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Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Safest Travel Destinations for Queer Travelers

It's the end of Pride Month, but that doesn't mean we're going to stop sharing important queer travel content, since I see that this is an important topic for a lot of you. To close out the month, I wanted to share some places to visit and those to avoid on your next travels, or if you're just an ally and want to frequent more inclusive places on your trips. 

To close out the month, I wanted to share some places to visit and those to avoid on your next trip as a queer traveler.

I hope this infographic is a solid resource for you, allowing you to travel to places you feel more safe and secure in and finding inclusive businesses, allies, and community at your destination. It can help take a big worry off the table, since travel planning can be stressful enough. Know that where you're going is going to be welcoming to you and your family, significant other, and friend group, because travel is for everybody. 

What have been some of your favorite LGBTQ-friendly destinations?

Infographic links:

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Travel to Learn LGBTQ+ History

Sometimes it's easier to learn about yourself and certain history when you travel. Something about being away from home and only focusing on one thing can help you absorb more information and make it make a bigger impact. If you've been wanting to delve into LGBTQ+ history, then there are so many ways and places to do so, including the ones below:

If you've been wanting to delve into LGBTQ+ history, then there are so many ways and places to do so, including the ones below.

Remember when I said the National Parks Service was preserving and teaching others about Black history? Well, they are doing the same with LGBTQ+ history and culture in places where queer Americans made their stories, because the outdoors belong to everybody and every body all year long. Not just in June or February. I love these updated campaigns from the NPS, showing that all history is important history and the outdoors are always inclusive.

Even in states where one might think queer history may be suppressed, one can find some deep culture. For instance, Café Lafitte In Exile in New Orleans is one of the oldest continuously-operated gay bars in the United States. Though it has moved in the past, it has been open since the 30s, where it started in a pirate's blacksmith shop.

Don't pass up places in solid blue states either, or you'll miss amazing gems like Darcelle XV Showplace here in Portland, Oregon. It's one of the oldest drag venues in the US and has been added to the National Historic Registers, the first LGBT venue to gain that status in the state. Darcelle XV was the oldest working drag queen in the biz, before she died this year. Also known as Walter Cole when not in drag, Darcelle had such a profound impact on the community, both queer and cis/hetero, that the whole city basically ground to a halt to celebrate her life and death. 

Want to support the LGBTQ+ community in your state/city or those you're traveling to? Help preserve stories and make things markedly better for them in the present, so others can learn more wonderful stories and less depressing ones in the future, here's a list of grassroots organizations you can get behind and assist. 

Need a book for your next trip to the beach, road trip, or long flight? Delve into some of the stories about queers who helped further the movement for those that came after. Here are 5 books on queer history that we are lucky to have, because for every story that we get, there are countless stories that were lost because it was too dangerous for them to get written down. If you need a bigger list, check out the picks from Powell's Books.

I hope you're all having a great start to the summer. Share some of your favorite queer-friendly places to visit in your city or to travel in the comments.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

How To Stay Comfortable And Refreshed On Long Road Trips

Road trips are fun ways to explore the world around you and provide more scenic and cultural experiences than being stuck in a plane at 37,000 feet for several hours.

Road trips are fun ways to explore the world around you and provide more scenic and cultural experiences than being stuck in a plane.
photo credit

The only downside to road trips is that they can become uncomfortable - especially if you do all the driving. That's why ensuring your journeys are as comfortable and refreshing as possible makes perfect sense. But what are the best ways to do that?

Take a look at these practical tips and tricks to maximize the fun you experience on your road trips:

Reduce Stress Before You Drive

Firstly, you should clear your mind of any stress or anxiety before you get behind the wheel. Otherwise, you'll feel very anxious and could even increase the chances of an accident while you drive.

Many stress relief techniques exist, so finding some that work for you makes sense. For example, chewing on some CBD gummies, listening to classical music, or meditating for half an hour could help you feel relaxed before you drive.

Make Your Seating Position Comfortable

Did you know that an incorrect seating position can cause many problems for drivers in their vehicles? If you share your car with someone else, ensure you find the perfect seating position before driving anywhere.

