The Mile High City has long been a hot spot of gay culture and one of the country's largest PrideFests.
Sure, "Brokeback Mountain" made a neighboring state famous, but the laid-back, welcoming nature of the locals and a vibrant nightlife makes Denver the true gay and lesbian center of the West, with many hotels and restaurants catering to LGBT visitors. For shopping and nightlife, check out the Capitol Hill and Uptown neighborhoods. You may also want to plan your trip during one of the nation's largest PrideFests or the Colorado Gay Rodeo. For more resources, go to the websites of Denver Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado.
As the largest city in a 600-mile radius, LGBT men and women from all over the West have flocked to Denver for decades, resulting in a well-established nightlife and numerous annual events that draw huge crowds. In the last few years, Denver has jumped in popularity as a travel destination for LGBT visitors; in fact, OutTraveler voted Denver one of its Top Up-and-Coming Destinations (and Denver is one of only two domestic cities on the list!). For more on LGBT life in Colorado, see Out Front.
Produced by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of Colorado, Denver PrideFest is recognized as one of the top 10 Pride events in the country.
Colorado Rides With Pride! The annual Rocky Mountain Regional Gay Rodeo packs in cowboys from around the world.
Check out a detailed itinerary for the perfect LGBT weekend, written by gay travel expert Andrew Collins.
A Look At LGBT History in Denver
Denver has long been a gathering place for people of all cultures. First were the high plains Native Americans who followed the buffalo herds and lived throughout the Front Range. When prospectors discovered gold in 1858, thousands of men (and a few women) crossed the Great Plains and settled in and around Denver. More than a third of the cowboys riding the cattle drives of this era were African-Americans, many of them freed slaves who migrated West after the Civil War. By the 1980s, Denver had been dubbed the gay oasis of the west. Gay men and women in the previous decade had organized and established themselves as a smart, cultured and politically active community.
Here are some moments of notice in LGBT history in Denver:
1973: Gay Coalition of Denver works with Denver's City Council to abolish anti-gay laws.
1974: Denver's first Pride celebration, a picnic in Cheesman Park.
1975: Denver's first official Pride Parade.
1982: The Colorado Gay Rodeo Association is formed. Soon after, Denver hosted its first rodeo.
1983: Denver's gay and lesbian community mobilizes to elect Federico Peña, Denver's first Latino mayor and executive ally to the community.
1990: Denver becomes one of the first municipalities in the nation to adopt an anti-discrimination policy including gay and lesbians.
1991: Denver voters supported the anti-discrimination policy despite opponents trying to overturn it at the ballot.
1994: Denver businessman Tim Gill creates the Gill Foundation, an organization to advance LGBT rights through charity and education.
2010: The GLBT Community Center of Colorado, the producer of PrideFest, adds a second day of festivities.
2012: Denver's PrideFest ranks third largest in the nation.
2013: Colorado adopts the Colorado Civil Union Act establishing relationship recognition for same-sex couples.
2014: Colorado legalizes same-sex marriage on October 7, 2014.