How Transgender Actress Nicole Maines Will Make History On ‘Supergirl’ This Fall

The ways we watch TV and movies have evolved, and it’s time for the talent in front of and behind the camera to do the same. Film Forward speaks on the initiatives to diversify the film industry and the stories it tells. New articles premiere every second Thursday of — and throughout — the month.

The CW series Supergirl made a major announcement about its upcoming fourth season at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, sharing that actress Nicole Maines will be playing the first transgender superhero on television. According to Deadline, Maines has been cast as Nia Nal, a “soulful young transgender woman with a fierce drive to protect others.”

Nia is joining the reporting team at CatCo, where main character Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist), aka Supergirl, works. Her superhero alter ego will be Dreamer. As points out, the character sounds similar to Nura Nal, a DC character known as Dream Girl, and briefly Dreamer, who comes from the planet Naltor, where inhabitants “experience visions of the future through dreams.”

“She has this ferocious drive to protect people and to fight against discrimination and hatred,” Maines said during the show’s Comic-Con panel, according to Entertainment Weekly. “She’s the superhero we need right now.” The 21-year-old added, “I wish there was a trans superhero when I was little.”

The actress and activist has appeared on the USA series Royal Pains and was featured in the 2016 HBO documentary The Trans List. As a teen, Maines’ family sued her school district for prohibiting her from using the girls’ bathroom. In the case Doe vs. Clenchy, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled that this was a violation of the state’s Human Rights Act. 

“I haven’t really wrapped my head around it,” Maines told Variety of being cast in the history-making role. “It feels fitting to say with great power, comes great responsibility,” she said, adding that she’s “nervous because I want to do it right.”

It’s not the first news of positive LGBTQ representation to come out of The CW recently. The character Batwoman will also make her debut this fall during the yearly Arrowverse crossover between SupergirlThe FlashArrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. She is the first-ever lesbian lead character in the DC Comics.

“We can be whoever we want, we can do whatever we want, we can be superheroes, because in many ways we are,” Maines told Variety of the importance of transgender representation. We can’t wait to see what the show has in store for her character when Supergirl returns October 14 on The CW.

Image via Getty.

Original article on A Plus found here.

A Plus is a digital media company devoted to the mission of positive journalism. Our stories look at the day’s events critically, analytically, and with hope. Get more at


By Raising ‘Theybies,’ Parents Allow Kids To Choose Their Gender As They Grow

As gender identity and fluidity gain greater visibility in today’s society, certain parenting trends are emerging to ensure children are raised without conventional constructs defining them as a boy or girl.  In the case of parents Nate and Julia Sharpe, the Cambridge, Mass. couple has chosen to raise their 3-year-old twins as “theybies” — children being brought up without gender designation from birth.

“A theyby is different things to different people,” Nate Sharpe told NBC News. “For us, it means raising our kids with gender-neutral pronouns — so, ‘they,’ ‘them,’ ‘their,’ rather than assigning ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘him,’ ‘her’ from birth based on their anatomy.”

As NBC News reports, this particular “gender-open” parenting style has become increasingly controversial because the parents don’t reveal the sex of their children to anyone. Subsequently, the children are not taught to associate their body parts with being a boy or girl. As these parents reason, if no one knows a child’s sex, the kid can’t be pigeonholed into gender stereotypes. However, some developmental experts say they are not sure this lifestyle will hold up once kids are exposed to the outside world and the bullying that comes along with being labeled “other” by society.

Yet, while the Sharpes recognize what might lie ahead for their children, the couple remains determined to shield their children from these realities for as long as possible. As Julia Sharpe told NBC News, she was conflicted about learning the sex of the twins when she found out she was pregnant because, as a female engineer in a male-dominated industry, she’s especially conscious of the constraints gender can inflict. Her husband, Nate, didn’t understand why she wanted to wait to learn the babies’ sex, but after researching how stereotypes affect a child’s development, he inevitably changed his mind.

“We read about how from when they’re 20-week fetuses, they’re already starting to be gendered, and people are calling the little girls ‘princesses,’ and buying certain things for different children,” Julia explained. “We wanted to prevent that, so that’s how it started. And then about a couple weeks before they were born, Nate just said, ‘What if we didn’t tell people ever?'”

Even when the twins were born, the Sharpes asked the staff not to reveal their sex immediately.  

“It just wasn’t something that was interesting,” Julia said. “It was all about meeting the children and interacting with them, and just not something that we focused on at all.”

NBC News noted that reproductive organs reveal a baby’s assigned sex at birth, while gender comes later, around age 4, when kids begin to identify as masculine, feminine, or somewhere along that spectrum. Thus, experts agree that such conversations about gender identity are vital as society moves to dismantle gender stereotypes, but taking the gender-neutral approach doesn’t have to be the only solution.

Dr. Jillian Roberts, founder of Family Sparks and an associate professor at the University of Victoria, told Global News that the term “theyby” isn’t necessary if the child exists within an environment that allows them to explore their thoughts and feelings.

“These kids feel confusion about why they were ‘placed in the wrong gender’ to begin with … that these bodies did not match their spirit,” Roberts explained. “However, these kids have never reported that they feel traumatized by initially being referred to by ‘him’ or ‘her.’ Therefore, I think it is unnecessary for parents to try and use terms like ‘theybys.'”

“My top tip would be to support diversity in relation to gender identity and gender expression. Keep possibilities open for young people, despite the tendency to want to think about gender in concrete and categorical terms,” Angeline Dharmaindra, clinical psychologist for the NHS Gender Identity Development Service, London told Forbes. “Children and young people do and should be able to explore how they express their gender from an early age. Dressing up and role play activities may involve choices which don’t always conform to gender stereotypes and may appear unconventional, but it is important for children to be able to explore and experiment in a safe environment.”

Deakin University health ethics lecturer Tamara Browne echoes the sentiment, noting that, instead of erasing gender entirely, society should shake things up when it comes to what defines femininity and masculinity today.

“I’d like to see all the labels removed. Rather than having a boys’ section and a girls’ section and a gender-neutral section it would be better to just mix everything up,” Browne told The Daily Telegraph. “It impacts on society as a whole — you can see the effect of it in the rates of female employment in male-dominated sectors such as finance and construction. And vice versa, we see fewer men in childcare and nursing.”

