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 www.flysas.com/gay 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 http://www.gnetwork360.com/ 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.