Pride season is upon us and with that comes warm weather and a good excuse to get out of dodge. It's time to plan those summer trips and weekends that help make the rest of the year less of a drag. These trips, and the summer season overall, provide a special escape for the LGBTQ community in particular.
Though a harsh reality, the truth is many LGBTQ people do not feel entirely welcomed in their hometown communities, or know where they will be accepted on the road. VICE Impact picked out seven LGBTQ-friendly summer destinations that embrace and encourage the individualism and love we often have to subdue in our day to day.
Varying from beachside turn-ups to quiet mountain retreats, each of these locations is inclusive of everyone and anyone.
7. Fire Island, Long Island, New York
For such a long, skinny island this place sure makes you feel like you're being embraced in a giant bear hug. And quite literally, you may be. Fire Island, in particular the hamlets of The Pines and Cherry Grove, is historically one of the nation's most LGBTQ-welcoming summer destinations. Memorial Day through Labor Day brings ferries full of fairies, Marys, and everyone in between to enjoy these LGBTQ communities' diverse and eclectic offerings. While house parties run the social scene in The Pines, the local Pavilion Center, a stunning space designed by gay architects, is home to the island's premiere club. It hosts a range of DJs throughout the summer, including the epic New York-based trio, Occupy the Disco.
Adjacent to the Pavilion is Sip N' Twirl, which is quite literally what it sounds like --- a place to get your drink on and bounce around under disco balls and strobe lights. Mid-summer, The Pines Party turns a piece of Fire Island's shore into a neon disco, where partiers dress for a theme (past years include Xanadu and Emerald City), and dance from sunset to sunrise. And when islanders aren't twirling themselves, they can find entertainment with a sickening variety of drag and burlesque shows, notably the Invasion of the Pines, an annual Fourth of July tradition involving hundreds of drag queens arriving in the Pines harbor by boat.
6. Provincetown, Massachusetts
Provincetown, affectionately nicknamed P-Town, is the ultimate queer travel destination because it has something for everyone. Throughout the summer, the Cape Cod village celebrates and welcomes all types, with weeklong programs including Bear Week, Women of Color Week, Family Week, Baby Dyke Weekend, and Carnival. A daily tea dance brings visitors together at the Boatslip Beach Club to sip on potent cocktails, disco and wag their fingers at each other. You can stumble out onto Commercial Street, P-town's main strip, to be greeted by a swarm of drag queens, comedians and dancers promoting their gigs. Each summer, a number of queens have a residency in the Cape Cod community to give a variety of shows, like Jinx Monsoon and Peaches Christ's revamp of "Grey Gardens," which will return in 2017 at the performing arts theater Art House, and Trixie Mattel's stand-up routine "Ages 3 and Up." To work off all the rum punch and fried clams (seafood in P-town is killer good), get a dose of history by climbing up the 252-foot iconic Pilgrim Monument, followed by a visit to the Provincetown Museum.
5. Rehoboth, Delaware
Alongside the boardwalks and delicious icy treats that color Delaware's beaches is the epically fun and welcoming town of Rehoboth. While it has a strong contingent of year-round residents, the shoreside community grows in the summer to become home to thousands of LGBTQ visitors. The daytime romp happens primarily at Poodle Beach, a strip of sand packed with cuties located near the appropriately named Queens Street, home to a smattering of LGBT-owned businesses -- while in the evening, restaurant/club Blue Moon becomes the nightlife beacon, with a packed calendar of karaoke nights, drag shows and cabarets. While it provides fun nightlife and tasty seafood, one of Rehoboth's sweetest offerings is CAMP Rehoboth (Creating A More Positive Rehoboth), a LGBTQ nonprofit service organization focused on creating a safe and loving environment for the gender and sexual minorities in the community and Rehoboth's residents.
4. New Hope, Pennsylvania
Tucked away in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, lies the charming borough of New Hope -- a scenic sprawl of rivers, and bridges -- and a low-key, but thriving, LGBTQ scene. The vibe is more playhouse theater performances and farm-to-table meals, but this active arts community and a number of chill LGBTQ pubs makes this town a welcoming space. It's an hour from New York City and Philadelphia, so New Hope offers a peaceful respite in nature. The summer season unofficially kicks off in May with the borough's annual Pride Festival, and if you have cash to burn there's a number of historically LGBTQ-friendly inns and resorts, including The Raven Resort and New Hope Lodge, offer inviting places to stay during your visit.
3. Asbury Park, New Jersey
Once a quiet Jersey Shore town, Asbury Park has experienced a resurgence of LGBTQ visitors in recent years. A vibrant seaside community with beautiful Victorian architecture, bars and live music venues, like Georgie's -- the self-described "Gay 'Cheers' of the Jersey Shore." Georgie's features an unbeatable calendar of LGBTQ musicians, comedians, brunch and drinks specials, and a quintessential beach boardwalk. Asbury Park is also home to the Garden State Equality headquarters, New Jersey's LGBTQ advocacy organization. Throughout the summer, the group puts on a series of can't-miss events -- this season includes a benefit performance of Le Cage, and a panel with the questionable State Representative Tom MacArthur, the now infamous anti-turned-pro-LGBTQ House Rep whose amendment to the AHCA allowed it to pass through Congress.
2. Seattle, Washington
While a crystal-clear view of Washington's Mount Rainier may be a rarity in cloudy Seattle, there is no shortage of LGBTQ-friendly activities. This Pacific Northwest metropolis has long been an epicenter of LGBTQ culture, namely in the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood, where in addition to the annual Seattle Dyke March and PrideFest parades, the yearly Capitol Hill Pride Festival goes down. Seattle offers a punk and divy scene exclusive to the city, with a wide range of fetish, kink and disco venues including The Eagle, Pony, and Neighbors. This summer, Elysian Brewing Company is launching an amazingly named ale called GLITTERis, with a release party benefitting Seattle Pride. To cool off after you drink and dance, sprawl out in Denny-Blaine Park, one of the city's best nude beaches.
1. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Ranked as one of the nation's most LGBTQ-friendly cities, Minneapolis is especially welcoming in the summer when it finally escapes Minnesota's brutal winter. Finally, the fine people of the Twin Cities and their visitors can ditch the parkas and beanies for a cuter summer look, and take in the city's outdoorsy offerings like riverboat tours, farmers' markets, and a bunch of LGBTQ-centric activities. On June 11, the Golden Valley Pride Run invites athletes to take a jaunt through Minneapolis's Brookview Park and Pride festival to get doused in paint, all for a good cause. Later in the month, the Mondo Queer Beach Party will take place on Lake Nokomis for people to grill and chill and support the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition. And on the regular, every day, LUSH bar serves up tasty cocktails along with themed dance parties and weekly drag shows.