New York City is a particular place for queer individuals world wide. It’s right here the place the trendy LGBTIQ+ rights motion was born, and all through the years, NYC continues to be a secure haven for individuals from all walks of life.

Within the musical Hire, Angel famously begins off the tune “Santa Fe” by saying “New York Metropolis… heart of the universe,” whereas using in a grimy subway automobile. That singular second appears to seize NYC so properly. It’s each gritty, soiled, and wild… whereas additionally being some of the highly effective cities on this planet, holding a staggering array of affect within the worlds of commerce, vogue, theater and meals. 

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It’s been house to lots of a very powerful queer figures in LGBTIQ+ historical past, from activist Marsha P. Johnson to writer Larry Kramer. Town has additionally served because the launching level for most of the world’s most well-known drag stars like Woman Bunny and Bob the Drag Queen. Merely put, New York has been the middle of queer tradition for over half a century. 

These days, LGBTIQ+ locals and guests can expertise the joy of this wealthy historical past by having fun with a wealth of queer areas, artwork installations, performances, and extra. This is what it is advisable find out about being LGBTIQ+ in NYC.

Female couple smiling at NYC Pride Parade
New York has been the middle of queer tradition for greater than 50 years © Getty Photos

The very best LGBTIQ+ bars and golf equipment in New York Metropolis

There are 4 essential areas for LGBTIQ+ nightlife in New York Metropolis – Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, West Village, and Brooklyn. Every has a discerning and distinctive vibe that can appeal to completely different guests.

Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea provide essentially the most “conventional” homosexual bars and golf equipment, the place guests can try venues with hunky shirtless bartenders, a mostly-gay-male clientele, and thumping hits going late into the night time. Highlights of those neighborhoods embrace Industry, which many declare is New York’s greatest homosexual bar. A stained-glass show behind the bar shimmers beneath disco bars and neon lighting, creating the proper membership vibe. Sunday by Thursday, guests can expertise nightly drag reveals, and DJs pump out music till 4am on each Friday and Saturday. 

For a extra campy and kitsch vibe, try Flaming Saddles. Dance-pop hits are combined in with nation classics as shirtless waiters in cowboy hats dance on the bartop. It’s a enjoyable and completely ridiculous expertise that’s like a homosexual Coyote Ugly collided with a down-home honky-tonk, however the truth that Flaming Saddles doesn’t take itself significantly is strictly why it’s such a enjoyable bar to go to, providing an unpretentious expertise that’s particularly good for anybody visiting a homosexual bar for the primary time. Different highlights in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen embrace Barracuda Bar and Rise

The exterior of the Stonewall Inn, a famous gay bar in New York City, with many rainbow flags flying from its walls
Stonewall has performed a central half in NYC’s homosexual group for over 50 years © Getty Photos

Somewhat additional south is the West Village. It’s right here the place the trendy LGBTIQ+ rights motion kicked off when, in the summertime of 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn. The patrons fought again and stood their floor, refusing to be bullied by police any longer. Whereas the Stonewall Rebellion was over 50 years in the past, the Stonewall Inn remains to be open and stays a preferred spot.

What makes the Stonewall so particular is that, regardless of being an internationally-recognized location that’s even designated as each a Nationwide Historic Landmark and a Nationwide Monument, it’s nonetheless principally a dive bar. Wooden-paneled partitions and uncovered brick give the Stonewall a pub-like really feel. In reality, most locals don’t even think about the Stonewall to be “fashionable”, which is strictly why it’s considered one of my favorites. Regardless of being some of the well-known locales on the planet, it’s nonetheless only a neighborhood tavern persevering with to do what it’s at all times been doing. 

Only a few doorways down is Duplex. Half piano bar, half cabaret, with an upstairs space that hosts every little thing from comedy nights to pull reveals and bar trivia, Duplex is an awesomely funky and queer house that has one thing for everybody. One in every of my favourite issues about Duplex is that it does not really feel the necessity to conform to any preconceived notion of what a homosexual bar is. It’s loud but loungey and enjoyable but tawdry. It’s what I envision bars within the Roaring ’20s should have felt like.

Duplex additionally attracts a wide-ranging crowd. Whereas most patrons will probably be LGBTIQ+, the piano bar and cabaret appeal to guests from all walks of life, making this an excellent enjoyable and inclusive house for everybody. Different West Village highlights embrace Monster, the lesbian-centric Cubbyhole, and Ty’s, which tends to draw the bear crowd. 

