The 15 Can't-Miss Queer Events Happening in the US This Summer
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, and while cities around the world are going knee-deep in celebrating Pride Month, the festivities don’t end in June.
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, and while cities around the world are going knee-deep in celebrating Pride Month, the festivities don’t end in June. It’s 20-bi-teen and we’re celebrating the full spectrum of the LGBTQ community with more than just parades and marches, until it’s too cold to wear a crop top or short shorts.
From queer music festivals to street fairs and multi-cultural arts festivals, Pride doesn’t have to stop at the end of the parade route. Don your best drag, glitter, and colorful clothing and keep the rainbow bright all summer with these fun LGBTQ events.
With events all summer long, including a special Pride weekend June 7-9, The Woods campground in rural Pennsylvania is an LGBTQ-specific, clothing-optional campground. Exclusively for the 18+ crowd, The Woods includes 161 acres of forest, campsites, a lake, and streams. A relaxing getaway with various themed weekends and accessible for all members of the LGBTQ community.
New York City, New York
According to a 2017 study from OutRight International, 72 countries continue to criminalize same-sex relationships, including eight countries that employ the death penalty against LGBTQ people. With this in mind, nonprofit National Queer Theater is shining a spotlight on global homophobia with plays from Egypt, Tanzania, Pakistan, China and others -- countries where the stories by queer playwrights would never see the light of day. In association with World Pride and the backdrop of Stonewall’s 50th anniversary, the Criminal Queerness Festival challenges audiences to engage and reflect upon the status of civil rights in the United States in order to better support LGBTQ people abroad.
San Francisco, California
The largest transgender event in San Francisco (and one of the largest around the world), the annual Trans March takes place the same weekend as San Francisco Pride but actively seeks to include and feature trans and gender non-conforming attendees. Now in its 15th year, the volunteer-run event features performances from the full spectrum of the LGBTQ community with speeches, a resource fair, a special brunch, live music, art performances and after-parties.
Brooklyn, New York
Taking place over World Pride weekend in NYC, LadyLand is the 2nd annual queer music festival from local promoter Ladyfag, a nightlife queen famous for producing some of the hottest LGBTQ events and parties in the city. LGBTQ performers Gossip and Honey Dijon headline the two-day event, with special guests Pussy Riot, Mykki Blanco and other international performers taking the stage.
Fire Island, New York
For nearly four decades, hundreds of visitors flood to Fire Island (just outside of NYC) for the Fourth of July weekend for an unofficial event called “Invasion of the Pines.” Back in 1976, a group of drag queen activists donned their most glamorous wigs to protest being refused service at one of the bars at the time. The tradition continues today more as a celebration, making it one of the most colorful weekends on the popular LGBTQ-friendly island getaway.
Los Angeles, California
Outfest is one of the world’s most important LGBTQ film festivals. Operating since 1982, the festival regularly premieres the best of LGBTQ cinema alongside important panel discussions, meet-and-greets, and parties with actors, directors and writers. Over 150 films will be screened in less than two weeks, attracting nearly 40,000 cinephiles.
Fayetteville, West Virginia
Billed as “the world’s largest queer-friendly climbing convention,” the annual Homo Climbtastic is for serious adventurers seeking to connect with other queer-identifying folx in the great outdoors. Outdoorsy types will bond while hiking and camping, and of course, get in some serious hang time -- literally.
In the heart of wine country, the annual Gay Wine Weekend celebrates local LGBTQ wine producers in the world-renowned Sonoma Valley. Events include vineyard and winery tours, drag queen brunches, and live music, along with a signature Twilight Dance at the downright gorgeous Chateau St. Jean winery and a raucous closing afternoon pool party -- it’s a fun way to discover Sonoma while supporting worthwhile LGBTQ causes. (The event serves as a fundraiser for local LGBTQ organizations like Face to Face, the Sonoma County HIV/AIDS Network.)
Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming
Rendezvous is the Rocky Mountain Region’s largest LGBT Pride camping event, started in 1992 by a group of friends, but now boasts 500-plus folks year over year. This come-as-you-are event is well-known for its diversity of campers and camping styles -- whether young or old, camping with a tent or in an RV. Events include potlucks and s’mores-fueled social hours, a mini-film fest, a beach party and even a party called Sausage Fest, located at (appropriately) Pervert Peak.
With quaint streets lined up and down with all iterations of the queer flag, Provincetown is one of America’s top LGBTQ destinations (and one uniquely tied to the arts community). The annual Provincetown Carnival features a week of activities, parties, and costume ball -- annually, the event sees 90,000 visitors come through the seaside town. This year’s theme for the festival is “The Enchanted Forest,” which culminates with a vibrant parade on August 22.
Widely considered one of the best LGBTQ Chicago events, the Northalsted Market Days is the largest street festival in the Midwest. Over 200 vendors set up shops in Boystown for a half-mile of open-air shopping, drinking, and celebrating. DJs and live music from Icona Pop, Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters), Steve Grand and Cupcakke will keep the crowds cheering all weekend from five different stages.
Upper Lakes, California
Even as trans issues become part of the national conversation, trans men can still be left out of the conversation. Not at Transmission, a not-for-profit retreat now entering its fifth year. Over the course of a few days, trans masculine, non-binary, genderqueer and gender non-conforming attendees gather for relaxation, camping, and fellowship in idyllic California woods. The organization is entirely volunteer-run, so all fees help to 100% support its mission.
New Orleans, Louisana
Started nearly 50 years ago, Southern Decadence is also called “Gay Mardi Gras,” and is the South’s biggest LGBTQ event every year. Decadence attracts over 200,000 visitors each year with yes, beads, but also costumes, live music, and non-stop drinking and carrousing -- the multi-day event spills into the French Quarter with outdoor concerts and all-night parties, with Sunday culminating in the parade (this year’s theme: “Fruit Salad”).
New York City, New York
Celebrating art, pop culture, and all things drag, the annual RuPaul’s DragCon comes to NYC each September (and each spring to Los Angeles). Celebrity queens from the popular TV show, whose fans (of all ages) flood the Javits Convention Center to kiki. The family-friendly, gagworthy event is all camp and spectacle, full of performances, merch, panels with your favorite queens and more. Make sure you’ve got a lewk.
San Francisco, California
The world’s largest leather fetish event, Folsom has a long tradition in San Francisco. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the fetish event taking over Folsom Street in the historic Castro district. Bands, DJs, and fetish performers take the stage during the full-day event (where nudity is common) and nearly 200 NSFW exhibitor booths sell and showcase the newest fetish gear, toys, and more.