Tag Archives: gay homestays

City Spotlight: Rio de Janeiro

Brazil is known as one of South America’s most gay-friendly countries with advanced legal rights for LGBT people including equal age of consent, health benefits, immigration equality, the right to change legal gender, anti-homophobia laws, and most recently in May 2013, same-sex marriages were made legal nationwide. Brazil is a very diverse country and a popular holiday hotspot for many people, including LGBT travellers, particularly because of its large cities’ LGBT festivals and parades, which are some of the world’s largest – São Paulo takes pole position with well over 2 million visitors every year, while the ones in the capital Brasilia and Salvador attract nearly 1 million. Rio de Janeiro’s – arguably the country’s most popular destination, and the soon-to-host of the 2016 Summer Olympics – is the second largest (1.5-2 million).

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Rio was recently voted as the world’s best gay destination and it was estimatedthat 1 in every 4 visitors to the city is LGBT and with not only a huge Pride event, but a bustling LGBT community, an open attitude towards sex and sexuality and of course and great attractions for every holidaymaker, it’s easy to see why that is the case. The Ipanema district in Rio is where LGBT life in the city is predominantly located where there are plenty of gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses such as bars, clubs, restaurants and shops. The neighbouring Leblon district is also popular with the gay community and has art galleries, museums, theatres and boutique shops that serve as interesting local attractions.

The Copacabana beach is one of Rio’s many beaches, and probably its most famous, located next to the Ipanema and Farme Gay beaches, where if you want to eye up some of the hot local Latin guys and girls or other tourists making the most of the sun and heat, that’s the place to be. The beaches host a lot of parties too, especially during Pride and Carnival and will go on late into the night. Gay nightlife in the city also goes on late into the night and even into the early hours of the morning and usually starts pretty late as well, with most people preferring to eat late dinner and drink in restaurants and smaller pubs and bars before moving on to the major clubs. For a full listing of places, click here.

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As previously mentioned, the two main yearly events that take place in Rio are Carnival and gay Pride. The former usually happens at the end of February through to the beginning of March and is always big, extravagant, vibrant and colourful, with pretty much everyone getting involved as the huge collective party atmosphere and attitude takes over everyone and the whole city. Pride on the other hand has varied dates each year – in 2012 it was November, but this year it is slated to commence on 13th October and expected to once again to be a massive success and continue to be on the world’s biggest and best Prides. New Year’s Eve is also a very popular event which sees over 2.5 million come together to ring in the new year on Copacabana Beach, usually all dressed in white. Another gay festival, the Rio Festival Gay de Cinema – the city’s international LGBT film festival – usually takes place in July.

Rio offers a lot of other attractions, things to do and see and places to go, and being a predominantly Roman Catholic area, is of course home to many religious building and structures – the most famous being the must-see statue of Jesus Christ on Corcovado mountain (the fourth tallest in the world). Other places include nearby islands, rainforests and mountains, if you wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and explore Brazil’s wild nature.

One’s safety must always be kept in mind when travelling to Brazil and staying in Rio. Even though the gay areas are known to be the wealthiest part of the city, beggars and criminals still try their luck at pickpocketing or taking advantage of people, especially foreigners, so it is not advised that you be left or travel alone or walk around by yourself at night. Please take a look at our top tips for gay travellers for more information.

We currently have half a dozen accommodations available in Rio or alternatively, we also have accommodations in Belo Horizonte, Marceló, Natal, Salvador and São Paulo, but if you have a spare room or property that you want to rent out on a short-term basis to guests in Rio or any other Brazilian city, you can it here.

Gay Homestays’ Top Ten Gay TV Shows

There have been loads of great gay TV shows on over the years so we thought it was about time we listed our top 10 favourites:

10.

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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.

9.

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A classic 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!

8.

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Three gay TV shows for the price of one? You can’t ask for better than that! 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!

7.

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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.

6.

