Pride in Cleveland: Retaking the Lake

by Jill Gleeson

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday June 30, 2016

July's Republican National Convention notwithstanding, Cleveland has evolved into an LBGT-embracing city, and not just because Cabaret star and native Joel Grey finally came out last year. After all, C-town gave birth to the first gay and lesbian radio talk show, "The Gay 90s" in 1993, and since that time has been steadily accruing ever more scintillating diversions for visitors and residents alike.

Pride's Best

The 28th annual Cleveland Pride, a boffo one-day event that has drawn more than 25,000 celebrants, will hit town this year on Saturday, August 13. This year's festival will offer the usual good-time mix of stage shows ('80s darling Debbie Gibson has performed in the past), beer garden and food court, plus a children's pavilion, youth zone, senior space and vibrant parade with dozens of floats.

Dine and Wine
Ask anyone in the Cleveland LGBT community to name their favorite casual eatery, and chances are its lesbian-owned Latitude 41įn. Located in the Gordon Square Arts District of the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, Cathy Brown's joint prides itself on fresh ingredients, a friendly vibe that draws fans from across the city and a Sunday brunch to die for.

Meanwhile, nighttime is the right time for Twist Social Club, possibly Cleveland's most popular gay bar. Super welcoming to all and recently renovated, it rolls up the garage-style doors come summer, including for its all-day Pride party.

Score Some Culture
It's hard to beat the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame and Museum for sheer, joyous energy as far as Cleveland cultural institutions go -- and it's got awesomely detailed exhibits of beloved LGBT inductees like David Bowie, Freddie Mercury and Lou Reed.

After thoroughly exploring the Rock Hall (it takes hours), head on over to the Cleveland Museum of Art. The cultural institution celebrates its 100th anniversary this year and offers free admission! From time to time the museum offers a special LGBT-themed tour; but if you miss it, take your own, stopping by the art of Grant Wood, Harriet Hosmer, Edmonia Lewis, Salvador Dali, Marsden Hartley and more.

Lay Your Head
For luxe refinement, it's hard to beat the brand-new Kimpton Schofield Hotel, housed in a landmark downtown building erected circa 1902. The 122 rooms are graced with clean lines and unfussy fabrics, yet there are whimsical touches here and there to liven things up, such as brightly colored ottomans created from recycled saris. Should you want a solid dose of eco-consciousness with your Cleveland stay, the Hilton Cleveland Downtown, which debuts this month, is Silver LEED Certified, thanks to touches like cold-washing laundry and a soap recycling program.

Get up, up in the air and learn how to pilot a plane with T&G Flying Club, conveniently located at the Burke Lakefront Airport, just across from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "Discovery" flight lessons in sweet little Cessnas are surprisingly reasonable and afford incredible views of Lake Erie and the stunning Cleveland shoreline. Starting the plane, pushing the primer and then actually flying the bird -- at least turning it and helping it take off -- are pretty cool too.

Pro Pointer
Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Dean Rufus House of Fun is Twist Manager Zachary Remngton's pick for the best of Cleveland. "It's a gay-owned boutique in the Hingetown neighborhood of Cleveland, and it's one of my faves," he details. Goodies include clothing, vinyl, jewelry, soaps, incense, vintage cards, plus designer men's underwear and English Laundry fragrances.

Jill Gleeson is a travel and adventure journalist based in the Appalachians of Central Pennsylvania. Find her on Facebook and Twitter at @gopinkboots.