Tennessee and Nashville may have a lot to offer potential visitors. Indeed, Nashville and Dollywood, Graceland, Elvis’ home in Memphis, are among the destinations that draw millions tourists annually to the state. But should it be listed among the hottest gay destinations? With its “slate of hate” and very real anti-LGBT sentiment outside the blue bubbles, you might not think so.
A recent article in The Daily Beast titled “Why I Love Johnson City, an LGBT Idyll Right in the Heart of Bible Belt” garnered a lot of attention, not least because Johnson City isn’t the first place in Tennessee one thinks of as LGBT friendly. Not long ago, Orbitz’s blog went one step further and added the state to its list of “10 hottest gay destinations for 2019.”
The authors of the list wrote:
We hate that the Volunteer State lags behind when it comes to LGBT rights and protections, but there are still many reasons to pay it a visit. What queer person doesn’t dream of a weekend at gay-friendly Dollywood in Pigeon Forge? Then there’s IDA, a community retreat where queer, trans and gender non-conforming people can create art and learn rural living skills. A new gay men’s campground—Sugar Creek—soft opened last summer in middle Tennessee and then there’s Nashville. The city has been deemed the new Austin and queers will want to visit for the gay bars on Church Street, as well as LGBT-owned and operated eateries like the Mockingbird and Suzy Wong’s House of Yum—owned and operated by chef and drag queen Arnold Myint. In December, the city installed a historical marker recognizing where the Jungle—the city’s first queer bar—once stood.
With many states and individuals boycotting travel to states with anti-LGBT legislation, should we be encouraging LGBT visitors to bring their dollars here? Or does an influx of LGBT guests help promote understanding? Let us know what you think!