Travel: Florida or bust


Memorial Day Weekend in Pensacola
May 24 – 28

Sexacola Beach 2012
Thursday: Sexacola Kickoff Party
Friday: “Battle of the Troupes” drag king competition Saturday: Sinful Saturday Glow Party; Goddess and She in concert; Drag Superstar Show Sunday: The White Party

Memorial Weekend Pensacola
Friday: DJ Dewight Barkley Saturday: DJ Jay-R; Wave party with DJ Joe Gauthreaux and Bianca del Rio Sunday: DJ Tim Pflueger

Schedule TBD

Sizzle Miami | May 24-28
Friday: Sizzle Yacht Party
Saturday: Soak Her/Soak Him Party
Sunday: Haulover Beach Party

Gay Days in Orlando | May 29 – June 4
Tuesday: Gay Days Kickoff Party at Macy’s
Wednesday: Afternoon/Evening Pool Party Karaoke Thursday: Gay Days expo begins; A Taste of Gay Days: Girls at Gay Days Reception/Pool Party, Gay Days at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Friday: Gay Days at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Girls at Gay Days WOW’s Pirate Party; Riptide party at Typhoon Lagoon Saturday: Gay Day at Magic Kingdom; Gay Days comedy; Chaka Khan Sunday: Gay Day at Epcot

Wonder World | May 31-June 4
Friday: Liquid Pool Party, Black Party Expo: Riptide Orlando Saturday: Big Bang; Tunnel
Sunday: Fasscination party

Girls in Wonderland | May 31 – June 4
Thursday: Traffic Jam dance party
Friday: Wet Pool Party; Climax bar party
Saturday: Out For Laughs Comedy Show with Dana Goldberg Sunday: Wonderland Pool Bash; Halycon concert

“We are in the perimeter of the beach,” she says.

All are welcome, according to Maguire, and almost a third of last year’s 3,000 revellers were gay men.

Sexacola draws many partiers from Atlanta.

“It’s great seeing so many local people down here for the weekend,” says Maguire.

Parties start Thursday before the weekend, May 24, with a Kick Off for those already in town. Weekend highlights include the Battle of the Troupes drag competition; Goddess and She in concert; a drag superstar show; a Sinful Saturday glow party; and the closing event, the White Party.

Johnny Chisholm’s splashy Memorial Day Weekend 2012 features a strong array of weekend activities, the highlight being Saturday’s Wave event, hosted by popular DJ Joe Gauthreaux and featuring a performance by Bianca del Rio.

Chisholm has been putting on Memorial Day events for the last 17 years and says they have now returned to the glory days.

“When Hurricane Ivan hit a few years ago, we were the bulls-eye,” he says. “Now the beach is fantastic — better than ever — and the crowds are back to normal.”

Last year’s attendance was 50,000, he says, with a combination of men and women. Chisholm owns the Emerald City bar and is able to combine beach and bar events.

Amy Ray of Indigo Girls will be part of Kristy Lee’s Pensacola Memorial Day women’s event Unleashed, which will also feature Beverly McClellan from TV’s “The Voice.”

Further south, Miami is the locale for Sizzle Miami, another event catering to gay men and women over the weekend. The party’s website notes that most participants are African American and Latino, but stresses that “all races are welcomed and encouraged to participate.”

Gay Days in Orlando

Post-Memorial Day events are, as always, plentiful. Gay Days in Orlando, Fla., has become a tradition for many travellers, held the weekend after Memorial Day.

It began 22 years ago with a single, unofficial day at Walt Disney World, and has grown to almost a week of events put on by several organizations and party promotoers.

Current Gay Days CEO Chris Alexander-Manley was part of that first event. A commitment to making each year special and individual is one reason Gay Days continues to grow.

“Each year, we continue to add new events,” Alexander-Manley says. “We’ve added a children’s event. Film screenings in conjunction with the Tampa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival are also back.”

Events for the bear community are also very prominent. Last year 160,000 visitors came and this season he hopes for 170,000. According to Manley, he and his partner never dreamed Gay Days would be this big.

Although Disney World is open to the public on Gay Days, it’s a tradition for LGBT attendees to wear red to stand out.

“Seeing all that red is amazing and empowering,” he says.

Alison Burgos, Amy Alonso and Yesenia Leon, the trio behind Pandora Events — who worked on Sexacola with My Sister’s Room in 2011 — are planning the new Girls in Wonderland this year at Orlando. Their slate of events includes numerous pool parties; a comedy event with comic Dana Goldberg; and the Halycon concert with a variety of women’s bands.

Finally, there’s Wonder World by promoter Mark Baker, which is billed as Orlando’s International Dance Music Weekend. It’s another major post Memorial Day event that coincides with Gay Days.

Wonder World’s massive DJ lineup includes Dani Toro, Power Infiniti, Seth Cooper, Roland Belmares, former Atlantan Jay McCracken, Dave & Gerrado, Alyson Calagna, Atlanta’s Lydia Prim, Mark Anthony, Abel, Ana Paula, Isaac Escalante, and Kevin Aviance. The most difficult part may be deciding who to see.

Baker says he had 7,000 partiers last year and expects more this year. He calls his crowd international – many from the East Coast, some from California and others from around the world.

Positive word of mouth has helped the event grow. Two of the new elements this year are the Black Party Expo and “Big Bang” party/fireworks show at Universal Studios Florida.


Top photo: Even the Armorettes — Vivian Valium, Ginger Bred Man, Ruby Redd and Edie Cheezburger — won’t brave the Piedmont Park lake, so join the gay exodus south to Pensacola over Memorial Weekend for beautiful beaches and plenty of eye candy. (by Bo Shell)