Ultimately, while using gender-neutral pronouns might help protect children from potentially harmful gender stereotypes, parents can also work to de-emphasize gender and explain that there’s more than one way to be a boy or a girl

(H/T: NBC News)

Link to the original article on A Plus found here.

A Plus is a digital media company devoted to the mission of positive journalism. Our stories look at the day’s events critically, analytically, and with hope. Get more at 

The Weekender: Bangkok

Just last month, the Tourism Authority of Thailand–a part of the Thai Government’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports –hosted the first ever Thailand LGBT Travel Symposium in bustling Bangkok. This is a monumental milestone not to be overlooked. While Bangkok ( and Thailand in general) has long been a queer travel hot spot for its more liberal views on gender diversity as well as the country’s notorious queer nightlife, the Thai government is now officially making a commitment to welcome queer travelers from the world over. Could this mean gay marriage is somewhere on the horizon?

Thailand is vast, from the pastoral strawberry fields of the North to the famous limestone islands of the South, so let the country’s capital city serve as your official introduction to “The Land of Smiles”. Whether you’re touching down for just a few days before touring the country, in town for Asia’s biggest gay dance party,  gCircuit, or staying for business for a few weeks–there is an endless excitement on the effervescent streets of Bangkok. From cosmopolitan restaurants to markets filled with the scents of sizzling curries, Bangkok is a wild concrete jungle of rivers, tight streets, and leaping overpasses–navigated best by tuk-tuks, motorcycle taxis, pencil boats, trains, cars, and of course, by your own venturesome soul.  


Bhumibol Bridge and River bird eye view landscape in Bangkok Thailand



Begin your the weekend on the Supanniga Cruise and sip your welcoming craft cocktails on this 40-person river cruise (many other river cruises are packed with 200-300 people and lukewarm buffets soured by amateur karaoke). Pass by Bangkok classics like Wat Arun and see the city at its most colorful as the golden afternoon casts itself upon the jagged skyline.

6pm- The Creative District

One of Bangkok’s buzziest neighborhoods is its emerging Creative District. Here, historic, modern, local, and European architecture are interwoven beside the mighty the Chao Phraya River. Many of the buildings are occupied by vibrant restaurants, bookstores, jewelry shops, and art galleries–like the Seredia Gallery which just featured artist Sudaporn Teja’s queer exhibit  “Loves Get Better with Time Quietly.” After the gallery, make some new friends at one of the district’s many cozy pubs like saki bar Jua or gin bar Teens of Thailand.



8pm-Never Ending Flavors

Let’s get straight to to the noms. Not far from the Creative District, just off the banks of the Chao Phraya, in a converted ice factory, is the handsomely designed The Never Ending Summer, which even after 12 days in Thailand, still held its own as my favorite meal of the entire trip and certainly, my favorite Thai meal ever. Each dish is exquisite and puts a zesty spin on a Thai classic.


8am-Chatuchak Market

The trick is to get up and beat the heat (and crowds) at the legendary Chatuchak Weekend Market–an outdoor market with over 15,000 stalls that covers 27 acres (you can literally and figuratively get lost here.) What are you looking to buy? Knock-off Aussiebum jock straps? No problem. A meerkat? A stingray? I’m vehemently opposed to the sale of wildlife, but anything and everything exists within the market, legal or not.  Soap in the shape of dicks? You got it. Dicks in the shape of soap? I didn’t see any, but I’m sure it’s there. Be sure to bring cash and follow your nose for the street food vendors and many restaurants tucked inside. Make sure to bring cash, and why not make your first attempt at bartering?

10am- Thai Massage

That was a lot of walking, and I know you broke a sweat and the heat has you snoozy. Let’s Wake up with a trip to Divana Spa for one of the best massages in town. What would a trip to Thailand be without experiencing a little nuat phaen thai (Thai-style massage?) With techniques nearly 2,500 years old, the Divana’s Siamese Relax treatment is a great pick me up that will rock, roll, pull, and compress you.

12pm-Lunch by the River

How about some more tasty and modern Thai overlooking one of Bangkok’s most gorgeous landmarks, Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn? One moment you’re on the busy, touristy streets outside the city’s most famous temples of Wat Pho, the next, you’re inside the elegant and air-conditioned Sala Rattanakosin Eatery and Bar (part of a cute boutique hotel, the Rattanakosin) being offered cool towels soaked in lemongrass ordering Thai-iced teas and flavorful Phanaeng curries.


Beautiful Thai Temple, Wat Benjamaborphit, temple in Bangkok, Thailand

3pm-SO Good

We love a pool party. If you’re lucky enough to be in Bangkok during the last Saturday of the month, be sure to check out the SO Sofitel Bangkok’s vibing monthly pool party So Pool Party. Some months are certainly queerer than others, but the event always has a strong LGBT contingent.  A gorgeous infinity pool spills out into views of the wild sprawl of Bangkok and a lovely mix of locals, expats, backpackers, and business people splash about at one of Bangkok’s hippest and most queer-friendly hotels.

6pm-Khao San Road

Although only 410 meters long, the street is said to have “one of the longest dreams in the world.” Here you’ll find true backpacker’s paradise. Cheap accomodations, an overabundance of Wifi cafes, tour planning offices, buses to Chiang Mai, street performances, cheap restaurants, grilled insect stands, as well as some of Bangkok’s more controversial sides, like the infamous ping pong shows. No matter what budget you’re on, it is worth a self-guided stroll and a stop for a late afternoon coffee or happy hour to exchange tales and tips with fellow travelers.

8pm-Sky High

Here’s the thing–I’m a real sucker for a rooftop bar and I thought I’d seen them all. Moonbar at the Banyan Tree Hotel Bangkok absolutely knocked my socks off. Located 61 floors up, this hot spot is constantly in the top 10 of the world’s rooftop bars. The lofty heights, minimalist house music, and celebratory atmosphere are sure to make your experience dreamlike as you sip away and feel the thick Bangkok breeze.


You’ve been itching and scratching to go out,  here’s your chance. Check out GoGrrrls!, a “girl-love-girl” all female-DJ dance party that’s been igniting Bangkok since 2013. As in any big city, venues and dates rotate so keep up to date on the event’s Facebook page.

More mainstream Thai nightlife can be found at Silom Soi 2, a hub of queer bars that cater more specifically to men. “Soi” in Thai means “ally” and this one is filled to the brim with gay establishments. The most popular is DJ Station (and its nightly stripper show) but don’t be scared to explore beyond this hot spot–it’s always more exciting when you choose your own adventure. Looking for a little more of a local experience? Check out Fake Club or APP Arena, which both put on quite the show as well.


1pm: MOCA Bangkok

Nightlife goes late in Bangkok. Rise when you can, but when you do, make your way to The Museum of Contemporary Art Bangkok for five stories of  thought-provoking modern Thai art (with a few international artists on the fifth floor). The museum stands out among others for showcasing artwork that tackles and comments on many of the skeletons hidden in Thailand’s closet.

3pm: People Watching in Lumpini Park

Bangkok’s Central Park. This whole weekend you’ve been hurtling through a vast concrete jungle of impossible skyscrapers, tight alleys, and bumping shows–now it’s time to take in a moment of respite at the 142-acre Lumpini Park with a self-guided stroll. Called by some the “Green Lung” of Bangkok, the park is a hotspot for joggers, birdwatchers, bikers, picnickers, swan boaters, and local flora and fauna–including massive water monitors who casually pop out of the pond to sunbathe.

7:30pm: Maggie Choo’s

Sunday night in Bangkok mean’s a stop in at Maggie Choo’s, a well-known jazz bar that hosts a popular gay night on Sundays. Located in the basement of the Novotel Bangkok Fenix Silom, this long standing party puts on a great weekly drag show that’s hosted by the host of Drag Race: Thailand Pangina Heals.

The Snugs

Fancy Pants-SO Sofitel Bangkok

Billing itself as “Bangkok’s First Urban Design Hotel,” the SO Sofitel is one of the hippest hotels in the city and a constant draw for queer travelers looking for luxury and mingling. The hotel has 237 rooms decorated by the elements in four different layouts: Water, Air, Earth, and Metal. The property also hosts a gorgeous infinity pool, and many of the rooms look out onto the soothing expanse of Lumpini Park. Rooms from $208 USD and up.

Goldie Locks- Sala Rattanakosin

This cute, Thai-owned boutique hotel is located right on the waters of the Chao Phraya and looks directly at Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn. The hotel is the perfect option for those looking for a more intimate accommodation that doesn’t lack in luxury. Rooms from $140 USD and up.

Backpacker- Minimis Hostel

One of the most aesthetically striking hostels in Bangkok, the Minimis Hostel is a great place to stay on a budget, without feeling like you’re on one. Beds starting from $22 USD and up.


Learning How to Ho and Date and Failing at Both

Today is a joyous day for all of us who love Houston, Beyoncé and good writing: Michael Arceneaux’s debut book “I Can’t Date Jesus” is finally out, and we have an exclusive sneak peek exclusively just for you.

Arceneaux, who also writes a weekly column here at INTO called Dearly Beloved, shares a chapter entitled “Learning How to Ho and Date and Failing at Both” that takes us through some of his most, um, hoeish moments as he navigates the world trying to find love.

And it will resonate with the hoe that resides in all of us.

His debut book is now available. Buy it. Immediately after reading this. Trust us.


We met outside the Abbey. It was 2:00 a.m., so Los Angeles had effectively shut down because the city’s nightlife was useless without alcohol unless you had weed and access to an after-hours spot worth your time.

That night I was in possession of neither, so it was time to drive my ass to Jack in the Box, devour a Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger value meal with curly fries and a Coke (each jumbo sized), shower, and take my ass to sleep.

As I was walking out, I locked eyes with a guy whom, a few hours prior, I had seen while in the midst of complaining to my friends for the umpteenth time that I missed the gay bars in the South because techno music made me question the existence of God. He was incredibly attractive. If I were an A&R exec, I would sell him as a man who had the appearance of a heartthrob R&B singer but lacked the talent to be one: we could sell him to audiences as a semi competent rapper who could get girls and gays to monetarily support his musical career for a few years.

A light-skinned version of Chingy, if you will.

His name was An’toine. (I’m not for sure why the name needed to be separated with that apostrophe, but I don’t want to disrespect the man’s mama, so I’ll leave it alone.) He went by that name, his middle name, and a hyphenated last name that consisted of both his parents’ last names. I applaud the progressiveness there, but one of his parents had a last name as long as the space between New York and Los Angeles. I bet he took all day to sign shit.

He was waiting outside with his friends when we made eye contact for a second time, but as always, it was up to me to do the approaching. So I did, and although he was warm to me, you got the sense that he could be cold to those he didn’t want in his periphery. My concerns were heightened once we started to communicate via text. There was a strong whiff of jackass emanating from his messages. The same could be said of the clear signs of stupid. I am no grammar nazi.

I don’t anticipate anyone writing in complete sentences. I accept people using “u” for “you” or “ur” for “your,” and whatever instances of shorthand folks like to use sans the following: “HBU,” “WYD,” and “HBD.” With him, it wasn’t so much how he typed but what he said, or was trying to say. You could tell he was more into the superficial than the substantive. It was all too apparent he was more invested in optics than anything else. No wonder he would wriT3 lYk3 tHis. God, a simple “How are you?” from me invited a bowl of alphabet soup in my BlackBerry Bold. It was as if his texts were trying to reach through the screen to warn me, “Don’t do this, Arceneaux.” And yet I asked him out anyway. Because he was incredibly attractive, and I wanted some ass.

So I went despite having it on good ground that this probably wouldn’t work the way I thought it would. Where we chose to eat was a bit of a one-sided negotiation. He was adamant about picking the restaurant, and every single one of his options was ultra expensive. I didn’t mind paying for an expensive meal, nor did I object to paying for the company of someone I had invited out. Did I have it like that? Hell no, but you weren’t going to have me looking like I was a cheap-ass. Still, the way he broached the issue was a turnoff.

He discussed it with this sense of entitlement coupled with a bitchiness that I found frustrating. Like, I don’t mind taking you where you want to go, but you’re acting like an escort, and if that’s the case, how much are you? We can get to the point, because, after all, food would get in your way, no?

Having said that, despite getting the sense that he wasn’t the sharpest person in the Southern California region from his texts, most of those texts were flirtatious on both ends, so once again, I brushed the signs away. An’toine ended up picking none of the options he had previously mentioned. Maybe he merely wanted to see if I would be willing to go wherever he wanted. Whatever the case, we ended up at Yard House, some saddity sports bar.

I went with an open mind and hoped for the best. That feeling didn’t last long.

Once we sat in front of each other, the sense I had that he had the capability to be cold was promptly confirmed. He greeted me like I was the uncle who falsely claimed one of his mama’s children to cheat on his taxes. During the get-to-know-each-other portion of the evening, he said, “Wait, you said you’re a writer, right? What do you write about?”

After giving him the topics and some of the outlets I was writing for, he looked me up and down and snarled, “I don’t like to read.” My response should have been, You don’t like to read, but you write lengthy-ass Facebook posts as if you’re Iyanla Vanzant with a learning disability or a keyboard that barely functions because you spilled a liter of Dr. Pepper on it.

Who doesn’t like to read? This beautiful, empty-headed jackass who liked to dispense passionate, grossly uninformed “life tips” on the Mark Zuckerberg-made platform, apparently.

Yes, it was a pretty shitty thing to respond to a writer by saying “I don’t like to read,” but at the same time, I didn’t give that great of a fuck. If you wanted to be stupid, such was your right. What insulted me was what happened a few minutes later. My back was turned to the person when he said it, but An’toine declared, “You look just like that dude at the bar.”

I turned around and looked. It’s impolite to call someone ugly, but it’s equally rude to tell a person that they resemble someone you would call a bugawolf in your head. “I don’t look like him.” “Yeah you do.” “I do not look like him, An’toine.” “C’mon, you’ve got to see it.” “I don’t see shit over there but someone’s child who doesn’t at all look like the one in front of you.”

But he kept pressing it.

It’s one thing to say you think my profession is a waste of time because the consumption of words is too taxing an ordeal for you and your unimaginative mind, but I’ll be damned if you say I mirror a man who appears to be well over a decade older, at least twenty pounds smaller, and looks like the light inside of him got stomped out by three cases of bourbon consumed five years prior. You got me fucked up.

In just under an hour, I had learned An’toine was blind and dumb. Thankfully, he spared me from discovering that he might also be slightly deaf, because he said he had somewhere to be in the morning. He meant his job, but I personally wished that he would drive into the fourth circle of hell. We didn’t hug good-bye, and that was perfectly fine.

While in the parking lot, I started to entertain the thought of finding a hypnotist to fulfill my mom’s desires for me to like vagina, marry one, and make grandchildren with it in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, because that motherfucker annoyed the everlasting shit out of me.

By the time I got inside of my car, I called my friend Kim in Houston. I asked her if it would be okay to run him over. She told me no. “I know violence is wrong, and I already look like Chris Brown’s second cousin to some people, but doesn’t he deserve to be hit?” “Yes, but you can’t do that. I don’t got no bail money.”

Considering how often God behaved like a troll, it was no surprise that I ran into An’toine repeatedly for a few months, and then finally he fizzled away. Two years later, I got a message from him on Facebook Messenger.

It was 6:00 a.m. in New York, where I now lived, which meant it was the middle of the night for him back in LA. “HUB?” The fuck is that? Oh, you want to know how I’ve been? This is why you need to join a book club, damn fool. After that, he randomly inserted that he was horny. It was the fringes of the day, so I was too.

We took the conversation back to text after he sent a picture revealing just how horny he was. I responded by saying I wish I had gotten a chance to get at that when I was in LA. Me 2 but u was trippin. By my love of literacy? Supposedly, I was too eager and rushing him to get serious. Serious how? I had no idea what he was talking about and could bet he was confusing me with some other sucker whose time he had also wasted.

After masturbating to his videos and pictures, I was finished and told him that if he was ever in New York, he could hit me up and we could finally make something happen. He said “cool” while casually mentioning that I could also fly him to New York. Hardy har, bitch.

My mistake was that I should have never bothered trying to get to know him on any deeper level. That wasn’t how you were supposed to ho. You made your intentions clear and acted accordingly. I knew this fool was a fool only good for fornication, and I gave far too much energy to someone I only could deal with in scenarios centered on ejaculation. He was a terrible person.

Having said that, I know terrible people can be tempting, and despite his being an insulting, rude simpleton who needs to have his eyes examined, I would still fuck. Obviously, it would be a hate fuck.

And for my own comfort, I would bring a book and pull a condom out of it.


From I CAN’T DATE JESUS: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé by Michael Arceneaux. Copyright © 2018 by MichaelArceneaux. Reprinted by permission of Atria Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Photo Credit: Steven Duarte

20 Queer Q’s with Dylan Marron

The 20 Queer Qs series seeks to capture LGBTQ+ individuals (and allies) in a moment of authenticity. We get to know the subjects, what makes them who they are, and what they value.

These intimate conversations aim to leave you, the reader, feeling like you just gained a new friend or a new perspective.

Get to know Dylan Marron in this weeks 20 Queer Q’s. He’s a writer, content creator, producer of the “Unboxing” series on and most recently, the host of the Webby Award-winning podcast, “Conversations With People Who Hate Me.” Learn about his thoughts on religion, attending his first Pride, and what being queer has given him.

Dylan Marron

Age: 29
Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His
Sexually Identifies As: Queer

1. What do you love about the LGBT community?

So much. It’s a resilient community, it’s a varied community. There’s disagreement and nuance within it, but I also think it’s people who have a strong shared experience and are brought together by our shared youth.

2. Do you think it’s hard to make gay friends?

I would say sometimes, yeah. Because sometimes I make the assumption that  I can go into a queer space and automatically be friends with everyone because we have this shared identity. Then sometimes it feels difficult when you realize, “Oh, that doesn’t automatically make us friends.” Is it hard? I think it can be. I also know my most important relationships are with queer people because there’s a beautiful unspoken thing you can share with each other.

3. How did you feel attending your first Pride?

It felt amazing. It was New York City Pride when the couples would march before marriage was legalized. They would march with banners that would say “married for 30 years!” And I would just cry because to know what they had gone through and to stand by that word marriage when they weren’t even allowed to use that word legally was amazing. Pride is a huge diverse thing but I think I felt intimidated by all the gym bodies and I thought, “maybe that’s not the type of gay I am.”

4. What does pride mean to you?

Expressing yourself in a way that you want to, that you feel comfortable with, and is the truest to who you are and doing that out loud or unapologetically.

