The Queer Eye guys are doing a makeover in a town called… Yass!

The Queer Eye guys are doing a makeover in a town called... Yass!

14+ beautiful images from Sao Paulo Pride in Brazil Steps added to Pride Glasgow lineup – relive their 5 best-selling hits Meet the new International Mr Leather The Fab Five are in Yass. | Photo: Twitter In a very clever marketing ploy, the Queer Eye stars are making over a man in Yass, a country town in Australia.

The Fab Five – Antoni Porowsi, Tan France, Karomo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness and Bobby Berk – are Down Under to promote the second season of the rebooted Netflix’s series.

But Yass locals started to get suspicious when billboards of the Queer Eye men started popping up near town. They were spotted on the Barton Highway just outside of town.

Yass is a country town in the state of New South Wales. It’s located about 60km (37 miles) away from the Australian capital, Canberra.

The term ‘yass’ is popular gay vernacular. Originally appropriated from people of color in New York’s ballroom voguing scene, it’s often used by the Fab Five themselves.

It looks like the Yass Valley Tourism is hosting a media event on Wednesday night (6 June), in which a ‘production crew’ is attending.

Nobody knows yet who the Fab Five are making over, but local Julia Nicholls told Fairfax Media that interviews for Queer Eye, were held several months ago at a local pub.

If the rumors are true, it’s the first time the Queer Eye team has done a makeover outside of the US.

Once the news got out about the potential Aussie makeover, people got very excited. Here are the best reaction to the news:

There is a really hot rumor that the #QueerEye guys will be filming in Yass, AUSTRALIA tomorrow – anyone on the @QueerEye media team care to verify that?? Just give me a subtle signal, nudge or wink!! — Mandy Mitchell (@MandyMitchell77) June 5, 2018 It’s about time Yass gets the recognition it deserves https://t.co/KtREXSaQT2 — Stephen Jeffery (@stephenejeffery) June 5, 2018 Update: they are going to Yass because of course YASS QUEEN (full disclosure – I guessed this to a colleague an hour ago ) https://t.co/iPLavALbkL — Paco Dylan (@pacodylan) June 5, 2018 Pretty sure @QueerEye is filming in Yass, NSW right now HOW DID WE NOT SEE THIS COMING #fabfive #queereye https://t.co/FNu3NQ3tKs — tacey rychter (@taceyrychter) June 5, 2018

Candidates ranked on LGBT issues

Candidates ranked on LGBT issues

Want to know where the provincial candidates stand on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues?

Fierté Simcoe Pride has done a lot of the legwork for you.

Fierté Simcoe Pride has released the results of its Proud Vote survey, in which it asked all of the candidates across the five ridings in Simcoe County (York-Simcoe, Barrie-Innisfil, Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, Simcoe-Grey and Simcoe North) a series of questions about issues faced by LGBT people to see where they stand. The candidates were given two weeks to respond.

Fierté Simcoe Pride’s board of directors, along with community members, reviewed the responses and assigned an overall grade to each candidate and party.

Brandon Rhéal Amyot, president of Fierté Simcoe Pride, was encouraged by the candidates’ responses and sees their willingness to engage as encouraging.

“If we had done this five years ago, I don’t think we would have received many responses — maybe one or two,” Amyot said this week when reached for an interview.

“We want to encourage discussion and discourse. It’s very hard to put nuanced ideas into a report card. Our main goal is to get people to read them, and also to convince people to get out and vote,” Amyot said.

While some parties fared better than others, Amyot stressed the goal of the exercise wasn’t to necessarily to rank parties, but more to disseminate information in a more digestible way for LGBT voters.

“Marginalized communities tend to see themselves as not represented in the discourse and discussion,” Amyot said.

Fourteen policy questions as well as three party questions were asked of each candidate. Some examples of topics are LGBT inclusion in the health curriculum, access to health care for transgender people, mental health services, the blood donation ban, and truth and reconciliation.

Some parties chose to show a united front by sending in responses as a group. For example, the Green Party candidates sent one response for all candidates in Simcoe County (Bonnie North of Barrie-Innisfil, Keenan Aylwin of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, Jesseca Perry of Simcoe-Grey, Valerie Powell of Simcoe North, and Alexandra Zalucky of York-Simcoe).

Amyot says some candidates are still reaching out despite the deadline being passed, indicating they met with York-Simcoe PC candidate Caroline Mulroney on Monday morning and would be adding new responses as they are received.

Amyot also said the grading system in no way indicates endorsement of any candidate by Fierté Simcoe Pride.

For detailed responses from the candidates as well as the full list of questions, click here . Party rankings from Proud Vote — overall score

Green Party: A

NDP: B+

Liberal: B

Progressive Conservative: C

None of the Above: C

Canadians’ Choice: C

Libertarian: C

Trillium: D

Survey: LGBT students feel less connected

Survey: LGBT students feel less connected

A majority of Vermont high school students feel like they matter to their communities. But they’re much less likely to feel this way if they are LGBT, according to the 2017 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

"That concerns me," said Maryann Morris, executive director of the Collaborative, a substance use prevention organization based in Londonderry. "We’re perceived as being this state that’s really open, and accepting — woke, to use the current term. But [these students are] still, at this young age, not feeling this connection."

The Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey is a national school-based survey that monitors health-risk behaviors among youth and young adults.

Only 39 percent of surveyed LGBT high school students reported feeling like they matter to people in their community, versus 64 percent of heterosexual or cisgender students — those whose gender identity corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth.

The survey is conducted every two years. In Vermont, the Department of Health works with the Agency of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct two separate surveys: one of high school students in grades 9 through 12, and one of middle school students in grades 6 through 8.

Overall, 20,653 high school students, representing 69 schools, and 13,887 Vermont middle school students, representing 122 schools, took the survey.

According to survey results, LGBT high school students are also significantly more likely than heterosexual or cisgender students to feel sad or hopeless, have safety concerns at school, experience bullying within the last month, or be forced to have sexual intercourse.

LGBT students were also four times more likely to have attempted suicide or hurt themselves on purpose in the past year.

These differences are also significant between heterosexual or cisgender and LGBT students at the middle school level.

"Youth who identify as something other than heterosexual or cisgender are, in many ways, falling through the cracks," said Dana Kaplan, executive director of Outright Vermont, an LGBT youth organization headquartered in Burlington. "Not feeling safe, not feeling seen. Or worse off, actively being targets of violence and hate."

There have been some improvements from previous surveys for LGBT youth — but that’s far from enough, he said

"Youth are still struggling with being safe and supported in their environments," Kaplan said. "That’s just not acceptable. That’s got to shift."

LGBT students live in a world that isn’t set up to be in line with their lived experience, he said. They handle overtly threatening behaviors — like hearing someone being called a slur — and dealing with default behaviors that threaten their identities.

A teacher separating a class into boys and girls could be an example of a default practice that doesn’t accurately reflect the experience of some students, Kaplan said.

"It makes sense that, when you try to move through a world that is not set up to cater to your lived experience … that would be a really challenging thing for anybody," he said. "Little things happen all day that work to to create an experience of either, ‘there’s something wrong with me,’ ‘I don’t belong here.’"

Of course, then, there’s disparities in the indicators seen in the survey, he said.

Data from the survey shows that LGBT high school students were more than three times as likely to have been forced to have sexual intercourse than heterosexual or cisgender students.

LGBT youth are not living in a culture where they have a lot of access to what it means to be in a healthy relationship, Kaplan said.

"If you don’t have that information, it’s hard to know," he said. "The need to be able to explore being in a relationship or explore sexual behaviors with other folks is there. And I think that can sometimes be compounded by again, not having a compass that is showing [a lot] of healthy options."

The world still assumes that, by default, a person will be heterosexual and cisgender, he said.

And when an LGBT person experiences sexual violence, it can be harder to access resources.

"It might not feel safe to access help," he said. "Help that is available might not be culturally current with what you need."

And the "overall lens" of transphobia, homophobia and racism is part of a context in which physical and sexual violence lives, he said.

The survey results also show an increase at the high school level in students who had ever tried electronic vapor products.

The percentage of high school students reporting having tried any of these products was 34 percent, up from 30 percent in 2015’s survey.

These percentages also increased from 2015 for middle school students, from 7 percent to 9 percent.

Electronic vapor products include e-cigarettes, which are small, battery-powered cartridges designed to deliver vaporized liquid nicotine in lieu of tobacco smoke.

The percentage of high school students reporting using methamphetamines and cocaine also decreased from 2015 results, from 3 percent to 2 percent, 5 percent to 4 percent, respectively.

The percentage of high school students reporting having tried heroin stayed the same, at 2 percent overall.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@berkshireeagle.com, at @BE_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118. TALK TO US

If you’d like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us . We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

LGBT leaders come together to denounce wedding cake ruling

LGBT leaders come together to denounce wedding cake ruling

On election eve, solidarity against the attack on queer people’s legal rights

LGBT community leaders – not all of whom are in agreement on the June 5 election – came together this afternoon to denounce the Supreme Court’s ruling in the wedding-cake case. But one lawyer also urged the crowd not to let the right wing take this as a victory.

The decision, in a Colorado case where a baker refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, stopped short of saying that private businesses have the right to discriminate against LGBT people . Mark Leno addresses a rally on the wedding cake ruling But it did say that in this case, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission failed to show proper deference to the baker’s religious beliefs.

If you read the entire decision, it’s a bit stunning: The US Supreme Court took the comments of one member of a Colorado commission, who said in public that religious beliefs have been used to excuse all sorts of discrimination and oppression in the past, as grounds to make a statement that hate groups may use to promote their agenda.

