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Where to celebrate Pride Month

Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP

A man in a costume waves to the crowd June 12 at the Los Angeles Gay Pride 2011 Festival and Parade in West Hollywood, Calif.

 

President Barack Obama has declared June to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.

The official recognition sends an important message about the increasingly mainstream support for equality for these communities. “It also makes a strong statement of welcome to visitors thinking of visiting the U.S. during this month in particular,” said Ian Johnson, CEO of Out Now, a global lesbian and gay marketing company.

Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles held pride celebrations earlier this month, but several other major cities are preparing for their own pride parties and parades. Here are a few highlights:   

  • NYC Pride hosts nine days of LGBT activities June 18-26. Events kick off Saturday with the official NYC LBGT Pride Rally in Central Park and end June 26 with the PrideFest street fair and The March, a festive and often outrageous, high-energy parade that makes its way down Fifth Avenue to Greenwich Village over the course of five hours.
  • Baltimore Pride 2011 runs through June 19 and features the popular High Heel Race up Charles Street on Saturday, followed by the Pride Parade later that afternoon. The city’s Pride Festival is on Sunday in Druid Hill Park.
  • The 41st annual San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration and Parade takes place June 25-26 in downtown San Francisco. On Saturday and Sunday, there will be music and cultural performances at the Main Stage at Civic Center Plaza (next to City Hall) and on Sunday, a parade along Market Street.
  • Portland, Ore.’s LGBTQ Pride Parade and Festival runs through June 19 with a weekend-long Waterfront Festival downtown, a costumed drag race, a pet showcase and a parade.
  • Minnesota’s Twin Cities Pride will host a two-day festival in Loring Park and a Sunday parade in downtown Minneapolis on June 25-26.

For many communities, Pride Week events aren’t just fun, they can also be lucrative. The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that the LGBT community spends an estimated $70 billion a year on travel.

“Pride events are now large-scale community celebrations of diversity and equality and feature up to a week of cultural events, parties and political forums,” said Out Now’s Johnson. “That attracts a diverse range of LGBT people, their friends and supporters and can be a catalyst for planning a vacation.”

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