Tag Archives: gay travel

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!

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.

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.

What our guests have to say about their hosts and Gay Homestays

Gay Homestays has built itself a great reputation within the global LGBT community, especially in the gay travel accommodation market. Below are select few testimonials from satisfied guests who have stayed with some of our top hosts around the world and had positive experiences using Gay Homestays as a source for gay accommodation so you can see for yourself:

CARL1/1 in Rome

“I’ve used the Gay Homestays services a few times during the last months, and I should say that it’s been great. I’ve felt like home in every place I’ve been, including this one. And will never hesitate in using it again. Carlos”

CRUG1/1 in London

“Gil is an exceptionally kind, considerate and thoughtful host who is never short of a friendly smile and positive conversation. The bed was very comfortable and there was plenty of storage for my clothing. This was my first experience of using Gay Homestays and meeting Gil has ensured that it won’t be my last! James”

THOF1/1 in Barcelona

“I had the pleasure of staying at this apartment in Barcelona with my partner who was celebrating his 40th Birthday.  The host was very welcoming and was extremely organised. The location is ideal for being in the middle of the gay areas. This was our first stay in somebody’s home through Gay Homestays and I must say we were pleasantly surprised.  I would very happily stay here again and would happily recommend Francois and his home to anyone planning a short stay in Barcelona. Well worth a visit. Thank you 🙂 Shane”

PAPN1/1 in New York

“Our stay with Nicolas was most memorable. He is an absolutely gracious host who spared no effort in making sure that we were comfortable. The apartment is superb and we felt very special to share it with Nicolas. Thank you also to Gay Homestays for taking care of our booking so efficiently. Merlin”

OZBM1/5 in Istanbul

“It was my first time using Gay Homestays and I was hesitant but it turned to be a great place, great hospitality and the best thing, a very friendly host. I am definitely recommending this lovely place 🙂 Chai”

COPC1/2 in Devon

This was the first time we’d used Gay Homestays to book a short break, so didn’t know what to expect. We needn’t have worried – all was professionally organised and our host Christopher was very welcoming and helpful and we were made to feel as if this were part of our home too! Didn’t use the heated jacuzzi but were free to do so if we wished.

Lovelly garden in a location tucked away and so very peaceful with ample parking and yet only about 5-10 mins walk to or from the town centre and with a slightly longer walk to the train station, we went to Exeter by train very easy and cheaper than paying for the parking there!

Great location is you want to explore East Devon, Dorset, Somerset or a quick trip down to the coast. Would definately stay here again.  Simon & Ian”

PHIB1/1 in Paris

“My partner and I just got back from a trip to Paris. It was the second time we used the services of Gay Homestays. We stayed with Philippe in Paris, for three days. It was a great experience and a more wonderful person and host is difficult to find. We will definitely continue to use Gay Homestays for our trips. Peter”

RODJ1/2 in Valencia

“This was my first time using Gay Homestays and I was very impressed from the start. My accommodation in Valencia was fantastic- very central, clean and tidy, and with a friendly host who gave me info on local gay bars (all nearby), beaches, etc. He was professional in manner and left me to my own accord.

The room has a lovely balcony overlooking the street with a nice bar on the corner nearby where I ate in the evenings. It was so hot during my stay in Valencia the good quality fan secured to the wall helped circulate the air without making a constant noise. There is a TV in the room for those who want it with many TV and radio channels. I would definitely recommend this accommodation. Daniel”

HILB1/1 in Manchester

“Staying with Brian was a wonderful experience. He is a gr8 guy. His apartment was in a building similar to one you would find in Tribeca in NYC. The place was beautiful and very convenient. I would definitely stay with him again if I should return to Manchester. This was my first experience with Gay Homestays and I will certainly use this again to find a place to stay. Jack”

ROMC1/2 in Gran Canaria

“My partner and I stayed with Marcial and Roman last week on our first trip to Gran Canaria. We liked the idea of staying with a local couple instead of a normal hotel and also liked the the look of the property from the website.

When we arrived, our hosts could not have more welcoming. Our room was perfect. The bathroom was also great. The rest of the house and garden were even better than the photos showed and Roman and Marcial encouraged us to make ourselves at home which we did straight away. They made us feel so at home that we felt like we staying with friends for the week.

As we hadn’t been to the island before, they gave us good advice about what to see and do as we wanted to see some of the island as well as the beaches and the Yumbo Centre!

Breakfast was laid out for every morning which including fresh homemade bread and a variety of pastries each day as well as fruit, cereal, yoghurt etc.
The dogs Moro and Tamo were also very welcoming and very cute. We would highly recommend this homestay and hope to return ourselves in the future.
Stuart & Andy”