IGLTA Contributor / Wednesday, January 6, 2021 / Categories: Travel Blog Open space. Open minds. Beyond its natural beauty and eclectic charm, Key West’s warm, come as you are ideology is one of the fundamental reasons for the island’s popularity with gay and lesbian visitors. Sensuous and real, Key West is a gay-friendly oasis, where you can be open, relaxed, make new friends and savor this small town's live-and-let-live philosophy. So hold hands. Embrace. Hang out. No one will bat an eye. No wonder Key West’s official motto, “One Human Family”, was adopted by the City Commission. And why LGBTQ+ visitors feel more at home in Key West than anyplace else in the world. Come out, come out, wherever you are. There’s plenty to do and see on this two-by-four mile island, including hidden charms that might go unnoticed. This quaint village boasts bougainvillea, Royal Poinciana and hibiscus blossoms in a rainbow flag of colors. Canopied streets are lined with lovingly restored Victorian homes, many once owned by illustrious gay and lesbian figures: Tennessee Williams, Elizabeth Bishop, James Merrill, to name a few. Here, secluded courtyards and lazy porch swings are permanent fixtures. And bicycles rule the road. With hundreds of dive and snorkel sites just off shore, Key West's clear, turquoise waters beckon. Try a clothing–optional dive excursion. For anglers, Key West is the ultimate place to grab a rod. But if you'd prefer a lounge chair over a fighting chair, gay and lesbian sunset cruises offer front-row seats to pastel skies, while the pulse of Mallory Square festivities beckon in the not too distant background. Uninhabited and uninhibited. When it comes to playfulness, other destinations have nothing on Key West. The nightlife here is the stuff of legend. From pulsating gay dance clubs to testosterone-free women's bars, anything goes. Make your way to a cabaret for a spicy performance by stiletto and lipstick-clad drag queens. Afterwards grab some fresh air and a brew at one of our legendary open-air pubs. Liberate your libido at one of Key West's nude entertainment or dance clubs. For something more subdued, kick back in a cocktail lounge or swanky piano bar. Weekdays you can visit the Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. On Saturdays, don't miss the always-popular Gay & Lesbian trolley tour. And with year-round events and celebrations designed specifically for gay and lesbian visitors, any time is a good time to arrive. Out before it was in. For a small town, Key West is big on gay history and culture. With more than 2,500 historical buildings, Key West is also an architectural wonder. Its famous “Carpenter Gothic” gingerbread houses have hosted gay novelists, playwrights, painters and poets. In fact, what first attracted the gay population to Key West in the 1970s were the dilapidated Victorian houses begging to be restored into fabulous showplaces. Historical highlights include the Little White House Museum, Audubon House, the Ernest Hemingway House and the Key West Lighthouse Museum. Glimpse into the past at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, where resurrected artifacts and treasures bedazzle. Besides live theatre, a Pops Orchestra, Opera Theatre and a Film Society, the town boasts a local yet world-class symphony. Where to stay. The naked truth. In gay Key West, the only thing hidden in closets are clothes. Then again, with so many clothing-optional activities and accommodations, your wardrobe may never see the light of day. Key West’s accommodations range from elegant resorts to cozy tropical guesthouses, many of whom cater primarily to gay men, lesbians, or a combination of the two. These private hideaways are often tucked beneath swaying palms, dressed up with island wicker or rattan and museum-quality antiques. It’s not uncommon to find private pools, private beaches and, of course, clothing-optional sunning decks. Many establishments offer suites or apartments that are perfect for groups of friends. Eat, drink and be Mary. A festival for your taste buds and feast for the senses, Key West is home to world-class chefs and a dizzying array of dining options. Many restaurants artfully prepare authentic island delicacies—succulent Key West pink shrimp, conch, fresh-off-the-dock fish and succulent Key Lime Pie—with their own unique flair. Whatever the culinary theme, the ambiance is as enticing as the entrée. From romantic hidden courtyards to chic sidewalk cafes where dining and people watching intertwine, you’ll soon discover why Key West is meant to be savored. For the latest protocols on health & safety in The Florida Keys, please visit fla-keys.com Key West connecting url: https://fla-keys.com/key-west/lgbtq/ Previous Article The Resilience of the LGBTQ+ Traveler Next Article IGLTA Foundation Welcomes New Board Officers for 2021 Print 1816 Rate this article: No rating Please login or register to post comments.