With months of cold, wet weather finally giving way to above-average temperatures in May, many LGBT Georgians are ready to hit the road — or the runway, or the cruise ship — as the summer travel season heats up.
“Travel remains a very important need for gay people,” says Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck-Combs Communications, which studies LGBT consumers.
Even the economy isn’t enough to keep gay travelers housebound this time of year, he notes.
“What we keep finding over and over again is that gay people are not immune to what is going on in the economy, but what seems different is they are cutting back less on certain things, and travel is one of them,” Witeck says. “They desire to keep traveling more than other people.”
Witeck’s firm is preparing to release new information about gay travel trends in the next few weeks, in conjunction with Harris Interactive. But he points to their poll conducted last April — when the recession was worse — to show that LGBT travelers weren’t cutting back on travel as much as their heterosexual counterparts even then.
Asked about airline travel for Summer 2009, 62 percent of LGBT survey respondents said their travel plans would stay the same or increase, compared to only 36 percent of heterosexuals.
Overall travel budgets showed similar trends: 58 percent of LGBT respondents said they would spend the same amount or more, compared to 49 percent of heterosexuals.
“We are driven by destination and event travel too, whether we are talking about gay sporting events or gay parties,” Witeck notes.
In other words, gay travel is often motivated not only by places to visit, but by the desire to meet up with LGBT people from around the country or even around the world, and experience what it feels like to be in the majority.
Sure, we sometimes just go to the beach, but we also go to gay Memorial Day in Pensacola or Sizzle in Miami.
Likewise, LGBT travelers who live outside Atlanta don’t only come to the city to visit; they come for Atlanta Pride and Black Gay Pride.
Whatever your travel preferences, there is likely an LGBT-inclusive option. Like getting back to nature? Visit any of the several gay-owned campgrounds in Georgia, take a lesbian white water rafting trip, make the trek to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, or even attend “Camp” Camp, a summer camp for gay adults.
Prefer hitting the seas? Many mainstream cruise lines have special gatherings for LGBT travelers, while gay and lesbian travel companies like Atlantis, Olivia, R Family Vacations and Sweet offer LGBT-exclusive trips.
Summer travel options are also increased by Atlanta Pride’s move from the end of June to October. Necessitated last year by drought restrictions on Piedmont Park, and continued by choice this year, the change frees up gay Georgians to travel to Pride festivals in other cities.
Nearby smaller Prides like those in Birmingham (June 4-13), Augusta (June 19), and Savannah (Sept. 11) make great day trips, while travelers who want to go further can experience the massive Pride celebrations in cities like San Francisco (June 26-27), New York City (June 19-27), and even Sao Paulo, Brazil (June 3-7), home to the world’s largest gay parade that draws attendance of over a million.
Here is a rundown of LGBT events happening this summer:
May 12-16 in South Beach, Fla.
Women’s Music Festival
May 14-16 in Unadilla, Ga.
Cancun Resort Lesbian Vacation
May 15 – 22
May 27-31 in Chicago, Ill.
DC Black Pride
May 27-31 in Washington, D.C.
Memorial Day with Mary Edith Pitts
May 28-31 in Unadilla, Ga.
Vegas Sweet Vegas
May 28-31 in Las Vegas, Nev.
By lesbian travel company Sweet
Virgina Women’s Music Festival @ CampOut
May 28 – May 30 in Henrico, Va.
Amazing Galapagos Adventure Lesbian Cruise
May 29 – June 7
Space Coast Pride
May 30 in Melbourne, Fla.
June 3 in Austin, Texas
Women of Color & Friends Weekend
June 3-6 in Provincetown, Mass.
Sao Paulo Gay Pride
June 3-7 in Sau Paulo, Brazil
World’s largest gay Pride parade
NewFest: New York LGBT Film Festival
June 3-13 in New York City
June 4-13 in Washington, D.C.
Boston Pride Week
June 4-13 in Boston, Mass.
Key West Pride Fest
June 9-13 in Key West, Fla.
Indie Grrl Fest
June 11-13 in Mineral Bluff, Ga.
June 11-13 in West Hollywood, Calif.
Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade
June 11 in Tel Aviv, Israel
Central Alabama Pride
June 4-13 in Birmingham, Ala.
