The last couple weeks have kept me busy and on the go. I met a lot of Key West fans at the recent Gay Travel Expo in Chicago, and returning home to the island I met fun-loving people on the American Eagle flight from Miami.
American now has jet service to Key West (a quick 22-minute flight from Miami!) and the view is spectacular. After landing at Key West International Airport, you enter an arrivals lounge that is under renovation and expansion. Soon we’ll have two baggage carousels, newly remodeled restrooms and relocated automotive rental counters.
FYI, you’ll find the major car rental companies here — but once you’re in Old Town Key West, you really don’t need a car. Walking and bicycles are the preferred means of traversing our two-mile by four-mile island. You’ll find pedicabs and taxis all over Old Town if the walk seems too far.
Plans are underway for Key West Pride, set for June 5-9, where we celebrate our lifestyle here on the island. Festivities begin with the Key West Business Guild’s open-house mixer at the Island House. Starting at 5 p.m. the boys of Island House will serve cocktails and champagne while passing gourmet hors d’oeuvres. Mingle with our local characters and learn why we chose to live at the “end of the road,” closer to Cuba than Miami.
Key West Pride includes a film festival at the Tropic Cinema featuring a new documentary about Divine, who made Key West her home. We crown a Miss Pride, Ms. Pride, and Mr. Pride during three nights of pageants. In addition the Kinsey Sicks, dubbed “a Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet,” bring their music and humor to the stage for three performances at the Waterfront Playhouse.
During Pride week you can enjoy pool parties, disco dance parties, late-night soirees, and moonlight sailing excursions.
Our highlight Pride parade features Gilbert Baker, creator of the original rainbow flag, as the grand marshall. Three sections of the 1.25-mile sea-to-sea rainbow flag, which was created by Baker and unfurled down the entire length of Key West’s Duval Street in 2003, will be carried in the parade.
Spending time on the water during Pride brings so many choices for visitors. I like to join LGBT friends on Venus Charters for a dolphin-watching adventure, or join the guys snorkeling and kayaking on the Blu Q.
Venus Charters’ Captain Karen has been entertaining gay women and men for years, showing them how to fish and snorkel and sharing the excitement of discovering pods of our native dolphin (not to be confused with the dolphin fish served in local eateries). Captain Steve of the famed Blu Q takes a day on the water to another level: join him and his crew for a clothing-optional snorkeling excursion along with a romantic picnic on a remote island.
Watching the sun set each day at Mallory Square is a unique experience (a tradition that, legend has it, was started more than 30 years ago by a gay trolley driver with a pitcher of martinis). Today the nightly sunset celebration features locally-made arts and crafts as well as exuberant performers and buskers.
Other sunset options include a relaxed sailing excursion, complete with fine imported wines and hors d’oeuvres, on Danger Charters’ Wind and Wine Sunset Sail. Other times you’ll find me with a group of friends on the Fury’s Commotion on the Ocean sunset adventure with live music and margaritas.
Join us here for Key West Pride, and I guarantee you’ll make new friends and take home countless stories and memories to share. See you June 5!