New Hope Pride Was The Life Affirming Experience I Didn’t Know I Needed

Plus the restaurants were amazing AF.

I’ve always been a New York girl. Granted, I come from Long Island (pronounced LAWN-GUY-LAND), but, still.

The good old Island of Long isn’t nearly as liberal and accepting as NYC, but it’s close enough and it’s filled with tanning salons, strip malls, amazing pizza, and butches that are still down to beat each other up over a femme. I kind of love it. I never really knew what it was like to grow up in a place that being gay could get you fired, ostracized, or worse. Growing up, I was made fun of for being orange, but rarely for being a flaming homosexual. Then, I moved to Brooklyn and basically entered a bubble of such strong pro-gay vibes that I forget what goes on in other parts of the world. I’ll be honest—I sometimes take for granted that I can freely kiss my girlfriend on the street while wearing 6-inch sparkly pink platforms and a choker that says LEZ.

So, when I heard about New Hope Pride, an unabashed Pride celebration in a small town in Pennsylvania, I knew I wanted to experience it.

 

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Anyone that knows Zara Barrie and I know that we never pass up the opportunity for a mini-vacation. We eagerly booked a room at the iconic, historic gay hotel The Raven and tried to figure out public transportation from NYC to New Hope (this was not as simple as we assumed it would be and we majorly misinterpreted the train schedule). Spoiler alert: we ended up calling a car.

Bright eyed and bushy tailed, we piled our fluffy pink shagadelic luggage into a town car, put on some Lana Del Rey, and, within a mere hour and a half, (we squealed the second we saw trees and nature) we were arriving at the adorable The Raven.

 

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The hotel was a GHOST TOWN. Like, Twilight Zone status. Why? BECAUSE EVERY SINGLE PERSON, INCLUDING THE STAFF, WAS AT PRIDE. New Hope does not mess around—all the gays are ON TIME and ready for the parade and celebrations. Talk about community! We threw our bags down (we live in a perpetual state of lateness) and booked it downtown. The streets were bustling and impossible to drive down, and a nice and sexy woman cop directed us (purr).

I saw signs in the distance. I desperately need glasses and refuse to make an appointment until I can afford designer glasses, so I kept squinting and squinting. GAYS I could make out. Then we got closer. Gays…burn in hell?

“Is this a satirical performance art exhibit?” I asked Zara. There were screaming, red-faced, angry people proclaiming that gays were rapists. A few held signs of dead babies. I was waiting for Marina Abramovic to walk out naked and bleeding.

“No,” Zara replied solemnly. “These are real people. They mean it.”

My amusement and wonder turned to terror and disappointment. How could anyone be this hateful? This ignorant? 

 

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It hit me how truly privileged I have been. Sure, there are the “Gays Go To Hell” protesters at NYC Pride every year, but they mostly just make for great trolly Instagram pictures as the gays pose kissing in front of them.  But, that wasn’t happening at New Hope Pride. In fact, all the Pride attendees just kept reveling and walking past the protesters without screaming, arguing, ogling, or Instagram-ing.

New Hope, at that moment, was like a little beacon of…new hope. In the face of such hatred, everyone just kept living and loving. It taught me that you don’t always have to argue or prove anything; you can just revel in your queer existence and keep turning up despite the hate. So, we casually walked past the protesters hollering like savages and joined the Pride party happening on Main Street. The streets were completely taken over by people covered in rainbows and glitter—think NYC Pride but with quaint little bistros and quirky shops instead of skyscrapers and boujie restaurants. Imagine trees and lakes instead of fire hydrants and litter (which I have a spot in my heart for, obviously).

It was time to get prideful AF. New Hope loves GO! GO loves New Hope! It was so exciting to see a stack of GO Magazines in the local gay book store and Pride attendees happily grabbing copies we brought with us. I have never encountered such a genuinely nice and welcoming group of people.

Despite Pennsylvania having a reputation for being rural and conservative, New Hope is extremely gay year round, but I didn’t get cliquey vibes at all. Everyone was clinking drinks, “YASSSSS”-ing, and having fun together. There were children and adorable old people, biker dykes (I have never been so turned on), high femmes, families, groups of drunk friends, and people of all different backgrounds.

We were waved into a cute old-school restaurant and dined on a lit AF seafood platter, chatted with hot drag queens, and bought a ridiculous amount of rainbow beads. I didn’t catch the name as it was such a whirlwind, but I made damn sure I remembered every single other restaurant we went to (we are MAJOR foodies). Now, I can confidently say that if your main priorities are having a leisurely lunch, sipping wine outside, shopping, and being surrounded by gays, you absolutely need to get your ass to New Hope. The best part? It’s only an hour and a half outside of NYC. Here are all the fab places we met hot lesbians, made friends, fell in love with New Hope, and cheated on our diets at:

BUCKS COUNTY PLAYHOUSE

 

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Bucks County Playhouse is a theater (any self-respecting gay town has one), but it also has a fab deck bar and restaurant. The service was wonderful, and the scenery was gorgeous. We sipped on Sauvingnon Blanc while watching the river rush and the trees sway. Ah, poetry.

GREENHOUSE

 

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It was then time for a cocktail at the gorgeous and queer-friendly open-air restaurant Greenhouse. OK, fine, we ordered chicken wings too. Diets don’t count on Pride day. When I say these were the most delicious honey Sriracha chicken wings I’ve ever had, I’m not exaggerating. Granted they were the only honey Sriracha chicken wings I’ve ever had, but my mouth is salivating and my nipples are getting hard just thinking about them. Not only is the food amazing, but Greenhouse is also all glass and gets a beautiful amount of natural light. The bartenders had major lez vibes, too.

THE RAVEN

 

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When we finally came back to The Raven Saturday night after eating and drinking our way through Main Street, it had completely transformed into gay party central. The dance floor was packed, the disco ball was spinning, and the drinks were flowing. Everyone was dancing together and drunkenly complimenting each other repeatedly. It was so loving and adorable; I felt like we were living gay history.

The next morning, after lying in bed for hours and watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians (our vacation ritual), we returned to Greenhouse for an iconic breakfast of goat cheese and mushroom toast and spicy tuna. OK, fine, we ordered the chicken wings again.

HAVANA

 

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After brunch, we then popped into Havana for the official Ladies 2000 party. There were a bunch of lesbians dancing and turning up. I was feeling shy because I had just fallen in my sparkly pink platforms (I refuse to give up on them), so we sat and observed. It was so lit to see women living their best lives, drinking and dancing in the middle of the day.

NEKTAR

 

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After shopping in a store called $20 Or Less (for real!!!) and buying an unnecessary amount of maxi dresses, it was time to keep eating. I am such a food snob and usually am insufferable about eating anywhere that isn’t NYC, but New Hope is like foodie heaven. We had dinner at Nektar, and it was truly and utterly the most f*cking delicious meal I have ever experienced. Tapas are amazing, because you can order a ridiculous amount of food and still justify that you’re snacking. We ordered ravioli, bacon wrapped figs, a cheese board, goat cheese and smoked salmon, and a white wine flight. We didn’t stop there, though. We topped it off with decadent chocolate pudding. If it seems like we ate an ungodly amount, it was because we did. It was soooo worth it.

Then, it was time to order a car home and complain about how full we were/plan our move to New Hope. New Hope Pride, my food obsession aside, gave me a true sense of Pride. Sometimes in the city, the true “Pride” feeling can get lost in the alcohol, glitter, and sex (Not that that’s a bad thing!), but it’s such a gift to be able to step back and feel grateful. To know that Pride is a lifeline in small towns. To see queer people of all ages celebrating love. And to eat bomb food. Happy Pride!


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