It's that time of year again, Pride Month!
Everyone is getting ready to cut loose, celebrate the strides the community has made toward greater acceptance of LGBTQIA+, and discuss how we can make even more leaps in the year to come.
It's a time of boozing, free expression, art, and for many people, it's a time to travel.
There are a lot of reasons to skip town and see what Pride has to offer in some far-flung place.
Whether you live in a small town with little or no recognition of Pride celebrations or you're ready to experience Pride through the lens of another city, picking the right destination is key.
Here is you're ultimate guide to the best Pride destinations in North America.
From the over-the-top, historically steeped street party bonanza of NYC, to the laid-back, tropical celebrations of Key West, this is everything you need to know to choose the perfect Pride destination for you!
New York City Pride
What better place to celebrate Pride than the place where it all began? NYC is arguably the biggest, most significant Pride celebration in North America. Which should come as no surprise because this is the town where Pride was born!
One year after the historic Stonewall Riots, organizers staged a march to commemorate the event and marched the 51 blocks from Christopher Street to Central Park. The crowd was so fired up and spirits were so high, that the march was concluded in half the planned time! Luckily for us, that enthusiasm lives on today and NYC's Pride events are rivaled only by the sweet madness of Rio's massive Pride extravaganza!
NYC offers events for people from all walks of life, and even has a Youth Pride event for where LGBTQIA+ teens can celebrate with friends and allies. There are marches, street fairs, musical events, food, and just about anything else you could ask for in a massive festival. The whole thing is capped off with a massive music festival featuring a wide array of bands from multiple genres. This year's headliner is Kylie Minogue.
A full list of scheduled events, with dates and times, can be found here: https://www.nycpride.org/.
San Francisco Pride
While NYC might be the birthplace of the modern Pride movement, San Francisco has always been the soul of the LGBTQIA+ community. This fact is rarely more evident than throughout the month of June.
San Francisco and California, in general, has always been a safe haven for counterculture groups of every stripe. Frisco has been a welcoming home for Beatniks, hippies, and anyone else who never quite fit into the cookie cutter image of the "American Ideal", and acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people has been a current that has always run through the deep waters of this spirit of acceptance.
All of the factors add up to one hell of a great party when Pride Month rolls around! San Francisco has some of the best-laid infrastructure for a massive Pride celebration. The Parade has grandstand seating with concessions and easily accessible restrooms, gorgeous green spaces for street fairs, carnivals, and markets, multiple stages kicking out tunes from big-name musicians, and an unbeatable variety of food.
This is a Pride Celebration that should be experienced at least once in your lifetime! For more info and a full schedule of events, see their website at http://www.sfpride.org/!
Washington D.C. Pride
At their very core, Pride celebrations are political events. It can be easy to forget that in the midst of all the partying and frivolity, but in Washington D.C., that aspect of Pride is never far from the surface. In addition to all of the events you would expect to find at a Pride celebration, you can also find all sorts of political speakers from The Community expounding on a number of salient topics related to the LGBTQIA+ struggle.
This is not to say that this celebration is a downer, not in the least. As mentioned previously, there are all sorts of fun activities for people of all ages. Face painting for the kids, concerts on multiple stages, a huge parade, and events to celebrate often-overlooked subsections of the LGBTQIA+ community, such as Black Pride, Latin Pride, and Trans Pride.
If you're looking for a good mix of the political and the festive, D.C. Pride just might be the perfect destination for you this year! Click here for a full schedule of events.
Denver probably isn't exactly the first place you'd expect to find on a list like this, but the Pride celebration in this lovely Colorado city has been steadily growing in magnitude over the last decade or so.
While still quite a bit smaller than some of the more notable Pride celebrations in other cities, the Denver Pride celebration is definitely worth mentioning for the simple fact that it is widely considered to be the most family-friendly celebration in the country.
The atmosphere at this event is a lot more laid back than in other cities, and there are some rather unique events, such as the Dogs In Drag Parade, that you won't find anywhere else. They also have the Big Gay 5K, a timed race that also encourages walkers and children to participate. In addition to these and other events, there are pony rides, face painting, and games for the kids.
If you're looking for a great time for your whole family, including the fur-babies, Denver should definitely be on your short list of destinations! A full schedule of events can be found at https://denverpride.org/.
Most people probably wouldn't expect to find one of the most massive, all-out crazy Pride celebrations nestled in the heart of Midwestern hetero-normalcy, but that is exactly what you will find on the streets of Chicago come June.
Boasting over a million spectators and participants, The Windy City's festival is easily one of the largest, most varied Pride celebrations in the country.
In addition to the normal things you'd expect, Chicago offers food truck festivals, cruises on beautiful Lake Michigan, and the whole thing is kicked off with a huge Bear Pride party, The Furball, featuring DJs, dancing, and outrageous partying.
If you're looking for a Pride celebration that offers a huge variety of music, locations, and especially food, you can't go wrong with a visit to Chicago for Pride. A full schedule of events can be found at http://chicagopride.gopride.com.
~ Final Thoughts About Pride ~
Whether you're looking for a low-key, family-friendly celebration like you find in Denver, or a raucous, balls-to-the-wall mega-party like Chicago, NYC, or Frisco, there is a little something for everybody out there, if you know where to look. Just remember to stay safe, hydrated and healthy while you're out there having fun.
Speaking of which, keep your eye on this space for the next article in our Pride series about how to prepare for an exciting, safe Pride-going experience! Happy Pride Month, everyone!