Seattle on Lots of Lists, But Still Gay Friendly

Author: , January 2nd, 2011

Gay Friendly SeattleThank the rankings-happy editors at Forbes. Or blame our reputation for wearing flannel and the infamous socks-sandals combo. Whatever the reason, Seattle landed on a lot of lists in 2010.

Some we can be proud of. Others — err — not so much. And then there are a few I just don’t know what to think about.

Let’s recap. Based on how Seattle has stacked up in polls and rankings — some more scientific then others, mind you — the city’s personal ad would read something like this:

“Even though I’m getting up there in years (I was born in 1869), I’d like to find a young companion. A college student, maybe. Don’t let my age fool you; I’ve been told I’m pretty cool and fairly romantic. I’ve also been told I need to work on my personal appearance, but I’d rather read a book than pick out clothes. Our first date probably wouldn’t be too extravagant, and we’d probably have to take the bus. (I’m not a good driver, and bad traffic only makes things worse.) We’d probably go for coffee, or maybe to the nation’s best cocktail bar. Or maybe we’ll just read a book. Did I mention I like to read? You should know I’m especially good with men and extremely gay-friendly.”

Full Story from the Seattle PI

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Top 10 Gay Travel Stories of 2010

Author: , December 19th, 2010

From the good and the bad, to the downright bizarre, here is our list of the top 10 LGBT travel news headlines of 2010.

Gay Miami10. Ultra-Gay Hotels: In November, Lords South Beach Hotel opened their doors in Miami. More than just a beautiful luxury property, the hotel is a sign of something much bigger. Lords is the first brand to cater exclusively to the LGBT community. Other hoteliers are taking notice and following suit. In early 2011, Fort Lauderdale Palms will reopen, re-branding itself as North America’s biggest “full-service” gay retreat. Out NYC, a massive “urban resort” is also set to open next year.

9. No Room at the Inn: A gay couple is suing the owners the Chymorvah Private Hotel in Cornwall, United Kingdom. Martin Hall and Steven Preddy claim they were denied a room with a double bed because they are same-sex partners. They are seeking 5,000 Pounds in damages. The owners of the hotel, Peter and Hazelmary Bull say they do not allow any unmarried couples to share a room, gay or straight. On their website, the Bulls state they will only let heterosexual married couples share rooms.

8. Ceremonial Dress in Iceland: Donning a floral-print dress, comedian turned Reykjavik mayor Jon Gnarr kicked-off the city’s pride parade. The event took place just months after Iceland’s government decided to legalize gay marriage. Known for eccentricity, Gnarr’s new Best Party won city council polls after a campaign that advocated free towels in city swimming pools and a polar bear for the zoo.

Full Story from GayTravel.com

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Reports From San Francisco Pride 2010

Author: , July 1st, 2010

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010Mark and I just got back from a weekend in San Francisco for Gay Pride.  It was an exhilirating, sunburning (my scalp’s still a little sore – gotta remember to take my hat next time), and at times, just plain long.

We also took a couple great walking tours – one in the Castro, and one from Nob Hill through Union Square and Chinatown, ending in North Beach – we’ll publish more about these two tours in a later blog.

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010But back to Pride.  As regular readers of this blog will remember, we went to Sacramento Pride the week before, where we sat next to a really nice local couple, who told us that we could buy bleacher seat tickets on the Pride Parade route.  We’d seen these bleachers before, but always thought they were for VIP’s and folks with mobility issues.

So we looked into it, and sure enough, the seats are available to the general public for $35 a person before the event, and $40 at the gate the morning of Pride.  The HRC store in the Castro sells these tickets, and we were able reserve them on the phone and then pick them up on Saturday, the day before Pride.

Fast forward to Sunday morning.  We’re up at 6 to do all those things we have to do every morning, but by 8 am, we’re having a quick breakfast at Starbucks on Market.  Grabbing a couple bottles of cold water at Walgreens, we stroll down Market toward UN Plaza, the gateway into Civic Center where the festival after the parade will be held, and where the bleachers are  set up.

On the way, we pass a couple guys with fundie signs encouraging us to repent – boy are they barking up the wrong tree – and instead of saying something nasty, I smile and say “Happy Pride.”  I’m in a good mood, and even these guys can’t ruin it.  As you probably guessed, they ignore me and keep walking.

We arrive at the bleachers, and there’s a small line – a group of friends from Fresno who drove up for Pride, and beat us there by maybe 20 minutes.  They’re a nice group, including an (apparently) straight couple wearing green strings of beads that have little marijuana leaves every few beads (if you look really close).

We wait for about an hour, and watch the set-up continue, as the booths next-door start to open, volunteers arrive, and banners are hung from the top of the bleachers.  It’s a gorgeous morning – if God really does hate us like our protesting friends say, why does he/she bring us such beautiful, sunny weather for Pride?

At 9:30, the gates open, and the folks with mobility issues and hearing issues are let in first.  For the last hour, Mark and I have been planning our strategy – we want a seat at the back of the bleachers, where we can lean back against the fence, and we want to be in the corner on the left side, where the side fence won’t block our view.  With only 15 folks ahead of us, and 10 of them having mobility issues – meaning they will likely be seated in the lower tiers and/or in the designated section, which is in the other set of bleachers, we should have a good shot.

As our turn comes, we look up, and wow – there are two guys up there in the spot we were angling for.  And this is funny – they were two of the folks who got in early via the limited mobility line.  Remember that dance song – the one that says “Things That Make You Go Hmmmmmm?”

I think it’s fantastic that we put folks who have a harder time getting around first – it’s something I’ve always liked about our community.  But I also hate to see able-bodied folks taking advantage of the system.  And I know, I know, maybe there was something other than a mobility issue that qualified these two guys to be there.  But hmmmm…. :::sigh:::  ‘Nuff said.

Soon enough, we were seated at the top of the bleachers, and then we realized that the good seats had… absolutely… no… shade.  And (as mentioned above) we left our hats at home.  We did remember the sun block – and it’s a good thing, because even with it, I’m a little bit pink in all my exposed spots.

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010As the stands filled in, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence began to arrive below – apparently (and we didn’t know this before) the Sisters have awards for the contingents they like the most – beautiful rainbow ribbons they run out to the floats, marching contingents, and cupcakes (yes, cupcakes) that they like the most.  For anyone not familiar with the Sisters, they’re a group of men who dress up as religious sisters, and that do a huge amount of charity work in The City.

Eventually, the stands were full.

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010

There was a great article in the Bay Area Reporter, one of the local gay papers, that talked about Pride etiquette – share your water and sunblock, don’t blow loud horns in your neighbor’s ear, and if you’re marching in Pride, don’t bring the whole thing to a halt while you stop to get some twink’s phone number in the crowd.  While the last didn’t apply to us, and we didn’t have a horn, we did share our sunblock, and the ladies next to us graciously offered us some cool apple slices.

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010After several false starts (including the tell-tale rumble of a motorcycle that turned out to be a lone policeman racing down the street), the true rumbling began, and we spotted the headlights of the Women’s Motorcycle Contingent (yeah, yeah, we know – the Dykes on Bikes), and things were off and running.

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010The DoB seemed to go on forever, dwarfing the (respectable) Sacramento Pride contingent by probably 1,000%.  After the women came a few men, and then one of our perennial favorites – Mikes on Bikes, complete with the couple of totally nude cyclists.  Remember that old adage – how come the folks you want to see naked are never the ones who are naked at these things?

All the usuals were there – several Cheer Queer squads, including one from Sacramento; local organizations, Firefighters, Police, Corporations, and many more.  The great thing about the bleachers – every contingent stops here, and plays to the crowd – including the Cheer groups, that twirled a number of lithe young men and women in the air in front of us for our delight.

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010And then there were the cupcakes.

Yes, the cupcakes – five or six motorized, 4′ x 4′ cupcakes, wheeling up and down Market Street with little human heads popped up out for the middle.  We’re still not sure what these little sweet treats were trying to tell us – or what the bike with the giant birthday candle had to do with it – maybe a salute to Pride’s 40th birthday?  But they were adorable.

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010As with every Pride Event, there were also all of the Grand Marshals.  This year, they included Andy Bell (from Erasure, and yes, I own almost every bloody album these guys ever put out.  My cd shelf saggeth).  Also this year – the Back Street Boys (apparently on a bit of a reunion tour across the country) appeared.  And apparently pissed off the Festival crowd a bit later by only signing one song on the main stage.

There were also the usual delays as the faster contingents left the slower marchers in the dust.  During one of these, I was looking around, and two things surprised me.

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010First, behind the bleachers, here in the heart of the Pride Celebration, a group of fundamentalists had set up shop with a giant white cross and signs (again) urging all the evil followers of the homosexual lifestyle to repent, come to God, and give up their heathen ways.

Simultaneously, Cecil Williams, head of the Glide Memorial Church was going by in the parade.  Glide Memorial Church, that is hugely gay friendly and helps feed thousands in The City each year.  And these guys, whose idea of Christ-Love is jeering at the passing gays.  Hmmmm….

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010And then, in the other direction, the Festival – and already, even with hundreds of thousands lining the streets along the parade route, the party in Civic Center was in full swing, with wall-to-wall people.  I shudder to think what happened when the rest of these folks crowded in after the parade was over.

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010Back to the Parade.  One of our favorite contingents is the PFLAG contingent – parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – because so many of us had a hard time coming out to our parents, and many of us were disowned or estranged from them – so every year, when we see this proud moms, dads and allies march down the parade route, we give them an extra cheer.

