August 2008

The Downtown Grill & Brewery is not normally a girly-drink kind of bar.

But when the movie “Sex and the City” premiered in late May, the Gay Street pub was happy to cater to a girls-night-out crowd celebrating the film’s release with their beloved characters’ signature drink.

“We had a lot of well-dressed women,” manager Mark Harrison said. “And we sold a lot of cosmopolitans.”

It probably would have been one more typical night’s business of mostly beer by the pint had it not been for the fact that, one year ago today, the Regal Riviera Stadium 8 cineplex opened a block away.

Blockbuster openings such as this summer’s “The Dark Knight” have meant even more patrons during busy weekends, Harrison said, as well as more afternoon foot traffic from matinees.

“It’s hit us at times when we used to not be busy, like 3 o’clock on Saturdays,” Harrison said.

When the $14.85 million downtown catalyst for redevelopment finally opened last year – the product of a complicated public-private financing plan and repeated construction delays – there was still skepticism over whether the market was there for such a venture.

Even executives with Knoxville-based Regal Entertainment Group had been shy about jumping onboard when the idea was broached in 2000 as part of a larger redevelopment plan. They cited the historically poor success rate of downtown cinemas and warned that the local market already was oversaturated with movie screens.

Now, a year since the project’s ceremonial ticket tearing, Regal says the downtown market definitely has materialized.

“It is the second top-grossing theater in the Knoxville market,” said Russ Nunley, Regal’s vice president of marketing and communications.

Although he declined to provide specific revenue figures, Nunley said the Riviera currently is outpaced only by Regal’s Knoxville flagship, the Pinnacle Stadium 18 in Turkey Creek, which has posted nationally ranked revenues for certain films.

Tracking customer habits through its Regal Crown Club members, the eight-screen Riviera has attracted a diverse range of movie fans, particularly from the University of Tennessee and Fort Sanders, South Knoxville, Sequoyah Hills and Bearden, Nunley said.

“More than 10 miles is not uncommon (for Riviera customers) to travel,” he said.

And it’s done so with a wide variety of films, although some patterns are emerging.

Two weeks ago, the Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica made its formal plea to Costa Rica’s lawmakers, asking them to reject a law that would grant gay civil unions the same legal status as marriage. The bishops explained that, according to Christian law, the family — one mother, one father — is the basis of civil society. Though they respect homosexuals, the Catholic Church cannot agree to view their unions as equal to those between a man and a woman.

In their formal appeal, the bishops warned that politicians “cannot and should not legislate against correct reasoning, because if they pass the law, it would loose moral force.” They continued, saying that “laws favorable to homosexual unions are contrary to correct reasoning because they confer legal guarantees proper to the institution of marriage to unions between people of the same sex. Considering the values in question, the State cannot legalize these unions without failing in its duty to promote and protect an essential institution for the common good, which marriage is.”

Unlike the United States, for example, Costa Rica’s official religion is Catholicism, and there is no forced separation between church and state. Many of the country’s laws are influenced by Christianity and the bishops, though not the country’s lawmakers, have a fair bit of influence in shaping Costa Rica’s morality and morally-based laws, such as gay marriage and abortion, which is also illegal.

The bishops emphasized that they do respect gay rights, but believe that legalizing gay rights — gay marriage — would interfere with the rights of family. “It is necessary above all to reflect on the differences between homosexual behavior as a private phenomenon and public behavior, legally tested, approved and converted into an institution of legal order. The second phenomenon is not only more grave but also of greater and deeper scope, as it could entail changes contrary to the common good of the entire social order… Civil laws are structural principles of man’s life in society, for good or for evil.”

The bishops called for “Catholic lawmakers to speak out and vote against this measure, and to those who do not share our faith, to examine the arguments we have laid out. And in conformity with the rules of correct reasoning, of human nature and of life in society, not to cast their vote for a bill that clearly goes against the common good of the residents of our country.” In response to their words, not only have Catholic lawmakers united, but yesterday, more than 20,000 people congregated on Paseo Colón, marching against gay civil unions.


Unfortunately for same sex couples not every vacation destination is as open and accepting as they could be. For this reason many travel agencies have opened with the goal to plan and book trips and vacations for gay couples. Knowing that where you are going is a place where you will be received with open arms is a comfort.

One of the more popular agencies, Out and About, offers vacation packages that include gay or gay friendly hotels, restaurants and local guides. Out and About also offers tour books that are searchable on their web page. These books are broken down between romance, adventure and even places that are open to only women or only men. Special trips to exotic places such as India or Africa are featured.

Another in demand travel agency is called Gay Travel. Also listed on-line, this agency offers gay and lesbian friendly planned trips around the world. They also corner the market on exclusive gay cruises. The site has a searchable database that can help you find gay owned and run businesses such as bed and breakfasts and hotels. Their most popular service is a do it yourself vacation planner. You tell them where, when and how and they will find you a vacation that has been tailor made.