That might mean moving the seat forward or backward or adjusting its height. If your seat isn't particularly comfortable at the best of times, consider adding some support cushions or pillows to help you achieve the perfect posture.

Consider reupholstering your car seats - especially if the lumbar and bolster support is virtually non-existent due to damaged foam inside them.

Have Plenty Of Cold Water

Making regular rest stops is another excellent tip because it allows you and your passengers to stretch their legs or use the bathroom, for instance.

However, another important tip is to ensure you're always hydrated while driving - especially on hot days. Dehydration can cause many problems, such as feeling lightheaded, tired, and experiencing headaches.

Water bottles will likely become warm or even too hot to drink, so consider storing them in a cooler box containing ice cube packs, and you can enjoy a refreshing cold drink whenever you pull over.

Wear Comfortable Clothing

Road trips are seldom short journeys, so you should dress appropriately for sitting in the car for long periods. For example, wearing light-colored garments made of cotton is ideal for helping your skin to breathe and stay cool during hot weather.

What you shouldn't do is wear clothing that restricts your movement in your car or makes it uncomfortable to use your hands and feet to control your vehicle.

Ensure All Passengers Are Occupied

Last but not least, if your road trip includes passengers like family members or friends, an essential thing to do is ensure they've got plenty to do to keep them occupied on each leg of your journey.

Bored passengers can distract drivers, making them anxious or even grumpy. Consider giving them travel games to play or devices like tablets for entertainment during your road trip.

Don't forget to bring things that will make your trip a bit easier and more fun. With the appropriate amount of prep, you can make any length road trip a success.

Making Your Trips More Eco-Friendly

The more I see the weather swinging wildly throughout the year, the more I worry about global warming and think about that one episode of The Twilight Zone way too much. I know the things I do won't contribute greatly to making that change, but I still try and encourage others to. While travel doesn't always feel like it's great for the environment, especially when you're getting to your destination on a a huge plane that burns a ton of fuel, there are many things you can do to offset your travel carbon footprint. 

While travel doesn't always feel like it's great for the environment, there are many things you can do to offset your travel carbon footprint.

Pack Light

The less "cargo" that a plane carries, the less fuel it has to use. It might be negligible in relation to the weight of the plane itself, but every little bit helps, plus you'll feel like a rock star for being able to go straight from the plane to your hotel, because you don't have to wait at the baggage carousel like all those other suckers. Boom! You saved time and you saved money. If you need ideas on how to pack strategically, check out this post.

Bring a reusable water bottle

Stay hydrated, while also being environmentally conscious and not buying a bunch of bottled waters on your trips. I have a favorite. I will fill it half with ice and the other half with water at the beginning of the day and my water stays cold all day long and I usually even have ice long after my bottle is empty and I need to refill it. It's great, because it also saves you money too. I also have a second favorite that collapses and is great for all day walking. 

Skip the straw

So many places now are banning plastic straws, because they aren't recyclable and mostly just end up in the ocean, aspiring to become a part of that plastic island. If you travel  internationally, you'll notice that you don't even get offered a straw in many places. If you must have a straw, travel with a reusable one. I have several stainless steel and copper straws that I put in my purse to use when I'm out. 

Bring your own utensils

With the same idea about straws, I generally travel with a set of bamboo utensils or the above utensils that are forks and spoons in one without being a dreaded spork. Why? Because I love eating at food trucks, but I hate plastic utensils...and there's never anyplace to recycle them (if they even are recyclable). There's also the fact that sometimes those plastic forks and knives are just not sturdy enough for the food you're eating. Have you ever had a fork just snap in half while trying to eat something heartier? Well, bamboo forks will never do that, plus, you can wash them and reuse them without worrying about BPA and degradation. 

If you don't care if you have a whole range of utensils, then check out these awesome travel utensils from Humangear. They're made for camping, but no one's going to bat an eye if you whip these out at the food trucks, especially in Portland.

Shop at farmers’ markets

Support local farmers, butchers, florists and artisans by shopping at open-air markets. Not only will you be putting money back into a community to help it thrive, you’re also keeping small businesses alive. By purchasing fresh ingredients that you can eat right away or do a little preparation with back at your lodging, you’re saving money over a traditional sit-down meal.

