It’s not every day you see an Academy Award-winning actress, a Top Chef, a hardcore punk singer, and a drag queen sitting at the same table watching two transgendered dancers battle it out in heels.
But that’s what happened at the W New York Union Square this week, when Jennifer Hudson, joined by Padma Lakshmi, Courtney Love, and Lady Bunny, among others, judged a voguing dance-off.
It was the city’s first look at Turn It Up For Change, a new initiative from W Hotels and the Human Rights Campaign, with Jennifer Hudson as the program’s ambassador. Each month, W hotels across the country will host concerts and DJ parties promoting marriage equality in the United States.
Las Vegas, Nevada, Wedding Capital of the World is now handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. For a city that markets itself as a free-spirited wedding destination, the change could mean big business.
In June, Marriott International launched its #LoveTravels campaign, encouraging LGBT travelers to feel at ease while staying with Marriott brands during their travels. Today, the company announced that it is broadening the message to individuals of any orientation, with an expanded lineup of celebrity endorsements such as soccer star Tim Howard and fashion maven Angela Simmons.
If you've booked a flight with Virgin America recently, you may have noticed the airline's fun new Where We Fly page, which uses artsy icons to symbolize each of its destinations.
Just in time for the city's Pride festival this weekend—the country's largest—San Francisco appears as the Golden Gate Bridge under a rainbow, with one of the city's famed sea lions dressed as the police officer from the Village People.
A new ad for Las Vegas targets gay couples...almost.
The clip, released this week and scheduled to air nationally, portrays a straight couple checking in to their Sin City hotel. The woman leaves to freshen up just as another man shows up to the front desk, at which point a receptionist asks whether the two gentlemen are ready to check in. A quick, knowing glance at each other and both men nod yes, queueing the iconic slogan, "What happens here, stays here."
Prominent LGBT rights group GetEQUAL issued its own Travel Alert to Mississippi today, as the state's legislature considers a bill that would allow business owners to discriminate for religious reasons.
Sound familiar? Just last week Arizona's governor vetoed a similar bill after massive public outcry, including several high-profile travel companies.
A growing chorus of prominent travel companies, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest, and Marriott International, are pressing Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto Senate Bill 1062, the recently passed legislation that would allow businesses to deny service for religious reasons. The bill is meant to protect religious freedom, but would effectively legalize discrimination of religious minorities and LGBT individuals.
Both American Airlines and Marriott International—joined by the Arizona and Greater Phoenix Chambers of Commerce—have written letters (see here and here) to Governor Brewer outlining their concerns over the bill. Delta issued a statement yesterday, available here.
Marriott's regional Vice President Steve Hart and Director of Government Affairs Thomas Maloney believe that if enacted, SB 1062 would “undermine—or worse, counteract” the brand's efforts to boost revenue, particularly from business travelers.
Choosing where to go for your next vacation can be a tricky—though rewarding—process. Beach or mountain? Luxe or affordable? But as last week’s Why We Travel post detailed, a slew of the world’s top destinations outlaw homosexuality, leaving LGBT travelers with a more basic question of where they can (and should) and cannot (and should not) venture.
How to choose? Here are a few pointers:
Safety first: Upwards of 70 countries worldwide criminalize homosexuality. And public perception of gay individuals can be abysmal even in places without draconian sodomy laws on the books. Russia, for example, has seen a spike in hate crimes recently despite its relatively mild anti-gay laws. The takeaway from the first Why We Travel poston Sochi’s Olympics applies anywhere physical violence is a real possibility: LGBT travelers, especially same-sex couples, should exercise discretion.
My recent Why We Travel post discussed the potential risks of traveling to the Sochi Olympics in the wake of Russia's new anti-gay law. But the Duma is far from the only legislative body on earth enacting prohibitive policies against LGBT individuals.
The list of countries with draconian laws includes many of the expected players: Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria call for the death penalty as punishment for homosexual activity. In Bangladesh and Guyana, life imprisonment awaits transgressors. Yet these countries are not exactly top destinations for most Americans. So however they may feel about the laws, US travelers are unlikely to base their vacation plans off of them. A travel boycott by Americans to the Solomon Islands, where homosexuals face up to fourteen years in jail, is unlikely to hold much sway.
Even as excitement grows for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, news over the games has been dominated by controversy. Just last week the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert to Russia. Much of the fuss over the past few months—and one of the six “risks” outlined by the travel alert—pertains to Article 6.21, a country-wide anti-gay law in place since June.