A Guide to Gay Summer Events Worth Traveling To

Tango has always been an art form friendly to same-sex couples. (Alaistair Macaulay, the dance critic of The New York Times, has written that one possible origin of the tango is in the brothels of Buenos Aires, where men danced awaiting their turns for sexual assignations.) Queer tango festivals have been a staple of New York for a while, but it’s in Europe where same-sex couples have really been infusing the dance form with a gay spirit. One locus of the gay tango movement is Berlin, which this summer hosts an International Queer Tango Festival (July 28-31). The event will feature workshops and gender-mixed milongas, informal gatherings of tango dancers from across the gender spectrum.


The Carolina Theater of Durham, in North Carolina.

Courtesy of Carolina Theater

While most Pride parades in the United States take place in June, cities in other countries hold theirs over the summer. Among the locales with parades in July are Paris (July 2); Bogota, Colombia (3); Munich (9); Barcelona, Spain (9); Berlin (23); Stockholm (30); and Vancouver, British Columbia (31).


The International Gay and Lesbian Football Association — as in the football played with your feet, not your hands — will hold its world championship in Portland, Ore. (Aug. 6-13), the home of the Portland NetRippers, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender soccer club. Teams are divided into male, female and mixed divisions. Players and spectators of all sexual orientations are welcome.

“GayFest!,” an annual theater festival in Philadelphia, returns for its sixth iteration (Aug. 12-27) with plays about gay men and their rollercoaster relationships. This year’s offerings include “Harbor,” a comedy by the Tony Award-nominated writer and lyricist Chad Beguelin (“Aladdin”) about a gay man and his troubled relationship with his sister, and “My Favorite Husbands,” a comedy by Andrew Marvel involving a drag queen and a Republican wedding.

Pride takes on especially overt political tones in North Carolina this year, the most high-profile state to become embroiled in controversy over bathroom use and the transgender community. The state is facing boycotts from musicians as diverse as Bruce Springsteen and Itzhak Perlman, as well as gay and lesbian travelers, over a new state law that limits transgender bathroom access and pre-empts local governments from passing their own anti-discrimination ordinances. The law will be on the minds of audiences at the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (Aug. 12-20), which takes place at the Carolina Theater of Durham. Joe Student, the theater’s director of live events, said that he anticipated an outpouring of support from filmmakers and the gay community in Durham, a liberal town where Mr. Student said the legislation has little support. “It’s a nonstarter here,” Mr. Student said in an interview. “It’s strange to see it creating an issue in other places.” Highlights include the lesbian romance “AWOL” and “Kiss Me, Kill Me,” a contemporary gay noir.


Staceyann Chin in her one-woman show, “MotherStruck!”

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

It’s been a big year for gays and Cons. In January there was the debut of BroadwayCon, a theater-related event that returns to New York next year for Round 2. In May there was RuPaul’s DragCon, an all-things-drag convention that will be back in Los Angeles in April. This summer, New York will experience superhero fandom from a gay perspective at the second annual FlameCon (Aug. 20-21), described by organizers as a celebration of “the diversity and creativity of queer geekdom and LGBTQ contributions to pop culture.” Set to be held at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott, the event will feature panels, exhibitions and interviews with comic-book writers and artists, including Phil Jimenez (“Super Woman”), Steve Orlando (“Midnighter”) and Sophie Campbell (“Jem and the Holograms”), who recently came out as transgender.

Several kink and leather events happening this summer are reminders that the more sexually libertine corners of the gay world remain vital, even as same-sex marriage suggests that the gay community’s main flavor is vanilla. The biggest of these is Southern Decadence (Aug. 31-Sept. 5), a debaucherous round-the-clock party that mostly takes place in the gay section of the French Quarter of New Orleans. Now in its 45th year, the festival, much of which is free during the day, features dance parties, parades, concerts, drag queen performances and contests (with guidelines unfit for a family newspaper).

August Pride events around the world: Amsterdam’s Canal Parade for Europride (Aug. 6); Montreal (8-14); Prague (8-14); Antwerp, Belgium (10-15); Copenhagen (16-21); Glasgow (20-21); and Austin, Tex. (27).


Thanks to Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox, the lives of transgender women are in the national conversation more than ever before. But transgender men remain much more under the radar. Hoping to bring visibility to the community in a small way is Transmission (Sept. 8-11), an annual gathering of trans guys at a private retreat in the woods of Upper Lake, Calif., about two hours north of San Francisco. Activities include meditation, swimming and lots of discussions about life as as transgender men.

Credit big-spectacle shows by singers like Britney Spears, Céline Dion and Mariah Carey, but in recent years Las Vegas has increasingly become a vacation destination for the gay community. Case in point is Gay Days Las Vegas (Sept. 6-12), a weeklong festival, now in its fifth year, that includes pool parties, shows and a travel-and-retail expo. Past events have included a Most Kissable Guy contest and twerking competitions, so consider yourself warned.

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