8 of the best films to celebrate LGBT History Month

LGBT History Month is a very important time for our LGBT advocates, friends, heroes and brothers and sisters. In the UK it is celebrated in February to commemorate the abolition of the controversial Section 28 back in 2003, while in the US and Canada LGBT History Month takes place in October to coincide with National Coming Out Day on 11th October.

LGBT History Month

There are have been a number of great films and documentaries over the years which highlight the journey and fights that groups of or individual LGBT people in different corners of the globe have faced over the decades. We’ve rounded up our favourite LGBT history films for you here:

Before Stonewall (and After Stonewall)

There have been countless films and documentaries about the Stonewall riots, including the poorly received 2015 film, which the less said about the better. There was also a semi-fictionalised comedy-drama version in 1995 based on the riots. However, Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community, is an award-winning documentary released back in 1984 that is definitely a must-watch for those interested in the history of one of the most famous moments in LGBT history. After Stonewall, kind of like a sequel focusing on the 30 years of LGBT activism since the riots, was released in 1999.

Paris Is Burning

Filmed in the 80s, Paris Is Burning is a documentary about the “ball culture” of New York City and pays particular attention to the African-American, Latino and transgender communities living there during the time. It is still considered one of the best LGBT history films and documentaries of all time, so much so that in 2016 it was selected for “preservation” in the United States National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant”.


One of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/Aids, homosexuality and homophobia, Philadelphia stars Tom Hanks – who won the Oscar for Best Actor for his leading role – addresses issues of closeting one’s sexuality and hiding their HIV status. The film was a work a fiction but the events were based on the similar lives of Geoffrey Bowers and Clarence B. Cain.

Boys Don’t Cry

Based on the real-life story of trans man Brandon Teena, Boys Don’t Cry was one of the first Hollywood films to focus on transpeople and trans issues. Hilary Swank rightfully won the Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of Brandon in what was a hauntingly frank but brilliant film.


Many films and documentaries have revolved around LGBT activist and politician Harvey Milk, but it wasn’t until 2008 that Milk’s life was given more of a global platform and recognition through this biopic. Nominated for 8 Oscars, winning 2, including one for lead actor Sean Penn, Milk was strategically released to tie in with Proposition 8 on gay marriage in 2008.


Starring an ensemble cast of great actors, Pride is probably the one and only or at least most notable British film that focuses on the plight of LGBT people in the UK. This historical drama highlights the events leading up to the UK’s first Pride event and the first time the British LGBT community really made a move for their voices to be heard in the country, making it a beautiful yet poignant LGBT history film. It is now reportedly being adapted into a stage musical.

The Imitation Game

Loosely based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma, The Imitation Game looks at the life of one of the UK’s most prolific LGBT heroes, Alan Turing. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, the film – although apparently not fully faithful to Turing’s life – is noted for bringing his legacy to a wider audience and was a great commercial success.

The Danish Girl

Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne took on what was probably his toughest (and most controversial) role of his career so far as Lili Elbe, one of the world’s first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery. An emotional film that tries to portray the lives of trans people of that time period and helps us appreciate the progress of both trans rights and surgery has come so far.

What is your favourite LGBT history film from this list or are there any you think we’ve missed off? Let us know in the comments section below and on social media! And you can also find out more about LGBT History Month in the UK here.

Our 15 favourite adverts that have embraced the LGBT community

It appears that as the LGBT community in many countries across the world become more and more accepted by and integrated with the rest of society, the media and a lot of companies want to talk more about them and include them in their campaigns. Whether or not these companies are simply cashing in on the “Pink Pound/Dollar” or wanting to create buzz or even controversy for publicity is debatable, but many of them have proven themselves to be supporters of LGBT people and pro-diversity when it comes to their employees and their target audiences. Below are some of our favourite adverts from recent times that feature LGBT people:

15) Lush

Already a favourite company for many LGBT people to shop with, Lush showed they love their customers just as much with their gay and lesbian ads as part of their Valentine’s Day campaign.

Lush gay ad

14) Icelandair

Iceland were one of the first European countries to legalise same-sex marriage so it is natural that their national airline were one of the first to feature a gay couple in an ad.

13) Sainsbury’s

The odd chain store in the UK of this supermarket giant have come under fire over the years for some of their staff’s attitudes and actions towards same-sex couples but the company itself has shown they have nothing against us, which they reiterated with this much talked about Christmas ad that aimed to show how a diverse and modern Britain celebrates the biggest holiday of the year. That was the second Xmas ad in a row to include a gay couple.

