Welcome to the first of hopefully many in our Queer Girl City Guides 2.0 Relaunch, which’ll kick off this summer. Whereas the old guides were a hybrid of info on “fun things to do in this city” (e.g., restaurants, parties) and “resources for residents” (e.g., medical clinics to visit, religious institutions to join, sports leagues to sign up for) the new will be more of the former and less of the latter, with special attention paid to businesses owned by women, LGBTQ people and people of color.
This Los Angeles City Guide has been a massive group effort, building off a city guide co-authored two years ago by two incredible Autostraddle readers, Jill and Al. Over the past several months, the guide has been built out by Riese with input from over 20 queer and/or trans friends who are experts in various aspects or neighborhoods of Los Angeles. These blurbs are often a mish-mash of authors and voices, and although it’s impossible to cover it all, we hope we’ve given you a good start to exploring this incredible city! An explanation of which areas of LA are covered here resides under the “Neigh/Gayborhoods” heading.
- Gay L.A. History
- Restaurants, Coffee Shops & Cafes
- Nightlife: Bars, Clubs & Lounges
- Nightlife: Queer Parties
- Comedy / Theater / Performing Arts
- Other Fun Evening Activities
- Shopping: Books
- Shopping: Everything Else
- Hair / Nails / Tattoos / Piercings
- Pride & Other Annual LGBT Events
- Museums & Historical Attractions
- The Great Outdoors
Gay L.A. History
“A walk along Hollywood Boulevard or any other locale in this mad town will bring any casual observer face to face with the alarming percentage of nances and Sapphic ladies as abound in these parts… They come from all parts of the country, and whether the discovery of themselves came in this environment, or whether they knew before they arrived what they wanted, cannot be ascertained.”Broadway Brevities, April 11, 1932.
Los Angeles has been very gay for a very long time. (There’s a great book about it, if you’re interested!) It’s actually been gay since before it became Los Angeles, when Indigenous peoples, including the Tongva and Chumash (from whom the land was ultimately stolen through genoicide and racist government policies), shocked incoming Spanish missionaries and colonialists with their acceptance of same-sex relationships and expansive gender identities. Most of these natives were relocated, dislocated or wiped out by invading settlers. Currently, when including Pacific Islander and Latin American Indigenous Diasporas, L.A. holds the largest indigenous population of any city in the U.S., and the second Monday of October is celebrated in L.A. as Indigenous People’s Day.
In the late 19th century, single working-class and middle-class lesbians from the East and Middle-West came to the rapidly evolving “frontier town” to escape relatives and communities and find employment opportunities not available back home. Many chose to dress and pass as male. In the early 20th century, the movie business — like the theater and vaudeville circuits where most early film actors cut their teeth — was very enticing to people seeking a bohemian lifestyle and a little bit more freedom of expression. Women who desired silver screen stardom were generally ambitious and headstrong, already eschewing the traditional expectations to marry young and procreate. In Los Angeles, anybody could dream that golden dream. Many with the privilege to do so came to Los Angeles because it was a place they could give themselves a new name, establish lesbian social lives with relative anonymity and basically start all over at the Great Frontier’s furthest edge, in a city populated almost entirely by people who came from somewhere else. Then as in now, Hollywood has been a hotbed of lesbian action.
Los Angeles is home to many “firsts” of gay and lesbian history. During World War II, women came to work in factories while the men were away, lured by the chance to wear pants and get paychecks. In 1947, a young lesbian using the code name “Lisa Ben” started the first-ever lesbian magazine, Vice Versa, out of her boss’s office at RKO Studios in Los Angeles. In the 1950s, Harry Hay started the first-ever gay rights organization, The Mattachine Society, in L.A., and ONE Magazine launched as the nation’s first homosexual publication and was consequently involved in the first Supreme Court decision in favor of Gay Rights (One Inc vs. Olesen, 1958). Although many lesbian bars were thriving at the time, most lesbians were laying low throughout that decade, having little political experience or common cause with gay men’s troubles and trying a bit more desperately to remain employed. The 1959 Cooper Do-nuts riot, which involved trans women, lesbians, gay men and drag queens, was the first recorded mention of a gay uprising in response to police harassment.
