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The Pride Flag, invented by San Francisco-based artist Gilbert Baker in 1978, has become an iconic symbol for the LGBT community. Its bright flourish of rainbow colors has been spotted on t-shirts, jewelry, liquor bottles, signage, the Empire State Building and even the White House. But what exactly do those colors mean? Aside from the fact that the original eight colors (since narrowed to six) point to the diversity of the community itself, each one has a meaning including sex (pink), life (red), healing (orange), sunlight (yellow), nature (green), art (blue), harmony (indigo) and spirit (violet). Here are 8 LGBT-friendly destinations to visit based on the Pride Flag’s original colors.

RELATED: The very best of gay Toronto

Berlin, Germany

Pink (sex): Berlin

“I’m going to be a great big film star! That is if booze and sex don’t get me first.” So said, Sally Bowles, the fictional nightlife entertainer from Cabaret who is one of many characters seduced by a heady Berlin during the ’30s. Nearly 100 years later this intoxicating city remains a potent metropolis in which to check your better judgement at the door and let your hair (all the way) down. Sex positivity is built into the city’s DNA, from a pulsating EDM scene that is welcoming to visitors of all sexual orientations to fetish-friendly clubs featuring “dark rooms” where bodies go bump in the night. Schöneberg, in the West, has been a center for gay life for nearly 100 years and continues to be ground zero fornumerous bars, specialty shops and gay-oriented hotels like the Axel. Meanwhile, in the fashionable East, there are bars and saunas to visit in both Kreuzberg and Prenzlauerberg including Lab.Oratory, a dungeon-like fetish venue underneath the wildly popular (and hard to get into) nightclub Berghain.
Sydney, Australia

Life (red): Sydney, Australia

Does anyone live better than our Aussie friends? What is it about the land Down Under that encourages a laissez-faire attitude and the constant uttering of the phrase, “no worries, mate”? Gorgeous Sydney is a sprawling, beachfront metropolis that bear hugs its LGBT visitors upon arrival before pushing them toward numerous activities such as climbing the famous Harbour Bridge (which lit up with rainbow colors after the attacks in Orlando), idling around queer-oriented Darlinghurst where the bars along Oxford Street swing all night and donning “sunnies” and “cossies” at famous beaches like Bondi, Bronte and Manly where the surf’s always up and the eye candy is bewitching. Newtown, claims a more artsy queer crowd as does Erskineville and Glebe but an inclusive joie de vivre rules throughout most of the city. Of course, timing is everything and most queer travelers hit the city in winter to enjoy one of the greatest night parades on earth—gay Sydney Mardi Gras!

Orlando, FL

Healing (orange): Orlando, FL

It’s an unfortunate irony that the so-called “Happiest Place on Earth” happens to be located in the same city that on June 12, 2016 was the site of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. That the perpetrator of these crimes decided to rage against revelers at a gay nightclub adds yet another layer of heartbreak for the LGBT community. But an outpouring of global grieving has helped spurn the healing process and we can’t imagine a better way to honor the victims than to stand proudly with Orlando. Beyond thetheme parks, there are numerous ways to find kinship with the local queer community. Parliament Resort, a sprawling hotel complex boasting multiple nightlife venues, has been around for decades and has a large swimming pool to boot, while the fellas queue up with singles in hand at bar Savoy or turn a stranger into a friend at low-key cruise bar Hank’s. But if it’s a visit to the Magic Kingdom you crave, we guarantee between both staff and visitors you’ll be among “family.”

Palm Springs, CA

Sunlight (yellow): Palm Springs, CA

Is the Dinah, a five-day fest aimed at queer women, the gayest week of the year in Palm Springs or does that title belong to the guy-centric White Party? Either way, sun-drenched Palm Springs rules as a longtime gay mecca for folks in need of quick dose of vitamin D (the city enjoys 350 days of sunlight annually) coupled with a baked-in tolerance for all and a recent infusion of Hollywood chic. Although the city is littered with several dozen exclusively LGBT resorts aimed at both men and women (but mostly men), you’ll find same-sex couples canoodling poolside at hotspots like the Saguaro, the Parker and the Ace Hotel. Outdoor activities are numerous including hiking around Tahquitz Canyon or in the San Jacinto Mountains (accessible via the convenient Aerial Tramway), but if the sun overwhelms, try hitting up the Desert Hills Premium Outlet Malls, trying your luck at a casino or sliding into a banquette at one of many cocktail bars around town where a midcentury vibe still rules.

Kauai, Hawaii

Nature (green): Hawaii

All destinations are not created equal and it’s true that some cater more to gay men than lesbian women and vice versa. But the Aloha State is the rare destination that attracts both menand women—often same-sex couples—in large numbers and most of them have their sights set firmly on a gay-friendly holiday surrounded by some of the most magnificent scenery anywhere on earth. Stare down into the bowels of an active volcano,  say “I do” while being caressed from the gentle spray of a waterfall and come face to face with a pod of whales. In fact, the further you retreat from the resort areas, the better the state gets. Escape the Big Island’s touristy Kona Coast by night diving with manta rays or follow your bliss to a secluded beach in lush Kauai. Maui Sunseeker in Kihei welcomes men and women in equal numbers and features dreamy rooftop sunsets while Kalani, in the Big Island’s Puna District, is a LGBT-focused wellness retreat focusing on workshops, yoga retreats and personal growth in a lush, jungle setting.

ALSO: Explore everything the Big Island has to offer with this Road Trip Guide

province town, MA

Art (blue): Provincetown, MA

This teensy sliver of a town at the very tip of Cape Cod is like a slice of queer heaven topped with bitter cold winters. Of course, everyone comes to this LGBT mecca during the warmers months when thecity is segmented into eventweeks devoted to every niche group the LGBT community has to offer including party boys, women of color, families, transgender folks, leather guys, bears, etc. But what most visitors probably aren’t thinking about when booking their stay at one of dozens of gay owned and operated bread and breakfasts and small inns is that P-Town is a hotbed of creativity. The city boasts dozens of art galleries and you literally can’t swing a Pride Flag along bustling Commercial Street without hitting a drag queen or local actor handing out flyers to a live, theatrical performance happening that night. Adding to its already arty vibe is the fact that queer legends both past and present including Tennessee Williams, John Waters and Michael Cunningham and have all called P-Town home at one point or another.

Amsterdam

Harmony (indigo): Amsterdam

The Dutch basically pioneered the idea of tolerance. In fact, it was a hub of intellectual tolerance dating back to the 17th century resulting in it being a mecca for scientists and thinkers. These days, the anything goes attitude extends to legalized prostitution, decriminalized drug laws and LGBT freedom and nowhere is this more celebrated and embraced then in the swinging Dutch capital. A city ringed by bridges and canals, pretty Amsterdam delights in a spirit of harmony that extends to visitors who find instant kinship with this city of avid bike riders (it helps that everyone speaks English). Top attractions include the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum, but there is so much more to this LGBT mecca including the Homomonument in the center of the city, several gay-owned hotels and literally dozens of gay bars. Seriously, Amsterdam is one of the gayest places on earth.

Cape Town, South Africa

Human Spirit (violet): Cape Town, South Africa

Does any country embody the resilience of the human spirit better than South Africa? After a decades long battle with the horrors of apartheid, South Africa ratified a new constitution in 1994 and became the firstin the world to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and would later go on to become the fifth in the world and the first in Africa to legalize same-sex marriage. With Table Mountain as its backdrop, pretty Cape Town is arguably the most gay-friendly destination in all of Africa boasting gay-oriented lodging like the Glen Boutique Hotel and nearly a dozen gay bars and ringed by nearby vineyards and stunning beaches—where you can hang out with penguins! 

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Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is an associate editor at Orbitz, a social media marketing consultant and a freelance cultural reporter for numerous publications. His works has been featured in the Huffington Post, Time Out, Passport, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and many others.

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