New York City doesn’t just have one “gay neighborhood.” Sure, there’s Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea - but this city is all just kind of gay everywhere. No matter where in the city you find yourself, you’re never too far from people in full mesh, studs in suits, drag queens and kings, club kids, and leather daddies. Which is why you won’t just find LGBTQ bars on this guide, but also spots that host LGBTQ nights and events.
After a challenging year for this city’s LGBTQ spots, we’re highlighting everything from neighborhood hangs and bars that are great on weeknights to spots for the best local drag in the world and clubs for a big night out. In other words, it’s a refresher on all the places you can find your people in this big, newly reopened, queer city. Here are 25 of our favorite LGBTQ spots across NYC.
Most of the bars on this list require that you show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination at the door. For more on the growing vaccination-only trend at NYC bars and restaurants, read this feature.
You can show up to Club Cumming on any given night and get something different: open mic night, drag show, musical comedy, or celebrity appearances. But don’t let the popular, overcrowded 8pm shows discourage you from trying to get in here. While it looks like just another tiny East Village dive bar, it’s actually a place where anything is possible - you could come at 11pm on a Sunday and make a bunch of new drag queen friends, or end up singing Bohemian Rhapsody with a bunch of shirtless men while one accompanies you on the piano.
Stonewall Inn feels historic right when you walk in. That’s due, in part, to the fact Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera resisted a police raid here, effectively launching the gay rights movement in 1969. But also because they probably haven’t renovated in several decades. There’s a long bar on the ground floor that’s more divey, and upstairs you’ll find a small stage for drag shows and a bit more energy. It’s by no means anyone’s go-to for a wild night out, but if you’ve never been to Stonewall, it’s definitely worth making a trip. And it’s still definitely the most fun you’ll have at a New York City Landmark.
If you find yourself asking why do they have both disco balls AND paper lanterns, you’re not understanding the true appeal of Industry Bar. Is it gaudy? Yes. But if a gay bar is too sharply dressed, can you really trust its true intentions? Who really financed this place, anyway? At Industry Bar, there’s no question about that. Saturdays are the right night to be here - it’s a great, energetic crowd with very high odds of meeting someone new.
This is NYC’s best-known lesbian bar. So at some point, you’ll inevitably end up at this small, cash-only, divey place in the West Village, where the ceiling is always completely covered in seasonally appropriate decorations. They are requesting that you bring proof of vaccination to sit indoors, but you can also grab drinks outdoors on their flower-covered patio in the West Village when it’s warm. It stays pretty low-key on Thursdays and Fridays, but on weekends it’s packed. Expect to meet a minimum of two straight couples looking for a “friend” and one group of non-queer people who visiting a lesbian bar “just for fun.”
This is the city’s oldest gay bar (opened in 1864), and yes, it is absolutely still worth checking out. It’s a cute, cash-only West Village spot, where it’s easy to end up chatting with someone who’s been coming here for 40 years. Also: they serve burgers. And people are actually eating them.
The Eagle is NYC’s staple for the leather/daddy/bear/pup/cub/otter/direwolf community, where you’ll find the most body hair and the least deodorant. There are two levels at this Chelsea spot, each with its own full bar, and an excellent rooftop for warmer nights. The drinks are reasonably priced and you’ll find early 2000s Falcon porn (the young Matthew Rush kind) playing on the TV screens around the bar. If you don’t come prepared with the proper attire, there’s a leather and fetish gear shop in the industrial elevator which floats between floors - but don’t feel bad if you show up in jeans and a t-shirt, because everyone’s welcome.
This Bushwick dive bar is a mixed queer space where you’ll always find a wide range of people. The decor feels cohesive but chaotic, combining the kind of crafts you probably made at camp, with cardboard cutouts of acid-colored spooky masks that were hung up for Halloween but never removed. This is a great spot to kick off your night out in Bushwick or hang out casually on a weekday, especially in the backyard space, which is typically fairly empty during the week. They’re always playing great music and projecting fashion shows, anime, and old movies on screens inside.