By 1961, an estimated 140,000 homosexual men and women lived here, and many middle-class LGBTQ folks threw themselves full-tilt into that era’s countercultural scene, like its nascent feminist movement and its thriving progressive political and civil rights activism. Consequently, L.A’s queer culture got more visible and more radicalized. In 1966, L.A. started the country’s first PRIDE organization and its first gay parade (by the ad hoc Los Angeles Committee to Fight Exclusion of Homosexuals From The Armed Forces).The Advocate, the world’s oldest and largest LGBT publication — and the U.S.’s first national gay newsmagazine — launched in 1967. In North Hollywood, at least a dozen lesbian softball teams were regularly duking it out and bars for gays and lesbians were proliferating all over the city. One of them, The Black Cat, was host to what LA Magazine calls “the first time in American history that the gay community laid claim to the right to equal treatment under the law” when an uprising occurred in response to a brutal police raid, two years before Stonewall. In 1968, the first gay & lesbian organization to publicly own property in the U.S. and the first-ever gay church, the Metropolitan Community Church, began its ministry in Huntington Park. ’68 also saw the country’s first Gay-In Festival and the first gay occupation of a police station, both in Los Angeles.
LGBTQ culture began stepping into the light in the 1970s. In 1970, Los Angles hosted its first Gay pride Parade in West Hollywood. 1971, under Jeanne Cordova‘s leadership, the first lesbian social services organization in the country was founded in Los Angeles. She also launched The Lesbian Tide, one of the most influential lesbian publications of all time. In 1972, Beth Chayim Chadashim became the world’s first LGBTQ synagogue.
“There’s not one gay community or lesbian community—there’s communities,” said Judy Sisneros, one of the organizers of the Lesbians to Watch Out For: ’90s Queer Lesbian Activism exhibit, of L.A.’s rich lesbian history. “There’s even in the women of color, in the street activists—there’s the punk, there’s the hippies, there’s the more mainstream. We’re diverse in so many ways.”
Today, Los Angeles boasts one of the largest and most visible lesbian and bisexual women populations in the world and is just below New York City for most LGBTQ residents overall. The Los Angeles LGBT Center is the world’s largest provider of programs and services for LGBT people. As the worldwide headquarters of film and television production, we’re also predictably the location of so many iconic queer films and television shows — like the first network TV show with a lesbian lead (Ellen), the first show focused on a lesbian ensemble (The L Word), the first show with a trans woman lead character (Transparent) and the first reality show about queer women (Gimme Sugar) as well as being the setting for Take My Wife, Vida, and One Day at a Time.
Whatever kind of queer human you are, there’s something in Los Angeles for you!
Los Angeles is … enormous, and what “counts” as Los Angeles is tricky — Los Angeles county contains 158 cities and unincorporated places and 114 neighborhoods, covering 4,000 square miles and encompassing nearly 10 million residents.
Due to this massive chunk of land we’re looking at, we’ve intentionally limited the scope of this guide to specific geographical areas — mostly we’re looking at what this map would call Central L.A., Westside, Eastside and Northeast L.A., as well as some parts of South L.A., Southeast L.A., the South Bay and the San Fernando Valley. Long Beach (population 470k) is not included because it’s become such a hotspot for queer women that it definitely requires its own guide.
Here are just some of the many neighborhoods of Los Angeles.
Silver Lake, Echo Park, Los Feliz, Eagle Rock & East Hollywood
If someone says they’re an “Eastside Lesbian,” they probably live in one of these neighborhoods, even though these neighborhoods are not actually on the East Side — it’s just East of WeHo, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. (This terminology is a key example of “name gentrification“.) It’s actually Central Los Angeles, and there is another neighborhood called East L.A.., which is discussed later in this section.
This area is now known for its artsy queer scene, and has outpaced the West Hollywood of L Word Yore as “where all the lesbians live.” In fact, Generation Q is moving its story to “the east side.” Much of Transparent is set in Silver Lake, known as the city’s “most hipster neighborhood,” and all these neighborhoods have become the preferred settings for quirky indie comedies and prestige dramas in the last ten years.
All have a higher Asian population than elsewhere in the city. Echo Park (the setting for One Day at a Time) is known for its Latinx population and, like Silver Lake and East Hollywood, is majority Latinx. Silver Lake has a storied gay history — from the founding of the Mattachine Society in the ’50s to the Black Cat riots to hosting the ACT UP headquarters to its current concentration of gay (male) bars.
According to Housing is a Human Right; Silver Lake, Echo Park and Westlake, where “lower- and middle-income Latinos, Asians, and whites made up the population,” is the 5th-most rapidly gentrifying area of Los Angeles. These areas were, as one longtime resident put it, “once the stomping grounds for struggling families, not struggling actors.”
Beneath East Hollywood and the aforementioned Neighborhoods we have Koreatown, “LA’s only 24-hour neighborhood,” home to a large Korean and Latinx population as well as lots of small malls, karaoke rooms, incredible Korean food, hip coffee, tea and desert houses and Korean Spas.
West Hollywood, or WeHo — home base for The L Word and its reality spinoff — is the most visibly gay neighborhood in the city, where you’ll see rainbow flags outside of nearly ever bar and business, including the law enforcement vehicles and national banks, sidewalks, and recycling bins.
West Hollywood incorporated as its own city in the 1980s when gay and Jewish citizens, both sick of police harassment, banded together with senior citizens who, like the gays and the Jews, wanted rent control; and made their own city.
The Sunset Strip and its environs have long been a focal point of gay and lesbian life in Los Angeles. Today, WeHo is still considered to be an epicenter of gay culture — particularly for gay men — and is very white compared to the rest of L.A. Women tend to be easier to find east of La Cienega, whereas westward is more intensely male-dominated.
Just West of West Hollywood is Beverly Hills, which you’ve probably heard of, and just beneath West Hollywood is the Beverly Grove, home to The Grove, an outdoor mall one visits with a commitment to irony. To the east is Hollywood, Fairfax and Melrose, encompassing the best part of Melrose for vintage shoppers, as well as the Thai Town and Little Armenia neighborhoods.
Go even farther south and you’ll hit Hancock Park and Arlington Heights, and crossing the Santa Monica Freeway lands you in West Adams or Jefferson Park, which’s right above Leimert Park, aka “The Black Greenwich Village” which is regarded as the cultural hub for African-Americans in L.A.
DTLA (Downtown LA) is one of L.A.’s oldest areas, is also one of L.A.’s newest up and coming gayborhoods (although this seems concentrated amongst gay men), with millions invested in gentrifying, modernizing, and revitalizing the area. The Arts District has a lot of galleries, graffiti and queer people and the Historic/Wholesale District is where DTLA’s three gay bars are seated. The very cool Ace Hotel in Downtown L.A. seems to frequently play host to queer events, large and small, in its gorgeous theater or multiple ballrooms. But all this new development means longtime residents and their businesses are being pushed out of an already overcrowded city —in 2018, Downtown L.A. was named the fastest-gentrifying area in the nation.
The area is adjacent to Skid Row, where gay and trans people started the Coopers Donut riots in 1959. Skid Row is also home to “Indian Alley,” a “mini Indian Country” that has become a place for Native art and healing.
Just east of DLTA is Boyle Heights, the neighborhood brought to life on the Starz show Vida (although due to protests from local residents, who are fighting back hard against gentrification, they ended up mostly shooting in Pico-Union), which has a long rich history in the Chicano Rights movement, as well as incredible Mexican food, street art, a skate plaza and one of the city’s oldest cemeteries. Boyle Heights is right on the edge of East L.A., the setting of East Los High.
