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We’re officially in the thick of summer and it’s never too late to throw the ultimate party for you and your friends. Whether it's in July or any time of year, it’s always the perfect time to celebrate everyone’s individuality and the unifying power of love.
You already know this month is full of parties, parades, and special events, so why not host one of your own? You can choose to celebrate the history of Pride, the love you have for your friends, or simply your freedom of expression!
Throwing a party is easier than you might think. Once you have the basics down, there are a few “finishing touches” you can add to ensure everyone knows exactly what you’re celebrating.
Ready to have a good time? Let’s cover a few tips that will set off the perfect party.
Liven Up Your Invitations
Nowadays, it’s beyond easy to invite people to a get-together. A few clicks on Facebook allow you to create an event in minutes and invite all of your friends. While there’s nothing wrong with that, if you really want to have a special party, it’s worth it to go the extra mile.
That starts with sending out some killer invitations.
Your party announcement should include things like:
- Date and time
- The event name
- RSVP or call-to-action
Once you have the basics covered, have fun and be creative. There are plenty of online platforms you can use to create a colorful and unique design. Or, if you’ve got an artistic streak, you can develop your own design from scratch, using traditional rainbow colors or even photographs that mean something you to and your friend group.
A tangible invitation is something people will notice. It will make it easier for them to remember when the party is, and spark their interest and excitement so they’re more likely to come. After all, who doesn’t want a cool and colorful party invitation hanging on their fridge?
Choose the Right Location
When it comes to throwing a good party, location is everything. If you want to adopt a “the more, the merrier” mindset, it might not be realistic to cram everyone into your apartment, or even your house.
One of the best solutions is to throw an outdoor party, utilizing your backyard space. You can choose to go elegant and classy with a traditional outdoor dinner party or keep things colorful and vibrant with unforgettable decor. When it comes to throwing an outdoor party, make sure you check the weather, have enough space for everyone, and ensure there’s enough lighting.
Most people feel comfortable outside and it can make for a stress-free environment. So, if you’re inviting some old and new friends over who may not have met before, keeping things outdoors can keep everything casual enough that no one feels awkward and everyone is welcomed with open arms.
Don’t have a backyard of your own? Don’t sweat it! Consider using a local park if your guest list is small, or contact an outdoor venue to rent for the night. That will help to take some of the burdens off of you when it comes to getting everything ready and having to clean up afterward. If the cost is too much, consider asking everyone to chip in and make the party more like an LGBTQ+ community event, rather than a private get-together.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
A party isn’t a party without food and drinks.
No matter what you serve, make sure it’s conducive to your setting. You’re probably not going to want your guests to dish out spaghetti and meatballs onto paper plates when you’re mingling outside.
Things like finger foods are perfect for parties as they allow guests to nibble while talking to others. If you want to go one step further, choose foods that fit the party theme like:
- Rainbow fruit and vegetable trays
- Colorful salads
- Sweet desserts
- Festive drinks
Speaking of drinks, why not create a signature cocktail for the event? You can find plenty of LGBTQ+-inspired cocktail recipes online, or you can create one of your own specifically for the party. Your guests will love the innovation, and they might even end up asking you for the recipe.
When it comes to the “merriment” aspect of your party, make sure your guests are entertained. You don’t have to have special activities lined up, but things like fun background music and a few adult outdoor games can make a big difference. Ask your friends beforehand what some of their favorite songs are, and compile them to create a perfect party Spotify playlist you can use all night. Whether you want to encourage some dancing or you just want to fill in the silence, music is a must.
So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:
- It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
- There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
- Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.
Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.
Transgender bathroom bills
So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.
Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.
Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.
So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.
Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.
By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.
The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.
Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.
Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.
This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.
Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues
- Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
- There is a rich history behind transgender issues
- Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
- 3(b). The facts
- 3(c).The confidence
- 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights
- On Transgender Day of Visibility, meet six community members ... ›
- This Transgender in Sports Event Tackles Big Issues - OutVoices ›
- Helpful Resources for the Trans Community in Kansas City ... ›
- Transgender people more likely to face food insufficiency - OutVoices ›
- Lee Hatcher - OutVoices ›
- Transgender Representation in Media - OutVoices ›
- Minding Your Health - Tips for Being an Ally to Transgender People ... ›
- Transgender Representation in Media - OutVoices ›
- Transgender in Horror ›
The weather is warming up, and that means it’s grilling time. It's time to invite friends over and fire up the grill. If you are new to grilling, it's best to start with the basics, and a charcoal grill is a perfect place to start.
What You’ll Need
Before you get started, it's important to learn about the type of charcoal grill you have. Ensure everything is in working order and familiarize yourself with the air vents on the grill because these help you control the heat. If you are looking to buy one, you will need to consider which size is best for your needs. We recommend buying one with an ash container for easy cleanup. Charcoal grills come in different shapes and sizes, and the price range starts at around $100 and can go up from there.
Once you have your grill set up, you will need a couple of things.
- Chimney starter (optional)
- Grilling tongs
- Pumice stone for cleaning the grill grate
- Heat resistant gloves
Choose Your Charcoal
Charcoal briquettes are the classic choicePhoto by Amin Hasani on Unsplash
Charcoal grills, of course, use charcoal as fuel, and there are two types of charcoal you can use. Charcoal briquettes are the most affordable option. You can find them in any supermarket in a big bag. They create consistent heat and burn for an extended time. While they are inexpensive, they don't add much smoky flavor and the slow burn creates a lot of ash.
Hardwood charcoal is the more expensive option, but worth it if you love the smoky taste of grilled food. This type of charcoal burns quickly and leaves little ash for easy clean-up. If you want the best of both worlds, you can use both charcoals together.
Before you get started, you will want to make sure you have enough charcoal. The amount of charcoal needed depends on how much you are planning to cook and for how long. A rough estimate is if you are cooking hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken for a group, 4.5 to 5 pounds of charcoal is best. If you are cooking for 2-3 people, then 2.5 pounds of charcoal should be enough. And, if you are grilling a long-cooking cut of meat or using your grill as a smoker with lower heat but for an extended time then 2 pounds of charcoal is fine.
Light the Grill
Waiting for the grill to heat up is hard when you are hungry.Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash
There are a few ways to get your grill fired up. The most traditional way is to arrange the charcoal in a small pile on the grill and spray some lighter fluid on the charcoal. Always read the instructions on the bottle for the exact amount of fluid to use. Using too much lighter fluid can affect the flavor of your food. Give the charcoal a minute to absorb the fluid, then light the charcoal with a utility lighter. Once the charcoal is lit, resist the temptation to add more lighter fluid, it's dangerous, and it will be difficult to control the flame.
If you prefer not to use lighter fluid, you can use a chimney starter. Chimney starters are available at any hardware store, and if you grill frequently, they are a great investment. Using a chimney starter is the fastest way to get your charcoal piping hot. Some starters have a place to add either newspaper or fire starter cubes. Follow the instructions, add the charcoal to the starter, and light from there. Once hot, pour onto the grill. Use heat-resistant gloves for safety.
For tech lovers, there is also an electric charcoal starter. Just place the charcoal on the grill and touch the electric starter to the charcoal until it lights.
Another option to light the charcoal is a strike-able fire starter. They are like a large match that you can place in the middle of the charcoal to get the coals going.
However, you get your charcoal started, you will need to wait for your grill to heat up before you start cooking. It can take around 15- 20 minutes to get hot enough to cook your food. Most charcoal grills have a built-in thermometer to help you know when it reaches grilling temperature which is anywhere between 350 to 450 F. While your grill is heating up, you can prepare the grill grate.
Prepare the Grill Grate
Oil up the grill grate to keep juices meats from sticking.Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash
You should always start with a clean grill. While you don't need to deep clean the entire grill after each use, you should clean the grill grate before and after each use. Use a pumice stone made for grills to clean your grill grates. There are wire brushes on the market for this, too, but there have been cases of metal bristles breaking off and getting stuck on the grill and then sticking to food, so stick with a pumice cleaner.
Once the grate is clean, brush some oil on the grate to keep food from sticking. Save your olive oil for your salad. Instead, use a high heat oil like vegetable or canola.
Arrange Coals for Effective Cooking
Sear some steaks for the perfect grill marks.Photo by Paul Hermann on Unsplash
Once the charcoal has heated up, you can use your grilling tongs to arrange the coals. Charcoal placement is key to coking with charcoal. As a general rule, you will want to have two cooking areas on your grill—one for direct heat to sear and one for indirect heat for foods that require longer cooking time. Searing is good for steaks, while indirect heat is better for meat on the bone and roasts.
