Over the last 48 hours, I've been reading e-mails and Facebook updates from bi activists who were upset because no bisexual service members were invited to yesterday's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” repeal signing. My initial reaction to the fuss was “So what?” because at that point, I was glad just to see the back of DADT. However, at the end of the discourse, I was also angry and it wasn't over White House invitations.
Over 13,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guards were discharged under DADT. While it's unknown how many of the discharged were bisexual, I was told by bi activists that those who were willing to speak out against DADT were ignored by major gay rights organizations and the media. Hearing how yet another issue that affects all queers suddenly became “gay-washed” infuriated me.
Bisexual erasure goes far and beyond DADT. Since the beginning of the LGBTQ rights movement, bisexuals (in addition to transgender people) have been treated like second-class queers. While the transgender movement is finally being recognized, the bisexual community continues to be mistreated and erased. Whenever bisexual activists bring up the issue of biphobia within the community, they're either accused of “over-reacting” or being divisive.
For far too long, bisexuals have received the short end of the stick. One reason is because many within the mainstream L/G community assumes that bisexual issues are similar to lesbian/gay ones and that we're all fighting for the same things. While biphobia and homophobia are similar in nature, they're still two different beasts. Recent studies have revealed that the social stigmatization of bisexuals have led to great health and economical disparities.
Read more @ the blog...
After months of speculation and word-playing, rapper Nicki Minaj finally confirmed that her bisexuality was just a publicity gimmick. She now joins the ranks of other straight celebrities who love playing bi for record sales, such as Christina Aguilera and Katy Perry. While her revelation is completely unsurprising, her actions are far from harmless, as they further perpetuate the stereotype that bisexuality is nothing more than a cry for attention.
The guessing game over Ms. Minaj's sexuality began with the release of her single “Go Hard”, where she rapped that she'd only stop for “pedestrians or a real real bad lesbian”. Since homophobia has been a long-standing issue in the hip-hop industry, many queers (myself included) were excited to hear references of bisexuality coming from a popular mainstream rapper. That excitement was enhanced when Nicki did an interview with Details Magazine in May, where she was asked this question:
Ms. Minaj had every opportunity to clear up the fact that she wasn't bisexual by just correcting the interviewer but she didn't, which made everyone assume that she was bi. However, a month later we were left scratching our heads when she told Black Men Magazine that she doesn't date or have sex with women unless “of course, until Cassie comes available”. This generated buzz throughout the LGBT blogsphere that she was recanting everything she said.
Read more @ the blog
I first met her when she was ebonbird on lj...She always posted wonderful photos and icons...had a brilliant eye for visual arts. We become friends when Martha was on Dr. Who...Apparently she liked my thoughts about race and British sci-fi.
I remember skywardprodigal being very intelligent...Always posting thought-provoking content (and pretty things)...Always have you thinking. I thought one day we might have a chance to talk in real life, or even meet. You put these things off because well...you don't think the person will pass on anytime soon.
We kept in touch on FB every so often...she was dipping on and offline b/c she had health issues, but not anything that would kill her. So it's a shock to me to have seen she passed...The world has lost a brilliant mind and I feel for her family so much.
Good night, and rest in peace my sister.
Post anonymously [by selecting the anonymous box]. Speak honestly, because there isn't any censure here. Post as many times as you like. One faceless wonder to another.
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The Vagabond is handmade in the US from reclaimed leather and felt that is created from recycled plastic bottles. The sides are porous for allowing extra moisture to escape, while the lining is waterproof. It even comes with an optional $15 hanging system using a reclaimed pully so no one would know your hanging plant basket is really a purse. Sounds like it's constructed with green in mind but...what's the point? You can't actually put your wallet or anything in it. So, you're actually just carrying around a potted plant.
My hotel room in Noale (a nearby town @ the Italian mainland) was bordeline dodgy...80s decor & cigarette burns in the carpet & nightstand...YEAH!!! Also- the toilet was in the shower and we had a bidet in the bathroom...Which was cool to use.
Watched the Italian tv, went to bed...Was awaken by the racket outside...Didn't get much sleep afterwards. It turned out that our bus driver got drunk and passed out in the hallway (he had the next day off, thank god!). One of the girls in our group took a photo of him w/her blackberry cam.
