Manchester Pride 2015: What to expect

August already?! It feels like Pride season has flown by faster than my average paycheque… But despair not for we have the perfect solution to end your summer with a Shazam. Manchester Pride is just around the corner and we are drooling at the jowls just thinking about it.

Now you might be thinking ‘Manchester? Isn’t that just another grey northern metropolis where the only valid means of communication is through drawling grumbles?’ and that ‘the weather is said to be so harsh that the place is perpetually afflicted by that rare meteorological phenomenon known as horizontal rain’.

And for the most part you would be somewhat correct, we have spawned famous complainers such as Morrissey & Jim Royle (If anybody else watched ‘The Royle Family’) and we do get the most rainfall of any city in the UK outside of Scotland. But Manchester has a hell of a lot going for it; this year has graced us with one of the hottest summers of the decade and it has been magnificent; the topless builder have been out en masse. Nobody knows how to make the most out of fleeting sunshine like us northerners, just ask Noel Gallagher.


The Manchester Gay scene is a gem of the north which induces a lovely juxtaposition with its vivid colouration against the generally cloudy backdrop. The history of canal street is both intriguing and inspiring; how such a thriving scene can spring up through such adversity and grow to the level it’s at today is a truly beautiful feat. If you want to know more about the history of Gay Manchester check this out. But as the purpose of this blog is to showcase why you should attend Manchester Pride for its 25th anniversary blow-out, without further ado…

What do we have in store?


The Music

Manchester has produced some of the most iconic British music from the last 50 years including Oasis, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Take That, The Chemical Brothers, need I continue? Madchester culture never left the beating heart of the North even with the fall of The Haçienda we still find ways to party on. Hosting massive events like The Warehouse Project; Manchester’s music scene is as strong as ever and the line-up for Manchester Pride 2015 certainly doesn’t disappoint by anybody’s standards.


Main Stage

The line-up for this years Manchester Pride is insanely brilliant with huge name headliners like DJ Fresh, Texas, Dannii Minogue and Union J the party will be here. The support acts leave little to sniffle at either with other big names such as Little Boots, Atomic Kitten and Alesha Dixon. This Pride really brings you a bona fide festival load of acts to keep you rockin’ until the early morn.


Gaydio Dance Stage

Pop legends not your thing? Jive over to the Gaydio Dance stage where you can expect glam-drenched beats applied to your eardrums by the sensation that is Jodie Harsh on Saturday. Through to Sunday the thumping baselines will be provided by house all-star Hot Since 82. Trust me this one will be lively, you’ll be throwing shapes you didn’t know were possible.

Jodie Harsh – Soundcloud

Hot Since 82 – Full Set (In Manchester)



Sackville Boutique stage

If you’re after something a little bit different, something unforgettable then the the Sackville Boutique stage is what you’re looking for. A varied line-up ranging from the “Proms in the Park” to locally sourced acts; the full line-up is yet to be released but for a snippet of what to expect check this out – listener discretion advised…


The Parade

No pride would be complete without the fanfare and frolics of a parade and Manchester Pride does not buck this trend. Look forward to a raucous display of carnival shenanigans setting off from its usual point of Liverpool street through Deansgate up and around Oxford street snaking its way back the promised land of Canal Street.


This year promises to be a real one-off as the parade will be lead by none other than the Wise, Gray (Gay) Wizard himself Sir Ian Mckellen taking up the Grand Marshall’s role; I dare say a glimmer of magic may occur along the way.


For a full list of this years parade entrants check out the official page.


The Afterparty

The official afterparty for Manchester Pride 2015 is something a bit out there for an inland city, let me hear you say BOOOOAT PAAAAAARTY!!! Unfotunately there is no boat but there will be a party @ the WE LOVE BOAT Party; the music looks to be bob-on (as we say up north) with the Ex-Haçienda resident DJ legend Dave Booth manning the decks as well as many other big names in the house scene.

For more information Click Here or if I’ve already sold you Buy Tickets Here.

But who likes following the crowd eh? If you’re not already gorging yourself with cheap, sweaty döner meat or hailing a cab back to a hunk’s semi in Rusholme by the end of the designated event then there are plenty of clubs open ’til late around the gay village there are even some underground places, which will not be too hard to find (I promise), that offer a breakfast club to those people who simply do not know when to go home.


