Is Russia Safe for Queer Travelers? – Nomadic Boys

Author: , September 15th, 2018

Russia for queer travelers

Editor’s note. We had some trepidation about posting this, given Russia’s current role in world affairs. But sunlight is the best disinfectant, and Russia is home to an active queer community, however suppressed it may be. So we decided it was important to shine a little light on that community.

Stefan’s coming out song in February 2003 was “All The Things You Said”, a pop hit by Russian girlband t.A.T.u, who were marketed as a lesbian couple. For the video of this song, the two band members, Lena Katina and Julia Volkova, were running around in the rain dressed in school girl outfits and making out.

Obviously the band were (quite successfully!) targeting a very specific heterosexual male demographic. But despite this, the very fact that such a public homosexual image was being shown and accepted across Russian society in the early 2000s, speaks volumes about attitudes to LGBTQ in Russian society…so what the hell went wrong since?!

Just before travelling on the Trans Siberian across Russia in 2014, almost every other person warned us “you better be careful in Russia boys, probably best avoid going altogether!”

With hindsight we are so glad we ignored this advice.

Yes, we were nervous when we first touched down at Domodedovo airport in Moscow. After all, we all know Russia has a terrible reputation for LGBTQ rights, particularly in light of the awful anti-gay propaganda law passed in 2013. Nonetheless, we were absolutely fine during our travels there. We were even pleasantly surprised that there are thriving gay scenes in Moscow and St Petersburg.

This is our advice about travelling safely in Russia for gay travellers based on our first hand experience exploring the country as a same sex couple.

Is it legal to be gay in Russia?

The good news first: it is legal to be gay in Russia! In fact it has been legal since 1993. In addition, the age for sexual consent (16 years old) has been the same for both straight and gay couples since 1993, except in Chechnya. It’s also legal for a single gay man to adopt, you can change your legal gender, and gays are allowed to serve in the Russian military (under a “don’t ask don’t tell policy) unlike in some European countries like Cyprus, which has a total LGBT ban in its army!

Another surprising fact about Russia is that gay men are allowed to donate blood without any restrictions. In the UK, we are required to have 3 months of no sexual relations before we can even be considered.

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Five Gay Travel Apps You Need Now – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , September 7th, 2018

Five Gay Travel Apps You Need Now - The Nomadic Boys

We rely more and more on our phones and tablets during our travels than ever before. So much so, each year we love to put together our favourite new app discoveries, such as our 9 favourite gay travel apps and our 5 awesome apps for gay travellers.

So in true Nomadic Boys tradition, here are our latest 5 new gay travel app discoveries. Note that although these are not necessarily brand new apps, nor are they gay specific, they are apps that we’ve recently stumbled on, absolutely love, and have completely embellished our travels in one way or other.

AccuWeather

What’s wrong with the iPhone weather app? It’s quite unreliable and doesn’t always find the local place you’re based. We’ve had this problem on numerous occasions, so we spent a lot of time searching for an alternative weather app.

The best we found is AccuWeather, which is comprehensive, user friendly, lists multiple places, and of course reliable. It also gives a detailed breakdown by hour and day.

Drone camera users like us will also appreciate the wind speed info given by AccuWeather so you know if it’s safe to fly.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at The Nomadic Boys

Montreal’s Gay Village: The Hilights – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , August 31st, 2018

Montreal's Gay Village - The Nomadic Boys

Montreal is one of our favourite cities we’ve visited during our travels, especially during the summer months.

We came here during the Fierte Montreal gay pride and completely fell in love with the gay village. There are always many events going on Montreal not to mention many different foods to try.

One of our favourite gay travel bloggers, Barry from Toronto told us about his 5 favourite highlights from Montreal’s gay village following his recent visit during the gay pride:

Where to take the best selfies

I love La Graine Brûlée because it is super colourful and quirky. Check out the leopard printed seats, mini ferries wheel, graffiti covered cubby holes and small nooks that make it look like a play room with old Nintendo games. This unique cafe is located on the west side of the Montreal gay village right by the Berri-UQAM metro station. For me, this is THE place to take a selfie to kick off a great night out in the Montreal gay village.

I also love taking selfies by the rainbow crossings that mark the entrance of the gay village. Try to get the background ball installation in your picture, which is rainbow coloured during Pride.

Montreal also has some of the best street art murals, which are perfect backgrounds for your Instagram gallery.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Montreal Gay Travel Resources

Queer Dubai: Safe for Queer Travelers? – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , August 30th, 2018

Queer Dubai

Dubai is regarded as the Vegas of the Middle East. Just like Las Vegas it’s a new, modern city built in the middle of a desert. Unlike Las Vegas however, you risk getting into quite a bit of trouble if you openly express your sexuality in public…

Dubai is one of the 7 “Emirates” of the United Arab Emirates, a country ruled by a monarchy with Sharia Law in place. The other 6 Emirates are Abu Dhabi (the capital), Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain.

We explore whether queer Dubai is safe for gay travellers to visit, particularly in light of the anti-gay laws in place.

Is it legal to be gay in Dubai?

Short answer, no. Sadly, in Dubai, good old fashioned Sharia Law rules the school. If you’re caught having consensual gay sex, you face a short prison sentence and deportation.

In reality however, the Sharia police don’t come knocking on your door spying on your every move. The previous arrests of LGBTQ tourists happened as a result of public occurrences, like a Lebanese/Bulgarian lesbian couple kissing on a public beach, or a Pakistani/Filipino gay couple having oral sex in a car. In both situations the couples were arrested, imprisoned for a few months, then deported. One famous trans celebrity, Gigi Gorgeous, was denied entry to Dubai in August 2016 when the immigration staff realised she is trans.

Is there a gay scene in Dubai?

As it’s illegal to be gay here, there is no official gay scene in Dubai or LGBTQ organisation. However, thanks to the large expat population and the 20,000+ Emirates cabin crew who are based here, Dubai is seen as a sort of gay mecca by Arab men from surrounding countries. This is because there are a number of underground unannounced gay events taking place each week.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at Nomadic Boys

Where to Have a Gay Wedding in Italy -The Nomadic Boys

Author: , August 24th, 2018

Since our engagement in Cartagena in Colombia, we’ve been researching wedding venues and ideas for destinations for our own ceremony. We attended our friends’ gay wedding ceremony in Gallipoli in South Italy and completely fell in love, feeling totally inspired at the same time.

Gay Wedding in Italy

Although Italy remains one of Western Europe’s more conservative countries with regards to LGBTQ rights and still has a ban in place for same sex marriages, steps are slowly being taken in the right direction. In particular, civil unions for same sex couples (called “unioni Civili” in Italian) were introduced in June 2016. This has spiked interest in Italy as a destination wedding for LGBTQ couples.

Following on from our travels in Italy and researching the best places for our own wedding, we’ve put together our 5 best destinations for a gay wedding in Italy:

Gorgeous Gallipoli in Puglia
Gallipoli is the main gay hotspot in the Puglia region of Italy. Over the years it’s grown massively with gay tourists, due to its mix of gay friendly beaches and fun gay events. This has made it ideal for gay wedding destination in Italy.

We attended our friends’ Unioni Civili at Villa dei Fiori Eventi, located just outside of Gallipoli main town and absolutely loved it. The registrar from the town hall attended to officiate the ceremony, which was held outdoors. Everything was spot on, from the choice of music, decor, food and music. Definitely one to consider, especially as Puglia has so much to offer gay travellers for a honeymoon. Also check out our 5 best gay friendly hotels in Puglia for more inspiration.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at The Nomadic Boys

Italy Gay Travel Resources

Ten Awesome Things to Do in Gay Puglia – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , August 11th, 2018

Ten Awesome Things to Do in Gay Puglia - The Nomadic Boys

Puglia is the heel of long-legged Italy and one of the country’s underrated gems. It has plenty of gorgeous beaches, delicious food and unique architecture to explore, with far fewer crowds than in Venice or Rome.

