Providence, Rhode Island: A hidden delight for queer travelers 😃🏳️‍🌈

1 08 2019

Rhode Island Pride in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineWhile I’d heard some nice things about Providence, Rhode Island’s state capital and largest city, over the years, I’ll admit that I didn’t know a whole lot about it. I mostly thought of it as a cheap alternative airport to often-overpriced Boston Logan International.

Story by Paul J. Heney, MAW correspondent

But a recent weekend there, coinciding with Rhode Island Pride, completely sold me on this East Coast gem as an excellent getaway for LGBTQ travelers. Here are four reasons why you should put Providence on your list as a destination to check out.

  1. A thriving queer scene.

Walking around Providence was like being in a gay Disneyland at times. I was genuinely surprised at the number of out queer couples in the city —walking the streets holding hands, eating in restaurants, wandering the stores, chilling in cafes. I chatted with numerous locals, from restaurant servers to Uber drivers, hotel staff and people in clubs, and they all had positive things to say about how accepting the city and community is.

We hung out in several clubs, such as The Dark Lady, EGO Providence, and the Eagle, and they were crowded and lively. At a time when many smaller and mid-sized cities have gay club scenes that are dried up or gone entirely, it was refreshing to see such a thriving group of bars.

Check out Options magazine, published bimonthly, for the latest calendar of queer events. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the number of listings, from drag brunches to queer book clubs, as well as tea dances, happy hours and networking meetings.

  1. Arts to die for.

Providence has christened itself “The Creative Capital,” a cute nod to the city’s artistic side as well as its being the center of state government. And the moniker is well earned, with a wealth of art museums, galleries, performing arts spaces and urban murals.

From March through November each year, 27 of the city’s hottest art spots open their doors on the third Thursday of the month as part of Gallery Night Providence. And WaterFire Providence, a unique local arts celebration, revolves around the city’s downtown rivers, with more than 80 sparkling bonfires lit on the waterways.

Not to be missed is PVD Fest, an annual arts celebration in the city. It selects local artists to design and create arts installations, many of which remain in perpetuity, adding to the city’s cool urban vibe each year. Many of downtown’s mesmerizing murals are the result of previous years’ PVD Fest installations.

  1. It’s easy to get to and easy to get around.

Getting to Providence is fairly easy for much of the country. In addition to the aforementioned cheap flights to the city’s T. F. Rhode Island Pride in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineGreen Airport, Providence is an hour’s drive from Boston, as well as about three hours from most of the New York metro area. It’s within two hours by plane from much of the East Coast and Midwest, making it an easy weekend trip.

Providence is connected to Boston’s South Station via the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority commuter service, and within the city, grabbing a rideshare service is simple — or visitors can check out the local Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), which provides busing as far away as Newport or Kingston. But I found downtown Providence, including its lovely Arts District, to be very walkable and pedestrian friendly.

  1. Its annual Pride festival is simply incredible.

Providence’s annual Rhode Island Pride completely exceeded my expectations. Attracting well over 100,000 attendees, I was blown away by how many Boston-area celebrants were there. I’d have thought the big city folks would have turned up their collective noses at smaller Providence, but that wasn’t the case at all! In fact, I heard story after story about how much they loved attending both Pride celebrations, a week apart.

RIPride has a laundry list of pre-celebration events, from VIP parties to game nights to interfaith services. The PrideFest itself takes place downtown along the Providence River, with a long narrow outline that provides great water views at every turn. There are countless vendors, a huge main stage, a beer garden, and more.

But the highlight of the weekend for me was the Illuminated Night Parade. RIPride is one of only a few pride celebrations anywhere that features an evening parade. Floats and marchers are encouraged to dress up their displays with lights, glowsticks, fluorescent paints and the like. The result is really spectacular, with 100,000 attendees watching the festivities. At the conclusion of the parade, multiple areas of downtown were cordoned off for huge block parties, as music roared into the night until the wee hours.

And for those who managed to get some sleep, the post-Pride Drag Brunch was a great top off to the weekend, with this year’s event featuring Jasmine Masters from RuPaul’s Drag Race, as well as a half dozen very talented local performers.





