Thursday, December 10, 2009

Palermo---Why I chose it for my new home...

Buenos Aires, Argentina

By Roy Heale

One of the great joys in relocating to a different city is the time spent discovering one's new neighborhood. My choice to live in the Palermo community of Buenos Aires was based on a number of different criteria. But probably the biggest reason was my close proximity to the wonderful parkland which skirts the region and extends to the banks of the River Plate. This is like being close to Central Park in New York or Hyde Park in London, but with a distinctly European flair and variety of landscapes in a much larger green space than either of those parks can claim. One of the reasons this massive parkland exists in the heart of Buenos Aires is because it was an enormous private estate until the middle of the 1800s.

It has been said that Palermo has the feel of a park where some people happen to live---in the midst of this miles-long expanse of green open space the towering high-rise apartment buildings re-enforce that expression.

My home is just two blocks from the main entrance to the parkland area which begins with the Botanical Gardens and the Zoo Gardens. So naturally I try to spend as much time as possible enjoying an island of green space in the heart of this metropolis, usually commencing with an early morning walk. To fully enjoy this peaceful haven I need to own a bicycle, but for the time being I settle for long walks before the afternoon sun becomes too fierce.

Recently I decided it was time to explore the Rose Gardens about which I had heard many glowing reports from my new neighbors and friends. What gay man doesn't love flowers? It was a sunny Sunday morning and I thought my early start would avoid the crowds. However, after a short ten minute walk to the garden's entrance, I discovered the roads were closed to allow joggers and cyclists to enjoy an energetic Sunday morning workout. Despite the night-owl culture of this city's residents, the park was already humming with Portenos. But once inside the Rose Gardens there was a distinct air of tranquility as everyone took a moment to stop and smell the roses!

This park within the park was ablaze with the sights and scents of almost every variety and species of roses known to horticulturists and much more. The fountains, lakes, ornate bridges, pergolas, patios, gazebos, statues, and even the collection of International Rosas Nuevos, were neatly laid out and cultivated perfectly for a relaxing stroll through the manicured gardens. Even though the park proved to be very popular on a Sunday morning there was never a time when it felt crowded. Everyone was enjoying a leisurely stroll through one of mother nature's wonderlands!

Each time I venture out to enjoy a different slice of the Palermo pie I am not disappointed by the choice of my new main course for the future.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mendoza---Argentina's Wine Capital and Much More......

By Roy Heale

Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, about 1000 meters above sea level, is the charming city of Mendoza. Known largely for being the capital of Argentina's wine making industry----especially the renowned Malbecs---Mendoza is also the center for skiing in the higher Andes peaks during July, August, and September. Plus the year-round natural hot springs just a short drive from town along with the beautiful parks and lakes in the city are fashioning Mendoza as a popular new vacation destination especially for budget-conscious travelers.

The city is the perfect place to call home while taking short excursions, day trips, or even overnight journeys to explore the numerous different vacation activities in this diverse region. Filled with tree-lined avenues, beautiful plazas, historic architecture, and artisan markets Mendoza offers a relaxed pace of life in a bustling urban environment. The heart of the city pulses in the main square called Plaza Independencia, while the Parque San Martin offers a multitude of relaxing outdoor activities in a lush green environment, and the Area Fundacional is a trip back in time to the city's early settlement days. And of course the annual “la Fiesta de la Vendimia” in March is the renowned wine festival for which Mendoza is now renowned worldwide.

Finding accommodations in Mendoza can be challenging with a multitude of options and price ranges. Every style and size of hotel is available from major brand name chains to small independent pensionnes with everything in between. But the gay-owned and operated Deptosmendoza offers two alternatives for suite rentals in the heart of the city at reasonable rates with a variety of styles and sizes to match with every holiday budget. The Modigliani Art and Design Suites are eleven modern contemporary, comfortable, spacious apartments with complete facilities and a Galeria de Arte on the top floor. Coupled with the Dot Suites---a boutique resort, with only five unique units, minimalist design, with an emphasis on architecture, art, design and lighting---any vacation requirements and budgets can be accommodated by Deptosmendoza. The English speaking staff are extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the whole region and can assist with all holiday plans for time in the city or excursions around the region. A surprisingly “big-city” gay welcome and experience awaits the smart gay traveler in this cozy mountain retreat town.

The dry desert-like climate almost guarantees hot sunny days for enjoying outdoor activities coupled with warm nights where outdoor dining is the perfect end to a high-altitude day.

A sophisticated local culture blends with a simpler, unhurried lifestyle for a perfectly relaxing vacation. Great sights and experiences by day plus restaurants, bars, and cafes offer a multitude of nightlife entertainment options including gay and gay-friendly establishments. Late at night the Aristides Villanueva is the street for dining out and of course the action starts at about 10PM as with all Argentine dinners. Here you will find a festive atmosphere with large patios full of locals and tourists indulging themselves at restaurants offering every International culinary delight imaginable plus, of course, the renowned Argentine Parillas, where beef is a heavenly delight especially when accompanied by a local Mendoza vintage red wine. All at prices lower than almost any other major vacation destination in the world today!

After dinner a leisurely stroll, perhaps some refreshingly cool Crema Helada---ice cream---and a visit to a local gay bar will be the perfect end to a fun-filled day. Either Queen or La Reserva Pub---the major LGBT bars in town---located in the heart of downtown Mendoza will be open and waiting to entertain you until dawn, or perhaps even later. On the weekends the city is very much alive at sunrise and as some people end their day almost as many vacationers are making an early start to theirs!

