Long a popular June attraction in Orlando, Gay Days has taken its brand south for a pre-winter party in Fort Lauderdale.
With pool and evening parties, dinners, a softball tournament, silent auctions and a business expo, Gay Days ran Nov. 25 through 30 at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel. The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau helped bring the first Gay Days to Broward County.
“Gay Days just makes sense because you’re buying a brand name,” said Richard Gray, the bureau’s LGBT managing director. “Everybody knows Gay Days — it just fits into everything that we are doing as a destination.”
Gay Days began in 1991 when members of the LGBT community arranged a one-day celebration at Disney World in Orlando. Since then, it has expanded into a one-week event in Las Vegas and now into Fort Lauderdale.
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Gray believes about 6,500 people came to the first Broward event, bringing an economic impact of an estimated $8 million to Fort Lauderdale Beach. The bureau’s focus was to make it a beach event and have all the attention on Fort Lauderdale as a destination where the LGBT community can feel welcomed.
“This is an event that could become a signature event, which can really grow like Gay Days Orlando because of the resident community and just the appeal of the beach,” he said.
With DJs including Edil Hernandez and Citizen Jane displaying their talents at the pool parties, attendees say they enjoyed the warm weather and hot parties.
“I had a blast and I’ll be back next year,” said Ricky Lauderdale, 33, who attended this year’s pool parties.