Tag Archives: gay

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.

City Spotlight: Vancouver

Canada has long been established as a gay-friendly country, with the most advanced LGBT rights in the Americas and probably across all English-speaking countries as well. And Vancouver, the country’s third largest city after Toronto and Montreal, is seen by many as one of the top destinations to visit.

A coastal seaport city in Canada’s westernmost province of British Colombia, Vancouver is one of the country’s most diverse cities, both geographically and demographically – it is a modern, metropolitan city with the vast Pacific Ocean on one side and the other is snow-capped mountains, over half its 2.5 million residents do not speak English as a first language and more than a third of the population are of Asian (particularly Chinese) heritage. Much of Canada is known for its cold climate, but Vancouver enjoys its status as one of the country’s warmest – with lows of 15 degrees Celsius in the winter and highs of around 30 during the summer months, making it an ideal all-year round holiday destination.

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Vancouver’s LGBT community is one of Canada’s most largest, prolific and diverse and has been a hotspot for gay travellers around the world, particularly the US, since it legalised gay marriage in 2003. Its community is centred mainly around two areas – Davie Village in the West End and Commercial Drive, also known locally as “The Drive”. Davie Village is seen as the most prominent area with many gay-owned and gay-friendly bars, clubs, restaurants, cafes and shops in and around it with beautiful beaches and the huge Stanley Park not far off, while Commercial Drive is similar but situated on the east side of the city but perhaps not as well as known a “gaybourhood”. For a full listing of gay and gay-oriented places in Vancouver, visit here.

Vancouver gay Pride is not just one week of celebrations but a number of events take place in the run-up to the main festivities at the end of the July and beginning of July, including sports games between local teams, a Pride event for the east side of the city, a fun run and walk and a “city proclamation” (whereby a huge rainbow flag is raised in the city centre). The main Pride week will be from 29th July to 4th August, with the huge Parade ending it all on the last day. As well as Pride, there is also a Queer Arts Festival from 24th July to 9th August and a Queer Film Festival from 15th-25th August.

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For non-LGBT places to go to, Vancouver also has plenty. With a multicultural society, the city is home to distinct ethnic commercial areas such as Chinatown, Greektown, Japantown, Punjabi Market and Little Italy. Other festivals that take place include the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in January, as well as the Vancouver Fringe Festival and the Vancouver International Film Festival, both in September. There are also numerous galleries, museums, theatres and other interesting architectural structures and buildings, beaches and parks worth visiting. And if you want a short break away from the bustling and relatively hot metropolis, the city and province’s neighbouring areas are great for a taste of snowy and wintry Canada.

Gay Homestays has a few properties available in Vancouver, including one that has a private outdoor swimming pool! We also have a number of accommodations in other parts of Canada, such as Calgary, Lund, Maitland, Montreal, Quebec, Saint John and Toronto, so check them out too if you’re travelling to this great country any time soon!

City Spotlight: Sydney

While Sydney is commonly mistaken to be the capital of Australia (and we all know, it is of course Canberra) as it is the most populous and most well-known, many people do believe it is the country’s gay capital. Situated on the southeast coast – making it a very urban seaside city (like many in Australia such as Brisbane), Sydney is the capital of the state of New South Wales, was the site of Australia’s first British colony and is now the country’s most cosmopolitan and multicultural city. So why is Sydney – a very gay-friendly city – a must-visit destination for gay and lesbian travellers? Here we will tell you what LGBT tourists to Sydney can expect from and experience in this lovely city.

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Sydney is consistently ranked by top experts and websites as one of the best cities in the world to live in and one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations and has a very rich culture that centres around music, performing arts and sports. Some of the city’s top attractions include the famous Sydney Opera House, the Olympic Park, numerous arts galleries, museums, arts festivals (some of the biggest in Australia), Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Tower, public sculptures and of course some of the many beaches surrounding the city and nearby areas.

Although the government have yet to acknowledge same-sex marriage, research has shown that the majority of the Australian population do support and want it. Other LGBT rights are mostly in line with other first-world countries, such as anti-discrimination legislation, the right to change one’s legal gender and in some states the right to adopt and foster children. Gay life in Sydney however, does flourish and is predominantly centred around the Darlinghurst (mainly Oxford Street) and Surry Hills districts, alongside others, where a large number of gay-owned and gay-friendly business reside, include bars, clubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, saunas and accommodation. Bondi, Obelisk and Lady Jane beaches are some of the most frequented beaches by gays and are very busy during the summer months, both day and night. The many bars and clubs vary far and wide, with ones to suit everyone’s style and preferences – there are men-only places, lesbian bars, trans bars, cabaret and drag queen bars, high-end and cheaper places for those with different budgets, large and loud clubs for the young and hip and those who prefer an older, mature crowd and a quieter place to chill.

Sydney’s LGBT pride parade, commonly known as Mardi Gras, is similar in extravagance to those in Brazil. It is the largest of this event in Australia and in the southern hemisphere outside of South America, attracting over 300,000 people who watch the Parade and around 70,000 who attend Fair Day, the opening day of the event which lasts a few weeks in February and March. The event grew from gay rights marches held annually since 1978 and  it is now New South Wales’ second-largest annual event in terms of economic impact, generating an annual income of about A$30 million for the state, proving the power of the “Pink Dollar” and gay travel. The Mardi Gras Film Festival also takes place during this time. QueerScreen is another film festival held in Newtown district in September and Sydney Pride – not to be confused with Mardi Gras is another large and popular LGBT event held every June for about two weeks.

Sydney is one of Gay Homestays‘ top destinations and our most popular in Australia with over 30 accommodations available – from gay guest rooms in apartments and houses, whole properties and gay or gay-friendly rooms in guesthouses – in the city and its surrounding area, though many are situated in or around Sydney’s gay area. Obviously the most popular time to visit Sydney or any other area of Australia is during the summer (December to February) and when Mardi Gras is on, though Sydney’s climate is still pretty stable and mild (average of 15-20 degrees Celsius) throughout the rest of the year.

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 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!