Latest On Outvoices
Trending around OUTvoices
Chicago is my kind of town…it really is. I’ve been to Chicago more times than I can count over the years, however I have never written a Pride Journeys article about the city. Well, it’s about time I did!
I planned my visit to the Windy City to coincide with Market Days, one of the city’s premier LGTBQ festivals. Since relocating to Nashville and then Indy, I had heard dozens of stories about this event from friends from around the country who would travel to Chicago specifically to attend. This year’s festival was going to be iconic since last year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Trixie Mattel, Todrick Hall and Greyson Chance were among the headliners performing this year, however I was most excited about seeing Lisa Lisa, Jody Watley and Ty Herndon.
Tyler and I arrived on the first day of the festival and it appeared to be similar to a pride event. Vendors lined the street selling everything from artwork to sunglasses as well as some other more risqué items. It didn’t take long for us to run into a few friends, some of which I hadn’t seen in many years. Market Days is what you make it. You can spend the afternoon strolling Halsted Street or you can skip the street fair and head straight to the bars, clubs, and circuit events in the evening.
Take some time the next morning to check out the hotel’s 2-story art gallery space or maybe find time for a quick workout in their fitness center before heading to Hutch American Bistro for brunch.
Hutch is located off the same red line stop as Boystown so it’s quite convenient. I ordered the smoked salmon avocado toast which came with fruit salad. It was light yet filling and the perfect way to begin the day. We went back to Hutch for happy hour of a different day and sampled a few additional items including the guacamole and queso and Chicago meatballs. The restaurant offers a daily happy hour menu consisting of half-off select appetizers as well as $3 champagne. Yes, please!
When in Chicago, you would be remiss if you didn’t visit one of the city’s numerous cultural institutions. Since the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium are in the same complex, we decided to visit both in the same morning.
Tyler and I are both huge animal lovers, so we headed straight to the beluga whale and penguin habitats. Beluga whales are one of my favorite mammals, so it was wonderful to see them up close.
The Field Museum is home to one of the largest (and best in my opinion) dinosaur exhibitions in the country. The chronological display brings guests through history and mass extinctions leading up to the birth of dinosaurs. The Field Museum is also home to Sue, the largest and most complete T-Rex skeleton ever discovered. This is a must-see for any dinosaur lover.
After a fun filled day of partying, head back to the 21c Museum Hotel located in the River North neighborhood, about a 25-minute red-line commute from Boystown. The boutique property is one of the newer hotels in the 21c family. I’ve stayed at their properties in Oklahoma City, Nashville and Kansas City and they never disappoint. The 21c Chicago was kind enough to provide me with a wonderful corner suite as well as their Love is Love package, which included a pride tank top, perfect to wear during the festivities.
We decided to walk back to our hotel after visiting the museum as the weather was perfect for a leisurely stroll along the lake – until it started raining. With nowhere to take cover, we just admired the beauty of Chicago’s architectural wonders as well as the sculptures in Millennium Park including the world-famous Bean.
Speaking of walking, the city offers free walking tours through Chicago Greeter. Local guides volunteer their time to take guests on customized walking tours of the city. We decided to focus our tour on architecture and landmarks. Our knowledgeable guide took us to some places we would have never known about if we had set out on our own. While we took a journey through the North Loop, the Greeter Tour service can take visitors through many of the 77 neighborhoods in the Chicago area.
Before heading back to Boystown, grab a quick bite at Tied House. I was thoroughly impressed by both the food and service of this establishment. Tyler and I shared a few items including the Black Bean Hummus prepared with salsa roja and lime crema as well as the Watermelon & Bigeye Tuna which came with pickled ginger and a koji vinaigrette. The Short Rib Risotto was served with roasted sweet corn Risotto, cherry tomato, summer squash. While the short rib portion was a bit fatty for my liking, I found the risotto part to be incredibly flavorful and cooked to perfection. I would order the risotto by itself next time…it was so good!
Boystown of course is the heart of Chicago’s LGBTQ community. There are dozens of shops, restaurants, businesses, and nightlife venues catering to every gay under the sun. Some of my favorites include Sidetrack, Hydrate Nightclub, Splash and Progress Bar.
What many tourists don’t know is that Chicago has a gay beach. While it may not have the waves of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood Beach attracts some of the most beautiful people in the Midwest and is only about a 10-minute Uber ride from Boystown. With only a few months of beach weather per year, locals flock to Hollywood Beach every opportunity possible to soak up the sun.
There is way too much to see in Chicago to fit everything into a weekend. Especially when you include a festival as well. I am going to make an effort to visit more frequently, especially since it’s so close to my home in Indianapolis.
To book your next Chicago gaycation, visit Orbitz Pride
With podcasts on nearly every topic imaginable recently, you'll know that there's something out there for you. They're such a great way to relax and learn something or to have something on in the background as you do chores. As you'd imagine, there are plenty of podcasts out there that explore LGBTQ+ themes or are created by LGBTQ+ creators. Here are some of the best LGBTQ+ podcasts that you need to check out right now.
Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness
Photo courtesy of Apple Podcasts
This podcast, hosted by Queer Eye superstar Jonathan Van Ness, is all about wanting to know more about the world around you. Every episode they sit down with an expert to talk about their field, so they can learn more about it.
Recent episodes have covered things like the Milky Way, Latin culture, how viruses spread, and so much more. It's a fascinating listen, one that you'll be sure to get a lot out of even if you knew nothing going into an episode. It's a lot of fun too, and you'll be sure to laugh as you learn.
Making Gay History Podcasts
Photo courtesy of Apple Podcasts
The problem with a lot of recorded history is that the stories of many LGBTQ people have been buried over the years. “If you want to know more about the history of your culture, then this is the podcast that you want to be listening to” says Anna Peters, an LGBTQ writer at Elite Assignment Help and Revieweal. “You'll find out a lot about the people who lead the way for LGBTQ people today.”
Host Eric Marcus, who also wrote the book Making Gay History, dives into the history of the people who made history but aren't given the recognition they deserve. That includes people like Jean O'Leary, Vito Russo, and Del Martin to name a few.
Girl That's Scary
Photo courtesy of Girl That's Scary Podcast
If you're looking for a podcast that gives you everything that's new in horror with an LGBTQ+ twist, then this is going to be the podcast for you. As a bonus, it's a black run podcast too. Hosts Jazzmin and Kathleen, aka Jazz The 40oz Connoisseur and Kat Daddy, spend each episode riffing on and laughing about the horror that they love.
The podcast has become popular as it has such a fun vibe. It's clear that the hosts are having a great time, and many feel that it's a great show to listen to just when you want some friendly voices in your ears.
Photo courtesy of Nancy Podcast
This podcast uses an interview format to talk to people from the LGBTQ community, whether that's big names or just everyday people, living their lives. Co-hosts Kathy Tu and Tobin Low make every episode fun and interesting, creating a light-hearted vibe that's easy to listen to.
“You'll want to make sure that you tune in, as they speak to people that aren't usually put in the spotlight,” says blogger James Farmer, from Essay Services and Custom Writing Services. “That lets you hear stories that you may never have heard before.” In recent episodes, you'll hear about the lives of black trans people, the gay and lesbian island kingdom in Australia, and much more besides.
Buffering the Vampire Slayer
Photo courtesy of Apple Podcasts
Who doesn't love a good recap podcast? This podcast takes queer favorite Buffy The Vampire Slayer as its inspiration, watching one episode of the show and dissecting it in every podcast episode. The hosts also aren't afraid to get into deeper themes like queerness, gender, the patriarchy, and more.
As well as the episodes, the hosts have even created their very own fan songs about the show, too. These are all on Spotify, so you can go listen to them if that interests you.
Lovett or Leave It Podcast
Photo courtesy of Apple Podcasts
This show is hosted by Jon Lovett, an openly gay MC who takes you through the weekly news cycle and makes it less stressful and even funny to listen to. He's joined by a rotating cast of guests each week, all who contribute to the antics going on.
These are just a few of the best LGBTQ podcasts out there right now. Take a listen to learn and laugh with the hosts, and maybe find your new favorite show.
As Thailand continues to relax its Covid-era entry requirements and affordable luxury remains as prevalent as ever, Southeast Asia’s LGBT-friendliest nation couldn’t be more appealing for a romantic wellness getaway in 2022. The Land of Smiles, whose economy depends heavily on tourism, consistently devised creative pandemic solutions that have protected its population throughout the global crisis while still allowing travelers safe entry to the natural bounty and rich culture that has long made it a bucket-list destination, better positioning the country to welcome back a steady influx of guests anxious to escape the most emotionally draining two years of their lives. Whether your ideal Thai-tinerary is set on the Andaman Sea to the west, the Gulf of Thailand to the east, or in the central capital of Bangkok, here is where to stay to find romance or wellness on a restorative vacation this year.
