One Girl, One Unicorn: A Truly Epic Guide to Washington DC

TIME TO EAT/DRINK COFFEE!

Oh, goodness. There are SO MANY excellent restaurants in DC and you can find info on the best ones on Zagat and the gay-friendly ones on Yelp or you can just stick to the Gayborhood.

Based on the “Keena Rubric of Dating and/or PDA” pretty much any restaurant in the Gayborhood will be friendly to lesbians. Some bring the rainbow power harder than others, but this can vary day to day.

However, I do have thoughts on cafés, and since I know how much you all love to bike to a cozy café to work on your laptop, you’ll need to know where to go!

Tryst (18th St and Columbia NW).

Tryst consistently receives awards for Best Coffeehouse in DC and it’s easy to see why: the venue is cozy and hip, the wait staff are super friendly, the food is good, the coffee is better, and there are delicious cocktails available as soon as you’ve had enough coffee.

It can be hard to find a spot despite comfy armchairs abounding, but it’s great people-watching and will make you feel instantly cool/edgy. I wrote most of this DC Guide while at Tryst, attempting to be cool and edgy. I succeeded in being creepy and overcaffeinated.

Filter Coffeehouse (1726 20th St NW)

This cute and wonderful tiny spot situated in the basement of a brownstone to the north of Dupont Circle is a lot smaller than Tryst and a nice, quiet spot for working, meeting a friend, or consuming a really high-quality cup of coffee. The baristas are coffe experts and their clientele is very loyal.

Though I love Tryst, I think Filter may still get my award for favorite coffee shop. I got a call about a job offer while I was at Filter this one time, and spent one of my happiest warm winter mornings having a chat with a good friend on the terrace before she went off to become some hotshot with the FBI with a job I can know nothing about.

Commissary (1443 P St NW)

Commissary is more a restaurant than a coffeehouse, but it has an outdoor seating area that’s good for brunch and also a cool seating area in the middle where you can work or read with coffee/cocktails and appetizers. If you do wanna hit it up for brunch, make a reservation or you’ll have to kill some time drinking Bloody Marys at the bar (I know: twist your arm) — but usually it’s not too crowded.

Caribou Coffee (14th and Rhode Island NW)

They call this location of the national coffee chain “Cruiseabou” because of all the hip gay boys and girls that like to work there. It’s always packed but has outdoor seating and great people-watching.

Busboys and Poets (multiple locations)

Busboys — which is also a bookstore — is somewhat of a DC institution. If  you’re looking for other ladies to peer at over your laptop, I’d recommend the 14th St and V St, off the U St Corridor NW location. It’s a cultural and literary atmosphere with lots of events so you’ll probably leave feeling very hip, which is their intent since they say they want to feed your mind, body and spirit. Basically, it’s emblematic of historic DC and it’s one of the best places to go to combine two of my favorite things: cocktails and books.

Kramerbooks and Afterwords (517 Connecticut Avenue NW)

Kramerbooks at 1517 Connecticut Avenue NW is the best bookstore in DC, especially if you’re looking for more alternative and/or feminist literature (they “serve latte to the literati,” heehee). It’s an interesting combo of restaurant, bookstore and a great little bar that starts serving alcohol at noon. Not only can you find that book you’ve been dying to read, but you can also immediately take it to the bar, order a delicious beer, and begin reading it! This may or may not be how I read all of the Hunger Games series. The food is meh, but the bar is worth it.

I loved going here during grad school to do my problem sets at the bar because I find economics easier to understand when drinking.

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Neighborhoods of Interest

The Gayborhood

If you’re interested in gay things in DC, there is only one real neighborhood you need to know about, but for the sake of description I’m going to divide it into two mini-neighborhoods because I think they have slightly different flavors, as it were.

The first of these is the more famous, 17th St Gayborhood proper, which pretty much stretches from the intersection of P Street and 17th NW north to that bastion of homosexuality that I call home, Cobalt at 17th and R St NW. This stretch is 100% made up of gay bars and represents the route of the annual high-heel drag race, which is one of the more impressive displays of gay pride in the city. If unicorns were rechargeable, 17th St is where they would come after a long day of spreading glitter and rainbows across the nation. This area makes you want to dance and sing Lady Gaga and rejoice in being gay because IT IS GLORIOUS and everyone around you feels the same way!

