Republican governor just made it legal to discriminate against LGBT people

Texas Governor Greg Abbott at the state capital on May 24, 2018 in Austin, Texas.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott at the state capital on May 24, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Drew Anthony Smith/Getty)

Social workers can freely discriminate against LGBT+, as well as people with disabilities, thanks to the administration of Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott as of Monday (12 October).

The lawmaker, who once signed a bill banning discrimination against businesses with anti-LGBT+ views amid boycotts against Chick-fil-A, pressured the state’s regulatory board, the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners, to make the change to its code of conduct.

Flipping 2010 and 2012 LGBT+ protections, Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton pressured board leaders to vote to rejig the rules in favour of homophobes, the Texas Tribune reported.

The move was hailed by the country’s top social worker organisation, the National Association of Social Workers, as “incredibly disheartening”.

It comes after Abbott signed legislation in 2019 to bar businesses from being discriminated against for their anti-LGBT+ views. “Discrimination is not tolerated in Texas,” he said, somehow devoid of all irony.

Republican governor pressured board to make social workers discriminating LGBT+ people perfectly legal.

Abbott, the board members claimed, lobbied for the change because the code of law offered service users protections beyond what is provided by state law.

“It’s not surprising that a board would align its rules with statutes passed by the Legislature,” said Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze.

The vote itself happened during a joint meeting between the board and the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council, which managed mental health regulatory agencies.

Yet, for social workers themselves, a sense of unease. Steven Parks, who works with child trauma victims at a private practise in Houston, called the change “both a professional and a personal gut-punch”.

“There’s now a grey area between what’s legally allowed and ethically responsible.

“The law should never allow a social worker to legally do unethical things.”

He stressed that the policy change will undoubtedly crater LGBT+ mental health even further: “There’s research to show that members of the queer community are at higher risk for trauma, higher risk for all sorts of mental health conditions.”

Eric Trump clarifies he’s not actually LGBT+ after ‘misspeaking’ on live TV

Eric Trump clarifies he's not actually LGBT+ after 'misspeaking' on

Eric Trump visits FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo at FOX Studios on October 4, 2016 in New York City. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty)

Eric Trump has clarified that he is not actually a member of the LGBT+ community, after accidentally “coming out” during a live Fox News interview.

The president’s second-oldest and second-worst son, who has two children with his wife Lara Trump, was insisting that there was a lot of support for his father within the LGBT+ community on Fox and Friends on Monday (September 28).

But during the live interview, Trump said: “The LGBT+ community, they are incredible. You should see how they come out in full force for my father every single day.

“I’m part of that community, and we love the man, and thank you for protecting our neighbourhoods and thank you for protecting our cities.”

His “coming out” caused extreme confusion, with Bobby Lewis of Media Matters, sharing the clip on Twitter and writing: “Eric Trump coming out is not the birthday gift this homosexual wanted.”

Trump’s comments even led to his Wikipedia page being swiftly updated to say: “On September 29, 2020, Eric came out as a member of the LGBT community.”

Trump has now clarified that he “misspoke”, and is not actually queer, insisting that he was simply paraphrasing what LGBT+ people apparently say about his dad.

He told the New York Post: “To clarify, many of our close friends are part of the LGBT community, which was the intent of my statement — the left has taken that vote for granted for a long time and support from the gay community for my father is incredible.”

“As to me personally, as I think you know, I am a happily married man to my wife, Lara,” he added. Trump also confirmed that he is not bisexual.

As one Twitter user put it: “Eric Trump: ‘I’m not LGBT. I was speaking for LGBT people.’

“The LGBT community must be thrilled about their new spokesperson.”



Ruth Bader Ginsbug’s death was ‘painful’ for LGBT people

Ruth Bader Ginsbug's death was 'painful' for LGBT people

Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the same-sex marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that could determine the constitutionality of marriage for same-sex couples, smiles as he walks out of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, June 18, 2015. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty)

Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the case which legalised marriage equality across the US, has explained what the late supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsbug meant to him.

In 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of Jim Obergefell and other plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges, declaring both that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, and that states are required to recognise marriages from elsewhere.