North Hollywood & The Valley
Take Laurel Canyon Boulevard from Hollywood through the once-countercultural nexus of Laurel Canyon OR take the 101 past Griffith Park and the Hollywood Bowl and Universal Studios OR take the 405 past the Getty and Bel-Air and you’ll eventually arrive in the San Fernando Valley! “The Valley” was semi-lovingly depicted in both Boogie Nights (as the nexus of the porn industry) and Fast Times at Ridgemont High and is chock-full of television and movie studios.
Although many LA residents despair any commitments that send them to “the valley,” North Hollywood is where many LGBTQ folks have migrated for more affordable housing and, at least for gay men, it “has its own unique and bustling gay nightlife.” The NoHo Arts District is home to L.A.’s version of “off-Broadway.” It’s adjacent to Burbank, home to Los Angeles’ Best Kept Secret: the totally chill Bob Hope Airport, which I highly recommend flying in and out of. Studio City sits on the north slope of the Santa Monica Mountains, home to many actors, musicians and writers and both bougie and vintage shopping.
Santa Monica and Venice
Santa Monica and Venice aren’t gayborhoods, but if you’re visiting L.A., you’ll definitely be heading out this way. It’s where you can find L.A’s most visited beaches, the busy Santa Monica Pier (with its iconic Ferris wheel) and Venice’s storied muscle beach, oceanside bike trails, skateparks and beautiful canals. You may also recall it as the home of our friends Romy and Michelle.
Venice, created as a Venice-Italy-inspired resort town, has a storied countercultural history but is witnessing a shift as Google and other tech companies move to the area. Abbot Kinney Boulevard remains an eclectic Venice shopping destination. In the ’70s, Venice Beach was home to the lesbian-spearheaded Westside Women’s Center, which published the feminist newspaper Sisters.
Restaurants, Coffee Shops & Cafes
East Central Los Angeles
Mohawk Bend // 2141 W Sunset Blvd // Echo Park // $$
Lesbian hipsters are amongst the many who keep this spacious, aesthetically pleasing spot — located in a former vaudeville theater — popular for its fresh, locally-sourced brunch, lunch and dinner. Its menu of pizzas, salads and “elevated pub foods” feature many options for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters and they’ve got one of the best stocks of local beers in the city.
Sqirl // 720 N Virgil Ave, Ste 4 // Silver Lake // $$ // women-owned
Innovative takes on “peasant food traditions” at this beloved and still-buzzy breakfast + lunch spot include the rice bowl with ricotta and fermented hot sauce, a number of rice porridges and house potato pancakes called “flat tots.” Owner Jessica Koslow has a few cookbooks under her belt and locals cite her restaurant as “the birthplace of the ingredient-driven, fresh and healthy, grain bowl and avo-toast-centric dining scene.”
4648 Hollywood Blvd. // Los Feliz // $$ // queer + women owned
Queer chef Sarah Hymanson is one of the two Jewish women behind Kismet, which evolved out of their casual falafel shop Madcapra in the Grand Central Market. Their restaurant is one of the city’s most popular new spots, with “a commitment to refined, restrained technique and top-quality farmers market produce” and a fantastic “Turkish-ish” breakfast.
Friends and Family // 5150 Hollywood Blvd. // East Hollywood // $$ // woman-co-owned
This seasonal restaurant, bakery and marketplace creates a market-and-produce driven menu and also bakes up a variety of artisan breads and pastries every day under the supervision of Roxana Jullapat and her partner Dan Mattern.
Semi-Tropic // 1412 Glendale Blvd // Echo Park // $$
Serving brunch, lunch, dinner and a lot of really cute drinks — during the day, it’s a laptop-friendly zone with coffee and pastries and at night, have some “casual hearty fare” for dinner with a craft beer or cocktail at their bustling bar.
Fred62 // 1850 N Vermont Ave // Los Feliz // $$
A memorably retro green-and-yellow painted diner on Brittani’s “restaurants I always see at least four lesbians at” list has standard diner foods like their signature Juicy Lucy burgers, Mac-n-Cheese balls, Thai Cobb Salad and Bossa Nova Waffles. A great post-bar spot that stays open til 3:15 AM. Plus — 62 gluten-free options!
710 N Heliotrope Dr. // East Hollywood // $$ // queer + women-owned
Los Angeles’s only LGBTQ-focused coffee shop, Cuties was founded by Virginia Bauman (she/her/hers) and Iris Bainum-Houle (they/them/theirs) as a safe place for everyone in the queer community (and allies) that isn’t centered around alcohol, dating or nightclubs. Serving Counter Culture Coffee and other tasty treats, this “daytime darling of L.A’s queer social ecosystem” hosts deliberately inclusive events like “Fab Femmes Fraternizing,” “Spoonies, Crips and Cuties with Disabilities,” and “Friday Flirts.”
The Black Cat // 3909 Sunset Blvd // Silver Lake // $$
This tavern played a significant role in the 1960s LGBTQ Civil Rights movement, when it was a gay bar often subject to police raids. Now it’s a gastropub serving up elevated American comfort fare and classic cocktails in an eclectic space featuring photos of the original iteration of this historic landmark. Great for dinner or late-night cocktails.
porridge + puffs // 2801 Beverly Blvd // Historic Filipinotown // $$ // woc-owned
Asian-inspired porridges like duck stock poached mochi and braised winter melon along with beignet-like puffs you can get savory or sweet, served at a communal table and labeled a “solo dining safe space.”
Casita del Campo // 1920 Hyperion Ave // Silver Lake // $$ // woc-owned
Open since 1962 and popular with Eastside gay men (who also might be checking out their alt-performance space Cavern Club Theater, which runs “dynamic drag shows” like Chicas in Space and a drag-cast edition of The Facts of Life). Try the Crab Enchiladas, Carne Asada and fresh guacamole, surrounded by original Latin art, a very well-placed glittery rainbow flag and “West Side Story” memorabilia (the now-deceased husband of the couple who launched the restaurant played a Shark in the movie), washed down with a handmade banana margarita.
654 N Hoover St. // Silver Lake // $$ // qwoc-owned
Chef Jasmine Shimoda and her wife Sharky McGee combined their talents for the plant-based restaurant Jewel, where you can enjoy grain bowls, pasta, salads, pizza or items like the L.G.B.T. (lettuce, guacamole, Shimoda’s house-made tempeh “bacon” and heirloom tomatoes on gluten-free seed bread), a vegan Philly cheesesteak called “L.A. Phil” as well as cold pressed juices and vegan doughnuts.
Flore Vegan Cafe // 3818 Sunset Blvd. // Silver Lake // $$ // woman-owned
You can BYOB to Flore, which serves breakfast til 1pm as well as whole-leaf tonics, tempeh meatloaf, pizzas with soy cheese and cornmeal crust, jicama tacos and vegan cupcakes.
Pine & Crane // 1521 Griffith Park Blvd. // Silver Lake // $$ // woc-owned
Check out the “Three cup chicken,” dan dan noodles, wontons, beef roll and scallion pancakes at this Taiwanese-Chinese fast-casual restaurant owned by Vivian Ku, who learned to cook from her grandfather, and Moonlynn Tsai. They source produce from their family’s local Asian vegetable farm.