Puglia is famous for producing around 40% of Italy’s olive oil, as well as bread and pasta, which is why it is nicknamed the “bread basked of Italy”. Puglia also has the longest coastline of Italy – over 800km / 500 miles, so you know you’re guaranteed to find excellent beaches here. Lecce is an example of one of the many architectural gems in Puglia – a city comprised of Baroque architecture, earning it the epithet, “the Florence of the South”.

There’s plenty to do in gay Puglia to plan your holiday just in this region. We did a road trip here and put together our 10 favourite things to do in Puglia for gay travellers:

Gallipoli: the best gay scene in Puglia

We love Gallipoli old town in the evening. It’s always buzzing with life, buskers performing in the streets, cool little boutique shops and excellent restaurants. Gallipoli is also is the heart of Puglia’s gay scene with a handful of bars worth checking out.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Gay Puglia Travel Resources

 

Gay Puglia – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , August 6th, 2018

Gay Puglia - The Nomadic Boys

Our gaydar went absolutely crazy on the beaches in Puglia. Everywhere we looked, these metrosexual studs were posing and just looking absolutely gorgeous…Italian men sure know how to take care of themselves!

Puglia is located in the southeastern region of Italy – the heel of the country’s boot. It’s a popular holiday retreat and a prime hotspot for gay travellers, particularly Gallipoli. We came here to attend our first gay wedding, so took this as an opportunity to make it a road trip around the region to discover what gay Puglia has to offer.

Although Italy is a conservative country with regards to LGBTQ rights, over the years, Puglia has become a bohemian playground for gay travellers. There are a handful of gay beaches across the region, as well as many gay hangouts in the main cities, particularly Gallipoli.

Obviously don’t come here expecting to find Mykonos/Ibiza style Circuit beach parties. Instead there’s a mix of remote beautiful beaches, delicious food, plenty of culture and of course, bronzed Adonises everywhere.

We focused on the sub region of Puglia called Salento, which is the Southern part. Salento stretches from Tarranto on the western side and Brindisi on the east, all the way to the coastal tip. For us we found the best gay beaches and gay hangouts in Salento, particularly around Gallipoli and Tarranto.

One tip for gay travellers to Puglia is to rent a car to get the most out of it. Public transport is very limited, and taxis are expensive. We flew into Bari airport and picked up our car here from Goldcar, who we recommend for the most cost effective prices.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Puglia Gay Travel Resources

Gay Friendly Latin American Cities – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , July 27th, 2018

Gay Friendly Latin American Cities - The Nomadic Boys

We spent almost 2 years travelling in Latin America from Mexico all the way down to Patagonia.

Latin America is a fantastic destination to explore for gay travellers, with a range of beautiful natural sceneries, classic world wonders, some of the best gay parties in the world, and the hottest guys you’ll ever meet.

Although most countries in Latin America are very Catholic with a socially conservative outlook, we found that most are quickly evolving to embrace their LGBTQ communities. We particularly saw this in Uruguay, Argentina, the big cities of Colombia, parts of Mexico, south Brazil and Santiago in Chile.

These are our 10 favourite gay friendly Latin American cities where we felt the most welcome, have the best gay scene and most prominent pride festivals.

Santiago – Chile

We start this list with the capital city of Chile. Whilst Chile as a country is still very conservative, Santiago is definitely one of the most gay friendly places we visited. It has a huge gay scene in the “Bellavista” neighbourhood, with many bars, clubs and restaurants.

