through the walls during their late-night jam sessions, then consider buying them a luxury electric guitar. When played without an amp, they are almost entirely silent, meaning that they can practice to their heart’s content while you sleep soundly in another room. Check out the high-end electric guitars on offer from some of the world’s most respected instrument makers to find one that your man will love. 

When played without an amp, they are almost entirely silent, meaning that they can practice to their heart’s content while you sleep soundly in another room.

A Couple’s Massage

Massages are a relaxing spa treatment that almost everyone enjoys, so if your partner is a fan of being pampered, then consider getting them a voucher for a couple’s massage or spa day. You can both indulge in a relaxing massage and spend a relaxing day together. Many spas also offer you the chance to try out other treatments with your partner, so check out the menu and see if there’s anything that you will both enjoy. Afterwards, you can cool off in the pool or the hot tub, bringing your relaxing, rejuvenating day to a close and leaving you both refreshed and ready to face whatever the future brings.

You can both indulge in a relaxing massage and spend a relaxing day together.

A Pet

Buying a pet as a surprise gift is not advisable, but if you and your partner have been considering taking the leap and becoming a pet parent for some time, then paying for it could be a great gift. Make sure that you both choose the animal together so that you find one that fits perfectly into your little family. You might not be able to surprise them, but you will be able to buy a gift that you will both love and which will be a major part of your lives for many years to come. 

If you and your partner have been considering taking the leap and becoming a pet parent for some time, then paying for it could be a great gift.

A Trendy Kitchen Accessory 

Gourmet cooking has become fashionable over recent years, thanks to celebrity chefs. As a result, many men love to spend their time in the kitchen, whipping up their favorite dishes. Search for a quality kitchen accessory that will enhance their cooking experience and help them to create even more tasty treats, which you, of course, will be more than happy to sample to check that they taste as good as they look.

Gourmet cooking has become fashionable over recent years, thanks to celebrity chefs.

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember when shopping for a gift for your partner is to be thoughtful. Try to find a gift that is personal and unique, so that they feel supported and valued. Use this list to find inspiration and share the joy with your loved one. 

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Shopping

Apple joins 2020’s rainbow retail with Pride-inspired watch

As June nears, expect businesses (even those that used to be anti-LGBTQIA, or at least mum about this issue until profiting from it was seen) to start using the rainbow – long considered as a symbol of LGBT Pride – to sell goods.

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As June nears, expect businesses (even those that used to be anti-LGBTQIA, or at least mum about this issue until profiting from it was seen) to start using the rainbow – long considered as a symbol of LGBT Pride to sell goods.

Among the early starters this year is Apple, which launched the artful Pride Edition Sport Band, which is joined for the first time by the new Apple Watch Nike Pride Edition Sport Band. Both are available from apple.com, the Apple Store app, and Apple stores, and pair with matching Pride Watch faces that are coming soon as a part of watchOS 6.2.5.

Fortunately (at least for Americans), Apple (and Nike) support LGBTQIA organizations doing advocacy and community-building, including GLSEN, PFLAG, The Trevor Project, Gender Spectrum, The National Center for Transgender Equality, and ILGA World.

So… as June approaches, savor the colors of the rainbow, while discussing profiteering of and within the LGBTQIA community.

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