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Andrew Collins

Andrew's Gay & Lesbian Travel Blog

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Baltimore Holds 3rd Charm City LGBT Film Festival in late May

Tuesday April 22, 2014

Baltimore, famous among queer film buff as the hometown of legendary camp director John Waters, started its own LGBT Film Festival in 2012, and this event is continuing to gain in popularity. Now in its third year, the 2014 Charm City LGBT Film Festival is coming up soon, set for the weekend of May 29 through June 1. Five films are screened over the weekend, with full-access passes costing $60 - call the box office (410-276-1651) to purchase tickets. Individual screenings are $12 each. The movies showing this year at the festival are Ian Harvie Superhero, about the eponymous transgender standup comedian; Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow; Gore Vidal: the United States of Amnesia; Free Fall; and Fire in the Blood.

Keep in mind as well that Baltimore Gay Pride takes place the following month - the 2014 dates are June 20 through June 22. For more on visiting this underrated, friendly, and affordable city less than an hour's drive from Washington, DC, check out the Baltimore Gay Bars Guide and Baltimore Gay Hotels Guide. Additionally, the Annapolis Gay Guide has tips and recommendations for planning a relaxing weekend here in this historic city a short drive from Baltimore.

New Exhibit Veils Philip Johnson's Connecticut Glass House in Foggy Mist

Tuesday April 15, 2014

Easily reached by a 70-minute Metro-North commuter train ride from Grand Central Station in Manhattan, and just a 45-minute drive from New Haven, the iconic Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, was completed in 1949 by renowned architect Philip Johnson, who spent weekends in this striking, glass-walled structure with his companion, David Whitney, until their deaths in 2005. The house is part of a complex of seven noteworthy buildings in the heart of New Canaan's tony downtown - it's across the street from the Metro-North station, and 2007, it's been open for tours under the aegis of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, whom Johnson left the property upon his death. Tours include not just the Glass House but the surrounding outbuildings and pastoral grounds.

From May 1 through November 30, 2014, an unusual exhibit - Fujiko Nakaya: Veil - will literally transform the Glass House. For about 10 to 15 minute each hour, the house will be enveloped in a dense fog, at times completely vanishing. Visitors touring the interior during these periods of mysterious mist will experience the house and the leafy grounds with a startling new perspective. Visiting the Glass House makes a fun and easy day-trip from New York City, and you'll find several excellent cafés and restaurants nearby within walking distance, making it easy to combine your adventure with brunch or an early dinner before returning to Gotham.

Provincetown Film Festival Set for June 18-22

Tuesday April 8, 2014

Correction: A previous version of this blog post listed the PIFF dates as June 17-23, but organizers have since shortened schedule.Provincetown

Since its relatively modest beginnings in 1999, the Provincetown International Film Festival (PIFF) has developed into a tremendously interesting and diverse cinema showcase with considerable national and international acclaim. Held in late June, PIFF has announced the dates this year, from June 18 through June 22, which is just as this historic town at the tip of Cape Cod launches into its festive and busy summer high season.

Provincetown has been one of the world's gay resort playgrounds for decades, and although PIFF doesn't bill itself an LGBT fest per se, there's always plenty of queer programming, and a slew of gay notables have appeared at the festival over the years, including John Waters, Gus Van Sant, and Greg Araki. This year, legendary director David Cronenberg will be on hand to receive PIFF's annual Filmmaker on the Edge Award. The festival's film schedule and a full calendar of events will be released in late May, and you'll be able to buy tickets to specific showings as of May 24. Already, you can buy festival passes now at the PIFF website.

A New Guide to GLBT Hotels and B&Bs in or near SF's Famed Castro District

Monday March 31, 2014

San Francisco's legendary gay neighborhood, the Castro, doesn't have a huge selection of lodging options, but there are several genuinely noteworthy and inviting places to stay, from upscale gay B&Bs to the long-running Beck's Motor Lodge, which is in the midst of an impressive room redesign. The latest guide to gay accommodations on the site, the San Francisco Castro, Mission & Hayes Valley Gay Hotels Guide, as the name suggests, actually includes several properties in other neighborhoods west of downtown (where you'll find most of the city's larger properties) and somewhat near the Castro, including the hip Mission and Hayes Valley districts.

Coming up soon are companion San Francisco gay hotel guides - one of them on SoMa (South of Market), and a much more extensive one covering the best places to stay downtown and in the Financial District. Also, be sure to take a look at the San Francisco Gay Bars guide for ideas on where to drink and nosh in the city.

New LGBT Property, Hotel Gaythering, Enjoys Rapid Success in Miami Beach

Monday March 31, 2014

Since its February debut in South Beach, the nation's newest LGBT-oriented accommodation, the Hotel Gaythering has been earning raves for its cheeky and sexy decor (and a website with some quite sexy and provocative photography). Located on trendy Lincoln Road, just a couple of blocks west of section that's pedestrian-only and lined with diverting shops and restaurants,  the 25-room hotel boldly styled rooms with black, gray, and red color schemes, and plenty of fun elements and amenities - 40-inch mounted HDTVs, free WiFi, sleep-sound machines. Guests have full use of a coed spa with Hamam/Mud Lounge, steam room, dry-cedar sauna, and Jacuzzi with massage jets. And there's a hip little coffeehouse on-site, serving Miami's iconic Bustelo Gourmet espresso drinks.

If you're headed to Miami, give the Gaythering a look - a search for rooms in May showed rates starting a little under $200 nightly with advance (non-refundable) purchase, and about $219 otherwise.

Halston and Warhol Exhibit to open in May at Pittsburgh's Andy Warhol Museum

Monday March 31, 2014

Whether or not you're especially into art, or even pop art, or even pop-art icon Andy Warhol, I strongly encourage you to check out the superb Andy Warhol Museum the next time you're in Pittsburgh. It's a cleverly laid-out journey through the openly gay artist's life. Situated on the city's North Side, which is also home to the edgy and provocative Mattress Factory Art Museum, this 8,000-square-foot building contains plenty of compelling works and memorabilia related to pop culture throughout the '60s, '70s, and '80s. (Here's a guide to the North Side along with some of Pittsburgh other most distinctive and inviting neighborhoods.)

Opening May 18 and running through August 24, "Halston and Warhol: Silver and Suede" takes a thoughtful look at these two friends and mutual fans, who both played a vital role in the trajectory of both art and fashion during the second half of the 20th century. The museum has organized this exhibit with Halston's niece, Lesley Frowick - on view will be about 40 Halston creations (including the famed Jackie O pillbox hat) displayed alongside paintings, videos, and photos by Warhol.

For advice on where to stay while you're visiting, check out my Pittsburgh Gay Hotels Guide, which includes a handful of LGBT-owned inns within walking distance of the Warhol Museum as well as several welcoming hotels elsewhere in town.

Movoto.com Survey Reveals Gay-Friendliness Attitudes of 16 Major U.S. Cities

Monday March 31, 2014

The popular real estate site Movoto.com has published an interesting survey on its blog, which contains all sorts of great demographic information about the United States, aiming to give a sense of how Americans from all over the country view different aspects of 16 major U.S. cities. Participants in the survey were asked to rate each of the following cities on a scale of 1 to 4 on a bunch of fairly simple but intriguing characteristics - such as cleanliness, hipster appeal, quality of food, attractiveness of both women and men, promiscuity, and several others. The 16 cities in the survey are: Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, New York City, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Phoenix, Miami, Houston, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and Philadelphia.

One category surveyed is LGBT friendliness, which yielded what I found to be somewhat predictable results, but there were some surprises. Keep in mind that the results show the collective opinions of Americans throughout the country, not how residents of each specific city views itself. The cities deemed the most gay-friendly (based on the percentage of respondents who rated them either "LGBT-friendly" or "somewhat LGBT-friendly" were Boston (70%), Los Angeles (82%), Miami (75%), Read More...

Previewing April and May Gay Pride Events

Tuesday March 25, 2014

WinnipegAlthough June is by far the "season" for Gay Pride around the world, with more cities hosting their events during this month than any other, the spring months of April and - especially - May do see quite a few festivals and parades. Here's the latest, recently updated calendar of April and May Gay Pride celebrations, starting with the first of three "Diversity Weekends" in Eureka Springs, Arkansas the first weekend in April to such popular gatherings as Pensacola Memorial Day Weekend, the still-new but increasingly popular Puerto Vallarta Gay Pride, Albuquerque Pride, Cincinnati Pride, Washington DC Black Pride, and several others that fall toward the end of May.

Other major destinations holding their Pride celebrations in April and May include Miami Beach, Phoenix, Sao Paulo, Raleigh, Northampton, New Hope, Long Beach, Brussels, Buffalo, and Winnipeg.

For more on Pride events later in the year, check out the June Pride Calendar, July Pride Calendar, August Pride Calendar, and Autumn (September through November) Pride Calendar.

David Bowie Retrospective to open in Berlin May 20

Tuesday March 18, 2014

Fans of queer-revered glam rocker David Bowie may want to head for Berlin this summer. The city's stately Martin-Gropius-Bau, near the centrally located Potsdamer Platz and a short walk south of the leafy Tiergarten, will host this much-celebrated David Bowie exhibition from May 20 through August 10 - perfect timing if you happen to be in town to partake of the Berlin Gay Pride Parade and Festival/Christopher Street Day observation on June 21 and June 22, or the annual Lesbisch-Schwules Stadtfest (Lesbian and Gay City Festival), held the weekend before (June 14-15). You can learn more about both these Berlin Pride events here.

The audio-visual-intensive Bowie Retrospective will feature more than 300 pieces of memorabilia related to the illustrious career of this iconic 67-year-old singer, songwriter, and actor. Expect to see everything from eye-popping costumes to handwritten lyrics to original instruments. This Bowie exhibition launched in London in 2013 and has also made stops in Toronto and Sao Paulo (where it ends a run this week). The Retrospective will move from Berlin to Chicago (Sept. 20-Jan. 2015) and Paris (March-May 2015), before wrapping up in Groningen, the Netherlands, from December through March 2016.

New Same-Sex Santa Fe Wedding Guide Released as PDF

Tuesday March 11, 2014

Same-Sex Santa Fe Wedding GuideIn recognition of New Mexico recently having legalized gay marriages, local editor and writer Laura Andre has created an extensive and thoroughly well-researched Same-Sex Santa Fe Weddings Guide, which is available online for $4. 99 as a 90-page PDF file. It's packed with 50 photos and dozens of recommendations for businesses in Santa Fe eager to help same-sex couples plan their big day. Santa Fe, which elected its first openly gay mayor (Javier Gonzales) earlier this month, has long been among the most gay-friendly and inclusive small cities in the country, and given that it's also a hugely popular vacation destination, the affectionately nicknamed "City Different" is poised to become the Southwest's premier gay wedding getaway.

I lived in Santa Fe for much of the previous decade and return a few times a year, and I find Andre's guide spot-on, written with the authority of a true insider. She lives in Santa Fe with her wife, Candace Walsh, whose memoir Licking the Spoon I blogged about last month. As it's a PDF file, readers can link directly to the websites of more than 300 businesses and other wedding-planning resources. There's a helpful opening section on the basics on obtaining a marriage license. Additionally, you'll find recommendations on just about every business you might need to create your special event - including all sorts Read More...

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