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3 Prides on the Rise: Richmond, St. Louis & Colorado Springs

by Jill Gleeson
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jun 19, 2018

Think you have to hit up the big boys on the coasts for prime Prides? Not with cities like Richmond, St. Louis and Colorado Springs going all out. With local LGBTQ leaders, advocates and allies, all three cities have come a long way in recent years to embrace and celebrate their diversity.

Richmond's "outed" itself as queer-friendly in a media campaign, St. Louis is making all the lists as a great place for LGBTQ people to live and visit, and Colorado Springs boasts a high school that elected a trans teen homecoming princess. Their Prides are off the hook, too. EDGE offers the inside track on what not to miss at these three emerging Prides on the rise.

Richmond: Virginia Really is for (LGBTQ) Lovers
Proof positive that great southeastern Prides don't begin and end in Atlanta, VA PrideFest benefits from its location in one of the country's most LGBTQ-embracing cities. In 2014, Richmond debuted OutRVA, a nifty initiative aimed at enticing queer travelers to the vibrant burg. Check out the website for help planning your trip around VA PrideFest, taking over Browns Island September 22. Some 30,000 people are expected to come out for a full day of family-friendly festivities, including live entertainment, plenty of vendors, a youth village and more.

While you're in town for PrideFest, lay your head at Quirk Hotel, a sleek downtown property that hosts a queer night every first and third Thursday during summer at its stunning rooftop bar. Foodies won't want to miss L'Opossum, where James Beard Award-nominated chef/owner David Shannon merges a funky interior with adventurous cuisine and cocktails to create a renowned restaurant. For a dose of Richmond culture visit The Valentine, a private museum known for LGBTQ-centric offerings, now running the feminist-friendly "Pretty Powerful: Fashion and Virginia Women."

Meet You in St. Louis
A huge celebration for a not-so-big place, St. Louis's PrideFest has gained momentum over the years, attracted a whopping 300,000 revelers in 2017, just a few thousand short of the city's population.

This year promises to be just as spectacular, with events June 23 and 24 at Soldiers Memorial Park in downtown St. Louis. A schedule has yet to be released, but the parade will march down Market Street, under the shadow of the just-renovated Gateway Arch, beginning at noon on Sunday.

Past PrideFest performers have included "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks, Erasure's Andy Bell and LeAnn Rimes.

After PrideFest shuts down for the evening, St. Louis queer nightlife is just getting going. A city of small, charming neighborhoods, it serves up killer clubs one right after the other along Manchester Avenue in The Grove, including Attitudes Nightclub, a lesbian joint with plenty of drag and dancing, and JJ's Clubhouse, a legendary bear-and-leather biker bar that will welcome PrideFest with specials all weekend long. You can get the lay of the land with the Queer St. Louis walking tour, which winds through downtown.

Rocky Mountain High: Colorado Springs
The second-largest city in the Centennial State, Colorado Springs is politically conservative, yet residents have thrown their arms around the local LGBTQ community, supporting queer-owned businesses and a PrideFest that has grown over the past few years to an expected attendance of 50,000 in 2018.

Taking place July 14 and 15 in America the Beautiful Park, the event will offer live entertainment ("RuPaul's Drag Race" runner-up Peppermint and "American Idol" contestant David Hernandez have performed at previous PrideFests) and a parade downtown beginning at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Look for Club Q, Colorado Springs' most popular LGBTQ watering hole, to offer up special programming during PrideFest, including a kickoff bash Friday and a free family barbeque Sunday. The Mining Exchange, a gorgeous boutique property with a restored historic edifice, is an LGBTQ-friendly option for lodging, while gay-owned Cerebus Brewing Company, close to America the Beautiful Park, is one of the city's best brewpubs.

Jill Gleeson is a travel and adventure journalist based in the Appalachians of Central Pennsylvania. Find her on Facebook and Twitter at @gopinkboots.


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