Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brazil hosts world's largest gay pride parade.

SAO PAULO - MILLIONS of people danced and marched down the main avenue of Brazil's most populous city on Sunday in an event billed as the world's largest Gay Pride parade.

'Love one another. Enough with homophobia!' was the overall theme of the parade, which included men and women dressed in colorful feathered costumes, transvestite samba dancers, and drag queens wearing a multitude of rainbow outfits.

An enormous rainbow flag, symbol of the gay rights movement, stretched for nearly a block and was carried aloft by the crowd.

Men in swimsuits danced to blaring techno music on floats decked with multi-color balloon arrangements that slowly made their way down the crowded streets.

Organisers said that more than four million people participated in the event, which has previously made it into the Guiness Book of Records as the largest Gay Pride celebration in the world.

Participants were celebrating the approval of same-sex marriage in New York state on Friday, as well as a Brazilian Supreme Court ruling in May in favor of civil unions.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Southwest suspended pilot after radio rant

By: The Associated Press
06.22.2011 2:19pm EDT

DALLAS (AP) – Southwest Airlines Co. suspended a pilot whose disparaging comments about gays and older flight attendants were transmitted over an air-traffic control frequency.

The pilot was talking with another crew member and apparently didn’t realize that his microphone was on.

Southwest said Wednesday that the pilot was reinstated after going through diversity training. The incident happened in March and was reported this week by KPRC-TV in Houston.

On a tape of the two-and-a-half minute rant, the pilot can be heard talking about wanting to socialize with co-workers but complaining that many were gay or too old or too heavy. Sometimes using profanity and slurs, he called them “a continuous stream of gays and grannies and grandes.” An air-traffic controller in Houston told pilots in the area to check if their microphone was stuck open.

“The actions of this pilot are, without question, inconsistent with the professional behavior and overall respect that we require from our employees,” said Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King. She said the pilot was reprimanded and suspended without pay, although she wouldn’t say for how long. She said he apologized to air-traffic controllers and their bosses.

King declined to identify the pilot. She said he has worked for Southwest for more than a dozen years and has an otherwise good record.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it alerted Southwest after determining that the pilot on the tape was likely from Southwest.

FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said the incident occurred at a time in the flight when personal conversions are allowed in the cockpit but that the FAA “expects a higher level of professionalism from flight crews.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gay Days: Las Vegas here we come!

By Sara K. Clarke via: Orlando Sentinel

Throngs of gay and lesbian tourists arrive in Orlando next week for their annual Gay Days celebration at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, but starting next year, those travelers will have a second option come summer's end: Las Vegas.

The organizers of Orlando's Gay Days said this week they're expanding and will host a Gay Days Las Vegas starting in September 2012. The event is designed to complement the annual expo and party in Orlando.

"When we decided to start researching Vegas, … the feedback was just tremendous," said Chris Alexander-Manley, president of Gay Days Inc., who noted the expansion will coincide with Gay Days 21st anniversary. "We say, 'We're 21, we're legal, we're going to Las Vegas.'"

Gay Days, based in Gotha, started in 1991 when about 3,000 members of the gay community wearing red gathered at the Magic Kingdom on a Saturday in June. This year, the group is expecting 160,000 people to attend what has grown into a weeklong series of events that includes theme-parks visits, pool parties and a travel-retail exposition.

"Gay Days has done a phenomenal job of putting Orlando on the gay map," said Thomas Roth, president of Community Marketing Inc., a San Francisco market-research company. "It's really the main catalyst for gays and lesbians to travel to Orlando at all."

Starting next year, Gay Days Inc. is hoping to replicate that experience at the Rio Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, where it has signed a three-year contract.

Las Vegas is a natural extension of the Orlando event, according to Roth. It's already No. 2 on the list of most-visited leisure destinations for gay and lesbian travelers, tied with San Francisco. Orlando, not known for courting the gay-travel market, ranks ninth, according to the 15th Annual Gay & Lesbian Tourism Study by Community Marketing Inc.

Despite the glittering lights and over-the-top entertainment for which Las Vegas is famous, Gay Days organizers don't appear worried about cannibalizing their Orlando event. Instead, they expect the new gathering to appeal to those who haven't been interested in experiencing Central Florida's theme parks.

"Those that have never come to Gay Days Orlando because the attractions are not a draw for them, now they have adult entertainment," Alexander-Manley said.

Roth agrees, saying the Las Vegas event is a way to expose more people to Gay Days generally.

"We are such frequent travelers, and events are often a reason for why we travel," Roth said. "All they're doing is expanding the market, and not taking smaller slices out of the same pie."

For now, Orlando retains its Gay Days monopoly. Organizers expect attendance overall to be up by about 10,000 people compared with a year ago. June 4 is scheduled as the day participants will converge on the Magic Kingdom.

The event also has gained a well-known sponsor: Cirque du Soleil, the performing-arts group behind the show La Nouba in Downtown Disney. The company, which also has multiple shows in Las Vegas, joins attractions such as Blue Man Group and SeaWorld's Discovery Cove in signing on as event partners in recent years, after Orlando's mainstream tourist industry had long shied away from formally acknowledging the event.

Gay Days is also marking its second year at a new location on International Drive. Historically based at hotels near Walt Disney World, the convention moved last year to the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld for more room and a more central location, Alexander-Manley said.

"We had sold out our expo eight years in a row, so we needed more space for vendors," he said. "It's more centrally located. … I think that's helped our numbers grow."