Main | Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Durham Launches Gay Tourism Campaign

After North Carolina's same-sex marriage ban was approved many LGBT folks declared that they'd never vacation there again. (The Outer Banks have long been a favorite summertime gay destination.) The city of Durham thinks you should still visit and has launched a new website promoting itself as a gay-friendly place. Via press release:
Durham is widely known as an open and accepting destination. “Research has shown that Durham has a significant number of visitors who identify themselves as LGBT,” said Shelly Green, President & CEO of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Having this kind of portal into our website has been in the plans for quite some time,” continued Green, “And we are pleased to launch it now." The site was launched in advance of the upcoming NC Gay and Lesbian Film Festival to be held at Durham's Carolina Theatre. Running from August 10-19, the festival brings in more than 10,000 visitors.

This year, the festival grew to 10 days long - a significant jump from years past. "It is more clear than ever that we need to talk about the LGBT market differently in Durham," said Sam Poley, the Director of Marketing and Communications for DCVB. "The community is so large and well entrenched here that it often goes overlooked. But after the Amendment One vote, we think it is ever more important to let folks know that Durham is where great things happen - for everyone."
The above-linked site claims that gays are so integrated and welcome in Durham, they don't even have a gayborhood. And that, they say, is a good thing.
Durham stands on its own as a destination that is so open and welcoming to gays that the LGBT community almost seems not to be present here at all. There are no rainbow flags flying on Main Street, no designated gayborhood, and only a few places that make a specific point of marketing to LGBT customers. If the matter should come up, few people, if any, are fazed by it; being gay in Durham is just not a big deal. But make no mistake – Durham is a great place to visit if you are gay, just not necessarily because you are gay.
RELATED: Shortly after I mentioned being credentialed to cover the Democratic convention, I got a dozen or so outraged emails denouncing me for even thinking about returning to my home state.

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