As June rolls around, we remember the Stonewall riots of 1969. Fed up with police raids on gay establishments, the queer community in NYC’s Greenwich Village protested in the streets—and thus Pride was born. More than four decades later, Pride remains as important a social statement as ever. In the wake of this year's June attack on gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando, the LGBT communtiy and its swelling ranks of supporters are ready to come out in forceful solidarity to show their hearts are with their victims, and that the community will not cower in the face of hatred and violence. This is a community that will not stop dancing. So, if you want to be part of that movement and you’re wondering where to head for the biggest LGBT party of the year, and when, check out what’s happening in NYC, L.A. and other key cities across the country (plus one over the border in Canada). And don't forget to look the part with these great gay pride shirts.
Best cities to celebrate LGBT pride
June sees a host of Pride-related events throughout the steamy southern city, but the real action in Hotlanta is tied to National Coming Out Day (NCOD) on October 11. Atlanta Pride is the largest Pride event in the Southeast and one of the oldest in the country—the first march occurred in 1970. The huge public party (the crowd tops 200,000 people) is anchored in Piedmont Park just northeast of the downtown area. Head to the Old Fourth Ward, and grab a beer (and the mike!) at Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping-Pong Emporium for some full-on Southern gospel kitsch and organist-accompanied karaoke.
Photograph: Courtesy Atlanta Pride Committee
Texans celebrate Pride for an entire week in August in well-integrated Austin. This year’s Pride parade is on Saturday, August 27, ending at Republic Square State Park. A week earlier, on August 20, is the annual WERK fashion show featuring previous Project Runway contestants. Revelers hit the dance floor year-round at Oilcan Harry’s, Austin’s largest gay club, which is also the host of the Mr. and Miss Pride Contest. Dudes can sweat it out with bikers and burly men at the Iron Bear downtown, while a mixed LGBT/straight crowd congregates at vegan-friendly Cheer Up Charlies on the East Side.
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Alexander Shenkar
Beantown becomes Queentown during its annual Pride Week. Queer culture is everywhere, but particularly concentrated in the South End, where you’ll find several of the city’s best gay bars. At the long-established and still popular Club Café, sate your appetite for drag queens, cabaret and contemporary American grub, or head downtown to the more down-to-earth Alley Bar for cheap drinks and pool. This year, the official parade kicks off on June 11 at Copley Square and heads to City Hall Plaza where British soul singer. You can follow all the action by tracking #wickedproud (of course).
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Allison Gofman
Plays, musical performances, Lake Michigan cruises, parties, food-truck roundups and farmers’ markets dot the LGBT social calendar for the entire month of June in the City of Broad Shoulders. But even before Chicago Pride officially starts in June, an early fund-raiser and kickoff party, Furball, takes place every Memorial Day weekend—perfect for the hirsute and shirtless. Pride Fest Weekend revs up in Boystown with performances by the pop queen Daya, Jordin Sparks and others the week before the 47th annual parade on June 26, which draws around 750,000 people standing, er, shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity.
The Mile-High City carves out a weekend in June for the Denver PrideFest when more than 350,000 celebrants come out to play. This year, dance artist CeCe Peniston headlines the main stage on Sunday, June 19, and a variety of acts fill the Orgullo Latino Stage all weekend. Athletes can run in the Big Gay 5K race, and womyn can show their solidarity in the Dyke March, both on Saturday. The younger crowd (11–20) will find plenty to do in Rainbow Alley, a safe resource space that features a health and counseling center, games and even a drag closet. On any Sunday you can partake in the beer bust at the Denver Wrangler, a 17-year tradition.
It’s no surprise that L.A. Pride is centered on West Hollywood—home to the Abbey, the nabe’s big gay heart, and Hamburger Mary’s, which serves classic diner fare and drag shows. Pop stars Carly Rae Jepsen, Hailee Steinfeld Charli XCX and Krewella headline in West Hollywood Park o June 10-12—the girls have big shoes to fill with Kesha slaying it last year. If WeHo isn’t your bag, head to Silver Lake, where you’ll find a more alternative vibe at nightspots like Akbar on West Sunset.
In the sizzling South Florida city, Pride is observed in April (7-9 in 2017) with a fiesta flavor all its own. The three-day celebration takes place along Art Deco–fabulous Ocean Avenue—expect finely sculpted beach bodies to shame you back to the gym all year long. Check into Hôtel Gaythering, the city’s gay boutique hotel, and plan on grabbing cocktails at gay clubs like the enduring Twist, where you can dance until the sun comes up. If you want to keep the party going, embark on a five-day Pride Cruise that departs after the Sunday festivities.
New York City
Vying for the title of Pride Mothership with San Francisco, NYC pulls out all the stops. This year’s events kick off on June 21 with a free family night at Hudson River Park on Pier 26 including a screening of Toy Story. For the non-parental crowd, there’s Fantasy, a new masquerade and burlesque extravaganza at the Diamond Horseshoe on West 46th Street. Before or after the show, take your pick of numerous Hell’s Kitchen gay bars. This year the youngest ever grand marshal, 15-year-old co-founder of teh Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation Jazz Jennings, leads the parade on June 26, and of course, a visit to gay NYC wouldn’t be complete without grabbing a cocktail at The Stonewall Inn, the place where gay liberation began.
Orlando will come out in force this year for its October Pride celebrations, flying the rainbow flag of unity and defiance in the wake of June's tragic mass shooting at Pulse nightclub. Details have not yet been released as to how the victims, survivors and their families will be remembered and celebrated, but there will, as ever, be a paradem dance party, festival and fireworks on Saturday October 8 from noon. The celebrations will center around Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Grow By Love
While 100,000 people come out to view the Sunday morning parade, estimates put the total celebrants at 1.5 million over the entire weekend of SF Pride. It all starts at Dolores Park in the Mission when the Dyke March makes its way to the Castro for the neighborhood-wide Pink Saturday (June 25). The Sunday parade down Market Street takes the festivities to the Civic Center, where headlineers take the stage. The event runs the gamut from family-friendly activities to fetish fairs. Cruise the Castro for drinks at iconic gay bars, or head to seedier SoMa.
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Travis Wise
Launched in 1974, the Emerald City’s Pride celebration is a pleasantly laid-back affair. Visitors can expect a chicken-and-waffles brunch, a multi-weekend stand-up comedy roster, and the family-friendly Seattle Pride Picnic (on June 11 this year) at Volunteer Park. A group of LGBTQI advocates wil join Dennis Coleman, conductor of the Seattle Men's Chorus and Women's Chorus as grand marshals at the parade on June 26. Capitol Hill is still the gayborhood of choice, but as in most American cities, the idea of a fabulous ghetto is diminishing as gay culture becomes normalized, once-marginalized areas become desirable, and rents go up accordingly.
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Brett Curtiss