Taking Children From Their Homes: Russia Introduces Bill To Remove Gay Parenting Rights

“Waves of protests surrounded Vladimir Putin’s return to power as Russia’s President in March 2012. Since then, parliament has passed so many new laws restricting civil liberties that some people now call it the ‘mad printer.'”

– Amnesty International Wire (Amnesty.org)

Russia’s Civil Liberties Record: Getting Worse and Worse In Word & Deed

“Everything you add to the truth subtracts from the truth.”

                                                                          – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

According to the Associated Press, Russian State Duma Deputy Zhuravlev (Putin’s United Russia Party/parliamentary caucus) is introducing a law making “nontraditional sexual orientation” viable grounds to remove child custody for LGBTQ parents.

In the draft bill for this proposed new law, Zhuravlev wrote:

“Following the letter of the law that forbids propaganda of non-traditional sex to minors we must restrict such propaganda not only in mass media but also the family… if one of the child’s parents indulges in sexual contact with persons of the same sex, the damage to the child’s psyche is immense as a mother or father serves as an example for their offspring.”

Additional grounds for denial or revocation of parental custody include alcoholism, drug abuse or any amount or type of drug use deemed inappropriate, which has nothing at all to do with gender, sexual orientation or law-abiding families established in-place, having committed none of these substance-related offenses.

Here we see yet another instance of punishing allies in addition to homosexual persons, as once passed, this bill would affect families and children who aren’t even LGBTQ-identified. Custodial rights could then be revoked if both or either parent were gay (out or not), so if two parents happen to have an understanding in their relationship, share post-divorce custody, etcetera, the parent who happens to be gay can be penalized, or a child can be taken away from one or both parents for any so-called ‘homosexual-affiliated’ reason(s).

As it is already illegal to mention homosexuality around children or to advise or counsel LGBTQ or questioning youth. This recent unfortunate move is thought to be the next step in Russia’s plans to eradicate gay tolerance, inclusiveness or protections altogether for LGBTQ persons, friends, allies or families.

At this point, though the bill is to be debated before it is formally passed, it seems such motions are little more than a formality. Russian lawmakers keep clinging to the through line that their anti-gay motions and laws are being instituted to protect the children, rather than being anti-gay.

Putin has already banned LGBTQ people residing in other countries from adopting Russian children, and as of this writing, the Russian government is also considering reinstating a gay blood donor ban.

Though boycotts and protests are occurring worldwide, even Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge is throwing his hands up in the air, saying Russia will not change their minds or policies in terms of its anti-gay legislation, and Rogge’s sharing little more on the matter.

Rogge told the press, “…one should not forget that we are staging the games in a sovereign state, and the IOC cannot be expected to have an influence on the sovereign affairs of a country.”

Activists, lawmakers, PR representatives, athletes, spokespeople and officials can make all the claims they want leading up to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, but we won’t know who’ll be arrested or how LGBT people or allies will be treated (both on arrival, during the events and while attempting to leave Russia) until it’s too late.

Many LGBTQ folks (like Johnny Weir) are Russophiles and/or have Russian spouses or partners. Have you been to Russia? Did you love it? If so, how do you feel now that Russian policymakers are passing all of these awful anti-LGBT laws?


Remember The Alamo, And How It’s A Little Bit Homophobic

Planning a trip to the Alamo anytime soon? Nationwide, people are remembering the city where it’s near but not for positive reasons.

LGBT grassroots social justice organization GetEQUAL Texas recently issued a travel advisory warning for queer people wanting to visit San Antonio. In its official statement, the advisory includes a warning that, “The city of San Antonio does not currently protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (“LGBT”) people from being legally ejected from their hotel rooms or other places of public accommodation.”

The reason is twofold. The first came after attendees at a city council meeting on August 16th booed a gay marine for advocating for a non-discrimination ordinance that is in front of its council for consideration.

