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From Canyon To Cove: Take your pick of gay-friendly cities

March 31, 2011|By Cindy Frazier

The Boom Boom Room may be history, along with the Little Shrimp and Woody's, but Laguna Beach is not giving up on attracting and serving gay and lesbian visitors.

The Gay and Lesbian Travel Industry Directory 2011 has a two-page spread devoted to the city, extolling its beautiful beaches, secluded coves, absolutely fabulous restaurants, artists enclaves and hip nightspots.

The Laguna Beach Visitors and Conference Bureau placed the full-page ad and provided materials for an "editorial" page, a promotion that cost the bureau $3,000, according to Executive Director Judy Bijlani.

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Laguna Beach is listed in the 123-page directory along with quite a few other "gay-friendly" cities that might not spring immediately to mind: Cleveland, Winnipeg, Canada, Milwaukee, Wis., Raleigh, N.C., and Halifax, Nova Scotia, to name a few.

Others are on the "gaydar" of just about every gay or lesbian single or couple: Key West, Fla., West Hollywood, Palm Springs, Santa Fe, N.M., San Francisco, Copenhagen, Denmark. Barely mentioned is the East Coast gay enclave of Provincetown, Mass., but maybe the folks in P-town figured they didn't need to spend money on a big, splashy ad.

Sarah Palin, get ready for the gay/lesbian onslaught in your state: Anchorage is throwing out the welcome wagon, touting itself as the "Bright lights, OUT city!"

The directory is full of tasteful photos of same-sex couples holding hands, toasting each other, enjoying spectacular scenery together and just having fun. The undertone — or overtone — of romance is apparent, as is the promise of meeting beautiful men and women waiting with open arms. There are hunky guys in Speedos and sylvan women in fashion heels.

Here's how Los Angeles is marketing itself to this niche: "LA is SO Gay." La dee da. And I love this bit: "They call us the City of Angels. But don't let that fool you."

Maybe you can be a little naughty here, the ad implies. As for the original "Sin City," Las Vegas, its advertising seems a bit muted compared to the "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" wink-wink promotions for the general audience that you see everywhere.

Most surprising to me was how the Midwest and Far West is throwing out a lure to the gay and lesbian traveler. Who would think that Mormon-run Utah, of all places, and Colorado (where a major battle over homosexual rights was played out some 15 years ago), would be represented in a gay and lesbian travel guide? But there they are.

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