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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Taiwan shows LGBTQ-friendliness doesn’t mean equality for all

In Taiwan, public attitude towards LGBTQ citizens are non-violent, at best. The rate of hate crimes is relatively low compared to other countries. Be that as it may, there are still a lot of tweaking to do when it comes to having a truly respectful and empowering environment for LGBTQ citizens.

Photo courtesy of Ketty W. Chen

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Taiwanese society, in general, is pretty accepting of diversity. The country is known to have the largest Pride Parade in Asia and leads in LGBTQ rights in the region.  Some queer-centric hang-out spots can be seen around its capital, Taipei – from gay-friendly clubs and cafes, a weekly social activity for LGBTQ folks to the existence of a welcoming Christian church and, presently, being home to the only Taoist temple in the world that hears the prayers of LGBTQ individuals seeking romantic love.

Public attitude towards LGBTQ citizens are non-violent, at best. The rate of hate crimes is relatively low compared to other countries. Be that as it may, there are still a lot of tweaking to do when it comes to having a truly respectful and empowering environment for LGBTQ citizens.

Working on SOGIE (mis)education

At face value, the Taiwanese government endorses LGBTQ rights through its public announcements, bills and policies. But actual implementation is another story. In the same way that the Ministry of Interior fails for years to deliver on its promise to do away with discriminatory requirements on legal gender change, the Ministry of Education (MOE) also disappoints with its crude implementation of the Gender Equity Education Act, which supposedly should promote comprehensive SOGIE awareness and education in schools.

Wayne Lin, consultant for Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBT) Hotline Association, shared that, In year 2004, Taiwan passed a very advanced, pioneering Gender Equity Education Act. So conceptually, schools need to teach [gender equity education] 4 hours every semester, supposedly. But what’s ‘gender equity education’? That has been the battlefield for the past years… When the government or some professional teachers try to draft a guideline for the teachers… the opposition tries to manipulate fear with misleading information [about gender equity education], and the government doesn’t really take a strong and clear stance [on this policy]… But some teachers still want to do that [impart SOGIE education] so the hotline is [sometimes] invited to schools to talk about gender equity education.”

Wayne added, “I think the MOE doesn’t want to take any political risk… It’s always asking the two sides to fight each other, and the government doesn’t make any decision.”

Anti-LGBTQ groups continue to figure out ways to get into the school system in order to influence policies. For example, they run for the head positions in the parent groups/associations in schools while hiding their identity as anti-LGBTQ. There are organizations dubbed as “parent groups” but are actually an offshoot of conservative religious groups opposing LGBTQ equality. Moreover, anti-LGBTQ groups spread misinformation that schools are teaching students how to have sex and converting them into homosexuality. They would stop at nothing to get Gender Equity Education off of schools’ curricula.

“Several years ago, one Christian legislator asked MOE to let anti-LGBTQ people to get into the Gender Equity Education Committee. They said that anti-LGBTQ opinion is also part of the diversified opinion; therefore, they can get into the committee… So now the Gender Equity Education Committee has a few seats for anti-LGBTQ members, which is very ironic,” Wayne lamented.

Presbyterian Church in Taipei offering its support for LGBTQ+ rights
Photo courtesy of Ketty W. Chen

Establishing an LGBTQ-inclusive environment isn’t only needed in educational institutions. Aside from empowering queer youth, Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association works on providing support to the elderly demographic as well. Wayne shared, “The other thing we also pay quite a lot of attention to is the Long-Term Care Policy Taiwan is forming at this moment… For example, in Taiwan, some long-term care institutions actually are religious, like Muslim or Christian, so we already know some people are so afraid of going into that institution because they don’t know how they will be treated.”

The indifference towards LGBTQ issues, which is also why their rights are not taken seriously enough to be prioritized, can also be felt in the workplace. For example, even though there are work regulations against discrimination, in reality, a lot of queer employees are still not that comfortable to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity for fear of it affecting their career development. Sexual harassment or discrimination cases are also not properly addressed. Basically, as Wayne put it, “You probably would not hear really harsh discrimination, but typically you are ignored. LGBTQ’s are kind of invisible.”

