Tag Archives: pride

City Spotlight: New York

The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. The Empire City. The City of Skyscrapers; just some of the nicknames given to New York, one of the most well-known global holiday hotspots and is also very popular with LGBT travellers, constantly topping or being in lists of best gay travel destinations. And it’s not hard to see why.

New York offers something for everyone to do 24/7, 365 days a year – it’s rich with culture (art galleries and museums galore) and history (including LGBT history in the form of the famous Stonewall Inn, where the Stonewall Riots of 1969 began), has a vibrant nightlife, great shopping being one of the main fashion capitals of the world and some amazing sights to see, including the fountain where the Twin Towers used to stand, the Empire State building, Times Square, Central Park, the One World Trade Centre and of course, the Statue of Liberty to name just a few. It may be a buzzing metropolitan city, but New York’s parks and rivers also offer some quieter solace from the hubbub of the streets and breathing space from the countless high skyscrapers.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

New York’s gay scene is thriving and is spread all across the its five boroughs – Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx and Staten Island, although its main areas are situated in Chelsea (lower Manhattan), East Side and East Village, Hell’s Kitchen in Queens and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, where are there a whole host of different kinds of bars, clubs, restaurants and other gay-run establishments that cater to or are aimed at different members of the diverse LGBT community.

via Twitter

via Twitter

New York City Pride is one of the world’s largest, attracting an estimated more than 1 million people. The Parade is a spectacular sight to behold as it snakes across the city southward down the famous Fifth Avenue and fittingly ends at Greenwich Village and Christopher Street, right by the Stonewall Inn – where the LGBT rights movement first began. Pride week usually takes places towards the end of June (17-25th this year). Confirmed acts that will be performing include Tegan and Sara, Years & Years, Roisin Murphy, Deborah Cox, Patti Labelle, LeAnn Rimes and Nelly Furtado. Other events that will take place include a Youth Pride, Family Movie Night, OutCinema, The Rally and the Village Voice Pride Awards.

via Facebook

via Facebook

Gay Homestays has more than 30 places to book in New York, from spare rooms in flats and houses or whole properties and B&Bs and guesthouses, with some being gay-owned or gay-friendly. While New York is certainly not short of hotels, including gay-run ones, the opportunity to stay with a local and see and experience the city firsthand through them should not be passed up.

Manchester Pride Preview: Who we’re looking forward to seeing

Manchester Pride is just around the corner once again and there are some great artists who will be gracing either the main stage, Sackville Boutique stage or Gaydio Dance Arena. Here’s a few of our must-sees!

10. Kelly Wilde

Kelly is no stranger to Manchester Pride, having performed several times before and is a very popular act on the gay circuit. As well as some of her songs like “Gloria” and “Maria”, she is known for including covers of classics such as “Holding Out For A Hero” and “(I’ve Had The) Time Of My Life” in her live sets, which you can watch from when she was at Manchester Pride in 2012 below:

9.Jade Ellis

Jade was a finalist on the 9th series of The X Factor in 2012 and was mentored by Tulisa (who will also be performing at Manchester Pride). She has a daughter who she raises with her girlfriend and received a lot of positive reactions when she was very open and candid about her sexuality. Here is one of her best performances from the show:

8. Katy B

Katy has spawned a handful of top 20 hits on the UK singles chart and her debut and sophomore albums reached No.2 and No.1 respectively on the album charts. Over a few short years she has already got to collaborate with some big names, including Miss Dynamite, Craig David, Tinie Tempah and Mark Ronson.

7. Jordan Gray

Jordan certainly made a big impression when she enchanted coaches and the public on series 5 of The Voice earlier this year as the show’s first transgender contestant. We are very interested to see how she progresses as an artist in the future.

6. Sophie Ellis-Bextor

A veteran to the pop-dance and nu-disco music scene, Sophie is probably the biggest global name on this year’s bill with 3 top 10 albums and 6 top 10 singles on the UK music charts and several entries on Australia and many European countries’ charts too. She has a new album out in September called “Familia” but here is her most famous hit, “Murder On The Dancefloor”:

5. Frankmusik

Vincent James Turner – a.k.a. Frankmusik – is one of Britain’s top synth pop artists who has been an ally of the LGBT community for many years and will be performing at Manchester Pride this year.

4. Will Young

One of the biggest names to come from any of the UK’s reality TV competitions and one of the UK’s biggest gay celebrities, Will Young has come a long from when he won Pop Idol in 2002. All six of his albums have reached No.1 or 2 on the UK albums chart and 11 of singles charted in the top 10 – four of which went to No.1. This will be his first time performing at Manchester Pride. Below is our favourite song of his. “Switch It On”, in which he channeled Top Gun in the video:

3. Groove Armada

Arguably one of the UK’s best dance acts of all time, Groove Armada will be rocking the Gaydio Dance Arena on the Saturday. Here is one of their most famous worldwide hits, “I See You Baby”:

2. MNEK

MNEK may only be 21 years old but the openly gay singer-songwriter and producer has already been nominated for a Grammy and worked with some huge names, including Beyonce, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Naughty Boy, Bastille, Little Mix and JoJo. This will be his debut performance at Manchester Pride. Listen below to “Never Forget You”, which was a top 5 hit:

1. Heather Small

Heather Small is THE voice of dance act M People. It’s been almost a decade since she last performed at Manchester Pride and we’re glad to see this gay icon return to the city where M People originated. With one of the most distinctively soulful voices the UK has ever heard, Heather is a legendary force to be reckoned with.

Check out the full list so far of who is set to perform here. Who are you looking forward to seeing most this weekend? Let us know!

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: 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.

Our Top Summer Destinations

I think we’re all starting to look forward to our summer holiday now, if we’re lucky enough to be going on one. Whether you’re off for a couple of days or two weeks in the sun, there are some destinations for everyone.

1. Sitges

Sitges is a Spanish seaside town not far from Barcelona. It has 17 beaches, and from 5th to 9th July is Sitges Gay Pride – only the second they have ever held, but it’s guaranteed to be a blast.

2. Milan

You don’t have to be a football fanatic to visit the second largest city in Italy. If you go on holiday to find art, culture and architecture, this is the place for you. And if you’re a football fan, all the better!

3. London

With the Olympics set this year, we’re pitching London as one of our top summer destinations for 2012. As if there isn’t enough to do in London already,  this year will be choc-a-bloc with extra things to see and do. One of those is at the Tate Modern, where Damien Hirst will be showing until the summer.

If you’d like to tell us about any of your favourite destinations, we’d love to hear about them!