Connect with us


App seeks to make vacationing safe for LGBTQ travelers

misterb&b, a French startup, focuses on safety and connection



The landing page for gay travel app misterb&b opens with a slideshow of stock photos of two men in a white-tiled kitchen smiling at each other, two women in rose-colored shirts with one draping her arm over the other’s shoulder, and a series of other images of people sitting at tables smiling cheerily while seemingly having conversation. Next to the slideshow is a text box with a rainbow flag banner.

“Where do you want to go? NYC or Paris?” the prompt reads. 

When Paris-based entrepreneur Matthieu Jost created misterb&b in 2014, he was fresh off a disappointing experience where a vacation rental host in Barcelona, Spain denied him entry because “she found out we were gay and [my  partner and I] would be sharing a bed under her roof.”

Powered by the feeling of never wanting to experience such a dehumanizing moment again, he created an LGBTQ-centric app centered on safety and connection. For almost a decade now, misterb&b has given LGBTQ travelers access to more than a million queer-friendly accommodations and an opportunity to connect with other LGBTQ locals in their travel destinations. 

“The name misterb&b came from the app’s original focus on gay male travelers,” said Jost in an email. “I had traveled to Barcelona with my partner and our home share rental house rejected us from her home…We left and I decided I never wanted to have the same experience again, for myself or for my community.” 

Getting into travel app development, however, wasn’t uncharted territory for Jost. He was part of a team in 2010, which included French gay magazine Têtu, that created gay lifestyle and travel website The site drew inspiration from American travel company Tripadvisor, Inc. and became one of Europe’s top directories for LGBTQ travelers. 

This experience, paired with his co-founder’s ownership of a popular French short-term rental company, helped Jost to amass the data needed to make suitable recommendations for misterb&b’s users. 

“misterb&b is about connecting people globally through travel, and it offers a layer of connection that other travel apps don’t,” said Jost. “Seventy percent of misterb&b’s user base are solo travelers looking to find like-minded people to connect and travel with.”

Jost added that the app “offers users a unique opportunity to share experiences,” and users can connect on the platform and share their itineraries. 

User safety is addressed by ensuring that they provide proof of identity and address to authenticate themselves. Additionally, misterb&b relies on artificial intelligence technology to identify fraudulent activity. 

For those who visit misterb&b to offer to host travelers in their properties, their identity is protected by the company’s policy of not operating in countries listed on the U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control sanctions list. Hosts in homophobic countries also have their profile pictures blurred and only other misterb&b users can access them.

“Some of the countries we operate in aren’t necessarily gay-friendly, but the response from hosts in countries where gay people are persecuted, like Russia for example, has been heartwarming,” said Jost. “It’s hard for LGBTQ+ individuals to meet other gay people in those countries, so we offer the option for hosts to initially hide their profile picture in countries with high frequencies of homophobia or LGTBQ hate crimes for an added layer of safety.”

In the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area, a pair of hosts have showered the company with glowing praise.

A 2019 question and answer blog post that features a gay host couple from Linden, Va., describes their hosting experience as something positive they have been able to provide to “hundreds of people.”

“We spent many years in D.C. fighting for LGBTQ rights, which has finally paid off,” read their answer to a question about what hosting to the gay community meant to them. “We know that there are many other LGBTQ folks who enjoy the outdoors and are not always seeking a city scene… so we want to give those folks a chance to experience a relaxed environment in a cabin that is hosted by gay owners.” 


The White House

Biden, Harris, deliver remarks for White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention

Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf among those who spoke



President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris listen as U.S. Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-Fla.) addresses an audience in the Rose Garden including federal, state and local officials, survivors and family members, and gun violence prevention advocates on Sept. 22, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Brandon Wolf)

President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) addressed an audience from the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday to honor the establishment of a first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

In a press release Thursday announcing the move, the administration said its aim is to implement and expand the provisions of last year’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act along with those contained in the president’s executive orders targeting issues of gun violence.

Additionally, Biden explained in his remarks, the office will coordinate more support for survivors, families and communities, including mental health services and financial aid; identify new avenues for executive action; and “expand our coalition of partners in states and cities across America” given the need for legislative solutions on the local and state level.

Harris, who will oversee the office, pledged to “use the full power of the federal government to strengthen the coalition of survivors and advocates and students and teachers and elected leaders to save lives and fight for the right of all people to be safe from fear and to be able to live a life where they understand that they are supported in that desire and that right.”

The vice president noted her close experiences with the devastating consequences of gun violence in her work as a federal prosecutor, San Francisco district attorney, California attorney general and in her current role.

Biden’s comments also included highlights of his administration’s accomplishments combatting gun violence and a call to action for Congress to do more. “It’s time again to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines,” he told lawmakers.