Salazar // 2490 Fletcher Dr // Frogtown // poc co-owned
Built on the grounds of an old converted auto body shop, Salazar’s big outdoor patio by the LA River is a very chill place to enjoy margaritas, tacos, meat plates and margaritas. You can even watch tortillas being made in what The Infatuation calls “a case study in how creating an environment people are actually excited to be in suddenly takes the pressure off of how good the next bite has to be”
Botanica // 1620 Silver Lake Blvd // Silver Lake // $$ // women-owned
A vegetable-forward, hospitality-driven all-day-cafe operation with a side market started by two writers serving beautiful organic dishes like Turkish Eggs, Chicken Congee and Green Tahini Tartine Toast. The aesthetics are so on point that you might be tempted to subscribe to their companion magazine.
FrankieLucy Bakeshop // 3116 W Sunset Blvd, Suite 1/2 // Silver Lake // $ // woc-owned
Kristine de la Cruz prepares Filipino treats like sweet and savory custards alongside delicious brownies, bread pudding and lemon bars. Anne Choi serves up classic espresso drinks from Found Coffee as well as more adventurous fare like vegan horchata and bourbon vanilla lattes. The food menu includes stratas, quiches and sandwiches.
Honey Hi // 1620 W Sunset Blvd // Echo Park // $$ // woc-owned
Serving “craveable, sustainable comfort food” like pancakes made from gluten-free nutrient dense flours, sipping broths, smoothies with names like “no fomo” and “merman,” as well as matcha, grain bowls, curries, salads, and gf pesto avocado toast.
Cafe Jack // 508 S. Western Ave // Koreatown // poc-owned
A Titanic-themed restaurant owned by a psychic where you can get great Asian Fusion menu AND Tarot readings all at once! Inside the boaty building decked out in maritime decor, you’ll find “a maze of private rooms, karaoke rooms, patios, snugs, and communal tables.” (Be aware however that there is no bar)
Yamashiro // 1999 N. Sycamore Ave // Hollywood Hills // $$$
Who doesn’t remember when Shane fucked Nikki on the balustrade of Yamashiro in the Season Five Finale of The L Word? I personally will never forget. But perhaps most memorable of all was how stunning the space itself is — a hilltop Japanese mansion offering spectacular views, ornate rooms and a gorgeous courtyard garden. Yamashiro was once an exclusive club for Hollywood’s biggest stars, and now is regularly rented out for film and TV shoots. The menu features mostly overpriced sushi as well as dishes like Wagyu burgers and orange soy-glazed sea bass. Be aware, however, that it embodies “a dizzying combination of cultural appropriation and authenticity.”
West Central Los Angeles
Real Food Daily // 414 N La Cienega Blvd // West Hollywood // $$ // woman-owned
Serving vegan, organic and plant-based food since 1993 —soups, salads, build-your-own bowls, build-your-own burgers, and lots of juices, smoothies and milkshakes.
E.A.K. Ramen // 7455 Melrose Ave // Fairfax // $$ // poc-owned
This irreverent, trendy space on Melrose with a dog-friendly patio serves the very-hard-to-find-in-the-U.S. “lekei” style ramen (much thicker noodles and a saltier broth) has an expansive and innovative slate of ramen options and also serves fried rice, buns and gyoza.
fonuts // 8104 W 3rd Street // Beverly Grove // $ // women-owned
“Enlightened donuts” that are baked, not fried, with flavors like banana chocolate, rosemary olive oil, strawberry buttermilk and blueberry earl gray, served with Lamill coffee. Vegan and gluten-free options abound.
8905 Melrose Ave // West Hollywood // $$ // woman-co-owned, non-binary executive chef / founder
Gracias Madre serves entirely organic, plant-based Mexican cuisine, mixes great custom cocktails and is the perfect place to come for charm, class, and a little bit of romance. Chef Chandra Gilbert, who’s extensive resume includes making cheese at lesbian-owned Cowgirl Creamery, heads up the place with the team behind Cafe Gratitude and a small batch mezcal and tequila-focused bar. The restaurant has ample seating, with a dining room inside and a gorgeous outdoor patio that can accommodate large parties or intimate tables for two. On a breezy evening in Los Angeles, a seat outdoors underneath the warm glow of string lights is the perfect way to enjoy your meal.
Swingers // 8020 Beverly Blvd // Fairfax/Beverly Grove // $
A reliable classic-retro diner option for breakfast, lunch or dinner — or all of those things at once, any time of day. Lots of vegan and organic options as well as shakes and smoothies. Swingers made quick appearances in Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion and the TV show Insecure.
Pura Vita // 8274 Santa Monica Blvd. // West Hollywood // $$ // woman-owned
Chef Tara Punzone grew up on hearty Italian cooking in Brooklyn and adapted her favorite recipes for this vegan wine bar, serving vegetable antipasti, pastas, vegan tiramisu and a nut cheese-and-vegetable lasagna.
Lucques // 8474 Melrose Ave // West Hollywood // $$$ // women-owned
This is where you splurge: a charming converted carriage house with a leafy patio, serving refined California- Mediterranean menu with an exceptional cocktail and wine list. The first of many restaurants that eventually became the Lucques Group, run by (James Beard Award winning chef) Suzanne Goin and Carolyn Styne.
El Carmen Tequila & Taco Bar // 8138 W 3rd Street // West Hollywood // $$
Encarnación Elias Gomez, the widow of General Arnulfo R. Gomez of Mexico, opened this taqueria in 1929 and quickly saw it become an immediate hit with Hollywood heavyweights. Today, it still boasts one of the best tequila selections in Los Angeles and very good guacamoles and quesadillas inside a deeply red-lit, campy tunnel-like space popular for movie shoots.
634 N. Robertson Blvd // West Hollywood // $ // qwoc-owned
A café, retail and community space that serves pastries and sandwiches and uses coffee as “an invitation for people to gather and engage in meaningful exchange and conversation.” They deck out the store for Pride, display work from local artists through their artist-in-residence program and sell books and plants.
Canter’s Deli // 419 N. Fairfax Ave // Fairfax // $$
Shelly Pfefferman in Transparent has a standing order at this iconic Jewish delicatessen, open since 1931, serving a mean Ruben, matzoh ball soup, top-of-the-line lox and everything else you’d expect from *the* classic deli. Open 24 hours!
Moon Juice // 8463 Melrose Place // Melrose // $$$ // woman-owned
“As far as stupid fucking juices go, Moon Juice is the motherland and probably the reason we hit Peak Juice a few years ago,” wrote Kayla Kumari in her famed For Your Consideration column.” You’re gonna just have to trust me and drink a Cosmic Matcha Latte and a Gingered Lemon juice and then transcend to a different plane of existence for approximately 27 minutes. They literally refer to their Cilantro Celery Punch as “newage Gatorade.” It is profoundly dumb, and I’m a sucker. I love this stupid fucking juice.”
My Two Cents // 5583 W Pico Blvd // Mid-Wilshire // $$ // qwoc-owned
This incredible black queer owned health-conscious soul food spot is so beloved that Solange and Issa Rae stepped in with a fundraiser when chef Alisa Reynolds needed help keeping it open after a legal conflict with former backers. Check out the savory shrimp and grits, fried catfish and mac and cheese.
Mauro’s Cafe Fred Segal // 8122 Melrose Ave // Beverly Grove // $$
According to Alice on The L Word when she sees Dana at Fred Segal Cafe, it’s “the biggest lezzy hangout in L.A.” Is it though? Regardless, it certainly does serve breakfast, lunch and “homemade pasta with a side of celebrity sightings,” according to Bon Appetit.
Crumbs & Whiskers – Cat Cafe // 7924 Melrose Ave // Beverly Grove // $$ // woc-owned
Al believes that “THIS CAT CAFE IS LITERALLY A DREAM COME TRUE: a magical land of adorable snuggles, jingle collars, cold brew vibes, animal rescue emotions, and general euphoria.” Reservations, which come in 75-minute time slots, cost $22-$25/person and are strongly recommended (they maintain a strict human to kitty ratio at all times), as is arriving 10 minutes early to put in your drink order (which is fetched from an affiliate cafe, nothing is made in-house) and sign necessary waivers. Although it’s perfectly acceptable and common to enjoy the company of the cats in residence with no strings attached, Crumbs & Whiskers’ main objective is to facilitate adoptions for needy kitties. Over 300 cats have been adopted through the efforts of the super-friendly hosts!
