Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has earned his state a rare reprimand from the leading civil rights organization, NAACP. It took the unusual step of issuing a warning to Black people thinking of visiting the sunshine state.
The move comes after DeSantis signed a law last week that prohibits colleges from using public funding for anything relating to diversity, equity and inclusion. This follows the Florida Department of Education earlier this year rejecting an Advanced Placement (AP) African-American studies course. It’s understood the board objected to a ‘queer studies’ component to the course.
DeSantis also signed off the Stop WOKE Act. It limits how race can be discussed in workplaces and schools during required training or instruction.
Of course, this follows DeSantis promoting and signing off the notorious ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation for schools last year.
The NAACP advisory is a “direct response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools.”
“Under the leadership of Governor Desantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon,” NAACP states.
It continues, “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”
The Florida chapter of the NAACP had previously issued its own advisory and requested the national group to do the same.
Equality Florida also issues warning to travelers to Florida
The NAACP’s travel warning follows a similar one issued last month by Equality Florida.
“As an organization that has spent decades working to improve Florida’s reputation as a welcoming and inclusive place to live work and visit, it is with great sadness that we must respond to those asking if it is safe to travel to Florida or remain in the state as the laws strip away basic rights and freedoms,” said Nadine Smith, Equality Florida Executive Director.
Last week, Disney pulled a rumored $1billion investment from Florida. It was set to build a new office complex in Orlando that would have brought 2,000 jobs to the district. In an email to employees, Josh D’Amaro, Disney’s theme park and consumer products chairman, blamed, “changing business conditions”.
Many interpreted this as a reference to Disney’s ongoing feud with DeSantis. He has criticized the organization for coming out against his ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law.
Pundits say DeSantis will announce his long-expected bid to become the GOP Presidential nominee this week.
It looked at data on over 10,000 preteens culled between 2018-2020. All the youngsters signed up to take part in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study. It’s largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States.
The study’s lead author is Jason Nagata, MD, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco.
“Lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents are more likely to experience school-based bullying and exclusion from peer groups due to their sexual orientation, leading them to spend less time in traditional school activities and more time on screens,” says Nagata in a press statement.
“Texting, and using social media and the internet for virtual communication could be helpful for LGB preteens to find and receive support from other LGB people who may not be available in their local communities.”
On the downside, the kids were also asked if they thought their screen time was problematic. They were asked if they agreed with statements such as, “I play video games so much that it has a bad effect on my schoolwork,” and “I’ve tried to use my social media apps less but I can’t.”
The study concluded that LGB adolescents experienced higher problematic mobile phone and social media use than their straight peers.
Escaping into an online world of gaming and YouTube videos
Nagata told Queerty that turning to the digital world and the internet had benefits but also downsides for gay youngsters.
“Queer youth who don’t have support in their local communities may turn to the internet to find and receive the help they need. Screens can also be helpful to stay in touch with friends and family who live far away.
“Risks of screen use include poorer sleep, less physical activity, and mental health consequences associated with overuse. In another recent study, we found a higher risk of sleep problems among gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth compared to straight youth.”
According to its authors, one of the study’s limitations is that most people don’t identify their sexual orientation until they’re about 17 or 18. Therefore, some of the young participants who said they were straight may turn out to identify as gay when older.
“Some of the adolescents in our study might not have come out yet or fully understand their sexuality. When children in this study were 9-10 years old, 1.5% identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. By age 11-12, 4.4% identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual and 3.8% were questioning. The percentage of study participants who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual will likely increase through their teenage years.”
The study did not seek to ask kids exactly what they were watching online. However, it noted many said they watch a lot of YouTube videos.
Do parents know how much time their kids spend online?
The researchers recommend parents are aware of how much time their children spend online. It suggests they are active in discussing these issues with their offspring.
“Parents should regularly talk to their teens about screen usage and develop a family media use plan. Parents can develop a family media use plan which could include setting limits and encouraging screen-free time, such as before bedtime or during family meals,” he told Queerty.
“We know screen use interferes with sleep, and good sleep is important for mental health.”
He also recommends parents keep an eye on their kids’ eating habits. This is because “Social media use is linked to body image dissatisfaction in LGB youth.”
Is there a set number of hours that kids should spend looking at their screens?
“The American Academy of Pediatrics used to recommend less than two hours of daily screen time for children and adolescents ages 5 to 18,” he replies. “Now they are moving away from giving specific hours because the reality is that most kids spend far more than two hours a day on screens, and not all screen time is equal. Now they recommend creating a plan based on what makes sense for your family given your kids’ screen habits and your family’s situation.”
The UK’s respected Office for National Statistics says that the number of young people (aged 16-24) who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual has almost doubled in just four years. It’s risen from 4.1% in 2016 to 8% in 2020.
The figures come from an analysis of the country’s large-scale Annual Population Survey, which surveys around 320,000 households annually.
Breaking down that 8% figure, 2.7% of 16-24 year-olds identified as gay or lesbian, and 5.3% as bisexual.
Looking more broadly at all age groups, the proportion of all adults identifying as LGB stood at 3.1% in 2020. This is an increase from 2.7% in 2019 and nearly double the 1.6% in 2014 when the UK’s official estimates began.
Clearly, more and more people feel able to be their true selves – especially younger generations.
The number of adults identifying as heterosexual was 93.7% (a fall from 95.3% in 2014).
As a region, London had a higher number of people identifying as LGB than anywhere else in the country.
The survey did not ask about trans and non-binary identities.
The figures echo a trend seen elsewhere. An IPSOS survey of 27 countries released for Pride last summer, polled 19,000 people online. It found that 18% of Generation Z (born after 1997), identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual or asexual (compared to 9% overall).
Four percent of Generation Z in that survey also identified as trans, non-binary or genderfluid, compared to just 1% of those over 40.
In the US, in a Gallup poll conducted in 2020, the proportion of LGBT people in the US was estimated at 5.6%, an increase from 3.5% in 2012. The data drew from 15,000 interviews with Americans aged 18 and older.
The UK figures, produced by a government agency, are significant because they draw from such a large sample size.
Robbie de Santos, Director of Communications and External Affairs at British LGBTQ advocacy charity Stonewall, told Queerty: “It’s wonderful to see that an increasing number of LGBTQ+ people can be their authentic selves. It’s important to remember that the number of LGBTQ+ people has not risen but these statics are a heartening sign that people are freer to be their true selves.
“Over the past decade, we’ve also seen an incredible increase in LGBTQ+ representation on our screens and in our culture – from Drag Race to It’s a Sin. Representation that normalizes being LGBTQ+ matters, and often helps people better understand who they are.”
The removal of the app comes as China cracks down on online activity. In recent months it has acted to remove access to pornography and instructed big tech to do more to create a “clean and healthy” cyberspace.
Tech entrepreneur Joel Simkhai launched Grindr in 2009. In 2016, China-based gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech bought a 61.5% stake in the app for $93million. In 2017, it bought the remaining 38.5% for $152million.
However, the sale did not go down well with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which moved to block the deal. It had concerns around China potentially having access to the personal data of so many US citizens.
Beijing Kunlun Tech was told it had to sell Grindr back to US-based owners, which it did in 2020 for $600 million to a group of unnamed investors.
Although Grindr appears to have now been removed from China’s app stores, Blued, the country’s biggest dating app for gay men, is still available. Blued was set up in 2012 by Beijing-based gay entrepreneur and former policeman, Geng Le.
Apple, headed by gay CEO Tim Cook, did not respond to AFP about its story. Queerty has contacted both Apple and Grindr for comment.
The French fashion designer Manfred Thierry Mugler has died at the age of 73. His death was due to “natural causes” according to his agent.
On his official Mugler Instagram page, a statement said, “We are devastated to announce the passing of Mr Manfred Thierry Mugler on Sunday January 23rd 2022. May his soul Rest In Peace.”
