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David's Thoughts

by David Placher

Friday, June 09, 2017

Land o’Lakes • Minnesota

The wise old saying, “in order to have a friend, you have to be a friend” guided my answer when I was asked to join a friend in her journey to Minnesota. The trip included us having an official song – Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” – along with some hiccups of mutual impatience, and personal growth. Most people know that “LGBT” stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender,” but some of us also include “queer,” “intersex,” and “asexual,” resulting in the abbreviation “LGBTQIA.” My trip with my friend was a learning experience about both intersex and Minnesota.

Getting to Vermont is cheap and easy. Spirit, Jetblue, and Southwest airlines usually offer deals, especially if you purchase your tickets in advance. A ticket can cost as little as $30 one-way. You can rent a car from Boston’s Logan Airport or if you have great friends in the area, carpool to Vermont. Hotel prices range from super cheap to very expensive, so plan in advance. The drive to Vermont is simple: one hour to Vermont’s border and two hours from there to its biggest city Burlington. It is the second least populated state (Wyoming is first). Its capital of Montpelier is the least-populous capital in the U.S. It is the only state that does not have buildings taller than 124 feet. It is also a state that is being hit hard by climate change because many of its industries, such as sugar maple production, are affected by acid rain and warmer weather. Vermont is a great state to visit and learn about, especially when it comes to gay history, its home to a great company, and its awesome outdoor activities.

Escaping to New York City from Baltimore for the weekend is easy. Although Amtrak tickets can be pricey, advance ticket purchase and travel during odd times can lead to cheap deals. A one-way train ticket for a 5 a.m. trip can cost as little as $40. A bus to New York can be even cheaper, with deals as low as $10. Although traveling to New York is great for seeing the beautiful green lands and waterways, once you get there, the adventure begins. New York, with its population of over 8 million, can be overwhelming if you are not used to a lot of people concentrated in a small area. New York plays a powerful role in shaping media, art, entrainment, technology, fashion, research, and education. It has the largest LGBT population in the world and that includes the largest transgender population that is estimated to be over 25,000. It’s the place where the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil happened – in 2001, when the World Trade Center was destroyed.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Croatia • Split for Zagreb

Croatia is a hot spot for gay travelers: many European gay cruises stop in the cities of Dubrovnik and Split. Croatia is in southeastern Europe and its Adriatic Sea coast contains more than a thousand islands. Its rich history includes architectural wonders, stories of Roman and Greek times, and Ottoman Empire domination. Croatia has around four million people and it skews Roman Catholic. It’s a conservative country, so only a tiny number of cities will have residents that display rainbow flags or have gay-friendly bars. The capital, Zagreb, is home to Croatia’s largest LGBT celebration. Zagreb is also home to the first LGBT center in Croatia, and the “Queer Zagreb” organization, that among many other activities promotes equality through the Queer Zagreb festival. Croatia’s second LGBT center was opened in Split in May 2014, and there’s a third in Rijeka, opened in October 2014. When visiting Croatia, there are three very popular cities: Dubrovnik, Hvar, and Split.

Key West, Florida, is the southernmost point in the U.S. – and is known as one of its gayest places. It’s a small island surrounded by other islands about 160 miles south of Miami and 100 miles north of Havana, Cuba. You can fly to Key West, but driving from Miami is better because you can enjoy the picturesque scenes. Key West has a tropical climate with fresh easterly winds and sea breezes that – especially coming from winter in Baltimore – can make you feel like you’re in utopia. Bicycles are favored for getting around, but free-roaming chickens and beautiful sunsets can be distractions. With Key West’s awesome role in American history, its thriving gay culture, and its annual festivities, visiting this tiny island often helps you recharge your spirit.

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