Orbitz Publishes Interactive 'LGBTQIA+ Civil Rights Road Trip Map'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday October 12, 2021
Originally published on October 12, 2021

Stock image
Stock image  (Source:Getty Images)

Whether you feel like celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month with a cross-country road trip or taking a closer look online at some of the country's points of interest in the long and ongoing struggle for full equality, Orbitz has created a key resource with its interactive LGBTQIA+ Civil Rights Road Trip Map.

The map features "14 iconic destinations that have shaped the history and pride of the LGBTQIA+ community," the travel company noted in an email.

"From historic places of protest to modern-day murals and monuments, our LGBTQ Civil Rights Trail map helps you hit the road and discover the people and forces that shaped our fabulous queer community," introductory text at the map's site explains.

Here are some of the standouts.

Northeast

Northeast
This cropped photo shows the Stonewall National Monument  (Source: Rhododendrites/Wikimedia Commons)

Stonewall National Monument: New York, NY

The site recalls how on a hot summer night — June 28, 1969, to be precise — the police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn.

Serving alcohol to out LGBTQ+ people was illegal at the time — hence the frequent raids on gay bars — but the patrons of the Stonewall Inn had had enough harassment and started an uprising that raged for several successive nights and sent a message that resounded around the country: No more!

From Pride parades to anti-discrimination legislation to marriage equality, much of the progress the LGBTQ+ community has made over the last 50+ years can be traced to this, as well as similar uprisings.

The site is now a National Historic Landmark...and whereas the law once criminalized the enjoyment of a cocktail in a bar for anyone who happened to be gay, in today's world "you can grab a drink before exploring other nearby parts of Stonewall National Monument, including Christopher Park, a historic site for LGBTQ+ community activism," the site notes.

[Photo: WikimediaCommons.]

Other sites of interest in the American Northeast include Arch Street Friends Meeting House in Philadelphia, PA and the Dr. Franklin E. Kameny Residence, where the civil rights pioneer lived, in Washington, D.C.

South

South
This cropped photo shows the site of Pulse nightclub, now a memorial to the victims  (Source: Michael Rivera/Wikimedia Commons)

Pulse Memorial: Orlando, FL

In the midnight hours of June 12, 2016, will resound in the collective consciousness of the LGBTQ+ community for generations as a moment of infamy: A lone gunman entered, Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and killed 49 people — "mostly Black and latino," the Orbitz site notes — in a bloody rampage lasting three hours. Another 53 victims were injured.

Another, more pervasive kind of violence followed as GOP lawmakers erased any mention of the club or the victims being LGBTQ+ in statements made right after what was, at the time, the bloodiest mass shooting in the country's history.

It was also "the deadliest incident in the history of violence against LGBT people in the United States," ABC News said, as well as the worst terrorist attack in the U.S. since 9/11, according to CNN.

Barbara Poma, who opened the club in 2004, "founded the onePULSE Foundation, dedicated to building a memorial to the 49 killed and a museum to remember their lives and the impact of the tragedy," according to the Orlando Sentinel.

USA Today reported in June 2021, President Joe Biden signed a law designating Pulse nightclub a national memorial.

[Photo: WikimediaCommons.]

Also of interest: The UpStairs Lounge Arson Memorial Plaque in New Orleans, LA; the Pink Dolphin Monument in Galveston Island, TX; and The Jungle and Juanita's Historical Marker, in Nashville, TN.

Midwest

Midwest
A memorial for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre at The Transgender Memorial Garden  (Source: James Frey Croft/Facebook)

Transgender Memorial Garden: St. Louis, MO

2021 has shattered records as the year in which more state-level anti-LGBTQ+ laws than ever before have been introduced across the country, many of them targeting transgender youth.

Just as alarming is the years-long epidemic of fatal violence targeting trans and gender non-conforming people, with many, if not most, of the victims being trans women of color.

But the community, as it so often does, has responded to hatred and bloodshed with beauty. The Orbitz site notes: "On October 18, 2015, a group of 60 members of the local trans community [in St. Louis] transformed a vacant lot at 2800 Wyoming Street (formerly 1471 S Vandervente Ave) into a beautiful garden honoring the lives of trans people that have been lost to violence, as well as to celebrate lives spent together."

Other sites of interest: The Legacy Walk in Chicago, IL; Equality House in Topeka, KS; and the Matthew Shepard Bench in Laramie, WY.

West

West
This cropped photo shows the sign for The Black Cat  (Source: Joey Zanotti/Wikimedia Commons)

Black Cat: Los Angeles, CA

Even before Stonewall — and arguably helping prepare the way for the iconic uprising — rage at the mistreatment of LGBTQ+ people boiled over on a winter night in Los Angeles.

As text at the site recalls: "On February 11, 1967, over 600 citizens gathered outside of this Silver Lake gay (now all-welcoming) bar in peaceful resistance to a New Year's Eve police raid there.

"The protest marked a turning point for queer activists nationwide," the text adds. "Walk the scenic Mattachine Steps first (a tribute to the nation's first lasting gay rights org), and then head here for a brew."

[Photo: WikimediaCommons.]

Other points of interest: Castro Camera and the Harvey Milk Residence in San Francisco, CA; the Never Look Away mural in Portland, OR.

LGBTQ+ history hasn't ended, and the journey toward full equality under the law is in greater peril now than it has been in decades. To prepare for, and help mold, the future, we must understand the past, and that's what LGBTQ+ History Month is about.

For those heading out to see some or all of these sights in person, Orbitz has also prepared a list of LGBTQ+ friendly hotels, oases of hospitality where travelers can rest along the way and enjoy the respect that is a fundamental human right.

Those hotels include:

  • Circle S Ranch B&B, Lawrence KS
  • Kimpton Hotel Monaco, Philadelphia PA
  • Eaton DC, Washington D.C.
  • The Graduate, Nashville TN
  • Palihotel, Seattle WA
  • Virgin Hotels New Orleans, New Orleans LA
  • The Tremont House, Galveston TX
  • Freehand Chicago, Chicago IL
  • The Kinney, Venice Beach CA

    Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.