Eat at food carts 

Another way to save on meals is to eat at food carts. They are the ultimate in budget dining, because they are basically a mobile kitchen. With their low overhead, (no seating, waiters, busboys, etc.) those savings are passed on to you. You also get to try local cuisine for less, and normally where there is one food cart, there are many. If your kids are picky, there is bound to be something they find appetizing within reasonable walking distance from your current cart.

Find sustainable restaurants

While not always budget-friendly, I try to look for restaurants who use local and seasonal foods. This means that your food doesn't have to travel far to get to you, plus you're getting the freshest dishes possible, so it's a win-win. There are lots of sustainable restaurants that pass their savings on to you, so not only are you getting awesome food, but you aren't paying more for it either. Locally-sourced food is a great way to really feel your destination as well.

Ebooks and apps

Guidebooks are awesome, but not only do they take up room in your luggage, what do you do with them when your vacation is over? Probably you recycle them, but what if you didn’t have to? You can pretty much get any book you want in digital format for your e-reader or smartphone. You can even “bookmark” important pages you know you’ll need. And there are many apps that can give you directions, city tours, maps and even help you find attractions nearby. Many are even free! Going paperless can really make you feel lighter on your trips and allow you to feel better about all the information you’re toting around.

Walk or take public transportation

Many travelers rely on renting cars or taking cabs when on vacation, but that’s not always economical. In most big cities, taxis are really expensive and just a few trips could add up to hundreds of dollars. Why waste all that money (and gas!) when you can just as easily walk to your desired destinations or take public transportation? If either of these options are feasible, then take the time to slow down and smell the roses. 

You never know what you’re missing until you get out and see things from the point of view of a local. You’ll get some fresh air, exercise and even find a hidden shop or café that you can come back to. This is also a great time to let your kids take the reins and learn to navigate the subway map or figure out the best walking route from your hotel to wherever it is you planned on going. And if you tend to get swollen ankles from tons of walking, then get yourself a pair of good compression socks for sightseeing or to wear when you get back to your room.

Stay in an eco-lodge

If you’re looking for alternative accommodations from your typical hotel, consider staying in an eco-lodge. They come in many different types, but strive to do their best to impact the environment as little as possible, with low-flow toilets, use of sustainable materials, farm-to-table programs and more. You will find that many are a lot more luxurious than expected and even more affordable. Be careful, though, as some offer electricity, while others do not. If lights after sundown are important to you, then make sure you confirm that it is included before you book.

Stay in an Airbnb

While this isn't necessarily eco-friendly all on its own, it comes with benefits built-in that you don't think about: there's no housekeeping, so unless you're washing all your linens and towels everyday, you're saving water. You can also opt to put your Do Not Disturb sign on your door instead, so you skip cleaning days that are unnecessary when you're staying in a hotel. Reuse things, save them from having to replace your half-used soap or shampoo. In the meantime, turn off as many lights as you can while you're in the room, and all of them when you leave for the day. These things still help in the long run.


Not all places have recycling receptacles, which is disheartening, but I always have a second garbage bag that I use strictly for my recyclables and then I ask where I can take that at the end of my stay. I've been known to break things down and pack them home if I can't find a proper place to dispose of them. I'm not willing to toss things in the garbage unless there's absolutely no other choice. If you cruise, I have been told that everything goes into garbage cans and then there are crew members who sort out garbage from recycling. 

As a budget traveler that tries to do my part for the environment as much as possible, I’m always looking for new ways to save on my whole vacation. By just making the effort to get out and see your destination from a new perspective, you find different ways to experience your trips and change up your travel style a bit to make it more affordable and green at the same time. 

How do you travel green?

Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate posts. Thanks in advance for shopping through them. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Getting Road Trip Ready!

Summer is right around the corner and for lots of us, that means road trips. We just got back from one. It was quick, but it was fun and we got in a lot of things we wanted to do. Many people will be hitting the road for the summer. If you are, too, then you want to be prepared. Don't forget the most important thing: If you aren't renting a car, then you need to get your own road trip ready.

Summer is right around the corner and for lots of us, that means road trips. If you are, too, then you want to be prepared.

Have you checked your car recently?