COMO Private Villa
Photo courtesy of COMO Point Yamu
The dazzle of Phuket’s picturesque coastline and neighboring islands is undeniable, and a stay at one of COMO Point Yamu’s private hillside villas overlooking Phang Nga Bay offers exclusive respite between days spent at each. From indulgent baths for two in your spa bathroom’s soaking tub to champagne sips at sunset in your private infinity pool overlooking the bay, you could easily sequester yourselves in serene seclusion at the property but do at least step out to explore a couples treatment at COMO Shambala spa. For the ultimate romance on the water, splurge on a private yacht charter from Blue Voyage Thailand to explore some of the region’s best beaches and islands while your personal crew prepares drinks and bites throughout the journey. If you have an important question to ask your special someone on this vacation, the stunning sunsets at sea provide an ideal backdrop!
Partially under development on the island’s interior, the sprawling Tri Vananda wellness community primarily offers luxurious private homes on its 230+ acres of mature nature (only 15% will be developed and no vehicles are allowed—it’s strictly golf carts here), but it’s already offering wellness retreats that allow you to take advantage of its integrative wellness programs, wetland nature reserve, all-organic farm, and world-class restaurant, Jamba, which serves artful plates of zero-waste recipes from Iron Chef Thailand winner Rick Dingen. Here, you’ll find a lush paradise within Phuket rarely discovered by the flocks of tourists who spend their days entirely on the sands and sea around the island’s famed coastline, and you may find new sides of yourselves, too.
Soneva Kiri private villa
Photo courtesy of Soneva Kiri
Just off Thailand’s eastern coast in the Gulf of Thailand, the tiny island of Koh Kood is home to dozens of accommodations, but the unrivaled luxury of Soneva Kiri brings superior romance that won’t be topped elsewhere. Book the property’s charter jet to arrive at the tiny outdoor airport on Koh Mai Si before a quick boat ride to the resort’s welcome pier for maximum exclusivity. From here, check in to a personal beachfront villa that not only contains your own stretch of sand on a quiet bay, but comes equipped with private outdoor living space that includes covered dining and kitchenette; a full-service outdoor spa bathroom including two outdoor showers, a whirlpool tub, and massage chaise; and sprawling decks with soft and hard seating along a swimming pool larger than many homes (consider booking a floating meal here for a truly special experience). While you’ll never feel crowded by the property’s other guests, you can escape them entirely with a meal in Soneva Kiri’s signature treepod. Hoisted to the canopy in an oversize bamboo nest enveloping your table, your meal here is delivered by acrobatic servers on a zipline as you gaze out from the treetops across the water, equally inspiring by day or night.
Relax and rejuvenate at RAKxa
Photo courtesy of RAKxa Wellness and Medical Retreat
Bangkok may be better known for bustling activity and raucous nightlife than for wellness and tranquility, but Bang Krachao, just 30 minutes from the city center is an artificial river island oasis known locally as the “green lung of Bangkok,” and here you’ll find a wellness facility unlike any other. The brand new RAKxa Wellness & Medical Retreat experience is an ultra-personal journey that begins with comprehensive health assessments including medical consultations, wellness consultations, and a fitness assessment. From here, an individualized program ranging from interdisciplinary spa treatments to medical wellness regimens like cryotherapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy is scheduled around your mindful meals and relaxation among the gardens, by the pool, or in your villa retreat.
Villas are designed for total tranquility by day with open spaces, neutral tones, and private gardens complete with grounding trails, and the villa’s smart system monitors not just temperature, but humidity, carbon dioxide level, and air quality for an ideal interior. The discrete kitchenette is stocked with a daily regimen of teas and juice boosters to regulate body and mind throughout the day, and blackout curtains surround the plush bedroom for uninterrupted sleep (even the smart system’s screen comes with its own blackout hood for bedtime). Programs here can include as little as one night, but 5- and 7-night itineraries are more effective whether you have targeted goals or just want to completely reset and recharge together.
You’ll need to head back into the city in order to depart and, if Bangkok’s popular dinner cruises aren’t your style, opt for a swanky dinner aboard Sirimahannop, the permanently docked three-masted ship serving elegant meals with the charm of yesteryear and the culinary prowess of today. The chic experience is a perfect re-entry to the busy city that still offers enough privacy for a romantic farewell dinner in Thailand.