To expertise New York’s youthful, queer-centric, genre-blending, and gender-nonconforming areas, a go to to Brooklyn is a should. That is the place most of the extra underground queer bars and golf equipment are housed. 3 Dollar Bill and House of Yes are at present two of New York’s hottest nightlife spots and are favored by a younger, sex- and body-positive crowd. 

In these areas, each member of the LGBTIQ+ group is expressively welcomed, and so they function a haven for the trans and nonbinary communities. Weekly events appeal to enormous crowds, so be able to get scorching and sweaty whereas brushing shoulders with New York’s subsequent technology of queer activists and heroes. 

Additionally in Brooklyn is the quaint and community-focused lesbian bar, Ginger’s Bar. In keeping with The Lesbian Bar Project, there are at present solely 21 lesbian bars left in America, making Ginger’s one of many final within the nation. It hosts a wide selection of occasions, from open mic nights to poetry readings, dance events, and DJ nights, and is a great spot for lesbian guests to seek out group, ask locals concerning the metropolis, and revel in a secure house. 

Wonderful LGBTIQ+ areas past the golf equipment

For individuals who need to mingle with the LGBTIQ+ group, however don’t benefit from the membership and bar scene, there are nonetheless tons of locations to go. Followers of theater and musicals ought to head over to Marie’s Crisis within the West Village. Whereas technically a bar, the vibe may be very completely different. The comfortable inside contains a nightly pianist who performs present tunes, and the entire bar is invited to sing alongside. I’ll always remember going to Marie’s one yr in late December, singing “Mein Herr” from Cabaret with a gaggle of about 50 individuals because the snow fell outdoors. It stays considered one of my favourite recollections and genuinely created a way of comradery and enjoyable. 

One other institution that each customer wants to take a look at is 54 Below. This old-school supper membership is definitely a comparatively new institution, opened in 2012. Right here, up-and-coming Broadway stars spend their off nights singing Broadway hits, Disney classics, retro pop songs, and extra, all when you get to dine on a scrumptious dinner at a reserved desk or drink craft cocktails on the bar. 

I took my dad and mom there as soon as once they visited and I bear in mind my dad saying that 54 Under was “the sort of New York factor you see in films”, and he’s proper. It has a basic, speakeasy vibe that’s stuffed with stay music and nice meals. Plus, it will get its title as a result of it is situated within the basement of the notorious ’70s membership Studio 54, making it fairly presumably essentially the most New York attraction in New York! 

And talking of Broadway, how might anybody go to town and never soak up a present? Not solely is Broadway tremendous queer-friendly (in actual fact, they’ve a complete nonprofit, Broadway Cares, that raises cash for HIV/AIDS analysis), however there are additionally a number of Broadway reveals that immediately deal with LGBTIQ+ points. A Unusual Loop is a highly-praised, Pulitzer-prize-winning musical that additionally gained quite a few Tony awards, together with Greatest Musical. The story facilities round Usher, a younger Black queer man who’s making an attempt to jot down a musical whereas navigating life in NYC. Different musicals with queer themes embrace Come From Away, which incorporates the true story of Kevin Tuerff and his companion, each of whom grow to be stranded in Newfoundland with a whole bunch of others throughout the 9/11 assaults, and The Ebook of Mormon, which frequently mocks spiritual bigotry in opposition to homosexual individuals.

The exterior of an ice cream shop called "Big Gay Ice Cream Shop" with a unicorn licking a cone on the window
Large Homosexual Ice Cream has a number of places in New York © Getty Photos

Find out how to discover the LGBTIQ+ group in NYC

With one of many world’s most dense queer populations, New York Metropolis naturally has tons of sources and group areas that the majority different cities don’t. One of the crucial notable is the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art. The museum is among the solely LGBTIQ+ artwork museums on this planet and homes work, images, and bodily objects that doc and have fun queer tradition all through the generations. Better of all, it’s situated in SoHo, not too removed from the Stonewall Inn, making a go to to the museum adopted by a drink on the Stonewall the proper itinerary for an pleasant and walkable afternoon exploring LGBTIQ+ historical past. 

