Lance Bass, Todrick Hall and More Offer Queer-Friendly Virtual Home Town Tours

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday October 24, 2020

Lance Bass
Lance Bass  (Source:Autumn Communications)

In honor of LGBTQ History Month in October, Orbitz has partnered with influencers from the community including Lance Bass (of N*Sync), Todrick Hall ("RuPaul's Drage Race"), and more to highlight the best queer-friendly destinations and businesses in their hometowns. These figures shows us the hidden gems of their respective hometowns, from bars to boutique hotels to LGBTQ-accepting churches, and more.

With the pandemic stifling our ability to travel, these virtual local tours spotlight venues that can go on our bucket lists whether or not we live in these cities. What's more, these are LGBTQ-owned and allied businesses to support. Celebrating the LGBTQ community this month, Orbtiz's #HappyPlace can transport us to these destinations, businesses and important points of interest. This is just one way to rally the community in the midst of the pandemic.

"There's something really uplifting in sharing your 'happy place' with the world and reminding us all what's at stake this year — now more than ever," says Marketing Director, Carey Malloy. "Despite these unsettling times, Orbitz remains committed to finding new ways to celebrate this community, during LGBTQ History month and throughout the year."

Los Angeles
Lance Bass, former N*Sync superstar and resident of the West coast metropolitan sprawl that is LA, suggests strolling through some of the more obvious and iconic areas such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. And while it is closed to visitors at the moment, LACMA — Los Angeles County Museum of Art — offers some content through their website. Enjoy cocktails poolside at Mondrian hotel, and some nightlife and more cocktails at Rocco's WeHo. And for animal lovers on holiday, in need of a puppy fix, Bass suggests a visit to Vanderpump Dogs Resort & Retail Center.

Chris Rhodes  (Source: Autumn Communications)

Chris Rhodes, a 28-year-old transman and co-owner (with his sister Courtney) of FLAVNT Streetwear — "where 15% of sales are donated to trans folks for their surgeries" — suggests taking in views of the iconic Texan city from Pennybacker Bridge, strolling through Barton Springs, Zilker Park, and exploring the South Congress area. Grab a coffee at Jo's and a cocktail and a meal at Perla's. Rhodes highlights a plethora of breweries on the East Side of Austin, and celebrates Cheer Up Charlies, "one of the most fun and most queer spaces in town" with "a '90s country night you didn't know you needed in your life."

New York City
Travel gurus Gabi & Shanna, who also own the production company Industry 27, take us through some of their favorite hometown spots including the cozy Cubbyhole, "one of only three lesbian bars in all of New York City," and the Stonewall Inn — the birth of the modern LGBTQ movement where LGBTQ people fought back against police harassment in 1969. Other highlights include the volunteer-run bookstore, café and activist center Bluestockings and the queer-owned MeMe's Diner, specializing in "comfort food with a twist."

Similarly, travel expert Ravi Roth highlights other New York City stops such as the Conrad New York Downtown hotel and their rooftop bar Loopy Doopy, and the Brooklyn queer bar 3 Dollar Bill. Have brunch at Elmo, visit the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, and do some shopping at Delphinium Home in Hell's Kitchen.

Allie and Sam  (Source: Autumn Communications)

Allie and Sam provide a plethora of LGBTQ-centric ways to pass a day or three in beautiful Miami, with stops at ALL DAY Coffee, a meal at Holi Vegan Kitchen, and a walk through Wynwood Art District, boasting over 70 galleries and museums. Visit Vicky's House milkshake bar and tasting room, or No. 3 Social for a cocktail, before checking out a drag show at the Palace on South Beach.

New Orleans
DIY home and interior influencers Beau and Matt feature their own personal highlights of the Big Easy, all of which are "COVID-19 friendly, so you can start exploring whenever you're ready!" Outdoor activities include strolls through the Royal Street Art Galleries for culture, or exploring Louisiana swamps in the Barataria Preserve; also check out the New Orleans Botanical Garden and the Whitney Plantation, the latter of which "centers around the stories and heritage of enslaved people." Stay at the Hotel Provincial in the French Quarter, enjoy Nola Drag Tours, the only tour of New Orleans led by drag queens, and have a bite or two at the Black-owned vegan restaurant Sweet Soulfood.

Todrick Hall, YouTube star and choreographer and judge on "RuPaul's Drag Race," goes a little more broadly by spotlighting other attractions in his home state. Hall spotlights Dallas with Station 4, "the first gay club I ever went to" with "one of the most amazing group of drag queens," as well as the LGBTQ-welcoming church Cathedral of Hope, and Resource Center, which offers community services for LGBTQ people. Elsewhere in the state, Hall spotlights the lesbian-owned Hotel San José in Austin as a destination, and tributes to the LGBTQ community with the rainbow-themed crosswalk in San Antonio and the pink dolphin on Galveston Island.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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