The victory of equality came by a vote of 5-4, with the majority opinion authored by justice Anthony Kennedy, who was joined by justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at her home on Friday evening (18 September) from complications of metastatic cancer of the pancreas, prompting an outpouring of love and praise for the equal rights champion.

Speaking with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Obergefell described Ginsburg’s death as “a devastating loss”, and said: “All of us in the LGBT+ community, and I would also say any marginalised group in our nation, we’re reeling from the death of an advocate for equality.”

He said that the queer community felt the loss “especially painfully because she had become such an advocate for us, and she was willing to get to know us and to understand us”.

Obergefell added: “I see justice Ginsburg’s legacy as one of someone who dedicated her career and her life to our nation, for the betterment of our nation.

“She truly believed in the law applying to all people. She believed in equal justice under law, those four words inscribed in the pediment of the courthouse.

“She also understood that the constitution is a living, breathing document… She understood that that document had to change in response to changing society, in response to how we learn more, how we understand each other more as time goes by.

“So for me, her legacy is all about dignity and equality under the law, and I can’t think of a better legacy for a Supreme Court justice to have.”

Jim Obergefell is ‘very concerned’ about LGBT+ rights being ‘taken away’.

Democrats have called for a delay in replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg, following a precedent set during the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency, when Republicans senate majority leader Mitch McConnell declared a replacement would not be approved, and that the next president would instead choose his or her pick following the election.

However on Friday (18 September), McConnell was adamant that a vote would be held on Trump’s nominee. Ted Cruz has argued that there is a different precedent for times when the White House and Senate are controlled by the same party, which wasn’t the case under Obama.

On the political firestorm over naming Ginsburg’s successor on the Supreme Court, Jim Obergefell said: “The fact that McConnell issued that statement shortly after it was announced [that Ginsburg had died], he isn’t giving her the chance to be honoured and to be remembered, and to be respected.

“It immediately became political. The country really didn’t have a chance to start mourning, to grieve for her, before he came out with that statement and turned this into a political fight, which it should not be.”

Until Ginsburg’s death, the supreme court had a 5 to 4 Republican majority. Should Trump’s nominee be appointed, this would shift to a stronger 6 to 3 conservative majority which could remain in place for decades, shaping major legal decisions in the US for years to come.

Obergefell said: “I am definitely more concerned about marriage equality, as well as other issues of equality for all marginalised groups, with Justice Ginsburg no longer on the court.

“If Trump is able to nominate and have a judge confirmed, I am very concerned about our rights being taken away and other rights being denied under a newly very conservative court.”

Just 2 per cent of recent big budget films include meaningful LGBT stories

Just 2 per cent of recent big budget films include meaningful LGBT stories

Jake Gyllenhaal starred in Brokeback Mountain with the late Heath Ledger. (Focus Features)

Just two per cent of big budget films released in the last decade have had meaningful LGBT+ representation, according to an academic.

Dr Ellie Lockhart, who has a PhD in communications, has been analysing recent films to figure out what kind of queer-themed films do well at the box office.

As part of her research, Lockhart has been analysing LGBT+ representation in small, independent dramas and big budget films – and while representation is lacking in both, it’s especially bad in the major studio releases.

“Here’s the raw truth: I found just under 100 movies to include from 2010 to now,” Lockhart told The Observer. “That’s out of a dataset of 5,000.”

LGBT+ people are ‘very underrepresented’ in big budget cinema, according to researcher Ellie Lockhart.

“Even if we assumed I made coding errors and missed a couple of films, that’s two per cent of films including any major queer character/character who expresses any sort of queerness.”

She continued: “We’re very underrepresented, and we’re even more underrepresented in big budget cinema. I found about 36 films that qualified as not grounded drama films that met the criteria.

“Without drilling down at all into the content of these films, these are the films that fit the movies watched by the majority of people – the actual popular films that have LGBT+ people in them.

Representation in general is important because as a culture we recognise stories define us, for good and for ill.

“That’s bad, and it certainly counteracts any claims about a ‘tipping point’ or the ‘gay/trans agenda’ being in everything,” she said.

In compiling her data, Lockhart searched through IMDB for information on LGBT+ films and compared them to films without any queer representation.

Lockhart only included films that had meaningful LGBT+ representation.

Lockhart also came up with her own criteria films had to meet to be included. They had to have made any amount of money at the United States box office or been released through a major streaming platform, and, crucially, they must have had a major character who is openly identified as LGBT+.

Notably, she also only included films that featured queer characters that engaged in “unambiguous queer behaviour”, such as kissing, sex, talking to others about their same-sex attraction, or being open in some way about being trans.

In short, for a film to make the cut in Lockhart’s study, the LGBT+ representation must be “explicit”.

She chose not to include films like Captain Marvel, saying she didn’t want to reward films where a queer character’s identity could be denied.

Lockhart said she hopes her data will help shine a light on the lack of meaningful LGBT+ representation in big budget films.

“Representation in general is important because as a culture we recognise stories define us, for good and for ill. People feel invisible when they don’t see themselves in stories.”

Warsaw police detain 48 LGBT+ protesters trying to block arrest of activist

Warsaw police detain 48 LGBT+ protesters trying to block arrest

Police officers remove LGBT+ activists from blocking the road to a police vehicle transporting detained queer-rights activist Margo in Warsaw, Poland. (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

A blanket of blue-uniformed police officers swept over the LGBT+ protesters, many crouched on the floor, in Warsaw, Poland, Friday (August 7) as hundreds packed the streets to demonstrate against the arrest of an activist.

Around 48 queer demonstrators were detained during the scuffle, the Warsaw Police Department said according to Reuters, as crowds bellowed “Shame, disgrace!” and surrounded a police vehicle in the centre of the capital.

Protesters tried vehemently to block the arrest of an activist accused of draping LGBT+ Pride flags over statues in Warsaw as well as damaging a Pro-Right to Life Foundation campaigner’s car.

LGBT+ activists sit to block a police vehicle transporting detained gay-right activist Margo in Warsaw. (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Members of the anti-homophobia group Stop Bzdurom have flung flags across Warsaw in retalation against the ruling Law and Justice Party’s thumping win last year.

Tensions intensified further in July when the Andrzej Duda – who, much like the governing party, campaigning by stoking public fear and scepticism of LGBT+ people – won a second term.

Police violently arrest 48 LGBT+ activists attempted to block arrest of activist.

According to protesters on-the-ground, at around 4pm, courts upheld the prosecution’s complaint levelled against Stop Bzdurom member Margo and moved for her two-monthslong arrest.

Hauled up in a local activist group’s headquarters, supporters quickly thronged the roads outside in an effort to stonewall her from police. She and protesters later shifted to Krakowskie Przedmieście Street where Margo, speaking through a megaphone, declared the protest as an unofficial Pride parade.

At 7pm, Margo was captured by police. Protesters demanded her release and blockaded the police car with one activist standing on top of it. Some chanted. Others unfurled flags to hurl onto nearby monuments.

Soon after, as some demonstrators began to leave, a police car, they claimed, drove into the crowd. Police swarmed and began arresting activists.

Justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro denounced the demonstration. He said: “Tomorrow this knife that was used to cut the car and tyres (of the pro-life campaigner) will be used to stab people just because we don’t like their opinions.”

The squashed protest captures the deepening divisions cracking Poland after the win of Duda, a close ally of Poland premier Mateusz Morawiecki, who netted a narrow win on a campaign that compared LGBT+ “ideology” to communism.

After 15 years, our dedication to LGBT rights remains the same

Anthony James and Benjamin Cohen outside Downing Street

Today marks 15 years since PinkNews founder Benjamin Cohen put the very first rudimentary version of this website live. He’s been reflecting on the past 15 years in this Twitter thread.

You can join MyPinkNews here.

LGBT discrimination ruling supported by 9 in 10 adults

Supreme Court LGBT workplace discrimination ruling poll

Joseph Fons holding a Pride Flag in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building last week (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

An incredible 90 per cent of people in the United States agree with the Supreme Court ruling banning workplace discrimination for LGBT+ people, according to a new poll.

Last week, the US Supreme Court ruled that LGBT+ people are entitled to protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace.

