Tel Aviv named world’s best gay travel destination

The Jaffa section of Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is a great gay travel destination and earlier this month, American Airlines and GayCities.com agreed voting it the world’s best gay travel destination.

The Israeli city received 43 percent of the vote. New York City came in second with 14 percent, Toronto 7 percent, Sao Paulo 6 percent, Madrid and London 5 percent each and New Orleans and Mexico City 4 per cent each.

No one voted for San Francisco, Amsterdam or Berlin?

Well, Tel Aviv is a very gay-friendly place. The city is backing their win with a big push to promote LGBT tourism called Tel Aviv Gay Vibe. And, according to the newspaper HaAretz, the Tel Aviv Pride Parade receives city funding, as does the city’s LGBT center.

While the country doesn’t have same-sex marriage, they don’t have Reform marriage or secular marriage either. So if you aren’t Orthodox, you leave the country to get married and Israel recognizes your wedding. That’s been going on since a gay member of the Knesset married his husband in Canada and came back and sued and won.

And “don’t ask, don’t tell?” Israel thought it was as dumb as we did but they did away with deferments while we were first implementing the policy. The result? Some of the hottest gay men and women in the world … and they know how to use an Uzi.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Gay travel writers descend on Dallas for GLBT International Press Tour 2011

Former City Councilman Ed Oakley, from right, Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Councilwomen Linda Koop and Delia Jasso all attended the kickoff party.


CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM THE GLBT PRESS TOUR KICKOFF AT ILUME

San Juan Capistrano has its swallows, Copper River has its salmon, Mexico has its monarch butterflies. But Dallas has its own annual migration: Every spring, gay travel writers from around the world come to town give precious ink (or for the bloggers, electrons) to what makes gay Dallas a worthwhile travel destination. The process seems to have worked: Over the six years the Tavern Guild has been sponsoring this influx of journos — the group that arrived Thursday marks the seventh time — Dallas has popped up on the radar of many “best of” polls for gay cities. And all without a beach or clothing-optional guesthouses.

I’ve taken these tours myself as a writer (surprisingly, the Tavern Guild has never invited me to take the tour), and Dallas usually puts on a pretty good show. First, it’s a lengthy tour (running for most reporters until Monday). Second, it is organized with Teutonic efficiency, including a great variety of dining options (from high-end to down-home) and traversing the Trinity to include our Cowtown brethren. From the responses I heard, the show is a good one.

And another selling point is, our local celebrities turn out. At Wednesday night’s kick-off event at the ilume pool bar, the five journalists in attendance — from  Barcelona, London, Madrid, Los Angeles and Chicago — were welcomed by a slate of local dignitaries including Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Chief of Police David Brown, and three current members of the city council, as well as former councilman and mayoral candidate Ed Oakley and current mayor attache Chris Heinbaugh. After the meet-and-greet, the writers headed off for Nana for dinner, followed Thursday with a trip to Fort Worth.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Sarah, upside down

Buzz surrounds local musician Sarah Jaffe, but she’s ready to move on

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Going from playing smaller clubs like Dan’s Silverleaf and Club Dada, to selling out the Granada Theater last year, Sarah Jaffe’s star is on the rise. She gets a primo gig Saturday when she headlines at the Wyly Theatre in support of her 2010 full-length debut, Suburban Nature. After garnering attention for Nature locally and nationally (from the Dallas Observer to NPR), Jaffe wasn’t just a girl with a guitar — she unlocked yearning and pain with wisdom beyond her 25 years. Jaffe captures the poetry of life and love and sets it to music … even if she doesn’t mean to.

“I’ve never been a strategic writer and I’m thankful for that,” she says. “It comes out sporadically. There are those moment in life when I slow down and it’s just me being human and being alive and the writing is totally cathartic.”

Despite her ardent folk music and Joni-Mitchell-and-the-like upbringing (thank her parents), her musical affinity lies elsewhere.

“I love electronic music and I love making it. I’m obsessed with Robyn. I have this secret dream to be a choreographer because I legitimately love dancing. It makes me happy,” she gushes.

With big-time hype and attention, Jaffe is a contradiction to the ramping buzz about her work. She sounds like she wants a sensible perspective despite her self-proclaimed pessimism.

“I feel so lucky at this point. When people talk about you, it’s strange with even a small amount of success,” she says. “But there’s always some negativity. It’s a huge honor for people to recognize my work but I question myself. I’ve always been a cynic, but I guess I have a shitload to learn.”

Jaffe’s “small amount of success” has already been on the receiving end of the “is she or isn’t she” curiosity. She received accidental lesbian attention when AfterEllen.com included her in a travel destination piece on Dallas and, she surmises, the writer mistook her for Erase Errata’s Sara Jaffe. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise — it expanded her audience base.

“I do have a large lesbian following and it’s great anywhere it comes from,” she says. “Any sort of relating that anybody can get out of music is a wonderful thing.”

She’s learned quickly it comes with the territory, but it’s awkward for her nonetheless.

“It’s weird there’s this curiosity. Sexuality is gray for me but people are gonna talk about those things,” she says. “I’ve loved men and I’ve loved women but it’s more like I relate to a human connection. None of that matters to me.”

Jaffe’s just glad to get any person to her show as well as clean her slate. Despite the success of Nature, she’s ready to move on.

“I plan on an EP release this spring. They are all demos but I think there’s a charm in it,” she says. “I’m so proud of Suburban Nature, but the songs are like six or seven years old. And I’m chomping at the bit.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright

GayTravel.com Guru hits Dallas

Nick Vivion
Nick Vivion

Nick Vivion, who recently won the online contest to be the new GayTravel.com travel guru, brings his tour to Dallas this weekend. Look for him around town — calling numbers at Gay Bingo Saturday, attending Uptown Players’ Closer to Heaven Sunday — and tell him everything that makes Big D a great travel destination.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Castro sorry for persecution of gays in Cuba

Fidel Castro

The latest country to talk about legalizing same-sex marriage will not become the new gay and lesbian travel destination anytime soon.

What is the latest country to talk about legalizing same-sex unions? That bastion of civil rights — Cuba.

Fidel Castro has been out of the spotlight for several years but recently made some public appearances. Asked about gays and lesbians, he apologized for past mistreatment.

In an interview on Radio Cadena Agramonte, Castro took responsibility for persecution of gays and lesbians after the 1959 revolution.

“Five decades ago, because of homophobia, homosexuals were marginalized in Cuba and many were sent to agricultural or military labor camps, accused of being “counterrevolutionaries,” he said. “We had so many terrible problems, problems of life or death, you know, you do not pay enough attention.”

He said personally he had no prejudice and that many of his oldest friends were gay and lesbian.

But he said, “No, if someone is responsible (for the discrimination) it is me.”

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Cuba in the 1990s, and sex-reassignment surgery for transgenders began being performed free in 2008.

The slogan for the last World Day Against Homophobia in Cuba was “La homosexualidad no es un peligro, la homofobia sí” or “Homosexuality is not a threat, homophobia is.”

—  David Taffet