playing for change

Nicely tying up my time in Jamaica with a rainbow, my final day on the island coincides with an announcement by the Jamaican LGBT rights group J-FLAG of a television campaign aimed at encouraging Jamaicans to love and support their LGBT family members. The US Ambassador to Jamaica, Pamela E Bridgewater, addressed a packed audience at the launch of the public service announcement, Unconditional Love, stating that “homophobia must be eliminated immediately, [because] as President Obama says, no one should be hated because of who they love.” Featuring Christine Straw, former Miss Jamaica World and Miss Jamaica Universe, and her gay brother Matthew Straw, the video is a public declaration of love and acceptance – not the typically bigoted rhetoric one has come to expect publicly from the island’s leaders. As a step toward greater visibility, the effects of the PSA can’t be underestimated. For too long people have dwelt in the fear of what they don’t know: when it comes home to roost that’s no longer a valid excuse. Change, it seems, is finally coming to Jamaica – whether people like it or not.

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summer of pride

Kimpton Hotels is honoring the LGBT community’s continued support with a “Summer of Pride” celebration from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Long an insider favorite for its collection of stylish boutique hotels and chef-driven restaurants, Kimpton has cemented its distinctive reputation by making travelers feel welcomed and comfortable while indulging in a bit of playful cheekiness. All summer long travelers gay and straight can plan a weekend retreat and take advantage of this value-driven promotion with perks like 15 percent off the best available overnight rate, a nightly $25 dining credit for the on-site Kimpton Restaurant, and a Pride-themed welcome gift at check-in. Of particular note is one of my favorites: Philadelphia’s LEED-certified Hotel Palomar adjacent to Rittenhouse Square. It features Guillermo Tellez’ standout restaurant, Square 1682, where eco-conscious design meets organic ingredients in a New American menu bolstered by world flavors. Plus, it’s only a stone’s throw to great shopping and all the historical sights. Rates from $194.65 per night. Reservations can be made at online by entering PRIDE in the rate code box.

Even more impressive: Kimpton recently garnered the 2010 Human Rights Campaign Workplace Equality Award and 2011 Equality Forum International Business Leadership Award for its pioneering LGBT employee benefits programs. Kimpton was the first hospitality company to score a 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index in 2004, and has maintained that perfect score every year since.

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