Gay Pride in DC

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Back when the whole hullabaloo over gay marriage was in effect, I wrote this lil service article on spec, just for the hell of it. I shopped it out a few places, but I think that the mainstream papers are a little apprehensive about gay-oriented travel.

I’m not gay but I occasionally work in a gay-friendly restaurant (oh, I’ve got some fun stories!), and I can’t imagine why catering to the gay market or occasionally running a gay travel feature could hurt any kind of publication. Advertisers and editors have no idea what kind of disposable income they’re sniffing at.

Anyhow, with Capital Pride upon us, I thought I’d share this piece with y’all. It’s too late to sell it now and the info will be stale next time around.

Oh yeah…and this is also a bit in response to the people on the Boots forum who listed DC as their least favorite city of all time. There’s so much more beyond the monuments…you have no idea…

Out and About in DC

Just a few blocks from the White House is one of the most vibrant, gay neighborhoods in the country. Dupont Circle and the adjacent areas of Adams-Morgan/Kalorama and Logan Circle are home to the majority of the capital’s young, professional gays and lesbians, and they have helped to shape this small triangle of Washington into one of the most entertaining and affluent in the city.

Two streets (P and 19th) and three avenues (Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire) converge to form Dupont Circle, where an art deco fountain with figures representing the sea, wind, and stars is the prominent fixture. On warmer days, cyclists, sunbathers, and chess players become part of the grassy landscape that rings the Circle, and Pride parades, which take place throughout the spring, usually start or end here with much rainbow-flag-flying fanfare.

No doubt, the proximity to Embassy Row and the Phillips Collection, the nation’s first modern art museum, has led to the emergence of many contemporary galleries in Dupont. On the first Friday of the month, a cluster of nearly two-dozen galleries and museums welcome visitors to opening receptions?in other words, an “art crawl.” An exemplary member of this consortium, the hard-to-find Textile Museum, houses more than 17,000 precious rugs, tapestries, and fabrics, some of which date back several millennia.

Shopping is why many DC residents, gay or straight, visit Dupont. On Connecticut, neighborhood landmark Kramerbooks has an easily browsable selection of the latest literature and nonfiction, and a diverse menu of dinners and desserts in the Afterwords Caf?. Another book stop is Lambda Rising, which caters to the GLBT set. Tabletop is a new home furnishings store, whose sleek wares echo the decorative arts popular in the 50s and 60s. Meanwhile, sating the shopping bug of those who’ve helped to transform Logan Circle into hot real estate is a fresh group of stores along 14th Street. Go Mama Go and Home Rule provide everything from Japanese pottery to Alessi kitchen trinkets to upscale toiletries. Trendy clothing shop Pop outfits both men and women, while its downstairs housemate Pulp vends handmade papers and amusing gifts.

By evening, the action shifts north or east. At the top of Connecticut and around the bend is Columbia Road, which, with the intersecting 18th Street, forms the boundary of Adams-Morgan. Perry’s, a restaurant that is as known for its colorful boards of sushi as it is for its Sunday “drag” brunch, is near the junction, and it offers a rooftop view of late-night action, accompanied by twinkling lights. Dotted with Ethiopian eateries, Gallic creperies, Latin lounges, and noisy nightclubs, the main thoroughfare of Adams-Morgan ? 18th Street ? has become too popular for its own good. But other restaurants and meetings spots have cropped up in the wake. DC’s gay elite, from politicians to pundits, frequent 18th and U Duplex Diner, whose central themes are retro repasts, giant cosmos, and raucous parties that sometimes rage past the official closing time. Logan Circle has also added some hip eateries, including Rice, which rewards with unadulterated Thai fare, and Logan Tavern, which serves up comfort food in a chic, urban setting.

The epicenter of gay nightlife in DC can be found on 17th Street. Also known as “Dupont East,” the street is the host of an annual cross-dressing extravaganza known as the High Heel Race. But, its gay-friendly bars and clubs are what endear 17th to its neighbors. JR’s welcomes visitors with daily drink specials and weekly viewings of such shows as “Queer as Folk” and “Six Feet Under.” Meanwhile, Chaos and Cobalt keep their patrons energized into the wee hours with ample doses of Britney, Cher, and DJ remixes.