Category Archives: Events

Don’t Pride And Drive

Amtrak in New York City. 
Share Fares for Pride
Photo courtesy of Amtrak

This summer, Amtrak is making it easy to leave the car at home and keep your Pride on the rails.

Just in time for World Pride in New York, Amtrak Share Fares invite you and your crew to ride and save together. The deal is valid for up to four passengers on most Northeast Regionals between Washington D.C. and Boston, and on long-distance trains as far away as Savannah, Charleston and Atlanta. Here’s how the pricing works: 

  • Passenger 1—full price
  • Passenger 2—15% off full price
  • Passenger 3—60% off full price
  • Passenger 4—70% off full price

All together you can save up to 35% on four tickets. So invite the throuple next door, pack some cocktails (or purchase them in the bar car) and start your kiki in the caboose. 

*For more information visit Amtrak.com 

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Hilton Hotels NYC Celebrate Pride

Gay Party at the Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar in NYC
Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar at the Conrad Downton Hotel

Hilton Hotels of New York City are keeping you tipsy and sparkly this Pride. 

To celebrate World Pride and the 50thanniversary of Stonewall, the crafty mixologists of Hilton have created Pride-inspired cocktails at nine NYC hotels. From sexy lounges to rooftop bars, follow their cocktail guide to sip, sample and saunter through NYC all month. I prefer my summer parties outdoors, so my favorites are the rooftops of The Bernic Hotel, DoubleTree Times Square, Conrad Downtown, Hilton Fashion District and the Embassy Suites in Midtown Manhattan. 

Hilton New York Hotels create Pride inspired cocktails for World Pride
Hilton World Pride CocktailsPhoto courtesy of Hilton

“No one needs glitter on Gay Pride” …said no one ever. To keep you glitzy, Hilton Hotels of NYC are creating complimentary Glitter Glamour Stations throughout the city on the Sunday of the Pride Parade (June 30). Makeup artists at select hotels will be transforming dazzle-deprived hotel guests and locals from 9am-12pm, with special glitter makeup and applique. For the added shimmer head to the Glitter Glamour Stations in the lobbies of the Hilton Garden Inn New York/Tribeca, Hilton New York Fashion District, Millennium Hilton New York Downtown and New York Hilton Midtown.

Make it a Pride to remember… and remember…and remember …as you discover glitter deep into August. 

Troy Petenbrink "thegaytraveler" at a Hilton Hotels Glitter Glamour Station on Gay Pride/ World Pride in NYC
Troy “@thegaytraveler” feeling sassyPhoto courtesy of Hilton

*Visit Hilton’s own World Pride Guide for more information.

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Sarasota is Coming OUT!

Man Swimmer on beach in Sarasota Florida
Photo courtesy of VisitSarasota.com

IQ’s Sarasota Gay Travel Guide

Sarasota County borders 40 miles of shoreline on the Gulf Coast of Southwest Florida and includes the City of Sarasota, several neighboring cities and a string of eight barrier islands. With a population of about 417,000 permanent residents and many more snow birds during winter months, it’s an area often associated with an older, affluent demographic.

But today’s Sarasota is expanding, evolving and enticing LGBTQ travelers of all ages to visit its powdery-sand beaches, world-class art institutions and growing gay (and gay-friendly) social scene.

Sarasota’s beaches are world-renowned. Perhaps the most famous, Siesta Key, has enjoyed multiple years on TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Award for the 25 Best Beaches in North America, including a coveted spot on the 2019 list. And it is welcoming to all.

The popular gay beach with the locals, however, is North Lido Beach. Walk about 10 minutes north of the main Lido Beach entrance, off St. Armands Circle, for a less-trafficked shore and dune-hidden trails that might embrace more private… conversations.

Hot guys playing on the beach
Photo by Pixabay courtesy of Pexels.com

Should you work up an appetite from all that spirited sea-splashing (…and conversation) make your way to the south end of Lido Beach, where the no-frills Lido Beach Restaurant serves delicious beachside food and drinks. Try the Lobster Roll and sip on a cocktail while you tan. It’s legal to drink alcohol on Sarasota beaches

Ca' d'Zan mansion. Photo courtesy of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Càd’ZanPhoto courtesy of The Ringling

Culture aficionados will love that Sarasota is home to nine performing art organizations less than a mile from Downtown Sarasota and a private art collection that rivals European capitals. First, head to the Ringling Estate. The Godfather of the American Circus (Ringling Bros. and later Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus) fell in love with Sarasota in the early 20th century and chose the city for the 66-acre estate that houses his winter home Càd’Zan, a waterfront mansion completed in 1926 and built to resemble a Venetian Gothic palace, and the expansive Ringling Museum of Art and Ringling Circus Museum. You truly can spend an entire day roaming around these gorgeous grounds.

The Courtyard at The John and Mable Ringling Art Museum at The Ringling in Sarasota
Photo courtesy of The Ringling

Don’t miss the Rubens Galleries and the Howard Bros. Circus Model, the largest circus model in the world, with 42,000 miniature pieces. On site is also the Asolo Theater, an 18thcentury playhouse dismantled from the Italian original and reassembled in Sarasota in the 1950’s.

Howard Bros. Circus Model in the Ringling Circus Museum, Sarasota
Howard Bros. Circus Model — Photo courtesy of The Ringling

Beyond The Ringling, Sarasota is home to the Florida Studio Theatre, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Sarasota Ballet (the only professional ballet company on Florida’s Gulf Coast), Sarasota Opera House and Sarasota Orchestra, to name a few of their cultural institutions. And there’s more on the way. This December, the Sarasota Museum of Art will open its new home at the historic Sarasota High School, with 15,000 square feet of gallery space showcasing rotating exhibits of contemporary art.

Got your culture? Good. Let’s dance.

Gay Bars in Sarasota
Photo by Mauricio Mascaro on Pexels.com

I always say I need my cities to have at least one gay bar. (Sarasota has two). It’s important for me to interact with my community and I usually learn much from half-drunken conversations with the locals. Lucky for us all Sarasota has Oasis. Oasis is owned by adult entertainer cutie Hunter Vance and features some very attractive go-go boys (and girls too!) on weekend nights. And what’s better than a really hot go-go boy? Well, a really friendly, hot go-go boy. And I’m happy to report the dancers of Oasis are lovely in every way. Catch a glimpse on my Instagram below (including a video peek when you click through).

TravelingIQ at Oasis gay bar in Sarasota with go-go boy

Beyond the performers, the crowd at Oasis was a true mixture of our LGBTQ community and allies, all coming together for a great time. And it was at Oasis that I met the “gay mayor” of Sarasota, Joshua Beadle. I would later learn the title is unofficial but well-deserved. In 2016, Joshua launched SarasotaOUT.com, to promote Sarasota as a welcoming LGBTQ destination for visitors, businesses and residents alike. He partners with community organizations, local non-profits and the tourism industry to host events throughout the year. According to Joshua: “Sarasota is coming out of the closet.”

Sarasota PridePhoto courtesy of SarasotaPride.org

SarasotaOUT.com’s Gay Group Happy Hour (G2H2) takes place the first Thursday of every month at a new LGBTQ-friendly location. G2H2 brings the community together to network and have a great time—all while raising money for local and national charities. On June 9, SarasotaOUT.com is taking the party to North Lido Beach for its annual Big Gay Beach Party, a day of fun-in-the-sun, with beach games, contests and, yes, even jello-shots!.

Sarasota Big Gay Beach Party from SarasotaOUT.com
Big Gay Beach Party — Photo courtesy of SarasotaOUT.com

Other LGBTQ events to consider when planning your Sarasota visit include the Harvey Milk Festival in May; the Fabulous Independent Film Festival in September; Tea Dance at (the fab!) The Sarasota Modern Hotel, held on the first Sunday of the month; and Sarasota Pride in October, which is adding a Sunset Pride Cruise to the events this year.

Sarasota, Florida, may not be the first place you think of when planning a gay vacation. But with gorgeous beaches, a thriving cultural scene, and a growing LGBTQ community focused on activism and a good time, Sarasota will make you rethink Florida’s Gulf Coast. 

*For more information head to VisitSarasota.org
*For all your LGBTQ event and social planning head to SarasotaOUT.com

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IGLTA Brings LGBTQ+ Travel to NYC

Lower ManhattanPhoto: Julienne Schaer/NYC & Company

Last month, travel professionals representing 49 countries converged in New York City for IGLTA’s Annual Convention, the premier educational and networking event for LGBTQ+ tourism. The convention was the largest in the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association’s 36-year history, with nearly 700 delegates. And though it was my first, it will most definitely not be my last.

Under the banner of “Unite: Travel-Learn-Connect” the convention was a packed few days of panel discussions, presentations, networking events and fantastic parties. Truly an opportunity to unite the LGBTQ+ travel community.

