Living in Los Angeles comes with a lot of perks. There’s so much to do and see that sometimes it feels like we are the luckiest city in the world.
But everybody occasionally needs a change of scene, and when we Los Angeleans are feeling the need for escape, we also have the good fortune to be just a short drive away from the world-class entertainment and nightlife of Las Vegas.
For the LGBTQ crowd, this summer is an especially good time to plan a road trip. Over the next few months, there’s a line-up of iconic performers that have always been beloved by our community, and who have never hesitated to show us some love in return.
Gwen Stefani (June 27, 29-30, multiple dates in July and beyond)
This summer, pop’s most famous glamour girl takes over Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood (3667 S Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, Nev.), bringing her musical catalogue – along with her unique fashion sense and platinum blond locks – to a stage formerly dominated by fellow ‘90s pop princess, Britney Spears.
First rising to fame as the lead singer of No Doubt, Stefani has amassed a long string of hits during her two-decade career. She’s won a host of awards and honors – and she’s designed her own outfits since the beginning, which almost gives her more “gay-appeal” than her music.
Gwen’s songs have always seemed to resonate with the LGBTQ community – to which she has been a vocal friend on many occasions. She is known for disregarding traditional gender roles in raising her children, encouraging her sons to explore their feminine sides through clothing and nail polish. When asked how she would feel about having a gay child, she said, “I would be blessed with a gay son. You know that I would feel blessed about that.”
What better way to show appreciation for her friendship than by supporting her during her first Las Vegas residency.
Mariah Carey (July 5, 7,-8, 10, 14-15, with additional dates in August and September): The Colosseum at Caesars Palace (3570 S Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, Nev.) will be the setting when the diva’s diva herself returns there to kick off her own Vegas residency, bringing her legendary five-octave range to her legion of fans for what will surely be one of the hottest shows in the desert.
Establishing herself as a powerhouse pop vocalist with her early ‘90s hits like “Vision of Love” and “Emotions,” the singer affectionately known as “Mimi” has had her share of ups and downs – both in her personal and professional lives – but has always managed to bounce back, proving her resilience with a new musical breakthrough and another hit album, time and time again.
It’s true that her career has been affected by public displays of erratic behavior, which have sometimes eclipsed her musical talent, and in an interview earlier this year, Carey finally shed some light on these issues by admitting she has long struggled with bipolar disorder. She confessed to keeping her condition secret because of the stigma surrounding mental health problems, and that she had decided to come forward partly for the sake of others who suffer from such challenges.
This kind of selflessness is not surprising from the singer. She has a long history of generosity and philanthropy, particularly in the interest of disadvantaged or health-challenged youth. She has also been a fierce and public supporter of the LGBTQ community, frequently speaking out on issues like marriage equality and anti-gay bullying. In 2016, she was given the GLAAD Ally Award, and said in her acceptance speech that it felt “more real” to her than any of the prizes she has won for her music.
If Mariah’s amazing voice isn’t enough reason to make a pilgrimage to Vegas, her status as a bona fide LGBTQ hero should certainly seal the deal.
Queen with Adam Lambert (Sept. 1-2, 5, 7-8, 14-15, 19, 21): The far end of the summer will still be hot when one of the most legendary rock bands of all time – fronted by one of the most successful former contestants in the history of “American Idol” – comes to the Park Theater at Monte Carlo (3770 S Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, Nev.) for an extended run of shows.
Queen, of course, exploded into the spotlight in the ‘70s, turning its one-of-a-kind lead singer Freddie Mercury into a pop culture icon and giving the world some of its most enduring classic hits. Mercury, of course, was lost to AIDS in 1991, but the band lived on and has re-emerged to dazzle a whole new generation of fans, thanks to the addition of Lambert – a performer cut from just the right theatrical cloth to fill Mercury’s shoes as front man for the band. His flamboyant presence and vocal virtuosity are a perfect fit with Queen’s over-the-top, operatic style.
Adam has enjoyed a dazzling career on his own, too, with three hit albums under his belt, and has used his platform as a star to become a powerful advocate for LGBTQ acceptance and equality. When outed by a leaked photograph of a kiss with another man during his season on “Idol,” he shrugged it off by saying he had “nothing to hide” – and soon afterward confirmed himself as gay in an interview with Rolling Stone. He has continued to push the boundaries of acceptance, and he has also worked with organizations like GLAAD and the Trevor Project to promote and empower LGBTQ people through philanthropy and activism.
His status as an out and proud queer man, coupled with his prodigious talent, makes him a diva of the highest order – and his partnership with Queen is a celebration that is not to be missed.
Cher (Oct. 31, Nov. 2-3, 7, 9, 10, 14, 16-17): It’s true that summer will technically be over for this one, but we couldn’t do a roundup of Vegas divas without including the one-and-only Cher, who will also take over the Park Theater to serve epic realness as only she can.
There is no need to recite her history here – this queen of all divas has been a beloved goddess since the beginning of her six-decade-long career, not just as a singer, but as a TV star, an icon of style and fashion, an Oscar-winning actress, and an all-around cultural phenomenon.
She has used her powerful voice to speak up, call out and deliver truth bombs for most of her public life, and continues to fearlessly do so today as a supporter of the #Resist movement.
She’s long been aware of the special place she holds in the hearts of the LGBTQ community and has always been vocal of her appreciation for their love – and in her advocacy of their issues. She has been involved with PFLAG in support of her trans son, Chaz Bono, and has received the GLAAD vanguard award for having “made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for lesbians and gay men.”
Despite her fierce support, though, Cher’s greatest gift to LGBTQ people is… well, just being Cher. Cher goes with the gays just like Cher goes with Vegas – and that’s why her return there this fall will, as always, be a must-see experience for most of us.
A performance by any member of this “Pantheon of Divas” is worth a visit to the desert oasis, but there are also a lot of other shows scheduled that will whet your appetite – Jennifer Lopez, Donny and Marie Osmond, Bruno Mars, Shania Twain, Kesha and Macklemore, Janelle Monáe, Alanis Morissette, Adam Ant and many more.
So pack your most fabulous outfits into the car and get ready to roll.