Tag Archives: America

City Spotlight: Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale, known as the “Venice of America” for its expansive and intricate canal system, is one of the principal and biggest cities in Florida and one of the United States’ most popular holiday destinations, with around 11 million visitors each year – including more than a million LGBT travellers. Every year it usually features on lists of top or best gay travel destinations in the US or around the world for its ideal location in the southeast coast of the States, for its gay-friendly attitude and a big LGBT community and area with more than 150 gay-owned or gay-focused businesses. It also has a Convention and Visitors Bureau, which spends considerable amounts of money collating resources and marketing specifically to the gay community.

Situated along the southeast coast – meaning it is very warm or hot all year round, Fort Lauderdale is of course, well-known for its host of beaches (7 miles worth of them) – many which are frequented predominantly by gay and bisexual men, though the girls love them too. The most popular is Sebastian Street Beach and there is also the infamous nude Haulover Beach. Around 10 minutes away is Fort Lauderdale’s neighbouring city, the smaller Wilton Manors while Miami is just half an hour away, where there are more beaches and a just as thriving LGBT community and gay nightlife. If you’re up for a longer journey then Tampa and Orlando are about 3 and a half hours away to the north, as of course Lake Buena Vista – better known as Walt Disney World Resort – is. Further down south is the little island of Key West, a further 3 hours or so away.

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Fort Lauderdale’s Gay Pride (also known as Pride or PrideFest South Florida) event is one of the oldest in the world and is currently in its 37th year and in 2014 it will take place on the first weekend of March (1st-2nd). Miami Gay Beach Pride will be on 11th-13th April. Both Fort Lauderdale and Miami have Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals – Fort Lauderdale’s 6th annual festival will be hosted from 9th-12th October and Miami’s (in its 16th year) will be from 25th April to 4th May 2014. Other LGBT events in these areas include White Party Week, Winter Party and Sizzle in Miami. For full listings of Fort Lauderdale and Miami’s gay areas, check out GayCities for more information. Unfortunately though, despite Florida being seen as one of America’s most gay-friendly states, it has to legalise gay marriage but we hope in the future it will follow suit.

If you’re going to Fort Lauderdale or around this area and are looking for a place to stay, then why not check out our LGBT-owned and LGBT-friendly accommodations? We currently have 15 properties available in Fort Lauderdale, 3 in neighbouring Wilton Manors and 13 in nearby Miami. Or if you’re someone who has a spare room in your property or a whole place you want to rent out to travellers, then you can sign up as a host here and add your accommodation, start making money and meeting new people.

Gay couchsurfing

Gay couchsurfing = couchsurfing for gay people. Couchsurfing = forgoing the traditional hotel or hostel experience and staying with locals instead. In this week’s blog, we investigate why couchsurfing is appealing to more and more people in the gay community and why gay couchsurfing is becoming such a trend!

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“Couchsurfing” is a travel trend that has been growing for a number of years now. The idea: instead of booking a hotel or hostel, you travel around the world staying in the homes of other like-minded people, and when you get back, maybe host a few travellers yourself. Cheaper than a hostel or hotel, and you get a personal host and a potential new friend for life.

As the couchsurfing community has grown, the types of guests and hosts have become more various. The name “couchsurfing” of course comes from the idea of staying on peoples couches, and maybe you need to stay for one night in the centre of Berlin as cheaply as possible, and are happy to sleep on the sofa of a cool guy’s flat for a couple of Euros. Or maybe you’re happy to spend $200 a night for a multi-bedroom palatial Manhattan penthouse that comes complete with a  New Yorker who wants to share all the best party spots with you. Maybe you’re hosting to supplement your income, and you’ll keep yourself to yourself and leave your guest to their own devices, or maybe you’ll be doing tequila shots with them, cooking them your local cuisine and inviting them to party with your friends. The truth is, all of these are okay. The important thing is to be honest and up front with what you want from the experience, whether it be through an online profile or through direct communication with a potential couchsurfing buddy. In this way, you’ll find somebody you’re going to be comfortable with and there will be no awkwardness later on. 

Likewise, as couchsurfing has increased in popularity, the number of couchsurfing networks have grown, and websites like Gay Homestays now offer a couchsurfing database designed exclusively for the gay community. So what can couchsurfing offer the gay community?

Couchsurfing as a concept does attract laid-back and liberal people, and there’s every chance any straight couchsurfing host would be totally cool with your sexuality. But when you know you’re staying with someone the same sexuality as you, its a weight off your shoulders, especially if you’re travelling abroad to a country where the level of acceptance of gays may be different to that of your own country. In this way, couchsurfing can feel even more safe than staying in a hostel, as you know there’s going to be another gay person there, and that you’re going to be accepted and not have to think about hiding who you are or “coming out” to your fellow travellers. If you’re worried about what the local attitude to gay people could be, it’s great to know that you have a safety net, and an opportunity to talk with someone directly about what it’s like to be a gay person in another part of the world.

Furthermore, by staying with a gay person from the local area, you can get the low-down on the best places to go. Maybe you’re going somewhere with a huge gay district, and your host can tell you what’s hot and what’s not. Or maybe you’re going to somewhere with no gay district at all, and your host can tell you where the off-the-map hangout is. Either way, your host can be your link to the scene, and many guests and hosts make long-lasting friendships from sharing the secrets of their city with each other.

Of course, if you’ve never done it before, the idea of staying with a complete stranger can be intimidating. Make use of features of couchsurfing websites like the reviews. The couchsurfing community tends to review much more than hotel guests: if a guest has had a great host, they want to help them out and leave them a good review, and help out their fellow travellers with the information too. Gay Homestays also has an optional host verification system, where hosts can provide the site with information such as a copy of their passport to receive an extra stamp of approval.

So what are you waiting for? Get out, see the world, and make some new friends along the way.