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Special Events Blog

The State of Pride 2024

A reflection on the hospitality and events industries' inclusivity progress

June is Pride Month, a time of celebration, remembrance, and a proud reflection on the path we've paved for our LGBTQ+ rights in the United States. In 2024, we stand on the shoulders of those who fought before us, celebrating our achievements and acknowledging the challenges that lie ahead.  

LGBTQ+ travel and hospitality in the US alone is a $65 billion market with household income, approximately double the national average. The spending for gay weddings has boosted state and local economies by an estimated $3.8 billion and generated an estimated $244.1 million in state and local sales tax revenue since gay marriage was legalized nationally. Gay travel worldwide is a $200 billion industry. Family-friendly travel is a growing component of this as younger married LGBTQ+ couples have families.  

The LGBTQ+ community wants to travel, have experiences, and plan their weddings in places where they feel safe and accepted. States that enact strict anti-gay legislation may start seeing a drop in visitors or vendors, as happened this June in Florida. A food and wine event attached to Disneyworld’s Gay Days had to change its format and only offer a free event as vendors dropped out due to fear for their employees' safety. Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is affecting the bottom line of the hospitality industry.  

LGBTQ+ rights in the United States are some of the strongest in the world, and public opinion is strongly behind gay rights. By 2003, all state laws against same-sex activity were overturned, and in 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to validate same-sex marriage.  In 2015, gay marriage was affirmed as a national right for all Americans.  LGBTQ+ individuals have many rights against discrimination nationally and additional ones in many states. The Respect for Marriage Act, passed by Congress in 2022 and signed into law by President Joe Biden, solidifies the national right to marry for our community.  

There has been zero negative effect from any of this legislature. Ninety-six studies over the last 20 years in psychology, medicine, education, and public health have found zero negative consequences from the decision to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.  

But there is still fear around our rights. Almost every LGBTQ+ person I talk to is afraid future administrations may jeopardize the right to marry or rescind our current state of marriage.  In 2023, the number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in the US was almost triple that of 2022, at a staggering 510 across state legislatures. Most of these surround education, with healthcare and drag following closely as areas under attack.  

The first Gay Pride Liberation March was held in Manhattan in June 1970 to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising of June 28, 1969.  At the time, there were cross-dressing laws that required an individual to wear a certain number of clothing items that matched the gender on their state-issued ID. Police utilized these laws to raid bars frequented by the LGBTQ+ community and arrest gender non-conforming individuals.  

The Stonewall Inn in Manhattan was a frequent gay and trans gathering place and was raided often by the police. But on June 29, 1969, just after midnight, the police raid was met with resistance, and a riot ensued. Many were arrested, but the spark was ignited, and this event became the rallying call for gay rights in the US. 

The following year, marches were held around the dates of the Stonewall Riot in Manhattan, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco. Originally known as Gay Freedom Marches or Gay Freedom Day, these events were both fun and serious, inspiring the growth of the LGBTQ+ movement. Over the following years, more and more cities worldwide hosted their own parades. By the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Stonewall 50-WorldPride NYC 2019, five million people attended Manhattan alone.  

As we gather this month in celebration of Pride, the LGBTQ+ community and our allies honor our past, celebrate our present, and are hopeful for the future. This future needs to include extraordinary experiences in the hospitality world. As guests and travelers, we want to feel welcomed and included at every restaurant, hotel, catered event, or celebration we attend. We want to be seen as individuals who matter. We want to be treated fairly and without discrimination. We want to be able to have children, adopt children, and provide education and healthcare for these children that includes equality and diversity.  We want to support our trans community as they struggle for recognition and acceptance.   

The hospitality industry is a powerful force.  Now is not the time to be passive or just fly the pride flag. We need to lead into celebrating the diversity of the human experience with the gracious hospitality we offer our guests. 

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