In our heads, most people’s idea of a fun night out in Park Slope plays out in the backyard of brownstone. But ever since this gay bar from the people behind C’mon Everybody opened in July 2020, the number of exciting things you can do late at night in this neighborhood has drastically increased. Good Judy has two floors with several booths, banquettes, and high-top tables where you can take jello shots and speak several octaves higher than usual with a group of friends. Plus, their event calendar is packed with weekly drag shows, watch parties for Rupaul’s Drag Race, karaoke nights, and other events where you’ll likely end up embarrassing yourself on the dancefloor. So if you want to have a good time in the area and don’t already have a friend with a backyard nearby, head to Good Judy.
Henrietta Hudson calls itself a “Queer Human Bar Built by Lesbians.” And they’re actively fighting to keep their doors open via the Lesbian Bar Project alongside 20 other lesbian-run bars across the country. During the week, it’s a casual spot where you can have a few drinks and some snacks, but for Pride Month, Henrietta Hudson is reopening its newly-renovated dancefloor for ticketed events. Each ticket gets you access to an open bar and live DJ, plus 10% of the proceeds will be donated to a local queer non-profit. You can read more about their upcoming dance parties here.
If you’re looking to get drinks at a Harlem bar with shirtless bartenders, drag performances, and Happy Hour specials, head to Alibi Lounge. This upbeat spot sits proudly on a busy neighborhood corner with pride flags, velvet ropes, and a long red carpet where you should choreograph a grand entrance. Drink specials run until 8pm every night, and they also host drag shows every Tuesday till 10pm, so we’d recommend coming here when you’re in the mood to get a little sloppy on a weeknight. Alibi Lounge is one of New York City’s last remaining Black-owned gay bars, and over the last year, its owner has fought to keep the businesses afloat. After running a successful GoFundMe campaign, the community space will not only be able to keep its doors open, but Alibi Lounge will make also a $1000 donation to the Transgender Law Center in honor of everyone who donated.
Three Dollar Bill hasn’t been around as long as some other places on this guide, but this Brooklyn spot has quickly become one of the most fun queer places in the city. There’s an efficient bar at the front, a dance floor with two stages on either end, and an outdoor patio where you can let your sweat dry. Between the music, the space to dance out every word of the song, the colorful lights that hit the exposed brick walls, and the upper platform to perform for the commoners below, it’s impossible to have a bad time at Three Dollar Bill.
Rockbar is a dive bar near the Christopher Street Pier. Generally, there’s something going on every night of the week at this bear-focused, but very inclusive spot. For now, Rockbar requires all who enter to show an Excelsior Pass or vaccination card at the door for entry. But once you’re inside, it’s the kind of place where you can hop on stage to perform your fully choreographed dance to Macy Gray’s “I Try.” Out front there’s a small fenced-in area for smoking, which vaguely feels like you’re in some kind of gay zoo, but maybe you’re into that.
Pieces is a longtime West Village gay bar with excellent drag performances and a daily Happy Hour. The bar here stretches along the wall and the stage is next to it, so the dancefloor can feel a little cramped on weekends. Weeknights are a little less crowded, so if you want to go out on a Tuesday night and have it feel like a Friday night, come here.
We’ve never had a bad time at Hardware, a Hell’s Kitchen spot that hosts some of the best drag performances and performers in the city. The bartenders are friendly and fast, and there’s also a back dance room, where they’re heavy on the fog machines. When someone on your group text suggests Hardware, everyone can get on board.
“Hard work pays off” applies to making it on the 30 Under 30 list, and also to getting to the backyard of this Williamsburg dive bar. But the huge outdoor space is worth the effort. Inside, a tight squeeze through the bar area leads to a small dance floor adjacent to the DJ, with a surrounding elevated platform that someone will inadvertently fall from sometime during the night. You can get any of their classic cocktails for $8, or cheaper well/draft offerings. Waiting for the bathroom here can be a process, so prepare some conversation starters for making new friends in line.
Despite the smell, this Williamsburg dive bar has become somewhat of a landmark for the Brooklyn queer nightlife scene. On any given day you might walk into an open mic night, a drag clothing auction, or a backyard BBQ hosted by a drag queen. You’ll see the same cast of characters over and over again, which makes it a great spot to make new friends and meet people. The backyard has ample seating and is usually where people hang here, especially in the summer, and the bartenders here are both friendly and quick to make sure everyone’s taken care of.