It's easy to understand why so many smart gay travelers are including a visit to Mendoza on their South American holiday adventures. Suddenly it's being recognized for much more than just the annual wine festival in March.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Court Overturns Ruling That Authorized Gay Marriage

Courtesy of the Buenos Aires Herald
A Judge ordered to suspend the first gay wedding that had been scheduled for December 1st in Buenos Aires City after the ruling that authorized the marriage was overturned.
The head of the Civil Court---85 Marta Gómez Alsina---ordered to suspend the wedding of Alex Freyre and José María Di Bello.
Buenos Aires City General Attorney Pablo Tonelli said that the "Civil Registry where they were supposed to get married has already notified us of the decision by the Judge to suspend it."
The wedding of Freyre and Di Bello had been authorized by a ruling ordered by Judge Gabriela Seijas.
Supreme Court Justice Carlos Fayt said Argentina's highest tribunal is currently analyzing a ruling on the possible legalization of same-sex marriages, as the first gay wedding was suspended following an appeals court ruling. The case now awaits a final decision in the hands of the Supreme Court.
Gay activists were demonstrating on December 1st in Buenos Aires in a move to press the authorities to go forward with a law draft to legalize homosexual marriages.
Judge Gabriela Seijas issued a second ruling in favour of the same-sex marriage, thus confirming her first ruling allowing on the legalization of gay marraige.
There is no indication as to how long the Supreme Court will take to reach a conclusion for this appeal.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gay Argentine couple's wedding plans divide an entire continent

By Annie Kelly The Observer, Sunday 29 November 2009

Two Argentinians will this week become the first gay couple in Latin America to get married, following a three-year campaign that pitted politician against politician, overturned laws and angered millions of Catholics.

Alex Freyre and partner Jose Maria Di Bello, Latin America's first same-sex couple to be granted a marriage licence Photograph: Marcos Brindicci/Reuters
The Beruti register office in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires will never have witnessed a wedding like it. On Tuesday, Alex Freyre and José María Di Bello, who met three years ago at a conference on HIV, will make history and divide a continent as they become Latin America's first gay married couple.
The ceremony will be a tribute to their determination as well as their love for each other, after a bitter three-year campaign which has divided a city, outraged thw country's powerful Roman Catholic church and overturned the constitution.
Freyre and Di Bello's forthcoming nuptials have been debated on television, in churches and on the street. Hostile posters can be found on billboards across the city. But, in Di Bello's words, nothing can now prevent him and his partner becoming "husband and husband".
Not surprisingly, the marriage is already being hailed by equality activists as a significant triumph against the odds in a traditionally macho society. Argentina – and Latin America in general – is not known for a tolerance of sexual diversity, and violence against gays is an everyday occurrence.
"This marriage is bigger than José María and I," Freyre told the Observer. "It is a victory for all who face prejudice and discrimination across Latin America and the Caribbean. It is proof that at last the grip of the Catholic church is slipping across Latin America, the system that has kept gay communities silent and fearful is crumbling. What is happening on Tuesday is a strike against those attitudes that have repressed sexual rights across this continent for too long."
The most controversial marriage in Argentina's history became possible when a city court judge ruled that it was unconstitutional for civil law to stipulate that a marriage can exist only between a man and a woman. The marriage licence was granted on 16 November. Since then, the couple and their lawyers have come under virulent attack from church leaders, who have warned that the marriage could act as the catalyst for the swift decline of the continent's traditional family values.
The archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio, has publicly lashed out at the city's mayor, Mauricio Macri, who decided not to lodge an appeal against the judge's decision to grant the marriage licence. An appeal by the city government against the judge's ruling would, in effect, have overturned the judge's decision and stopped the licence being granted. Bergoglio said that, in failing to act, Macri had "gravely failed" at his task of governing.
For his part, Macri issued a statement saying that he had gone through "an important internal debate", adding: "We have to live with and accept this reality: the world is moving in this direction." He said government officials should "safeguard the right of each person to freely choose with whom they want to form a couple and be happy".
Anti-Macri posters showing two men kissing and asking "Did you vote Macri for this?" have been plastered across Buenos Aires in protest at the marriage.
Last week, as media interest in the marriage reached fever pitch, Freyre and Di Bello spent their last days as single men crisscrossing Buenos Aires from TV studio to radio station. "It's become so much bigger than us that I forget that I'm actually getting married and we haven't even arranged anything for the wedding," said Freyre.
Freyre and Di Bello, both long-term activists and HIV and equality rights campaigners, are now offering their legal team to other couples who want to win the right to marry through city courts. "What can't happen is that this becomes a one-off," said Freyre. "We may have won our battle, but we don't want to be the exception."
Campaigners are now hoping that gay and lesbian couples in other cities will extend the fight to outside the capital. Claudio Rosso, a 32-year-old psychoanalyst from the city of Rosario, believes that the marriage will send a strong message that the law is finally supporting the rights of gay people across the country. "This can change the way the gay community perceives itself," said Rosso. "It will take time for this to have an impact outside of Buenos Aires, but for the gay community in Argentina the feeling that you have the law on your side creates a feeling of positivity and optimism that things can change."
Although the new judicial ruling sets no precedent beyond this case, lawyers for the couple hope the ruling will increase pressure on lawmakers to debate a gay marriage bill currently deadlocked in Congress.
"This is just one marriage in one city in Latin America, we are very far away from this right being extended across the country, let alone the continent," said Analia Mariel Mas, the lead lawyer working with the couple.
"Recently, we travelled with a delegation of equality rights campaigners to the north of the country, and had people waving crucifixes at us as if they were seeing Satan in human form. So there needs to be a change to the national legislation to force through changes and uphold our constitutional rights. Change won't happen if we try to do this case by case."
No country in Latin America allows gay marriage, although several cities in Mexico and Uruguay have followed Buenos Aires by allowing same-sex civil unions, which grant some of the rights accorded to married heterosexual couples. Earlier this year, Freyre and Di Bello rejected offers of a civil union, arguing that only marriage would give them the same legal rights and status in the eyes of the law. "We are citizens, so we are asserting our rights as citizens," said Freyre. "We have the right to the same legal status in the eyes of the law and deserve to be given the same legal protection as heterosexual couples."
Changing articles in Argentina's civil code to allow same-sex marriage has support among deputies in President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's ruling Peronist party, although the president herself has yet to take a stand.
The city is expecting large crowds to gather outside the register office on Tuesday, where plasma screens will broadcast the marriage ceremony. Security will be tight to deal with protesters.
In the cafes and bars of Buenos Aires, the marriage of Di Bello and Freyre has become a constant topic of conversation. The city is considered one of Latin America's "gay-friendly" cities and was the first place there to allow same-sex civil unions in 2002. But, for some, gay marriage is still a step too far.
On a corner in Palermo, close to where the wedding will take place, Bruno Cabral, a 42-year old civil engineer, sent an approving nod in the direction of a bank of anti-Macri posters. The marriage, he said, was an "abomination".
"Buenos Aires used to be a city which respected family, which respected traditional ways of life, but now look at what is happening, they are making mockery of marriage," he said. "This isn't a city I recognise any more."
Others see the marriage as a symbol of change for Argentina and for the continent. The wedding has received general support from the mainstream press, with many people expressing their approval of Freyre and Di Bello's right to marry.
"To me this marriage is perfect," said Cecilia Quiles, a 26-year-old office manager. "It is only changes like this which will move us to a place where we are all respecting each other. Those who call this marriage unnatural or wrong are living in the past. We are moving on."
Freyre and Di Bello say they will be relieved when the spotlight moves elsewhere after Tuesday's ceremony. "We have people calling us every day saying we are their heroes, people we don't know crying on the phone saying that Tuesday will be the best day of their life," said Freyre. "But we won't want to be heroes, all we wanted to do was get married. And now we've brought a little rainbow to Latin America, it's time for others to take up the banner as well and make us not the exception but the rule."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

GLBT Survey In Latin America

By Roy Heale

At a news conference today in Buenos Aires it was announced that the first LGBT market research in Latin America will be expanded substantially beyond the original plans. It will now include Brazil, Uruguay,Chile and Argentina.

It was announced today that the first market research on the gay and lesbian community in Latin America will investigate the habits and lifestyles of more LGBT people than originally considered.

It had previously been announced that the Market Study Gay 2010 Out Now + GNETWORK360 would survey gays and lesbians living in Argentine territory.

Today at a press conference held at the Axel Hotel Buenos Aires, the organizers of the study revealed that there will be a far greater scope for this new LGBT market study. It will now include gays and lesbians in Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay in addition to Argentina residents.

Ian Johnson, CEO of Out Now, indicated the decision to expand research on this scale was logical.
"Out Now works in countries around the world," said Johnson. "When we looked at the region of Latin America it became obvious that there was a strong need for information to be provided through studies of this kind. Now we confirm that this need is equally important in Brazil, Uruguay, and Chile as it is in Argentina.”

It was also announced by Johnson that the gay and lesbian marketing agency will open its first office in the region---Out Now Latin America---which will be based in Buenos Aires.

"We are delighted that Pablo De Luca and Gustavo Noguera---the creators of GNETWORK360, the organization's most successful business networking for the GLBT community---join us as consultants for Out Now Latin America,” Johnson said." Both De Luca and Noguera, are intelligent, professional, dedicated, and committed to Out Now. This will surely prove to be really beneficial for the more than 12 million gays and lesbians living in the region in which we are starting to work.”

Out Now was founded in 1992 in Australia and works in markets around the world with many corporate clients including IBM, Toyota, Volvo, Hilton, KLM, Lufthansa, VisitSweden, German National Tourist Board, Barclays Bank and Citibank. The future services of Out Now Latin America will include research, strategic consulting, advertising, public relations, and staff training.

GNETWORK360 is a business to business event held annually for three days in Buenos Aires. According to Noguera "More than 650 people gather each year to share information, workshops, presentations and discussion panels plus learn about new business opportunities within the LGBT market segment.

De Luca stated, "Out Now and GNETWORK360 share the conviction that a better understanding of gays and lesbians helps businesses and other organizations to a greater awareness of the issues that concern our community assisting to create products and services in order to meet or resolve these issues in the most effective way to improve the lives of our community. "

For More Information Visit:

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Way To Go!

By Roy Heale
Travelling throughout Argentina is a pleasant experience on the luxury double-decker motor coaches. On a recent journey from Buenos Aires to Mendoza----approximately 1000kms---I chose to ride the coach instead of flying. I wanted to enjoy some of the Argentine countryside as I made my first trip outside the city of Buenos Aires. Plus the fact that it cost less than $40 made it a very attractive mode of transportation.

The coach terminal at Retiro in Buenos Aires is conveniently located and the arrival in Mendoza was in the heart of the city and just a short walk to my accommodations. Departure was exactly on time at 7AM and it was a beautiful sunny day. Perfect conditions to enjoy the scenery.

Surprisingly the coach was almost full at the beginning of the journey and along the route as we left some passengers behind in the smaller towns it seemed that an equal number boarded the coach to begin their trip. Although the stops along the way occurred almost every hour these were only brief interruptions, welcomed by many as an opportunity to stretch their legs for a few minutes. The extended break for lunch was just about half way through the journey at a restaurant with an extensive menu yet quicker than normal service.

Although it was a sixteen hour sojourn the scenery made it seem far shorter. I finally understood how the Argentine apppetite for beef is easily satisfied when I spied the large cattle herds feasting on the pampas grass. Stopping at so many small towns also gave me a better insight as to how the rural communities have grown and developed into thriving communities.

All in all it was a pleasant and educational journey with no stress. For the ride home I am going to try the overnight luxury sleeping berths and first class service with a meal and wine---on a coach!

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nip N'Tuck Vacations in Buenos Aires

By Roy Heale

Recently the spiraling health care costs and long hospital waiting lists in many western countries have encouraged the global development of medical outsourcing. One of the major beneficiaries of this outsourcing is Buenos Aires, Argentina where cosmetic surgery and hospital costs have long been identified as lower priced but with a high standard of medical practitioners. In fact the low cost of treatments here will usually offset the cost of a vacation in the Paris of South America---as Buenos Aires is affectionately known. Little wonder that the gay and lesbian community has caught on to this wonderful way to enjoy a rejuvenating holiday and return home with a refreshed new look.
Medical tourism is expected to be a $40 billion per year industry by 2010 and Buenos Aires will be one of the major beneficiaries of this spending. According to Christopher Henson of RefreshMed---a gay-owned concierge service specializing in medical tourism---the popularity of Buenos Aires is growing constantly as the place to visit and receive a cosmetic treatment while enjoying the city but spending the same amount of money as a medical procedure at home. This is especially true today as the current economic climate is providing even lower costs for airline tickets and accommodations while the rejuvinating procedures have remained consistently priced.
Everything from state-of-the-art liposuction to Lasik eye surgery, facelifts, dental veneers and teeth whitening, or simple botox treatments are available in Buenos Aires. A company like RefreshMed provides a complete service from arranging accommodations, airport transfers, excursions, and of course the medical consultations and treatments with certified professionals. In fact it is important to consult a local established company to ensure that all surgeons meet high standards and qualifications recognized globally. Also, the local contact needs to be fluently bilingual as Spanish is a pre-requisite to navigating your way around the city and medical processes. It is also important to understand the process, how long the treatments will take, and the recuperation periods in order to plan a vacation of the right duration in ensuring a return home with that perfect new-look.
The dazzling city of Buenos Aires is recognized as one of South America's gay meccas and a any vacation here will be memorable. The sizzling nightlife in gay bars and clubs, gourmet dining, and of course Tango, are just a part of what this city has to offer the LGBT tourist. The architecture, parks and boulevards, crafts and antique markets, and much more offer complete day and night entertainment for any gay vacation. And just imagine going home refreshed, renewed, and relaxed plus looking like a whole new person!
For More Information Visit:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Calgary Airport Improvement?

By Roy Heale
If you have ever had the unpleasant experience of departing from the International Terminal at Calgary's alleged “International” Airport then you are certainly aware of the dismal services at this location. With food selections limited to Harvey burgers and Tim Hortons donuts or sandwiches, you are guaranteed to depart from Calgary feeling hungry. And chances are you will be served nothing but peanuts or pretzels on your flight! The services also include Starbucks for coffee plus pastries, and a few newstands or souvenir shops, but don't expect everything to be open if you have a 6AM departure of your flight.
This is probably the most unpleasant experience of any airport International departures area that I have ever encountered anywhere in the world! That includes small airports on tropical islands and so-called third world countries. Calgary is probably number one on any list of “worst international airport facilities” that might exist. It is so bad that none of the major airlines which depart from this terminal even offer their best clients a traditional executive lounge for their use.
But now there is a glimmer of hope for passengers heading to the USA since Servisair Lounges opened their new Rocky Mountain Lounge located just after the security screening area. This new executive lounge facility allows you to relax before you fly. It offers comfortable seating, complimentary beers, wines, spirits, beverages, and snacks, with restrooms, televisions, flight information, reading materials, business facilities including telephone and internet. There is no better way to spend your time before the flight but space is very limited to just under 100 guests at any time. However, they do accept advance reservations and they open at 4:30AM to accommodate those early flights to the United States.
If you are an American Express Platinum or Priority Pass cardholder the admission is free. For those just looking for a one-time pass it is $20 before 9AM and $25 from 9AM to closing at 7PM. The extensive snack buffet---with healthy choices---is worth the price of admission by itself. This has to be the best bargain available for travelers passing through this ugly experience in the U.S. Concourse C departures terminal. Thank goodness for a private initiative and perhaps it will inspire the Calgary Airport Authority to take another look at the lack of services which they provide to International travelers.
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gay Gaucho Experience

