We Wish Our Thai Friends & Family a Very Happy Songkran Festival Celebration!
The Thai capital celebrates with the Bangkok Songkran Splendours Festival which takes place from April 13th to 15th. The official opening ceremony is held at Wat Pho, one of the most important Buddhist temples in Thailand that’s home to the spectacular gold-plated reclining Buddha. Many other celebrations are held on and around Khao San Road, which is one of the most popular streets in the world for backpackers. Events during the festival include water throwing, the ritual bathing of Buddha images, processions and performances. A tempting array of traditional foods are enjoyed throughout the celebrations.
Water is an important element of Songkran, especially in more recent times when the throwing of water has become a huge part of the annual celebrations. If you’re visiting Thailand during this period, prepare to get splashed! Crowds of people roam around throwing buckets of water, using water pistols and just generally soaking anyone in the vicinity. Appreciation of family is another important aspect of the festival, with many Thai people making their way to their hometowns to spend time with older relatives. Buddhists also visit temples throughout Songkran where water is poured on Buddha images and on the hands of Buddhist monks as a mark of respect.
Gay and lesbian citizens have been allowed to serve openly in Her Majesty's Armed Forces since 2000. The United Kingdom's policy is to allow homosexual men, lesbians and transgender personnel to serve openly, and discrimination on a sexual orientation basis is forbidden. It is also forbidden for someone to pressure LGBT people to come out. All personnel are subject to the same rules against sexual harassment, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The British Military immediately recognized civil partnerships and granted married gay couples exactly the same rights to allowances and housing as straight couples. The Ministry of Defence stated "We're pleased personnel registered in a same sex relationship now have equal rights to married couples." Since March 2014, UK military same-sex couples can get married (as well as UK civilians), under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013
Read more about 'Sexual orientation and the military of the United Kingdom'
This article is reposted from advocate.com by Adam Blum(https://www.advocate.com/love-and-sex/2019/9/06/gay-men-seem-so-busy-and-stressed-why-arent-straight-men)
There may be a reason so many queer men cannot sit still for long, says our advice columnist, Adam Blum.
I’ve noticed that all my gay male friends are very busy and generally stressed out. But my straight male friends seem more laid back. I admit that I tend to be over-scheduled and have a hard time slowing down. How can I learn to be as relaxed as my straight friends?
Busy in Boston
Dear Busy in Boston,
I’ve also noticed that in general, gay men are very busy. It takes a lot of time to: make it at work, stay fit with gym visits, respond quickly to social media and texts, stay on top of trends, eat right, be socially active and funny, have a beautiful and clean apartment, find and keep a relationship, be a dutiful son, give good parties, have a sex life.
The straight men I know, and the ones I work with in my therapy practice, often are more “chill.” They tend to be more comfortable with leisure time and doing less.
No one has spent money researching this so there’s no way to prove if my sample of clients of urban men in therapy or your friends are somehow different. But I can share what we often discover in therapy, underneath the exhausting busy-ness. We typically learn that it’s the result of being exposed to homophobia at an early age. In other words, it’s called growing up gay on planet Earth.
Being productive, admirable, popular, elite, or muscular is one way not to feel “one down,” “less than,” or a social outcast. Relaxing is a luxury that some gay or bi men can’t afford. Being yourself without any alteration could lead to being called a “fag.” That is the unconscious belief that sometimes runs the show. And when you are growing up there’s nothing worse than being called a fag. It’s social death. And occasionally, actual death.
Doing a lot, and doing things well, often felt good as a kid. It still feels good. But just “being” without “doing” is risky. You might lose ground and fall behind. You could get left out. You might not be valued. You could end up all alone. These are the central fears of the gay experience. These are the good reasons people stay in the closet until it is too painful to continue to do that.
The equation is: when you are busy improving and producing, you can be loved. And you can love yourself. Even if your sexual attractions are “disgusting.”
Learning to feel entitled enough to relax may require looking at some of these unconscious motivators. If you’ve come out then you already know the value of placing a higher value on your personal needs rather than just meeting the expectations of your family or culture. That was step one. This process of relaxing may be step two, three, or four.
