April 30th 1999 – The Admiral Duncan Bombing

The Admiral Duncan Pub

It’s somewhat hard to believe that it has been 13 years already since the bombing of the Admiral Duncan Pub in Soho, London. As a London boy who left when a child, I try to get back there as often as possible, and whenever I do Soho and Camden are the two places I cannot miss out on.

I actually attended the Admiral Duncan pub shortly after it reopened a few months after the bombing, while the London Gay Pride march was being held. I was stunned by the crowds of people there, all eager to go inside and buy a pint in support of the venue and those who had been maimed and killed in the blast. It was an amazing sight to see the entire street packed with people drinking out of plastic cups, all there for one reason – to show solidarity with the community in London and those hurt in the atrocity.

April 30th is the day it happened, the third nail bomb to explode in London, with Brixton attacked on the 17th of April, Brick Lane on the 24th, and finally Soho on the 30th.

At the time no one really knew what it was all about. This was a city which had seen its fair share of terrorism already, with the IRA constantly threatening the people of the capital, but this was the first time it was seemingly targeted at specific groups of people. Black, Asian and Gay people were the focus, leading to a lot of speculation.

Of course, after this third explosion it was soon asserted that the perpetrator of these crimes was a neo-Nazi.

David Copeland was the name of that coward. He was the one who was responsible for walking in, leaving an explosive device hidden in a bag, and then running away like the vermin he is to escape the destruction he had planned.

Four died minutes later when his nail bomb tore through the pub. Andrea Dykes, 27 and her unborn child, John Light, 32 and Nik Moore all passed away, with more than 80 people injured.

As we remember that event, we have to also ask ourselves where we are now as a society. I remember that back then, as I watched it unfolding on the news, the local community rallied around, that many more were likely saved by the fast response of the police, the ambulance staff, the neighbors of the venue and passing pedestrians. The support the community displayed after that attack was one of the most uplifting things I think I have seen.

There is no doubt that we are in a better place now than we have ever been when it comes to social cohesion. But, we should also use caution. In France, the National Front party (traditionally a racist and homophobic organization) has reached third place in the first stage of their national elections.
In Norway, the far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik is currently on trial for the racially and religiously motivated mass murder of 77 innocent people. In St Petersberg, Russia, new laws recently came into effect banning discussion of GLBT issues and comparing them to the promotion of pedophilia.

While we should certainly mourn and spend some time contemplating those lost on April 30th 1999 in the Admiral Duncan bombing, we should also consider that, while society may be moving forward in many respects, extremism has not declined.

On the 30th April 2012, there will be a ceremony held to remember all those killed and injured in the three attacks. More information can be found on the Facebook group – Facebook group 17-24-30, and an event page too.

GAGA NEWS – Tears, Tourism and… Tarantulas?

GaGa Crying

What a tumultuous few days it’s been for the current “Queen of Pop”. As if her punishing schedule of promotional appearances and interviews in Japan were not enough, she now has to deal with accusations attacking her integrity, and a potential lawsuit.

It’s no wonder the 25 year old superstar was caught balling at the MTV Video Music Aid Japan event, organized to raise funds for the Japanese Red Cross in the wake of the catastrophic Earthquake and Tsunami which rocked both the country and the global attitude to Nuclear energy.

It has to be said that the lovely Gaga was not in fact weeping at the thought of being sued, she was in fact discussing the tragic loss of life caused by the disaster, and begging the people of the world to support the beautiful country through much-needed tourism.

Why is she being sued? It seems that a gentleman by the name of Ari Kresch, from a Michigan-based law practice has been denied access to Lady GaGa’s financial records. Oh, yes, that’s shocking isn’t it, apparently we can’t just call up demanding to see the personal and professional finances of our favorite celebrity whenever we want!

Who’d have thunk it!

On the day of the disaster, the Gaga team (does she have a team? I’m guessing so) immediately started work on the project, designing and selling charitable wristbands for all of her Little Monsters to wear in support of her beloved Japanese fans. And it seems to have raised a considerable chunk of money too, adding to what Lady Gaga herself has donated to the cause.

So, despite the fact that Gaga is worth countless millions, and is possibly already one of the most wealthy women in music, and despite the fact that she donated several million dollars to charity following the disaster, this lawyer thinks that she might have been pocketing some of the cash from the sale of charitable wristbands through her site, rather than donating the money.

Yes, that really sounds like the actions of a woman who already donated plenty of cash from her personal fortune, and a woman who routinely becomes emotional when talking about Human rights and Humanitarian causes!

Okay, if you cant sense my sarcasm at various points throughout this post just let me know and I’ll come back in to highlight the relevant lines ;)

What do I think? I think the guy should consider going after some of the real criminals in the world, instead of attacking a celebrity in an effort to grab some publicity, because with all the corruption and greed out there, perpetrated by some insanely huge corporations, I fail to see why Gaga would be a logical choice for any other reason than gaining notoriety.

I could of course be wrong, but I doubt it.

Now I suspect Arachnophiles out there will be wondering where the Tarantula makes an entrance to this post. The piano on stage at the recent Tokyo performance was “disguised” as a Tarantula. Just an interesting thing to note!

Gay? Disabled too? ABOMINATION!

Oh, the random Right Wingnuts are at it again, this time in Hazard, Kentucky. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water… (that will make sense in a couple of minutes, I swear!)

The drama unfolded in the city of Hazard when two developmentally challenged young men began larking about at the side of the pool. Apparently, they did something so disgusting! Yes, one sat on the others knee! Oh the abhorrence, Gods eyes must have bled!

They attended the pool with a group called Mending Hearts Inc, a charitable organization connecting individuals and providing services to the Intellectually and developmentally challenged. Organizations like Mending Hearts Inc provide invaluable services, offering respite and support to parents, carers and families, and disabled individuals with a vitally important path into the community.

So what happened when this apparent abhorrent behavior was spotted? In rushed a gaggle of staff who seemingly happen to be religious (these people must be trained by Ninjas, always creeping about just waiting for their homophobic moment, and then, Shark Attack! – UK readers might understand that joke more than others).

These staff obviously had nothing better to do than to upset a group of people already struggling with equality and life in general, telling them all that they had to leave. Apparently, God doesn’t like gay people swimming in his pool in Hazard Kentucky.

I kid you not, the staff member quoted the Bible and suggested that he had the right to remove them based on that. Forget law, forget the inalienable rights to Freedom and Liberty, the Bible apparently ignores all of that (as is too often the case in the translation of some) and advises that the local pool in Hazard Kentucky is not to be used by disabled gay people. I must have missed that section because I don’t recall any mention of swimming pools and recreation centers the last time I read through it.

And this is the part that really upsets me; the two young men left in tears, humiliated and simply not understanding what they had done wrong. As if the world doesn’t already seem like a baffling and unfriendly place to them, they’re humiliated and embarrassed by complete strangers and made to feel even more like outcasts on a day when fun and inclusion should have been key.

Mending Hearts Inc did what any sensible person or group facing disgusting homophobia and discrimination should, they filed a formal complaint with their local gay rights group, in this case the Kentucky Equality Federation, and in partnership they requested an apology and that the employee who removed them be transferred to another department of the STATE RUN recreation center. They also planned a protest outside of the facility to highlight the issue.

As you’d expect, this minor skirmish has brought the truly religiously insane out of the woodwork, with Jordan Palmer (President of the Kentucky Equality Federation) receiving death threats if their planned protest outside of the facility were to go ahead.

In steps the Mayor of Hazard, Kentucky, Nan Gorman, 83. And how does she pour oil on turbulent water? By being the equivalent of that racist guy who says “some of my friends are black”, stating that the Pool once hired a gay lifeguard.

Insert.Face.Palm.Here

Oh they did? Well that’s fine then, all is forgiven. There cannot possibly be anything wrong if the Center was once so open and equal as to hire one gay Lifeguard! Move along, nothing to see here after all.

When asked, Charlotte Sizemore, executive director of the recreation center, declined to comment on the incident directly because she hadn’t witnessed it. But forgive my naiveté, as head of the facility you don’t need to witness every footfall and intolerant uttering to have an opinion and issue a sensible statement. But it appears that she let slip that although she holds such a position, others have authority, stating “They don’t want us to talk about it”. Hmm, intriguing. Gagged huh? By whom?

Charlotte Sizemore added:

“We are getting all kinds of phone calls,” she said. “We’re sorry it happened. We’re just fair to everybody. … We never have any trouble here, period.”

One of those phone calls was allegedly from a blogger (NewProgressiveMuckraker) who had the balls to call Ms. Sizemore for a direct comment. Nice to offer a chance for both sides of the story, far more professional than me. But it seems the executive director had been having a very tough day, and with the words “You don’t fucking know, Fuck you!” she hung up.

Yep, them Hazard Pavilion folks are real professionals, such a classy way to hold such a coveted position in the community.

Well, clearly her more sensible statements are not correct. I may be being unfair, but saying you’re sorry it happened is not the same as saying sorry to the two guys who were humiliated and left feeling less Human than when they arrived. Stating “we’re just fair to everybody” is clearly not true, otherwise the employee would have been moved already and a public statement would have been issued clarifying the cock-up. And finally, they obviously do have “trouble” there, this story is testament to that.

I don’t know if the protest went ahead, unfortunately. I can’t find mention of it since the initial incident. I sincerely hope they get the apology they so desperately deserve, and the fact that it has been so long in coming is evidence of the lunacy and true opinions of all involved. Forget the initial incident for just a moment, because the silence since then is deafening.

Moral of the story is, reconsider who are the ones truly “developmentally challenged”.

Second moral of the story is, don’t go to Hazard Pavilion if you’re gay, disabled, or moral, nice, decent… just don’t go.

Summer Festival Prep

Following on from the last post focusing on camping, I thought it might be fun to explore the preparation for the coming festival-packed summer of fun ahead.

Whether you’re a camping enthusiast the rest of the year or prefer your breaks with a little more luxury, many of us venture out under canvas for at least a few nights in the summer when miniature cities spring up all over the country for a weekend of live music.

But of course, it’s not all about camping. There’s plenty more to consider before loading up your car and heading out hoping to relive your parents’ Woodstock stories – though perhaps with a little less chemical enhancement!

The necessities

There are a few things that we all absolutely need when we’re considering camping in a field with a few thousand other revelers, and they’re not your hair curlers or your laptop.

  • Condoms. Yes, it’s shocking, thousands of people at festivals hook up, and many go tent-hopping for the weekend. You don’t want to be caught in that predicament of really wanting that boink but having to go hunting around the festival shops at 3am looking a box of rubbers.
  • Wipes. Not all festivals have showers on site, and even when they are offered they are often out of order, very limited or far too busy. Having some damp wipes to give yourself a quick bath in your tent is preferable to having everyone around you asking what that smell is.
  • Antihistamines. Most of us travel a few miles out of town to go to these events, and some of us even leave the country for a really good festival. While you might not have allergy symptoms at home, going to a new area with different plant life and possibly even a completely different climate can often surprise you with allergic reactions. Not everyone needs it, just ensure one person in your group has some.
  • Sun Block. It might seem obvious, but plenty of people forget it, or think they’ll get it when they arrive. The next thing they know they’re waking up after their first afternoon drinking session of the festival severely burned and unable to move.
  • Duct Tape. This is a lifesaver for those who unpack their tent to find a mouse has used a corner of it to raise their young, or when they poke one of the poles through the canvas in a drunken rage of ineptitude. Once that tent has a hole, you will be waking up either damp with dew or drowning after a sudden shower. A little duct tape is all that’s needed to make it good for the rest of the trip.
  • Tissue/Toilet Paper. This stuff is like gold at a festival. Sellers know people need it and will charge extortionate prices if they have the chance. Make sure your group has enough to last you.
  • Energy Sweets. Many festivals now give these out completely free in the UK, because they know that after a day or two people tend to start skipping bands and sticking by the tent while they recover from the night before. These little sweets can be all you need to get that energy back and get into the mood again.
  • Cash. Even if the festival has a cashless system, you never know what might happen. You need to make sure you have enough cash to be able to travel at least a few miles to civilization if you absolutely have to.

Veterans advice

As someone who has been festivalling for more than nine years, I do feel like a bit of a veteran, and there are a few things I have picked up along the way which might be of use to the festival noob.

  • Bandanna. If you have ever used a toilet at a festival you will probably know this little tip. If you have a bandanna or scarf, spray a little deodorant on it and cover your face before you enter that “pit of doom” and you’ll save yourself from either passing out through holding your breath, or passing out thinking about what travels with smells. Thankfully, the Victorians worked out that smells don’t generally make you ill. But it took them a while and we’re still not totally there.
  • Valuables. Most festivals now offer a locker for a small fee. This is great, but it would be better if people didn’t bring expensive gadgets to show off. What do you need an iPhone for when a cheap disposable phone does the same? When sleeping, put all valuables inside the bottom of your sleeping bag, and make sure anyone you invite into your tent isn’t able to take any souvenirs with them when they leave. But maybe give them some underwear to remember you by if you’re that nice :)
  • Sex. Perhaps not surprisingly, most people are open to experimenting at festivals. While you could join festival websites and meet other gay attendees you could visit with on site, you’d actually not have that much of a difficult time hitting on random people. Most won’t immediately be uninterested, if only because they feel they SHOULD be more daring. They might be straight or only slightly, privately, curious in their everyday life, but at a festival something strange happens and horniness often takes over.
  • Neighbors. I have met so many fantastic and interesting people at festivals. The people who are camping around you are not just people, they are your neighbors if even for a short time. And you’re at the same event, so chances are good that you have a lot in common. Get to know them on the first day and you’ll probably find you have a very large crowd of fantastically funny people to party with for the entire stay.

Gay or straight, the festival experience is an amazing one, full of fun and excitement and new experiences. All it takes is a little common sense, an attitude of adventure and some incredible weekends can be had as a result. The summer is a time to get out there and enjoy everything there is for life to offer. Enjoy it, because very soon the snow and ice will return and we’ll all be locked up inside by the fire once again, dreaming of what we’ll do when the sun comes back.

Lesbian Guide to Camping

Whether you’re looking to rough it or plan on “glamping”, complete with proper bedding and a full kitchen, smart planning will make for a shiny happy outdoor adventure. Planning, packing and finding a queer friendly camp site to make sure your weekend in the woods is all good fun is key. You can choose gay owned or gay friendly campgrounds, look for private lesbian friendly campsites or opt for a queer camping adventure. You might also just take your chances on state parks or other campgrounds, but don’t count on a liberal and comfortable environment depending upon where you opt to camp. Options are available whether you opt for tent camping or your RV.

A good camping trip starts with planning. Consider who you’re camping with and everyone’s preferences when you decide between a tent and car-camping, a backwoods trip, or a comfy rented RV for the weekend. If she’s partial to four star hotels and you like roughing it with nothing but a bed roll, you’re going to have to find a middle ground to manage a trip that you can both enjoy. Even if you have to pack light, be sure to cover the essentials…like coffee. Most of us aren’t experienced enough for a backwoods camping trip or willing to spend the money on an RV, so need to find a campground with comfortable amenities, a welcoming atmosphere and hot showers.

If you’re looking for a lesbian-friendly campground, try gaycampers.com or campgayusa.com for listings of gay and lesbian owned or glbt friendly campsites. Keep in mind that some gay-friendly campsites are men-only. If you’re not sure, call before you plan your trip. There are a few women-only campsites scattered around the country if you’d prefer that environment. Keep in mind that some of these may be clothing optional or adult only, so might not be right if you’re camping with kids (or might be perfect if you’re looking for a relaxing and grown-up getaway). Take a look at colage.org resources forcamps if you’re hoping for a family camp out option or a summer camp for the young lesbian in your life (camps for kids with queer parents are also available).

Try an old fashioned summer camp adventure for adults, complete with swimming, arts and crafts and campfires at one of the gay and lesbian camp outs around the country. Camp Camp in Maine offers a traditional week at summer camp for gays and lesbians, while the somewhat controversial Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival remains a classic lesbian camping choice. Pride weekends around the country will offer companionship at gay-friendly campgrounds.

Ever heard of Symi?

When you think of taking a holiday in Greece, do you think immediately about travelling to Mykonos? It’s the ‘gay island’ after all, isn’t it? Well, it was the island for the party set and it still is a great place to go for sun, sea and sand of course. But there is more to a holiday than just parties and men-watching. And there is more to Greece than just sun, sea and sand.

