As we prepare for another fantastic Simpleview Summit, I am excited to experience the host city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin — a true LGBTQ+-affirming destination.

When Tony Snell Rodriguez, Director of Community Engagement and Inclusion at Visit Milwaukee, was taking a hard hat tour of the new Fiserv Forum before its opening in 2018, what particularly caught his attention were the gender-neutral restrooms. This arena, home to the Milwaukee Bucks NBA franchise as well as the host arena for countless events, included these specific restrooms as a fundamental aspect of the arena design. Not an afterthought. Not something shoehorned into the design late in the process. Simply a reflection of the inclusion that Milwaukee, Wisconsin, strives for.

In fact, Milwaukee has a city-wide ordinance requiring gender-inclusive accommodations in city facilities.

As an LGBTQ+ individual myself, the inclusive environment in a destination certainly influences my decisions about where to travel. Gender-inclusive restroom facilities might not seem like a significant issue to some — yet they make a strong statement about Milwaukee’s commitment to creating a city that actively includes and celebrates the LGBTQ+ community. Milwaukee strives to cultivate a community that welcomes and values diversity, including those who are LGBTQ+. It’s not simply an afterthought or a marketing ploy — it’s part of the city’s DNA.

Three people enjoying themselves at a Pride festival.

Milwaukee consistently scores the maximum 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index, and in 2022, the Milwaukee Police Department joined the Safe Place Initiative — which identifies businesses and facilities that offer a safe, welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ persons, as well as victims of human trafficking.

Of course, Milwaukee is much more than its policies and ordinances, as important as those are. The city is home to a vibrant LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ Simpleview Summit attendees, as well as allies looking to explore and experience the dynamic local community, can check out a range of LGBTQ+-owned businesses — including bars, restaurants, and shops. Everywhere is Queer recently visited Milwaukee and highlighted five queer-owned businesses that Simpleview Summit attendees may want to visit.

If you want to check out local events before, during, and after the conference, be sure to check out the LGBTQ+ events at PrideFest Milwaukee in June and the LGBT Film and Video Festival are major annual events that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.

Another great way to explore Milwaukee’s LGBTQ+ community, including present and historical locations, is the lgbt milWALKee app. Download the app to your mobile device and discover the diversity surrounding you. This could provide a great way to stretch your legs and get outside when you are ready for a break from the action.

If you are LGBTQ+ (or if you’re an ally!) and you have questions about attending Simpleview Summit, please reach out to me, or contact Tony at Visit Milwaukee. We want to ensure that your experience is as welcoming and inclusive as the city itself.

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