I love a good road trip, but it can be scary if you aren't ready for the weather conditions being thrown at you. Traveling through several state, or even just several terrains, can be vastly different. This is not the time to just "see how it goes". You need to prepare. Now, I know the very basic of car maintenance. I can check my oil and put air in my tires and I could probably put on a spare if I was strong enough. I can even jump a car if need be, but that's about it. It's always smart to go get your car checked out before your trip. A licensed professional can do this for you, but they can also show you how to check it yourself, so you know when to come in and get the replacement parts you need. 

Is your car comfortable?

You may find your car fine for jaunts around town, but you'll be spending hours at a time in it and may end up finding that it's not the best for road trips. Several years ago, I got into an accident that totaled my car and I had to get a new (to me) one. When I test new cars, I always sit in the back seat to make sure there's enough leg room, even if I never sit back there. This is especially important if you travel as a family. 

My new car is a Kia Soul, which gives us quite a bit more room to stretch out for long and short trips. It also gets a lot better gas mileage, so I can go farther on a tank of gas. That means road trips are more budget-friendly for me, in addition to being more comfortable. 

Are your brakes good?

If it's taking a little more pressure than needed to stop your car or you hear some squealing when you slow down, those aren't good things. You don't want to find out your brakes are shot when you're in the middle of nowhere. Just because I read about how to slow down a car on the highway when your brakes fail, doesn't mean I want to have to use that information. Make sure you know when to get yours replaced.

Are your fluids topped off?

Don't forget to check important fluids, because there's nothing worse than ignoring crucial maintenance and then ending up either broken down, overheated or doing irreparable damage to something that then costs hundreds or thousands of dollars to replace, making your road trip totally not budget-friendly by the end. You can check all your car's fluids yourself, so you know what needs to be taken care of before you head out...and remember, keep a large bottle of water (a two-liter or gallon jug) in your trunk for emergencies.

Do you have an emergency kit?

Even though you have taken care of the important things, that doesn't mean that something unfortunate still won't happen, like a flat tire or something equally annoying. Be prepared by making sure you have your emergency kit in the trunk. If you don't have one, you should make sure you get one that has the essentials in it, in case you break down or otherwise need to call attention to your unmoving car. Things that you should keep in your kit are:
  • Flares -- Make sure you keep yourself and other drivers safe by alerting them to your situation.
  • Hazard Triangle -- Let people know you're ahead, so they don't plow right into you.
  • Jack -- because you aren't He-Man and need some help holding the car up to change a tire.
  • Lug Wrench. I like this non-slip one, but if you're a wimp like me, this electric one is even better. 
  • Jumper cables -- Just because you can get a stranger to help you, doesn't mean they have the necessary equipment. Another good thing to jump yourself is a Halo Bolt, in case it's just you and you don't want to call AAA if you don't have to (see more info on that below).
  • Flashlight -- You can't always see in the dark or find things easily in the trunk, even during the day. That fancy headlamp you have at home is perfect for this.
  • Rags or Paper Towels -- It's just nice to not ruin your clothes, especially when you've packed light to save space. This is also where antibacterial wipes come in handy. You should have these in your Covid Safety Kit, because that's still a thing.
Some optional items that are good to have, just in case are:
  • Foam Tire Sealant or a Portable Compressor and Plug Kit, because nails and other sharp objects happen and these will at least get you to the next service station.
  • Portable Battery Backup for your phone, because you aren't always near civilization when the least convenient things happen.
  • Fire Extinguisher, because you hope there isn't a fire, but things don't always go the way you expect.
  • A paper map is always a good idea when your phone can't get a GPS signal.
  • Portable jumpstart battery, that can be used to charge devices. It also has a light on it. I have a Halo Bolt and it has saved me several times when my battery has died and I don't have anyone near me to help jump my car. You connect the clips, push a button, wait a bit and then start your car. It's also come in handy to charge my laptop and phone, but also to plug in a light when the power has gone out.

Are your tires road-trip ready?

If you haven't done it recently, take your car in to have your tires rotated. Traveling through snowy or icy passes? Consider getting a set of studded tires for the season, or just specifically for this trip. If you're like me and don't love the idea of tearing up the roads if they are clear, get a set of chains or cables just in case. These are good to have on-hand anyway, just because you never know if a snow or ice storm is going to surprise you.

Now that you're all prepared for your trip, you can worry about narrowing down all the stops you'll be making on your way. Go out and have an awesome and affordable trip. Here's a post if you need help with learning how to pack a great road trip cooler. And check out this post for traveling with your pup.

What are some of your best road trip tips?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through any of them, I may be monetarily compensated, and I will be super grateful to you for helping me keep my blog running. Cheers!

Monday, June 12, 2023

Why a City Break Could Be Perfect for You

When it comes to travel, there are always so many ways that you could look at it. Sometimes, we all get caught up in heading on the same vacations that we forget that there are so many different ways of doing it. You won’t always have to go to a beach for two weeks and lay by a pool. There are other ways of travel that are often just as enjoyable and rewarding. One of which is the idea of going on a city break.

Sometimes, we get caught up in heading on the same vacations that we forget that there are different ways of doing it. You won’t always have 2 weeks.
Photo by ben o'bro on Unsplash

But if you’ve never been on a city break before, you may be wondering what it’s really like and whether it’s for you. So in this blog post, we’re going to break down exactly why it might be perfect for you. Let’s take a look.

It’s Short

For starters, you’ll find that a city break is usually a quick trip. Of course, you could choose to stay for longer, but most of the time you’ll go for a few nights or a weekend. This means that it could be a great option for a little getaway for you, be cost-effective, and mean that you don’t have to have a lot of time away either.

There’s So Much to Do

But at the same time, when you head to a city, you’ll find that there is always a lot of things that you can do when you get there. Not only can you stay in an amazing hotel, like ROOST Center City, and enjoy the facilities, but there will be a wealth of activities to do too. Whether you’re into theatre or history, you’ll find something that will fuel your interests when you’re there.

You See Great Sights

As a step on from that, you’ll also be able to see some of the world’s most notable sights too. From the Statue of Liberty in NYC to The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, wherever you go you’ll have incredible sights that you’ll want to take in. A lot of cities have lots of cultural attractions too. So you can easily pack up your agenda with a range of great things to see and do.

The Food is Incredible

At the same time, there’s also the wealth of food for you to be thinking about too. In most cities, the cousin is incredible. Plus, there’s so much of it too. So be sure to do your research on what you want to eat and book so incredible tables in the cities that you’re exploring too.

You Can Experience New Culture

Finally, you’re then going to want to make sure that you can experience new culture too. Most cities are vibrant with culture and it can come in a range of formats too. So no matter where you go, you should find that you can experience the local culture and customs as well as take in a range of sub-cultures too. Whether that’s Chinatown in NYC or even the Spanish influences in LA – it’s all an amazing part of the process.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

8 LGBTQ+ Travel Movies for Inspiration

I'm getting ready to do a road trip and I always love movies that can inspire my travels. If you're the same, you can visit places from your favorite horror movies and romantic comedies. Celebrate Pride Month by watching a travel movie that centers on LGBTQ+ people and themes, so you get the best of both. Here are 8 great flicks to put on your list. 

I'm getting ready to do a road trip and I always love movies that can inspire my travels. If you're the same, here are 8 LGBTQ+ travel movies.

If you have other movies to add to this list, let me know in the comments. Now, go boot up your favorite streaming service.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Where to Spend Pride Month

Happy Pride Month! I'm a proud ally that does their best to support LGBTQ+ friends, family, and those who I don't know, but deserve equal treatment, because people are people, no matter how they identify or who they love or what they want to be called. It seems like the easiest thing for me to do, but I know it's hard for people every single day, facing discrimination and threats. 

When I travel, I want to go to inclusive, queer-friendly, fun destinations. Here are my suggestions, as an ally, for Pride Month.

So, why would you visit destinations that aren't inclusive or accepting? Anytime I travel and see overwhelming support, resources, representation, I feel like I made a good choice in where to visit. This is an atmosphere I want to immerse myself in. Palm Springs was a great location for many reasons, but especially for their year-round Pride vibes. We have purposely postponed a trip to Florida indefinitely, due to their many new laws restricting freedom of speech, women's rights, history, drag queens, and queer students (or even students with queer parents). 