Cruises are another ideal choice for a romantic getaway. Olivia Travel is an agency geared towards lesbians that list many commercial cruises that are gay friendly. The most sought after cruises have celebrity guests and have days ported at Olivia’s own private island, Half Moon Cay, in the Caribbean. Children are usually welcomed on Olivia cruises and you will be pleased to discover that nanny services are available when you and your sweetie want to have a night alone.

The fastest growing vacation trend is a trip up north to our neighbors in Canada. Many same sex couples plan their weddings in Canada and the nation has opened its arms to help make their special day truly unique. Deals can be found for you, your mate and your combined families at many hotels in Montreal, Toronto and Halifax. Lush spa packages by gay friendly staff are offered at many resorts.

There are ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of Gay & Lesbians Only Cruise, some gays even prefer a mix cruise. The best thing you should do is to do some research online or by talking with other gays who had experience in cruising. Or by talking to travel agency who has experience in arranging cruise vacation for gays or lesbians.

Some of these travel agency are:

  • Captain Barb’s Lesbian Cruises and Adventures
  • Cruising With Pride
  • Envoy Travel Online
  • David Tours
  • Gay Travel – German Gay Travel Agency
  • Gay Travel
  • Journeys by Sea, Inc.
  • Lesbian Owned Travel Services
  • Now Voyager
  • Olivia Travel
  • Rainbow Cruises

High Arctic Cruise
For twelve days, we’ll sail along the coast of
Spitsbergen Island, Greenland and Iceland to witness an area few travelers have ever seen. We’ll enjoy diverse wildlife including sea birds, marine mammals and great white polar bears. We’ll sail through the Svalbard archipelago, see the massive glacial fjords of Greenland and walk along some of the newest land in the world in Iceland‘s Westmann Islands before we complete our journey in Reykjavik.

Around the World
New Zealand, Australia, South Africa are our destinations as we circumnavigate the Southern Hemisphere. Auckland, Rotorua, Sydney, Ayers Rock, Perth, Cape Town, Kruger National Park are just some of the highlights of the unforgettable trip.

China-Tibet Railroad Adventure
Starting in
Beijing, we will tour the highlights including the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, before we board the train to Lhasa. Our ride across the continent will include stops at several famous sights such as Qinghai Lake, Hol Xil, and the Kun Lun Mountains. During 6 days in Tibet we will visit the famous Potala Palace, as well as exploring two smaller Tibetan cities and the high plateau countryside and lakes in between. We will complete our tour in Shanghai, and a chance to see the vibrant and exciting city.

China and the Yangtze
China‘s history, culture, art, food and fascinating countryside with a great group of gay adventurers. Walk the Great Wall. Wonder at the 2000 year old terra cotta army. Cruise the Yangtze River. See Shanghai and Beijing. Meet and locals and relax in style. China is an exotic delight for the senses.

The Gods of Easter Island
Easter Island is for the truly adventurous. This remote island is is one of the least visited but most fascinating archeological sites in the world. Hanns Ebensten conducted the first tourist expedition there 40 years ago, which he wrote about in his book, Trespassers on Easter Island. It still remains an enigma of history and culture today.

The Nile in Style
Journey down the
Nile on our own luxurious ship. See the wonders of Egypt which have fascinated travelers for centuries. Tour Cairo, Aswan, Abu Simbel and Luxor on this incredible voyage through history.

South Pacific in Style
Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora comprise a fabulous getaway to the other side of the world. After starting out in the land of Paul Gauguin on the island of Tahiti, we move to Moorea for three nights. Then we change pace again with two glorious days in Bora Bora. On both Moorea and Bora Bora, we have the unique pleasure of sleeping in over-water bungalows, with the lagoon right outside the front door (and every other door and window!). An optional extension to Easter Island for a three-day visit to view the huge, mysterious stone figures and tour this remote civilization is available.

Meditations on Mount Athos
Explore the sights, sounds and culture of
Athens, the center of classical Greek history. Then step back a thousand years to Mount Athos, whose ancient monasteries and scenic mountain paths provide a perfect respite from modern day stress. This pilgrimage to the holy mountain can be followed by a tour to other parts of Greece, including the beautiful Greek islands.

Escape to Mykonos & Santorini
Our Greek Escape explores the beauty of
Mykonos and Santorini. And you can start your journey with a pre-tour extension in Athens to tour the Parthenon and other great historical sites. Then we’re off to enjoy the world-famous gay-friendly resort of Mykonos, including a day excursion to see the ruins on the uninhabited isle of Delos, the region’s dominant city 2500 years ago. Then we head to Santorini, often considered the most beautiful of all the islands, with homes and villages perched on the edge of a caldera, overlooking what was once the cone of a powerful volcano. Enjoy sun, fun and a bit of history, and indulge your senses on this sumptuous seaside escape.

Jewels of India
The vast subcontinent of
India has many treasures and we will explore a few of its jewels. From the sights of Delhi to the Taj Mahal, we’ll focus on the art, architecture and history of this fascinating and sometimes contradictory land. The abundance of fascinating temples, palaces and forts can easily overwhelm visitors but we will take a leisurely pace, resting at five star hotels and concentrating on five areas that we can enjoy with ease. We’ll spend two days near the Ranthambore National Park, a primary conservation area for tigers. We will also explore the lovely “pink city” of Jaipur. Our last stop is at Udaipur where we take an excursion to the temples of Ranakpur, a 15th century delight of columns and carvings.

Israel: Pride and Heritage
For serious travelers interested in history,
Israel is a must see. Home to three of the world’s most important religions, filled with significant historical and religious sites, Israel is unlike anywhere else in the world. We will visit the most famous sites in and around Jerusalem including: King David’s tomb, the room of the Last Supper, the Western Wall and the Arab market.

Italy: The Men’s Tour
The Men’s Tour follows the footsteps of some of the greatest artists and thinkers in history. Then we meet the rest of the group in
Florence where we pay our respects to Michelangelo and his archetypal work David. We proceed to Assisi and the private hermitage of St. Francis, and we end at Caesar’s doorstep, Rome. Along the way we witness the legacies of other great men of this land, from Dante to Caravaggio, from Titian to Byron, and enjoy nights in lovely hillside villages in Tuscany and Umbria.

Magic & Mystery: Nights in Morocco
Morocco: even the name creates images of exotica, beautiful scenery, fragrant spices, grand architecture and interesting people. From Casablanca to Marrakech, from the ocean to the desert, Morocco is a dazzling mosaic of Arab and Berber cultures — with a dash of African and European influence. There is much to explore in this unique land including: desert excursions, wondrous imperial cities, Islamic landmarks, fairy tale casbahs, Roman antiquities, resort facilities, mountain villages, oases, and towering sand dunes. Add a taste of spicy Moroccan cuisine and an evening of Eastern music and dance, and you have the setting for a grand adventure.

Historic Machu Picchu Tour
Journey to the top of the world to explore one of the greatest archeological treasures in existence. The Inca ruins at
Machu Picchu have attracted and inspired adventurers since its discovery in 1911. High in the clouds, this ancient civilization remains remarkably intact. Get ready to take your imagination on a voyage in spirit and history.

South African Adventure
South Africa, the mythic land of mountains and harbors, wild game reserves and stunning countryside, is our playground for a glorious week. Explore Cape Town‘s colonial history and exciting nightlife. Drive the coast from Table Mountain to the Cape of Good Hope, then enjoy a sumptuous meal in the wine country just inland from Cape Town. Take several game drives from our luxurious safaricamp, where we are likely to see lions, leopards, elephants and rhinos. Spend a night in one of Johannesburg‘s finest hotels, then join our extension to Victoria Falls for a breathtaking view of natural beauty.

Splendors of Southeast Asia
The magic of
Southeast Asia beckons us for two weeks of art, culture, history and social life in three amazing countries. Enjoy Bangkok‘s palatial sites and famous nightlife. Discover the elegance of Hanoi and the beauty of the Vietnamese countryside. Then explore the temples of Angkor Wat, a mystical wonderland of ancient times.

Song of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, the tear-shaped island off the southeastern coast of
India, is remarkable in its richness and beauty. From mountain ranges dotted with plantations cultivating Ceylon‘s famous tea to the beautiful Indian Ocean coast, it is a delight for the eyes. Culturally, Sri Lanka is rich with dance, music, and art: each day is a public parade of color, music, and imagination: masked dances, processions of elephants, and locals dressed in brilliant hued saris and adorned with jewels and dyes. We invite you to Sri Lanka, a place like nowhere else in the world!

Treasures of Southeast Asia
The hidden treasures of
Southeast Asia will be explored on our expedition to Laos and Myanmar, with a brief respite in Bangkok. We’ll visit Luang Prabang, a tiny jewel of a city practically untouched by modern development, and dramatically set in the Laotian mountains. Then we are on to Myanmar, one of the most mysterious and undiscovered destinations in the world. A land of breathtaking beauty and charm yet only recently emerging into the modern world.