By Roy Heale
Anyone who has visited Buenos Aires knows that the nightlife is diverse and entertaining for both straight and gay tourists. But many people are not aware of the party scene for a gay Gaucho---the name given to Argentine cowboys---which exists in the nearby countryside. Local gay guide Gustavo from the 2Portenios will help you experience this unique culture in a tour that you will probably never forget!
Gaucho Night happens at ZONA X, a must see road-house nightclub an hour and a half outside of Buenos Aires, where anything and everything entertaining does happen.
The 2 Portenios can host a group via chauffer driven passenger shuttle on a midnight champagne excursion to ZONA X. You will find yourself transported to a colorful club that has for the last eight years been the best kept secret around Buenos Aires. The unreserved gauchos, transvestites, farm-hands, laborers, elders, gay and gay-for-a-day boys and girls, are more than happy to receive you into a party like no other---where you can abandon your inhibitions and experience this unique lifestyle.
With music including disco, electronic, 80’s, Latin, or salsa on a club-lit dance floor, where there are plenty of hot gauchos for the occasional slow dances at the end of the night. The crowd at ZONA X are friendly local people that have made their own style of party and revelry. Enjoy the night's alternative edge, enormous beers served in liter bottles for a couple of bucks, an outdoor patio, plus a dark backroom and bushes with tools greasier than any you’ll find on the farm at home. Wear what you dare and do pretty much anything you want, as the staff are having as much fun as the crowd. Pole dancing is a participatory event and everyone joins in!
This will prove to be a once-in-a-lifetime side-trip on any visit to Buenos Aires. You will find an unexpected place in your heart for this unforgettable round-trip night excursion into the Argentine Twilight Zone. Chances are you will return for more in the future!
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Denmark Celebrates Same-Sex Marriage Anniversary

By Roy Heale
This summer Denmark is celebrating a major milestone in LGBT history. It may be a little-known fact, but this year marks the 20th Anniversary of the first country in the world to recognize same-sex marriage. Back in 1989 Denmark surprised the global population with this major ground-breaking initiative and since that time gays and lesbians have been visiting the capital city of Copenhagen to enjoy this openly gay-friendly metropolis. Then in 1999, it became possible for married gays to adopt the children of their partners---a major step towards the recognition of a broader definition of family. Finally in 2009 same-sex couples in registered partnerships were allowed to legally adopt children. So not surprisingly in Copenhagen this year the LGBT community is celebrating these milestones with great Pride.
Copenhagen has long been a tolerant and relaxed city for both gay Danes and LGBT tourists. The first gay bar, Centralhjørnet, opened over 80 years ago, and is still going strong accompanied by numerous other newer cafés & bars. The city even brags about its own gay radio station, Radio Rosa. With a compact, historic center full of narrow streets inviting exploration, fabulous beaches a few minutes away, and unspoiled nature close at hand, the urban diversity is abundant. Some very beautiful and interesting people round out the welcoming atmosphere.
Many rumors infer that Copenhagen's most famous son, author Hans Christian Andersen, was possibly gay. It is widely reputed that his fairy-tale The Ugly Duckling might be a gay coming-out story. His statue can be found next to the City Hall, alongside the boulevard that bares his name. This is also just a stone’s throw away from the world-renowned Tivoli Gardens where fairy tales mix with modern-day theme park rides, concerts and some of the best restaurants in town. With inspirational old and modern history it is not surprising that Denmark is often referred to as the Most Gay-Friendly Country On Earth.
One of the most pleasant ways to see Copenhagen and orient yourself with this vibrant city is by boat along the extensive canals. Moving at a gentle pace one can observe the famous Little Mermaid Statue, The Royal Palace (Amalienborg Palace), Christiansborg Castle, The Opera House (Operaen), the picturesque Christianshavn neighborhood plus many more historic and unique sights. After this grand tour it becomes easy to find your way around the city and discover the pulsing gay scene.
In honor of this 20th Anniversary year the City of Copenhagen will incorporate their annual Pride Celebrations with hosting the 2nd World Outgames. This will be the largest sports and cultural event Denmark has ever hosted with up to 8.000 participants anticipated. With thirty-five different sports and cultural activities plus a major human rights conference this will be a major LGBT gathering. There are also two major exhibitions planned as part of the World. Outgames. Firstly, Lost and Found--- Queering the Archive at Kunsthallen Nikolaj---incorporating with film, installation art, and photography, the private memories and experiences that surpass the usual barriers of gender and sexuality. And secondly, HOMO/BI/Trans is a special exhibition of LGBT history at the Museum of Copenhagen. Add to this the annual Pride festivities and one can be sure that Copenhagen is the gay place to be this summer in late July and early August.
In recognition of these important celebrations and anniversaries SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) is offering special fares and discounts for the LGBT community to attend. With direct flights from Chicago, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C., SAS is hoping to make it easier for North Americans to attend the World Outgames plus the summer festivities and celebrations. In addition, with the launch of their new gay website they are emphasizing the importance of this year in Denmark. But undoubtedly their outstanding customer service will make the journey to Copenhagen a pleasant start to any holiday.
Almost all of Copenhagen's gay places or businesses are located in the inner city, within walking distance from each other and making it very easy to experience the lively gay scene. Boasting two lesbian bars, a dozen gay men's bars, numerous gay or gay-friendly cafés and restaurants plus several nearby gay beaches, Copenhagen affords a really gay vacation experience for all. The Copenhagen Gay Map or Out & About Gay Magazine are excellent guides to the city and are available online for pre-trip planning. With half a dozen gay Bed and Breakfasts and gay-friendly boutique hotels like Hotel Front, a vacation here can be a genuine gay-getaway.
And then there's the shopping along Northern Europe's longest pedestrian street with its exclusive fashion houses, as well as a complex maze of narrow streets and districts just off the beaten track. Enjoy the unique consumerism at Storm, Tiger of Sweden, Bruuns Bazaar, Oz, and many more. If only the best is good enough for you then Illum's Universe for Men is a must! Danish design is a world leader and whether you are looking for clothes, household items, or a unique gift to take back home then you will find it within the shopping districts of Copenhagen. Be sure to pick-up the essential shopping guide published by Wonderful Copenhagen for inspiration and helpful designer information.
Getting around this city is very easy on foot, by public transit---Metro or S-train---or even renting your own bicycle from the City rental racks. There are also several tour guides catering exclusively to the LGBT traveler and ensuring that one doesn't miss a single venue in this very gay community.
So whether you want to celebrate the 20th Anniversary milestone of same-sex marriage, experience the second World Outgames and Pride Festival, or simply enjoy the incredible gay-friendly lifestyle, Copenhagen is a must visit to Scandinavia this summer. Who knows, you might even take a liking to a viking!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