Our favourite place to start a gay night out in Santiago is at the large resto/bar called “Station”. Then we’d head to either “Bar 105” or one of the drag bars like “Burdel”. On weekends, there are a handful of large gay clubs to check out. Our favourite was “Barcelona at Bunker”, which always has a large crowd. Also worth nothing is that nearby to Santiago is one of the largest gay clubs in the South America called “Il Divino”, located in the nearby resort town of “Viña del Mar”. Read more in our gay guide to Santiago.

With regards to gay rights, Chile has certainly come a long way since the dark days of the oppressive Pinochet years. Today, marriage equality is still on the cards, and soon may become law. One of our favourite things about the city is that as a sign of solidarity towards the LGBTQ community, the Moneda Palace (the formal offices for the President) in Central Santiago is lit up with rainbow colours on 17 May for the International Day Against Homophobia Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) – every year without fail. Read more in our interview with Ivan from Santiago about what it’s like growing up gay in Chile.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Top Places to Stay in Gay Puglia – Nomadic Boys

Author: , July 19th, 2018

Top Places to Stay in Gay Puglia - Nomadic Boys

Puglia, the “heel of the boot” of Italy has long been a popular destination for LGBTQ travellers, particularly the gorgeous seaside town of Gallipoli. There are also many cultural gems in the area like the Baroque rich city of Lecce, the many trulli stone huts in Alberobello and a handful of excellent gay friendly beaches.

Quite a lot of the touristic highlights of Puglia are spread out, so the best way to get the most out of your trip is to rent a car and make it a road trip. We also recommend staying in a place which is located in a quiet village or small town for a more authentic Italian countryside experience. These are our 5 favourite gay friendly places to stay in Puglia we found during our road trip, which we loved and recommend you check out.

Trullo Incanto D’Itria near Alberobello
A trullo (plural: trulli) is a traditional Apulian dry limestone hut with a conical roof, unique to the Itria Valley of Puglia. The highest concentration of trulli can be found in the small town of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The trulli of Alberobello are some of the oldest, dating back to the 1300s. Today most trulli in Alberobello are souvenir shops, cafes or restaurants. Some are also places you can book to stay.

We loved this idea – staying in a stone conical hut that resembles the sort of houses you’d expect Frodo and his fellow hobbits to live in in the Shire; you can’t help being charmed by these Hobbit-like houses.

One of our favourite trulli to stay is the luxurious Trullo Incanto d’Itria, located in the countryside, around 5 minutes drive from Alberobello. This trullo has its own private pool and garden area, but still retains a traditional feel in its construction. LGBTQ travellers are welcomed, with no issue about booking a double bed.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at The Nomadic Boys

Puglia Gay Travel Resources

London Pride – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , July 12th, 2018

London Pride - The Nomadic Boys

God made the rainbow so we could sashay down the catwalk to heaven…

…and of course along the streets of London during Pride!

But can you imagine, in other parts of the world, the cover image for this blog post alone would likely get us arrested or even killed.

Whilst we are lucky to live in a place where we can love who we want freely, there are still 74 countries where being gay is still a crime, and many others where the mere mention of being gay can lead to you losing your job, being ousted by your family or even worse, beaten up and killed.

We saw this a lot during our big trip in Asia, such as with our friend Joko from Java in Indonesia, Kaluu from Colombo in Sri Lanka and particularly in Russia.

This is why we think it is important to come to Pride events – to march for those who can’t. Whilst the parades are always a lot of fun, they are also a strong and symbolic message of love, unity and acceptance for our LGBTQ family around the world, who we want to be celebrated, respected and embraced by all – #pridematters

We’ve attended numerous gay pride events around the world including the gay pride festival of Puerto Vallarta, the Canada Fierte pride in Montreal and the gay Pride of Cyprus in Nicosia. Our favourite, which we always look forward to every year is Pride in London. As proud Londoners, we are of course very bias, especially as this is where we met back in 2009. But each time we go to Pride in London, we have an amazing time.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at The Nomadic Boys

London Gay Travel Resources