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010All of the LGBTQI communities were represented – from the bisexuals (and aesexuals) to the transgender men and women, from bears to leather to just plain beefcake.  Even the foreskin folks were tyhere, with what had to be our favorite poster of the parade (at right).

The parade started at 10:30 (give or take – you know how flexible gay time is) – and by 1:30, we were cooked and exhausted, and there was no end in site.  I gotta say, Pride is a great thing, but the Parade does not need to go on and on and on – almost 4 hours this year!  So we left before the finale, and swam upstream against the crowds that were already starting to flood down into Civic Center.

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010It was a great weekend, and ultimately a great parade, with all the requisite contingents, and the added political messages – releal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, and pass the Employment Non Discrimination Act.

But even more than that, it’s one day where we really come together as a community and celebrate the things that make us the same – love, friendship and commitment – and the things that make us different – the diversity of our love, our sex, our colors, and the way we live our lives.

And at the end of it all, the most important thing is that you have someone to take home with you who loves you.  On this high holy day for the gay community, I wish even our opponents this most basic of human needs – someone to love.

Happy Pride!

More Pride pics below.

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010 San Francisco Gay Pride 2010

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010 San Francisco Gay Pride 2010

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010 San Francisco Gay Pride 2010

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010 San Francisco Gay Pride 2010

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010 San Francisco Gay Pride 2010

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010 San Francisco Gay Pride 2010

San Francisco Gay Pride 2010 San Francisco Gay Pride 2010

Making it to Sacramento Pride

Author: , June 22nd, 2010

Gay Friendly Sacramento Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Sacramento Pride

Sacramento PrideSo we made it to Sacramento Pride this year.

I start with this piece of information because we were not quite so lucky in 2009. It wasn’t for lack of trying – last year, we woke up early, took care of our daily work chores, and were on our way from home to Downtown Sac in plenty of time. On Sunday. The day after the parade on Saturday.

:::sigh:::

So this year, we remembered our mistake, and arrived in downtown in plenty of time for the parade and festival that followed.

Sacramento PrideThe first Sacramento Pride we attended, in 2004 or 2005, was a small community gathering at Southside Park, a pretty little park and pond tucked away on the southwest side of Midtown (for non-Sacramentans, that’s the core of the city, bounded by Highway 50 on the south, 5 on the west, Business 80 on the east, and the railroad on the north).

Sacramento PrideThen a few years ago, the Pride folks decided to revive the Pride Parade, winding from the Capitol down to Southside Park.

This year, in a nod to the important political role Pride plays in California’s capital city, they revered the march, starting from Southside Park and ending at the Capitol Mall.

Sacramento PrideSacramento Pride is still small potatoes compared to San Francisco’s mammoth Pride Event, but this year the parade lasted an hour and a half, boasting almost 40 contingents, including PFlag, MEUSA, several local bars, local cheer organizations, the local gay and lesbian film festival, the sisters of perpetual indulgence, and many more.

It was a good parade, and even better, there was plenty of room along 7th Street to find a good place to watch.

Sacramento PrideA few small beefs – what’s up with letting the trains continue to run along the street, between half of the audience and the parade, during the whole event (see the photo at right)? These three car street trains went by, literally, every five minutes, blocking off the view of the parade for 30 seconds at a sho

And why did the police keep stopping the entire parade to let traffic cross 7th street? It seems like our parade doesn’t get the respect accorded to others – or is this the way it is for every group that wants to hold a parade in Sacrament

Sacramento PrideIn San Francisco, they close down Market Street for the whole parade – no one crosses it, and no busses run down it once the event begins.

In any case, we enjoyed the parade (when we could see it), and chatted with other local couples who came down for the show.

Afterward, we strolled down to the Capitol Mall, where the festival was in full swing. Tickets were $10 each, which seemed reasonable to help keep this event going and growing every yea

And although there was plenty of room to move around, it was great to see so many folks here – literally thousands of LGBT folks gathered on a perfect, comfortable sunny day.

Sacramento PrideSome welcome discoveries among the booths there were the Lavender Library, an LGBT library where you can check out the books and take them home; a local support group for our transgender community members, and a booth for the Sacramento International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

Bebe Zahara Benet

We even had our picture taken at the Equality California booth (yeah, that’s us at left) – we were gonna skip this offer, but then they told us how they spent DAYS painting the road to 2012 backdrop, and we relented.

We also took in a play at the Lambda Players theater in the gay heart of Sacramento – these guys are good folks, and it’s well worth supporting our only gay/lesbian theater!

Bebe Zahara Benet

We got some close-ups with Ru Paul Drag Race winner Bebe Zahara Benet on the parade route, and we also saw singer Joel Evan on the parade route and later at the Festival.

There was a sweet moment (at left) when a mother approached Benet during the parade with her adorable towheaded son, and Benet was clearly delighted to say hello to the little boy.

We’re thrilled to see our Hometown Pride getting bigger and better each year!