Have you ever heard of an island called Symi? (Also known as Simi.) Unless you are a seasoned island-hopper the chances are you may not have done. But this island, called ‘the jewel of the Dodecanese’ is one of the few, genuinely unspoiled destinations for the more discerning visitor. Why? Well for a star it is not typically Greek. It has only been Greek for about 70 out of the last 1,000 years or so. It has been under Turkish rule, Italian, German, British and, back in the middle ages, it was part of the empire of The Knights Of Saint John. Because of this it is rich in history, rich in tradition and stands out as one of the least expected Greek islands to visit.

Start in the harbour of Yialos, the main port, and you will see neo-classical architecture everywhere. That is thanks to the Italian influence, during the occupation between 1912 and 1942, and previously when the island was under Turkish rule but allowed to develop and be more or less independent. You will find that the many tavernas and bars here, the hotels and family run apartments, are looked after by friendly and welcoming people who will make you feel at home, treat you as a friend and make your visit a special one.

Climb the 300 plus steps, the ‘kali strata’ to the village of Horio and there you will find an even more traditional atmosphere. There are not so many bars up there, a few tavernas of the traditional kind, some shops and many stunning views are to be found. And what makes this village special is that it has remained very traditional. There are many ruins still, along the narrow winding lanes, left over from the turbulent history of the 20th century, and it is in these lanes that you are more likely to be held up by a donkey-jam than a traffic-jam.

There is only one road on the island and it runs from the sleepy bay of Nimborio, trough the port, up the mountain and around the village. Take the bus across to the famous monastery of Panormitis, or down to the quiet, beautiful bay of Pedi and you are away from the hustle and bustle (if you can call it that) of Symi life.

Time stops still here. At least, if it has moved on then it has done so quietly. Yes, you can find internet cafés and yes the island has all the mod cons you would hope for, but the pace is slow, nothing is hurried and you can’t help but simply switch off and absorb the island. During my visit I spoke to several people who had found Symi by accident, and had fallen in love with it. They return year after year no matter what for what they call their ‘Symi fix’ and, after only a few days, I too was addicted.

Is it a gay island? Not especially, but it is one that will appeal to gay couples wanting to get away from the hedonistic bars and clubs of other islands and destinations. In fact, there are only a couple of nightclubs, though there are several late or all night bars if you are a stay-up-later. And then, in the morning, you have nothing to do but swim in the crystal clear Aegean Sea, take a stroll up to a silent monastery, walk through the inland forest, or simply sit in the village or harbour with a coffee and soak up the timeless atmosphere.

Getting there
There are several tour operators and independent companies operating on the island. The nearest airport is on Rhodes, 24 km by boat, and ferries travel between both islands each day during the summer.

Background and more information
Check out the island blog symidream.com/wp where a local author blogs on a more or less daily basis. There are photographs from the island photographer (who also has a small shop on the Kali Strata and is happy to chat and entertain as you browse the photos, cards and gallery), helpful links to the island’s history, suggestions of things to see and do, links to the travel companies, the weather and ferries, and everything you want to know about this secret paradise.

Gay and Lesbian Cruises

Cruises are a popular vacation option across the board today; however, you may find some cruises are friendlier to gays and lesbians than others. Gay cruises are chartered cruises, with the ships and crew from standard cruise lines. There are a number of factors to consider when planning to take a gay or lesbian cruise vacation.

First, decide where you want to go. You can find cruises to Alaska, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean. You should also consider how much of a priority a gay cruise is. Would you be just as happy with any cruise? If so, better deals can be had from the standard cruise lines. Why do so many gays and lesbians opt for specialty cruises? Gay and lesbian cruises offer entertainment you won’t find elsewhere, a relaxed and uninhibited atmosphere and great camaraderie. If you are traveling alone, you’re sure to make friends quickly and have a fun and carefree holiday.

Atlantis Events is one of the primary gay and lesbian cruise choices on the market today. Working with cruise lines like Celebrity and Holland America, you can find cruises to popular destinations around the world on beautiful and luxurious cruise liners. RSVP Vacations is another option in the gay cruise industry offering luxurious and fun cruises well suited to both singles and couples. While women are welcome on both Atlantis and RSVP cruises, they typically make up only 10% of the customer base for these companies.