Headlining performer June 13: Tiffany
June 19 in Augusta, Ga.
Headliners: Thelma Houston, Frenchie Davis
Stonewall Street Festival & Parade
June 19 in Wilton Manors, Fla.
Berlin Christopher Street Day
June 19 in Berlin, Germany
July 19 in Nashville, Tenn.
New York City Pride
June 27 march headliners: Lt. Dan Choi,
Judy Shepard, Constance McMillen
R First-Ever European Cruise
For LGBT families, friends
South Carolina Black Pride
June 24-27 in Columbia, S.C.
Emerald Coast PrideFest
June 26 in Panama City, Fla.
June 26 in Houston, Texas
San Francisco Pride
St. Pete Pride Promenade & Festival
June 26 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Chicago Pride Parade
June 27 in Chicago, Ill.
Seattle Pride Fest
June 27 in Seattle, Wash.
Windy City Black Gay Pride
June 30-July 5 in Chicago, Ill.
National Women’s Music Festival
July 1-4 in Middleton, Wisc.
Los Angeles Black Pride
July 1-5 in Los Angeles, Calif.
July 8-18 in Warsaw, Poland
QFest: Philadelphia International LGBT Film Fest
July 8-19 in Philadelphia, Pa.
Provincetown Bear Weeks
July 10-18 in Provincetown, Mass.
R Family Club Med Ixtapa, Mexico
For LGBT families, friends
Miami Beach Bruthaz
July 15-18 in Miami, Fla.
Bone Island Bare it All Weekend
July 15-18 in Key West, Fla.
“Naturist event for gay men”
July 15-25 in London, England
San Diego LGBT Pride
July 17-18 in San Diego, Calif.
Olivia’s Provence to Burgundy, France Cruise
July 21-25 in Provincetown, Mass.
Headliners: Sandra Bernhard, Kate Clinton,
Vickie Shaw, Jennie McNulty
Atlantis Events’ Copenhagen to Amsterdam
European Gay Pride Cruise
July 29 – Aug. 8
LGBT Family Week
July 31- Aug. 7 in Provincetown, Mass.
Sweet Hawaiian Islands Cruise
July 31 – Aug. 7
By lesbian travel company Sweet
Gay Games 2010
July 31 – Aug. 7 in Cologne, Germany
The Pines Party
July 31 in Fire Island Pines, NY
Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival
Performers include: Indigo Girls, Betty, Ferron, Bitch, Toshi Reagon, Sia, The Butchies
Amsterdam Gay Pride
Aug. 5-8 in Amsterdam, Netherlands
FamilyFest in Las Vegas
Aug. 6-8 in Las Vegas, Nev.
Queer West Arts & Culture Festival
Aug. 7 – Aug. 15 in West Toronto, Ontario, Canada
R Family Vacations Summer Reunion
Western Caribbean Cruise
Aug. 15-21 in Provincetown, Mass.
Aug. 12-15 in Montreal, Canada
Sweet Salmon River Rafting
Aug. 16-21 in Stanley, Idaho
Rafting and wilderness camping
by lesbian travel company Sweet
Atlantis Events Cruise: Italy to Greece
Tropical Heat in Key West
Aug. 19-22 in Key West, Fla.
Weekend of “adult fun” for gay men
Aug. 22-29 in Kezar Falls, Maine
Summer camp for LGBT adults
Atlantis Events: Greece to Spain Cruise
Aug. 24 – Sept. 2
South Carolina Pride
Aug. 25 – Sept. 6 in Columbia, S.C.
Rally: Sept. 4
New Orleans Southern Decadence
Sept. 1 – Sept. 6
Splash Days in Austin
Sept. 3-6 in Austin, Texas
Sweet Cozumel Palace Resort
Sept. 4- 11 in Cozumel, Mexico
With lesbian comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer
Key West Womenfest
Sept. 7-12 in Key West, Fla.
Sept. 11 in Savannah, Ga.
Key West Bear Fest
Sept. 16-19 in Key West, Fla.
North Carolina Pride
Sept. 25 in Durham / Raleigh, N.C.
Folsom Street Fair
Sept. 26 in San Francisco, Calif.