So will you be going to Manchester Pride 2015? If so you might want to check out their official website here and if you are in need of any accommodation during your stay we still have plenty of lovely folks who will help see you through the weekend Check Them Here.

Once again thanks for reading, hope to see you on the 28th, ciao!


Our Top 10 Gay Bars You Have To Try

So going on holiday is about having fun, that’s a given. But having fun can come in different forms; chilling-out with a good read next to a calm azure pool,  exploring the sites or even some well-deserved retail therapy but here at Gay Homestays, we like to party and we know you do to so we are hooking you up with our top 10 list of hot gay bars from all corners of the globe.

BAR BAH’E – Istanbul
This cozy tavern is tucked away in a quaint alley in the bohemian Cihangir neighborhood of Istanbul. During the week it’s perfect for an intimate tête-à-tête, though once Friday rolls around, bartenders shower the bar top with whiskey and set it alight to the delight of a mixed crowd of Turks and tourists, guys, girls, trannies everyone you need to get the party started.

Bar Baha'E

LIVING CLUB – Mexico City
The grand facade of this colonial-style church belies the sensory barrage that waits inside. A Br’er Rabbit impersonator serves watermelon slices, a laser light show illuminates the spectacular go-go boys on stilts, and a m’lange of high-energy beats emanates from the many nooks and crannies in this multilevel party domain. Fridays and Saturdays boast a raw dance party reminiscent of New York’s Limelight complete with an all-star lineup of DJs. An in-house bodega serves up hot tacos and lavish fruit cocktails, and siesta rooms are available for the faint-hearted.

Living Club

Notorious for decor that looks like a party supply store turned upside down and shaken out; the Cubby Hole is a closet-size West Village lesbian mainstay. The bar draws neighborhood professionals for a well-priced happy hour and a mixed crowd for nightly drink specials and a jukebox heavy on current pop favorites and the classics from k.d. lang and Melissa Etheridge. The bar’s leave-a-drink-for-a-friend board offers the bashful an easy way to make a move on a regular.


From the outside, this ochre building looks rather drab, but walk in and discover a thriving icon of gay Australia. Nestled in the Sydney suburbs is the three-bar Imperial Hotel, which is home to a mixed community of gays and lesbians (together at last). Intricate vintage fixtures sprout dusty rainbow flags, and 1980s videos play from 12-inch TV sets. There’s zero attitude but a ton of frills. The final scenes from The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert were shot at the Imperial, and drag legend Mitzi Macintosh has been reenacting them here ever since. If not Priscilla, she’ll do The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And her show’s free before midnight.


Keep your eye on the back booth at this Franco-era speakeasy on Madrid’s pulsing Gran Via’ director Pedro Almod’var and his posse hang out here. Anyone fashionable is welcome among the mostly gay crowd here, where handsome bartenders can hand-crack ice for your mojito or serve you at your art deco banquette.


Perhaps the social epicenter of hard-partying ‘Alterna-Wood’, Akbar is the go-to spot in the middle of Los Angeles’s antigloss neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and Echo Park. The pretentious attitude of the Westside just isn’t tolerated here, and the haven that the place represents from all that West Hollywood phoniness gives the place its ample charge. Great indie music on the jukebox, stiff drinks, hot guys, good times. Gay guys, women, and straight dudes pack the joint nightly, and the bar has expanded into a full-fledged dance club on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. When Dirty Dirty House Club takes off on Thursdays, the crowd gets pretty lively and the diverse vibe is a welcome change in the often-segregated L.A. nightscape.


LE QUEEN – Paris
Oui mon cher, you’ll probably end up shelling out a thick wad of euros at this heaving Paris mega-club, situated on the superchic Champs-Elys’es. But once you get inside, we suggest arriving very, very late, you’ll be greeted by bouncing fashionistas, muscular strippers, and, of course, sashaying drag queens. Resident DJs include heavyweights like Paul Van Dyk and Deep Dish, and the fete rages on until 6 or 7 A.M.


AXEL SKY BAR – Barcelona
Perched atop the Hotel Axel, which bills itself as homo-friendly, Sky Bar commands stunning views over the Catalan city, and it’s also handily situated by the hotel’s pool and Jacuzzi. The bar hosts a party every year to welcome the start of the summer, the infinity pool is a hot place to cool down under the Spanish sun. Located in the Eixample, the heart of the gay quarter of Barcelona, Sky Bar is perfect for kicking off an evening or hanging out all night.


A perennial ‘Best of L.A.’ champ, this over 16,000-square-foot party place attracts celebs aplenty (mostly queers and straight lassies, but occasionally a famous straight lad). Famous for creative cocktails and the perfect patio, this is where many a gay Angeleno brings his or her out-of-town pals to see and experience the heart of WeHo.


On approach, this former power station looks like an intimidating, almost eerie place but once you have shown your worth to the notoriously picky doorstaff you’ll enter  and notice an enormous Ferris wheel inside which sets the stage for what can only be described as Berghain, the ultimate ringmaster’s den of iniquity: myriad caves, dens, dance floors, locker rooms, and bathtubs. Upstairs is the Panorama Bar, a world-class dance club with an unrivaled lineup of international DJs, occupies the upper level. Berghain has rightfully earned itself a notorious reputation for being the most elite, trendy club to have ever been erected. If you go to Berlin, you go (try to) to Berghain.


How well do you know your LGBT+ flags?

Honestly, the LGBT+ movement is moving so quickly these days that it is difficult for anyone to keep up with so being a travel company we thought we would share with you a quick fun guide to the international language behind flags and symbols attached to the LGBT+ Community for all you Pride-goers over this glorious season.




Obviously everybody knows the Rainbow Flag, synonymous with the LGBT Pride movement, but within the movement there are numerous subcultures which all have their own defining symbology; so how well do you know your pride flags?


Labrys_Pride_FlagLesbian Pride

Lesbian Pride usually uses the ancient symbol of the Labrys, the double-headed battleaxe, to represent lesbian and feminist strength and self-sufficiency. This flag in particular holds some interesting significance in the inverted black triangle which was used by the Nazis to denote lesbians and “workshy” people in a similar way to the gold star.


450px-Bi_flagBisexual Pride

The flag for Bisexual Pride features a 3 striped design, the representation of each strip is debated but the widely accepted  explanation is:  “The pink colour represents sexual attraction to the same sex only (gay and lesbian), The blue represents sexual attraction to the opposite sex only (straight) and the resultant overlap colour purple represents sexual attraction to both sexes (bi).”.


800px-Transgender_Pride_flagTranSgender Pride

Transgender Pride uses a flag with 5 equally sized stripes: “The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional colour for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional colour for baby girls. The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are intersex, transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender. The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives.”.
Another flag used by Transgender Pride looks like this:

Another flag used by Transgender Pride in more recent years. There is some debate as to whether this flag looks too similar to the Bisexual Pride flag so it has fallen slightly out of vogue but honestly it looks fierce.

This fused male/female symbol is quite self explanatory but has also seen wide usage within the Transgender Movement.


300px-Genderfluidity_Pride-FlagGenderfluid Pride

Genderfluid Pride is a subset of the Transgender Pride movement which are in their own right a separate entity and so have their own flag. The Gender Fluid flag consists of five stripes. This flag represents the fluctuations and the flexibility of gender in gender fluid people. The first stripe is pink which represents femininity, or feeling female. The second stripe is white, and represents the lack of gender, including agender, or gender neutral. The third stripe is purple and represents a combination of masculinity and femininity including various degrees of androgyny. The fourth stripe is black and represents all other genders, third genders, and pangender. Lastly the final stripe is blue and represents masculinity or feeling male.


900px-Intersex_flagIntersex Pride

One of the newest additions to the roster of flags, the Intersex Pride uses the purple circle on a yellow background as their flag of choice with a deeply thought out symbology; purple and yellow were used in this context as a “hermaphroditic” colours to represent the intersex community.

Also in use is this flag with a blended blue and pink middle stripe to represent the gender fusion that intersex people are born into.


800px-Genderqueer_flag-prideGenderQueer Pride

Genderqueer (GQ or non-binary) Pride use a tripartite flag with a lavender stripe chosen as lavender is seen as an androgynous colour; a white stripe to represent agender identity and chartreuse green for the final stripe to represent those whose identities are defined outside of and without reference to the binary.


Non-binary flagNon-Binary Pride

The Non-Binary Pride flag was created in 2014 after a call was made in the community from those who did not feel that the Genderqueer Pride flag represented them and so this came to be. The four striped design; yellow, white, purple and yellow has significance in each layer. The yellow represents those whose gender exists without reference to the binary; the white represents those who have many or all genders as white is the root of all clolour; the purple represents those who feel their gender is between or a mix of female and male and the final black stripe represents those who are without gender as black is the absence of colour.


800px-Pansexuality_flag.svgPansexual Pride

The Pansexual Pride flag consists of 3 horizontal stripes; pink, yellow and blue. The pink stripe represents those who identify with the male spectrum; the pink is to represent those who identify with the female spectrum and the yellow portion represents non-binary attraction such as androgynous, agender, bigender, genderfluid, transgender and intersex peoples.


640px-Agender_pride_flag.svgAGENDER PRIDE

Created in 2014  the Agender Pride flag has seven horizontal stripes which are coloured (top to bottom) black, grey, white, green, white, grey, black. The Black stripes represent complete absence of gender; grey represent semi-genderless and green represents nonbinary as it is the inverse of purple populary used to represent androgyny.

Transgender_symbolThe popular transgender symbol is also used by the Agender community with the addition of a black bar to represent the lack of gender.


640px-Asexual_flagAsexual Pride

The Asexual pride flag features four horizontal stripes with the black stripe representing Asexuality; the grey stripe representing Grey-A orientation; white representing sexuality and finally purple to represent community as a whole.


And finally and honestly my personal favourite of the lot is the flag for allies of the LGBT+ movement:

tumblr_mzbh1mJ24s1qak0qdo6_500Proud Ally

For anyone who made it through this entire blog I thank you for sticking to it, the LGBT+ community is the most diverse group of people ever to grace this fine earth and we can only hope for it to grow ever larger. Flags are easy to let people identify themselves but behind every flag is a person waving it. an identity in and of itself, we are all unique; embrace it!!!

@GayHomestays for updates on all of our blogs.

Our Picks for Pride in London 2015

So summer is finally here and we are firmly set into Pride season 2015, we at Gay Homestays are taking this opportunity to let you know about some of the not-to-be-missed events that will be happening around Pride in London this weekend!


Obviously if you are at Pride in London you will want to see the parade, it is only the second biggest single day event in London’s calendar, spare the annual marathon. The theme for this year is “Pride Heroes” as a celebration of the bold members of the LGBT+ community who have fought to make this event a possibility. Starting at 13:00 on the 27th June at Baker street and ending up at Whitehall around 16:30, this is going to be unmissable with over 250 groups registered to march I forecast the atmosphere to be palpably buzzing.


Apart from the main parade Pride in London has an array of other events in the week running up to and on the weekend of the main event, these are our picks of the week:

Pride Arts Festival 2015
21st – 28th June

The Pride art festival will be running evens in the week commencing Pride in London and will showcase some of the hottest talent contributing to the creative arts within the LGBT+ community along with some thought provoking talks and audience involvement activities which are sure to get your mind and body prepared for the week ahead. The full list of events that will be taking place is available here.


West End Wendies!
19:00 Thursday 25th JunE

The Loft @ Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec, 140 Newington Butts, SE1

This open mic event looks like it will be a blast, whether you sing a bit of Sam Smith in the shower or you can belt it out like Andrea Bocelli, all genres and ranges of ability are welcome! Hosted by the cabaret king Paul L Martin, this night is sure to be a hit, it will not fail to entertain. Entry is free and open to the public, get yourself down (earplugs optional)!


Magda’s Lesbian Lover
18:00 Friday 26th June

Raindance Film Centre, 10 Craven St, Charing Cross

The award-winning short “Magda’s Lesbian Lover”, a film about a young lesbian couple set in the 80’s which embarks on one person’s acceptance of themselves through a religious quandary, is being shown at the Raindance Film Centre on the Friday of pride week. This should be a wonderful start to the weekend for any film-buff or curious mind alike. Tickets are free and you can apply for them here.


Pride in London Exclusive party @ L’Escargot
10:30 – 17:00 Saturday 27th June

L’Escargot, 48 Greek Street, London, W1D 4EF

If you are looking for a more ‘up-market’ feel to your Pride in London then this is the party for you, the exclusive members club L’escargot is opening up its shell to the people of pride so you can lounge around in its lavish boudoir spaces, explore its almost labyrinthine selection of rooms or party all day to the selection of DJs booked to play. L’escargot is set within the heart of London’s Soho area and ticket entry allows guests to enter and leave as they please so you could practically fill up on the buffet early and still get a glimpse of the parade. An appearance not to be missed will be performed by Bebe van der Belt at 13:30 and a pride (prize) draw will be held at 16:00. Tickets while coming out to a slightly pricey £25 will be well worth it and are in short supply, they are available here.


Along with all these great happenings there are also stage performances at Trafalgar square, a cabaret stage and the women’s stage (both located in Soho).
BLUE and Rebecca Ferguson are the headliners this year which should make for a fun mix of pop and dance music, great for a fun-filled bonanza. Also the legendary Elton John is being rumored to be making an appearance, whether he is to play is still yet to be confirmed.

So if you are thinking of making an appearance yourself at this year’s Pride in London do not forget that Gay Homestays has many wonderful hosts just waiting for you to book in, check out what is available here! Alternatively you can book through Gay Homestays booking widget on the Pride in London website.

And get yourself down early, this will be the big one!


Top 10 Celebrity Lesbian Coming Out Stories: Part 2

Last time we charted 10-6 of our top 10 celebrity lesbian coming out stories. It was hard to pick a top 5, but here are 5 great lesbian coming out stories. You may not be a celebrity, but if you are thinking of coming out, we hope we can provide a source of inspiration!

5. Lauren Morelli

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 15.29.29

Orange Is The New Black has some brilliant lesbian characters and actresses, like Samira Wiley who plays Poussey, and Lea DeLaria who plays ‘Big Boo’ (she tweeted @GayHomestays once, it was amazing). However, the most interesting coming out story comes from behind the scenes, when writer Lauren Morelli made a life-changing and tabloid-headline-friendly realisation: ‘While writing for Orange Is The New Black, I realised I am gay’. The screenwriter filed for divorce from her husband of two years, and started dating the show’s own Samira, as pictured above.

4. k.d. lang

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1992… Though it doesn’t seem that long ago (feel old yet?) it was early days for out and proud lesbian celebrities. That’s why we have to give props to k.d. for paving the way in this Advocate article: ‘I don’t want to say the wrong things to the gay culture. Because there are so many different opinions on how to gain acceptance.…  And I don’t want to hurt my mother by coming out in the press. But at the same time I don’t want to hurt my culture, and it’s like — what do you do?’. It looks like she did the right thing – over 20 years later she’s still going strong. A Canadian favourite, she performed at the Vancouver olympics in 2010.

3. Melissa Etheridge

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Once k.d. got the ball rolling, her fellow singer Melissa Etheridge came out the following year in 1993 at Bill Clinton’s Triangle Ball. Citing lang as ‘an inspiration’, she said: ‘I’m proud to say right now, I’m very proud to have been a lesbian all my life’. The crowd cheered, and k.d. lang, who was present, could be seen jumping for joy!

2. Billie Jean King

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 15.56.04

US tennis legend Billie Jean first married lawyer Larry King back in 1965. She says of the relationship: ‘Fifty percent of gay people know who they are by the age of 13, I was in the other 50%. I would never have married Larry if I’d known. I would never have done that to him. I was totally in love with Larry when I was 21′. She was unfortunately forced out of the closet in 1981, when she was sued by the secretary she was secretly dating. This made her the first prominent lesbian athlete in America. She is an activist for women’s rights and the fight against AIDS, and in 2014 was appointed by Barack Obama, alongside fellow lesbian athlete Caitlin Cahow, to take his place as the US delegation at the Russian olympics. Girl power!

1. Ellen DeGeneres

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 16.11.35

Ellen came out on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1997, and followed it up with what has to be the most iconic coming out cover of all time. As we talked about in our Top 10 Gay TV shows, she then mirrored her real-life coming out in her sitcom, where her character (also called Ellen..?) came out to her therapist (played by Oprah Winfrey!!) Almost 20 years later Ellen is one of the biggest names on US TV, and one of the world’s most successful out and proud lesbians. Sorry ladies, she’s not single 😉

What do you think of our top 10 celebrity lesbian coming out stories? Comment on any we’ve missed out, and let us know you’re own coming out stories!

Top 10 Celebrity Lesbian Coming Out Stories: Part 1

Gay Homestays is celebrating the L in LGBT. If you’re a lesbian who’s thinking of coming out, you may not have to worry about being famous, but here’s how some of our favourite lesbian celebrities did it. 10-6!

