random thoughts & reviews
2015 was a historic year for the LGBTQ Community in the US and around the world. Here is a sample of some of the places that moved forward with equal rights:
Luxembourg - 1 January
Pitcairn Islands - 14 May
Guam - 9 June
Chihuahua - 12 June
United States - 26 June
Ireland - 16 November
Nayarit - 30 December
And many more members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual community continue to struggle around the world. Members of the Transgender community saw an increase in visibility and acknowledgment via celebrities who came out either as members of the Trans community, as allies and also due to some very awful murders or suicides, but hopefully the lives lost were not in vain.
2015 was also a celebratory year for us at Connextions Magazine, the LGBTQ Travel and Lifestyle Magazine. First of all, we celebrated our 5th year anniversary of being members of the gay media and gay publishing. We started the celebration by changing our logo, website and brand look, which was immediately well received by our readers. Our first issue of 2015, LOVE AROUND THE WORLD, highlighted an exclusive interview with Photographer Braden Summers discussing his project All Love Is Equal that features same-sex couples around the world, a gay men only hotel in Brazil, a New York City Scavenger Hunt, which becomes a Wedding Proposal, Two Lesbians on a Mexican Honeymoon, and more! We also created our first ever LGBTQ Parents editions with The Parent-HOOD!, which offers resources for parents, fun travel ideas and suggestions specifically geared to the LGBTQ community’s needs.
2015 also saw the birth of Connextions Magazine en Español with our first issue appropriately titled: ORGULLO, which means PRIDE. We also sponsored some great events worldwide, such as: The 40 Years of Pride in Israel, The HRC Gala in New York City, The Handsome Father organization, Amsterdam’s Gay Pride Parade Pridestream, The Torino Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in Italy, The New York Travel Festival, the LGBT Expo and so much more! 2015 was also the year that Connextions Magazine won 2 media awards. In both cases, we were the only gay travel magazine to have won these awards and we were thrilled to end the year with a big bang!
Our only hope for 2016 is to continue to please you, our 375,000 readers all around the world! We are currently being read in 135 countries, in places we would have never imagined and we continue to dominate social media with over 20,000 followers worldwide. All we can say is THANK YOU!!!!
On November 13, 2015, the Fourth Annual DANDI Awards heralded individuals and organizations for demonstrating outstanding commitment to creating a more diverse and inclusive world. This year’s ceremony honored Diversity and Inclusion in diverse fields, such as Consumer Goods, Fashion/Retail, Environmental/Sustainability, Communications, Non-profit Sector and Social Responsibility among others. This special night is set aside to recognize and celebrate the contribution of any individual, group or organization that is truly making a difference towards creating a more diverse and inclusive world.
Connextions Magazine, the Travel and Lifestyle Magazine for LGBTQ Travelers was honored with the DANDI for Media and Communications. Connextions Magazine was the only gay media to be nominated this year and was in a really tough category with television network: Univision and multi-platform publisher: US News World Report. Past winners have included: Showtime Networks, MSNBC network, and Bloomberg Media.
2015 DANDI Awards winners
Please see below the listing of the winners. All of the nominees and honorees have been contacted and made aware of their status.
Connextions Magazine was also chosen as The 2015 Best of Calverton Award in the Magazine Publishers category by the Calverton Award Program.
Each year, the Calverton Award Program identifies companies that have achieved exceptional marketing success in their community and business category. The companies honored enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and the community, and make their communities a great place to live, work and play. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.
The 2015 Calverton Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Calverton Award Program and data provided by third parties. The mission of the Calverton Award Program is to recognize the small business community's contributions to the U.S. economy.
A Longtime Icon in the LGBT Community, Packard Has Worked With Everyone from Timbaland and P!nk to Ricky Martin and Whitney Houston
Move over Justin Timberlake--Glenn Douglas Packard is now the guy bringing Sexyback!
The multi-talented, Emmy nominated choreographer the New York Times once dubbed a "dancing entrepreneur” is bringing sexy to a whole new level, partnering with 98 Degrees' Jeff Timmons on "Men of the Strip”—an explosive, revolutionary new live male revue entertainment extravaganza. Like all of Packard's high-energy productions, the show will feature a full spectrum of fresh choreography, sexy numbers, singing and dancing by each of the performers, a wide range of music and dynamic-like Cirque Du Soleil elements.