The Logan Circle Area

While absolutely still part of the Gayborhood, the Logan Circle area has a slightly more relaxed atmosphere than 17th St. I would define this area as emanating from P St NW between 14th and 15th Sts NW to the surrounding neighborhoods. There’s a Whole Foods (obviously), Commissary, Stoney’s, No. 9, and Logan Tavern – all excellent spots for drinks, food, and people-watching. One of my favorite things to do when the weather is nice is to get brunch or afternoon drinks at Logan Tavern or Commissary and watch the world go by. I’m defining “world’ here to mean happy gay dads with babies, hordes of dogs and many, many gay girls with messenger bags and bikes on the hunt for a mimosa or some lavender soap from Whole Foods.

I’m actually writing this at Commissary and in the last ten minutes I have seen at least six lesbians go by (on a Tuesday afternoon) and the waitress gave me a straw with my iced coffee because she recognized me and remembered that I like straws. Love!

As for the rest of DC, I’ve invented this highly scientific scale to measure the level of comfort that I would feel going out there as a gay girl, on a scale of 1 to 10: ‘1′ being “highly uncomfortable and kind of awful like a Care Bear in stretch pants,” and ‘10′ being “rainbow power to the max, like seventeen unicorns doing a synchronized performance of “Cobrastyle” by Robyn.”

The U Street Corridor: very hipster, interesting bars and restaurants, gets points for having the LGBT Center of DC, Nellie’s, and Town: probably an 8, like a really nice picnic on a sunny day.

Capitol Hill: not bad, drinks are cheap because Hill staffers are paid essentially nothing and there’s Phase One, so… probably a 7, like a really nice picnic but with a couple of ants.

H Street NE: Up-and-coming, but hasn’t really “come” yet (teehee) and no gay bars. Difficult to get to and from and can be slightly dangerous; I’d give it a 4, like a kitten in after-school detention.

Shaw/Columbia Heights: Also up-and -coming, but less sketchy than H Street NE, it’s got interesting bars and seems like a cool neighborhood. SHE.REX happens up here and there is a very good Mexican restaurant called Haydee’s, so I’d probably also give it an 8, although this time the picnic has cupcakes.

None of my friends (or me) could cite an area that was particularly un-friendly to gays specifically, but as much as it pains me to say this — as a gay girl, I’d avoid going out in Georgetown. It’s got great upscale bars and good restaurants and shopping, but the crowd that goes out there aren’t really my people — you won’t find any gay people there unless you bring them with you.

This is NOT SAYING you can’t have a good time going out in Georgetown: obviously you can. The waterfront is great in the summer and you can sometimes finagle your way onto a booze cruise on the Potomac River, but you might spend the whole time feeling kind of conspicuous and out of place.

This is just my opinion, feel free to disagree. On my highly scientific scale I’d probably give it a 3, like when your best friend asks you to wear a hideous bridesmaid’s dress in her wedding: it’s pretty and the intent is good, it’s just…not really your thing.

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The LGBT Community

The most overlap I’ve seen of the lesbian, gay and transgender communities happens through the LGBT sports groups, like the newish kickball league and LGBT flip cup at Cobalt. There are a lack of bars that cater to both men and women, but I would say that Nellie’s is doing a good job of this and the new Phase has a lot of promise in this area.

Although DC is very liberal and accepting of the gay & lesbian communities, the transgender community appears to have less support. I’d love more comments on this since it’s not an aspect of the city I’m familiar with, although I do think the LGBT Center of DC has good outreach programs for the transgender community, and this is the home of the National Center for Transgender Equality, so.

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Support for LGBT Families

Your first stop for learning more about support for LGBT families in DC should be the non-profit organization Rainbow Families DC. They organize workshops, outreach programs, and outings for both Capital Pride and an annual trip to Cox Farms for the kiddies.

The DC Center also has an extensive list of resources for lesbian parents in DC, including information about doctors, fertility, and how to become a foster parent. Since I’m not a parent myself I can’t speak to what these organizations are like from a participant perspective, but I do see gay parents everywhere with their kids and they all seem pretty pleased with being in DC – which makes me think you would be, too.