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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…

5.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Review: The Bodyguard, the musical

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

City Spotlight: Amsterdam

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gay Homestays’ top 14 favourite but obscure LGBT musicians

If we were to ask you to name some of the world’s most popular out LGBT musicians, the first names that would pop into your head would probably be the likes of Freddie Mercury, Elton John, George Michael, Adam Lambert, Ricky Martin, Melissa Etheridge, k.d. lang, Tegan & Sara, Jessie J and Lady Gaga, right? But what about the lesser-known artists or those who have kept their sexuality more private and under the radar? Here are some of Gay Homestays’ favourite LGBT musicians who are perhaps not as famous for their sexuality as they are for their careers or discographies that we think you should take a listen to:

Bessie Smith

“Empress of the Blues” Bessie Smith was married but both she and her husband were known to have affairs – and she allegedly did so with both men and women. However, she never publicly announced her sexuality but bear in mind this was during a time when such ideas about LGBT people – particularly from the black community – were not condoned.

Dusty Springfield

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Soul and blues singer Dusty Springfield helped change the face (and sound) of these genres as one of few white artists to record this kind of music, especially being British and female. She was openly bisexual, a risk she took at the time when LGBT people in the media and in the public eye were frowned upon.

Fergie

Though married to handsome actor Josh Duhamel and being a Catholic who says she attends church regularly, Black Eyed Peas singer and rapper Fergie came out as bisexual in 2009.

Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean’s statement of having once been in love with a man was a landmark in the history of hip hop music, being the first out LGBT person from this industry – or at least the first to admit he has been in love with a person of the same sex (even though he says it was unrequited).

Janis Joplin

Soulful rocker Janis Joplin was known to have dated both men and women even though she never officially came out as bisexual. Joplin was one of the most influential female soul, blues and rock artists of all time.

Johnny Mathis

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In 1982, legendary crooner Johnny Mathis allegedly came out as gay saying “homosexuality is a way of life that I’ve grown accustomed to” though this statement was later retracted. Since then he has rarely talked about the subject but has said he had to stop due to death threats and so has kept his personal life as hidden as possible from the public eye.

Kele Okereke

Lead singer of British indie rock band Bloc Party Kele Okereke came out as gay in 2010 but has not discussed his sexuality or private life much since then, admitting he is extremely shy and dislikes being interviewed.

Ma Rainey

Like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey – “the Mother of the Blues” – was involved with women during a hard time for LGBT people, but unlike Bessie, Ma was unafraid of making sure people knew about it in her songs.

Patrick Wolf

English singer-songwriter Patrick Wolf is openly gay and well-known among the British LGBT community, but outside of it and the UK he seems to have yet received credit we believe he deserves. Since his début in 2003 he has released six critically-acclaimed albums.

Queen LAtifah

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Though she is not officially out, rumours always seemed to have pointed to actress, singer, rapper and TV personality Queen Latifah as a lesbian so we believe she deserves a place on this list. Latifah was one of the biggest and most influential female rappers of the late 80s and throughout the 90s but has proven to be multi-talented as a singer and actress as well – as she showed us in “Chicago” as Matron “Mama” Morton.

Sam Sparro

Another well-known name among the LGBT community, Australian artist Sam Sparro has been praised by critics but has not yet hit the big time on a mainstream level, though his first single “Black and Gold” did peak at No.2 in the UK.

Steve Grand

American country-pop singer-songwriter and former model Steve Grand hit headlines in 2013 when his song “All-American Boy” went viral on YouTube. It is an autobiographical song that immediately cemented him as the music industry’s potentially next big openly gay star, despite not being signed to a label. He has since released two more singles and has been raising money via public donations to record his début album.

Sylvester

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Dubbed as an “honorary” Queen of Disco in the 1970s, Sylvester enjoyed a successful career in the US on the dance charts throughout the disco era and through to the 80s, and his flamboyant nature and outrageous outfits certainly fitted well with the genre. He was famously out and proud but is perhaps a little less well-known compared to many other “disco divas” or other LGBT musicians who were around at the time.

Tracy Chapman

Like Queen Latifah, Tracy Chapman’s sexuality has never been confirmed but the singer-songwriter did openly date writer Alice Walker in the 90s, though details of her private life since then have not been in the spotlight.