Here’s what I’ve been saying for the longest time.

If you want to bring back AC as a tourist mecca, forget all the nonsense about trying to make it “family friendly” and try to attract the gay dollar.

Casinos are having a hard enough time trying to attract gamblers. More casinos will not do the trick.
The recent “Do AC” campaign, while attractive enough, is still short of being a rousing success.

Go for the alternative lifestyle audience and perhaps, just perhaps Atlantic City can thrive.

With the gaming industry struggling, Atlantic City seemed more than ready to make a case for its gay moment in the sun.

Three major LGBT events - Sandblast, an Asbury Park festival export; Miss'd America, a drag pageant; and StandOut, a gay business expo - are coming to town this year.

"You know, back in the 1960s, long before Stonewall in New York, long before Provincetown, Rehoboth, and Fort Lauderdale, Atlantic City was a mecca for the LGBT community," said Rich Helfant, president of the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance.

Atlantic City and its casinos and hotels have stepped up targeted marketing to gay and lesbian tourists in recent years and especially since gay marriage was legalized last fall in New Jersey.

Jeff Guaracino, a marketing specialist with the Atlantic City Alliance, a casino-funded marketing agency, said the hope is the LGBT community will "not only visit Atlantic City, but also open businesses here and also buy primary and secondary homes in Atlantic City."

A survey commissioned by the alliance found that the city, despite its storied gay history, was not viewed as especially LGBT-friendly, he said.

This year, several of the city's casinos and hotels are marketing themselves under Pride 2014 themes, including Borgata and its Water Club, and Caesars, which sponsored a Win a Wedding promotion after gay marriage was legalized. The newly repositioned Claridge also has been directing marketing toward the gay and lesbian tourism market and is the official host of Sandblast Weekend.

On the Park Place beach Monday afternoon, David Ocasio, 21, of South Philadelphia, and his girlfriend, Alexandra Mosoeanu, 20, of Northeast Philadelphia, were surprised to hear they were on a historically and now officially gay-friendly beach.

"I'm totally OK with that," Mosoeanu said. "As long as they're not forcing anybody."
Ocasio himself represented an elusive - and promising - young demographic for the struggling seashore resort.

He said he has been coming to the beaches in Atlantic City for the last few years and had tried to convince older siblings that their image of the city's beaches as "dirty, smoky," is out of date.
"It's clean; it's friendly; it's close," he said. "It's 45 minutes away."

Now, would this keep you away? Or do you feel that a revitalized Atlantic City, having attracted a wider audience being LGBT friendly, would become more attractive to you to visit?

Admittedly there are other battles to fight and issues to resolve.
But this is a good first step.

Do you feel making Atlantic City more gay friendly will help revitalize the resort?