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Much ado about marriage equality

Currently, Taiwan lets LGBTQ couples have civil unions, but which is evidenced only by a piece of paper that brings zero spousal protection or benefits. They are not granted medical visitation rights, joint property rights, parental rights, adoption rights or any of the hundred or so rights given to married couples under the law. Surprisingly, even their national ID cards would still state their status as being “single”, not married. However, according to Reese Li, Secretary of Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy, although such civil unions are only done symbolically without any substantial partnership rights, one goal of this is to let government realize that there is actually a mass of LGBTQ couples who yearn for the right to marry. Hence, they must be given this basic civil right as citizens of the country.

In the past year, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court has declared that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. It was ruled that marriage equality would be implemented after 2 years from May 2017. The options involve amending the Civil Code or, the less appealing route, by crafting a separate law for same-sex marriage. Despite the past media hype, Taiwan’s road to marriage equality is still actually stagnating in legislation. Without a clearly defined law protecting LGBTQ couples’ right to marry, as well as guaranteeing all their rights and benefits in marriage, the future for same-sex matrimony remains vague.

Taiwan’s prominent gay civil rights activist, Chi Chia Wei (祁家威), waves a rainbow flag atop a building.
Photo courtesy of Ketty W. Chen

While the government is being lax on this issue, anti-LGBTQ groups are continuously devising ways to block the progress of marriage equality. Early this year, opposing groups have passed a referendum proposal diluting multifaceted LGBTQ issues into 3 questions: (1) Should homosexuality be taught to primary and high school students? (2) Should marriage be defined as solely between a man and a woman? (3) Should same-sex couples have a different kind of union from marriage?

“Same-sex marriage must be implemented since the Constitutional Court already proclaimed it. It should not be overruled by the referendum. But the main question is ‘How?’… The aim of the anti-gay groups is for legislation to make a ‘special’ law for same-sex marriage, instead of amending the Civil Code [for marriage] because they believe that the Civil Code is theirs”, said Reese Li. “Special laws are written for disadvantaged people in society- for example, indigenous people or children. The purpose is to provide special protection… But the purpose behind anti-gay groups wanting a special law [for same-sex marriage] is from blatant discrimination, not to protect a minority group.”

Anti-LGBTQ protestors in Taiwan join hands as they stand menacingly.
Photo courtesy of Ketty W. Chen

In response to this, a pro-LGBTQ referendum was initiated by Social Democratic Party member Miao Po Ya. They are fighting against well-funded, threatening attempts to trash both the Gender Equity Education Act and marriage equality ruling. Reese shared that the coalition of opposing groups are quite strong since, aside from getting financial and mobilization support from local political and religious organizations, they are also backed by conservative groups in the US and Hong Kong.

At the end of August, the opposing groups’ referendum proposals have been submitted to election authorities. The last stage would involve placing the referendum on ballot in the coming local elections in November 2018. If anti-LGBTQ sentiments were to succeed, government might take this as a sign that Taiwanese society is not yet ready for the progress of LGBTQ rights; and thus, such atmosphere of discrimination could lead to the continuation of curtailing their civil rights.

The sign reads, “In Canada, we are a married couple. Under Taiwanese law, we are mere strangers.”
Photo courtesy of Andrea Toerien

Indeed, same-sex marriage stirs a lot of discussions not just in Taiwan but also in different parts of the world, which can be a good thing for advocating less discrimination for a minority group. However, it’s also getting slammed as a bourgeoisie movement that has strayed away from its roots, furthers inequality and ignores the struggles in structural intersectionality (the same goes for exorbitant celebrations of Pride parades) especially when, at times, it takes a huge slice of attention and funding at the expense of other important socio-politico-economic struggles experienced by LGBTQ’s (e.g. poverty, disability issues, homelessness, HIV-related issues). All this mainstream focus on marriage rights as the helm of LGBTQ advocacy can be rather dismissive and shortsighted.

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In a nutshell, critics assert that since the flawed neoliberal institution of marriage tends to emphasize the gap between the privileged and less privileged, between those with a family and those without a family, not to mention its historical subjugation of women, “marriage equality” then comes off as a misnomer that is not really pushing for equality in its truest sense.

