It was in 1969, 50 years ago, when the Commonwealth’s “Virginia is For Lovers” tourism slogan was created, and it has become one of the most beloved and iconic slogans in the world. While it’s meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people over the years, one thing remains the same: LOVE.
It was also in 1969 that the June 28 Stonewall Riots occurred by members of the LGBTQ+ community at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Led by two Transgender women of color, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, it is widely considered the beginning of the gay liberation movement in the United States of America.
1969 Virginia was also a place where the spirit of living OUT, equal and fully was also bursting through. The Block Neighborhood, Richmond’s underground community of gay culture and community, had its alcohol license revoked due to Queer ownership, and on March 24, 1969, Hunter “Patch” Adams, a twenty-three year old sophomore at the Medical College of Virginia, wrote what may have been the first written protest to Richmond Times Dispatch.  Today, OutRVA is the the Go-To guide for the city’s Queer-centric and friendly experiences and home of the VA PRIDEfest since the mid-1970’s.
Mickey’s Tavern on Brooke Street in downtown Norfolk had become internationally known as a respite for sailors and their friends, and acquired a largely gay clientele. Later, in 1972, Norfolk’s first local gay newspaper – Friends – was created and edited by Mickey’s owners Jerry Halliday and H.T. Kelly, Jr.  Today, Norfolk is home to a vibrant LGBT scene, filled with LGBT history & walking tours, events and plenty of entertainment! For 30 years, Norfolk has hosted the Hampton Roads Pride Fest, showing that this community has grown into such a vital part of the city’s culture.
Winchester native Julian Glass, along with partner R. Lee Taylor, was collecting art, antiques and renovating Glass’s family estate Glen Burnie House and gardens – later to be opened as the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in 2005.  Playing nearby, undoubtedly, one might hear the timeless songs of Winchester native and gay icon Patsy Cline. Born 1932, Cline was a pioneering country music singer who died in a tragic plane crash at age 30. Cline was the first solo female singer to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1960, and the first woman to be inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973. Today, Winchester is a thriving main street, which now hosts its annual Winchester PRIDE Celebration.
Tradewinds Restaurant in Roanoke was the regional gay bar for this small city and mountain region. Patrons would have to walk around to the back of the building, down an alley and several steps down. Attracting a large crowd, this type of bar was indicative of many home-grown and under-the-radar gay and lesbian bars around the country.  Today, one can stay and enjoy the food, sites and culture of the Star City, at the annual Roanoke PRIDE festival or on the Roanoke LGBTQ History Walking Tour.
Today, with more American’s coming OUT, the onset of U.S. Marriage Equality in 2015, an increasing number of LGBTQIA+ community centers and organizations, more pro-equality laws and shifts cultural acceptance, LGBTQ+ travelers are discovering the many Virginia destinations which are safe, welcoming and This is reflected in the Queer ownership of Virginia lodging, dining, retail, attractions and events – some Queer-centric, others explicitly open and welcome to all visitors.
Today, you can find self-designated LGBT-friendly shops, restaurants, distilleries, meaderies, cideries, craft breweries, wineries, outdoor adventures, attractions and places to stay during one of our many PRIDE weekend, statewide. You can explore one of Virginia’s 10 regions or find them all at Virginia.org/LGBT.
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