10. Jodie Foster

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 15.46.33

In a Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech at the 2013 Golden Globes, the actress made light of long-standing speculation about her sexuality: ‘I have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never been able to air in public…I’m single.’ She explained that she wasn’t going to do a big public coming out event, as she already came out to her family and friends ‘about a thousand years ago’.

9. Raven-Symoné

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 15.24.35

Another celebrity none too keen on making a big deal about her personal business, following a US Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, Raven casually tweeted ‘I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you’. She hadn’t even come out! In a follow-up interview with Oprah, she said ‘I’m a human who loves humans… I’m tired of being labelled’. That’s so Raven.

8. Ellen Page

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 15.09.09

Is there something about the name Ellen? The Juno star made Canada proud with a speech at the Human Rights Campaign’s ‘Time To Thrive’ conference in Las Vegas. Unlike the first two entries on our list, Ellen she came out in no uncertain terms with those three little words, ‘I am gay’. She continued, ‘I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission’.

7. Rosie O’Donnell

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 15.30.55

Whereas Ellen Page said ‘I am gay’, Rosie did things a little differently. During her routine at a 2002 Ovarian Cancer Research benefit in New York, the comedienne announced, ‘I’m a dyke!’

6. Wanda Sykes

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 15.34.23

Another comedienne, Wanda says she came out ‘out of anger’ following the Californian governments ‘Proposition 8′ U-turn to re-ban gay marriage. She says she had no intention of making her coming out speech that day, saying ‘I kind of shocked myself’. She had married her girlfriend Alex a month earlier in a low-key ceremony,  but since she has gone public with her sexuality, her relationship with her French wife is often brought up in her hilarious stand-up routines.

What do you think of part one of our top 10 celebrity lesbian comings out? (/coming outs???) Remember there’s no right or wrong way to do it and everyone does things at their own pace. Come back soon for more inspirational moments from our top five celebrity lesbian coming out stories!


Best gay films: 5 messed up gay love stories that are better than 50 Shades of Grey

Gay love stories… why are they never straight forward?

There’s one freaky sexy film that everyone’s talking about… but most gay people I know who have seen it say it’s tame! Here are five of the best gay films featuring original, crazy, sexy, dangerous, tragic, unrequited and generally messed up love stories that make 50 Shades look like Frozen

5. Velvet Goldmine

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 18.30.36

A cool non-linear film set in glam-rock 70s Britain (think David Bowie) and featuring some sexy British actors (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Ewan McGregor, Christian Bale) getting involved in all kinds of 70s experimentation that turns into a problematic love story.

4. Total Eclipse

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 19.07.46

A kinda creepy and occasionally violent age-gap love story, based on the true story of two 18th Century poets. Sex scenes between 90s Leonardo DiCaprio and Professor Lupin from Harry Potter: it’s the pairing you never knew you wanted.

3. Notes On A Scandal

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Dame Judi Dench is amazing as a bored older teacher with creepy stalker tendencies who takes a shine to Cate Blanchett’s struggling new teacher. When she finds out her new colleague slept with a 15 year old boy at the school, she uses the secret against her… for her own benefit!

2. Bent

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Here’s an unusual setting for a love story: a holocaust concentration camp where gay people are persecuted alongside Jews. An incredible exploration of an often ignored part of Nazi history. Cameo from Mick Jagger!(?)

1. Brokeback Mountain

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 18.53.57

Duh! How could the classic gay Oscar-winner not be number one? It’s a tragic, tortured love story, but you probably knew that already. I need to watch it again.

What do you think of our 5 messed up gay love stories? If you think we missed a great one, let us know in the comments!

Madonna through the ages: the rise and fall and rise and fall and rise…

Following Madonna’s instantly iconic tumble at this years BRIT awards, which was immediately followed by an equally legendary recovery, we thought we’d show Madonna some love this week. Her 30+ year career has seen plenty of such falls and rises, so we thought we’d take a trip through her career peaks and troughs throughout the 80s, 90s, 00s and 2010s. You have to be made of strong stuff to last that long in the music industry. Good for you Madonna!


Low: ‘Everybody’

When Madonna released her largely-ignored debut ‘Everybody’ in 1982, no one would have predicted she’d go on to be the biggest female solo artist of the 80s… If not of all time!

High: like a prayer

Throughout the 80s, Madonna went from strength to strength with a string of hits like ‘Like A Virgin’, ‘Into The Groove’ and ‘Papa Don’t Preach’. She rounded off the decade with her most successful album to date, Like A Prayer. This controversial video helped push the title single to sell 5 million copies worldwide.


high: ‘vogue’

The momentum of Like A Prayer kept going into the start of the next decade, where Madonna surpassed her sales record with this 6 million selling gay anthem. However, the tide was about to turn…

low: sex

Madonna’s sensational pseudo-pornographic 1992 book Sex is generally considered the first downward turning point of her career. After a decade of courting controversy, the star had finally ‘gone to far’, and her music sales suffered as a consequence.

High: Ray of light

After Madonna spent the best part of the decade on the naughty step, her critically acclaimed 1998 album Ray of Light heralded the queen of reinvention’s second wave at the top of the charts.


low: american life

After starting the decade with Music, a successful follow-up to Ray of Light, Madonna then came out with her lowest selling album yet. Even kissing Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on stage at the MTV VMAs couldn’t help shift copies.

high: ‘Hung up’

Never one to admit defeat, the comeback queen followed her lowest selling album with the highest selling single of her career! Selling 9 million copies worldwide, Madonna’s 2005 hit ‘Hung Up’ is one of the biggest selling singles of all time, by anyone. And she did it in a pink leotard at 47 years old!


low: falling at the 2015 brit awards

Though Madonna’s presence on the charts dwindled in the 2010s, she continued to be a hugely successful performer and was named the highest earning musician of 2012 largely due to her MDNA tour. However, her much-hyped return to Britain’s biggest music awards show to perform her new single ‘Living For Love’ was tainted by an epic fail in the first verse that became an instant internet favourite.

high: getting back up again!

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Despite falling down badly, Madonna was largely praised for delivering an incredible performance after what looked like a very painful accident. The incident was the hot topic of conversation in the media and at office water-coolers around the world…  and it just goes to show that there’s no such thing as bad publicity! Today, 4 days on, ‘Living for Love’ makes its debut in the UK top 40, and at 26 gives Madonna her highest placing in over 5 years since 2009’s number 3 hit ‘Celebration’.

At 56 years old and with three decades in the music industry, Madonna certainly is showing no signs of giving up. The moral of the story?


Gay Homestays’ Top Ten Gay TV Shows

There’ve been loads of great gay TV shows on over the years, and since we’ve done our Top Ten Gay Anthems and Top Ten Gay Anthems of the 21st Century, we thought it was about time we gave gay TV shows the Gay Homestays Top Ten treatment.

10. Cucumber/Banana/Tofu

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So this is really 10, 11, and 12… three gay TV shows for the price of one! Set in Gay Homestays’ native city of Manchester, Cucumber shows a mediocre middle-aged gay relationship (a side of the gay community often ignored by TV), its breakdown, and the hilarious aftermath. It’s intertwining sister show Banana shows self-contained stories of Manchester’s gay youth. And finally Tofu is more of a documentary, with frank discussion of sex issues. The newest feature on a list, in the UK the shows are currently on Channel 4 and its sister services E4 and 4OD. Whether they stand the test of time remains to be seen!

9. Will & Grace

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One of the first US sitcoms to focus on gay main characters from the start, they said it would never work! But Will & Grace became hugely popular amongst gay and straight audiences alike. Though we like Megan Mullaly’s Karen the most.

8. Sugar Rush

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Another Great British comedy drama, 2005’s Sugar Rush follows Kim as she deal with her hopeless crush on the sexy but straight Sugar. Celebrity spot: current Amazing Spider-Man Andrew Garfield in one of his first roles as Kim’s geeky neighbour, who has a hopeless crush on her!

7. The L Word

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In 2004 it was still unusual to see lesbian leads on US TV (well, it still is today), but then a whole host of great lesbian characters came along at once in this show. Think Sex And The City without the men…

6. Glee

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As gay teen suicides were getting more press in the USA, Glee came along featuring some great gay teen characters. This combined with the great songs and Jane Lynch’s acerbic Sue Sylvester lead to a huge gay following. Though like so many great shows before it it kind of went downhill after a few series. Is it still on? We just don’t know.