Eric Alva, a gay Marine and a Purple Heart recipient who lost his leg during combat in the Iraq War, spoke in front of the San Antonio council that Friday. He testified that the seventh largest city in the U.S. was the only major city in Texas and the country without a non-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in city employment, public accommodations, housing, city contractors, and appointments to boards and commissions. An audience of around 300 people booed and hissed Alva after he said, “Without this ordinance I can be denied from applying for a job or thrown out of an establishment, regardless of if I’m a purple heart recipient or a wounded warrior.”

Alva was shocked and upset at the reaction of the crowd. Opponents to the ordinance demonstrated outside of the city hall before the measure, riled up after radio talk shows and webpages claimed that the ordinance would be used to discriminate against Christians who opposed same-sex unions and homosexuality on religious reasons. After the crowd’s negative reaction, he exclaimed, “To all you people that preach the word of God, shame on you because God loves me, like the day I laid bleeding on the sands of Iraq and that’s why he saved me!”

The second reason comes from secretly recorded anti-lgbt comments made by San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan released just after the meeting.

In a May 21 meeting, a former aide to the councilwoman recorded a conversation of Chan where she called homosexuals “disgusting” and said they shouldn’t be able to adopt children. Chan has made her views clear from the start that the recording was an infringement of her First Amendment rights, that the meeting was closed-door and meant for freedom of expression, but that hasn’t alleviated peoples’ concerns of the city or its reactions to lgbt issues.

Alva and others have disagreed with the travel warning, saying that the city as a whole is welcoming to lgbt individuals and that it is a safe place. Mayor Julián Castro said that, “This advisory unnecessarily stands to hurt the city. The fact is that San Antonio always has been and remains welcoming to all.” Some say that the alert doesn’t mean much, that visitors will still go to the city and it won’t affect their travel plans. Supporters of the alert cite discrimination at the hands of the city council and their unwillingness to meet with lgbt groups and talk about political issues.

The city’s non-discrimination ordinance will be put to a vote September 5th, and the travel alert will expire September 6th, although GetEQUAL Texas assures that it could be extended.

As long as you avoid angry-looking conservative Christians and aren’t someone who’s sacrificed body parts for the freedom of this country, you’ll be more than fine on a romantic vacation to the Alamo.

Hey Hey Hey, It’s Disney’s Gay Days! – LGBT Weekend Travel Getaways

Know Your LGBT (Disney) History

 “’While Disney does not sponsor the event, the company accommodates any large group,’ said Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman. Disney quietly cooperates with Gay Days, such as by selling meal packages with rainbow Mickey cookies. Gay Days started in 1998 with 2,500 people unofficially gathering in Disneyland. Groups had protested and boycotted Disneyland, saying the event was not family-friendly. But large-scale, organized protests have been absent for several years.”

– Sarah Tully, for The Orange County Register

In spite of marked recent controversies,the years-long “unofficially official” tradition of Disney’s Gay Days continues to thrive.

In Anaheim, California, home to Disneyland, Gay Days attracts tens of thousands of people each year (well over 30,000 in 2013), while in Orlando, Florida, Gay Days attracts hundreds of thousands.

Ever quietly and unofficially gay-friendly, the Disney franchise enjoyed a “coming out” of sorts this year as the Walt Disney World resort ushered in George Kalogridis as its first openly gay president. The California and Florida Disney’s have always been somewhat distinguished from one another (hence California’s Disney parks didn’t receive much flak from protesters), but with the welcoming in of Kalogridis (prior president of California’s Disneyland) changes are in motion.

Too, the new president is planning more gay-inclusive luxury vacation bundles, trips and soirees for the discerning Mousekateers in the building.

What that means for you, dear sun-seekers and vacation lovers, is more LGBT-inclusive play, perks, and parks! CA to FL vacation packages for Gay Days vaycays? That’s just gotta be in the works, dontcha think?

Gay Days continues to book the best entertainers, so mark your calendars now: planned performers and festivities for Anaheim alone include drag diva extraordinaire Miss Coco Peru, “Glee’s” Alex Newell (Unique), DJ Kimberly S., and An Intimate Conversation with Tabatha Coffee.

