D.C.’s culture attracts the LGBT community

A newly married couple celebrates their marriage in Dupont Circle. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Nicole Curtis, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON — San Francisco has long-been America’s best city for gay travel, but according to Travel and Leisure, D.C. is on the rise — and experts say it could soon make its way to the top.

The growth and evolution of gay travel to D.C. is a result of a more welcoming environment, says Passport Magazine Publisher Don Tuthill.

“[It] has a lot to do with a changing culture. More and more destinations are welcoming to the LGBT community and people feel much safer traveling,” he says.

District neighborhoods such as Dupont Circle and 17th Street are attractive destinations for the LGBT community. And the city’s annual Pride Parade and High Heel Race draw participants and supporters, alike.

International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association President and CEO John Tanzella says the city’s history, museums, dining and hotels also attract the LGBT community to D.C.

“It’s a very forward-thinking destination,” Tanzella says.

Capital Pride Chairman and President Bernie Delia says 250,000 people travel to D.C. for the annual Pride celebration. Delia believes there is a deeper significance of celebrations like Capital Pride and D.C.’s sites to the LGBT community.

“It’s a remembrance of the struggles that we have endured over the years,” Delia says. “It’s a way to reconnect with people and to renew our spirit to carry on and go forward.”

Traveling to D.C.? Or just looking for something to do? Destination D.C. has a list of 100 free (and almost free) things to do in the nation’s capital. Here are a few ideas from the list:

  • Join D.C. Front Runners, a running, walking and social club that meets at 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays at 23rd and P Streets for a brisk walk, or 10 a.m. for a fun run followed by socializing.
  • Grab some friends and watch a sporting event at Nellie’s, DC’s first gay sports bar.
  • The oldest lesbian bar in the U.S., Phase 1, hosts karaoke, Jello wrestling and drag-king shows.
  • Visit and relax in Dupont Circle. The area emerged as a center for gay life in the ’70s.
  • See a play: Visit Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and other theaters in the area.
  • Visit the National Geographic Museum and view exhibitions that display the diversity of international culture and natural wonders.

See Destination D.C.’s full list for more D.C. ideas.

Other cities that topped the list for America’s best cities for gay travel include San Francisco, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Santa Fe and New York.

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