The New Jersey Four: 10 Years Later


From left, Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Patreese Johnson, and Renata Hill

It was 10 years ago that the New Jersey Four’s night went from a fun evening out with friends to a fight for their lives.

Since then, they’ve sat through a grueling trial, served time in prison, appealed their sentences and are working to get back to normal life — but that night a decade ago is never far from their thoughts.

“People are still dying. My LGBT community is still at risk,” said Renata Hill, one of the New Jersey Four. “The world is still not accepting us … 10 years ago it was a group of 7 females who defended themselves and we were blessed to walk away from that situation alive. Ten years later, 49 people are gone and 50 are injured [in Orlando].”

In August 2006, a group of seven black, lesbian women planned a day in New York City to shop and bar hop. In their late teens to mid-20s, the New Jersey residents were excited about the fun to come. As they walked in the wee hours of the morning in front of a Greenwich Village movie theater, a man hawking DVDs called out to them.

Dwayne Buckle claims he told one of girls, Patreese Johnson, she was pretty and the group immediately attacked him. The women though tell a very different story.

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The Advocate: Vance Aloupis

A champion of children and education reform, Vance Aloupis left a career in law in 2010 to join the startup Children’s Movement of Florida. Six years later, the father of two girls has risen to lead the nonprofit as its new CEO. He talked with INDULGE about getting healthcare access for Florida kids and about getting his own kids to bed.

You’ve been with the foundation since its beginning. What led you there?

“It was really an aligning of interests — a passion for politics, public policy, and a real interest in education reform — that led me to the organization. We’ve been in existence now for six years, and we’ve built a solid base of almost 100,000 supporters across the state, and we’ve begun to make real progress.

Why are children’s causes important to you?

“My passion has always been education reform. When I was in law school, the vast majority of my time as teaching in a juvenile correction center in Miami-Dade. While I was doing my best to help these young men, so many of the issues that are dealing with were lack of investments far earlier in their life.”


Read the rest at Indulge magazine online.

The College Cash Conundrum

In May and June, thousands of students walked across stages all over the state, clothed in caps with dangling tassels, robes and the pride of accomplishment. After years of study, these college students were handed a piece of paper telling the world they had a degree – and for nearly half of them, debt. While 51 percent of Florida’s students graduate debt free, the others are handed a diploma at their commencement ceremony and, on average, a bill for $11,500, according to the Florida State Board of Governors.

For years, parents have sat around kitchen tables calculating how much of their paychecks needs to go into a savings account for their children to go to college. Luckily, they’re already in good hands by being in Florida.

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How to fix Florida’s unbearable, sewage-driven algae blooms before they get worse

MIAMI—When Nadia Smart and her husband moved from Okeechobee to Stuart, FL, last fall, they were looking forward to spending the summer kayaking and swimming.

A year later, they haven’t been able to do any of that.

“We bought our house here because we like the beaches, we like the waterways, and we can’t use them,” she said. “It’s just been a dead summer, it’s sad.”

For the Smarts and other residents on Florida’s Treasure Coast a few hours north of Miami, the summer has been marred by an infestation of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae.

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Strike a Pose at the W Fort Lauderdale


When people ask if I’m a yogi, I respond: Um, define yogi?

I enjoy the practice, I have a studio I like going to, but I’m in no way a yoga master destined for a retreat on a mountain top in Nepal to meditate for four days straight. However, poolside at the W Fort Lauderdale? I can handle that.

The hotel is hosting an outdoor class during the sunset on July 29 at 8 p.m. with Tara Stiles, who founded Strala Yoga studio in New York City and has also ventured into writing her own cookbook, fitness writing, and a clothing collaboration with Reebok. She will lead an hour-long class by the hotel’s WET Deck — other fun activities during the yoga event include mini treatments from Bliss Spa, music from DJ Jonny Eso, and food from her “Make Your Own Rules” cookbook.

Never done yoga before? No worries, when poses get too difficult, you can move into child’s pose or shavasana and it’ll still be considered a successful yoga practice. Yogis are flexible like that; no pun intended.

I’m especially eager to attend this event after the fun I had at the hotel’s “Once in a Blue Moon” yoga night, fit with glow-in-the-dark paint, music, kombucha, and snacks. Plus, with plans to meet up with friends for a night out afterwards, it’ll be like all the calories I’m going to consume never happened (that’s how it works, right?).



Where: W Fort Lauderdale, 401 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale

Time: Registration starts at 7 p.m. and Tara will hit the mat at 8 p.m.

Tickets: $20


Notes: Bring your own mat!

Where the Locals Go


Apothecary 330, hidden inside PizzaCraft

Year after year, South Floridians see their cities inundated with tourists who can’t drive and Spring Breakers eager to trash the beaches.

Well, now it’s time to for us to feel special, and a local company is doing just that with the the introduction of its summertime “locals only” card.

JEY Hospitality Group is the company behind popular downtown spots ROK:BRGR, Himmarshee Public House, TacoCraft, Pizza Craft, and Apothecary 330 (one of my favorite bars in Fort Lauderdale!). With the card, guests at these spots gets 20 percent off their entire bill through Sept. 30.

WHAT. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited to receive a press release in my life.

So how does one get this locals only card? Go to any of the above-mentioned locations (in Fort Lauderdale, only), ask for the manager, show off your driver’s license with your local address, and you get the card. I have some brunch and PokemonGO plans for this weekend, and I’ll be asking for my card then.

JEY Locals Only Card_Front

Soon you will be mine.


What it Means to be Intersex



interACT youth advocates marching in the 2015 NYC Pride parade

On the spectrum of sex and gender, one group is finding its voice.

One in 2,000 people are intersex — people whose bodies don’t fit the traditional definition of male and female — and they’re fighting for doctors to leave their healthy bodies alone and to be rid of a history of stigma.

“There are over 30 different intersex variations; there’s a lot of ways somebody can be intersex,” said Emily Quinn, the youth coordinator at interACT, an intersex advocacy group.

This can include extra sex chromosomes, underdeveloped genitalia, signs of two sets of genitalia, and more. At interACT, youth are taught that their bodies are not something to be ashamed of.

When Quinn was born, doctors had no reason to suspect that she was intersex because outwardly, she appeared to have a typical female body. However, when she was 10 years old, she had chromosome tests and an MRI done and her doctor discovered that she had undescended testes.

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This is where orphaned baby elephants go after their parents are killed by poachers

Photo by Christiana Lilly

Photo by Christiana Lilly

NAIROBI, Kenya—It was October, 2014 on the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya when a tourist saw a horrific sight on the plain.

A herd of elephants surrounded a downed female with a poisoned spear wound in her cheek, her face cut open, and her two tusks missing. The elephants mourned their family member—especially a tiny, 10-month old calf crying over her mother and resting her trunk on her belly.

When the team at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which abuts Nairobi National Park, found out about the newly orphaned baby, they knew they had to rescue the calf, as she would die of starvation without her mother’s milk. They went into action, flying into the park, separating the calf from the herd, and taking her back to their center.

There, she was welcomed by more than two dozen other orphaned baby elephants and the staff named her “Roi.”

“They could have seen their mother killed before their eyes,” Rob Brandford, executive director of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, said of the orphans. “They’re completely lost. They don’t know what’s happened, they don’t know where they are.”

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LGBT community grieves, pulls together in wake of Orlando slaughter



They called him Top Hat Eddie.

Eddie Sotomayor was witty, sarcastic, loyal to a fault, and he loved his top hat. On Saturday night, he posted a video to Facebook of a friend who had stolen his signature accessory while partying at the nightclub, Pulse.

“He said, ‘He’s trying to steal my top hat!’ And I just lay in bed and I laughed because he was so happy and he was so funny,” said Ryan Macauley, 27, who was scrolling through his Facebook feed before turning in for the night.

The next morning, Macauley’s phone woke him up when breaking news alerts went off — a mass shooting at Pulse. He jumped with shock and fell out of bed. He called Sotomayor a dozen times, but each call went to voicemail. No one else knew what had happened to him.

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