5. What’s a song you consider to be an LGBT anthem?

“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman

6. What advice you have for LGBT youth?

Be yourself, take time to get to know yourself, it doesn’t happen immediately. Be kind to yourself, form community with each other with people you feel safe with and that you feel respected by. There’s a big, big world out there. A lot of it will accept you, some of it won’t. Navigate it safely and I love you.

7. Do you believe in love?

Yeah! I didn’t, and then I met my husband and thought “oh yeah, that’s good!” There’s also so many different kinds of love. We so value romantic love and I do believe in it, but there are other kinds of life-giving love that is restorative and energy-giving.

8. Describe what the LGBT community is to someone who knows nothing about it.

It’s as diverse as most other communities. You have different people, nuance, many who disagree within it. The LGBT community is a microcosm of the big world that we live in.

9. Use 3-5 words to describe your coming out experience.

Lots of tears but incredible.

10. How do you feel about LGBT representation in media?

I think we need so much more of it. I think there’s so many really cool things happening right now. But of course I think we need more queer representation of color. I love movies like Call Me By Your Name and Love, Simon, but I think we need to be having more queer actors play queer roles.

11. Does religion play a role in your life?

In some ways. I think I grew up agnostic just by default. But I find it really incredible to attend religious services and I think discovering that religion can actually be an inclusive thing is amazing. Because at its best, religion brings communities together.

12. What is something you want to change about yourself in the next 6 months?

I would love to be less anxious.

13. Who is the last person to make you smile?

My husband.

14. What’s your earliest memory when you felt you were different?

Realizing I had a crush on MacGyver.

15. Have you found your chosen family?

I think so, but I think chosen family is a constantly growing thing so I look forward to all the people I will meet to be in my chosen family.

16. What is the title of the current chapter of your life?

Successful on the Outside, Worried on the Inside.

17. What is a quality you find sexy?


18. Have you ever felt uncomfortable holding another guy’s hand in public?

I get really nervous about that, to be honest.

19. Fill in the blank: In 5 years I want to _________.

Have written a book.

20. What value/quality have you gained since being a gay man? What has being a gay man given you?

I think being queer has allowed me to question things and when you question things and you’re curious to question things, empathy follows suit.


Check out Dylan’s most recent TED Talk, listen to his podcast, Conversations With People Who Hate Me wherever you listen to podcasts, and keep up with Dylan over on Twitter and Instagram.


The Queer Traveler: Interview with Blogger Meg Cale

During a recent panel discussion at the first ever LGBT Thailand Travel Symposium in Bangkok, INTO heard travel blogger and social media influencer Meg Cale say that “the bar is set so inexplicably low for lesbian travelers, that really, by doing anything at all to cater to queer women, the LGBT travel industry will be raising the bar.”

After the panel,  INTO interviewed Cale, who currently runs one of the most popular lesbian travel blogs, Dopes on the Road, with her wife, Lindsay Cale. With over 75k readers and 250,000 clicks (just this year alone), Dopes on the Road is one of the most widely read queer travel blogs.  With over six years of travel writing/blogging experience and features in Cosmopolitan, Travel + Leisure, and HuffPost, Meg and Lindsay are some of the most knowledgeable ambassadors for queer women who travel. Their site combines guides like “Summer Packing List for Gender Neutral Clothing” to “40 Safety Tips for LGBT Travelers” as well as top picks for queer women with listicles like “20 Best Lesbian Parties and Lesbian Festivals in the World“.

Your blog, Dopes on the Road is one of the most followed lesbian travel blogs, can you tell me about how it started?

Meg Cale: I started Dopes on the Road when I moved to South Korea for a job in 2013. My first posts were off center grainy photos of me packing to leave for Korea in my girlfriend’s [now wife’s] house. But from the moment I pressed publish on those first heinous posts I was smitten by the world of nomadic entrepreneurship and blogging.

It didn’t take long for me to realize there was very limited information for queer travelers online and started to get questions from folks looking to move to Korea, teach ESL, and travel as queer couples. My background in LGBT advocacy gave me a unique skill set when answering many of these questions. Which is when DotR morphed from personal blog to becoming more professional.

I hoped that DotR would become a space on the internet for LGBT people like me to find resources for travel that felt more familiar to my community. I knew I wanted to inspire others to have adventures in everyday life without sugar-coating the reality of traveling as an LGBT person.

LGBT travelers face a unique set of difficulties when seeing the world. The policies and social acceptance of LGBT people varies widely from country to country, but the reality is that safety is still a huge concern for people when LGBT identity is illegal in 83 countries and territories around the world. It’s my hope to lead by example and inspire other LGBT people to seek out adventures around the world and engage in building community around the world.


Since the blog’s founding, what countries have you lived in and how many countries total have you been to?

We’ve lived in three countries, South Korea, the United States and we’re currently based in Merida, Mexico. I stopped counting countries a while back because it felt silly to me but it’s somewhere in the mid-40s, I believe. I find it silly because I don’t want to view travel as a series of hunting trophies but rather a collection of experiences that helped to shape who I am as a person. Of course, as a blogger, being able to say I’ve been to over 100 countries or I’ve been to all seven continents is a professional accolade but it’s definitely not my driving motivation in what we do.

Having experienced so many different countries and cultures, what are some of the best tips you’ve learned that may be helpful to queer women while traveling?

Queer women, nonbinary people, and transgender folks deal with unique issues that other members of the LGBT umbrella may not understand. Queer women, for example, will always be women, a marginalized group in many areas of the world. They are also queer which makes us doubly at risk for potential issues of discrimination and violence. I don’t say this to scare anyone but rather as a cautionary tale. The compounded risk makes research all the more important.

There are several questions queer women should consider before traveling abroad. The first and harshest: can you pass as straight and cisgender? Being able to pass as straight and cisgender is an incredible privilege when visiting countries that aren’t as friendly to LGBT people. If you can, it may be as easy as refraining from physically touching your partner or outing yourself while traveling. If you can’t – you have to decide what options feel safest.  


What are your top three favorite travel destinations/experiences for first time queer female travelers?

This one is so tough but I’d say my top countries are Thailand, Spain, and Canada. They all offer very unique experiences but are some of the most welcoming and affirming countries in the world.

For a very social traveler, what are the best worldwide festivals and gatherings for queer women?

