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ISSUE #25 | SUMMER 2018

The

Parent-HOOD!

LGBTQ FAMILIES SPREAD LOVE

TOP FAMILY ADVENTURES

LOVING CRUISING VERMONT LIVING BERMUDA


Connexting CONTRIBUTORS

Connextions Magazine issue #24: United by Love: The Wedding Issue takes a closer look at the entire process of creating the perfect wedding, from the proposal to your special day. Featuring weddings in atypical venues, we showcase ideas and themes that will make your special day truly unforgettable. David Duran introduces his family. Love has no boundaries, no gender, no discrimination of any kind.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Manny Velasquez-Paredes CREATIVE DIRECTOR Xioger Sandoval FEATURED WRITER David Duran CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Lilly Chris Ross Christianson Clark Harding H. Luiz Martinez Carlos Mayorga David Perry Ali Rothlizzi JJ Vega Manny Velasquez-Paredes Sarah Stanley-Evan Read Connextions Magazine online: ConnextionsMagazine.com Write to us: Have a question or comment regarding this issue or future issues of Connextions Magazine? We would love to hear from you! E-mail responses and press releases are always welcomed. mvp@connextionsmagazine.com All submissions become the property of Connextions Magazine.

Cover Photo: Pictures provided from LGBTQ Families from all over the world.

The views and opinions stated throughout this magazine are not necessarily the opinions of staff at Connextions Magazine. Connextions Magazine, LLC publishing mailing address: PO Box 242 Calverton, NY 11933 Connextions Magazine and Connextions Magazine en EspaĂąol will not knowingly publish or advertise text which is fraudulent or misleading. The publisher reserves the right to edit, limit, revise, or reject any text without cause. Connextions Magazine assumes no financial responsibility for typographical errors. If any errors are found, please notify Connextions Magazine immediately. Materials in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. ISSN 2160-4347 (print) ISSN 2160-4355 (online)

Read more on page 52 Find us, Follow us, Like us, Tweet us, Pin us, Share us on all Social Media sites @ConnextionsMag #ConnextionsMag

International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association

Connextions Magazine, the Travel & Lifestyle magazine for the LGBTQ Traveler since 2010, is a proud member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, Gay European Tourism Association & National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, as well The travel Media Sponsor of HRC Greater New York.

Connextions Magazine

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LGBTQ Families Spread Love

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Summer 2018


Letter from the Editor Connextions Magazine issue #25: The Parent-HOOD!: LGBTQ Families Spread Love takes a closer look at the bonds of families. We asked our readers to send us pictures of their families, and our inboxes were quickly inundated with pictures of LGBTQ families from all over the world. We knew we couldn’t possibly pick just one picture for the cover, so we made a collage. At the center of this collage, we wanted a heart to represent LOVE, of course it had to be a rainbow heart - with glitter sparkles because everything looks better with glitter. Since we decided on a heart in the middle of it all, we decided to make a heart with our hands and voilà - our cover was born. We honestly expected to get a few pics, but we had so many along with some unforgettable stories, that we felt we just had to share them and Spread the Love! We are living in challenging times, we have made some great strides as a community around the world, and at the same time, we are experiencing so many backlashes from governments that we felt the need to just put out beautiful images of loving families, so we can combat all the negativity and divisiveness we are experiencing. So, this is our effort to fight back with LOVE, because Love is Love is Love is Love is Love! Be sure to check out our website ConnextionsMagazine.com to find the latest travel news, and we are now featuring a spot created by kids for kids - Connextions Kids Corner! Check us out and find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all social media channels under our handle @ConnextionsMag. We hope you enjoy our work, we love to read your letters and emails. So keep them coming!

MVP

Editor In Chief

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Contents LIVE

Summer 2018

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LGBTQ Families: Spreading the Love

TRAVEL Family Outings Cruising Bermuda

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Loving Vermont Living Moose Meadow Lodge & Treehouse 18 Ben & Jerry’s 24 NEK Adventures ATV & Snowmobile 30 DND Stables 34 The Inn at Mountain View Farm 39 The Burke Mountain Resort 42

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The TOP 8 Places for LGBTQ Family Adventures Hershey Park 86 Great Wolf 88 Kalahari Resort 90 Six Flags 90 Jay Peak Resort 94 Sesame Place 96 Times Square, NY 98 Provincetown, MA 99

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CONNECT

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The Quiles Family Lyn & Gloria

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Want to see pics from our trips? Want to get cool ideas for your vacays? Or see trip tips?

We have a section just for KIDS. It’s our very own KIDS CORNER

Ask your parents to let you log on to our website: ConnextionsMagazine.com/ KidsCorner Share your stories with us and we’ll publish them on our site this is YOUR website. Join us now!!!

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FAMILY OUTINGS:

CRUISING BERMUDA

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Written & photos by: Ali Polizzi

W

here can LGBTQ families go to have a good time? Turns out Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is a pretty good option.

NYC to immediately find ourselves by the pool, listening to reggae music, which is what lured us back. This was our third cruise, and our first on the NCL’s Breakaway.

We are not big cruisers. We kind of thought cruises to be the kind of thing you do when you’re physically done hiking and camping and zip lining. We cruised twice before: once when we were just too pregnant to fly and once when we were anxious to snorkel Bermuda again. We wound up feeling like cruising is just the sort of thing straight people do. It turns out though that cruising really is an awesome way to travel with family - and yes, even our LGBTQ families!

First impressions - It was crowded! The first day after the safety test, there was at least one fight. Hard to avoid though when you scoop 5,000 people from Downtown Manhattan and pour them into a few large rooms. Despite the size of the boat you’ll find there’s usually not a lot of free space. But the space is utilized very well and once some order is established at the buffet bar, and drinks are served, most things run pretty smoothly. I’m told the Bermuda cruise is the least confined because both the NYC and Bermuda Ports are less restrictive. You also have time (usually an overnight or two) in the Bermuda port which helps to spread out the crunch of people.

When my wife and I cruised the first two times, it was in NCL’s Dawn, and we remember leaving

I highly recommend springing for the balcony if you’re anything like me when it comes to the

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Travel: Cruising Bermuda

confined spaces. The first time we cruised, we did a stateroom and I woke up in panic the morning we docked. I could feel the ship had “hit” something but couldn’t reference what was in my morning fog. Of course, I’m a tad prone to panic.

On our second trip the power went out (briefly). We happened to be in the ship’s store at the time, but most people were only a bit put out that their purchases were held up, I was grasping my wife’s shoulders and screaming to her that we had to “stay in the ship as long as possible!” You learn a lot about yourself or your family when you’re a week off mainland. During our third cruise, we brought our kids with us. Our first day, I was horrified at my sweet Niky’s inflexibility. When asked if he would like ice cream, he invariably requests “vanilla with rainbow sprinkles.” (My kid loves rainbows!) Well there is a huge array of food choices, but rainbow sprinkles haven’t quite made the cut on the Norwegian Breakaway. Our waiter, Edwin Hernandez, seemed as horrified over this, even though I was embarrassed over my son’s ridiculous tears, but before we knew it, he’d found rainbow M&Ms, and we had a family talk about manners and gratitude! Edwin went completely out of his way to make sure Niky could enjoy his ice cream. The service is impeccable. We found that all crew members will bend over backwards to do their best for you. Cruises, we find, are a nice option if you just want to feel pampered. There are so many nice touches that we find intriguing and fun, from towels folded into different animals every evening, fun games like Family Pictionary and giant chess to pass the time. Pampering is nice and plentiful, but like most cruises, there are money stresses too. On the Dawn, there were washing machines you could use if you didn’t mind putting in the time. On the

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Breakaway however, they perform that chore - for a price. However, It is truly possible to enjoy yourself without the extras. For example, on our first cruise, we were tempted to spend extra on the specialty restaurants, and not on the alcohol package. In the end, it’s really about personal choice, but for us, we found that the food was just as good in the regular restaurants and exploring new tropical concoctions without fear of the culminating bar bill was preferable. Nobody batted an eye at the many times we mentioned we were a couple, or when we danced together, and there were no specifically labeled “his/her” towels or robes in the closet to annoy us or make us feel unwelcome. There were in fact a few other LGBTQ couples on board and all seemed perfectly happy with our general treatment and accommodations. One specific social location my family is navigating right now, is that of raising a possible transgender child. On this, I do wind up feeling a little defensive. “Are you a boy or a girl?” asked a crew member to my Niky. We’ve been dealing with trying to know what to do about this for a couple years now. Niky’s official stance so far, is that he is a boy who wants to be a girl when he grows up. But he doesn’t usually correct strangers if they mistake him for a girl, and he does in fact usually take it as a compliment. This time, he was asked straight up, so I was curious. Niky giggled and looked at me grinning slyly, “a ...girl?” he answered as if questioning it. I was surprised. “Well, I wanna be a girl,” he firmly reiterated his point of view. I stood there proud of him for his brave transparency, when I turn back and find this woman shaking her head. “No...” she muses. I think she just doesn’t understand. I mean there must have been some doubt or why would she ask right? Who doesn’t accept an answer on this LGBTQ Families Spread Love

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Summer 2018


after they specifically ask for it? Why contradict a child on their identity? She goes on: “Whose shoes are those? Those are girl shoes.” Niky loved these shoes from the moment he saw them. They are black flip flops with rainbows and yellow stars. My eyes roll. Gender police. There’s a long moment of general discomfort I soon can’t take away. “She’s saying she likes your shoes Niky. She wants them for herself.” I quickly usher him through the sliding glass doors and we leave. I’m surprised. It was a crew member, but most have been more than helpful. I later spoke with some higher crew members who explained that there really is no diversity training per se for the crew. I know gender issues can be challenging and plentiful. Crew members wear their countries of origin on their uniforms and it’s easy to see this is an advanced experiment in diversity, but a tiny bit of ConnextionsMagazine.com

preparation, maybe just a discussion or general policy? - Would have gone a long way here I bet. Eight years ago, when we went snorkeling in Bermuda I came back raving about how the snorkeling is second only to Hawaii. I figured it had something to do with the remote locations and volcanic similarities. But this trip, I have to say, left me feeling more than ever determined to subscribe to a life of keeping the environment high on my priorities list. The first flag that went up in my head was when we were told it “didn’t matter” much if we touched the coral. We were instructed only to be careful for our own sake not to cut ourselves on the course rock. And that is what we saw. Coarse rock with a few scattered fish (a couple with color) and an occasional undulating sea fan. It was very scary for me to be down here again exploring. It’s bad enough the sand at Horseshoe Bay now only have the faintest hue of pink. We simply have to save

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Travel: Cruising Bermuda

our oceans. This of course spoken by a woman who just road an ocean liner. However, as big boat pollution goes, NCL is a decent choice. Most boats boast a second-generation ballast water systems, which recovers reusable fuel from the waste fuel, and sleeker paint that reduces friction. It’s still a polluter, but when you forgive the crowd factor, it really is maximizing vacation. Coming back from our shore excursions we joked about feeling neglected not being served food or alcoholic beverage while waiting on line for the shuttle. Just after passing customs about to re-board our ship however, we were handed an ice cold wet towel and choice of water or lemonade. You just don’t know how refreshing an ice towel and a cold drink can be.

Overall, it was a really nice week. There’s the immediate jubilance of boarding right from Manhattan that launches you poolside within minutes that is nice; the expectation/exploration

of the ship the first few days, the sheer beauty of Bermuda’s famous Horseshoe Bay that simply cannot be missed; and the slow return/ appreciation of the comfort and coddling that last few days afford you. My family was treated like gold and my oldest was literally famous by the end of the cruise just from all the live shows he was able to join and participate in while we were there. My emotional youngest literally cried as we left the Bermuda port for the last time, but was able to adjust over the last couple days as we sailed home so that eventually he was happy to return to his video games as we disembarked. My wife and I probably could have endured another few days of disconnect and coddling, but we were satisfied that we’d been able to so easily provide the kids with an experience of another country, and know that everything had gone off without a hitch.


Things to keep in mind: Pack sneakers: some ships have zip lines, but you an only use them if you are wearing sneakers. If you think you may drink more than 5-6 tropical concoctions a day, then spring for the alcohol package. It’s so much easier to try new drinks and not care if they suck when you are not worried about the cost. Disconnect! It’s surprising how liberating it is to be cell-free. Bring a walkie talkie with a decent range to stay in touch with family on the ship. It’s fun and different enough to be cool for the kids. You can honestly skip all the expensive specialty restaurants and still have great meals. They are alluring, but you can get a buffet, and different sit-down options We did do one night of specialty French (just because it is rare for us), so if you are going to do it - then make it count! Schedule excursions for your last days or your shortest port days. It takes the stress out of getting back to the boat on time. Wear shorts under sundresses on deck. It gets windy! For more LGBT Family-Friendly Travel & other writings by Ali Polizzi check out: http://alirothlizzi.blogspot.com ConnextionsMagazine.com

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Capturing Your Love

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Meghan and Victoria Photo by: JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ


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Picture provided by Moose Meadow Lodge

MOOSE MEADOW LODGE & TREEHOUSE


Written & Photographs: Manny Velasquez-Paredes

B

Loving Vermont Living

giving him a huge 37 percentage points lead. This was repeated in 2012, when President Obama took 67% of the votes. In 2016, 57% of Vermont

ordering the state of Massachusetts to the

voters picked Hillary Clinton over her opposition,

south, Quebec Canada to the north, New

Donald Trump. Vermont was also the first state

Hampshire to the east and New York to the West,

to recognize same-sex couples civil unions in the

Vermont is made up of mountains and greenery,

USA. In 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court dictated

which make it ideal for agriculture and forestry.

that same-sex civil unions would be allowed and

With snowy long winters and warm humid summers,

signed into law by Governor Howard Dean. In

Vermont has a lot to offer its visitors year-round,

2009, Vermont became the first state in the USA

whether you are looking for snow trails, ATV trails,

to legalize same-sex marriage through legislation,

hiking, biking or more, this is a perfect place for

thus becoming the fourth state in the union where

lovers, friends and families.

same-sex couples could legally marry.

Vermont is known for its sweet maple syrup, but also

Vermont’s Coolest Treehouse

for its political views. Voters have overwhelmingly

Our trip started with a visit to the Vermont Gay

elected the Democratic nominees for President for

Tourism Association (VGTA) website in order to

almost 30 years. In 2008, 68% of Vermonters voted

figure out what opportunities were available for

for then Presidential Nominee Barack Obama,

gay travelers. And we were excited to see all

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Picture by: Carolyn Bates provided by Moose Meadow Lodge the cool things to do and places to visit. After

rekindle your love affair at the Treehouse away

communicating with the VGTA, they assisted us in

enough to not be heard or seen, but close enough

creating an itinerary, which consisted on fun for

to run back in case of a kid emergency, like not

our entire family.

finding their favorite plush toy.

