Small City Prides Worth the Trip


June is traditionally the kickoff month for Pride celebrations for the LGBTQ community and our allies. In 1969, the Stonewall riots set the wheels of change in motion, and we have been commemorating that event for 45 years with parades and festivals from sea to shining sea. Big city Prides like those held in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto get most of the attention due to their scale and fabulosity, but there are Pride celebrations in smaller towns that are definitely worth checking out. Terrific events are happening from New Hope to the Quad Cities, and here are just a few that we thought you should know about.


Asbury Park, New Jersey: When you think of Asbury Park, visions of Bruce Springsteen and boardwalks may come to mind, but Asbury Park also has a thriving gay community. This year marks the festival’s 24th anniversary, and second year celebrating marriage equality in the Garden State. Out Voice finalist Michelle Chamuel will be performing at Jersey Pride which will take place on Sunday, June 7th.

Hudson Valley Gay Pride, New York: Yes, there is indeed a world outside of New York City! Situated along the coast of the gorgeous Hudson River, the Hudson Valley is a lush, charming area of New York state that includes many bustling towns and sleepy hamlets. Thanks to Big Gay Hudson Valley, the area also has its own Pride celebration. Queen City Pride (the nickname for the city of Poughkeepsie) has three days of events which foster community including a big BBQ bash, the Half Moon Ball and Pride picnic. With that much fun, who needs a parade? The festivities run June 12-14th.


Ferndale Pride, Michigan: For a state that still doesn’t allow same sex marriage, Michigan boasts numerous Pride festivals including ones in Lansing, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Detroit. However, it’s Ferndale, the very gay friendly city on the cusp of Detroit and the northern suburbs, that gets some special attention. Until 2011, Ferndale was the host of Motor City Pride, which then moved operations into the heart of Detroit. However, the small town keeps celebrating their own way with a street festival, live music, a rainbow run and more. Ferndale Pride kicks off on Saturday, May 30th.

Anchorage Gay Pride, Alaska: We may associate Alaska with being cold, but Anchorage Gay Pride turns up the heat with a week full of events that includes dancing, karaoke, comedy and much more. Much smaller population-wise than other major cities across the country, Anchorage make the most of Pride and supporting its LGBT community. Should you fly in for the event, the Anchorage Downtown Hilton is just 10 minutes from the airport. The festivities begin on May 30th and run through June 6th.


Eureka Springs Gay Pride, Arkansas: Situated in the northwest part of Arkansas, Eureka Springs has been an oasis or tolerance and acceptance for years. The city recently became the first in Arkansas to pass a non-discrimination policy. A popular tourist destination, the “gay capital of the Ozarks” celebrates Pride three times a year with what they call Diversity Weekends. The next one is coming up August 7-9th and these Diversity Weekend have enough fantastic events that they draw visitors from all over to join in on the fun. Maybe a trip to Eureka might be in your future too.

Austin Pride, Texas: Ok, so Austin isn’t exactly a “small town” but it’s definitely smaller than its big brothers Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. Austin has been a bastion for more liberal-minded Texans and transplants who come to the city for its amazing music and innovative business opportunities. Austin has an entire week dedicated to Pride, that culminates in a nighttime parade which always has a special theme (last year it was Oz). This festival happens later in the summer, perhaps due to Texas’ notoriously hot summers, but it gives us an excuse to celebrate all over again. Check into the downtown Hilton and you’ll be central to all the celebrations. Pride Week runs August 22-30th.


If you are planning on traveling to Pride in any of these fine cities, check out They have hundreds of hotels and resorts across the U.S. so you can celebrate Pride in style.


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