January 24, 2015

January 24, 2015
6 Underrated American Cities For LGBT Travelers

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Saturday and I hope you are having a beary safe and great weekend so far. It is another busy one for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

Being gay, it is always great to know if where I am traveling is LGBT friendly or not. So today I would like to blog about 6 underrated American cities for LGBT travelers.

Astoria, Queens

Yes, it’s technically part of New York City, but Astoria is an emerging gayborhood in its own right—which is especially important as longtime LGBT-friendly spots in Chelsea and the West Village close due to rising rents. In the past few years, several new gay bars have opened in the neighborhood, including Icon Bar, while longtime LGBT stronghold Albatross Bar celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. On the culture front, Astoria is home to the Museum of the Moving Image; in addition to hosting interactive multimedia exhibits, the museum also makes for a memorable, offbeat wedding venue.

Norfolk, Virginia

The saying “Virginia Is For Lovers” is even more appropriate now that the onetime state ban on gay marriage has been struck down. Norfolk has long had an active LGBT community, as evinced by its annual Hampton Roads PrideFest, which has been held in some form for more than 20 years (and includes, apparently, the only pride boat parade in the U.S.). Other attractions in Norfolk include the beach, the historic NorVa Theater, and the recently reopened Chrysler Museum of Art.

New Haven, Connecticut

Best known as the home of Yale University, itself a longtime haven for LGBT students (the slogan "One in Four, Maybe More" was coined by the campus gay community in 1987), New Haven also has thriving culture and nightlife scenes. Off campus, there’s 186 York Street Café, purportedly one of the oldest gay bars in the state, as well as beloved institutions like Frank Pepe’s pizza and Louis’ Lunch. The New Haven Pride Center New Haven Pride Center has also been working to revive the city’s annual Pride Festival, which is scheduled to happen sometime this month.

Memphis, Tennessee

Though it’s more famous for its country roots (hello, Graceland), Memphis also offers plenty of nightlife options for LGBT travelers. The city is home to Club Spectrum, which, at 30,000 square feet, claims to be one of the biggest gay clubs in the U.S. There's also the Mollie Fontaine Lounge, a Victorian mansion-turned-nightlife emporium, with two distinct spots offering good food, cocktails, and live music. Time your visit right and you could check out Memphis’s 11th annual Mid-South Pride Festival, happening September 27.

Louisville, Kentucky

This charming Southern city is about to get its first LGBT hotel: The Vu Hotel, set to open in the Smoketown neighborhood later this year, is from the same owners of The Connection, one of Louisville’s most popular gay clubs. Though the state is currently embroiled in a battle over recognizing gay marriages, Louisville mayor Greg Fischer recently pledged his support for LGBT couples. As for other tourist attractions, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the city’s bourbon history, which you can experience with the help of The Urban Bourbon Trail.

Kansas City, Missouri

In addition to its museums, landmarks, and—of course—BBQ, Kansas City has a thriving LGBT scene. One cultural hot spot, Tivoli Cinemas—located in the LGBT-friendly neighborhood of Westport—hosts Out Here Now: The Kansas City LGBT Film Festival. As for nightlife, there are plenty of lounges and bars, as well as an outpost of the gay-friendly chain Hamburger Mary’s, which began in San Francisco in 1972. For a real cowboy experience, book a trip during the Missouri Gay Rodeo Association’s Show-Me State Rodeo.

Hope these tip help you plan a vacation that is friendly and fun. Have a beary safe and great Saturday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab