San Diego a destination for all

Posted: January 6th, 2017 | Back Out With Benny, Columns, Featured | No Comments

By Ben Cartwright | Back Out With Benny

If you are on Facebook, you may have noticed the “Year in Review” feature that users were able to access. The social media platform’s algorithms created a cute little video of your top photos of the year and had some facts about your Facebook usage over the year.

In 2016, I added 299 new friends, reacted to 64,607 posts (be it likes, hearts, wows, sads, or angries) and checked in to 906 places.

What stood out the most to me, though, was that those 906 check-ins were all in San Diego, Los Angeles, or Palm Springs. I did not travel outside of Southern California at all this year and as I reflected on that, I started to get a little sad, especially as I continued scrolling through my feed seeing friends’ photos of their travels all around the world.

Benny Cartwright

Why didn’t I travel out of Southern California? I don’t know, but schedules, finances, and some anxieties I have were likely a part of it. I used to travel a lot, and have been to many states and Europe, and hope to add additional states and continents in the future. But seeing this Facebook proof that I really didn’t travel this year struck me.

After I finished my internal whining about it, I had another realization: I got to know the city/county I’ve lived in my entire life a lot better. And it’s a pretty darn cool place.

While most of my social media posts focus on my shenanigans around Hillcrest, I trek all over the place. I drive out of the neighborhood frequently and go for walks and drives and have found or re-found so many cool things.

I’ve found new hiking trails, noticed unique architecture in different neighborhoods, people-watched, overheard fascinating conversations and just realized how lucky we are to live in San Diego.

While communities/towns like Clairemont, El Cajon, National City, or Allied Gardens aren’t often thought of as the most exciting parts of San Diego, I’ve found some really fun and quirky things on my walks and drives. And then, of course, there are the “destination” spots in San Diego, like Downtown, North Park, or Harbor Island, which of course, upon passing through remind me why so many people want to travel here.

In my interactions at local bars, coffee shops, and other public places, I have also met so many people who have been visiting here from different places, many of them among those 299 new Facebook friends I added in 2016. I’m so glad to have made friends this year with people who live in Mexico City, Amsterdam, Australia, Washington, D.C., New York, Miami, San Francisco, Taiwan, and South Africa (from what I can recall), and I know that I have a place to stay and familiar face if and when I visit any of these destinations.

If you, like me this past year, aren’t able to travel for whatever reason, keep in mind what a great place we live in and get out there and explore or re-explore all the things San Diego has to offer!

I am excited, though, because I do have some trips planned already this year to Washington, D.C., Mexico, and hopefully, Hawaii for the first time!

Getting Out With Benny

The holidays were fabulous but I’m so glad they are over! There were so many events, parties and celebrations with amazing people, but it was exhausting. Things have slowed down a bit, but there’s still some great things coming up.

The Center’s Young Professionals Council will host their “First Tuesday Series” for January on Tuesday, Jan. 10 from 6:30-8 p.m. at BRICK Bar. Everyone is welcome to attend this fun mixer, which will include a presentation on networking. And yes, this month, they chose to hold the “First Tuesday” on the second Tuesday due to the usual date being so close to the holidays. Visit

That same night, the Hillcrest Town Council will host its first community meeting of the year, with a featured presentation by new City Councilmember Chris Ward. Everyone is welcome to come out and hear about Chris’ plans and ideas for the district and city. Check out

And get your tickets now for Tantrums & Tiaras: Battle of the Bar Queens 2017 before they sell out! This hilarious drag pageant has become a community favorite and it benefits the programs of The Center. The show is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 19 from 7-10 pm at Observatory North Park. Get tickets here:

—Benny Cartwright is the director of community outreach at the San Diego LGBT Community Center. He can be reached at 619-692-2077 ext. 106 or Note: Byline photo by Rob Lucas Modern Aperture Photography.

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