Gay Halloween Costume Ideas

There’s no Halloween like gay Halloween! Is it just me or has Halloween really stepped up its game in recent years? All the high street fashion shops now seem to be running a whole Halloween LINE. But really, if you’re heading to a costume party, you know you want to stand out from the crowd, and no one does a costume party like the gays! Here are some ideas for anyone stuck on how to look suitably spooky.

1. American Horror Story

Producer Ryan Murphy’s TV shows have always had a big gay following, and his latest hit Horror Story is perfect for Halloween! Now four seasons deep, with Murder House, Asylum, Coven and Freak Show, the possibilities are endless!

YOU WILL NEED:

  • For the clown – just some facepaint and fake teeth!
  • For the double-headed Bette and Dot – a friend and a serious sense of commitment.

2. Rocky Horror

One of the most notorious cult classics is full of camp characters, from the creepy Riff Raff, to the malicious maid Magenta, to Tim Curry’s iconic androgynous Dr Frank N. Furter.

You will need:

  • Fishnets
  • Pleather
  • Confidence

3. Carrie

This way you get to dress as a telekinetic murderer AND a prom queen! Or you could just stay home with your mother, burn your outfit and pray.

You will need:

  • Charity shop Prom dress
  • Pigs’ blood
  • Pyschic powers

4. Westboro Baptist Church

Remember, God is benevolent, which means all-loving. Unless you are a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, whose God hates… well… quite a lot of things really. Especially fags. And probably Halloween.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • Your clothes from 2004
  • Sensationalist signage
  • Delusions of grandeur

5. Vladimir Putin

What’s scarier to the gays than an insidious homophobe leading one of the most powerful countries in the world? Not much!

YOU WILL NEED:

  • Suit
  • Receding hairline
  • Repressed urges

6. Britney Spears circa 2007

If Britney can make it through 2007, you can make it through Halloween! It’s Britney, witch!

YOU WILL NEED:

  • Shaved head/bald cap
  • Grey hoodie
  • Iconic back catalogue

7. “Sexy”… well… anything!

We all know the part in Mean Girls where it’s explained that Halloween is really just an excuse to get away with looking as slutty as possible. Normally this idea is focused on girls… but that’s where the gays come in! Go on guys, it’s the one day where no one’s allowed to call you out on it. IT’S IN THE RULES.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • As little as possible

8. Drag me to hell

Wanted to sashay down the runway ever since you first saw Drag Race but never knew how to take the first step? Here’s a handy guide on how to get started:

  1. Wear a drag-based outfit for Halloween.
  2. Once Halloween is over, just don’t stop being a drag queen.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • Friends’/sister’s/mother’s makeup
  • False eyelashes
  • Wide-fitting shoes
 
Happy Halloween from Gay Homestays! Go forth, be scary, be safe, be fabulous!

City spotlight: Atlanta

This weekend (11-12 October 2014) sees the 44th annual Atlanta Pride festival. In honour of this it’s time for another top five… things to do in Atlanta… stuff that lives in Atlanta… just stuff that makes Atlanta, GA great!

5. Coca-Cola

Atlanta is home to the headquarters of some of the biggest companies in America, and this is certainly one of the biggest. As well as being home to the working headquarters of Coca-Cola, Atlanta is also home to World of Coca-Cola, a bizarre living, breathing advertisement and monument to the syrupy behemoth that was invented in Georgia over 100 years ago. The museum moved to a shiny new site in 2007, and apparently contains a tasting room where you can sip over 60 varieties of Coca-Cola. Tasty!

4. CNN

Atlanta is also home to the world’s first 24 hour news network CNN, and like Coca-Cola, it’s been turned into a tourist attraction with the Inside CNN Studio Tour. Anderson Cooper, “the most prominent openly gay journalist on American television”, has long been linked to the network. See if you can spot him in the corridors. He’s cute!

3. Southern rap

Atlanta has always been a major music city, and it’s not known as “hip-hop’s centre of gravity” for nothing, with everyone from Outkast to 2 Chainz to TLC associated with the city. Hit the clubs and get twerking!

