Beyond Pride: 13 Unique LGBTQ+ Events Around The World

Pride events are held all over the world, including some truly surprising places

Gay Games 2014 - Opening Ceremony
Duane Prokop / Getty Images

It’s Pride Month! We’re kicking off this joyous, meaningful month with a collection of features completely dedicated to LGBTQ+ travelers. Follow along on a gay writer’s adventures at Pride around the world; read about a bisexual woman’s journey to The Gambia to visit her staunchly religious family; and hear from a non-gender-conforming traveler about unexpected challenges and triumphs on the road. Then, find inspiration for your future trips with our guides to the best LGBTQ+ hidden gem attractions in every state, amazing national park sites with LGBTQ+ history, and actor Jonathan Bennett’s new travel venture. However you make your way through the features, we’re glad you’re here with us to celebrate the beauty and importance of inclusivity and representation within the travel space and beyond.

Pride events now number in the hundreds all over the world, including some truly surprising places given their small populations, remote locations, or near underground LGBTQ scenes—the Faroe Islands (population a mere 50,000) celebrates Faroe Pride in July, and South Africa's Western Cape coastal town of Knysna (population under 77,000) hosts its equivalent of Sydney's Mardi Gras-style Pride in May. However, there is also a robust international roster of more specialized events that are well worth adding to your calendar and planning a trip around that isn't "Pride" in the sense that some of the more well-known events are. From activist-centric to just plain fun, here are some of our favorites.

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Pink Dot, Singapore

Aerial shot of people in pink gathering at the festival

Courtesy of Pink Dot SG

Although you wouldn't guess it based on a night out at the gay bars along and around Singapore's Neil Road, homosexuality is actually still illegal in this city-state, thanks to the crusty legislative holdover Section 377A. The annual one-day Pink Dot festival was created in 2009 as a big pink-hued show of solidarity. Besides its association with gays, the color is also the result of mixing Singapore's red and white flag colors for acceptance, equality, and the repeal of 377A. Check out this emotionally stirring video from 2019's edition.

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ELLA International Lesbian Festival, Mallorca, Spain

When she moved to the Spanish island of Mallorca in 2005, ELLA founder Kristin Hansen made it her mission "to position Mallorca as a real lesbian paradise on the international scene," creating an International Lesbian Festival for queer women and nonbinary/trans individuals. Entailing a week of sun, fun, yoga on the beach, water activities, talks (see the entire 2019 program here), and, of course, dance parties, ELLA celebrates its eighth year from Sept. 2-9, 2022, and has spawned sister events around the globe throughout the year, including Colombia, Mexico (Oct. 15-20, 2021), Costa Rica, and Switzerland (March 24-28, 2022),

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Texas Bear Round-Up, Dallas, Texas

A group of men at the Texas Bear Round-Up

Courtesy of the Texas Bear Round-Up

Affectionately known as TBRU, this small gathering founded by the Dallas Bears has evolved into one of the most internationally famous events of its kind, when bears, cubs, otters, chubs, daddies, and their admirers convene for a long weekend of body-positive (and that includes transgender male) contests, performances, dancing, and mingling. The 26th edition is scheduled for March 24-27, while other annual major bear events include Provincetown, Massachusetts' Bear Week (July 10-18, 2021), Guerneville, California's Lazy Bear Week (celebrating its 25th year from July 26 to Aug. 2, 2021), and Palm Springs' International Bear Convergence (Feb. 24-28, 2022).

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Orgullo Festival, Miami, Florida

During our National Hispanic Heritage Month in 2011, Miami saw the inaugural edition of its Orgullo Hispanic and Indigenous LGBTQ Pride festival ("Orgullo" translates to "pride" in Spanish), which is completely separate from Miami's bigger Pride in September. Celebrating its 10th edition from Oct. 1-15, 2021, with a theme of "The Art of Illusion," expect a particularly colorful, robust drag component (an annual highlight entails the drag queen-led, boozy Art Diva Bus Tours of artists studios, museums, galleries, and more) plus "Dragalympics" roller-skate, high heel, and lip-sync competitions, political conversation, music, mixers, dancing, and a special 80s pop performance.

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Atlanta Black Pride, Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta Black Gay Pride's 8th Annual Pure Heat Community Festival
Marcus Ingram / Getty Images

Atlanta's Black Pride Weekend started in 1996 as a Labor Day picnic for a group of African American friends and has since become one of the world's largest LGBTQ black pride events, lasting an entire week around Labor Day. Organized by nonprofit In The Life Atlanta (ITLA), ABP offers a holistic spectrum of community-focused activities, including a film festival, health and life expo, workshops and conversations, mixers, brunches, and parties galore. The 25th-anniversary edition is scheduled for Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2021, while other notable cities' black pride events include London's U.K. Black Pride, Dallas' Southern Pride, Detroit's Hotter Than July, and the country's oldest and still among the largest, D.C. Black Pride, which celebrated 30 years in 2021.

