Orlando is known for its family-friendly theme parks and ‘90s boy bands, but when the sun goes down and the Mickey ears come off, Orlando has a bit of a wild side. In regards to a queer scene for 51 weeks out of the year, it’s no Miami, but for one week (the first week of June) it becomes an international queer hot spot.
in Orlando started as a one-day, non-Disney sanctioned event where LGBT guests at Disney World donned red shirts in support of the community. 25-years-later, Gay Days is still not sponsored by Disney (they support it with open arms), but it has turned into a week long party of epic proportions. Sure, there will be groups of mommies and daddies with their kids begging to meet Elsa and Woody, but Gay Days really caters to the fabulously single.
During the same week, Girls in Wonderland
goes down. GIW is Florida’s answer to the Dinah Shore Weekend; but it’s much longer and the girls are hotter. Pool parties at host hotels start really early and last until the wee hours. Most of the parties and events are girls only so you don’t have to worry about sketchy straight dudes watching you hook up with that out-of-town hottie.
Orlando technically doesn’t have a Gayborhood, so the bars and clubs for LGBT folks are scattered throughout the city. The hottest spot goes to Southern Night
. During the week, it’s pretty tame with the exception of College Night, but Saturday they host #Girl the Party
; the only all-lesbian party night in Orlando. The crowd is a mixture of every flavor of queer woman or non-binary person under the rainbow, the place is massive, and the drinks are hella cheap, but save those ones for the drag queen and the all lesbian burlesque show. Southern closes at 2:30, but it’s known to stay open a little later. You’ll probably end up running into that cute tomboy you had your eye on at Southern at Pom Pom’s Teahouse
; a quaint cafe that has the best sandwiches in all of Orlando. It’s also open 24 hours on the weekend and literally a short walk (or stumble) from Southern. If you’re down for Sunday Funday, Ember has an awesome brunch with $10 bottomless mimosas and decent girl scene.
is an Orlando gay institution. It’s been around since the ‘70s and not only is it a club with world class drag shows, but it’s a gay resort with a hotel, makeshift beach, and pool lounge. Pulse
is an upscale club (well, it tries to be) that is popular for their hip hop and latin nights on Friday and Saturday. It’s definitely more of a men’s place, but they try to bring in the queer ladies on Thursdays for their burlesque and drag king show.
is held in October, and it’s pretty lackluster in comparison to other major metro Pride events, but the weather is usually amazing, because it’s Central Florida. Plus, you can enjoy Lake Eola and grab a bite to eat at Hamburger Mary’s
. Yes, it’s a chain, but it has a fun and queer friendly atmosphere that hosts drag shows throughout the week.