Reese Li gave her two-cents on this particular critique.  “I think we have to look at the situation of each country. First, do the poor in Taiwan not think about marriage? Actually they still look for marriage, and this might be passed down from the conservative thinking in the past of need to marry to have children for manpower. I think many Asian country are like this… advancing marriage equality is not to oppress people or pressure gay people to marry. It only offer an option, a choice…When our organization supported marriage equality, it’s not because a lot of us want to have a wedding, but because a lot of same-sex couples already have kids…. A lot of protection, benefits, rights in society can be obtained through being registered as family. When it comes to single parent, there are less resources provided… Right now, we can only at least make baby steps to deal with the current situation. Personally, I, myself, don’t have any desire for marriage. But marriage can change our legal status and this can guarantee relevant rights and provide more resources. This is our reality now. We can’t just make a gigantic jump and demand government to provide subsidy on an individual citizen basis. That is impossible at this time.”

Wayne Lin is of the same tune with Reese. “Actually even within Hotline we have this kind of debate as well before we decide to work with other groups and the legislators to propose our bill. Yes, we all know that marriage cannot solve all the issues for LGBTQ. Of course, it’s better for everyone to enjoy the rights without getting married under certain circumstances… In the short-term, there’s no way for us to break the current marriage system in Taiwan… So for me it’s [marriage equality advocacy] more practical, just step-by-step… As long as this policy-making can benefit someone in our community, we should do that.”

According to Wayne, marriage equality can be a good talking point for society to start thinking about LGBTQ rights, as well as the concept of marriage and family. “I think majority of society probably doesn’t know LGBTQ that much, especially for the elder group. But this is an opportunity, you can talk to them, you can come out and showcase some story, so that they can better understand… I still believe the movement is really about how you make others understand our situation, and marriage equality is one easy way to open a dialogue. [If] They understand what’s the meaning, benefit or drawback of marriage,…as a beginning, then get a feeling of LGBTQ issues… it’s a methodology or way of doing public education… not everyone can still get married even if [same-sex marriage is] legalized due to economic status or not coming-out to family. So there are still so much work to be done.”

Anti-LGBTQ groups protest against amending Civil Code 972 on marriage.
Photo courtesy of Ketty W. Chen

What makes a family

Another human rights organization known as Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR) is working on advocating a multi-family system that aims to provide, not only a legal option for marriage for the LGBTQ community, but also the proper rights and protections for different family structures in Taiwan.

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TAPCPR has 3 different proposals which include marriage equality. The second proposal pertains to a partnership system whereby two individuals can enter into a civil contract that customizes the obligations and rights that they would mutually agree on, such as those relating to inheritance, property and so forth. The third one proposes a multi-member family system that allows individuals to have a contractual option to live and be registered as a family with friends.

However, opposing groups argue that the multi-family system proposal would be dangerous to society as it would destroy traditional relationships and families. It is too radical of an idea to be discussed as of now.

Photo courtesy of Ketty W. Chen

Just with same-sex marriage alone, the voice of opposition can be virulent. While marriage equality advocates are merely fighting for LGBTQ’s right to enter into a monogamous married life and to build a family, anti-LGBTQ groups stretch the imagination beyond ridiculousness. Now, rather than posturing as messengers of God and using battlecries based on subjective interpretations of Bible verses, opposing groups – in an attempt to extend their influence – have rebranded themselves to be ordinary parents or citizens concerned about the future of families in Taiwan.

Aside from the usual conservative religious rhetoric, opponents are also operating out of misguided fear that marriage equality’s agenda is to erode monogamous relationships and family values, as well as to cause people into marrying animals or inanimate objects. They also posit that marriage equality would only worsen the country’s declining birth rate. Another extremist view is that same-sex marriage will lead to the eventual extinction of the human race. Unfortunately, the power of fear-mongering and misinformation over human emotions can never be underestimated.

Such antagonistic perspectives against same-sex marriage cannot be further from the truth. On the contrary, Reese explained that one crucial aspect of the legalization of same-sex marriage is for the protection of children under the care of same-sex parents.

“In legal papers, a kid raised by same-sex couples is indicated as being raised by a single parent only even though the kid is raised by a couple. This can lead to a lot of issues and insecurity when it comes to raising the child as a couple because the other ‘parent’ is considered a stranger under the eyes of law… Even with artificial reproduction done in other countries, when the gay couple comes back to Taiwan, they are not recognized as both parents.”, said Reese.

