Baseball: the Cincinnati Reds
The nation’s first professional baseball team, the Reds have been doing well for the past few years. They play in Great American Ballpark, down near the river, and the fireworks after every game can be heard around downtown. Going to at least one Reds game a year is a must — even if you don’t like the sport, just people-watching is entertainment enough.
Football: the Cincinnati Bengals
Welcome to the jungle! The Bengals, our orange and black heroes under the guidance of coach Marvin Lewis, have remained competitive the last few seasons as well, and even beat our arch-enemies the Pittsburgh Steelers a few times. Bengals’ tickets are expensive, but if you’re a football fan it isn’t hard to find a sports bar or chips-and-dip-equipped house party on game day.
Hockey: the Cincinnati Cyclones
Around since 1990, this successful team plays at the Cincinnati Gardens.
Roller derby: the Cincinnati Rollergirls
Also playing at the Cincinnati Gardens, the Rollergirls are owned and operated by the players, and are members of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. They have several teams, but “the Black Sheep” are rated most highly in Cincy and are consistently in the top 10 of WFTDA’s North Central Region. This sport has a high energy crowd and is very exciting to watch. Claire: I love the atmosphere more than basically any other sports atmosphere, because there are tons of families with kids who don’t even blink at the crazy derby names or the tons of queers both on the rink and amongst the crowd. It’s pure fun – but be careful not to miss it — they only have 5 home matches each season
Besides professional and semi-professional sports, there are oodles of community leagues to join (see: Rivercity Softball above, under “The Quest For Queers”), and plenty of exciting events a year (including the Flying Pig Marathon, which goes through downtown, and the Cincinnati Masters Tournament, which brings worldwide tennis stars right before your eyes).
Books, Animals and Other Things that Ladies Love
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (multiple locations, Main Library: 800 Vine St.)
Cincinnati’s public library system is one of the best in the nation serving such a large population. Claire: I absolutely love the library and use it all the time — once you get a library card, you can order tons of books, music, dvds, etc., on the online catalog and pick your items up after a few days at your location of choice. The library website also has plenty of downloadable ebooks, audiobooks, and music, in addition to research databases very helpful for academic work. Each library location has free internet access on their computers, free Wifi, helpful staff, and a host of free programs any given week. The downtown Main Library has many quiet places to read near a window, and huge collections to browse — whether you’re interested in gender studies, queering the theater, your genealogy, or basically any other subject categorized on the Dewey decimal system. The Main Library also has an incredible Maker Space, where you can use vinyl printers, button makers, 3D printers and more for free or very cheap.
Ohio Lesbian Archives (3416 Clifton Avenue)
By Appointment: OLArchives [at] gmail [dot] com
Primarily a reference library and research archive, the Ohio Lesbian Archives holds hundreds of unique items by and about lesbians: books, cds, dvds, magazines and photographs. The organizers of OLA welcome all visitors wanting to learn some herstory and hope they leave with a kick-ass sense of empowerment. The OLA is currently working on an online catalog so folks can see what they have, and they love volunteers and student interns. You can follow their blog and Facebook page to keep up to date on them.
Cincinnati Zoo (3400 Vine St.)
One of the oldest zoos in the country, the Cincinnati Zoo is consistently ranked one of the best in the country, because of its size and its outstanding efforts for conservation and education. It has a huge collection of endangered species — both plants and animals — and many successful breeding programs. A day at the zoo is a ball of fun — there’s lots of ground to cover, and all of it interesting; my favorites are Manatee Springs and the new Giraffe Ridge. Don’t forget the sunblock. Around the winter holidays, parts of the Zoo are decked out in the Festival of Lights, a must-see evening wonder and a great family-time or date opportunity.
Shake It Records (4156 Hamilton Ave, #1)
Opened in 1978, record label and store Shake It Records is another awesome local spot in the Northside Neighborhood. With walls covered from floor to ceiling with band t-shirts and posters, Shake It sells new and used vinyl, CDs, DVDs and books. Fun fact: In 2010, Tegan and Sara played an intimate acoustic show at Shake It. Caroline: I’m glad I missed it, or I may have died from extreme fangirling.
The Esquire (320 Ludlow Ave)
A small six-theater art house/independent movie theater, the Esquire is the only movie theatre in the immediate Clifton Area. I don’t think you can be more queer-friendly than an independent movie theatre. The Esquire also hosts midnight showings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show every other Saturday night, accompanied by the enthusiastic young cast of “the Denton Affair.”
Rock, Paper, Scissors (1301 Main St.)
The endeavor of some recent UC grads, Rock Paper Scissors is a sustainable art supply and local music retail store located on Main Street among the hip other happenings in OTR. With locally-crafted art supplies, swag and merch from local Cincinnati bands, and hosting “a diverse menu of creative in-store workshops,” Rock Paper Scissors is a great place to grab a souvenir or dive into the local art community.
Have you made it this far, dear reader? If you’re a visitor or transplant to Cincinnati, or a queermo who’s from here and trying to branch out, hopefully you found this guide helpful. If there are things we left out, tell us in the comments! And if you’re far away and never thought of it before…come on out and try the Nati. We’ll show you a good ol’ queer Midwestern time.