Club Skirts presents The Dinah — the annual music festival and pool party weekend and the largest lesbian event worldwide — is taking over Palm Springs from September 21st through the 25th.
Now celebrating its 31st year, the star-studded weekend will kick off a five-day party known to draw in upwards of 15,000 women from around the world.
This year, for the first time ever, the event will take place in Palm Springs’ most iconic hotel, The Margaritaville — formerly The Riviera — famous in the ’60s for its role as celebrity central, drawing the likes of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Sammy Davis Jr., and Sonny and Cher.
Photo courtesy of The Dinah
“I think it is definitely a rite of passage and a bucket list item,” said Mariah Hanson, ”and it’s a beacon in a way. I think that what we create there is so magical and so inspiring that you hear about it and you want to be a part of it because it’s life-changing.”
Hanson explained that the magic is intentional. She said along with her staff, they set to produce an event that is diverse, welcoming, and life-changing.
“We create a world for five days where people are united by the common theme of just acceptance and diversity and living in a world you want to live in,” Hanson said.
Hanson said she is proud to offer what she says is one of the “most diverse, inclusive, celebratory events.” She said The Dinah recognizes that our community is very diverse, and she wants everyone to feel welcome.
The festival includes various performances by nationally-renowned recording artists, massive pool parties with world-famous DJs and go-go dancers, red carpet events with celebrity guests and musicians, and meet-and-greets with lesbian celebrities.
The Dinah pool party
Photo courtesy of The Dinah
While in previous years, the Dinah events centered mostly on pool parties, the Dinah of the past decade has flawlessly amped up the pool parties, while also simultaneously becoming an enormous music festival, drawing in huge superstar artists over recent years, such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Chaka Khan, Meghan Trainor, Iggy Azalea, Eve, Salt ‘N Pepa and more, many of them while they were just on the cusp of hitting the big-time.
Hanson explained that she has a formula, a set of ever-changing criteria, that she uses to book acts. She has a knack for finding artists to perform at the Dinah who is on the cusp of enormous stardom.
“My favorite example is Lizzo, who headlined the Sunday afternoon pool party in 2017,” said Hanson. “Nobody really knew who she was, and she’s a major star now. No one will ever see her in that small of a venue.”
Hanson has another incredible all-female entertainment line-up again this year.
“I’m excited to offer the lineup we have. I think it’s powerful. It’s almost all queer except Taylor Dane, but she’s welcome because she’s so cool!” said Hanson.
Taylor Dane, 80s pop icon, is taking over the stage at Friday night’s Black & White Ball and is bringing her full band for a special Dinah performance. The GRAMMY-nominated powerhouse’s groundbreaking debut single "Tell It to My Heart" turned her into an overnight star in 1987. She followed the smash hit with 17 Top 20 singles including “Love Will Lead You Back.” Co-headlining Friday night is a breakout hip-hop artist, Haviah Mighty, who is poised to follow the footsteps of Lady Gaga, Bebe Rexha, Iggy Azalea, and Lizzo. She is the first Black woman to win the Polaris Music Prize.
On Saturday night’s Hollywood Party, Fletcher, one of the most electrifying queer artists to burst onto the scene, takes center stage. The GLAAD-nominated artist has a slew of hit singles including “Undrunk”, “Bitter”, “girls girls girls”, and “Cherry.” Her new single “Her Body is Bible” is out now and her debut album is being released this month.
“You don’t want to miss any of these acts,” Hanson said.
Club Skirts The Dinah pool party
Photo courtesy of The Dinah
All of the weekend’s pool parties, night parties, and concerts will take place at the Margaritaville. The opening and closing parties will both be held at AsiaSF, a new hotspot to both kick-start and close the weekend.
Hanson said she is excited for the Dinah this year and hopes it will, as always, be an amazing experience for all who attend.
Hanson said her message for attendees, other than to pace themselves, is always the same.
“Don’t be afraid to meet new people. Don’t be afraid to reach out and share your stories and listen to other people's stories because there’s people from all over the world coming.”
Hanson negotiated some great rates with the host hotel, Margaritaville, and it currently has a waiting list. Email email@example.com to get the Dinah discount and to add your name to the waiting list.
For more information and for tickets, please visit The Dinah.