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According to the Williams Institute, there are about 1.2 million nonbinary LGBTQ adults in the United States. While the fashion industry is trying to become more inclusive to different body types and abilities, there is still a gaping hole for those looking for comfortable, stylish gender-neutral clothing that is also adaptive.
Meredith Wells (they/them), who was diagnosed in 2015 with autonomic dysfunction, which led them to become a wheelchair user, was experiencing this issue first-hand when they decided to start Social Surge, the first-ever universal designed and gender-neutral clothing brand. Instead of segregating people, Social Surge is launching a clothing line for everybody and every body.
Meredith Wells was told they would likely never walk again. They grew up being able to wear clothes like any other kid, defined their style as an adult, and then had their freedom of choice and independence ripped away in a matter of moments. A life-altering change that was amplified by the fact that the fashion industry has generally ignored and segmented people with disabilities or that look “different”, leaving them with limited and often ugly clothing options.
Meredith is a co-founder of Social Surge, the first-ever universal design clothing brand. Instead of segregating people, Social Surge is launching a clothing line for everybody and every body.
A Chicago-based actor, singer, dancer, writer, and content creator, Meredith not only was told they would never walk again; but they might never dance again, but Meredith went on not only to graduate with a Bachelor's Degree in Musical Theatre but also to write, produce, perform and tour their original one-person musical "Dysfunctioning Just Fine" about the whole ordeal.
They have toured nationally and internationally as a performer making appearances at Dance St. Louis, Symphony Hall, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the Luminous Festival in Beijing, China.
Meredith believes becoming disabled has reinvigorated their practice and forces them to reflect daily on why they chose a life in the theatre. They are grateful for their illness and passionate about giving back which is what lead them to co-create Social Surge.
It’s that time of year again, folks! The nights are getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and the idea of spending a weekend in the wild is beginning to sound like fun. Maybe you’ve already begun sorting through your camping gear and are planning your first getaway of the year. We have put together a checklist of camping essentials to ensure you don’t forget any of the items that are going to make your trip relaxing and enjoyable. We have divided all of the essentials into larger categories to help keep you ultra-organized. Be sure to print a copy before your next adventure!
Items You Need for Shelter
Tenting in the woodsPhoto by Triston Dunn on Unsplash
- Tent or hammock
- Tent poles
- Tent footprint or tarp to place under the tent.
- Tent repair kit
Items You Need in Order to Sleep While Camping
Sleeping under the starsPhoto by Felix M. Dorn on Unsplash
- Sleeping bag or quilt
- Sleeping pad or air mattress
- Air pump if required
- Extra blankets to make the tent extra cozy
Pro Tip: if using a down sleeping bag, don’t place blankets over the top of it. The blankets will compress the down, causing the bag to lose its insulation properties.
Kitchen Equipment and Food You Need While Camping
Outdoor cookingPhoto by andrew welch on Unsplash
- Stove and fuel
- Lighter or matches
- Food containers
- Pots and pans
- Plates, bowls, cups
- Cutting board
- Eating utensils
- Cooking utensils
- Bottle and can opener
- Cooler and ice
- Food and beverages
- Water bottles
- Biodegradeable soap and sponge
- Camp table and chairs (if no picnic table at the site)
- Trash bags
- Wash bin
Pro Tip: When packing kitchen items, place them in a large plastic bin or box. The bin can be used to wash items at the campsite if there is no designated sink for dishwashing at the campground. Be sure to follow each campground's guidelines and policies. If in an area where bears are present, be sure to store food, dishes, soap, and anything that has an odor in a bear box if there is one provided. If facilities are primitive, be prepared to pack out all of your trash and practice Leave No Trace principles.
Toiletries You Will Need While Camping
List of toiletries you needPhoto by david Griffiths on Unsplash
- Soap (face and body)
- Hand sanitizer
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Toilet paper
- First aid kit
- Tampons/pads (if applicable)
- Bath towels
- Shoes to shower in
- Bug spray
The number of toiletries you bring may depend on the type of campsite you will be staying at. Many campgrounds have shower and bathroom facilities, but other campgrounds are more primitive, and may only have pit toilets. Be sure to research ahead of time so that you can be fully prepared. Place all scented toiletries in a bear-proof container with your food and other items if you will be in a bear-populated area.
What Type of Clothing and Footwear You Need for Camping
What to wear campingPhoto by Clay Banks on Unsplash
- Moisture-wicking shirts
- Moisture-wicking pants
- Long sleeve shirt
- Down or fleece jacket
- Rain jacket
- Rain pants
- Hiking boots or sneakers
- Sandals or flip flops
What Personal Items Do You Really Need While Camping?
