Read Your Indulgence

Destinations: Kansas City // In the Heartland

June 29, 2017

by Dane Steele Green

Ok, I know what you are thinking: “Kansas City?”


Too red, too rural, too religious — that’s the stereotype of the Midwest. And for the most part, you would not be so far off. Take a look and any electoral map and every square-state is a forbiddingly gory shade of red. But, just for giggles, take a closer look.


Bobbing like a blue cork in a red sea, Kansas City (the Missouri one), is an island of gay-friendly sanity in an otherwise freakish landscape. No less than 10 gay clubs call the town home, and the city went through a major renaissance a decade ago to the point Conde Nast Traveler and today both list the city as one of the great unknown must-dos of the United States. So, if Midwestern niceness and corn-fed farm boys do it for you, read on.


Best place to stay? That’s the Hotel Sorella, arguably THE prestige address of town. Best time to visit? The first Friday of every month; “First Friday” is a monthly event that turns all of Kansas City into one big block party. Best food to sample? BBQ; it may not look it, but Kansas City is pretty much the capital of the cuisine. Ask a Kansas Citian what the are loyal to more, barbecue or the Royals, and you pretty much are asking for someone to will themselves into a stroke.


It would be a bit of a stretch to equate Kansas City with, say, Palm Springs or Key West when it comes to the LGBTQ population, but let’s be honest: Kansas City isn’t trying to be either Palm Springs or Key West. Rather, it is the gay capital of the Great Plains, and doing so on its own terms. And rather successfully, I might add. Missie B’s, two stories of dancefloors and drag theater, is the queen of the countryside, but supporting players like Sidekicks and the 303 Bistro create a richly diverse scene that is pervasive to the point you can plant a big ol’ smacker on your boyfriend and not even ripple the local waters.


Of course, there are other sites and sights. Check out Union Station for the science center, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum for the art. In the basement of the Reiger Hotel is Manifesto, a reservation-by-text-only watering hole that is one of the best cocktail bars on the planet. Hit it first and you are pretty much assured a great night out. Midwestern niceness goes only so far…


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