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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 297 > Philly buster

Philly buster

Rocky Balboa and Tom Hanks may be all some people know about Philadelphia, but — as Adam Duxbury discovers — there is so much to see and do in the city that staying just a few days doesn’t do it justice
WELCOME TO THE GAYBORHOOD: Adam makes friends with the locals

On a Saturday evening in early October last year, I found myself admiring the view from the vertiginous R2L restaurant in downtown Philadelphia. I was partly marvelling at the twinkling lights of the city’s knifestraight streets spreading out below, and partly crushing on my impossibly cool dining companion, Amber Hikes. As the director of office of LGBT+ affairs, she serves as the mayor’s principal policy advisor on issues affecting the queer community, and she had joined our little press group to tell us a bit more about queer life in the city in the run up to Philly’s annual OutFest.

I’d arrived the day before, with just enough time to take an evening stroll around Rittenhouse Square, a cute little park close to our hotel, and have dinner at V Street, a brilliant vegan restaurant, where you can sit on a bar stool and look into the kitchen as you eat — which beats staring at your phone.

Before arriving, I have to admit that my knowledge of Philadelphia was pretty scant. I knew that the famous steps Sylvester Stallone runs up in the multi-Oscar-winning film Rocky were here somewhere, and vaguely remembered there were queer connections because I’d seen Tom Hanks’ Philadelphia (another Oscar success). I’d also heard it referred to as “the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection.” But I wasn’t expecting to find such a walkable, picturesque, vibrant and diverse city. During my four-night stay, I discovered some of the best food I’d eaten in the States, a perfectly formed gay scene and oodles of art and culture.

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About Attitude

Double cover: Adam Lambert on touring with Queen and Sense8 actor Miguel Angel Silvestre. Plus: Ross Lynch on playing killer Jeffrey Dahmer, enigmatic singer serpentwithfeet, Dusty Ray Bottoms on his gay-cure exorcism, and Drag Race’s Eureka O’Hara.