It's not the size of the city that matters, with Greater Fort Lauderdale's Wilton Manors beating worldwide competition to be named "Gayborhood of the Year" in the 2013 ManAboutWorld Editors' Choice Awards. At the same time, the destination was recently cited to be the city with the highest concentration of same-sex couple households by the U.S. Census, edging out traditional frontrunner San Francisco and recent newcomer Seattle.
In the beating heart of Greater Fort Lauderdale, the vibrant community of Wilton Manors, known as "Island City" due to the winding waterways that flow through the city, was praised by ManAboutWorld as a "triumph over assimilation." Wilton Manors, continues to evolve and features the largest Pride Center and a soon to open World Aids Museum and Educational Center, the only museum dedicated to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
"Wilton Manors bucks the trend of the incredible shrinking gay community - it's actually growing," wrote ManAboutWorld editor, Ed Salvato. The ManAboutWorld Editors' Choice awards recognize the best in gay travel that reflect the publication's values of transformative travel through authentic and personal experiences of different peoples, places and cultures. The magazine is the brainchild of Billy Kolber, who started the magazine in 2012 after more than 20 years at OUT&ABOUT, which he also founded.
Greater Fort Lauderdale has long been a destination of choice for LGBT travelers with hundreds of gay-owned and operated businesses, and one of the country's most diverse gay capitals. It's not surprising that recently released data from the U.S. Census revealed that in Greater Fort Lauderdale same-sex couples make up a 2.8 percent of total households, the most in the country with Seattle ranking second with 2.5 percent and San Francisco rounding out the top three with 2.1 percent.
"With approximately 1.2 million LGBT travelers spending $1.4 billion a year, we continue to roll out the rainbow carpet and spread the word throughout the world with a concerted marketing campaign that we are out and proudly welcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travelers, events, meetings, businesses and conferences," said Richard Gray, managing director for the LGBT market at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Gay-friendly Wilton Manors businesses include GayMart, New Moon, Sidelines, 13 Even, Naked Grape Wine & Tapas, To the Moon Marketplace, Java Boys, Humpy's Pizza & Cupcakes, Alibi, The Village Pub, Rosie's Bar & Grill, Galanga Thai Kitchen, Rumors Bar & Grill, and Tee Jay Thai Sushi to name a few. The best way to see Wilton Manors is through the community's Island City Art Walk, held on the 3rd Friday of each month, November through April, along the 1.1 mile Wilton Drive. Along the way art galleries, eclectic stores, cafes, boutiques and upscale restaurants, host local artists in a grassroots collaboration bringing culture and business together.
For more information, please visit www.sunny.org/lgbt.