If you want to slow down a bit and enjoy your free time more, you can experiment with telling yourself some of the following statements, all which are very likely to be true:
If I do 2 percent less at work no one will care or notice and I will still get promotions.
“__________” will love me even if I don’t answer their text until tomorrow.
People are too busy with their own insecurities to notice if my pants look funny today.
I am entitled to enjoy this experience of being a human on this planet.
How I feel about myself is what matters most.
I don’t think my friends, family, or boss would want me to suffer like this.
Fat feels good in bed.
Once you start to give yourself permission to slow down, new issues may arise. You might get bored. And you probably will get a little anxious. You’ll be facing the important scary question: Who am I if I am not producing? Do I have any value? And what do I want to do with my free time anyway?
The answers to these questions will eventually become clear as long as you keep asking them with a self-compassionate and curious tone. If you have been using busy-ness as a defense against feeling “less than” for years, then it may take months or years to learn to bring more ease into your life. Boredom is fear in disguise. Underneath the experience of being bored is a rich palette of emotions. It can take a little courage to slow down and figure out what you are really feeling.
Meditation and yoga can help us be more comfortable enjoying the moment. However it can be a trap to add “learn to meditate” to your already long to-do list. If it becomes just another project for achievement, then the purpose is defeated. Meditation can be challenging. Full disclosure: I once ran away from a week-long silent meditation retreat. I learned a lot, but I only could take two days of learning.
Spending some time alone and perhaps going for a walk is a good place to start. Without some alone time (and I mean quality time without the distraction of email, phones, TV, Facebook, or alcohol) it is hard to be a good friend to yourself. Distracted friends who don’t listen well do not make good friends. Do you check in with yourself the way you check in with a friend? Do you ever call you?
A famous study published in the journal Science discovered that people would rather receive electric shocks than be in a room by themselves with nothing to do; 67 percent of men and 25 percent of women chose to inflict themselves with with electric shocks rather than sit quietly alone in a room for 15 minutes. So don’t be surprised if you”fail” at doing less at first. This isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Not to get too depressing, but one of the top five regrets of people who are dying are “I wish I didn’t work so hard.” A palliative nurse named Bronnie Ware recorded the most common regrets of the dying and put her findings in the book, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.
Here they are:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, and not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This sounds like a good manifesto for living to me.
Adam D. Blum, MFT, is a licensed psychotherapist and the founder of the Gay Therapy Center, which specializes in relationship and self-esteem issues for LGBTQ people. The center offers services in its San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles offices, or by Skype and phone worldwide. Visit its website to subscribe to its e-newsletter and free e-class on building a better relationship with yourself. Follow the Center on Facebook and read its blog. Email Adam your questions for possible publication. (Questions may be edited.)
In our effort to amplify the voices and stories of movers and shakers who are making their mark in their industry and who are worthy to be recognized all year round, we’re showcasing the documentary by Rae Santisteban titled 'The First Rainbow Coalition'.
About the Film
In 1969, the Chicago Black Panther Party, notably led by the charismatic Fred Hampton, began to form alliances across lines of race and ethnicity with other community-based movements in the city, including the Latino group the Young Lords Organization and the working-class young southern whites of the Young Patriots. Finding common ground, these disparate groups banded together in one of the most segregated cities in postwar America to collectively confront issues such as police brutality and substandard housing, calling themselves the Rainbow Coalition. The First Rainbow Coalition tells the movement’s little-known story through rare archival footage and interviews with former coalition members in the present-day.
While the coalition eventually collapsed under duress from constant harassment by local and federal law enforcement, including the murder of Fred Hampton, it had a long-term impact, breaking down barriers between communities, and creating a model for future activists and diverse politicians across America.
Every February, we celebrate a special holiday. And no, I'm not talking about Valentine's Day. I'm referring to the 28 (or 29) days we dedicate to honoring Black History Month, our nation's way of showing respect and recognition for the hard work of and sacrifices made by African Americans.
"Black History Month shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history, or somehow just boiled down to a compilation of greatest hits from the March on Washington, or from some of our sports heroes," President Barack Obama said in a 2016 speech. "It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America. It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future. It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go."
