The lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population in the U.S. has been estimated at anywhere between 11 million to 23 million.
One major area recognized as an outlet for the discretionary income spent by the LGBT community is travel. Approximately 85% of the LGBT community takes annual vacations, compared with a national average of 64%. More than one-third take three or more trips, with almost 50% traveling abroad, compared with the national average of 9%.
Community Marketing (www.communitymarketinginc.com), a firm specializing in research into the gay travel market, estimates gay and lesbian traveler spending at $55 billion annually, about 10% of the U.S. travel market.
A decade ago, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was nearly alone among destinations trying to woo gay and lesbian travelers. Fort Lauderdale currently attracts approximately 850,000 gay travelers who spent more than $810 million annually. Now, a growing number of cities can be found following Fort Lauderdale in promoting a gay- friendly image. Among them are long-established gay-friendly destinations such as Key West.
Lesbian and Gay Travel US Photo Gallery
According to a recent report by the USTA, 48% of gay men and 47% of lesbians say that a destination’s gay-friendliness is important to them when making leisure travel choices. Gay men (53%) and lesbians (69%) report that a place generally identified as safe and free from intimidation and threats – such as places where they could freely hold their partner’s hand in public – is one of the top ways they identify a destination as gay-friendly. Forty percent (40%) of gay men and lesbians also recognize a gay-friendly environment if the city or community is known to be culturally welcoming and to support diversity and LGBT civil rights. Thirty-three percent (33%) of gay men and 18% of lesbians also cite gay nightlife, clubs, and bars as one of their top considerations for gay friendliness.
Gay-pride activities have become major events across the country, and these events are the biggest draw for the LGBT community. One of the largest events in the U.S. is Gay Days at Disney World. The six-day event held in June draws about
The two largest gay pride festivals in North America, Gay Pride Week (Toronto) and Divers/Cite (Montreal), are each attended by an estimated one million people. TopEvents.com rates the following as the top gay pride events in the U.S.:
• Atlanta Pride – mid-October (Atlanta, GA; www.atlantapride.org)
• Boston Gay Pride – early June (Boston, MA; www.bostonpride.org/parade/)
• Capital Pride – end of May or early June (Washington DC; www.capitalpride.org)
• Chicago Gay Pride Parade – late June (Chicago, IL; www.chicagopridecalendar.org)
• Dallas Pride Parade – mid-September (Dallas, TX; www.dallastavernguild.org)
• Houston Gay Pride – late June (Houston, TX; www.pridehouston.org)
• Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade – early to mid-April (Miami, FL; www.miamibeachgaypride.com/parade)
• NYC Pride March – mid-June (New York, NY; www.nycpride.org)
• Out on Film Festival – early October (Atlanta, GA; www.outonfilm.org)
• OutFest – mid-July (Los Angeles, CA; www.outfest.org)
• San Diego Pride – mid-July (San Diego, CA; www.sdpride.org)
• San Francisco Gay Pride – late June (San Francisco, CA; http://sfpride.org/)
• St. PetePride – late June (St. Petersburg, FL; www.stpetepride.com)
• Womenfest – early September (Key West, FL; www.womenfest.com)
According to the LGBT Travel Survey, by Community Marketing, the following are the top U.S. destinations for leisure and business travel for the LGBT community (percentage of people who visited):