Coming out is good, and more gay athletes should do it

Carl Nassib on the field
Carl Nassib.

  • Coming out is hard, yet millions and millions of ordinary people have done it.
  • Pro sports is one of the last bastions of the closet, and only gay players can fix that.
  • By coming out, Raiders DE Carl Nassib paves the way for other gay pro athletes to come out.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib is gay, and his announcement of that fact makes him the first openly gay person on an active NFL team roster.

This is great. I’m happy for him that he has off his chest something he says he’s struggled for 15 years about how to say. And I’m thrilled for gay players in the NFL and on college teams – or who aspire to play in the NFL or on college teams – who may be wondering what will happen if they come out.

Nassib, who is in the middle of a three-year, $25 million contract, sends a strong message by coming out: You can be gay and play at the highest levels of this sport.

Now it’s time for others to follow his lead and come out, too.

The closet is bad

I understand that not every gay man is in a position to disclose his sexuality. Some people have good reason to fear they will be rejected by people they depend on emotionally or financially if they come out. Some have good reason to fear violence. And even when the risks are not so grave, coming out can still be hard. One of the injustices of homophobia is it can give people good reasons to hide parts of themselves.

At the same time, coming out is something that millions and millions of people have done, en masse, even in times when our society and its institutions were much less accepting than they are now. Every day, people come out at greater personal risk and with fewer resources than are available to a professional athlete who considers whether to come out.

So while I have compassion for people who find it hard to come out, I worry that fixating on the “difficulty” or “bravery associated with coming out can actually reinforce the appeal of the closet, by suggesting that a person must be extraordinary to manage coming out. In fact, ordinary people come out all the time. For some, it isn’t even that hard. But more importantly, it can be very rewarding, even for those who find it terrifying. How often do you hear people say they wish they had stayed in the closet?

And the closet isn’t just soul-crushing to the people who feel they must hide in it. It also sends a damaging message to others. When you hide your sexual orientation, you reinforce the idea that it is shameful to be gay, and that there are good reasons to hide it. Staying in the closet produces a negative externality by validating homophobia.

Which, again, is not to say that nobody ever has a valid reason to do stay in the closet. But these are factors to consider: Do I have an opportunity to help people with less power than me by coming out? Is my silence making harder for them to speak their truth? And how bad will it really be if I just tell my truth?

It’s great that Nassib reached the conclusion that this was time to come out – I expect he will feel happier, and he’s done a true service by making it easier for other players to make the jump after him. Now they should find their way to doing so.

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For over 35 years, Rosanna Durruthy has advocated for a more inclusive corporate America as an openly queer leader. Now, as LinkedIn’s head of diversity, she’s clearing the path for other LGBTQ professionals.

Rosanna
Rosanna Durruthy, LinkedIn’s head of DEI, wants companies to prioritize inclusion as much as they prioritize diversity.

  • For Pride Month, Insider interviewed Rosanna Durruthy, LinkedIn’s head of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • A third of LGBTQ workers have faced discrimination at work, per LinkedIn research.
  • Durruthy, an openly queer Afro-Latina, shared her plans to promote inclusion for LGBTQ workers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Several years ago, Rosanna Durruthy took a seat in the reception area of a New York City office. She was there to meet an executive with whom she had talked on the phone for weeks regarding a potential business deal.

When a secretary told the executive, a white man, that Durruthy had arrived, he walked into the reception area, looked around, and went back into his office. He repeated this two times.

“I thought you said she was here,” the executive said to the secretary.

“She is.” the secretary said, pointing to Durruthy, an Afro-Latina. A look of shock washed over the man’s face as if he wasn’t expecting to see a person of color, Durruthy said. He also ended the meeting abruptly despite their strong rapport over the phone.

Durruthy said these types of experiences are far too common for those with marginalized backgrounds. Because of this, she’s dedicated her 35-year career to forging a more inclusive corporate culture.

Today, Durruthy is the head of diversity and inclusion at LinkedIn, where she’s on a mission to inspire others to embrace their unique identity at work. A big part of that personal mission comes from knowing firsthand the pain of not being accepted for who you are in the corporate world.

For Durruthy, Pride Month is a time to double down on the work she’s spearheading. Executives need to focus not only on diversity, but inclusion, she said. One in three LGBTQ+ professionals face blatant discrimination and/or microaggressions at work, per a recent LinkedIn survey.

