This summer, you’ll be seeing a lot more rainbows than you did in the spring. It’s National LGBT Pride Month, and if hundreds of thousands of gays love one thing, it’s a big, shiny parade. If this is your first pride season, you’re 40 years late to the party. Better late than never, but you have some catching up to do. From combat boots to thigh-high ones, we’ve found eight pride parades worth a road trip. And if you prefer armchair travel to, um, “coming out,” you can learn something, too.
It’s not a parade, it’s a march, as any gay New Yorker will tell you. Better still, they take this stance: the NYC Gay Pride March shall remain a march until there is full equality for the LGBT community. But, let’s be real — it’s the oldest gay pride parade in the country.
What Will Be There: It comes as a package deal. The Gay Pride
ParadeMarch is part of New York’s Pride Week, which also includes PrideFest and Dance on the Pier.
Who Will Be There: In 2012, Cyndi Lauper is on the schedule (R.I.P. Whitney, who also once performed). Connie Kopelov and Phyllis Siegel (New York’s first legally married gay couple) will be there as well.
It’s only a few weeks older than New York’s, making it one of the oldest pride parades in the country. PRIDE Chicago rounds out Pride Month, and is held on the last Sunday of June. As LGBT groups gain mainstream acceptance and rights nationwide, PRIDE Chicago is truly a citywide celebration.
What Will Be There: The brilliantly named Chicago Gay Hockey Association had a few professionals and a visit from the Stanley Cup in 2011. That’s something, right?
Who Will Be There: The entire Midwest. The 2011 parade had 250 official entries and a whopping 800,000 spectators. While size shouldn’t matter, 2012 is an election year in the home state of the sitting President (who recently became the first to endorse same-sex marriage). Chicago can, should, and will have some pride — their festivities will be even larger this year.
If you’re looking for a rainbow connection, you’ve come to the right place. The rainbow flag that has become the symbol for safety and LGBT acceptance was created for San Francisco Pride in 1979 by Gilbert Baker. And in the 30+ years since, a two-day festival surrounding the parade has grown out of sheer popularity.
What Will Be There: There are informative and artisanal booths, performance stages, and thousands of sun-kissed gay people milling about.
Who Will Be There: Everyone. San Francisco claims their pride parade is the “largest gathering of LGBT people and allies in the nation.” This pride festival also hosts pansexual leather and BDSM groups, making it great for kids.
If you’ve never been to Washington, D.C., have some pride! The parade in the nation’s capital is the fourth largest gay pride event in the U.S., and perhaps the most geopolitically impactful.
What Will Be There: The neighborhood of DuPont Circle is one of the oldest progressive (read: gay) neighborhoods in the country, and during Pride it’s home to the Drag Races (that’s drag queens in full costume running down the street, in all their glittery glory).
Who Will Be There: All the gay cuties from Lambda Rising, the DuPont Circle bookstore that started Capital Pride in 1975. Kristin Chenoweth will also perform during the parade weekend.
The Texas-sized parade, founded in 1979, simply takes over the uber-hip Montrose neighborhood. Like Chicago, the festivities are held on the fourth Saturday in June.
What Will Be There: Marching in the Texas heat in glitter and heels and a weekend of parties — what more could a boy want?
Who Will Be There: Everyone, and their wigs. There’s a great drag community in Houston that’s unknown to most, which means the parade packs some Southern punch. This year, 200,000 participants are slated to join in the sun-riddled fun.
They say “pride cometh before the fall,” but in Atlanta, pride comes right in the middle of it. Like other American cities, Atlanta’s pride is not technically a parade — it’s a week-long celebration of all things LGBT.
When To Be There: If you’re planning a road trip, this one won’t be in June. In an expression of solidarity with National Coming Out Day, Hotlanta holds their festival in mid-October. Very cool.
Who Will Be There: The entire Dirty South. One of the oldest pride celebrations stateside, 200,000 revelers are expected to attend this year.
Come for the parade, stay for the decadence. New Orleans Pride began in 1971, a banner year for the beginnings of LGBT parades nationwide. Also home to Southern Decadence, skip the parade this year and head down to The Big Easy for Labor Day. The three-day event is billed as the “gay Mardi Gras,” and, trust us — it’s the definition of decadent, gay, and fun.
What Will Be There: The entire French Quarter, at your disposal.
Who Will Be There: No one. They’re all waiting for Southern Decadence.
It’s a sleeper parade that will one day be a hit. Another late fall parade, you can’t blame the “weird” Texas city for scheduling to beat the heat. Though not as large or diverse as Houston’s, Austin’s Pride parade and street festival brings out 40,000 incredibly freaky people.
What Will Be There: The best part about Austin’s Pride? Seeing everyone’s Halloween costumes two weeks early.
Who Will Be There: Lots of protestors. The hippie city in the middle of the Bible Belt has its own brand of queer, but detractors need all the “we’re here” and “get used to it” messages they can handle.