Mugler was born and raised in Strasbourg, where he trained in his teens as a ballet dancer for six years. He relocated to Paris at the age of 24 and launched his eponymous fashion line in 1973. He opened his first boutique in 1978 and his fame skyrocketed in the 80s, with his broad-shouldered, theatrical designs perfectly chiming with the power-dressing ethos of the times.
Diana Ross, David Bowie and Grace Jones were among those he dressed, and celebrities flocked to his spectacular runway shows.
In later years, besides his clothing, he became just as known for his perfumes, including Angel and Alien.
Mugler sold the rights to his name to Clarins in 1997. He retired from his label in 2002 but continued to design occasional outfits for big-name clients. This included Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian’s Met Ball outfit in 2019. He was creative director for Beyoncé’s I AM world tour in 2010.
Mugler was an out, gay man. After retiring from his label, stepped away from the limelight and went by his real first name, Manfred. A longtime fan of bodybuilding, he transformed his body with the help of a trainer and bulked up, becoming quite unrecognizable from his former self (although this was partly due to reconstructive facial surgery he also underwent after a bad motorbike accident).
In a 2019 interview with Fashion, Mugler said he’d never had a problem with being gay, only with the reaction of others to it.
“I didn’t have a problem with my sexuality or identity. I had a problem with my family, and I had a problem with the world. I was feeling out of place, and I was feeling very miserable. I was in the ballet for six years, and no one in my family came to see me onstage; I was the ugly duckling who left the theatre alone. I guess I was too bizarre. I would watch the skies at night and look for the blue star and know that I had to hold on.”
“He was timeless and ahead of his time,” supermodel Jerry Hall told the New York Times in 2019. “He knew all about gender fluidity and his clothes reflected the heat and sexuality of the late 70s and early 80s.”
Among those to pay tribute to the designer was Diana Ross.
Casey Cadwallader, the current creative director at the house of Mugler, wrote on Instagram, “Manfred, I am so honored to have known you and to work within your beautiful world. You changed our perception of beauty, of confidence, of representation and self empowerment. Your legacy is something I carry with me in everything I do.”
A judge in Texas who refused to marry same-sex couples has had her lawsuit against the state agency that oversees judicial misconduct thrown out of court. She filed the lawsuit in late 2019 after the agency warned her she needed to change her ways or stop officiating weddings.
Justice of the Peace Dianne Hensley works in Waco, McLellan County. A devout Christian, she filed a class-action lawsuit to enable her, and other justices of the peace in the state, to decline to marry same-sex couples.
She was backed by the First Liberty Institute, an organization that has helped others to fight to express their religious beliefs. The lawsuit, against the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, was moved to Travis County last year.
Soifer ruled the State Commission on Judicial Conduct had sovereign and statutory immunity from the claims. She also said Hensley had failed to exhaust other legal avenues before filing her action.
SCOTUS ruled in 2015 that same-sex couples could marry across the US. Some officiants and judges have stepped down from performing marriage ceremonies because they believe having to wed gay couples goes against their religious beliefs.
In fact, it was reported last summer that all but one of the other five McLennan County justices of the peace have stopped doing weddings since the Supreme Court decision.
In Texas, officiating weddings is an optional duty for justices of the peace. Performing them can help those officiating to earn thousands of dollars in extra income.
Between August 2016 and late 2019, Hensley conducted over 300 wedding ceremonies, all for opposite-sex couples. Hensley earned around $25,000 for these duties, according to the Houston Chronicle.
If her office was approached by any same-sex couples, they were given a document explaining her reasoning for declining and providing a list of others who could perform the ceremony.
Hensley made her opposition to marrying gay couples public knowledge. In 2017, she told local news station 25 News KXXV, “I have no desire to offend anybody, but the last person I want to offend is God.”
Hensley’s suit was seeking $10,000 in damages for the money she claims she lost while the commission investigated her. She also wanted a ruling allowing her to continue to refuse to marry same-sex couples. In throwing out the case, Judge Soifer also ordered Hensley to pay court costs associated with her lawsuit.
How is the US doing in its battle to end the HIV epidemic? It’s heading in the right direction but at a slower-than-desired pace, according to a major report issued by the CDC at the end of May. Its conclusion could be summed up in one line: “Hopeful signs of progress in HIV prevention, but gains remain uneven.”
The encouraging news is that HIV infections fell 8% from 2015 to 2019. This is partly due to a big increase in the number of gay men taking PrEP and more HIV-positive people being diagnosed and put on to treatment.
However, to put that in perspective, in the United Kingdom, HIV infections fell by 29% between 2014 and 2018 – and that was before PrEP being made available on its national health service.
In other areas, progress in the U.S. remains slow. Black Americans and Hispanic/Latino Americans remain eight times and four times as likely to be HIV positive than white Americans.
The incidence of HIV dropped for those under 24 and over 45 but remained stable for those between those ages. Clearly, much work remains to be done.
On the campaign trail in 2020, Joe Biden vowed to better President Trump’s aim of ending the HIV epidemic by 2030, saying he wanted to bring it to an end by 2025. In March, Queerty asked several HIV experts whether they thought that was realistic.
Most said it was possible but would take a Herculean amount of effort. Carl Schmid, Executive Director of the HIV + Hepatitis Policy Institute in Washington DC, is less hesitant about dismissing such campaign talk.
“ was unrealistic then and it’s unrealistic now,” he states bluntly during a Zoom call. “Sticking to the original 2030 plan is still … that would be a major achievement and it’s going to be very difficult.
“We’ve had Covid, too, since then. But that’s not the only factor. It’s just going to take a long time to find the people, get them into care, keep them on care and treatment and also to ramp up PrEP, but I have to say, we’re on the right path.”
Schmid is gay. He lives in Washington DC with his husband, Alejandro Barrera. He’s been working in the field of HIV for the past 20 years. This includes as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS from 2007-09 and chairing its Domestic Subcommittee. He spent 16 years as a senior figure within the AIDS Institute and was co-chair of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS under President Trump.
Schmid highlights promising signs among the latest CDC report, including an increase in the number of HIV-positive people in the US who are now undetectable (up from 60% to 66%). This means they cannot pass the virus on to others. He also says the falling number of young people acquiring HIV is a significant step in the right direction.
“I do think the younger generation knows more [and] hears more about HIV, and particularly PrEP. I think a couple of years ago, fewer younger people were aware of PrEP, and now more and more are.”
What’s without a doubt is that more money is needed to help continue the battle: particularly when it comes to tackling health inequalities.
Schmid points out that President Trump wanted Congress to approve a budget last year of $761million to help bring HIV in the US to an end. Congress rejected it.
“Biden’s numbers for this year don’t even meet what Trump proposed last year. We need the continued funding to make sure we reach those goals. So … we’ll see.”
Although Trump wanted to spend more money, many would argue as to whether that equates with him doing more to end HIV. Advocates in the field – including Democrat lawmakers – were highly critical of Trump’s budget plans to cut billions of dollars from programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, and Medicare.
Biden’s plan, on the other hand, includes a $46 million increase for the Ryan White CARE Act, which helps low-income and uninsured people access HIV medications, and a $20 million boost for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with HIV/AIDS (HOPWA).
Schmid knows that tackling inequality will be a major hurdle in bringing HIV under control.
“We need to make sure that more of the funding is targeted at these communities who are impacted,” he says. “It is not just an HIV problem. It is a race and equity problem, and I have to say, that issomething that’s a priority for President Biden and his administration. In fact, one of his first executive orders was to direct government agencies to look at those issues and how they can be improved.”
Schmid says the reasons for those inequalities are multifold and cover everything from sex education to health providers.
“Why is PrEP lower in certain communities?’ Schmid asks aloud. “Well, maybe those doctors, who may be Black and Latino, are not offering PrEP. They don’t discuss PrEP.”
Schmid says that when providers discuss HIV testing and PrEP, they should be treating everyone the same.
“Here in the United States, we have routine HIV testing. It should be color blind. It should be everythingblind. Everyone should be offered it and we’re missing a lot of cases because doctors are not offering it. So it’s a workforce issue as well.”
If there’s one silver lining to the Covid pandemic, it’s helped health providers explore new ways of delivering healthcare. Some of these may help when it comes to HIV. There’s already been talk of the Moderna coronavirus jab being used to help develop a vaccine for HIV.
Schmid also points to the way members of the public have been prompted into self-testing. Because of this, they may be more willing to order mailing HIV kits or make use of tele-PrEP services.
“Certain states, you can get PrEP without a doctor’s prescription for the first 30-60 days. Three states have already passed that,” says Schmid, highlighting another innovation that might help if rolled out nationally. He also thinks the introduction of long-acting treatments – HIV medications and PrEP (both of which are undergoing trials or pending FDA approval) – will also help.
“Persistence adherence are problems both with treatment and PrEP. Particularly for PrEP.
“When you have HIV, you’re living with an infectious disease and so you’re conscious about it and conscious of how it impacts other people and your own health, and so there’s a stronger desire, perhaps, [to take the medication]. But for PrEP, you’re taking a drug to prevent a potential infectious disease, and if you have to take it every single day … we’re seeing a lack of persistence.”
He believes a long-acting form of PrEP, such as an injection once every two months, would be a “game-changer”.
June marks the 40th anniversary of the first cases of AIDS being reported by the CDC. Schmid, who was born in 1960, says he started to hear about HIV in his 20s, and “lost a lot of friends, lovers and over that time.”
He says it is amazing how things have changed for the better, and how it is now possible to live a normal lifespan with HIV. However, he acknowledges that “people still die”, and one thing that remains is the stigma.
Schmid praises Billy Porter who recently revealed he was living with HIV: Information he’d kept secret for 14 years. “He is a well-known celebrity. He exudes confidence, but inside, couldn’t share this very important [information] … It just shows there’s still so much stigma and shame.”
“Lots of friends of mine didn’t tell their family members,” he remembers. “They were ashamed. They didn’t tell their friends that they were living with HIV. There was so much stigma and shame back then, but there’s still so much stigma and shame. I think it’s less, with people talking about PrEP these days, but a lot of people I know are still not talking about their HIV status.”
Another day and another Pride Month attack from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).
When she’s not bashing Dr. Anthony Fauci and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or engaging in a double-act with fellow Rep. Matt Gaetz at pro-Trump rallies, Greene has had plenty to say about LGBTQ people.
Following earlier attacks on embassies flying Pride flags, she yesterday took to Twitter to lambast what may or may not be on the school curriculum.
Greene shared a video of a 14-year-old girl recently testifying before a school board meeting in a suburb of Indianapolis. The girl has not been named.
In the clip, the youngster, who has certainly had a difficult upbringing in her formative years, talks of being a “trauma child” and of being adopted from a foster home when she was four.
She complains about being taught about sexuality at school, which she believes should be a private matter. She also says she cannot see how she has white privilege, given her own background.
The clip was first shared on Twitter last week and went viral. Greene re-shared it yesterday and used it to attack schools talking about Critical Race Theory, gender identity of sexuality.
Critical race theory (CRT) has been talked about for the last 40 years in academic circles but has only more recently entered mainstream debate. It explores the idea that racism and patterns of discrimination in the US have shaped its society, legal systems and institutions.
In recent months, CRT has become an increasing lightning rod for some on the right of the GOP to attack anti-racism campaigners or those on the left.
Many educators and advocates believe talking about sexuality in school, and teaching kids that it’s OK to be gay, will reduce anti-LGBTQ bullying and would support many LGBTQ youngsters struggling with mental health issues. LGBTQ youth are at a far greater risk of attempting suicide than their straight peers. They contemplate suicide roughly three times as often as straight youth.
