When we think of Key West, open water, sun and fun come to mind – but there’s also a rich LGBTQ culture here that not everyone knows about. Luckily, our four Out Travelers - Laith Ashley, Arisce Wanzer, Marti Gould Cummings and Kate Austin – got the opportunity to meet with some of the queer locals and get all the details about how Key West is leading the charge for inclusivity when it comes to vacation destinations.
Laith: I didn't realize that Key West had such a rich artistic history, and we got to see that at the Tennessee Williams museum. Dennis, our guide was so knowledgeable and thorough, and it was really interesting to hear about how Williams contributed to Key West being this really inclusive, liberal place.
Kate: It was so amazing to walk down the streets of Key West and see so many LGBTQ couples holding hands and being openly loving and proud. It’s fantastic to be able to travel to destinations where our community is so well represented. The locals say they are one big family and they really proved it by how warm everyone was.
Marti: I travel a lot for my job, so it's important to find places that are going be accepting of me, whether I show up just as myself or as my drag persona. In Key West, acceptance is never an issue and the drag/gay bars we went to could not have been more welcoming. From LaTeDa and Aqua to 801 Bourbon Bar and Sidebar, each place had its own vibe, but was so fun and treated me like I was one of their sisters.
Arisce Wanzer: We had the fortunate opportunity to be able to meet Donie Lee, Key West’s openly gay Chief of Police, who had served for over twenty four years before retiring. You can also tell that he really made a positive impact on the community, and the people there love him. Everyone knows who he is, and I lost count of how many “congratulations” we heard shouted out as we walked with him on the street.