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ISSUE #19 | FALL 2015

THE LURE OF

LONDON

MONEY SAVING

LAS VEGAS

BUDGET-FRIENDLY

BARCELONA

NEW

ORLEANS ADVENTURES

TRAVEL LITE


Capturing Your Love

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The Parent-HOOD!

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June 2015


The Photographer’s Portrait

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Connexting CONTRIBUTORS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Manny Velasquez-Paredes CREATIVE DIRECTOR Xioger Sandoval FEATURED WRITERS David Duran CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Lilly Chris Ross Christianson Dimmi H. Luiz Martinez David Perry JJ Vega Manny Velasquez-Paredes Sarah Stanley-Evan

Read Connextions Magazine online: www.connextionsmagazine.com Write to us: Do you 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. The views and opinions stated throughout this magazine are not necessarily the opinions of staff at Connextions Magazine. Connextions Magazine, LLC publishing is located at: PO Box 242 Calverton, NY 11933 Connextions Magazine 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)

Connextions Magazine Issue 18: Shine Up & Out, published on June 2015, features LGBTQ summer vacation spots, as well as an in-depth look at PRIDE. Follow 2 hitchikers as they embark on a budget travel mission in Colorado, visit Punta Mita in Mexico to quench your thirst, spend the weekend in Gay Paris with The Gay Locals. Celebrate the ‘40 Years of Pride’ in Tel Aviv, Israel and go to the top of New York City on a special editorial about the new observatory of the World Trade Center.

Cover Photo by: Pawel Libera Credit: Visit London Images Location: Westminster, London, England London is the capital and most populous city of England. Standing on the River Thames, London is a leading global city, and some consider it to be a cultural mecca. It is among the top of the world’s most-visited cities. Among London’s most famous landmarks are Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, and Big Ben (here pictured). Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London. It is the second largest four-faced chiming clock in the world. The tower was completed in 1858 and has become one of the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom, often featured in films and pictures.

Read the article on page 23

Find us, Follow us, Like us, Tweet us, Pin us, Share us on all social media sites @ConnextionsMag #ConnextionsMag

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 aThe travel Media Sponsor of HRC Greater New York.


Letter from the Editor June 2015 was a historical time in the US, as the Supreme Court ruled for Marriage Equality and Love Won - All Love! This year we started the year celebrating our 5th anniversary with our “Love Around the World” issue, which celebrated LGBT couples from all over the world. We then followed with our Summer & Pride Issue, “Shine Up & Out” which celebrated PRIDE Around the World, in addition to great summer vacation spots. We also published 2 special issues, one was our first ever photos issue, which was published as our way to celebrate the Marriage Equality ruling and we titled it: “Shine Up & Out - PRIDE Extra,” and we also created our first ever issue for LGBTQ Parents, with “The Parent-HOOD!” As you know our Connextions Magazine motto is: LIVE | TRAVEL | CONNECT To make it easier to find your favorite sections, we are now separating our articles under those 3 major themes. The LIVE section deals with all those things that are fun, such as reviews, the food trail section, our love connextions, and more. The TRAVEL section is where you will find all of the tools you need to create your own vacations and adventures and the CONNECT section is where we introduce you to prominent members of our rainbow community. Connextions Magazine Issue #19: “Travel Lite” was born because we wanted to provide you with resources to create your perfect trips even when on a budget! In this issue, we take you on a journey to places like New Orleans and Las Vegas, where the parties never stop. We also take you on a budget-friendly European adventure through Barcelona and London. Walk through Las Ramblas, and take a ride on the London Eye, all are at your fingertips and your wallet will thank you with the “15 Vacation on a Budget Tips!” Our LGBT Family takes you on an eco-friendly and completely unplugged trip to the Poconos. For our CONNECT section, Connextions Magazine was lucky to sit down and interview 2 trailblazers. Steven Rosen uses his camera to capture your passion and has photographed tons of same-sex couples. Dalton Maldonado, a Kentucky high school basketball player who was pushed to come out and his story went viral. Dalton sat down with us in New York for an in-depth interview and photo shoot - this boy has become “The Man Who Is Not Afraid to Fight.” As usual, it is my sincere wish that you enjoy our Travel Lite issue and please feel free to e-mail me: mvp@connextionsmagazine.com to let us know how we are doing and how we can make our next issue even better! MVP

Editor In Chief

ConnextionsMagazine.com

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Contents

Fall 2015

LIVE

The Food Trail ¡Buen Provecho! Easy to make fresh desserts

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In Review Books “Love Together” “The Holy Mark, The Tragedy of a Fallen Priest”

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Love Connextions Have You Seen HER?

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TRAVEL

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A Budget-Friendly Vacation in Barcelona Beautiful Barcelona on a budget

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Las Vegas Money Saving Tips Great ideas for the budget conscious traveler The London Lure 5 things to do for free or very, very, very cheap

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New Orleans, New Adventures

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2 days full of fun, drinks, music, drinks, food & drinks

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LGBT Family Travel Plug Into the Poconos

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15 Vacation on a Budget Tips

CONNECT Capturing Your Love Is His Passion Interview with Steven Rosen, Photographer

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The Man Who Is Not Afraid to Fight Back 50 B-ball player Dalton Maldonado dares to be different

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Photo by Xioger Sandoval

Letter from the Editor

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A High School b-ball player becomes A Man Who Is Not Afraid to Fight Back www.connextionsmagazine.comDalton Maldonado Dares To Be Different 7


Capturing Your Love

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Connextions Magazine

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The Parent-HOOD!

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June 2015


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.

www.connextionsmagazine.com

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Travel

A BUDGET-FRIENDLY VACATION IN BEAUTIFUL BARCELONA By: Ross Christianson

Ross’ biggest desires are to learn more everyday and to teach people how to make their dreams come true. Residing in Minneapolis, MN, Ross seeks to discover the world and show everyone else how easy it is, especially on a tight budget. Whether traveling or not, he is fun loving, outgoing, optimistic, adventurous, and a risk taker. Some of his favorite memories include skiing in the Austrian Alps, scuba diving in Thailand, and hitch hiking in Colorado. Ross has traveled to 25 countries thus far and cannot wait to experience what comes next!

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eautiful Barcelona is a European city that combines the old with the new in a stunning array of architecture, museums, parks, markets, beaches, and more. Visiting this city should be on everyone’s bucket lists who wish to see the greatest cities of the world. Whether you want to experience the art, enjoy the food and drinks, soak up the sun, or witness the majestic spirituality the city has to offer, you will leave as a satisfied traveler. BUT WAIT? How can you afford such a trip? This is the question that resounds in the minds of many people of various backgrounds with big dreams. The stigma is that any European excursion has to cost thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. This can be true, but it is not the rule. There are a few factors you must keep in mind when trying to save money on a fabulous world vacation. How to Save Money First, you must be diligent and explore your options. Second, you must be flexible. Third, you must have faith in yourself to accomplish your dreams. I will give you many of the tips that I have acquired

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over the years on saving money while traveling, and I will use beautiful Barcelona as my example. First, you must ask yourself when you will experience your next adventure. Time of the year really makes a difference in many ways, and you must ask yourself what your budget is and what you are looking to get out of your trip. There are a couple factors to keep in mind. Climate and weather are some of those factors. If you want to spend time on the beaches, swimming in the sea and soaking up the sun, you obviously want to go in the warmer months. However, those months tend to yield higher levels of tourism, which is the other factor I would like to mention. Supply and demand applies to travel as much as it does to any other industry. The more people want to visit Barcelona, the more expensive it will be since people will pay regardless. When fewer people want to visit Barcelona, the cheaper it becomes. While summer is the most fun time to go, it is also the most crowded and expensive. Prices begin to drop in September, so this is a good time to go if you want to catch the cusp of the summer. The cheapest time to visit is during winter in January and February. Finding the right-priced flight is another way to either save hundreds or break the bank. If you

