Atlantic City has announced a series of events to attract gay tourists in its continuing marketing push to the gay tourism market.
Officials say they are trying to recaptures the days before casino gambling when Atlantic City had a thriving gay community.
“Atlantic City had its heyday with the gay population on New York Avenue,” Atlantic City Mayor Donald Guardian told the Associated Press. “This is where you came when you wanted to have a good time. Straight people came to these places, too, because they wanted to party and dance in the hottest clubs.”
Soaring land prices after casino gaming arrived in 1978, however, pushed out many small gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses. But for the last few years, the city has been marketing more and more events to the LGBT community to help bring in new business to the resort.
Guardian, who is gay, said he hopes thousands in the LGBT community will see the resort as a second homes.
Events include Sand Blast, a three-day beach party weekend in July targeted to the gay community; the StandOUT Expo, a networking event in September for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community, and the Miss’d America Pageant, a drag spoof of the Miss America Pageant, also in September.
Sand Blast will include a female beach volleyball tournament called “Lez Volley,” an underwear party, and a “Drag Race” and purse-tossing competition.
The mayor also dedicated a gay-friendly beach in Atlantic City at Park Place near Bally’s, but said the entire city is gay-friendly.
According to the AP, The Atlantic City Alliance, which markets the resort, recently commissioned a study of the gay travel market in four other states in the region—New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.
It found that the primary reason gays visit Atlantic City is because it is easy to get to and has entertainment options. Only 21 percent named gambling as a primary reason to visit.
The survey also found that Atlantic City got the lowest score for being considered gay friendly of the eight Mid-Atlantic tourism destinations tested.