2. Civil rights

Ok, time to get serious. Atlanta was the home of Martin Luther King Jr, the Nobel Peace Prize winning leader of the African-American Civil Rights movement. Check out the historic sites around the city from the house in which he was born to the site of his grave.

1. Third highest proportion of LGB people in the USA

According to a 2006 study, 12.8% of Atlanta residents identify as gay or bisexual, giving Atlanta the third highest proportionate gay community in the USA, behind San Francisco and Seattle. So what are you waiting for? Check out gay Atlanta! Happy pride!

Honourable mention

Sorry Nene, but the Real Housewives of Atlanta just missed the cut.

Top five: Pop stars out right now

5. Mika

Mika is known all over Europe, currently splitting his time between appearing as a judge on the Italian version of X Factor and the French version of The Voice. He said in 2009, “I’ve never ever labelled myself. But having said that; I’ve never limited my life, I’ve never limited who I sleep with… Call me whatever you want.” In 2012, he confirmed he was gay in an interview with Instinct magazine. Check out this song which samples Wicked and features Ariana Grande. If that’s not gay, we don’t know what is!

4. Fergie

Though she’s spent most of her career with the Black Eyed Peas, her 2006 solo album The Dutchess spawned no less than three US number one singles. And rumour has it, she’s now working on the long awaited follow up! In 2009, The Sun reported her as coming out as bisexual, to which she responded:

“The funny thing is that I was very open and honest about that from the very beginning, and everyone was acting like it was some new trend. Go back four or five years, people, and you’ll see the same answer.

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We think the eyebrow piercing was always a giveaway.

3. Angel Haze

New York via Detroit rapper Angel Haze opens up about her pansexuality in her version of Macklemore’s “Same Love”. She sings too, dedicating a cover of John Newman’s “Love Me Again” to girlfriend Ireland Baldwin at this years Glastonbury Festival.

2. Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean has worked as a songwriter with everyone from Beyoncé to Justin Bieber, and made waves with his own critically acclaimed debut album Channel Orange in 2012. Prior to its release, he opened up about his same sex experiences on his Tumblr page:

“4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence … until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless…”

1. Sam Smith

Sam Smith started getting noticed on UK radio singing on dance tracks like Disclosure’s “Latch” and Naughty Boy’s “La La La”. Since then, he’s blossomed into a bona fide solo star and crossed the pond with high profile appearances on Saturday Night Live and at the VMAS. He described his debut album In The Lonely Hour  as “about a guy that I fell in love with last year, and he didn’t love me back.” :( We’re sure plenty of guys are fighting over him now!

There are more and more LGBT musicians appearing all the time, and so many more than the five we’ve mentioned here. Who are some of your favourites?

Drag Race stars hit Europe!

I can’t think of a TV series that has ever captured the attention of the gay community quite like Rupaul’s Drag Race has. Now preparing for its seventh year, the show has gone from strength to strength, bringing its stars into the public eye, and even seeming to spearhead a whole new era of drag in gay communities around the world.

Unlike major network shows like Will and Grace, who wanted to be gay, but couldn’t be too gay (‘straight’ actors were purposefully chosen to play the two main gay male roles, though Sean Hayes, who played Jack, later came out) Drag Race still has the underground feeling of a show truly made by gay people, for gay people. Even now, while being considered a huge success, ask any straight person at work about it, and chances are, they’ve never heard of it. Ask a young gay guy, and chances are he can run down his top ten contestants. However, as the show grows bigger and bigger, this is changing, and we are seeing more and more well-known straight celebrities popping up as guest judges and gushing over the show on social media.

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Meow! As the show’s popularity has increased, so has its budget.
 

The show is not only growing bigger in America but across the world. It is now syndicated on networks in numerous countries, as well as of course online, being available on Netflix across Europe and South America, and one side effect of the show’s international success is that the queens are coming with it! If you follow any Drag Race contestant on social media you can see that, whether they won the show or not, they’re getting booked for plenty of shows and public appearances in the aftermath. At first this was pretty limited to North America, but now we are seeing the queens able to plan worldwide club tours. In Manchester, England, the home of Gay Homestays headquarters, this seemed to start with one or two very rare appearances, but now, word has apparently got round that partying with us Brits is a whole lot of fun (and no doubt lucrative…) and now they’re all coming over!

