Fifty years ago, a $100-a-week advertising copywriter named Robin McLaughlin at Martin & Woltz Inc., in Richmond came up with a new travel advertising concept for a client. The client was the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the concept morphed into the slogan “Virginia is for Lovers.”
That slogan became (and still is) so iconic that it was voted one of the top ten tourism marketing campaigns of all time by Forbes Magazine.
That sort of heady success hasn’t diminished the power of its message of love in those 50 years, and in 2016 our purplish state stepped into the modern age by adding a new component to that message: “Virginia is for LGBT Lovers.”
That year, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s LGBT Tourism Task Force and the Virginia Tourism Corporation publicly acknowledged the economic impact of LGBT travelers and welcomed us to experience the Commonwealth.
There was some kind of kismet at work here. After all, in 1969, the same year that Robin Mclaughlin came up with the Virginia slogan, the Stonewall Riots launched the Gay Rights movement.
Back in those days, the LGBT community was still on the fringes of society. While Virginia’s queer population could gather safely at a smattering of bars and other gay-owned businesses, the Commonwealth, to say the least, was not known as a travel welcoming destination.
That’s all changed. Today’s queer road warriors can find hundreds of self-designated LGBT-friendly travel businesses and events in all corners of the Commonwealth. Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Director of Business Development Wirt Confroy is the man tasked with putting all the pieces together. He’s worked tirelessly with Tourism’s IT department, businesses, destinations, and event planners to catalogue and present them on the State’s tourism web site (Virginia.org/lgbt).
When asked about what the program means to him, Wirt said, “It’s simple. LGBT visitors to Virginia now have access to queer-friendly places and experiences. They have a resource that helps them find the destinations, events, tractions and services that welcome them the most.”
So it is with the progressive efforts of many in mind that we present you with our Fall Queer Travel Guide to the Commonwealth. With Virginia Tourism’s help, we’ve carefully curated travel itineraries built around special events this autumn in three destinations: the Shenandoah Valley, Eastern Shore, and Richmond.
All you need do gas up the automobile, get a few friends together, and hit the road for your big queer fall Virginia vacation!