4-November: We took the train ride to the Italian shoreline and then a water cab to La Venezia Bella! Venice is romantic, rustic and the perfect atmosphere for amore! I saw two of my fellow travellers holding hands. :)
It rained all day in Venezia...It was cold and not a great day for touristing. First we went to a glass blowing demo, which was pretty cool! (Random odd sighting- Japanese tourists w/surgical masks on) From there we had our free time. While people were busy shopping for Venetian glass & carnival masks or getting great deals on Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and other Italian fashion labels, I spent my time trying to keep warm & dry. First @ the Basilica di San Marco a Venezia, which is this ancient cathedral that is so massive & ornate, it's an artwork in itself then @ a bookstore. My shoes wet and my pants were soaked up to my calves & I was so unhappy! Most of the people went on the gondola ride while I remained at the bookstore and contemplated life. How exciting...When the rain dried up, I roamed around Venice and took pics...It was an amazing city!
Dinnertime came. We went to an Italian restaurant, where we pigged out on unlimited pasta, bread & wine for 30 euros. I scarfed down food and got drunk off of wine. I will not tell you what happened to me afterwards, but it was REALLY embarrassing! Apparently, I nearly set the water taxi on fire cos I was playing with a lighter and I had to have it taken away from me.
We took the boat back to the mainland and ended up @ a bar in Noale. I was basically peer pressured into going cos it was the night before my birthday and people wanted to celebrate (like they needed a reason to get drunk off their asses). Drinks were flowing abundantly, glasses were broken and I conversed with drunk cross-eyed Aussie fools. One of the guys bought a round of jager bombs for all, which tasted like cough syrup w/o flavor or sweetener.
One of the Canadians drank a bottle of absinthe and left the rest of us on Earth. (He came down the next day thank God!) A girl threw up on herself...Classy. YEAH!!! (it would've been so much cooler if I blew the boat up, dudes!) I left to go back to the hotel. Again, the Aussies came back to the hotel loud and rowdy! Woke me up and I barely got a wink of sleep after that.
5-November (aka my 32nd bday): We took the drive from Italy to Switzerland, which was very scenic and jaw-droppingly awesome.
Lucerne is a beautiful city which sits in the valleys of Suisse, surrounded by large snow-capped mountains and a river that runs through the land (like . Big pain is that they use the Franc, which is just as pretty as the Euro, but virtually useless anywhere else BUT Switzerland. While everyone bought Swiss Army knives & watches, I stocked up on chocolates and scenery!
We checked into our hotel, which was a converted women's jail...My floor looked like a cellblock and my room looked like a cell. It even had bars on the cage & windows. It was kinda cool and I got to brag to my peeps back home that I spent the night @ a Swiss jail cell! If I ever go to Lucerne, I'd stay there again!
The tour manager arranged it so that we got into a nightclub + VIP seats 100% free! I had all the young guys buy me drinks b/c it was my bday...5 vodka cocktails down the hatch! And by the just about everyone was drunk, even the two Japanese girls. (they were so cute)
The nightclub was meh...Reminded me of a lame early millennium throwback in Long Island. Most of the guys looked like guidos and they played music I haven't heard since the dawn of my 20s! But they had a go-go cage & light up platform...so that makes it ok. I swung off the bars, danced with everyone in the club...Including a girl from Portugal. I also high-fived a Turkish dude...He was cool.
The Aussie Crew (as usual) got annoyingly rowdy and shitfaced. One guy fell off the go-go cage and hit his head...Then he went and mooned a couple making out. Another one was so drunk he was cross-eyed and rubbing his crotch on peoples hands.
I wanted to take the walk back to the hotel and asked the tour manager for directions, which were shitty because he was pissy drunk. I got lost. Thank god the locals spoke English b/c I was walking into the Swiss ghetto! Got to my hotel...Tried to get some sleep, but guess who prevented me from doing such?
6-November: Long drive from Switzerland to Paris (9h). Tried to sleep on the bus but the girl behind me kept on pulling my seat back as she got up! We got to our hotel late in the night. By far the hotel in Paris was my fave because it was so cozy and neat...And it had a flat screen TV! We had dinner (which was veggies and mashed taters for me) I don't even think the French ever heard of vegetarians cos the waiter asked me if I ate chicken?
After dinner, we took a tour of Paris @ night. It sure is a magical city! Ended up @ the Eiffel tower, which had this wonderful light show to commemorate its 120th anniversary! Once we ducked the annoying souvenir vendors, we entered the tower and bought tix to go on the upper decks (I got up to the second level, while everyone else went to the very top). I walked around the deck of the tower, shot photos of the amazing Paris skyline and bought some souvenirs @ the shop.
After the Eiffel Tower, the bus drove around the city to see all of the typical touristy places- the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Notre Dame, etc. Then back to the hotel and bed.
7-November (last day): The tour group went to a perfume factory to see how French makes their perfume. I ended up buying a bottle and now I am sans $55 USD haha! After that, it was free time...Do whatever you want.
