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Top destinations for LGBT honeymoons

It remains an issue that LGBT equality and rights are not always respected in every country around the world, which can dramatically rule out certain destinations as a honeymoon choice for many couples.

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As it is, planning a honeymoon is already a massive decision, with so many factors to consider to ensure the the couple (or throuple; or more, if this is the case) have the perfect newlywed escape. But for LGBT couples, there are often additional factors to consider.

“While it shouldn’t have to be the case, it remains an issue that LGBT equality and rights are not always respected in every country around the world, which can dramatically rule out certain destinations as a honeymoon choice for many couples,” stated The Latin America Travel Company.

With this in mind, the firm compiled its LGBT Honeymoon Ranking to create an “exhaustive, inclusive list of all the best places for LGBT couples to honeymoon and enjoy the perfect, romantic break everyone hopes their honeymoon will be.”

The Middle Earth is the second best destination for LGBT honeymooners.
Photo by Jeff Finley from Unsplash.com

For the list, the firm analyzed both LGBT equality, plus overall honeymoon appeal across every destination around the world, using a variety of studies, reports and surveys. Firstly, the list was limited to those countries where homosexuality is not criminalized. These countries were then analyzed using various factors including marriage equality, LGBT travel recognition, honeymoon popularity and romantic setting, to assess the best honeymoon destination for LGBT couples.

Topping the list: Canada, with New Zealand in second place and Australia in third.

The Land Downunder joins the list of the best destinations for LGBT honeymooners.
Photo by Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren) from Unsplash.com

Other countries making the list are: Argentina, ranking in the top 20, largely as a result of the same-sex marriage bill that legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, making it the first country in Latin America to de-criminalize it; Ecuador (23rd), Costa Rica (26th), Chile (27th), and Brazil (30th).

Surprisingly (or not surprisingly?), no Asian countries made the list.

Lifestyle & Culture

5 of the best LGBTQ podcasts

Whether you’re looking to get nostalgic about cult TV shows or educate yourself about LGBTQ history, here are some of the best LGBTQ podcasts to binge on.

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Everybody loves a podcast, not just a form of entertainment, but a way to learn plenty of new things and get inspired. Whether you’re looking to get nostalgic about cult TV shows or educate yourself about LGBTQ history, here are some of the best LGBTQ podcasts to binge on.

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1 . LGBTQ&A

This podcast offers weekly interviews with interesting LGBTQ people from all across the world. The show is produced by Advocate Magazine and hosted by Jeffrey Masters. Recent episodes have featured guests such as Jennifer Finney Boylan, discussing the trans experience, and her renowned memoir. Tune in for a discussion with Adam Eli about, ‘How Social Media Is Changing Queer Activism’, or bisexuality talks with Lili Reinhart. For inspiration, education, and plenty of entertainment, this is the show you need.

2. Making Gay History

This podcast brings you personal portraits and rare interviews about gay history. Each podcast explores a new history from the archive. There’s an interview from the early ’70s, with Jill Johnston who had recently published a manifesto entitled, ‘Lesbian Nation’. There’s also a particularly interesting episode featuring a conversation with Leonard Matlovich in 1975. Leonard discusses his experience suing the Airforce, when he was dismissed for being gay. The podcast has previously included the stories of Quentin Crisp, Christopher Isherwood, and Lorraine Hansberry.

3. To L And Back: An L Word Podcast 

To L and Back’, is a podcast that recaps episodes of the ‘L Word’, a long-running show set in Los Angeles, following the lives of a group of bisexuals and lesbians. Expect a podcast full of fun, trivia, star guests, jokes, and more. (The podcast probably makes a lot more sense if you’ve watched ‘The L Word’, so if you haven’t, get streaming)! The ‘L Word’ is a bit of a love or hate show, but it did drum up quite the cult following, so see what you think!

4. Gay Therapy LA

Gay Therapy LA is run by gay podcaster Ken Howard, offering coaching services and psychotherapy. Ken’s practice exists to help gay men excel in both their careers and personal lives. Recent episodes have explored themes such as relationship vocabulary; gay men’s dating dilemmas; the decision to have children; and sex during COVID-19. For gay men looking for relationship discussions and advice, here is an insightful podcast.