Gay & Lesbian Bed & Breakfasts, Inns, Guesthouses,
Hotels, Travel Agents, & Tour Operators

gay events calendar, Lesbian & gay information, international gay events, lesbian &

gay events calendar, Lesbian & gay information, international gay events, lesbian &

For most people, a visit to India is a life-changing experience. India is vivid, challenging and full of both remarkable beauty and remarkable cultural contradictions. A visit here is a journey of a different kind, and many visitors find themselves confronting their values and their notions of history and spirituality. Next to China, India is the world’s richest, most ancient civilization, the place where the Buddha delivered his sermons, the birthplace of Hinduism, and of many of the ideas that have shaped both history and thinking for much of the world. Kublai Khan, Rudyard Kipling, Shirley Temple and Ballywood have hinted about what is in store for those who have never visited here. If you are one of them, this may be the journey of a lifetime.

Planning Your Holiday
Purple Dragon offers all-inclusive travel programs and unique side trips designed to help first-time visitors get acquainted with dazzling India. We are a gay owned and managed company and our customers are primarily gay. However, you do not have to be gay to enjoy one of our India programs. Our mainstream customers choose us because they know they will get something better from a gay company.

Creating the perfect adventure could not be easier! Our programs are all modular. Choose a destination and arrive any day. Add any extra sightseeing you like and your trip is tailor-made to suit your own schedule, tastes and budget. Your private tour includes personal guides, so you’ll never be herded around on a bus with 40 strangers. Although we have already chosen the optimum amount of time to visit each place you can extend your stay in any of our destinations.

Before your trip we will give you extensive “Before You Go” information that includes tips about packing, weather, money, shopping, food, travel practicalities and local culture that will help you enjoy a worry-free holiday.

For most people India is not a budget travel destination. If you are looking for a “cheap” tour you are probably in the wrong place since we have never been associated with cheapness. For good advice about how to compare the value of one travel program with another, please read our Cheap India Tour page.

Convenient Modular Programs
Purple Dragon’s India packages offer great value and save you time and effort by arranging your choice of hotel, round trip airport transportation, and sightseeing with a personal English-speaking guide. You can add optional sightseeing if you wish.

Delhi New and Old If you are planning to visit Delhi as a short stop in a long Asia itinerary or need to go there for business, our basic New Delhi package could be your cup of cha.

Mumbai Martini We have whipped up a spicy cocktail for our guests who have time for only a brief stop in Mumbai (Bombay) and want to see the highlights before business obligations or travel to an onward destination.

The Golden Triangle Delhi, Agra and Jaipur form the corners of the world’s most spectacular triangle. This is a program for guests who have only a short time to get a first taste of India. You can extend your stay by adding one or more of the options below.

Oberoi Hotels Special Enjoy some of the world’s most lurious hotels at about half the cost.

Optional Side Trips
Have more time and want an in-depth adventure in India. You can extend our Golden Triangle program by adding one or more of the options below. Sorry, but we do not offer these separately, nor do we offer guide-only services in India.

Surajgarh Journey to the edge of India’s largest desert to spend the night in a palace fortress that has been transformed into a luxury hotel, complete with a pool, roof-top restaurant and village musicians. Ride a camel-drawn cart through a Rajasthani village to see lavishly-decorated but now-abandoned mansions.

Ranthmbore A few days in one of India’s most beautiful national nature preserves will give you a chance to see all kinds of wildlife close-up. Ranthambore National Park is famous for its tiger population. You will also have a chance to see elephants, rhinos countless birds, and exotic plant life.

Udaipur India’s “City of Lakes” has been compared to Venice. Massive marble palaces of the Maharajas of old are there for you to explore, along with grand and unusual Jain temples.

Path to the Ganges Journey beyond Delhi, Agra and Jaipur to visit Khajuraho, the “Angkor Wat of India” and the holiest of Hindu cities, Vanarasi (Banares). In addition to Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, you will see some of the world’s most erotic temple carvings and–it you are up to it–take a dip in the Ganges.

We are not limited to the most popular itineraries that appear in the collection on our website. We also offer custom tours to many other places you may want to include in your travels, including many fascinating cities in Rajasthan, Kerala, Kashmir and the foothills of the Himalayas. We also hope to begin to offer Nepal and Bhutan in 2008.

Gay Life in India
India is probably not the best place to go for someone who wants to experience a lot of gay nightlife or entertainment. If you are content with amazing sights and sounds, terrific food and unparalleled shopping, India is a great choice for our guests who can’t stand another summer Mediterranean holiday.

Although the percentage of gay/lesbian/bi people in India is about the same as anywhere else, India’s homosexuals are largely invisible. However, that is bound to change as India becomes more modern and westernized at almost lightening speed. Several bars in New Delhi have a ‘gay night’ once a week, and there are three weekly gay “parties” in Mumbai. Delhi held its first pride parade in June 2008.

Weather in India
For first time visitors the best season to visit Delhi is between October to March. Summers in Delhi are very hot and often rainy, so prices are significantly lower May through September.

Passports and Visas
A visa is required for citizens of most countries. Visas are not issued on arrival. We will give you plenty of help to prepare for your adventure, including detailed “Before You Go” information.

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