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Long Beach, California’s sixth largest city, once had a reputation as a gang-infested dump, with Angelenos looked down on it like New Yorkers turn their noses up at Jersey City. Partly thanks to good leadership, a plummeting crime rate, and changing neighborhoods, the bad rap slowly receded and Long Beach is now a highly desirable location for LGBTs to both live and play. Here are five other things that make LB a California destination worth your time:
Long Beach hosts a legendary Pride that many say is better than L.A.’s or San Diego’s. The event has become the third largest Pride in the nation, attracting over 80,000 people to downtown LB for two days in late May. A diverse mix of southern California that attracts all races and genders, Long Beach Pride is a reflection of the modern melting pot of the city. The most recent event, called “Reflections of Pride,” just wrapped with performances from Kelly Rowland, Cazwell, CeCe Peniston, and Alec Mapa.
One of the most promising young politicians in California, if not the country, is 36-year-old Long Beach city councilman and vice mayor Robert Garcia. This handsome and articulate Democrat — who is currently running for mayor and was recently endorsed by L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti — added green space and bike lanes to his city, as well as spearheaded the first park in America named in honor of Harvey Milk; it even includes a replica of the trailblazing politician’s soapbox. Garcia is a walking advertisement for his city and a proud cheerleader for it. Should Garcia win his election later this year, he'll be one of the nation's few out Latino politicians in the country.
Currently an icon of southern California, the 84-year-old luxury liner first departed Scotland in the 1930s and routinely sailed across the Atlantic before aiding Allied efforts in World War II. The Queen Mary then returned to regular service, carrying passengers until the 60s, when air travel took off. In late 1967, the Queen landed in Long Beach and has rested there ever since. She now holds a hotel, three restaurants, and regularly hosts wedding receptions, haunted houses, and, appropriately enough, gay dance parties. Currently, an exhibition on Princess Diana is featured on the ship.
Long Beach was recently named one of the top 10 best cities to live for the under-35 crowd, and one reason cited was the city's embrace of cycling. Long Beach scored right below San Francisco and Austin on Vocativ's Green Commuter Index thanks to the high percentage of Long Beachers who commute to work and play by bike. The city has invested millions in bike lanes, bike parking, and other two-wheeled infrastructure. There are over 60 miles of seperated bike trails and paths throughout Long Beach, a city that's mostly flat and has gorgeous weather — so strap on a helmet and get out there.
As we've described there is plenty to see and do in Long Beach, but the city is also close to many destinations. It's only a $1.50 light-rail ride to hip downtown Los Angeles, where you can transfer to trains that take you to other L.A. neighborhoods and areas like Hollywood, Pasadena, Koreatown, and Culver City. Disneyland, California Adventure, and Knott's Berry Farm, are only about a half-hour away by car, and a bit longer by bus, while San Diego is only about 100 miles to the south.