There are already a huge number of same-sex couples in Taiwan who encounter several issues when it comes to raising their child. A task as simple as taking their children to the doctor or fetching them from school already proves to be such a hassle if the not-legally-recognized parent is the one doing the job. How much more when heavier parental responsibilities must be done for the children’s well-being?

Reese continued on to explain, “Worse comes to worst, if the legally recognized parent dies, the surviving partner can’t continue to take care of the kid. The kid will be separated from the surviving parent because s/he is not recognized by law as parent. By law, the child has to go with blood-related relatives of the deceased parent. But we have to consider that not everyone can still be in good terms with relatives… It will be a bigger problem for the child.”

Photo courtesy of Ketty W. Chen

LGBTQ rights are universal rights 

While Taiwan is an LGBTQ-friendly destination, there are still undoubtedly a lot of obstacles to hurdle through and conflicts to sort out on the ground. Neighboring and distant countries need to keep a close watch and offer an intimate support to the Taiwanese LGBTQ+ community’s clamor for widespread equality – not just for the sake of marrying the person they love, but also to advance SOGIE awareness and education, to foster legal protection for diverse families that exist beyond the outdated concept of a traditional family, as well as to address the myriad of less talked about yet similarly important issues that affect LGBTQ+ folks. After all, their fight is also the fight of every LGBTQ+ and human rights movement around the globe. Even as a small Asian island, its wins could still pack a punch and contribute to putting an end to discrimination and hate crimes against people of different SOGIE.

A sure-footed wanderer. A shy, but strong personality. Hot-headed but cool. A critic of this propaganda-filled, often brainwashed society. A lover of nature, creativity and intellectual pursuits. Femme in all the right places. Breaking down stereotypical perspectives and narrow-mindedness. A writer with a pen name and no face. I'm a private person, but not closeted. Stay true!

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Tips to save money on airline tickets

Airfare and lodging cost escalates the air travel expenditure, but don’t fret. In this article, you will get to know the best five ways by considering which you can save money and make your air travel a hilarious experience.

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Ready to board or to plan the destination for your next holiday travel but wondering about your traveling budget?

I know airfare and lodging cost escalates the air travel expenditure, but don’t fret. In this article, you will get to know the best five ways by considering which you can save money and make your air travel a hilarious experience. 

Well! Frugal flight booking is indeed overwhelming, but repeated searching will help you book the cheapest possible flights to the right destination and at the right time.

It’s been well said:

All You Need to Know Is That It’s Possible.”
– Wolf, a Trail Hiker

If you know how you can find cheap flights and travel by spending a minimum cost, then you will never be the person who paid the most for booking their air tickets. Once, I was travelling from San Francisco to Shanghai, I paid $1,500, and the person sitting next to me paid only $500 for the same journey. I was shocked and thought to myself, how in the name of Jesus is it possible? I think, if you ever get stuck in such a situation, you also might feel the same? 

Not a problem anymore. Scroll down to know how the person sitting next to me got his ticket booked at just one-third of the price I paid for the same ticket. 

Now, let’s take a rundown on the best ways (which, by the way, he told me) to save money on flights or Airfare.

5 Tips to Save Money on Airline Tickets

Let’s get started!

#1 – Compare the flights before booking

The very thing he told me to keep in mind is that, If you are a frequent flier, then you might be using some flight searching engines for searching the flights that provide the best services at a minimum cost. 

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But, if you are a newbie, then firstly you must make the flight comparison based on their cost and services offered. Use the best flight search engine, and you may use incognito mode on Google Chrome to research the flights. 

He also told me that the airlines would show the highest ticket price if you search as a one-person. So don’t search for multiple ticket price in a single purchase. Continue doing research and figure the best price for your air travel. 

#2 – Booking tickets in advance, but not too early

Another tactic he asked me to pursue to save money while traveling by air is booking the tickets early. But, he also asked me to pursue this tactic if only I have fixed plans because ticket cancellation can cost double the actual amount. 

So, he recommended me to book air tickets 45 to 90 days before the departure. And so do I recommend it to you. 

Booking air tickets 45 to 90 days before the departure is the perfect timing because reserving too early or too late can lock one to pay high prices for the air ticket. Say, if you are planning to travel with AA, then one can book their American airlines tickets by visiting Faremart some days in advance as it offers excellent services, 24*7 support, 450+ airlines at affordable prices.   