The surprise ruling extends sex-based employment discrimination protections to LGBT+ people in all 50 states.

And a new nationally representative poll of 1,001 adults in America has found that the vast majority of the public support the ruling.

90 per cent of adults support the momentous Supreme Court ruling on LGBT+ discrimination.

The poll, which was conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), found that 9 in 10 adults (90 per cent) agreed that it should be illegal to fire people because of their sexual or gender identity.

The poll also found that 7 in 10 Republicans agree that discrimination against LGBT+ people in the workplace should be illegal.

However, Republicans are also less likely to believe that LGBT+ people, as well as Black and Hispanic people, face discrimination.

Elsewhere, pollsters found that 69 per cent of adults support laws that ban discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people, while 68 per cent believe trans people should be legally protected from discrimination.

That figure is similar to the percentage of people who support laws banning discrimination based on race (71 per cent) and disability (76 per cent).

Meanwhile, 79 per cent of those surveyed believe trans people face at least some discrimination in the United States, while 74 per cent thought the same was true for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

The public is shifting more quickly on these issues than the political and legal landscapes are.

The poll revealed that 49 per cent of Americans believe society has “not gone far enough in accepting people who are transgender”, up 10 percentage points from a 2017 poll.

Conversely, just 15 per cent said society has “gone too far” in accepting trans people, while 32 per cent said it “has been about right”.

The poll was conducted between June 16-21 through telephone interviews in English and Spanish.

“Most Americans – including most Republicans – oppose discrimination against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender,” said KFF president Drew Altman.

“The public is shifting more quickly on these issues than the political and legal landscapes are.”

The ruling found that an employer who fires an LGBT+ employee because of their identity ‘defies the law’.

The poll comes just over a week after the Supreme Court delivered its surprise ruling.

In the court’s 6-3 ruling, conservative justice Neil Gorusch said: “It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.

“We do not hesitate to recognise today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law,” he said.

The ruling went against the Trump administration, which had intervened in the case to argue that the Civil Rights Act does not apply to LGBT+ people.

Trump’s Department of Justice had sought to assert that the Title VII provisions should only apply based on the “ordinary meaning of sex” as male or female, not covering sexual orientation or gender identity.




27 Simple Wedding Reception Decor Ideas

27 Simple Wedding Reception Decor Ideas

Planning a wedding isn’t easy, to say the least. Between picking a venue, dealing with the caterer, and trying to impress your guests anything that helps simplify the planning process can make life just a little easier.

While you’ve been frantically searching for ideas and tips, we’ve put together a life line of sorts. A list of ideas that range from fall weddings to general decor. Compiled below are 27 ideas to help you create an amazing and unique reception. 

During the fall season, it’s hard not to feel those cozy vibes. A rustic atmosphere full of cozy warmth and a laid-back feel pairs so well with fall. Whether you have an upcoming wedding or are just looking for preliminary ideas, in this section you’ll find elegant ways of creating comfortable fall atmosphere.
1.  Roaring Fires
An outdoor wedding in the fall can get quite chilly at night. Light the night sky and warm guests by adding fires to your outdoor rustic wedding during the colder months. Keep reading to see how a fire can add an elegant touch while keeping with the rustic feel.
2.    Illuminate the Sky
If you want to go more upscale for your rustic or fall wedding, there are many options for illumination that pair well. You can hang crystal chandeliers from the ceiling of a barn to make for an elegant ambiance.
While chandeliers can add an elegant touch, not everyone will want to go for something so, well, big (or have your reception in a barn for that matter.) Consider hanging café lights on the ceiling or in trees for a less formal touch.

Hanging lanterns are another lighting option, and these add a particular flair no matter what kind of venue you’ve chosen. While traditional lanterns will add to a rustic vibe, and café lights add more to the industrial or vintage look, paper lanterns are great for creating either a playful, relaxed atmosphere… or, depending on the style of the lanterns, an elegant feel that is artistic and trendy.
3. Warm and Cozy
Whether or not there are roaring fires (but you totally should), consider creating a comfortable and cozy place for guests to sit. The fall weather will inspire them to wish for a casual spot to relax, mingle, chat and feel the warmth from the inside-out.  Use pillows, outdoor furniture and fluffed blankets in case it gets chilly out. This gives guests a place to unwind and relax from the party plus the blankets can double as a great keepsake gift!
4. Wood Ladder
Using tattered wood ladders is a great way to decorate while keeping with your rustic or fall theme. They can be used to display photos, guests’ escort cards, seating cards, small quilts, or simply decorated with flowers.