As explained by The Trevor Project, “All young people deserve access to safe and supportive public education, free from harassment and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“However, policies known as ‘No Promo Homo’ and ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws ban educators from talking about LGBTQ people, issues and history entirely, or they only allow negative discussion. These laws keep supportive teachers from speaking out in the classroom, eliminating vital safe spaces for LGBTQ students.”
GayCities encourages you to stay safe during the Covid 19 pandemic. If you choose to travel, we recommend that you follow all CDC Travel Guidelines and adhere closely to all local regulations regarding face coverings, social distancing and other safety measures.
The risk of transmitting Covid is known to decrease outdoors. Therefore, planning a trip to a gay campsite is not only one way to get a little closer to nature, but also the possibility of socializing with others a little more safely.
Don’t know where to start? There are dozens of gay campgrounds across North America. Here are just a few recommended ones.
Roseland Resort in West Virginia
Roseland is one of the best-known gay-owned and operated campgrounds in the US. It’s set amongst 222 acres of West Virginia countryside. Besides stunning views, it offers bed and breakfast style cabins and tent sites. There’s also a pool, bar area and the Walnut Tree restaurant. It’s aimed at gay men over the age of 21. It scores highly on Trip Advisor for its clean facilities and friendly staff.
“This place is amazing. Beautiful scenery, great facilities, but most importantly very, very nice people. I can’t stress that enough. Just a lot of fun, easy going energy,” says one reviewer.
One recent visitor praised the local landscape: “One of the most under appreciated aspects of Roseland is how much amazing hiking there is,” said Mike (@thedreamofthenineties)
You’ll find it at 925 Nolte Lane, Proctor WV 26055. It’s quite a drive into West Virginia and the owner do recommend you check the route on Google Maps as some GPS systems don’t track all the small local roads.https://www.instagram.com/p/CCT830NjKdo/embed/?cr=1&v=13&wp=1080&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.gaycities.com&rp=%2Foutthere%2F53815%2F10-best-gay-campsites-us%2F%3Futm_source%3Dqueerty%26utm_medium%3Ddirectlink%26utm_campaign%3Ddirectlink%26utm_content%3D10%2Bof%2Bthe%2Bbest%2Bgay%2Bcampsites%2Bin%2Bthe%2BUS%2Bfor%2Bsummertime%2Bfun#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A1501%2C%22ls%22%3A1016%2C%22le%22%3A1033%7D
Sawmill Camping Resort, Florida
One of the most highly-rated gay and lesbian camping grounds in the south-east, “where camping meets nightlife.” Sawmill offers it all: Four bars, Woody’s Nightclub, a clothing-optional pool, plus nature trail, lakeside walks (around Ricki Lake!), and local Zip Lines and antique shopping. There’s also a nightly campfire and regular entertainment on the courtyard stage.
“How wonderful is it to find a place where you can go and be you,” said one visitor on TripAdvisor. “Very welcoming and inviting. Along with all the amenities, one could want while camping … Sawmill Campground is truly the best”
You’ll find Sawmill Resort at 21710 US Highway 98, Dade City, FL 33523. You can rent a cabin, or space for your RV or tent. Membership is required, which costs $35 and lasts for 12 months.
Vitambi Springs in Florida
Near the tranquil Lake Vitambi, you’ll find Vitambi Springs at 28280 Etumakee Way, Clewiston, FL 33440. Once again, do check Google Map before setting off on your drive as it’s quite out there in the wilderness! It’s around 90 minutes to Miami, Naples or Fort Lauderdale.
Around two-thirds of this huge site are clothing optional. It offers a range of accommodation, including inn room, private cabins, military barracks, plus space for RVs and tents. There’s a pool, a lakeside dock with canoes, a bar, gym, café, ‘Big Oak Lodge’ and plenty of wild deer wandering around. There’s also a regular calendar of event, such as Bad Bear weekend.
Nestled in a hidden valley of the Superstition Mountains, it offers bed and breakfast accommodation along with camping facilities. Amenities include a hot tub and pool, BYOB Saloon, full food menu, karaoke, community fire pit and 40 acres of trails. It’s also clothing optional!