I walked around the shopping district, picked up souvenirs for my friends back home and took the Metro to the La Grande Arche, where a friend of F's lived. I had some American fare for her and since we didn't meet in A-dam, I was gonna try and drop off her goods w/this friend. He wasn't home and the concierge @ his building would not take my package, so I ended up making the long train ride back to my hotel room to drop off everything and dry out.
I went back out and took the Metro to the Louvre, which is MASSIVE. I knew I didn't have time to go inside the museum, so I checked out the outside garden, where I took photos of these cooky sculptures. While taking pics, I am approached by a gypsy woman who asked me if I spoke English. I looked @ her like she was crazy and kept it walking...Mostly because she was about to pull the infamous card scam that Rick Steve's website warned you about.
Europe has a large problem with pickpocketing and cons by the gypsies and usually that's the first thing tourists are warned about before going across the pond. They even have their children stealing when they should be @ schools getting an education. Everyone I know who has travelled to Europe has talked about the trouble they had w.the gypsies. It's really annoying as hell and I can see why the Euros don't trust them.
I walked around Paris and took photos of just about everything to the point where I was being scolded by vendors! It was embarrassing in the end.
And yes- it is true what they say about the French. While most Europeans in general know more than one language, the Parisians will not speak anything other than French to you. I saw an American woman approach a French man and asked him if he spoke English. He walked away from her saying nothing. I was like DAMN! COLD BLOODED! I ain't gonna hate on the French for that. Then again, basically EVERYONE who travels to Paris knows what they're in for...That's why I took the travel crash course. But magically, I regained most of the French I learned in school (and lost). Viva la survival mechanism...lol
I went inside the Notre Dame & roamed around a bit more to find a place to eat...But it was getting cold & dark, and most French cafés had no viable veg options. So back to the hotel room, where I found a pizza shop around the corner and had a kir royale @ the hotel lobby bar, while most of the tour went to see the Moulin Rouge.
Someone was knocking on my bedroom door @ 2am. I ignored them because @ this point, I was getting beyond annoyed w/these folks getting irresponsibly drunk. Turned out later that one of the 18 year old Aussies got drunk, lost everyone's hotel keycards and threw up on the bus so people were trying to find their hotel rooms.
8-November: Time to say goodbye. Dropped off @ airport. Bought a bottle of duty free liquor. I flew back home.
30-Oct: Landed into London Heathrow @ 9am in the morning. Bought an all-day tube pass and took the train to my hotel @ Russell Square...The tube was easy to use and the hotel location was pretty convenient...Right around the corner from the train station & lots of stores around.
I met up w/two of my travel group mates (another American & a British guy who took us around town). We saw all the touristy spots- Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Parliament Building, Big Ben, the ferris wheel on a quick whirlwind tour. I called two homegirls that I met through Black Women in Europe. They both lived in London and we had made tentative plans to hang once I flew across the pond. Had to borrow the British guy's mobile phone cos mine went kaput.
Later in the evening, we met the tour manager & the rest of the group for registration, etc. The group itself is like a mini UN! There were about 6 Americans, one Brit, three South Africans, two Mexicans, one Colombian, one Brasilian, a Pakistani, a Saudi, three Kiwis a few Canucks and a large group of Australians!
Registration took only a few minutes, not long @ all. Afterwards, I met one of my BWIE homegirls and she gave me a tour of London @ night. We had coffee @ a really cute café, ran into a candlelight vigil @ Trafalgar Sq, for a gay man who was recently murdered there. It was interesting.
After that, we walked around to see the nightlife...And I went back to my hotel room, where I went to bed and prepped for the BIG TOUR!
31-Oct: Woke up early, called my mom to let her know I'm still alive...Got my bags weighted and got on the bus. The bus got onto a large ferry which transported us to the mainland. From there, we drove through Belgium to get to the Netherlands. Got to the hotel in the evening, washed up, had dinner and went into Amsterdam for our optional excursions- a river cruise (w/unlimited amounts of alcohol) and a live sex show!
The cruise took us around the canal and everyone was being filled up with an abundant amounts of wine & beer. I had about 4 glasses myself! After the cruise, we walked around the Red Light District which is....WhOOO! The old Times Square had nothing on this place!
First off- Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam & the hookers have their own union! You would walk into the side streets and see these storefront windows with the girls standing behind them like mannequins! If the shades were shut- that meant she was servicing a client. There would be seedy mofos to the left and right tryna get some paid stuff! And these dudes look sleazy as hell! I just passed by the windows and waved to all the hookers cos I had no idea what else to do!
And if the hookers didn't get you, the random whiffs of mary jane would...yes, marijuana is legal in Amsterdam as well and people smoke them in cafes. Dutch weed is extremely potent and will stop you in your tracks!