Moreover, if you don’t have any specific dates or urgent plans, then try to book off-season or shoulder season flights like in May, June, October or November because, in these days, flights get cheaper as well as the weather will be milder. 

#3 – Keep an eye on last-minute deals

One of another vital point he asked me to keep in check to find the cheap flight is, staying updated because cheap flights are available for 24 hours. If you miss the chance, then you would not be able to fly at a low cost. 

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It usually happens when people cancel their plans at the last minute, or flight gets unfilled. Under such a situation, airlines reduce their business class ticket price at the last hour, and sometimes they also offer free ticketing services or update frequent flier bonus, best deals for couples traveling together, etc. 

Now, you might be thinking, how to get the updates or last-minute changes? You can download flight tracking applications in your mobile phone to get the updates like updated deals, flight departure date, flight arrival time, etc. The pop-up messages displayed on your mobile phones will help you to get the information and grab the best opportunity to save on air tickets.  

#4 – Prefer online booking and use credit card points

He asked me if I book my tickets online using a credit card, to which I answered yes!

He then told me that if I book my airline tickets via credit cards or debit cards, then I might have an opportunity to save some bucks as credit and debit card users often get discounts on various deals. 

The cheapest flight one can book is flying without paying a single penny. The easiest way to do this is to sign up for an airline reward card and earn the points to travel for free. You can easily make up to 60,000 bonus points and save your cash on booking air tickets. 

Since I got to know about this trick, whenever I plan to travel, I always prefer using the card on every purchase due to security purposes and to avail additional offers that one gets on making an online transaction. 

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Once, I planned a holiday trip with my family to New Zealand, I had 750 points in my card and travelled comfortably without paying a single rupee. Thus, I recommend you to save up miles by using your card points and plan your holiday trip every year without thinking about traveling expenditure cost. 

#5 – Don’t fly direct; consider flying slightly farther away

He asked me if I travel for the sake of enjoyment and then said that If you don’t have any urgent plans, then you can definitely save some money from your entire travel budget. 

Whenever you plan to travel on flights with flexible timings and date, then consider flying out of an airport which is slightly farther away from your actual destination. Whenever I come back to my home, I prefer flying out of a different airport than my hometown as it costs me less. 

If you travel by taking indirect flight, then be sure you have three hours between booking air tickets on different airlines to handle the situation, if something goes wrong. Thus, this tactic will also help you in saving some amount while booking airline tickets.

In a Crux

Booking the best airlines in less amount is really a challenging task. But if you do proper research and implement the above-discussed strategies, then you can quickly achieve the goals and can save money on things like flights, food, hotels, travel, etc. 

Therefore, if you want to be the person who saves the most on a flight, then follow the above tips to get a deal. To know more about saving money on airline fee, one can read the best ways to avoid airline fees.

Don’t thank me, thank the man who taught me these fantastic tips.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Buying a coach: The guide

No matter whether you offer day trips or provide your services to some of the biggest tour operators, your choice of coach can make or break you.

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Tour companies and such like have a massive selection of coaches at their disposal. From various brands, to different specifications, to a whole host of optional features… the list is endless! Thus, narrowing down your search for the perfect coach can be a difficult challenge. This is especially the case when you consider the weight of your decision. No matter whether you offer day trips or provide your services to some of the biggest tour operators, your choice of coach can make or break you.

The aim of every business is to make a profit. This begins with your coach selection.
Photo from Pexels.com

This post is here to help you on your quest to finding the right coach for you. So, read on to discover all of the attributes you must consider…

Image – Evidently, you want a coach that looks impressive. It needs to catch the eye. Nonetheless, it is not merely about picking a ‘beautiful’ coach. It has to fit in with your brand image. If you offer luxury travel, you need to find a coach with that five-star edge and a keen attention to detail. This relates to the exterior and the interior. A lot of people tend to overlook the importance or the former. Yet this is the first thing people will notice when they approach your coach and therefore it is definitely significant.

Driver Ease and Visibility – Don’t ignore the needs of the driver. It can be very easy to do so, as we get rapped up in ensuring the passengers have the perfect travel experience. Yet, you need to give your driver all the tools to guarantee their driving experience is as easy as possible. Make sure the driving position is ergonomic and spacious. Access to controls should be easy as well. You may wish to consider other optional features that will assist, such as a reversing camera. Don’t overlook how pivotal this factor is. After all, if the driver struggles to manage the coach, the passengers are going to feel unsafe.

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Profitability – The aim of every business is to make a profit. This begins with your coach selection. Of course you will want to benefit from a great deal when you purchase the coach. However, the true value lies in how much money the coach can make you. You should look for a brand of coach that takes great steps to maximize gas oil fuel economy. Other features you should be looking out for include the likes of optimum weight distribution and aerodynamics. 

Comfort – Comfort is undoubtedly one of the most important factors you need to bear in mind when purchasing any coach. The longer the trips are, the more important comfort becomes. Quality of seats is paramount. Most companies will give you the chance to upgrade upholstery and such like. This is something you should seriously consider. Comfort also relates to on-board entertainment options and anything that is going to make the passengers’ experience more enjoyable. From reading lights and to air conditioning, to Apple iPod connections, TV monitors and catering options… there are lots of ways you can maximize your coach’s comfort factor.

Performance – Last but not least, this post would not be complete without mentioning the coach’s performance. Obviously engine specifications and such like are of paramount importance. You need a coach that is going to consistently provide you with a high level of quality. Reliability is a key component you should always be looking out for. How can you be sure of this? Well, you begin by looking for a brand with a good reputation in the industry. This will ensure you of reliability. Then to maximize performance you need to look for coaches that have been constructed using advanced materials and production components. Moreover, rigorous engineering testing and extensive customization and automation in the manufacturing process will be beneficial.

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Health & Wellness

Little link found on popper use and dependency; no correlation with mental health or psychological stress

A survey of more than 800 men aged 18 to 35 found little evidence of typical dependency characteristics, including health, social, legal and financial problems, and no correlation between popper use and mental health or psychological stress.

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Young gay and bisexual men are frequent users of alkyl nitrites, or poppers, but few show signs of addiction, risky consumption habits or other psychosocial problems. This is according to ‘Harmless? A hierarchical analysis of poppers use among young gay and bisexual men’, by Dr Daniel Demant and Dr Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios, and published in Drug and Alcohol Review.

A survey of more than 800 men aged 18 to 35 found little evidence of typical dependency characteristics, including health, social, legal and financial problems, and no correlation between popper use and mental health or psychological stress.

The study is particularly noteworthy considering some efforts to control popper use and distribution – e.g. in Australia. Dr. Daniel Demant, public health researcher at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), who conducted the study, said that the decision by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to step back from prohibiting poppers is commendable. The TGA, instead, elected to classify them as a Schedule 3 drug, available over the counter in pharmacies from February 2020.

An interim decision by the TGA in 2018 recommended poppers be classed as a prohibited substance, in the same category as methamphetamine and heroin, which would have made “overnight criminals” of the estimated 100,000 plus Australian users.

“What we see with this research is that poppers are a very commonly used drug in the LGBT community, both recently and over their lifetime,” Demant said. “Most of the users are already oppressed or marginalized based on their social identity as gay or bisexual men. This creates a question as to whether there would have been a discriminatory element in banning a substance with such a low risk profile.”

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Demant added that banning a substance that is used by so many people would create a “new class of criminals, basically overnight.”

Currently, poppers are available on prescription from pharmacies, but they are more commonly bought illicitly, in sex-on-premises venues and LGBT bars. A vial containing 25-30mL of the clear, strong-smelling fluid, possibly labelled as “VHS tape cleaner”, “leather cleaner” or “room deodorizer”, sells for up to $50 (or equivalent in countries like the Philippines), despite costing a couple of cents to manufacture.

The new TGA decision to regulate poppers rather than banning them hopefully paves the way for some measure of quality control as well as the removal of the “extreme profit margin” that exists now, Demant said.

Demant said that with poppers becoming a pharmacy-only medicine, safety standards would have to be met and pharmacy staff could provide guidance in cases where poppers might react badly with users’ other medications, particularly Viagra.

“We could stop pretending that poppers are sold for anything other than getting people high. And once we do offer it in pharmacies, we would have something made to the highest standards for people to use,” Demant ended.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

5 Ways to channel your creativity online

The internet is a great place for many reasons. If you’re heading out to the store, you can see what time it is open until, and exactly what they stock in there. You can read the latest breaking news from all over the world. You can find romantic partners, and even friends, within those flexible walls of the internet. All in all, it’s a pretty great tool for doing just about anything.

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The internet is a great place for many reasons. If you’re heading out to the store, you can see what time it is open until, and exactly what they stock in there. You can read the latest breaking news from all over the world. You can find romantic partners, and even friends, within those flexible walls of the internet. All in all, it’s a pretty great tool for doing just about anything.

In fact, one of the best things about the internet is that it allows you to channel and express your creativity, in a number of different ways. But how can you use it for this purpose? Here are five ideas.

#1: Instagram influencin’

We’re in the age of the Instagram influencer, and whilst it may be a little overwhelming at times, Instagram is a great platform to promote your creativity. Whether it’s your camera skills (hello, great selfies), or you’re using it to showcase your art to people, it is undeniably a useful way to get a following for your art, and to find people who also share in your passions and interests, too.

#2: YouTube

YouTube has been around since the beginning of time it seems, and it’s one of those things that just won’t budge. Whilst it’s great for catching up on those funny videos of people falling over in shopping centers, it’s also a really good place for expressing your creativity, through music, art, politics, or whatever it is that you’re interested in. See what you could create, and get YouTubing.

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#3: Digital portfolios

If you’re already a committed artist, you need to build up a portfolio. No portfolio usually means no people seeing your stuff, which usually means no money. Such is the life of a struggling artist, huh? Getting your own website – which you can, of course, personalize – is a useful way of getting all of your work together, and showcasing it to the world. And it looks super professional, nobody is arguing with that.

#4: Music making

Never has it been easier to record your own track, and get it out there into the world. You don’t need to be in with people at the top of the music industry food chain to be successful nowadays, you just need a Mac and your best burst of creativity. Check out some ways to get your Mac in order before you begin using it as a recording studio, and upload your music to Spotify or Soundcloud.

#5: Etsy, Etsy, Etsy

There are plenty of platforms online to sell your art on, and Etsy is one of them. This is a great site because there is probably (most definitely) somebody hanging around on Etsy who has the same interests as you, and wants to pay you real, actual money for your work. See what sites would be the best for the kind of things that you want to sell, and start earning some $$$ for your brain-children.

Enjoy channeling your creativity online, and maybe even making a successful business out of it.

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Health & Wellness

LGBT people more likely to develop dementia, according to study

More than 14% of sexual and gender minorities (SGM) reported subjective cognitive decline, significantly higher (p<0.0001) than the 10% rate among cisgender heterosexual participants.

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Photo by Julie Johnson from Unsplash.com

More than 14% of sexual and gender minorities (SGM) reported subjective cognitive decline, significantly higher (p<0.0001) than the 10% rate among cisgender heterosexual participants. Even after adjusting for factors such as income, age and race, SGM participants were 29% more likely to report subjective cognitive decline (SCD).

This is according to a study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2019 in Los Angeles in the US. The study noted that to date, few studies have investigated the symptoms and disease progression of Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the LGBT community. And so to examine these associations, Jason Flatt, PhD, MPH, assistant professor at the Institute for Health & Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a large phone-based survey led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study analyzed data from 44,403 adults aged 45 and older across nine states in the US (Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin) that participated in the 2015 BRFSS optional modules on the Healthy Brain Initiative, which included subjective cognitive decline and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Roughly three percent of participants (1,253) identified as a sexual or gender minority (SGM). Subjective cognitive decline was defined as self-reported confusion or memory problems that have been getting worse over the past year.

The study – as noted – found higher rates of subjective cognitive decline among LGBT people compared to their cisgender heterosexual counterparts.

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“Given that one in seven adults who identified as a sexual or gender minority reported subjective cognitive decline, it is critical that more opportunities exist for people in these communities to receive regular evaluation for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease,” Flatt said. “There is also a need for greater education on Alzheimer’s risk, signs and symptoms, and training of health care providers to ensure inclusive and welcoming care for LGBTQ+ populations.”

Flatt added that “while we do not yet know for certain why sexual or gender minority individuals had higher subjective cognitive decline, we believe it may be due to higher rates of depression, inability to work, high stress, and a lack of regular access to healthcare.”