Local attractions include the Tonto National Forest, Hike Peralta Trails and the town of Superior.
There’s also an airport shuttle service if you’re flying not driving to the resort. It hosts regular events, such as its upcoming Wellness Weekend and Drum Circle on May 14, and ‘Cowboy Fling’ weekend.
“You get to meet new people and everyone is so nice and very welcoming!” one customer, Cesar Alonso Borey, told GayCities. “They don’t treat you like a stranger even if it’s your first time there. Uncle Bobby and Rich always do their best to make you feel very comfortable! You get to really talk to people like we used to! A totally wonderful, relaxing, fun experience!”
Copper Cactus Ranch Men’s Retreat, 4516 North Elephant Butte Road, Queen Valley,
Campit Resort in Michigan
Campit Resort bills itself as an “affordable getaway and vacation destination” for the LGBTQ community, their friend and allies. “We are all affirming, with a reputation as a very friendly, welcoming and safe place to relax and play.”
It offers 33 acres to explore and roam, ten minutes from the towns of Saugatuk and Douglas. The Lake Michigan beaches are also not far away.
Besides space for tent and RV’s, there are also 22 log cabin which can be rented, plus a five-bedroom bunkhouse. It also offer a clubhouse with regular entertainment, swimming pool and nature trails. Themed weekends are aimed at both gay men and lesbians.
Someone who’d visited several times told GayCities he liked it for its range of sleeping options, while nearby Saugautuk is also very gay-friendly and offers a number of cider mills, breweries and a winery to visit.
Campit Outdoor Resort is at 6635 118th Ave, Fennville, MI 49408.
The Woods Camping Resort in Pennsylvania
Nestled in the Pocono Mountains, and open since 2004, the Woods Camping Resort in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, is another of the country’s best LGBTQ camping grounds. It’s set amidst 161 private acres with its own streams and four-acre lake.
You’ll find it open between May and October, with a whole calendar of events to explore and activities such as yoga and volleyball. In addition to plenty of space to rent for tents and RVs, it offers 30 cabins and three resort homes.
Events include an annual bears gathering, leather/country weekend, and Christmas in July weekend, among many others. To make a reservation, you’ll need to take out a membership.
The resort’s ethos is simple: less digital interaction and more real-life interaction!
“In an era when old methods of meeting people have dwindled, The Woods has risen.
“At The Woods, you are among like-minded people in an inviting atmosphere which encourages face-to-face interaction. You can choose from a variety of activities and places where you’ll be among real live people! Talking, laughing, dancing and yes, cruising if you so choose.”
The inclusive resort welcomes everyone from the LGBTQ spectrum: “The only people not allowed at The Woods are bullies, racists, fighters, immature jerks and those who get overly intoxicated.”
The Woods Camping Resort, 3500 Forest Street, Lehighton, PA 18235.
Triangle Recreation Camp in Washington
Triangle Recreation Camp (47715 Mountain Loop Highway, Granite Falls, WA 98252) in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, 21 miles east of Granite Falls, has a history dating back to 1975.
Situated in a beautiful, extremely rural part of the country, this clothing-optional site tends to pull in visitors from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, as well a further afield.
It is regarded as the premier “recreational campground that is Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer owned and operated” in the northwest of the US. It’s open from mid-April to October, and offers 80 acres to set up your tent or RV.
There’s stunning scenery to enjoy, including a local waterfall, beach and forests dominated by huge, centuries-old trees.
Freedom Valley in Ohio
Freedom Valley is an acclaimed camping ground in Ohio, about 57 miles from both Akron and Cleveland.
It offers a large bunkhouse, a handful of cabins and trailers, plus plenty of space for tents amongst its flowery meadows. It is aimed at “all Men of all backgrounds, sizes, and ages (over 21).” It offers a pool, firepit, plus several themed weekends throughout its summer season.