“As a leader, bravery has had to take different forms,” Durruthy said. “Making people visible often requires not just ‘marching people into a room,’ but having leaders take on new behaviors that allow them to be present when they’re interacting with members of their workforce.”

Durruthy spoke to Insider about the trials and triumphs of her ascension to LinkedIn’s head of diversity, lessons she’s learned along the way, and how she’s clearing the path for other queer professionals.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What does Pride Month mean to you personally and professionally?

Coming of age as a queer Afro-Latina, there was a time when being out just did not seem feasible as a professional. It felt laden with risk. Working now for a company where our mission is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce, it is inspiring and it’s exciting to know that Pride Month is more than the significance of a month. It is about the work created by organizations to create a space where we can each feel safe, where we can be ourselves.

It’s also the recognition that that’s still not an option for everyone. I have a great privilege to lead this work in an environment like LinkedIn, and from the work that we’re doing to create a safer platform for all members. In doing so, it also makes me feel very aware of how much further we have to go to be a part of creating the solution that allows others to feel as comfortable in their skin as I get to be in mine.

You mentioned there was a time where you weren’t comfortable being an openly queer Afro-Latina. When did that change?

I think it happened early in my career, but the irony isn’t lost upon me that it was really a personal reckoning when I was getting ready to accept my first chief diversity officer role [at beverage company Seagram.] It was obvious that I was Black. I was very clear about my Latina heritage and roots. I’m proud to be a Puerto Rican woman. But being gay was something that I was not comfortable with.

I realized I really had to have a conversation with myself about whether I was equipped to lead diversity and inclusion for a company and not be out. And so it was one of those moments where the function of my work itself forced me to come out as opposed to hiding because I felt it would be disingenuous to lead diversity and not authentically be who I am.

What made you want to become a corporate DEI leader? Was there a specific moment in your life where you realized that you had the potential to make a difference?

I think I’m one of those individuals who were fortunate and blessed at a really young age to be aware of what was going on in the world around me. My own intersectional identity gave me the ability, in some cases, to hide that I was gay. It gave me the agility to be in environments where people often assume that I was someone different. There were times where I was made to feel not fully a member of the Black community because somehow being Hispanic made me not qualify as Black at that time, or that being Black made me not Latina enough. So the intersection cuts both ways.

The journey to being myself really came from an understanding of the civil rights era. I saw the work that Martin Luther King, Jr. lost his life for. I knew that I wanted to make a difference when I grew up. And when I began my career, diversity and inclusion didn’t exist. So in many ways, I was preparing for something that didn’t already exist in the business environment.

I feel like it’s been a real journey to create something that’s necessary.

Has there ever been a time when you’ve had to help someone work through difficulties regarding queerness in the workplace?

Yeah, throughout my career, there have actually been numerous times. Even as we look at the most recent research that LinkedIn has released, we look at the fact that over half of LGBTQ professionals today believe that being out negatively impacts your job search, and more than a third of LGBTQ professionals have faced discrimination and/or microaggressions at work.

The work that I do in diversity is not something I do alone. It’s the kind of work that requires others to stand alongside you, not only members of our LGBTQ+ community, but allies as well to recognize and regard the importance of ensuring that everyone in that environment has the ability to realize great potential. But it only happens if the organization empowers and enables that.

Great companies are going to establish clear anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. They’re going to create safe spaces for their employees and they’re going to enable brave conversations to take place because these aren’t one-sided conversations. And ultimately, they’re going to commit to inclusive hiring practices and goals, which means they’re willing to stand up and say, “I see you, and I want you in my environment, and I want you to bring your perspective to the work that we’re doing.”

And lastly, it’s not just about bringing people in the door; it’s about building inclusive leaders who are able to unlock the potential in each and every one of their team members, equipping leaders with the skills to understand and confront bias, to actively create a culture of inclusion, and to create the experience of belonging for another.

No one wants the mental stress of having to be someone that they’re not.

Earlier you mentioned the word brave. Could you tell me about a time in your career that you’ve had to be brave?

You just want one time? [laughs] As human beings, there’s always fear in creating something that hasn’t existed before. And the work of diversity, inclusion, and belonging is ultimately still a very new concept, despite the fact that I’ve spent the last 35 years doing this work. And the newness of the concept is this bravery to help people see that each and every one of us is different. We’re born different.

The real bravery of leadership is to create something that didn’t exist previously. When we talk about systemic bias, what we’re also talking about is the permission that society has given to create unfairness, to build in preferences that say you belong here when you come from certain environments or you look a certain way, or your degree is from a certain school, or you speak a certain way.

Ultimately that also lends to how you look, how you walk, the gender you possess, and who you live your life with. And I think bravery happens in each and every day when we say it’s not right, that we are excluding people, that we are designing systems and products and services to benefit some, but effectively are designed to exclude others, to ignore others in many instances.

What is a goal that you want to accomplish in the next year?

I personally would love to see us reach gender parity as an organization in leadership. It may not be in the next year, but I think the progress that we’re making will allow us to see it in a fairly reasonable period of time. And that we continue with the programs and the commitments that we’ve made over the next three years. We’ve pledged to double the number of Black and Latino underrepresented talent in the United States at the senior individual contributor level and beyond. So this year is largely about continuing to make a mark in that progression and that journey of doubling the number of people at LinkedIn who are Black and Latino.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Kamala Harris is the first sitting VP to have marched in an LGBTQ pride parade

ice President Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff join marchers for the Capital Pride Parade on June 12, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Vice President Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff join marchers for the Capital Pride Parade on June 12, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • Vice President Kamala Harris participated in a Pride parade in Washington, DC, on Saturday.
  • She and second gentleman Doug Emhoff greeted marchers and wore “love is love” and “love first” shirts.
  • Harris called for the Senate to pass the Equality Act, which passed in the House earlier this year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Kamala Harris on Saturday became the first sitting vice president to have marched in a pride parade.

She and husband Doug Emhoff attended the Capital Pride Walk in Washington, DC. Harris wore a shirt with the slogan “love is love” imprinted on it, while Emhoff’s said “love first” 11 times in multiple colors, resembling a rainbow.

“Happy Pride,” Harris told other marchers, according to WRC-TV, an affiliate of NBC News.

She also called for the government to pass the Equality Act, which would ensure federal protections for LGBT people. So far, the House has passed the Equality Act, but it’s unclear whether the Senate will take it up. Harris also issued words of support for trans people.

“We need to make sure that our transgender community and our youth are all protected. We need, still, protections around employment and housing,” Harris said, according to WRC-TV. “There is so much more work to do, and I know we are committed.”

In numerous remarks, the Biden-Harris administration has indicated the LGBT community has its full government support.

Earlier in June, for example, in recognition of pride, the White House said “no one should face discrimination or harassment because of who they are or whom they love.”

“The President has the back of LGBTQ+ people across the country and will continue fighting for full equality for every American – including through continuing to urge the U.S. Senate to pass the Equality Act and provide overdue civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ people and families across the country,” the White House statement continued.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Burger King is promising to donate to an LGBTQ group for every chicken sandwich sold ‘even on Sundays’ amid calls to boycott Chick-fil-A

BK_Rebrand_Stills_Signage_1
Burger King rebrand.

  • Burger King will donate to the Human Rights Campaign for every chicken sandwich sold this month.
  • BK announced the initiative in a tweet aimed at Chick-fil-A.
  • Chick-fil-A is under fire for CEO donations to groups fighting LGBTQ protections.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Burger King says that for every Ch’King sandwich sold during June, which is Pride month, it will donate to The Human Rights Campaign.

The chain announced the donation plans in a tweet on June 3 that seemed pointed at Chick-fil-A, the reigning chicken sandwich fast food restaurant. BK says it will donate 40 cents for every chicken sandwich sold up to $250,000, or 625,000 sandwiches.

Chick-fil-A, which is famously closed on Sundays, is once again facing scrutiny over donations made by CEO Dan Cathy to groups fighting legislation for LGBTQ protections. Cathy is a “high-dollar donor” to the National Christian Charitable Foundation (NCF), one of the largest charities in the US with a history of funding opposition to The Equality Act, The Daily Beast reported.

Chick-fil-A itself no longer makes political donations.

Read more: Newly revealed CloudKitchen documents show how Travis Kalanick’s company is pivoting as new rivals enter the crowded ghost kitchen space

The Equality Act would expand civil rights protections to LGBTQ people, making it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identification in employment, housing, and other areas. The NCF funds opposition to the bill through donations to groups fighting the legislation, including the Heritage Foundation and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Chick-fil-A did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The Dan and Rhonda Cathy Foundation donated $5,750 to the NCF in 2018, 2017, and 2016, according to 990 tax filings.

Burger King’s Pride Month promotion is a chance for it to distinguish itself from the crowded chicken sandwich landscape. Burger King released the Ch’King sandwich on June 3 after two years of recipe testing.

KFC, Popeyes, and McDonald’s all sell their own versions of crispy chicken sandwiches, though Chick-fil-A remains the chain to beat. As of December 2020, Chick-fil-A still had by far the largest share of online chicken sandwiches sales at 45%. No other brand even reached 20%.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Walmart, McDonald’s, and Amazon are among companies celebrating Pride after donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians who voted against the Equality Act

Pride
Companies are celebrating Pride month, after donating to lawmakers voting against LGBTQ protections.

  • Companies like Amazon, Walmart, and McDonald’s are vocally supporting LGBTQ people this Pride Month.
  • The same three companies collectively donated $1 million-plus to lawmakers who voted against the Equality Act.
  • Companies donate to both Republicans and Democrats, even lawmakers they say they disagree with.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As brands take to Twitter to celebrate Pride, many of the same companies donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians who voted against expanded LGBTQ protections.

In February, the vast majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against the Equality Act, which aims to expand LGBTQ protections. SEC filings show that some of the best-known companies in the US, including McDonald’s, Walmart, and Amazon, have donated significant sums to politicians who voted against the bill.

Most major companies donate to both parties via political action committees, historically giving more to Republicans. (Industry PACs supported by these organizations also donate to both parties, but tend to skew even further right.) In recent years, many companies’ PACs – including Walmart, Amazon, and McDonald’s – have moved toward a 50/50 split between Democrat and Republican donations.

Companies donate to politicians’ campaigns hoping to influence lawmakers on legislation that might impact business, from immigration to minimum wages.

As a result, these industry giants have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians who are pushing for legislation that protects LGBTQ rights, and hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians actively working to defeat the same bills.

Companies are increasingly caught between a desire to pursue bipartisan political alliances through donations and expectations that they support progressive social causes. Now, some are being forced to change their strategies.

Walmart, Amazon, and McDonald’s collectively donated over $1 million to lawmakers who voted against the Equality Act

pride
It is becoming common for companies to participated in Pride celebrations.

From 2019 to 2020, Walmart’s PAC donated $1.2 million to federal candidates, according to an Insider analysis of FEC data via the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations were exactly an even split – $596,000 to Republicans and $596,000 to Democrats. All but three Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against the Equality Act, saying it could infringe on religious freedom. That means Walmart donated nearly $400,000 to politicians opposing the bill.

Meanwhile, the company’s Twitter avatar is currently rainbow hued, and the retailer is selling a collection of Pride merchandise. A Walmart spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Amazon has supported the Equality Act since 2015, with Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, writing in a post in February that “now is the time for federal law to protect LGBTQ+ Americans across the country.”

At the same time, the company’s PAC split donations from 2019 to 2020, donating $659,000 to Democratic candidates and $648,500 to Republicans. More than $460,000 of those donations went to politicians who voted against the Equality Act.

An Amazon spokesperson told Insider that the company “engages with policymakers and regulators on a wide range of issues that affect our business, customers, and employees.”

“That does not mean we agree with any individual or political organization 100 percent of the time on every issue, and this includes legislation that discriminates or encourages discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community,” the spokesperson continued.

Fast-food PACs have also donated to Republicans in the House of Representatives who oppose the Equality Act. From 2019 to 2020, McDonald’s PAC donated a total of $213,000 to lawmakers who voted against the bill. Earlier this week, the company tweeted: “We’re proud of you. And you should be proud of you, too.”

Companies are changing how they approach political donations

In 2021, more brands are openly supporting LGBTQ people and celebrating Pride on social media than ever before.

Simultaneously, the US is seeing an explosion of anti-trans bills. Lawmakers are not simply voting against expanding protections for LGBTQ people, they are trying to pass new laws that advocates say will harm vulnerable individuals.

“These are organized anti-transgender forces, people who are ideologically anti-transgender, who are trying to push this everywhere that they can,” trans advocate Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen told Insider in April. “So it’s coordinated, it’s deliberate, and it is all about using trans people and especially trans youth as a political football.”

Employees and customers increasingly expect companies to uphold progressive social values, including vocal support of LGBTQ people. But, companies typically don’t want to surrender the chance to engage with politicians on both sides of the aisle.

However, companies are being forced to change their practices. Walmart and Amazon paused donations to lawmakers who opposed certifying President Joe Biden’s win in January, following the Capitol insurrection. McDonald’s paused all political donations in January, and its PAC has not donated to any lawmakers since, according to FEC filings.

