Monday, August 31, 2009

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Gays live - and die - in fear in Jamaica

(Kingston, Jamaica) Even now, about three years after a near-fatal gay bashing, Sherman gets jittery at dusk. On bad days, his blood quickens, his eyes dart, and he seeks refuge indoors.

A group of men kicked him and slashed him with knives for being a “batty boy” - a slang term for gay men - after he left a party before dawn in October 2006. They sliced his throat, torso, and back, hissed anti-gay epithets, and left him for dead on a Kingston corner.

“It gets like five, six o’clock, my heart begins to race. I just need to go home, I start to get nervous,” said the 36-year-old outside the secret office of Jamaica’s sole gay rights group. Like many other gays, Sherman won’t give his full name for fear of retribution.

Despite the easygoing image propagated by tourist boards, gays and their advocates agree that Jamaica is by far the most hostile island toward homosexuals in the already conservative Caribbean. They say gays, especially those in poor communities, suffer frequent abuse. But they have little recourse because of rampant anti-gay stigma and a sodomy law banning sex between men in Jamaica and 10 other former British colonies in the Caribbean.

It is impossible to say just how common gay bashing attacks like the one against Sherman are in Jamaica - their tormentors are sometimes the police themselves. But many homosexuals in Jamaica say homophobia is pervasive across the sun-soaked island, from the pulpit to the floor of the Parliament.

Hostility toward gays has reached such a level that four months ago, gay advocates in New York City launched a short-lived boycott against Jamaica at the site of the Stonewall Inn, where demonstrations launched the gay-rights movement in 1969. In its 2008 report, the U.S. State Department also notes that gays have faced death and arson threats, and are hesitant to report incidents against them because of fear.

For gays, the reality of this enduring hostility is loneliness and fear, and sometimes even murder.

Andrew, a 36-year-old volunteer for an AIDS education program, said he was driven from the island after his ex-lover was killed for being gay - which police said was just a robbery gone wrong. He moved to the U.K. for several years, but returned to Jamaica in 2008 for personal reasons he declined to disclose.

“I’m living in fear on a day-to-day basis,” he said softly during a recent interview in Kingston. “In the community where my ex-lover was killed, people will say to me when I’m passing on the street, they will make remarks like ‘boom-boom-boom’ or ‘batty boy fi dead.’ I don’t feel free walking on the streets.”

Many in this highly Christian nation perceive homosexuality as a sin, and insist violence against gays is blown out of proportion by gay activists. Some say Jamaica tolerates homosexuality as long as it is not advertised - a tropical version of former President Bill Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for the U.S. military.

Jamaica’s most prominent evangelical pastor, Bishop Herro Blair, said he sympathizes with those who face intolerance, but that homosexuals themselves are actually behind most of the attacks reported against them.

“Among themselves, homosexuals are extremely jealous,” said Blair during a recent interview. “But some of them do cause a reaction by their own behaviors, for, in many people’s opinions, homosexuality is distasteful.”

Other church leaders have accused gays of flaunting their behavior to “recruit” youngsters, or called for them to undergo “redemptive work” to break free of their sexual orientation.

Perhaps playing to anti-gay constituents, politicians routinely rail against homosexuals. During a parliamentary session in February, lawmaker Ernest Smith of the ruling Jamaica Labor Party stressed that gays were “brazen,” “abusive,” and “violent,” and expressed anxiety that the police force was “overrun by homosexuals.”

A few weeks later, Prime Minister Bruce Golding described gay advocates as “perhaps the most organized lobby in the world” and vowed to keep Jamaica’s “buggery law” - punishable by 10 years - on the books. During a BBC interview last year, Golding vowed to never allow gays in his Cabinet.

The dread of homosexuality is so all-encompassing that many Jamaican men refuse to get digital rectal examinations for prostate cancer, even those whose disease is advanced, said Dr. Trevor Tulloch of St. Andrews Hospital.

“Because it is a homophobic society, there’s such a fear of the sexual implications of having the exam that men won’t seek out help,” said Tulloch, adding Jamaica has a soaring rate of prostate cancer because men won’t be screened.

The anti-gay sentiment on this island of 2.8 million has perhaps become best known through Jamaican “dancehall,” a rap-reggae music hybrid that often has raunchy, violent themes. Some reggae rappers, including Bounty Killer and Elephant Man, depend on gay-bashing songs to rouse concert-goers.

“It stirs up the crowd to a degree that many performers feel they have to come up with an anti-gay song to incite the audience,” said Barry Chevannes, a professor of social anthropology at the University of the West Indies.

Brooklyn-based writer Staceyann Chin, a lesbian who fled her Caribbean homeland for New York more than a decade ago, stressed that violence in Jamaica is high - there were 1,611 killings last year, about 10 times more than the U.S. rate relative to population - but that it is “extraordinarily” high against gays.

“The macho ideal is celebrated, praised in Jamaica, while homosexuality is paralleled with pedophilia, rapists,” Chin said. “Markers that other people perceive as gay - they walk a certain way, wear tight pants, or are overly friendly with a male friend - make them targets. It’s a little pressure cooker waiting to pop.”

In 1996, when she was 20, Chin came out as lesbian on the Kingston UWI campus. She said she was ostracized by her peers, and one day was herded into a campus bathroom by a group of male students, who ripped off her clothes and sexually assaulted her.

“They told me what God wanted from me, that God made women to enjoy sex with men,” recalled Chin, a poet, performer and lecturer who closes her just-published memoir “The Other Side of Paradise” with her searing account of the attack.

Even in New York City, anti-gay Jamaican bigots sent her hate-filled e-mails after a 2007 appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s TV talk show to discuss homosexuality.

Chin said she doesn’t know if she would have the courage to come out now as a lesbian in Jamaica.

“The tensions are higher now. People are feeling very much that they have to declare camps,” she said.

Jamaican nationalism has always been tied in deeply with bugbears about masculinity, making for a “potent brew” where those who violate accepted standards of manliness are easy targets, said Scott Long of Human Rights Watch.

Long, head of a gay rights program at the New York-based group, pointed out that most other English-speaking islands in the region have tiny populations, where gays don’t come out and visible activism is limited.

“(But) what stands out about Jamaica is how absolutely, head-in-the-sand unwilling the authorities have been for years to acknowledge or address homophobic violence,” he said. “Most notably, three successive governments have completely, utterly, publicly refused even to talk about changing the buggery law - which expressly consigns gay people to second-class citizens and paints targets on their backs.”

Prominent Jamaican political activist Yvonne McCalla Sobers noted that social standing still protects gay islanders, especially in Kingston, where a quest for privacy and the fear of crime has driven many to live behind gated walls with key pad entry systems, 24-hour security and closed-circuit television monitoring. People with power and money who are not obviously gay are often protected, she said.

“My thought is there are far more men having sex with men in this country than you would ever think is happening,” Sobers said.

Many gays from poorer areas in Jamaica say they congregate in private to find safety and companionship. Once a month, they have underground church services at revolving locations across the island.

Sherman, meanwhile, is simply trying to move on with his life. But he said he will always remember how, after his attack, patrolmen roughly lifted his bloodied body out of their squad car when a man admonished them for aiding a “batty boy.” A woman shamed them into driving him to a hospital; they stuffed him in the car’s trunk.

“Being gay in Jamaica, it’s like, don’t tell anybody. Just keep it to yourself,” he said evenly, with a half smile.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hot Five: Auckland, New Zealand | Exclusives |

Hot Five: Auckland, New Zealand | Exclusives |

En route to interview the organizers of Gay Ski Week NZ in Queenstown, OutTraveler's Dennis Hensley spent three action-packed days in the City of Sails, Auckland, New Zealand. Here, in his own words, are his top recommendations.


This 5-star luxury B & B overlooking the Harbor Bridge is the most fabulous place I've ever stayed. The owners, Frances Wilson and Stephen Fitzgerald, have poured lots of TLC into every detail, creating a sumptuous, homey atmosphere that reflects their passions for antiques, opera and contemporary design. There was a baby grand piano in my room. Seriously. You know, in case Josh Groban happened to stop by. There was also a romantic fireplace that roared to life with just the flip of a light switch, again in case Josh Groban happened to stop by.

Though I was tempted to never leave Mollies, a short stroll took me to the eclectic shopping district of Ponsonby Road, where I dined at the Spanish-influenced Rocco, indulged in a raspberry bar at the Earlybird Bakery and Cafe, and had the tastiest chai latte of my life at Dorothy's Sister, a cozy neighborhood hangout that's as old-school camp-tastic as its name would lead you to believe.


My second day, I headed to the funky shopping area of Kingsland with Melissa Crockett, one of two lesbian owners of Potiki Adventures, a company that specializes in contemporary Maori culture tours. After turning me onto mincemeat pies at The Fridge, Melissa led me next door to Native Agent where we perused their wide array of handmade, Maori-inspired crafts and clothing. My favorite item was a kiwi bird-shaped wall hanging made from an old record album, specifically the Village People's "Macho Man." Gay enough for you yet? I thought so.

Then it was off to One Tree Hill, a gorgeous, grassy hillside park with a breathtaking 360-degree view of the entire area and a rich and complicated history as a much-prized Maori battleground. We ended our day with a drive through the rain forest to Piha Beach near where director Jane Campion shot her film The Piano. After snapping the requisite Facebook photos, Melissa and I savored the rich colors of the sunset reflecting on the black sand beach. It's an image I won't soon forget.


My interactive sailing adventure with SailNZ aboard an America's Cup yacht from 1995 started out as a mellow, fun-in-the-sun type proposition. But then the weather started getting rough and our tiny ship was tossed. For a few minutes there, it was like being in The Perfect Storm except George Clooney wasn't there to tell you everything was going to be okay. At times during the downpour, it felt like our vessel was almost perpendicular to the sea but my shipmates and I kept our cool and prevailed, grinding and steering our asses off, then we sailed back to the downtown Auckland pier under a big hot sun and a welcoming gay rainbow.


With assured guidance by my local gay liaison, Nate, I embarked on a big gay club crawl down Karangahape Road or K' Road, is it's more commonly known. We started out with the friendly neighborhood pub Naval and Family then dashed across the street to the bustling, high-energy Family Auckland's preeminent gay dance club.

My favorite stop though was Caluzzi Bar and Cabaret where sassy drag divas serve dinner, clear plates and then put on a hell of a show. The kicker: at least once in each number, the performer or performers leave through the front door and continue to lip-sync for their lives through the front windows from the sidewalk outside, like their in a drag queen aquarium. This leads to some hilarious cameos from unwitting passersby who hadn't planned on appearing in a drag show that night. Sometimes, if the music moves them, a diva will venture beyond the sidewalk right out into street. It's traffic stopping fun…in more ways than one.


Seeing Zachary Quinto on Letterman made me jump off a building. I'll explain: When the Heroes actor was on Late Night to promote his role in the new Star Trek film, Quinto boasted to Dave that he just did the Skyjump, a controlled bunjy-style jump from the SkyTower in Auckland. I figured if Spock can do it, I can do it.