Another option is to use grilling planks on the charcoal grill. Grilling planks are pieces of wood like cedar or alder that you can cook food on rather than placing the food straight on the grill. Soaking the planks in water for an hour prior to grilling ensures they won't burn. Then, place meats, fish, or vegetables on the plank for a smoky dish.
Cleaning Up the Grill After Use
Properly caring for a charcoal grill extends its life.Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash
When your last burger has been flipped, and it's time to turn off the grill, just close the vents and put the lid on the grill. Without air to fuel the fire, it will gradually burn out. This can take up to 48 hours for it to completely cool and be safe enough to remove the coal and ashes.
If you are in a hurry you can use your tongs and pull out each charcoal brisket and place it in a metal bucket filled with water. Scoop the hot ash into a metal container to let it cool. Never pour water onto a charcoal grill as it can damage the grill and leave a sludge that you will have to clean later. Plus, water directly on hot coals creates dangerous steam that can burn anyone near the grill.
When your charcoal grill is cooled and cleaned, it's ready to be stored for next time. While charcoal grills are sturdy and can be left outside, if you live in a colder climate you will want to ensure it is protected from the elements to extend the life of the grill.
Tips and Tricks for Charcoal Grills
- Resist the temptation to flip your food too much
- Control the heat by using the vents and lid
- Keep the heat around 350° F for most foods or 450° F for searing
- Add a handful of wood chips like hickory or mesquite to the coals for more flavor
Get Creative with Grilled Food
- Pineapple rings
- Zucchini slices
- Eggplant slices
- Cabbage steaks
The stress of traveling not only takes a toll on your nerves, but it can also result in something we call "travel gut." And stressful travel can occur especially around the holidays.
During travel, regular "routines" are interrupted because of excitement, apprehension, tension, or sometimes even fear.
Whether you're taking a flight, boarding a train, or on an extended road trip, your stomach is likely to be an uncooperative passenger. So we talked to an expert in nutrition and asked him about the causes and what travelers can do to ensure they spend more time exploring the outdoors and less time in the bathroom.
Daniel O'Shaughnessy is an award-winning nutritionist based in London and soon to be the author of the upcoming book, Naked Nutrition: an LGBTQ+ Guide to Diet and Lifestyle.
He answered some frequently asked questions about hitting the road and beating the dreaded "travel gut."
Gaycation Magazine: Is there a way to prepare your body nutritionally before heading out on a big trip even if you aren't health-conscious in everyday life?
Daniel O'Shaughnessy: Prepare food --- service stations and airports aren’t the best places to pick up healthy snacks. Try getting some healthy low sugar protein bars, nuts, and seeds, beef jerky, or oatcakes for example to have with you on your journey.
Hydrate - aim to get in a litre of water before you begin your journey and sip more throughout the journey (toilet breaks allowing).
Have a workout - hours being sedentary travelling means it’s good to have a workout the evening before or before you travel. It could even be a stretch or yoga class.
Is there something that happens to the body when people travel? Why do some people stop having bowel movements when they fly; is there some science behind that?
I guess there are many factors including: being in a closed space with others, being served plane food which can be high in salt and sugar and refined carbs --- you are more likely to be dehydrated --- you don’t move as much. The altitude can play a role in digestive discomfort.
How should your diet be adjusted once you get to your destination? Or should it?
Increasing fiber foods such as fruit and veg and whole grains but also many consider a magnesium supplement when travelling on a plane which can help relax the bowel (do check potential interactions with medications).
What would your advice be nutritionally for long trips in the car?
Prepare food in advance as service stations are the worst. If you need to go to a service station then try to find one with a mini supermarket in so can have something like cooked chicken with a salad. Otherwise, prep snacks as above.
What kinds of food and drink should people eat and drink before they take a long trip?
I tend to eat lightly before a long trip to minimise sluggish feelings and digestive discomfort. This is usually something low carbohydrate like a salmon or chicken salad.
On the plane, I tend to skip the food if I can and bring my own, or just have something low carb with some fruit.
Should diet be considered as much as packing the appropriate items in your luggage before traveling?
Well, most people travel for a vacation purpose so don’t make the diet ruin the fun but always pack a healthy snack selection as you don’t know what is local around you at the destination. For example, on a cruise I went to I packed protein bars, nuts, and protein powder which helped when I wanted something that wasn’t a meal or went to the gym there.
Any final advice for travelers?
A multi-strain probiotic is usually a great insurance product to get and either take or keep with you in case of any stomach upset on your travels.
For more information about Daniel O'Shaughnessy, you can click HERE.