The Guide to Pride: Nine LGBT Destinations to Visit This Summer
While LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) pride events occur throughout the year, the summer is always a big time of year for the community to celebrate life and promote equality. The U.S. recognizes June as LGBT Pride Month in honor of the Stonewall Inn events that occurred in New York City more than 45 years ago. This legendary moment in history helped spark the gay rights movement and led to the creation of the first pride march in 1970. Since then, pride festivities are celebrated throughout the country and world in hundreds of major cities. Here are nine to know:
The largest parade of its kind in western Canada, Vancouver’s Pride Parade, takes place on August 2 and covers the entire downtown district. More than 150 floats, cars, and marching units move along Robson and Denman streets to the Sunset Beach Festival (near the Davie Street Gay Village). The 37th annual parade expects to bring more than 650,000 attendees, and events leading up to it in late July include the Pride Run & Walk (a 5.5K walk or run and a 10K run through scenic Stanley Park), Picnic in the Park (a post–Run & Walk event), and the Davie Street Block Party (with music, a beer garden, and more, from 6 p.m. through midnight).
Even if you can’t make Vancouver’s Pride Parade, the summer is still the best time to visit the city. In mid-August you can enjoy the Vancouver Queer Film Festival and the Lululemon SeaWheeze events (with a half marathon, yoga sessions, and a food, drink, and music festival in Stanley Park). Stay in the West End or Yaletown for easy walking access to the Davie Street Village and the gay bars throughout Vancouver. The OPUS Vancouver is a stylish, gay-friendly boutique hotel located on Davie Street that offers six uniquely-designed rooms with amenities including Malin + Goetz bath products and an iPad or a Samsung Galaxy S3 to enjoy while exploring Vancouver.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Vallarta Pride has grown into a weeklong festival for its 2015 edition, held in mid-May. Kicking off pride week this year is the International March Against Homophobia, which starts at the Sheraton Buganvilias. Art exhibits, a drag derby race, film screenings, a group sunset commitment ceremony, and a party with Lea DeLaria (Vallarta Pride’s grand marshal, best known for portraying Big Boo on Orange Is the New Black), are some of the events that will lead up to the Pride Parade.
As one of Mexico’s top beach destinations, Puerto Vallarta has been a major LGBT destination for decades. To be near all the pride fun, stay in Old Vallarta (a.k.a. the Romantic Zone).
São Paulo, Brazil
The São Paulo LGBT Pride Parade (Parada do Orgulho LGBT de Sao Paulo) attracts millions of visitors and locals annually. Hosted in June this year, the pride parade is the largest in the world, according to Guinness World Records. The parade starts at the Museum of Art of São Paulo on Avenida Paulista in the afternoon and moves on to Rua da Consolação, before concluding at the public square Praça Roosevelt. Several parties, a drag soccer championship, and an LGBT film festival are also on the agenda.
Considered the capital city in Latin America for gays and lesbians, São Paulo offers a range of bars, clubs, and restaurants for the LGBT community to explore. Popular clubs include The Week, Bubu Lounge, and Vermont Itaim.
Tel Aviv has become a gay travel haven over the past six years thanks to its warm climate, white-sand beaches along the blue Mediterranean, and vibrant nightlife. As one of the few cities in the Middle East where the LGBT community can feel welcome and free to show PDA, Tel Aviv expects to draw 130,000 participants to its pride parade. Catch the start at Gan Meir Park on June 12. Events during the seven-day celebration include film screenings, festivals, and beach parties.
When planning travel to Tel Aviv, book stays either near the coastline strip of Ha’Yarkon Street or near Rothschild Boulevard in the heart of the city.
Taking place in West Hollywood (where 40 percent of the residents identify as LGBT), L.A. Pride hosts a three-day weekend of official Pride events in early June. Kicking off the festivities is the Lavender Menace, a free party that celebrates LGBT women and includes a drumming circle, motorcycles, a Dyke March, and top DJs and performers. Saturday includes the Pride Festival at West Hollywood Park, which features nearly 200 community and gay-friendly business exhibitors and entertainment such as a performance by pop star Kesha; Sunday’s parade begins at 11 a.m. and runs for several blocks along Santa Monica Boulevard.
There are a number of gay establishments to visit during and after the parade along Santa Monica Boulevard. Among them are Fiesta Cantina (a relaxed, tropical-themed bar with a popular rooftop patio), The Abbey (a staple in Los Angeles gay nightlife that offers a massive indoor/outdoor space), and Hamburger Mary’s (a burger restaurant and gay bar franchise that’s known for its drag shows and Sunday brunch).
Held the third weekend in June, New Orleans Pride includes a kick-off party, a family-friendly day in Washington Park, and a parade—which goes through the historic French Quarter—starting at the park and stretching south on Royal Street and up Bourbon Street. Unlike other such parades, New Orleans Pride is open to everyone. You can walk, bike, or ride along, rather than just observe.
New Orleans hosts three other major LGBT events throughout the year: the infamous Southern Decadence celebration (attracting more than 150,000 participants to NOLA over Labor Day Weekend), Halloween New Orleans, and Gay Mardi Gras. A majority of the gay bars in the French Quarter can be found in the southern half, between Orleans and St. Philip streets.
Amsterdam’s Canal Parade is the only Pride event to take place on the water. Head to the city on the last day of July to catch all of the events of Amsterdam Gay Pride. More than 80 decorated vessels will sail along the Prinsengracht canal and Amstel river during the parade. For the best view, join one of the many smaller boats lined up along the canal walls. Other events held during the pride celebration—which continue through August 2—include a Pride Run, a Dykes on Bikes tour, and the Drag Queen Olympics, with events such as a Stiletto Sprint and a Handbag Discus.
The beach town of Provincetown has been a mecca for the gay community since the 1920s. Some 90,000 partygoers come for the Carnival in August, which was voted the best festival in Cape Cod in 2013. The theme for the 37th celebration is Candyland, and the week’s events include a costume ball, a boat cruise, and a number of dance and pool parties. Carnival headliner Kathy Najimy (Hocus Pocus, VEEP) will be bringing her one-woman show, “Lift Up Your Skirt,” to Ptown for a night. There aren’t many rules for the August 15-21 celebration, save one: underwear during the parade, please!
Keeping in step with the city’s iconic nightlife, the annual Las Vegas Pride event holds its parade in the evening. Revelers march through Downtown Las Vegas (down Fourth Street from Gass to Ogden avenues); a festival follows the next day. While the official event takes place on the weekend of the 18th, the city and The Strip host a number of parties occur throughout the week. Just drop by your favorite LBGTQ-friendly nightlife venue or resort pool for the action.