Travel diary

The Crescent celebrates 25; gays pick Sydney as fave destination

SYDNEY TOPS | A recent study shows Sydney is an across-the-board fave destination among inter- national gay travelers. (Photo courtesy New Mardi Gras)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

The Rosewood Crescent Hotel celebrates its 25th year with some sweet deals that will make for a luxe vacation or staycation. The “25 Offers for 25 Years” includes specials throughout the hotel including The Spa at the Crescent, Beau’s Lounge, The Conservatory restaurant and even Starbucks. They celebrate with the original 1986 room rate of $100 and booking is now available through April 6, 2012. The hotel will book at this rate for select rooms for the upcoming July 4 and Labor Day weekends. CrescentCourt.com.

If your vacay requires major gay flair, read the Out Now Global LGBT2020 Study first. The study recently revealed the best spots around the world for LGBT tourism. The results are a culmination of information from six continents which help paint a picture of LGBT travelers and their destinations for the next three years.

“Out Now is delighted to be dramatically expanding the global knowledge base of tourism data with the LGBT2020 research study project,” said Out Now CEO Ian Johnson. “We sample in 10 languages and in 2011 we will reach people living in 25 countries around the world. There has never been an LGBT market research project with the scale and true global reach of LGBT2020.”
So which spots were tops?

New York ranked one for global travelers. London was a fave for Europeans, Australians and North Americans while South Americans favored Paris. But Sydney was a popular choice for all travelers. The U.S. narrowly beat out France as the top country to visit. To see the entire study, visit OutNowConsulting.com.

LGBT travelers can connect with others thanks to the new IGLTA Tripping Network. The social network encourages gay travelers to engage in conversation and “to make the world a better place through cultural exchange.”

Think of it as part Facebook, part Yelp, but with a personal touch. Travelers could connect with local gays for guiding them through neighborhoods, meeting up or even providing a spare room. The site also helps to connect with gay and gay-friendly businesses.

The network hasn’t forgotten safety concerns and protects travelers with the TripSafe Program which includes references, ratings, videos and emergency hotlines.

“This is all about facilitating cross-cultural connections and we’re excited to offer members of the LGBT community a safe way to connect with each other all around the globe,” says Jen O’Neal, Tripping.com’s cofounder and CEO. For more information, visit Tripping.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 3, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Does U.N. vote mean dark days ahead ?

With a simple majority vote of 9 countries, LGBT people are removed from category of ‘vulnerable populations,’ left exposed to arbitrary execution

Hardy Haberman Flagging Left

The United Nations recently took a vote and with a simple majority of just nine countries, they removed LGBT people from the special protections category of “vulnerable populations.” That category specifically mentions special protection from extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution.

What does this mean? Well, according to the U.N., we are no longer considered worthy of protection against arbitrary execution. In other words, it’s open season on LGBT people in a whole lot of countries.

It is important to note who voted against us: The Russian Federation, China, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi plus a host of Middle Eastern countries joined the majority to remove us from that list.

In the case of the African nations, I cannot fail to mention that the radical right, especially the far-right ministers in this country, have been a big influence. If you will remember, the draconian anti-gay laws in Uganda were in part encouraged by religious groups from the U.S.

Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay And Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said, “This vote is a dangerous and disturbing development. It essentially removes the important recognition of the particular vulnerability faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — a recognition that is crucial at a time when 76 countries around the world criminalize homosexuality, five consider it a capital crime and countries like Uganda are considering adding the death penalty to their laws criminalizing homosexuality.”

Essentially, the vote takes away any power the U.N. might have to protect the lives of LGBT people.

The vote has sent shock waves through the international LGBT community but seems to have had little traction herein the U.S. I suspect that is because much of what the U.N. does is considered unimportant by many Americans.

It’s sad that this body, where crimes against LGBT people have routinely been condemned, has now decided to become silent.

It should be noted who voted to remove LGBT people from this protected group. The list may surprise you:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Sala, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Two nations that really disturb me are Iraq and Afghanistan. I have been an ardent opponent to the wars the Bush administration started there, and now I have even more reason to hope for a speedy end to our involvement.

Many of the names on this list are “most favored nations,” as far as trade with the U.S., and one in particular is most disturbing since it already grants full rights to LGBT people: South Africa.

I can only hope they did not understand the gravity of what they were signing, but I suspect it may signal a new and more repressive future for the African nation that held the most promise.

My suspicion is that the nation of Benin, which brought the matter up on behalf of the African Nations Group, is planning something dark. I would not be surprised to see a whole new raft of severe laws against LGBT people in these African nations.

It looks like very dark times ahead for LGBT people in Africa and the Middle East. I pray I am wrong.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

‘The same-sex marriage fight is just as much a transgender fight as it is (an LGB) fight’

Phyllis Randolph Frye

Phyllis Randolph Frye, the well-known transgender attorney from Houston whose clients include trans widow Nikki Araguz, sent out an e-mail Sunday slamming national gay-rights groups for ignoring the issue of “‘tranny’ same-sex marriage” in Texas.

Referencing an op-ed that appeared in Sunday’s Houston Chronicle about the Araguz case, Frye notes that in the six weeks since the story broke, few people have gotten behind her client’s legal fight. Nikki Araguz is seeking to receive death benefits for her husband, Thomas Araguz III, a Wharton firefighter who was killed in the line of duty early last month. But Thomas Araguz’s family has sued to deny Nikki Araguz those benefits, arguing that their marriage was void because she was born a man, since Texas’ prohibits same-sex marriage.

“Why is it that the Prop 8, same-sex marriage fight in CA and the DOMA same-sex marriage fight in the Northeast are BOTH so well funded by lesbian and gay groups and lesbian and gay individuals, but the same-sex marriage fight in Texas has been thus far supported ONLY by a small number of mostly transgenders plus three LGBT-allied churches, mostly in Houston, all in Texas?” Frye wrote.

“Where is the same national support given for the L and G same-sex marriage struggles?” she added. “Has it remained nonexistent for over six weeks now because this Texas fight is insignificantly and merely a ‘tranny’ same-sex marriage fight, so who nationally gives a shit? Then are we a National LGBT-inclusive community, but NOT when it comes to financing the ‘tranny’ same-sex marriage fights? From here, it seems to me — still —  that the national L and G groups and the big bucks L and G attitudes haven’t really changed very much. FOLKS, IT IS TIME YOU FIGURED IT OUT THAT THE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE FIGHT IS JUST AS MUCH A TRANSGENDER FIGHT AS IT IS A LESBIAN, GAY AND BISEXUAL FIGHT.”

—  John Wright