So after getting outfitted in a nifty blue and yellow jumpsuit, I was taken by elevator up to the platform where I enjoyed the amazing view of the city as well as some classic rock songs as I waited for my turn. I was hoping to hear "Freefalling" or "Eye of the Tiger" but I got "Breakdown," which doesn't exactly make one feel invincible. What really unnerved me though was the sound of the cable uncoiling as the jumpers before me took their leap. It's loud and metallic and it gets faster and faster as the person descends. It's the sound of a death splatter, frankly, but I blocked it out and got harnessed up by a guy with a hot accent named Andy.

"Are you nervous?" he asked me.

"Yes," I replied, "but I decided I'm going to stay in the moment and trust the experts."

"Too bad I don't know where they are," he said.

And then I jumped off the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere (630 feet). And I did it with as much grace as I could muster. If I was going to plummet to my death, then I was going to tap into my dance background and do it with good form.

Once I was actually falling, I went from feeling terrified to exhilarated in about a split second. In fact, I got so into my arched-back superhero fantasy that I didn't get my feet under me in time and I sort of botched my landing. The East German judge was particularly harsh but I didn't care. I was having too much fun. I giggled through my landing and for a few minutes or so after. In fact, I'm still giggling.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Top 5 Surprisingly Gay Small Towns

Brought to you by Out Traveler

If you're up for downsizing when it comes to planning your next vacation destination, consider these diminutive gems. Keep clicking to find who’s number 1!


Home to one of the biggest per capita LGBT populations on the east coast and now host of the entirely enticing Frostbite ME weekend (early March, dates TBA), a LGBT winter celebration with an alluring array of homo hijinks, activities, and events that launched in 2008, Portland is Maine's captivating largest city (population 65,000). Portland has a venerable gay bar, Blackstones, and Styxx Video Club (3 Spring Street), where the dance floor and pool tables are popular with women on Thursdays and Saturdays. For more information on the city's gay goings on, contact Visit Portland.


A pint-sized piece of perfection, Arkansas' Eureka Springs (population 2,350) is a charming tiny town with Victorian architecture, twisting streets, and easy going, laissez fair attitude that has lured a diverse community. "Diversity Weekends" run four times a year and gay-owned businesses, including bars, hotels, and guesthouses have proliferated in the town. Check in to gay-owned, fabulously kitschy Tradewinds Motel or lesbian-owned Pond Mountain Lodge and Resort to stay gay. The resort spa town nestled in the Ozarks has gained quite a reputation over the years and answers to nicknames such as "Haven for the State's eccentrics," "The place where the misfits fit," "The hole in the Bible Belt where the buckle goes through," and "America's largest open-air asylum."


An upbeat college town, the home of Edmund White's alma mater, the University of Michigan, is a haven of tolerance, just 35 miles west of Detroit (population 115,000). Women drink, play pool, and have dinner at the miniscule, two-level, lesbian-adored Aut Bar. Thrilling restaurants abound and once you're ready to up the ante, head to gay-friendly club Necto. Ann Arbor is also home to a slew of LGBT groups, from Ann Arbor Queer Aquatics to the Lesbian Moms Network.


Set in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Asheville (population 73,000) is home to an excellent choice of gay and lesbian-owned inns and guesthouses, such as gay-owned 1899 Whitegate Inn and Cottage. For more choices, contact Explore Asheville. There's also a smorgasbord of thrilling, locally owned restaurants, gay bar Smokey Tavern (18 Broadway Street), hot LGBT dance spot Club Hairspray, lesbian-owned bookstore Malaprops, and a constellation of galleries.


This accepting, forward-thinking, progressive college town (population 70,000) is home to Indiana University and the famed Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction (itself home to one of the world's largest porn collections). Filled with hip caf├ęs and funky stores, Bloomington markets its many merits to lesbian and gay travelers. For more information on Bloomington, visit

More information @

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

N.H. legalizes same-sex marriage

By (Contact) | Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Hampshire became the sixth state to recognize same-sex marriage Wednesday after the state legislature agreed to include changes protecting religious institutions from being forced to marry gay couples.

Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, signed the bill just hours after the state House voted 198-176 and the Senate voted 14-10 to legalize gay marriage.

"Today, we are standing up for the liberties of same-sex couples by making clear that they will receive the same rights, responsibilities and respect under New Hampshire law," Mr. Lynch said.

Mr. Lynch, who has stated he believes personally that marriage should be between a man and a woman, had said that he would veto the bill unless protections for religious groups were added.

New Hampshire joined Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Maine in legalizing same-sex marriage, and is the fourth to do so this year. The Vermont and Maine legislatures approved bills recognizing same-sex marriage earlier this year, while the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that not performing such unions is unconstitutional.

The only surprise surrounding the New Hampshire action was its timing.

Both state houses approved a same-sex marriage bill earlier this year, but the governor sent it back in May, asking the legislature to include language making it clear that religious organizations and their employees have the right to refuse to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Lawmakers expected the governor's amendment to sail through the legislature easily, and thus were stunned when the House rejected it in a May 20 vote by a margin of 188-186.

New Hampshire political analyst Dean Spiliotes chalked up the vote to a large number of absences the legislature meets year-round and pays only a pittance, thus many lawmakers miss votes due to their jobs and to qualms over the speed at which the bill was moving.

Legislative leaders met Friday in conference committee to tweak the governor's language. Meanwhile, Democrats rallied support for the bill while stressing the importance of high attendance.

"What played out last week is that they decided to do a do-over," Mr. Spiliotes said. "There was no huge sea-change; they just needed to get their ducks in a row."

Gay-rights advocates hailed the New Hampshire action as another important step in securing equal rights for same-sex couples.

"I think that ever since the legislature began grappling with this issue earlier this year, we've been hopeful that they would move past civil unions and go for the real thing," said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry.

Kevin Smith, executive director of Cornerstone Policy Research Action in Manchester, N.H., which opposes gay marriage, said the governor and some legislators would likely pay a political price for the move in the 2010 election.

"The governor said as recently as April that marriage is reserved for a man and a woman," Mr. Smith said. "This is a stark departure from everything he's said in the past. I wouldn't call it squishy I'd call it completely misleading the voters."

He said conservatives would attempt to repeal the same-sex marriage law, while acknowledging that it wouldn't be easy. Even getting a referendum onto the ballot requires a two-thirds vote in both the Democrat-controlled House and Senate.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

President Obama issues LGBT Pride statement

By Jennifer Vanasco

From the White House:

Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.

LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country’s response to the HIV pandemic.

Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration — in both the White House and the Federal agencies — openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.

The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.

My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.

These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Gay marriage becomes law in Maine

(Augusta, Maine) Gov. John Baldacci signed legislation Wednesday allowing same-sex marriage in Maine, minutes after it received final approval in the legislature.

Maine is the fifth state to allow gay marriage.

Up until he put his pen to the bill ,it was anyone’s guess whether he would sign or veto it. Baldacci had said previously he had not made up his mind on gay marriage.

Had he vetoed it, the bill likely would have died. It received final approval in the Senate by a slim majority, not enough to override a veto.

As the governor appeared to be equivocating, same-sex marriage advocates delivered more than 10,000 postcards asking him to support the legislation.

The new law repeals Maine’s 12-year old so-called Defense of Marriage law, which bars same-sex marriage. Under the new law, churches are not compelled to conduct same-sex weddings if it would be inconsistent with their doctrine.

The conservative Maine Marriage Alliance warned that if Baldacci signed the bill it would press for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

The New Hampshire House will vote on a similar bill Wednesday. It already has passed the Senate, but Gov. John Lynch, who has said he believes the current civil union law works, has not said if he would veto the bill.

Same-sex marriage was already legal in three New England states - Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the Boston-based LGBT rights group that won marriage equality in court rulings in Massachusetts and Connecticut, last November launched “Six by Twelve” a campaign to legalize gay marriage throughout New England by 2012.

If same-sex marriage becomes legal in New Hampshire, it would leave only Rhode Island as the only New England state without marriage equality.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Maine House approves gay marriage

(Augusta, Maine) With a vote of 89-58, the Maine House on Tuesday gave initial approval to legislation allowing same-sex marriage.

The vote spent three hours in impassioned debate on the bill.

It received initial passage in the state Senate on April 30.

The House version and that of the Senate now must be unified and undergo a final vote before going to the desk of Gov. John Baldacci.

Whether the governor will sign it is anybody’s guess at this point. Baldacci has said he has not made up his mind on gay marriage.

Same-sex marriage advocates have delivered more than 10,000 postcards asking him to support the legislation.

The legislation would repeal Maine’s 12-year old so-called Defense of Marriage law which bars same-sex marriage and make marriage gender-neutral. It also states that churches would not be compelled to conduct same-sex weddings if it would be inconsistent with their doctrine.

The conservative Maine Marriage Alliance has said that if same-sex marriage appears to be on a track to legalization it would press for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

The New Hampshire House will vote on a similar bill Wednesday. It already has passed the Senate but Gov John Lynch who has said he believes the current civil union law works fine has not said if he would veto the bill.

Same-sex marriage already is legal in three New England states - Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont.

Elsewhere, same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa. New York Gov David Paterson (D) has unveiled legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry in the Empire State and in California, the Supreme Court is expected to rule this spring on the legality of Prop 8 the voter approved measure banning gay marriage in that state.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Moscow authorities threaten gay pridegoers with arrest

(Moscow) Moscow city officials have threatened to arrest anyone participating in a gay pride parade this year.

Moscow Pride had announced pride this year will take place on May 16th, but this week a City Hall spokesman said any attempt to hold a parade would be “firmly dealt with.”

“There have been no official applications for permission to hold gay parades during the May holidays and all attempts to hold such events will be firmly stopped by the authorities,” Leonid Krutakov told the Novosti news agency.

May 16th coincides with the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest which is being hosted by the city and will be broadcast throughout Europe. Pride organizers have called for finalists to express support for pride during the telecast.

Laws against homosexuality were repealed at the end of the Communist era, but Moscow city officials have refused to allow gays to hold a pride march for years.

Moscow Pride has seven cases already pending before the European Court of Human Rights.

The latest was filed against President Dmitry Medvedev. The others involve Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov.

Despite Mayor Luzhkov’s refusal to grant a parade permit last year, the third Moscow Pride took place on Sunday, June 1. Gay activists picketed the monument to the Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky and then hung a huge banner from an apartment in front of Moscow City Hall.

The banner read: “Rights to gays and lesbians! Homophobia of Moscow Mayor should be prosecuted.”

In 2007, the mayor refused a parade license citing security concerns. Gays, many of them from the Europen Union, marched anyway. About 20 people were arrested at the May 27 parade, including Alexeyev, two European parliamentarians and British gay advocate Peter Tatchell.

Charges against the foreigners were later dropped and Alexeyev was fined $1000 rubles - about $40.

AIso in 2007, a Moscow court tossed out a lawsuit accusing Lushkov of libel over claims he made that gay rights marches were “satanic.” The court ruled that Moscow Pride leaders had failed to prove that the remarks were incendiary or intended to vilify gays in general.

Last January, a Moscow judge acquitted 13 gay activists arrested last month for staging a protest outside a polling station during national elections. But last month, a Moscow court said the mayor had not exceeded his authority in banning gay demonstrations including pride marches.

And last December Luzhkov said he will continue to ban gay pride parades in the city to prevent spreading HIV/AIDS.

“We have banned and will continue to forbid this propaganda by sexual minorities, as they could turn out to be one of the factors in the spread of HIV infections,” Luzhkov told an international AIDS conference.

“Certain homegrown democrats believe that sexual minorities can be a primary indicator and symbol of democracy, but we will forbid the dissemination of these opinions in the future as well.”

The European Court is slow to take up cases. It could be more than a year before any of the lawsuits is heard.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NH Senate votes for gay marriage

(Concord, New Hampshire) The New Hampshire Senate on Wednesday passed legislation that would make the state the fifth in the nation to grant marriage equality.

The 13-11 vote came despite a recommendation last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee that it be rejected.

The chair of the committee, Sen. Deborah Reynolds (D) was one of those who recommended voting against the bill, but on Wednesday she voted for it, saying since the committee meeting she had heard from a large number of constituents who favored the bill.

Republicans voted in a block against the measure, along with one Democrat.

The bill was amended prior to the vote to draw a distinction between civil and religious weddings - allowing churches which do not approve of gay relationships to refuse to conduct ceremonies.

Last month the bill passed the House on a 186-179 vote, but the House will need to vote on this bill again, since it was amended by the Senate.

If it passes the House a second time, it will head to the desk of Gov. Gov. John Lynch who has said he believes the current civil union law works fine, but has not said if he would veto the bill.

Earlier on Wednesday a new poll was released showing most residents of New Hampshire support same-sex marriage.

The University of New Hampshire Survey Center Poll found that 55 percent of New Hampshire residents support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, while 39 percent oppose it.

The poll was sponsored by the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition.

Same-sex marriage already is legal in three New England states - Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont. A Maine Senate committee also voted on gay marriage today. Rhode Island is the only New England state where same-sex marriage legislation has not advanced.

Elsewhere, same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa. New York Gov David Paterson (D) has unveiled legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry in the Empire State and in California, the Supreme Court is expected to rule this spring on the legality of Prop 8 the voter approved measure banning gay marriage in that state.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vermont Legalizes Gay Marriages

MONTPELIER, Vt. - Today, Vermont became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage — and the first to do so with a legislature's vote.

The House recorded a dramatic 100-49 vote — the minimum needed — to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto. Its vote followed a much easier override vote in the Senate, which rebuffed the Republican governor with a vote of 23-5.

Vermont was the first state to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples and joins Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa in giving gays the right to marry. Their approval of gay marriage came from the courts.

The House initially passed the bill last week with a 95-52 vote.

House Speaker Shap Smith's announcement of the vote brought an outburst of jubilation from some of the hundreds packed into the gallery and the lobby outside the House chamber, despite the speaker's admonishment against such displays.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Iowa Legalizes Gay Marriage

DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa's Supreme Court legalized gay marriage Friday in a unanimous and emphatic decision that makes Iowa the third state — and the first in the nation's heartland — to allow same-sex couples to wed.

In its decision, the high court upheld a lower court's ruling that found a state law restricting marriage to between a man and woman violated Iowa's constitution.

"We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective," the Supreme Court wrote in its decision. "The Legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification."

The ruling set off celebration among the state's gay-marriage proponents.

"Iowa is about justice, and that's what happened here today," said Laura Fefchak, who was hosting a verdict party in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale with partner of 13 years, Nancy Robinson.

Robinson added: "To tell the truth, I didn't think I'd see this day."

Richard Socarides, an attorney and former senior adviser on gay rights to President Clinton, said the ruling carries extra significance coming from Iowa.

"It's a big win because, coming from Iowa, it represents the mainstreaming of gay marriage. And it shows that despite attempts stop gay marriage through right-wing ballot initiatives, like in California, the courts will continue to support the case for equal rights for gays," he said.

Its opponents were equally dismayed.

"I would say the mood is one of mourning right now in a lot of ways, and yet the first thing we did after internalizing the decision was to walk across the street and begin the process of lobbying our legislators to let the people of Iowa vote," said Bryan English, spokesman for the conservative group the Iowa Family Policy Center.

"This is an issue that will define (lawmakers') leadership. This is not a side issue."

The Rev. Keith Ratliff Sr., pastor at the Maple Street Baptist Church in Des Moines, went to the Supreme Court building to hear of the decision.

"It's a perversion and it opens the door to more perversions," Ratliff said. "What's next?"

Technically, the decision will take about 21 days to be considered final and a request for a rehearing could be filed within that period.

But Polk County Attorney John Sarcone said his office will not ask for a rehearing, meaning the court's decision should take effect after that three-week period.

"Our Supreme Court has decided it, and they make the decision as to what the law is and we follow Supreme Court decisions," Sarcone said. "This is not a personal thing. We have an obligation to the law to defend the recorder, and that's what we do."

That means it will be at least several weeks before gay and lesbian couples can seek marriage licenses.

Sarcone said gay marriage opponents can't appeal the case at the state or federal level because they were not party to the lawsuit and no federal issue was raised in the case.

Opponents can try and persuade Iowa lawmakers to address the issue, but state Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said it's "exceedingly unlikely" gay marriage legislation will be brought up this session, expected to end within weeks. He also said he's "not inclined to call up a constitutional amendment," during next year's session.

The case had been working its way through Iowa's court system since 2005 when Lambda Legal, a New York-based gay rights organization, filed a lawsuit on behalf of six gay and lesbian Iowa couples who were denied marriage licenses. Some of their children are also listed as plaintiffs.

The suit named then-Polk County recorder and registrar Timothy Brien.

The state Supreme Court's ruling upheld an August 2007 decision by Polk County District Court Judge Robert Hanson, who found that a state law allowing marriage only between a man and a woman violates the state's constitutional rights of equal protection.

The Polk County attorney's office, arguing on behalf of Brien, claimed that Hanson's ruling violates the separation of powers and said the issue should be left to the Legislature.

Lambda Legal planned to comment on the ruling later Friday. A request for comment from the Polk County attorney's office wasn't immediately returned.

Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, said the decision addresses a complicated and emotional issue.

"The next responsible step is to thoroughly review this decision, which I am doing with my legal counsel and the attorney general, before reacting to what it means for Iowa," Culver said in a statement.

Around the nation, only Massachusetts and Connecticut permit same-sex marriage. California, which briefly allowed gay marriage before a voter initiative in November repealed it, allows domestic partnerships.

New Jersey, New Hampshire and Vermont also offer civil unions, which provide many of the same rights that come with marriage. New York recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, and legislators there and in New Jersey are weighing whether to offer marriage. A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Vermont has cleared the Legislature but may be vetoed by the governor.

Source: Yahoo News

By AMY LORENTZEN, Associated Press Writer

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Boycott Jamaica!

This week, columnist Wayne Besen, San Francisco organizer Michael Petrelis, and Box Turtle Bulletin editor Jim Burroway launched an international boycott against Jamaica.

"Forget business as usual. Instead, we should stop doing business with a country that is proud of its persecution against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people." Besen said in his article posted Wednesday, April 3, 2009.

The goal is to stop supporting the country in all aspects including travel, products outsourced, etc...
Why boycott? Because Jamaica is on a downward spiral and suffers from collective cultural dementia on this issue. There is clearly a pathological panic and homo-hysteria that has infected this nation at its core. The second reason to boycott is because traditional activism has failed.

A State Department report on Jamaica’s treatment of homosexuals reads:

“The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG) continued to report human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of homosexual patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of homosexuals.”

Questioned by the BBC, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding said that he would not allow gay people to serve in his Cabinet. In March 2009 he added, “We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organizations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalize the laws as it relates to buggery.”

If you are a bar owner, please take Jamaican products out of your establishment. If you care about gay people, tell everyone you know about the dismal human rights record of Jamaica. And, if a friend has booked a trip — express your disapproval and send him or her accurate information. strongly suggests travelers to avoid travel to Jamaica if an effort to help support gay rights worldwide.

Sweden Legalizes Gay Marriage

Sweden on Wednesday became the seventh country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

Following a five-hour debate in Parliament, the legislation was overwhelmingly passed on a 261 to 22 vote, with 16 abstentions. The new law will go into effect May 1, replacing a 1995 law that allowed civil partnerships.

Six of the country’s seven political parties backed the bill. Only the Christian Democrats voted against it.

“This is a great victory,” said Soren Juvas, president of the Swedish Federation for LGBT Rights.

A parliamentary committee studying civil partnerships in 2007 called them “outdated” and recommended Parliament allow same-sex marriage.

The new law does not require churches to conduct same-sex weddings, but the Church of Sweden, a Lutheran church, and the largest denomination in the country, will consider a motion this fall to allow pastors to perform gay weddings.

The Swedish Lutheran Church has offered blessing services for couples in civil unions since 2007, but it has balked at allowing pastors to perform weddings for gay couples.

Same-sex marriage already is legal in four European Union countries - Netherlands, Belgium Norway and Spain.

Elsewhere in the EU, the UK affords gay couples all of the rights and obligations of marriage but without the name. Several other EU countries such as Germany and France allow same-sex couples limited rights.

Outside Europe, gay marriage is legal in Canada and South Africa. Gays and lesbians can marry in two US states - Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Source: 365gay Newscenter Staff

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

San Francisco here we come! will be visiting the city by the bay, San Francisco, this weekend. We will be in the city to help promote our web site and get our name out there. Our team of travel specialists will be on the streets passing out flyers, going to bars and clubs to promote, visiting hotels and bed & breakfasts that cater to gay and lesbian travelers, and meeting people on the streets to get the word out. If you see us, please stop by and help us!! We are always looking for volunteers to help us promote.

We will be taking photos, vidoes, writing reviews, and sharing our San Francisco trip on our web site and blog. Check out where we go, who we meet, and what we do when we visit the gay mecca San Francisco. Share your next Queertrip at and help other gay and lesbian travelers with reviews, advice, tips, and anything else.

It's the way you travel!

Travel and Give Back

When you purchase airline tickets with, you are donating to LGBT charities in the LGBT community. A portion of every airline booking goes towards helping the LGBT community. So next time you decide to travel, purchase your tickets from

At, we believe it's the way you travel that defines who you are. Together we can make a difference.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Airlines Keeping Prices Cheap

According to recent reports from ARC (Airlines Recording Company) airline ticket prices are the cheapest they've been in years. So why?

Last summer the airlines were reeling from the prices of oil with prices getting as high at $147 per barrel. Ever since this scare, the airlines have begun cutting flights, adding fees for just about everything, and cutting back on anything they could, all just to save a few bucks. While most airlines in 2008 lost money, the oil scare of 2008 helped the airlines reduce expenses and capacity just in time to watch the economy implode. As the economy suffered, the airlines were actually turning a profit due to the capacity cuts and fees implemented last year.

Since the airlines were luckily set back with oil, they ultimately dodged the bigger bullet, the economy. While most businesses are struggling to get by, the airlines are doing better then ever. Demand is up since capacity has been cut! With all this going on, the airlines are helping travelers by lowering fares. This year I've seen incredible deals all over. Deals that you normally would not find.

Most major airlines have introduced sale fares and discounts just the encourage travelers to travel. To top that, most hotels and destinations are also feeling the effects of the economy and have been aggressively trying to get capacity up. A good example is Las Vegas, where mostly all hotels have seen dramatic decreases in volume. Right now, they can't even give the rooms away because there are not enough visitors.

With everything that is going on, the airlines, hotels, car rental companies, destinations, and just about everyone else associated in the travel industry, travelers should have no trouble finding great deals to just about anywhere. Take advantage of the times and travel!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gay Friendly

What does it mean to be gay friendly? A lot of companies today are using the term gay-friendly, but why? What does this mean?

Gay friendly is a term used which refers to places, policies, people, or institutions that actively seek to create an environment friendly towards LGBT people. Often the term gay friendly is used to attract the LGBT consumer in showing that it is accepting of LGBT people.

The problem is that this term just continues to degrade what the LGBT community has continuously fought against. Why is it that business' don't use the term "black friendly?" The reason is because that would seem offensive. Right? Well the same can be said for gay friendly.

Some people may argue that by labeling a place gay friendly it enables the LGBT consumer to identify which place, policy, people, or institution is accepting of LGBT people. I totally understand that, and I think that is a great thing, however why is it only within the LGBT community that this exists?

I think the time has come to stop discriminating against the LGBT community. There needs to be a U.S. law that enforces the fairness and equality to all, no matter race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, etc... Especially now that we have a new President in Obama, who should stand for all people.

This is America, a country that was founded on equality for all.

Unique Places to stay the night

Most of the time we travel; we try and spend as much of our time outside the hotel room, exploring the sights and sounds of a new destination. These hotels/B&B’s will have you smiling as you investigate the unusual rooms and unique accommodations.

Madonna Inn - San Luis Obispo, CA
This hotel in central California has 110 rooms that are decorated differently. Choose from themes such as caveman, antique cars, Holland Dutch, Imperial Heaven, and Matterhorn to name a few. Did we mention to world famous waterfall urinal in the men’s room?

The Liberty Hotel - Boston, MA
An old prison has been transformed into a luxury hotel in Boston. Don’t let the brick walls and iron bars fool you, this hotel is extremely stylish and features cutting edge interior design.

Northern Rail B&B - Two Harbors, MN
Spend the night in a stationary train car that has been outfitted with furniture, beds, and plumbing. Following with the theme, guests check-in at the lobby which has the look and feel of a train depot. Now you just have to choo-choo-choose which train car to spend the night in.

Hilton Waikoloa Village - Kona, HI
Check in at the lobby, and then wait for the boat shuttle to transport you to your room. If you are afraid of the open ocean, but would love to see the marine life up close and personal, then snorkel in their four acre secluded lagoon.

Beckham Creek Cave Haven -Parthenon, AR
You don’t have to be Batman to spend the night in a cave. This estate, which is built into a rock cliff, features 5 bedrooms, a kitchen, game room, rock waterfall, and more. Prices for reserving the Cave Haven are pretty reasonable considering you can include up to 10 guests.

To book any of these unique rooms, contact us at

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cheap Airfare, Cheap Flights, Cheap Service...

Today cost means a lot, especially with this economy. When it comes to traveling cost its important, but how important? Last year I paid $350 to travel roundtrip from Los Angeles to New York City in March. Of course I decided to go for the cheapest option i could find. I booked my ticket and waited for my confirmation. As soon as I got it I thought, wow that was pretty cheap. Then after realizing I had booked the wrong date, I called in. That was where my wow went to woes. I was left to explain my clumsyness to someone who didn't even understand me. It was a language barrier. I soon realized that I was talking to a call center that was outsourced. It cost me my time, and money just to get the issue resolved. I guess that's why the price was soo cheap?

This is a very common senario in the travel industry. More than 85% of all call centers within the travel industry are outsourced. So why it that? It's cheaper to operate. The problem is that even with all their cheap prices, their service is cheap, and it shows. Have you ever had an issue with calling an airline directly. They are rude, cold, or just don't understand what you are saying. This is why people book with travel agents.

Well, now there is no more reason to worry. With, you can book easily, get that same cheap price, and best of all if you have a problem or question you'll get the luxury of speaking with professional travel agents speciailized to assit you. We do not outsource our call centers for this exact reason. The communication between you and Queertrip is clear and unmatched by any in the undustry. Try us out and see why we are the best gay travel company out there.

What does travel mean to you?

What does travel mean to you? To many of us travel means a vacation or maybe visiting family or friends. Maybe travel is business or an event that you just can't miss. Whatever travel means, it should not result in a headache or stress from finding what you want. Too many times I find a travel web site where I am being put on a roller coaster going through loops just to get to the end, my confirmation. Why is it that most travel web sites swamp their visitors with tons and tons of options for which delay and impede the process. I remember back to being a kid when my teacher used to tell me "keep it simple, stupid!" This can't be more true when it comes to travel.

Travel should be fun and exciting, even if it is for the most serious of occasions. When I travel, I am just happy to be some place new. Somewhere I have never been before. At, we keep it simple so you don't have to stress. Our booking process is the easiest on the web, and we pride ourselves on keeping it simple and easy. Travel can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. So what does travel mean to you?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cruises' being added online!

We are working very hard on getting our cruise content up online. Currently, visitors can send us an e-mail to inquire about cruises, but this weekend will be launching its Cruises section. What visitors can expect to find are all the gay and lesbian cruises from all the major suppliers like Atlantis, Olivia, RSVP, and Aquafest. Visitors will be able to view all the cruises being offered for the upcoming year. This is an exciting step in building our web site to be the most comprehensive gay and lesbian travel web site on the internet. So when will your next cruise be?

It's the way you travel!


Miami is many things. It’s a convergence of cultures, synchronized and communicating. It’s a dramatic locale where the sun brightly shines. It’s a playground for the fearless, the high-spirited, the life- loving, and the elegant. It’s where people of every background dig in and generate passion. And, it’s one of the hottest spots in the gay universe for hospitality and a sexy, sun-splashed vibe.

For more than a decade, Miami has been rolling out the welcome mat for gay men and lesbians from around the world. Sophisticated and seductive South Beach rocks with a sizzling array of very gay-friendly and specifically gay-oriented lodgings, restaurants and nightspots. And it all shifts into overdrive when Miami hosts three of the planet’s foremost “circuit” events: late November’s White Party, March’s Winter Party, and Aqua Girl Weekend in May.

Check out what Miami has to offer at

To Travel or not to Travel?

When thinking about travel during these tough economic times, many travelers are either putting off their trips, or budgeting for cheaper trips. Even though times are tougher, that shouldn't prevent you from finding the best travel deals out there.

At we have found many suppliers are introducing specials and deals to encourage travelers to buy. Take Jetblue for instance. They just released sale fares from across the country for as little as $39 one way. With deals and specials on the rise to entice travelers to book, how can you pass up on these offers. In Las Vegas, travel is down, but the prices have come down too. What used to be an average weekend of $1500, is now running well below $1000. Now that's amazing! Deals like these can be found all across the travel sector. So the question remains, to travel or not to travel?

Kimpton Supports PFLAG

Kimpton Hotels is supporting PFLAG this March with an offer that supports the organization and rewards you for your support. Book a room at any Kimpton Hotel this March and use rate code "LAG" and receive 10% the best available internet rate and Kimpton will donate $10 per night to PFLAG.

To reserve, contact
(some restrictions and black-out dates do apply).

Massachusetts Launches LGBT Tourism Microsite

The Massachusetts Office of the Travel and Tourism has announced the launch of its new web site dedicated to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender travelers. The site was launched to attract and welcome incoming visitation from the LGBT market segment and is a continued affirmation that Massachusetts is a welcoming destination to everyone.

Massachusetts is open and welcoming to all visitors and the acceptance of same-sex marriage is ample proof,” said Besty Wall, executive director of The Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism.

“In 2004, Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage and is currently one of only two states to extend marriage privileges to same-sex couples. Marriage information is available on the site, as well as extensive information on events and activities, destinations and travel information that may interest the LGBT traveler.”

According to Community Marketing, Inc. (a San Francisco LGBT market research firm), $70 billion was spent in the U.S. by LGBT travelers.

For more information about the new site, visit


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Opening Statement


I am Jeremy Bryant, CEO of was created to provide the LGBT community with gay and lesbian travel information in an easy to use web site. comprises of a dedicated staff of family and friends, and is gay owned and operated. At we recognize the need to give back to the community. That is why we donate a portion of every booking made on to charities within the LGBT community. It's the way you travel!

Jermy Bryant

Welcome to!

Who we are: is the newest way to book gay and lesbian travel. Established in June 2008, consists of dedicated LGBT travel specialists teamed up to bring you the best gay and lesbian travel worldwide. is gay owned and operated. Our goal is to make travel better and easier for the gay and lesbian traveler. At, we believe in giving back to the LGBT community, so that’s why we are giving back a portion of the proceeds to LGBT charities.

Why we’re different:

What sets apart from other gay and lesbian travel sites? Our technology, service, and user friendly web site allows users to search every airfare, hotel, car, and cruise company available.

Best of all, you’ll find all the gay and lesbian travel information on destinations including gay owned and operated hotels, bars and clubs, attractions, shopping, restaurants, and more all in one conveniently located site.

What we can do: searches for fares listed in the GDS’s (Global Distribution Systems), negotiated contracted rates, sale fares, as well as web fares on the internet. Our search engine finds them all in one easy to use system delivering you all the fares.

At, we believe it’s the way you travel!

Thanks for visiting!

Share Your Queertrip

At, we welcome our guests to share and comment on your travel experiences. Review hotels and bed and breakfasts’ to clubs and bars and everything in between. We recommend keeping a travel journal or jotting down memorable notes from your trip to share your experiences with your friends, family, and the world. Your notes can be of great help to others considering LGBT travel.

Share your Queertrip is the best way to share your trip with everyone by helping other travelers with real reviews, pictures, and advice from real people who’ve experienced it. At, we hope everyone can share their trip with the world. It's the way you travel!

Please feel free to send us any comments, reviews, pictures, stories, tips or advice in en effort to help the gay and lesbian travel community.

You can also share comments directly on our website by clicking here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Giving Back

Gay travel, lesbian travel and LGBT Family travel account for over 65 billion dollars in revenue a year. We here at believe that some of that revenue should be given back to the LGBT community. No matter if you are booking a gay travel vacation or just booking that flight or hotel for work, Queertrip will give a percentage of the proceeds to quality LGBT organizations working to better our community. (Click Here)