LGBT FAMILY CRUISE UPDATE: PORT (AND LIFE) LESSONS IN JAMAICA

31 12 2015
Gay blended family in Jamaica and in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Gay blended family in Jamaica

From Jamaica: Our Go, Daddy writer, gay-dad Paul J. Heney, his partner and kids are on their first-ever family cruise on Carnival Cruise Line. Here’s an update from their first port of call. Our first port of call on this Carnival cruise was Falmouth, Jamaica. I was a little conflicted about this stop.

Jamaica is one of the most stridently anti-gay countries on the planet, and so I felt somewhat opposed to giving any of my tourist dollars to the local economy. In the end, I decided to not make any sort of crusade out of it, and instead tried to use it as a teaching moment for our kids. While I’ve told them in the past about areas of the country or the world where LGBT people aren’t liked or tolerated, this was more real to them. They seemed shocked that such an innocuous looking place–and somewhere that we actually were–was such a “bad” part of the world, at least in one respect. 

We devised a back story that Lance was my brother-in-law–married to my fictional sister Maureen. (They do have an Aunt Maureen, so that made it easier for them to remember.) I told them the chances of us getting in trouble for being gay was about zero, but that locals might treat us poorly or give us dirty looks if they found out. 

As we had an excursion booked through the cruise line the next day in Grand Cayman, I suggested we try a different route in Jamaica. We merely walked off the ship with no firm plans and wandered into the tiny port town. Locals selling all sorts of brightly colored clothing lined the narrow streets. The kids, Matthew in particular, seemed a little taken aback at the poverty. After walking down a few streets, one of the locals named Dennis approached me with an offer to take us to Montego Bay and back, tell us about the island, take us to a good beach and a city overlook, etc. He described himself as “a family man” like me and a Christian. We listened to his story about charging us $100 instead of the normal $120, but kept walking and showed only minimal interest. Eventually he came down to $80 and I said it was Lance’s decision because he had the wallet. Lance then got him down to $70–a pretty good deal for the 4 of us!

We spent 90 minutes at the Doctors Cave Beach Club beach, a gorgeous crescent of sand with light blue green water. A huge inflatable trampoline about 100 feet offshore was all that Josh needed to make his day. It cost us $21 (cash) to access the beach and $12 for an umbrella and a chair. Matthew quickly made friends with a little Jamaican boy and they had a splendid time playing in the waves. Lance and I enjoyed people watching and goofing in the water a bit. There were some downright amazing bodies walking about, and I could see how Stella could get her groove back on a place like this!

Afterwards, Lance showed the boys his incredible bargaining skills in a few of the local shops in Montego Bay and then Dennis drove us to a lovely overlook before heading back to the ship. He did start up a conversation about where mom was today—Matthew started to answer that she lived at home and I interrupted and said something to the effect that, “The ladies wanted a spa day on the ship.”

Friends will vouch that I’m pretty militant and am usually the first one to fight the good fight. So it was hard to bite my lip even for a few hours, but I suppose I need to pick my battles—while keeping the kids’ eyes wide open about the bigger battles we still have to face.

 





Gay Family Fun in Baltimore

30 09 2015

Gay families in Baltimore, in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

ManAboutWorld correspondent Paul J. Heney, his partner and their two growing boys brought back this report from Baltimore after a recent visit. No kids? No worries! You don’t need progeny to enjoy this article or learn practical and important trip-planning information about Baltimore, like the use of Old Bay. You don’t know what that is? Read on!

WHERE

Baltimore has always seemed to me to be a bit misplaced — it has that “big city with a small town feel” that so many Midwestern cities tout. But this metropolitan area of 2.7 million people is strategically placed on the East Coast, about 45 minutes north of our nation’s capital. It’s easily accessible from New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. And its modern airport has always gotten our family through efficiently. It’s not much more than an hours flight from places like Chicago or Atlanta, so it’s a nice option for a long family weekend.

