“Mona Lisa model” to be exhumed

Mona LisaScientists are opening the grave of a nun to see if she was the model for Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

The 16th century tomb of Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo is being explored in the hopes of finding her skull. With modern facial reconstruction techniques, it’s possible to tell what she looked like, and this will confirm or deny a popular theory that she was the model for the famous painting.

Archaeologists are using subsurface imaging to probe the area under a crypt and staircase they’ve uncovered inside an old convent where the women is presumed to have been buried. They believe that several tombs lie at the bottom of the stairs.

Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo was the wife of a wealthy merchant and when her husband died she became a nun at the convent of San Orsula in Florence, where she died in 1542. It was common in those days for women to join a convent when they were widowed. One has to wonder what Sister Del Giocondo thought of being the subject of the most talked-about portrait in history.

The Mona Lisa has been argued about for generations. Some researchers say the model was Da Vinci’s gay lover, while others say it’s Da Vinci himself in drag.

The lower tombs will be opened in the next few days. Stayed tuned to see if the team finds Mona Lisa’s celebrated head among the remains.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Court fines hotel owners for refusing gay couple a room

gay, GayA court in England has fined hotel owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull for refusing a gay couple a double room, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy tried to get a room at the Chymorvah Hotel, near Penzance , in 2008, but were turned away. The judge ruled that this was discrimination and awarded the couple £1800 ($2,863) each in damages.

The Bulls are Christian and say they object to giving any unmarried couple a room. The judge ruled that since Hall and Preddy are civil partners they have the same rights as married couples. The BBC has filmed a statement by Hall and Preddy.

[Image courtesy Ludovic Bertron]

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First gay museum in the U.S. opens in San Francisco

gay, GLBT, glbt, San FranciscoLess than a month after President Obama repealed the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, the U.S. has gotten its first gay museum. The GLBT History Museum is located in the Castro District of San Francisco. Run by the GLBT Historical Society, it features 1,600 sq. ft. of exhibition and activity space.

Yesterday was its grand opening and visitors got to see two exhibitions: Our Vast Queer Past: Celebrating GLBT History and Great Collections of the GLBT Historical Society Archives.

The GLBT Historical Society has some history of its own. It was founded in 1985 and has one of the largest archives of its kind. Currently there is only one other gay museum in the world. The Schwules Museum in Berlin is the first museum dedicated exclusively to GLBT history. It had its first exhibition in the Berlin Museum in 1984 and moved to its own space in 1985.

[Photo courtesy GLBT Historical Society ]

Mexico City offers free honeymoon to first gay couple married in Argentina

This week Argentina legalized gay marriage, the first Latin American country do so. Civil unions are legal in Uruguay, but Argentina’s move puts same-sex marriages on the same footing with straight ones, with same-sex couples being allowed to adopt.

Mexico City, where gay marriages are also legal, has marked the occasion by offering a free honeymoon to the first gay couple married in Argentina. Both Mexico City and Buenos Aires are considered gay-friendly tourist destinations.

Mexico City’s tourism secretary Alejandro Rojas said in a recent interview that he hopes gay couples will see his city as a destination for getting married and spending their honeymoon. His office is encouraging tour operators to create package tours especially tailored to same-sex couples. The city is also putting its money where its mouth is by investing in gay-friendly hotels and other businesses.

Photo courtesy user zackly76 via Gadling’s flickr pool.

Washington DC to become gay marriage destination

A new bill passed by the Washington, D.C. city council is already getting the hotel community excited over the possibilities. When Mayor Adrian Fenty signs it into law, gay marriage will be legal in our nation’s capital. For the hotel industry, that means a larger market from which to draw wedding clients and pump up some revenue in what has been a dismal market for the travel and hospitality industry.

It looks like March is the earliest the law could take effect. Even though it’s still a few months away, that isn’t nearly enough time to plan a wedding! But, the deals are nonetheless starting to pop up. The Affinia Liaison Capitol Hill is celebrating by extending its Pride Package rates for a year, to December 31, 2010. The rates start at $199 a night and include daily breakfast for two at Art and Soul restaurant and champagne cocktails for two from ArtBar. And, for each package booked, the hotel is going to donate $10 to White Knot for Equality, a non-profit that’s working for equal rights for the gay and lesbian community.

Remember to use the code PRIDE when you book your room!

[Photo by Keshet: GLBT inclusion in the Jewish Community]