Gay & Lesbian Key West, Mark's List in Key West, FL

Author: 
Mark
Curator: 
The Mark's List Gang

About Gay and Lesbian Key West

Whether it’s called the Conch Republic, Cayo Hueso, Bone Island, or the Southernmost City, Key West is known as paradise to over 500,000 gay and lesbian tourists who visit the island each year. Imagine a subtropical island glowing with the rainbow colors of bougainvillea, royal Poinciana, and hibiscus blooms, where the year around temperature is in the high 70’s. Here two turquoise bodies of water – the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico – lap the shore. From its gay and lesbian nightlife, accommodations and events- to its welcoming community, live-and-let-live, “come as you are” attitude- Key West is internationally acclaimed as a top gay and lesbian destination.  

Key West's award winning gay and lesbian accommodations have long set the industry standard. While the phrase “gay guesthouse” was invented in Key West, its meaning has evolved. Today's gay and lesbian traveler to Key West has more options than ever, featuring different levels of amenities, sexual temperature, location and much more. Key West features several men-only, clothing-optional resorts. It has the world's largest all-women resort. It has clothing-optional resorts that welcome both gay men and lesbians. The island also features over 100 gay-friendly inns, many more private homes for rent, and hotel choices ranging from budget chains to two recently-acquired Waldorf – Astoria Collection ocean front resorts (The Reach Resort and Casa Marina).  

Amazing Gay Travel selected Key West as the Best City in the World for Gay and Straight Unity and Gay and Lesbian Unity in a 2011 readers poll. Harmony rules in Key West. Out Travelers’ Readers chose Key West as the top Gay Resort Town for 2008 and 2006, and it is in the finals for Gay.com’s travel awards for 2009; The Island House has been voted best male guesthouse; Pearl’s has been named the top women’s guesthouse, and seven of the gay guesthouses received the coveted ‘Out and About’ five palm award. In general, the quality of the accommodations is unsurpassed. George Hobica reported in his “Gay USA” guide that no other major gay destination can equal the quality, comfort and attractiveness of Key West’s guesthouses.

Key West's nightlife has long been notorious. Many of its Gay and Lesbian bars and clubs, like its characters, have become legend. From the earlier days of the Monster and the Copa to unforgettable tea dances, Key West's daily parties are intertwined with its gay and lesbian history. Today's Key West has continued that tradition. During the day, many visitors enjoy the island's clothing optional men and women only pool bars. Each night, a different crowd of gay and lesbian visitors fills hot spots both on and off Duval Street. Today's Key West features more gay and lesbian nightlife options than ever: cabarets, dance clubs, drag shows, piano bars, a leather/levi bar, a gay-friendly country bar, and neighborhood bars. Sunday's themed Tea Dance at La Te Da continues to grow after decades. Every weekend, lounges featuring the latest trends in dance and electronic music attract gay and straight tourists and residents alike. All of Key West's restaurants and nightspots are within walking distance of one another and the island's guesthouses and other accommodations. 

While it is no secret that Key West knows how to throw a party, the island often plays host to gay and lesbian tourists during recently developed and retooled events, attracting thousands. While other destinations actively discourage spring breakers, Key West's Gay Spring Break attracts a large crowd of younger gay men and lesbians who want to enjoy the annual ritual in an environment in which they can safely be themselves. Key West Gay Pride (June) is a celebration of Key West's open community. Tropical Heat (August) is a steamy four day event for gay men. Womenfest (September) attracts up to 5,000 women each year and features over a week of events. Bone Island Bare It All Weekends have become South Florida's largest naturist gatherings for gay men. Every October, between 50,000 and 80,000 visitors party in the streets and nightspots of Key West during Fantasyfest. The island also features different pageants for every month, numerous charity events, and several themed weekend events.  New Years rings in with Key West Drag icon Sushi being lowered in a six foot red stiletto carried live internationally on CNN. 

Gay men and women can choose from exclusively gay and lesbian water activities such as snorkeling, fishing, sunset sailing, and dolphin watching; or join other island visitors above, on, or below the sea. The beaches offer sunning, volleyball, wind surfing, or just relaxing under the trees. 

Nearly a third of Key West’s 28,000 year-round residents are gay or lesbian. A large percentage of businesses proudly fly the rainbow flag. Many gay men and women feel more at ease on this congenial subtropical island than anywhere else in the world. In a recent Harris Poll, Key West was selected as the second-most gay friendly city in the United States, ahead of every other resort destination. The Key West Business Guild, founded in 1978, operates a gay and lesbian visitor center seven days a week and provides information at www.gaykeywestfl.com  and www.returntokeywest.com.  

Liberal, civilized, and sophisticated, Key West has a gay police chief and openly gay law enforcement officials who protect the rights of residents and visitors regardless of race, age, gender or sexual orientation. Even the political arena reflects this easygoing attitude. Key West was the first city in the United States to elect an openly gay mayor; a variety of other high-profile elected and appointed civic positions — from city and county commissioner to chamber of commerce president — have been and are held by gays and lesbians. The rainbow flag stands alongside the American flag in the city commission chambers, and the city’s official motto is One Human Family, proclaiming equality and acceptance for all people. 

For gay and lesbian visitors, Key West is a place to be open and relaxed. It’s a venue to make new friends, to dress up or dress down, or just wear a dress. It’s a place to play from dawn to dusk or luxuriate in laziness. Above all, it’s a prime destination to enjoy carefree days and nights on an irresistible, accepting tropical island unlike any other.           
Aaron Huntsman and Lee Jones Marriage in Key West
Monroe County Plaintiff Couple Aaron Huntsman and Lee Jones were the first gay couple married in Key West. Their wedding was held at the Monroe County Courthouse and featured a Reception at Aqua Nightclub.
AIDS Help's 2014 Bed Race
Key West AIDS Help hosted the 2014 Bed Race on Duval Street. This fund raising event brought out the creativity from all the businesses who participated. Congrats to the Winner--Bourbon Street Pub!
Conch Republic's 2014 Drag Race on Duval
The 2014 Conch Republic Annual Drag Race in Key West featured many local drag celebrities and first timers competing against eachother down Duval Street.
AIDS Help's 2014 Taste of Key West
Key West AIDS Help hosted the 2014 Taste of Key West on Truman Waterfront Pier. This fund raising festival offered samples of food and beverages from countless restaurants and bars in Key West.
Swimmer Diana Nyad Arriving Key West, FL
Swimmer Diana Nyad swam free style (without a shark cage) from Cuba and arrived 90 miles away in Key West, FL. This monumental 110 mile swim took five tries and was finally completed on September 1st in nearly 53 hours.
Business Guild August Mixer
The August Key West Business Guild Mixer was held at the Keys Federal Credit Union. Their monthly mixers introduce new businesses and owners to existing ones to build bridges for a better community.
Bone Island's 2013 Bare It All Weekend Key West
Bone Island's 2013 Bare It All Weekend is a series of parties at various locations in Key West. There was a naked pool party at The Island House, nightclub party at Bourbon Street Pub , karaoke at 801, and finally a Tea Dance at La Te Da.
AIDS Help's 2013 Vintners Dinner at Casa Marina in Key West, Florida
Key West AIDS Help hosted the Vintners Dinner at Casa Marina in Key West, Florida. This event features the crème de la crème of local chefs in the same kitchen and then food becomes art. There were representatives from 18 wineries that provided accompanying wines for each course.
AIDS Help's 2013 Taste of Key West on Truman Waterfront Pier
Key West AIDS Help hosted the 2013 Taste of Key West on Truman Waterfront Pier. This fund raising festival offered samples of food and beverages from countless restaurants and bars in Key West.
Business Guild April Mixer at Pearl's Patio
Photos from the April Key West Business Guild Mixer at Pearl's Patio. Their monthly mixers introduces new busiesses and owners to existing ones to build bridges for a better community.
Business Guild April Mixer at Pearl's Patio
The April Key West Business Guild Mixer was held at Pearl's Patio. The goal of their monthly mixers is to introduce new busiesses and owners to established ones to build bridges for a better community.
Business Guild Mixer at Duval Square
Photos from the March Key West Business Guild Mixer at Duval Square. Their monthly mixers introduces new businesses and owners to existing ones to build bridges for a better community.
Business Guild Mixer
Photos from the February Key West Business Guild Mixer at The Hard Rock Cafe. Their monthly mixers introduces new busiesses and owners to existing ones to build bridges for a better community.
Business Guild Mixer
The January Key West Business Guild held their Mixer at The Mel Fisher Museum. The Guild's monthly mixers introduce new busiesses and owners to existing ones to build bridges for a better community.

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