Long Beach was once thought of as the gritty little sister to Los Angeles; the Oakland to San Francisco, the Newark to New York. But the city has been on an upswing, constructing bike lanes and building green space, while the city's large LGBT population helps gentrify formerly rough sections. Long Beach, with nearly half a million people, is renown for its diverse, raucous Pride festival, which happened earlier this month.
The city's out vice mayor and city councilman, Robert Garcia, is a young man on the move, who will no doubt be rising in the political ranks. We asked Garcia to give us five reason why LGBT travelers should make the trek to Long Beach. Here's what he said:
1) Long Beach is home to the only park in America named after Harvey Milk. The park includes a replica of Milk's famous soapbox, a local leaders plaza, and a pride rainbow flag that flies 365 days a year. In addition, the park is adjacent to the Promenade in Downtown Long Beach, an incredibly active open space with craft brew pubs, and great restaurants.
2) We have an incredible waterfront that includes the Aquarium of the Pacific, LGBT friendly establishments, and boat tours of the harbor. The Queen Mary is always a great destination, and the Atlantis Cruise docks from Long Beach to Mexico every Fall.
3) Long Beach boasts over 12 local gay bars and nightclubs, and numerous gay owned businesses. LGBT residents and tourists will also feel welcome in almost all local bars and restaurants.
4) The city is centrally located between Los Angeles and Orange County so every destination is only 20 minutes away. From Disneyland, to West Hollywood, to Downtown LA, Long Beach sits in the center of all the Southern California action.
5) We were one of only 10 cities in the nation who received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign City Equality Index. Long Beach has led the way on LGBT issues in city government, employee benefits and municipal law. We have 2 openly LGBT members of the City Council, and a community who overwhelmingly supports equality for everyone.