The president also credited the the work of advocates including those who were gathered at the White House on Friday: “all of you here today, all across the country, survivors, families, advocates — especially young people who demand our nation do better to protect all; who protested, organized, voted, and ran for office, and, yes, marched for their lives.”

Taking the stage before introducing Biden, Frost noted that “Right before I was elected to Congress, I served as the national organizing director for March for Our Lives, a movement that inspired young people across the nation to demand safe communities.”

“The president understands that this issue especially for young people, especially for marginalized communities, is a matter of survival,” the congressman said. And the formation of this office, “comes from Pulse to Parkland,” he said, adding, “we fight because we love.”

Human Rights Campaign National Press Secretary Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, which was America’s second deadliest mass shooting and the deadliest against the LGBTQ community, shared a comment with the Washington Blade after Friday’s ceremony:

“Seven years ago, when my best friends and 47 others were murdered at our safe place — Pulse Nightclub — we promised to honor them with action. This is what that looks like. This deep investment in the fight to end gun violence matters, and I cannot wait to see Vice President Harris lead these efforts. We can blaze the path toward a future free of gun violence. And today marked an important step in that direction.”

Continue Reading

U.S. Federal Courts

Federal judge: drag is ‘vulgar and lewd,’ ‘sexualized conduct’

Ruling ‘bristles with hostility toward LGBTQ people’



J. Marvin Jones Federal Building, U.S. Courthouse in Amarillo, Texas (Photo: Library of Congress)

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a ruling Thursday denying relief to a group of university students who sought to host a drag show over the objections of their school’s president.

A Trump appointed jurist with deep ties to anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion conservative legal activists, Kacsmaryk argued that drag performances probably do not constitute speech protected by the First Amendment.

As Slate Senior Writer Mark Joseph Stern wrote on X, this conclusion “conflicts with decisions from Texas, Florida, Tennessee and Montana which held that drag is constitutionally protected expression.”

“It also bristles with undisguised hostility toward LGBTQ people,” he added.

Kacsmaryk’s 26-page decision describes drag performances as lewd and licentious, obscene and sexually prurient, despite arguments the plaintiffs had presented about the social, political, and artistic merit of this art form.

As the Human Rights Campaign recently wrote, “drag artists and the spaces that host their performances have long served as a communal environment for queer expression.”

The group added, “It is a form of art and entertainment, but, historically, the performances haven’t only served to entertain, but also to truly advance the empowerment and visibility of LGBTQ+ people.”

Nevertheless, anti-LGBTQ conservative activists and organizations have perpetuated conspiracy theories about members of the community targeting children for sexual abuse including by bringing them to drag performances.

Among these is a group with ties to the Proud Boys that was cited by Kacsmaryk in his ruling: Gays Against Groomers, an anti-LGBTQ and anti-transgender extremist group, according to the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center.

Continue Reading

The White House

Harris to oversee White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention

Goal is to implement and expand upon legislation, executive actions



U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, September 2023. (Official White House photograph by Lawrence Jackson)

The White House announced Thursday evening that President Joe Biden on Friday will establish the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, to be overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris.

The office will focus on implementing and expanding upon executive and legislative actions, including the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, “to reduce gun violence, which has ravaged communities across the country.”

Serving under Harris will be Stefanie Feldman, “a longtime policy advisor to President Biden on gun violence prevention,” and “leading gun violence prevention advocates Greg Jackson and Rob Wilcox.”

“Every time I’ve met with families impacted by gun violence as they mourn their loved ones, and I’ve met with so many throughout the country, they all have the same message for their elected officials: ‘do something,'” Biden said in a statement.

The president noted his signing of last year’s bipartisan gun violence prevention law, a flagship legislative accomplishment for the administration, along with his issuance of more executive actions than any president in history to address this problem.

Calling these “just the first steps,” Biden said the establishment of the White House Office on Gun Violence Prevention will “build upon these measures and keep Americans safe.”

He also urged Congress to do more by passing legislation requiring universal background checks, and baning assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

In a statement, Harris said, “This epidemic of gun violence requires urgent leadership to end the fear and trauma that Americans experience every day.”

“The new Office of Gun Violence Prevention will play a critical role in implementing President Biden’s and my efforts to reduce violence to the fullest extent under the law,” she said, “while also engaging and encouraging Congressional leaders, state and local leaders, and advocates to come together to build upon the meaningful progress that we have made to save lives.”

“Our promise to the American people is this: we will not stop working to end the epidemic of gun violence in every community, because we do not have a moment, nor a life to spare,” the vice president said.

Then Vice President Biden hugs Brandon J. Wolf as he talks with family members of the victims and survivors in the June 12th mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, June 16, 2016.
Wolf, a Pulse survivor, was recently appointed National Press Secretary of the Human Rights Campaign.
(Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
Continue Reading

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade