Not Sure How To Celebrate Pride? Do a Lesbian Bar Crawl With Your Girlfriend and Ex-Girlfriend Like I Did!

We’re almost done with Pride Month, and I’m sure a lot of you have been celebrating, but others of you are likely still at a loss for how to memorialize 2024’s gayness. There are a myriad of ways you can observe: You can take a road trip in your Subaru. You can add another non-binary barista to your polycule. You can paint your body in rainbow and then sweat it all off immediately. That’s the beautiful thing about pride: There are always new ways to enjoy it! And if you’re unsure of how to proceed, just do what I did: Travel from Austin, Texas to NYC with your girlfriend to visit your ex-girlfriend!

By now you’ve probably read Autostraddle editors Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya and Drew Burnett Gregory’s collaborative oeuvre “We Went to Every Dyke Bar in NYC in One Day.” It arguably altered the course of queer history. I was excited and grateful to get to be a part of this heroine’s journey, as well as grateful Kayla and Drew let me bring both my girlfriend and my ex-girlfriend. In fact, I think the overwhelming lesbianism of my situation excited them.

So what could be more inviting and enjoyable than an Autostraddle bar crawl with a bunch of lesbians during Pride? Introducing your girlfriend and ex-girlfriend to each other while you do it!

Here’s my alternative rundown of the Autostraddle Dyke Bar Crawl, from the perspective of crawling with my girlfriend and ex-girlfriend.

A Brief Introduction

My ex-girlfriend, let’s call her G — we dated for most of our college career, from late 2015 to early 2019, at a small liberal arts college in Illinois. We were in our early twenties, it was my first serious relationship, and it came to an abrupt, dramatic end after she moved to NYC and I broke up with her over FaceTime (I was not nice for that, and I have made my apologies). We then didn’t speak for two years, before befriending each other again over text in 2020, and now I view her as one of my best friends.

My girlfriend, let’s call her M — we have been dating long-distance for the past seven months. We met at a MUNA concert on Lesbian Visibility Day but didn’t begin dating until months later, after a theatrical set of circumstances of her trying to flirt with me and me running away from her while entangled in a toxic situationship. Now, we see each other every other weekend, and I just wrote a very ooey-gooey essay about how dating her has taught me to trust and love myself. Gag.

They are both funny. They are both redheads. They bonded together easily to bully me on the MTA. Now you’re caught up.

HENRIETTA HUDSON’S

Being that both G and I are by our very nature, as the kids say, “sleepy bitches,” we decided not to start drinking at 2 p.m. per the official Autostraddle bar crawl plan. While the crawl went through Stonewall and Cubbyhole, G, M, and I were pregaming with oysters at Smorgasburg in Prospect Park. I highly approve of doing this activity with both your girlfriend and your ex-girlfriend. The yonic-charged energy of the oyster, mixed with the inherent tension of a past and present love colliding into one another at breakneck speed in 85 degree East Coast weather, is sure to induce a delightful feeling for one’s Pride weekend. So we cheersed our oysters, knocked them back, and I did what I do best with oysters: spit them out immediately. I’ve been told my aversion to and complicated relationship with oysters makes me a bad lesbian, and to that I say, stop reducing women to assumed body parts! Also sometimes seafood is icky!

After lunch and oysters, we all descended on Henrietta Hudson’s in Greenwich. With a bright pink neon sign proclaiming the bar’s name, as well as another sign representing The L Word: Generation Q, the bar is pretty easily identified. As Kayla and Drew wrote in their article, the bar was hosting a Lambda Literary reading for Emerge: The Anthology for the 2023 Lambda Literary Writers Retreat. I didn’t realize this, so M and G got to have a taste of the literary world alongside me. The reading was fabulous, and I enjoyed a non-alcoholic version of the cider I wanted because M doesn’t listen when I talk (too busy thinking about the piano riff in Charli XCX’s “Mean girls”).

We met up with the Autostraddle crew, which was lovely as it was the first time I got to meet pretty much all of them in person! And it only took about five minutes for someone to comment on G and M both being redheads, but in my defense, G had blue hair (and pronouns) when we dated years ago. When asked why I kept introducing them as “my girlfriend and my ex-girlfriend” instead of “my girlfriend and my friend,” I said it was funnier that way and that I wanted a shout-out for it in the article.

Overall, we didn’t get what I would assume is a typical Henrietta’s experience, so perhaps we can’t rank it accurately, but I did enjoy the reading and the energy it brought to the small but cozy space.

THE BUSH

M had to bounce halfway through the Lambda reading because she hates me, or because she had promised to get a quick drink with a college friend…one of the two. So, my ex G and I made our way to The Bush in Williamsburg.

I don’t want to say something bad about a queer establishment. However, it felt less like a bar than a Saw trap with boob art on the walls. It was in a cold, unfriendly warehouse-type building — though the bartenders were quite fashionable, and the drinks were tasty! The Bush itself would’ve felt like a bust had it not been for the block party just outside for Puerto Rico Day. The music was throttling, and there was a Charmander plushie with a Palestinian flag being crowdsurfed.

G and I awkwardly stood to the side for a minute while the Autostraddle crew danced among the block party, partially because I was very nervous and wanted to look cool, and partially because G’s idea of a good time party is doing edibles at home with her cat. Which is exactly what she went off to do partway through The Bush celebration. M returned from her quick drinks, and she and G did a changing of the guard of sorts. G joked it was like divorced parents trading the kid for their weekend, and I said that was a weird analogy considering I’ve slept with both of them.

MARY’S

Soon after The Bush got trimmed, we all Ubered our merry way over to Mary’s Bar. A small, unassuming bar tucked away near a Staples in Greenpoint, I oddly enough found this to be my favorite bar of the crawl! Spoilers!

The bar held pretty much only us, the crawl and friends of the crawl, but I didn’t mind that. It made the bar feel homey, like the kind of bar neighborhood friends frequent to catch up. A big projector was lain across one wall, playing contemporary and retro music videos. When Chappell Roan’s “Pink Pony Club” video started playing, there was a quiet reverence. When Charli XCX’s “360” video started playing, there was a quiet reverence with a dash of drooling thrown in.

I’m admittedly not much of a big partier, so I quite enjoyed the down-to-earth vibe of Mary’s. Once in awhile I can rustle up the energy for a good ol’ sleazy hang — my best friend, Rob, and I used to go dancing once a week when we both lived in Austin, snorting poppers to Lady Gaga like good twinks. And I would never trade those post-hang drunken street food hot dogs for anything! But on an average day, I just want a cider, good conversation, and to not wait in a long line to pee.

It was at this point in the night Veronica, G’s lesbian roommate, decided to come out and join us despite G happily being home in her pajamas. I introduced Veronica as my ex-girlfriend’s lesbian roommate, because I am insufferable and, again, was trying to get a good mention in the official article. I am a Leo Moon, I need the attention.

ANIMAL

As I said, I’m typically a dive bar call. Which is why Animal was quite the whiplash from Mary’s. We walked a ways over to it from Mary’s, each of us dividing into smaller groups of two or three staggered along the sidewalk like a lesbian field trip buddy system. I ended up at the end with Veronica and Autostraddle’s TIMA, chatting emphatically about our feelings on Jennifer Lopez, most of which were negative though tinged with a strange fascination. Also, what’s going on with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon? That may be for a different article, but I’d be happy to discuss further with any of you.

Animal felt aptly named because I did immediately go into prey mode. It was pitch black in most places, and where it wasn’t, there was only the ominous glow of a red light that made me feel like I was either in a Berlin sex club or a Scandinavian horror movie. After drinking for the past couple hours, and being such a lightweight that the smell of alcohol makes me drunk, Animal was a bit of an overstimulating event. Despite the atmosphere, our table had great conversation — I assume, because I couldn’t hear any of it over the music. Which I didn’t lament for the most part, because as I said, by this point in the night the previous four days I’d spent gallivanting around the city were catching up to me. Unsurprisingly, Austin, Texas does not provide the same amount of walkability or frenetic gay energy in the way NYC does.

When the movement seemed to be headed towards Ginger’s, M, Veronica, and I got an Uber that way, to be followed shortly by the rest of the bar crawl crew. While waiting for the Uber, I did a Lin Manuel Miranda impression to songs from brat, as I had been doing all week. In the car, I not so subtly indicated I didn’t think I could make it very long at Ginger’s before I would need a hot dog and a bed.

GINGER’S

Last but certainly not least, we found our way to Ginger’s. I’d been to Ginger’s for the first time in October of last year, and it had clearly been an off night when I had, as this time the wall-to-wall lesbians were incomparable. The high-flying Irish and rainbow flags up in the rafters were a delightful dress to a tiny bar packed to the gills with Sunday night sapphics. M and I beelined right for the bathroom, where we made friends with those waiting for a long while. M turned to me, saying something along the lines of “If they’re going to do coke in the bathroom, they could at least be considerate and do it faster.”

Eventually, the bathroom was freed up (they were, in fact, doing drugs), and we took our turns peeing. After that, Veronica and M excitedly left the bar to have a cigarette, and I took this as a golden opportunity to wander off and get a pizza from nearby. We all ended up chatting with a couple queer folks visiting from Cleveland and drunkenly told them to follow their dreams and move to NYC. I shared a mozzarella stick with one of them, which I view as mutual aid.

After this, M, Veronica, and I all knowingly looked to one another, recognizing that as the orange planets of their cigarettes dissolved, we were all done for the night. M took the bus to her friend’s apartment where she was staying, and I took the subway with Veronica back to her and G’s place, where G was indeed awake in her pajamas with her cottonball of a cat.

BONUS: STONEWALL INN AND CUBBYHOLE, THE NEXT DAY

While we missed these two in the official bar crawl, M and I decided the next day to hit these spots up anyway, because she had not yet been to either despite having visited NYC 10-15 times (yes, this is a shaming). We went out to a lovely dinner and caught some jazz at Arthur’s Tavern (not a gay club, but a very cozy jazz bar with delicious non-alcoholic drinks) in the West Village. When we realized how close we were to these two bars we’d missed, we decided we had to make the journey.

First we headed to Stonewall. Across the street from Christopher Park, also a symbol of the Gay Liberation movement and decorated with statues commemorating the Stonewall Riots, the Inn sits rather disarmingly. Hidden somewhat in the eaves of street construction, we almost missed it, were it not for the large purple-texted sign commemorating the monument: “In the name of those who came before me, I pledge to be brave, to be true to myself, and to fight like hell for equality.”

Then we went to Cubbyhole. We were both pretty beat by this time, having spent almost a full week in NYC and a full day at Coney Island together, and needed badly to pee. So we shimmied our way into Cubbyhole, which at night becomes a sardine can of hot trust fund non-binary DJs. She peed first, so I found Carly Rae Jepsen on the TouchTunes so she could select “Psychedelic Switch,” one of her favorite tracks to set to TouchTunes (she once did it in a biker bar). Then I went in to pee, and when I left the bathroom, she suggested we go. So we did, after which she revealed to me that in the few minutes it took me to pee she had two different people grab her ass. It was smart of her to tell me this after we exited, because I am not a confrontational person, but like a lot of people, I do get very justly angry in situations of disrespect against those I love. Plus, it was probably another 5’3 masc lesbian with a brunette shag who did it, so I could take them easily.

Needless to say, this resulted in Cubbyhole being quite low-rated for us. Plus, it scares me.

Conclusion

It was a successful experience introducing my girlfriend to my ex-girlfriend and getting to jump from bar to bar with them and the Autostraddle crew. It was likely the most lesbian thing I’ve done in a long time, and I have done a lot of lesbian things. Pretty much exclusively lesbian things.

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Gabrielle Grace Hogan

Gabrielle Grace Hogan (she/her) received her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. Her poetry has been published by TriQuarterly, CutBank, Salt Hill, and others, and has been supported by the James A. Michener Fellowship and the Ragdale Foundation. In the past, she has served as Poetry Editor of Bat City Review, and as Co-Founder/Co-Editor of You Flower / You Feast, an anthology of work inspired by Harry Styles. She lives in Austin, Texas. You can find her on Instagram @gabriellegracehogan, her website www.gabriellegracehogan.com, or wandering a gay bar looking lost.

Gabrielle has written 13 articles for us.

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