Cleveland’s LGBT Community Center is nearly 35 years old; our Pride celebration has been around for more than two decades. What’s the point? We left the secrecy of the closet a long time ago. But if you’re not a Cleveland Plus native, you may be unaware of many of the hidden gems that local folks who are in the know call their favorite hotspots. Read on as we yank the best of the region out of the closet.
Unexpected Eats: Visitors new to Northeast Ohio will be surprised to learn this fact: Cleveland Plus is a foodie’s dream. Innovative chefs will wow your taste buds and owners have created sophisticated, chic environments in which the local LGBT community feels welcomed. Visit any of these places and you’re bound to stumble across fellow members of “the tribe.” And don’t miss a visit to the West Side Market, home to a smorgasboard of fresh ingredients and ready-to-eat treats from more than 180 vendors.
Eclectic Shopping: The coolest retail venues in Cleveland Plus also happen to be the most LGBT-friendly. We’re talking art galleries galore, funky home décor, nostalgic toys and the best in retro vinyl music.
Theater + Cinema: Located almost directly between the performance capitals of New York City and Chicago is a theater scene that rivals those cities for diversity – at much more affordable prices. If big-budget musicals are your thing, PlayhouseSquare offers its Broadway series with professional touring shows. It’s also a fantastic destination for one-off concerts, from music to comedy. Just steps away in its new, spectacular Hanna Theater home is Great Lakes Theater Festival, which produces Shakespeare and other classic works with top-notch casts and production values. Its unique seating options include the opportunity to catch a show while relaxing at the bar or on a couch with friends.
Other options include Cleveland Public Theatre, the town’s progressive dramatic organization that produces new works, along with shows that challenge societal perceptions. Cleveland Play House is the oldest repertory theater in the nation and Beck Center for the Arts stages a mix of musicals and plays with casts that include professionals and local amateurs.
Cleveland International Film Festival attracts more than 65,000 cinephiles to downtown each March for some 250 independent films from around the world. It’s a big hit with LGBT people, who value the 10% queer film series, as well as its fantastic cinema in general.
Culture: “Culture” in Cleveland Plus doesn’t meet snooty. In fact, arts organizations in the region make an effort to open their doors to as much of the public as possible. Take the Cleveland Museum of Art. Because of its endowment, the permanent collection is always free (you might pay a nominal fee for some special exhibits). The Museum is undergoing a $350 million expansion but there’s still plenty to see. Just steps across Wade Oval in University Circle, you’ll find Cleveland Botanical Gardens, which offers lush landscapes and flowers year-round. Severance Hall offers an acoustically magnificent place to hear the Cleveland Orchestra, rated among the top orchestras in the world, perform. In summer, the orchestra moves to Blossom Music Center for a residency under the stars. There, it loosens up – so pack a picnic, spread your blanket on the lawn and cuddle up next to your sweetie for a magical evening.
Cleveland Rocks: While the gorgeous I.M. Pei-designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum building is all glass, white walls and perfectly proportioned black lines on the outside (which any design-loving LGBT person can appreciate), inside it is a shrine to America’s most popular music of the past few generations. Exhibits rotate, but you can always expect artifacts from fabulous costumes to awesome album art.
Discover more about the unexpected fabulousness of Cleveland Plus at www.positivelycleveland.com.