5. Fall Colors
Especially when fall is upon us, nature can be incredible at guiding the color scheme for a reception. BBJ Linen has some beautiful rustic ideas including using Earth tones from the surrounding landscape combined with a natural wood look for tables and chairs.

From pumpkins and other organic oranges, to hazelnut browns, bronze, deep organic reds and muted sunflower yellow… the range of colors that are available to accent your gathering are varied and rich.  -Including seasonal colors is a simple way to bring a fullness and sense of connection to your celebration.

 Sash & Bow – Shanna Allen Photo

6.  Hayrides and Halloween
There’s nothing more fall than pumpkins, apples, barrels and bales of hay. Large bales of hay make a great addition to any rustic or fall wedding and can double as a place for guests to sit. Barrels provide a fun hi-top table, or a decorative piece on which to set florals or your delightful wedding cake.  Uncarved pumpkins, squash and apples add a great fall vibe too, but don’t use carved pumpkins as it’ll make your reception look like a place to trick-or-treat!
7. Seating
Whether you’re going for a rustic feel or a laid-back fall vibe, long farm-style tables create a more informal feel than round tables. This encourages a more casual atmosphere. If you’re outdoors or at a rustic setting, like a barn, long tables will keep with the overall theme of the reception.  Be sure to chat with your caterer about homestyle options that retain a sense of elegance but keep theme with the rustic as well!
8. Tapestry
Hanging tapestry or quilts will not only add to a cozy atmosphere or rustic vibe, but it can double as a way to display guests’ seating assignments. Check out The Lesser Bear for elegant hand-made tapestries.
9. Glassware
Ditch the formal long-stem wine glasses and opt for something that matches your casual autumn theme. You can be creative as there are many options to choose from. Glassware suggestions include using canning jars, mugs and old jelly jars for serving drinks.  Wrap them with a piece of burlap or quilted fabric – you can then pin nametags or a keepsake to the jar for an added touch.
10. Guest Book
Definitely opt to get creative with your guest book! It’s something you’ll keep forever and the more interactive the process, the more meaningful the messages that your guests will be inspired to write. A large wood framed canvas can add some fun, especially for a rustic wedding. Check out Flutterbye Prints for some framed guest book ideas.
11. Crates
Wooden crates are a great addition to any fall wedding. They can be used as a decoration, filled with florals or with personal items such as blankets, or brimming with apples both for display and for tempting your guests for a snacking option. They also can be used to display escort cards or a creative way to display guests’ wedding favors.
12. Hanging & Displaying Greenery
Whether it’s too cold or you’re not wanting to risk poor weather at an outdoor wedding, you can bring the fall foliage inside. Hang pine, fall leaves and other greenery to create a rustic, fall look for an indoor reception. You can use existing structures at your venue or find creative ways to decorate your space with greenery-such as adding greenery to hanging lights, decorating ladders, barrels or crates (as mentioned above)… or keep things simple by using canning jars as vases at each table, filled with fall foliage and greens.
13. Large Letters
Oversized letters with a wooden finish are a trendy decorative addition. They are great as accent pieces such as displaying fun combinations of you and your partner’s initials or newly chosen last name… or being used to designate certain areas such as the bar or the dance floor.
Tantalizing Tips for any Time of the Year
While fall weddings seem to be gaining popularity, whether it’s due to the wildly colorful foliage or crazes for more casual wear and coffee bars with pumpkin spice, every season has something unique to offer for a wedding. No matter if it’s spring, summer, fall or winter, these next tips can help you create a beautiful reception.
14. Table Runners
Whether with, or in lieu of tablecloths, consider using table runners to add some romantic décor to the table. Depending on the theme, the color you choose can add a nice accent to compliment the reception. Texture is also a trendy part of table décor these days!  …and table runners come in all kinds of different fabrics.  Just by adding these simple accents, you can change the entire ambience of your reception tables, so don’t underestimate this exciting (yet easy!) feature.

