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Atlantic City planning events to reinvigorate once-thriving gay tourism

Monday, June 16, 2014
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Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian holds a flag in Atlantic City, N.J., Monday, June 16, 2014. Atlantic City is planning a series of events to attract gay tourists, who are becoming an increasingly important part of the resort's growth strategy.Wayne Parry, AP

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian holds a flag in Atlantic City, N.J., Monday, June 16, 2014. Atlantic City is planning a series of events to attract gay tourists, who are becoming an increasingly important part of the resort’s growth strategy.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Atlantic City is planning a series of events to attract gay tourists, who are becoming an increasingly important part of the resort’s growth strategy.

Mayor Don Guardian and tourism officials said Monday the goal is to reinvigorate a once-thriving gay community in the New Jersey resort city.

“Atlantic City had its heyday with the gay population on New York Avenue,” he said. “This is where you came when you wanted to have a good time. Straight people came to these places, too, because they wanted to party and dance in the hottest clubs.”

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But when casino gambling began in 1978, soaring land prices pushed out many small gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses.

Now, with the resort struggling to find a new identity and new sources of revenue, the city is once again wooing gay tourists with vigor.

Growing up gay, Guardian said the sight of a rainbow flag was a welcome sign that one’s business was welcome and that it was a safe place to go if the person felt threatened by a situation.

Guardian said he hopes the thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender visitors who come to Atlantic City will come away impressed this summer, and consider the resort as a place to buy a second home.

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