Leslie Katz, a lawyer and former supervisor who is on the board of Equality California, said that “as much as the far right will try to claim this as a victory, far from it.” She said that the decision, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, specifically stated that LGBT people have the right to be protected from discrimination.

But despite what some people called a “narrow” ruling, that just applies to this case, the message the Court sent is alarming.

“Now one in business serving the public should have to right to discriminate against anyone,” Mark Leno, former state senator and candidate for mayor, said.

Imagine, he said, if the Court ruled that it’s okay “to say I won’t do business with you because you are a Jew, or Black, or Chinese. Yet this cake shop could say that to a gay couple. … The message that this sends to our community is painful. When it comes to LGBT people, it’s still okay to discriminate.”

Justices Ruth Ginsburg and Sonya Sotomayor addressed that question in their dissent. While the Court majority compared this case to others in which Colorado bakers refused to decorate cakes with hate messages, the dissent states, those bakers would have denied that service to anyone. In this case, the baker would not sell to the plaintiffs “for no reason other than their sexual orientation, a cake of the kind he regularly sold to others.”

Sup. Jeff Sheehy said that the ruling pits religion against gay rights. “This idea that LBGT people are not people of faith is wrong,” he said. “We are Catholics, we are Jewish, we are Episcopalians, we are Baptists. To pit religion against the LGBT community is horrifying.”

Rafael Mandelman, a Community College Board trustee who is running against Sheehy, agreed: “It is absolutely clear that we have not achieved full legal equality.”

Three of the speakers are running for office. Others in the crowd have supported or opposed them. But everyone agreed to put the campaign signs down – literally, they all put them down on the ground – for a moment to agree on this decision.

Pride Month Roundtable: How LGBT-friendly Is Hong Kong?

Pride Month Roundtable: How LGBT-friendly Is Hong Kong?

Kayla Wong

Kayla Wong was just 22 when her life was turned upside down. “I was with my girlfriend, we were in Kennedy Town by the harbour, we were just hugging and kissing,” remembers Kayla, the founder of ethical clothing brand Basics for Basics. “But the paparazzi had followed us and they suddenly appeared in front of us in the dark with their cameras flashing. It was super traumatic.”

The tabloids had a field day. Newspapers and magazines plastered the photos on their front pages, prompting Kayla to come out to the press and reveal that she had the full support of her parents, actor Michael Wong and model Janet Ma. “I had already told my parents two years before,” says Kayla. “I was fine with being out as a gay person, but I just didn’t feel like this should be a thing.” Kayla Wong (Photo: Nic and Bex Gaunt) Kayla’s disappointment is understandable. This isn’t a story from the 1960s, when homosexuality was still illegal in most countries; this happened in Hong Kong in 2014, the same year that Britain legalised same-sex marriage, Apple CEO Tim Cook came out as gay and Jared Leto won an Oscar for playing a transgender activist in Dallas Buyers Club.

Even the conservative Catholic Church softened its stance on homosexuality in 2014, with Pope Francis declaring “homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.”

So for all Hong Kong’s claims to be “Asia’s world city,” just how LGBT-friendly is it? It’s a tough question to answer, say some of the city’s leading LGBT personalities who recently gathered at Douglas Young’s Mid-Levels home for a roundtable discussion on the state of LGBT rights in Hong Kong.

As this discussion took place on the eve of Pride Month, which is celebrated in June, it was an especially appropriate time to reflect on the lives of the city’s LGBT residents. Douglas Young

Homosexuality was only legalised in Hong Kong in 1991—24 years after it was legalised in the UK, and 11 years after the state of New York—but Douglas doesn’t remember living in fear before legalisation. Instead, sexuality simply wasn’t discussed.

“When I was young, nobody knew the word in Cantonese for gay,” recalls Douglas, the founder of the brand GOD. “I think my biggest breakthrough was watching this TVB soap opera called A House is Not a Home, which came out in 1977. It featured a gay character. They used the phrase tung sing luen, which translates roughly as same-sex love. It was such a mysterious word for me. We had a nanny and when I asked her, she said, ‘That’s no business for kids.’ But I knew instinctively that it was something to do with me.” Douglas Young (Photo: Nic and Bex Gaunt) Undeterred by his nanny’s response, Douglas confided in people at school and found an open-minded, supportive friendship group. “I went to Diocesan Boys’ School and there were lots of LGBT students,” says Douglas. “I’m still very close with my schoolmates and I’m very open with them and we still meet regularly. I don’t think I’ve ever been judged by them. If it wasn’t for that school, I might still be hiding or not be as open as I am.” Gigi Chao

Gigi Chao, executive director of Cheuk Nang Holdings and an unofficial spokesperson of the LGBT community, found a similar group of friends when she was in her teens in the 1990s. “I went to an international school and I had a few friends that were lesbians, so we hung out in a little group and would go out and meet girls. We hung out in Causeway Bay and we were allowed to be ourselves.”

One person not happy that teenage Gigi was hanging out with LGBT friends was her father, property tycoon Cecil Chao . “Of course [our sexuality] was to the great dismay of our respective parents. They were all very concerned—probably up to this day they’re all very concerned,” says Gigi.

In 2012, Cecil famously offered HK$500 million to any man who could persuade Gigi to marry him, despite the fact that Gigi had just tied the knot in Paris with Sean Eav, her long-term girlfriend. Cecil’s offer sparked a global media storm and Gigi was inundated with proposals from more than 20,000 men.

It would have been easy for Gigi to retaliate and paint a picture of her father as unsupportive and out of touch, but she lay low and in 2014 published a calm, considered open letter in the South China Morning Post. Gigi Chao (Photo: Nic and Bex Gaunt) “You are one of the most mentally astute, energetic yet well-mannered and hard-working people this humble earth has ever known,” Gigi wrote. “As your daughter, I want nothing more than to make you happy. But in terms of relationships, your expectations of me and the reality of who I am are not coherent.”

Four years on from that letter, Gigi remains close to her father, but he still rarely sees her wife. “He doesn’t see Sean much, but we bump into each other sometimes at social events, at the Tatler Ball , for example,” Gigi says.

“Since coming out, the good thing is that there are now moments when he actually treats me as an adult. For parents, I think it’s sometimes quite difficult. But there are moments where he does show that respect for me and we talk to each other as friends. Dad and I have a very close father-daughter relationship and we love each other very much.”

Whether you are the daughter of a tycoon or come from more humble beginnings, coming out to family remains one of the biggest challenges for LGBT people. “There’s not a lot of in-your-face discrimination in Hong Kong, so that leads to a seen-but-not-heard situation in some families, where everyone knows a family member is LGBT but no one discusses it,” Gigi says. Angus Wong

Angus Wong, founder of gay club night Behind, admits that is what happened to him. “I think it’s a very Chinese mentality, where you know but don’t talk about it,” Angus says. “That’s how it worked with me and my mum. She was very open-minded, we watched Sex and the City together and we discussed gay plotlines, but I never had a definitive conversation about coming out.” Angus Wong (Photo: Nic and Bex Gaunt) Coming out to family can be particularly hard in Hong Kong, where there’s a lot of pressure to have children and continue the family name. “I know a lot of gay people that are not out and are married because they’ve been forced into this marriage in order to have descendants,” Douglas says.

All of this leaves many in the LGBT community caught in a bind. They don’t face open discrimination at home or in public, so they don’t feel they can complain, especially when LGBT people in other Asian countries are the victims of witch-hunts. Yet many gays and lesbians here are deeply hurt by the pressure they feel to keep their relationships secret. May Chow & Samantha Wong

“Tolerance is not celebration,” says May Chow , chef-owner of Little Bao and Happy Paradise . As May and her partner, Samantha Wong, are in a relatively privileged position with successful careers, a happy relationship and a strong network of friends, they see it as their job to be extra visible. “We can push it just a little bit more—I tell people I’m gay all the time,” says May. May Chow (Photo: Nic and Bex Gaunt) The fact that May and Samantha are so visibly out and proud seems to have helped earn their families’ support. “My mum went to [LGBT festival] Pink Dot with May’s mum,” says Samantha, founder of the marketing agency On Air Collective.

See also: May Chow on Elevating a Dim Sum Classic

“And now my mum is spreading the word about LGBT rights to all my aunties. In our last conversation, she asked when we’re going to get married and said, ‘When are you going to have a baby? You two should have a baby soon.’" Legalising gay marriage

Everyone at the table agrees that legalising gay marriage is crucial to furthering LBGT rights in Hong Kong.

“If you don’t recognise gay marriage, for every one of us around the table, when you’re filling in a tax form, you’re always lying,” Gigi says. “Even though I’m married in a same-sex relationship, I always have to tick I’m single on my tax form. And that’s a lie, really. [Resisting gay marriage] is also another way of society putting off recognising the LGBT community in general.” Samantha Wong (Photo: Nic and Bex Gaunt) Marriage also has a huge impact on people’s legal rights, including on subjects such as hospital visitation rights.

“I used to think ‘Okay, we can’t get married and have legal rights, but I can get into a private hospital.’ But as I’ve got older, I’ve realised that true happiness for society is a collective good,” May says, her voice cracking with emotion. “So I might be able to take care of Samantha if she gets sick, but for a person who’s making just enough money and who can’t afford private healthcare for themselves and their partner, that’s really hard.”

Everyone nods when Gigi says there’s a tough road ahead to the legalisation of gay marriage. “In terms of politics and getting it through the legal system, it’ll take a lot of work, but we can take steps towards it,” Gigi says.

Douglas adds that it will only come about if people pressure the government. “I think the Hong Kong government is very reactive, they’re not proactive,” he says. “They respond to what other people do.”

