Many new places contributing to the Catskills renaissance are gay owned, like A Black Frame (ablackframe.com), a 1,277-square-foot, two-bedroom and bi-level vacation rental transformed from a 1961 hunting lodge in Kerhonkson. Opened in 2015, the rental was bought by Jeremy Parker, a former DJ in NYC, and his partner, Carlos Breton, who thought they could offset their NYC costs by renting short term, but the bookings went through the roof.
“We never anticipated the house turning into what it has become.” The home is furnished with modern appliances like a subzero fridge and thermador stove, and it’s near Minnewaska State Park, a 27,000-acre nature preserve with waterfalls and hiking trails. “The Catskills are becoming more popular because people are realizing how amazing the state of New York really is,” says Jeremy.
Sullivan County (sullivancatskills.com) is perhaps the most well-known gay area in the Catskills. It’s home to Catskills Pride, plenty of gay-friendly places like Forestburgh Playhouse, The Launderette, Hurleyville Performing Arts Centre, and a thriving LGBT community (up to 70 percent of businesses in Narrowsburg Village are gay owned). Home to gay artists, hoteliers, entrepreneurs, second-home owners and NYC weekenders alike, Sullivan County is cozy, pastoral, and perhaps most notable for a small, rural town with a population of 80,000: progressive. The town’s “A Day To Be Gay in The Catskills” parade in 2001 truly marked its gay-friendliness and acceptance for all walks of life. In fact, this event was the first Gay Pride event in the Catskills, according to the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association, and Catskills Pride continues to support the gay community in the region annually.
Sullivan County has a community feel, and while it may tout a variety of independent businesses, from rustic restaurants and modern inns to lively bars and noteworthy theater, the county has long been known for its sprawling nature. Travelers and locals alike traverse various scenic trails, and in warmer months, they also dot the breathtaking Delaware River for sunbathing and picnics, fishing, kayaking and even party rafting (up to 20 people) with Reber River Trips, a family owned river rafting company since 1947 (3351 Route 97, Tel: 844-525-3086. reberrivertrips.com).
“There are so many gay couples moving to Sullivan County,” says Johnny Pizzolato, co-owner of Stickett Inn (3380 Route 97, Tel: 845-557-0913. stickettinn.com), a 4-room property and bar (as well as a 2-bedroom cottage) that gets so many gay guests, it’s practically a gay property. “I think the word is getting around about the natural beauty of the Catskills,” says Johnny.
While Stickett Inn is approaching a 10-year anniversary, it’s recently renovated, and every room offers a respective theme (for instance, SOAK has an oversized trough tub; EAT has a full kitchen; and STEAM has a 2-3 person steam shower).
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we create a truly fun environment,” Johnny says. Stickett Inn is also one of the only gay bars in Sullivan County, but the fact a gay bar exists in the rural countryside is a true testament to the gay-friendly nature of the Catskills—and yes, it does get plenty of business.