The Drag Race stars have proven so popular here that the AXM club, in the heart of Manchester’s gay village, has managed to build a semi-regular night around the idea, which has already seen Willam, Detox, and Adore Delano visit the city, with Courtney Act, Bianco Del Rio, Alaska and Michelle Visage already booked to follow. Last weekend, we headed down to the Adore Delano night to check it out.

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Party! Adore has had the most chart success of any contestant on the show.
 

The night always seems to be on a Sunday – I think the queens probably get booked to come over to London for a Saturday night and then we steal them up to Manchester the next day before they have a chance to fly away again! The night was sold out and there was already a large huddle around the stage area when we arrived. Before the performance, the club was playing out their regular selection of gay club hits mixed with some Drag Race related songs – and the show’s popularity could really be felt when everyone in the club started going crazy for contestant Alaska’s single ‘Your Makeup Is Terrible’ – a room full of people shouting along every word to this song that never has and never will be played on British radio, as if it were a huge hit. Adore herself was so impressed with the sight that she even ran onto the stage (to huge cheers) to take a video to send to Alaska, before running backstage to finish getting ready.

Delano is a singer, in fact the most successful musician in Drag Race history – her debut album hit #59 in the USA, charting higher than even Rupaul’s latest album. So, there was no trace of the classic drag queen lip sync performance. It was a real rock gig, and the chaotic personality of the ‘punk rock mermaid’ shone through, with her coming out asking the crowd which of her songs we wanted her to perform, (to which she was met with a reply of incomprehensible shouts of every song on her album at once), stopping one song half way through and saying she wanted to do a different one instead, and walking into the crowd and crowdsurfing. There was no finessed drag pageantry here, rather, an unpredictable ball of party energy. And it was a LOT of fun.

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A professional photographer was on hand, but selfies are so much more fun.
 

After the show, those that paid a little extra had the opportunity of a ‘meet and greet’. The experience was similar to that of a busy roller coaster – you queue for an hour for something that seems to last for a few seconds, and the wait to meet Adore did seem long. But when you got to the point where you could actually see what was going on, you could see why. I’ve been told by people who have been to see some of the other queens how they said hello, got their picture, and were moved along, but Adore, cocktail in hand, never seemed to stop talking. On the show, she never seemed to be one to think much before she spoke, and I can only imagine the variety of things she was saying to people. She spent most of her time with me telling me how much she needed a pee.

As well as cities across the USA and Canada, this year Adore Delano will be appearing in Barcelona, Dublin, Stockholm, Brighton, London, Amsterdam, Glasgow, Vienna and returning to Manchester.

Travel In Style: Popstar t-shirts

If there’s one style of clothing that never seems to go out of fashion, it’s tops with popstars on them – even if that particular popstar is no longer around or isn’t currently on the charts, popstar t-shirts always remain popular and countless different designs featuring their face, body or image have been created over the years and released by various labels, from top designers to high street brands and even amateurs or semi-professionals who are passionate about creating and selling their own clothing. Below is s a select few popstar t-shirts that we love that range in the popstars themselves, brands and prices:

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Boy George was one of the biggest musicians in the 80s and one of the most daring when it came to fashion choices so what better way to honour his influence on the more exciting and quirky side of fashion than with this t-shirt designed by David Bailey? Though at £70 you may want to start saving for it!

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Throughout the 70s and 80s, Debbie Harry became a staple in pop music culture, especially being one of very few big bands out at the time that had a female lead singer. This zebra-print vest from 8Ball (£18.99) is cute, yet very much something that the punk-inspired Debbie would probably wear herself.

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Combining legendary pop music with modern children’s films, Big Blue have created a “Despicable Me” Michael Jackson minion t-shirt, which is available on Play.com for £12.99. It also comes in various different colours.

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We really like this simple yet lovely Whitney Houston t-shirt with a detailed painted portrait of the beautiful singer’s face. £16.99 from T-Shirt Subway.

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David Bowie is known to be a fan of designer Paul Smith so the brand created this t-shirt (£35) based on him. Not your usual Bowie top – most usually are a print of his face from the iconic album “Aladdin Sane” – but definitely something cool and different that fans of the label and the star will probably like.

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This basic but bold Amy Winehouse t-shirt from Spicetag (£11.95) was inspired by 60s pop art.

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Conchita Wurst, the winner of Eurovision 2014, has become one of the world’s most popular popstars of the year and Maxcrude have released this t-shirt bearing Conchita’s now world-famous face. The tee is €20 and is available for men and women.

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Queen of Pop Madonna has had her face and image used plenty of times on labels’ clothing but this one from House Of The Gods for £39.99 is one of our favourites.

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Hip hop star Pharrell Williams is among many celebrities whose face has been photoshopped with Hype Means Nothing’s signature “hand glasses” pose. However, at a hefty £65 from Selfridges, it’s probably not for those on a tight budget…

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Designed and printed in Thailand, this oversized tank top with Christina Aguilera’s controversial yet sexy pose from her “Stripped” days can also work as a mini-dress. You can purchase it from eBay for £8.95.

Preview: Manchester Pride 2014

It’s coming up to that time of the year again – the biggest event on the calendar for most LGBT people living in Manchester and much of the northwest: Manchester Pride. From 22nd to 25th August, the “Gay Capital of the North” will be awash with tens of thousands of Pride-goers from all over the country and event the world visiting Manchester for its 24th year of Pride. But hopefully it won’t be awash with rain as it has in previous years.

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This year’s Parade theme is “Love” – largely due to the big news this year that same-sex marriage is now legal in England, Scotland and Wales – and is very much open to interpretation and creativity. Last year‘s 80s theme was slightly controversial because of the negativity surrounding LGBT people and their lack of rights during that decade. So this year you can expect to see lots of red and pink and enactments of weddings to make you feel all loved up – or sickly, perhaps depending on your own relationship status!

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Manchester Pride have also recently announced all the main acts who will be taking to the stage at the Big Weekend and this year it seems they have gone global after previous years’ acts were met with disappointed reactions. American singer-songwriter Anastacia, new girl group on the block Neon Jungle, once huge girl group All Saints and the winner of Eurovision 2014, Conchita Wurst will all be performing. Other performers include former X Factor contestants Misha B, Lucy Spraggan (both of whom were at last year’s event too), Marcus Collins and Amelia Lily as well as Foxes, MNEK, former Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt, Heather Peace and Manbears. For a full list of names, click here.

During the month of August, the Pride Fringe will have a wide variety of exhibitions, talks, shows and other activities that will take place all over Manchester – once a ten-day festival that happened just before the Big Weekend, the Fringe has now expanded as more events are added each year and a full schedule will be announced soon. Also over the next few weeks, many of Canal Street’s bars and clubs will begin to release information about the special nights they will put on over Pride, so keep an eye out for those. And for those of you who want a bit of a rest of partying and drinking and fancy a bit more culture or shopping, don’t forget the village markets and the Lifestyle Expo will be present during the daytimes as usual. There is also the guided walk around Canal Street and certain parts of the city of places that are of great significance to the LGBT community that you might want to embark upon and check out if you have the time during a day. The Big Weekend will again, in line with tradition, come to a melancholy end with the Candlelit Vigil on the Monday evening.

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Will you be going to Manchester Pride this year? To find out more about Manchester’s world-famous Canal Street, visit the official site here.  Tickets for Pride are now on sale online and in some bars and shops around the gay village and there is also the chance to purchase a limited number of day tickets at the heavily reduced price of £5 for those who are struggling to pay for one. If you’re also looking for a place to stay and do not wish or can’t afford to rent a serviced apartment or stay in a hotel (or they have all sold out), don’t forget we at Gay Homestays have just over 20 properties available in the greater Manchester area. Or alternatively, if you have a spare room or property to let out to visitors in Manchester, you can add it here and become a host with us.