As the host city, New York made me proud! On the 50thanniversary of Stonewall and the year we welcome World Pride, the city where I’ve lived for twenty years showed the travel world why there’s no place like (my) home. Not only were the locations spectacular (the Pre-Conference reception was held at One World Observatory) but the programming reminded me that no other city can feature performers from the Broadway casts of Be More Chill, Mean Girls and Wicked at a rooftop party DJ’d by Lady Bunny…all like it’s no big deal. Literally every-thing about that previous sentence is a big deal. And IGLTA and NYC & Company brought it!

iglta

Two Boys One Table: @thegaytripper & @travelingiq at the IGLTA Media Networking Event

Photo: Rachel Covello/IGLTA

It was an opportunity to meet exciting new friends (did you know that the Lt. Governor of Guam, Joshua Tenorio, is the first openly gay Lt. Governor elected anywhere in the U.S. or its territories?) and connect with a new generation of travel media who I previously only knew by their Instagram handles.

But beyond the people and places, the convention was an opportunity to learn. I learned more about the experience of trans travelers and the importance of inclusive communication practices. I was inspired by the amazing work of Rainbow Railroad, the organization that helps persecuted members of our community escape violence and death in their home countries, where being LGBTQ+ is a criminal offence.

I emerged from the convention a little smarter, better connected and more energized to continue growing within the travel sphere. And with a rekindled love for my city, “Famous Original NYC!”

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A Tasting Tour of Astoria, Queens

AstoriaSubwayPhoto via flickr/Ed McGowan

New York is a city of immigrants, a place where diverse cultures co-exist, thrive, expand and blend. We are a mish-mash of transplants. And that mish-mash tastes real good.

Last month, I had the delicious joy of joining Cristina Lombardi, the insanely knowledgeable owner of Follow Me New York City Adventures on their “Taste of Queens Adventure.” This private, customizable walking tour focuses on the neighborhoods of Astoria or Flushing, depending on the interests of the guests. In fact, Follow Me NYC can customize pretty much any type of tour you’d like: from a tipsy tour through the city’s speakeasies to a sweet-tooth tasting of the city’s best candy and dessert spots. They also offer a la carte adventures exploring Times Square & Theater District, Wall Street & Financial District, Central Park and Greenwich Village.

On a sunny and blustery fall day, our small group set out to taste our way through Astoria, Queens. Queens is the most diverse borough of New York City and, depending on what survey you read, it is either in the top three or the most diverse county in the entire United States. According to the last U.S. census in 2010, 48.5% of the population of Queens is foreign-born.

We began our tour with a brief history lesson. We learned Astoria was named after the wealthiest man in America (at the time), John Jacob Astor, in the hopes he would invest in his namesake neighborhood. And though he could literally see it from his palatial home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, it is rumored Mr. Astor never actually set foot in Astoria, nor invested any substantial money. Regardless, the name stuck and, through the years, Astoria became home for every wave of immigrants that landed on our shores.

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Galaktoboureko

Throughout the early to mid 1900’s it was primarily Irish, Italian and Jewish. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that Greek immigrants began flocking to Astoria and creating one of the largest centers of Greek culture in the United States. So, it was fitting that our first stop was the family-owned Yaya’s Bakery for a taste of Galaktoboureko, a traditional Greek phyllo dough pastry filled with warm custard and drizzled with a light syrup made from honey and lemon juice. Not only was it delicious, but it was a dessert I would have never thought of ordering had it not been for our guide, Cristina, who chose this pastry specifically for that reason.

With warmer bellies, we headed to La Cabaña Grocery for Tacos al Pastor (a pork taco with fresh cilantro, pineapple, chopped onion and a squeeze of  lime). The bodega sells traditional spices, authentic ingredients and beloved Mexican treats in a no-frills but all-taste setting.

samosa

Samosa at Seva Indian Restaurant

From one characteristically spicy cuisine to another, we next savored a vegetable Samosa at Seva Indian Restaurant, which specializes in Northern Indian dishes. Don’t forget to dunk the potato, onion, pea and lentil-filled pastry in the mint chutney for the full flavor explosion.

Burek

Spinach Burke

Our walk continued to Djerdan for a Spinach Burek, a Balkan staple and probably my favorite of the day. The crispy phyllo-dough pastry is filled with cheese and freshly sautéed spinach and shaped like a (very tasty!) cigar. Insider tip: In between trips to Astoria, you can order from their online store.

At our next stop, Zenon Taverna, a member of the family that owns the restaurant greeted us with a crash course in Cypriot cuisine, explaining “we use a lot of mint and cumin… we use all the spices that Greeks won’t.” He continued describing the flavors as a blending of traditional Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern influences, before serving us Trahana Soup. The traditional Cypriot soup is made with bulgur wheat, thickened in chicken stock, Greek yogurt, halloumi (a type of goat cheese) and finished off with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

From the traditional to the trendy, our group headed to the very popular Queens Comfort, which had a line of folks waiting to enter. Inside, there was a DJ spinning for a brunch clientele that was equal parts multi-generational families and Millennial hipsters. Our takeaway was a taste of the Atomic Fire Balls–deep-fried, Siracha-infused mac ‘n cheese balls. If these spicy nuggets were indicative of the other menu options, I can easily understand the long line of eager diners.

