October Is LGBT History Month — Here’s Where to Celebrate Around the World
Every June, the world embraces a rainbow-hued glow as nations across the globe gather to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride. The festivities commemorate the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City on June 28, 1969, which is widely recognized as the birth of the modern LGBT movement. But October is another equally important month for the community, which marks the observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history, as well as the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. Known today as LGBT History Month, its significance is tied to National Coming Out Day, observed globally on Oct. 11.
The idea for LGBT History Month traces its roots to 1994, when it was first founded by Rodney Wilson, a high school teacher in Missouri. Originally called Gay and Lesbian History Month, the concept was quickly endorsed by GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Education Association and other renowned organizations. Today, the month is dedicated to the continued celebration of the achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender icons who have made extraordinary contributions on a national and international scale.
In honor of LGBT History Month, we’re showcasing a diverse collection of destinations around the world that are commemorating the cause. From one-off international events to month-long domestic festivities, here’s where you can still travel to join in on the merriment. So brush up on your history, book a flight, and pack your bags, because October will be over before you know it.
Of course, the birthplace of LGBT History Month earns a spot on the list. This Midwest city is full of charm and natural wonders, but it has also been a pioneer in the LGBT community, boasting a long history of inclusion and forward-thinking policy. For example, Minnesota was the first state to reject a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage by a popular vote. Minneapolis was also awarded a perfect rating by LGBTQ Nation in 2016, and was recognized as the most LGBT-friendly city in the United States. Explore Minnesota’s gay travel hub to learn more about how the city celebrates pride year-round, which includes guides to LGBTQ-owned restaurants, themed travel itineraries, ongoing events, and more.
New York City, New York
New York is undoubtedly one of the most iconic gay-friendly cities the world has ever known. A quintessential capital of queer culture, the Greater New York City area is teeming with entire neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and Park Slope that have become synonymous with all things LGBTQ-related. Sure, Pride isn’t until June and DragCon ended last month, but there’s thankfully never a shortage of things to do for anyone hoping to dive headfirst into the scene. Throughout October, the city is recognizing LGBT History Month with a series of events that celebrate and pay homage to the community. For example, from Oct. 23 through Oct. 29 to participate in NewFest: The New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Film Festival which will feature more than 160 films from over 30 countries. Check in with The Center (a cultural home base for the LGBTQ community) to see more upcoming arts-based programming for the month, or head to NYC & Company for a full LGBTQ+ destination guide.
Denmark might be known for being one of the happiest countries on earth, but it also happens to be extremely gay-friendly (causation or correlation is anyone’s guess). Copenhagen, the Scandinavian country’s colorful capital, is at the center of the action and makes for a perfect jaunt across the Atlantic. While the city is world-renowned for being a top destination for all things culinary and design-focused, it has also long been a leader in the LGBTQ rights movement. In 1989, Denmark became the first country in the world to enact registered partnership laws, similar to a civil union, for same-sex couples. More recently, it became the first country in the world to officially remove transgender identities from its list of mental health disorders. Copenhagen is slated to host WorldPride in 2021, but until then, visitors can take advantage of Visit Denmark’s comprehensive LGBTQ travel resources, which feature LGBT cultural venues, LGBT-specific tours, and even a free gay guide and map published by the Rainbow Business Denmark.
Brotherly love isn’t the only type of love Philadelphia is known for. Pennsylvania’s largest city has developed a reputation for being a welcoming and tolerant destination for visitors of every orientation. In fact, Philly was the first U.S. city to launch a major marketing campaign (“Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay”) to encourage LGBTQ tourism efforts. While there’s a constant lineup of lively events catered specifically to the community, the major draw this October is OutFest, kicking off on Oct. 13. Billed as the world’s largest National Coming Out Day festival, the massive block party in Philadelphia’s famed Gayborhood spans 10 full blocks, bursting at the seams with drag shows, games, bar crawls, music, shopping, food, and more. This year marks the event’s 29th anniversary and is expected to draw thousands of locals and visitors alike. But don’t fret if you miss the event ― there are loads more LGBTQ events taking place all season long.