We decided to stay at the Moose Meadow Lodge

It is truly an adventure to experience, imagine

and Treehouse – yes, you read that correctly – a

waking up to the splashing of rainbow trout and the

real treehouse with all of the amenities of “living in

music of the hermit thrush as you gaze out on the

the wild” or glamping as many call it. You have the

pristine pond at Moose Meadow. The Treehouse at

entire treehouse experience, plus all the comforts

Moose Meadow is where nature and luxury come

you are accustomed to, like an exotic outdoor

together in tranquil harmony, supported by two

shower facing the woods, so you can be as PG

mature pine trees, this handcrafted two-story nest

or R rated as you wish, plus electricity and a bed.

is made with cedar, pine, maple and hemlock. Its

This two-floor Treehouse is great for a romantic

31 surrounding windows maximize your experience

adult-getaway or to enjoy with the kids, as it fits

of the natural surroundings and light.

up to 5 people. The Treehouse is located in the same property as the Moose Meadow Lodge, so

This magical Treehouse features a living &

if you travel with friends and family, perhaps they

dining area on the first floor with an expansive

can watch the kids for one night, while you two

wrap-around deck. Enjoy the view of the woods

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Picture provided by Moose Meadow Lodge

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as you climb up the circular staircase wrapped

Loving Vermont Living handles all the story telling and perfect advice

around a maple tree. The second-story bedroom

on where to go and what to do. In addition, if

with its custom-made queen size bed provides

you want to tie the knot or to renew your vows,

comfort and warmth, while the balcony provides

Greg is your man, as he is a justice of the peace,

a high perch to take in the surrounding natural

massages can also be scheduled, the couple will

beauty. The Treehouse at Moose Meadow is

make a delicious and healthy breakfast with all of

perhaps the only treehouse in Vermont that is

the fixings. Willie boasts about having perfected

fully licensed as a bed & breakfast by the State

the breakfast making process, which I witnessed

of Vermont, having passed rigorous regulations for

as I offered to help and he just smiled and said,

structural integrity, fire safety, electrical, plumbing,

“I’ve got it all under control, just enjoy yourself.”

water and health requirements to be a public-use facility – like I said “Vermont’s Coolest Treehouse.”

And in a matter of minutes, he was putting several plates in the oven, while simultaneously peeling

The Moose Meadow Lodge is run by a fabulous gay

and slicing freshly picked fruits. The serenity and

couple, Willie and Greg. Willie is the Lodge’s Vice

beautiful energy of this place is unchallenged.

President of Marketing, Sales and Housekeeping.

Willie and Greg created this place together in

Greg is the Vice President of the Lobby Shop, Chief

the 1990s and their energy and love can be felt

Facilities Manager, and Concierge. Willie handles

everywhere, from the moment you step into the

all of the bookings and finances, while Greg

property until the last goodbyes.

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Normally the toiletries are not on my radar,

tasty, Ben & Jerry’s is a great company which truly

however, we loved the lodge’s honey soaps so

cares about many social causes, including LGBTQ

much, that we bought a whole bunch from them

rights.

and we use them sparingly. They are made from local beehives, much like many of the materials

Upon arriving to the factory, our kids started feeling

used throughout the lodge, including the maple

the excitement of the place, mainly because

syrup, which is so local that it actually comes from

they could smell all the delicious flavors coming

the trees on the same 86-acres property – can’t

from the ice cream kitchen. So, we took a tour of

get any more local than that!

the facilities, which is always a great experience to learn about the history of the factory and the

Vermont is a great exporter of maple syrup,

company in general, as well as to see the way

cheese, coffee and ice-cream, among others.

they make the ice cream.

Ice cream was on our mind, so of course we took a short 10 – 15 minute drive from the lodge to

Then came the coolest part for everyone – the

the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, remember

taste test. Yep, you heard that right, at the end of

calories don’t count when you are on vacation! If

the tour everyone gets a scoop of their favorite ice

you have never tasted Ben & Jerry’s ice cream –

cream on a cone, in addition to exploring some

do yourself a favor and taste it because you don’t

of the awesome themed knick-knacks which can

know what you are missing. In addition to being

be purchased. Outside of the factory, there are

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several things to keep the family entertained, from

Loving Vermont Living

our little gay family. We went back to the lodge

making your own art to taking pictures with the

after dinner and sat on the porch sipping wine and

Ben & Jerry bus, to visiting the cemetery of ice

eating more cheese, while Greg and Willi kept us

creams, where the retired flavors end up and you

in stitches telling us stories, and kept the kids super

get to learn about their delicious time on earth.

entertained with some games that Greg showed them.

Our adventures lead us to Cabot’s where we were able to eat our way through many different

The next morning, we wanted to take a hike –

cheese flavors. So if dairy isn’t a problem for you,

literally. So we did, we climbed up the property

this is a must visit place. We took the time to

and walked for what seemed forever, to one of

taste the different kinds and of course, ended up

the most amazing spots on earth – The Sky Loft,

buying a whole bunch of them along with some

a mountain top enclosed gazebo. This place is

great local wines, which are also available here to

absolutely beautiful – beyond words and pictures

accompany the tasty cheeses.

– the only way to try to describe this place is: you hike for a while, climb rocks and steep areas, use

We were determined to live the full Vermont

ropes to help you climb and guide you and just

experience. We visited many of the local shops,

when you think you can’t go anymore, you find

where we found everything from art to furniture,

it – The Sky Loft. Your first thought is I made it, not

and felt at ease and in complete acceptance of

I can sit and relax and then you walk in and look

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Meghan and Victoria Photo by: JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ


out the panoramic windows and see acres upon

Snowmobile Tours for our next adventure. We had

acres of nature, trees, birds, sky, rocks, the majestic

never been on an ATV and thought it would be a

beauty is truly unmatched that you forget just how

great way to experience Vermont – and we were

tired you may have been. All you want to do is

right. First came the lessons and getting used to

look out and absorb the energy of this place, take

the equipment, then came the fun. Dan was great

pictures from all angles and try to witness as much

with us, he took his time explaining the process, the

as possible. I think this is when my husband and

hand signals, the driving, and throughout he kept

I decided that we wanted to move to Vermont.

his sense of humor and knowledge of the area,

I think this was the deciding moment for us, the

which put us at ease. If you have never been

tranquility, the acceptance, the energy, the

ATV riding, then you are missing out – just imagine

peacefulness all played into this decision for us.

having a big bulky powerful piece of machinery in

Who knows what our future will hold, but hopefully

between your legs and drive around tough rocky

we have some Vermont in our lives.

roads, fields and dirt.

Ride It

We were told to wear old/dirty clothes because

The next day, we drove east about 2 hours to Burke,

we would get even dirtier – we did, and it was

Vermont to experience a different side of this

totally worth it. At one point, after riding for a while,

beautiful state. Our first stop was in St. Johnsbury,

I noticed my son who was riding with my husband

where we met Dan from N.E.K Adventures ATV and

had fallen asleep. He was literally so relaxed and

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so comfortable that he fell asleep. I was with my

She found a smaller horse who was super calm,

daughter and I kept pointing out things for her to

easy and friendly for my daughter who was about

see and she had a blast. Seriously, give the folks

8, my son was about 6 so she decided to ride with

at N.E.K Adventures ATV and Snowmobile Tours a

him on her horse – he was leading the group so

call and arrange a tour, it’ll be an unforgettable

that made him feel special. Then my husband

experience and don’t forget to tip your teacher

and I were given two strong horses who were

and guide.

super easy to maneuver, which was ideal for our non-existing horseback riding skills.

Then we were off to a horse stable, so we could experience horseback riding. I rode a horse once

Giddy up! Off we went one horse following the

when I was 5 for about 5 minutes at a zoo – this was

other, over the hills and into the woods and we

the extent of my horseback riding experience. My

were off. A delightful experience, clouded by our

kids can barely ride a bike – now we’re about to

own fears and apprehensions, but the horses did

ride a horse – what were we thinking?!

their thing. My daughter felt super comfortable with her horse, my husband was sliding off his, and

Debby Newland, the owner of DND Stables,

my butt was hurting, but the whole time we were

was super pleasant and understanding of how

enjoying the ride. The beauty of these animals

fearful we were. She found the best horses for our

and their strength to carry us and ride around and

personalities and matched us accordingly.

jump and run. It was unreal. Another experience

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we highly recommend for people 5 and up, and

Loving Vermont Living With only 4 miles from Interstate 91, The Inn is

with Debby of DND Stables even those with zero

conveniently located 3 hours from Boston, 2 hours

experience can easily enjoy.

from Montreal, and 6 hours from New York City. The Inn at Mountain View Farm is located on 440

Majestic Mountain Views

breathtaking acres in the Northeast Kingdom, with

We checked-in at The Inn at Mountain View Farm,

14 impressive guest rooms and luxury suites without

which is a beautiful and cozy bed and breakfast.

televisions or phones, The Inn offers a compelling

Built in 1883 as a gentleman’s working farm by

reason to truly get away from it all.

Elmer A. Darling, the Mountain View Farm once supplied meat and dairy products to Mr. Darling’s

Besides disconnecting from television, cellphones

prestigious Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City.

and gadgets, The Inn is also an animal sanctuary. We were able to see rescued animals and we

Today, it is family-owned and operated by John

taught our kids how to play charades and spent an

and Marilyn Pastore, who bought The Inn in 1989

amazing evening just playing and getting to fully

and have restored it with complete care and

interact and reconnect with each other. We went

attention to detail to its current state as a popular

outside and sat by the fire pit while looking at the

destination for weddings, mountain biking, and

sunset. I remember gently holding my husband’s

peaceful getaways in this beautiful region of

hand as we sat and ate smores with our kids, while

Vermont.

watching the sunset - It was heavenly.

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Connextions Connextions Magazine Magazine | | Deluxe Deluxe Life Life | | December December 2015 2015


Meghan and Victoria Photo by: JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ


The next morning, one of the owners, John, took us

Our kids truly enjoyed learning about the universe

on a tour of the farm and told us about the history

and seeing Vermont from outer space. At the

of the place. The farmhouse was built in 1883 and

end, they were able to leave their mark on a huge

has undergone several renovations, in 2003 it

blackboard outside where visitors can leave their

became an official animal sanctuary. There are so

messages. This is a must-do on your next visit to

many peaceful and beautiful areas within the 440

Burke, Vermont.

acres of The Inn. It’s an ideal place for a wedding, Burke Mountain

a romantic getaway, or a family adventure.

Our next stop was The Burke Mountain Resort, Stargazing

where we had visited once before while it was still

There are so many things to see and experience

under construction – so it was a fun experience to

in Vermont. There are plenty of antique stores,

see it finished. We loved this place when we saw it

art galleries, local wines to drink, local cheeses to

the first time, the luxurious lobby welcomes guests

eat, and so much more. We took the kids to the

and sets the bar for your stay.

planetarium. Living in New York, we thought we’ll take a quick ride to the planetarium and spend

The attention to detail in the decorations make

an hour or so. However, we ended up staying for

this place a beautiful experience, and the

almost 3 hours, experiencing the bird exhibit and

peacefulness and beauty of the guests suites

a guided tour of the planets and stars.

make this place an unforgettable stay.

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Connextions Magazine

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LGBTQ Families Spread Love

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Summer 2018


43

Connextions Magazine

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Travel Heels

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September 2016


BURKE MOUNTAIN HOTEL & CONFERENCE CENTER

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Connextions Connextions Magazine Magazine | | Deluxe Deluxe Life Life | | December December 2015 2015


Meghan and Victoria Photo by: JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ


Picture provided by Burke Mountain Hotel & Conference Center The 116 suites are prepared with a kitchen with

summer and the place was nearly empty, which

all the fixings, in case you want to cook your own

added to our relaxation-vacation. We had almost

meals. You will also find a fireplace to keep you

complete free reign of the entire place, which

warm after skiing or bike riding the mountain,

was a truly welcomed experience.

which are huge sports in these neck of the woods. There were many people staying at the resort, This place is busy in the winter due to snow skiers

but everyone would leave early in the mornings

and the rest of the year for bike riders. The heated

to experience the sunrise over the mountain and

pools are a great addition year-round. We were

ride their bikes down the huge mountain, which is

able to spend a few days towards the end of the

the backdrop of this beautiful place.

46

Connextions Magazine

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Summer 2018


Vermont Living

On

one

of

the

many

fun

afternoons

we

experienced here, we attended an old-fashioned

bikes down the mountain, speeding and flying all the way down.

barbecue party, with pulled pork, corn on the cob, burgers, hot dogs, and even country and

We were sad to leave Vermont, but we knew

blues bands performing.

reality awaited us as the summer was coming to an end and school was about to start.

We were able to see just how many visitors were staying here, as everyone gathered for fun, food

But, we know that in some way, Vermont will be in

and music. The kids were all playing at the foot

our future – whether it is as new residents or tourists,

of the mountain, while the daring ones rode their

because we Love Vermont Living!

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Connextions Connextions Magazine Magazine | | Deluxe Deluxe Life Life | | December December 2015 2015


Meghan and Victoria Photo by: JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ


The Photographer’s Portrait

LET’S STAND WITH AMERICA’S NEXT GENERATION, SO THEY CAN STAND ON THEIR OWN. In America, it is estimated that up to 1.6 million youth are homeless each year. Up to 40% of them identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Yet, just 7% of the general youth population identifies as LGBT. The True Colors Fund is working to reduce that disproportionate percentage from 40% to none. Visit www.truecolorsfund.org to learn how you can make a difference.

51


LGBTQ FAMILIES: SPREADING THE LYVE

LIVE

Connextions Magazine decided to reach out to

TRAVEL FACTS

real LGBTQ families around the world in an effort

Since we are travel magazine, here are a few fun

to share their stories. We live in a time where the

facts about the traveling patterns of LGBTQ families.

political environment seems to be poisonous

For the past 25 years, Community Marketing &

and there are many negative forces looking to

Insights (CMI), has been

change laws, not only in the USA but around the

consumer research. Their latest report is the 22nd

world. These so-called “religious-freedom” laws

Annual LGBTQ Tourism & Hospitality Survey, which

are merely looking to disengage members of the

focuses on members of the LGBTQ community in

LGBTQ community, and store us back into the

the USA.

conducting

LGBTQ

darkness of the closet. Therefore, what a better way to combat this than by creating a photo

• Surprisingly,

most

LGBTQ

families

(61%)

essay telling our stories, showing our families,

would rather find a place to vacation that is

highlighting our areas of expertise, showcasing our

child-friendly over an LGBTQ-friendly place.

contributions to this world, and being ourselves.

• The majority of LGBTQ families would rather

In this photo essay, we received pictures from all

take urban/city vacations, or visit family as

over the world, here are some of their stories.

their primary reason for travel.

ConnextionsMagazine.com

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Keith & Tom

K

T

eith and om have been together for 31 years. They met on January 2, 1987. Keith works as a Music Professor for a local college and Tom is the Director of Visual Merchandising for a Shopping Center Developer. This is their story: We have two adopted daughters, Marie (18) and Grace (15). Our children came home from China in 2000 and 2003 respectively. We were one of the seven couples that sued the State of New Jersey represented by Lambda Legal for the Right to Marry and won! Marie just graduated from High School and is about to go off to college in the Fall. She will be majoring in Computer Science/Cyber Security. Grace just finished her Freshman year in High School and enjoys Creative Writing. She recently won a National Scholastic Creative Writing Award for a short story presented to her at a ceremony at Carnegie Hall.


e g i Pa & n a y R

P

ConnextionsMagazine.com

aige and

R

yan with their 9 year old daughter Kamari.

“Me & Ryan have been married for 2 years. As a family we love to either travel together or spend time at home watching movies. We also hope 55 to expand our family very soon!“


n a

h p e t S & rio a M

M

S

ario and stephan have been married for 11 years.

“We adopted our children from birth and they are biological brother and sister. Mari-Sol is 10 years old and Virgo all the way, Benjamin has just turned 9 loves everything from wigs to long flowing gowns but at the same time is all boy all around. Our kids are creative, funny and confident in having 2 dads as their parents. Life has been an adventure and we are glad to be such a part of it.�


“It was my dream since I was 10 years old to have a boy and a girl and this has been the best thing that ever happened to us in our lives.�

ConnextionsMagazine.com

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Shahar single Dad M

K

ichelle and ari married after 10 years. “I recently married my (transitioning female to male) “We are from Israel. The boys were born in April in Oregon USA, via husband, Kari. We have four children, two from my surrogacy. We’reand all twins getting know together each other for the past three previous marriage we to conceived months, and adjusting to NY. myWe new with the help of I’m CNY still fertility in Syracuse, arestatus of being a new father Adirfamily, and On are babies definitelyofa 2. diverse but its all adorable been built on love!” that make me a very

happy man and a very tired Father.” - Shahar Cohen Tov

Adi r & On


e h T ham y n l r i BuFam

B

The urnhams have been together for 11 years. They have been married for 5 of those years. They have 3 adopted children & one more in the oven. Their 7 year old child is Transgender.

“So you could literally say we are one big Gay family. Oh and did I mention we live in the bible belt?� - Chrissy Burnham ConnextionsMagazine.com

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The Quiles Family

Here is how we became The

Q

me to be his godmother prior to him leaving my

uiles Family ......

home.

One year later, Daniel’s father began

using drugs again. I spoke with his “father” and suggested that I take Daniel unofficially (not as a

I was a foster mom for both Daniel (16 years old)

foster parent) until he could get himself together

and Jonathan (13 years old). Daniel arrived at my

again. I took Daniel into my home at 5 years of

home as a foster child at 3 months old (July 2002).

age (August 2007), registered him for kindergarten

He arrived with the intention of eventually being

and provided for all of his needs.

reunited with either one of his biological parents who were presently in rehab programs.

Shortly after Daniel’s arrival, I was blessed to be given the opportunity to adopt Jonathan on

Jonathan arrived at my home as a foster child

April 18, 2008.

also at 3 months old (January 2005). He arrived

Efrain Quiles. Daniel was present for Jonathan’s

with the possibility of being adopted if there were

adoption and though I had explained to the best

no family members capable of caring for him.

of my ability why he couldn’t be adopted at that

He officially became Jonathan

time, I could see the pain in his little eyes. Sadly, Daniel was returned to his biological “father” at the age of 4 years old (May 2006). I remained

Unfortunately, at the end of that school year, his

a big part of his life since his “father” had asked

biological “mother” reappeared after completing

60

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Summer 2018


D

errick and

A

aron have been married for

1 year, but they have been together for 6 years. Their daughter Scarlet is 6 going on 16!

61

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United by Love

|

January 2018


The Quiles Family her program and wanted Daniel. Daniel left my

NEVER before done in my life and had also NEVER

home, once again, but I still remained a BIG part

done as a teacher, I called the NYS child abuse

of his life with his “mother” dumping him off on me

hotline. Prior to doing this, I called my “friends”

whenever possible.

at DSS to let them know what my intentions were and that if indeed Daniel was placed in foster

I would take him on vacations with Jonathan and

care because of these allegations, that I WANTED

I whenever possible. He remained in his “mother’s

to be his foster mom again.

care” (more like lack of) for almost two years. During that time, he changed schools at least two

Less than a week later, Daniel was in my home

times, barely passed from one grade to the next

again as a foster child.

with his absences for one school year being over

school where I worked in late May and he finished

40 days, several suspensions (one for bringing a

second grade there. That summer was a rough

pocket knife to school) and with no support from

one because I had to “deprogram” Daniel and

his “mother”.

find the beautiful boy that I felt was trapped inside.

I enrolled him at the

The boy that I KNEW I wanted to have forever. Though I tried on several occasions to bring attention to all of these issues, I was told many

After discovering that Daniel’s foster care goal was

times that I had NO STANDING in his life.

once again reunification with one of his parents, I knew in my heart that there was no way I could

I had to walk a fine line because I didn’t want to

let this happen and needed to do something.

get his “mom” upset and jeopardize my ability to

I decided, due to the fact that I had always

see him often. I prayed a lot and believed that

maintained an excellent rapport with both of his

if God wanted me to have this beautiful boy, he

parents, that I had to give them both a COME TO

would find a way to bring him to me.

JESUS TALK.

Finally, one day in May 2010, his “mom” informed

I decided that I was going to put it all out there

me that she was required to attend a rehab

and ask them to surrender their parental rights so

facility for a period of time or otherwise she would

that I could officially adopt Daniel. I did just that,

be arrested. Her initial plan was to leave Daniel in

explaining why this choice would be better for

the care of his 15 year old brother.

him and how they could both maintain contact with him contingent upon them being in a “good

Upon hearing this, I offered his “mom” the same

place” (clean). And by God’s grace, they BOTH

deal that I had offered his “father” several years

agreed. So on December 11, 2014, Daniel, at the

ago .... I would watch Daniel unofficially (not as a

age of 9 years old, officially became Daniel Peter

foster parent) while she completed her required

Quiles.

stay at the rehab facility.

Within two days of

returning to my home and due to the many things

And that’s how we came to become the QUILES

Daniel shared with me, I did something that I had

family!

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Summer 2018


Sara & Nicole

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September 2016


Michelle & Kari

M

K

ichelle and ari married after 10 years. “I recently married my (transitioning female to male) husband, Kari. We have four children, two from my previous marriage and twins we conceived together with the help of CNY fertility in Syracuse, NY. We are definitely a diverse family, but its all been built on love!�

Da

& AJ

nie

l

Their boys: Jackson (12 yrs old) & Peyton (7 yrs old)


Adriรกn & Jason Their girls: Clara & Olivia

K

T

eith and om have been together for 31 years. They met on January 2, 1987. Keith works as a Music Professor for a local college and Tom is the Director of Visual Merchandising for a Shopping Center Developer. This is their story: We have two adopted daughters, Marie (18) and Grace (15). Our children came home from China in 2000 and 2003 respectively. We were one of the seven couples that sued the State of New Jersey represented by Lambda Legal for the Right to Marry and won! Marie just graduated from High School and is about to go off to college in the Fall. She will be majoring in Computer Science/Cyber Security. Grace just finished her Freshman year in High School and enjoys Creative Writing. She recently won a National Scholastic Creative Writing Award for a short story presented to her at a ceremony at Carnegie Hall.

ConnextionsMagazine.com

65


The Photographer’s Portrait

United States - United Kingdom - Canada - Brazil - Germany - Kenya - Indonesia - China - Russia - France Japan - Italy - Netherlands - Australia - Spain - South Korea - Mexico - Turkey - India - Philippines - South AfWe are your Connextions rica - Pakistan - Malaysia - Poland - Argentina - Beltravel- Finland & new- adventures. gium - to Sweden Norway - Denmark - Israel - TaiwanWe - Singapore - Thailand - Portugal - Ukraine are your Connextions Algeria - Ireland -readers Austria - Switzerland - Vietnam - Puerto 425,000+ in 135 countries. to Rico - Venezuela - Romania - Bangladesh - Czech Republic - Egypt - Colombia - Greece - Peru - Estonia - Hong Kong - Saudi Arabia - Slovenia - United Arab Emirates - Chile - Latvia - Yemen - Sri Lanka - Nigeria - New Zealand - Hungary - Iran - Lebanon - Morocco - Qatar - Serbia - Bulgaria - Côte d’Ivoire - Dominican Republic - Ecuador - Jordan - French Polynesia - Turks & Caicos Islands - Bahamas - Kuwait - Macedonia Oman - Slovakia - Syria - Tunisia - Bosnia & Herzegovina - Bahrain - Costa Rica - Cyprus - Georgia - Guatemala - Croatia - Sudan - Trinidad & Tobago - Uruguay - Albania - Angola - Bolivia - Botswana - Jamaica - CamWe are your Connextions bodia - aLibya - Martinique - Mozambique - Namibia to 20,000+ social media followers. - Paraguay - Senegal - Uganda - Kosovo - Afghanistan We are your Connextions - Aruba - Barbados - Bermuda - Belarus - Belize - Cuba to the - Djibouti - Ethiopia - Fiji world! - Grenada - Guinea - Bissau - Iraq - Jersey - Cayman Islands - Kazakhstan - Lithua@ConnextionsMag on all social media channels nia - Luxembourg - Mongolia - Macau - Malta - New ConnextionsMagazine.com Caledonia - Nicaragua - Panama - Somalia - El Salva66 dor - U.S. Virgin Islands - Venezuela - Vanuatu - Zambia


The Photographer’s Portrait

Your What, When & Where For NYC LGBTQ Events, Arts, Entertainment, Culture & More!