Palm Springs’ Dinah Shore is the biggest lesbian festival in the world and a rite of passage for queer women these days. But it’s far from the only event! I recently published a list of some of my favorite lesbian parties and festivals around the world.

What are your favorite destinations and experiences for more experienced travelers?

Oh so many – I loved Banos, a tiny little town in the cloud forest of Ecuador, because waterfalls are a dime a dozen and adventure sports are a way of life. While you won’t find luxury hotels in Banos, you’ll find a new respect for nature and people with the biggest hearts.

Since you began working on the blog with your wife, Lindsay, can you tell me about some of the troubles you have had around the world while traveling together?

Most of our issues traveling have more to do with Lindsay’s gender expression than our sexuality. Lindsay is 6′ tall and very androgynous. She’s significantly taller than an average man in many countries. She’s masculine but not quite masculine enough to always pass as male. Which brings issues everytime we’re doing a gendered activity which is way more frequently than you can imagine. Anything to do with swimming, locker rooms, changing, bathrooms, security scanners, outfit changes, and required clothing has the potential to become anywhere from annoying to physically dangerous.  

How could the travel industry adapt better to accommodate queer women?

I’d love to see gender neutral bathrooms and changing facilities in airports, hotels, and other public tourism venues. Somedays while we’re on the road Lindsay opts to not eat or drink anything for hours and hours to avoid public restrooms. When you’re nervous about having your basic human needs met it’s nearly impossible to enjoy your day. Solving this issue can be as easy as changing signage on already existing single use restrooms to be gender neutral.

I’d also love to see more inclusive marketing campaigns and product development with queer women in mind. It can be as simple as using real queer women rather than models and making sure that their gender presentation is reflective of the broader community.

Recognizing the lack of queer women specific events and tours for queer women in the travel industry, you’ve begun taking on the role of trip planner/organizer. How has that changed your perspective on the travel industry? Which trips do you have coming up?

One of the biggest issues for queer women is the lack of spaces for us to meet each other. Sure, we have apps and social media but many of our bars, coffee shops, festivals, and bookstores have closed. We launched our first group trip last year to Dinah Shore as a way to make space for folks looking to meet people and build community. The first trip was a huge success so we’ve decided to do our next trip to Thailand in October of 2018.

Being on the trip planning side of the industry has really opened my eyes to the millions of tiny details that go into creating a successful trip. It gives me a new level of appreciation and respect for the attention and diligence that goes into the work that agents and trip planners have.

You speak at a lot of travel symposiums and conferences as a respected voice within the industry. What are the main topics you like to bring up?

I’m constantly talking about inclusivity, gender expression, transgender travelers, and content marketing. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I get to hit all of those topics in one panel discussion. I love being a voice for queer travelers because it’s an opportunity to start a conversation that ultimately leads to a more empathetic and reasonable relationship between the brands who would like to work with us and the LGBT community.

Lastly, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?

This one is so tough because I love so many places but I’d have to say either Chiang Mai, Thailand or Brooklyn, NY. They have more in common than you may think at first. Brooklyn is home for me. I wasn’t born there but it’s the closest I’ve ever felt to truly belonging somewhere. Chiang Mai is a city in northern Thailand that’s well known for its numerous temples, elephant sanctuaries, and as one of the largest digital nomad hubs in the world. There’s some beautiful examples of Thai culture but there’s also a growing startup tech scene that is one of the most interesting and innovative places in the world.

Check out Meg and Lindsay’s adventures at Dopes on the Road and on Instagram — @megcale and @lindscale.

Magical Realism in the Mojave

A curious land.

Roadrunner leaves its prints on the sand.

This is a desert so out of the ordinary a hunk of it was designated the Queer Mountain Wilderness Study Area by the U.S. government in 1992—the same year I was born.

This is a queer land.

I identify with land that has been othered.

Here in Mojave National Preserve, we are in the thickest thicket of joshua trees in the world.

Here in Mojave National Preserve, we are in a very different type of forest.

My friend Anna is among their many whimsical arms lifting up her own to the late afternoon sun in an appreciative salutation. Her hair is up and brushes the sweat on the back of her neck.

This grove of trees lie in the crotch between the rotund 70-acre Cima Dome and lofty Kessler Peak.

Cima Dome is so massive, that if you were plopped on to its summit, you wouldn’t even know you were on the top of a mountain.

It would just look flat.

It is the result of a work-shy volcano.

We had pulled off I-15, the highway that darts through the Mojave Desert and passes right by the sparkler of Las Vegas.

We are south of the City of Sin, off a pavement road, off a dirt road, off a dirt road, off a dirt road near a place called Cima and we have decided to get a better look at our surroundings.

We set up camp. We are on a road trip that will eventually dribble us into Los Angeles.

We follow the roadrunner’s signature that loops like cursive across the sand.

I wonder what kind of things the ground bird chases.

There are prickly pear by our ankles, some of them are generous and offer us their blooms.

A few ladybugs explore the cup of the blossom in hope of aphids.

Most don’t know that the combined weight of all the insects in the world is many many many many times more than the mass of humanity.

We could be squashed by their weight, like an anvil falling off of a butte onto Wile E. Coyote as the Road Runner meeps by.

Right now, in the goldening hours of the day, the desert is giving us curtains of color. I’m not sure what the curtains are made of.

Dust? Distance? Trickery?

The curtains help break apart the space that seems too big for comprehension.

The colors we are seeing are gold like the ore once dynamited, ransacked and left as abandoned mines across the preserve, purple like the underbelly of pillowing storm clouds, and billows of pleasant powder blue.

Anna tells me magical realism doesn’t solely exist within the pages of an Isabel Allende or Gabriel García Márquez novel.

She knows.

She writes award winning stories about girls that are actually manatees that get hit by boats.

She writes stories about hearts like cuckoo clocks.

I always remember that image.

We’ve all had a lover with a heart like a cuckoo clock.

Anna says magical realism isn’t just alive within the beloved films of Hayao Miyazaki.

It exists elsewhere and everywhere.

She has taught me to see the world more fantastically.

It has made me see some mountains as handsome. It has helped me make a blue spruce a boyfriend.

It has helped me feel the arousal of the river’s caress and the sensuality of the breeze when I was alone and ran across the sand dunes of the preserve without my shorts.

It has made me see two hills like the breasts of a woman or, depending on their distance and globularity, like the buttocks of a man.

