Jamaica – Still a Hotbed of Hate Against LGBT People

Jamaica — it’s an island paradise, splashed across television ads, billboards and brochures, promising a vacation that one will never forget.

However, many are trying to get away from the white sand beaches, rum, and reggae tunes: LGBT people.

In May, two men were shot and killed at a home they were staying at and rumors circulated that the two were gay. In 2015, a video was released of a young gay man tied up as a crowd stoned him to death, all the while yelling homophobic slurs. In 2015, a 16-year-old transgender girl was stabbed, shot, and run over by a car after she attended a party in a dress. She was buried in a suit and tie.

Because of these horror stories, many Jamaicans make their way to the U.S. in hopes of seeking asylum. When they arrive, many of them meet Grace Gomez, a Miami immigration attorney.

“Jamaica is definitely the worst in the western hemisphere,” she said about the country’s treatment of LGBT people.

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October Activism — Domestic Violence Awareness

It was almost seven years ago that I got an email from Laura Finley, a board member of South Florida-based No More Tears, pitching me a story about the nonprofit and its founder, Somy Ali. A former Bollywood actress, she founded the charity from the ground up and has been helping people in violent relationships leave their abusers. I decided to pursue the story on Ali, and after the interview, we probably ended up talking for another hour. We just hit it off and we’ve stayed friends ever since.

A few months ago, I brought up the idea to highlight No More Tears to my editor at Indulge magazine. I told him I didn’t even need to write the story, I just thought it was a worthy cause and something different to highlight for our October issue. He assigned me the story, which can be tough to write since survivors often have such heartbreaking stories that some glossies want to turn their head away from. But here it is, October, and the spread came out the same day that No More Tears’ inaugural Heart in Hand Awards was hosted in Miami.

Personally, I have not experienced domestic violence. I’m in a loving relationship with a man who respects me, and I grew up in a home with parents who were partners through good and bad. However, I have known women who were in relationships with men who abused them physically or emotionally. It’s frustrating, heartbreaking, and angering to see someone abuse a person they supposedly love.

Domestic violence is not something that can be undone by throwing money at the problem — it’s a tangled web of issues that is more complicated than my simple post. But, here are great ways to help in your community:

  • No More Tears is my charity of choice because of the one-on-one help the nonprofit gives to survivors, as well as the continuing support to help survivors get legal help, an education, medical workups, and the tools they need to support themselves. Monetary donations are always the most helpful, but volunteering your talents, time, and in-kind donations are always appreciated.
  • Women in Distress is a domestic violence center in Fort Lauderdale, providing survivors with shelter, counseling, and training for survivors. They host a number of events throughout the year, including its annual Safe Run/Walk in the spring.
  • The South Broward Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority is hosting a domestic violence community event on Oct. 15 at Broward College. The women will be continuing the conversation about domestic violence, as well as collecting donations for survivors such as baby supplies, cell phones, toiletries, purses, and other everyday items.
  • Every February, Barry University hosts a College Brides Walk. Men and women dress in wedding attire and walk 6 miles, as well as participant in workshops to discuss how to break the cycle of violence. The walk was inspired by the death of Gladys Ricart, who was shot to death on her wedding day by an ex-boyfriend — she was finishing up taking photographs in her gown before heading out to get married.
  • Perhaps the most important thing is to practice what you preach — speak up when you see violence, offer a helping hand to a friend you think might be hurting, and teach the children in your life how to respect others and themselves.


NEXT WEEK: October is also LGBT History Month!


My305Style: Candice Galek

The founder and CEO of Miami-based Bikini Luxe has taken the swimwear world by storm. Her fashion and lifestyle brand is a global leader in luxury swimsuits and accessories, and Galek’s social media prowess keeps Bikini Luxe on top of what’s trending.





THE JEWELRY “Tess + Tricia is great because they employ local women who are rebuilding their lives. Not only that, their pieces are stunning, and they look great with any outfit.” $75, Tess + Tricia labradorite mix antler necklace, tessandtricia.com.






