Grand vacations are great, but our gay neighbors across the region are ready and able to help daytrippers and weekenders relax, refresh and recharge.
By Jason O’Neal
Bigger trips to far-flung destinations may be in your longer-term plans, but the arrival of hot weather here at home means it’s officially time to mark your calendars for regional road trips.
Nothing will get you in the summer spirit better than flying your colors with our gay neighbors across the Southeast. Here’s our quick guide to the hottest destinations for gay daytrippers and weekenders that we know you’ll want to visit.
You don’t have to go far to feel like you’re a world away. So schedule a few days off work, and gas up your cars for road trips to some of the season’s best gay happenings in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
Memorial Day Weekend
May 26 – May 30
Normally a sleepy little city at the tip of Florida’s panhandle, Pensacola comes to life when some 200,000 swimsuited gay people – a sizeable contingent of them from Atlanta – flock to its pristine white beaches to completely take over Memorial Day Weekend. Five days of decadent fun in the sun include beach time with guys from around the country, of course, but there’s more. Expect sexy parties all day and delicious men dancing poolside by night.
Nightlife events include spontaneous hotel and house parties, as well as sponsored affairs by The Portofino Island Resort (portofinoisland.com), and discos set up on the sand with DJs spinning your favorite tracks. Also, don’t forget to check out the local bars such as Emerald City (emeraldcitypensacola.com), The Roundup, and the Cabaret.
One Magical Weekend/ Gay Days at Disney
June 3 – June 5
Just a week after Pensacola, Disney goes officially gay for one of the most exciting weekends of any year. In addition to daily “Therapy” pool parties featuring speedo clad men at the B Resort & Spa, which also hosts the GayBiz expo inside, there’s nightly “Cadabra” Afterparties at Mango’s Orlando.
Some come early to sprinkle their fairy dust over awesome rides, but everyone is there when the time comes to hit the street party and get moving with throngs of men dancing to thundering beats. Riptide at Typhoon Lagoon features DJs Alexander and Eddie Martinez on Friday, and Saturday’s main event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios features DJs Dee Martello and Nina Flowers.
The “Magical” weekend wraps with DEEP at Epcot World Showplace. Expect DJ duo Rosabel, an award winning fireworks display, light show, lasers, video walls, amazing costumes and sexy go-go dancers as Epcot turns into the hottest nightclub around. Weekend passes start at $267 and can now be paid in monthly installments. Visit onemagicalweekend.com.
Prides of the Southeast
Augusta, Charleston, Savannah
Augusta Pride takes place June 24-25. For the 7th year on the traditionally recognized Stonewall Weekend, the Beats on Broad dance party kicks things off Friday night. The parade down Broad Street takes place Saturday, followed immediately by the festival, which includes performances by Lazaro Arbos from American Idol Season 12, David Hernandez, and the legendary CeCe Peniston. Offsite parties at gay bars are also on the agenda. Visit prideaugusta.org.
Charleston Pride takes place August 6 – 14. The city is working to change its religiously conservative image and embracing diversity at its 6th annual Pride celebration. The parade and Pride Rally are set for Saturday, August 13, and parties all week long include events at local gay bars, a beach party, the Drag Brunch, and more. Visit charlestonpride.org.
Savannah Pride is set for October 22. Once held earlier in the year, Savannah takes a cue from Atlanta this year and moves to a season of cooler temps. The city’s breathtaking views along the coast with its old-town feel and Spanish Moss-covered oaks are the backdrop for Pride. In addition to the festival, which offers VIP perks for sale this year, expect the Savannah Pride White Party, as well as multiple tea dances and pool parties. Visit savannahpride.com