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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. All information is current to the best of our ability as of date of publication.

Mother May I? That’s a question we might all be asking as temperatures warm up, the vaccine rollout continues and our desire to return to mass gatherings only increases. The truth is that a lot of our favorite May events will look a little different this year or are happening virtually, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth considering (or at least bookmarking for 2022). Here are the top LGBTQ events happening in May.

RELATED: Visit our LGBTQIA travel hub for welcoming hotels, the ultimate queer events calendar, inspiration, and more!

First Splash: Austin

Queers in the Lone Star capital kick off Austin’s long and hot summer season by getting all drunk and naked Memorial Day Weekend. Splash Days (which also includes Last Splash in September) is when folks gather at the gay end of Hippie Hollow, a clothing-optional beach on Lake Travis about 30 minutes from town. Booze barges pull into the cove and the good times roll. This year’s event happens May 28-31 and given that this is basically an outdoor beach day (and with Texas fully open), expect it to happen.

Hey cowboys and cowgirls, book your Austin hotel here.

International Mr. Leather: Chicago

Flickr CC: Senor Codo

An event this spicy doesn’t happen outdoors, so yeah, this one’s been pushed to November 11-14 when the pandemic will hopefully be in the rearview mirror. The actual International Mr. Leather pageant is a big deal, but truthfully the masses who gather rarely attend it. Instead, they come to peruse the leather market, hit up the numerous parties happening around town, and mix and mingle at the host hotel (while wearing very little we might add). IML tends to be men focused, but women are welcome and more are showing up every year!

You always win in the Windy City. Book a Chicago hotel here.

Long Beach Pride: California


What’s the scenelike in Long Beach, you ask? This lovely harbor city 40 minutes south of downtown Los Angeles boasts about a dozen queer bars scattered around town and a robust mid-May Pride weekend (the third largest in the Golden State) that unofficially kicks off Pride season in Southern California. No word yet on this year’s fest, which has us betting it’s either postponed or happening virtually, but bookmark this one for the future; its proximity to LA makes it a super sweet May alternative to the WeHo nightlife scene.

Longing for Long Beach? Book a Long Beach hotel here.

Memorial Day Pensacola Beach Pride: Florida

This queer beach weekend is legendary (its origins date back to the ’60s), though if you’re not from the Deep South you probably don’t know about it. Pensacola Beach Pride (May 27-31) involves thousands of LGBTQIA folk setting up beach umbrellas and even themed tents for a full weekend of boozing and bronzing. These days, circuit parties and nighttime bashes compliment the day events, and though all indications point to them not happening this year, beaches are still open so expect the good times to keep rolling.

Some like it hot! Book your Pensacola hotel here.

New Hope Pride: New Jersey-Pennsylvania

We love small town Pride! Straddling two states, this parade kicks off in Lambertville, New Jersey, then crosses over a bridge and ends in queer-positive New Hope, Pennsylvania with a Pride Fair. Look for the 100-foot Pride flag along the way! This year, New Hope Pride happens May 13-15 (though 2020’s was virtual so you never know if this year will end up following suit). Meanwhile, there’s a lot to love about artsy New Hope, including its restaurant and gallery-lined main street and queer hangouts like John & Peter’s Place.

The Bucks starts here! Book a New Hope Hotel right now.

Sexacola Beach: Pensacola, FL

Billed as the largest lesbian party on the beach, girlie bash Sexacola Beach is set to happen from May 27-31 in tandem with Pensacola Beach Pride, an annual gathering of queer sunseekers along the sunny Florida Panhandle (see above). Themed events include a foam party, glow party, and The White Party. Plus, enjoy live entertainment like pole dancers, fire blowers, drag queens and more. Everything happens at Captn Fun’s Beach Club near the water.

Ready to be penciled in? Book your Pensacola hotel here.

Sizzle Miami

Like a lot of LGBTQIA events, this one started as a one-day affair (back in 2002) aimed at men and women of color, and just kept getting bigger and bigger until in turned into a multi-day event happening each Memorial Day weekend on Miami Beach. This year’s party, happening May 27-30, is slated to happen though the organizers admit that with safety protocols changing regularly, it may end up as a pool party centered around the host hotel. That’s still a lot of eye candy, so no complaints from us.

Ready for a sizzling stay? Book your Miami hotel here.

RuPaul’s DragCon: Los Angeles

Flickr CC: current events

May the fierce be with you at this multi-day convention where thousands of pop culture and Drag Race fanatics gather for queen meet-and-greets, panel discussions, outrageous performances (naturally), and more. The event has been happening annually in Los Angeles since 2015, though 2020 switched to a digital format and the word is not yet out on whether this year’s event will be virtual or postponed entirely. We say, mark your calendars now for 2022.

Ready to sashay away to La La Land? Book your LA hotel hotel here.

Tampa Pride: Florida

Twinned with nearby Saint Petersburg, we have to be honest and admit that St. Pete’s nighttime Pride, which happens at the end of June, is way better. But that’s not gonna stop us from raving about this lovely bay city and its Pride parade, which happens in bumping nightlife district Ybor City (aka GaYBOR City). The weekend brings a trifecta of events that includes a parade, festival and nighttime concert, and if you come back in September you can partake in Pride on the River, which includes the Diversity Boat Parade!

Tempted by Tampa? Book your Tampa hotel here.

Temptation Sundays: Las Vegas

After its 2020 hiatus, we are delighted to report that this sizzling summer pool party returns to Vegas beginning Sunday, May 23. Get fancy and rent a cabana or daybed, but even if you settle for the cheap seats (i.e. a lounge chair) you still get plenty of sun, plenty of pool and plenty of go-go guys and gals gyrating to loud music. We also love Temptation Sundays because it’s the rare Vegas event where you’ll find visiting and local queers partying in the same place.

Feeling lucky? Book your Las Vegas hotel here.


Tagged: California, Chicago, Chicago, Florida, Las Vegas, LGBTQIA, Los Angeles, Midwest

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is a Lead Content Specialist for Expedia Group, and manages content initiatives across numerous Expedia-owned brands. His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Time Out, the Huffington Post, Chicago Magazine, Passport and many others.

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