Gay Days aren’t all just fun and games—there’s chill time scheduled with each itinerary as well. Event planners will hook you up with luxuriant brunches, exclusive concierge service and affiliated spa deals, because unwinding is a must. January Disney Resort sea cruises are also in the works. Loving that.

The newly-launched Gay Days Las Vegas (held in September)  speaks to the continued success of and ongoing demand for more LGBT-inclusive and family-friendly events at Disney and beyond.

Of course, Orlando events are better than ever, virtually unaffected by recent attempts at inciting controversy.

Gay Days aren’t just for boys. Tours and parties are always planned exclusively for women, men, and of course “Bears only,” in addition to the main events.

Yes, We Are Still Family.

 “Evan, Alix and Jamie had a great time with their moms at Disney World on June 5. They loved Disney’s afternoon Celebrate a Dream Come True parade, which they watched right up front, by the castle. Thousands of gays and lesbians and their families surrounded them. ‘That was really awesome and empowering,’  [An attendee said.] ‘The kids really felt part of the bigger picture.’ For the Couchman-Spencer family, the only controversy about Gay Days was how long to stay. The kids got tired. By the time Disney’s big nighttime electrical parade was over, the family had been at the park for 12 hours.”

– John Cloud, for Time Magazine

No, “One Million Moms:” Gay Days events are not Greco-Roman orgies (on what planet would that happen during “Disney time?”). Kids get to meet Mickey and Minnie accompanied and supervised by LGBTQ parents and families without encountering homophobic scrutiny, and that’s a beautiful thing.

So pick a city and book your trip. True: you’ll encounter the obligatory rainbow-sprinkled souvenirs, have your corny and kitsch quotient filled up to the brim for the year, and most of all you’ll have a lot of whole-hearted, “Goofy” fun.

For more information, visit the links below.

Gay Days Las Vegas –  September 3-9, 2013

Gay Days at Disneyland Anaheim October 4–6, 2013

Gay Days Orlando June 3-9 2014

Queens in the Kingdom: The Ultimate Gay and Lesbian Guide to the Disney Theme Parks

Gay Days & Girls Gay Days are a time-honored queer tradition. Therefore, we are ordering you, “fam” and friends to go forth and party. Do not refuse us—this is an order!


Protests Against Russian and Its Olympics Opening Dialogues About Its LGBT Community

After many years of protesting by the small but active lgbtq activist community, the international community is finally taking notice of human rights abuses and homophobic laws and prejudices rampant in the chilly country. A lot of it has to do with momentum around the Olympics, and the potential effects (or not) that protests will have.

A Kremlin-supported law passed Russia’s parliament, and was then signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, back in June that placed a ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” with jail time and harsh fines. In the view of the Orthodox Church, this is meant to promote traditional family structures and spur “Western European” advances into Russia, but to many others it seems intended to continue fostering a hostile atmosphere for lgbt people within the country. While police—not to mention the native population—already target queer individuals, this is another way for government forces to overcome its dissenters with swift police action.

Recognizing this public injustice, what started out as a small demonstration of protest has sparked nation-wide activity here in the United States and abroad to the United Kingdom boycotting one of the few Russian exports: Vodka.

It started when activist and author Dan Savage called for gay bars and supporters to boycott Russian vodkas, specifically the most prominently known Stolichnaya, or Stoli, Vodka. Since then, bars in West Hollywood, Chicago, NYC, and elsewhere have pulled Stoli from their shelves, dumped it into the streets, and are refusing to sell any more until the political situation changes abroad.

A statement was issued by the CEO of Stoli, Val Mendeleev, who reiterates that the company “has always been, and continues to be a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community”  and cites initiatives and projects that partner with the queer community, like being the official vodka of Miami Pride and it’s “Be Real: Stories from Queer America” documentary series. Further, Mendeleev cites that the vodka sold in the U.S. is owned by SPI Group, based in Luxembourg, and while it does use some Russian ingredients, it also has distilleries in Latvia, and has been in disputes with the Russian government over brand ownership for years.

Another who argues against the protest is foremost Russian lgbt activist Nikolai Alekseev, who asks “what is the aim of this boycott?” “To be honest, I don’t see the point in boycotting the Russian vodka,” Aleksev continues. “It will [not] impact anyone except the companies involved a little bit. The effect will die out very fast, it will not last forever.” Rather than this economic protest, Alekseev sees a more useful pressure placed on lawmakers and political leadership who supports anti-lgbt measures.

Vodka may not be your drink of choice, so a better protest for you might be the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Controversy began after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was reviewing allegations that queer athletes and tourists in the country for the games would be targeted because of the new law. After receiving assurances from the government that this would not be true, the response from the Russian government apparently flip-flopped, announcing that foreigners would be under the same scrutiny while in the country. Human Rights Campaign Vice President for Communications Fred Sainz said in response that “until there is formal action to repeal the law, it applies to everyone within Russian borders. It ought to be clear to the IOC that verbal assurance from nameless Russian officials will do nothing to protect LBGT Olympians, visitors, and personnel during the Sochi games.”

So another round of protests was announced, this one calling on athletes and governments to protest the event. U.S. groups have asked the country to not participate, and for athletes to not go in order to make a statement to the country.

However, several individuals and groups have spoken out against these methods, citing more effectiveness at dealing with issues at the Olympics than simply protesting.

The Russian LGBT Network, on their Facebook page tells lgbt supporters, “Do not boycott the Olympics—boycott homophobia!” by exercising their freedoms of expression and to not censor beliefs or actions just because of the actions of the government. To openly disagree with Russian policies would send a stronger message activists said. They point to the 1968 Olympic games where although many boycotted the event, all that is remembered is Tommie Smith’s and John Carlos’ “human rights salute” on the podium to stand in solidarity for those fighting for equality and human rights.

Greg Louganis, one of the world’s greatest divers who also happens to be a gay man, spoke out against what a boycott would mean for Olympic athletes. “Boycotts hurt the wrong people, [the athletes.” He argues that it would be selfish of the queer community to disrupt such an important event for world athletics.

Doing his part in the activism, a gay speed skater from New Zealand, Blake Skjellerup, reports that he will be wearing a rainbow pin in the Sochi Games, and calls on others to do the same. “I have no interest in going back in the closet in Sochi… This is not about defiance, this is me standing up for what I believe in.” He agrees with Louganis, saying that “I think visibility is the best possible solution, as opposed to hiding away and not attending.”

Attacks on Queers in Haiti Show Religious Intolerance

The most recent homophobic attacks in Haiti show a determined part of a country that is trying to be more open to tourism.

A mob of dozens of locals attacked a private party where a British man and his Haitian partner were celebrating their engagement with friends. Several people were injured in the private residence, where the mob set fire to cars and threw Molotov cocktails and rocks through windows. The French News Agency AFP reported that police were alerted and arrived last-minute to break up the mob in order to prevent the engagement arty from being killed, which was the intent of the rioters.

After the terrifying incident, Charlot Jeudy, an official from the Haitian group Kouraj (Courage), stated that, “This is a criminal act and homophobic. There is no justification for this kind of attack on people in a private residence. Hopefully the justice authorities will react to the perpetrators of this act.” Kouraj is an activist group working to protect lgbtq people and their human rights in Haiti.

The British man identified himself only as Max, a member of the Red Cross, who did not want to speak of the incident for fear of identifying and making vulnerable his partner.

Almost expectedly, this attack didn’t come from nowhere. The fact is that some political and religious leaders are seeing the world become more tolerant and accepting of queer people and are trying to prevent the same equal sentiments from taking a great foothold within Haiti.

Back in July over 1,000 people protested in the capital, Port-Au-Prince, demonstrating against any legal rights that could be extended to lgbtq people. The protests were started by the Haitian Coalition of Religious and Moral Organizations and were reported to be hostile and threatening toward queer people and the government if it allowed legislation to be brought forward that would legalize same-sex marriage. The president of the organization stated at the rally that, “God does not agree and nor do we because we rely on God, and because we saw the misfortunes it brought to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

The protests came after watchdog groups cited a growing amount of violence toward lgbtq people in the country. On July 31 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a UN body, condemned “the recent wave of violence” that it linked “to the protest against homosexuality led by the Haitian Coalition of Religious and Moral Groups.” The body also urged the government to investigate 47 cases of “violence and discrimination” against members of perceived members of the queer community in Haiti, including two who were viciously attacked during the protests.

Many are surprised at the violence, with an official from SEROvie, an foundation that promotes human rights of marginalized people, stated that, “I am quite surprised at the violence coming from [Haitian] people who we thought were tolerant. We don’t know where all this hatred is coming from.” Especially to reach tourists and promote a welcoming country this news won’t reach many on a happy note.

The lgbtq community in Haiti has always been small and inconspicuous. That was until the 2010 disastrous earthquake which increased discrimination against queer people. A report by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reported that Haitians blamed their fellow queer citizens for their “sinfulness” and bringing about the wrath of God. The report continued that “loneliness, invisibility, and social isolation are persistent problems” with no relief in sight.

Hopefully that can all soon change, or that at least the Haitian government will make a statement against those responsible for the attacks and show their citizens and those they want to recruit for tourist dollars that they are willing to stand up for equality and human rights.

Why Are You Trippin’? Choosing LGBT-Friendly and Inclusive Travel Options

Where In The World Is…

Summer’s still in full bloom, and there’s still plenty of time for carving out some sweet getaways, whether or not you hook up with a sweet travel agent. Where do you want to play today?

And… are you sure about that?

Choose Your Own Adventure

You’ve seen all the advertising hoopla before: “Come fly with us.” “Queers welcome here!”

Rainbow flags go up, and you trust you’ll be well cared for on your “gaycay,” so all you’ll need to worry about is, perhaps, simply having the best “vaycay” ever.

Queer travelers’ tales can be a hit-and-miss kind of deal. We’re not here to share horror stories, but to provide better, more affirming options for you.

The last thing you want on a honeymoon voyage, a BFF’s night out, or a romantic weekend rendezvous is to see scowling waiters, resentful concierges, easily-offended hotel managers, or even B&B owners who “don’t dig your friends’ vibes,” especially when you have an honest to goodness question, need or desire as a paying customer.

So, are LGBT-owned companies best? Or, is “gay-friendly” acceptable enough for you?

The truth of the matter is, you should always follow your gut.

Just because a lesbian friend of a friend owns a business, they may or may not be ethical, or they may be gay-friendly in theory but not in practice. Or, maybe they’re open to gay travelers, but not trans* travelers. And just because your Yahoo search unearths a keyword-friendly link to a major airline or travel planner doesn’t mean “gay-friendliness begins here.”

What’s a roaming soul to do? Take some extra time, if you can make some of it.

 LGBT-Inclusive Travel Options

Where to begin? First, ask questions.  Make a call or post a question on a timeline in a forum.

Scroll and stroll through a few of the options here, and if time permits, be sure to do at least a little sleuthing before making plans. Visit not only an official homepage, but find Yelp, Yahoo and Google reviews, see if you kind find some blog posts about the business, and you might even check out Twitter or Facebook timelines (not just posts, but visitors’ and customers’ feedback).

A quick click tip: check out amenity offerings in advance: if you find a hotel isn’t hooking you up, make sure you “fight for your right to party” (mini-bars aren’t just for straight folks).

A Word About Transgender and Intersex Travel

Because there are less folks (so far!) who proactively hang out Transgender Pride pink-blue-white flags alongside those rainbows, a bit of creativity is required should you want to plan before hitting the road, and if you want that extra vote of trans-inclusive confidence.

We’re preaching to the choir here, but trans folks are most concerned while traveling at home or abroad when it comes to medical care. Trans vacation-goers: be sure to have copies of all documentation you feel comfortable bringing, especially when traveling abroad.

Take extra supplies, supplements or items you need for personal and medical care, and get situated with the paperwork ASAP, so you can relax into the pleasure of traveling.

