Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Urban gay resort to open in NYC

By Celeste Lavin, 365gay.com 08.17.2010 11:00am EDT

New York’s first gay urban resort complex is scheduled to be open in Fall 2011. The Out NYC will include 90,000 square feet of hotel, restaurant, retail and nightclub space on W 42nd street.

“We are going to be a hetero-friendly urban resort, which means we are going to turn Ian Schrager’s concept upside down. His hotels 20 years ago were more 80 percent straight and 20 percent gay-friendly,” said Ian Reisner of Parkview Developers. “Here we hope to be more of a true hetero-friendly complex — a gay environment where straight friends and family are welcome to come and enjoy our fun too.”

Run by Axel Hotels, Out NYC is set to have 127 rooms, that will run for less than $300 a night including several “SLA, shared luxury accommodations” that will cost $99 for younger visitors.

The hotel will house a spa, pool club, and gym with membership open to the community and a 2,500 square foot catering facility. It will also include a 24-hour café and a restaurant.

“In this nightlife venue we are going to have a day bar that will stay open until late in the night. We’re also going to have a 5,000 square foot nightclub for enough room for 650 people to dance,” Reisner said.

The hotel will occupy the space that was once a homeless shelter, but has been abandoned for several years since.

While the hotel is not scheduled to open until 2011, the club will be ready sooner.

100,000 celebrate Montreal Pride

By Celeste Lavin, 365gay.com 08.16.2010 3:30pm EDT

Over 100,000 people celebrated in Montreal’s Gay Pride parade on Sunday.

The parade attracted people of all ages and orientations. The theme of the parade was “Our Superheroes”- Wonder Women drag outfits ensued.

Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay said he was proud to participate in the parade: “It’s important to show that Montreal can accept people that have differences.”

The Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil was just appointed last week. This was her first Pride as Immigration Minister. “It’s wonderful to be able to just reach out, shake hands and look into people’s eyes and see how happy they are to see you as a representative of the government,” said Weil. “To feel that they’ve got our support and that we’re there for them, it’s a very emotional contact and it’s wonderful.”

Canada is one of the world’s most progressive countries when it comes to gay rights. Marriage equality was fully realized in Canada in 2005, though most provinces had already legalized gay marriage by 2003.

The parade marshals were two human rights activists from Latvia, Kaspars Zalitis and Kristine Garina.

Garina said, “Yours is a privilege many nations do not have. Guard it carefully. It’s very hard to win and so easy to lose.”

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Recent Trip to New York

I just got back from a 4 day trip to New York City (NYC). I needed a break - a vacation. It’s been a really busy summer all around, with work and moving and all the fun Pride events I’ve attended. New York was the perfect getaway. Also, my friend Rachel, (Brooklyn), wanted me to visit her, plus I’ve never been to New York, so I thought, why not.

The experience was definitely surreal. The moment I got off my plane, I could feel the energy of the city (and the heat) - the rush was on, I only had four days to take it all in.

My flight got in late evening, so naturally, we started bar hoping. The first night we stayed in Brooklyn, Williamsburg to be exact. It was a very hipster-ish area with many bars to choose from. I started with a place called Public Assembly. You wouldn’t be able to find this place unless you’ve been there before as there was no signage anywhere.
The night ended at what became my favorite bar of the evening, The Luvin’ Cup Café (awesome mini sliders and a hidden dance floor in the back room).

Rachel was a great hostess and tour guide. Thanks to her, I was able to see most of NYC. We traveled to Mid-town, Chelsea, SoHo Park, Time Square, East Village, etc… We ate at places I wouldn’t be able to find here in LA. We had brunch the next day at a wonderful French café called Jacque. BEST BENEDICT IN TOWN!

Another one of my favorite eating places in New York was at Blue Ribbon Sushi. It was so good I can’t even put it into words, so here’s what Zagat had to say about this place,

“This ‘serene’ SoHo Park Slope Japanese twosome from the versatile Bromberg Siblings owes its stellar reputation to ‘exquisite’, ‘like-it-was-caught-that-morning’ fresh fish and appealingly ‘no-fuss’ service.”

Visiting New York would not have been complete without attending a Broadway show. I was fortunate enough to see Chicago at The Ambassador Theater – this was after my martini across the street at Charley O’s of course. Apparently, people don’t dress up for Theater anymore. I felt a bit over-dressed for this event… but it’s ok. The show was AMAZING!!! No wonder it won so many Tony Awards.

The last day of my stay there, we visited the Guggenheim Museum. Currently on view at the museum is a special exhibition, Haunted: Contemporary Photography/ Video/ Performance. The only comment I have for that is if you go see it, you don’t want to miss the “Nail Biter” video. I still have nightmares.

My last night in New York I spent it at a Martini Bar, Rue B – in the East Village. I wanted to make sure I mention this place because they have a huge selection of specialty Martini’s. My favorite is the Lychee Martini. I couldn’t get enough of it…

The people of New York were all so friendly, despite the rumors you hear about New Yorkers. I’m glad I chose New York for my getaway trip. There’s so much culture and history all around. Next time I go back, I will definitely plan to stay longer.

-Chris Ekanha

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Judge Lifts Calif. Marriage Decision Stay on Aug. 18

Today Judge Vaughn Walker announced he will lift the stay on his decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger on August 18, allowing California to once again issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples barring an appeal. With today’s decision, there remain many steps – and unanswered questions – in this case. Prop 8 supporters are likely to appeal the stay decision to the Ninth Circuit, which could issue its own stay and stop marriage licenses from being issued. Additionally, supporters of Prop 8 have already filed their appeal of the entire case with the Ninth Circuit.

Places for a Great Gay Wedding in California

Now that Prop 8 is overturned, its time to celebrate! And what better way to celebrate than with a gay wedding. If you or your partner are considering tying the knot, we've found a few places you might want to consider.

Riviera Resort & Spa, Palm Springs - The Palm Springs hotel's gardens and pool look striking against the desert backdrop.

West Street Beach, Laguna Beach - If you are gonna have a Cali wedding, you have to at least consider getting hitched on the beach. The Orange County coastal community's gorgeous waters will make for great wedding photos.

Buena Vista Park, San Francisco -
Say "I do" in the U.S.'s most gay-friendly city, San Francisco. While Buena Vista Park doesn't have Golden Gate Park's fame, the 36-acre oasis is in the Haight, where the fight for gay rights began. A wedding here would be a nice nod to the past while taking another step toward equality.

Viceroy, Palm Springs
- Luxuriously updated to reflect the Hollywood Regency style popular during the desert's original glamor era, Viceroy Palm Springs resort hotel and spa in Southern California features a full array of luxury accommodations, amenities, and services.

Chateau de Vie, Napa Valley (Calistoga) - Walk out onto the deck and take in the astounding view of of Mt. St. Helena and acres of Napa Valley's finest.

All of these locations are either gay owned & operated or are gay-friendly. There are a bunch of places in California that are open and accepting of gay marriage.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Top 5 up and coming gay destinations

In our quest to find the less commonly visited gay destinations, we found some interesting and unique destinations that seem to be lesser known in the LGBT community but are climbing as the queer word is spread. Here are the top 5 up and coming gay destinations!

1. South Devon, England - Key West in Torquay is the brand new "first and only gay resort in the U.K.".

2. Portland, Oregon
- Portland is the largest city in the U.S. to have an openly gay mayor.

3. Salt Spring Island, British Columbia
- In Salt Spring Island, there are many gay-owned/operated hotels you can choose from, including the recently renovated Salt Spring Inn.

4. Mallorca, Spain
- The 'first gay hotel on Mallorca' is Hotel Rosamar in El Torreno.

5. Brisbane, Australia -
For LGBT travelers who are looking for a calmer alternative to Sydney, Brisbane is the place to be. Brisbane has turned into a fantastically liberal and friendly destination for the LGBT community.

Fancy any of these gay destinations? Book now!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Judge strikes down Prop. 8, allows gay marriage in California

In a long-awaited ruling, Judge Vaughn Walker says the ban on same-sex marriage violates constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. The decision is expected to reach the Supreme Court.

By Maura Dolan and Carol Williams
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

Reporting from San Francisco and Los Angeles — The federal judge who overturned Proposition 8 Wednesday said the ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage was based on moral disapproval of gay marriage and ordered the state to stop enforcing the ban.

U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker, in a 136-page ruling, said California "has no interest in differentiating between same-sex and opposite-sex unions."

"The evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples," Walker wrote. The ruling struck down Proposition 8 as a violation of federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. Supporters of the marriage ban vowed an immediate appeal.

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Walker cited extensive trial evidence to support his finding that there was not even a rational basis for excluding gays and lesbians from marriage. Higher courts defer to trial judges on issues of fact, but still could determine that Walker was wrong on the law.

Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund who fought to uphold Proposition 8 in Walker's court, said they would appeal. "We're obviously disappointed that the judge did not uphold the will of over 7 million Californians who made a decision in a free and fair democratic process."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the ruling.

"For the hundreds of thousands of Californians in gay and lesbian households who are managing their day-to-day lives, this decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves," the governor said. "At the same time, it provides an opportunity for all Californians to consider our history of leading the way to the future, and our growing reputation of treating all people and their relationships with equal respect and dignity."

He said the ruling was "by no means California's first milestone, nor our last, on America's road to equality and freedom for all people."

Proponents of Proposition 8 had asked Walker to block enforcement of his ruling immediately, but Walker declined. The proponents of the ballot measure said they would immediately appeal.

Walker could still put the ruling on hold pending appeal after hearing more arguments, but his ruling today directed city and state officials to stop enforcing the marriage ban.

Walker's historic ruling in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger relied heavily on the testimony he heard at trial. His ruling listed both factual findings and his conclusions about the law.

Supporters of Proposition 8 argued during the trial that same-sex marriage would undermine the institution of marriage and that children fare best with both a mother and a father.

The challengers presented witnesses who cited studies that showed children reared from birth by gay and lesbian couples do as well as children born into opposite-sex families. They also testified that the clamor for marriage in the gay community had given the institution of marriage greater esteem.

The trial appeared to be a lopsided show for the challengers, who called 16 witnesses, including researchers from the nation's top universities, and presented tearful testimony from gays and lesbians about why marriage mattered to them.

The backers of Proposition 8 called only two witnesses, and both made concessions under cross-examination that helped the other side.

The sponsors complained that Walker's pretrial rulings had been unfair and that some of their prospective witnesses decided not to testify out of fear for their safety.

When Walker ruled that he would broadcast portions of the trial on the Internet, Proposition 8 proponents fought him all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won a 5-4 ruling barring cameras in the courtroom.

The trial nevertheless was widely covered, with some groups doing minute-by-minute blogging. Law professors brought their students to watch the top-notch legal theater.

Wednesday's ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed last year by two homosexual couples who argued that the marriage ban violates their federal constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.

Filed in anticipation of a California Supreme Court ruling upholding Proposition 8, the suit was the brainchild of a gay political strategist in Los Angeles who formed a nonprofit to finance the litigation.

The group hired two legal luminaries from opposite sides of the political spectrum to try to overturn the ballot measure. Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, a conservative icon, signed on with litigator David Boies, a liberal who squared off against Olson in Bush vs. Gore, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gave George W. Bush the presidency in 2000.

Gay-rights groups had opposed the lawsuit, fearful that the U.S. Supreme Court might rule against marriage rights and create a precedent that could take decades to overturn.

But after the suit was filed, gay rights lawyers flocked to support it, filing friend-of-court arguments on why Proposition 8 should be overturned.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown refused to defend the marriage ban, leaving the sponsors of the initiative to fill the vacuum. They hired a team of lawyers experienced in U.S. Supreme Court litigation.

Voters approved Proposition 8 by a 52.3% margin six months after the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was permitted under the state Constitution.

The state high court later upheld Proposition 8 as a valid amendment to the state Constitution.

An estimated 18,000 same-sex couples married in California during the months it was legal, and the state continues to recognize those marriages.



Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times

Cheap or free Internet access away from home!

Even if I don’t travel with a laptop, many devices rely on wifi to get information so having the Internet has become more and more important. Here are some ways to find access while away from home.

* Hotels with free wifi – Almost all hotels have Internet access of some sort but it seems the nicer the hotel, the more expensive the Internet. If the hotel I’m going to book doesn’t provide free Internet, I figure daily Internet charges into the room rate. Before you book, check this report from HotelChatter.com on the Best Wifi Hotels. Interesting to note: some of the most well-known chains didn’t make the list. Ugh.

* Airports with free wifi – Just like hotels, almost all airports have some kind of Internet access available but not all provide it for free. SmallBusiness.com maintains a list of Free Wifi Airports. Airports would have a lot less frustrated travelers if they could be online for free during those long layovers I think.

* Wifi Hotspot Directory – aside from hotels and airports, free wifi is available in many places like coffee shops and libraries. HotSpotr.com is a user-submitted directory of all wifi hotspots in the U.S. and it will show you if the spot is free or not.

* AirPort Express Apple’s AirPort Express – this device is like a portable router that will allow you to create your own wireless network. In hotels where you have to pay for access, you are usually paying per computer so if your group has several laptops, iPod Touch, iPads, etc., you’d have to pay per device. Taking an AirPort Express with you will allow you to pay for one connection and create your own wireless network for all devices to use.

* Mifi style devices – Sprint and Verizon have a device called a Mifi that allows you to have access from anywhere. A monthly charge is required plus the initial cost of the device. Fry’s Electronics has a similar device available that does the same thing but without the monthly charges. The site says it’s out of stock for online ordering but if you search stores near you, it will often show stock available in stores.

* Tether your phone – tethering your phone means you use it as a modem with your laptop. Not all phones are tetherable but evdoinfo.com maintains a list of info on tethering that will tell you what you need to know.

* Hotspots you’re already paying for – the Internet or phone provider you have already may have public hotspots available to you so check for those lists online. For instance, AT&T, T-Mobile and and Verizon have lists you can search.

* Find a Starbucks – Starbucks has become one of the most ubiquitous retail businesses so they are easy to find no matter where you are. If you have a Starbucks Card and you register it online, you can get wifi for free for 2 hours. Are you an AT&T customer? You can get unlimited access. More info, including how to connect, can be found here.

* Search for smartphone apps – if you have a smartphone, search your app directory for wifi finders. This is helpful on the go, especially if the app can use your phone’s current location to find wifi near where you are.

Buying an Airline Ticket? Remember, spelling counts

Have you been elected to book a friends getaway trip this summer? When booking your airline tickets, keep this quick tip in mind for a hassle free travel experience: know the full, legal names as they appear on their photo identification.

You may know your friends as Chuck, Trish, Lizzy and Ed. Does the government know them as Charles, Patricia, Elizabeth, and Edward? How well do you know your friends – you might just learn that Henry is a middle or nick name for Percival Harold. Planning a stress-free trip begins with gathering correct name information before booking:

1. Gather names as they appear on photo identification before booking.
2. Watch for typos when booking online – double and triple check typing skills and verify name spelling before clicking on the final purchase button.
3. Review the confirmation email carefully – the minute it’s delivered to your inbox. Contact the airline or booking agency immediately should you spot a typo.
4. Get a second set of eyes – forward the email confirmation to your traveling companions and include a note to have them check name spelling.

Use these tips for honeymoon planning especially if the trip is a surprise gift. Will the bride-to-be have her name changed on her driver’s license and passport before departure, or will she be keeping her maiden name? By verifying the name before booking – the surprise will be the trip, not the issues and heartaches of getting a name corrected or even denied boarding!