It has helped me understand what Georgia O’Keefe was really painting when she painted flowers.

Before, I was none the wiser.

But now I know what O’Keefe was really up to when she painted mountains whose spurs spread like legs with wild juniper bushes in their crotches.

All of this has helped me anthropomorphize the land.

If we all saw the land as a person worth loving, we might not have bombed the Southwest with nukes in the 1950s and departed so many downwinders.

If we all saw the land as a person worth loving, we might not have a current administration so giddy to continue the poisoning of land. Trump and Zinke have already gifted 1.3 million acres of the Mojave to miners ready to abuse the desert.

If we all saw the land as a person worth loving,  we would have never had any of these damn pipelines or oceans with plastic islands the size of Texas.

Starbucks has just banned straws.

We like this, but the containers are still plastic.

Literary critic Matthew Strecher once defined “magical realism” as “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe.”


For some stories, it’s the appearance of an ancestor returning to guide a main character on their journey, perhaps a grandmother returning with wisdom on how to fight fascism and greed. For others, it’s the emergence of a talking animal—like the enormous and godly golden carp of Rudolfo Antoya’s Bless Me, Ultima.

Many other things can happen in the realm of magical realism.

You see, I’ve always believed in the magic of our surroundings, but I had never seen anything truly out of the ordinary.

Yes, polychromatic sunsets and rises, galloping horses on black sand beaches, platypuses darting through the waters of a billabong— but it wasn’t until Anna and I found ourselves on the summit of Kessler Peak, in the middle of the Mojave that I was persuaded.

The Mojave National Preserve is the third biggest wilderness area in the lower 48.  It’s not easy to imagine 1,600,000 acres.

But that doesn’t mean they should make it smaller.

The preserve was designated by Congress in 1996 under the California Desert Protection Act. And under the Obama administration, new land was protected around it—Mojave Trails National Monument with the dazzling Cadiz Dunes and the stately pinnacles of Castle Mountains National Monument.

These preserves have official borders but the land doesn’t recognize them and nor should it.

They blend together as one like watercolors on the page.

The California Desert Protection Act was the grandchild of a woman named Minerva Hoyt who loved the desert so much, she made herself a part of its bloodline.

You would need a million lives to see everything in the preserve and all of these monuments.

You have to camp in the middle of it and take off your clothes and yell a big yippe-ki-yay just to understand the importance of immensity and the possiblitity of space.

The danger of exposure.

There is freedom in space.

In the preserve, there are sand dunes called Kelso that at night, act as a ladder to the moon.

Did I mention that these dunes sing?

Sand dune tunes.

The dryer they are, the sweeter their chorus.

There are mountains called the Old Woman Mountains and a peak called Old Dad Mountain that I’ve renamed Yes Daddy Peak.

There are cliffs with holes like Swiss cheese that birds nest in.

There is a cross that is a memorial to WWI soldiers that was the feature of a Supreme Court Decision that was later stolen and then found 500 miles away in Half Moon Bay, California.

There is physical abandonment in the form of mine shafts and ghost towns with rich tales of death.

There are lava beds and canyons and cougars and even bighorn sheep.

There is a beach without an ocean called the Devil’s Playground that stretches into salt flats of ancient lakes.

As Anna and I climb higher to 6,000 feet on Kessler we can begin to believe all of this. We know that there is not enough time to see it all but that we are many people in this world and maybe we can see it all together and hear about the places we’ll never make it to.

We can begin to imagine all the bugs and insects that are out there as soon as the dusk birds and bats start fattening their bellies.

When we finally reach the top of Kessler, we look for the summit log. We are curious who was before us and where we fit on this mountain’s narrative.

Shadows are casting themselves elegantly and are dressing other mountains and valleys with a sultry black velvet robe that is quite sexy if you ask me.

We continue our search for the summit log among rocks and yuccas in all of that sexiness.

We are writers and are enthusiastic to put our black ink onto  parchment weathered by the Mojave.

We need to tell the next readers who we are and what we saw and log our admiration.

There is a rusty can underneath a rock and the breeze is blowing hard at the top but it isn’t cold, it is like the breath of a dragon.

When we grab the can and open it, the small notebook falls out and so do hundreds of lady bugs.

Some are red and spotted. Others are missing their sports—perhaps they were blown off by the wind, perhaps they had been rubbed off onto other ladybugs.

Some are almost pink and others are the colors tomatoes turn after being in the sun too long. Some are so washed out they are yellow. Whatever their color or spot count they keep spilling from the ground below the can and I am persuaded by the weight of insects.

We are paralyzed by awe and only able to capture the moment by story.

They continue to erupt from the mountain as if we have sliced a laceration across the crown of the mountain. It is as if the mountain is bleeding. It is as if the mountain is a volcano erupting lava like the tectonic plates have passed over a hotspot of spotted insects.

The mountain erupts ladybugs into the sky and they rush to explore the preserve as if it were going somewhere.

Pillowtalk Ep 4: James Butler Doesn’t Want You To Think He’s A Ho

Dancer/model/actor and YouTube star James Butler has a young gay following across the globe, and he wants them to feel comfortable getting tested. 

But in a Pillow Talk session with host Jen Richards, Butler admits that he had specific fears attached to getting tested himself. He worried that if a fan saw him in the waiting room, “They’d think: ‘Oh my god, my favorite YouTuber is a ho!'” But he quickly recognized that the more likely sentiment is: “‘Oh, my favorite YouTuber cares about himself and wants to be responsible, healthy, and safe.'”

Queer Women, Trans, And Non-Binary People Are Bonding Over Food At NYC’s Babetown

When I visited chef Alex Koones in her downtown Brooklyn apartment, she was shaking out flour from her clothes, and preparing butter-filled dough for what would later become a babka. The dessert was for Babetown, a pop-up supper club she hosts about two times a month for queer women, transgender women and men, and non-binary people to build friendships and community. 

 “We are living in a time where the lesbian bar is almost in extinction,” Koones told me. “There aren’t many spaces for those different communities to come together. The truth is, most of our parties and clubs, especially if they get good, just get flooded with cis gay men. So, Babetown is sort of about this other segment of our community having a space where they can come together and meet people in their own community they might not ordinarily meet.” 