Though lived experience for trans folks changes exponentially by the day, finding trans-friendly or trans-owned companies with trans-exclusive or best interests in mind is harder. You can check out some of the LGB resources below, too.

But for more trans-inclusive options, it’s best to ask around, and consult folks and/or online destinations that have a history of solid trans advocacy and helpful advice, along with LGBT places such as:

* TS RoadMap Int’l

* Laura’s Playground Forums (FTM and MTF)

* Sparta (Military folks are often experienced travelers


* The Brown Boi Project

* Ask local (or closest, or in-state/country) LGBT or PFLAG center/groups

* Gender.org US State-by-State

* Search LGBT Housing resources in the area (by default, you’ll get a better feel for environments)

* Find trans-friendly or LGBT-friendly advice that comes directly from a governmental source (e.g. this one from the UK)

* Surf Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube, and ask questions – tons of indie trans groups and bloggers pop up all the time.

Also again, like with all else, follow your instincts.

Though the sites above don’t specifically have to do with travel, trans* folks share many empowering resources, and connecting with folks online or in trans-specific support groups or health-care focused groups is invaluable for all kinds of referrals, including travel spots, the most trans-inclusive travel agencies, or places, what’s most cool, amazing or best avoided, and how keep safety in mind.

LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Alternatives

For Bi Folks

If you desire bi-specific travel experiences, you can review some more general resources below (such as centers and the like), or inquire with bi-affirming support groups or forums, as it’s not yet common for folks to hang out an “Open” sign for bi-only travel experiences. You can find that information with a bit of investigation, or by approaching an out, bi travel agent or bisexual travel-related business owner (check your local or state-based LGBT chamber of commerce or business directory).

The Random Factor: Pick A Pride, Any Pride

If you’re not sure exactly where you want to go and have a hankering to explore, you might just want to plan a trip to a Pride event in a new city or country. Interpride’s got you covered.

If you’d rather have a walkabout, look for destinations in larger metro areas (preferably ones that hold yearly pride events and/or are near colleges, which tend to attract more diversity-aware business owners, for financial reasons, at least).

Got a little extra cash? Then search for LGBT-only and LGBT-specific travel groups, agencies, and travel agents (not just travel packages, which may or may not diversity-minded).

A couple of recommendations: Olivia,  IGLTA or Out-Adventures.com. (Al and Chuck Travel, for example, is a gay-owned branch of another company, and often has to negotiate LGBT travelers’ experience around a main travel group’s preferences—you don’t just have the cruise ships to yourself or your group).

Also check out:

* Airbnb (search for “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” and more—don’t just click go but read and talk to the owner(s) first

* Craigslist (yes, you can still find more than just bootie calls there.)

* Dinah In Color

* Gaydays.com, Gaydaysanaheim.com

* Spiritjourneys.com

* Damron.com

* Rfamilyvacations.com

* Kimpton LGBT Guest Loyalty Perks

* Sweet

* PurpleRoofs.com

All told, if someone’s going to be n “LGBT-unfriendly” jerk—or worse—you can’t control it.

But you can, with a little forethought, try to better the odds, and you can always control your actions and reactions in the face of discrimination.

The point of traveling (beyond that kind you need to or have to do) is all about the frolic, comfort and joy. So, “go and get you some o’ that!”

Happy Travels.

Would you rather know for sure that your travel agent is family? Does that even matter to you?

Friendly and Happy International Travel

Planning a trip? Want one that will make you feel absolutely gay (as well as in the happy gay sense)?

Then you might consider going to some of the gay-friendliest and most satisfied countries around the globe.

Spartacus, an international gay travel guide, released a “Gay Travel Index” that rates over 130 countries in the world on their laws and attitudes toward lgbt travelers. Some positive categories rate “Anti-discrimination legislation,” “Marriage/Partnership,” and “LGBT-Marketing,” while some negative categories include “Anti-gay laws,” “Murders,” and “Death sentences.”

The countries scoring in the top 10 were Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. Make a trip out of all ten!

The only country from North America listed high was Canada, which was also the first country outside of Europe to legalize gay marriage. It scores high in all categories, but loses a point because of its restrictions on immigrants with an HIV-positive rating: although it does not require people who are visiting Canada on short-term visas to get tested, it is mandatory for anyone intending to stay for over six months and, if positive, individuals can be refused permission to immigrate.

Uruguay, from a divided South America on lgbt issues, should rise higher on the list after its passage of gay marriage earlier this year. In fact, the only thing holding it back is that it has almost no marketing toward lgbt individuals.

The United States scores low, ranking 38th with Thailand, Mexico, and Italy. The reasons for its low score include a high “Religious influence” that is anti-lgbt, and that in some instances, the locals are considered hostile. This ranking might change quite considerably after the reversing of critical sections of the Defense of Marriage Act, though compared to progressive and liberal Scandinavians, we still have a lot on which to work.

While the country overall doesn’t rate high, compared to other countries on the list individual states score within the very top. New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut dominate the list because of their openness and progressive laws. North and South Carolina, Utah, and Alabama bring up the bottom because of legal and social feelings about lgbt individuals. So travelers who are looking for lobster, gay beaches, and upscale lodges for skiing know where to look.

This list corresponds positively with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s “Better Life Index” around the topic of Life Satisfaction, with Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Canada making it to the top of the countries surveyed there as well. “Life Satisfaction” is measured in this survey by how people “evaluate their life as a whole rather than their current feelings.” These top countries have a close satisfaction level between the sexes, have higher education levels, and day-to-day are more satisfied with their experiences. The United States in this survey scored fourteenth, higher than average in all categories.

So this summer, get away and find someplace accepting and fabulous for all of your lgbt travel needs. Gallivant through Europe, salsa in South America, or stay close to home in destinations within the U.S. or Canada.

You can find the Gay Travel Index here  and the results of the Better Life Index here  where you can manipulate the indexes to find which countries best match the important factors in your life.

Pride Boost Economy

“Every city should have a pride!” says author and GayAgenda writer Jason Shaw, “Not only for the entertainment and celebration aspects, but also because it can financially benefit a whole region” he says as he looks ahead to the UK’s forthcoming north east festival that is estimated to boost the Tyneside economy by around £1m.

Last year, Newcastle Pride attracted around 23,000 visitors for the one day event held in Newcastle’s Exhibition Park, with people coming from all over the not only the north east, but also from around the United Kingdom. Some people came to enjoy northern hospitality from as far away as Sweden, Holland and Italy. “There are a number of Pride events in the UK and the major ones attract large numbers of people, both from the local population, but also from the rest of the UK as well as Europe. Many of these visitors don’t just come for the Pride event itself, but also to have a mini holiday, staying on average at least three or four days in the city, this brings in much needed funds to the hospitality industry of the local area as well as giving a boost to the wider community.” Jason explains.

The organisers of this years North East Pride believe their line-up will bring in even bigger crowds to Tyneside – giving a huge boost to hotels, restaurants and bars across the city and beyond. Initially they had planned to move to event to Leazes Park, however it has now been decided to keep the July 20th event at the remain at National Exhibition Park to ensure the expected large numbers of festival goers can be accommodated.

“We’ve every indication that this year will be even more successful,” said Peter Darrant, chair of Northern Pride, which stages Newcastle Pride. “We’ve got a fantastic list of performers and have extended the range of activities and we hope that people from across the region will come and join the LGBT community for what will be an incredible event.”

“We know people travel from across the UK to come to Newcastle Pride and we have estimated the economic value to the area, based on last year’s spend, to be around £1m for the 2013 event.”

Headlining the entertainment at this year’s event will be a finalist from the UK’s X Factor TV show, Amelia Lily, along with the sensational 1980’s original punk/pop star Toyah. Other acts appearing in the line-up include Steptastic, Katrina of the Waves and Titch, who recently supported Olly Murs on tour.

Newcastle Pride will also a health zone, a cabaret tent, sports arena, trans zone, dance tent, tea tent and a funfair to ensure a good time is had by all. For the first time this year Newcastle Pride will also be running a family zone with a range of activities and advice from organisations such as leading adoption agencies. “Pride events are great fun, they show off our diverse community to the wider world, encourage closer cooperation and links between communities and boost the income of the city or region that hosts them – so its a win win situation for all concerned.” Jason added.

Pride Events Scheduled Around U.S.


From May to October, 2013


While Pride has been traditionally associated with the month of June, some cities are starting as early as Memorial Day weekend and culminating in mid-October during Columbus Day weekend, coinciding with National Coming Out Day.

For a more complete listing, please see http:www.gaycities.com/events/guides.


Atlanta, Georgia Aquarium, October 11 (kickoff Party), Pride Festival, Piedmont Park Festival Grounds, October 12-13.

Boston Pride, Festival at City Hall Plaza, May 31-June 9, 2013.

Chicago Pride, May 24-25, 2013 and June 22-30, 2013

Dallas Pride Festival, September 14-15, 2013

Denver Pride, Civic Center Park, June 12-16, 2013

Houston Pride, Montrose, June 21-30

Key West Pride, June 5-9, 2013

Las Vegas Pride, Clark Co. Gov. Center, September 6-7, 2013

Matinee Las Vegas Festival, Memorial Day weekend, 2013

Los Angeles Pride, June 2-9, 2013

Napa and Sonoma, Ca., Gay Wine Weekend 2013, June 14-16, 2013

New Orleans Pride, French Quarter, June 21-23, 2013

New York City Pride, June 15-30, 2013

Philadelphia Pride, Wednesday, May 29, 2013  

Portland Bear Town 18, BearWrecked, Jupiter Hotel, June 6-7, 2013

Portland Pride, Tom McCall Waterfront Park, June 15-16, 2013

San Diego Pride, Hillcrest, Jul. 12-14, 2013

San Francisco Pride Parade:  Market Street Festival: City Hall Plaza, June 22-30, 2013

Washington, D.C., Capital Pride, Wednesday, May 29, 2013





Hawaii Bed & Breakfast Found Exclusive By Judge

Lesbian Couple Not Welcome

A lesbian couple from Southern California were asked to leave the Aloha Bed & Breakfast in Honolulu, Hawaii after requesting an overnight room with one bed in 2007.  Phyllis Young, the B& B owner, turned them away after she asked  Diance Cervelli and Taeko Bufford if they were planning on sleeping in just one bed together.  Young said she was uncomfortable accommodating gay people in her home because of her religious views and claimed that only married couples can book rooms.

The Couple Sues in 2011

Cervelli and Bufford sued Aloha Bed & Breakfast for discrimination.  Said Cervelli, after the ruling, “in my past experiences in Hawaii, people have been so friendly.  It was just hurtful.  It made me feel we weren’t good enough,”  Lambda Legal represented the couple. The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission also joined the lawsuit to protect and enforce the state anti-discrimination law.

The Judge Rules

Hawaiian First Circuit Judge ruled in favor of the lesbian couple and said the expulsion was an act in clear violation of the state’s public accommodations law. This law prohibits business owners from discriminating against customers based on race, color, religion, disability, and sexual orientation.

Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Peter Renn commented “you can roll up the welcome mat when you see a lesbian or gay couple, just as you can’t refuse to do business with Jewish customers, African-American customers, or disabled customers. Commission Executive Director William Hoshijo said “the court’s decision is based on Hawaii’s strong state civil rights laws which prohibit discrimination.  When visitors or residents are subjected to discrimination, they suffer the sting of indignity, humiliation and outrage, but we are all demeaned and our society diminished by unlawful discrimination.”

Lawyer for Aloha Bed & Breakfast

The attorney representing Aloha Bed and Breakfast, Jim Hochberg, claims his client’s decision is protected under her First Amendment rights, and laws governing businesses have no place in his client’s home.” However, the judge’s ruling doesn’t seem to stop Young from planning on repeating her actions in the future.  She told the Hawaii Human Rights Commission that homosexuality is “detestable” and “defies our land.”