These days, it seems just about everybody is after that rainbow dollar.
And the recent federal ruling by the Supreme Court to allow same-sex marriage in all 50 states will only further the expansion of cities, both large and small, marketing toward the gay community, which represents an estimated $70 billion travel market, or around six to eight percent of the entire travel market.
SAN FRANCISCO — On the steps of the same city hall where California’s first openly gay politician was once gunned down, an estimated million-strong gathering rocked to red-robed gospel singers belting out “Oh Happy Day” in the now legendary birthplace of the LGBT marriage movement, celebrating the miraculous march of history.
The crowd at the 45th annual SF Pride Celebration and Parade was notably young, confident and still a bit stunned about Friday’s momentous U.S. Supreme Court ruling that brought along a jubilance most could have never imagined. The once-in-a-lifetime significance of this march, on this day, in this city, swelled the crowds and the hearts united in a chant of “Love Wins!”
The Stonewall Inn, the Greenwich Village bar where resistance to a police raid touched off the modern gay rights movement, was made a New York City landmark on Tuesday, the first time a site has been named primarily because of its significance in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history.
“New York City’s greatness lies in its inclusivity and diversity,” Meenakshi Srinivasan, chairwoman of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, said before the unanimous vote. “The events at Stonewall were a turning point in the L.G.B.T. rights movement and in the history of our nation.”
Patrons fought back against a police raid on the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, and the street protests that followed for several days are credited with galvanizing gay activism in New York and globally. The rebellion is commemorated with annual gay pride parades in hundreds of cities.
“Few sites anywhere in New York have the international resonance of Stonewall,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
The vote came after a public hearing in which every speaker supported the landmark designation.
Two men in revealing white singlets walked into a piano bar while the cabaret singer Natalie Douglas belted away on stage, accompanied byBrian Nash, a fixture on the New York City piano bar scene. The men were hardly out of place, though — a couple of other men in white shorts and bunny ears were already there.
If I’d witnessed this in New York, at Brandy’s, say, or Don’t Tell Mama, it would have perhaps been bizarre (perhaps, because in New York you kind of never know what to expect). But we were a week into an all-gay Atlantis cruise, and costumes of varying sorts — including those that leave precious little to the imagination — were hardly oddities at this point. It was just another night, another theme party aboard the Golden Princess.
The thumpa-thumpa club scene is hardly my milieu at home, but there I stood an hour later in tight shorts, a short-sleeve dress shirt with a bow tie, and flip-flops, all of it white. I was surrounded by hundreds of people, mostly gay men, some in chef hats or sailor caps, others in dresses, sequined from head to toe, and many wearing nothing but minuscule underwear and a coating of glitter. Nearly everything in sight was monochromatic at this “White Party,” an all-night event and the last big blowout of our eight-day Los Angeles to Mexico excursion.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — There are 37 states with marriage equality and the fact that Michigan isn’t one of them hurts the tourism industry’s bottom line, said a market researcher at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism this week.
“Whatever percentage of Michigan’s business now is weddings, it could be increased by including LGBTs. Certainly within the state but those who have family here, etc. I think that there’s a lot of opportunity,” said Thomas Roth, president of San Francisco-based Community Marketing, Inc.
He presented a session at the conference, making the business case to hotels interested in marketing to LGBT people.
In a September 2014 survey CMI conducted, they asked 3,503 members of the LGBT community about their travel habits.
No Michigan cities ranked in a top 20 list of leisure destinations for gay and bisexual men. No Michigan cities ranked in the top 20 for lesbian and bisexual women, either.
Wedding travel aside, Michigan is missing out on general LGBT leisure travel due to its marriage prohibition, Roth said.
“So it’s a double-edged sword because on one hand you’re not getting that (wedding) business. On the other hand gays and lesbians are probably not coming here for holiday or vacation as much as they would because it’s not an inclusive state when there’s 37 other choices, right?” Roth said.
Combining all the elements of a luxury liner, with a schedule of activities designed for today’s modern gay traveler, a ten day Atlantis cruise of the Mediterranean is definitely NOT your grandma’s cruise. An all-gay cruise is what you make of it. Whether you are traveling as a couple, alone or with a group of friends, the team at Atlantis Events makes a point of scheduling “something for everyone” and truly living up to their catch phase… “The Way We Play!” Starting with the welcoming boarding bear hug by their omni-present and effervescent cruise director Malcolm, all of this is clearly evident. Yes, there are still the usual hour by hour activities one would find on the Celebrity Equinox (the ship used in this adventure) such as outdoor spin classes, yoga instructions, table tennis, basketball court shooting, lawn games, the ever-popular bingo, feature films playing in the theater and so much more. But Atlantis Events doesn’t just rest on the laurels of the Celebrity cruise team. They supplement and even replace much of the standard programming with those oh-so-gay delights including Classic Disco Sunset T-Dances, gay comedians night from Pam Ann, to London based drag impersonator Charlie Hides, a concert with superstar pop and dance diva Deborah Cox, and themed dance parties on deck, under the stars, every night until sunrise.
uesthouses in South Florida: is it a sign of changing times in the industry? One of America’s most famous, or perhaps infamous, gay spots is for sale, and others are (gasp!) going mainstream to attract a broader clientele.
The biggest shake-up comes from Key West, with the news that Island House in Key West is now for sale, less than a year after the death of co-owner Martin Kay.
Joe Allen, who still owns the resort currently, opened Island House in 1976 with Kay. Allen sent an email to his entire mailing list that included the following:
“I think I can say without boast that we created at Island House a unique place, a safe and happy space for thousands of gay men to meet, to eat and drink, to make merry. I’m proud of that, but more important in this context, Island House is successful and profitable operation. I’m confident that its new owner will operate it as a gay men’s resort. It has higher ADR’s and occupancy than any comparable property in Old Town. There’s no good reason to change its model. It’s a success,” wrote Allen.
Island House has become the focal point for much of Key West’s LGBT community, as other smaller resorts on the island have become mainstream guesthouses. The restaurant is a popular meeting place for locals to have breakfast, and drag shows by the pool are common (as is sex on the upper outdoor deck and in the hotel’s porn theater).
This sale comes at a critical time for Florida’s LGBT travel industry. Despite Allen’s belief that it should stay a gay-themed property, its location on Duval St. makes it a prime target for real estate developers looking to capitalize on Key West’s ever-escalating market. More importantly, the gay guesthouse industry is on a slow downward spiral, as loyal customers continue to age and younger patrons aren’t coming in.