Despite its reputation for conservative local politics, San Diego is one of America's gay-friendliest destinations. Over the years, the city has had several openly gay politicians and public officials, including the country's first openly gay district attorney, Bonnie Dumanis. San Diego also has one of the nation's oldest gay and lesbian theater companies, Diversionary Theatre. Gay rights activists have called for a boycott of two San Diego properties -- the Manchester Grand Hyatt and the Grand Del Mar -- whose owner contributed a large sum to the Proposition 8 campaign to outlaw same-sex marriage in the state (as of this writing the ban is still in effect). For more information go to www.sleepwiththerightpeople.org.
Gay and lesbian visitors might already know about Hillcrest, near Balboa Park, the city's most prominent "out" community. Many gay-owned restaurants, boutiques, and nightspots cater to both a gay and straight clientele, and the scene is lively most nights of the week. In the 1990s, the community's residential embrace spread west to Mission Hills, and east along Adams Avenue to Kensington.
The San Diego Gay Rodeo is one of the largest rodeos on the International Gay Rodeo Association circuit, drawing cowboys and cowgirls from across the country for bronco riding and two-stepping. It's held in early summer at the rodeo grounds in the East County city of Lakeside; call tel. 619/993-6818, or visit www.sandiegorodeo.org for more info.
The free San Diego Gay and Lesbian Times (www.gaylesbiantimes.com), published every Thursday, is the most information-packed of several local out publications, and available at the gay and lesbian Obelisk bookstore, 1029 University Ave., Hillcrest (tel. 619/297-4171; www.obeliskbookstore.com), along with other businesses in Hillcrest and neighboring communities. And check out the San Diego Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce online at www.gsdba.org (tel. 619/296-4543). You can search the business directory with its 800-plus members and find a variety of restaurants, cafes, hotels, and other establishments that welcome gay and lesbian clients. The San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau also publishes a pamphlet, San Diego from Gay to Z, with information on gay accommodations and events. For more information or to order the free pamphlet, go to www.sandiego.org. The CVB also has touring suggestions for gay and lesbian visitors on its cultural website, www.sandiegoartandsol.com.
The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (tel. 954/630-1637; www.iglta.com) is the trade association for the gay and lesbian travel industry, and offers an online directory of gay- and lesbian-friendly travel businesses and tour operators. Other web sources include OutTraveler.com (www.outtraveler.com), which features information on worldwide destinations, travel tips, and special deals, and the Canadian website GayTraveler (www.gaytraveler.ca), which offers ideas and advice for international gay travel.