From my city to yours: inside New York’s LGBTQ+ scene with local guide Michael Ventriello – National Geographic UK

What would your perfect day in the city look like?

I’d wake up early, go to a cafe in Soho and do some journaling, reflecting and people-watching while having a nice, strong coffee. Then I’d walk up to Washington Square Park, it’s underrated but it’s beautiful and there’s always someone playing great music there. Next I’d walk west along Christopher Street, pop into Christopher Park to pay my respects at the Gay Liberation Monument, and keep walking until I hit the Hudson River. There’s this beautiful park that runs down it, The High Line, which is always busy with people running or walking and the atmosphere is really wonderful. For dinner, I’d head to Chelsea; there’s a great little food court in the Chelsea Market, or close by, Ace Hotel New York has a very cool coffee shop that, around happy hour, transitions into a lounge bar with couches, big comfy armchairs and dim lighting. That’s my perfect kind of night.

Tell us about someone who embodies the city of New York for you.

I met the founder of Act Up, Larry Kramer, before he passed away [in May 2020] and it was an incredible moment. He embodies New York for me, because as well as the magic and the sparkle, it’s also a very resilient city. He lived here as a gay man his whole life. He was here before Aids and he was here during the epidemic, starting multiple organisations to help people and then continuing as an activist and writer. He was also a kooky, eclectic character. He wore bright red glasses, colourful rings and gaudy outfits; outside the city it might be a little strange, but in New York, it’s just New York.

Michael began running tours of New York during Pride Week 2018. Following the coronavirus outbreak, he’s teamed up with Brand USA and Airbnb to offer virtual tours. The NYC LGBTQ Historical Bar Crawl costs $15 USD (£11.20 GBP) per person.

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