12) Luvs Diapers

If there’s one kind of ad that gets people gushing over the most it has to be with babies in them. Luvs Diapers, owned by giant company Procter & Gamble released this adorable ad earlier this year. Procter & Gamble’s other offspring brands have also featured same-sex couples, families and even trans people (in India).

11) Volvo

Homophobic and sexist bigot Jeremy Clarkson and his former similar Top Gear presenters would surely hate that the once-manly hobby and love of cars (back in their earliest days, anyway) are now being advertised to a wider, diverse audience than just straight men. Many car adverts now star women but more and more are beginning to include gay people too. Volvo are one company that featured a gay couple earlier this year in this cute ad. Ford in Australia and Nissan in Israel have also begun to target a larger audience with LGBT people in their ads too.

10) Thomas Cook

As we at Gay Homestays know so well, the LGBT travel market is one of the largest growing niches in the world so it is only natural that many of travel companies want to embrace us. Their Christmas ad last year was short but sweet as it included at least two same-sex couples to reflect a “modern population”.

9) Kellogg’s

Kellogg’s, one of the world’s largest cereal companies, released 8 new ads at the beginning of this year. One of them was of a real-life gay couple being interviewed about how they like their perfect bowl of cereal to be. Kellogg’s have also been named one of the best companies for LGBT employees to work.

8) Magnum

Magnum are usually known for the very sexually suggestive videos of hot women enjoying their ice cream and sometimes the odd hot man too. But in their “Pleasure Is Diverse” campaign from earlier this year they went full-out pro-LGBT and same-sex marriage, which featured a lesbian couple’s wedding as the setting.

7) The Bank of Australia and New Zealand

Although same-sex marriage is still not allowed in Australia, that does not stop a number of companies there proudly and unashamedly showing their support for it there. Thankfully it is legal in New Zealand. The Bank of Australia and New Zealand’s heartwarming new ad encourages gay couples to keep holding hands in defiance of the ignorance they still face.

6) Nike

The world of sports has always been a tough one when it comes to supporting LGBT rights and tackling homophobia but Nike and other companies like Adidas have stood with us even if some of the sports they sponsor are not so open or friendly towards LGBT people or players. Although Nike’s latest ad in celebration of Pride Month doesn’t focus on any particular sport per se, it does acknowledge “vogueing” as a sport and features one of New York City’s most prolific “vogue” dancers to make for a very mesmerising and different advert. You can watch here.

5) Lenovo

Earlier in August, computer company Lenovo released their inspiring and also rather logical advert which *appeared* to be “getting rid of the backspace key as it shows people putting various stickers over it and crossing it out on their keyboard. Their tagline “Progress spelled backwards is ssergorp. Just one of many reasons going backwards makes no sense” also makes perfect sense.

Lenovo gay ad

4) Diesel

Fashion is practically a part of the LGBT community and vice versa so it surely doesn’t need to be elaborated on on why LGBT people should be included in more brand’s advertising. Unfortunately, many still don’t and many also still separate their clothes by gender. But Diesel’s most recent ad “Make Love Not Walls” made a step in the right direction with the inclusion of a gay couple. It was also a very clever political stance against a certain U.S. president.

3) Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola got a lot of people talking over their last ad and for all the right reasons – unlike their main competitor Pepsi’s last one. The cute and hilarious ad stars two siblings vying for the same sexy pool boy – only to be beaten to him by their own mother. We think it’d have been even better if it was their father though…

2) Uber

Unfortunately Uber have been consistently bombarded with complaints that many of their drivers have exhibited homophobic attitudes towards them. But the taxi giants insist they are gay-friendly. And in the Philippines they even released an ad based on a true story of a gay guy and his crush, which was extremely cute. Now we’re just waiting on similar ads here in the western world…

1) Absolut

Absolut Vodka have been pioneering the marketing strategy of supporting and appealing to the LGBT community – because alcohol brings everyone together right? For more than 30 years their ads have included LGBT people and targeted them as a key audience and 2017 was no different. This year’s campaign showed different same-sex couples from different countries to help remind us that it is still illegal to be gay or be married if you’re in a same-sex relationship in 72 countries around the world. With just one poignant ad they went all-out, politically and globally.

Absolut gay ad

Which ads from our list are your favourites? Or let us know if there are any we missed that you would have included in the comments section below!

City Spotlight: New York

The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. The Empire City. The City of Skyscrapers; just some of the nicknames given to New York, one of the most well-known global holiday hotspots and is also very popular with LGBT travellers, constantly topping or being in lists of best gay travel destinations. And it’s not hard to see why.

New York offers something for everyone to do 24/7, 365 days a year – it’s rich with culture (art galleries and museums galore) and history (including LGBT history in the form of the famous Stonewall Inn, where the Stonewall Riots of 1969 began), has a vibrant nightlife, great shopping being one of the main fashion capitals of the world and some amazing sights to see, including the fountain where the Twin Towers used to stand, the Empire State building, Times Square, Central Park, the One World Trade Centre and of course, the Statue of Liberty to name just a few. It may be a buzzing metropolitan city, but New York’s parks and rivers also offer some quieter solace from the hubbub of the streets and breathing space from the countless high skyscrapers.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

New York’s gay scene is thriving and is spread all across the its five boroughs – Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx and Staten Island, although its main areas are situated in Chelsea (lower Manhattan), East Side and East Village, Hell’s Kitchen in Queens and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, where are there a whole host of different kinds of bars, clubs, restaurants and other gay-run establishments that cater to or are aimed at different members of the diverse LGBT community.

via Twitter

via Twitter

New York City Pride is one of the world’s largest, attracting an estimated more than 1 million people. The Parade is a spectacular sight to behold as it snakes across the city southward down the famous Fifth Avenue and fittingly ends at Greenwich Village and Christopher Street, right by the Stonewall Inn – where the LGBT rights movement first began. Pride week usually takes places towards the end of June (17-25th this year). Confirmed acts that will be performing include Tegan and Sara, Years & Years, Roisin Murphy, Deborah Cox, Patti Labelle, LeAnn Rimes and Nelly Furtado. Other events that will take place include a Youth Pride, Family Movie Night, OutCinema, The Rally and the Village Voice Pride Awards.

via Facebook

via Facebook

Gay Homestays has more than 30 places to book in New York, from spare rooms in flats and houses or whole properties and B&Bs and guesthouses, with some being gay-owned or gay-friendly. While New York is certainly not short of hotels, including gay-run ones, the opportunity to stay with a local and see and experience the city firsthand through them should not be passed up.

Review: Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre

Dreamgirls has long been one of the most popular musicals of all time. It first began on Broadway back in 1981, which was followed by a number of national and international tours as well as residences, revivals and one-off concerts. Its most prominent revival was the award-winning 2006 film adaptation starring Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson as well as a whole host of other A-list stars – which has since gained a huge gay following. Riding off that box office success was the 2009 revival in the US and now its finally made its way to the West End.

In November 2016, the West End production opened to rave reviews. Starring Glee’s Amber Riley as Effie White, the show has consistently sold out and recently won 2 Olivier Awards – one for Amber. As a huge fan of the musical – particularly the film – Gay Homestays went along on Saturday 29th April to “check it over and check it out” at the Savoy Theatre and in short, we absolutely loved it!


In the first scene we are almost immediately introduced to “The Dreamettes” and although we are sure everyone was expecting Amber Riley to make her entrance as Effie, it was in fact her alternate Marisha Wallace who stepped out instead. Of course, for most this may have been a slight disappointment but nevertheless she very quickly proved why she was chosen as Effie as well – both her acting and singing chops were on point.

Most people who have seen the musical or film will already know the story and its timeline from start to finish, but being aware of what happens next or even memorising the script did not deter anyone from watching with intent and awe as the cast took back on a journey through this iconic musical as it retold the tale of The Dreams. Throughout the production, the urge to get up and sing is almost unbearable at times – you know the lyrics to every song and have been practicing them all week in preparation – but at the same time you marvel at them as they tackle every song with charisma and ease, injecting emotion and soul with every word and note.

Adam J. Bernard, who plays Jimmy Early, is full of energy and really fully embodies his character – and it seems like he studied Eddie Murphy’s interpretation very well, as his voice was almost like a clone. Some may have found this redundant, because of course you want every actor to have their own interpretation of a character, while others may have been gobsmacked that he sounded exactly like Eddie. Either way, it did not deter him from showing us why he won the Olivier award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical.

Marisha passed every test and was almost too good to be true as Effie White – a role that has some very big shoes to fill. She nailed the legendary “And I Am Telling You…”, giving a rendition that dare we say, is actually better than her predecessors – her voice is warmer and less gritty than Jennifer Holliday, less piercing than Jennifer Hudson’s and richer than Amber Riley’s. Her incredible Dreams co-stars as Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson also played their parts well.

Marisha Wallace: Amber Riley's understudy and Effie White alternate.

Marisha Wallace: Amber Riley’s understudy and Effie White alternate.

