It’s officially Pride Month, a time to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and to stand with the LGBTQ community. Cities like New York and San Francisco are famous for being LGBTQ-friendly. But if you’re looking for a slower pace, family activities and Pride celebrations, these six smaller cities deserve a closer look.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Considered “the Austin of Michigan,” Ann Arbor is youthful, vibrant and art-friendly. Thanks to the University of Michigan, the city reflects an international population and an eclectic vibe. Ann Arbor Pride (formerly known as OUTFest) is a weekend festival celebrating the LGBTQ and ally community. To accommodate growing participation, the festival will take place Friday, August 3rd through Sunday, August 5th, with entertainment, vendors and, naturally, lots of pride. All proceeds go to helping support the efforts of the JTCC – a local nonprofit resource center that provides information, education, social events and advocacy by and for the LGBTQ and ally community.
A blue dot in a politically red state, Bloomington is an LGBTQ oasis within the Midwest. The city boasts diversity in sexual orientation, art, culture, cuisine, and religious centers. Bloomington offers a wide range of outdoor family activities, from camping to paddleboarding. Kick back at Cardinal Spirits to sample the Pride Vodka and support the city’s LGBTQ community at the same time. Bonus: Kids can play on the neighboring B-Line Trail while adults relax on the patio.
Providence, Rhode Island
Just under an hour from Boston, students from Brown, Rhode Island School of Design and other local universities bring in a young, progressive population. PrideFest, Providence’s Pride celebration and one of the city’s signature events, is a celebration of love, respect and joy on June 16, 2018. Don’t miss other family adventures: WaterFire Providence, the Providence Children’s Museum or a Pawtucket Red Sox minor league baseball game.
Asheville, North Carolina
Mark your calendar for September 29, 2018, to join in Asheville’s Blue Ridge Pride Festival. A day of celebration designed for the whole family, expect great performances by regional musicians and entertainers, local food vendors and community education about social justice issues. Families, take note: an entire section of the festival is dedicated to kids’ activities, like a mobile art lab and a bounce house. After the festival, take a scenic cruise on the Blue Ridge Parkway stopping for family hiking trails or a picnic at an overlook.
St. Petersburg, Florida
This Florida beach city proudly scored a 100 on the Human Right’s Campaign Municipal Equality Index Scorecard. The St. Pete Pride Festival takes place Saturday, June 23 in the Downtown Waterfront area, with 5,000 people sauntering down Bayshore Drive in a sparkling array of sequins, beads and feathers. After the parade, hit the beach, visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium or charter a boat for a family adventure.
The Louisville Convention & Visitor’s Bureau’s LGBTQ task force promotes the city as an LGBTQ-friendly destination. They just launched the city’s first Pride logo that will be featured on a limited-edition t-shirt during the month of June. The 18th annual Kentuckiana Pride Festival will be held this year on June 15 and 16 at its new location on the Big Four Lawn at Louisville’s internationally-acclaimed Waterfront Park. A portion of the proceeds from t-shirts sold at the festival will benefit the Kentuckiana Pride Foundation, whose mission is to provide a forum for creative expression and education relating to the LGBTQ community in the Louisville Metropolitan Area and to give back through charitable and in-kind donations.
By Bridgette Langdon