From cosmopolitan, culturally diverse cities like New York and San Francisco to atmospheric townships like Charleston and Providence, there are cities with accepting communities that host a variety of pride celebrations, stores, restaurants, bars, and hotels for the LGBTQ community.
With the city playing such a major role in LGBTQ history, it’s no surprise that NYC is home to some of the world’s most iconic gay bars. From casual hangouts to dance clubs, there are plenty of options in the Big Apple to suit every taste and budget.
Located in the heart of downtown Brooklyn, Metropolitan is a favorite gay bar for locals and out-of-towners alike. This popular LGBT club offers a huge outside seating area during the warmest part of the year, a relaxed hangout space in the back, and a fun music selection. I’ve been here on a few occasions and have run into some of my fellow Pentatonix fans as well as some gay travelers from New Zealand.
One of the oldest gay bars in New York is The Monster in the West Village. This rowdy, upbeat spot is known for its talented piano players and surprise appearances by local celebrities. It’s not for everyone, but it’s always a good time.
Barracuda Lounge is another Hell’s Kitchen favorite among LGBT community members. Known for its cozy backroom couches, friendly bartenders, and cheap happy hours, this Chelsea gay bar is a must-visit for anyone in town. They also host some of the best drag shows in the city.
The biggest gay clubs in New York are a mix of performance-based spaces and casual hangouts. Broadway’s HIV/AIDS nonprofit, Broadway Cares, hosts two massive events every year: Broadway Backwards features men singing songs that were originally written for females and Broadway Bares sees performers stripping down to their underwear.
Like New York, the UK’s capital city is bursting at the seams with gay village hotspots. From the rambunctious realm of Soho to the punk-rocker Vauxhall, this is where LGBTQ+ folks come to be their most uninhibited selves.
Londoners don’t just tolerate queer guys, gals, and non-binary pals – they celebrate them. And by night, this effervescent city truly lets its rainbow flag fly. From high-camp cocktails that give Absolutely Fabulous a run for its money to all-out drag shows that would befit the sassiest Eastenders episode, London’s gay scene is one for the ages.
For an upscale take on the bar scene, head to the St James’s Street/Kemp Town area for clubs like Freedom. This opulent gay bar looks like a Restoration Hardware showroom with plush couches, modern light fixtures, and real floral arrangements to compliment its signature cocktail menu. It’s also home to a lower-level cabaret that hosts drag competition shows similar to Ru Paul’s Drag Race.
Brighton is to London as Fire Island is to New York – this seaside resort is where British LGBT+ locals go when they’re looking for fun in the sun. Less than an hour from London by train, this swanky coastal neighborhood is lined with gay bars and clubs. Highlights include the elegant Curtain Road, an Instagrammable hotel and members club that’s a short walk from Old Street station. This swanky spot features a rooftop pool, a camera-ready restaurant and hosts exclusive queer film screenings and events.
A sultry Latin America trip will expand your horizons, delight your taste buds and brighten up your Insta profile. Here you’ll find vibrant street art, intrepid culinary scenes, and an open-minded attitude toward LGBTQ culture and rights. Whereas some countries and cities in the region have been slow to make progress on the gay agenda, others have made major strides.
One such trailblazer is Argentina, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2010 and is a glimmer of pride in the region. Known for tango and beef, it’s also a center of liberal culture. Gay Argentines are woven uncontroversially into the country’s social fabric, and gay pride celebrations are a big deal here.
Another Latin LGBTQ-friendly hotspot is Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, which recently passed some groundbreaking measures including allowing trans individuals to legally change their gender on ID documents and appointing a lesbian mayor. The city’s Chapinero neighborhood is home to over a hundred bars and clubs, most notably Theatron (host to internationally-known parties) and Estacion Cafe.
Panama City is a vibrant metropolis surrounded by dense rainforests, bursting with trendy gay bars and restaurants. It’s also a popular cruise ship port and home to the Panama Canal. While the city’s clubs are most active during Pride in May, it has two dozen LGBT nightspots year-round.
Among the most gay-friendly cities in the US, Portland is a top destination for LGBTQ travelers. It has a culture for outdoor activities and is the host of the annual Pride festival in June, as well as a host of other LGBTQ events throughout the year. It has also been ranked as one of the most eco-friendly cities in the world.
The city’s downtown is home to a variety of bars, restaurants, and clubs. It is a great place for couples to enjoy the nightlife, as it offers a wide variety of options for all tastes. Some of the popular places include The Coffin Club, a horror-themed bar and dance club with a lively dance floor. It also hosts karaoke nights and RuPaul’s Drag Race watch parties.
Another great option is the Silverado, which features Western-inspired decor and line-dancing nights. This unique LGBTQ bar is a must-visit for anyone who wants to experience a little bit of Oregon’s unique flavor.
Although Portland isn’t as affordable as some of the other cities on this list, it has a lower cost of living than New York City. This makes it a great choice for LGBTQ couples who want to save money while still enjoying the nightlife in a welcoming city. Moreover, Portland’s population is very diverse, and the people are open to different types of relationships.