Gay Pride in Burlington, Vermont
Vermont has long held a special place in the hearts of the LGBT community as the first state to grant legal recognition of same-sex marriage following the 1999 Supreme Court decision. And as the largest city in Vermont, lakefront Burlington is the state’s “crown jewel,” hence her moniker, “Queen City.”
PRIDE Vermont, Northern New England’s premiere LGBT PRIDE celebration will be held Sept. 6-13 in Burlington. This year’s theme, “SHINE,” celebrates the personal and collective triumphs of the LGBT community. The week-long, family-friendly event includes a high heel race, transgender events, a food and travel expo, and a special appearance by the girl group The Glamz. (More information at www.PRIDEVermont.com, or by calling the PRIDE Center of VT, 802-860-7812.)
Highlights, Heels, and Drag On ‘Til You Boogie
Sunday, Sept. 6
2 p.m. on Church Street: The pedestrian-only Church Street Marketplace welcomes over 1 million visitors per year, and heels will meet paving stones here for the annual High Heel Race emceed by perennial favorites, the House of LeMay. (*If you happen to be in town the day before, visit the Farmers Market in City Hall Park, adjacent to Church Street; it’s awash in delectable everything from ethnic foods to maple-tinged gin.)
Wednesday, Sept. 9
7 p.m., Burlington City Hall auditorium: Noted author and activist Julia Serano will be the keynote speaker on “Making Transgender Activism More Inclusive.” She’ll be joined by a young speaker from Outright Vermont and a question and answer session will follow. (Admission is free; $5-10 donation suggested.)
Thursday, Sept. 10, 7 p.m.: Interfaith Service, First Congregational Church of Essex Junction. LGBT people and allies from all faith traditions, or none, are invited. (For more information: call the church, 802-878-5745, or email Rev. Stannard Baker, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, Sept. 12
1-5 p.m. The Women’s Afternoon Dance at Red Square, Church Street, Burlingon, 18+ only, with DJ Craig Mitchell spinning the best of the 80s and 90s. Indoor and outdoor dancing (weather permitting), free admission, cash bar, food welcome. (For more information, see: www.facebook.com/events/509605345870853/ )
5:30 p.m.: Vermont premiere of the documentary film, “State of Marriage,” the inspirational story of how VT attorneys Beth Robinson and Susan Murray formed Vermont Freedom to Marry, partnered with legal pioneer Mary Bonauto of GLAD, and led a determined group of activists in a two-decade-long struggle for marriage equality in VT, that built the foundation for the national movement. Screening at the lakefront Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center. Admission is $25 and includes a reception and panel discussion. Advance tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2061974
Sunday, Sept. 13
12 noon – 5 p.m.: Northern Decadence Food & Travel Expo, Battery Park, Burlington. Produced by the Vermont Gay Tourism Association, this “festival within a festival” showcases LGBT-friendly businesses from throughout VT, and includes food and drink samples, including IPA beers from internationally award-winning The Alchemist Brewery, and a silent auction. Tickets: $5 for adults, children 12 and under free. (Some alcoholic samples may have additional fees.) For more information: www.northerndecadence.com.
12:45 p.m. It gets bigger every year, the PRIDE PARADE, Church Street, Burlington. Follow all the participants, students, families, and early “leaf peepers,” all the way to Battery Park (with a stunning view of Lake Champlain), where the festival continues.
1-5 p.m.: PRIDE Festival, Battery Park, Burlington. Music and entertainment by local performers, the aerial performance group Fierce Circus, curvy girl group from NYC, The Glamz, make-your-own button fun, arts & crafts, “Lawn Gaymes,” reading nook with onsite library, a Gender Fun Test, exhibitors and resource displays.
So, Where Are the Gay Bars?
Surprisingly, The Queen City hasn’t had an exclusively gay bar in many years, but no worries, there are numerous gay-friendly establishments. Among the best:
Oak45, just down the hill from Burlington, on Main Street in Winooski. Sleek, candlelit wine bar with long communal tables, couches, elegant cocktails, and a reputation for cute bartenders. See: oak45.com.
Drink, 135 St. Paul St., Burlington. See: vtdrink.com
Halflounge Speakeasy, tiny and intimate, adjacent to its big sister, the popular Red Square, Church St., Burlington. See: redsquarevt.com.
Three Needs Brewery & Taproom, Pearl Street, Burlington. Check them out on Facebook.
Zen Lounge, Church Street, Burlington. See: zenloungevt.com.
What Do I Do if I’m Bored?
That’s not likely to happen in Burlington. From its music venues, to the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, to ECHO Aquarium & Science Center, cruises on Lake Champlain, Shelburne Museum & Farms, there’s something going on around every corner. Our local, gay-founded, independent weekly Seven Days covers the entire scene with a thorough calendar of events:
Welcome to “Foodie Paradise”
One of the many reasons Burlington is ranked on numerous Top Ten lists of America’s best small cities is the plethora of eats, and it is truly farm-to-table heaven. You’ll find the top-rated restaurants here: http://tinyurl.com/pkzcbwx
Now, for some insider tips: If you can’t book a table at #1 restaurant “Hen of the Wood” (named for a wild mushroom and located inside Hotel Vermont), sit at the bar, watch food being prepared, and order from their outstanding appetizers and craft cocktails. For imaginative vegetarian that impresses even carnivores, try “Revolution Kitchen.” And if you’re suffering late-night munchies, visit Kountry Kart Deli on Main Street, open until 3 a.m.
Dog-Darn It, I Can’t Find a Place to Stay!
Many of us can’t bear to travel without our “fur baby.” Burlington has major chain hotels, a few accept dogs, but if you’re looking for a Bed & Breakfast experience with your pooch, only one B&B in Burlington welcomes dogs, the totally eclectic, LGBT-friendly Made INN Vermont (www.madeinnvermont.com). Owner/designer Linda Wolf took a small mansion in the historic Hill District, restored and retro-fitted it into an urban chic work of art with just four guestrooms.
Whether you’re coming to Burlington for PRIDE week, or for Vermont’s spectacular fall foliage season, all lodgings in the Lake Champlain region fill-up quickly, so it’s important to book early.