It's not just my family and a lot of my friends who are avoiding the Sunshine State. Advocacy groups have added a laundry list of warnings against Florida for travelers. The NAACP put out a statement regarding those thinking about making the trip: “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.” 

Instead of Florida, we headed to Paris to visit Disneyland there (and saved money doing so) and we'll be visiting Disneyland in California in June to celebrate Eric's birthday, Pride, and 100 years of Disney. I can't wait to see all the limited food and drinks!

If you aren't looking to visit a Disney park or Florida, how about one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly cities around the world? These cities ranked highest on the LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index:
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Brighton, England
  • Brussells, Belgium
  • Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Montreal, Canada
  • Oslo, Norway
  • San Francisco, California
  • Valletta, Malta

Spend your travel dollars with travel brands that support the community. You can make new friends while traveling with an inclusive group trip from Contiki, that will take you to awesome destinations, make you feel safe, and help you bond with other queer travelers. 

Don't forget your gear! This baker's dozen of queer people are bringing clothes, bags, accessories, and sunscreen for your travels. REI, Patagonia, Columbia, and Prana are some of my favorite outdoor brands that make clothing and support the queer community. These 10 amazing brands are queer-owned. I also love Juvia's Place for makeup that's all-inclusive. They have bright colors to help you express yourself and foundations, powders, and concealers for everyone, from the palest skin tone to the deepest brown. It's a Black woman-owned business that thinks makeup is for everyone and their prices are super affordable.

I also enjoy following queer travelers on social media, because not only are they fun, but I learn about great new places to visit and which cities/countries are inclusive and rainbow-friendly. Nobody wants to feel unsafe or unwelcome when they are on vacation. As a woman, who sometimes travels alone, these places are usually great for solo ladies. Here are some of my favorites:
  • @27travels are two lesbians from NYC who recently got married on a trip after traveling the world for several years. They are fun and their account is a mix of their favorite things and the best inclusive places they've traveled to.
  • @raviaroundtheworld is a proud gay man who connects with his community wherever he goes. It can be risque, but his posts always make me happy.
  • @coupleofmen is a gay couple who have traveled the world and help other LGBTQ+ travelers find better accommodations, destinations, and activities.
  • @asianmapleleaf is a Canadian-born gay traveler who takes his followers along on his adventures, while he indulges in his love of photography and cuisine. You can find him traveling with his sweetie @teraj08, a gay Black traveler, singer, and music producer.
  • @thegaytraveler is a personal friend of mine I met years ago at the Travel Goods Show. He highlights travels with friends, as well as LGBTQ-friendly destinations and events in his hometown of Washington, DC.
  • @amis_adventures is a Black trans solo traveler that shows what life is like for him in different destinations.
  • @thequeernomads these beautiful Black women are married travel advocates and queer activists. 
There are many more queer travel influencers for you to follow. 

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Finding LGBTQ-Friendly Cities In Red States

Pride Month is upon us, but being queer isn't easy, and in a lot of states, it can be downright impossible. With anti-trans and anti-gay laws going into effect across red states in this country, it can be dangerous as well. While there are lots of people fighting hard to reverse these laws and even make progress over previous wins, people still need to live their lives, too. If you're queer, and in a red state, or find yourself in one, know that there are cities that are a lot more accepting than others. The following infographic gives you the most gay-friendly city in every red state right now.

If you're queer in a red state, here is the most LGBTQ-friendly city in each one to find events, community, and activities.

Don't give up on traveling and being yourself. You are wonderful and amazing. Everyone should get to live their authentic self, but if you don't feel comfortable going to any of these places, because politics have made your life a nightmare, consider traveling to blue states, if you can, and these 10 small towns in particular. You can also see the best places around the world to go as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community in my next post. Stay safe when you're traveling. And if you want to help a community thrive, these cities just celebrated their first Pride events in 2022. If you're new to Pride, congratulations, I'm proud of you if you've decided to let everyone know your true self, and here's a quick "how to" for your first time.

Remember that you matter, people love you, and we're glad you're here. I'm glad you're here.

What are your favorite cities to visit for Pride celebrations?

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