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are diligent in your search and are flexible on dates, you surely will find an amazing ticket. There are many websites well suited in helping you to compare flights. My personal favorite is Skyscanner.com, which compares most of the major airlines and gives you the option to choose a range of dates from a variety of airports at one time. If I were trying to get to Barcelona in February, I would search for a flight from “Any US Airport” to “Any Spanish Airport” within the entire month of February. I would see the cheapest options within my selected range of locations and dates. You can sign up for price alert/updates on their app. I would also recommend searching for flights arriving at other major European international Airports outside of Spain. If you find an amazing deal for the flight crossing the Atlantic, you may just have to put a couple other pieces in the puzzle before and after the international flight. Recently, ConnextionsMagazine.com

I was trying to get from Minneapolis to Linz, Austria. I found a flight from New York to Munich for $250. So, I found a flight from Minneapolis to Chicago to New York for $90, then flew from New York to Munich for only $250 and finally took a cheap train from Munich to Linz. This is only one example, and I know from experience that even cheaper ventures across the sea are possible. There are many websites for finding cheap flights, so keep looking at as many sources as you can find. The main thing to remember is to be diligent and flexible in your planning and searching. After you book your flight(s), you must decide where you will be sleeping. The best possible scenario is that you have a friend who lives in the city or surrounding area that you can crash with and spend time enjoying your new adventure. This will also most likely provide you with a free tour guide, but make sure you make it up to them since they are doing you a favor and saving you

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Budget-Friendly Barcelona money. For other free options you could consider Couchsurfing.com, a review-based social network for people seeking to host travelers for free as well as for people seeking accommodations with locals for free. I have used this various times and have made some great friends from all over the world. I plan on hosting a traveler from Asia in September for a week and I am very excited! If you don’t mind working on your vacation, I recommend checking out Hosteljobs.net, it is a forum for travelers seeking to work in a hostel and live for free and/or make some money. However, I highly recommend to triple and quadruple check the legitimacy of the offers on the forums. Another option for working on your vacations is to volunteer through WWOOF.net, which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. This website is very trustworthy and allows you to live on and work on organic farms or vineyards in exchange for accommodation, learning life skills, and meeting amazing people. You might be able to find a location not far from the city you are visiting and commute back and forth. For those with a little bigger budget, look for hotel deals or check out Airbnb.com, which is another review based hosting/travelling website, however you are charged a fee which is determined by the host. This option can usually offer you some beautiful spaces in great locations. I used this option on my Colorado trip (published in Issue 18 of Connextions Magazine) and booked a chic apartment in downtown Denver with a breathtaking panoramic view of Denver’s skyline. Get to the Food Already! Barcelona is a city filled with culinary delights. Whether on a very tight budget or have some wiggle room, you will find some tasty delights in various price ranges. If on an extremely tight budget, I highly recommend shopping in the markets around town. In Barcelona, I would ConnextionsMagazine.com

encourage everyone to visit the Mercado de La Boqueria located near Plaça de Catalunya at the top end of Las Ramblas. This market is at least 800 years old and you will find a great variety of fruits, vegetables, and meats to fulfill all of your taste buds’ needs. Keep in mind, the more people prepare your food and the more you are served by a server, the more you will pay. If you buy your own fresh and delicious produce and meats, you can eat raw or cook if you have a kitchen, then your wallet will thank you! Another cheap, yet delicious favorite of mine is kebab. This Turkish treat, I view it as the European version of the burrito, in that it is extremely popular, filling, delicious, and inexpensive. On that note keep your eye out for other street foods. Save some funds for the wealth of area restaurants that allow a great experience and atmosphere on a cheaper budget. The best way to find the right eats is to search for recommendations on Google or utilize review-based apps, such as Yelp. My last tip on food is to avoid popular fast-food places at all costs. You are in Barcelona - let your taste buds experience the culture! What Do I Do Now? Now you can finally decide what to do on your adventure! In Barcelona, there is an endless list of options from free to very expensive. You can visit any of the various museums, explore the parks, chill on the beaches, visit the various places of worship, go to see dance performances or orchestras, and much more. Think about what you want to get out of your trip and let your fantasy become reality. Once you determine what types of sites you would like to visit, do some research and compile a list of the experiences you would like to get and where you can get them. My personal favorite place to visit in Barcelona is Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece of a basilica that has been under construction since

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Park Gßell is a magical destination that will show you the true color, character, and beauty that Barcelona has to offer. This site is yet another creation by Antoni Gaudi, a Spanish Catalan architect whose works receive global attention. This park was actually originally intended to be a group of high quality homes and envisioned a community with common beliefs and ideals. You can see this reflected by symbolism throughout the park. I would say that walking through this park feels like being in a Dr. Seuss book. Everything is given a modern twist by making aspects of the park brighter, more colorful, warped, twisted, and tilted. Tickets are fairly cheap and I would recommend getting them in advance since they only sell 400 every half hour. For a free adventure, I would suggest to start your day at Plaça de Catalunya, walk down Las Ramblas, make a pit stop or lunch break at the Mercado de La Boqueria on the way, and make your way down to the beaches along the Mediterranean Sea. This would be perfect on a nice day and if the weather is Travel Lite

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Photos by Ross Christianson

1882. This Catholic place of worship is like no other building that I have ever been inside. While following the traditional architectural rules defining how a cathedral should be constructed, it has been given a big modern twist to make visitors feel engulfed inside of a spiritual rainforest. The pillars and arches spanning the length of the basilica appear as tree trunks and branches, and the ceiling looks the canopy of a rainforest with specks of natural light shining through. The stain glasses are based off from water paintings and provide enchanting arrays of light and color inside the basilica. It is really quite inexpensive to visit and the funds go towards the construction of this mega structure. Visit Sagrada Familia and you will have a spiritual experience regardless of your faith.


Budget-Friendly Barcelona fitting, you could go swimming on the beach. Las Ramblas are a series of streets that are filled with shops, restaurants, gift kiosks for tourists, trees lining the streets, people, activity, and beauty. I would caution to be careful in these areas and watch out for pickpockets. I had my journal stolen from me, which was luckily later returned, and I met a girl whose backpack was stolen from her. Keep your items concealed and on you at all times. As long as you are smart about your belongings, this day will surely end happily. This is of course, something we always would recommend, regardless of where you are traveling.

Barcelona, in my humble opinion, is truly one of the most beautiful major European cities. I highly recommend you consider visiting regardless of your budget. You can take a train or cheap flight to other nearby cities or countries and use all of these same tips that I have provided you with. Traveling on a budget is definitely challenging, but it is doable and extremely fruitful. Save your pennies, and you will be surprised what you will get out of your experience. You should start your exploration and make those travel dreams a reality. Happy budget travels!


Travel

LAS VEGAS MONEY SAVING TIPS FOR THE BUDGET-CONSCIOUS TRAVELER! By: H. Luiz Martinez

H. Luiz Martinez is a travel journalist and enjoys sharing his experiences through his popular website (HLuizPresents.com) and his vast audience on social media platforms. H. Luiz has carved out a wonderful niche combining his passions: travel, food, and family. As a freelance writer, his work can be seen in various travel, food, and lifestyle magazines. H. Luiz is also an Activist for the LGBTQ, Latino, and People of Color Communities.