THE GLOW “During Swim Week I got this in one of the gift bags. It’s a mixture of gardenia and coconut, and it has a golden shimmer to it. It makes your skin super smooth — I’ve been recommending it to all my friends. ” $42. Kopari coconut body glow, koparibeauty.com.







THE BIKINI “Kendall Jenner recently wore this olive bikini set while soaking up the sun on a yacht, and it’s been flying off the shelves ever since. Montce bikinis fit like a dream.” $61 (top) and $55 (bottom). Monte Euro Bikini, bikiniluxue.com.





Read the rest at Miami Indulge online.

LGBT History Month: The Johns Committee – State Sanctioned Homophobia


Art Copleston during his University of Florida days in 1958

For many people, their memories of their college years are filled with football games, parties, and cramming for exams. For others, it’s horrific flashbacks of being stalked on campus, hours of interrogation, and questioning if everyone they interacted with was an investigator.

For students and teachers at some of the top universities in the state, this is a part of their history, the harassment of the Johns Committee.

“While generally speaking we live in a society that’s accepting of people and their private lifestyles, the Johns Committee left us a legacy of intolerance,” said Jim Schnur, the special collections librarian at USF St. Petersburg. “It was just how abhorrent they were; how many lives they attempted to destroy.”

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The Advocate: Somy Ali

The one-time Bollywood actress and model stepped away from the bright lights to be a beacon of hope for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking.

This October, in addition to a sea of people wearing pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, some — like Somy Ali — will be donning purple. She’s doing so during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to make that affliction part of the national conversation.

Ali is the founder of No More Tears, a Miami- and Plantation-based nonprofit that has saved more than 2,600 children, women, and men from physical and sexual abuse since its inception in 2007. Her goal is to set them on paths toward independent, fulfilling lives.

“Give them a bed is not enough,” Ali said. “No More Tears’ model is we give them the tools. We’re going to teach you how to fish.”

Ali was born and raised in Pakistan. She moved with her mother and younger brother to the United States when she was 12, but the stubborn girl had a crush on a Bollywood actor. Determined to meet him, Ali moved to India. She became an actress and a model, and she was even engaged to the actor for a time.

Read the rest at MiamiIndulge online.

Is BDSM a Sexual Orientation?

Jillian Keenan (Photo by Marion Ettlinger)

Jillian Keenan (Photo by Marion Ettlinger)

Is BDSM a sexual orientation? Jillian Keenan thinks so.

Two years ago, the New York City freelance journalist wrote a piece for Slate arguing just that. The fetish and paraphilia community cheered, while others were confused or even angered that she would suggest such a thing.

“When I try to tell [my] friends that I was a fetishist by the time I was age 5, that my sexuality was so deeply rooted in my paraphilia, then they start to get uncomfortable, they say, ‘Wait, hold on,’” she said. “I think we need to talk about this because children do have emerging sexual identities, including non-normative sexual identities. I certainly did.”

Since the article, she has written more pieces on kink and BDSM, including the book “Sex and Shakespeare,” which delves into how the Bard helped her understand her sexuality.


What was your motivation to write the piece?

There is a lot of misunderstanding about kink and, in my case especially fetishism or paraphilias. I wrote that article for the same reason that I write a lot of the articles that I do about fetishism or paraphilia, which is to open up conversations that we’re not really having and to help people like me who struggle with the same questions about minority sexuality that I did throughout my life to feel less alone.

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October Activism – Breast Cancer Awareness

October is here (HOLY COW) and that means an onslaught of pumpkin-flavored yummies as well many opportunities for us to help out wonderful organizations in their advocacy work.

The first thing that comes to mind, I’m sure, is October is awash with pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Breast cancer is important to me, as it is to many people (too many, unfortunately), as my mother and my aunt were both diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully, they are both diligent in preventative care and were able to catch them early and are now cancer free. I did the BRCA testing (you can read more about that here) and it’s not hereditary, but it’s a reminder for me to be aware of my body and the importance of annual check ups.

berry-blossom-11-8There’s so many creative ways to help out. I met with eos, the beauty company known for their fun spherical lip balms, and found out they are donating their profits from their pink Berry Blossom body lotion in the month of October to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. As if I needed another reason to like the brand! 

Another beauty company, Ulta, is hosting a number of campaigns to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, including Cut-A-Thon at the Salon. For $10, get your hair cut and the proceeds go to the foundation! You can also get a pink hair extension to get people talking about the cause.

If you’re feeling extra generous, consider chopping off your locks to donate to make wigs for women and children who have lost their hair to cancer treatments. I did this back in March (ME, known for having long hair!) and the stylists at Ulta were so helpful! I chose to donate my hair to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign, and I also recommend Wigs for Kids.

Here are even more ways you can help:


  • During Spa Month in Palm Beach County, a number of spas are donating their proceeds to breast cancer groups, including The Breakers’ donating to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Eau Spa to Making Strides Palm beach, and SiSpa at Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island to Jupiter Medical Center Comprehensive Cancer Services.
  • Every year, the Fountainebleau Miami Beach celebrates its Bleau Goes Pink campaign with donations from their dinners, spa sessions, room reservations, and more to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
  • Restaurants throughout South Florida are creating specialty cocktails for guests to purchase, with a portion of proceeds going to different breast cancer-fighting organizations. These include Rocco’s Tacos, Steak 954, City Tap, the Continental, and more.

The simplest way to help with breast cancer research is to simply donate to your favorite charity, or even your local clinic. Before donating, be sure that you know where your money is going — Charities Navigator listed their highest-ranked charities.

And last of all talk about boobs (you too, guys!). Talk about mammograms, talk about self breast examinations, talk about your health. You never know whose life you could save!

NEXT WEEK: Did you know that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month? Let’s stop the silence and talk about how we can end it.

Non-profits Are Popping Up Left and Right to Help the Victims of Orlando

In the wee hours of June 12, a gunman entered Pulse nightclub in Orlando and opened fire, killing 49 people and injuring dozens of others. The world immediately went into action, sending prayers, condolences, social media shout outs, blood donations — and cash.

Equality Florida set up a GoFundMe account the very same day and so far has raised more than $7.5 million to support the victims of the shooting, as well as their families and survivors. Since then, the nonprofit has teamed up with other organizations to combine funds. With so many nonprofits (and some scams) and the city of Orlando helping, it can get confusing with where to donate.

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This ‘gas highway’ across the Southeast is angering everyone in its path


Photo courtesy of Jim Tatum

When Jeb and Bob Bell’s mother was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1985, she purchased 100 acres of land in Mitchell County, Georgia, to grow timber on. She wanted her sons taken care of if she didn’t make it, and for them to have something they could pass on to their own children.

She survived the cancer, but a new threat to the land has emerged. Today, private companies want to build a natural gas pipeline through the Bell’s land to run south into neighboring Florida.

“In 2014 we received a letter saying they were interested in coming down through here and putting in the pipeline,” said Jeb Bell, a resource manager at Georgia State Parks. “I sent them a letter telling them to stay off my land. I did not want them on my land. Who in their right mind would want a 36-inch pipeline three feet under the ground in proximity of their house?”

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Cool in the Heat

Think we can’t do cooler-months fashions in South Florida? Think again. We went to some of Fort Lauderdale’s most fashionable shops for tips and trends – and found northern style with Florida flair.

As the summer drips away into the fall, stylists, boutiques, and fashion houses are swapping out light, playful fabrics for layers, darker hues and warm knits.

Not in South Florida — right? A place where people can enjoy a day at the beach into the new year and locals celebrate a dip into the low 80s, the region seems to be in a perpetual summer, save for the three days a year a “cold front” comes through. A place where we have to settle for flipping through magazine and Instagram posts of clothes and accessories that just won’t work.

Not so fast, local fashion experts say.

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