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The Dinah, Palm Springs, California

A group of women at a pool party

Courtesy of Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend

The world's most famous (and joyfully debauched) lesbian party weekend, which culled its name from the Dinah Shore golf tournament, a lesbian magnet, dates back to 1991 when Club Skirts lesbian party promoter Mariah Hanson hosted The Dinah's first edition at Palm Springs' Modern Art Museum. Now drawing more than 20,000 women annually for five days of celebrity entertainment—Jane Lynch, the stars of Showtime's "The L Word," Tegan & Sara, and Katy Perry to name but a few headliners!—dancing, pool parties, and dyke-y decadence (one year, Lady Gaga showed up!). Scheduled for Sept. 29 to Oct. 3, 2021, the next edition will boast an Emerging Artist Contest, with a closing party performance for the winner, sexy go-go dancers, celebrity DJs and performers (check the website for updates!), and "The L-Word: Generation Q Pool Party." It's gonna be lit... and wet!

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Seoul Drag Parade, Seoul, South Korea

Seoul Drag Parade

Bae Inki / Seoul Drag Parade

The brainchild of Seoul-born queer artist and performer Heezy Yang (a.k.a. drag queen Hurricane Kimchi) and activist Ali Zahoor, Seoul's first Drag Parade glittered up the streets of the city's Itaewon district (a.k.a. "Homo Hill" thanks to its LGBTQ bars) in 2018. Despite the parade's name and some fierce looks, it packed an overt political message and called for equality and acceptance in South Korea's homophobic culture, where LGBTQs have no legal protections, and queer celebrities remain publicly closeted lest they risk losing mainstream careers. This year's virtual edition will include a fabulous online drag show featuring Korean, international, and even "RuPaul's Drag Race" queens and drag kings on June 27.

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NYC Dyke March, New York, New York

Pride Week 2014
Deborah Jaffe / Getty Images

While lesbians typically kick off many cities' gay pride parades with a "dykes on bikes" contingent, the NYC Dyke March is an entirely separate event and explicitly not a parade, but an urgent First Amendment protest march (without a permit). Actually born in Washington, D.C., on the night before 1993's landmark LGBTQ March on Washington, which saw the New York Lesbian Avengers help coordinate 20,000 lesbians in making a path from Dupont Circle to the National Mall, that June saw New York's official first Dyke March led by a drumming contingent. More than two decades later, the March happens on a Saturday, the day before Sunday's main Pride event, and will next take place on June 26, 2021, kicking off from midtown's Bryant Park, while dozens of other Dyke Marches have sprung up in North American and European cities—with surely more to come!

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Southern Decadence, New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is a party city, so of course, Labor Day weekend's almost 50-year-old Southern Decadence is exactly what its name promises. Besides a Pride-like Sunday afternoon march replete with the Dykes on Bikes, there's a host of French Quarter street parties and concerts, an amateur strip contest, and packed to the gills gay bar/club dances. This year's edition is scheduled for Sept. 2-6.

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Folsom Europe, Berlin, Germany

A large group of people during the Folsom Europe Festival

Courtesy of Folsom Europe

San Francisco's queer BDSM, biker and leather community made Folsom Street its de facto home and main drag back in the 1960s and 1970s, and 1984 saw the first fetish-forward (and community fundraising) Folsom Street Fair, which has since evolved to become the world's largest event of its kind and a respected non-profit. In 2004, Folsom got a European counterpart organization and event, which takes place in the gay nightlife hub of Schöneberg and features plenty of leather, latex, Levis, consensual fetish play, and of course, a dance party. For a video wrap-up of 2019's Folsom Europe, click here. The next edition is slated for Sept. 11, 2021.

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Flame Con, New York, New York

2014 New York Comic Con - Day 1
Daniel Zuchnik / Getty Images

Founded in 2015 by Geeks OUT, a nonprofit dedicated to "raising LGBT visibility at comics-culture events and providing a queer-positive space for comics, creators, and teen outreach," Flame Con is the world's biggest LGBTQ-centric comic con. Although the 2021 edition will be virtual (Aug. 21-22), Flame Con spotlights queer creators in comics, gaming, media, and other content through panels (2019 topics included "The Gay Animation Renaissance" and "Gender Queerness and Fluidity in Comic Classics"), plus plenty of interactive gaming fun, goods for sale, and cosplaying.

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Gay Games

Gay Games 2014 - Opening Ceremony
Duane Prokop / Getty Images

Olympic decathlete Dr. Tom Waddell founded the Gay Games, the first edition of which took place in San Francisco during 1982 and saw a dozen nations represented and 1,350 participants. Since then, the quadrennial event has blossomed to include dozens of sporting and cultural categories, almost 100 nations, and more than 10,000 participants, and it's been hosted by destinations including Vancouver, Amsterdam, Chicago, Cologne, Paris, and, for its upcoming 2022 edition, Hong Kong (its first Asian city), from Nov. 11-19. Meanwhile, 2006 saw birth to another international queer sports/cultural event, the World Outgames, while the European Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation's EuroGames will next take place along with WorldPride in Copenhagen, Denmark, and neighboring Malmo, Sweden, from Aug. 17-20, 2021.

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Floatilla, Hong Kong

Boats floating during the Floatilla festival

Courtesy of Floatilla Hong Kong

Celebrating its 15th edition on Oct. 16th, 2021, Hong Kong's Floatilla entails a literal splash of a gay party: an ex-pat and tourist-friendly gathering of junk boats filled with LGBTQs, from circuit boys to bears to lesbians to drag queens, who sun, swim, dance, drink, and make merry at sea for the day. Floatilla's Facebook page offers details and contacts for joining already booked boats or renting your own.

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