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and resorts are for the most part served buffet-style. These are usually not top-grade foods and it saves money for the facilities, because it’s cheaper to serve guests. Also, the risk of food contamination may increase when eating buffet-style; this is not a scientific proof, but have you ever see a child grab French fries with his/her grubby bare hands? I have raised a child, so I’m very aware. How about a hung over guest sneeze or cough into a bowl of shrimp? There are hundreds of hands going through a buffet. Never assume people will be as clean as you would be.

When Choosing a Hotel/Resort

These days at “all-inclusive” hotels, alcohol may or may not be included. If it is, it’s not top shelf and for some reason, all of those alcohol based drinks taste weaker or watered-down. Sometimes, there may be an additional charge for alcoholic beverages or top-shelf beverages. I’ve even seen “additional charges” for better grades of beef and even seafood like shrimp. You’re there thinking, “This is all-inclusive?”

raveling 10 to 14 times per calendar year, you tend to pick up a few money-saving tips and tricks, which I’ll gladly share with you. Being “budget-conscious” always makes me feel pretty good. Now full disclosure; we stay at 3 to 5 star hotels and resorts, but those are usually complimentary and/or upgraded, the perks of being a travel journalist I guess. But even at these high-end facilities, there are ways to save money and spend wisely.

“All-inclusive” facilities are NOT necessarily the best deals. The so-called “savings” may very well be a few bucks as opposed to buying your own meals when tallied at the end of your vacation. In fact, it may even cost you more for that all-inclusive deal. The average cost in all-inclusive facilities may range anywhere from $75 – $120 a day per guest (that’s the little ones too) and most times there are extras added on top of your stay. Average cost of eating at surrounding restaurants is about $70 – $100 per adult per day ($25 – $45 for the kiddies). Now I know we’re told that “all-inclusive” facilities are more economical, but that’s not entirely true. Meals at all-inclusive hotels

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Dine Out…“Out” of the Hotel That Is Restaurants in the hotels/resorts are usually very high-priced. You’re actually being charged for the “convenience” of having that restaurant steps from your hotel room. The big trend these days is having a famous chef attached to hotel restaurants

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Las Vegas Money Saving Tips where they rarely ever cooked in. In that case, you’re also paying for the name attached. Now these restaurants are usually superb, but so is that price tag at the end of the meal. I’d recommend that you make dining in a great hotel restaurant as a one or two night special occasion. The other nights, take advantage of the surrounding area’s dining opportunities. We were recently in Las Vegas and during our first night, we dined in the hotel’s restaurant because it was convenient. The food was extraordinary

but when the check came, the “taste” was literally knocked out of my mouth. We’re talking nearly $300 for 2 people with just house wine, one appetizer, two entrées and two desserts with coffee. Well, that immediately became our “special occasion.” We took advantage of the nearby restaurants for breakfast (just $2.99 for eggs, bacon or sausage, home fries and toast), Lunch under $25 for the both of us, and great dinners, including 2 appetizers, 2 drinks, 2 entrées, and 2 desserts at about $100 per night. The food was tasty and delicious.


Travel For your “pick-me up,” I’d recommend that you find the best morning coffee around, and not that $5 Latte Tall kind either. I mean, you can really find a great café/coffee shop, even a diner and spend under $10 for a great breakfast with great coffee (and free refills) start there. The savings will make you feel extraordinary good. Do Not Crowd those Bags! I used to (over)stuff my bag with toiletries like my body wash, lotions, mouthwash, toothpaste, toothbrush and other sundries. However, all these toiletries stayed in my bag because the hotel’s bathroom was already stocked with body wash, lotions, mouthwash, toothpaste, etc. After about 5 years, I figured, “Oh, I don’t have to bring and carry all this anymore.” Don’t be like me and wait 5 years to figure this one out! Also, some hotels carry these items at their front desk. If you don’t find materials in your room such as toothbrushes or mouthwash just place a call downstairs. You may even get a free deck of cards! And speaking of over-crowding your bags, stop buying souvenirs for Joe, Moe, and dear Aunt Flo! Nobody wears those awful 4 for $10 T-shirts anyway, so save your money and come back with a great story of your travels instead. Souvenir plates, shot glasses, key-chains, little glass vials with corks on top filled with sand and shells – please, please, please no! Do not waste your time, money, and valuable baggage space to carry these items back from your vacations. Airlines are charging for extra luggage bags and they’ve lowered the weight and size requirements. So skip those souvenirs, a family member brought back T-shirts from their vacation for my family of three. Then they copped an attitude because they did not see us wearing them. Now, we weren’t being ungrateful, we really did appreciate the thought but to have an attitude over a $2.50 shirt they wouldn’t wear themselves was way beyond me. Create Your Own Spa Treatments Do you know how expensive Spa Treatments are in your “at-work” neighborhood- crazy sometimes, right? Now double and/or triple that and that’s what you’d be expected to pay at a hotel/resort. Create your own treatments and

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be that hot and sexy masseur/masseuse for your Partner/Spouse/Significant Other/etc. Trust me, you’ll have a great time and it’s a win-win for everyone! I bring in a plastic bag some artificial rose petals that look like the real deal and are reusable, throw them in the tub filled with hot water and suds or sprinkle them on the bed for a romantic spa-like interlude. Bring soothing music on your mobile smartphones and let the good times roll whether you’re soaking alone or giving each-other massages! Facial scrubs can be made with fresh-squeezed orange juice mixed with a few packets of sugar for a great citrus scrub, makes a good astringent too. Coffee grounds (usually complimentary in the room) taste terrible, but when moistened, make a terrific exfoliate. There are spas that add warm milk to this and charge about $100 for a “latte scrub.” Make your own spa treatments, right in the ConnextionsMagazine.com

room and save, save, save! Complimentary teas make great exfoliates too when moistened and applied to the skin. I especially like herbal teas like rosemary, fruit teas like orange spice, or flower teas like hibiscus or lavender for this treatment. If they come in bags you can rip them open or keep them whole, moisten them with gentle warm water, and place them over your eyes. You’ll be able to relax and feel good knowing you did not spend any money for these treatments. Use that Mini Fridge If your room comes with a mini-fridge, then by all means use it. There’s always a supermarket or grocery store that the locals use (which is good because they’ll carry “local” prices on their items) so walk around, look for them, and use your smartphones to locate them. That same bottled water that may cost $5 a liter in your room may

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Travel

More Money Saving Tips It never hurts to ask for an upgrade, actually it usually “saves” – money that is! Most hotels are willing to give free upgrades upon check-in, but you have to “look” the part. The unwritten rule is; dress like you can afford to “pay” for an upgrade before you ask for a free one (leave the track

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suits at home). Also, bring your business cards and leave one at the front desk. It shows that you’re employed (hopefully with a nice title) and the simple gesture implies that you may tell ALL your colleagues at the company you work for of the wonderful “stay” in the hotel. For a free night or two, call up that great hotel you’ve been eyeing and tell them that you already have a reservation booked somewhere else. However, further inform them that you may consider changing your reservation if you can get a night or two with them for free. If they have the availability, you’d be surprised what they’ll do for you to stay with them. Know your rates! I bet you didn’t know that 2 (two) bedroom suites are cheaper than two standard rooms? Well they usually are and you’ll have a nice suite to share and a nicer private room of your own. So next time you’re traveling with another couple, check out the 2 bedroom suites and save some money, you’ll still have your private bedroom and bathroom but you’ll have a great living room and kitchen area too. We did this a few times and it was so much fun, I even made dinner a handful of times, saving us all some more money instead of dining out!