5. Ellen

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The sitcom Ellen started in 1994, and its main character, Ellen, didn’t come out till a 1997 episode. It’s always a risk when the main character announces their sexuality three years down the line! The moment received a lot of media coverage and mirrored the coming out of the show’s star and writer Ellen DeGeneres. In 1997, featuring a gay main character was enough for ABC to add a “parental advisory” warning to the start of the show.

4. Modern Family

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It’s over 20 years since Ellen started (feel old yet?) and times have really changed for gay sitcom characters. Modern Family really does have a modern approach to gay characters: a married couple with kids! And it really is funny too.

3. Orange Is The New Black

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The hugely popular Netflix show follows married “ex-lesbian” Piper after she’s thrown in jail, only to find out she’s banged up with her ex-girlfriend! (Spoiler alert: one things leads to another…) The ensemble cast also features many other great lesbian characters like Poussey, Nicky, Big Boo and “Crazy Eyes” Suzanne, as well as trans actress Laverne Cox in her groundbreaking role as Sophia.

2. Rupaul’s Drag Race

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Time for some reality TV, though its often more surreal than some of the fictional stories we’ve featured! We love seeing the amazing runway looks of the drag superstars, as well as finding more about their backgrounds and watching their relationships form with each other. This is a show that gets bigger with ever season, and we can’t wait for season 7!

1. Queer as Folk

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The 1999 UK series was so successful it spawned a US remix, but the original is definitely our number one! Another show set on the Manchester gay scene, it broke down barriers with its unashamed discussion and depictions of gay sex. And it’s funny and gripping too. If you never saw it, track it down!

What do you think of our top 10 gay TV shows? Let us know any we missed off in the comments!


Pride Preview: London Pride 2015

Now Christmas and New Year have been and gone and it’s still freezing cold, is it just us or are you also counting down to summer already? Or as we like to call it – Pride season! 

If you live in London, Saturday 27th June 2015 is the day for your London Pride this year. And if you’re not from London, why not take the trip to check it out? It is of course a wonderful city, and an amazing Pride experience.

As well as being the capital of the UK, London is known for its diverse multinational make-up, and this year London Pride is celebrating that with an incredible effort: to include flag bearers representing every nation on Earth (!!!)

—We’ll use this spectacle to send a powerful message of love and solidarity to LGBT people facing the worst oppression, in countries such as Uganda, Russia, Egypt and Iran.

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No doubt a sight not to be missed – it will be like the London 2012 olympics all over again! If you’d like to sign up to be a flagbearer, find out more here.

As well as the parade, there are of course the main stage performances, set against the stunning backdrop of Trafalgar Square. So “London”! Last year, London Pride highlighted gay talent with a classy headline slot from acclaimed UK singer Heather Peace, as well as a performance (a Gay Homestays favourite!) Eurovsion winner Conchita Wurst, and presenting slots from Rylan Clark, Dr Christian Jessan and none other than Sir Ian McKellen. Other acts to take the main stage included Sam Bailey, Sinitta, Samantha Fox and Katrina and the Waves. No word yet on who to expect on the main stage in 2015, but expect big things! As well as the big acts, London Pride loves to showcase new and local talent, and if you fancy yourself as a performer, why not try and apply?

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As well as Trafalgar Square, there’s the Dean Street, Soho stage that between 4pm-8pm became the Women’s Stage. 2015 marks the second year of London’s ProudWomen initiative, that aims to increase the involvement and visibility of women in London Pride. ProudWomen will be hosting a series of events in the run-up to 2015’s Pride, and you can find out more information here.

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And speaking of other events, if you’re from London or fancy a longer stay, there’s a whole festival of activities to do in the week of the 21st–28th June 2015.

—London is a cultural powerhouse, and in 2015 Pride in London will showcase some of the finest visual art, spoken word, film, photography, sculpture and other work by LGBT+ artists or featuring our community. This might include:

  • a portrait exhibition
  • a retrospective of LGBT+ activism in London
  • lectures on key issues for the LGBT+ community
  • a film screening and discussion

More details to follow!

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If you are planning a trip to London for Pride, don’t forget it’s one of Gay Homestays’ biggest cities for hosts, with a variety of properties to suit all budgets and styles. And if you’re new to London, there’s nothing more useful than staying with a local. See what’s available here!

So, London Pride, Saturday 27th June 2015, mark it in you diary. Is it summer yet?