Sydney Mardi Gras Mixes Pride and Politics

Author: , February 28th, 2010

The Australian annual ‘Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade’ on Saturday witnessed tens and thousands of people dancing and carousing their way through the streets of Sydney – some attired in classy costumes; while others ‘clothed’ merely in body paint and barest-minimum leaves.

The parade – which began in 1978 essentially as a protest march by homosexual and transsexual men and women – is currently one of the world’s biggest and most glitzy gay pride events.

This year’s event featured the theme, “History of the World” – a peek at gay history; and boasted the involvement of as many as 9,400 participants. The nearly 135 floats, which rolled out from William Square, were led by the well-known transsexual Amanda Lepore, who was scantily-dressed in a diamante G-string, and seated in an open-top Mercedes.

Full Story from Top News

Click here for gay travel resources in Sydney, Australia.

Exploring the Cevennes Mountains in Southeastern France

Author: , February 28th, 2010
by Helmut, La Vieille Maison, Durfort, France
Email Helmut | Visit the La Vieille Maison Website
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The Cevennes: large protected mountain areas, unforgettable landscapes, abundant nature, and an original and intriguing history: an ensemble of unique, protected tourism resources.

Mount Cévenole is a series of crests, stretching from Aigoual (1 567 meters) to Mont Lozère (1,702 meters), its slopes covered in a vast carpet of oak, chestnut trees and shrubs.

The Cévenol hamlets and villages nestled therein are one of the region’s hidden treasures. The southern flank of the mountain is dotted with Mediterranean streams, natural vestiges of nature from another time, such as the Cirque de Navacelles.

To the west, the desertscape of Causse Méjan plays host to living species that thrive in a continental climate, such as bisons or Przewalski horses. The gorges of the Tarn snake beneath its feet.

This land of traditional values and hospitality is opening up to the idea of a tourism that respects both man and his environment. A large part of this region is classified as a National Park or a global biosphere reserve. Locals born here or elsewhere have the know-how of true artisans, and still raise goats, sheep and cattle here. Visitors can enjoy products fresh from the land, artistic creations, a personalised welcome. basically, may share this region with its inhabitants for the duration of their stay.

“…a land of freedom and independence, where man has often found refuge. Shepherds, pilgrims, persecuted Protestants, rebels, ’70s hippies, and minorities of all kinds have come to the Cevennes to escape the law and the hard ways of the world. This reputation endures still, but now that a return to nature is in style, this area has also been revealed to be one of the best for tourist destinations and landscape.” –Guide du Routard Languedoc Roussillon 2006

The Cevennes has never been a single united geographic or administrative area. It is currently divided into 5 departements and 3 regions, whose boundaries have changed greatly over the years. This mountainous chain, starting at the Narouze sill and reaching the level of the Canal du Centre, has often been described as the division between the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

However, history and culture have fashioned a little country emerge from this vast area that is keenly aware of its own identity, and which the Scottish writer Stevenson named, in 1878, as “pure bred Cevennes” or the “Cevennes from Cevennes”, which has been memorialised in literature, especially by Jean-Pierre Chabrol, as “La Cévenne”.

The Cevennes is, simultaneously, a region, a culture, a memory, identities and a claim of belonging. This Cevennes only exists through the people who have made it and who perpetuate it. It is identifiable by the vectors of its character: Protestantism, anthropisation of the landscape, chestnut trees, and silk.

The Cevennes landscape is not very high, but it has steep slopes and a succession of crests and narrow valleys that are completely enclosed.

To survive here, man had to completely adjust to the land. It’s area that has been built upon, humanised, and its landscapes tamed. Geographers, historians and visitors recognize its two principal traits: the terraces and the water systems.

The Cevennes feature a gigantic amphitheatre of terraces: the natural slopes have been replaced by the continuous piles of terraces, bancels or faissas, running from the valley floor right up to the hill crest. This gigantic work often required that stone and, especially, earth was transported on men’s backs using large baskets called terrairaus, which were also used for carrying manure and bringing in the harvest.

The region’s water supply also creates a paradox: a shortage in one moment, and too much the next. The Cevennes Mediterranean climate is typified by dry summer periods which are followed by diluvial rainfalls that causes deep and highly destructive erosions and flooding that are as sudden as they are violent.

Man has, through his water system, structured the whole of the territory with a very tight network to both protect himself from this destructive water and to capture it, store it and transport it to satisfy his needs.

Paragliding, mongolfieres, and kayaking are just some of the activities that allow you to come into contact with the beauty of nature in this part of France. The region is close to the Mediteranean Sea – you can enjoy the beauty of the French Coastline and its culture.

At the border of this national park, you’ll find a 500 year-old, typical cevennol stonehouse and silk factory – La Vieille Maison-Halte Gourmande. Our home is located in the calm countryside on the borders of the Cevennes Mountains, in a small dale, encircled by woods and vinyards. From this old stonehouse, you’ll enjoy a wonderful view into the valley and onto the Cevennes mountains. Across a long arch in stones where, every year, the swallows come to build their nests of loam, its entrance leads up to the inner covered courtyard – a great place to sit in the shade during the warm afternoon hours, or to enjoy gourmet diners from our halte gourmande.

From the courtyard, you have also access to the balcony, covered with the Wisteria, and to the ancient part of our guesthouse, with its rooms and dining facilities for the winter, as well as the spacious living room with its chimney. The terrace on the roof is encircled with thundred-year-old ancient Wisteria – the perfect place to rest or dine in the spring or fall.

Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus Releases New Gayborhood Map

Author: , February 25th, 2010

The Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus unveiled the third installment of its Gayborhood map and merchant guide this week, with a fresh, new look that represents several local agencies’ commitment to heightening the city’s reputation as a top LGBT travel destination. The map was spearheaded by PGTC’s marketing committee, which began working on redeveloping the agency’s existing guide nearly a year ago.

The newly designed product, which was again sponsored by original partners Center City District and Enterprise Rent-a-Car, also garnered sponsorship from Philadelphia Magazine, which served as an editorial and production partner.

Tami Sortman, president of the PGTC, said the redesigned guide reflects the increase of gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses throughout the city.

Full Story from Philadelphia Gay News
Click here for gay travel resources in Philadelphia.

New Gay Marketing Survey Planned in 14 Countries in Europe & Latin America

Author: , February 24th, 2010

Stretching through 14 countries right across Latin America and Europe, the world’s largest gay market research study ever to be undertaken is about to launch. Developed by Out Now – a leading specialist global marketing agency – the new study will survey lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people living in fourteen countries. From Mexico’s border with Texas right across the world to Israel and to the top of Sweden – this will be the most comprehensive study of its kind ever to be undertaken.

With an overall population of three quarters of a billion, these regions are home to more than 35 million lesbian and gay people living diverse lives. It is the first time a gay community targeted market study has been conducted across so many countries at one time.

The countries being surveyed in the “2010 Out Now Global LGBT Market Study” are: in Latin America – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay; and, in Europe — France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK. The study will cover many areas including consumer habits, incomes, education levels, media usage, parenting, relationships, travel, employment, discrimination, equality concerns, aspirations and more.

Full Story from PR Newswire
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Olivia Lesbian Cruises Celebrates 20 Years

Author: , February 22nd, 2010

Olivia, the definitive leader of lesbian travel, celebrates its 20th year of chartering cruises and resort vacations. Morphing from the groundbreaking record label in the 70’s to the largest company catering solely to lesbians today, Olivia has continued to change and grow to meet the needs of the community it has served for almost 4 decades.

“Olivia was created to serve a lesbian market that ranges from women who must live quietly in suburbia, to women who have the freedom to walk the streets holding hands. I am extremely blessed to have been part of this amazing experience. When the company launched 35 years ago, I never dreamed Olivia would become the company that it is today,” says Judy Dlugacz, President and Founder of Olivia.

Olivia chartered its first cruise in 1990, a 600 passenger ship with Dolphin Cruise Lines. “When we first began, no one wanted our business,” said Jill Cruse, Olivia’s VP of Guest Experience. “They were afraid of a backlash. Now we are one of the biggest clients of Holland America and Club Med resorts. We have over 2000 passengers on our Caribbean ships and go everywhere from the Galapagos Islands to Africa.”

Full Story from PR Web
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MA: Springfield Ranks High as a Gay Friendly City

Author: , February 21st, 2010

Nobody ranks Springfield along with San Francisco, New York City or Northampton as one of America’s gayest cities, right? Wrong. Actually, Springfield rates higher than those gay-friendly Meccas in a new survey published by The Advocate, a monthly magazine that chronicles gay culture.

In a top 15 of gay-embracing communities, Springfield finished in 13th position, between San Diego, Calif., and Asheville, N.C. The top three, in descending order, were: Iowa City, Iowa; Burlington, Vt.; and Atlanta, Ga.

The findings comes as a surprise to gays and just about everyone else in Springfield, better known as the birthplace of basketball and hometown of Smith & Wesson firearms, than as an oasis of gay culture.

Full Story from Mass Live
Click here for gay travel resources in Massachusetts’ Connecticut River Valley.

Vancouver's Pride House: A Safe Place for Gay/Lesbian Olympians

Author: , February 20th, 2010

So about five of us were lounging around the TV at a gay hangout called Pride House on the west end Friday, when the mayor suddenly walks in. No, that’s not the start of a cheeky joke, it’s actually a summary of how we spent our day.

Gregor Robertson was there because that’s what you do when you’re a progressive politician who made his money selling organic juice and still rides his bike to work when weather permits: You embrace whatever constituency will hug you back.

It would seem like he’s got enough to do with a city of two million people and the Winter Olympics in his front yard, but he seems like a guy who can multitask.

Full Story from NJ.com
Click here for gay travel resources in Vancouver.

Philadelphia Gay Tourism spotlights 'Gayborhood' With New Map

Author: , February 19th, 2010

The Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus will launch a campaign aimed at making it easier for the city’s visitors to get around.

The campaign will inclulde a map of the “Gayborhood” and include listings and information about gay-friendly businesses in the city. It will highlight restaurants, hotels, retailers, bars and restaurants and other businesses. The Gayborhood is an area in Center City encompassing roughly from 13th and Locust streets to 10th and Pine streets.

The Gay Tourism Caucus, will release the Gayborhood Map and Merchant Guide on Feb. 22, said the campaign is further acknowlegement that the gay travel market is booming business, an estimated $54.1 billion market worldwide.

Full Story from the Philadelphia Business Journal
Click here for gay travel resources in Philadelphia.

Many Gays/Lesbians Stayed Home for Vacations in 2009

Author: , February 18th, 2010

In a down economy, “staycations” are just the ticket for LGBT people desiring a little escape, and are a bright spot in a gay travel industry hit by last year’s recession, according to the recently released “14th Annual Gay and Lesbian Tourism Report.”

The online study, conducted in October and November 2009, compiled responses from 4,726 self-identified gay and lesbian consumers of LGBT media and events. (The Bay Area Reporter was a participating newspaper.) A majority of respondents were gay men (75 percent) and white (87 percent) with lesbians (25 percent), bisexuals (3 percent), and transgenders (1 percent) rounding out the survey. Other ethnicities that responded to the survey included Latino (5 percent), African American (3 percent), Asian (2 percent), and other/mixed (3 percent). The report was released at the end of 2009.

Business and cruise travel were hit the hardest, in spite of more LGBT individuals hitting the high seas during the past year than their heterosexual counterparts (as had been the case in previous years), indicating that “LGBT travelers are a viable cruise market even in down economies,” according to the report.

Full Story from the Bay Area Reporter
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Australia: Gay Travel Expo in Sydney February 26th

Author: , February 17th, 2010

More than 20 travel exhibitors from places as exotic as South America through to Asia will bring the best travel deals to town on February 26. The Out Gay and Lesbian Travel Expo, at the Marriott Hotel from 5.30pm, will bring together the best in gay and lesbian travel opportunities.

The man behind the expo, Out Travel’s Reece Farmilo, said it was a chance for the community to talk to supportive travel and tourism operators from around the globe.

“Out Travel has been up and running for three years, and over that period we have build strong relations with airlines, wholesalers, tour operators and hotels who are very supportive of us as a specialised gay travel company,” he said.

Full Story from SSO
Click here for gay travel resources.