Queens of Clean: Puffs With Polish

Gay Homestays is proud to be the first LGBT-run online accommodation network for gays and lesbian travellers and hosts and as a company we are always keen to work with and help promote other start-up companies that also target this niche segment of the community. Puffs With Polish is the UK’s first openly gay cleaning service that employs LGBT cleaners that you can hire to help clean your home or your office.

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Founded by Neil Ralphs, who has nearly 3o years of experience in the cleaning industry, Puffs With Polish is – like us – based in Manchester and works primarily within private houses and with LGBT-owned businesses or businesses operating in the LGBT market throughout the northwest of England. And it’s not just cleaning services that they provide: Puffs with Polish can also provide laundry (including ironing), painting, decorating, security personnel and companionship to the highest standard for all customers.

For Neil though, Puffs With Polish is only is newest endeavour – he is already a well-respected entrepreneur who owns several other national businesses, is the winner of the Mayor’s Oscar and Young Business Person of the Year, is a Business Mentor for Richard Branson’s Virgin Start-Up and even had his own BBC documentary entitled “Dirty Work”. Neil is also a host with Gay Homestays and lets out his spare guest room in his luxury (and perfectly clean, we’re sure) apartment in Manchester.

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Just like Gay Homestays, Puffs With Polish aims to provide LGBT customers with a product tailored to their needs and preferences. So if you’re a busy professional or own a gay company and would feel more comfortable with another LGBT person cleaning your property without being embarrassed by anything they might come across or even judged, then Puffs With Polish is the ideal company for you to use. Puffs With Polish also wants to help create friendships and mutual understandings between the cleaner and the owner rather than a typical maid service where nobody talks except for orders being given so if the cleaner also identifies as LGBT that means if you’re around when they are working, you are more likely to have things in common that you can relate to and talk about.

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All Puffs With Polish employees are friendly and skilled or trained in the tasks they do and with experienced Neil and his partner Pete at the helm, you can be assured that you will be receiving the best service possible that your require. For a full range and quote of their domestic and commercial services, check out their website.

Review: The Bodyguard, the musical

In 1992, Rachael Marron was brought to life as one of the most iconic divas on the silver screen in the 90s by, funnily enough, one of the world’s most iconic divas of all time – Whitney Houston. “The Bodyguard” was a huge commercial success, grossing over US$400 million worldwide and its soundtrack became the biggest-selling of all time, with over 45 million copies sold. Then, since 2012, not long after the untimely death of Whitney, a musical based on the film (that had been in production for several years already) directed by Thea Sharrock (the 2007 adaptation of “Equus” starring Daniel Radcliffe) and produced by David Ian (“Cats” and “The Sound of Music” among countless others) and Michael Harrison, was launched.

Tony award-winning actress and singer Heather Headley originally starred in the lead role and the musical was a critical and box office success, which continued after British soul singer Beverley Knight took over as Miss Marron and Tristan Gemmill replaced Lloyd Owen as Frank Farmer in September 2013. But how did Beverley fair in her first major acting role and her West End début and how does the musical compare to the film? We recently went along to see the show in London’s Adelphi Theatre on The Strand to see for ourselves and were pleasantly surprised that are high expectations were met.

The storyline is very similar to the original film, with a few minor changes – the predominant ones being a small shift in the roles Rachel Marron’s sister, Nikki (experienced theatre actress Carole Stennett) and her stalker/assassin plays (the rather ruggedly handsome Michael Rouse). In addition to songs from the film’s original soundtrack, a number of other well-known Whitney Houston songs are included in the production and are cleverly weaved into the narrative in one way or another, like “Saving All My Love for You”, “All The Man I Need” and “One Moment in Time”. The musical also manages to give this romantic thriller a comedic and light-hearted edge that wasn’t in the film, which was perhaps aided by cheeky and more adult-based humour and one-liners and the introduction of more fun and uptempo Whitney songs such as “I’m Your Baby Tonight”, “How Will I Know” and the show’s closer “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)”.