See also: Room To Read Founder John Wood On How To Turn Social Impact Into A Startup’s Competitive Advantage

One thing LGBT Hongkongers and their supporters can do is put pressure on businesses. “I’m a member of a number of clubs in Hong Kong and the Football Club is one of the few that recognises same-sex partners,” Douglas says. “If more clubs recognised same-sex couples, say the Hong Kong Club, then it starts putting pressure on the government.”

Gigi adds: “the Golf Club and Hong Kong Club do not recognise same-sex partnerships, so every time Sean and I go, she’s my guest.” Everyone also voices their support for Pink Dot Hong Kong, an annual LGBT festival, and the Gay Games , an international sporting event promoting sexual diversity that will be hosted by Hong Kong in 2022. Speaking up

But the most important thing, everyone agrees, is being open about sexuality. “I think it’s important that we break free from the shackles of tradition and speak out,” Gigi says.

“The only tool we really have is to communicate with people. When someone who thinks they know no gay people discovers […]

The world’s hottest LGBT-friendly destinations

The world's hottest LGBT-friendly destinations

The LGBT traveller is being courted by destinations all around the world. Abigail Healy looks at what’s hot for 2018. Europe
The Swedish tourist board VisitSweden has worked hard to promote LGBT travel in the UK and is cementing its commitment further with a new global campaign, “Open for Everyone”.

For LGBT travellers planning a visit, suggest mid-summer when they will not only be able to bask in the midnight sun, but can also revel at Europride – hosted in Stockholm from July 27 to August 5.

From the city to the slopes, European Gay Ski Week celebrated its 10th anniversary this March in France’s Les Menuires and the resort will be gearing up for yet another epic celebration in 2019. The week-long event combines skiing and snowboarding with cabaret, parties hosted by international clubs and DJs, fine dining, pool parties and open-air apres ski. Pure Organisation hosts the event and offers agents commission.

Event director Kevin Millins says: “We’ve put together a full programme along with chalet, hotel and apartment accommodation to suit all budgets in a resort where everyone is very welcoming and friendly.”

For clients who prefer to shun the snow for the sand, look to Gran Canaria. Known as “Miami Beach of Europe”, hotspots on the Canary island include renowned gay beach bar Kiosk No7, marked by its weathered Pride flag, and Yumbo Centre, a mall with stores tailored to the LGBT community. Highlights of Gran Canaria’s events calendar include Maspalomas Gay Pride in May and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Carnival Drag Queen Show, in February-March 2019.

Malta is another sun-soaked destination that welcomes LGBT travellers with open arms. It has just been ranked top on the European Rainbow Index 2018, winning the accolade for the third consecutive year. This year the island plays host to TropOut gay festival in September – it’s the first European country to host the event and coincides with Malta Pride.

For a sociable week of activities and cultural experiences, Slovenia’s Pink Week offers travellers the chance to explore the country with like-minded people. Clients can be sure of a classy experience thanks to organisation by Matej and Mattej, co-owners of Luxury Slovenia DMC. Activities at this year’s event, which has just taken place, included a visit to Lipica, home to the Lipizzan horses, a carriage ride through Unesco karst caves, and of course blow-out parties. Americas

The US is bursting with Pride events and LGBT-friendly destinations, so clients looking to head stateside can include these in itineraries should they wish.

The big ticket is WorldPride, hosted for the first time in the US by New York City next summer. Fred Dixon, president and chief executive of NYC & Company, says: “2019 is a particularly poignant moment in time for New York City and the global LGBTQ community, marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising – a pivotal event that is widely known as the birthplace of Pride and the modern LGBTQ rights movement.”

Before then, clients heading south this autumn should look to Atlanta, which hosts its 48th Pride festival from October 12-14, as well as other events throughout the year.

Up in the Capital Region, the city of Richmond in Virginia has a campaign, OutRVA, with a handy website dedicated to LGBT-friendly accommodation, dining and attractions. Virginia also hosts VA PrideFest in September.

Neighbouring state Maryland’s largest city Baltimore has an up-and-coming LGBT scene in the hip neighbourhood of Mount Vernon – a lively cultural arts centre. For those keen to party, Baltimore Pride takes place from June 7-17 this year with a Saturday parade and block party.

Out west in California, Palm Springs claims the largest number of gay resorts in the US and has an all-gay city council. The Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism offers a warm welcome to LGBT visitors with dedicated LGBT information outlets, including the visitgaypalmsprings.com website. It also hosts a range of year-round events such as The Dinah Shore Weekend, one of the world’s largest lesbian events, the annual Cinema Diverse LGBT Film Festival and Palm Springs Pride (November 3-4, 2018).

San Francisco is where the Pride flag was first waved in 1978 and it continues to be a hub for the LGBT community today, particularly in the Castro district, which is decorated with bright rainbow colours. Its Pride event, which claims to be the country’s largest, is from June 23-24 this year.

And of course Las Vegas has to get in on the action with a series of LGBT-friendly events. Funway’s destinationproduct manager, Malcolm Davies, points out some of the highlights, including The Sin City Shootout –an LGBT athletic tournament; Viva WildSide’s Sin City Soiree – a week of parties and events for the transgender community; Matinee – a gay dance music festival over Memorial Day weekend (late May); Convergence festival over Labor Day weekend in September, and of course Las Vegas Pride
(October 19-21).

Sporty types are well catered for too with AdventureOUT in Snowmass, Colorado, from July 4-8, 2018. Developed by the group behind Aspen Gay Ski Week, the event offers hiking, biking and white-water rafting in the surrounds of the Rocky Mountains. Meanwhile, those of a more wintry persuasion should look to Canada from January 20-27, 2019, when Whistler hosts its 26th Pride and Ski Festival – with previous events having featured comedy nights, the splash pool party, Snowball26 – a huge club night, and plenty of on-slope fancy dress.

In the Caribbean, Funway’s Davies recommends the Dutch Caribbean islands of Curacao and Aruba, both of which have welcoming LGBT attitudes and laws. As well as picture postcard beaches and laid-back beach bars, Curacao will be particularly lively from September 27-30 this year when its annual Pride festival takes place. Asia Pacific It’s been a momentous year for Australia’s LGBT community with the legalisation of same-sex marriage last December and the 40th anniversary of Sydney’s iconic Mardi Gras festival in March, headlined by singer Cher. Mardi Gras typically takes place on the first Saturday in March, so revellers can start planning for next year’s event – Travel 2 has a package on sale from £1,299pp for 10 nights – but in the meantime LGBT visitors can be sure of a warm welcome in the city, and of course tie the knot should they wish.

The Asia region can be a mixed bag when it comes to LGBT travel, but Thailand is making big strides in promoting its inclusive message. This year will see the first global LGBT symposium in Bangkok with LGBT buyers and media in attendance. The aim is to deliver organisational change among Thai travel brands and help them create product to appeal to the LGBT community.

Chris Lee, head of marketing at Tourism Authority of Thailand, UK and Ireland, says the destination already has a huge amount to offer LGBT travellers, highlighting hotels and experiences such as gay-owned Twelve Bangkok, Villa Mahabhirom and the Supanniga Cruise, as well as global brands including Peninsula Bangkok, Belmond, SO Sofitel Bangkok and other Accor brands that have made a commitment to the LGBT community, plus DMCs such as Easia and Smiling Albino, which have created safe and inclusive LGBT product.

Lee adds: “With a subcommittee in the Justice Ministry of Thailand developed to consider same-sex civil unions in the foreseeable future, we also expect exponential growth in the popularity of Thailand among LGBTQ travellers.”

Join us at the TTG LGBT Conference
Interested in learning more about marketing and selling to the LGBT market? Tickets are on sale to our annual event on July 4 at Tropicana Beach Club. CLAIRE STIRRUP

Sales director UK and Ireland, Celebrity Cruises.

HOW CAN YOU HELP AGENTS WHEN BOOKING CRUISES FOR LGBT TRAVELLERS?
We have a dedicated LGBT+ toolkit available (cruisingforexcellence.co.uk), including a host of marketing tools, recommended itineraries, a bank of destination and onboard images, a print advertisement template, video overviews and the rainbow Celebrity Cruises logo.

WHAT IS YOUR TOP SELLING TIP WHEN BOOKING LGBT CLIENTS?
It’s important to treat everyone as an individual no matter how they self-identify. First, find a holiday that suits your clients’ needs. LGBTQ clients will want to know that wherever they go on holiday they will be welcomed, respected and safe. Ultimately, that’s no different from any other client – they simply want a fantastic holiday experience. SALLY HENRY

Sales director, Hoseasons.

HOW CAN YOU HELP AGENTS WHEN BOOKING BREAKS FOR LGBT TRAVELLERS?
Our Specialist Collection agents’ guide is a great starting point. It provides inspiration from our eight Specialist ranges. Using the “feature filters” on the agent portal (hoseasons.co.uk/agents) can help you find the best breaks for your customers – you can filter for features such as hot tubs, indoor pools, spa facilities and many more, so you can find exactly what they are looking for.

WHAT IS YOUR TOP SELLING TIP FOR AGENTS WHEN BOOKING LGBT CLIENTS?
Get to know your customer and make them feel at ease. Use gender-neutral phrases and questions where possible and take an interest in their reason for travel – the more you know, the better service you can deliver.

Newcastle students vote to place sanitary bins in male toilets

Newcastle students vote to place sanitary bins in male toilets

(Wikimedia Commons) A groundbreaking move at Newcastle University will allow transgender and non-binary people who have periods to use sanitary bins when they are on campus.

The measure, which has been voted in unanimously by Newcastle University Student’s Union, will make sanitary bins available in men’s toilets.

The bins, which will be introduced across the Union so that non-binary and trans students can choose the toilet they feel “comfortable” with when they are on their period, reported The Chronicle . NUSU LGBT Officer Hannah Fitzpatrick introducing the motion (NUSU/Twitter) Newcastle University Student’s Union’s LGBT officer Hannah Fitzpatrick, introduced the idea in December 2017.

After receiving a backlash in several tabloids, Fitzpatrick said she was proud to introduce the measure, but “baffled” as to why it had hit the headlines.

“On one side it is for students who identify with a range of genders,” NUSU student President Ronnie Reid told The Chronicle . Sanitary towel illustration (Pixabay) “On the other it is also for students who may have a medical condition so the bins are not just for menstrual care products.” The union hopes that the main university will follow and introduce bins in male bathrooms.

“We will discuss the Students’ Union motion for menstrual care bins in all washrooms,” said a university spokesperson to The Chronicle . Newcastle University Student’s Union (NUSU/Wikimedia Commons) “There are a number of gender-neutral accessible toilets around campus, and care bins are provided within gender-neutral and single toilet units.”

Transgender men and non-binary people are frustratingly forgotten as people who can also have periods.

In a bid to tackle the little-discussed topic, a transgender man made history by fronting a campaign about being a man who menstruates . (Pink Parcel) “During my transition, I did have to deal with experiencing periods each month and many of the negative stereotypes that can come along with it,” he told PinkNews.

“Assuming periods are inhibiting to people tends to perpetuate period shame even more, and makes people even more reluctant to talk about them.

“I always found the fact that no-one seemed to openly talk about periods quite difficult,” he said, adding that it “made me want to hide mine even more.”

One in three Brits believe that periods are still a taboo subject, according to a poll released by Pink Parcel.

Exclusive: Inside Russia’s first queer dance festival

Exclusive: Inside Russia’s first queer dance festival

The Northern capital of Russia welcomes its first queer dance festival to the city.

“St. Petersburg is the LGBT capital of Russia,” laughs Katya, a talented dancer from Moscow, as she gets out of the club for some fresh air between a salsa and a tango dance.

We are at the fourth international queer dance festival in St. Petersburg, an event that would be unthinkable in many cities in Russia, but not in the Northern capital, where two young determined women have been successfully managing a queer dance school for over four years.

Marina Ventarron and Anna Morisot, the two organisers of the annual celebration and directors of the school, are bursting with excitement when they announce the opening of the festival, the first in the city to be dedicated to different forms of queer dances.

“My main purpose with this festival is to improve the image of queer people,” says Marina. “I’d like to make them realise that the situation can be better, that you can be yourself in our country and have a good life.” As traditional values and gender norms continue to spike in the country and the ban on the spread of information about “non-traditional family values” to minors keeps being in place, LGBT events are scarce, and particularly hard to organise.

As according to the infamous 2014 gay propaganda law, propagation of LGBT-related information is not allowed to come to the attention of minors, the internet and in particular the social media are the only way of advertising the event. “I think that the festival is particularly important for the queer society,” explains Soledad Nani, a Buenos Aires teacher of queer tango, who has been a regular guest of the festival from its very beginning.

“I always felt it as as a space of safety, security, and freedom that couldn’t be found elsewhere.” Dancers pair up at the festival (PinkNews/Francesca Visser) However, any hopes for a general change of attitude in the country still seem to be out of sight according to the Argentinian dancer.

“I think it’s hard here in Russia. Because it starts from the state, it’s not just about people, or a certain group of people, it is the state, since there are laws that forbid LGBT propaganda.”

The queer dance festival represents a great opportunity to reconsider gender roles and a much needed delightful distraction for the LGBT community of the city. Born as a tango festival four years ago, the event this year features also different dances, like kizomba, salsa, bachata and Lindy-hop, presented by dance teachers from various parts of the world. Inside the festival (PinkNews/Francesca Visser) For Lera Estrella, a Moscow-born bachata teacher, the existence of such a festival in her own country was a revelation. Having lived abroad for the past seven years, Lera discovered her passion for dancing during a cruise in the Caribbean where she had been working after having left her motherland.

Seduced by the Latin rhythm, but uneasy in the passive role assigned to her in these highly traditional dances she turned to the internet to find where she could learn how to lead and then founded a school in Ireland where she now lives. The festival took place for the first time in St. Petersburg (PinkNews/Francesca Visser) After four years of dance classes, Lera has now become a female Lead teacher and a passionate supporter of queer dancing: “Queer dancing is a dialogue, an exchange of opinions, whereas dancing that is not queer is always a monologue of the Lead.”

Besides being a dance event, the festival is also a learning experience for many of the participants, where they can revise their own definition of gender roles.
“I discovered two energies in myself and I let them free, a bit femme, a bit masculine, a bit something in between, I feel like I am a mix of many things and I find this interesting, educative and enriching,” concludes Soledad.

Stay in the closet at World Cup, gay fans warned

Stay in the closet at World Cup, gay fans warned

A general view of the Luzhniki stadium on August 29, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. (Lars Baron/Getty) Football fans have been warned to stay in the closet at the World Cup and not openly “display” their sexuality.

The World Cup, which is taking place in Russia later this month, has been marred by threats of violence towards LGBT fans from the country’s homophobic ultra-nationalist factions.

The Russian government had assured FIFA that everyone would be safe at the contest – but concerns for safety has led to eleventh-hour appeals for gay fans to hide their sexuality to avoid becoming a target.

Guidance from the UK Government was recently amended to make a warning to fans. A close-up view shows the official match ball for the 2018 World Cup football tournament (MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty ) The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Be on the Ball guide has been quietly updated on May 21, just weeks before the contest, to warn fans that “public attitudes towards LGBT+ people are less tolerant than in the UK.”

The FCO directs fans to a section of the England Fans’ Guide to Russia 2018, published by the Football Supporters’ Federation, which makes further warnings clear.

It states: “With any trip abroad it is essential to understand your destination’s cultural and ideological beliefs.

“Whilst often you are able to behave as you would in the UK, certain things must be treated with caution in societies less tolerant than back home. “There is no reason not to come to the World Cup if you are LGBT+. However, although same-sex sexual activity has been decriminalised in Russia since 1993, it is strongly understood and advised that you do not publicly display your sexuality, but this is up to the individual.”

The guide warns that the country’s gay propaganda law “effectively prohibiting any public display of LGBT+ rights” is “generally supported by the population due to the conservative and Christian Orthodox beliefs held by many.” Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup football tournament (KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty) It urges fans not to fly rainbow flags at matches, saying: “This would contradict the aforementioned ‘propaganda law’ and Russian LGBT+ groups have questioned how safe LGBT+ fans will be who raise the Rainbow flag during matches.”

Meanwhile transgender fans are warned that the “safest option” for using the bathroom would be to go into a disabled toilet, rather than risk violence by using a male or female toilet.

The guide also warns LGBT fans that of “Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, and other Muslim regions within the North Caucasus should be avoided” entirely because of homophobic purges reported in the last year . A man pushes a stroller past a FIFA World Cup 2018 emblem placed in front of the Nizhny Novgorod’s Kremlin on January 21, 2018. (MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty) It adds: “It’s important to note that whilst no World Cup matches will be played in any regions of the North Caucasus, it is important to understand nonetheless that Russia is a big country and attitudes will vary from city to city.”

The decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively has been criticised by LGBT activists, who fear they will be prohibited from expressing themselves in both countries.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, while hate crimes against LGBT people have doubled in Russia since it created a law banning gay “propaganda”.

The 2013 legislation, which prohibits “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” towards minors, has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights.

Syria war: Amnesty says UK ‘should come clean’ on Raqqa attacks

Syria war: Amnesty says UK 'should come clean' on Raqqa attacks

Syrian forces backed by the coalition took back Raqqa from IS in October 2017 The UK should "come clean" about its role in attacks on the Syrian city of Raqqa which allegedly killed hundreds of civilians, a charity has said.

Amnesty International said it has found evidence air strikes by a US-led coalition were "potential war crimes".

The charity spent two weeks in Raqqa , which had been targeted in the war against the so-called Islamic State (IS), interviewing 112 witnesses.

Both the UK and US said civilian casualties were minimised. ‘Carnage’

Air strikes on Raqqa, the capital of IS’s so-called caliphate since 2014, began on 6 June last year.

Syrian Democratic Forces backed by the coalition took control of the city in October.

Amnesty director Kate Allen said: "Civilians in Raqqa have suffered grievously at the hands of IS, but they’ve also been imperilled by the coalition’s disproportionate aerial attacks."

She said the coalition’s more than 200 strikes "killed hundreds and injured thousands of civilians" and "the UK needs to come clean over its role in this carnage". Why is there a war in Syria?

Raqqa’s dirty secret

The city fit for no-one

Islamic State: The full story

Coalition spokesman US Army Col Sean Ryan said Ms Allen should "leave the comforts of the UK" and see how the forces are "fighting an enemy that does not abide by any laws, norms or human concern". IS took over Raqqa in 2014, making it the capital of their so-called caliphate He said there are "rigorous efforts and intelligence gathering" before any strike to "effectively destroy IS while minimising harm on civilian populations".

Col Ryan also said IS fighters used non-combatants as shields "in order to sadistically claim the coalition is killing civilians". Amnesty International spoke to 112 witnesses at 42 sites of air strikes in Raqqa Last month, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) admitted for the first time that a civilian on a motorbike had been "unintentionally killed" in eastern Syria as a result of an RAF Reaper drone strike on 26 March.

An MoD spokesman said the aim of the campaign was "keeping Britain safe from terrorism" and the department has been "open and transparent".

He said: "We do everything we can to minimise the risk to civilian life through our rigorous targeting processes and the professionalism of the RAF crews but, given the ruthless and inhuman behaviour of (IS), and the congested, complex urban environment in which we operate, we must accept that the risk of inadvertent civilian casualties is ever present."