Tag: Blog

Can you help Crimson Moon, the ‘Cheers’ of Delaware? / GayCities Blog

Can you help Crimson Moon, the ‘Cheers’ of Delaware? /

GayCities encourages you to stay safe during the Covid 19 pandemic. If you choose to travel, we recommend that you follow all CDC Travel Guidelines and adhere closely to all local regulations regarding face coverings, social distancing and other safety measures.

Crimson Moon Tavern in Wilmington, Delaware
(Photo: @crimsonmoonde/Instagram)

GayCities is committed to helping LGBTQ places to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Today’s highlighted GoFundMe, in partnership with GayCities, is for beloved neighborhood gay bar Crimson Moon Tavern, at Crimson Moon Tavern, 1909 W 6th St, Wilmington, DE 19805.

The venue has been running for just over 12 years and is the only such venue in the Northern Delaware area. It has a video bar on the first floor, a dance club on the second, and a private deck, and hosts popular drag shows and other events. Regulars compare it to the bar in Cheers, because of the friendly welcome you’ll get!

Throughout history, LGBTQ spaces have served as crucial sanctuaries for queer people to safely be themselves. Once thriving bastions of social advancement for the community at large, today, many of them are on the brink of closure.

That’s why we’ve set up a donation fund to help #SaveOurSpaces. Head here for more info and to donate.

Former model Carey James on the best clubs to enjoy in post-pandemic Berlin / GayCities Blog

Former model Carey James on the best clubs to enjoy

GayCities encourages you to stay safe during the Covid 19 pandemic. If you choose to travel, we recommend that you follow all CDC Travel Guidelines and adhere closely to all local regulations regarding face coverings, social distancing and other safety measures.

Carey James, retired model and host of the Failfighters podcast

Think of Carey James as a modern male Dorothy Gale.

Like the Wizard of Oz heroine, Carey started life in Parsons, Kansas, before traveling to fantastical lands populated by colorful characters. His journey began in Los Angeles where he pursued a modeling career while earning his psychology degree. From there he Yellow Brick Road-ed across the globe, adventuring in the major metropolises of Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hamburg before settling in Berlin.

Now he’s applying his psychological savviness into his podcast Failfighters while navigating Germany’s strict quarantine.

In order to glean a global perspective of queer culture outside of the US, we kiki’ed with Carey about Berlin, surviving during the pandemic, and the benefits of failing.

A glimpse into Carey’s LA modeling days

How is Berlin dealing with the quarantine? What is open?

Germany is pretty hardcore on restrictions and lockdown. Angela Merkel is pretty tough about this stuff. We’re in full lockdown, meaning nothing is open. They closed down all the stores, all the restaurants. The only things open are the grocery stores or necessary places like the post office. That’s it.

If you know anything about Berlin, it’s an old decaying former half communist/half western mash-up. It’s an old, piece of shit city. But the beauty of this city is its people, and nightlife, and art scene, and start-up scene. That’s all completely dead now. It’s a shell of what it once was. There’s no crazy sex clubs going on, no wild raves in the parks, no start-up competition.

When the city reopens again, where do you suggest gay tourists hit up?

Tempelhofer Feld is this old abandoned airport in the center of the city. It’s now this huge green space. People go there and have parties, and sports, and markets. It’s really interesting.

The rest is all nightlife.

Kit Kat is the craziest public sex club in the world. There are plenty of private ones I’m sure are better than it, but it’s the one that if you had a friend in town, you would bring them to see someone get $%^d in public. It’s full of all kinds of crazy people.

And then there’s Berghain, which is like the most popular club in the world.

Yeah, I hear Berghain is hard to get into.

When I first visited Berlin in 2017, a girl I was hanging out with at the time said, “Let’s go to Berghain and see what happens.” On the website, they say don’t dress too crazy. You gotta be all goth-ed out. So we did, and when we got to the bouncer she said something to him in German. He looked at me and let us in. It was no big deal. I’d say, it helps to go in small numbers of cool people that speak German. And it doesn’t hurt to have a dominatrix-looking chick with you, too.

Well played. Now let’s talk about your podcast Fail Fighters. What motivated you to start that podcast?

I was working with a friend that started an event series that celebrated the art of failure. He invited successful people to come talk about the times they screwed up. It went well, and I’ve been doing voice-over for the past 6 years, so it made sense to put the two together and interview some cool people.

Why do you think it’s important to fail?

There is no true winning without failing first. You have to learn the lessons to get to the point of seeing real success. The only thing permeant in life is change. If you can figure out how to change and always come out on top, that’s real success. The only way to get there is to get your ass kicked a few times.

 

I feel that. Covid has been kicking our asses for about a year now. In your professional opinion, what would you advise to stay sane during quarantine?

The pandemic is a mental health crisis. I know a lot of coaches and people in the personal development industry. I was talking to one of them and his client went crazy. Not drugs or anything, she just went crazy. Like talking to trees and stuff. She was totally normal outside of the pandemic. But if you put someone in solitary, it’s the cruelest punishment you can give someone. It’s what they do to guys in prison for fucking up. They put them in a little box by themselves. And that’s how millions of people are right now. It’s fair enough that they are going insane.

The online space is different, the means of connection is different, but if you make the most out of it and are proactive you can do a lot of cool things. Last week, I was supposed to visit my friend in Holland. But, it got fucked up. We had to get Covid tests, and there were border problems, and it just fell apart. So we were like, fuck it we’ll do dinner together over Zoom. It was the best 2-hour dinner we could possibly do. You have to make an effort. It’s not like you are going to run into your friends and things will be planned. The best way to get through this is to fill your schedule with activities. Always have something to look forward to, especially things that involve other people.

 

It’ll be a lot easier once everyone is vaccinated. I don’t know if you’ve been following, but in the US it’s become incredibly politicized. How is that in Germany?

In Berlin, there are fucking Neo-nazi groups protesting in the streets. There is hardcore shit going on here. Right-wing conservative nazi groups are getting more attention than they used to get. I’m not really paying attention to that, being locked away all the time, but I know there are arguments over who should be vaccinated first. The government needs to get their shit together and get more doses. They’re actually talking with Russia about their Sputnik vaccine. It’s usually America that’s the leader in the world, but they’re fucking everything up. They’re not doing so well. Usually Germany would buy everything from America, but here they are cutting deals with Russia.

Well, I hope Germany pulls it together so your city can reopen. What will be the first thing you want to do in Berlin once quarantine is lifted?

Party like a fucking animal for two or three days straight. There is no better place in the world to do that than in this city.

Ten sexy men from across the globe to whet your appetite for a return to travel / GayCities Blog

Ten sexy men from across the globe to whet your

GayCities encourages you to stay safe during the Covid 19 pandemic. If you choose to travel, we recommend that you follow all CDC Travel Guidelines and adhere closely to all local regulations regarding face coverings, social distancing and other safety measures.

This month photographer Liam Campbell celebrates five years of traveling the world, meeting a diverse range of local men, and showcasing them in the magazine Elska. While the Coronavirus pandemic, when travel is limited, he reflects on travels past and fantasizing about travels to come.

Here Liam shares exclusively with GayCities some of the most sexy and interesting men and moments from the past five years.

Juan C (Bogotá, Colombia)

When coming up with this list of ten unforgettable men and moments from a project where I’ve so far photographed nearly five hundred guys, the first person to come to mind was Juan. Not only is he one of the best friends I’ve made during my Elska travels, but our shoot was also one of the most insane. We started at his place, shooting some nude photos in his at-home recording studio (Juan is part of the group Los Rombos) and then took a walk around his Bogotá neighborhood for outdoor shots. Around halfway through our session, cops decided to come over and ask what we were doing. We were in a public place, with no permission or permit required whatsoever, but they decided to use the opportunity to intimidate us for their amusement. This included them taking the camera and looking through the photos, including Juan’s nude images, and then laughing amongst each other and taunting us with comments that I did not have the Spanish language skills to understand. It was incredibly frustrating but it did not have the intended effect to humiliate us whatsoever. We left with our heads held high, and perhaps this was what created a bond of friendship that continues to this day.

Anzie V (Mumbai, India)

Mumbai is one my favorite cities, but it’s also incredibly chaotic, crowded, and absolutely massive. Anzie worked in the city not far from Colaba where I was staying (definitely one of my favorite neighborhoods in Mumbai), but he lived a fair distance and commute away. So he asked if it might be okay to stay the night with me so that we could shoot in the evening and then he could go straight to work the next morning. Trying to be kind, especially in a culture where I’d come to discover how hospitable the locals are, I agreed. However, as much as I try to keep a professional mindset, sharing a bed with this insanely hot guy was a bit of a challenge. I barely got an hour’s sleep all night with all the nerves over whether I might “bump” into him in the night, or embarrass myself some other way. Everything turned out fine though, and the next morning we took a few sunrise shots in the area, followed by coffee, and then another brief interrogation by a local cop. This time, however, I didn’t have any of the indoor pics still on the camera, so there was no teasing to endure.

Ky S (Yokohama, Japan)

When I started Elska I just wanted a way to combine my love of photography, men, and travel, but over time my work started to have a broader meaning, such as increasing visibility, promoting diversity, and breaking stereotypes. One of the things I noticed early on was that much of LGBTQ media tends to lack diversity, and where it exists, it can be laden with misconceptions. Ky here definitely was one to break stereotypes about Asian men.

Taras D (Lviv, Ukraine)

The first Elska issue I ever created was in Lviv, Ukraine. It was a city I chose mainly because I personally was interested in visiting it (I gave a lot of focus to Ukraine in my master’s degree), and also because it’s a really cheap country to travel in. Certainly, it wasn’t the sort of city you’d probably select as the first destination of a gay magazine, but it’s a place I fell in love with, mainly for the beautiful people and the proliferation of brutalist ugly-pretty buildings, which I adore. In particular, there are many abandoned buildings and ruin sites throughout the country. For our shoot, Taras took me to a former Soviet army mess hall, hidden on a hill within a small urban forest. In much of the world, such places are fenced off for concerns of health and safety, but in much of post-communist Europe, you can still sneak inside and nobody cares. It was one of my favorite shoot settings ever. I’m quite tempted to return to Ukraine one day for more of the same, perhaps to the capital Kyiv next time.

Raj B (Dhaka, Bangladesh)

Another one of my favorite ever shoots was with Raj. As a Hindu living in a majority Muslim country, he suggested we meet in Tanti Bazaar, a mainly Hindu part of Old Dhaka. To say the area was busy would be a major understatement, and it was a huge challenge to photograph Raj amongst the hustle and danger of oncoming people and rickshaws. But it was also one of the most unforgettable afternoons of my life. I followed him around as he took me through various narrow alleyways, paused at street stalls for snacks I’d never tried before, guided me onto various rickety boats for short rides along the river, and even tried to give me a tour of a big pink palace (unfortunately they wanted an exorbitant entry fee for me as a special ‘foreigner price’ that sent Raj into an bit of a mild rage – I appreciated his efforts though). If I ever find myself in Dhaka again, I want to return to that pink palace, but next time I’ll get the tickets and Raj won’t be able to get upset about it.

Will T Jr (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

It’s become a sort of tradition that in every city I visit I end up crushing on one of the people I meet. Nothing ever comes of it, I’m a happily married and boring gay man after all, but it usually causes me some nervousness and awkwardness. I’m not sure if Will noticed since he’d never met the ‘normal’ me, but the crush I had on him was so severe that I was a complete mess. I was so clumsy that I did one of the worst photography jobs ever (though fortunately, I took so many shots that there were still enough good ones to use) and I was so bumbling that I started telling ridiculous dad jokes even though that’s something I never do. I suppose that was my way of impressing him? Maybe it worked actually because at the end of the shoot he invited me out. Of course, I said “maybe” but I knew I wouldn’t ever turn it into a yes. As much as I liked Will, I would have just made a fool of myself.

Raph R (Manila, Philippines)

Another one of my crushes was on Raph in Manila, but in our case my awkwardness was tempered by the fact that we could not stop fighting with each other. As soon as we met, Raph pegged me as some kind of white colonizer who would look down on Filipinos as ‘exotic’ or ‘third world’. I suppose in reality he knew I was not like that, but he tested me by throwing all sorts of arguments my way, which due to my love for playing devil’s advocate, I ended up arguing right back in the ugly American role (is there a British version for this term?). I think this impassioned mood is what led to one of the most inspired shoots I’ve ever done. I shot him naked climbing over bags of coffee (his family runs a coffee roastery), doing acrobatics in front of his bathroom mirror, and playing with depth of field in his dark blue bedroom amongst these little smiley cut-outs he had hanging from the ceiling. Raph and I stayed in touch, and through that, I noticed that our previous fighting was just banter. Even so, if I ever meet him again, I look forward to arguing some more.

Nathan T (Perth, Australia)

One of my main values for Elska is that anyone who wants to take part is welcome and that there’s no casting procedure that prioritizes celebrities. However, celebrities are still people, and after all these years it’s natural that a few famous guys found their way into my work. Yet while Nathan here isn’t really a celebrity, for me he was the person who made me feel the most starstruck in my life. Nathan had appeared on a certain TV baking competition, and I was a big fan of him and the show. Because of this I ended up following him on Insta, and then to my shock, he followed me back. Then when I announced I was coming to shoot an issue in his native Perth, he was up for taking part. I was ecstatic, but also slightly concerned that he’d want to use the opportunity to promote his career, when really the goal is to showcase the ordinary side of each person. However, he was completely on the same page, and so the story he wrote gave no mention of his reality TV past. In fact, this may be the first time I’ve even mentioned him and his celebrity status.

Ashley S (Cape Town, South Africa)

One of the most interesting aspects of doing my work is discovering how different societies behave towards queerness. In lots of places, men often don’t want to do the indoor part of the photoshoot because their parents or flatmates don’t know they’re gay, or perhaps they just feel awkward having a stranger in their home. London and Seoul were some of the worst places in this regard. One of the best though, perhaps surprisingly, was Cape Town. I’ll never forget when I was shooting Ashley and his boyfriend in his bedroom that Ashley’s mum kept barging in to offer us coffee, biscuits, a sandwich, or just to ask a question. The same was true in Mumbai, where numerous times a mum or grandma would interrupt a photoshoot to bring tea. There was no shame, no embarrassment, just a really open household that I wish all queer people had the fortune to experience. And in this case, I was all the more glad because Ashley’s mum really made a mean cup of coffee.

Temelalj C (Taipei, Taiwan)

Every person who takes part has the option to shoot clothed, nude, or both. The first part is out in the city and the second at home, but occasionally I meet some rather brave and crazy men who fancy stripping off out in the open. Temelalj was one of them. We met at one the Taipei’s university campuses, and although it was a Sunday morning, it wasn’t completely devoid of people. Temelalj was determined though, perhaps he had a naked outdoors fantasy to live out, so he led me around to the back of one of the science labs, where he thought it would be quiet. There he did a quick look around and then stripped off to nothing. At first I tried to be quick, but soon we both sort of forgot about the nudity, that is until a family happened to walk by. They barely seemed to react though, but we made our escape at that moment anyway, just in case.

Liam Campbell is editor and photographer of the indie print mag, Elska. For this project, each issue is made in a different city and features a random selection of around a dozen ordinary local gay / queer men, each photographed in their city and at home, and each accompanied by a personal story. This month the project marks its fifth anniversary, so far comprising twenty-nine issues in twenty-nine cities and nearly five hundred photographic subjects.

Issues of Elska Magazine are available, both in a limited edition print version and in an e-version. Signed art prints, annual subscriptions, and a behind-the-scenes bonus zine called Elska Ekstra are also available.

10 sexy guys from one of the world’s top portrait photographers / GayCities Blog

10 sexy guys from one of the world’s top portrait

GayCities encourages you to stay safe during the Covid 19 pandemic. If you choose to travel, we recommend that you follow all CDC Travel Guidelines and adhere closely to all local regulations regarding face coverings, social distancing and other safety measures.

UPDATE: Due to the Coronvirus pandemic, it is not considered safe to meet up with strangers quite yet. However, there’s nothing wrong, as they say, about looking at the menu as long as you don’t order. These regular guys, handpicked for shoots around the globe, will help you fill in the time before it is safe to venture out and about again.

The photographic subjects for this article were hand-picked by Liam Campbell from the first four years of the magazine project, Elska, to celebrate the magazine’s anniversary last year.

Liam generously agreed to share them exclusively with GayCities along with a bit of behind the scenes commentary on some standout moments.

Aarash K (Mumbai, India)

I often site Mumbai as my favorite city. It was uncomfortably hot, crowded, and simply overwhelming, but also unforgettable and full of some of the most lovely people I’ve ever met. One of the participants offered me dinner with his family, another invited me to the beach after our shoot, and pretty much all of the guys’ mothers and grandmothers were bringing me tea when I came over to shoot. Aarash’s session was particularly memorable though. We started by me getting on the back of his moped so he could tour me around potential shoot locations, then he took me to a café for afternoon tea, then we went to meet his friends, and I almost managed to stay along for dinner if I didn’t have to get to another shoot. I never felt so welcome as in Mumbai, and I can’t wait to return to India one day.

Kolbeinn H (Reykjavík, Iceland)

Conducting a photoshoot out in the middle of a city is interesting enough as jobs go, but when it’s only 2 degrees outside and the subject is half-naked, you really have to pinch yourself. Somehow Kolbeinn managed to neither look cold nor to lose his focus even as the wind howled and as traffic started to slow to watch. It was a Sunday morning and apparently, it’s a popular pastime for older Icelandic couples to cruise in their cars along the harbourfront. They got a somewhat more beautiful view than usual that morning.

Tammie B (Los Angeles, USA)

Over the years, Elska’s become known for not featuring models and celebrities, but it’s never been the case that these people weren’t welcome. It’s just that these sort of people don’t often see the value of a little indie arty publication like this one. Before I got to LA I knew that it was possible I’d end up meeting some celebs just because they’re such a part of the fabric of the city. A couple of them turned out to be egomaniacs, and unfortunately, their shoots had to be canceled when their demands for trailers and MUAs showed a huge misunderstanding of what I am all about. Of course, some celebrities are still human, and that includes the surprisingly down-to-Earth Tammie Brown. When I got to his house he greeted me with a big hug, put on a pot of coffee, and then toured me around his rather ordinary neighborhood hotspots, including the local 99c store and a little playground where he played on the swings as I snapped the camera. It was such a sweet day.

Myeongjin K and Y.E.S (Seoul, Korea)

One of the most incredibly fun and exciting cities I ever visited was Seoul, but it was also perhaps the most difficult place to shoot. Despite over ten million people and the biggest gay scene in Korea, the number of men who were out, or out enough to feel comfortable being published in a magazine was tiny, making it very hard to find guys for the issue. Furthermore, there was this ludicrously oppressive standard of beauty that the men seemed to be subjected to, meaning that even if they wanted to take part, they kept insisting they were too ugly or uninteresting. I tried to reassure them, but they weren’t listening to me. Luckily with the help of some local LGBTQ activists (like Myeongjin here on the right) and a few local drag queens, the word managed to spread and we made it a success. Korea is opening up more and more, but it’s a slow process.

Nikolas L and Pieterjan V (Brussels, Belgium)

It’s always a pleasure to meet a couple. Even though there’s some difficulties getting two people to coordinate for a photo, the results of seeing a happy loving gay couple in their home environment are worth it. One common challenge is that one half of a couple tends to be shier than the other, meaning you constantly have to pause while the couples argue about what to reveal, and this was definitely the case with this Brussels couple. At first, it was easy because the shots were very simple – them sitting on the sofa together, having a laugh, drinking tea – but then when we moved to the bedroom it got tricky. Let’s just say that Pieterjan (the one on top) got a little bit frisky, and although I tried to shoot what was going on for a while, eventually my natural shyness took over. I ended up putting my camera away and sneaking out, and left it to my imagination what happened next.

Sonwabo S (Cape Town, South Africa)

When Elska started I wanted each of the issues to be really different from the one preceding it, so I tried to choose cities that were geographically or demographically diverse. However, my choice of locations was also subject to a really tight budget. It took some time but eventually, we managed to save enough funds to shoot an issue on every continent (except Antarctica), including Africa, which was somewhere I always wanted to go. Sadly, Africa is one of the most difficult places in the world to be gay, and a lot of the region is simply too unsafe for me or for the participants due to incredibly high levels of social and political homophobia. South Africa however, and particularly Cape Town, is safe, free, and is a real beacon of hope for all queer Africans. I can’t wait to get back to Africa, even if it’s to another city in South Africa. Johannesburg maybe?

Marcin Z (Szczecin, Poland)

One of the things I like about photography is the spontaneity of the images. I like to treat each photoshoot like a documentary, leaving it up to each participant and to the mood of the moment where we shoot, how we shoot, and what he wears or doesn’t wear. Due to social differences between cities, naturally we end up with some issues that have a lot of nudity (our two Latin American issues, Guadalajara and Bogotá, have the most) and some that have very few guys who want to bare all (two of our Nordic issues, Reykjavík and Helsinki, have the least). Although I enjoy going with the flow, I did get a bit annoyed at how shy everyone in Helsinki was. That’s why a few days later on a side trip to visit friends in Berlin I took my camera on a day trip to the Polish city of Szczecin. When I arrived I turned on a gay dating app and started messaging strangers to ask if they wanted to do a shoot and story for us. Two guys agreed straightaway – Beniamin and Marcin – both of whom weren’t the least bit shy. So I ended up adding them to our Helsinki issue and looked forward to one day doing a full issue somewhere in Poland. Stay tuned for that.

Daniel D (Los Angeles, USA)

While it’s not our biggest seller by any stretch, our Los Angeles issue is truly one of the best, both for the hard work the men put into their stories, and especially for the photography, which just somehow flourished under the California sun. Photography is technically all about using light, something that Daniel here, a photo-artist himself, understood well. I remember sitting in his kitchen, happily chatting but also aware that he seemed to be killing time. Eventually, I asked if we should get started, so he went over to look out the window and said, “Yes, the sun is in the right place now.” He then took me up to his bedroom where at that moment the sun was streaming through his blinds, creating a zebra light effect. I quickly sat him in the mix of sun and shadows and starting clicking the camera.

Yosh N (Yokohama, Japan)

I definitely can’t make a list of my favorite moments without mentioning the Yokohama issue, which I shot along with my husband serving as an assistant and designated bag-carrier. My husband is kind of a Japanophile, and he used to always bring up stories from a business trip he once took to Yokohama, which is Japan’s second-largest city. I imagined that if I ever did an issue in Japan, it would be Tokyo or Osaka, or maybe even Sapporo, but I ended up going for Yokohama, in part to surprise him and invite him along. We ended up having a great time but of course, we also did a lot of work dealing with some of the shiest people I’ve ever met, Yosh here being a happy-go-lucky exception. Making an issue in Japan has its challenges, but it’s also super fun.

Gabriel P and Mario A (Bogotá, Colombia)

Another of my absolute favorite issues to make was our trip to Bogotá. It was truly one of the most stereotype-breaking places I’ve been. I remember how horrified my grandmother was when I told her I was going there, after which she started to tell me horror stories that I presume she stole from episodes of “Narcos.” In reality, Bogotá is one of the coolest and gayest places I’ve ever been, and quite safe too in my experience. But the people really are what made it special. They were some of the most open and up-for-it I’ve met, including Mario (the one in front), who I was meant to shoot alone, but when I casually asked his boyfriend Gabriel if he wanted to join rather than sit staring at us from the sofa, he promptly undressed, wrapped his arms around Mario, and looked right into the camera. Magic.

Victor UK (London, England)

Ok, so I meant to give my top ten images, but I’m adding one more. Consider it an ‘honorable mention’ bonus shot. London is my hometown, and when I shot our Elska London issue it was my first time back in the city after moving to the USA two years earlier. Unfortunately, it became one of the most unpleasant experiences I’ve had – the schedule was just too busy, the commuting and crowds exhausted me, and frankly a good number of the guys I met were moody AF. This isn’t really a surprise if you’re used to London, but I guess I sort of forgot after the time away. Anyway, Victor was a total ray of sunshine in an otherwise grey experience. If it wasn’t for him I’d have probably jumped into the Thames. Cheers, Victor!

Liam Campbell is editor and photographer of the indie print mag, Elska, a project that involves traveling around the world, getting to know some regular local guys, and introducing them and their city to the world through honest photography and personal stories. This month the project marks its fourth anniversary, so far comprising twenty-four issues in twenty-four cities and more than four hundred photographic subjects.

Issues of Elska Magazine are available, both in a limited edition print version and in an e-version. Signed art prints, annual subscriptions, and a behind-the-scenes bonus zine called Elska Ekstra are also available.

Five great reasons to ski or ride in Salt Lake City this winter / GayCities Blog

Five great reasons to ski or ride in Salt Lake

GayCities encourages you to stay safe during the Covid 19 pandemic. If you choose to travel, we recommend that you follow all CDC Travel Guidelines and adhere closely to all local regulations regarding face coverings, social distancing and other safety measures.

Looking for a socially distanced break? Utah’s ski and snowboard resorts are open, including Salt Lake’s four world-class resorts—Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude—and ready to welcome experts and beginners alike. On and off the slopes, Salt Lake (a.k.a. Ski City) has everything winter revelers would want to enjoy a weekend or weeklong getaway.

Salt Lake’s expansive resorts allow for ample social distancing while Salt Lake’s 20,000+ hotel rooms, thousands of restaurants, and hundreds of bars and nightlife options accommodate those wanting a more intimate apres-ski scene where you can easily stay within the safety of your own pod.

And Visit Salt Lake’s “Salt Lake Bound = FREEdom Found” promotion makes it even easier, and more affordable, to book the ultimate winter vacation featuring some of the best and most accessible skiing and riding in North America, if not the world.

Simply book two nights or more at any number of participating lodging properties and choose the perk that best meets your wants and needs: two (2) free 1-day Super Passes, a free $200 Delta eGift Card, or $100 in Sinclair gas cards.

Salt Lake’s Cottonwood Canyons are home to four of the world’s most iconic resorts, and true “bucket list” resorts for many skiers and snowboarders, each just 45 minutes from Utah’s capital city and even closer for staying at the mouth of either canyon. For those wanting the convenience of ski-in/ski-out lodging, Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude each have their own unique offerings, again with all budgets in mind. Combined, they also boast a few thousand acres for snowboarding and both alpine and cross country skiing for all abilities as well as a number of restaurants and nightlife options from which to choose.

Spelled out, here are five reasons why Salt Lake is the perfect winter getaway right now.

1. The Snow

Utah is home to “The Greatest Snow on Earth ®,” the most critical ingredient to the ultimate winter vacation for skiers and snowboarders alike. And each Cottonwood Canyon resort boasts 500 feet of Utah’s famed powder each and every year, more than just about every other resort in North America.

The stunning peaks of the Wasatch Mountains, where the Cottonwood Canyons and Salt Lake’s iconic resorts are located, offer incredible year-round vistas, made even more spectacular when coated with Mother Nature’s winter bounty.

2. The skiing and snowboarding

Featuring more than 40 feet of snow each year, Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude’s combined 2,000+ acres and 400+ trails are more than enough to satiate every level of skier and snowboarder. There are also miles of Nordic skiing and snowshoeing trails in both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon.

And with each major airline combining for more than 700 daily flights in and out of the new, $4 billion Salt Lake City International Airport (just 45 minutes from the four Cottonwood Resorts) many featuring non-stop morning arrival flights from major gateway cities, it’s easy to ski or ride the day you arrive and depart, something truly unique to many winter destinations.

3. The après ski scene

After a day riding and playing in Utah’s famed snow, there are plenty of aprèsski options, both at the resorts as well as back in Salt Lake City. In Little Cottonwood Canyon, Alta offers a few iconic ski bars, such as the Alta Peruvian, Goldminer’s Daughter and the Sitzmark, while The Cliff Spa at Snowbird presents spectacular sunset views. Or take a dip with a friend or loved one in the outdoor hot tub at Snowpine Lodge at Alta (pictured above).

For an upscale experience at one of Salt Lake’s resorts, multiple fine dining restaurants offer excellent wine lists along with beautiful vistas, and casual pubs are a great place to kick back with friends and enjoy local craft beer. Check out the lists of options at AltaBrighton (click “services” for list of food and drink spots), Snowbird, and Solitude. For those looking for an urban winter experience, every neighborhood throughout the Salt Lake valley, particularly downtown Salt Lake City, offers seemingly endless dining and drinking options that can be enjoyed via takeout or outdoors.

Regardless of the experience you’re after, please don’t forget your mask in these days of COVID. The State of Utah mandates face-coverings when indoors, except when eating or drinking. Now that the end of the pandemic is in sight, it’s more important than ever to maintain your social distance and use your face coverings.

4. SLC LGBTQ Businesses



Salt Lake City defies conservative stereotypes of the state with a vibrant, bohemian vibe that is a veritable haven for the local LGBTQ local community and visitors. Salt Lake City’s former mayor, Jackie Biskupski, was Utah’s first openly gay elected official, while three members of SLC’s current seven-member city council are gay/queer.

Surprising to many first-time visitors, this liberating energy creates a beautiful and welcoming place to explore microbreweries and the restaurants popular with both locals and the crowds that come to Salt Lake to enjoy its world-class resorts.

Salt Lake also features numerous LGBTQ owned and operated businesses. Gay and gay-friendly bars are located throughout the metropolitan area, but please contact them directly to check on their individual pandemic hours and restrictions during the pandemic.

Try-Angles is a perfect place for newcomers to the Salt Lake scene or anyone exploring the place solo. (If you’re on a tight budget, Try-Angles has $5 beer steins.)

Sun Trapp serves beer in mason jars, and the outdoor patio is as big as the interior, offering plenty of open-air, socially-distanced seating. In the winter, the patio has a heated tent with its own bar inside.

If you want to enjoy some vittles before hitting the town or the comfort of your lodging pillow, Laziz Kitchen menu comes straight from the openly-gay proprietor Moudi Sbeity’s traditional family Lebanese kitchen—adding still more diversity to Salt Lake’s flourishing culinary scene. Based in the Granary district, the eatery is offering takeout and delivery menus during the pandemic.

5. The deals

Again, Visit Salt Lake’s “Salt Lake Bound = FREEdom Found” travel campaign and promotion serves up some incredible offers, where visitors can book two or more nights at either resort hotels or accommodations throughout the Salt Lake valley and get valuable perks such as free lift tickets, gas cards, Delta flight vouchers, and other travel deals. One of the best deals is the Ski City Super Pass, one of the industry’s most flexible and value-laden list passes available and valid at all four of Salt lake’s famed resorts: Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude.

Book at least two nights at a resort hotel or Salt Lake valley accommodation and get two 1-day Super Passes for free.

5 amazing Miami beaches where you can enjoy a little bit of everything / GayCities Blog

5 amazing Miami beaches where you can enjoy a little

At this stage in 2020, we all deserve a getaway–or five!

With its palm-fringed beaches, art deco architecture, and sumptuous hotels, Greater Miami is the perfect getaway any time of year. The winter and spring months offer tropical warmth: the perfect, balmy respite to other parts of the frigid U.S.

Miami also offers choice, whether you’re looking for arts and culture, queer family-friendly outdoor adventures, high-end shopping or somewhere to frolic with your pooch.

Miami is also famed for its vibrant LGBTQ scene. Its LGBT Visitor Center in South Beach’s historic City Hall building is one of the very best in the country, and the destination’s festivals and parties draw visitors from around the world (pre-and post-pandemic).

Now is a particularly great time to plan a visit, as it offers special deals to lure back travelers as the world begins to open back up.

Check out some of our favorite beaches, beach walks, and parks in Miami.

1. Bark Beach at North Beach Oceanside Park

North Beach, Miami
North Beach (Photo: Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau www.gmcvb.com)

North Beach Oceanside Park is in the northern part of Miami Beach, from 79th to 87th Street.

It offers a chilled-out, low-key vibe, with the only sound being surf, seagulls, and pelicans. The park also offers plenty of picnic tables for you to safely enjoy takeout food from the local street vendors, with fresh seafood in abundance.

2. Hobie Island Beach Park

Hobie Island Beach Park, Miami
Hobie Island Beach Park (Photo: Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau www.gmcvb.com)

This one is great for dogs and owners who love to play together in the surf. Hobie Island Beach Park – also known as Windsurfer Beach – lies on the Rickenbacker Causeway, running from Miami to Virginia Key and not far from the Miami Seaquarium, which also deserves a visit, especially with kids in tow.

Hobie Island Beach Park offers kayaking, windsurfing, and paddleboarding, all set against the panoramic (and Instagram-friendly) backdrop of downtown Miami on one side and the vast expanse of the Atlantic on the other. The water is shallow enough here to wade and play, yet another reason it’s popular with families.

3. 12th Street Beach

A rainbow flag over 12th Street Beach, Miami
12th Street Beach (Photo: Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau www.gmcvb.com)

12th Street Beach, in front of Lummus Park and Ocean Drive on South Beach, is loudly and proudly gay. Populated mostly by gay men, look for the rainbow flags by the lifeguard stations and you’ll know you have found your outdoor vacation home.

Traveling with kids? This part of South Beach has a reputation for those looking to party. If you want a quieter, LGBTQ family-friendly alternative, check out South Pointe Park Beach (with its play areas and dog park) or the beach at 20th Street.

4. Bal Harbour Beach

If the idea of designer living and upmarket shopping is your thing, head for Bal Harbour Village, at the northernmost end of Miami Beach island. The area is known for attracting the rich and famous with its luxury stores and five-star restaurants.

Bal Harbour Shops offers the likes of Versace, Chanel, Gucci, and Valentino, all spread around a restaurant-packed inner courtyard, with family favorites such as Bianco Gelato.

Bal Harbour’s pristine, white-sand beach is considerably quieter than South Beach and offers boardwalks for walkers and cyclists. The nearby Surfside Beach is another one popular with paddleboarders and kite surfers.

5. Beach Walk

This last recommendation is not a beach per se, but a paved walk that runs from South Pointe Park in Miami Beach’s southern tip, parallel to the ocean along South Beach, stretching north all the way through Bal Harbour and offers people-watching extravaganza.

Along the way, check out the outdoor muscle gym at Ninth Street. Take your pick from the restaurants along Ocean Drive like the Front Porch Café (a popular breakfast and brunch spot), and others such as Havana 1957, offering Cuban-inspired lunch boxes to enjoy outdoors on your journey through this urban beach paradise.

Kids will love the Willy Wonka-ish vibe of Ocean Drive’s Sugar Factory (while adults will appreciate its brasserie and candy-flavored cocktails).

Enjoy a taste of Queer Japan from the comfort of home / GayCities Blog

Enjoy a taste of Queer Japan from the comfort of

A go-go dancer captured in the documentary, Queer Japan
A go-go dancer captured in the documentary, Queer Japan

While we continue to dream about escaping to far-flung climes, a new documentary coming to streaming services next week brings Japan to you.

Queer Japan is an acclaimed documentary by Los Angeles-based, Canadian filmmaker Graham Kolbeins. It has already played at international LGBTQ film festivals around the world, with the Hollywood Reporter calling it, “an engagingly colorful panorama.”

On December 11, it will become available to viewers in the US and Canada via Theatrical At Home and on Digital HD (including Apple TV, Prime Video and Google Play).

Nogi Sumiko, Atsushi Matsuda, Hiroshi Hasegawa, Gengoroh Tagame, Akira the Hustler, and Tomato Hatakeno
L-R: Nogi Sumiko, Atsushi Matsuda, Hiroshi Hasegawa, Gengoroh Tagame, Akira the Hustler, and Tomato Hatakeno (Photo: Queer Japan)

Kolbeins and his producers spent five years making the documentary and interviewed over 100 people. They wanted to capture an authentic cross-section of Japan’s LGBTQ community, from erotic manga artist Gengoroh Tagame to HIV+ advocate Hiroshi Hasegawa, drag queen Vivienne Sato to trans author Tomato Hatakeno, crisscrossing the nation from Osaka to Okinawa.

Related: Gay Tokyo

Drag performer Vivienne Sato
Drag performer Vivienne Sato (Photo: Queer Japan)

The film features local gay bars and those who work in them, Pride parades and kink-positive parties, and shines a light on Tokyo’s gay neighborhood, Shinjuku Ni-chome.

“There is no singular ‘queer Japan,’ because queer people are not a monolith,” says Kolbeins in a press statement. “This film merely offers a patchwork of personal experiences told by a few dozen artists, activists, community leaders, and everyday people living in Japan today. It is my deepest hope that our approach does justice to the subjects and communities we’re depicting.”

A dancer at Club Explosion, Osaka, featured in Queer Japan
A dancer at Club Explosion, Osaka, featured in Queer Japan

Kolbeins says he has long had an admiration for Japanese, erotic manga art. This led him to make a short documentary in 2014 called The House of Gay Art, about a curator who stored an archive of erotic work in his Tokyo apartment.

Related: Gay couple’s hotel photo shoot prompts praise and criticism in Singapore

It proved successful at film festivals. Kolbeins [pictured below, front row left] says it impressed upon him, “the need and audience thirst for more cinematic representation of queer culture from Japan.”

Kolbeins worked in tandem with co-writer Anne Ishii and producer, Hiromi Iida.

“As a white cis male director aware of the long history of American colonization in Japan, it was especially important for me to remove myself from the frame as much as possible and avoid imposing any preconceived notions,” says Kolbeins. “I saw my role as a listener and an observer, a cheerleader for a community that deserves to be celebrated.”

Kolbeins tells GayCities he first visited Japan in 2012, along with Queer Japan co-writer and long-time collaborator Anne Ishii, to meet with Manga artists.

“I didn’t have much of a sense of what the LGBTQ+ scene would look like, but I was delighted to glimpse the sheer scope of Tokyo’s gayborhood, Shinjuku Ni-Chome, which has close to 300 bars servicing the queer community.”

Tokyo Rainbow Pride
Tokyo Rainbow Pride (Photo: Queer Japan)

Like everyone else, Kolbeins is looking forward to being able to travel and reconnecting with his Japanese friends again. He has recommendations for anyone who’s not been before.

“Personally, I can’t wait to return to Osaka and dance at Club Explosion, a club full of lasers, smoke, fog machines, go-go boys, and great drag shows on the weekend! Plus, Universal Studios Osaka just announced the new Nintendo World, set to open in February 2021 with a real life Mario Kart ride. That’s my post-COVID dream vacation!

“For visitors looking to enjoy Tokyo’s gay nightlife in Shinjuku Ni-chome, I recommend starting with a visit to AiiRo Cafe, which has a street-facing patio smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood. It’s a friendly and casual spot where foreign tourists, expatriates, and Ni-chome regulars congregate early for happy hour drinks.

Contemporary artist, bartender and activist, Akira The Hustler
Contemporary artist, bartender and activist, Akira The Hustler (Photo: Queer Japan)

“Some other favorite spots in the area include Alamas Cafe, Tac’s Knot, drag bar CAMPY!, and Eagle Tokyo Blue, a basement bear bar with exotic fish tanks and great gachimuchi merchandise. Some of Ni-chome’s smaller bars, which may only have 4-6 seats, do not cater to non-Japanese speakers, so please be aware and respectful when visiting.

“Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention one of my favorite queer events in Tokyo, the monthly hentai party Department H,” says Kolbeins.

Drag queen Margarette at Department H
Drag queen Margarette at Department H (Photo: Queer Japan)

Queer Japan producer and drag mega-fan Hiromi Iida took me to Department H on our first night of filming, and it quickly became a major focus of our film. Held in a huge event space with a stage and runway, Department H is an all-night extravaganza of delightful deviance where drag queens and kinky people of all stripes strut, pose, and serve some incredibly bold looks.”

Watch the trailer for Queer Japan below.

Five trips you can take to mark Thanksgiving this year / GayCities Blog

Five trips you can take to mark Thanksgiving this year

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Thanksgiving, like the rest of the 2020 holiday season, is going to be very different this year. Everyone is encouraged to do as little traveling as possible to help slow the spread of coronavirus. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a virtual journey or enjoy a local beauty spot. Here are five suggestions for how to take your mind away from home.

Head for an outdoor gay hangout with a friend for a picnic

If you’re blessed to live somewhere like Miami, spending a few hours on the gay beach at 12th Street (on South Beach) is a low-risk way of marking Thanksgiving – and plenty of local restaurants are serving takeaway orders.

San Francisco’s Dolores Park offers a gay ‘urban beach’ in its southwest section, while Rehoboth Beach in Delaware offers its LGBTQ-friendly ‘Poodle Beach’ section. If there’s no gay outdoors hangout nearby, pick a local beauty spot you’ve not visited before, or try to hunt down some stunning fall scenery. Keep a social distance if heading out with a friend from a different household and respect local COVID prevention measures.

Immerse yourself in a travel book by a gay writer

Calum McSwiggan and his travel memoir: Eat, Gay, Love
Calum McSwiggan and his travel memoir: Eat, Gay, Love (Photo: Twitter)

Check out The Black Penguin by Andrew Evans, in which the author travels from Washington DC to Antarctica, largely by bus, and comes out to his Mormon family in the process. Tim Anderson’s acclaimed Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries, follows the US writer’s time in Asia. British broadcaster Sue Perkins, of The Great British Baking Show fame, has published East of Croydon: Travels through India and South East Asia, while Eat, Gay, Love is a new travel memoir by fellow Brit, Calum McSwiggan (above).

Enjoy a classic, queer road-trip movie

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

The queer road trip movie has become its own sub-genre, with such journeys offering plenty of opportunity for personal development, drama, intrigue and romance. Classics include The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), in which three drag queens cross the Australian outback. Felicity Huffman was Oscar-nominated for her role in Transamerica (2005), in which she plays a trans woman on a journey to meet the son she never knew she had. Director Gregg Araki’s The Living End (1992) has been described as a gay Thelma and Louise, in which two young, HIV-positive men hit the road after one kills a homophobic police officer.

Related: 10 awesome queer road trip flicks to inspire your future travel fantasies

Join a virtual tour

Michael Venturiello of Christopher Street Tours offers gay bar history lessons online via Airbnb
Michael Venturiello of Christopher Street Tours offers gay bar history lessons online via Airbnb (Photo: Airbnb)

Both Airbnb and Amazon Explore (in beta testing in North America), now offer a wide range of virtual tours. On Airbnb, join a drag queen cocktail masterclass courtesy of ‘Sangria and Secrets with Drag Queens’, educate yourself on how to make pasta with Italian chefs, learn to sing a festive song with a Broadway performer, or enjoy a virtual tour and history lesson about some of New York’s most famed gay bars.

There are now literally hundreds of experiences to choose from – with YouTube also offering a huge array of far-flung walking tours and cookery lessons.

Start planning your next vacation on Black Friday

(Photo: Jacek Dylag on Unsplash)

Lastly, although travel options are limited right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning a trip for next year. Airlines are offering some of their cheapest deals as they try to tempt travelers back, and many are going even lower with their Black Friday deals.

It’s now widely expected that coronavirus vaccines will be rolled out during the first half of 2021, so don’t expect these cheap deals to last forever. You could book yourself a bargain getaway if you act now.

Legendary Chicago dive bar, Manhandler Saloon, closes after 40 years / GayCities Blog

Legendary Chicago dive bar, Manhandler Saloon, closes after 40 years

Manhandler Saloon
Manhandler Saloon (Photo: Facebook)

The COVID pandemic’s impact on businesses continues to rage on. The most recent gay casualty is Chicago’s Manhandler Saloon, at 1948 N. Halsted.

Manhandler Saloon first opened its doors in 1980. As its name suggest, it was a place you could in the hope of being manhandled in the back room area! It marked its 40th anniversary in September. However, the COVID pandemic of recent months has taken its toll. Chicago is a city that has seen a resurgence in cases in recent weeks.

Related: Chicago gay bars and clubs

After several months of closure, the Manhandler reopened in late summer, making full use of its outdoor yard for socially distanced drinking. However, it finally called last order on November, 9.

The bar posted on social media that it was closing on that date, inviting regulars to come down for one last goodbye. Afterward, it posted a simple message: “Thank you all! 1980-2020.”

Many men shared their memories of happy times at the venue.

“Thank you for all the fun times, the memories, the fun in the back. You will truly be missed. Won’t be another place like The Manhandler!” said one – a sentiment echoed by others.

Related: The iconic gay venues that won’t be returning after COVID-19 

2020 has seen a deluge of LGBTQ bars closing across the US. This is partly due to landlords increasing rents or leases expiring, but has also been greatly accelerated by the COVID pandemic. Other sex venues to have closed this year include the legendary Blow Buddies in San Francisco and The Crew Club Sauna – the last remaining bathhouse in Washington DC.

Bars to have closed include The Stud (San Francisco), Parliament House (Orlando), and Flaming Saddles (West Hollywood). Check out a fuller list here.

Cruise company apologizes after saying “trashy” trans not wanted at LGBTQ event / GayCities Blog

Cruise company apologizes after saying “trashy” trans not wanted at

Royal Yacht Albatross in Singapore
Royal Yacht Albatross (Image: YouTube)

It’s cheering to see travel and tourism operators catering for the LGBTQ community… when they get it right. Sadly, an incident last week in Singapore shows that some can still get things very wrong.

Royal Albatross Superyacht is a luxury, ‘tall ship’ schooner based in Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore. It takes bookings for corporate charters, weddings and other private events, as well as hosting a popular dinner cruise for members of the public.

It recently decided to hold a dedicated LGBTQ dinner cruise. It got in touch with a local LGBTQ dating app, Prout, to ask them if they’d help promote it on social media. Prout duly posted information about the cruise to its Facebook page.

Related: Gay couple’s hotel photo shoot prompts praise and criticism in Singapore

However, soon after the posting appeared, the company contacted Prout to ask questions about its followers.

“Within 10 mins of our social media and telegram post going public, the company contacted us to ask if there were any “transsexuals” following us,” a spokesperson for Prout said on Facebook last week.

“After further communication, the company said that they are open only to those who are “classy and willing to spend”, and not targeting the “trashy transsexual kind who only want to create trouble”. Upon hearing this, we immediately took down all the posts related to that event.”

Prout went on to condemn the company.

“Firstly, as a LGBTQ community group, we want to emphasize that marginalized communities are not here to be exploited by brands and companies to tap on the pink dollar for. If a company is not truly inclusive and does not contribute to uplifting the community, we have no wish to collaborate with them.

“Secondly, to call the trans community “trashy” is offensive and degrading. Transgender persons have historically been discriminated, and it is utterly dehumanizing to use the word “trashy” as it reinforces stigma against them.”

It also criticized the person who had contacted them for using the term “transsexual”, which has largely been replaced with transgender, and which some trans people find offensive.

Prout also posted screenshots of the exchange.

Related: This Vancover pandemic street art showcases pride in Asian men

Not long after Prout’s Facebook posting, Royal Albatross Superyacht took to Facebook to issue a prompt apology. It said the event aimed to “provide a private romantic dinner cruise experience without judgment.”

It went on to say, “Yesterday, a staff member communicated privately with someone and used a bad choice of words to address our target audience. The comments do not represent the position of this company, we retract them entirely and we apologize. We have since corrected the staff member and we will ensure we are more sensitive when it comes to our future communications. In hindsight, we were naïve not to take into consideration the diversity of the entire LGBTQ+ community. We are sincerely sorry to have offended by what was said, it was not our intent to exclude any particular group. We welcome everyone.”

It went on to say that the LGBTQ event had been put on hold while they better educate themselves.

“We have suspended our #LoveIsLove sail as we need to educate ourselves on the diverse communities. We invite any group organizers who would be interested in helping us and or holding events like these to contact us privately. Again, we apologize to anyone that was offended.”

The ship’s founder and CEO, Peter L Pela told Coconuts the event would go ahead at a later date.

“We have already started looking into providing diversity training to our staff as we do need to understand more about the sensitivities involved. I would also like to add we are only postponing our plans to hold such an event and we are looking forward to holding a successful event in the future where everyone is welcome.”