In 2021, it is increasingly difficult for companies to say they support a cause, while donating to politicians who vote for laws that indicate the opposite. Marcia Chatelain, a Georgetown University professor, told Insider earlier this year that – in the aftermath of the George Floyd protests – brands like McDonald’s had assumed that tweeting support would satisfy most people.

“What they probably didn’t anticipate was we are at a moment where people ask for more,” Chatelain said. “They ask for more than donations. They ask for more than diversity-pipeline programs. They ask for more than skillful marketing. They actually ask for racial and economic justice.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to avoid ‘rainbow-washing’ and include allyship and innovation in your Pride marketing efforts instead

Parade-goers make their way down 5th Avenue during the NYC Pride March
Parade-goers make their way down 5th Avenue during the NYC Pride March.

  • Companies often turn to rainbow versions of their products during the month of June for Pride.
  • Rainbow-washing can be lazy, and there are better ways to show support for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Create awareness, give context, partner with community leaders, and do something outside of June.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I get pitched a lot by publicists, agents, and agencies for this column. Because I often use the behavior of certain people or companies as a jump-off point for articles, it makes sense that PR professionals would seek out similar coverage for their clients.

Publicists and account reps have many different resources for building their network, and an increasingly popular approach is to join and participate in online communities such as PR-focused Facebook groups. I’m in a few of these myself to stay informed, and the other day I saw a passing post that mentioned some new LGBTQ-related research. I’m always interested in seeing and referencing new data-backed studies, so I commented and asked for the press release.

I thought I wrote, “Feel free to send that report my way.” But from the looks of my inbox the past few weeks, perhaps I blacked out and actually said something more along the lines of “Open Sesame!” because the number of pitches I’ve received lately has been bonkers.

Read more: Young sellers making thousands a month on Depop reveal how they got their start

Brand after brand has forwarded me their “revolutionary” new campaign in which they’ve printed a rainbow version of their product and are giving a portion of proceeds to an LGBTQ-focused charity. I’ll certainly never turn my nose up at a company’s charitable giving efforts. But I’m also worried. For many of these companies, a rainbow version of their product for the month of June feels both performative and – dare I say it – lazy.

We know that we exist. So we want to see more than awareness in your pride marketing; we want to see allyship and innovation. Here are a few ideas on what that could look like – and why companies should care.

Consumer psychology has changed

Consumers increasingly look to where a brand stands on topics of social justice to determine their loyalty. Your customers and clients want to follow your company and buy your product not only for what it does but also for what you stand for.

We all like to purchase from companies that get us. And according to polling data from Gallup, the roar of both the LGBTQ community and economy is only getting louder. Highlights from that data include:

  • 5.6% of Americans identifying as LGBTQ, up from 4.5% in 2017,
  • 9.1% of millennials identifying as LGBTQ, with about half of that population identifying as bisexual, and
  • Nearly 16% of Gen Z identifying as LGBTQ, with 72% of that population identifying as bisexual. 1.8% of Gen Z identifies as transgender.

Translation? Queer people exist, and younger people identify as queer in greater numbers. Oppression efforts continue to run rampant, so we need your help.

As of this writing, 17 anti-transgender bills have already been signed into law this year, per a press release from the Human Rights Campaign. The impact these bills will have on trans youth is staggering; a University of Arizona study found that trans youth experience far higher suicide attempt rates, but an affirmation of their identity and pronouns by parents can greatly reduce this number.

Financial data on the LGBTQ community also paints a complex picture. Mainstream stereotypes depict queer people as lavish and fabulous. But overall, LGBTQ people are more likely to experience socioeconomic inequality, according to a demographics report from UCLA.

As you create awareness for the LGBTQ community during pride month, take time in your messaging to give context. Share with your audience about the current challenges we face as well as where your company stands.

How to attract loyal customers who promote you on their behalf

If pride marketing feels like walking on eggshells this year, here are a few steps you can take that are largely guaranteed to make a difference.

  • Hand the microphone over. Instead of rainbow-washing a community’s needs, partner with a community leader who can speak to important issues in an informed, compelling way. Influencer marketing is still a slippery slope, but spokespeople have been a tried-and-true visibility tactic for decades. The approach is win/win.
  • Do something outside of June. If you’ve missed the opportunity to promote pride in June … there are LGBTQ-related awareness days throughout the year. Your campaign is less likely to get caught in the rainbow-washed echo chamber that is June, too.
  • Go local. GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide includes a directory of community organizations to spotlight and be aware of. What are your local organizations, and how can you encourage supporting them? These grassroots initiatives often make an immediate impact and can literally save lives.