WHY GO TO BALTIMORE

Baltimore’s famed Inner Harbor is the center of its attractions, and the density of things to do in such a small area makes it Gay family fun in Baltimore, in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazinean ideal vacation spot for families of all shapes and sizes. The collection of museums, variety of restaurants, and waterfront activities can quickly fill up a weekend, making you wish you’d planned a few more days in this aptly named “Charm City.”

Weather is generally pleasant from spring through fall, although humidity can occasionally be overbearing in the middle of summer, so be forewarned. Baltimore has a great variety of festivals (including gay celebrations) throughout the year, so you may wish to check out the calendar at VisitBaltimore.com before planning your visit.

GAY FACTOR

While neighboring Washington, D.C. may get more media attention for its gay life, Baltimore holds its own with its queer vibe. The “gayborhood,” if you will, is the lovely Mount Vernon neighborhood, just north of the city center, and its environs are quite LGBT popular and friendly. There are numerous theaters, art museums and gay establishments dotting this area. And who can forget that Baltimore is the beloved home of iconic director John Walters? Fellow Hollywood writers Barry Levinson and David Simon also grew up in the city. Annual LGBT-oriented events in the city include:

PLANNING RESOURCES

According to Tom Noonan, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore, his organization has an LGBT Tourism Advisory Committee that includes many of the city’s family-focused attractions, including the National Aquarium, Maryland Zoo in Baltimore and the American Visionary Art Museum. Noonan noted that there is a Baltimore LGBT Visitors Guidehttp://issuu.com/baltimoregaylife/docs/baltimorelgbtguide2014?e=1223151/7404635 that is produced by GayLife, the local gay monthly. The Visitors Guide offers a wealth of knowledge, with sections on accommodations, restaurants, nightlife, shopping, congregations, neighborhoods, and even a wedding guide.

For more about where to stay, eat, and what to do, download ManAboutWorld on the iTunes App Store or Google Play. We support iPads, iPhones and Android devices. There are a few FREE publications in all of the apps, and you can click here to register for a FREE three-month subscription.





Go, Daddy: Gay Family Travel in Baltimore

14 04 2015

Gay family travel as seen in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Our Go, Daddy correspondent Paul and his son.

ManAboutWorld correspondent was invited to Baltimore on an LGBT family media visit. Below is one of his dispatches posted via his Twitter page. Check out the rest of his updates on our Twitter page (MAWtraveland read his full report in an upcoming issue of ManAboutWorld magazine

Via: Paul J. Heney @paulheney

Sightseeing is hard work!! I have one tired cookie at dinner.@BaltimoreMD @MAWtravel @TWtravelnews #baltimorepic.twitter.com/UWjUl46cxY

 





Can’t Make It To Hawaii? Check Out How This Guy Brought Hawaii to Him

10 02 2015

Hawaii, as seen in ManAboutWorld, the gay travel magazine

Our intrepid correspondent, Paul Heney, chimes in with another fun post about how to bring exotic locales to you when your travel aspirations and your wallet don’t match up:

My hometown of Cleveland gets hammered on our weather reputation. Our winters aren’t really any worse than Chicago’s or Boston’s, but somehow we’re always the ones mentioned as being cold and snowy. But that being said, I will admit that I tire of the snow and chilly air sometime soon after January 1st each year … and start to long for the sunny beaches of my favorite escape, Hawaii. Read the rest of this entry »





Dispatches: Gay Games Wraps-Up in Cleveland

25 08 2014

gaygames169Our correspondent Paul Heney sent us this photo from the ground in Cleveland from the Gay Games. The games wrapped last week but the memories of the event are still being felt throughout the city! Congrats to all the performers, athletes, and organizers of this historic event!

 





Dispatches: The Gay Games Race To Cleveland

8 08 2014

gaygames1

Our correspondent Paul Heney chimes in with a personal story about the Gay Games coming to Cleveland this weekend! We recently covered Cleveland earlier this year and are offering our Cleveland guide for free here. Here’s Paul on Cleveland and what the Gay Games coming to his hometown means to him (click “Read more”): Read the rest of this entry »








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