And if that didn't get you, then the open urinals will...They have open urinal stands w/no partition, no door and the guys just go there, whip out their manhoods and do their business. I guess it's better than peeing in a corner, but still...OMG! :O
And then there is the live sex show, which I didn't go to, so I walked around A-dam @ night. From what I heard one of the Aussies in our group PARTICIPATED in the show! :O
Everyone was pretty hammered @ this point. The Aussies were ROWDY as hell and I knew from that day, we were gonna have a wild group w/that bunch! A Canadian guy got sick on the bus...Vomiting everywhere! It smelled HORRIBLE! He puked once all over people & had to puke again...he ran to the bathroom, which was in the back of the bus near me. I flew over my seat and landed in a guy's lap to duck flying barf. HAHA!
1-November: I woke up an hour behind...And found out my tour group left without me no note, nothing! I was scared shitless. Thankfully there was another Contiki group in the hotel. That tour manager gave me the mobile # of my tour manager, who told me where they were and how to get there.
After I got to Amsterdam Central, I only had two hours left of tour time before the bus left to Germany, so I roamed around town and took pics. Ate their famous fries w/mayo. I didn't get a chance to meet up w/F or her gf, who wanted to give me the grand tour of A-dam! :(
Amsterdam is a beautiful old city, with their 500 year old churches, leaning buildings and cobblestone streets. However, it is not one of my favourite places as it is pretty dirty (There would be piles of garbage on the streets!) and overcrowded w/tourists. And if you didn't get damn near hit by an obnoxious biker, then it might be a car or trolley. Grr.
It does get nicer though the farther away you are from the red light district.
From there we drove to St. Goar, Germany, which was in the Rhine Valley. We made pit stops along the way. What I noticed about Europe is how expensive things are. A 20-oz bottle of coke can run you about $4-5 USD and candy bars, chips, etc. about $3 or more. Plus, their sales taxes are high up into the teen percentages (in France it's about 20%)...I never want to hear Americans complain about paying taxes or cost of living again after seeing my money being sucked up as bad as it was in Europe.
Once we crossed the German border, there went my chance to have a decent meal. It was all about sausages, large legs of lamb, whole chickens and plenty of beer to wash it down with. So I ate yogurt, fruit & pastries. Which wasn't a problem because the food was phenom! The yogurt was thick & creamy, the fruit fresh and the sweets so buttery and flavourful (as opposed to the pure sugar & preservatives that is loaded onto US snacks). I felt filled with that little bit of food.
We arrived in St. Goar @ night. It's a very small & picturesque village, with hilltop castles hidden behind thick fog...The hotel room was little to be desired. No heat/hot water and the bathroom was a throwback to the 50s. Was super happy to check out in the morning.
2-November: We had breakfast & did do a little souvenir shopping, where people bought beer steins and Birkenstocks for super cheap. I just got postcards and a medallion for my co-worker @ job #1.
We drove to Munich, which was in the state of Bavaria (Bavarians separate themselves from the rest of Germany). It rained the entire time. Regardless, the drives throughout Europe have been really scenic and beautiful. On the sides of the where you see old farm houses, cows, horses & sheep roaming freely in the grass and often times, small cottages &/or thick, dense forestry. I could see myself living in the middle of all this nature & serenity.
It was really pouring by the time we checked into Munich...I loved my hotel room and didn't want to leave. But I already paid for an excursion- walking tour around Munich.
The whole time we walked around Munich, it was raining and cold. I was miserable. But Munich was a gorgeous old city. By the end of the tour, we dried out @ a beer hall. Where large platters of dead animals were served by waitresses in dirndls and the lager was free & flowing in liter sized mugs. The Aussies were chugging them bitches down like water! And I got hit on by a drunk German. Ew.
I had tea w/rum & a platter of kasespatzle, which were these cheesy noodles w/onions atop. Nom!
After the beer hall it was back to my hotel room for a bit of rest, relaxation & a little German TV...Which of course was all in Deutsch. Even the American shows were dubbed in German...LOL
3-November: We left Munich to make the drive to Venice, Italy. En route, we stopped in Innsbruck (Austria), which was stunning! Snow capped mountains, lush, green hills, cozy cottages, clean streets & air! Sadly I had no pics of this place as I locked my camera in my suitcase.
We only spent an hour in Innsbruck, where we visited & toured the Swarovski crystal shop. Those who were able to, stocked up on jewels. I didn't. We also had pizza in Austria. The slice was HUGE and about the size of two NY slices. But it was amazing. From Austria, we went to bella Italia!!!
Part two to come: Italy, Switzerland & Paris! Oohlala!!! :O