5. The Logbooks

The Logbooks is a podcast that examines stories from Britain’s LGBTQIA+ history, plus the modern experience of being queer. One recent episode tells the story of a gay bookshop, raided in 1984. The tale is one of community solidarity, and of censorship. Adam and Tash discuss things that were thought of as ‘obscene’ back in the ’80s, and how the state tried to prevent people from seeing such things.
Whether you want to learn something new or laugh out loud, you’ll find plenty to satisfy you with these five top picks. For more knowledge and entertainment check out the top LGBTQ books right now.

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Health & Wellness

Trans women can safely maintain estrogen treatments during gender affirming surgery

The practice of withholding estrogen prior to gender affirming surgery was not necessary. Most transgender women can now safely remain on their estrogen therapy throughout surgery.

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There was no difference in blood clots when estrogen hormone therapy was maintained during gender affirming surgery.

This is according to a study (titled, “No Venous Thromboembolism Increase Among Transgender Female Patients Remaining on Estrogen for Gender Affirming Surgery”) helmed by John Henry Pang with Aki Kozato from Mount Sinai, and was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Historically, the lack of published data contributed to heterogeneity in the practice of whether doctors and surgeons advised transgender women to withhold their estrogen therapy before surgery. The sudden loss of estrogen in the blood was sometimes very uncomfortable with symptoms that amounted to a sudden, severe menopause.

So the researchers tapped 919 transgender patients who underwent gender affirming surgery at Mount Sinai’s Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery between November 2015 and August 2019. Notably, including 407 cases of transgender women who underwent primary vaginoplasty surgery.

This study found that the practice of withholding estrogen prior to gender affirming surgery was not necessary. Most transgender women can now safely remain on their estrogen therapy throughout surgery.

The bottom line: This study found that most transgender women can  safely maintain their estrogen hormone treatments during gender affirming surgery.

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Health & Wellness

Facebook posts help facilitate belief that HPV vaccine is dangerous to health

Nearly 40% of Facebook posts about the HPV vaccine amplified a perceived risk, and the data suggests these posts had momentum over time.

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The human papillomavirus infection, or HPV, is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). HPV is associated with health problems including genital warts and cancers, but a vaccine has been available since 2006 to help stop the virus. The CDC reports more than 12 years of data supports the HPV vaccine is safe and effective, yet HPV vaccination rates still remain low.

Social media has a history of being a popular place for sexual health discussions, and the HPV vaccine is one of the most discussed vaccines on the internet. Monique Luisi, an assistant professor in the University of Missouri School of Journalism, has studied more than 6,500 public HPV vaccine-related posts on Facebook from 2006 to 2016. In a previous study, Luisi used these Facebook posts to identify a negative trend on Facebook related to how people perceive the HPV vaccine.

Now, she suggests this negative trend on Facebook may also cause people to develop a false perception of the health risk of the vaccine. After looking at the percentage of posts that made the vaccine seem more dangerous, less dangerous or neither, Luisi found nearly 40% of Facebook posts about the HPV vaccine amplified a perceived risk, and the data suggests these posts had momentum over time.

“We should not assume that only the disease is perceived as a risk, but when research supports it, that medical treatments and interventions might unfortunately also be perceived as risks,” she said. “It’s more likely that people are going to see things on social media, particularly on Facebook, that are not only negative about the HPV vaccine, but will also suggest the HPV vaccine could be harmful. It amplifies the fear that people may have about the vaccine, and we see that posts that amplify fear are more likely to trend than those that don’t.”

Luisi suggests the spread of this negative information may lead people to have a false perception of the vaccine, so people should consult their doctor or health care provider before making an informed decision.

“Facebook remains a very popular social media platform for adult audiences, which necessitates action to address HPV vaccine risk messages,” she said. “People are going to see what they are going to see on social media, so it’s important to not only take what you see on social media, but also talk to a doctor or health care provider. Just because it’s trending doesn’t mean it’s true.”

Luisi notes research must continue to address the perception of vaccine safety where the vaccine is perceived as a greater health threat than the virus or disease it prevents, and her study could also inform officials for the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine roll out and distribution.

“As the COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out, people are likely going to see a lot of negative information, and that negative information will be what trends on social media,” she said. “But, if the public can anticipate this negative information, it will be interesting to see if that will that make them less sensitive to the perceived risk of the vaccine.”

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Health & Wellness

Depression and stress could dampen efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines

Even though rigorous testing has shown that the COVID-19 vaccines approved for distribution are highly effective at producing a robust immune response, not everyone will immediately gain their full benefit. Environmental factors, as well as an individual’s genetics and physical and mental health, can weaken the body’s immune system, slowing the response to a vaccine.

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Decades of research show that depression, stress, loneliness, and poor health behaviors can weaken the body’s immune system and lower the effectiveness of certain vaccines.

A new report accepted for publication in Perspectives on Psychological Science suggests that the same may be true for the new COVID-19 vaccines that are in development and the early stages of global distribution. Fortunately, it may be possible to reduce these negative effects with simple steps like exercise and sleep.

Vaccines are among the safest and most effective advances in medical history, protecting society from a wide range of otherwise devastating diseases, including smallpox and polio. The key to their success, however, is ensuring that a critical percentage of the population is effectively vaccinated to achieve so-called herd immunity.

Even though rigorous testing has shown that the COVID-19 vaccines approved for distribution are highly effective at producing a robust immune response, not everyone will immediately gain their full benefit. Environmental factors, as well as an individual’s genetics and physical and mental health, can weaken the body’s immune system, slowing the response to a vaccine.

This is particularly troubling as the novel coronavirus continues to rage across the world, trigging a concurrent mental health crisis as people deal with isolation, economic stressors, and uncertainty about the future. These challenges are the same factors that have been previously shown to weaken vaccine efficacy, particularly among the elderly.

“In addition to the physical toll of COVID-19, the pandemic has an equally troubling mental health component, causing anxiety and depression, among many other related problems. Emotional stressors like these can affect a person’s immune system, impairing their ability to ward off infections,” said Annelise Madison, a researcher at The Ohio State University and lead author on the paper. “Our new study sheds light on vaccine efficacy and how health behaviors and emotional stressors can alter the body’s ability to develop an immune response. The trouble is that the pandemic in and of itself could be amplifying these risk factors.”

Vaccines work by challenging the immune system. Within hours of a vaccination, there is an innate, general immune response on the cellular level as the body begins to recognize a potential biological threat. This frontline response by the immune system is eventually aided by the production of antibodies, which target specific pathogens. It is the continued production of antibodies that helps to determine how effective a vaccine is at conferring long-term protection.

The good news, according to the researchers, is that the COVID-19 vaccines already in circulation are approximately 95% effective. Even so, these psychological and behavioral factors can lengthen the amount of time it takes to develop immunity and can shorten the duration of immunity.

“The thing that excites me is that some of these factors are modifiable,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University and senior author on the paper. “It’s possible to do some simple things to maximize the vaccine’s initial effectiveness.”

Based on prior research, one strategy the researchers suggest is to engage in vigorous exercise and get a good night’s sleep in the 24 hours before vaccination so that your immune system is operating at peak performance. This may help ensure that the best and strongest immune response happens as quickly as possible.

“Prior research suggests that psychological and behavioral interventions can improve vaccine responsiveness. Even shorter-term interventions can be effective,” said Madison. “Therefore, now is the time to identify those at risk for a poor immune response and intervene on these risk factors.”

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Lifestyle & Culture

Encouraging outdoor, active fun in children today

Because outdoor activity is still needed.

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A ride-on is an extremely popular toy. If you’re looking to encourage outdoor fun in your child, this is the way to go about.

They have become even better loved over the past few years because more and more innovative designs have come to the forefront. Ride-ons are definitely more advanced with regards to style and design in comparison to what they used to be. 

IMAGE SOURCE: PIXABAY.COM

You can also find adaptive ride-ons that have been created for children with physical disabilities, from low muscle tone to Cerebral Palsy. 

However, this is a toy which tends to be more catered towards boys. There are lots of fantastic race cars, fire engines, tractors, and so on and so forth. There is no shortage of choice if you are looking to buy a ride-on for your son. Nevertheless, if you are looking to buy for your daughter, then that is where the issue lies. 

The choices available are limited and so a lot of parents struggle to find an exciting ride-on for their little princess. Nonetheless, we’ve managed to source out some fantastic ride-ons and thus you will be able to put a smile on your daughters face with one of the following…

8338 Speedster Freestyle Pink

This gorgeous car is sleek and sporty and perfect for any girly girl. It has an unusual style which is simply adorable. The vehicle itself is pale pink and finished off with a sparkling glisten. The wheels are black and white, the seat is black, the wheel is black, and moreover, the front of the car boasts a beautiful chrome effect. This is suitable for any little angel who is aged between one and three years old. The Speedster Freestyle is a car that can rival any little boys’ vehicle. 

Rolly Toys Foot to Floor Carabella Mini Tractor

Who said girls can’t have a tractor? This ride-on is the perfect blend between unlimited fun and girly glam. The tractor is pink and features big bold black wheels. The bonnet of this tractor opens which is great because it means that there is room for your little one to store some stuff inside. They can take a long some snacks for the journey or even take with them their favourite cuddly toy. In addition to this, the tractor comes complete with a squeaky horn – meaning your daughter can let people know when she has arrived. A final point worth noting is that this tractor is suited to those aged over one-year-old.

Wheelybug Pig Large

This is one of the most unique ride-ons you will see. Your little girl will get to ride a pig! This is possibly the cutest toy on the market today. Not only does this toy look good, but it has been specifically designed in order to help children increase their motor skills, confidence, coordination, and spatial awareness. This is one of the best ride-ons to get your child welcomed to the world of wheels. It is fun, it is exciting, it is safe, and it is easy to get to grips with. Any little girl who loves pink and loves animals with love this toy.

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Health & Wellness

Bisexual men more prone to eating disorders than gay or straight men – study

80% of bisexual men reported that they “felt fat”, and 77% had a strong desire to lose weight, both figures higher than the 79% and 75% for gay men, respectively.

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Bisexual men are more likely to experience eating disorders than either heterosexual or gay men. This is according to a report from the University of California San Francisco, published in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders.

A handful of studies have actually indicated that gay men are at increased risk for disordered eating, including fasting, excessive exercise and preoccupation with weight and body shape. This newer study, however, suggests that bisexual men are even more susceptible to some unhealthy habits.

For this study, the researchers surveyed over 4,500 LGBTQ adults, and a quarter of the bisexual male participants reported having fasted for more than eight hours to influence their weight or appearance. This is higher when compared to 20% for gay men.

The research also found that 80% of bisexual men reported that they “felt fat”, and 77% had a strong desire to lose weight, both figures higher than the 79% and 75% for gay men, respectively.

Now this is worth stressing: According to study co-author Dr. Jason Nagata, not everyone who diets or feels fat has an eating disorder. “It’s a spectrum — from some amount of concern to a tipping point where it becomes a pathological obsession about body weight and appearance,”Nagata was quoted as saying by NBC News.

For Nagata, several factors may be at play here, including “minority stress” (the concept that the heightened anxiety faced by marginalized groups can manifest as poor mental and physical health outcomes).

“LGBTQ people experience stigma and discrimination, and stressors can definitely lead to disordered eating,” Nagata was also quoted as saying. “For bi men, they’re not just facing stigma from the straight community but from the gay community, as well.”

Of all the respondents, 3.2% of bisexual males were clinically diagnosed with eating disorders (compared to 2.9% of gay men). For heterosexual men, it’s only 0.6%.

For the researchers, there is a need to conduct eating disorder research on various sexual identities independently. This is also to raise awareness on this issue (and how it affects different people of various SOGIESCs).

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