Despite a tragic American history that saw Black people bought and sold into slavery, a continuing fight against everyday racism, and urgent issues like police brutality, we've remained strong. Black Americans confront a layered, painful past while making countless cultural contributions. We've been responsible for classic books, beauty brands (we're looking at you, Madam C.J. Walker), creative small businesses, films, and inventions we can't imagine life without—and we're still completing countless impressive firsts.
But out of all the calendar pages, why is Black History Month in February (a.k.a. the month of love)? And who started this tradition? Here's a primer.
It all started with a man named Carter G. Woodson
Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson is credited with creating Black History Month. According to Daryl Michael Scott, a history professor at Howard University, Woodson got the idea in 1915 after attending a celebration in Illinois for the 50th anniversary of the 13th Amendment, which under Abraham Lincoln's presidency, abolished slavery in 1863 in the Confederate states that seceded from the U.S.: Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. It wasn't until two years later on June 19, 1865 that all people held as property in the United States were officially free. (Which is why we celebrate Juneteenth).
The festivities honoring the proclamation lasted for three weeks, with various exhibits depicting events in African American culture. In 1915, after seeing this display, Woodson decided to form what is now named the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASALH), in order to encourage the study of the accomplishments made by Black Americans.
The Black history celebrations expanded to a week-long event
According to Scott, after Woodson wrote The Journal of Negro History in 1916, which chronicled the overlooked achievements of African Americans, he sought to amplify Black people's success and spread his findings to a wider audience. Through community outreach, he encouraged his fraternity Omega Psi Phi to promote his work. In 1924, the fraternity responded by creating "Negro Achievement Week."
February was selected to align with President Lincoln and Frederick Douglass's birthdays.
Two years later, despite Omega Psi Phi's efforts, Woodson still wanted to make a bigger impact. So in 1926, he and the ASALH officially declared the second week of February to be "Negro History Week," announcing the news through a press release, according to Scott.
"This was celebrated for years and was chosen because of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln on February 12th, and Frederick Douglass on February 14th," says Zebulon Miletsky, the co-chair of the marketing and PR committee for ASALH.
Both Lincoln and Douglass had long been celebrated by the Black community in the years before "Negro History Week" was created. Since his assassination, Lincoln's birthday was honored by both African Americans and Republicans alike, so the ASALH only solidified this tradition. And Douglass was already revered as a change-making abolitionist and orator whose legacy would now be cemented with festivities that honored the people he fought so hard for.
President Gerald Ford declared Black History Month official
In the 50 years that followed, according to History.com, clubs, schools, and communities across the country began taking part in the week-long celebration. Slowly, more and more U.S. cities (like New York and Chicago), declared official recognition of "Negro History Week." Particularly in the 1960s, during the civil rights movement, with wider public knowledge of the trials and triumphs of African Americans, a mere seven days turned into a month-long recognition.
"In the 1940s, efforts began slowly within the Black community to expand the study of Black history in the schools. In the South, Black teachers often taught Negro History as a supplement to United States history," Scott says. "During the civil rights movement in the South, the Freedom Schools incorporated Black history into the curriculum to advance social change. The Negro History movement was an intellectual insurgency that was part of every larger effort to transform race relations."
Consequentially, the ASALH expanded the recognition to Black History Month. To solidify this change, in 1976, President Ford declared February "Black History Month" in a commemorative speech. He urged citizens to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."
Today, Black History Month continues to be widely celebrated
The observations live on as we take the time to honor greats such as Martin Luther King Jr., James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, and our very own Oprah Winfrey. In the years following Ford's speech, congress passed a law in 1986 that deemed February "National Black (Afro-American) History Month.” Both presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton issued their own proclamations recognizing it as a national observance, and every POTUS has issued one annually since 1996.
But as time goes on, just like Woodson's idea of highlighting people of color went from a single organization to an entire month of recognition, many—like the O of O—feel that again, we need to think bigger when it comes to appreciating Black lives. In fact according to Scott, before his death in 1950, Woodson himself wished to see the acknowledgment of African Americans' past become a regular daily occurrence rather than be relegated to a single month.
"I have a wonderful phrase that Maya Angelou wrote in one of her poems," Oprah said in an Instagram post. "It said 'I come as one, but I stand as 10,000.' I'm doing that right now... I don't reserve it for one month. I believe that Black history is a part of every day, every life, every year, all the time."
