They are your neighbors, successful local business owners, blue and white-collar workers, students, parents, and activists. Formed in 2012 and currently South Carolina’s only gay sports team, they are The Charleston Blockade Rugby Football Club. Charleston Blockade is a member of the International Gay Rugby Union (IGR) and as such, plays throughout the nation against other teams. The team is made up of both gay and bisexual men, as well as straight allies. Together they share a common goal: Ending the stigma of homosexuality in sports and engaging in meaningful civic action in our community.
Throughout the year you can see the club engage in various community outreach initiatives such as Lowcountry AIDS Services and the Ryan White Wellness Center. They also sponsor children for the annual Sue Kuhlen Camp for Kids Back to School BACKPACK Project, stuffing backpacks with all the necessities and needed to successfully begin the school year.
During the holidays, they participate in Giving Tree, an annual program through which children’s Christmas wish lists can be adopted. They also host their annual coat drive each year for TriCounty Family Ministries to organize their annual Christmas Bazaar and community lunch.
With all this manpower for the community, what keeps the club going? “These are but a few of the projects our team works on together. This does not include community service in which individual players engage in their own time. Rugby is a huge part of our lives, but creating and accepting and nurturing our community is just as important,” The club’s coach, Meg Smith, told BEAU.
Each year, the IGR hosts what is called Bingham Cup, The Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament, or “Bingham Cup” as it is more widely known. This encompasses the biennial world Championship games of gay and all-inclusive rugby.
The tournament was first held in 2002 in memory of 9/11 gay rugby hero Mark Bingham, one of the passengers who fought back against hijackers on board United flight 93. While Mark and all on the flight tragically lost their lives when the plane crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It is widely recognized that through the actions of those brave individuals on board, the plane did not continue on to its intended target. As a gay man and regular rugby player, Mark played for San Francisco Fog as well as helping to set up Gotham Knights in New York City.
Mark’s legacy lives on through rugby players, supporters and staff from around the world coming together every two years in a celebration of equality, inclusivity and sportsmanship. 49 teams from 17 countries participated in Bingham Cup 2016 in May. The tournament moves around the world every two years landing 2018 in early June. It will be hosted by the Amsterdam Lowlanders and anticipating 70+ teams to compete. The Bingham Cup is the ultimate gathering of family. Lasting bonds have been forged in past tournaments through travel, seeking out other ruggers, and even social medias, which have been also strengthened and solidified at this event.
For the next 8 months, The Charleston Blockade Rugby Football Club, are raising funds to offset the costs of sending a team of 23 players to Amsterdam. The goal can only be met through exposure, sponsorship and donations, all of which are tax deductible. The Blockade works tirelessly on and off the field representing Charleston’s LGBTA community and consider international representation the ultimate reward.
On July 26th America’s 45th president reached yet another low point as he blatantly turned his back on our transgender armed forces and LGBT Americans. “Please be advised that the US military will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Tweets Donald J Trump. This careless action denounced any present or future (current administration) presidential support for our transgender equality efforts and showed our America where he stood. Not to be redundant, but we (yet once again) were appalled.
Not that this guy ever makes sense, but WHY would this come out now? Out of all of his failing the people with the Paris Peace Treaty, endangered species acts, health care bills, pipelines and off shore drilling, why now does he decide to attack our LGBT community? BEAU needed some help trying to figure this out. So naturally, we turn to our LGBT Papa, Charlie Smith for help understanding… WTF?!?
“45 feels we are an easy target,” says Charlie with his famous ‘just try it you bastard’ grin. “But he’s going to find out that’s not the case. Strong coalitions have been built. The military has worked the transgender community into the process and they’re comfortable with it.” Charlie believes that Trump is acting in terms of what’s described in the book, Shock Doctrine as “disaster capitalism.” If you haven’t heard of this please check it out. You can read a synopsis here: http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine
Basically, Shock Doctrine reveals corporate tactics of taking over during or immediately following devastation in efforts to regroup and dominate. But what really happens in the end is corporate monopoly where the country becomes economically dependent on the success of the monopoly.
Charlie says that’s the tactic Trump has been using all along. His efforts are to destroy so that he can rebuild to create his corporate engineered regime where Trump businesses and affiliates benefit from profit without a care for the people or planet. Right now, Trump is hitting in different areas to create havoc between our communities while extracting the anti-equality/bigoted fanatics to help him by provoking peaceful protesting. “What’s a big group that he can distract and throw everyone off in another direction far away from something else important?” Says Charlie confirming Trump’s efforts to distract using our community as bait. “Disrupt and then steal. That’s what he does.”
Charlie laughs at Trumps futile attempt to band transgender people from our military. “He profits on what falls out. He’s not the first by any means. Disruption in general as a government policy is a tactic that has been used for a long time. But the LGBT community is very engaged,” says Charlie with pride, “we are because we have to be. He thinks we are the perfect targets to ‘wag the dog’ and distract from other internal attacks. His tactics will pull in the anti-LGBT fanatics that will scream and shout, helping him to separate the forces and then destroy until he can implement his corporate takeover and profit.”
After a while of talking to Charlie, I realized that we do have to take this as a sign of resistance and fight back. However, Trump and his anti-LGBT ban has picked a fight with the wrong community. We are made up of a strength not financed by “daddy’s money,” but forged from decades of fighting. We will crush any attempt to infringe on our LGBT rights and freedoms. Our allies are strong and our people fierce. But just out of curiosity I had to ask Charlie what he thinks would happen if Trump did follow through with a pushing a ban on our transgender community. His response was pretty exact as he effortlessly bounced back, “I think they (Trump administration) will be sidelined and assumed for what they are. If he does manage to succeed, we should all be on the front lawn of the white house.”
This last segment of BEAU’d OUT in Costa Rica, Nectandra, is dedicated to Alvaro Ugalde, one of the fathers of Costa Rica’s system of national parks and protected areas. He devoted 45 years of his life to conservation work in Costa Rica, including serving as the founding executive director of Nectandra Institute until his retirement, and president of Nectandra’s board of directors until passing away in February 2015, one day before his 69th birthday. His essence is felt throughout the cloud forest and beats within the hearts of the people in Nectandra.
LaFortuna was amazing. From the adolescent cow that I met in an open field and pet like a dog (I never knew they had so much personality), to the sloth I spent hours watching climb a tree, this place opened my heart chakra in a way that made me feel one with nature. I stayed with an artist named Mau that I booked through AirBnB. I always travel AirBnB because it brings a broader sense of community to my travel. Mau’s place caught my eye because of the name, House of Arte. The art and graffiti throughout the little casa was a mix of outspoken strides and sensitive interpretations created by my awesome host. There were abstract paintings of waterfalls, mushrooms, and of course, volcanoes.
The long journey of playing “lost-and-found,” and the inviting yoga mat strategically placed under the bookshelf beckoned me to center myself with a little impromptu yoga session. Of course, it could have also been the Arenal Volcano directly in front of Mau’s villa drawing me into a meditational moment. I can’t explain the profound energy and humbling gratefulness I felt standing in tadasana (mountain pose) while a smoking volcano became my drishti. I felt her presence. I wondered how old she was, how she was created, and why people settled under a smoking volcano. It seemed scary, but then again I live next to Folly Beach in hurricane territory, so I guess it’s relative.
I honestly don’t know how long I practiced but it was throughout the entire sunset and into the night. A full moon lit up the sky. You could see the shadow of the tremendous Arenal with little puffs of smoke dissipating in the moonlight. It was incredible. Every breath I took was full of abundance and gratefulness of life. Even though I felt bliss being present in those very moments, I couldn’t help but to slip into becoming excited to see the cloud forest the next day and meet the creators of Nectandra.
I left super early in the morning knowing that I had no idea where I was going, and that could lead me to exploring Nicaragua if I didn’t schedule enough time to pay attention. It would be great to put “Nectandra” into my GPS and ride carelessly; enjoying the winding scenery and beautiful wildlife… But if you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning (or if you’re familiar with travel in Costa Rica), you know that there’s no address to GPS or simple road signs to reference. Only ultra friendly locals letting you know you should have gone “this way” instead of “that way.” Which actually started to become strangely familiar and also brought a broader sense of community to my travel.
After my 6th stop to check the map, I realized that I might have (yet once again) gone too far. I pulled over to check the map and converse in my broken Spanglish to another awesome and most helpful couple that happened to have parked on the side of the road for some odd reason. It was almost like Costa Rica was so used to me getting lost, she decided to strategically place the nicest people (that could understand my dialect) in various places so that I can get around safely. That’s some “old school” GPS, AKA intuition and trust. And it actually started to feel good.
My new friends and I discovered that I was closer than I thought and Nectandra’s gates were only a few meters “that way.” It was very odd to me that all the local people that I spoke with were not aware of what Nectandra was or where it was. I was beginning to understand that this place was not one of mass introduction in search of tourism, but one of preservation. A sacred place.
Finally, as the bend began to straighten, I see two smiling faces standing in front of a wooden gate. They waved me down and I turned onto the path that led to Nectandra. Knowing the habits of their forest like the back of their hand, the cloud forest’s head facilitators, Arturo Jarquin Parera and Evelyne Lennette lead me to a small garage where I could park my bike. “It will rain in about 30 minutes, your stuff should stay dry here,” Evelyne said with a smile.
Evelyne has timeless eyes and a beautifully stoic presence. She exuded intelligence. Arturo is a fit man with the kindest eyes I’ve ever seen. His words were soft and seemed to come straight from his soul. Even though Evelyne is of Asian descent and Arturo a native Costa Rican, they both had a look and sense of peace about them that was very similar. It was like something in their DNA, but I couldn’t pick it out in any of their physical features. Both of them had radiant skin with no wrinkles and spoke with a presence made the world slow down. I felt immediately welcomed.
The scent of the floral and rich forest was as thick as the clouds that hung over us. With the dense humidity around us, it seemed like it should be more oppressive, but I actually felt very light. The lush fertility of the flora and fauna, the sounds of the watersheds mixed with musical tweets and birdcalls became symphonic. I was truly in a place of genuine magic. I understood this place to be spiritual. I stepped into an array of rare orchids while brilliant blue-violet butterflies bigger than my head danced in the bio-symphony.
Evelyne and Arturo both spoke mindfully, never stepping on each other’s words. They delicately fed me information of current science as well as the historical journey of how Nectandra came to be.
“You know how you know you’re in a cloud forest?” asked Evelyne as she pointed to this odd but familiar looking tree that resembled a skinny palm tree with a fern-like top. She pointed out that this species only grows in a cloud forest and the tall and skinny “trunk” is actually a root that grows straight up in the air. Arturo began to point out the tiniest, mystifying little orchids, noting that some were orchids within orchids. They looked like little, happy fairies waving to you from out of a flower. I could feel the presence of ultimate creation. My heart beat with the cloud forest’s symphony. I tasted its rich vitality in the humid air.
There are 700 species of orchids in the USA. There are over 2000 in Nectandra’s 111 hectors of cloud forest. However, they are becoming extinct one by one. Orchids are one of the most delicate flowers in the world. They require perfect pollination matches to reproduce. Out of millions of dust like seeds carried by the wind, only 2 may survive. This is why the cloud forest has such an abundant array of orchids. Its atmosphere retains a constant stability. This makes it the perfect place to study biology.
The differences between a cloud forest and a rain forest are variations and timing of climate and seasons. Only in a cloud forest do you have 80% of the year under clouds, 12 hours of light, 12 hours of dark, and the same temperature year round. The growth is so abundantly stable, that if you cut down a large tree in a cloud forest (please don’t), she will have no rings to show age. This is because there are no seasons. It would seem that even science shows this place to be magical and timeless. And maybe the forest would be forever magical and timeless if the rest of the earth was too.
Evelyne explained how climate change is causing larger predator birds, such as toucans, to move to higher ground and into the cloud forests to acclimate. In this higher ground species of tiny pollinators make their home. Unfortunately, these tiny pollinators become food for the larger predator birds. It is in this coordination where orchids and many other flora and fauna cease to procreate through lack of pollination, ultimately losing their spot in the genus pool.
As we walked up the winding path of beautiful flowers and vocal wildlife, they both explained how important our cloud forests are and why. At the top of the hill there was an observatory that looked out through the trees in the forest. When we entered the observatory, the spread of food they had prepared was wonderfully enticing. Hot flowers and yucca root creations with vegetables local to the immediate region were colorful and smelled delicious. We passed each intricately prepared dish around as they explained the purpose of Nectandra. The conversations were bittersweet. The conclusion was simple. Science is REAL.
Yes, our world is changing at such a rapid rate that biologists cannot keep up with the extinctions and new generations of plant life. Even biologists themselves are vanishing due to the lack of interest in that field of study. But there’s one highly regenerative orchid that thrives. Some humans possess this flower deep in our souls. We call her, hope.
It is this “hope” that lead Evelyne and Arturo to dedicate their lives to nurturing and protecting Nectandra. It is the same “hope” that can thrive within us encouraging us to preserve life. But the old ways of preserving are just not working. We need new ways to proliferate sustainability.
In Costa Rica, the government owns all natural water sources in Costa Rica, no matter who owns the land. That means what goes in and out of it is regulated and must be government approved. Now this may sound terrible to us North Americans, but just imagine a country where the government didn’t want to drill for oil in the oceans and run pipelines through the Indigenous People’s sacred land and water source. Imagine for a moment that water is sacred and valued. That water is the essence of life, and everything that washes into it could start a chain of reactions that could contaminate this essence.
Many years ago Evelyne and Arturo realized one of the most important assets of Nectandra are watersheds and their preservation. What’s a watershed? It’s the native irrigation of rainwater that trails from the tallest leaves of the highest trees, down to the smaller trees and into the streams. Without this natural irrigation, our water system becomes transformed, which leads to contamination, regulation with chemicals, and corruption.
So how do we help preserve, grow, and proliferate this natural order when farmers and builders keep chipping away at Nectandra’s edges? It would seem that “our way” would be to create a non-profit and solicit donations to try to make laws to protect the land. But this doesn’t teach people how to live in symbioses with Mother Nature. You can’t learn horticultural techniques and permaculture from donating your money. Evelyn devised a plan with the Nectandra community that focused on a solutions and the Nectandra Institute was formed. The philosophy is so simple, yet so brilliant.
Identify the defining question: How do we help surrounding neighbors to generate work and live life in perfect rhythm with the cloud forest?
The answer: Influence the neighbors of the cloud forest with extreme positive growth and fund it.
The diagram: Create an eco-interest loan and invite them in.
WHAT?!? That sounds WAY to simple and what the hell is an eco-interest loan? Well, hold on because this is the coolest part of the ride. In most preservation schemes it goes from the top and then down:
The government (top) regulates terribly or does not regulate at all causing the people to step in.
The middle to upper class creates the non-profits, interest groups and/or petitions and spends time and money fighting to make it right (usually donation based and most solution are “band aid fixes” to ongoing disastrous issues until the next elected official fixes it more or screws it up indefinitely).
People give money and feel they are helping to “end” this trouble while more corruption comes into play. More money is spent, more time is spent, and the whole time the problem retains or grows deeper.
Obviously this common way rarely works for many reasons. Evelyne’s philosophy was to grow from the ground up (makes perfect sense for a biologist to think that way). Invite people to buy the edges of the cloud forest. But instead of them going through high interest loans and low paying principals, privately loan them the money, charging interest that can be paid off by learning permaculture and applying it to the surrounding farm lands. For the last 12 years people have been paying their debt in the Nectandra Institute through building community based projects, fun eco-friendly community activities and contests, and classes that are 100% focused on applying and learning conservation and permaculture. And guess what… it’s freaking working!
These eco-interest loans are comprised of eco needs that are chipped away at with the forthcoming knowledge and applications learned in this program. Not only have the scientists seen new parts thriving again, the communities’ attitudes have changed to be ultra cohesive. Elders have discovered communal responsibilities they can teach and transfer to youth, activities have become conservation-themed and through art and entertainment the deliberate act of conservation thrives without effort. No money is given to transfer up to the government in efforts to ask them anything. It’s the people (the bottom), living symbiotically with nature, just doing their thing. Please check out Nectandra.org and see what this is all about. We could all learn a thing or 10 about what’s going on with our world and our species.
I rode back to San Jose with a heavy heart. Not one time did I even think to ask any LGBT questions in Nectandra. I was so absorbed in this place and its beauty that I forgot to be gay. This was probably for the best.
Sheets of cold rain pelted me as I bonded with all the dirt bikers weaving in and out of traffic to San Jose. When I finally got safe and dry, I sat in my condo 25 floors up deliberating. My throat was swollen from huffing everyone’s (even my own) leaking exhaust, and the sounds of traffic became a different symphony in my ears. I missed the birds and butterflies. I missed the sounds of the watersheds. I didn’t care for the sound that replaced it… destruction of Mother Nature. San Jose came and went. I tried to find the gay bars to report on, but even the cab driver urged me not to go into the parts of town that the “gay map” had said to go. Since “dónde esta el bar de lesbianas?” was probably not a good thing to ask in the San Jose ghetto at 10pm, I took his advice and brought my big gay quest to a close. However, I did get to meet Barbara and Jim, the nice Costa Rican implants that guided me to Nectandra! It was a good trip. Even though I didn’t indulge in the big LGBT scene the internet made San Jose look like it had, I did end this adventure with a good does of awesome family. Thank you Jim and Barb!
Deepak Chopra deduces that the one thing we all desire is true bliss. We are all given the tools to do so, but just like Costa Rica, there are not always clear road signs and a GPS to tell us how to get there. Sometimes you may feel lost. But “lost” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You have to trust your internal direction while constantly encouraging your positivity and instinctive courage to propel you forward. The difference in “pursuit of happiness” and “pura vida” is one apparent thing. The present. Sometimes realizing in one initial breath that you are life, and YOU are the difference, is gratifying enough to generate positive flow. However, allowing yourself also to realize that you are safe and YOU are your biggest fan, will bring that inner smile to your outward face, and THAT is Pura Vida. Live well my BEAUtiful fellow “OUT crowd.” Love is apparent throughout this world and we are the ones chosen that will spread its greatness. It’s just… evolution.
In most cases, drugs and alcohol are a way for a person to deal with problems in their lives. The fact is – many people within the LGBTQ have to deal with way more problems than the average person. They for one can experience higher levels of stress, social stigmas and discrimination. Therefore, this leads to much higher substance abuse rates compared to heterosexual people.
The Alarming Statistics of LGBTQ Substance Abuse
As much as 30 percent of the LGBTQ demographic abuse substances, compared to 9% in the heterosexual population.
As previously mentioned – substance abuse is a huge problem within the LGBTQ community and is much more common than in any other demographic. In fact, it is thought that around 20-30 percent of the LGBTQ demographic abuse substances, in comparison to about 9 percent that of the regular demographic.
Here are some more addiction statistics regarding the LGBTQ:
People within the LGBTQ are 200% more likely to use tobacco than heterosexual and non-transgender people.
25 percent of people identified as LGBTQ abuse alcohol, in comparison to about 5-10 percent of the regular demographic.
Men that have intercourse with men are over 3.5 times more likely to use marijuana
These same men are also 12.2 times more likely to use amphetamines than men who do not have intercourse with men.
They are also 9.5 times more likely to use heroin.
From the statistics shown, we can come to grasp that there is an obvious problem within the LGBTQ. From alcohol to drugs the issue is there, but what are we doing about it? If a person needs help for addiction, they usually go to rehab. However, for people within the LGBTQ, it can be a bit more difficult. Sometimes they’re denied treatment, and sometimes they might feel like an outcast and relapse. Fortunately, there are specific rehabs designed for LGBTQ people.
Why Are LGBTQ People More Likely To Become Addicted To Drugs And Alcohol?
Stress triggers that lead to addiction in LGBTQ people may include any or more of the following:
Fear of persecution which leads to living a stressful double life in order to conform
Isolation that arises from public ridicule and rejection
Emotional trauma caused by abuse by other people especially family members
Internalized homophobia, a deep self-loathing, feelings of shame and of being damaged
Religious intolerance and inability to join a particular faith
Social discrimination that prevents them equal access to healthcare and job opportunities
Frustration from an inability to pursue a love interest
Feelings of loneliness and lack of intimacy or someone to confide in
A fear of persecution leads to isolation, hiding who you are from all around you is a huge reason for someone to have a substance abuse problem.
Rejection from regular society is a big issue – not everyone is on their side, and discrimination can lead to a lack of chances with job opportunities. Taking the jump if the person on the other side of the table is for or against you can put much pressure on someone, leading again to substance abuse.
It is not always the public that contributes to substance abuse with someone within the LGBTQ community. Self-worth is also a big factor, always judging yourself, self-loathing and even shame of who you are can once again lead to abusing a substance.
Studies have been conducted in this area and their findings are:
LGBT youth is up to 300% more likely to succumb to drug addiction
A quarter of LGBT people abuse alcohol whereas the fraction is less than a tenth for the general populace
A larger percentage of LGBTQ people have experimented with harmful drugs: 63% have experimented with Ecstasy, 63% have experimented with marijuana, 48% have experimented with amyl nitrate and 45% smoke an average of more than 10 cigarettes daily.
Other Problems Caused By Drugs And Alcohol Addiction In The LGBTQ Community
Addiction is not only a problem in and of itself. It is also a cause or escalator of other psychological or health problems. The mental processes of people suffering from addiction are often clouded which leads them to make bad choices. It is also very probable that an addict will mostly interact with fellow addicts making it even more difficult to overcome the addiction as they are constantly surrounded by enablers. Their decision making is usually poor, especially while under the influence. Trying to cope with life’s issues by drug or alcohol use will likely cause even more life issues, and so the self-perpetuating vicious cycle goes on and on.
People who are addicts are often highly susceptible to:
Health risks such as liver cirrhosis or lung cancer
HIV contracted by sharing needles
Having a problem with an addiction usually leads to having even more problems. Depression is a big issue in the LGBTQ and can lead to an eating disorder. LGBT men are actually 3 times more likely to have an eating disorder. Not only that, an addiction to certain drugs could even lead to HIV when sharing needles or other drug use equipment.
Helping LGBTQ People Suffering From Addiction
Recognizing issues associated with addiction is quite important, for gay or transgender people getting help is a little different than a regular person suffering from addiction. For one, LGBT individuals can find help in specifically designed rehab centers just for them. There are treatment centers catered to the unique needs of lesbian women, bisexuals and even LGBTQ youth. Overall these individualized treatment options make a big difference in the ability for them to recover from an addiction.
Some issues treated at LGBTQ treatment centers are:
Managing discrimination from others
Dealing with depression, anxiety, and guilt that stem from sexual orientation or gender identity
Handling peer pressure
Guidelines for accepting their identity and coming out
The Advantage Of Specialized LGBTQ Rehab Centers
As more and more help centers spring up with more understanding of the specific needs of LGBTQ. Going to such rehabilitation centers will make the patient feel more at home and assist in the recovery process. Being around other people with the same struggles in itself is a great therapy which can tremendously help the patient’s feeling of self-worth and self-esteem. These people need to be cared for in a warm and welcoming environment where they do not feel the alienation that drove them into addiction in the first place. Rehabilitation in these types of places takes into account other disorders, whether they are innate or they have been developed over the years.
If you know any loved one, family or friend that is going through an addiction, please get in touch with us right away. We can help.
Many same sex couples in a loving relationship consider growing their family. The Fertility Center of Charleston helps couples in the LGBT communities across the Southeast make the dream of parenthood a reality. Our previous LGBT patients are a wonderful resource. We can provide names of families who are willing to discuss their fertility journey. Even though each person’s story is unique, there are some guidelines for what to expect that can help get you started.
First, schedule a new patient consultation. A new patient consultation includes time with the physician, Dr. Stephanie Singleton, and the staff. “Just coming to our office often gives patient’s a feel for the compassionate environment and team at the core of our fertility mission. We believe that truly listening is the best way to begin a successful fertility journey,” says Dr. Singleton. The new patient consultation includes a history and physical and an ultrasound. It allows time for the couple to meet with their nurse to discuss the proposed tests and to meet with the financial counselor to determine insurance coverage and costs of the proposed studies.
The initial fertility evaluations will include the following:
an evaluation of ovarian reserve (the ability to make eggs)
the evaluation of the uterus and its ability to allow for implantation and to carry a pregnancy
the determination of tubal patency (are the fallopian tubes open to allow the sperm and egg to come together for fertilization?)
the determination of access to sperm
These evaluations include a transvaginal ultrasound, blood work and a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) study. The HSG is an x-ray study to place contrast dye into the uterine cavity and tubes to determine if they are normal and could allow for pregnancy. “At The Fertility Center of Charleston, I conduct the hysterosalpingogram (HSG) evaluations in a caring and convenient setting to evaluate each patient for uterine anomalies/abnormalities and tubal patency for infertility. Together with the ultrasound and blood work, we get a good idea of fertility and can begin making decisions about next steps.”
It usually only takes approximately one month to get testing done and to schedule a follow up appointment with Dr. Singleton to discuss treatment options. Each treatment plan varies depending upon the individual situation. “There are really strong treatment options for LGBT couples seeking parenthood. Reproductive endocrinology as a specialty has opened for the same sex community and provides options that can make having children possible for many families. We are excited to be a part of that growth,” says Dr. Singleton.
To contact The Fertility Center of Charleston new patient coordinator, please call 843-881-7400. More information and online appointment requests are available at www.fertilitycharleston.com Offices are located conveniently in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia.
Dr. Stephanie Singleton is a proud member of Charleston’s LGBTA Community.
I was for the first time in 12 hours speaking English. It was so wonderful to not have to struggle through communications. Carlos is a stocky guy, good-looking and very energetic. I don’t think I ever saw him one time after I met him without a smile on his face. An authentic smile, not a painted one or a forced one. He is a truly happy man and it showed through the way he communicated with me and others. Always laughing, always smiling.
Without hesitation I greeted him back with a heartfelt smile. He was working behind a soda, which is a very, very, very small kitchen. Kind of like a food truck but inlaid in a building instead of a vehicle. The building was basically a shelter for more small shops such as a small bakery, local butchery, and vegetable stand. He directed me two holes over to grab a six-pack and then to come back and eat at his kitchen. That sounded like the best idea in the world. Heck YEA I want to drink beer, eat fresh authentic food, and speak English for a minute. My whole body relaxed as I cracked open the first Pilsen and slammed it.
I’m not sure what the sandwich was called that he made me. It was definitely a sandwich, but flat. Not panini flat, but more like it had been smushed by big hands, but it hadn’t. That’s just the way it looked. I usually eat pescatarian but I would have eaten a cows ass at that point. And I’m pretty sure I did.
All The ingredients in the kitchen were pulled from the surrounding shops that are made up of purely authentically local and sustainable ingredients. The meat was from the local farms where the cows roam the hills in the clouds and are treated with kindness and appreciation. The bread was baked in the bakery next door where the flour was made two stores down. Every ingredient was sourced within 5 mile of where I sat from farmers and artisans that had been cultivating their trade for generations. Needless to say, it was the best sandwich I ever had in my life. Every flavor was distinct yet mild. The blend was perfect with a hint of rosemary that grew wild all over this beautiful cloud city.
For the next several hours, Carlos and I talked and exchange life stories over several more beers. I felt like I had known him forever. He had been married before and moved to The States from Puerto Rico. There, he spent time with his wife for years until they peacefully divorced. He said he was rolling through town one day as a traveler just like I am now. He fell in love with Zarcero and never left. Funny how that can happen sometimes.
There was a small dog hanging out with us. Her fur was thick with her own oils but she exuded no foul smell. She seemed to have a smile and was very sweet in temperament. I couldn’t help but to take interest. She was so laid back with no skittishness. There were a few dogs wondering around the area. I asked Carlos if she had a home. He said “Of course she does, she’s the owner’s dog, her name is Luna. They [the dogs roaming around] all have homes. This is Pura Vida, for everyone. Dogs too.”
It suddenly made more sense to me. I saw Luna as being dirty and homeless, but she wasn’t. Only to an American that bathes her dog after taking her to the James Island dog park. Back home, I lead my dog to the pursuit. Here, dogs just live in the bliss. There aren’t really many boundaries when you live within bliss. Little Luna, and all the other ones in the town in the clouds were just plain… happy. Puppy Pura Vida. The people watched out for them. They were part of the towns family.
There were about 3 people leaning against a wall across the street in the dark. I took them to be homeless or “struggling” in some way. I asked Carlos why they were there and if they had homes? He smiled and said “Oh, they’re just waiting on a ride up the hill. It’s a very steep hill and people are lazy!” He smiles, “People come along and take them up the hills to their home. It’s just the way it is here.” I asked him, what if no one came? He laughed and said, “Someone always comes. That’s Pura Vida!” To me that created a translation of “no fear.” It was becoming more clear. People here don’t sweat the “what if’s” but more retain naturally the positive outlook naturally manifesting positive outcome. Interesting in theory but I’ve never seen it actually resonate within a community, much less a whole country.
Into the last hour and sixth beer, the inevitable happened. Carlos asked me if I was married or had a boyfriend. Of course I said no but because I was in another culture, I refrained from any further explanation. There was that awkward hesitation and eye shift that we all do when we’re confronted in a situation of “outing” ourself and not knowing if the other person would freak out. Then he asked if I had a girlfriend. Now I can refrain from elaborating, but it’s against everything in me to lie about my sexuality, no matter the consequences. So I took a deep breath and jumped out of the closet. “That’s wonderful,” he said with his a smile, “I’m bisexual.”
Holy shit! Did I just find an LGBT man to interview in the cloud town?!?! Total destiny. I told him about BEAU Magazine and ask him if I could interview him about LGBT life in rural Zarcero? He agreed and we made plans to meet the next morning for café con leche and more stories. He said he would take me on a walk through the countryside so I can see the layout of the land. Perfecto!
The roads in the city of Zarcero reminds me of San Francisco, but with only 1% of the merchants in a population of maybe 1500. My body was a complete A-frame shape (except for my booty sticking out so I don’t face plant) as I climbed the streets back to my room.
When I woke up the next day, I felt great. Maybe it was the fact that I was in a huge oxygen cloud at 1736 meters (5695 Ft) above sea level. I like to think it was because I was excited to talk to my new friend again before leaving this sacred city. I couldn’t wait to hear his story! Rural LGBT life in other countries fascinates me. Sometimes the violence breaks my soul apart. However, this town didn’t strike me as violent at all. It was actually more romantic and appealing to every sense.
The cafe and omelet were absolutely amazing and much needed. Carlos and I walked through the profound Catholic Church set like a castle in the middle of the square. He introduced me to Evangelista Blanco, the grounds keeper that had been sculpting the bushes into shapes of figures and animals for more than 50 years. I was honored to meet someone with so much pride in their simple yet intricate art. His integrity showed in his faded blue eyes and thick furrowed brows as he carefully cut one leaf at a time.
We made our way up the steep roads and the conversations began to flow. Carlos was very happy to share his experiences and talked to me about Costa Rican culture and a Latin word called “machismo.” Machismo is an outward expression of the male ego. It is accepted and expected with communications between men and tolerated by the women. However, machismo does not actively exist equally in the LGBT world. In North America, we refer to this as “keeping it on the down low.” He said that he wouldn’t go as far to say that “… gay lifestyle isn’t obsolete, it’s just not talked about,” he explains. “With men at least. But it’s not uncommon to see two women walking around holding hands. Gay/bisexual women are more tolerated and much less criticized then two men together. That’s part of the machismo.”
Most of his same sex experiences were with men that were traveling through or working in the trucking industry. His sexual partners were strong, manly men. He told me that because of machismo, you rarely, if ever, see flamboyantly gay men. He also told me that all of the male partners that he had been with in Zarcero had engaged him first. I can totally see that. Carlos is a very good looking man with vibrant confidence and a dynamic personality.
Carlos enjoys women immensely. He says, “My soul bonds best with a woman. But I appreciate passion. It’s beautiful.” We talked and walked until we found ourselves on the top of a mountain in the clouds.
It was hard to say goodbye to my new friend, but La Fortuna and the Nectandra Cloud Forrest were calling my name. I gave him a big hug, packed up my simi-wet clothes and strapped my bag to my bike. He looked sad as he expressed verbally his appreciation of our paths crossing. With a huge smile and heavy heart, I hugged my friend goodbye and rode “that way.”
In reflection of the magical moment of Zarcero, I will bring this prospective and recognition into light. Ugly teachers are keepers of liberating freedom. Let me explain. Lost, cold, immediate proposed danger, these are all parts of “the pursuit.” This may be called the “ugly side.” However, I’m realizing that woven within the paths of the universe is are ugly teachers that help enlighten and liberate through perfect balance.
Balance, also called “equality” is both light and dark, yin and yang, good and evil… just like our life-self. The one thing I refrained from in the first day of this journey was allowing myself to degrade myself when being lost. Yes, a few things I would do differently next time is dually noted for sure. But as I faced my ugly teachers, I found my inside dialog projected proposed elements of negativity or attacks on my self-worth. Upon this immediate recognition, I would smile dismissing the attacks. I made the commitment to gently bring my thoughts back to a space of peace, confidence and steady breath.
In this practice through my journey of lost, cold, and nervous I also allowed myself to acknowledge the happy cows in the clouds. I was alive and the view is beautiful! My efforts were to find warm and safe, but in this quest, I will appreciate my courage and agreed not to demonize my efforts. It was hard at first but then became a rhythm I happily committed to.
Through this practice, I found when I finally dropped into the space where I can relax and expand in positivity (like meeting Carlos and sharing beers and conversation #lawofattraction), that I was able to have deeper joy within the moments of laughter and relaxation. I was able to learn more while experiencing the smiles and laughter that gathered within my presence. I was more fluid within perpetuating happiness. In this, I have learned to welcome with an open heart these “ugly teachers.” Because finding the beauty in the dis-ease uncovers the path to true bliss. Pura Vida.
As I continued through illustrious hills, valleys and volcanoes, my mind settled into my heart as she beat steady and peacefully. I gave myself 6 hours of daylight to ride, even though La Fortuna was only 3 hours away. It’s a good thing I did as you won’t believe what happened next! (…to be continued…)
Almost 50 years ago, Celebrating LGBTQ Pride was not a normal thing. Now, it is one of the largest celebrated events of diversity in the nation. Cities around the nation take a day to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer Humans. This pass weekend, the garden city of Augusta, Georgia celebrated their pride, and BEAU Magazine was there to celebrate with them.
The pride weekend kicked off with the President Soiree, an event that gathered all the sponsors, special guest, and partners who help make Augusta Pride possible and thanked them over hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. This VIP Event was only the beginning.
On Friday we were invited to “Augusta’s largest dance party” and were told to wear orange. Arriving at the Augusta common’s, in the downtown area, BEAU was greeted by friendly staff members that made us feel like home. As the sun went down, the glow sticks came out and the lights on when suddenly, Bebe Redxa came onto the stage. You might remember Bebe from popular songs such as “I Got you” and “Me, myself, and I” Bebe KILLED the stage and left everyone with a message, “Be you, and be proud of who you are!” This left everyone wanting more Pride! But it wasn’t until the next day that Augusta Pride was what everyone was waiting for.
On Saturday, BEAU met up with our Augusta Interns, Jason and Mckenna, two residents of Augusta, and asked them to tell us about Pride. Mckenna, a student at Augusta University told us her experience of Augusta Pride.
“The city of Augusta was full of love this weekend as the 8th annual Pride festival kicked into high gear. Every year is different, this pride was something different this year. There were no protesters and there was a feeling of safety that had not been there before. The parade started with an array of beautiful colors and people shouting out ‘Happy Pride! We love you!’ It was more accepting than it had been the past few years. Couples were holding hands and smiling. You could feel the love radiating off every person gathered around watching the parade. Augusta felt peaceful. There were smiling faces, and rainbow flags drifting through the hot summer breeze. The festivities began not long after, and my roommate and I found ourselves getting slushies at 11 am and singing the National Anthem. We listened to music and danced around with complete strangers while the sun beat down on us. I excused myself and went in search of the lady’s room, and that’s where I ran into the most adorable couple. I told them I was working on an article for a magazine and asked them a few questions, but the one that stuck out in my mind was when I asked ‘What made this Pride better than the previous years?’ The girl I asked looked at her girlfriend with so much love and simply answered ‘her.’ They shared a kiss and I had to compose myself because the cuteness factor was just too much. I wandered back out onto the street where there was vendors and LGBTQ information tables. I kept thinking to myself that there was so much love in this one small area of this little town I call home and it warmed my heart. Later in the afternoon I was introduced to Venus Delight, and just like her name suggests she was an absolute delight. She was so gracious and allowed me to take a few silly selfies with her and photograph her getting ready to perform. Venus did her Madonna impersonation and was killing it in a fabulous hand painted jacket that just screamed 80s. I seriously had outfit envy. She also called her mom and had the entire crowd sing her Happy Birthday. I was smiling from ear to ear and so happy to be a part of that. There is something so wonderful about knowing someone’s parent is supportive and encouraging them to pursue their dreams and achieve greatness no matter their sexuality. The King and Queen of Augusta Pride preformed in all their grandeur. There was a blur of perfectly contoured faces and old school rock n roll. Miss Koko Dove took the stage with one of the most impressive outfits I have ever seen. She was gorgeous and extremely charming. That girl could work! Up next we had our dashingly handsome Ameilio Vaughn Monroe who took on the full embodiment of Twisted Sister and the 80s with its hair metal glory. The sun started to hide behind ominous clouds, and the sky opened up and cried all over us a few moments later. People kept dancing and singing loudly, but unfortunately the festivities started to halt as people ran through the rain to their cars. I wish Pride hadn’t been cut short but as we ran to the cars with our possessions tucked under our shirts there was still an atmosphere of love and acceptance. Hopefully it carries through this town for the weeks to follow. “
Pride is different is every city, but it all serves one purpose: for the LGBTQ community to celebrate our culture and diversity.
Raised in the Hispanic Culture in the South and currently living the Holy City of Charleston, South Carolina has inspired as well as his passion for culture, fashion, and the social life Jonatan Guerrero Ramirez’s work. A graduate of The Art Institute of Charleston, Jonatan has a background in Fashion Design with a concentration in Marketing. His wide background ranges from styling, to marketing, event planning, and fashion design.
Jonatan’s work has been featured in Teen Vogue Magazine after receiving recognitions such as ‘Best in Theatrical Caption in Fashion Styling” from the Georgia literacy Association in 2013. Since then his work has been seen in Charleston Fashion Week, Lowcounty Live, Southern Living Magazine and Bravo. While working with the city of Charleston during special projects, such as Spoleto USA, Jonatan is a strong advocate of animal rights, LGBTQI equality, and education. Recently, he was named one of the youngest Hispanic activist in the lowcountry. His passion for children and to help others is his driving force to “Keep moving forward”.
The natives of Costa Rica derived a national phrase that depicts how they feel about their life within their country. In the USA, we say “home of the free,” and “let freedom ring.” In Costa Rica, their anthem is Pura Vida. Pura Vida, translates to “pure life.” Beyond verbal translation this phrase depicts a way of life evoking a carefree, laid back and optimistic spirit. Much like what Charlestonians have been internationally depicted for, with carefree spirits and kind smiles. The people of Costa Rica are easy going, apt to help tourists as well as their locals with smiles and kind words. They’re funny and will definitely take a good opportunity to playfully pick on you, in good humor of course.
The idea of a whole country that loves their life, peacefully tolerates their government, respects and honors their land, and constantly supports and emanates positivity seems like the fairy tail we all dream about. Thomas Jefferson declared that every American was entitled to “life, liberty, and the ‘pursuit’ of happiness.” In the U.S.A., we have followed this declaration for centuries actively pursuing this quest for happiness. In Costa Rica, the focus isn’t on “pursing,” as it’s more about the recognition of this bliss within this “Pura Vida.” Inquisitive and intent on analyzing this theory, I had to go check it out!”
Before this awesome journey, I met a young man in Charleston that’s family live in San Jose, Costa Rica. In our discussions we talked about freedom of life, freedom of love, and of course, BEAU Magazine. He was intent on me speaking with his father, who used to be an eco tour guide for decades in Costa Rica. I was introduced to his parents Jim and Barbara, in which I will forever be grateful.
When I spoke with them about BEAU Magazine and my quest to discover “Pura Vida,” they led me to Nectandra Cloud Forrest to interview Arturo Jarquin Perera, the co-founder of the Cloud Forrest and also an adorn member of Costa Rica’s LGBT community. After reading up on Nectandra, Arturo and his quest (as well as Nectandra Cloud Forrest being one of the most spiritually moving and biologically brilliant places on earth), I couldn’t wait to hear his story and see this magical place.
The initial plan was to land in San Jose (capital of Costa Rica), go to La Fortuna to hang out with the rural life, as well as witness the glory of the majestic volcano, Arenal. Then, spend some time in the Nectandra Cloud Forests with Arturo, back to San Jose to investigate LGBT nightlife in San Jose, and finally to Playa Grande to hang out with my Ocean Lotus sisters of James Island for a little surf, yoga and more adventure. Plans were made, and just like life has that impeccable tendency to relieve us of perceived “control” of our journey… the wrenches thrown into my journey were plentiful. Except when I needed one.
I succeed in the initial plan of landing in San Jose. The taxi to my vehicle rental was seamless. Wheels rented and on my way to La Fortuna! According to the rennet guy’s directions it was easy. A couple of major roads and I was there, and all while taking in some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. That was the thought at least…
In Costa Rica, there are no road signs to Pura Vida. There are actually no road signs at all. Not the ones we as North Americans know them to be. There are only two directions in Costa Rica, “this way” and “that way.” “Go this way and when you see the Caribbean restaurant, go that way,” says the 18th person I asked (responding in Spanish and barley understanding my broken Spanglish).
Actually, there are road signs once in a while. They’re painted planks of wood nailed to a stick. Not a pole, but a stick. Along with this new experience of authentic directions, there are also no addresses here. Ergo, no Siri telling me exactly how to get to my destination so I can indulge in allowing my “A.D.D.” to entertain me. Nope! In Pura Vida Costa Rica, you have to pay attention. Which is something becoming obsolete in The States. I learned quickly that in this country you need to know your meters, and have amazing intuition of “this way” and “that way,” especially if you want to get to a specific place… on time at least. Sometimes simple can be very confusing when you don’t realize how complex you make it.
Amidst calculating my foreign instructions I seemed to have gotten caught up in the celestial settings of the twisting brilliant mountainside and missed the ply board stapled to a tree branch that clearly stated, “THIS WAY!” Instead of La Fortuna, I wound up in Puntarenas.
For those of you that are not familiar with Costa Rican geography (like me), that’s about 3 hours from that turn that I should have made to get to La Fortuna (which was another 2/3 hours up and over. Two things I may not have mentioned yet; one, it’s the rainy season in Costa Rica, so the pelts of tropical rain were plentiful and cold. And the second thing, I decided to rent a Honda XR250 motorcycle for this trip instead of a car. Pura Vida!
After turning around for the 10th time and yet another stint of tropical rains pelting my face, I decided to forgo my first night in La Fortuna and find the nearest hotel. Even though I was getting nervous and a little frustrated, I couldn’t help but notice the fear constantly fading to hope and reassurance as the mountain roads twisted and turned into the clouds. I passed through layers of flat and viscous clouds and into the most luscious and vibrant variations of green I have ever seen. I felt safe, bit still found myself clinging to my nervousness for some reason. Acknowledging this, I focused on 3 words; warm, dry and safe.
Rounding a sharp hillside, I noticed some sort of shop. It may have been a small restaurant or “Soda,” but the doors were half opened. I pulled up and ducked under the sliding door to take my chances on some more directions. Inside it looked more like a garage than a restaurant but at some point in the day, they clearly serve food.
I wish I could remember the name of the man that helped me. He looked like Juan Valdez (but less Columbian and more Tico). My phone was dead, the sun was about to go down, and my gas was low. As as strong as I tried to be on the outside, he could tell I was struggling on the inside. I tried to speak his language and ask where there was a hotel but even though the word “hotel” translated in Spanish is still hotel, he was having trouble weaving through my Peggy Hill’esk terrible accent. Finally he smiled at me and put his hand on my shoulder. “Tranquillo” he said under his thick mustache, “Zarcero esta cinco minitos” and pointed his finger… “that way.”
Even though I was halfway expecting to sleep with the happy cows in the rolling hills that night, just as the nice Tico man said, 5 minutes later I reached the town in the clouds known as Zarcero.
In my efforts to find a hotel, I quickly became the obvious tourist. I’m pretty sure that between my exaggerated hand gesturing charades and terrible Spanish, I may have accidentally asked a few men and women to sleep with me. I didn’t mean to of course, but only knowing the phrase para me (for me) and sueño (dream), it became quite the comedy show with the locals. I’m pretty sure they knew I wasn’t truly soliciting my body, however at that point in time (soaking wet, totally empty stomach and shaking from the humid cold) I would have done pretty much anything for a hot shower and a taco. Just saying.
It was a police officer that finally broke the code of my dialect and directed me up the hill and “that way.” 24 dollars later, Max at Hotel Zarcero showed me into my room and I was saved. No hot water, but safe from experiencing the karma of my cow tipping days in Alabama.
I decided to get drunk. After drying off and putting on the only dry shirt and shorts I had (cut off jeans and a sun shirt and NO I did not fit in), I walked to find some food and booze.
“Hola! Hi! Are you from America?” A voice rang out from one of the food shops. I was so happy to hear my native language that I never wondered how he could tell I was American. I’m sure with my appearance and choice of wardrobe it was pretty obvious I was NOT from around these parts. I greeted the man that came out of the small shop with a smile. It was there that I met Carlos of Zarcero, an LGBT Puerto Rican Pisces that begins this story… (To Be Continued…)
“When you were a child, you were probably told to ‘man up’ or ‘you need to be more lady like’…but what if you don’t fit into any of those categories?” asks Dr. Alex Karydi, program director of the South Carolina Youth and Suicide prevention as she addressed an audience at the Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Health. Dr. Karydi held a seminar on “How to support the LGBTQI youth” to help educate some local counselors, leaders, and social workers on one of the biggest issues in youths today.
Along with interesting and helpful reasoning behind certain behaviors of our LGBTQI you, staggering statistics supported the importance of addressing these issues. Many people at this conference were surprised that over 8% of the youth don’t feel as if they belong in the categories society expects us to be in. Which leads to a point that even the adults in the room felt special about.
“Think about it, you are the only one in the world who talks like you, you’re the only one with the same body type, height, weight, skin color, hair color of you, you’re the only one in the world who smiles and even laughs like you, then you are special! You are special! You are one of a kind! You are Badass for being special! Why should we tell our LGBTQI youths that they are not special?” say Dr. Karydi with enthusiastic positivity.
Our bodies are powered by our brains and it is a proven fact that our sexuality and our attraction to other humans comes from the chemicals in our brain. Therefore, how can you judge someone for liking someone of the same sex if that is what their brain is telling them? (Crazy! I know!)
Sadly, many political and medical leaders, as well as many residents of South Carolina do not see this biological scientific fact. This ignorance leads to the decimation of LGBT youths which create stressors. All this on top of school and trying to be a normal teenager too. This causes an increase of behavior and mental health issues. Not to mention, South Carolina is one of the 5 states in the United States that does NOT have hate crimes!! Surprised?
According to the Human Rights study, around 2.25 to 27 million students consider themselves as LGBT students. Keep in ind that in our LGBT demographic we have a higher rate of homeless, suicidal ideations, anxiety, depression, and are more likely to fall into the hands of smoking, alcohol, and substance abuse. Why? Because the impact and lack of support around them maybe?
Family rejections play a major factor in a LGBT youth’s life because a family is the youth’s main human contact. Kids look to their families as a nest for love, trust, and support. But then a family rejections the youth and this negative impact cases a youth to go into social isolation or self-cutting stage, or simply running away from the situation.
In America, there are around 1.6 million youth experiencing homeless with 40% that identify as LGBT. These youths run the risk of becoming a sex trafficking victim. Out of these 40%, 20% make it into the juvenile justice system with 85% of these youths being people of color. To make the situations worst, 6 LGBTQ youths die on the street everyday. 1 out of 2 of these are transgender.
The numbers and situations are scary and real. So what can you do to help?
Listen to your Child/ Youth (If it is important to them, it is important to you!)
Reassure your child/youth that it’s okay to be different.
Help your child/ youth connect with an age appreciate community by reaching out to We Are Family of Charleston who offers support for kids and parents.
Prepare your child/youth to deal with harassment (It’s going to happen at some point in their lives)
Advocate your child/youth. Give them confidence in themselves.
Get active in helping to work for social change! Remember, this is YOUR community, YOU pay taxes, so help take some action!
Think back to when you were a teenager. Remember how you felt, like no one understood you? As adults, it is our job to educate ourselves to learn about others differences and help prevent a tragedy. Most important, as an adult it is our job to provide support for our youth, the leaders of our future.