In the event you’re in want of a candy deal with, there’s no higher place to go than Big Gay Ice Cream. With a number of places round city, it’s a few of the metropolis’s greatest (and gayest) ice cream. With storefronts which are decked out in rainbow flags and a sassy, ice-cream-licking unicorn, Large Homosexual Ice Cream is aware of create a scene. Inside, you’ll discover cheekily-named sundaes just like the Dorothy and the Mermaid, each being nods to the queer group.

However the store’s most well-known creation is the Salty Pimp. A crunchy cone will get loaded up with vanilla ice cream that’s injected with dulce de leche. Sea salt is then sprinkled on high and the entire thing will get dipped in chocolate. As a devotee myself, I can personally attest to how insanely good the Salty Pimp is – the caramel inside stays mushy and gooey, creating a complete sensory overload. 

One of the crucial vital facilitators of group for LGBTIQ+ New Yorkers is The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, referred to by locals merely as “The Middle”. Right here, quite a few capabilities happen each single day of the week, from headlining occasions like ebook launches and stay performances to extra community-based gatherings akin to AA conferences and help teams. To search out out what’s taking place, try the occasions web page. 

People wave rainbow flags on a float during the New York City Gay Pride Parade
NYC Pleasure occasions run by June © Getty Photos

Save the date: New York’s greatest LGBTIQ+ occasions

Naturally, due to its giant LGBTIQ+ inhabitants, New York Metropolis additionally hosts one of many largest Pleasure celebrations on this planet. NYC Pride has occasions all through June, however the principle festivities are likely to occur inside the final week or two of the month. Pleasure Island, a large music pageant, and the parade are the 2 greatest occasions of the celebration. 

Brooklyn Pride is one other enormous Pleasure celebration, which, just like the Brooklyn queer scene, tends to attract a youthful, extra various crowd. It additionally takes place in June, often earlier than NYC Pleasure, and is thought for its extra underground, rebellious, and art-focused vibe. 

Broadway’s HIV/AIDS nonprofit, Broadway Cares, places on two huge annual charity occasions, each of which are a magnet for large crowds and superstar performances. Broadway Backwards was as soon as recognized for its gender-swapping, having males sing songs initially meant for females and vice versa, but it surely has since grow to be a celebration of LGBTIQ+ theater. 

Broadway Bares sees performers dancing (and stripping) to songs till they’re left in nothing however their underwear. Tickets to those occasions can get costly since they create in huge crowds, however all the cash goes in direction of HIV/AIDS analysis, and so they’re wonderful (and worthy) occasions to anchor your journey round.

Topless dancers on a stage perform for a crowd in a theater
Cash raised at Broadway Bares goes in direction of HIV/AIDS analysis © Alamy Inventory Photograph

What LGBTIQ+ vacationers must know earlier than going to New York Metropolis

One vital factor for LGBTIQ+ vacationers to know is that New York Metropolis can, at occasions, really feel overwhelming. As somebody who grew up in Ohio, I used to be initially shocked after transferring to New York and listening to that bars like The Eagle and The Cock even have a hookup scene, the place guys idiot round proper contained in the bar.

I believed this was one thing you solely noticed in reveals like Queer as Folks and had no concept it was an actual factor. “Cruising” in Central Park can also be very actual, and for those who’re coming from someplace that does not have a lot of a homosexual group, issues like this would possibly come as a little bit of a tradition shock. The excellent news is that there’s no strain to partake. Merely select one other bar or membership, or spend your evenings going to a present or one of many metropolis’s world-class eating places. 

Sources and information for LGBTIQ+ guests in New York Metropolis

The Center is town’s essential useful resource for LGBTQIQ+ individuals, each locals and guests. It’s an incredible place to not solely discover group but additionally obtain quite a lot of information concerning the metropolis if in case you have questions. 

One other vital factor to recollect is that, due to its huge LGBTIQ+ inhabitants, New York Metropolis has been an epicenter of the queer world for nearly 100 years. From Stonewall, to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Harlem’s ballroom tradition made well-known by Paris is Burning (1990), and extra, there may be simply a lot queer historical past in New York. For anybody within the metropolis’s distinctive connection to the queer group, tour operators like Oscar Wilde Tours and Pride Tours NYC provide incredible strolling excursions of town’s neighborhoods, with a concentrate on LGBTIQ+ historical past, giving in-depth information that the majority locals don’t even know! 


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