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Atomic Fire Balls

Our final stop took us to Little Morocco for a taste of the Merguez sausage, a minced lamb sausage spiced with cumin, chili peppers, sumac and harissa. The area of Steinway Street, where the restaurant is located, is often called Little Egypt or Little Morocco, as Lebanese, Northern African and Middle Eastern immigrants have been steadily settling in the area since the 1980’s.

This tour through Astoria was a much-needed reminder that diversity makes New York City great—always! As a now seasoned New Yorker I too often stay within my own neighborhood out of habit and, well, laziness. But no one moves to New York to stay within his comfort level. Especially as politicians are using the topic of immigration to stoke unfounded fears, it’s important to remember that our diversity makes us stronger, makes us better, and makes our walks through Astoria all the more tasty.

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(The restaurants we visited on our tasting adventure; our fabulous guide, Cristina Lombardi, in center; Trahana Soup lower left.)

***To share in the experience, visit the “Astoria Tasting” highlighted story on the @travelingiq Instagram

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Wakanda on Tour

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Photo from Black Panther film (Source: Heroes & Sheroes) 

The badass looks of Black Panther are bringing a blast of Wakanda to Pittsburgh, before embarking on a world tour.

Currently on display at the Heinz History Center, “Heroes & Sheroes: The Art and Influence of Ruth E. Carter in Black Cinema” showcases the costumes, career and inspiration behind Academy Award and Emmy-nominated costume designer, Ruth E. Carter, the woman who helped create the cinematic worlds of Malcolm X, The Butler, Selma, Amistad and Black Panther, among others. “The exhibition is a celebration of film culture, Black culture, African culture, American culture,” said Carter.

The multi-media exhibit uses sketches, stills, behind-the-scenes media and (of course) costumes to celebrate a thirty-year career, while tackling the complicated ways in which underrepresented communities are displayed in film. “I will have to rethink ever dressing a young African-American man in a hoodie in a film ever again,” Carter said after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Heroes & Sheroes” will be on exhibit in Pittsburgh until December 2, before touring to Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Paris, with additional cities planned.

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Dominican Republic Celebrates Caribbean Pride

TravelingIQ-CariubbeanPrideJPG

Is the Dominican Republic ready for its gay close-up? It’s a slow zoom, increasingly coming into focus.

Last month, the CHIC Punta Cana, the all-inclusive resort (or “all-exclusive” as the brand boasts) hosted the second annual Caribbean Pride. For one week, the expansive resort turns into an adult playground packed with pool parties, drag shows, culinary workshops, and a slew of fitness activities—all geared toward the LGBTQ traveler…

Learn more about Caribbean Pride and how the Dominican Republic is emerging as a gay travel destination, by reading the rest of my article, published in EDGE Media Network.

EDGE-Dominican Republic

 

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IQ Heading to Caribbean Pride

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Want to hang on to summer just a little bit longer? Pride Season is not yet over!

This weekend IQ is heading to the powdery-soft beaches of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, for the second-annual (my first) Caribbean Pride. Held at the luxury, adults-only, all-inclusive CHIC Punta Cana over seven days packed with pool parties, beach parties, foam parties (yes, that’s still a thing apparently) and whatever kind of party you can imagine.

There will also be shows from beloved Toronto queen, Miss Conception, culinary classes, cocktail samplings and even a broad range of fitness activities for those who… do fitness activities while on an all-inclusive gay vacation.

Follow @travelingiq on Instagram to share in the festivities.

And visit CaribbeanPride.com for photos, event schedule and booking info.

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Cleveland: A Cultural Center in the American Heartland

1-Photo courtesy of Destination ClevelandThis summer, the cultured traveler is looking beyond the coasts and discovering a contemporary art center in America’s heartland. With the inaugural FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, the city of Cleveland has commissioned more than 100 local, national and international artists to join the city’s evolving transformation into a prominent cultural center. And everyone’s invited to the party. After all, in 2014 Cleveland hosted the Gay Games, an international sporting event for LGBTQ athletes and their allies, and in 2016 hosted the Republican National Convention that nominated Donald Trump. (For the record, Cleveland voted for Hillary Clinton by 66.1%). It is the rare city where everyone is welcome, and where the moxie of its people is on par with their midwestern charm…

Read the full article published in Travel Squire

ilthy, photo by Ivan Quintanilla

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