by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
Seattle might be on the Northwest tip of the United States, but getting anywhere in the country is a cinch, thanks to an overwhelming amount of non-stop and direct flights out of SeaTac, not to mention train and bus service up and down the West Coast. If you're wondering what to do, or where to go, for your vacation this year, here are six LGBT events taking place domestically in the coming weeks and months for you to consider.
April 29-30, 2017
Los Angeles, California
Wanna meet all of your 'RuPaul's Drag Race' favorites under one roof? A who's who of Mama Ru's girls will be on hand for the second annual DragCon, after last year's inaugural event sold out. All the biggies - Katya, Alyssa Edwards, Bob the Drag Queen, Kim Chi, Violet Chachki and Manila Luzon, to name a few - and Seattle-based queens Jinkx Monsoon and Robbie Turner, plus around three dozen more of the show's stars will pop up at the gathering, which also includes appearances by actors Mark Indelicato (Ugly Betty), Sheryl Lee Ralph, Lori Petty and many more. Ticket info and complete lineup is available at rupaulsdragcon.com.
Getting to Los Angeles: LAX is your best bet for DragCon, since it's being held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. However, the Burbank (BUR) and Long Beach (LGB) airports would work, too.
QDoc: Queer Documentary Film Festival
May 18-21, 2017
Every major city now has an LGBT film festival, but Portland stands alone in hosting the nation's only cinematic festival dedicated to Gay-themed documentaries. Last year, the heavily acclaimed political doc The Freedom to Marry was shown during a special screening that doubled as a fundraiser for Basic Rights Oregon. Information for the 2017 event, including the official program and ticket purchases, will become available in the coming weeks at QDoc's website, queerdocfest.org. Tickets for youth, ages 23 and under, are free.
Getting to Portland: Unless you're accumulating or redeeming miles, there's no need to fly to PDX when you can get there more affordably by car, train (amtrak.com), or bus (boltbus.com).
World Out Games
May 26-June 4, 2017
Very similar to the Gay Games, amateur LGBT and LGBT-friendly athletes will gather under toasty SoFlo temperatures this spring to compete in a variety of sports and experience an impressive assortment of cultural presentations. Participants from nearly every continent are expected to attend the world-class event, being staged at multiple venues throughout Miami and Miami Beach. Registration is still open for anyone wanting to compete or participate in any of the 450 individual sporting and cultural events; go to outgames.org for details.
Getting to Miami: The simplest way to get there is flying non-stop on American Airlines (aa.com), which offers both early afternoon and red-eye flights to Miami International Airport (MIA). If you must travel on Alaska Airlines, then you can fly non-stop into Fort Lauderdale (FLL), a 30-minute drive to Miami.
Gay Wine Weekend
July 14-16, 2017
Sonoma Valley, California
Gay wine-o's unite! Out in the Vineyard invites everyone to three full summer days of LGBT events in Northern California's breathtaking Sonoma Valley. Wine tastings, music and dancing in a private estate vineyard, VIP receptions, champagne brunch, auction and pool party are just some of the activities that guests can enjoy during the event, which helps raise money for the Face to Face Sonoma County AIDS Network. Further details can be found at outinthevinyard.com, including a link to the host hotel, Sonoma Valley Inn.
Getting to Sonoma Valley: Alaska Airlines (alaskaair.com) is the official airline of Gay Wine Weekend and provides non-stop service from Sea-Tac (SEA) to Sonoma County Airport (STS), making it super convenient for Seattleites to get there and back. You can also fly into San Francisco (SFO) and make the 45-minute drive yourself, or book a shuttle to the area.
August 30-September 4, 2017
New Orleans, Louisiana
Aka 'Gay Mardi Gras,' this super festive and debaucherous event is for top level partiers because the party never ends, it rolls on for five continuous days and nights in the streets of the Big Easy. Float parade, walking parade, amateur strip show, T-dance and a Big Dick Contest are a few of the happenings staged during Southern Decadence, which, of course, also includes cramming into the city's fun and nostalgic Gay bars. For additional information, log onto southerndecadence.net.
Getting to New Orleans: Lucky for us, Alaska Airlines (alaskaair.com) now flies non-stop between Seattle and NOLA. Flight time is between 4 and 4.5 hours.
Gay Days Anaheim
October 6-8, 2017
Mickey and Minnie welcome you to their magical kingdom in October for three fun-filled days of entertainment at Disneyland. Guests are encouraged to wear red shirts to stand out from the thousands of other tourists converging upon the famous theme park. Discounted hotel rooms are available through the official website, gaydaysanaheim.com, and interested visitors are encouraged to send inquiries to an event assistant at firstname.lastname@example.org, who can handle all of your bookings for a minimal fee. There is a Mini Gay Days happening on March 18 and 19, but a much larger crowd is expected for the October festivities.
Getting to Anaheim: The closest airport to the Disneyland resort is John Wayne Orange County (SNA), although visitors often find better deals flying into Los Angeles (LAX). Take your pick. If traveling through LAX, you can board the Disneyland Resort Express at the airport for under $40 round trip.
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