Denver, Colorado. You are great. You are gay. I love you, sweet city.
I moved to Denver in the fall of 2010, came out a year later (what can I say? I love mountains! Get it?) and started learning about the LGBTQ culture of my beautiful new home.
A couple of months ago, my veteran lesbian girlfriend realized that we sucked at hanging out with the queer folk, so we decided to do something about it. We made it our mission to seek out all the cool queer hangouts in Denver and now I’m here to share that all that knowledge with you.
All The Bars
Charlie’s (900 East Colfax Avenue) This bar will cover not only the queers in your life who love two-steppin’ to some country, but also those who just want to shake their ass in scantily clad clothing. It’s split into two, hosts karaoke and dance lessons and everywhere you turn there’s a cute lady!
Recommended: Saturdays here are always bumpin’. I rarely make it there (see churches below) but when I can, it’s always a treat.
There Urban Whiskey Bar (1526 East Colfax Avenue)/X Bar (629 East Colfax Avenue) There Urban Whiskey Bar (formerly known as tHERe Coffee Bar & Lounge) and its former sister bar, Her Bar (which has also been renamed X Bar) are going another round in fighting the good fight. I’ve heard they’re not quite as top-notch as they used to be, but still. Cheap drinks and lesbians. Win.
Black Crown Lounge (1446 South Broadway) Located behind Black Crown Antiques in Denver’s South Broadway antique district, Black Brown Lounge does not disappoint. It hosts a gorgeous interior and two lush, garden-esque outdoor patios. This place screams sexy first date, and is my favorite lady bar of the bunch.
Hamburger Mary’s (700 East 17th Avenue) A small chain of 12 restaurants, Hamburger Mary’s hosts Drag Queen Bingo, Mary-oke, and Dream Girls Cabaret Drag Shows. Mary’s is definitely a fun place to start off a night on the town.
Sputnik (3 South Broadway) Are you a queer lady who loves hipsters? Then Sputnik is the bar for you. It’s got cheap drinks, tasty appetizers and the very best people watching. It’s in a pretty cool part of town and there’s a photo booth too, so come prepared to say cheese!
Dancing In The Dark
Tracks (3500 Walnut Street) So. There’s this thing called First Friday in Denver. Most people hear it and think of the Santa Fe Art District Art Walk, a beautiful, artsy evening filled with galleries and artists. When the LGBTQ community hears it, we think of Tracks. LGBTQ group Babes Around Denver hosts First Friday at Tracks, home to THOUSANDS OF SWEATY QUEER LADIES DANCING IN A FEW BIG ROOMS. I put it in caps so you can shout it in your head. I personally love me some Tracks. There are different rooms for different tastes: 80′s, rap, and Top 40 and a even twinkly-lit smoker’s patio (with its own bar!). Not to mention cute. Girls. Everywhere. Genderqueer, butch, femme, and everything in between.
Rock Bar (3015 East Colfax Avenue) I have to laugh as I type this. Rock Bar is so dingy and gross at 8 pm that you’d question even going in but I swear to you, after a few beers and a few hour’s time, Rock Bar transforms into a super secret awesome queer dance party! It’s an odd mix of super straight frat bros and queers though, so if you’re not into that don’t go there. Be ready to dance and drink cheaply, because this bar is straight out of your college town!
Eat Yourself Full
Watercourse (837 East 17th Avenue)/City, O’ City (206 East 13th Avenue) Vegetarian or vegan? Queer? Love secretly cruising on cute girls whilst nonchalantly talking with friends? Both of these lovely sister restaurants are for you! The tastiest food and definitely most consistent, hands down. Watercourse is more sit-down, third-date, and City O is hanging with pals, first-date.
Vine Street Pub (1700 Vine Street)/Mountain Sun (1535 Pearl Street Boulder, CO)/Southern Sun (627 South Broadway Street Boulder, CO) I am in love with Vine Street Pub. Probably because it’s a block away from my house and does a $3.50 grilled cheeses. Its parent restaurant, Mountain Sun (and sibling restaurant Southern Sun) is located in Boulder. Not to mention: they brew all their own beers, and they all rock!
Highland Tap and Burger (2219 West 32nd Avenue) I wouldn’t say this is a queer establishment, but when my girlfriend and I went there, we realized that there were lesbians everywhere. It’s your basic American burger joint with the flavor turned way up.
Racines (650 Sherman Street) Racines is a Denver staple, located off of Speer Boulevard right outside of downtown. They’ve won awards for Top Gay & Lesbian Watching, Most Popular Gay Dining Destination, and Outstanding American Cuisine. They’re definitely family-friendly! Kiddos are all over this place, so if that’ll make your hangover worse, maybe steer clear.
King Sooper’s (1155 East 9th Avenue) I know this is weird, having a grocery store on this list. But this King Sooper’s location is known as Queen Sooper’s in the LGBTQ world. I think half of the people only shop there to search for other cute queers. Delightful.
Denver Area Tennis Enthusiasts (DATE) With a cute name like that, who could say no? DATE sponsors the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Association’s Rocky Mountain Open every year and their season runs May through August.
Denver Gay and Lesbian Flag Football League Twenty teams (that’s 280 slots!) for all the rough and tumble you desire.
OUT Spokin’ Denver’s LGBTQ bicycle club. Also does philanthropy!
Denver Area Softball League Okay, their website is kind of a mess, but the DASL is an LGBTQ-friendly league that has both open league and women’s league. And that’s pretty legit.
Hangouts and Gayborhoods
St. Mark’s Coffeehouse/Thin Man Tavern (2019 East 17th Avenue) These guys are a conjoined twin hipster coffee shop/bar. You can get work done while scoping people out, then switch over and meet friends for a drink.