The LGBTQ economy continues to grow, and as a result, the pride marketing landscape is changing. Instead of phoning it in, use marketing dollars to spotlight issues that truly matter to your customers. Challenge yourself to zig when others zag, and you’re more likely to command our market’s attention for months and years to come.

Read the original article on Business Insider

9 US destinations where you can celebrate Pride this year, plus LGBTQ-friendly hotels for each

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New York City Pride

  • June is Pride month in the US to celebrate the impact of the LGBTQ community.
  • Pride events, celebrations, and parades are happening across the country throughout June and beyond.
  • Here are some of the best places to celebrate Pride this year, plus LGBTQ-friendly hotels for each.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Pride’s back! In truth Pride never went away. We’ve been marching for half a century in the face of arrest, harassment and worse, through nearly four decades of an epidemic that devastated yet ultimately galvanized our community, and now through a global pandemic.

We will always exercise our right to be visible and celebrate our magnificent diversity. While we did it mostly virtually in 2020, the trend in 2021 is to meet in person. For now, we’ll skip crowded and sweaty parades and parties (alas!), but in order for us to join safely together in person, many Prides have been restructured as celebratory hybrid events. A few will be drive-through; others will postpone large gatherings till later in the year. Most importantly, we’ll gather in 2021 to celebrate the many reasons to be proud while mourning those we’ve lost.

From California wine country to the streets of New York, there’s a US Pride celebration ready for you to join, with many launching this coming week and sashaying all the way through September.

Here are some of the best US pride celebrations in 2021, plus hotels for each.

Sonoma County Pride – June 5

Sonoma County Pride/Facebook

Discover the white, red, rosé, and rainbow-hued wines of gay-popular Sonoma County, an hours’ drive north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Sonoma’s beautiful rolling hills lack the star power of nearby Napa with its haute cuisine and celebrity-driven vineyards, but it more than compensates in seasonal-focused produce, a wider variety of wines, and a large concentration of LGBTQ residents, including many in the wine industry.

The theme of Sonoma County’s homey Pride celebration, “Beyond the Rainbow: Surviving, Reviving, and Thriving,” draws inspiration from the Wizard of Oz to offer renewal and support. The marquee event has been redesigned as the Drive-Thru Parade on Saturday, June 5, but there are 16 other official events scheduled throughout the month of June. If you can’t join for Pride month, consider visiting for one of the summer’s smaller Gay Wine Weekends.

Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival – June 19

Stonewall Parade & Street Festival

The tiny island city of Wilton Manors — entirely bordered by waterways — is the beating gay heart of LGBTQ-popular Fort Lauderdale. This is where you’ll find the most queer-owned businesses, the majority of which are conveniently located adjacent to one another in nearby shopping centers allowing for fun, boozy walks among the various bars, restaurants, and novelty stores.

Pride is a folksy affair here. As you’ll find in many communities, there are official events throughout the month, but the parade and festival take place on Saturday, June 19. Be sure to get vaccinated before your visit. It’s Florida so expect a crowded gathering with a somewhat lax attitude towards social distancing and mask-wearing. 

 

Pride in the Park Chicago – June 26-27

Pride in the Park Chicago

Chicago is known for outstanding architecture, a vibrant cultural and art scene, a gorgeous (and gay!) beach, and that Magnificent Mile. But it has also long been an underappreciated locus for LGBTQ culture, from literary icons like Jane Addams to gay rights activists such as Henry Gerber.

Their stories can be discovered on a self-guided LGBTQ Legacy Walk providing context for what has become a robust LGBTQ community. This year’s Pride in the Park live-music celebration (featuring Tiësto, Chaka Kahn, and more) returns as an in-person event although the Chicago Pride Parade will be delayed until Sunday, October 3rd and Chicago Pride Fest remains postponed with a possible return in September or October. Expect a laidback but joyous reunion.

New York City Pride – June 27

New York City Pride

It’s a thrilling time to visit New York. This resilient city is rapidly picking up pace as increasing numbers of visitors people-watch, museum-hop, and pose for selfies in Times Square. Outdoor restaurants are (safely) packed adding a European-style plein-air dining scene. NYC has long been a beacon to queers escaping oppressive, narrow-minded, or just plain vanilla hometowns. Riled by continuous assaults on their dignity, queers, led by young transgender people of color, revolted on June 28, 1969. Marking this spontaneous uprising a year later, the first Prides were born in NYC and elsewhere.

