Queer Girl City Guide: Denver, CO

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.

The ARC is a lovely thrift store…50% of Saturdays make my heart sing!

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.

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All The Bars

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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!

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Dancing In The Dark

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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!

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Eat Yourself Full

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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.

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Sports

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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.

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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.

Jazz in the Park, City Park

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.

Switchbacks up 285 – somewhere in Colorado!

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!

My lady, me, and our friends – Renegade Brewing Company

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.

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College Life

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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!

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Churches

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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:

My adorable church at Pride 2011

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.

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Queer Centers

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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!

HipChicksOut at The Living Room, March 2012

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.

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I run, write, sing, dance, and laugh. I usually have a good beer, whiskey, or tea in hand and love the outdoors. New(ish) transplant to Denver from conservative Wisconsin, working in the nonprofit sector.

alison has written 1 articles for us.

86 Comments

  1. Thumb up 3

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    I’m a Denver native, fourth generation. I’ve thought about moving. Just to try something new, but you can’t beat 300 days of sunshine and the super queer friendliness that Denver provides. I volunteer at the Center, come visit us!

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    I don’t mean to be a total nerd and comment on my own article but I woke up this morning, checked the website in bed, and shouted with delight. My girlfriend wasn’t too into it but she pretended as best as she could. Hurray!

    Also, Denverites, if you read this before tomorrow (7/6) and would like to do a little First Friday meet up, let me know!

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      I’m a Boulder native, but I think it’s safe to say that it is pretty queer across the board. For visiting, I would recommend Pearl Street Mall. A lot of the cafes on Pearl are pretty queer. “The Laughing Goat” has a lot of great music and events, “The Cup” hosts slam poetry nights sometimes, and “Tritan” has rockin’ chai.
      University Hill (another area of boulder) can be alright–I spend 96% of my time at “Cafe Roma” on the Hill anytime I’m back in town. There is also a cafe on the Hill called “Innisfree”, which has pretty great coffee, and tons of great poetry events and slams. Sometimes I find the Hill can be a drag (less during the summer) because it’s primarily home to University kids.
      29th Street Mall Area is the most newly developed area of Boulder. I personally never spent much time there, just because it’s not my scene. But, if you like outdoor malls, they have tons of great restaurants and shops.
      Also, Boulder is full of parks and creeks, and is super close to the mountains (which have been on fire a lot recently…) People are outrageously outdoorsy, even in the 100+ weather. If you have a bike, there is a huge “Thursday Night Bike Ride” which can be fun, but you have to ask around to find the starting point. But, make sure to dip your toes in the creek at some point, or go to the farmers market at the park.
      The Russian Teahouse is BOMB, and is also right next to Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art which has some awesome exhibits sometimes (and is usually free.)

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    This list is ALMOST complete, but a few things that were left off:

    Dazbog Coffee (1201 E 9th Ave): Most/all of the Dazbog coffee shops are gay-friendly, but this one is next to the Queen Soopers and is known to most homos as “the gay Dazbog.” I’m actually not sure any straight people work here. Only a few straight people ever hang out here. More gay dudes than gay ladies, though.

    Damn Gurl (location subject to change, but usually at GLOB – 3551 Brighton Blvd.): Where Tracks and First Fridays is very gay-lady, Damn Gurl is very queer. It’s perfectly normal to see people in drag (not to perform, just to be in drag), in fairy wings, in gold lamé pants, or nothing but a speedo and a lot of glitter. It’s also all kinds of DIY – they have some drinks for purchase, but encourage you to BYOB. https://www.facebook.com/DAMNGURLDenver will keep y’all up to date on their whereabouts. DG is every second Friday.

    I’m also astounded that you left off an entire category for brunch. Brunch is basically gay church in Denver.

    Here’s my fav, to start:
    Jelly Cafe (600 E 13th Ave), http://www.eatmorejelly.com/. Jelly is pretty much my favorite place in all of Denver. Bottomless mimosas are only available on weekdays, and it’s always totally packed on weekend mornings, but it’s worth it. The food is so good, their biscuits and homemade jelly are pretty epic, and the servers are all super sweet and fun and maybe a little queer? They’re almost all very tattooed, at least. It’s almost guaranteed that half of the clientele in Jelly on any given day is gay.

    I also lovelovelove
    Le Central (112 E 8th Ave) – bottomless mimosas!
    Root Down (1600 W 33rd Ave) – they have bottomless mimosas too!

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      Baby girl, I’m not lying when I tell you that I cut my list down because I was like “oh man I think I have too much!”
      I went to Jelly AFTER I wrote this. And it is just the best. I’m usually a Snooze gal (PANCAKE FLIGHTS, OKAY?!) but Jelly was legit. And our server was adorable. You are correct.

      I wanted to put Dazbog but there are a lot of locations. I suppose all work… :) They are delightful and their veggie options are delish!

      And I have never heard of Damn Gurl…WHY?!?!?!

      xoxo to you, I heart all of the additions! (Le Central is awesome, a cute bartender gave me free mimosas once and Root Down’s are AWESOME.)

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        Oh girl. Get yourself to Damn Gurl this month. It’s effing amazing. Also, it’s going to be extra hot and sweaty this summer, which = attractive queers sliding all over each other. I mean, that’s never not great.

        Oh, and! The other awesome part about The Center is Rainbow Alley, their youth drop-in center. They do drag shows every month for the gaybies that go there, and if you ever volunteer with them, just seeing these kids creating their own families with all of the other gaybies….it kind of melts your heart in a big, big way.

        ALSO, this place doesn’t exist in a physical space yet, but it will soon! for the queer yoga girls in Denver:
        Denver Yoga Co-op. Their vision reads: “Denver Yoga Co-op is an open door, donation-based yoga community encouraging physical, emotional, and social nourishment through education, holistic health, yoga, and awareness. We are committed to awakening inspiration and laying the foundation for these core principles for generations to come. Denver Yoga Co-op is a celebration of diversity and conscious unity, promoting a message of love and understanding while empowering those within the community to positively impact others.”
        Basically, it’s being created by a group of people and spearheaded by one of my favorite queer yoga teachers ever, and it’s going to be amazing, and all of y’all Denver queers who even have a passing interest in yoga should follow their progress and support them as they turn this idea into reality. https://www.facebook.com/denveryogacoop

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    Brunch for me equals Snooze, city o city, or devils food.
    Also don’t forget The gay church. Metropolitan Communty Church of the Rockies. I go just to see the stained glass featuring a hunky half naked Jesus that is only wearing a rainbow loincloth.

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    I started cracking up at the mention of Queen Soopers. It is THE BEST.

    Have you noticed that people ask you where you live in Denver by what grocery store you shop at? Has anyone else experienced this?

    I’m excited to try a few new things from this list!

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    I’ve never been to Denver or even close but I’ve heard that Red Rocks Amphitheater is pretty awesome! I mean I’ve seen pics on line and I would love to see a show there! I know that it is Brandi Carlile’s favorite venue to perform at and that she’s gonna be there this summer! So all you Denver ladies should check her out live if you haven’t done so before, she is quite fantastic.

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    Ahhhhhh!!!! My queer little heart just exploded from joy! I’m a Colorado native, not from Denver but from the Fort up north, and it makes me so happy to see the state showing off its gayness! Since most of my conservative ass relatives live in Denver, I now know where I will be going when I need a post-visit pick me up.

    Also, King Soopers does not exist here in California and it makes me so sad.

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    I’m going to Denver for the first time next weekend, so this is PERFECT timing! Now I’m afraid I’ll never want to leave. What highlights should I hit? About to buy my tickets for Brandi Carlile’s concert, I’m so excited. And Red Rocks looks gorgeous.

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      Definitely hit up City O’ City for dinner, Jelly or Snooze for brunch (both have super long waits), and if you can, Charlie’s after 10pm-ish. If you have time, visit a small brewery for a drink. I recommend Denver Beer Company or Great Divide.

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    Yay gay! In Denver! Great list! I have to add Eden on 38th and Downing. Mainly because on most Friday nights you can catch some awesome burlesque/boylesque/and trans shows there.

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    i JUST moved to colorado springs. a week ago actually. I want to meet some fellow autostraddlers, or just gay people in general. or maybe just people. but the gay scene seems lacking, but maybe i’m looking in the wrong places. Anyone know a good gay hangout in colorado springs? or just regular hangout for an 18 year old?

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    Ahhh! Denver! You’ve finally made the list! I have to echo what my grrl Jen L said about DAMN GURL! One of the best fully queer spaces in our fair city! Also, another great space for queerbies is crafting communities! Some friends (not all queer, but love us gays unconditionally) and i get together once a month, make shit, drink, eat, be merry. We call it “Scissors Sisters”…I’ll go ahead and let you simmer in that for a minute. You’re welcome. It’s great because it’s ALL different skill levels (srsly, my friend Claire made string bracelets that turned into cat collars one time) and we share whatever weird crafty knowledge we have! I think we’re on that facebook thing, but hit me up if you want to join! Hugs & kittens Denver queers!

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      hey! i was gonna message the fb group, but i don’t want to get stuck in Other Folder Hell. i’ll be in denver this weekend looking at apartments and i was kinda wondering if denver straddlers know of anything good going on saturday night…

      *crossing fingers*

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    Sweet! My Darlin’ and I are moving to Denver in a few months from Portland. Which is like queer meca if you didn’t know. You won’t really find “lesbian” parties here. Maybe for the mid-age crowd. Mostly sticky/sweet dirty queers dancing it the fuck out, hoping to find the same in Denver. Will start with this here list…

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    This is brilliant. I was actually in Denver when this was posted which is pretty random.
    I’ll be moving there in December so this is being bookmarked for sure. Cheers!!
    Also, so stoked to see so many excited comments from people in Denver.

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    Amen to the Jelly comments. If I’m down in Denver on a weekend morning, I’m either at City o’ City or Jelly. Pork belly hash? Bacon pancakes? Amazing.

    I’m intrigued by the Gay & Lesbian Football League. Anyone ever played? I’m always looking for new queer outdoorsy friends and activities.

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    I’m hopefully moving to Denver come June or July. Does anyone know of any areas that aren’t crazy expensive to rent in? I’m looking for something close to the University Medical Center or Johnson and Wales. 1 or 2 bedroom, preferably 2, cat/dog friendly. I’ve looked online, but I was hoping to get some real people opinions before I started seriously looking.

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    I am moving to Denver in July and will be in grad school at UC Denver/ Aurora campus. I want to live in Denver instead of Aurora…can anyone suggest some cool neighborhoods with coffee shops, bars, restaurants that are lesbian friendly?

    Thanks!

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    I’m new to the Denver area, and my sexuality. I’m excited to try out some of these places and hopefully meet some new people. I don’t know anyone in the area. In fact I was so excited to try some of these places out I hopped in the car and I’m typing this from St. Mark’s, enjoying a hot chocolate. If anyone knows of any groups, please let me know. I would really like to make some new friends!

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