Looking for a fun, inclusive city with great food and an endless list of things to do? You need to check out Lexington.
Southern Pride is our monthly column exploring and celebrating LGBTQ culture in Southern cities. This month we’re heading to the Bluegrass State to check out the scene in Lexington.
Situated in the middle of the state’s bluegrass region, Pride Community Services Organization (PCSO) Pride Center Coordinator Carmen Wampler-Collins and her wife moved to the area to raise their family. She says that people don’t always realize how progressive the town is. “There are a tremendous amount of resources for the LGBTQ community here, and it’s really safe,â€ says Wampler-Collins. “I’ve raised both of my kids here and there’s a lot of support in schools … I think almost every high school in Fayette County has a gay/straight alliance.”
While its thriving economy, long list of amenities and walkable downtown area earned Lexington a spot on Livability’s 2019 Top 100 Best Places to Live list, LGBTQ individuals looking for a Southern town to call home might want to consider the following area highlights as well:
Lexington’s Got Black Pride
Lexington has two Black Pride organizations: Bluegrass Black Pride and Kentucky Black Pride. Bluegrass Black Pride advocates, educates and demands equity for all. The organization is active and visible in the community, providing educational workshops and events that support the entire LGBTQ+ community. Wampler-Collins says, “They continue a public dialogue about homophobia in the African American community, with the aim of breaking down barriers that make it difficult for African Americans to be out and proud.â€ The organization hosts an annual community awards event and AIDS awareness day.
Kentucky Black Pride promotes unity, pride, self-awareness and positive visibility within Kentucky’s Black LGBTQ community. They also produce a variety of events and educational workshops including an annual women’s health fair, Kentucky Black Pride Festival (a weekend of Pride events), and dances and social events.
There’s Excellent Trans Support
Members of the vulnerable trans community often struggle to find much-needed resources and support. In Lexington, The PCSO’s group for the trans community, TransKentucky, holds monthly meetings and has a Listserv and Facebook group that provides support and connection. Additionally, TransParent is a local group that helps parents of trans youth find the assistance they need to advocate for their kids while finding a community for themselves.
Accepting Spiritual Communities
It’s no secret that finding accepting spiritual and religious communities can be a challenge for members of the LGBTQ community. Wampler-Collins says, “Lexington has a tremendous number of LGBTQ+ affirming churches. Bluegrass Rainbow Faith Communities does a great job of vetting and providing an annual list of faith organizations that are affirming.”
With this wide variety of accepting faith-based organizations, LGBTQ individuals and families can enjoy finding the best fit for their belief system.
LGBTQ Senior Services
Elders in the LGBTQ community aren’t left out or forgotten in Lexington. This year Kentucky received approval to establish a SAGE affiliate in the state. SAGE is a national organization that advocates and provides advocacy and services for LGBTQ+ elders. Wampler-Collins explains, “The affiliate is split between Louisville and Lexington. We have an active group in the city working to compile and provide services for LGBTQ+ elders.”
Drag for a Cause
Let’s be honest, who wants to live in a city without queens and kings?!
Lexington has a surprisingly active drag community for all to enjoy. Not to be ignored is the Imperial Court of Kentucky a chapter of the International Imperial Court System that focuses on raising money for local community service organizations. Drag brunches are held at several area bars and restaurants on a regular basis.
LGBTQ Bars & Eateries
Lexington has a number of LGBTQ-owned restaurants and bars that locals can frequent and support. Crossings is a popular local LGBT dive bar that hosts several events and karaoke. SoundBar is a bi-level nightclub that hosts DJs, karaoke and other fun events for those who love getting their dance on. And foodies and coffee-lovers alike will delight at Ranada’s Bistro & Bar, Lexington Diner, Lussi Brown Coffee Bar and Third Street Stuff and Coffee – all LGBTQ-owned establishments.
Last year, Lexington’s Pride Festival had over 50,000 attendees proving this Southern town has tons of pride. Wampler-Collins advises those considering, or currently moving to Lexington, to get involved with the community as soon as they can. “It really is a great place to live. It’s really progressive, but it does take a little plugging in and getting involved to find community.”
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