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Photos by Manny Velasquez-Paredes

very well be .99 cents there. Stock up on juice boxes, lunchmeats, and bread for the kiddies and maybe some “adult juice” like wine and spirits. We like to get hummus and raw veggies, cheese and crackers, and single-serve yogurts for our mini-fridge. Include good-for-you snacks such as fruits, pretzels, and maybe a few health bars too for the room. That’ll keep the hunger pangs at bay, keep you looking svelte, and keep your wallets looking thick! Lunches, especially with the little ones, add up pretty quick. In fact, after flight and lodging costs, food is the number one expense while on vacation, so why not save where you can? Ordering or picking up a pie or two from a good pizzeria will help your wallet out too. Just be sure to buy your beverages at the local store at regular price and have it chilling in the fridge. Call it a “PIZZA PARTY” and the kids would be over the moon.


THE LURE OF LONDON: 5 THINGS TO DO FOR FREE OR CHEAP!

The Lure of London

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ondon can be an expensive city to visit, but, here’s a list of free or very cheap things to do while on a London trip! 1. Museums: London has a lot of culture to offer. It is considered to be the cultural capital of the world. A lot of the museums in London have free vesting hours or days. So be sure to get your culture fix! 2. Guard Mounting: you know how there are always some “must see” things or places on every city? Well, you have not visited London, unless you witness a “Guard Mounting,” - no it’s not what you are thinking! It’s what Londoners sometimes call the “changing of the guard,” and it’s completely free! This takes place outside of Buckingham Palace at 11:30 am, Horse Guards Arch and at Windsor Castle the ceremony takes place at 11:00 am. Get there early if you want to get a spot.

4. I see you!: London Eye, the tallest ferris wheel in Europe, provides the best views of London and some unforgettable pics, especially during the sunset, definitely worth the not too expensive price. 5. Shakespeare’s Globe: highlights the works of Shakespeare. Ticket prices range from cheap to the not so cheap, but whether you go to see a play or just take a tour, the experience will delight everyone. Have a student ID? Use it for discounts. ConnextionsMagazine.com

Photos by Xioger Sandoval

3. It’s ok to stare: there is absolutely gorgeous architecture, pretty much all around London. So don’t be afraid to stare and take some great pics. We recommend Big Ben, the Palaces of course, the Old Royal Naval College, The Tower Bridge, and so much more!

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LGBT FAMILY TRIP

JUNE 26, 2016  JULY 2, 2016 OPEN T0 FAMILIES WITH CHILREN 4 OR OLDER PREFERRED. ONLY 10 SPOTS LEFT.

LGBT SINGLES/COUPLES

SEPTEMBER 4, 2016  SEPTEMBER 10, 2016 DESIGNED FOR PEOPLE WITHOUT CHILDREN. ONLY 14 SPOTS LEFT.


SPEND A WEEK IN TUSCANY, LEARNING TO COOK, SIPPING WINE, ROAMING THE BEAUTIFUL CITY & MORE ON OUR FIRST LGBT EXCURSION. WE INVITE OUR READERS ON THIS GREAT ADVENTURE, CREATE MEMORIES TO LAST YOU A LIFETIME. WITH THE HELP OF OUR FRIENDS “COOK IN TUSCANY” YOUR ENTIRE WEEK WILL BE PLANNED WITH PLEN OF LEISURE TIME TO EXPLORE ON YOUR OWN. PLENTY

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT:

CONNEXTIONSMAGAZINE.COM/TUSCANY


Travel

NEW ORLEANS, NEW ADVENTURES By: Ross Christianson

Ross’ biggest desires are to learn more everyday and to teach people how to make their dreams come true. Residing in Minneapolis, MN, Ross seeks to discover the world and show everyone else how easy it is, especially on a tight budget. Whether traveling or not, he is fun loving, outgoing, optimistic, adventurous, and a risk taker. Some of his favorite memories include skiing in the Austrian Alps, scuba diving in Thailand, and hitch hiking in Colorado. Ross has traveled to 25 countries thus far and cannot wait to experience what comes next!

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ran out the door.

any images come to my mind when I hear New Orleans … Mardi Gras, Dixieland jazz bands, alcohol shots, ironwork balconies, people flooding Bourbon Street, more shots, cabaret, even more shots, you get the point! Up until May of this year, I had never been to New Orleans. TV shows and stories from friends and family had molded my entire impression of the city. As my 26th birthday was approaching, I decided to meet my best friend Jill in New Orleans, she currently resides in Mississippi. The time had come to find out what New Orleans really has to offer me and to celebrate the beginning of the second quarter of my life the proper way. Some say, “an adventure doesn’t start until something goes wrong,” so right off the bat, I was determined to get things right. My $98 flight from the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport to Chicago and from Chicago to New Orleans was scheduled at 6:04 am. The night before, I packed my bags and asked my fabulous roommate to wake me just in case I did not wake up by 5:00 am. Naturally, I overslept and she woke me up, and instantly I went into survival mode, frantically requested an Uber ride, grabbed my bag, and

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The pressure was on to make it to the airport in time. The driver was driving as fast as he could within his comfort zone and got me to the airport in about 30 minutes. It was now 5:40 am, and my hope was fading fast. I tried to remain as calm and cool as I could while waiting in line behind to check-in. Luckily, fortune was on my side and I was able to get my ticket and get through security fast, the rest of the trip was smooth sailing. I would categorize this as the second closest call I have had to missing a flight. Once in New Orleans, I took a moment to center myself and think about all the memories I would soon be making and the shots I would soon be enjoying. I informed Jill of my arrival and made my way to our hotel in the French Quarter. I decided to take an Uber to the hotel, but a much more affordable option would be to take public transportation. Our hotel, the Chateau LeMoyne, is a Holiday Inn hotel and certainly embraces the classic French Quarter design and architecture. This beautiful and elegant boutique hotel comes with ironwork on the exterior, subtle yet classy interior décor and a central courtyard complete with a pool.

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New Orleans New Adventures As a birthday present, Jill treated me to a hotel night, which helped my wallet. If you are looking for a cheaper lodging option I recommend Couchsurfing.com, Airbnb.com, or one of the various hostels in the area.

experienced raw Louisiana oysters and an Oyster Po-Boy, both fitting first bites for this city. The oysters I had there were the biggest I have ever eaten, as well as the most flavorful. I recommend stopping by Felix’s, even if you’re on a tight budget.

Let the New Adventures Begin!

Now that we had some food and drinks in our bellies, we were on our way to the next thing on our list. An old family friend, Terry, was enlisted as our free tour guide, and he took us to “Wednesday at the Square,” a weekly blues concert in Lafayette Square downtown that runs from March to May. We were lucky enough to hear Irma Thomas, a local legend who has been performing in the city for decades and is known as the “Soul Queen of New Orleans.” We enjoyed drinks and the lush green square as Irma Thomas took us on a blues journey.