Fifty years later World Pride welcomed over 5 million visitors representing all the colors of the queer rainbow. This year, with vaccination rates among the highest in the land, NYC boasts a huge lineup of official in-person and hybrid Pride celebrations. You’ll also find several other non-commercial alternative protest-oriented marches including the in-your-face queer Reclaim Pride march also on June 27 and the Dyke March on Saturday, June 26.

San Francisco Dyke March – June 27

San Francisco Dyke March/Facebook

Many who visit San Francisco harbor deep down a desire to stay. This was equally true for Mary Ann Singleton from “Tales of the City,” and the legions of homosexual G.I.s returning from World War II who remained, thus establishing the roots of a robust queer culture still thriving today.

Pride is a city-wide, month-long celebration with corporate headquarters and City Hall bedecked in rainbow colors and rainbow flags flapping everywhere. A highlight is the nation’s largest Dyke March, a non-commercial, protest-oriented but nonetheless joyous celebration of all things queer.

San Juan, Puerto Rico Pride – June 27

San Juan Pride

Generally speaking, the Caribbean is not LGBTQ-friendly. Many of the region’s islands criminalize homosexuality, and at best they tolerate openly queer visitors for their much-needed tourism money. A glittering exception is San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean’s true queer capital. It’s not only that the laws of the US, like marriage equality, apply here, but the locals, even those in the more conservative rural parts of the island, are truly hospitable. They want you to enjoy yourself. And you will.

Even at this year’s lowkey, socially distant car-based Pride, you’ll find fun all-welcome outdoor party scenes like La Placita de Santurce, a hub for convivial alfresco dining and drinking and all-night salsa dancing making a weekend here an attractive option whether for Pride or another time of the year.

Twin Cities Pride Festival – July 17-18

Twin Cities Pride

Separated by the Mississippi River, Twin Cities Minneapolis and St. Paul are more fraternal than identical. Locals in both are similarly welcoming to visitors, but St. Paul is the epicenter of old money and political power represented by glorious marble municipal buildings and stately old homes. Minneapolis has an edgier feel, with a vibrant art scene: Check out the world-class Walker Art Center and the popular Theatre District.

Warmer weather entices denizens of both sides of the river to flock outside enjoying outdoor cafes, abundant parks and the annual Twin Cities Pride Festival. After a virtual edition in 2020, this year’s festival will welcome in-person participants at a number of mostly free events from now into July (culminating with the Festival), including a nighttime party, two 5K runs, and a family fun day. Note that there will be no pride march as an extra COVID-era precaution.

Atlanta Black Pride Weekend – September 1-7

Pride Festival photo by Mixmike/Getty Images

In addition to a sizzling restaurant scene and sparkling new tourist attractions (Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca Cola and more), visitors find important traces and celebrations of African American history like the King Center and perhaps surprisingly abundant natural attractions including miles of hiking trails and swaths of gorgeous flowering green spaces.

Expect a warm welcome: Atlanta is a liberal blue island in an otherwise mostly red conservative state. There is also a vibrant, approachable gay scene here filled with queer refugees from the entire region. You’ll find lots of LGBTQ venues to enjoy, with the only drawback being the driving distances between hotspots.

Atlanta proudly boasts three annual Pride celebrations. National Pride Month in June, Black Pride during Labor Day Weekend, and Atlanta Pride Festival and Parade in October. Atlanta Black Pride is the largest Black gay Pride festivity in the world and celebrates the important impacts Black queer Atlantans have had on the community, city, and state.

Miami Beach Pride Festival and Parade Weekend – September 18-19

Miami Beach Pride/Facebook

Miami continues to draw LGBTQ visitors to its sun-drenched, palm-studded shores, best known for the neon-limned boutique Deco hotels and outdoor dining scene. Of course, in recent years Miami’s appeal has widened considerably to include buzzy mainland neighborhoods like Brickell and the Wynwood Arts District.

The local queer population has likewise spread out and integrated along with the nightlife and dining scene. If you come for Pride, center your visit in South Beach which will throng with queer locals and visitors. The annual Pride Festival and Parade Weekend promises to be better than ever with far more in-person events scheduled than last year. 

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