Gay festivals are a wonderful way to celebrate different types of sexual orientations. Today almost all major US cities have gay and lesbian populations living with social and legal acceptance. however the pride events of a few cities have over the years become so popular that they draw crowds hundreds of revelers from across the nation and indeed the world.
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The New York Gay Festival is one of the earliest gay pride celebrations in the country. It has been going on since 1970 and today it runs through the entire fourth week of June with the five major events being The Rally, PRIDEfest, The March, the Dance on the Pier, and Rapture on the River. The events all take place in the West Village, very close to the city's other gay-popular neighborhoods like Chelsea and the East Village. Of these, the event perhaps with the greatest significance is the March which commemorates the Stonewall Riots which marked a turning point in the history of struggle for gay lesbian rights on the morning of June 28, 1969. The New York Gay Festival finally culminates with the Dance on the Pier on Sunday evening and the Festival is brought to a close amidst a massive shower of fireworks.
This city of the Golden Gate plays host to one of the most vibrant gay festivals in the whole world. Once again taking place in the last weekend of June, partly to honor the memory of the Stonewall Riots and party to take advantage of the wonderful weather, the San Francisco Gay Festival is a weekend full of cultural and musical extravaganza. Usually the festivals kicks off with the Dykes on Bikes pre-Pride Party following which there is a celebration at the Civic Center on Saturday from noon until 6 pm. The highlight of the festival is of course the Pride Parade on Market Street on Sunday from morning onwards and covers an entire day of fun, festivities, music, dancing and eats. The festival is brought to a close with another celebration at the Civic Center from noon until 7 pm that same day. However other than the official events, the famous gay bars and restaurants in San Francisco have their own parties and festivities through the Pride Week.
In January this year, The Advocate came up with a list of ‘The 15 Gayest Cities in America’ and topping the list was Minneapolis. The largest city in the state of Minnesota was ranked number one among the gay-friendly cities not only because of its sizable gay population which is the fourth-largest among all cities in America but also because of various gay-friendly policies and cultural events. Among the latter, the foremost is the Gay Pride Festival of The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul. Celebrated over the last weekend of June, the festival is hosted in the lovely environs of the Loring Park. Other than the colorful Ashley Rukes LGBT Pride Parade with which the festival culminates, some other events not to be missed over the preceding week are the Twin Cites Pride Art Show, the Pride Boat Cruise and the Pride Picnic at Como Park in St Paul.
The Windy City celebrates its LGBT culture over the entire month of June which is designated as the Gay Pride Month in rainbow community. The events of the Gay Pride Month cover a whole range of events like sports, food tastings, parades, plays, musical performances, parties, queer youth gatherings as well as ceremonies of all kinds. However the major events kick off over the last weekend of the month with the Chicago PrideFest Street Festival held on Friday evening and throughout Saturday and the Proud to Run marathon on Saturday morning. The festivities finally peak with the Annual Pride Parade, a wild and colorful procession that begins at noon on Sunday at the corner of Halsted Street and Belmont Avenue and comes to an end at the Lincoln Park.
This city in the balmy state of Florida hosts not one but two major gay festivals through the year. While June has Fort Lauderdale commemorating the Stonewall Riots with its own Fort Lauderdale Stonewall Festival, the South Florida PrideFest hosted by Fort Lauderdale in mid-March is billed as the ‘largest Pride Festival in Florida’. The event usually covers two full days of concerts, dancing - including a country-western dance tent - carnival rides, games, food, and all sorts of entertainment. Last year in fact the PrideFest kicked off with a thumping party at one of the hottest new gay nightclubs in the city The Manor in the heart of Wilton Manor and wrapped up with official Pride Finale party and T-Dance at the iconic Sea Monster Nightclub.
The popular image of Texas as a conservative city is well and truly put to test by the Gay Festival held at Houston which has one of the largest and most visible populations of gays and lesbians in the country. The Houston Pride Festival and Parade takes place in late June and this year the festival will mark its 33rd anniversary with an attendance expected to cross 150,000. While related festivities begin more than a week early, the main festival takes place on Saturday, from 1 pm until 8 pm in the city's main gay neighborhood Montrose. There's a main Pride Stage featuring performances by a range of prominent artists, both local and nationally famous. Apart from the usual pop and other music performances on other stages and a food court, the festivals also features a Community Zone of some 200 local retail vendors and GLBT organizations as well as a safe and secure Kids' Zone with fun activities. The unique thing about Houston Pride Festival is that the Parade takes place at night beginning at around eight in the evening and continuing till at least eleven at night.
Seattle is the largest and one of the oldest centers of gay activism in the Pacific Northwestern part of USA. During the days leading up to the big Pride weekend, the city hosts several festival-related events like the Run and Walk With Pride, the Wildrose Pride Block Party on Friday through Sunday and the Seattle Pride Feast on Thursday. The main events of the festival are marked by the Seattle Dyke March on Saturday evening followed by the Official Seattle Pride Parade the next day and finally culminating with the PrideFest at the Seattle Center which goes on till late Sunday evening. Apart from the main events of the Pride Festival, the gay bars and nightclubs of Seattle have their own rounds of partying and festivities which prolong and heighten the attractions of the Seattle gay festival.