Jill and I go way back, we have been through many adventures together including three proms, working at music festivals together, various trips like the Munich Oktoberfest, and so much more. So, once she arrived and settled in, we went straight to the important items on our list, quick catching up, hugs, food and drinks. We ended up at Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar. Felix’s is conveniently located between the French Quarter and downtown just a block from Canal Street. I


Terry then took us to Frenchmen Street for great music joints filled with authentic New Orleans jazz and locals, as opposed to the touristy appeal of Bourbon Street. First, we went to The Spotted Cat Music Club to check out Shotgun Jazz Band, a traditional New Orleans jazz band filled the intimate space with exuberant Dixieland jazz music that had people dancing and soaking up the atmosphere. Then we made our way next door to the Frenchmen Art Market, a late night local art fair in a small square off of Frenchman Street. Adorned with string lights all across the bazaar from rooftop to rooftop, various types of local art, drinks in hand, soft country blues in the background, the chatter of patrons and artists, this is definitely not Bourbon Street. After the market, we went to The Maison and listened to the Jazz Vipersand after enjoying a wonderful evening with Terry; we let him off the hook and parted ways towards Bourbon Street. Finally, we got our own glimpse of the intoxicating glory of Bourbon Street. We hopped between various gay bars, karaoke bars, and other noteworthy locations. The gay bar scene on Bourbon street is definitely alive and thriving. If you want to check out some drag shows while in town, Lucky Pierre’s is your place with shows throughout the day. Do you want to go to the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the United States? Check out Café Lefittes in Exile. You could definitely do a pub-crawl of all the gay bars within a few blocks on Bourbon Street and stay busy all night long. On another note, check out Cat’s Meow to witness the “World’s Best Karaoke Bar.” After a shot of Fireball, I sang my very own rendition of Destiny’s Child’s “Bootylicious,” I’m sure there’s a video of it somewhere in cyber world. Next, we popped into Pat O’Brien’s Courtyard Restaurant to experience their enchanting and lush open courtyard escape from the madness to try their famous Hurricane cocktail. This potent punch is on par with the Hand Grenade cocktail, which you can get at Tropical Isle. Both are necessary evils that any Bourbon Street virgin must try. I’d also recommend checking out the Seasonal Cocktails at the more refined Bourbon “O” Bar. We tried the May Flowers, which was an orchid garnished treat including Elderflower and Créme de Violette. And that was just our first night! Connextions Magazine

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Feeling a little groggy in the morning, we got out the door and grabbed the nearest Bloody Mary from a street side bar to take with us as we strolled towards Jackson Square, which really stands up to all the praise I’ve heard before. We took some time to enjoy the square and the view of Saint Louis Cathedral, which seemed to be glowing white against the lush and green o the square, everything was just so vibrant. We took it all in and then made our way across the street to Cafe Du Monde. I had been advised to expect long lines for a table, but somehow luck was on our side and found a spot immediately. Once seated, we had our obligatory beignets and coffee and reminisced about the night prior. The last item on our to-do list was the Celebration Distillation tour. Although reluctant to do anything that involved alcohol at this point, we were resilient and took a glimpse of the art of rum distillation. To my delight, they started us out with a sample of

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their Old New Orleans Rum. This is more of a small batch artisan distillery, so you get an intimate tour filled with character and guided by those involved in the actual distillation process. The distillery has an old industrial feel to it and is definitely something to be seen. At the end of the tour, we were given samples of each of their rums, as well as a taste of their Gingerroot cocktail. After the Shots! I must say, I feel like my first visit to New Orleans was extremely fun. In just two days, we went to a blues festival, checked out the music and art scenes on Frenchmen Street, survived Bourbon Street, explored the Jackson Square area, delighted our taste buds with some amazing local cuisine, and toured Celebration Distillation. New Orleans definitely offered an endless stream of delights for pleasing all of the senses. I look forward to my next visit to this glorious city, and as usual, I hope you found a little inspiration for your next travel budget experience.

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Photos by Ross Christianson

Let the New Adventures Begin Part Deux!


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LGBT Family Travel

PLUG INTO THE POCONOS By: Manny Velasquez-Paredes

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ometimes the hardest thing to do is to simply unplug unplug from the everyday, from work, from technology, from - dare I mention it - Facebook! But as a working parent, it is extremely important to disconnect from the world and simply enjoy your family. For the past three years, my husband and I have taken our kids on mini-vacations to the Poconos at least twice per year. It is just under five hours drive for us, so we leave the house early so we can beat traffic and (hint) the kids are usually still sleepy, which means they’ll probably fall asleep after 45 minutes into the trip for at least another hour or so, which makes for a calmer ride. As a same-sex couple with kids, we have stayed at different hotels in the area, some more expensive than others, and have never encountered any issues because of our sexual identity. There are some budget hotels/motels where you can stay, just remember that the quality of place is directly proportional to the cost of the rooms. We stayed at this place once where we asked the front desk to change our room because the original room was simply unacceptable - stains, dirty walls, and a toilet seat that didn’t fit properly. Eventually, we settled on another room. Just remember if you are not satisfied with the room or any of the amenities at the hotel speak up and let them know right away, most places will try to help you. Mentioning things like “are you on Facebook, TripAdvisor or Yelp?” might help you with your request. The first thing I do after checking-in to our hotel, is to turn off my cell phone - which trust me it is probably the hardest thing for me to do - but it is a conscious decision I made so I could enjoy my time with the family. There are plenty of places to eat around the Poconos, anything from fast foods to local eateries. We are a bit on the adventurous side and will tend to try the local places. On one occasion, we even found a Brazilian restaurant and quickly stopped for some churrascos and paella. It was a little out of our budget, but definitely worth it.

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Plug Into the Poconos

The Niagara of Pennsylvania

Photos by Manny Velasquez-Paredes

The best way to unplug is to plug into nature and if you don’t mind hiking and climbing, then Bushkill Falls, which is known as the Niagara Falls of Pennsylvania, is really the place to visit! It opened to the public in 1904, and is located on about 300 acres of land in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The falls are 1200 feet above sea level, and include 8 waterfalls and over 2 miles of hiking trails, bridges and walkways. The drop from the top of the Main Falls to the bottom of the Lower Gorge is about 300 feet and it’s an absolutely breathtaking view and cell phone signal is extremely spotty - so leave them in the car or your room’s safe. But, please bring a camera - preferably a waterproof one so you don’t need to worry about it getting wet. Our kids were 3 and 5 the first time we went, and our little one got tired easily with all the steps we had to climb. After a while, we stopped to take ConnextionsMagazine.com

pictures and sit down for a bit and then we started playing a game to take their minds off of the climb. We turned it into a counting game, where we got to count the number of steps we took and then stop again to rest and more pictures. Although we hiked the shortest route, we still had to carry the little one for a part of the hike. However, the following year when we returned, we took a longer route and they both walked all the way. We did, however, stop to explore the scenery and take some amazing pictures. Kids 3 and under are free, 4 - 10 tickets begin at $8 and all other tickets begin at $13.50 but the experience is definitely worth the price and I don’t recall anyone asking me for birth certificates.... just saying. For extra fees, the park also has a mining area, fishing, miniature golf, paddle boats, playgrounds, etc. You can easily spend an entire day there and be one with nature and connext with your family.

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Travel 15 VACATION ON A BUDGET TIPS! Credit Cards:

1 Find credit cards without international transaction fees.

2 If you can get credit cards that reward you with miles or points, that’s a deal and if you can find one that

also has zero international transaction fees - even better!

3 Look for credit cards that have zero interests for a particular amount of time.

4 See if transferring balances is a feasible option. 5 Designate only one credit card for ALL of

your

vacation needs - this will help you to maintain all of your expenses in check and on budget.

It’s a good idea to keep copies of your IDs, passports, and credit cards in a secure location while traveling, just in case the originals get lost or stolen. Gay/Lesbian Bars/Clubs:

6 Keep fliers or vouchers you may receive while walking

around in the places you visit, as they may have discount coupons for entrance fees or drinks. These can also be found in bars/clubs, cafes, shops or even the internet - be careful with online coupons as they may not be from a reliable source or expired.

7 Some places may include a free drink, or happy-hours so bar-hopping is sometimes a good idea!

8 Dating apps can help you to locate the hottest spots - so make connextions with the locals - on & offline!

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15 Vacation on a Budget Tips Know When to Travel:

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Do you want to go somewhere where “everybody” is or do you just “want to go” somewhere? Traveling during the off-peak season is usually cheaper.

Meals: your room has a mini-fridge, stock-up on 10 Ifbread, deli meats, fruits and liquids.

11 - try to avoid fast-food chains. You are on Experiment with the locals - cuisines that is

vacation - it’s time to experiment! A good rule of thumb is, If you can’t pronounce it or have no clue how to translate it - check it out - you might be pleasantly surprised and might be within your budget. it comes to meals, you should try 12 When to have at least one “splurge” meal designate it as your special occasion. But the best tip anyone can give you when traveling is to UNPLUG - RELEASE - ENJOY! it’s ok to turn off the cell phones, 13 Unplug: laptops, etc. If you must check them, then do so once per day. A good time to check is before bedtime.

vacation time equals letting go. 14 Release: Leave all your worries back at your desk. They will still be there when you return.

even when traveling on a budget, 15 Enjoy: enjoy the present, and the adventures so when you go back to reality - you can smile to yourself as you remember your latest adventure. ConnextionsMagazine.com

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Connect

S

teven Rosen is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. Although he works with different types of couples, he is particularly proud of the fact that he has worked with almost ninety same-sex couples. Between editing his most recent shoot and working on a client’s album, Steven sat down with Connextions Magazine to chat about his past, present and future. The Background Image

CAPTURING YOUR LOVE IS HIS PASSION STEVEN ROSEN, PHOTOGRAPHER 38

As a child, Steven was raised around music, dance, theater, and art, and he recalls spending the happiest hours of his childhood in theaters and museums. Steven reminisces, that “at the age of thirteen my family took a trip to Disneyworld, and I was enthralled. The merging of so many artistic disciplines to create such a magical world filled me with inspiration, and I realized that it was someone’s job to create all this stuff. It was this trip that convinced me to pursue a life in the visual arts. Throughout my childhood, I studied drawing and painting and through those disciplines I learned about color, composition, and light. Skills that would serve me well in the world of photography.” Steven attended the Rhode Island School of Design as an illustration major, it was there where he took his first photography class and fell in love with the medium. He decided to mix his love for photography, painting and drawing and came up with a very unique style of illustration where his photographs were printed on transparent paper and were then layered with his drawings. It was, essentially, Photoshop without a computer.

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Capturing Your Love After graduating with honors, like so many artists before him, Steven moved to New York to make it big. He says, “it didn’t take me long to realize that my unique illustration technique was maybe a little too unique. The money wasn’t exactly rolling in, so I took a job at a costume jewelry company,” which allowed him to branch out and start his own company, Steven Rosen Jewelry, which became one of the most recognized in the eighties, and was prominently featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Life, and The Fashions of the Times. It was during this time that he started to work closely with stylists, make-up artists and fashion photographers, and learn about the world of image making. “After a decade in the business, the fashion world shifted to simple gold chains and I decided it was time to move on to new

challenges. I called on my background in design and illustration and became a book designer. As proof that the universe knows where you’re supposed to be, my first major project was a photography book about Disneyworld. Over the next ten years, I created dozens of books for the Disney parks. In order to fill my books with all the necessary images, I needed new photos, so I invested in my first digital camera, flew down to Orlando, and started shooting, and that’s how I rekindled my love for photography. Over the next few years, I became obsessed with taking pictures. My images started getting published and winning awards. It seemed obvious that it was time to take my photography to the next level, so I dedicated myself completely to photography and my business has been growing ever since.”


Connect

Focus on the Subject Connextions Magazine (CM): You have photographed tons of same-sex weddings, what attracts you to them? Steven Rosen (SR): Why do I photograph same-sex weddings? Firstly, because I’m a big mushy sentimental romantic. I love weddings. I love seeing two people commit to each other. I love my job. What could be better than recording such a beautiful moment in the lives of so many wonderful people? My job is to tell my clients’ stories in pictures and my LGBT clients have some of the most amazing stories anyone could tell. Also, when I started as a photographer there were very few images of same-sex committed couples out in the world. As a gay man myself, in a long term relationship, I felt like my story wasn’t being told. I believe deeply that images have great power. You can try to argue the case for marriage equality ‘till you’re blue in the face, but a photo of a two men or two women in love can change minds and melt hearts. The more images in the world that show the incredible love and commitment that LGBT couples share, the better for our community and the world at large, and I feel incredibly proud to be one of the photographers who is able to send these transformative images out into the world. CM: Have you noticed any differences between working with straight clients and LGBT clients? SR: There are many differences between working with same sex couples and straight couples. Many of them are quite subtle, but the more you understand those differences, the better you can serve your clients, and doing the best job for my couples is always foremost in my mind. Many of my straight brides have been dreaming of their wedding day since they were kids, and know exactly what they want. At this point in history, most same-sex couples didn’t grow up

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Capturing Your Love thinking they would ever get married (5 to 10 years from now that will change). They usually have very little planned and in many cases need guidance. I find myself being something of a wedding planner in addition to being a photographer.

they see each other in their wedding clothes for the first time. But I take pictures of them getting ready together, which is a whole new category of wedding photos and can provide some wonderful moments to capture.

Many of my LGBT couples have privacy concerns. Sadly, there are still many places where you can get fired or lose your home for being gay, so it’s quite common for my clients to request that images not be shared online. My straight clients want images on social media while the wedding is still taking place. My same-sex couples, on the other hand, sometimes don’t want images on social media at all. I’m always very respectful of my clients’ privacy needs, but it can be frustrating on numerous levels. It breaks my heart that I can’t share some of my favorite images, but not as much as it breaks my heart that so many of my clients have to keep their marriage a secret to avoid getting fired.

Many of the traditional poses used for straight couples are designed to accentuate traditional male/female gender roles. The biggest mistake a photographer can make when photographing same-sex couples is to assign gender roles. Many members in our community are much more fluid in their gender expression. You need to be sensitive to that. Visually there are challenges as well. Straight couples usually wear a black tux and white gown, so there’s always visual contrast. When you’re photographing two black tuxedos or two white wedding gowns, there’s very little contrast, so you have to be careful with your lighting and posing so you don’t end up with a two-headed tuxedo.

There are practical differences too. Most of my male couples and about half of my female couples get ready together, so there’s no ”first look” when

Group shots can also be extra complex. I’ve shot weddings where one groom has a supportive family who all show up, and the other groom is shunned by his

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Capturing Your Love family. So the group shots are very one sided. It’s important to understand these family dynamics before the wedding so you can be sensitive to that kind of situation.

response, but when the stranger congratulates them and, more often than not, gives them a hug, you can see their concerns melt away. From then on, they are much more at ease.

CM: Can you take us back to when you photographed your first same-sex wedding? SR: My first same-sex wedding was in 2008. It was my third wedding and the first big formal wedding at a big venue. Up until then, I had shot small informal weddings. I was nervous because it was my first big wedding and I didn’t have a lot of experience with that. I did have a fair amount of experience working with same sex couples though, so that aspect wasn’t a problem at all. I had been the official photographer at CampCamp, which is a Summer Camp for LGBT adults, and I had been taking pictures of couples there for a few years already. In fact, the couple that hired me did so because they knew me and my work from CampCamp.

CM: Which celebrities would you like to photograph that you haven’t yet had a chance to? SR: Hmmm. I have never really thought about this before. I suppose if I could actually choose someone to shoot, I might pick Tilda Swinton. She has an amazing face and has been the muse for many photographers. I think it would be so interesting to work with her.

CM: You have some gorgeous pictures, how do you make the individuals feel comfortable to pose for you? SR: I have worked with many couples who came to New York City from less welcoming places because they couldn’t get married where they live. Many of these clients can’t walk down their street at home holding hands for fear of physical violence, so it’s not surprising that some of them are shy about public displays of affection. Getting them to feel comfortable in front of the camera can be a challenge sometimes. My biggest tool in overcoming that challenge is my neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights. I usually take clients here to do their couple shots and one of the reasons is that it’s so progressive and supportive of marriage equality. I have had clients walk out on the street feeling a little unsure. Almost every time, a stranger will approach them and ask if they just got married. You can see them tense up as they answer “yes” because they fear the ConnextionsMagazine.com

If I could photograph anyone at all, regardless of when and where, I’d love to go back in time to photograph Paul Newman in the mid 1950s. He was one of the most gorgeous creatures back then, in my humble opinion. Did you ever see him in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”? I mean, my lord that man was stunning. I actually met him back in the 80s. His eyes were really startlingly beautiful. The Perfect Light Steven Rosen is also a speaker on the subject of same sex couples and weddings. Having been witness to so many same-sex weddings has given him a clear advantage in the field. He has created a seminar for photographers titled “The Dreaded Two-Headed Tuxedo and Other Observations,” where attendees learn about how to reach out to and work with same-sex couples. He also photographs many events around NYC, including pro bono work for many LGBT causes, including Marriage Equality USA, Heritage of Pride, and Visual AIDS. When working galas, events and performances, he only has about 30 seconds to capture the occasional celebrity, so he developed the skills to create a striking portrait in almost no time at all. A skill that has served him well in his wedding photography.

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Live

THE FOOD TRAIL ¡BUEN PROVECHO! By: H. Luiz Martinez

ost people would swear that I’m a trained chef or baker, and although I appreciate the compliment, it’s not true. I would say, however, that I am a trained “cook” since I’ve been cooking and baking for more than half of my life! The number one question people ask me is, “who taught you how to cook/bake?” My answer is always the same: my life, my love of people and my fascination with different cultures has taught me everything I know about food. I often tell others, “If you want to know what a specific culture is all about, just eat their food, that’ll give you the inside scoop.” As a travel journalist, I have wonderful opportunities to visit many countries and “borrow” from ancient and modern food traditions. When I return to my own kitchen, I have all the information I need, along with borrowing other cultural techniques, flavor profiles, food staples, and not to mention my own culinary twists on foods, to create wonderful meals at home. I encourage you to experience in your kitchen. ¡Buen Provecho! Everybody is thrilled when a sweet or savory tart is in the room – I know I am! My fruit tarts remind

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me of the baked goods in French Patisseries and Peruvian Panaderias. Confession time: I have not yet been to those countries so how can I reference those far-away bakeries? Well, the woman who suggested I add pistachios to my sweet tarts is a Peruvian baker who studied in France. She told me with such vivid details about pastries from both countries that I feel like I’ve eaten fruit tarts there myself. You see, inspiration comes from life, people, and cultures! I make a fruit tart or two about every week from August through to September when berries are in season here in the U.S. I make them as gifts for family & friends, as a cake-alternative for special occasions, and just as a tasty dessert at home. A baking pan, some butter, cream cheese, flour and sugar, and fresh fruit are all you need to make a great-tasting tart. Tart pans are inexpensive but not entirely necessary when making tarts, you can use pie plates or even shallow cake pans. The pan or lack thereof will determine the shape of your tart. You can even buy pie crusts in tubes or frozen from the supermarket, but I wouldn’t recommend that. If you’re going to make a fruit tart, there should be no short-cuts.

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Photographs Courtesy of 2KINGs Photography

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The Food Trail Let me share my recipe card to show you just how easy it is to do. Let us know how your fruit tarts turns out and please send us pictures. This column is as much yours as it is ours and don’t forget to share.

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In Review BY: JJVEGA “Love Together” by Tim Clausen tells the real life story of 100 same-sex male longtime couples, their relationships, and their experiences with love. In seeking positive role models in male-to-male relationships, author Tim Clausen, embarks on a voyeuristic exploration of how love, relationships, respect, emotional and sexual fulfillment play a role among couples by asking them 26 very personal questions. Through their different journeys, the couples from the U.S., Canada and Costa Rica, share their different points of views of what love means and the person they are sharing life with. It’s an interesting dance to see how the men interviewed have such unique paths, and how their differences, offer an all too similar perspective for the readers. I noticed the cover has pictures of couples and wonder if the pictures had been placed on the individual stories, if that would have made the reader connect more with the couples. At times, I felt the couples’ stories overpowered the impact of the book, but it is most likely due to not being able to visualize and connect with the individuals. I wonder if the original intent of the author was to keep the readers detached so each reader could envision his own relationship while learning from the couples in the book. Love Together showcases same-sex male couples who are in successful long-term relationships and prepares new couples to deal with a wide variety of topics, such as: finances, property, death, legal matters, spiritual/religious beliefs, sexual exploration, and raising children.

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“The Holy Mark, The Tragedy of a Fallen Priest” by Gregory Alexander is a novel that explores the life of Father Tony as he embarks on a path to priesthood, which is not the profession he would have chosen for himself; instead this is the wish of his grandmother. When Tony was born, his grandmother noticed a birthmark on his head and she “realized” this birthmark was God’s way to anoint this newborn on the path to priesthood, which caused jealousy among his Italian family members because of the special place in his grandmother’s heart. Father Tony realizes he can fulfill his life’s purpose by ministering and mentoring young men, while feeding his sexual desires to feel physically close to them and ‘keeping momentums’ of the boys, which are acquired without their permission or knowledge. The psychological journey of Father Tony’s internal battle between his purpose in life to serve his community and his sexual desires, can probably be traced to his male cousin, make this novel a wicked journey that readers, although they may disagree with his actions, might allow themselves to feel pity for him. The church, as a punishment, transfers him to different roles in different locations, but this just helps Father Tony to continue to explore his sexual desires. The personal struggles he endures, their punishments and transfers, actually assist him to continue his personal struggle. Father Tony always seems to finds away to respond to his call no matter how isolated he is from others. The inner struggle is also felt by the reader, who may not know whether to put the book down or keep reading, but the Author asks everyone to keep an open mind.

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Buen Provecho

NYCUpAndOut.com

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Love Connextions

HAVE YOU SEEN HER?

R

By: Lilly Chris

ecently, I was in charge of makeup and hair for a photo shoot aboard a luxury yacht for the next issue of Connextions Magazine. I had some time in between shots, so what else is there to do in the middle of the ocean besides sun bathing? Look for girls of course!

or spammers to be able to create accounts, so they use the Facebook application to verify that (A) I am a female and that (B) I am not spam - so I was cool with that. I remember using other dating apps in college and had to deal with trolls, so this is a refreshing update!

We were shooting in the Hamptons, which is super busy with people from everywhere during the summer. I remember that on a recent pitch-itch (it’s what we call when we get together and talk about story ideas for future issues) we were talking about a dating app for lesbians called HER, so I decided to do some “research” and see if any women were around me. To my surprise, even in the middle of the ocean, there were plenty of girls near me, some around my age (early 20’s), some older than me, it was fun.

In between photo shoots, I was able to read women-related articles, learn about the hottest lesbian events happening near me and had some wonderful conversations with lots of different women. During my research, I found out that HER promises to be “the best way to meet Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer women” in my community and around the world - and based on the number of people I was chatting with (we had a 5 hours photo shoot - don’t judge me) I think they really deliver on this promise!

I started exploring HER and immediately fell in love with the fact that I was able to read stories related to my people. Sometimes I feel that the majority of LGBT media is male-dominated, but HER feels like they really took into consideration my needs. It was easy to setup, all I needed to do was to use my Facebook application to sign in - at first I was freaking out about this because I really didn’t want to mix the two apps. But during my investigation, I found out the makers of HER do not want men

To find out more about HER, simply download the free app, right now it’s only available on IOS system, although HER makers are promising to have an Android app soon. It’s currently available in the US and the UK. HER used to be called Dattched, which after customer feedback and suggestions received a makeover and HER was introduced to the world. There’s no denying that HER speaks to all women - even those who may be questioning. Sponsored by HER

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August 2015


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Photo by Xioger Sandoval

THE MAN WHO IS NOT AFRAID TO FIGHT BACK 50

Connextions Magazine

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August 2015


Not Afraid to Fight Back

DALTON DARES TO BE DIFFERENT BY: MANNY VELASQUEZ-PAREDES

D

Photo Courtesy of Mandy Stumbo

alton Maldonado was forced to come out during a basketball game of all places. While playing for his high school basketball team in Kentucky, Dalton was confronted by a player from the opposite team about his sexuality, and like many of us confronted with the fear of being outed, he took the comedic route and sarcastically asked the bully for his phone number in response to his offensive attack. This defense

mechanism, which has been tested countless of times by many LGBTQ teens and members of our community who are in the closet, proved to be a quick and easy way to get out of a sticky situation. However, as we read from his “coming out” article, which went viral, on OutSports.com, what followed was anything but quick and easy. Soon after the game ended, reality kicked in, and Dalton was left experiencing every emotion known only to those who have been “outed” or “discovered.” As he entered the locker room, he simply lost it and his Coach and teammates unaware of his situation, rallied around him. He had no choice, and the only way to explain his desperate tears was by shouting “I’m gay, I’m gay.” And there you have it; the words he had thought about saying so many times, were suddenly out of his mind and had been spoken. There was no waking up from this dream, but the nightmare was just beginning.


Photo by Xioger Sandoval


Childhood Interrupted

Not Afraid to Fight Back

Rewind to a few years before the locker room scene and the night that changed his life. Early in his teenage years, Dalton realized he was gay and after a few personal confrontations, he decided he would come out to his friends and family. He made a conscious decision to come out, and he was ok with his decision, until the age of 15 when he went away to a church camp.

form of pictures from the mob scene right outside of the basketball game. What a Difference Unity Makes

Ashamed of what had happened and fearful of the meaning behind it, he decided there was no way he could be gay “if being gay meant molesting teens.” This was his introduction to what being “gay” was supposed to be, so he knew there was no way he could ever do that. Dalton says, “I didn’t want to be like that guy.” This shameful experience forced him back in the closet and to self-harming to avoid reality.

The incident that changed Dalton’s life happened a few months ago and Dalton is still dealing with the reciprocation from that night. In his high school’s yearbook, the Seniors who are part of the basketball team, have their individuals pictures proudly displayed on the team’s page, however, Dalton’s picture was mysteriously missing from the page. According to Dalton, he has heard that many within the school’s hierarchy are trying to sweep this whole incident under the rug and perhaps the omission of his picture is just a clue as to the extents some people, institutions, and even schools will go to hide the facts. In fact, the Fayette County and Floyd County school districts have created a report denying the entire incident occurred as originally reported. They even claim that the entire locker room incident never happened. Even after marriage equality became legalized in the U.S., there are still several states and cities that have laws in the books that are meant to be harmful towards the LGBTQ community.

The Locker Room Scene

Becoming the Man Who Is Not Afraid To Fight

Fast forward to a couple of years after the camp incident, during his coming out scene at the boys locker room in his former Kentucky high school, Dalton found a great support system from his teammates and coach. They accepted him and comforted him. However, right after leaving the emotional scene in the locker room, Dalton and his teammates were confronted and threatened, their bus was followed, the cops had to intervene and even death threats were reported.

Present day New York, Connextions Magazine meets with Dalton to discuss his life story. His story plays like a Hollywood movie, and his movie star looks can easily make him the lead character. However, once we sit down to talk to him, we can see the pain in his eyes. As we dig deeper into what happened that night, we find a boy who was forced to become a man with two choices: accept the attacks and be a victim or take control of his life and fight back.

At the time, OutSports.com reported the incident, interviewed Dalton, his teammates and coach, and all collaborated and shared evidence in the

One of his life’s mantras is: “stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” And “stand for something” he did! The reason his story went viral is because

While at camp, Dalton was raped and molested by the priest in charge of the camp. At the tender age of 15 and away from home, a trusted and responsible adult - someone parishioners are meant to look up to and trust - took advantage of him and forced him back into the closet.

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Connect it touches our inner thoughts and fears. We asked him flat out: “why are you doing this?” His answer was simply, “this is not personal, I am gay and since coming out, I have been the happiest person. But I want others to know that not everyone is accepted. I want to help other teens realize that no matter what you go through in life, there is always a person on the inside and that person deserves to live happy without labels. That’s why I am still fighting, because I know what it’s like and I want to make sure no other teens have to go through the things I did.”

“Forget the haters somewhere has yo - Dalton Maldonad

Proving further that he is a fighter and definitely not afraid, Dalton informs us that he took to court the priest who raped him and is now serving time in jail. Since coming out, the universe has given Dalton “angels” in the form of people who have reached out to him to help and further increase his support system. He is getting ready to attend the University of Louisville, where he is the recipient of an LGBT Scholarship, which will hopefully help cover some of the costs involved with his education. He was part of this year’s Nike Be True events, where he was able to meet and connect with other out and proud athletes. His parents love him, although they may want a different sexual orientation for him, they still love him and he is hopeful someday they will fully embrace him. As far as basketball is concerned, he is no longer competing in the sport, but he says that basketball is the one thing that he could always turn to for complete acceptance, so who knows whether or not he’ll return to play. He is currently single and focusing on himself and his inner strength and looking for ways to help other teens. Dalton just signed a deal with a cosmetic brand in Los Angeles to release his own unisex athletic fragrance called Formula 3 and 15% of the proceeds will be donated to an LGBTQ sports organization and will be available for pre-sale at the end of August and can be purchased at Xyrena.com.

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Connextions Magazine

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August 2015


Not Afraid to Fight Back

because someone, our back.� do

Photo by Xioger Sandoval

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The Photographer’s Portrait

THE

HUMAN

ORGANIZATION TRANSGENDER

RIGHTS

CAMPAIGN

WORKING EQUALITY.

TO BY

IS

AMERICA’S

ACHIEVE INSPIRING

LESBIAN, AND

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AMERICANS,

HRC STRIVES TO END DISCRIMINATION AGAINST LGBT CITIZENS AND REALIZE A NATION THAT ACHIEVES FUNDAMENTAL FAIRNESS AND EQUALITY FOR ALL.

HRC SEEKS TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF LGBT AMERICANS BY ADVOCATING FOR EQUAL RIGHTS AND BENEFITS IN THE WORKPLACE, ENSURING FAMILIES ARE TREATED EQUALLY UNDER THE LAW, AND INCREASING PUBLIC SUPPORT AMONG ALL AMERICANS THROUGH INNOVATIVE ADVOCACY, EDUCATION AND OUTREACH PROGRAMS. HRC WORKS TO SECURE EQUAL RIGHTS FOR LGBT INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES AT THE FEDERAL AND STATE LEVELS BY LOBBYING ELECTED OFFICIALS, MOBILIZING GRASSROOTS SUPPORTERS, EDUCATING AMERICANS, INVESTING STRATEGICALLY TO ELECT FAIR-MINDED OFFICIALS AND PARTNERING WITH OTHER LGBT ORGANIZATIONS. www.connextionsmagazine.com

WWW.HRC.ORG

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