Rainbow St, Amman

I just returned from a trip to Amman, Jordan. I’ve flown through the Queen Alia Airport a few times but this was the first trip in Jordan that I’d actually have some time to explore the country. Considering that Amman is the country’s biggest city, I made it my mission to find what (if any) gay nightlife that I could. And as luck would have it, I learned the city has at least one bar, which some have called a gay bar in Amman. Not too shabby!

On my second night in town, I made my way down to Rainbow Street (appropriately named, no?) to Books@Cafe. The bar wasn’t actually so gay on the outside, in fact you just enter through a bookstore (with lots of books & magazines in English). Upstairs, there’s a restaurant/balcony with a lot of shisha in the front, and a trendy bar in the back. On the day I visited, there were quite a few cute guys hanging out around the bar. It’s not technically a gay bar in Amman, but is largely considered a place where everyone can feel safe and comfortable.

Rainbow St, Amman

Books@Cafe isn’t just for gay locals and the gay expats in Amman, either. It’s just a great bar and restaurant with a friendly atmosphere. It’s not something you might expect to find in a Middle Eastern country, but if Amman is just one thing, it’s a surprising city.

Looking for more gay travel info on Amman? Try these:

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Hipsters travel better.

I’m the newest guest blogger for gaytravel.com! You can check out my bi-weekly column on their blog. Check out my introduction and my first post (HIPSTERS TRAVEL BETTER) on their site. Hopefully this is the start of more online (and eventually offline) endeavors…. I have so many ideas and plans for the future, but it’s always so hard to get the ball rolling. Maybe with a bit more exposure, something will finally come through. Here’s to the future!

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FourSquare has been a lifesaver before to find cool, local places to visit. But not for finding gay bars in small German towns :(

I was just traveling around Germany for a bit, and seeing as how Berlin has such a big gay scene (ie, Berghain), I guess I thought the other cities I’d be visiting would have some serious gay nightlife as well. Turns out, that wasn’t so much the case.

Admittedly, I was in some pretty small German towns and missed out on most major German cities. And in actuality, Germany’s most notorious scene for gay life is in Cologne which wasn’t on my itinerary for this trip. But maybe because I’d just been in Dallas, Texas (where there is actually some gay nightlife), I thought I surely must be able to find it in Germany easy enough.

Problem is: I didn’t do any research beforehand. So that meant I was totally reliant upon asking other people or what I could scrounge up on my iPhone. And in a truly hipster style, I did a terrible job! The only app I had that may have been helpful was FourSquare, and searching for “gay bars” within a 10km radius of my current location continually brought up nothing. Nada!

Looking back, it would’ve actually made more sense to just Google “gay bars in Lübeck” (for example). I was a little too reliant on modern technology (and my limited iPhone apps). And if I had just googled for what I was looking for, I would’ve found it. Life lesson learned.

Taylor Swift - "mean"

I’m hardly a country music fan and not much of a pop fan, either, but I recently saw a 60 minutes interview about Taylor Swift. Apparently all it takes for me to check out a musician is a 60 minutes interview.

Anyways, I saw this video from Taylor Swift for her song “Mean” and my interest peaked. It was nice to see a hint that it’s okay to be gay as a teenager. In the video, there’s a boy reading a fashion magazine in a lockeroom, obviously being “bullied” by some other dudes. It’s a pretty stereotypical, overt hint: well-dressed boy in a purple sweater reading a fashion magazine? – but the sentiment is nice.

Taylor Swift - "mean"

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Since it’s December, most people have charity on their minds. Below are some LGBT nonprofits or organizations that I think are providing a valuable and worthy service. If I can be so bold as to make one suggestion for your holiday charity, please do not donate to the Salvation Army. Read why you shouldn’t donate to the Salvation Army Bell Ringers here. Go ahead and click that link—it’s something not enough people are aware of.

Instead, consider one of these LGBT organizations: Continue reading

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Everyone enjoys ratting on the airlines (even celebrities), but it’s also good to point out when they do things right. And when it comes to gay rights and LGBT equality, many airlines are leading the way.

The Human Rights Council recently released their 2012 Corporate Equality Index, and as Examiner.com reports, the travel industry (at least in the United States) continues to lead in gay equality.

The top-ranking U.S. airlines for LGBT equality:

  • Alaska Air Group Inc. (Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air): 90
  • AMR Corp. (American Airlines): 100
  • Delta Air Lines: 90
  • JetBlue Airways Group: 90
  • Southwest Airlines Co.: 90
  • United Continental Holdings Inc.: 100
  • US Airways Group: 85
  • Virgin America: 90

Note that United Airlines received a 100 rating. Not sure whether to take that with a grain of salt, or if this little Thanksgiving incidence was just a fluke. Read: United Airlines Manager Faces Gay Slur Claim From San Diego Couple

About the Corporate Equality Index:

The annual index provides an in-depth analysis and rating of large U.S. employers and their policies and practices regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. It includes a list of the Best Places to Work. View past CEIs or more information on the HRC website: Corporate Equality Index 2012

View the 2012 CEI below:

On a personal note, I’ve always been a fan of airports & airlines. Probably stems from growing up so close to an airport. Literally and figuratively.
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This is so important.

Today, I want to talk about the work we have left to do to protect one group of people whose human rights are still denied in too many parts of the world today. In many ways, they are an invisible minority. They are arrested, beaten, terrorized, even executed. Many are treated with contempt and violence by their fellow citizens while authorities empowered to protect them look the other way or, too often, even join in the abuse. They are denied opportunities to work and learn, driven from their homes and countries, and forced to suppress or deny who they are to protect themselves from harm.

I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity, who have a right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time. I speak about this subject knowing that my own country’s record on human rights for gay people is far from perfect. Until 2003, it was still a crime in parts of our country. Many LGBT Americans have endured violence and harassment in their own lives, and for some, including many young people, bullying and exclusion are daily experiences. So we, like all nations, have more work to do to protect human rights at home.

I am so happy to see Hillary Clinton and my country take this position. I just wish the USA took this position at home, not just abroad. It’s time.

Toward the end of her speech, Secretary Clinton says the oft-repeated phrase: “Be on the right side of history.” I think President Obama and the administration are beginning to do this (yet Obama still doesn’t publicly say he supports marriage equality). Secretary Clinton also makes an effort to point out how much the Obama administration has done:

And finally, to LGBT men and women worldwide, let me say this: Wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, whether you are connected to a network of support or feel isolated and vulnerable, please know that you are not alone. People around the globe are working hard to support you and to bring an end to the injustices and dangers you face. That is certainly true for my country. And you have an ally in the United States of America and you have millions of friends among the American people.

I’m glad to see this taking shape on a global stage. Just need to remember that real change comes about from the bottom up.

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More details on Nigeria’s anti-gay bill

Nigeria’s anti-gay bill is still in the news. While the country has added even more discriminatory measures, some countries have started to speak up: “David Cameron recently threatened to cut British aid to countries that discriminate against gays and lesbians.” Read more here.

Also, the BBC featured a fascinating interview with an openly gay male from Nigeria. Watch it here.

March for equality in the Philippines

The Philippines held their annual pride parade for gays, lesbians and transgenders yesterday in Manila. From the photos I saw, my favorite poster slogan: “gay rights are human rights.” See photos and read more here.

Another young person stands up for equality

A young woman in Iowa asked Michelle Bachmann about gay rights: “What would you do to help protect [gay straight alliances] in high schools and support the LGBT community?” Bachmann, predictably, offered no help. Read more here.

Two Lesbians Raised A Baby And This Is What They Got

Zach Wahls, that dude from Iowa, made the news again today. See the video above if you haven’t already. Also still bullying his way into the news is Barney Frank. Chick-Fil-A has been on my mind and I read a great opinion piece that offers a different perspective than my own. And yet again, another African country makes the news for being anti-gay. Continue reading