This article is sourced from: oprahmag.com. This transformative remix work constitutes a fair-use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US copyright law. “The Reason Why Black History Month Is In February” by McKenzie Jean-Philippe is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 License – permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution.
LGBTQ+ Community Bias
Similar to implicit racial and gender biases, individuals may hold implicit biases against members of the LGBTQ+ community. This doesn't necessarily mean that these opinions are voiced outwardly or even consciously recognized by the beholder for that matter.
Rather, these biases are unconscious. A really simple example could be asking a female friend if she has a boyfriend, assuming her sexuality and that heterosexuality is the norm or default.
Instead, in this specific situation, you could just ask your friend if she is seeing someone. There are several other forms of implicit biases that fall into categories ranging from weight to ethnicity to ability that come into play in our everyday lives.
Unconscious racial stereotypes are a major example of implicit bias. In other words, having an automatic preference for one race over another without even being aware of this bias.
This bias can manifest in small interpersonal interactions and has broader implications in the legal system and many other important sectors of society.
Examples may include holding an implicit stereotype that associates Black individuals as violent, and as a result, you may cross the street at night when you see a Black man walking in your direction, without even realizing why you are crossing the street.
The action taken here is an example of a microaggression. A microaggression is a subtle, automatic, and often nonverbal, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group (Pierce, 1970). Here, crossing the street communicates an implicit prejudice, even though you might not even be aware.
Another example of an implicit racial bias is if a Latino student is complimented by a teacher for speaking perfect English, but he is actually a native English speaker. Here, the teacher assumed that simply because he is Latino that English would not be his first language.
Gender biases are another common form of implicit bias. Gender biases are the ways in which we judge men and women based on traditional feminine and masculine assigned traits.
For example, a greater assignment of fame to male than female names (Banaji & Greenwald, 1995) reveals a subconscious bias that holds men at a higher level than their female counterpart. Whether you voice the opinion that men are more famous than women is independent of this implicit gender bias.
Another common implicit gender bias regards women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). In the school setting, girls are more likely to be associated with language over math, whereas males are more likely to be associated with math over language (Steffens & Jelenec, 2011), revealing clear gender-related implicit biases that can ultimately go so far as to dictate future career paths.
Even if you outwardly say men and women are equally good at math, it is possible you subconsciously associate math more strongly with men without even being aware of this association.
Healthcare is another setting where implicit biases are very present. Racial and ethnic minorities and women are subject to less accurate diagnoses, curtailed treatment options, less pain management, and worse clinical outcomes (Chapman, Kaatz, & Carnes, 2013).
Additionally, Black children are often not treated as children at all, or not given the same compassion or level of care that is provided for White children (Johnson et al., 2017).
It becomes very evident that implicit biases infiltrate the most common sectors of society, making it all the more important to begin to question how we can work to remove these biases.
Both law enforcement and the legal system shed light on implicit biases. An example of implicit biases functioning in law enforcement is the shooter bias – the tendency among the police to shoot Black civilians more often than White civilians, even when they are unarmed (Mekawi, & Bresin, 2015).
This bias has been repeatedly tested in the laboratory setting, revealing an implicit bias against Black individuals. Blacks are also arrested at disproportionally high rates, given harsher sentences, and Black juveniles are tried as adults more often than their White peers.
Black boys are also seen as less childlike, less innocent, more culpable, more responsible for their actions, and as being more appropriate targets for police violence (Goff, 2014).
Together, these unconscious stereotypes, which are not rooted in truth, form an array of implicit biases that are extremely dangerous and utterly unjust.
Implicit biases are also visible in the workplace. One experiment that tracked the success of White and Black job applicants found that stereotypically White received 50% more callbacks than the stereotypically Black names, regardless of the industry or occupation (Bertrand & Mullainathan, 2004).
This reveals another form of implicit bias: the hiring bias – Anglicized‐named applicants receiving more favorable pre‐interview impressions than other ethnic‐named applicants (Watson, Appiah, & Thornton, 2011).
This article is sourced from: Simplypsychology.org. This transformative remix work constitutes a fair-use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US copyright law. “Implicit or Unconscious Bias” by Charlotte Ruhl is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 License – permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution.