Gay Homestays Top 10 Gay Anthems of the 21st Century

After making our last blog our top 10 gay anthems of all time, we couldn’t help but feel the list was a little… so last century?? With so many iconic gay anthems set in stone from years ago, those lists don’t leave much room for all the great gay anthems of recent years, a new generation of gay empowerment from the 00s and 2010s. So without further ado, here are our top ten gay anthems of the 21st century!

10. Kesha – We R Who We R 

Kesha (aka Ke$ha…) was inspired to write this song by the surge in gay teen suicides in the USA in 2010. She said, “I was really affected by the suicides that have been happening, having been subject to very public hatred. I have absolutely no idea how these kids felt. What I’m going through is nothing compared to what they had to go through. Just know things do get better and you need to celebrate who you are [...] I just felt like people hate because they don’t understand or they’re jealous, It’s all coming from a very negative place and I really feel like people don’t need to pay attention to that.” Though she once claimed to brush her teeth with Jack Daniels whiskey, we think Kesha is smarter than she makes out.

9. Scissor Sisters – Let’s Have A Kiki 

Possibly the gayest band to have success in the 21st century, and this 2012 number is definitely their gayest song… Yet. Just watch.

8. Pink – Raise Your Glass

Another one from 2o10, P!nk’s “Raise Your Glass” is in a similar vein to Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R”. The two artists also share a penchant for substituting letters in their name with symbols. So many coincidences… illuminati conspiracy? (No)

7. Robyn – Dancing On My Own

2010 was a good year for gay anthems wasn’t it? Here’s Robyn with possibly the best lesbian club anthem of all time.

6. Madonna – Hung Up

In 2005, Madonna showed that being 47 is no reason to slow down and stop twerking on the dancefloor. Middle-aged gay men everywhere agreed.

5. DWV – This Boy Is A Bottom 

After a few quiet years in the early 00s, Rupaul came back with a bang with Drag Race. As well as bringing out some great new tracks of his own, there also came a wealth of singles from his new generation of drag daughters, with… shall we say… mixed results. However, this Alicia Keys parody is possibly one of the best loved.

HONOURABLE MENTION:

4. Katy Perry – Firework

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? Me neither. But this song is quite good. A gay kiss in the video always gets extra points too.

3. Conchita Wurst – Rise Like A Phoenix 

In the wake of some unsettling homophobic laws being introduced around the world, it was a great moment when queer Conchita won the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. And it was even better when it hit #1 on iTunes in Russia straight after.

Honourable Mention:

Whilst we’re here, let’s not forget Eurovision’s second greatest contribution to gay clubs of the 21st century:

2. Christina Aguilera – Beautiful

On the subject of gay kisses in videos, this one was pretty hardcore for 2004 music television. Work that tongue! This video and song, written by lesbian 4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry, is a great celebration of the things that make all of us different, and beautiful! <3

1. Lady Gaga – Born This Way 

2011′s “Born This Way”, Lady Gaga’s lead single from the album of the same name, caused some controversy in the gay community, with some suggesting she was trying to hard to make a gay anthem. And who the hell does she think she is anyway? Maybe she was trying too hard. But I think she succeeded. This is without a doubt, the most unabashed, unashamed gay anthem of the 21st century…. so far!

Gay Homestays Top 10 Gay Anthems

There are so many great gay anthems out there it’s almost impossible to choose the top 10! I tried to focus on not just my favourites but ten of the best, most iconic gay anthems of all time. Let us know if you agree and be sure to comment any that we left off!

10. Janet Jackson – Together Again

Okay, I failed already. I put this on because it’s one of my favourites. But it is one of the best! Janet’s The Velvet Rope album was full of references to homosexuality, so much so that it was banned in Singapore(!?) In this song Janet sings about the loss of her gay friend to AIDS, over a bizarrely uptempo disco-house track. Incredible.

9. Kylie Minogue – Better The Devil You Know

Not so much a gay anthem as a G-A-Y anthem: this song has been played in the iconic London club every saturday at 00.30, like clockwork, forever. Kylie’s music, like her face, never gets old!

8. Diana Ross – I’m Coming out

The title says it all! Rumour has it disco producer extraordinaire Nile Rodgers was inspired to write this song for Diana after he saw how many drag queens were inspired by the work of his disco divas. For more coming out classics, check out our Top 10 “Coming Out” Songs!

7. Queen – I Want To Break Free

This drag-tastic video was banned in the USA. Great Britain loved it though! It’s a parody of classic British soap Coronation Street.

6. The Weather Girls – It’s Raining Men

You can’t get much more of a gay anthem than “It’s Raining Men”! The song got even gayer in 1997 when it was rerecorded with RuPaul as “It’s Raining Men… The Sequel”!  And let’s not forget Geri Halliwell’s version from the film Bridget Jones’s Diary.

5. Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax

A very gay anthem for the 80s, this video was banned in the UK. Watch it and you might see why! The song went on to become one of the biggest-selling songs in UK chart history…. of course!

4. Cher – Believe

How could we not include a Cher track on this list? This surprise late 90s dance hit proved you’re never too old to make a gay club anthem.

3. Madonna – Vogue

Likewise, we couldn’t do a list of gay anthems without one from gay icon Madonna. This track was inspired by the 1990 documentary of the New York drag scene Paris Is Burning.

2. Village People – YMCA

It’s amazing to think just how successful this song was in 1970′s America and beyond when it was just so, so, so, so, so, so, SO gay. Just watch the video.

1. Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive

It’s hard to believe this song wasn’t originally a single, but a B-side, that became so popular DJs started spinning it more than the actual track! We gays know a good song when we hear one! Go on now GO!

Opinion: Rose McGowan, Gay Men and Misogyny

Actress and activist Rose McGowan hit out at the gay community this week, saying “Gay men are as misogynistic as straight men, if not more so”. McGowan made the claims during an interview for gay American Psycho author Brett Easton Ellis’s podcast, and has since been criticised for making disparaging generalisations about gay men, suggesting that while many women have long been vocal supporters of gay rights, gay men have worked selfishly and not returned the favour. But does she have a point?

Rose McGowan

Rose McGowan

The patriarchal male–female dynamic is based in heterosexuality, and some of it’s most obvious manifestations reflect this, from a husband expecting his wife to do all the work looking after the children, to a group of men wolf-whistling and heckling a lone woman in the street, to women having to fear the possibility of being raped by a man. To think of misogyny in only these terms would suggest that the gay community is completely outside of this phenomenon. However, there are many non-sexual forms of misogyny, of which gay men can be and often are just as guilty.

Seeing women as weaker, submissive or less valid.

If you are a gay man reading this, think: would you be more or less likely to talk down to, interrupt, or ignore a male or female co-worker, family member or even a stranger? And would you accept criticism from them in the same way?

Using gendered insults

Think: would you condemn a straight woman for using a homophobic term like “faggot”? But then, would you ever criticise a straight woman using derogatory gendered terms like “slut”, “bitch” or “whore”?

Judging women based on their sexual attractiveness or availability.

Though we may not be sexually interested in women, gay men can often be very critical of women’s looks, insulting them, calling them fat or ugly, and believing that this is one of the biggest shames a woman can suffer, in a way that is not the same for men. This can be similarly true of “slut-shaming” straight women for being sexually promiscuous in a way that we don’t criticise straight men. Furthermore, one way this form of misogyny can appear in the gay male community in a way that it doesn’t in the straight community, is through spreading the idea that female sexuality is disgusting. Many of us may know the gay drag queen slang for looking really feminine: looking “fish” or “fishy”, stemming from the idea that female genitals stink of fish. This is so commonly used on Rupaul’s Drag Race I was surprised to hear that when asked, Michelle Visage, the only biological woman regularly on the show, admitted that she hated it.

Gay ally Michelle Visage on "serving fish"

Gay ally Michelle Visage on “serving fish”

Profiting from male privilege

There are many forms of oppression and privilege. While straight women like Rose enjoy straight privilege (e.g. being able to hold hands with her partner without fear of persecution) gay men still enjoy many (though not all) of the same privileges as straight men. We are not often taught to fear walking alone at night in the same way. We will never have to consider an abortion and risk being judged for our choice. We are not taught that having a career is unnecessary, or that we ought to give it up if we want to start a family. Usually, the overall boss of our workplace is the same sex as we are (though not often the same orientation). We are not taught that being dominant, opinionated or sexually available are negative characteristics. It is important to be mindful and respectful of the privileges we have that others don’t, and to actively challenge them in theory and in practice.

It is confusing that one group trying to fight for equality and respect for themselves can disregard and work against the similar struggle of another group. To be a misogynistic gay, a racist feminist etc. etc. is nothing but hypocrisy. Moreover, this even happens within the vast LGBTQ+ community, with some gay men having no respect for lesbians, some lesbians having no respect for trans people etc. etc. We cannot ask for empathy and generosity without offering the same in return.

As such, the main reason McGowan received criticism for her comments was the way she asked for the support of gay men with such vitriol towards them, being particularly dismissive of the gay rights movement, saying, “I see now people who have basically fought for the right to stand on top of a float wearing an orange Speedo and take molly [MDMA].” 

I was most surprised by her comment, “I think it’s what happens to you as a group when you are starting to get most of what you fought for”. This surprises me as this is a sentiment that has often been (erroneously) given to the women’s rights movement. I’ve often heard it said, “why do we need feminism? Women can vote? Women can have a career? Women can do anything a man can do”. However, until women stop making up such a disproportionally low percentage of world leaders and top earners, and such a disproportionally high percentage of victims of rape and domestic violence, feminism will always be relevant. Similarly, though gay men can now “officially” be out and proud and even get married in many states of McGowan’s native USA, in many states they can’t get married. In many states firing people for being gay is not illegal. Gay people have only been legally allowed in the US army for two years. ‘Sodomy’ laws were only officially struck down in all states in 2003. The prejudice and discrimination tied to such a history still looms in such comparatively left-leaning countries where homosexuality is legal. And then there are the countries where it is not legal. And then there are those where it is punishable by death. As long as that is the case, Gay Pride will always be more than a party.

Rose McGowan for Advocate

Rose McGowan for Advocate

In an op–ed for Advocate, Rose McGowan has since apologised for the [in her words] “dumb” comments she made about gay men, however she fervently stands by her primary point that misogyny is indeed alive in the gay community, and that we are not doing enough to stop it. Though some took offence to some of what she said, the positive outcome of her speech was that she has opened up a public discourse that we were not really having before. And she is right. We can only reach equality for our own groups while actively working towards equality for everyone, in all forms, not just where we are motivated by self-interest.

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.

”

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.

adore

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.

conchita-shirts

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.