Katie Ward / A Plus 

Koones — a classically trained line chef with experience at several restaurants — cooks, and the guest list is open to anyone willing to “put down some money for their portion of food and drinks.” Each event is inspired by local and seasonally available produce and proteins, and the food tends to be typical of Konnes’s New York Jewish heritage. At the brunch I attended, for example, Koones served sourdough waffles, matzo brie topped with pesto, hummus with homemade pita, sausages, salad, and some fruit with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. And, of course, the babka. 


As guests began to arrive, many volunteered to help with the cooking and serving.  

“From the food, to the theme, to the music we play, every aspect of the experience is coming from my heart,” Koones said, adding that she hugs”every new person who walks into Babetown. “I let them know this is a place where I hope they can be comfortable.”

As Koones’s food is devoured and guests mingle, a Babetown first-timer, yoga teacher Kristi Cole, told me she had recently been feeling “really disconnected from the queer community.”

Katie Ward / A Plus 

 “This is a really great opportunity to just come, in a low-stress environment … to just meet people and give me that sense of connection that I’ve been really missing … It’s really a place for people to come together and just get to know each other,” she said.

For regulars, like Leah Shea, who works as a team coordinator at a healthcare company, Babetown events have become a bit like a home away from home, a place where best friends are made, and community is created. “Most of the friends I have now, I’ve met at Babetown,” Shea told me. 

Katie Ward / A Plus 

As for the longterm future of Babetown? Koones is torn. “Babetown could never be a money-making business.” Koones said. “I’m honestly very skeptical of any for-profit business that labels itself as ‘queer’ … for something to be about benefiting queer people, I think it needs to be for the queer community, not profiting off if it.” 

But for now, Koones is planning two more events for the month of June. “Babetown Local,” an event sponsored by GrowNYC where all the food, down to the salt, will be locally made, with a specific effort to showcase queer, female, and POC farmers and artisans. And, excitingly, even a series of Babetown weddings, planned for June 26, the anniversary of the supreme court ruling allowing for same-sex marriage.

Katie Ward / A Plus 

Koones will approach both with the simple strategy that what makes the magic happen at Babetown is the food. 

“With good, warm food in your stomach, your guard is going to go down and you’re going to find yourself opening up about yourself or listening to a good story from a stranger and that’s just going to happen naturally,” she says.

Find the original article on A Plus. 

INTO’s 7 Must Haves For Frequent Travelers

As someone who lives in airports and can perform and recite the safety demonstration on an airplane flawlessly, I’m beyond comfortable in saying that I know a few things about travel and traveling. Below is a list of 7 essentials (with a little bonus trifecta at the end) to help ease your worries when jetsetting to wherever you may be going.

(1) Stay Connected – Vision Global WiFi

Having Internet while traveling international can be extremely expensive between using your cell phone plans and paying for hotel Wi-Fi, but now there is a much easier way to be online while overseas. This company will ship you a personal Wi-Fi device to take with you and even provide return packaging so you can drop it in the mail upon your return. Vision Global has service coverage in most parts of the world, and the rates are easonable for unlimited access during your trip. (I’ve used this in the depths of the Amazon to the southern most city surround by glaciers to safaris in Africa to major cities in the Middle East, and it always works and keeps me connected to the world…as I travel the world.)

(2) Stay Covered – Allianz Travel Insurance

If you are traveling without travel insurance, you are risking the possibility of spending a lot of money out of pocket if you happen to get sick or have an accident. Allianz offers per trip insurance policies but also has a yearly plan, which is more economical and just makes more sense. Quotes are easy and you can print out your insurance card within seconds of signing up. There are many additional non-medical benefits to travel insurance like trip cancellation reimbursements and lost luggage compensation. (When I was surfing in Sydney and had a major knee injury, this insurance plan I had saved me wallet and I was able to receive the emergency care I needed…immediately.)

(3) Pay For The Best – Briggs and Riley Luggage

When it comes to luggage, there comes a time when you realize that having cheap and or just ok luggage is more of a pain, than a cost saving technique. Just bite the bullet and spend a little more on quality luggage such as Briggs & Riley, which comes with a lifetime warranty. They have many collections in both hard shell and fabric styles, both of which are stylish and comfortable to pack and drag around with you as you travel the world. (I personally am a fan and owner of the TORQ collection, and I travel with the three sizes most of the time…and the comments from fellow passengers when they see my luggage are worth the investment alone – they are so slick!)

(4) Extra Juice – Jackery

Extra battery packs are nothing new, but don’t waste your time with a single charge battery when you can have ones from Jackery that will charge you up multiple times. Yes, they can be bit heavier, but when the old plane you are on doesn’t have a plug and you need to keep your iPad or iPhone charged during the long flight, it will make more sense to you. (I always travel with my Jackery Giant, which is the biggest of them all. It has two USB ports so I am usually charging two devices or sharing with a neighbor who looks sad because of their battery life.)

(5) Shut That Noise Out – Bose

In the days of trying to keep your sanity while at the airport or on a flight, I rely on noise canceling earbuds, and when in transit, I never take them off, helping me avoid unwanted conversation with any potential airplane seatmates and once in the air, helping me zone out, avoiding all the noise that comes from air travel. (I’m a fan of the Bose QuietControl 30 wireless headphones as I prefer them to the bulky over-ear headphones, but there are lots of options out there.)

Avoid this panic-inducing sight on your way to the airport and #GoLuggageFree.

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(6) Take It Away! – Luggage Free

This luggage delivery service is ideal for pretty much anyone that hates dealing with luggage…so everyone. Schedule a pick up from your home and when you arrive to your hotel, walk in to your room and find the luggage inside waiting for you. Sounds like a dream, right? Rates are reasonable and if you are traveling heavy, can save you on airline overage fees. (I’ve used this on several occasions, especially when traveling on back to back trips that require different completely different outfit options, like when I flew directly to Maui from Iceland.)

(7) Make a Statement – Apolis,  Aviate &  Mess in a Bottle

There’s nothing I like more than letting people know what I’m all about, especially while traveling. These customizable totes from Apolis are my new favorite thing right now as you have three lines to express yourself in any way that you’d like, not to mention the totes are just beautifully made.


Since I practically live in airports, when I came across Aviate, I was excited about wearing my home airport code each time I boarded a flight.

And last but not least, Mess in a Bottle has been my go to for t-shirts for years now. They have incredible messages to choose from but you can also customize your shirts, jackets, bags and more, with your message.