Tuesday, September 27, 2011

L Word's Leisha Hailey Kicked Off Flight for Kissing Girlfriend

By Jeremy Kinser via Advocate

Actress-musician Leisha Hailey, who played Alice on The L Word, is demanding an apology from Southwest Airlines after being escorted from a flight for kissing her girlfriend, fashion designer Nina Garduno.

Perez Hilton reports that Camila Grey, a member of the pop duo Uh Huh Her, tweeted the first account of the incident, writing, "So we've joined the ranks alongside @BJAofficial and @ThatKevinSmith for being kicked off an @SouthwestAir flight, this time for being gay. @SouthwestAir We didn't know intolerance and discrimination for slouchy pants, being overweight or being gay was part of your family values." Grey refers to Kevin Smith, who was escorted off a Southwest jet in February 2010, supposedly for being too large for his seat, and Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, who was asked to leave a flight earlier this month for wearing pants deemed to be too saggy.

Hailey then added her take on what happened, writing, "I have been discriminated against by @SouthwestAir. Flt. attendant said that it was a 'family' airline and kissing was not ok. This is an outrage. I demand a public apology by @SouthwestAir and a refund. Hate is not a family value. I will never fly this airline. We were escorted off the plane for getting upset about the issue. @SouthwestAir endorses homophobic employees. No one made her accountable."

Hailey continued tweeting, adding, "Since when is showing affection towards someone you love illegal? I want to know what Southwest Airlines considers as "family." I know plenty of wonderful same sex families I would like to introduce them to. Boycott @SouthwestAir if you are gay. They don't like us."

Hailey also claims she filmed the incident, writing, "Did I mention to @SouthwestAir that I have a lot of their actions recorded on audio and video? RT #boycottSouthwest #discrimination."

Website TMZ is reporting that Southwest Airlines has issued a statement that reads, "Initial reports indicate that we received several passenger complaints characterizing the behavior as excessive."

The statement continues, "Our crew, responsible for the comfort of all Customers on board, approached the passengers based solely on behavior and not gender. The conversation escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground, as opposed to in flight."

The airline adds, "We are ready to work directly with the passengers involved to offer our heartfelt apologies for falling short of their expectation."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Virgin America Now Servicing Palm Springs

The expansion of Virgin America’s network continues. Palm Springs is the latest destination to be added, and to get things started Virgin is selling discounted flights out of San Francisco and New York. There’s also another standard Virgin deal running in conjunction with this one – all details are at the Virgin website.

Until this Friday (September 23), return flights to Palm Springs start at $198 from San Francisco and $398 from New York (with a stopover in SF, but you don’t have to leave the plane). These discounted flights are available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, and are good for travel from December 15 through February 15. There’s a blackout period between Christmas and New Years, however.

Virgin’s advertised prices are $10 or $20 cheaper than the competition on these two Palm Springs routes, depending on availability of course. Beyond Virgin, there’s a pretty flat price range, and you’ll pay roughly the same to fly to Palm Springs with any of the major airlines. If you’re nowhere near San Francisco or New York, our comparison database allows you to find the cheapest Palm Springs flights from your local airport.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NYC’s First Gay Hotel Was Long Time in Planning

By: Paris Wolfe via lhonline

Manhattan’s newest gay neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen, is getting The Out NYC. It’s New York City’s first gay hotel and, perhaps, the only gay urban resort in the country, according to developer Ian Reisner, managing partner of Parkview Developers. Reisner and his business partners own other properties in New York State.

The idea came from a gay-focused boutique hotel in Barcelona where Reisner stayed a few years ago. He decided New York City needed a similar hotel and, in fact, an entire entertainment complex.

It makes sense considering that, despite higher-profile gay-centric locations, New York is the top travel destination for both gay and lesbian travelers, reports Community Marketing, a San Francisco-based company that specializes in LGTB travel research.

"This is an idea whose time has come,” says Reisner. “What makes The Out NYC a gay hotel is the comfort level and tailored amenities for the community. The Out NYC will become a 'can't-miss' for gay tourists as well as the epicenter of gay life for LGBT New Yorkers."

The hotel complex — an adapted 1950s-vintage, drive-in motor inn — is situated on 42nd St. between 10th and 11th Avenues. A major rehabilitation and redirected use of the existing motel will turn the property into a 105-room boutique hotel with a spa, wellness center, business center and conference rooms. The entertainment complex includes the 11,000-square-foot XL nightclub, lounge and cabaret as well as a 24/7 cafĂ© and a restaurant called Kitchen.

“It feels like a hotel in Miami,” describes Reisner. “All rooms are on the second floor and higher, facing an internal courtyard.”

Will the specialty market embrace the project?

“A good number of gay people like to stay in an all-gay or gay-friendly atmosphere,” says David Paisley, senior research director for Community Marketing Inc. “There’s no reason why the LGTB community wouldn’t be able to support a hotel of that size in the city of New York.”

He cautions, however, that it has to be well done at a reasonable cost. “The LGTB community is probably willing to pay a little more for that environment, but not a lot more for a hotel that may be a block away from other options.”

When it comes to great amenities, it’s not about toiletries. The best amenity to draw more gay guests is a gay entertainment infrastructure within the hotel, says Paisley. “Having a gay bar, gay restaurant in the hotel is a really nice amenity.”

The largest investors in the property are Reisner, his partner and a group of limited partners. “We’re 100 percent behind this project. We think this is an amazing concept and the timing is good,” he says. He’s referring to New York State’s July 24 enactment of the Marriage Equality Act, which allows same sex marriage.

The hotel was underway, however, long before the gay marital rights became reality. “The concept of a gay-centered hotel has been in my mind for over five years,”
says Reisner. And, the actual planning started in 2008.

In 2009 he secured a rare 49-year ground lease for the property, a 26,000-square-foot block of real estate, in a gentrifying neighborhood. “It was perfect timing to get my hands on such a big property,” he says. “The great recession had put a damper on real estate and you could lock in things you couldn’t lock in, in a normal functioning market.”

The nightlife venue, expected to draw locals as well as travelers, is scheduled to open in November. The hotel’s official opening is planned for late winter/early spring 2012.

And, it could be just the first. “Based on the positive reception we’ve had I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more of these in the future,” says Reisner.

Friday, September 16, 2011

San Diego in a Day

By: Jeremy Bryant

I was recently invited to San Diego to experience the city and visit with the Executive Director of San Diego Pride, Dwayne Crenshaw. I must say, San Diego is a city of different flavors and topography. I arrived in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood, just off the 163 freeway, around 11am to have lunch at Urban Mo’s (formerly Hamburger Mary’s). Urban Mo's offers a cheery atmosphere with different music each night of the week. The crowd here is all about fun and is a mix of men and women in their 20s and 30s. After eating and having a few drinks, we took off for a stroll around the Hillcrest neighborhood. Filled with funky and fabulous shops, restaurants, bars, and just about everything else a queer could need, the community of Hillcrest comes alive with people walking the streets, riding bikes, and just having a gay old time. I strongly encourage any visitor to get out and walk the town, meet the people and stop in the shops to look around. You won’t be disappointed.

After walking and shopping all over Hillcrest, I was off on a tour of the city. We started by heading downtown to view the many historic buildings that comprise the Gaslamp Quarter. The Quarter is home to many events and festivals, including Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp, Street Scene Music Festival, Taste of Gaslamp and ShamROCK, a St. Patrick's Day event. PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres is located one block away in downtown San Diego's East Village. From downtown we then headed over to the Marina. The Marina houses mid-rise and high-rise hotels, apartments, condominiums, medical offices and retail shops. Seaport Village and the San Diego Convention Center are located in this neighborhood. Seaport Village is also a perfect spot to grab a relaxing meal from a number of fine restaurants and food stands, including the Harbor House Restaurant. From the Marina you can enjoy views of Coronado across the bay. A must see is the Star of India, a historic, tall-mast iron ship which dates back to 1863. This national historic landmark is the world's oldest ship still seaworthy, and makes a sea journey at least once a year.

From the Marina, we were off to see Old Town San Diego. Old Town is the oldest settled area in San Diego and is the site of the first European settlement in present-day California. Old Town is truly a great tourist spot to experience the culture of old San Diego. I recommend stopping at Presidio Park, a beautify spot to soak in the views. Old town San Diego has hotels, art galleries, specialty shops, restaurants, amazing architecture and so much more to experience.

After driving through Old Town, I headed to Balboa Park. Balboa Park is filled with open space areas, natural vegetation, gardens and walking paths. The park contains a variety of cultural attractions including many museums, several theaters, and the world famous San Diego Zoo. A great place to spend the day, relax and enjoy the outdoors, Balboa Park is a big attraction for the city of San Diego. Balboa Park is also where the San Diego Pride Festival takes place every July. This 2 day event attracts over 200,000 people from all over the world and is considered to be the largest civic event in the city of San Diego. Definitely a must attend event for any LGBT traveler.

I concluded my evening in San Diego with enjoying dinner in La Jolla at an amazing restaurant, Georges at the Cove. Georges over looks the Ocean and boasts the region’s best rooftop dining, try the Ocean Terrace upstairs. Upon finishing dinner, I headed down to the cove. Casa Beach, otherwise known as Children’s Pool Beach is a small sandy beach located at 850 Coast Boulevard, at the end of Jenner Street, in La Jolla. A sea wall built was built and protects the beach from waves, making it a favorite spot for divers and swimmers. The sea wall was built in order to create a Children's Pool, a place where children could play and swim protected from the waves. Interestingly over the years, the beach has become home to seals that enjoy the calm beach protected by the sea wall. I encourage everyone to go and check it out. It’s a site you have to see.

Sadly my day in San Diego was coming to an end. I had seen so many sites this impressively laid back city has to offer. I would recommend anyone looking to experience a sunny, beautiful, friendly destination to visit San Diego. There’s way too much to see in one day, so definitely plan for a weekend or if you can spare a week, you won’t be disappointed. As I drove home to Los Angeles up the 5 Freeway, images of my day in San Diego filled my mind. I’ll definitely be returning to San Diego, but with more time to spend for new adventures. A big thank you to Dwayne Crenshaw and the city of San Diego for showing me a fabulous time and a day I’ll never forget.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

IGLTA Welcomes Two New Board Members

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (September 13, 2011)—The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association recently added two board members: Rika Jean-Francois of ITB Berlin, one of the world’s leading travel trade shows; and Marta Dalla Chiesa, founding director of Brazil Ecojourneys.

“The IGLTA bylaws allow us to appoint up to two eligible members for one-year board positions to better reflect the diverse tourism businesses in our membership,” said IGLTA Chair Tanya Churchmuch. “Having an esteemed global trade fair and a small lesbian business from South America represented in the mix truly broadens our scope.”

Both women are longtime professionals in the tourism industry. Rika Jean-Francois oversees gay and lesbian travel for the prestigious ITB Berlin trade show.

“ITB Berlin is the first tourism trade show to have a representative on the board of this remarkable association and is ready to give LGBT tourism the platform it deserves,” she said. “This is a great chance to develop new markets and to fight for human rights in tourism.”

Marta Dalla Chiesa, whose tour operation is based in Florianopolis, Brazil, is returning for her second term as a board appointee.“This is not only a recognition of my efforts for the organization but also a good sign that the current board values the diversity of the IGLTA membership,” she said. “I hope to continue to push forward in the association the issues dear to our Latin American, lesbian and small business members.”

The 2011-2012 board members of IGLTA are:

* Chair: Tanya Churchmuch, Tourism Montreal
* Vice Chair: Jeff Guaracino, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation
* Treasurer: Theresa Belpulsi, Destination DC
* Secretary: Darren Cooper, Out Now Global
* Marta Dalla Chiesa, Brazil Ecojourneys (Appointee)
* *Dan Melesurgo, American Society of Association Executives
* Rika Jean-Francois, ITB Berlin (Appointee)
* Mya Lake Reyes, Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority
* *Ed Salvato, Travel Journalist
* Steve Smith, Key West Business Guild

*first-time board members

Austrailia makes getting a Passport easier for sex and gender diverse people

Via: Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Attorney-General Robert McClelland today announced new guidelines to make it easier for sex and gender diverse people to get a passport in their preferred gender.

Under the guidelines, sex reassignment surgery will no longer be a prerequisite to issue a passport in a person’s preferred gender.

“Sex and gender diverse people now have the option of presenting a statement from a medical practitioner supporting their preferred gender,” said Mr Rudd.

“This amendment makes life easier and significantly reduces the administrative burden for sex and gender diverse people who want a passport that reflects their gender and physical appearance.”

The initiative is in line with the Australian Government’s commitment to remove discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and sexual orientation.

“Most people take for granted the ability to travel freely and without fear of discrimination,” Mr McClelland said.

“This measure will extend the same freedoms to sex and gender diverse Australians.

“While it’s expected this change will only affect a handful of Australians, it’s an important step in removing discrimination for sex and gender diverse people.

“Importantly, this policy addresses a number of the recommendations contained in the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Sex Files report.”