Our neighbors to the North also recognize October as LGBT History Month, and Canada’s beloved city of Toronto is no exception. While New York City is remembered for the Stonewall uprising, Toronto’s equivalent is the Toronto raids of 1981, which became one of the first turning points in the struggle for and eventual celebration of LGBTQ rights. The capital of Ontario will be celebrating their pride all month long with a series of various events and programming taking place all over the bustling city. Some of the many key dates include Spirit Day (recognizing anti-bullying) on Oct. 17; Asexual Awareness Week from Oct. 22-28; and Intersex Awareness Day on Oct. 26. For a robust list of travel tips and LGBTQ+ itineraries, take a peek at the city’s dedicated resource center. While we’re here, it’s also worth noting that Toronto is home to RuPaul’s Drag Race legend and Season 11 runner-up, Brooke Lynn Hytes (aka Queen of the North).
Those better fit for the tropical climate and laid-back lures of Hawaii should set their sights on Honolulu this month. The capital of Hawaii, located on Oahu’s south shore, is hosting the Honolulu Pride Parade and Festival from Oct. 10-27. As Hawaii’s largest festival for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied communities, it’s a celebration of diversity and inclusiveness where everybody is welcome. This year’s special guests include Stacy Lentz and Kurt Kelly, LGBTQ rights activists and co-owners of New York’s iconic Stonewall Inn. While the overarching event schedule encompasses more than two weeks of curated events (including live entertainment, art exhibits, fashion shows, and cultural experiences), the main parade will unfold on Oct. 19.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Sin City is also joining in on the fun this month by hosting Las Vegas Pride on Oct. 11 and 12. Their notorious night parade will be free to attend on the evening of Oct. 11, while the PRIDE Family Festival will take place on October 12 (with tickets still on sale for $20 at the gate). This year’s theme is “honoring the past and celebrating the future” which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. But the festivities don’t end there. The city is hosting a vibrant calendar of events throughout the end of the month, including activities like the PRIDE OUTside Hike at Kraft Mountain; PRIDE Celebration Roller Skate Party on Oct. 16; and the second annual Vegas Urban Pride weekend from Oct. 18-20.
Taiwan is another country that has a long and progressive history in regards to the LGBTQ+ community. The major religions in Taiwan are Buddhism and Taoism, and neither of the holy books for either religion specifically present arguable issues about LGBTQ people. Although considered taboo, the movement for equal rights in Taiwan took hold in the 1990s, and it has been considered one of the most gay-friendly Asian countries ever since. On May 24, 2019, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide under Tsai Ing-wen, the country’s first female president. Its capital city is gearing up to host Gay Pride Taipei 2019 on Oct. 26. This year, more than 80,000 people from across the globe are expected to attend the 4-day event.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
While Winston-Salem might not rank up there with New York and San Francisco is terms of being amongst America’s most LGBTQ-friendly destinations, the city still knows how to celebrate its pride in a big way. The annual weeklong celebration of love, unity, and the equal rights of the LGBTQIA+ community will take place from Oct. 13-30. Dubbed Pride WS, the itinerary will include seven days of unadulterated fun, ranging from drag fashion shows to a full-fledged parade and festival on Oct. 19 in the Downtown Arts District. The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel will host the official kick-off party, and other must-see events include the Pride Night Costume Event (themed “movie star realness”); Pride WS Brunch at The Katharine Brasserie & Bar; and the Official Pride Afterparty.
Key West, Florida
The Florida Keys tend to conjure images of swaying palms, endless coastlines, and a lackadaisical lifestyle perfectly suited for sun-seeking beach bums. In short, it’s a fantasy land ― which is exactly why Key West is the ideal locale to host the annual Fantasy Fest celebration. Started in 1979 by a group of Key West locals, this year marks the fan favorite’s 40th anniversary. The 10-day event is essentially a party in paradise, where clothes are optional but costumes are mandatory. Outlandish, whimsical, and completely crazy, this event is not to be missed. Attendance grows year-after-year, with more than 75,000 visitors of every orientation expected to pop in this month. The best part? The majority of Fantasy Fest events and activities double as vital fundraisers for local non-profit organizations, including the King & Queen of Fantasy Fest campaign, which raises money for AIDS Help of Monroe County.