According to Flatt, less than half of SGM adults with SCD in the study talked to their health care provider about it. SGM adults with SCD were also more likely to report that they had to give up day-to-day activities (39% vs. 29%, p=0.003) and needed help with household tasks (44% vs. 35%, p=0.01) than cisgender heterosexual participants. Both groups were similar in terms of talking to their health care provider about their SCD.

LGBT people living with dementia and their caregivers often have difficulty accessing information and support services, which can be especially challenging when memory loss and dementia enter the equation.
Photo by Cristian Newman from Unsplash.com

To advance research into Alzheimer’s in the LGBT community, Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, PhD, professor and director of Healthy Generations Hartford Center of Excellence at the University of Washington, created the “Aging with Pride: Innovations in Dementia Empowerment and Action (IDEA)” study. A multisite study in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, this is the first federally-funded study on dementia intervention specifically designed for LGBT older adults with dementia and their caregivers.

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The researchers had previously identified unique risk factors of LGBT older adults living with dementia through the first longitudinal study of this population (Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study). Using longitudinal data with three time points (2014, 2015 and 2016), modifiable factors predicting physical functioning and quality of life (QOL) among LGBT older adults with dementia (n=646) were identified.

LGBT older adults living with dementia were significantly more likely to live alone (nearly 60%), not be partnered or married (65%), not have children (72%), and not have a caregiver (59%), when compared to older non-LGBT adults living with dementia. Previous experiences of discrimination and victimization (b=-0.19, p<.001) were negatively associated with QOL among LGBT older adults living with dementia. Socializing with friends or family (b=1.11, p<.05) was positively associated with QOL, and physical activity (b = 0.26, p<.001) were associated with better physical functioning.

Also as reported at AAIC 2019, “Aging with Pride: IDEA” includes a tailored approach in which trained coaches identify and modify challenging behaviors that are adversely affecting older adults living with dementia and their caregivers, either of whom are LGBT. The coaches delivered an individualized program of exercise, and behavioral and coping strategies designed to improve physical function, independence and QOL.

The exercise intervention is a low-impact physical exercise program including nine one-hour sessions over six weeks designed to improve physical functioning and maintain independence. The behavior and coping strategies include: techniques for working with LGBT-specific trauma, identity management and disclosure of their LGBT identities to providers and others, plus support engagement in the LGBT community and dementia services. Testing of the intervention is now underway and will be delivered to 225 pairs of LGBT older adults living with dementia and their caregivers.

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“Given their lifetime experiences of victimization, discrimination and bias, many LGBT older adults forgo seeking needed medical care,” said Fredriksen-Goldsen. “LGBT people living with dementia and their caregivers often have difficulty accessing information and support services, which can be especially challenging when memory loss and dementia enter the equation.”

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

New Aquaman confirmed to be LGBTQIA in ‘Young Justice: Outsiders’

Move over Arthur Curry; the Aquaman of the moment is Kaldur, the animated character Aquaman in “Young Justice: Outsiders”, DC Universe’s animated show about teenage superheroes, who was revealed to be LGBTQIA.

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Move over Arthur Curry; the Aquaman of the moment is Kaldur, the animated character Aquaman in “Young Justice: Outsiders”, DC Universe’s animated show about teenage superheroes, who was revealed to be LGBTQIA.

In season 3, episode 20 of Young Justice, titled “Quiet Conversations”, a montage of loved ones reuniting at the episode’s end showed Kaldur approached by Wyynde – a former member of the Atlantean Purist movement, who sought to remove Arthur Curry from the throne of Atlantis in Young Justice season 1. The scene – albeit short – showed the two young men holding hands and then kissing.

Though it wasn’t stated if Kaldur self-identifies as gay or bisexual, he was portrayed to belong to the LGBTQIA community all the same.

As a background: Kaldur is one of the six teenage sidekicks who originally formed the Justice League’s covert operations group. He was given a chance to become Arthur Curry’s protege after saving the first Aquaman’s life during a battle with Ocean Master. The character was once portrayed to have feelings for Tula, a student at the Conservatory of Sorcery in Atlantis, though this ended when he learned that she had become involved with his best friend while Kaldur was on the surface leading The Team.

Kaldur, however, is not the first LGBTQIA Aquaman. In the Aquaman comic books, the second Aqualad was outed shortly after his introduction in 2010; but the character vanished into oblivion during the New 52 reboot in 2011.

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Now here’s to representation that you can still save the world no matter who you date/sleep with.

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