In a brilliant scene between Effie and Deena, both actresses break out into an unexpected duet of “Listen”, which was originally written specifically for the film version and performed by Beyoncé. The song was reworked in 2009 for the stage revival as a rekindling of the pair’s friendship as Effie encourages Deena to be strong, leave Curtis and go her own way, and was a very pleasant surprise to people here and the two ladies gave it their all as they emotionally belted it out. Beyoncé would surely be both proud and shook by the performance.

One song however, that we do wish had also made its way onto the stage is “Love You I Do”, the soulful crooner that Effie White sings to Curtis. Jennifer Hudson originated the performance in the film and it has since become a fan favourite, but was sadly missed off this time.

In all, all the experience of watching Dreamgirls on stage is a joy. The entire cast were magnificent and the music leaves you wanting to re-listen to all the songs again even though you spent ages listening to them beforehand because you couldn’t sing along during it and the whole soundtrack really is that timeless.

The Savoy Theatre connects to the luxury Savoy Hotel in the Strand in London’s West End. It neighbours a number of other theatres with shows on such as Kinky Boots at the Adelphi (The Bodyguard was here previously, as we reviewed) and Stepping Out the Vaudeville. The Lyceum Theatre where The Lion King has a long-term residency and the Novello Theatre where Mamma Mia is, are not far away at all. The Strand is close to Westminster, Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Soho, so is both a dream destination for tourists and LGBT people visiting London alike.

If you’re thinking of going to London and watching Dreamgirls too, then why not check out if any of our hundreds of fabulous host have got availability for you on your desired dates? You can book tickets to see Dreamgirls on their website.

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

Have you seen Dreamgirls in the West End or any of the other previous productions? What are your thoughts on the show? Let us know in the comments section below and on social media!

Spotlight On: The Gay Agenda

Not many small time radio shows have achieved more than they dreamt possible from their humble beginnings and reached out beyond their country of origin but The Gay Agenda, on Fab Radio International, is currently Europe’s number one online radio show, with listeners in 46 countries across the globe. Since its launch in 2014, The Gay Agenda, which actually started out as a little challenge and a jest amongst a group of friends, has grown from strength to strength to get where it is today. Gay Homestays spoke to creator and host, Rylan Cavell about the show:


GH: Hi Rylan, can you tell us a bit more about the beginnings of The Gay Agenda?

RC: The Gay Agenda began life as a jest. I was discussing the launch of a new online radio station with the chaps putting it together. After a few pints they jokingly suggested that I should do a show and call it ‘the gay agenda’. Never one to back down from a challenge, I agreed. And so the show was born. I found a few friend who equally had a passion for equality and media, and launched as one of the original shows in November 2014 at the same time as Fab Radio International. The Gay Agenda is actually one of only a small number of original shows that is still on the station.

GH: And what kind of topics on the “agenda” of The Gay Agenda?

RC: Being in a privileged position has enabled me, via the show, to shine a light on issues faced by many in the queer community who are often marginalised and ignored by mainstream media. Ignored often even by mainstream LGBT media.

Recent topics have included Transgender discrimination, the destructive nature of ‘masculinity’, LGBT University Societies, Asylum Seekers, Sexual Health and much much more! The show is light-hearted, but covers important topics. We hope that we are an entertaining platform where sometimes inaccessible and hard-to-understand topics and issues are opened up for debate in an interesting and amusing way.

GH: How does it feel to know you’ve got listeners in so many countries worldwide?

RC: Being on a station that reaches 46 countries around the world, and that is the number 1 online radio station in Europe shows that Fab Radio is doing something right! The station’s tag line is ‘Embrace The Alternative’, and the figures demonstrate that the grass-roots nature of station and the shows is what people want! It is flattering and humbling to know that so many people are listening, and I hope what we do spreads a little more awareness and understanding of the LGBT people of the worlds.

GH: And finally, are there any celebrities you would love to feature on your show?

RC: I would love to be able to get Sir Ian McKellan and Sandi Toksvig on the show, to name just two.

Sandi Toksvig

The Gay Agenda will be taking its show on the road on Sunday 26th February when Ryan hosts a frank and open discussion on modern queer life at the renowned Frog & Bucket Comedy Club in Manchester. He will be joined by drag king comedian Lydia Bernsmeier-Rullow, trans activist, broadcaster and musician Ashleigh Talbot and campaigner Junior Maxwell. Also featuring are compere Laini Johnson and guest speakers Steph Pike and Sali Owen.

The show will start at 4.30pm and tickets are currently available on The Gay Agenda website.

In the meantime, you can tune into The Gay Agenda every Friday evening from 7-9pm and also catch Rylan hosting That’s Pride TV channel every Monday evening from 7.30pm.