Travel

Searching for a Gay Getaway (Not Fire Island)

I get it: Fireplace Island is historic and means a lot (to some folks) that it has its personal new rom-com. I do know some homosexual individuals who suppose its bucolic seashores and celebration ambiance are paradise.

However I’m not one in all them. I’ve little interest in schlepping by prepare, bus and ferry to face within the nook at a homosexual seashore celebration that I really feel I’m supposed to love as a result of I’m homosexual and reside in New York. Not . We exist.

That’s why earlier this month I headed in the other way of Fireplace Island, geographically and experientially. My vacation spot was New Hope, Pa., and Lambertville, N.J., waterside cities separated by a bridge and a state line, however joined by reputations as L.G.B.T.Q.-friendly spots. In March, Time Out named New Hope one of many nation’s “greatest L.G.B.T.Q.+-friendly small cities.”

A few two-hour automotive experience from Manhattan (you may as well get there by bus), New Hope has a wealthy history, relationship to the early- to mid-Twentieth century, as a welcoming place for visible artists, writers and theater folks, together with queer of us. In 2020, Bucks County, the house of New Hope, welcomed 6.36 million folks, in accordance with Paul Bencivengo, the president of Visit Bucks County, the county’s official tourism company.

His group doesn’t hold monitor of the variety of L.G.B.T.Q. guests. However he informed me “the homosexual neighborhood has been a part of the material of New Hope for a very long time,” and that regardless of the place I went on the town, I might be welcomed.

And, on an early June weekend, rainbow flags and Delight this-and-that drenched New Hope’s busy Foremost Road, from Dunkin’ Donuts to the Pork Shack within the bustling Ferry Market meals corridor.

However the Delight ornamentation seemingly outnumbered precise queer folks — it was like strolling the streets of Provincetown when a lot of the gays determined to remain residence. (To be honest, the weekend I visited, there have been additionally Delight occasions in Philadelphia and Asbury Park, N.J.) And there are not any homosexual bars or golf equipment, and no extra Raven, a well-liked homosexual bar-resort that went nevermore in 2019.

But throughout my go to — it was me, my companion and a buddy — I discovered New Hope and Lambertville to be chill, culture-forward and vibrant cities for 3 homosexual males who wished a weekend getaway.

If New Hope isn’t as homosexual “because the hem of Patti LuPone’s skirt,” as Philip Kain informed me, that doesn’t imply it isn’t a homosexual jewel value visiting. He ought to know: Underneath the pen name Philip William Stover, he wrote two steamy gay romance novels set in New Hope, close to the place he and his husband reside after they’re not at residence on the Higher East Aspect.

New Hope “is a spot the place, despite the fact that you will not be surrounded by homosexual folks, there’s a historical past and a basis you’re strolling on,” mentioned Mr. Kain, as we shared shortbread cookies at Porches on the Towpath, a hidden-away bed-and-breakfast there. “It’s good to be in locations the place there’s a felt historical past of homosexual tradition.”

As extra of a cultural vacationer than a surf-and-sand one, that suited me. Which is why we took a 20-minute drive from New Hope to the Michener Artwork Museum in Doylestown, Pa., to see “Keith Haring: A Radiant Legacy,” a career-spanning exhibition of over 100 items by the homosexual painter and road artist who died of AIDS in 1990 at simply 31.

The present, which continues via July 31, can be a deal with for disciples and newbies to the work of Haring, a Pennsylvania native. (Don’t miss the show with a few of his middle- and high-school yearbooks.) Among the many highlights are items that includes the radiant baby, one in all Haring’s most well-known pictures and his fundamental road tag.

Situated on the location of a former grist mill, the Bucks County Playhouse has drawn theater followers since 1939 with names like Robert Redford, Liza Minnelli and Audra McDonald. I used to be too early for its manufacturing of the Tony Award-winning (and queer) musical “Kinky Boots,” which runs from June 24 via July 30.

However I used to be one in all about 80 of us who gathered for the Playhouse’s L.G.B.T.Q.+ Excessive Tea, held the primary Sunday of each month on the theater’s deck, with its killer view of the Delaware River. The vibe was equal elements dance membership and small-town joyful hour, and the revelers have been a mixture of women and men of all colours.

It was there that I chatted with two mates, each homosexual: Matthew Robertson, 32, and Barry McAndrews, 25. They informed me the everyday homosexual customer to the world was, like me, a Gen Xer, or older, which explains why the D.J. was keen on CeCe Peniston remixes and basic disco.

“There’s a ton of cash right here, and a whole lot of youthful persons are successfully priced out of dwelling on this whole area,” Mr. McAndrews mentioned. Locals favor non-public events, he mentioned, “however they’re tremendous excessive, with ice sculptures and servants, like loopy stuff.”

Whereas neither New Hope nor Lambertville affords a lot in the best way of a Fireplace Island-style youth tradition — nice by me — they do have some Fireplace Island costs, no less than on the subject of lodging. The massive splurge is the River House at Odette’s, a dramatic waterfront lodge in New Hope, the place this summer time nightly charges begin at $279 and climb to $1,038 for a set.

I selected New Hope’s Logan Inn, which reopened in 2021 after a shocking renovation and expansion that turned the constructing, a part of which dates again to 1727, right into a boutique lodge infused all through with daring design that marries butch (Colonial-style wooden paneling) and fabulous (my room got here with a framed photograph of Freddie Mercury with Elton John). Its outside terrace is made for folks watching, and the placement, minutes from the Playhouse and Farley’s, a bookstore with a well-curated Delight part, is primo. Rooms vary from round $210 to $610 an evening. (VisitBucksCounty.com has a list of extra inexpensive lodging.)

At Lambertville’s many classic and vintage retailers, the previous makes nice presents. Standouts have been A Touch of the Past, an enormous antiques showroom, and the brand new Form + Matter Modern, the place I had my eye on a N.O. Møller teak eating desk.

We strolled throughout the steel-truss New Hope-Lambertville Bridge and into Love Saves the Day, a pleasant classic store the place I rummaged via outdated copies of Vogue and Playboy. (“Homosexual Stereotypes: Which One Are You?” requested a 1988 copy of The Advocate that I got here this shut to purchasing.) The shop’s standard East Village outpost, seen within the movie “Desperately Looking for Susan,” closed in 2009, and far of the merchandise traveled to New Hope.

New Hope and Lambertville adjoin the Delaware Canal State Park, which has an virtually 60-mile towpath that runs alongside the Delaware River. It supplies a stage path for strolling, jogging, biking and horseback driving, and there’s entry for canoeing and kayaking.

One other outside possibility is the Washington Crossing Historic Park, which extends over 500 acres and preserves the location the place George Washington famously crossed the Delaware River. Well-liked stops embrace Bowman’s Hill Tower, which rises 125 toes and affords a panoramic view, and the park’s customer heart, the place you’ll discover ​a duplicate of Emanuel Leutze’s famous painting of the crossing.

As for eating, the Salt House is an intimate, candlelit gastro pub inside an 18th-century stone constructing, the place the four-salt deviled eggs have been my appetizer of the weekend. In Lambertville, it’s onerous to overlook the rainbow-colored tulle that wraps Under the Moon, a Spanish-focused restaurant the place I obtained a fats slice of quiche and a candy watermelon gazpacho.

However I actually fell for Union Coffee, a captivating Lambertville cafe the place rainbow-colored artwork within the window complemented the “Trans Rights Are Human Rights!” poster within the quirky little store within the again. My Sunday obtained off to a splendid begin once I paired a lavender oat milk latte with some ridiculously moist apple-pear bundt cake from Factory Girl Bake Shop in New Hope.

Earlier than I left there, I struck up a dialog with Marian Gaestel and Mary Lloyd. The 2 mates, each of their 60s, had simply come from mass at St. John the Evangelist, which Ms. Gaestel known as “a way more open Catholic church” than the one in Flemington, the “extra nation, conservative” New Jersey city the place she lives.

“Coming down here’s a breath of recent air,” Ms. Gaestel mentioned. “Even in case you reside in Flemington, coming right down to Lambertville and New Hope is like going away someplace.”

They got here searching for a spot to really feel snug with like-minded folks and located it. I did, too — not on a packed seashore or sweaty dance ground, however in a quiet espresso store on the nook of Union and Coryell. The Delight colours made it simple to search out.

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