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LA Pride? The best celebration is right here in Long Beach! If you’ll be in town from May 18-19 for Pride, check out our recommendations for spots to stop by while you’re here!
From streets lined with rainbow-colored flags to the thousands that cheer, march, and dance along the parade routes, the Long Beach Pride Festival is a tradition that year after year brings the greater public together to support, celebrate and raise awareness for the city’s lively LGBTQ community. This year, the highly anticipated celebrations take place from May 18-19, 2019.
The celebration is so loved in the LGBTQ community that the Long Beach Pride Parade was ranked 4th best Pride celebration in the nation for 2019 – out-ranking its prominent neighbor, Los Angeles, as well as cities like New York City, Miami, Houston and San Francisco, to name a few.
Though the city’s Pride events only take place once a year, the LGBTQ community presence is strong year round, and the community has prioritized making Long Beach and its many hang-out spots and communal spaces welcoming for all. While the entire city will be celebrating with Pride flags, live music and communal celebrations, here are a few standout spots we recommend you check out while you’re in town for the festivities:
1. The Center
The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, known simply as “The Center” has been around since the late ‘70s, when it started as a place for the LGBTQ community to discuss community issues. Since then, it has evolved into a safe space for all members of the city’s LGBTQ community and its allies, no matter their age or background.
The Center is not only dedicated to providing services like mental health counseling, STI testing and career counseling, but it also hosts weekly LGBTQ events, including speed dating, slam poetry, community picnics and more. To see what’s going on at the Center while you’re in the city, check out its calendar of events.
Looking for a brunch spot while you’re in Long Beach for Pride? This is it. With nightly entertainment, weekly drag brunches, and a variety of specials, Hamburger Mary’s during Pride is a given if you’re looking to be a part of the community festivities while you’re here.
“The thing about Mary’s,” says owner Dale Warner, “is that everyone is welcome. No matter who you are, we want you to come in and have a good time.”
As the city’s largest gay bar, Hamburger Mary’s has long been an institution for the Southern California LGBTQ community.
“The goal of Mary’s is always to provide a warm welcoming environment where people from all walks of life can come together to eat drink and be ‘Mary,’” said Dale.
This year, Hamburger Mary’s will host a “Pink Party,” teaming up with the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach (The Center) and the AIDS Food Store for Pride’s signature kickoff event. The party will include world-renowned drag performances, signature pink cocktails and an evening of high energy to kick off the city’s Pride Celebrations!
Since its early days as a local farmer’s market stand to the café’s breakout success as one of the city’s most treasured local community hang-out spots, Wide Eyes Open Palms has operated with the mission to make its business a safe and welcoming space for all who come through its doors. The café’s founder, Angie Evans, said that over a decade ago her vision was to create a place that she and her partner and co-owner Kat would want in the community for themselves.
“To know that members of the (LGBTQ) community and minorities come to our space to feel comfortable and start their day and feel like they belong is so special to us,” Evans said. “We’re going to roll out the red-carpet treatment for them because not everywhere they go is going to be like that and we want to let them know they are so loved and valued here in Long Beach.”
Evans, a frequent attendee at Pride events all over the nation, is excited for Long Beach’s growing Pride celebration and hopes visitors experience the city’s culture and community by strolling the rainbow flag-lined streets of the city and singing, dancing and spending time with the city’s friendly LGBTQ community members.
“This is our city and our event, and it’s such a celebration of the culture that we want to see grow in Long Beach,” added Evans.
For those looking for a sweet treat accompanied by a glass of wine, this is the perfect place. Known for sweet treats hand made with only high-quality ingredients, this confectionary shop is a place inclusive to all who enter its doors. The owner, Romeo, studied the art of chocolate-making at the Bellagio under world-renowned chocolatiers, making him Long Beach’s resident chocolate expert.
Romeo Chocolates also hosts chocolate and champagne tastings, which is the perfect date while you’re in town for Pride.
5. Hot Java
Thanks to Instagram-worthy rainbow-colored wings painted on its walls and free LGBTQ newspapers available to read with your cup of coffee, Hot Java is without a doubt one of the best-known and welcoming LGTBQ hang-outs in Long Beach. With plush couches, a fireplace, and tall windows that overlook the city’s main gay-bar strip, Hot Java evokes a comfy “living-room feel,” and is a community space for all. The café frequently has events like open-mic nights, game nights, and live music.
The owners, Sergio Macias and Ken Davis, believe spaces like Hot Java are integral to Long Beach’s LGBTQ community. “It’s important that our gay spaces stay open,” Ken said. “I take a lot of pride in being a part of this block and a part of the community.”