Just Say Gay….To Travelling In Florida
By now, most everyone has heard of Florida’s recently passed “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, that aims to limit discussions around sex and sexuality, particularly aimed toward the LGBTQ+ community. Despite this backward moving law, Florida remains one of the world’s premier LGBTQ+ travel destinations. Whether you’re a couple seeking a romantic getaway or a modern family searching for kid-friendly fun, here are some LGBTQ-friendly destinations and events for you, throughout the Sunshine State anytime of the year. Just Say Gay!
TAMPA: This city’s GaYBOR District – a coalition of gay and gay-friendly businesses that began on the west end of Tampa’s historic Ybor City neighbourhood. Dubbed the “LGBTQ+ Main Street for the West Coast of Florida,” the coalition is a 12-block area that offers a fun mix of shops, bars and restaurants. The coalition has its own float and krewe that make regular appearances in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March, the St. Pete PrideFest in June and the Tampa Pride Parade.
ST. PETE: St. Pete Pride celebrates 20 years! St. Pete Pride, the largest LGBTQ+ Pride celebration in the state of Florida, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, with events happening all throughout the month of June. Signature events in 2022 will include a Miss St. Pete Pride Pageant, a Juneteenth Celebration, Family Day and the return of the St. Pete Pride Parade on June 25.
PENSACOLA: Pensacola Beach welcomes members of the LGBTQ+ community year-round, but the Pride celebration at the end of May is a huge draw for visitors. In addition to a great beachside Pride celebration, visitors can enjoy events throughout Historic Downtown Pensacola, as well as annual events such as The Stamped Film Festival, celebrating the LGBTQ+ community during the annual Foo Foo Festival each fall.
PALM BEACH: Love wins, always! Celebrate Pride Month in June at Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa with their “Love Wins” package. Slip away to the seaside for pampering in paradise, as you and your significant other are greeted with a champagne bottle and a cheese tray in your suite. With nightly rates starting at $788 plus tax, the package complements the perfect tropical escape that includes credits to 3800 Ocean Restaurant & Lounge, the resort’s unique oceanfront dining experience and a discount on special spa treatments.
JACKSONVILLE: Jacksonville celebrated its first Gay Pride in 1978 with a large picnic at Willow Branch Park. Since then, the LGBTQ+ community has celebrated Pride annually in various ways across the First Coast. In 2010, new community leaders came together to create River City Pride, also known as Jacksonville Pride. This weekend-long Pride parade and festival incorporates an annual theme and includes all members of the Jacksonville community in a variety of activities that promote acceptance and unity. The festival takes place annually in October for LGBTQ+ History Month. Typically, the event offers visitors a 1.5 mile-long parade, a market with local artists and food and drink vendors.
THE BEACHES OF FORT MYERS AND SANIBEL: Captiva Pride Weekend is Captiva’s first Pride celebration. Taking place at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa from June 3-5, the inaugural weekend celebration will feature DJs and drag queens, Pride cocktails, pool parties, a drag brunch with bottomless mimosas and much more. PRIDE Cape Coral is an annual weekend celebration that takes place in March and includes offerings ranging from parades, drag brunches and street performers to food trucks, carnival games and vendor villages. On June 11, 2022, the Second Annual South Cape PRIDE Trolley Event will take place, which is a ticketed event. Tickets can be purchased here.
NAPLES: The 4th Annual Naples Pride Fest takes place on June 4 at Cambier Park. Naples Pride Fest celebrates diversity and unity, while educating the community on LGBTQ+ issues to promote equal rights for all. This all-inclusive, family-friendly and open to the public event will combine entertainers, speakers, musicians, performers, vendors, exhibitors, kids activities, food and drinks for a day of fun and celebration in the name of equality.
KEY WEST: The Marker Key West Harbor Resort is one of the top LGBTQ+ destinations in the country. With 300,000 annual LGBTQ visitors, Key West is a vacation spot that celebrates openness and Pride, where visitors are “free to be” themselves. The Marker Key West Harbor Resort is ideally located on the Historic Key West Harbor at 200 William Street, just steps from lively Duval Street and Mallory Square. This modern, waterfront resort offers a hidden sanctuary of lush tropical grounds, three saltwater pools, an open-air restaurant and bar for al fresco dining and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Each of the resort’s 96 spacious and luxuriously appointed guest rooms feature a private balcony, perfectly appointed design elements and Key West-inspired touches.
FORT LAUDERDALE: Fort Lauderdale and the neighbourhood of Wilton Manors typically welcome more than 1.1 million LGBTQ+ travellers every year. The destination marketing organization for Greater Fort Lauderdale, Fla., launched a new campaign to celebrate and support the area’s diverse population and spread the message that inclusion and acceptance are embraced across the area’s 31 neighborhoods. The “We Are” campaign includes video and social media as an extension of the destination’s “Everyone Under the Sun” campaign, which was created to welcome all populations and communities.
MIAMI BEACH: The Shelborne South Beach invites guests to come out and shine under the glistening Miami sun to celebrate Pride and the LGBTQ+ community at the iconic hotel on Collins Avenue. Cozy up in a private cabana with poolside service worthy for Queens. Vibe with your besties and sip on rainbow cocktails made-to-order. Each air-conditioned cabana includes an indoor/outdoor private bungalow, offering a private living room area with flat-screen TVs, a spa shower, changing room and plush couches for post-sun lounging. There’s also a private covered seating area with the best views on the pool deck. Daily rentals for groups up to six include a choice of premium vodka, tequila, whiskey or gin, fruit plate, water and RedBull. Cha
mpagne and food and beverage are also available at an additional cost.
ORLANDO: Orlando hosts special celebrations throughout the year, including holiday extravaganzas, gourmet food and beverage festivals, theme park events and more, and everyone is invited to the party! One Magical Weekend is one of the largest LGBTQ+ Pride and music festival in the world. Taking place at Walt Disney World ®Resorts, it boasts a roster of international DJ talent and around-the-clock, world-class events.
To more information on LGBTQ+ travel in the Sunshine State and for travel inspiration for your future Florida gateway, click here.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.