FROM THE FALL 2004 ISSUE OF THE OUT TRAVELER
Q My girlfriend and I have been together for five years,
but our families have never met. Considering that both sets of parents are mildly
obsessed with blackjack, we thought it would be fun to plan a wacky Vegas wedding.
Are there any wedding chapels in Sin City that specialize in same-sex ceremonies?
Kristen Lewis, Phoenix
A Though Nevada law bans recognition of same-sex nuptials,
many if not most Vegas wedding chapels have said "I do" to marriage-minded queer
couples. If you're looking to get hitched in high-kitsch style, check out the
gay-owned Viva Las Vegas (800-574-4450). It offers a number of campy themes,
including Fairy Tale, Gothic, Disco, and the ever-popular Elvis Blue Hawaii.
Of course, the big casinos have also opened their doors to the gay marriage
market. Luxor (888-777-0188), Paris (877-796-2096), and Mandalay Bay (877-632-7800),
known locally as Mandalay Gay, are but a few of the many resorts that
offer gay couples the same amenities provided at hetero ceremonies. The Las
Vegas Hilton (888-732-7117) is both gay- and geek-friendly, offering Star
Trek-themed weddings on the bridge of the USS Enterprise. If you're
looking for something a little less "produced," Eternal Hope Ministry (888-638-4673)
will beam an ordained minister (with champagne) up to your hotel suite, no matter
where you're staying. Just stay away from the Little White Wedding Chapel, where
Britney Spears and her beau famously exchanged vows in January only to have
the marriage annulled two days later. When we asked if they performed same-sex
ceremonies, the receptionist snapped, "No, we do not!" Pressed further, she
replied, "It's just not our policy," and hung up.
Q Can you recommend a good gay-friendly hotel in Paris
with rates under $150 per night?
Jay Shapland, via e-mail
A The City of Light has always been
a beacon for gay travelers--Irishman Oscar Wilde and American Gertrude Stein
among them. Indeed, Paris is teeming with gay-friendly hotels, so it might be
wise to limit your search to the Marais, arguably the most interesting Parisian
quartier and certainly the gayest. The seven simple yet comfortable rooms in
the 17th century-built Hôtel Central Marais (011-33-1-4887-5608) are located
above Le Central, the district's most entrenched gay bar. Rooms are priced around
$100. Closer to the Pompidou Center and near Notre Dame, the recently renovated
Hôtel Beaubourg (011-33-1-4221-3276), featuring a wine-cellar restaurant,
charges about $150 per night.
Q I'm working on a cruise ship through
the end of July, so I'm going to miss most U.S. gay pride celebrations. Where
in the world can I participate in pride festivities come autumn?
J. Long, Miami
A While the vast majority of global
gay pride celebrations are scheduled in June, you can fly your rainbow flag
all through fall in Amsterdam (August 5-8), Copenhagen (August 14-15), Cardiff,
Wales (August 29), Cornwall, Canada (September 3-5), Johannesburg (September
18-25), Montevideo, Uruguay (September 24), Bangkok, Thailand (November 5-7),
and Palm Springs, Calif. (November 5-7).