While the whole cast, bar Beverley, consists of seasoned screen and stage actors, singers and dancers and none of them, including Beverley are bad actors at all, we were a little unsettled by some of their overly fake American accents, though this thankfully did not take anything away from their overall performances. Beverley, who has never really acted before, did surprisingly well in fulfilling the role of Rachel Marron and taking over from Heather; we already know she can sing, but her acting was pretty impressive too, particularly as we see her stepping out of her usual humble and down-to-earth persona and become a world-class diva (in fact, very similar to Whitney, whose acting début was in the film). And sing she does. Known for her combined rich and beautiful tone, extensive range, vocal power, agility and control, technical skill, intricate musical and lyrical interpretations, and the soul and emotion she put into her songs, Whitney will forever be hailed as one of the greatest pop vocalists of all time. But Beverley is most certainly a vocal force to be reckoned with herself, possessing similar traits Whitney had and showcasing them brilliantly throughout the show. Not only does she retain the integrity, meaning and emotions of the original recordings but she also puts her own little twist to a few of them as well, some of which are given a slight re-arrangement to suit a musical setting and a theatrical performance – and she does so without a missing a note, a riff, run, trill or a beat. Carole Stennett also proves she’s a fine singer as she steps into the spotlight on a few occasions to sing solos and duet with Beverley, the latter of which showed great vocal precision and beautiful harmonies from the pair of them.

Though we felt (in a similar way to the film) that the story did lack a bit of depth and detail and there was little character improvement (except for Nikki Marron), it was definitely compensated by its slick direction and production, a great all-around cast and ensemble and of course its musical numbers that at times made it feel more like we were at a concert than a stage show. It was however, a shame that so many other great Whitney songs that could have been included were not and that there is no cast recording available to buy, though despite this we were left with a rush of tingles up our a spines and an energy that the cast gave us as they sang and danced their way through some of the biggest and catchiest pop songs of the past 30 years. And we’re sure Whitney Houston would have enjoyed it too if she was still alive to see it today.

“The Bodyguard” is currently taking bookings until 30th August and Beverley Knight will finish her run on the show on 31st May, with former X Factor winner Alexandra Burke taking over on 2nd June. The Adelphi Theatre is located on The Strand in the Westminster area of London near Covent Garden and is around a mile from Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. The area is not far at all from a number of London’s top gay bars and clubs, so is perfect for those wanting a night out in the city after watching the show. Check out our guide to gay London and see a full list of London’s gay scene, as well as view our 300 properties there right here.

Overall rating: 4/5
Story: 3/5
Music: 5/5
Vocals: 5/5
Acting: 3/5
Choreography: 4/5
Production: 4/5

6 LGBT Film Festivals coming up in May

In the past every few months we’ve listed a few upcoming LGBT Pride events coming up in a specific month but this time we thought we’d do something a little different and add a little culture to the party with a compilation of LGBT film festivals taking place around the world in May. These LGBT film festivals sometimes focus more on gay and lesbian films, but some more so on the trans* community, while others are more broad across the spectrum of sexuality. So check these ones that we’ve picked out for you below:

Outview: International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in Athens

From the 15th-25th May in the beautiful ancient city of Athens, the Greek capital, the Outview Festival will take place. While it mostly features local films portraying the Greek world of LGBT people, there are some from other European countries included too.

Check out our accommodation in Athens here.

Out Takes Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in Auckland

Out Takes is one of New Zealand’s most established film festivals and one of very few queer cultural events that has a national profile among New Zealand’s diverse queer communities. The festival showcases films from New Zealand and around the world and plays to a vast range of LGBT communities. It travel through three of New Zealand’s major cities Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, stopping at the former from 22nd May to 2nd June.

Check out our accommodation in Auckland here.

XPOSED International Queer Film Festival in Berlin

Now in its 9th year, Berlin’s premier LGBT film festival XPOSED is dedicating its focus to films from the Nordic countries. Each year it takes LGBT films from certain parts of the country to show at the festival and this year numerous diverse works from Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark have been selected and will be unleashed from 29th May until 1st June upon the Berlin audience.

Check out our accommodation in Berlin here.

LiberCine – Festival Internacional de Cine sobre Diversidad Sexual y Genero de Argentina in Buenos Aires

From the 15th-21st May one of South America’s most popular gay travel destinations will be hosting its LGBT film festival. LiberCine showcases various films from and about the queer community that not only come from Argentina but other neighbouring South American countries, Spain and other parts of the world too.

Check out our accommodation in Buenos Aires here.

Inside Out LGBT Film Festival in Toronto

This year the LGBT world’s eyes will be on Toronto as it hosts World Pride 2014 in late June, but before that its annual Inside Out LGBT film festival will take place from 22nd May to 1st June. For more than 20 years, Inside Out has brought Toronto’s LGBT community together in celebration of the best queer film from Canada and around the world.

Check out our accommodation in Toronto here.

Translations: The Transgender Film Festival in Seattle

Translations is a groundbreaking film festival that provides the Pacific Northwest with a venue for films by, for, and about transgender people and the issues facing the transgender community. Launched in 2006, Translations is one of only a few transgender film festivals in the world, and places emphasis on visibility and positive representations.

Check out our accommodation in Seattle here.

City Spotlight: Amsterdam

Amsterdam is widely known as one of Europe’s – and the world’s – most tolerant countries, particularly when it comes to sexuality, sex and of course most controversially, drugs. However, while that may create the idea that it is a dirty, seedy place in some people’s minds, in reality it isn’t – it’s vibrant, diverse and actually a clean and friendly city. So why travel to Amsterdam? What attracts hundreds of thousands of LGBT travellers to the city every year? Here we’ll tell you why.

In 2009, Amsterdam became one of the first ever cities to open a separate tourist office for LGBT travellers called “Pink Point” cementing itself as an open and gay-friendly travel destination. It is situated next to the Homomonuent (a rather fitting name and place) – a memorial that opened in 1987 to commemorate the gay men and lesbians as well as bisexuals who have been persecuted because of their sexuality – and is staffed by friendly and knowledgable volunteers with a wide range of information and flyers from local organisations, and has one of the best selections of queer souvenirs and gifts in the country.

The Netherlands as a whole has a big reputation as one of the world’s most progressive countries in regards to LGBT rights. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1811 and it was of course the first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001. Amsterdam, like most capital cities however, is where the highest number of LGBT people are living and why wouldn’t they with around 100 bars, clubs, shops, saunas, hotels and restaurants that are gay-owned or gay-friendly? There isn’t really one specific gay area in Amsterdam, but rather everywhere is very integrated and it is all dotted around the city, including Rembrandtplein square, Requliersdwarsstraat, along Amstel, Warmoesstraat and near the infamous red-light district.

As well as the Homomonuent, other notable places to visit for sightseeing in Amsterdam include the world famous Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, the 17th Century network and canals that meander through the city, the Defence Line of Amsterdam (both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites) and dare we say, for those who aren’t into traditional culture and history – the city’s many cannabis “coffee shops”, which attract nearly 4 million international visitors alone every year. There are also six other museums in the country’s top 15 that are located in Amsterdam.

Some of the city’s most notable LGBT events in the year include a gay and lesbian film festival Roze Filmdagen takes place every March, a TranScreen festival in May and the Gay & Lesbian Summer Festival, which also shows films, is in July.  Amsterdam Gay Pride starts on the last week of July (26th) and carries on till the first weekend of August (3rd), which is undeniably the city’s biggest gay event on the calendar, though for those who are into something a little different there is also the Fetish Pride from 29th May to 1st June and Leather Pride takes place from 23rd-26th October. There is also the Milkshake Festival – a very popular event that isn’t about milkshakes, but rather dance and club music, turning the city into one huge dancehall. It is attended by everyone and anyone and not restricted to or aimed at one particular group of people, so the LGBT and straight communities can come together and celebrate their love of music.

We currently have over 70 properties in Amsterdam ranging from spare guest rooms in people’s apartments or houses, whole properties and rooms in guesthouses and B&Bs – and the vast majority of our hosts are gay or lesbian or LGBT-friendly and situated within or around the city centre. Or if you have a spare room or a property you want to let out to visitors in Amsterdam, you can sign up and become a host here.