You may have noticed I have a common M.O. in most of my blogs: I try to entice you to visit Key West and experience all that our subtropical island paradise has to offer. Now with the help of a very talented local videographer, Steve Panariello, you can experience a little bit of LGBTQ life in Key West without even leaving your office chair.

Spirit of Stonewall mural Key West

Elements of Lisa Marie Thalhammer’s “Spirit of Stonewall” mural form the backdrop for the video’s interview segments. (Rob O’Neal, Florida Keys News Bureau)

That’s because the Florida Keys tourism council recently debuted a video that explores Key West’s heritage as a pioneering LGBTQ destination — and its contemporary attractions for the approximately 250,000 LGBTQ travelers (yes, that’s really the number) that visit each year.

The video features unscripted commentary from members of Key West’s LGBTQ community on topics including the island’s longstanding embrace of equality and diversity, the origin and development of its all-welcome “One Human Family” philosophy (explained by founder J.T. Thompson), the creation and meaning of its 1.25-mile sea-to-sea rainbow flag (created by the late Gilbert Baker), famous LGBTQ residents such as Tennessee Williams, and activities and nightlife awaiting today’s visitors.

In the video interviews Steve shot, these community members shared their thoughts — and offered genuine, heartfelt insights — about Key West’s past and present as an LGBTQ destination … and as a home.

Their commentary is paired with footage from some of our gay-tacular events including Key West Pride and Womenfest, crowds unfurling our giant rainbow flag along the island’s famed Duval Street, gay and lesbian couples enjoying Key West with friends and family, attractions such as the Tennessee Williams Museum and other elements that make our little slice of paradise one of the top vacation destination choices for LGBTQ visitors of all ages.

Key West sea-to-sea rainbow flag

A 1.25-mile-long rainbow flag blanketed Key West’s Duval Street from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean during the island’s 2003 Pride celebration. (Photo by Andy Newman, Florida Keys News Bureau)

When I meet people unfamiliar with Key West, I’m sometimes asked whether it’s “still gay,” by those who wonder if our island’s time-honored inclusiveness might have diluted its LGBTQ flair.

So we decided to address the issue in the video by asking one of our “locals” what she thought — and I LOVE her response.

“Is Key West still as gay as it used to be?” pondered resident Fritzie Estimond in the video. “The true answer is, I think we’re so gay that we’ve become straight-friendly!”

Fritzie is an event coordinator extraordinaire at the Key West Business Guild and does an amazing job producing our Key West Pride and Womenfest festivals.

Please check out the five-minute video — featuring Fritzie, JT and fellow community member Daniel Gilbert —  in the LGBTQ section of the Florida Keys & Key West tourism website and on the “Florida Keys TV” YouTube channel.

If you enjoy your brief view of LGBTQ island life from your armchair or office chair, we know you’ll love it when you’re welcomed in person.

And if you’re planning a visit in the next few months (hint, hint!), click here to check out the complete roster of events coming up in Key West and the rest of the Florida Keys.

Click here to subscribe to the Florida Keys & Key West’s LGBTQ travel blog.

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