In 2017, respondents to a survey in the South Florida Gay News voted Freedom Valley their second favorite campground in the US (behind Sawmill). It’s been praised for its appearance, accommodations and community atmosphere. You’ll find it at 1875 U.S. 250 South, New London, OH 44851.
Jones Pond in New York
Jones Pond in Angelica, NY, has a history as a gay camping ground going back to 1991. You can choose from a bunkhouse or cabin, while there’s an expansive area to rent space for a tent or RV (175 camping sites!).
An all-day cafe takes care of all your food needs, while there’s over 100 acres of rural, Western New York State to explore.
Aimed at men aged over 21, it’s clothing optional around the pool area. Like the other sites mentioned here, there are plenty of themed weekends throughout the summer, like an annual Pride weekend celebration and Cowboy Weekend.
Jones Pond camp site is at 9835 Old State Road, Angelica, NY 14709.
Camp Camp in Maine
Camp Camp is not a camping ground but a big, annual LGBTQ camping event that takes place every August in southwestern Maine (45 miles west of Portland, Maine).
It’s been running for over 25 years and routinely attracts around 200 attendees.
Activities include everything from hiking, zip-lining, rock wall climbing, and canoeing to pottery and stained glass workshops. You sleep in bunk beds in cabins named after LGBTQ icon like Ellen DeGeneres, Harvey Milk and Oscar Wilde.
The organizers say that around 75% of those who attend return for at least a second visit: a testimony to the unique and special atmosphere fostered by this inclusive event.
Other winners last night included Stephanie J. Block. She won the lead actress in a musical award for her role as Cher in The Cher Show.. In her acceptance speech, she thanked ‘the goddess Cher, and her legacy.’
The show also won best costume designer for legendary designer, Bob Mackie. Mackie is famed for creating many of Cher’s more flamboyant creations in the 1970s.
Both wins prompted jubilation from Cher herself. She tweeted: ‘I cannot stop jumping, crying,laughing,….I feel like I won an award!’ And, ‘I’m so crying … Bob Mackie deserves this award more than anyone will ever know.’
The biggest winner of the night was the musical Hadestown. The folk opera took home eight awards, including Best Musical and Best Director.
Collecting her award, director Rachel Chavkin noted she’s currently the only woman on Broadway directing a musical. She called on the theatreworld to do better: ‘It is a failure of imagination.’
The Ferryman by British playwright Jez Butterworth won the Tony for Best Play.
Bryan Cranston (of Breaking Bad fame), won his second Tony. This time it was for his performance in the revival of Network, about network news broadcasters.
He dedicated his award for best actor in a play to real-life journalists, saying the media, ‘is not the enemy of the people. Demagoguery is the enemy of the people.’ The remark was understood by the audience as a reference to President Donald Trump, who regularly blasts media coverage of his administration.
Elaine May won the award for best actress in a play for her role in The Waverly Gallery.
Best actor in a musical award went to Santino Fontana for his role in Tootsie – a stage version of the hit 1982 film in which a man pretends to be a women in order to land a role on a TV show. Tootsie also won Best Book.
Rainbow red carpet and Billy Porter
The 73rd Tony Awards, was hosted by James Corden. Before the show, celebrities walked a red carpet against a rainbow backdrop made up of thousands of roses. The rainbow was incorporated into the red carpet in honor of World Pride, which takes place in New York City this month.
‘Focusing the red carpet theme around World Pride marks a seminal moment for New York City, as it hosts both the Tonys and World Pride in the same month,’ event designer Raul Àvila told Vogue beforehand.
‘These two communities have been closely intertwined since the beginning of Pride.’
One of those to make the biggest impression was Pose star Billy Porter. The actor has become a fixture on red carpets with his eye-catching looks. This time he wore a costume by Celestino Couture, created from the velvet curtains from the show Kinky Boots, in which he starred.
Kinky Boots closed in 2018. The curtains were purchased by Scenery Bags, who create bags from retired show material. The brand asked Porter if he wanted to carry a bag made from the curtains, but instead, he worked with Scenery and Celestino to come up with a tuxedo top and tulle skirt combo!