Tuesday May 14, 2013
As a resident of Oregon, I've been watching efforts here to overturn the state's same-sex marriage ban with great interest. If all goes as is hoped, Oregon voters will reverse the ban when the issue appears as a measure on the 2014 ballot. I hadn't quite expected the tide to turn so quickly in so many other states, but just in the past two weeks, three more states pushed through bills legalizing gay marriage. They are Delaware, Rhode Island, and Minnesota - an interesting combination of the two smallest states in the Union and only the second U.S. state that isn't on the East or West Coast (Minnesota's neighbor, Iowa, was the first, and Illinois may not be far behind). These are exciting times in what's been a long, arduous campaign for marriage equality, and - of course - any day now the U.S. Supreme Court will hand down rulings related to DOMA and California's infamous Prop 8. Here's hoping the march forward continues.
I'm actually planning two stories on Rehoboth, Delaware - the wonderful little gay resort town popular with folks from the Mid-Atlantic region - this month, and I was saving this blog for my completion of them - one is a guide to gay-friendly places to stay, and the other on nightlife and dining. Check back in a week or two for these. In the meantime, here are some stories on beautiful little Rhode Island, home to what I consider to be one of the most underrated gay cities in the country, Providence - here's my Providence Gay Guide, plus a look ahead at Rhode Island PrideFest, which takes place in Providence on June 15. Providence has a great little scene for gay-friendly nightlife and dining - here, too, is my guide to Providence gay bars and restaurants.
I've also created a couple of little galleries on the Minnesota's Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, noting some popular gay nightspots, restaurants, and attractions. Also take a look at my preview article on Twin Cities Gay Pride - the celebration this year on June 29 and 30 will surely be extra-fun, with LGBT Minnesotans having so much to cheer in 2013.
Tuesday May 7, 2013
Friendly, historic, and increasingly hip Baltimore, the city long celebrated in the riotously irreverent films of local son John Waters, has announced a fun travel contest aimed at helping to welcome LGBT visitors. With Maryland having recently legalized gay marriage, and Baltimore long having cultivated a vibrant LGBT community as well as an eclectic and edgy arts scene, the city has launched the All Access Baltimore contest, in conjunction with its efforts to promote the city at several major queer film festivals this year (Boston LGBT Film Festival in early May, Philadelphia Q Fest in mid-July, Rhode Island Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in early August, and Reel Affirmations LGBT Festival in Washington, DC in mid-October).
The prize is quite lavish, and very fun: four festival passes to the 2014 Maryland Film Festival, which takes place May 7 to 11, 2014; round-trip Amtrak transportation for four from any Northeast Corridor station (with car service to your hotel); two rooms for three nights at the hip Hotel Monaco Baltimore, and meet-and-greet with John Waters, dinner for four at three restaurants (Rusty Scupper, Pazo, and City Cafe), VIP passes to a number of Baltimore gay bars and clubs, a behind-the-scenes Penguin Habitat Experience tour at the city's Maryland Zoo, a VIP curator tour of the American Visionary Art Museum, and a VIP tour at Sports Legend Museum at Camden Yards.
You can enter free by filling out this online form - entries just must be received by Nov. 30, 2013.
I've just returned myself from a recent trip to Baltimore, a city I've developed a strong fondness for over the years - it's really something of an underrated gem, with an amazing restaurant scene and some very cool hotels. I split my time at the absolutely swanky and fabulous Four Seasons Baltimore and the super-cool and GLBT-supportive Hotel Monaco. Here's an article on the upcoming Baltimore Gay Pride celebration in mid-June, plus my new Baltimore Gay-Friendly Hotels and Inns Guide, and a still-in-progress guide to Baltimore's Gay Nightlife and Gay-Friendly Restaurants. I also recently wrote Read More...
Tuesday April 30, 2013
Actress Mink Stole, of John Waters film fame, and sex educator and doyenne of erotica Annie Sprinkle will be on-hand to discuss films in which they appear at the nation's only LGBT documentary film festival, Q Doc, which takes place each May in leafy and lovely Portland, Oregon - the date this year is May 16 to May 19. Now in its seventh year, this four-day festival takes place at two very cool - and endearingly quirky - venues on the city's eclectic East Side, the Bagdad Theater in the Hawthorne District, and the Kennedy School hotel, restaurant, pub, and theater near the Alberta Arts District (both of these establishments are part of the GLBT-supportive McMenamins company).
Q Doc continues to grow in popularity, thanks to its pursuit of provocative, smart, and creative queer documentaries, including many that have risen through the ranks at other film festivals around the country. Eleven films are scheduled at Q Doc at this year's event, including I Am Divine, about the superstar of several John Waters movies; Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story, by filmmaker Beth Stephens and also featuring her partner, Sprinkle; and the James Franco and Travis Mathews collaboration Interior. Leather Bar.
Note that Portland Gay Pride, known officially as Pride Northwest, is also coming up soon - the dates are June 14 to June 16. For ideas about where to venture out for drinks, dining, and socializing while you're in town, check out my Portland Gay Nightlife Guide as well as the Portland Gay Guide to Hotels, Restaurants, and Nightlife in the GLBT travel magazine on the Pacific Northwest, OutCity.
Monday April 22, 2013
Civil union are now legal in Colorado - LGBT-supportive Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the act into law on March 21, just over 20 years after the state weathered an ignominious phase in gay rights history, when it passed Amendment 2, which banned laws protecting GLBT residents from discrimination (laws of this kind, at that time, stood in Aspen, Boulder, and Denver). Amendment 2 was overturned in 1996, when the U.S. Supreme Court found it unconstitutional - interestingly, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who's widely seen as the potential critical swing vote on the upcoming Supreme Court cases related to same-sex marriage rights, wrote the majority opinion.
It's not at all surprising to see that one of Denver's most gay-welcoming hotels, the Monaco (part of the fab Kimpton hotel brand), has already developed a fun contest related to the state's new civil union law. Act fast, though, as you must enter by Friday, April 26, in order to win an all-expenses paid civil union celebration for up to 50 guests - including a reception space, event planning, a honeymoon suite at the Monaco, a multi-course dinner and wedding cake created by the hotel's stellar restaurant Panzano, and several other celebratory perks - write a short story (no more than 100 words) about your romance and submit it with a photo of you and your honey to Robin Ewing at the Monaco. Up to five finalists will be selected by a panel, and then the public will vote for a winner at the Hotel Monaco Denver Facebook page, with results announced May 15.
Colorado has come a long way, as has much of the rest of the country - by my best count, there are now 20 states that have legalized gay marriage or some form of civil union legislation. Where same-sex marriage has been legalized - Maryland, Maine, and Washington are the latest states to come on board - the LGBT wedding business has quickly taken off. But even in states that have passed civil union laws, especially those that are strong on leisure tourism, plenty of weddings and same-sex commitment ceremonies are taking place. In addition to Colorado, big players include Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and California, which, of course, legalized gay marriage before it was overturned by Prop 8. Gay marriage in California seems likely to be reinstated it soon, depending on the U.S. Supreme Court decision expected late this spring.