Drawing on the unique casting aesthetic of Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync impresario Lou Pearlman, Packard did an extensive search via casting and modeling agencies in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York and Miami to find the perfect eight guys to launch "Men of the Strip” on a multi-media platform. That platform includes a currently in development reality TV show, an extensive promotional tour and, ultimately, a residency at a top hotel and casino on the Vegas Strip. The key will be for each of the "Men of the Strip” performers to create their own individual brands, in addition to helping develop the branding of the franchise.
Packard is perhaps best known on the cultural landscape for his reality TV turn as Brooke Hogan's openly gay roommate on the 2008-9 VH1 show "Brooke Knows Best.” On the first episode, when Brooke's dad, wrestling icon Hulk Hogan, makes it clear he didn't want any heterosexual or bisexual men living with his daughter, he asked Packard "How gay are you on a scale of one to 10?” Packard's proud and long out reply: "I'm a 10 gay.”
Packard first met Timmons when both were working on Mission Man Band, a 2007 VH1 series about launching a new band with various members from successful pop acts. The two friends recently meet in Vegas and decided to create the new face and look of male revue.
Drawing on this unique element of his multi-faceted entertainment background, Packard had on camera appeal as well as stage presence and dancing and singing skills in mind when he did his casting for "Men of the Strip.”
"With 'Magic Mike' blowing up in Pop Culture, Jeff and I jumped on the ability to step it up and create our own male revue,” says Packard. "I was looking for beautiful guys with beautiful bodies who could move, but on top of that, a key part of the audition process, once Jeff and I narrowed our list down to 30 guys, was the personal interview process. I've seen thousands of sexy faces and bodies, but we needed to know their personalities, why they were getting into the business, what made them tick, and how they would come across on TV. We were thinking reality characters with good stories, searching for different types of characters from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds who would work well together. We filmed the whole audition process and that will be part of the reality show too.”
Also included in the show will be scenes of these macho Alpha males being put through Packard's hardcore stripper boot camp like training and rehearsal regiment. As Timmons put it, "Glenn is this hard driving dude putting these perfectly built human trucks through hell – and at the end of it, they look great and are very different people.”
Packard, a scholarship student of Alvin Ailey's American Dance Theatre in NYC, brings a powerhouse all-star resume to the development of "Men of the Strip.” Emmy nominated for "Best Choreography” for his work on the historic 2001 concert and TV presentation "Michael Jackson's 30th Anniversary Celebration” (an all-star tribute to the King of Pop, his live stage and video productions include work with Ricky Martin, P!nk, Usher, Missy Elliot, Daddy Yankee and the late Whitney Houston.
Beyond his professional accolades, Packard likens his multi-faceted journey to that of the iconic film character Forrest Gump. Only instead of "Run Forrest Run,” it's "Dance Glenn Dance!” The fanciful, upbeat spin on Packard's story is that he went from milking cows on his family's dairy farm in Clare, Mich. to dancing for two kings: King of Pop Michael Jackson and the King of Morocco. But there was near tragedy along the way.
Planning to take over the family business, at age 19, he was in a devastating farm accident that broke his back and nearly cost him his right leg. In and out of hospitals for over a year, Packard's body experienced an infection that almost took his life. While lying in the hospital, he promised himself that if God helped him recover, he would do the one thing he always dreamed of doing: enroll in dance school. While dance and choreography became the focus of his professional life, Packard's vocal talents earned him a spot in Pearlman's other boy band "twONEty” (21). The group toured Europe, performing in 75 cities in 15 countries.
While Packard is going full force with "Men of the Strip” —an admittedly "straight male show designed for straight women to enjoy”—he hasn't forgotten his roots in the gay community. During his days on "Brooke Knows Best,” he was a prominent icon and inspirational spokesperson for gay rights and gay pride, making numerous appearances on TV and on the covers of gay-oriented publications.
Packard is also a spokesman for The Bullying Academy, which includes giving many speeches in schools and for public organizations.
Packard adds, "I love seeing what happens to these guys once they realize that they are not just pieces of meat, but are true personalities with a variety of talents. It's exciting to watch them develop and thrive and learn so many life lessons along the way.”
September 27, 2015 - Lunar Eclipse of the Super Moon
DALTON DARES TO BE DIFFERENT
By: Manny Velasquez-Paredes
Originally published in Connextions Magazine Issue 19: Travel Lite
Dalton Maldonado was forced to come out during a basketball game of all places. While playing for his high school basketball team in Kentucky, Dalton was confronted by a player from the opposite team about his sexuality, and like many of us confronted with the fear of being outed, he took the comedic route and sarcastically asked the bully for his phone number in response to his offensive attack. This defense mechanism, which has been tested countless of times by many LGBTQ teens and members of our community who are in the closet, proved to be a quick and easy way to get out of a sticky situation.
However, as we read from his “coming out” article, which went viral, on OutSports.com, what followed was anything but quick and easy. Soon after the game ended, reality kicked in, and Dalton was left experiencing every emotion known only to those who have been “outed” or “discovered.”
As he entered the locker room, he simply lost it and his Coach and teammates unaware of his situation, rallied around him. He had no choice, and the only way to explain his desperate tears was by shouting “I’m gay, I’m gay.” And there you have it; the words he had thought about saying so many times, were suddenly out of his mind and had been spoken. There was no waking up from this dream, but the nightmare was just beginning.
Rewind to a few years before the locker room scene and the night that changed his life. Early in his teenage years, Dalton realized he was gay and after a few personal confrontations, he decided he would come out to his friends and family. He made a conscious decision to come out, and he was ok with his decision, until the age of 15 when he went away to a church camp.
While at camp, Dalton was raped and molested by the priest in charge of the camp. At the tender age of 15 and away from home, a trusted and responsible adult – someone parishioners are meant to look up to and trust – took advantage of him and forced him back into the closet.
Ashamed of what had happened and fearful of the meaning behind it, he decided there was no way he could be gay “if being gay meant molesting teens.” This was his introduction to what being “gay” was supposed to be, so he knew there was no way he could ever do that. Dalton says, “I didn’t want to be like that guy.” This shameful experience forced him back in the closet and to self-harming to avoid reality.
Becoming the Man Who Is Not Afraid To Fight
Present day New York, Connextions Magazine meets with Dalton to discuss his life story. His story plays like a Hollywood movie, and his movie star looks can easily make him the lead character. However, once we sit down to talk to him, we can see the pain in his eyes. As we dig deeper into what happened that night, we find a boy who was forced to become a man with two choices: accept the attacks and be a victim or take control of his life and fight back.
To read the entire article, please visit Connextions Magazine Issue 19: Travel Lite
Angelo Garcia - Pushes the Envelope But Remains True to Himself - From Menudo to Erotic Dancer to Delusions of Grandeur
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Angelo Garcia joins, undoubtedly, one of the biggest boy bands in the world, Menudo, at the age of 11 and performs around the world with Ricky Martin, Sergio Blass & Ruben Gomez, among others. Two years later, he leaves Menudo to become a solo artist and finds a lukewarm following. After completing his music contract, Angelo decides to go to the University of Central Florida to study Communications, but his passion for music is never far behind, returning to his hometown of New York after graduation to revive his music career. He begins to write music in Spanish and English. In 2005, a reunion of former Menudo members results in a Latin American tour called "Los Ultimos Heroes" (The Last Heroes). In 2006, Angelo releases a Spanish-language album titled "Cool."
2010, two months before Ricky Martin publicly comes out, is when Angelo decides to publicly come out as a gay man, although his family and friends already know, and he has been working as a stripper and erotic dancer to pay his way through college. Angelo poses semi-nude for Paragon Men, a gay erotica website and he also talks about living life as an open gay man. After his public coming out, he is asked several times about the sexuality of Menudo team member, Ricky Martin. Angelo, refusing to "out" anyone, evades the questions, however, a few weeks later Ricky Martin publicly comes out as well.
Angelo and Producer, William Luque reunite to bring us Delusions of Grandeur, a dance/pop single, which is sure to be an instant club hit! When we first heard the single, we couldn't stop listening to it. It has a little bit of everything, from the famous "thumpa-thumpa" of club beats, to the background rhythms of Latin beats, all in a well produced and packaged hit that makes you dance and feel the energy Angelo has put into this song. Delusions of Grandeur will physically move you, as well as emotionally remind you that you too can overcome heartbreak!
Connextions Magazine, recently caught up with Angelo Garcia, whose video for Delusions of Grandeur experienced almost 9,000 views on its first day on YouTube.
Connextions Magazine (CM): Where in the world have you traveled?
Angelo Garcia (AG): I have been all around the globe, I have not yet ventured to Asia or The Middle East. My next country to visit is Australia, I cant wait, I LOVE MY City NYC, I Love Madrid, I Love London, I love Aruba, Paris, Brazil, there are just too many amazing places on earth to just pick one. I lived in Germany for a year while recording my European music release in the early 2000's , I LOVE Holland and have been to Amsterdam many times. Its fun to go visit and experience the different cultures and the FOOD, YUMMY! :-)
CM: Tell us about your latest single – Delusions of Grandeur
AG: I wrote Delusions of Grandeur, because I love to write songs and be creative, it gives me life. The song talks about the last 2 weeks of a really tumultuous 4 year relationship I was In. It is a song about overcoming adversity and rising above the negativity. I wanted to tell my story and I felt that people could connect to it, love and breakups are universal themes and inspiring. It will give people strength to go on.
CM: We definitely feel your passion, anger, strength and acceptance in the song. We can "feel" it, specially when you say:
"You thought that I was weak, but I am STRONG,
You thought that I would crumble you were wrong,.....
You will never see me cry....
It's time for ME to let you go!"
CM: Tell us about the video, who's idea was it?
AG: The Idea was all me. I wanted it to be fun, edgy and racy. I like to push the envelope.
CM: You certainly pushed the envelope! We love the diversity of the cast. Who was in charge of wardrobe?
AG: I was in charge of the wardrobe. I used all my own clothing and I was mostly in swimsuits and underwear the entire video, I will flaunt my body while I have it! (proud smile)
CM: And a great body it is. You've worked really hard as a personal trainer to achieve the body that you have and you flaunt it with pride, do you get many "haters"? What is the worst comment anyone has made about you or your music?
AG: The Tragedies (Haters) always try to pull my sexuality into their insults, as if calling somebody "Gay" is a bad thing. I really hate when people underestimate my intelligence and think I can not see through backhanded compliments. SO backhanded compliments irk me the most. I feel if you have nothing nice to say do not say anything at all. But misery loves company, and I don't feed into the negativity because most of the feedback is positive. Most people tell me how I inspire them to be themselves and that they LOVE my music .
CM: Any words of wisdom to people looking to follow in your steps?
AG: Only because somebody says something bad, does not mean it is true, so when people are negative just shake it off and always believe you are capable and deserving of accomplishing anything you want. Stay true to yourself and always follow your gut. Keep your eye on the prize and do not let anybody discourage you from fighting for your dreams.
With over 150 videos on YouTube, Angelo keeps himself and his fans busy by constantly posting videos of cover songs, which his fans (The Soldiers - as they are known) love. Connextions Magazine wishes Angelo Garcia much success and don't forget to download the new single Delusions Of Grandeur on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon MP3 and Spotify by simply entering Angelo Delusions of Grandeur,
Follow Angelo on
As a personal gift from Angelo Garcia, you can view his latest single here, but be sure to check out his other videos:
In 2011, Connextions Magazine had a chance to meet and interview Team Fab 3 of ABC's new series "Expedition Impossible,” created by producer, director, screenwriter and creator of various television shows like: Survivor, The Apprentice, The Voice, The Sing Off, Shark Tank, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader, the People's Choice Awards, among others, Mark Burnett, who has over 2,900 hours of television created and 112 Emmy nominations as of 2014.
“Expedition Impossible” followed thirteen teams of three competitors each, solving problems while racing across deserts, over mountains and through rivers in Morocco. The teams competed for $150,000, among other prizes. Third place went to Team Fab 3, composed of siblings Kari and AJ Gibson, alongside Ryan Allen Carrillo, who is one of the few openly gay athletes in the world. Carrillo is a three-time Southwest Regional champion, US silver medalist and US National Champion in the world of Artistic Roller Skating. Carrillo has been featured in numerous music videos and has worked with Beyonce, Mya, Sugar Ray, Kelis and Madonna.
Since our special edition in 2011, Ryan Allen Carrillo, a native of California with a multicultural ethnic background: Irish, English, Native American and Latino, has been a very busy man! Connextions Magazine caught up with Ryan, while he was on a plane headed to Los Angeles from New York City, after appearing as the Social Buzz Reporter on VH1’s Big Morning Buzz Live with Host Nick Lachey, of boy band 98 Degrees and host of The Sing Off among other projects.
Connextions Magazine (CM): What have you been you up to this last couple of years?
Ryan Allen Carrillo (RAC): I was the winner of the popular vote on DreamJobbing.com for a contest to find the next Social Buzz reporter on VH1’s Big Morning Buzz Live with Host Nick Lachey. I co-hosted with Nick and it was a wonderful experience. I pretty much haven’t slept in two days and I am happy to be heading back home.
CM: Tell us about the Big Morning Buzz & what we can expect?
RAC: The Big Morning Buzz brings you the hot “Buzz” of the day in the morning. Have your coffee, maybe some oatmeal and we bring you the hottest stories of the day. Nick Lachey is an amazing host, one of the best on television right now. It’s the best ensemble casts I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. People are tired of the same format on network TV and VH1 created a show that is good for everyone.
CM: Where in the world have you traveled? What’s your favorite spot on earth?
RAC: Being a host, TV personality and a pro skater, I have definitely been all over the world. I toured with major recording artists and dance troupes. I absolutely love Australia. I thought Sydney was full of energy and CLEAN. Like a clean NYC (he laughs). I also loved Surfers Paradise, especially the beaches, and the Asian countries I visited. I spent a month in Taiwan and loved the people there. Some of the best people I have ever met. We attended a birthday celebration for a former leader of Taiwan, when I was on tour with The NYC Express Roller Dance Company. They had 10,000 performers welcome us and it was an unforgettable experience.
CM: Is there anywhere in the world you haven’t yet visited but would like to?
RAC: I absolutely need to stay at the Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora. In one of those over the water bungalows, like the Kardashians did (laughter). I love clear water and cocktails.
CM: Hmmm, clear water, Bora Bora, cocktails! I mean, tell us about your show Reality Relapse.
RAC: Rachel Reilly (TV talk show host, actress and multiple reality shows participant) and I host Reality Relapse on BiteSize TV and I can say truthfully that Rachel, despite all of her on screen shenanigans, is one of the most intelligent and loyal people you will ever meet. I adore her.
CM: You are also a writer & producer – how do you have time for a relationship?
RAC: Relationships are hard whether you are busy or not. I find they are easier the busier you are. Especially if you are each doing what you love.
CM: What’s your key to success?
RAC: Success is different for everyone. I don’t think I am successful yet. I think I am close, but it has been a long road. The key for the success I have had, is not thinking the phone is ever going to ring for me. Because it never did. I had to make all the work I got myself, thinking out of the box, producing my own shows. I am literally shooting a reality TV pilot almost every weekend. I like working everyday on something involving my career. I will sleep one day! (smiles proudly)
CM: Sleep is overrated! Any words of wisdom for people looking to follow in your steps?
RAC: Don’t let anyone tell you ‘NO’ or ‘it’s not possible.’ But don’t be a drunk with a headshot. Meaning claiming to be an actor or a host but never putting the work into actually being good at your craft. You need to be training daily. Taking classes, volunteering, interning, etc. Finding other people with the same goals also really helps, people who inspire you.
CM: Thank you for chatting with Connextions Magazine.
RAC: I am a huge fan of Connextions Magazine and I am so thankful for another editorial with you. Thank you for being so supportive to my career over the years. Love you guys!!!
We love you too RAC!
Ryan Allen Carrillo has a huge following on social media, and he is very interactive with the “Ry-Hards” as his followers are better known. Ryan Allen Carrillo’s handle is @RyanACarrillo and can be found across the social media gamut.
Connextions Magazine was recently invited to attend The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, presented by Chase at Radio City Music Hall. My partner and I took our kids to see this one-of-a-kind holiday celebration. We were Rockettes’ virgins, having never seen a live performance and we were excited to see what our kids’ reactions would be. Upon entering the theater, the magic of the holiday season begins to take over you and you can’t help but believe in the magic of Christmas and Santa Claus.
This year’s show features dazzling Rockettes dance numbers, New York in 3D, “Rag Dolls,” Rockettes as reindeer, the iconic red tour bus, Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves, ice skaters, the Three Wise Men and no nativity scene would be complete without sheep, donkeys and camels – Yes, real-breathing animals on stage! The only thing we noticed was missing on stage was a same-gender couple. There were several couples on stage portrayed throughout the show, and it would have been amazing to see a same-gender couple representing all of us within the LGBT community. However, we did not let this ruin our first Rockettes experience, and we are hopeful that soon, we will see the first ever same-sex couple dancing on a Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
The dance routines, the spectacular costumes and the meticulousness of each move by the Rockettes is one of a kind. They glide, move, slide, and kick with such precision that the entire troupe moves as one – not one hair out of place, and even all of the earrings match!
The Christmas Spectacular returns with some of its classic routines, and has reworked some to update them with a fresher content. “Rag Dolls,” originally debuted in 1940, and has been completely re-imagined for the 2014 production. The audience moves around New York City and even the North Pole, as we visit Santa’s enchanted toy factory culminating with the “Rag Dolls” number.
People of all ages, participate in this magical experience, which makes use of every part of the theater. The lobby is decorated to match the onstage experience, featuring a huge, Christmas tree inspired crystal chandelier which appears to be hovering over the lobby and upon entering you can hear all the “oohs” and “wows.” During the show, even the ceiling of Radio City Music Hall takes center stage with a light show projecting snowflakes, the New York City skyline, Christmas trees and many other images that appear to extend the reach of the stage. If you bring little ones with you, be sure to catch some confetti “snow” and ribbons, my kids are still holding on to them!
Since their debut in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in 1933, the Rockettes have danced into the hearts of millions and spread Christmas cheer to people of all ages. They have been part of some of the most prominent events in the entertainment landscape including the 2013 Super Bowl numeral unveil, the 2013 MLB Home Run Derby, NBC’s hit show, “America’s Got Talent,” and various other special events including award shows, national television appearances, sporting events and Presidential inaugurations.
Ticket Information – Tickets on sale
Running now through December 31, 2014 at Radio City Music Hall®.
Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased online at www.RadioCityChristmas.com, Ticketmaster at 1-866-858-0007 or Radio City's Box Office (50th St. & Avenue of the Americas).
Box Office hours are daily, 10 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Ticket prices include a $5.00 per ticket facility charge. Tickets purchased via Ticketmaster are subject to service charges.
For Groups 9+ please call 212-465-6080. Visit radiocitychristmas.com for more information.
For Email Marketing you can trust
Connextions Magazine, the Travel & Lifestyle Magazine for the LGBTQ Traveler, is your trusted resource for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer travel destinations, vacation ideas, fun travel videos, LGBTQ travel guides and the latest news relevant to our entire rainbow community. Connextions Magazine focuses on celebrating the LGBTQ Traveler providing information on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer travel, our LGBTQ culture, the diverse style of our rainbow community, adventures, gay romance, tips for Lesbian Moms, Gay Dads, Bisexual, Transgender Parents and families.
Connextions Magazine LLC | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED | USA
PO Box 242, Calverton NY 11933
MISSION: Connextions Magazine celebrates the LGBT traveler. Making connections to travel like a local, whether on a quick weekend getaway or a luxury vacation, Connextions transports our readers through dazzling photography and insightful content about travel, dining, culture and style to destinations and memorable travel experiences across the globe.