By Roy Heale

For the past two days in Buenos Aires, Argentina more than 250 delegates at the GNetwork360 2nd International Forum of Businesspeople and Entrepreneurs enjoyed LGBT seminars, presentations, educational forums, and networking. But the major surprise at the commencement of the conference was the announcement by Pablo De Luca and Gustavo Noguera of GMAPS and GNetwork360 regarding the founding of the Argentina LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Joining the global family of LGBT Chambers of Commerce will surely prove to be a giant step forward for Argentina's gay community and lead to growth, expansion, and networking for all LGBT businesses across the country.
This major initiative was supported by presentations from the United States National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce plus the International Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Delegates were able to learn more about how an LGBT Chamber of Commerce historically has strengthened the gay business community and led to more equality for LGBT citizens living in the regions where Chambers have been operating around the globe. Most delegates quickly realized the significance of this initiative by Pablo and Gustavo and hopefully support from the Argentine LGBT business community is sure to follow their leadership.
But this was only the beginning of the excitement as presenters from Barcelona, Brazil, The United States, Canada, and Great Britain shared their unique LGBT business stories, experiences, marketing campaigns, web savvy, business development, and many other related stories. Almost all delegates discovered that each and every guest speaker had tips and advice which would further strengthen their gay business or re-enforce the direction in which their company is already heading.
Business and social networking were an important on-going component of the gathering. Whether before or after presentations, during coffee breaks, at the Marketplace, or the cocktail reception, many new relationships were forged and old acquaintances re-affirmed. Often this LGBT networking can be the greatest reward from a successful conference and this will surely prove to be no exception to that tradition.
The Forum took place at the Axel Hotel and the Marketplace plus the cocktail reception were held at Chueca Downtown. Delegates enjoyed the entire forum without any registration fees or costs courtesy of the many sponsors, supporters and volunteers---a great tribute to the organizers and their total commitment to the Argentina LGBT community. A complete list of sponsors and contributers can be found at and support of these donors will ensure similar LGBT business growth opportunities can exist in Argentina's gay future.
And, of course, no successful LGBT event would be complete without the traditional wrap-up party and celebration which occurred on the final night at one of Buenos Aires' foremost venues---Rheo by Crobar. The Fiesta de Cierre began at Midnight and for many it continued until dawn. A fitting finale to an historic gathering in the emerging gay-friendly destinations within Argentina.

Monday, June 8, 2009

GLBT Travel Conference To Be Held In Buenos Aires

By Roy Heale
With only one month to go, the excitement is building towards the GNETWORK360, 2nd International Forum of Businesspeople and Entrepreneurs focused on the GLBT Market. This gathering will take place in Buenos Aires on July 15 and 16, 2009 at the Axel Hotel (Venezuela 649 San Telmo) and Chueca (Alsina 975). It is anticipated that more than three hundred attendees will join together to share information and learn about business opportunities within the GLBT niche market.
The forum producers---GMAPS360---are proud to organize “GNETWORK360” the second of these Forums. The event is targeting the 250 most outstanding companies that are currently dedicating part of their communications strategy to the GLBT community. By joining together once again, these businesses will work towards the common goal of promoting Buenos Aires as a gay-friendly destination. Conference attendees will also learn about the unique GLBT market from distinguished guest speakers, workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
In Argentina this conference affords an unprecedented opportunity to learn about one of the most lucrative and loyal global market segments. It will also provide an excellent opportunity for networking and connecting with other travel professionals and businesspeople from different travel-related genres.
Included below is the speakers list and the preliminary agenda options for attendees can be checked online at
Juan P. Juliá, President, Axel Corp, Barcelona, Spain.
Matt Skallerud, President, Pink Banana Media, Los Angeles, US
Ian Johnson, Founder and CEO, OutNow Consulting, London, UK
Steve Roth, Principal, OutThink Partners, Los Angeles, US
Tom Nibbio, Global Ambassador, IGLTA, Chicago, US
Justin Nelson, Co-founder and President, NGLCC, Washington DC, US
Chance Mitchell, Co-founder and CEO, NGLCC, Washington DC, US
Pascal Lépine, Secretary General, IGLCC, Montreal, Canada
George Neary, Cultural Tourism Associate Vicepresident Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Miami, US
Clovis Casemiro, LGBT Sales Manager, TAM Viagens, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Talmir Duarte, Vicepresident, ABRAT GLS, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
André Fischer, Director of Communications, ABRAT GLS, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Some of the conference topics include: Marketing via the Internet, Market Research, GLBT Market Trends, GLBT Tourism Development in Latin America, IGLTA's approach to different issues about the tourism industry, Gay and Lesbian Chambers of Commerce services (NGLCC and IGLCC).
Because of the global emphasis and importance of this Forum it is being sponsored by the City of Buenos Aires Tourism Board and the National Argentina Tourism Department. In recognition of the significance of this Forum it has been granted a Declaration of Economic and Tourism Interest by the Legislature of Buenos Aires. Once again this shows that our city is
positioned as one of the most gay friendly and accepting of the GLBT community.
The conference attendees we will be honored by the presence of Mr. Meyer Enrique (Minister for Argentina Tourism), Mr. Fabrice Tasendo (Digital Media Vice-president for Regent Media), Mr. Leonardo Botto Alvarez (Chairman for Argentina Tourism Promotion), Mr. Hernán Lombardi (Minister for Buenos Aires Culture), Ms. María José Lubertino (Chairwoman for INADI) and several other official government and general organization members.
Among the companies participating in the event and also helping to make Buenos Aires a place for all are: LAN AIRLINES - AXEL HOTELS – MANSION VITRAUX - FRIENDLY APARTMENTS - GIESSO – HERTZ - HOWARD JOHNSON - PROUD COSMETICS - TAM VIAGENS - UOMOBELLO plus more than 300 Businesspeople and Entrepreneurs.
We look forward to having you in our midst for this important event. As the organizers of this unprecedented event, we would be honored if you are able to join us in order to share your experiences and suggestions with the rest of the conference delegates.
Thank you on behalf of GMAPS360
For More Information visit:

Sunday, May 31, 2009

New "Hop On-Hop Off" Tourist Bus In Buenos Aires

By Roy Heale
When a city is as large as Buenos Aires it can be intimidating when you first arrive. There are several different neighborhoods to explore and finding your way around can be challenging especially on your initial visit. The new service of Buenos Aires Bus was introduced on May 2nd 2009, with regular schedules and fixed stops incorporating the system of Hop On Hop Off. This is very common in major European cities and now it has arrived in South America.
This is a wonderful way to discover all that Buenos Aires has to offer and orient yourself with the layout of this vast city. Buses run every half hour and make twelve different stops around the city. From La Boca to San Telmo, Recoleta and Palermo this is about a three hour journey from start to finish with out getting off the bus for sightseeing.
Tickets are available for purchase on the bus or at official Tourism kiosks around the city. Visitors can purchase a one or a two day pass and the adult cost is approximately $8 and $12 respectively.
Guided tours using a headset audio system are offered in ten different languages and the staff on the buses are multi-lingual. With an open top the view from the second deck is ideal for sightseeing.
Without a doubt this is a great addition to the many offerings that tourists can enjoy when they visit the magical Paris of South America.
For more information Visit:

Friday, May 29, 2009


By Roy Heale
It's official---the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics will include the first PRIDE House for gay athletes and their companions. The Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre will be the host venue during the 2010 Olympics and celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres will be asked to join in.
The producers of GayWhistler, the annual WinterPRIDE festival, secured Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre as a partner. In a news release the Pan Pacific's general manager Jim Douglas described the decision as an easy one to embrace.
After much hard work and negotiations the accomplishment is significant for the producers of Gay Whistler."We are so excited to be able to work with Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts, a hotel chain that embraces similar values we hold dear; the value to be authentic, the value to embrace diversity and the value to be inclusive. Together, we will create a safe space for our gay and lesbian community and their allies to go to during the Olympics," Dean Nelson, CEO of GayWhistler, said in a news release.
The goal is to create a safe space for Olympic and Paralympic athletes, coaches, family, fans and allies to hang out during the Games. The venue will feature a lounge where guests can watch events and relax.
"It is our desire to have a couple of key OUT celebrities, such as Ellen DeGeneres or Neil Patrick Harris, to come out and be part of the magic of PRIDE House," Nelson said in the news release.
Congratulations to all who worked hard to make this a FIRST at any Olympic games recognising the contribution of GLBT athletes to these events.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Stratford Shakespeare Festival

By Roy Heale
Following the IGLTA Convention in Toronto I was fortunate to spend a day in Stratford, Ontario with my Toronto friends. During the convention I had met one of the owners of the Hughson Hall Bed & Breakfast and it was great to be able to visit their historic mansion. Plus I was able to see some of Shakespeare's Canadian “home”. Wandering around the streets of this small Ontario town it was easy to imagine how it would be alive with visitors in just a few short weeks as the summer Shakespeare Festival begins.
This small town is full of historical buildings, great restaurants and pubs, plus unique shopping opportunities. But of course the heart and soul of Stratford is the theatre community. With four venues including the Festival Theatre, Avon Theatre, Tom Patterson Theatre, and the Studio Theatre it was easy to imagine how busy this town would be during the coming summer months.
With thirteen different productions scheduled for the season it will definitely be a festive summer again for theatre lovers. And it is not just Shakespeare's classics as you can also enjoy some Oscar Wilde humour, or the perennial favorite West Side Story along with Macbeth or Julius Caesar.
Although it was early Spring I could just imagine staying at the 130 year old magnificent, gay-owned Hughson Hall and enjoying some of Canada's finest theatre performances. Unfortunately, this year it will only be in my imagination!
For More Information Visit:,,

Sunday, May 10, 2009


By Roy Heale

In spite of the the current global economic uncertainties, the 26th Annual IGLTA Convention was another great experience for almost 400 delegates from twenty-one different countries. From May 7th to May 10th the downtown Hilton Toronto was ablaze with rainbow colors and bustling with activity as the delegates enjoyed four days of networking, re-uniting with old friends and making new ones.
Opening night commenced with a special reception for Canadian delegates and the Convention First Timers' reception. These welcoming events were followed by the Grand Opening Reception at the Bay for all delegates, sponsors and convention organizers plus volunteers. Needless to say the welcome by a truly amazing “Ken Doll” set the tone for a night of festivities.
The next few days were packed with Toronto city tours,informative seminars and presentations, the media marketplace, and the big consumer Travel Show at the historic Maple Leaf Gardens located in Toronto's Gay Village. After the Friday night Travel Show almost everyone walked into the Gay Village for a full night of socializing and partying in this welcoming atmosphere.
These amazingly busy and productive four days concluded with the Gala Dinner at the Hilton Hotel. Great entertainment, a uniquely Canadian dinner menu, and a Belgian chocolate dessert plus dance made the perfect farewell environment. The festivities continued well into the night and everyone headed home full of fond memories of Toronto and another hugely successful IGLTA Convention. The Belgian dessert was just a sampling and teaser for what lies ahead for delegates at next year's convention in Antwerp.
Congratulations and thanks go to all the IGLTA Staff, the Toronto and Canadian Tourism offices, the sponsors, and all the volunteers who worked so hard to make sure every delegate had a wonderful time.
See you all in Belgium in 2010!

Friday, May 1, 2009


By Roy Heale

It's sexy. It's sultry. It's exciting, and it's distinctively Latin American. It has even been described as the vertical expression of horizontal desires. In a word it's Tango!
Although I spend a great deal of my time in Buenos Aires and I have seen Tango dancers on the streets at the Recoleta Craft Market, at the San Telmo Antique Market, on outdoor stages in La Boca, and I have even attended the Wednesday night Gay Tango Nights, I just recently went to my first professional Tango show at El Querandi.
Not all Tango is equal and this becomes a personal judgment the more performances one is able to watch. At El Querandi they have been staging Tango shows since 1920 and obviously this is an art form where practice makes perfect.
The show is preceeded by an excellent three course a la carte dinner which is efficiently served, accompanied by wine or soft drinks, and completed in a timely fashion just before curtain call.
Let the music begin!
As an absolutely first class quartet welcomes the audience with a Tango medley, the lights are dimmed and anticipation electrifies the room. What follows can only be defined as a masterpiece of musical accompaniment for great singers and Tango dancers. The show itself traces the history of Tango in Argentina with four historical quadros: El Arrabal, El Cabaret, La Milonga, and Modernismo.
I only wished my understanding of Spanish were a little more advanced to truly appreciate the lyrics, but fortunately the language of Tango is universal.
Also, it is not necessary to speak Spanish to appreciate excellent musicians, dancers and singers as they each display their unique and perfect talents to the fullest throughout the show, not only with their ensemble performances, but also through their solos and individual highlights.
It's hard to describe the audience's captivation during the continuous, uninterrupted show. But the appreciation is abundantly clear during the applause and the buzz when the lights go back up.
All I can say is that Tango is an art form unto itself and one of the most enjoyable experiences of any visit to Buenos Aires.

Come see for yourself!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Touring Florianopolis

By Roy Heale
Although the Island of Florianopolis is relatively small it soon becomes apparent that there is a multitude of outdoor activities to enjoy here. From surfing to sailing, hiking, swimming in freshwater lagoons, cycling or fishing, there is never a dull moment here. With over 42 beaches---some say as many as one hundred---and mountains plus small fishing villages, exploring this island needs expert local advice to maximise your vacation.
Marta and Lesley from Brazil Ecojourneys are ready to assist you in planning the perfect visit which suits your own personal preferences for a vacation full of outdoor activities. For just over five years they have been helping travellers to plan the perfect time on their island paradise. From local Pousada accommodations to trekking in the mountains they know their island.
Their tours have included hiking in the Serra Geral mountain range, whale watching at Praia do Rosa, trekking, biking and rafting tours, train rides with a rainforest expedition and of course exploring the beaches and fishing villages not accessible by roads. But most importantly they will customise a tour to suit your own ideas for what makes the perfect holiday.
They are very knowledgeable and speak fluent English and Portugese which makes your Florianopolis adventure a guaranteed well-organised experience without any hassles or unpleasant surprises.
Head to Brazil and enjoy a vacation in the sun with spectacular sights and memories to take home.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Writer's Dream

By Roy Heale
Imagine a week on the Brazilian coast at Florianopolis on Santa Catarina Island staying 100 yards from the beach, close to exquisite seafood restaurants, in a pousada with a swimming pool and amenities and all you have to do is write stories. Well that is all well and good until you are sitting in front of a blank screen on your laptop and it's time to work. The playing is easy but the work not so!
But the Pousada Natur Campeche is the ultimate place to escape from the frenzied world and enjoy a few days of total relaxation. With beautiful rooms, a multitude of choices and prices to suit any vacation budget, this truly is like running away to paradise.
The Pousada is so close to the beach that you can actually hear the waves at night time and see the stars and the moon from your patio. If you ever dreamed of paradise then this is it!
The island of Florianopolis has much to offer but Campeche is one of the most picturesqe places to sit on the beach, to enjoy Brazilian hospitality and great seafood. Until the recent International Surfing Championship events Campeche was relatively unknown, but this global recognition has not spoiled the natural scenery and friendliness of this small village.
At the gay-friendly Pousada Natur Campeche you will be welcomed by English speaking, helpful staff who will make your stay a perfect get-away from the hassles of everyday life. Nothing is too much trouble and they are experts on Florianopolis life.
The pousada offers many different styles of rooms, theme rooms, a swimming pool, spa and much more. Daily Buffet breakfasts are included and the masseur at the spa is highly recommended.
Whatever your reason may be for needing to escape the daily routines of a fast paced life, this is the place to be!
I even found time to write a few stories while I was enjoying the Santa Catarina and Campeche laid-back lifestyle.