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Prominent Social Activist Groups

For DC itself, the largest of the activist groups is the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA). But in addition to GLAA, there are MORE THAN THREE HUNDRED LGBT organizations operating in the DC, Maryland and Virginia area, most of which support lesbians and bisexuals. Does this make your heart sing? It should. Give yourself a hug and think about all these motivated, caring people organizing groups to make everyone feel loved and accepted. So many ways to get involved!

And if you’re coming to DC in search of a job, look at all the great places you can work! I mean really, friends: over three hundred organizations? That’s just wonderful.

The DC Center for the LGBT Community (13th St and U St NW)

The DC Center for the LGBT Community has it all, from health counseling to free HIV testing to advocacy opportunties and it’s only a few blocks from the rest of the Gayborhood.

When Pixie and I visited the Center, we found the staff to be immensely friendly and welcoming, and the space made me feel very much at home. There were computers to use and an impressive array of pamphlets and booklets about anything and everything you could have a question about.

Capital Pride

Capital Pride is a big freakin’ deal, as it should be. It is the oldest pride celebration in the country and is so much more than a parade: first of all, it is TWO WEEKS LONG. Pace yourselves, ladies, there are so many rallies/meetings/outings/fairs to attend, all detailed on the website for Capital Pride. Here’s a rundown of our Pride experiences:

Keena’s Pride: It started with the purchase of rainbow beads and early mimosa drinking with several of my gay boy friends before meeting up with my girls to stand on the parade route by No. 9 in the mid-afternoon. The crowd was twenty deep along the street and there were beads and condoms flying through the air like confetti, most of which landed on my head because I’m little and everyone else could see better.

Everyone was cheering and dancing around and a guy from the bondage–themed float (whose pants had mysteriously disappeared) threw me a glittery black beanie that I insisted on wearing for the rest of the night along with my aviators. There was glitter in my hair, down my shirt and all over my arms since my friends and I had made the brilliant decision to buy silver body glitter for the parade.

The girls’ after party was supposed to be at a club called Apex (now Phase One, Dupont) but we decided that was too far away so we went to No. 9, then to Cobalt, then back to No. 9 and then back to Cobalt, at which point it was some ridiculous time of night and I really needed to take myself home to continue spreading glitter all over my apartment like some demented fairy.

Andrea’s Pride: I went to the party at the Newseum (sponsored by BYGays) — a total shit show and not my finest moment, but it was a fun party for sure. I also went to all the normal things, i.e. the parade and street festival, which were pleasant. We tried to go to the ladies’ party at Apex but couldn’t get in! The line was insane, which I think is indicative of the fact that there are queer women in this city — they just need to be engaged! Ended up at Phase, which was okay but far away.

Isis’s Pride: My Pride was a beautiful, friend-filled, dancing-intense, sparkling experience. It began with mimosas in an alley, followed by much bead chasing, girl chasing, street partying, line waiting, and it ended in a sea of flannel shirts at the girl party at Phase.

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Dating Scene

You know… I’ve been thinking about how to describe the dating scene in DC and I just keeping coming back to one thing: OkCupid. Despite how much I go out, most of my relationships have started there. Maybe it’s ’cause DC is a fairly transient city where people only stay for a few years at a time, or because people work a lot and have less time for the elongated and amorphous lesbian courtship process.

It’s so much more efficient than going to a bar or girls’ nights and doing the awkward stare down without conversation that we’re all so good at. Or, as my friend Andrea described it, going to gay boy bars and “trying to find a unicorn in a pony bar(n).”

Most of the girls I’ve dated in DC I met through OkCupid. And even if you don’t click, it’s a great way to make friends in the big bad city. I met one of my best friends through OkCupid, and we now check with each other before we go on dates because our compatibility rating is so high we always get matched with the same people. We finally had to say in our profiles that we were friends after inadvertently going on dates with the same girl on the same weekend and both having a really awkward time (“You went out with her yesterday? She was THAT girl? Why didn’t you warn me?!”)

Also, shocking revelation. Are you ready for the shocking revelation? LESBIANS IN DC KNOW EACH OTHER! Can you BELIEVE it!? It’s like, your ex’s ex’s ex is at the same party as this other girl who you’re kind of dating now. I know, I know: you weren’t expecting this. It’s completely different than what happens in every other city and is totally unique and people should make a teevee show about it. It’s all so overwhelming it makes you want to leave the bar so you can go home to eat peanut butter and watch Battlestar Galactica.

How are you doing so far? Still with me? It’s a lot of information, I know. Pixie says I should have let you take a sandwich break before talking about dating because that section was kind of long, so I’ll let you take one now. Let me know when you’re back. What kind did you make? I like turkey…

Okay, now! You have a date. You probably want to bring your A Game, so let’s talk haircuts.

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Where To Get Your Alternative Lifestyle Haircut

Immortal Beloved (1457 Church St NW)

Immortal Beloved is known for its slightly punk, edgy and alternative styles that are described as “effortlessly cool.” The space is small, but has a really interesting set-up that two friends designed with products from a local furniture shop. There’s a video on the website if you want to see what it looks like inside. I have not gotten my hair cut here before, but most of my friends have and I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews.

Nimbus DC (1455 Church Street NW)

This is where I go! The owner/stylist is a super nice guy who listens to what you want and miraculously produces just that. He’s good friends with the guys next door at Immortal Beloved, and always has chill, peaceful music playing in his studio (caution: it makes you sleepy). It’s a bit pricey here, but I’ve always been willing to pay since the results have been so good, and as Jack Donaghy says, “your hair is your headsuit.”

Maybe you want to get something a little more permanent? Or maybe you want to add to your already hot tattoo sleeve? Then…

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Best Tattoo Artists/Places

Britishink Tattoo Studio and Gallery (at 508 H St NE)

Britishink gets amazing reviews. I have never been here myself, but I’ve heard that the studio is clean, the artists are very talented and it takes a while to get on their schedule because they are so popular – all of which seems positive to me! Britishink is located a short walk away from Union Station.

Fatty’s Custom Tattooz (1333 Connecticut Ave, NW on the 3rd Floor)

Fatty’s Custom Tattooz is right in the heart of Dupont Circle. It’s up a kind of sketchy stairway, but don’t be deterred: Fatty’s has won all kinds of awards as DC’s top tattoo and piercing studio, and they deserve it. I came here to get my very first tattoo last summer and I had an amazing experience. I had an appointment with Gilda, who came highly recommended. She was extremely helpful, and talked through my design with me until it was exactly what I wanted. When I came in to get the tattoo in mid-June it was like a thousand degrees outside, so she gave me an ice pack to put under my head while she worked. When she was done she gave me a lollipop to celebrate my first tattoo and told me that my official tattoo soundtrack was Ratatat’s “Wildcat” which was playing while I was on the table. She couldn’t have been nicer.

Fatty’s also does piercing, and given my positive experience with their tattooing I would imagine the experience of getting pierced there is equally good.

My tattoo was fairly expensive even though it was small, but I’m willing to pay for high-quality ink, yaknow?

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Other Important Things to Know About DC

Roller Derby

Oh yezzz….the roller derby. The DC Rollergirls are made up of 78 women from all walks of life who come from a wide variety of athletic backgrounds and manage the league on their own time. The league was formed in 2006 and the members practiced in a parking garage in Rosslyn, VA. News spread fast, and soon they were invited to appear on radio shows, local news and in parades. They are now in their sixth season of competition and skate at the DC Armory, a huge indoor space that looks like an abandoned airplane hangar. The season starts in the fall and lasts through the spring, which means you’re guaranteed indoor weekend fun when it’s gross and slushy outside. And if you have experience in roller derby or want to get into it, there’s a section on their website about how to try out for the teams.

When I went to my first roller derby bout I walked into the arena and said, “How have I only just discovered this?!” You guys, it was so much fun! I didn’t have a clue what the rules were, but it was easy enough to figure out after watching the first bout (and with iPhones), and my friends kept handing me 14oz PBRs so I was happy. Everyone was yelling, the bouts were exciting, the skaters were really, really good at roller derby and by my rough estimation at least 75% of the audience was made up of lesbians. Like salmon to Capistrano.

If you’re in DC in the winter, go to this. Buy tickets online and print them out, since the line to get through security is unreasonably long. Also bring cash since the one ATM is usually broken and you need cash for beer purchasing (clearly).

Flip Out, DC

Yes, we have an LGBT Flip Cup League. Yes, we play at Cobalt. Yes, we have t-shirts, regulation cups, trucker hats and trophies. Yes, we take it (somewhat) seriously.

Flip cup is pretty self-explanatory, really. We show up, we play, and we drink a lot of PBR (or, as one friend who shall remain nameless calls it, “lesbian jet fuel”). I met a lot of nice people through flip cup, and you can have an excuse to do things like “have practice” at someone’s house. This is one of the sports teams that mixes gay boys and gay girls, so if you want to do something with a mixed group, get together a team and start practicing!

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Cost of Living

DC is expensive. Business Insider says that DC is the 6th most expensive city in the US: the average rent of an unfurnished two-bedroom condo is $2,000, the average cost of a movie ticket is $10.50, and a cup of coffee is $3.75, including service. This is accurate, and it takes time to find an apartment here.

Most people live in the North West quadrant (“NW”) unless they live on the Hill or in some of the smaller neighborhoods in the city. For those of you who haven’t been to DC before, DC is divided into four quadrants, radiating out of the Capitol Building: NW, SW, SE and SW. Up-and-coming areas with cheaper rent include H St NE or Shaw/Columbia Heights. Rent is absolutely cheaper as you move away from downtown, and you can always check my favorite website, the DC Crime Map, to see where you’re least likely to be burgled.

If you’re on a tight budget, some opt for Northern Virginia and go to the Arlington/Clarendon/Rosslyn area. The rent is cheaper so the spaces are larger, but even though the city’s only a Metro ride away, crossing the Potomac makes it feel farther away than it really is.

One really great thing about DC is that so many things are free. You can actually take advantage of all the culture/artwork and have places to take visiting relatives, too because the museums, the monuments, the botanic gardens and the concerts on the National Mall are all free, among other things! Zero dollars gets you a rainy day in the Smithsonian or a beautiful day at the Zoo, looking at otters holding hands.

I have a huge crush on the Post Apartments at 15th and Massachusetts Avenue NW, but it’s expensive so I can’t actually live there. There’s free breakfast every morning, it allows pets, the apartments are gorgeous and it sports, bar none, the best roof in the city. It’s full of grills, a pool and a garden with real trees. Every day is Sunday Funday up there, with gorgeous people lounging around drinking champagne and being cool. If you’re rich or your living expenses are being covered by the government, you should live there.

So you see, there are tons of reasons why you are going to love living in or visiting Washington, DC. Thanks for sticking with me and Pixie this long. She wants to tell you that bringing a unicorn into a gay bar will often result in the bar staff trying to steal said unicorn. Probably the same is not true for Tinkerbell, but I really think that theory should be tested. Thanks for sticking with me this long, and come visit Washington, DC! I’d love to hang out with you.

Part of an ongoing series of Queer Girl City Guides.

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Keena has written 4 articles for us.

67 Comments

  1. OK, I have a list of thing to say 😉

    1. I was disappointed to not see some of the more hilarious/sketchy places on this list (Ziegfeld’s Secrets anyone? What about Omega?!)…and yes…I know girls don’t go to there. In fact, sane lady-loving ladies will stay far, far away…but still! Lol.

    2. I didn’t think Phase is the only bar for women! What about Lace? (Sure, I always got a sense it was for an older crowd and never went there, but…) And I’ve heard Phase is the “oldest continually operating” lesbian bar in the US, not the “first” per se…but maybe I’m wrong. According to this Wikipedia article, the first lesbian bar in the US was Mona’s 440 Club or something (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesbian_American_history)

    3. What would you say are some of the queerest ‘straight’ activities? The only places I’ve ever been hit on by a girl were at a bar across the street from my university and also once at the Black Cat. This includes frequent trips to Town and Phase. Hah! I guess this point is covered by “coffee shops”? 😉

    4. I’ve had the worst luck with OKCupid. Does anyone else suck at OKCupid? Maybe I need to try harder/not as hard/no really these articles in which you guys are like everyone-has-seen-everyone’s-OK-Cupid-profile has me worried that I’m blacklisted/will be soon haha

    • 3. Any sort of music show, BYT events (not necessarily BYT gays), and house parties – more so when these places serve alcohol. I’ve hit on girls at all these events and find it easier to get a number at these types of things cause it’s more like “hey we’re lesbians who ran into each other at X event, we should hang out more” and less, “this is me picking you up at a lesbian event.” If that makes sense.

      4. I can’t stand OKCupid if that makes you feel better. I’d rather just meet someone and see if we hit it off than chit chat for two months before maybe going for awkward coffee.

    • 4. I didn’t have much luck with OkCupid either and actually deactivated my account two months ago. It seemed to be more trouble than it was worth. The problem is meeting girls in general. I live right outside DC and go out a good bit, but it’s still hard to meet girls at Phase, ladies night at Cobalt, and other places. I honestly stopped dating for now because I had a horrible string of bad luck.

  2. Man, I’m going to be in DC in October! I’m not 21 so I can’t go out, but I am going to see if I can check out the bookstores and coffee shops as they look super hip and make me happy!

    (Also, I totally want to see your tattoo now, Keena!) Thanks for a great guide. I have a unicorn too, she’s purple and called Star, maybe she and Pixie can date.

  3. So glad someone took the time to do a nice DC write up!

    I’d add:
    1. Dupont Circle needs a shout out for being the OG gayboyhood. Thank your gay foreparents for queering the city!

    2. If you want a cheaper but totally awesome haircut I’d recommend Bang Salon. I’ve seen three different stylists at two of their locations and have always been happy.

    3. Word to the wise, approach Arlington like the author suggests you do for Georgetown. That said, there’s all sorts of gays in the suburbs, it’s just more of a challenge to spot ’em outside of the ubiquitous GSA groups at local high schools (awww, have you warmed to settling down out in Northern Virginia yet?).

  4. While I adore Filter, I almost wish you hadn’t recommended because it is tiny and always so crowded. Filter- I wish to make love to your espresso but I need to be able to sit down.

  5. While this city guide does a great job of calling out some well known gay spaces in DC, a lot of those mentioned tend to be more male-centric. Town, Cobalt, and Number 9 are not places I’d recommend going unless you like being swarmed by gay boys or are wing-manning for a guy friend. The most queer-female events are monthly parties-She.Rex, BARE, Anthology of Booty, WTGG, LezInvade, etc. Even “straight” bars like the Black Cat and DC9 have queer dance parties each month. Phase is obviously a place where you can expect to find almost entirely queer women, but it’s definitely top 40, not indie music.

    Just as a heads up, the H St neighborhood and 18th St in Adams Morgan are not super gay friendly for going out at night in my experience.

    LOVE the roller derby shoutout!

  6. good stuff, Keena! I want to add a plug for the LGBT tennis group in DC, Capital Tennis (http://www.capital-tennis.org/). I think spring league signups are closed, but keep it in mind for the summer….. we could really use more ladies. I was at the opening night of phase one in dupont and all I could think looking out at the hundreds of women there was like, don’t any of you fools play tennis?? ok fine, that’s not *all* I was thinking, but you get the idea…

  7. Ahh I miss DC! Wanted to mention that especially if you are new in town or more shy, WITT (Women in Their Twenties) group at the DC Center is really nice to meet queer ladies in a smaller, quieter setting than a bar or club. (There’s also a Women in their Thirties group at the DC Center). After a discussion, usually they go out, so you suddenly have a queer girl posse to check out the clubs with. That and Meetup groups were super great for me!

  8. Yeah for the roller derby shoutout! Thanks for supporting. Hope to see ALL the DC queers for our last three home team games this season—this coming Sunday, March 18, Saturday, April 14, and especially for the home team championships on Saturday, May 12!

  9. Keena, this was a great piece! thanks for writing it, and thanks for putting in so much thought and loveliness. DC is my hometown (and also, coincidentally) the BEST town.

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Autostraddle, for putting these lists together! So far you’ve featured 3 of the 5 cities I’m interested in moving to. This is going to be so great when I actually make the move. Looking forward to reading more.

  11. Holy crap, are you reading my mind? I’m trying to move for grad school and obvi the first thing I’m figuring out is which city to go to…My mother’s words of advice were “go where all the gay girls are!” so I told her DC was #1 on my list. This is perfect, thank you!

    • come to dc! it’s the best. free museums. rock creek park. excellent restaurants and cafes. tons of theater and music and art. a super public-transit system. lots of TREES (unlike, say nyc). low buildings, so you can actually see the sky.

      also the obama family would be your neighbors. just saying.

        • i respectfully disagree. i can get anywhere in the city with a combination of bus, train, and walking. not to mention that the bus drivers in DC are the friendliest and most knowledgeable city bus drivers I have ever encountered.

  12. Adams Morgan might be a bit tense but still it’s my jam and I love it.

    I’ve heard some bad stuff about Fattie’s in terms of piercings so I’d double check some reviews, but it’s friend of friend type of stuff.

    Georgetown is conservative dude, I remember hearing about a girl being beaten for wearing a pro gay shirt at the Uni last year. The reason they don’t even have a metro is because in 70s they didn’t want the public transport to bring the ‘riffraff’ of the rest of the city into their neighbourhood.

    U Street Music Hall has plain good dancing if you just want to kick around. When it gets warm, on dates you should go buy boxed wine and go to Fort Reno and watch the sunset from the hill. That’s pretty uptown though. Oh! Uptown theater! That’s a gem, it’s not gay but it might as well be, it’s fucking awesome. It’s an old theater with a single huge curved screen in Cleveland park.

    • AH i can’t believe i didn’t mention uhall. also, regarding the georgetown lack of metro, the funny thing is they have so many buses (+the circulator) running there that everyone can get there. ALSO, i work across the street from uptown!! so great.

    • re: no metro in georgetown, that is a myth.

      the real reason the metro doesn’t stop there is the engineering difficulty presented by the proximity to the river and the very steep hill(s).

  13. thank you for the guide, Keena! I’ve lived in DC for almost 7 years now and I must say, there’s definitely some more we can add to this list. We have Lace and Fab Lounge in Dupont (which is SUPER divey but girl centric 7 nights a week). Also, the warehouse loft is partially owned by a gay lady and hosts the best dance parties. also, mixtape at black cat or now, Town. also there are SO many queer dance parties/spoken word nights/a dj crew (anthology of booty)/gay girl community houses that organize amazing things. we should talk, if you still live here! there’s a lot goin on, girl!

  14. While H St as a whole might not be super- gay friendly at night, I do have to say that Little Miss Whiskey’s is the gayest “straight bar” I’ve ever been to. SO MANY LADYQUEERS. I wasn’t even expecting it.

  15. My favorite Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies professor went to GW, and still lives there though she teaches at Ohio State in Columbus, OH. She has some pretty cool stories about DC, though she also notices how LGBT stuff there mostly focuses on men. She only lives there since her lawyer partner lives there, but she is usually in Columbus because we really are the best lesbian city ever! I still wanna go to grad school in DC though! I’m planning a GW visit soon!

  16. Oh DC, how I do adore thee.

    These comments make me happy because it shows that, even though Keena did an awesome job highlighting some great places to go, all the DC ladies here have other suggestions or experiences to share. I’d rather have there be too much for one article than too little, know what I’m sayin?

    With that said: I’m surprised though, that Eastern Market wasn’t really mentioned. One stop at Peregrine Espresso (practically right next to the market metro stop), and you’re not only getting amazing coffee, but also tattoos and alternative hair cuts (and it’s right on the way to the Armory if you’re down to catch some derby. (Someone please explain to me the new Pickle mascot).

    And if you’ve got some bucks to spend, sign yourself up for the Mautner Clinic’s big gala. It’s voted as one of the best places to meet women in the city. They also do volunteering for those who so desire. As do so many other DC non-profits. Like everything in this city, it’s all about the network.

    This is a great list, though, and it definitely covers a lot. Part of the fun of living somewhere is exploring for yourself.

  17. Ahh. I wish I had access to this article a couple months ago, so I could plan a nice little getaway to DC. Alas, I’m moving to San Diego next month… However, I could totally use a truly epic guide to San Diego. 😉

  18. I don’t have a problem with public sex. I have a problem with somebody going around claiming she is “radical”, and that she knows something that I don’t when doing the deed in a shitty bathroom stall. What you’re saying ultimately is that we should be able to express our sexuality in public. If that is truly the way you feel, then I should be able to take my girlfriend out for a walk on my leash. We are freaks, and she loves that shit. I should be able to whip her in public. Why stop at public sex? Why discriminate against other kinks? Where exactly do we draw the line?

  19. This is really perfect for me because my girlfriend and I are going to DC next month for a long weekend/nerd vacation. Thank you Autostraddle and Keena! We were trying to find some queer things to do while there :).

  20. Hi! I’m a resident of the D.C. area (Arlington), and I’m so excited to see this guide!

    I totally ditto the comment about how going to Phase One can be rather… awkward if you’re not a “typical” looking gay girl. I.e., if you’re uber-lipstick lesbian, prepare for looks, and to be pretty much completely ostracized if you’re not there with your own group. Sucks, but has been my experience on multiple occasions.

    All that being said, I echo sentiment about Phase One Dupont being a new starting point for the gay girl nightlife in D.C. And I hope to switch to bartending there (from the straight bar I currently tend at, up the street from Dupont).

    Fortunately, I’m offering a great solution! No matter gay/bi/queer/trans, if you’re in D.C. you should look me up & we should go have fun.

  21. Going to Phase (/other lez places in DC) is probably the thing I’m looking forward to most about turning 21. Basically, being able to hit up any place other than Town, Black Cat, and straight bars…

  22. Great article Keena but I agree with some comments that places like Town and No.9 are definately more “boy” places to hang.

    Phase 1 is probably the only place on the list that you can say for sure women will be all the time.

    I’ve been going to http://www.phatgirlchic.com for the 4 years I’ve been in DC and it gives a really good rundown of where you’ll find the ladies in DC.

  23. I know this is super late but still hoping to get a response. I’ll be in DC this weekend. Particularly this Saturday night. I’m high femme/uber-lipstick. Riding solo and don’t have a posse with me. Any recommendations of where I can go to grab a couple drinks and meet some ladies without feeling intimidated that I don’t look “typically gay” and don’t have a group? Kinda shy but warm up quick with conversation.

  24. Just wanted to say thank you for your guide! A friend sent it to me right before I went to DC, and I went to several of the places you listed 🙂 It sparked me to want to write the one for my hometown, New Orleans.

  25. Hi! This is a late add on, but I wanted to mention that if you are Jewish, the DCJCC has a program called GLOE that has so many programs for GLBTQ folks (social events, volunteering, arts, etc.). There is also a fun book club called “Lez Read” through the bookstore Politics and Prose!

  26. Thanks Keena for the post, I know this is older but most of this is still very relevant and as someone who has lived in the NOVA area for the last 15 years, it’s sad that I don’t get out to DC as often. In fact, I tend to head out to B-More for most of my city shenanigans, but mainly that’s because I’m IN LOVE with the Charm City Roller Girls 🙂 B-more is kind of a hike though, so now with the metro opening up the silver line (soon), I have a feeling I’m going to be heading to DC more. Any girls wanna hang out or grab a drink sometime hit me up!

  27. I’d like to echo what a few of the earlier comments have said about No. 9. I don’t think it’s particularly welcoming if you don’t have a gay guy with you. I went on a date with a woman there once, and we got a lot of stares. It is full of gay boys dressed to the nines; I was wearing a shirt and tie and still felt under-dressed and out of place. The bar tenders were also semi rude, although I think it was partially because it was so loud/crowded that it was impossible to hear anyone. It’s in a nice area though. Go on a date at the Whole Foods Market across the street instead. Seriously. Organic food is sexy.

  28. I haven’t traversed out in the local scene much since the big shift with the baseball stadium years ago (yes, I’ve been living here for some time) and the uproar that caused. I primarily go to Phase (Capital Hill) when I get a hankering to dance myself into a frenzy. Any other recommendations for a good dance party with ladies in tow?

    I’ll definitely checkout the Blackcat’s parties someday.

  29. Hi Autostraddle! My girlfriend and I are visiting from London next week (Wednesday 11 – Saturday 14) and are looking for any good queer events to check out in DC. It looks like She Rex isn’t on anymore?? Or it wasn’t on the website anyway. We’d appreciate any recommendations! 🙂

  30. I am not lesbian, but bi and frequently will openly flirt and play with women in front of my boyfriend. He is used to it and has no problem. We are a little older in our early 40’s, and I was wondering where we would be the most comfortable while we are in the area.

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