15. Display Photos
Guests truly enjoy having the chance to see all the love that has led up to Your Special Day. Explore a variety of creative ways to display photos of you and your partner… and even some of your families and friends – guests also will love to find themselves featured in your special montage!  Digital frames allow for a seemingly endless array of images, or there are a variety of artistic display ideas as well.
16. Upgraded Table Numbers
There are creative ways to display table number or names that blend well with whatever theme you go with. Consider using personalized bottles of craft beer, flags in mason jars, photo markers, tag trees, or almost anything you want! Check out Save on Crafts for some trendy ideas.
17. Photo Booth
Create a backdrop that adds to the décor of your reception, but still makes for festive and unique photos. Companies that rent out photo booths can help you create the perfect backdrop and fun activity for guests.  There are many options these days as far as interactive photo booth experiences go, so be sure to shop around and ask lots of questions!
18. Focus on Flowers
Flowers are a timeless addition to any wedding. A simple and easy way to make your centerpieces stand out is to use tall vases for flower arrangements. Believe it or not, height is one quick way to add to the design scheme of your reception!  Then of course there are the other wonderful elements to consider when it comes to options with florals:  color choices, the style of flowers (wildflowers add that sense of charm, while deep red roses say “Classic Love” at a glance!)…  Accents with regard to how your florals are presented or displayed…  Check out Sweet Blossoms for some great ideas on how to make your flower arrangements pop.  And be sure to take into consideration what will happen with your florals after your party is over:  will you take them all home?  Will you give some away?  Will you donate them?  Planning ahead will save you time in the long run!
19. Balloons
Balloons can add a festive touch without breaking the bank. They can be used to create backdrops, arches, non-floral displays, signage, add a fun flair to formal weddings or help create a laid-back vibe. Consider Shop at Nyeas for balloon related ideas.
20. Sugar Rush
Who doesn’t love dessert? Better yet who doesn’t love candy? Whether with, or in lieu of, a cake, consider a buffet of candy for guests to enjoy. We’re Sweet for You can help you create a candy display that also doubles as a party favor. Simply provide some colorful or customized bags for the road… and you’re all set with the keepsakes for your guests!
21. Elegant Drapery
Hanging drapery or fabrics can add an elegant, sweeping or colorful touch to your wedding reception. They can be used to cover up unimpressive walls or add glorious accents to the ceilings. With uplighting, fabric backdrops can shine, sparkle, alternate hues, spotlight monograms or signage and more…  Check out Event Drape Rental for more info!
22. Make Your Wedding Sparkle
If part of your wedding can be outside or your wedding reception is outdoors, using sparklers is not only a fun activity for guests, but can create magical photos that will last a lifetime. Take a look at Grand Wedding Exit to see what fun their sparklers can add to your festivities.
23. Cup Your Cake and Personalize the H&%@ out of it
Many couples are opting for cupcakes instead of a large, single wedding cake. Cupcakes allow you to create beautiful displays and offer up multiple flavors to please every guest. Our CupCakery offers cupcakes in all sorts of sizes, flavors and can account for various dietary restrictions.  And a great keepsake idea?  Cake in a jar, (a personalized jar to commemorate the Special Day!), with a lid and ready to go!  Guests can even pick and choose from various flavors to add to the fun!
24. Flowers from Above
Although we’ve already discussed hanging greenery, you can use the same creative ideas to hang flowers from a ceiling. Enchanting!  You can also decorate existing structures or hang potted centerpieces instead of or in addition to tabletop florals.  The wow factor, exponential!
25. Chalkboards
Chalkboards can be used throughout your reception to create a different look that your guests might not be expecting. Chalkboards can be used to designate a gift table, used as a welcome sign or as a menu at the bar.  Your calligrapher or invitation specialist may be able to help with beautiful lettering and colors to make the most of this fun and versatile idea.
26. Tie a Knot
Ribbons can be a great, low-cost way of adding to your decorations. Ribbons can be used instead of chair covers as well, offering some savings while keeping your reception looking elegant. Believe it or not, the array of styles and textures available in ribbon these days is amazing.  Check out the options online or in your local craft store for inspiration!
27. Bunting
Bunting, long strings of triangular shaped flags, is becoming more popular these days. It’s relatively inexpensive and has a variety of uses. It adds a festive flair to a vintage wedding or adds to the laid-back feel of an outdoor fall wedding.

While a wedding is all about celebrating the love of two people, who have decided to come together and commit to a life-long relationship, of course you also want to enjoy a setting that provides a beautiful backdrop to Your Special Day.  Whether modest or epic, the décor that you choose can add that much more to the uniqueness of your wedding day.  Make the most of the occasion, get creative, and have fun with it!



Fun Decorative Accent for Your Reception

image courtesy SLC Marriott University Park

image courtesy SLC Marriott University ParkThere are so many exciting choices for your Wedding & Reception decorative accents!! How do you possibly choose?? Are you sticking with themed accents… or accents by color? Or just going with what strikes your fancy? …Or deferring to the ideas of your wedding planner or design team?  Whew! Decisions, decisions!!

This string of battery-operated roses caught our eye at the Salt Lake City LGBTQ Wedding Expo on October 13th…  Simple, elegant, and such a nice touch.  The strand at each table can be handed out as gifts to special wedding guests.  Beautiful for the day-of, and a lovely keepsake.  EnJoy finding your own unforgettable accent pieces!

(image courtesy of the #SaltLakeCityMarriottUniversityPark, proud host of RainbowWeddingNetwork’s recent LGBTQ Wedding Expo!)











8 Tips for Traveling in Kenya  and Tanzania as an LGBT Couple – DOPES ON THE ROAD

8 Tips for Traveling in Kenya  and Tanzania as an

East Africa is for the experienced LGBT traveler. It’s a region of the world that has been impacted heavily by evangelical colonialism, poverty, and political strife. Any of those three issues would dramatically impact a traveler’s experience but the three of them combined makes for a particularly advanced travel experience. When you toss into the mix legal issues for gay Tanzania travel you’re really diving headfirst into the advanced travel territory. 

Every time I discuss traveling to anti-LGBT countries, folks make the argument that we shouldn’t support countries that don’t support our people. The simple, obvious solution is to avoid traveling to these countries. But if you did that, you’d be missing out on Jamaica, Russia, India, Indonesia, and the Maldives just to name a few. And where do you draw the line on this? What about large countries where the policies vary in different regions? Areas like Texas and Kazakhstan don’t officially have bans on LGBT people, but they do have laws that look very similar to the Russian anti-propaganda laws the world erupted over during the Sochi Olympics.

Limiting yourself to countries that have anti-discrimination laws in place and are supportive of LGBT identity can be a safer solution while traveling, but this solution results in LGBT people missing out on almost 43% of the world. And that’s not right, these regions are rich in culture. Everyone should be able to learn from and enjoy them.

We’ve written at length about why we choose to travel to anti-LGBT destinations, but I’ll briefly summarize our feelings by saying this if local people have the first-hand experience with LGBT people they’re more likely to think favorably of our community. In many situations, the government of a particular destination is not always representative of the people. People cannot be expected to accept that which they have no positive experiences. That being said, not every traveler wants to be an activist and you shouldn’t have to be. This guide is a starting point for your research. I’m not trying to persuade anyone to make choices they’re uncomfortable with, but I would like to empower and equip LGBT travelers with the information we need to be able to make the best choices for each of us individually. 

Understand Local LGBT policies

Both Kenya and Tanzania are anti-LGBT countries. There’s no other way to put it. It’s illegal to be gay there and there are policies in place that can land people in jail if they were discovered to be a member of the LGBT community. That being said, the vast majority of the arrests that are made are of local people. I don’t say this as an endorsement but rather a statement of fact. Tourists are rarely arrested in these situations because even anti-LGBT countries are familiar with the acceptance of LGBT people in western countries around the world. Unfortunately, both Kenya and Tanzania have a lot of work to do in terms of women’s rights and LGBT equality. Society is still extremely gendered. This table shows the LGBT policies in Kenya and Tanzania the only difference is that being LGBT is punishable by life in prison in Tanzania and 14 years in Kenya. This is accurate as of the Fall of 2019 but will hopefully be changing in the near future. 


Do you pass as straight/cis?

It’s shitty that I even have to go here, but passing as straight and cisgender can be a huge privilege when you’re traveling through one of the 70+ countries that have anti-LGBT laws. When you pass, you can fly under the radar and don’t have to worry about being identified as a member of the community. Unfortunately, the majority of our community doesn’t have that option. We can’t just turn off our queer identifiers. Have you ever seen a man in a suit and known immediately that he was gay? How’d you know? Sometimes it’s not about the clothing we’re wearing or the length of our hair but about deeper held mannerism, our voices, height, and other attributes we have no control over. Being self-aware and knowing if you can pass or not will help inform your travel choices. 

Consider Group Travel

We decided to travel on an organized group tour with Contiki because they specialize in travel for 18-35-year-olds. We figured that demographic of traveler would be the most accepting and inclusive of us as a couple and we’d be able to blend into a group of other people around our age. The other travelers in our group were very accepting of us as a couple. In fact, ¼ of the travelers identified within the LGBT community. Some of them were very open about it and others disclosed their identity quietly away from the group. It was interesting to see how people felt about disclosing in an area where our identity is criminalized. LGBT issues and our identities were openly discussed without hesitation or fear amongst some of us while others decided to avoid the conversation altogether. 


Be Cautious with Bureaucracy 

There were a few times where we were nervous and those all involved bureaucracy or extremely gendered spaces. Before we landed in Nairobi, Linds put on eyeliner, mascara, and I asked her to put on lipstick to up her “imma girl factor.” We thought if she was solidly identifiable as a female we’d have fewer issues going through immigration and securing our visas. We’d heard stories of people being turned away at the borders before. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work in the way we thought it would. We were the last people in line at immigration and the immigration officer asked if Linds was my husband despite the hot pink lipstick. How very progressive🤣We got through immigration just fine. One of the officers laughed at Lindsay while gesturing to her and chatting with another officer. But other than that there was nothing unsafe or unusual about the border crossing. For transgender and gender nonconforming travelers, I would not recommend going to Kenya and Tanzania with a passport that doesn’t match your gender expression. 


Consider your digital footprint 

Right before we left for Kenya, we had read several reports of people having their tech devices were taken and their social media channels went through at immigration. For us, it would be painfully obvious that we’re LGBT and a couple which would have caused some major issues at immigration. While we knew there was a low probability of this happening we took a “better safe than sorry” approach and wiped our phones and laptops before the trip. It was actually a lot easier than expected. We backed them up to the cloud before we left. Did a factory reset and then when we returned we logged back into our ICloud using apple ID and everything returned just as it had been. While this is extra and probably not necessary for most people, it gave Lindsay peace of mind as we were going through immigration. 

LGBT Tansania

Avoid PDA 

This one seems obvious. 

Pay Attention to Local Gender Norms

In both Kenya and Tanzania society is extremely gendered. Many daily jobs, chores, and daily routines are assigned by gender. There were several awkward conversations that we experienced that were rooted in the gendered aspects of their society. One time, Lindsay said she wanted to see a lion hunt and one of the guides told her that he wasn’t sure if she could handle it because most women cry when they see a lion take down another animal. Another situation was on a farm tour where the guide said a plant was an aphrodisiac but only for women and gay men because they’re basically like women. We opted to avoid that conversation rather than unpack all the levels of problematic. 

Avoid Gendered Spaces When Possible 

Bathrooms, one of the struggles Lindsay usually has wasn’t as much of a problem as we initially thought it would be. All of the accommodations had private bathrooms and a surprising number of bathrooms during game drives had a single-use bathroom available. The only time we ran into an issue was when we visited the Maasai Village and they separated us by gender for our controversial conversations portions of the trip. We had the option to opt-out of the visit to the village, but at the last minute decided not to and I’m really glad we didn’t because it ended up being one of the best parts of the trip. Read more about our trip to Maasai Village. 

Massai People

This post was made possible through a collaboration with Contiki. As always, all opinions are my own.

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