The New Normal: Picking a fresh gay summer vacation spot

A few weeks ago, we listed a selection of places to travel this summer for getting your circuit party groove on. Well, consider this a companion piece to that one — and one that takes you off the beaten path.

You heard right. Skip Palm Springs. Forget Fire Island. Put P’town on hold. This year, you’re headed to a new LGBT-friendly destination for an unexpected getaway with all the perks to which you’re privy (though, because it’s summer after all, each is conveniently on the water). Time to get packin’.

Casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico. Like playing the odds? They’re in your favor at the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, a stunning island property nestled in the middle of a bustling metropolitan city. From your home base in the heart of the trendy Condado neighborhood filled with shopping, international cuisine and nightlife, embark on adventures like ATV, horseback riding and zip lining at Haciendo Campo Rico by day, then let loose at night in Old San Juan at La Factoria. Santurce and La Placita of Santurce, the arts and culture center, is just a short taxi ride away, as is the El Yunque Rainforest. Seems like a lot to see and do, but there’ll be plenty of lazy beach time with your boo, too.

St. Maarten

St. Maarten. Although the Caribbean is breathtaking in landscape, some islands have ugly views toward the LGBT community (we’re looking at you, Jamaica!). St. Maarten, however, takes pride in its LGBT community, and several resorts, including Sonesta Ocean Point and Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa are now registered with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), the leading global resource in LGBT tourism. Both locations offer same-sex wedding ceremonies — if you want to tie the knot in flip-flops – with a Gay Wedding Institute-certified in-house wedding coordinator. Spend your first few hours as a legally bound couple canoodling in a private gazebo or partying down at an unforgettable reception at Ocean Point’s Azul Rooftop Bar.

St. Pete Beach, Fla. Not to be outdone by some of the flashier Florida cities, sunny St. Pete Beach allows for a different kind of vacay — one void of thumping techno music and throwback boardwalk body builders. The Spanish-influenced Hotel Zamora features a destination restaurant and rooftop lounge serving a locally sourced menu of creative tapas entrees; a marina; fresh-water pool; fitness center; and access to white, sandy beaches. Zamora also will offer a Beachside Pride package this summer in celebration of St. Pete Pride, June 26 to 28.

Norfolk, Va. boat Pride!

Norfolk, Va. Step out of the box this summer — and into a boat! — during the country’s only Pride boat parade, in Norfolk, Va. Part of PrideFest, June 26 and 27, the celebration by sea is open to all maritimers with access to a vessel. The Norfolk Waterside Marriott offers a PrideFest Hotel Package for the weekend, which includes a buffet breakfast for two guests daily, a $25 food and beverage credit per night at Shula’s 347, and self-parking. After you drop your bag, head out into Hampton Roads for waterfront activities, a thriving dining scene, and unique arts and culture.

— Mikey Rox

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The gay interview: Andrew Rannells of “The New Normal”

I met Andrew Rannells on two occasions. The first was a strange circumstance about five years ago: I was headed to the Fair Park Music Hall to meet him and other members of the touring cast of Jersey Boys when my car was T-boned (the other driver’s fault). Nevertheless, I still made it to the interview, albeit a bit late. I got quite a few “attaboys” for showing up at all.

The last was just briefly about two and a half years ago, when he was starring in a show at the Dallas Theater Center called Give It Up. The show finally made it Broadway with a different title — Lysistrata Jones — only Rannells wasn’t in it. Instead, he’d taken on a different role in a musical: The Book of Mormon, which netted him a Tony Award nomination in the biggest hit since The Producers.

ATTPAC just announced last week that The Book of Mormon would be part of its 2013-14 lineup, but once again, Rannels won’t be in it — instead, he’s starring in one of the hit shows of the fall, NBC’s The New Normal, and out actor gets to play gay … and boy does he.

Our Chris Azzopardi got to chat with Rannells a few weeks ago, and I thought it might be a good time to run the story. The next episode airs tonight.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

Dallas Pride Weekend is just around the corner, but the week leading up to it is jam-packed with events.

It’s the first weekend after Labor Day, which means theaters are churning out openings. Among the shows you can see this week: Rent at Theatre Arlington, The Second City Does Dallas at the Dallas Theater Center, the sexually complex Or, from Echo Theatre (at the Bath House, pictured above), War Horse at the Winspear as part of the Lexus Broadway Series and an entire selection of short plays courtesy of Uptown Players’ second annual Pride Performing Arts Festival. But we gotta say, the show we’re kinda most looking forward to this weekend is The Most Happy Fella at Lyric Stage. The rarely performed Frank Loesser musical (which immortalized our town in the song “Big D”) gets the fully orchestrated treatment courtesy of musical director Jay Dias, whom we profiled last month. Lyric only does two weekends of shows; it’s too bad, because they usually do a fantastic job. Cheryl Denson directs, too!

It’s not just theater, though, that takes to the stage. Drag diva Coco Peru performs her show at the Rose Room starting Thursday, unofficially launching Pride in Dallas. Best of all? Dallas Voice readers get a discount off tickets of up to 40 percent, just by using the promo code VOICE when they order here. And you can also see an actual theater — not something performed on its stages — by taking one of the behind-the-scenes architectural tours of the new City Performance Hall, which begins its gala weekend celebration on Thursday.

And if the Democratic National Convention only whetted your appetite for hearing gay people talked about on TV, tune into The New Normal on NBC at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, for the newest sitcom about gay life that could very well be the next Will & Grace … only this time, it looks more like Will & Jack.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay stuff on the new TV schedules for NBC, Fox

Hasbian Anne Heche is part of NBC's fall season lineup.

NBC was the first broadcast network to release its 2012 fall season lineup, and there’s gay stuff old and new on it.

The gayest addition is probably Ryan Murphy’s new half-hour one-camera sitcom The New Normal, about a gay couple (Justin Bartha, Andrew Rannells of B’way’s Book of Mormon), who hire a woman to be the surrogate for their child. (Watch the clip after the jump — looks pretty funny.) Rannells was in Dallas a few years ago in the world premiere of Lysistrata Jones (then called Give It Up) at DTC.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones