June is the official Pride month where the rest of the world joins LGBTQ+ people in celebrating our community, queer culture, and the contributions that LGBTQ+ individuals have made and continue to make to the world. Of course, some destinations have been havens for queer travelers for generations, so Pride is seeped into their core values.
Las Vegas has long been that kind of hot spot. Its history has fostered a thriving queer community, which has only grown as the gaming town matured into the “Entertainment Capital of the World.” One could almost argue that the queer community made Vegas what it is today.
Pioneering LGBTQ+ entertainers like Liberace and Siegfried and Roy helped establish the city’s glitz and glam cred, and LGBTQ+ fans of divas like Cher, Celine Dion, Paula Abdul, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga flocked to Vegas to enjoy their residencies. Other LGBTQ+ stars joined the big shows in town, from Cirque du Soleil to Broadway tours, to showgirls (there was at least one trans woman who quietly performed back in the 1970s), male revues, and drag cabarets. We brought the queer dazzle to Vegas.
The city’s former motto, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” openly winked at the adult and accepting atmosphere of a place where you can try anything, be anyone for a night or a week, and then return to your relatively staid life back home. The freedom, permission, and outright possibility of Vegas is still very real, and it is palpable both on the Strip and off.
More and more LGBTQ+ people want to travel with their entire authentic selves and want to visit a place where they can discover, celebrate, and foster that full self, and maybe even leave more themselves than they were when they arrived.
The great thing about Vegas in 2021 is that it offers travelers the freedom to choose what kind of experience they’d like to have. That choice starts with the different approaches one might have to the city, but also includes a wide variety of choose-your-own-adventure options that allow LGBTQ+ visitors to decide which only-in-Vegas activities they want to embrace to create an experience truly unique to them.
Now the destination is inviting travelers to “Let out the Vegas in you,” which we’re interpreting as everyone letting out their queerness, their weirdness, their nonconformity, the wild selves they hide under that suit and tie.
Start off right by checking out the luxurious accommodations at properties that embrace the LGBTQ+ community, like Luxor Hotel and Casino, where some of Vegas’s hottest DJs spin for the longest-running gay pool party in town, Temptation Sundays. Caesars Entertainment has received a perfect 100 percent score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for more than a decade, and the brand’s properties like Caesars Palace, regularly host or participate in queer community events. Circa Resort & Casino in Downtown Las Vegas straddles the past and the future, featuring old school style epitomized by the elegant rooftop Legacy Club and a first-of-its-kind-in-Vegas pool amphitheater Stadium Swim. Meanwhile, Wynn and Encore offer luxurious amenities (including a newly designed championship golf course and two five-star spas) and access to some of the best shows and restaurants in town.
Vegas offers culinary experiences fit for any foodie, whether you are looking for one of the high-end celebrity-chef curated restaurants attached to a resort, or something more kitchy and queer like Señor Frog’s Drag Brunch inside Treasure Island Las Vegas, which features RuPaul’s Drag Race cast and other beloved queens. Find elevated pub food with a side of sass at Hamburger Mary’s, which also hosts drag shows, charity bingo, cabaret theater, and more. Renowned lesbian chef and restaurateur, Susan Feniger, and her business partner, Mary Sue Milliken serve up refined Mexican with Border Grill Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Vegas wasn’t crowned the Entertainment Capital for nothing. The city is Queen of shows, from the afore mentioned residencies to the outlandish cabaret and burlesque of Spiegelworld’s ABSINTHE (called “the #1 greatest show in Las Vegas history” by Las Vegas Weekly). The Aussie hunks of Thunder From Down Under at the Excalibur will rock you. The fierce queens of the variety show The Fabulous Draganza at AREA15 include some of the city’s most fabulous: Alexis Mateo, Coco Montrese, Kahanna Montrese, and special guest Elliott with Two Ts. They perform in PORTAL, a 360-degree, floor-to-ceiling, projection-mapped entertainment space.
Queers own the night, so our Vegas nightclubs are naturally fabulous and over the top. Just off the main drag, Paradise Road, is the lovingly self-named “fruit loop,” where you’ll find LGBTQ+ bars and clubs including Piranha Nightclub, QUADZ, and FreeZone Nightclub and Bar. Off Strip Flex Cocktail Lounge still feels like a small town bar, while The Garage will get your engine revved up. Go ahead, take a bite out of that apple in The Garden Las Vegas, an intimate and chic lounge bar in downtown Vegas’s arts district, featuring craft cocktails.
When you leave, be prepared to take a little Vegas with you. Not in souvenirs, cool swag, or memories — although you’ll have plenty of those — but in learning how to let out the Vegas in yourself. Follow in the city’s shoes. Even after you’ve gone home, give yourself permission to be your full self. Embrace all parts of yourself, even the desires you might usually find embarrassing to admit (even to yourself). This Pride, be out, be proud. Be Vegas.