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!

 

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

* ISNA

* 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?

2013 Gay & Lesbian Ski Weeks

All you summer lovers please don’t hate me, but it is THAT time again. Time for us snow lovers to start thinking about all the exciting gay & lesbian ski weeks planned for 2013! 

NOW is the time you will find the best travel deals to popular ski resorts.

We here at Out & About Travel have been customizing ski packages for almost 15 years and are more than happy to assist you. 

Here is sample of upcoming gay & lesbian ski weeks: 

  • Utah Gay & Lesbian Ski Week: January 9-13, 2013
  • Aspen Gay & Lesbian Ski Week: January 13-20, 2013
  • Stowe, Vermont’s Winter Rendezvous Gay & Lesbian Ski Week: January 23-27, 2013
  • Whistler Pride Gay & Lesbian Ski Week: February 3-10, 2013
  • Telluride Gay & Lesbian Ski Week: February 22-March 3, 2013
  • Canadian Rockies Gay Ski Tour: March 16-23, 2013
  • Mammoth Mountain Gay & Lesbian Ski Week – March 13-17, 2013

 We will be updating our web site, http://www.gayskitrips.com in the coming weeks with more information. 

In the meantime be sure to email us at [email protected] for assistance planning your getaway. 

See you on the slopes! 

Desiree

Top 10 Reasons to Use a Travel Agent

WHY A TRAVEL AGENT IS IMPORTANT

One of the most asked questions I receive as a travel agent is, “Why should we book through you?” 

I can come up with hundreds of reasons, but here I have compiled the Top 10 Reasons why you should use a travel agent or, more specifically, why you should book your next trip through my agency, Out & About Travel.

You don’t have to be gay to book a trip through us, we are straight friendly too! 😉

Out & About Travel (http://www.gaytravelpros.com) is a full service, gay & lesbian, online travel agency specializing in gay & lesbian tours, cruises, adventure travel, gay ski trips, customized packages and more. I started Out & About Travel back in 1999 out of my genuine love of travel and the desire to provide the gay & lesbian community with the many options available to them.

TOP 10 Reasons Why You Should Use a Travel Agent and Book Your Next Trip With Out & About Travel

1. Save Time. I can do all the research for you when planning out your next vacation. A travel agent provides one stop shopping for all your travel plans and arrangements.
2. Save Money. I never charge a service fee and have a price match guarantee. I am also fortunate enough to have strong working relationships with travel suppliers and experience in the travel industry, knowing where to look for the best deal.

3. Personalized Service. I work for you and not for any travel supplier. 
4. Experience and Knowledge. I am always researching and reading about the latest trends in travel and great places to go. I also receive information about vacation plans before the public. Travel is my job. I will give you expert advice and my opinion.


5. Support Small Business. I started Out & About Travel in 1999, at the age of 23, and have been running my business on my own since. We are celebrating our 14 year anniversary this year. 

6. Avoid Problems. I can help you clarify the fine print on cancellation penalties and restrictions preventing problems. I am your direct contact person if a problem arises and will save you the hassle by correcting issues for you.

7. Field Specialist. I can help anyone plan a trip to anywhere. In addition, I specialize in exclusive gay and lesbian travel destinations as well as gay and lesbian friendly destinations. Throughout the years I have traveled to many popular gay & lesbian travel destinations throughout the world and have gained hands on knowledge of what is truly gay and lesbian friendly.

8. Personalized Vacations. My longest road trip, thus far, has been 3 months. I can help you route out an extensive road trip or plan a personalized vacation package through my direct experience and knowledge of travel.

9. Trust. I have been in business since 1999 and have clients from all over the world. We were one of the first online travel agencies specializing in LGBT travel and are considered pioneers of the gay & lesbian travel industry.
10. It is Free! I will work hard for you to ensure that your vacation is exactly what you want. I do not charge a service fee and have a price match guarantee. Let me do all the research, lay out the options, and book and plan out everything for you from hotel, car rental, sites to see, restaurants, events, attractions, shows, and more.


So, please, contact me the next time you are planning a vacation.

Desiree Sousa, owner of Out & About Travel, can be reached at:

http://www.gaytravelpros.com 


Call: 1-800-842-4753

Also be sure to check out our travel blog –
Gay Travel Information: http://www.gaytravelinformation.com 

It’s Marketing Not A Social Agenda Stupid

I can remember when the slogan for AMTRAK was “there’s nothing like a train”.  How far we have come since those days of innocence in marketing a train, a form of travel and what constitutes “a family”.

That was when AMTRAK was marketing itself as a more relaxing, less hurried way to travel across the USA and in particular a way for families to share a once in a lifetime experience as they glide upon silver rails across the heartland, through mountains and see things which can’t be seen by driving or flying overhead by plane.

So it is that AMTRAK has started its latest marketing campaign this time geared towards same-sex parents and their children.

Read more