Fun fact: I’m writing this article at their outside patio with my dog right now!
Denver Bicycle Café (1308 East 17th Avenue) The cutest girls work here. They’ve got cheap coffee, cheap food, cheap beer, AND you can get your bike fixed!
Stella’s Coffeehaus (1476 South Pearl Street) Full of DU graduate students studying and a great place to just read a book and talk about life. Cute patio with heat lamps for the fall in a cute neighborhood. Cute.
Paris on the Platte (1553 Platte Street) I assume all people love cheese the way I do, so I’m going to point out that they have a killer cheese plate selection. I’ve been here for work meetings over coffee, drinks with old friends and to watch my girlfriend play a set. Their open mic has some of Denver’s best talent; check it out on Monday nights!
Gypsy House (1279 Marion Street) I went here with fellow Autostraddler Vanessa on a blind friend date…with each other. It was awesome. We sat outside, talked about how hard it is to meet queer ladies (you can’t just go up and be like “Hi! I think you look like a cool lesbian. I’m completely basing this off of your nail length and tattoos. Want to be my friend? I promise I’m not insane!”) and then stared at cute girls walking dogs for the afternoon. It was beautiful. Now we’re awkward pals together and nothing could be better.
City Park, Washington Park, Cheesman Park These are both neighborhoods that are gay-friendly and parks, all in one! Here’s the thing about Denver: when you’re in the shade, it’s legitimately like, 20 degrees cooler (no humidity!) So on a hot day, head over with some friends and get your picnic on and get some courage to ask the cute girl tossing a Frisbee to join you. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.
Dog parks (All. Over!) I think that dog parks are pretty much the best place to find yourself a cool queer chick any time of the day. The one closest to my house in City Park boasts some friendly doggies and friendlier ladies. I’d aim for 9:30 am and 5:30 pm when sun’s not blistering.
Open Spaces (Surrounding the greater Denver area) Open spaces are awesome. They’re huge parks where you can let your dog off leash, walk around, run the perimeter…anything. Colorado is super fit, in case you haven’t heard, so if you’re looking for fun with your pals, I’d recommend hitting up anything outdoors. If it’s your first time in high altitudes, stick with open spaces before deciding to climb a 14,000 foot mountain. You’ll thank me later. Also, WATER.
Breweries Denver has so many breweries that are queer-friendly that I can’t even begin to list them all. But if you’re a beer drinker, I’d recommend checking them out. If whiskey’s more of your thing, Stranahan’s does tours as well!
Concert Venues Again, Denver is known for the music scene. There’s downtown music and not too far outside of the city is the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater. My favorite park about Red Rocks is that you can go there during the day to hike. Some people even run up and down the theater steps which is suspect had something to do with enjoying when their lungs live in their throats or something.
Denver University My girlfriend’s alma mater, Denver University has a very public Pride Portal, for “LGBTIQA-related sites” and their Center for Multicultural Excellence hosts events for the queer community
Iliff School of Theology This is where I’m scoring my Masters of Arts in Social Change! Iliff is known as an all-inclusive community, with queers just plain everywhere. FLAME is the group for LGBTQ students and allies and the Social Action Committee brought in the beautiful Rev. Amy DeLong.
Colorado University Boulder There’s a huge student network of clubs for the queer folk here, including QPOC (Queer People of Color), QWIC (Queer Women in Community), and Biphoria. Cheers, Boulder!
Denver and Boulder are known for their open and affirming churches. Well, at least they are to me. Here are a few that I’ve either attended or heard great things about:
First United Methodist Church – Boulder (1426 Spruce Street, Boulder) This is my church! My amazing girlfriend works here as the Family Life Ministry Director, which is what made me start going, but two weeks in I knew I had found my home church. It’s pretty much the coolest. It’s open and affirming and, as of this year, performs LGBTQ marriages!
Christ Congregational UCC (2500 South Sheridan Blvd) The UCC is known for usually being open and affirming. If you haven’t been to church in a while, I hear this is a great place to start!
House for All Sinners and Saints ELCA (2201 Dexter Street, inside of St. Thomas Episcopal Church) With a name like that, why wouldn’t you try it? Started by an Iliff student, the church now has hundreds who attend. They rocked a chocolate fountain in the baptismal font for Easter, they do a blessing of bikes, and they have something called Beer & Hymns. Amazing.
The Center (1301 East Colfax Avenue) The Center is the third-oldest LGBT community center in the United States and lives up to their legacy by hosting really awesome events year-round!
Out Front Colorado (3535 Walnut Street) One of the oldest-running queer magazines in the country, Out Front appears at events and hosts them as well. Any time you see an Out Front photographer where you are, you know you’re in the know. You know?
One Colorado (1245 East Colfax Avenue, Ste 204) One Colorado is the group that’s on the Hill, causing a ruckus in hopes of making a change in legislation for us queers here in Denver and across Colorado. This nonprofit seems to do it all — they work for anti-bullying in schools and support fair-minded legislators across the state.
Gender Identity Center of Colorado (1151 South Huron Street) The GIC provides support, outreach and advocacy for all forms of gender expression, including but not limited to cross dressers, those who identify as transgender, and everything else. They provide support groups and therapists as well!
HipChicksOut There’s First Friday…and then there’s Second Friday. HipChicksOut does a fantastic job of having ladies night events across Denver. They take over bars and clubs that aren’t usually considered queer and throw a big old gay party. Cheers to that!
Denver is a fantastic place to be queer. It took me moving here to come out publicly and it was the best decision of my life. I am always 100% comfortable in who I am, where I am and what I’m doing here as a queer woman and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you’re thinking of coming for a visit, come find me! I will probably be at any of those places above, orrrr hanging out on my front porch drinking whiskey. You’ll know me when you see me, I promise.