NYCUpAndOut.com ConnextionsMagazine.com

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The Bangs Family

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Ashley & Kelly Baby Averi

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69


Jimmy & Barry Their son Bran don

J

B

immy and arry have been together for 25 years. They adopted their son Brandon on August 29, 2001. Brandon will be starting his studies at Stetson in the Fall, where he was awarded a music scholarship. Brandon was born in Guatemala City, but Orlando is home. This trio has taken 16 Disney Cruises together & more to come!


It was my dream since I was 10 years old to have a boy and a girl and this has been the best thing that ever happened to us in our lives.

ConnextionsMagazine.com

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Gloria & Lyn

My life is very blessed. I’m not monetarily rich but I

I became enamored of someone else and thought

am very emotionally blessed. My life was enriched

I was head over heels in love and for a short while

12 years ago when Gloria entered it as a friend.

it felt like it was perfect. One thing led to another and even though i had warned her that if things

We became fast friends and eventually lovers.

didn’t get better I would find someone who would

Our story as lovers began over gay pride weekend

appreciate me. IT DIDN’T!!!

2006. We drove my dad’s truck in the parade for our church. After spending the whole weekend

I was going to put an ad in Yahoo personals, but

together, in such an explosive atmosphere,

needed a private computer, and I could only

we went back to her apartment. However, our

think of one person that I trusted enough to ask

emotions were still on fire, excited by all of the

to borrow their computer... Gloria! Well she was

people celebrating us, gay people, gay rights!

at work, but I asked her if I could borrow the keys to her apartment and borrow her computer. She

So we went to lay down. Her feet and legs were

said yes, and off I happily went.

sore so I offered to give her a massage. Well the massage didn’t last long, but what ensued did.

To say that I am technologically challenged is

The next day i left her home and we didn’t see

a major understatement. So here I am trying to

each other for quite a while. We still talked on the

create a yahoo personal account and it asks for

phone, but that was about it.

an email, well my daddy didn’t raise no dummy,

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“In 2016, I came out as transgender FTM. My friends and chosen family have really supported me. My wife and my grandson are my strongest advocates. My daughters are supportive, but still refer to me as mom.� 73

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January 2018


Lyn & Gloria I knew I couldn’t use my regular email so I had to

lose ends with someone else and I needed to get

get another. However, I didn’t have the slightest

that resolved. I went to that person and hung out,

idea of how to do that.

talked watched TV, but I was never unfaithful to Gloria. My heart and mind was still with her, so I

So, what do i do? Call Gloria! She wants to know

would go back, for about 6 weeks and off I would

why? So... she’s my best friend, right? I can trust

run again. This pattern carried on for about 3-4

her, right? So I tell her, my wife won’t get in the

months and she stood by me and waited for me

relationship with me anymore. She won’t feed

to come back to her. Thank God. She truly is my

my needs, none of them, especially my emotional

angel that flew too close to the ground.

needs. I told Gloria I was gonna find someone else who would, besides, I knew she didn’t want

After we were together for about 18 months,

to. Well about an hour later, she is knocking on

I decided to ask her to marry me. I went to a

the door, yeah I locked it! When I unlocked the

jeweler and designed a special ring for her, it took

door she threw it open grabbed me and started

me about 3 1/2 years to finish paying it off. She

kissing me like no one else ever had before in my

knew nothing about the ring. I had a sign with

life. That was all it took! I was a goner!!!

an engagement wedding question on it made, dressed up in my tux-like suit and went to her job

I knew she was bisexual and at one point before

site and waited for her to get off work. I placed

that, I had made a comment that I didn’t want to

the sign, in the ground, right in front of the doors

be a stomping ground for a “wannabe lesbian”

that she usually came out of and waited. I stood

youngster. Little did I know.

off to the side of the sign with her ring and a crowd gathered. After about 5 minutes she came out and

Shortly after we became lovers, my daughter,

looked around at the crowd, confused as to why

Megan, moved in to our life with our grandson,

they were there, they were all pointing to the sign

Aiden. That was ten years ago. We have been

and as she began to read it, I walked over close to

through many different experiences. Raising a

it and got down on one knee. After she read the

boy in a home of three women, 2 lesbians and a

sign, she looked at me with tears streaming and i

bisexual with a preference for black men.

asked her to marry me. Then Aiden brought her a bouquet of rainbow roses. She accepted the ring,

I really have to give kudos to Gloria. When we first

with delight, and agreed to marry me.

started out, I was afraid, she did things for me that no one else had ever done, she did things that I

We had an awesome domestic partnership

had prayed for, she did things to me, for me that I

wedding at Beaver Lake B&B in Eureka Springs, AR

had usually done for others. And it scared the hell

on June 19, 2011. I surprised her with the wedding,

out of me, not to mention she was over 18 years

she figured out that i was planning something big,

my junior. So i had a hard time committing to her.

but wasn’t sure what. Our grandson went with us

I would commit and then 6 weeks later break up

and was our ring bearer, and our friends, Donna

with her with some song and dance about untied

and Denise stood up for us.

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CONNECT In August of 2015, there was some discord in

refer to me as mom. The rest of my family is not

our home and we had to make a very difficult

supportive at all. Gloria and I got legally married,

decision.

in the state of Oklahoma, December 31, 2016 and

Our daughter, Megan, was out of

control and we had to protect Aiden. We were

are still going strong.

granted Legal Guardianship of Aiden and I had to ask Megan to leave the home. I don’t believe

We have a blast raising this precious boy. He is my

I ever had to make a more difficult decision than

sun and moon. I have learned so much about life,

that before. It tore my heart out. I’m afraid it may

parenting, co-parenting, him and myself.

have permanently damaged me. I cried so much over her, I don’t cry anymore.

Aiden is so smart, so beautiful, so caring, just so much more. I am afraid of the day that he is no

My mom died in April of 2016, I came out as

longer in my life. I pray I am gone before he is.

transgender FTM shortly thereafter. My friends and chosen family have really supported me. They call

After a 2 year absence, Megan returned. She

me by my chosen name and correct pronouns.

appears better, and wants to be a family again. She wants her son back. What is in his best interest?

My wife and my grandson are my strongest

Only God truly knows, so I continue to play and

advocates. My daughters are supportive but still

listen dutifully, with open arms, heart and mind.

ConnextionsMagazine.com

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Michael & Khang


M

ario and

S

stephan have been married for 11 years.

“We adopted our children from birth and they are biological brother and sister. Mari-Sol is 10 years old and Virgo all the way, Benjamin has just turned 9 loves everything from wigs to long flowing gowns but at the same time is all boy all around. Our kids are creative, funny and confident in having 2 dads as their parents. Life has been an adventure and we are glad to be such a part of it.�

ConnextionsMagazine.com

77


Ignacio & Ulises Pictures provided by Tanori Photo

Their Boys Valentino & Apollo


Joel & Osva

Meet Baby Oz


Derrick & Aaron

80

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January 2018


D

errick

and

A

aron

have

been

married for 1 year, but they have been together for 6 years. Their daughter Scarlet is 6 going on 16!

81

“The night before our wedding we had a big wind storm come through the area. So where we were originally planning to have the ceremony, there was literally a tree laying there, so we had to move the location over by some feet. In some of our wedding photo’s you can even see branches and leaves around.” Connextions Magazinestill | laying Travel Heels | September 2016


The Photographer’s Portrait

Wedding Professionals Proud to Provide Services and Support to

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THE TOP 8 LGBTQ FAMILY ADVENTURES IN THE NORTHEAST USA in no particular order

Here is a list of the best adventures for LGBTQ families. Our top picks were based on several factors, including: • How much fun we had: at the end of the trip, are you still talking about it? Are you looking at your pictures and reminiscing how much fun it was? Do you tell your friends about it? Or better yet, did you post your trip pics on social media sites, showed them to your friends and family? • How comfortable we felt as a family with same-sex parents: this was a huge deciding factor for us. Were we treated well by the staff? Were our sleeping arrangements ever questioned? Are we treated as a family unit? Are they welcoming, friendly, are they receptive to our family? • The ease of planning the adventure: from arranging tickets, to lodging, to meals. • We looked at places where we could spend a few days, not just a 1 day visit. • We looked at places that would be great throughout the year, regardless of the weather. • And whether or not our kids wanted to return. If they wanted to go back or never leave - then that is usually a good sign that the place we visited was a hit!

84


HERSHEY PARK

GREAT WOLF

KALAHARI RESORTS

SIX FLAGS

JAY PEAK RESORT

SESAME PLACE

TIMES SQUARE

PROVINCETOWN

85


HERSHEY PARK

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TOP LGBTQ FAMILY ADVENTURES

HERSHEY PARK (Hershey, PA) With over 30 years of being the sweetest place on earth, Hershey Park has been an adventure not only because of the awesome rides in the park, but also because of the tasty sweets that bring out your inner child. Hershey Park was Mr. Hershey’s dream of creating a town surrounding his business of chocolates. During the holiday season, the Park is transformed into a delightful holiday village with more than 30 rides, Santa and his nine live reindeer, live entertainment, games, shops, food, and a magical light show featuring over 125,000 dancing lights dancing to Christmas music known as Hershey Park Christmas Candylane. If the lights of Hershey Park isn’t enough, Hershey Sweet Lights is a holiday drive-through experience, where guests drive along a 2.3-mile route while enjoying nearly 600 themed light displays, all while listening to holiday music through a customized radio broadcast. Activities include ornament making workshops, clear-toy candy making demonstrations, music and storytelling. The Sugar Plum Fairy visits daily, and friendly, indoor snowball fights scheduled throughout the weekend round out the fun. Families can take a hands-on Chocolate Lab class to learn about the unique qualities of chocolate. Seasonal classes include Candy Cane Bark, Let It Snow Chocolate, Make a Very Merry Bar and Create a Kris Kringle. A special Chocolate Lab class will be offered during the Old Fashioned Family Christmas – Marshmallow Mischief. No festivity would be complete without a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction, which showcases Hershey’s Holiday Chocolate House, which is on display starting November 15. This life-sized house is completely covered in Hershey’s famous chocolate and confectionery products and is Santa’s home throughout Christmas. The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge and Hersheypark Camping Resort offer accommodations, families visiting the sweetest place on earth, should mention Connextions Magazine when booking! ConnextionsMagazine.com

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TOP LGBTQ FAMILY ADVENTURES

Picture provided by Great Wolf

GREAT WOLF (several locations throughout the USA & 1 in Niagara Falls, Canada) The Northeast is lucky to have 2 locations - one in the Poconos, PA and 1 in Fitchburg, MA (about an hour from Boston). Upon driving up the hill into Great Wolf Lodge we were greeted by huge water slides sticking out of the building and our kids immediately put away every toy and book they had in their hands. Excited, they focus on the tremendous size of the waterslides. Great Wolf Lodge is a massive water park with rides and slides, including flabbergasting slides for the adults or zero-depth entry areas for the little ones. The indoor water park is always a wonderful 84 degrees, so it’s a great place to get away from the harsh winters and melt away your cold weather blues. Check-in time is 4 pm, but it’s ok to arrive early, and hang out in the water park until your room is ready. Once in the water park, we started playing around the kiddy slides, but my kids wanted to try the bigger slides, so we did! The first time we visited a Great Wolf Lodge was an eye opening journey of how my kids have grown and evolved from playing in the kiddy pool, to surfing and sliding in the big rides. It allowed us to see how our kids have already started their own journeys and how we, as their parents, have given them the tools necessary to begin that journey and for them to take control of their own path. The staff has always been absolutely awesome and friendly; they have games to keep the kids entertained throughout the day, and make balloon animals, face painting, yoga for kids and so much more. There’s even an ice cream-themed manicure called Scoops Kid Spa, an arcade, and even bars for the mamas and papas bears. The fun never ends at Great Wolf Lodge. If you go, be sure to let them know that Connextions Magazine highly recommends this place.

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Pictures provided by Kalahari Resorts

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TOP LGBTQ FAMILY ADVENTURES

KALAHARI RESORTS (4 locations throughout the USA & 1 in Pocono Mountains, PA) Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in the Pocono Mountains is home to America’s Largest Indoor Waterpark. Boasting 220,000 sq. ft. of true attraction space, the indoor waterpark features eight thrilling slides, a wavepool, an enhanced area for children, an extended lazy river and additional adult swim-up bars. As well as the waterpark expansion, the most recent phase of the resort includes: an additional 520 rooms and suites, bringing the total to nearly 1,000 on-site accommodations, two new full-service signature dining experiences, expanded dry-play and fitness amenities, and more. The resort is authentically African themed, and visitors will see and feel this experience at every turn, including the handcrafted artwork adorning the walls, the Rwandan coffee beans served throughout the resort and the souvenirs sourced from local artisan communities throughout Africa. All of this was obtained during the Nelson family’s recent 23-day trip to Africa, where they went for inspiration that is reflected throughout the resort. Focused on providing a “beyond expectations experience” to guests of all ages, the resort expansion also includes an additional 520 rooms, which brings the resort total to nearly 1,000 guest rooms, including two new styles exclusive to the Poconos location: • Three-Bedroom Family Suites: 1 king bedroom with master bath, 2 separate bedrooms with 2 queen beds each, full sized sofa sleeper, fireplace • Big Five Suites: 1 king bedroom with master bath, 4 separate bedrooms with 2 queen beds each, full sized sofa sleeper, fireplace, large balcony with furniture This place is sure to please everyone in your family. The themed resort will transport you to Africa, and the humongous waterpark will keep you cool. Connextions Magazine highly recommends it! ConnextionsMagazine.com

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TOP LGBTQ FAMILY ADVENTURES

Picture provided by Six Flags

SIX FLAGS (several locations throughout the world & 5 in the northeast) Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Water Park in the Lake George area truly is a great escape for the entire family! Check-in is 4pm, early arrivals can take advantage of the spa, the arcade, or the indoor water park, where it is always 80 degrees. Guests of the lodge can access the water park and daily passes can be purchased by those who are staying elsewhere. With over 38,000 square feet of water rides, pools and slides, everyone will surely enjoy white-water rafting, indoor surfing, or a tree house full of slides and over 160 interactive water games. The little ones will love the swivel water rifles, hydro blasters, arch jets, and my kids’ favorite the pull-cords that splash showers. In case you are seeking bigger water thrills - The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom, located across the lodge, has an even bigger outside water park. There are rides for all ages and heights. Rides like the Mega Wedgie, which is where you go swirling into a 100-foot tunnel building up the speed and then launched like a hard tornado, pummeling down while getting sucked into a vortex of ocean-spiral dramatic motions - my kids lovingly referred to as a giant toilet, which they absolutely love - no sooner are we done with the spinning, when all you hear is “again, again!” Alpine Freefalls offers a high altitude slide experience that will take you six stories in the air, and not to mention the extra amount of courage needed to go down because you will have to climb into the Proslide Skybox launching capsule, think of this as a giant water gun, where you are sealed into a see-through launcher, as you stand precariously trying to maintain your nerves and look brave for your kids, the trap door at your feet suddenly opens and before you know it you are shot, like a bullet, down through the floor and into the slide. Your children will love the expression on your face! And if you want even more speed, Twisted Racer is a good bet, where you’ll race against three of your friends and family on a head first mat challenge that is only for the swift. Connextions Magazine approved!

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TOP LGBTQ FAMILY ADVENTURES

Picture provided by Jay Peak Resort

JAY PEAK RESORT (Jay, VT) Ever thought about swimming or surfing in the brisk months of winter, on a mountain that receives the most snow in eastern North America? Pack your snow gear and your bathing suit, and head to Jay Peak Resort in northern Vermont. Just 4 miles from the Canadian border and nestled inside the Green Mountains, swim, surf & ski at Jay Peak Resort. Activity on Jay Peak Mountain Jay Peak, with an average annual snowfall of 355 inches, offers 77 trails, slopes and glades, with nooks and crannies that are apparently legendary in the world of skiing. The summit is at an elevation of 3,858 feet, with a 2,015 feet vertical drop. In the 2007 winter season, the resort reported 419 inches of snowfall. So, when I asked my husband to take the kids on vacation to Vermont, he thought I was crazy when I packed swimsuits. Year-Round Indoor Water Park Known as The Pump, this year-round indoor water park, features the only surfing in the northeast, as well as indoor and outdoor hot tubs and a “Big River�. For an indoor thrill, check out La Chute, which is the only slide we dared not to try. Riders enter La Chute, cross their arms and legs, then wait for the countdown and drop almost 60 feet at 45 miles per hour. After the drop, comes the full 360degree loop. My daughter double dared me to go on the Double Barrel Flowrider, and I am happy to report that I survived and kept all screams to myself, so as not to scare her or the rest of the guests. The little ones can play and swim around the Mill Pond Kids Play Area, where climbing, sliding and getting splashed are the norm. Stay away from the buckets, they can be evil and drench you when you least expect it. Jay Peak is one of the funnest waterparks in the middle of winter, book early because between the snow and the waterpark, you will love this adventure. Connextions Magazine highly recommends! ConnextionsMagazine.com

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TOP LGBTQ FAMILY ADVENTURES

Pictures provided by Sesame Place

SESAME PLACE (Langhorne, PA) Sesame Place®, the only theme park in the US based entirely on the award-winning show, Sesame Street®, is ideal for families and kids of all ages. Conveniently located just 30 minutes from Philadelphia and 90 minutes from New York City, the 14-acre park features 2 popular themed lands – Elmo’s World which opened in 2006 and Cookie’s Monster Land which opened in 2014. A total of 11 dry rides, 9 water attractions, 5 interactive play elements, 3 live shows, a daily parade and of course, everyone’s favorite furry friends. Featuring the biggest, most exciting roller coaster ever – Oscar’s Wacky Taxi™, it’s one of the largest new attractions in the park’s 37-year history and will feature a bright yellow, taxi cab-inspired train with everyone’s favorite grouch at the helm. The new coaster, combining both wood and steel elements to create a smooth ride, will give pint-sized thrill-seekers and their families the opportunity to experience another exciting first at Sesame Place. Oscar’s Wacky Taxi™ will send riders soaring down an exhilarating first drop of 40 feet, traveling over 1,200 feet of track with exciting twists, turns, and plenty of airtime hills -- sure to delight even the grouchiest of riders. “As the first theme park in the world to complete the training and become a CAC, Sesame Place is better equipped to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs,” explained Sesame Place park president Cathy Valeriano. Robust pre-visit planning resources will be added to the park’s website including a sensory guide, developed by IBCCES. This sensory guide will make it easier for parents to plan activities that satisfy their child’s specific needs and accommodations by providing insight on how a child with sensory processing issues may be affected by each sense for each attraction. The park will also have two quiet rooms located on Sesame Island. These rooms will have adjustable lighting, and a comfortable seating area for guests to take a break.

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TOP LGBTQ FAMILY ADVENTURES

Picture provided by Michael Grimm for Times Square Alliance

Times Square (Manhattan, NY) Imagine a city full of lights, from windows, lobbies, cars, led signs and flash photography; imagine a sea of talent pouring from the theaters; imagine the rich, the poor, the gayest, the straightest, the hippies, the bankers, the dancers, the carnival of people and vendors all marching to their own beat and although a crowd, they are as individual as can be - this is Times Square. Times Square is in your face, its vibe replenishes your soul or depletes it depending on your personal mood. You can come to this city with a dream to one day star on a Broadway stage, and end up working as a server, street performer or acting on the silver screen and be equally content - why? No one knows, but this city has its own powerful energy. Times Square easily hosts over 50 million visitors a year with over 200 languages spoken at any given time. Times Square is actually not a square - did you know? It’s actually two triangles - mind blown! By law, or city ordinance, the buildings have to maintain a very specific amount of light, even when it’s not being used - which is almost never, since most buildings have people coming in and out of them. The world centers around Times Square on New Year’s Eve because of the magic of the celebration and the ball drop. People start lining up early on December 31st and stay until around 12:45 am when everyone starts to go elsewhere, like the bathroom. It takes a lot of commitment to stand in one place in the middle of winter without bathroom breaks, or being able to drink or eat - so bring your heavy coats, ear muffs, gloves, water, and maybe food or snacks. The clean up after the ball drop is a massive undertaking, which the city has it super well organized. Times Square is a must for any visitor - it is a must visit city for everyone!

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TOP LGBTQ FAMILY ADVENTURES

Picture provided by Ptown Business Guild

Provincetown, MA Located at the northernmost tip of Cape Cod, in the most liberal and tolerant state of these United States of America, lies a tiny strip of road that almost every LGBTQ person who ever lived has fantasized living in. Ptown, as most call it, is amazing if only for the majority flip. There’s good food, good shopping, biking, beaches and nightlife. Unfortunately, its standard of living has surpassed all hope of being accommodated by any of our glass-sealed incomes. And unfortunately for families, the entire local school population barely creeps into the double digits. This leaves much to be desired in both a reasonable accommodation and possible frequency of visitation. While quite notably the gayest place on the eastern seaboard, Ptown is expensive, and places will often turn down consumers with kids. Dogs? Yes. Kids? No. Ptown is old school gay! Except during “Family Week,” which normally takes place in the summer, and it is considered to be the largest annual gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer-identified parents and their families in the world. Sponsored by the Family Equality Council, this fun-filled week is for ALL families, as long as you have money, and/or a group and are booked by the winter prior, you are most certainly to be introduced to a new supportive family of lifelong comrades from all over the country, a full menu of relevant speakers and events, and a culminating parade down Commercial Street of families as diverse and colorful as your own for as far as the eye can see. That alone keeps Ptown prominent. From sunrise to sunset, Family Week offers activities and events for the entire family, filled with activities that are designed for everyone, and with the mission to create more opportunities to build community. If you plan to go for more than a day, make reservations as soon as possible, as most guest houses and rentals require a one-week stay during the summer and book many months in advance. ConnextionsMagazine.com

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