Your Camping list of personal itemsPhoto by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
- Phone and phone charger
- Wallet with ID and credit/debit cards
- Campsite reservation information
- Eyeglasses and sunglasses
Additional Items You Will Need While Camping
More things you'll need for campingPhoto by Vladimir Fedotov on Unsplash
- Extra batteries
- Portable charging bank or solar charger
- Firewood and fire starter (If fires are permitted at your campsite)
- Books and/or games
- Dog gear if bringing your four-legged pals
- Dry bags or plastic bins to store items
- Backpack or hiking pack
- Bear canister (if no bear box at the campsite and you are in an area with bears)
Time to Get Packing
Everyone’s camping checklist will be different depending on the time of year it is, where they’ll be camping, how many people will be going, what type of campsite they’re going to, and many other factors. This list is a great starting point for anyone trying to stay more organized while packing for their next camping trip. Remember to research your campsite before packing to expertly tailor your list. Happy camping!
Summer is fast approaching and with it comes all the excitement and sunny escapes of the season. Many people are starting to plan their first beach trip of the year. But it can be hard to choose the best beach to visit in the US.
From the soft white sands of Florida to the black volcanic shores of Hawaii, the U.S. has over 95,000 miles of coastline. This incredible variety of beaches makes it difficult to choose the perfect summer destination, so we’ve created this list of interesting, picturesque locations to help you out. Here are our picks for the 5 best beaches to visit this year:
La Jolla Beach & Cove, California
Find a secluded spot to sunbathe in the sunny La Jolla Cove!
Photo from Piqsels
This rocky stretch of the California coastline, just outside of San Francisco, is a perfect spot for any type of beach lover. Swimmers and sunbathers can relax along the sandy shore, where lifeguards patrol all year. The gentle waves that come in from the Pacific are great for improving your surfing skills. There are also many great hiking trails around the coastal cliffs where you can work up a sweat before cooling off in the ocean.
The marine life found at La Jolla Beach and Cove also enjoys resting in the sun-soaked shallows as the surface level heats up. Most visitors delight in spotting harbor seals and sea lions playing in the rocky cove. Those who venture into the water to snorkel will be rewarded with a memorable view of the leopard sharks or if you’re really lucky, a dolphin. The delightful blend of idyllic shores and adorable wildlife makes this La Jolla paradise one of the best beaches to visit this year.
Punalu’u Beach, Hawaii
Explore the exotic black sands of Punalu'u beach!
Photo by Steve C.
The breathtaking black sand of Hawaii’s Punalu’u Beach was formed by lava rapidly cooling when it reached the ocean through underwater vents. Most travelers come to this remarkable beach to see the dark sand and to witness the water’s swirling colors. The oil-spill effect, which comes out in the right light, is created by the mixing of the Pacific ocean with the constant stream of fresh spring water which empties out near the beach. This means that the water temperatures are low, but that becomes a pleasant relief when the black sand starts baking under the summer sun.
Swimmers can wade into the shallows if they’re careful as the underwater currents can get very strong at certain times of the day. Punalu’u Beach is also known as a resting point for migrating sea turtles, who wade onto the hot sand to warm themselves up after their long journey. The black sand and churning sea mean Punalu’u is known as one of the best and most interesting beaches to visit this year.
Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan
Find some peace on the sunny shores of Sleeping Bear Dunes!
Photo by John S.
Sunbathe in style this summer along the ridges of the amazing Sleeping Bear Dunes. These steep sandy dunes provide a comfortable resting spot for weary travelers and the soft beaches disappear seamlessly into the clear, warm waters of Lake Michigan. Swimming is encouraged here and you can even rent a small motorboat, pedal boat, or canoe if you want to explore the vast lake. This sunny in-land oasis is one of the best beaches to visit this year for anyone seeking a mix of relaxation, boating, and peaceful country walks.
Many people come here to camp in one of the nearby campgrounds because one day at the dunes is never enough. There are many miles of walking and hiking trails surrounding Sleeping Bear Dunes where you can spot deer, porcupines, and foxes roaming through the woodlands.
Fort Bragg Glass Beach, California
Discover the rainbow colors of the Fort Bragg Glass Beach!
Photo by John K.
This colorful pebble beach near Fort Bragg owes its existence to the town’s historic dumps, where glass and garbage were once discarded onto the rocky coastline. After a century of erosion, the trash heap has transformed into a beautiful kaleidoscope of pebbles, shells, and smooth sea glass.
A rare sight, the glass beach draws in couples and families who come to walk along the vibrant seafront. Indeed, the steady stream of tourists who visit the beach each year has reduced the amount of glass you can see between the pebbles. However, the beach still lights up in a rainbow of colors when the sun starts shining. Efforts are even being made to bring new sea glass to Fort Bragg. Its history as a dump means it’s not safe to swim at the glass beach, instead, you can find sandy swimming beaches and crab-filled tidepools only a short walk away.
Moshup Beach, Massachusetts
Visit the island paradise of Moshup Beach this year!
Photo by Bart H.
On the island of Martha’s Vineyard in the south of Massachusetts, the secluded shores of Moshup Beach are a welcome haven for every visitor. This sandy stretch, over a mile long, looks like a Mediterranean paradise when the summer arrives. The perfect sun-soaked shores make Moshup the best island beach to visit this year. While the Atlantic waters are colder than their Pacific counterparts, the calm shallows can be refreshing on a baking hot day.
Moshup Beach is highlighted by the colorful Gay Head Cliffs that overlook the seafront and offer stunning views over the island. Many visitors walk along the beach and cliffs to see the vibrant layered clay that makes up this natural landmark, before having a picnic on the grass. Walk far enough along Moshup Beach and you might find some people enjoying the warm sand without their clothes getting in the way.
For some time now, the rage over beards has been wild. We’ve all had one growing up, right? But really, having a beard in the gay community has become incredibly popular. That scruffy, natural “manliness” that just pours off guys who have ‘em can be relentless…woof, is it hot in here?
We can’t get enough of them! And if you or your guy has one, like anything else, you’ve got to learn how to take care of it.
It may seem like a bit of a gimmick, but the truth about beard oils is backed by science. Think of beard oils and balms as a conditioner for your beard. Just like you’d use on the hair on your head (or not if you’re rocking that bald and beautiful look), conditioning your hair is important!
Ingredients like jojoba, castor, and argan oils are essential for promoting hair growth, moisturizing, and taking care of your skin as well. They’re packed with vitamins, like B and E, and minerals, like zinc and copper, that keep your beard looking fresh and healthy. They kind of make a protective barrier for your beard, which is pretty cool in itself.
But choosing the best beard care products for you can be SO overwhelming! Especially with every dime-a-dozen, hella macho, lumberjack-looking barista-type brand that’s out there. Sometimes you just want something that’s more inclusive and supportive of both your queer lifestyle and your beard. And I know you’ve been asking, so we did a little research to help you out.
No need for thanks, we gotcha.
Here’s 5 of the best beard care products that also are created by or support the LGBTQIA+ community.
photo credit via Noto Botanics IG
Founded and owned by Gloria Noto (queer makeup artist and overall badass) in 2016, Noto Botanics was created with a few things in mind. To create a radical, fun, and reliable product that promotes self-acceptance, sustainability, and queerness.
Exploring the intersection of clean beauty in a way that’s exploratory and profound, while also being made vegan.
In particular, we love the Rooted and Agender Oils, to be used as an everyday beard oil. Lavender, hemp, and sunflower oils are all excellent for beard health and also add an overall sexy scent.
Outer Being Face & Body Oil
photo courtesy of Bathing Culture
Tim Hollinger and Carl “Spencer” Arnold, had been life-long friends, living in Northern California, and started making soap in 2015. Trying to escape their office jobs desperately, their focus turned to giving back and taking better care of the planet through bathing.
Sustainably and locally sourced ingredients and mindfully crafted, Bathing Culture is the perfect way to up your bath and beard care game.
In the beard care category, their Outer Being Face and Body Oil take the cake. Drenched with antioxidants and fatty amino acids, essential vitamins C and E, and plenty of minerals; it’s hard to not use this on every inch of your body.
But, for the time being, take a few dabs and run it through that face mane of yours…or someone you fancy.
You won’t be disappointed.
That Good Good Argan Oil Serum
photo courtesy of Hairrari
What started as a two-seat, gender-neutral barbershop (aptly named Manetamed) in Williamsburg, Hairrari has branched out into a queer powerhouse of inclusivity with its products and hairstyling.
With a realized goal of providing a safe space for anyone to get their hair cut and styled, founder Magda Ryczko has been changing the field one snip at a time.
Their product line includes a variety of pomades, sprays, clays, and serums, but one of our favorites in terms of beard care is That Good Good Argan Oil Serum. With Argan (obviously) and Macadamia oils leading the charge, a few drops will have your beard feeling smooth and refreshed. Don’t believe us?
Try it, we dare ya.
photo courtesy of Rudy's Barbershop
When Rudy’s Barbershop was founded in 1993 in Seattle by Alex Calderwood, David Petersen, and Wade Weigel, they wanted two things: to have a place to hang with their friends and cut hair. And they definitely accomplished that, but with a little twist.
They also saw how the classic barbershop model had done some things right but wasn’t all that welcoming for everyone. Their new model for Rudy’s put an emphasis to include everyone with a capital E. They’ve also been a long-time supporter of the It Get’s Better Project – helping homeless LGBTQ+ youth.
So we gave a welcome hat off to Rudy’s and dove straight for their Tonic Spray. The essence of Nettle and Baobab Seed relaxes the beard follicles and helps tame that wild beast!
Gotta bring a little order to those wild locks, boys!
Alder's New York Hydrating Oil
photo courtesty of Alder's New York
Nobody ever said that being a woman and a queer-owned skincare company in Brooklyn would be easy. But that hasn’t stopped anyone here. Since its inception in 2016, Alder has been thriving as a top-tier, vegan, dermatologist-approved skincare line.
Their products focus on the simplicity of taking care of your skin and hair. And truly, it’s all in the details.
For our bearded friends, we’ll turn you to their Hydrating Oil. Jojoba oil and essence of lime and rosemary. Lather a few bits of this into your beard and let it do all the work. Lush, refined, irresistible.
It’s really that easy. As it should be.