Lesbians looking for warmth, camaraderie, and a great cruise may want to consider an Olivia Cruise. With entertainment, singles activities and speakers geared to the lesbian community, an Olivia Cruise is guaranteed to be fun. Olivia Cruises charter high quality cruise liners from Holland America for all of their lesbian cruises. Olivia offers Caribbean and Alaska cruises.

If you have children or you and your partner are looking for a quieter and less party oriented gay cruise, R Families cruises may be well suited to your needs. Gay and lesbian families will find friendship on an R Families cruise as they share the experience of building and enjoying their families. Plan ahead if you want to attend one of these cruises as they happen infrequently. Children’s activities are available for kids from 2-17 and much of the evening entertainment is appropriate for the whole family.

The Best Place for a Gay Honeymoon

Obviously this depends on where in the world you are and what your budget is but then again you’re only going to be married once, aren’t you? So you may as well make this a trip to remember. We’ve put together some unusual ideas for you to think about.

How about this for a trip to remember: Machu Picchu, Peru. There is more to this wonder of the new world than the Inca settlement in the clouds, though that in itself is a sight to see. In the town of Machu Picchu there is a hotel, the Inkaterra Machu Picchu. Set in the cloud forest this hotel features individual cabins with open fires and a first class service. There are over 1,000 species of orchids in the grounds plus a bear (release to the wild) sanctuary. But the reason I mention this place is because they can also arrange a blessing, at night around a fire, with a local Shaman. You can have your relationship blessed by the mountains, sky and earth, in traditional Inca language and style. To find out more about this trip visit Amro Holidays who specialise in gay and lesbian adventures around the world. amroholidays.com

Perfectgayhoneymoons.co.uk is another good site to search out and browse through if you are looking for ideas; they can arrange civil partnerships as well as honeymoons. Some of their suggestions include: Australia, The Caribbean and places in Europe. Greece is on their list and what could be more romantic than walking on golden sand along the shores of the Aegean where Homer sang and Odysseus sailed. Greek hospitality is known throughout the world and recently the country conducted its first civil partnership, same-sex wedding on the small island of Tilos. Nearby is the island of Symi, neo-classical in design and unspoiled this is one of the most romantic islands in the Aegean. (www.symidream.com/wp)

According to a planetout.com survey, most people they asked said they would like to visit Hawaii after their civil ceremony and wander the beaches, feel the balmy breeze in their hair and take in the beautiful scenery. The Maldives are another out of the way place to be perfectly alone, in your own cabin over the crystal clear water; just you and your partner and the sound of the sea.

Of course, you may wish to tailor your honeymoon to your preferred hobby or lifestyle: Clubbers go to the Canary Islands or Ibiza, Mykonos or London. Those who like to really chill could find hazy happiness in Amsterdam and for those for who trust is more important than monogamy there is Berlin with its late night bars, night-spots and fetish clubs. All of these places have sights to see, history and museums too so you could combine a cultural visit with some romantic dining, maybe on a canal boat in Holland or on the boulevards of Paris.

The world really is your oyster but there are things to consider other than romance. Gay and lesbian couples want to feel safe when they travel and just because your country allows civil partnerships doesn’t mean that you will be welcomed everywhere in the world. Don’t be afraid to check with your Foreign Office as to where is currently safe for same sex couples to be and take sensible precautions when out and about in public, sadly these still include visible signs of affection in many places.

But, at the end of the day, the choice is yours. In a recent poll by a gay holiday company the top destinations were:

Sydney, Australia (Mardi Gras, flights over Sydney harbour, the lonely outback…)
Rio de Janeiro (Carnival, beaches, clubs…)
San Francisco (Gay history, the bridge, the romantic hills…)
Mykonos, Greece (Sun, sea and… Well, I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination.)

Gay Summer Vacation Ideas

gay lesbian beach vacationWhile it doesn’t seem like it should be a challenge, planning a vacation can be a bit more work for GLBTQ individuals. You have your own wishes and desires, your partner’s wishes, as well as concerns about whether a given place will be safe and welcoming. You should also consider whether you want a more social vacation or more privacy during your getaway. International travel poses its own concerns, especially with regard to personal safety. If you wish to travel with a tour group, you may prefer one geared to GLBTQ singles, couples or families.

Cruises are popular options across the board, and you will find a number of options directly geared to the gay community. These range from singles cruises to couples options, and even cruises for gay parents and their children. Gay.com Cruises section offers a thorough list of gay cruising options, ranging from small and romantic cruises to party ships that are great fun for a cruise with friends. Research the cruise options available to find the one right for you and your traveling companions.

If you’re looking for a beach getaway, you’ll be pleased to know that many resorts are openly welcoming and gay friendly. The Sandals resorts now welcome same sex couples after a policy change in 2004, and many resorts actively court the GLBTQ community. Club Med also welcomes both gay couples and families. Gay.com also offers a list of the best gay resorts in the business, but do keep in mind some may not be ideal for families traveling with kids in tow, and this particular list is geared toward men.

If you’re looking for a big celebration and socialization, you have a number of options. GayDays in Orlando is one, with the chance to party and hang out at Disney and other theme parks. The Dinah Shore weekend in Palm Springs draws lesbians from across the country for dancing, days at the pool, concerts and stand up comedy. Pride celebrations across the country, particularly in San Francisco and New York City also draw travelers from the GLBTQ community.

Several resort towns are especially known as meccas of GLBTQ culture. Provincetown, MA is at the top of this list. Fire Island, New York and Key West, Florida come in close behind. Palm Springs, CA is also popular gay destination, with great resorts and wonderful hiking opportunities. Great gay friendly beaches, art galleries and clubs all make these great destinations if you’re looking to relax with your partner or perhaps meet someone new. Families will find that Disney’s theme parks are always welcoming, even if the gay resort towns have somewhat less for them.

Gay Vox Life in France

Gay Vox is a relatively new site but one which is already making waves across the internet. That’s nothing particularly remarkable these days as many sites out there come on line and become a succesGay Vox, Shirtless French mens over night. The thing that makes Gay Vox a bit more of an interesting story is that it is a French site. And not only that but it is written in French – but don’t let that put you off, I don’t speak much French and I was able to enjoy most of what it has to offer.

But what exactly is Gay Vox? Well, actually it’s several things. It’s a news and information centre for all things French and gay and worldwide and gay, it’s a guide to gay France, it’s a dating site and it’s a discussion board too. And all around the edges of all of that are interesting advertisements, galleries, links and snippets of information about gay lifestyle and health. Let’s start at the home page and work our way through:

On the home, ‘news’, page you are asked to log in, but this is not compulsory. You can still enjoy the site without being a member but signing up is free so you have nothing to lose by joining. As a member you will be able to see a little bit more and search for sexy French guys and girls looking for dates and chat, join in the forums and so on. There is also a search box for ‘Recontres’, which is what I would call ‘personals’, using this brings up pages of guys who are registered on the site but for a more detailed search there is a ‘Recontres’ section. Check the rest of the page before moving on and you’ll find links to various other sites and pages on a variety of themes: gay culture, news, articles, travel, shopping and health.

The next page along the top menu brings you a searchable database of events in and around France. Click the map to select your area and up comes the list of places, times and dates. This is a great function of you are going on holiday or taking a business trip to France; there is a drop down list where many of the themes are similar to the English: Sex-parties, Naturisme and Clubbing for example – simply choose what you’re looking for and click the area of the map you are visiting and there’s your list of things to do all laid out for you.

A more in depth description of what’s hot and what’s going on in the country can be found on the Guide page which again is image driven with a more detailed map. You could use the Forums to get into discussions about places to go and things to see, though you will probably need to read and write some French to do this. Or you could search out guys or gals near to your destination by using the personals part of the site.

Whether you speak French or not you should be able to find your way through Gay Vox and enjoy what it has to offer. The registration form is straightforward and if there are any words that don’t look familiar (many English words come from French so you may be surprised at how easy it is to follow) you could try using an on-line translator to help you along. One final thing to note, the personals database covers the entire world and not just France and French speaking countries so you are bound to find new friends who understand your language and who may even help you learn theirs. Like I said Gay Vox has become very popular very quickly and it’s easy to see why, even for non French speakers it’s a great site to visit.

The bottom line is you can basically Travel to France without being there and feel there culture.  If you have trouble with translating this site then download the Google Toolbar and just rightclick and that is the easiest way to see things in English or whichever language you prefer. You may also try Worldlingo.com which has a URL translation for pages of a site. You may also just have Google do it for you manually.

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