This country western-themed bar is a casual neighborhood hangout with booth seating in the front and a performance space in the back, where they host open mic nights and drag shows. But on a warm day in the summer, you’ll want to be seated at a table on their sidewalk table - grooving to the melodic whistle tones and bass-thumping beats from the Ariana Grande playlist blasting from their excellent speaker system. Downstairs is a basement area with a pool table that no one ever seems to be using (and you can also rent out the space for private parties). This place also serves some pretty decent bar food, like burgers and quesadillas.
During the week, Icon is laid-back, but on weekends, it turns into more of a club where everyone is dancing, and everyone is having a great time. That being said, we also once saw a Game Of Thrones drag performance here, when Icon made a giant dragon for the occasion. So think of this as a spot you can use for a variety of needs. The drinks are strong, the music is great, and the place overall feels noticeably clean.
BARS WITH LGBTQ NIGHTS OR EVENTS
This Bed-Stuy spot is heavily themed around the late-night roller rink parties you may or may not have attended as a child. Meaning there’s an entire room dedicated to retro arcade games, a second-floor balcony for people who are presumably very cool, glowing lights, and a jukebox (playing music you legally must dance to. They don’t have an events calendar to speak of, but they usually post about Saturday night drag shows or DJ sets a couple of nights before they happen on Instagram. Despite all of the fun decor, we feel a need to clarify that there is no actual roller skating to be done at All Night Skate (our server told us that insurance probably wouldn’t take kindly to mixing alcohol with shoes with wheels). Although if you bring a pair of skates, you do get a 10% discount - but then you might have to carry skates to the apartment of a person you met here.
Like grapes fermenting into fine wine, you need to reach the proper alcohol level before you go to Bossanova in Bushwick. This is where you can have an electronic dance club experience that’s as close to your semester abroad in Berlin as you’re going to find in NYC. The dance floor is full of fog, so we honestly don’t know how large it is and who else is ever there. Maybe that’s for the best.
Mood Ring is right across the street from Bossanova, and it’s sort of like Bossanova-lite. That means you can dance and get kind of weird, but there are plenty of seats, opportunities for social interaction with hot Bushwick people, and the ability to distinguish the face of the person in front of you. While the back room is dedicated to dancing and neon laser beams, the front has booths and a big bar. As you might be able to tell from the name, Mood Ring is themed around astrology. So expect a cocktail of the month based on star signs, and people who are both ironically and unironically into the current position of the moon.
Heaven Or Las Vegas is from the same people behind Mood Ring, and just like that bar, it’s full of neon accents, and it’s a great spot to dance until 4am. The space consists of three small interconnected rooms, one of which is a decent-sized dance floor with a DJ booth and a smoke machine. There are also a bunch of stuffed animals hanging from the ceiling (including a Pikachu over the bar), and if we had to describe the overall aesthetic of this place, we’d probably say something like “Early-’90s Slumber Party Rave.”
While not technically a bar, Paloma’s does serve great cocktails and host drag brunches on Sundays that should satisfy your itch to throw money in the air and scream affirmations at a lip-sync performer in high heels. This Mexican spot took over the former Guadalupe Inn space, so there’s a full stage and a long bar with plenty of room for spaced-out seating inside. So if you’re looking for a relatively new spot to check out on the border of Bushwick and Ridgewood, stop by Paloma’s for bottomless drinks and gay antics on a weekend afternoon.
The queerest straight club in New York, House of Yes is guaranteed dance nirvana. Typically, they host different parties each night, but right now they’re gearing up for their big Summer 2021 reopening bash. So we suggest you sign up for their email list and stay up to date on all the events coming up.
Le Bain is the rooftop bar of The Standard, a hotel in the Meatpacking District where you might run into someone you recognize from Bravo before being puked on by someone who watches a lot of Bravo. It hosts a queer dance party called Paradisco almost every Sunday (from 3pm-12am). The DJ sets are full of consistently excellent dance tracks, and they cover the pool with some miraculous dance-grade flooring for extra space. You should also come early, because the line can wrap around the block.