The IGLTA Foundation has announced that LGBTQ+ tour company OUT in Colombia is the recipient of the 2021 Impact Award to honor responsible tourism development. The award was launched this year in partnership with The TreadRight Foundation, a non-profit organization that recognizes smaller business members (fewer than 10 employees) of the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association whose initiatives encourage sustainable tourism in three key areas: environment, community, and diversity and inclusion.

Sam Castañeda Holdren

"With every one of our tours, we seek to introduce LGBTQ+ travelers to the new definition of all-inclusive, where you can travel well, travel out and make a difference all at the same time," said Sam Castañeda Holdren, founder and CEO of OUT in Colombia. "It is truly an honor to be recognized by IGLTA, the IGLTA Foundation, and The TreadRight Foundation for our efforts to give back to the community through responsible and sustainable tourism. As we strive for equality through travel, we hope that every new experience and cultural exchange leads to more compassion and understanding, while uplifting the diverse communities of the world."

Castañeda Holdren, who graduated from Arizona State University with a Master of Sustainability Leadership and is currently finishing ASU’s Master of Sustainable Tourism program, founded OUT in Colombia in 2016 in Medellín with the mission to break down barriers and enlighten people about the amazing cultures and communities in Colombia.

OUT in Colombia offers various cultural experiences in Medellín, Bogotá, Cartagena and Salento, and aims to change the way people view Colombia — and the LGBTQ+ traveler. Additionally, OUT in Colombia is based in one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet, and protecting its natural environment is critical to the long-term sustainability of its tourism industry. Through nature-based tourism, the operator teaches tourists about Colombia’s awesome biodiversity and creates awareness of how local and global challenges like climate change endanger the country’s natural wonders.

Examples include a visit to the national aviary in Cartagena, raising awareness about the nearly 2,000 bird species that make Colombia their home; a nature hike through the Cocora Valley, a cloud forest that is home to the tallest species of the endangered wax palm tree, Colombia’s national tree, with information about initiatives to restore the forest before it disappears; and coffee farm excursions to highlight environmentally sensitive farming practices.

Partnering with local LGBT+ entrepreneurs, OUT in Colombia helps create opportunities in the country’s growing tourism industry, like CookingOUT Experiences, which feature gay chefs; and an Afro-Colombian tour package that celebrates the unique contributions of Colombians of African descent.

Castañeda Holdren has been sure to work with partners and allies like the national tourism board ProColombia; CCLGBTCO, Colombia’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce; the Medellín Convention & Visitors’ Bureau; and Barranquilla’s Tourism Office, among others.

“With all of the recent challenges our industry has faced, it’s important that we celebrate the work tourism businesses are doing to move the world forward in a better way,” said IGLTAF Board Chair Theresa Belpulsi. “There are so many small IGLTA business members doing great work under the radar, and with this new award, which we’ll present annually, they’ll get a much-deserved moment in the spotlight. We’re thrilled to recognize OUT in Colombia this year for their efforts.”

The Impact Award presentation will be held in Atlanta on Sept. 11 at the IGLTA Annual Global Convention, the premier educational and networking event for LGBTQ+ tourism, and includes US$5,000 in convention benefits and marketing support for the winner.

For more information, visit outincolombia.com

Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

Michael Feinstein


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Gilles Toucas

Michael Feinstein will commemorate Judy Garland’s life on March 20 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.


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I think it’s fair to say we all want that #fitlife, especially with Spring around the corner — as well as Gaypril on the way. Whether it’s pool season yet or not, everyone would choose to look fit over not looking fit, if they could have it with a snap of their fingers. OK, the vast majority of us would.

If you’ve met me, or have been reading my articles, you know that I live, sleep, eat and breathe fitness; it’s my heart and soul. That being said, I’m here to tell you that the concept of “fitness” is oftentimes tragically misunderstood.

Before you get too aggressive with your goal for pool season, let’s dive a bit deeper into what fitness means on the inside versus what it looks like on the outside, and common misconceptions around this concept.

1. Beware of the cultural pitfalls and misleading information around fitness.

Most of the bodies you see in the media are probably not real, they just look very convincing. As a trainer who also moonlights as a photographer and Photoshop wizard, I’m telling you that it is incredibly easy to alter pictures in materially misleading ways. Once you know the tricks of the trade, the imposters are easily spotted. But that’s not what this is about.

The point is: to the untrained eye, it can be devastatingly defeating to see such impossible standards. It seems as though the cultural pressure to look a certain way, to look perfect, has spread all the way from runway models to fitness novices with the help of smartphone apps.

The truth is that we fitness models look that cut, and that lean for only a couple days at a time. That’s it! In many cases, months or even close to a year of training, dieting and programming all go into looking like that for ONE day. Let that sink in for a second. Day to day, I am less cut, less tan and much flatter muscularly than what you see in some of my pictures. That’s just the nature of the beast. So, when you have a bad day on the scale, in the mirror or in any other scenario, remember that we’re all human and that the most legitimate photos you’re comparing yourself against were from someone’s very best day. That should help to keep things in perspective.

2. Most people want the results, without actually doing the work.

Fitness is not six pack abs, it’s not superficial, it is not temporary and it’s not an isolated phase in your life. Further, fitness is not something you do for someone else, do to spite someone else or even to impress someone else.

Fitness is confidence, toughness, dedication, coordination, power, balance, speed, strength (both literally and figuratively) and persistence in the face of all obstacles. This includes control over your attitude, your mood, your sleep, your schedule, your diet and other aspects of your life. This means getting that workout in when you least feel like it.

It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a grind that has good and bad days. You must show up and keep working on the days you’re tired, stressed, rushed, defeated, doubtful, afraid and so on. The days you actually have to overcome something instead of just checking your workout off your to-do list are the days you have the greatest opportunity to really make progress, push your body and see the most improvement.

3. Fitness is really an internal mindset. The external physique is the fringe benefit.

I’ve said this time and time again, and it might sound strange coming from such an aesthetic-focused trainer, but you are not your body. Your body is a tool, it’s a means to an end, to express your internal mindset, belief system, discipline and dedication to your workout program. Your physique will come and go. Your strength will come and go. Your abilities will wax and wane depending on what you’re training for at the time.

The outside will, and should, be always changing, but the inside is what we’re really after here. Good trainers want to train you to believe in yourself when sh*t gets hard. We want to train you to be resilient in the face of injury, obstacles and other setbacks. We want you to set ambitious goals and shoot for the moon because you can get there with smart programming and relentless will (do yourself a favor and ditch the crash diets and the photo editing software).

So, as you make your spring preparations for swimsuit season, try focusing on developing a sterling, unshakeable internal character and the muscles will come along the way, this I promise you.

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