EP & LP // 603 N. La Cienega Blvd. // West Hollywood // $$$
One of LA’s largest rooftop decks, serving clever custom cocktails under the stars, awaits you after your dinner in the cavernous pan-Asian restaurant that serves cuisine from Thai, Vietnamese, Fijian and Chinese traditions.
8225 Beverly Blvd // Beverly Grove // $$$ // queer + women owned
Out lesbian chef Suzanne Tracht has quite the CV, including many appearances on television and every award one could imagine. Here you can find some of the best steaks in Los Angeles and, according to Zagat, Jar “is stil lthe spot for contemporary spins on classic foods, great martinis and family celebrations.”
Yogurt Stop // 8803 Santa Monica Blvd // West Hollywood // $ // lesbian-owned
Out lesbians Marta Knittel and Shoshana Joseph own this shop for pump-it-and-top-it-yourself frozen yogurt, where you can find Stumptown coffee, candy, acai bowls and CBD-infused goodies as well as yogurt flavors with names like Lezbionic Tonic and Harvey Milk Chocolate. Some of it is vegan!
Hamburger Mary’s // 8288 Santa Monica Blvd // West Hollywood // $$ // gay-owned
A gay restaurant chain sounds like something destined to fail, but Hamburger Mary’s, originally launched 17 years ago in San Francisco, plugs on, offering a “flamboyant dining experience,” drag brunch with RuPaul’s Drag Race stars and juicy burgers with names like Buffy The Burger Slayer and the Barbara-Q Bacon Burger.
Nickel Diner // 524 S. Main Street // Skid Row // $ // lesbian-owned
In the middle of Skid Row, a lesbian couple built their dream diner, making everything from scratch but keeping it affordable, like their famed Maple Bacon Donuts (using brioche dough that takes three days to rise), a “gay pop tart,” home-made ding-dongs and entrees including burgers, chili, mac-and-cheese, salads, sandwiches and a Stuffed Avacado Quinoa Salad, “We feed people. That is our goal. You want to call it art? Fine,” chef Monica May told LA Weekly. “But if I want art, I’m gonna go to a fucking museum.”
Beelman’s // 600 S. Spring St. // Downtown // $$ // woc chef
The innovative menu of plant-based pub food at this sports bar earned its Vegan Filipino chef, Caroline Concha, the award of Best Female Chef in Los Angeles.
Clifton’s Cafeteria // 648 Broadway // Downtown // $$$
Enjoy some overpriced sliders and overpriced cheese plates within an unforgettable space that inspired Walt Disney’s vision for his first theme park. There’s a giant redwood tree bisecting the multi-level building, with a differently-themed bar on each floor and tons of taxidermied animals. The Tiki Bar on the top level is accessible by secret mirror door, and is the coziest spot for a very kitschy romantic date. Honestly I love this place. Clifton’s is one of LA’s oldest restaurants, launched originally to feed the hungry during the Depression. Now it feeds those who are hungry for a real unique, windowless experience!
445 S Figueroa St // Downtown // $$ // queer + woman owned
Border Grill operates restaurants in LA and Vegas as well as a few L.A. food trucks. Owned by out chef and host of Food Network’s Two Hot Tamale Susan Feniger, and her long time friend Mary Sue Milliken. You can find contemporary Mexican food and a wide range of cocktails, including their famous margaritas.
Nightshade // 923 E 3rd St, Ste 109 // Downtown // $$ // woc-co-owned
Chef Mei Lin and her partners draw from Lin’s personal culinary history — helping her family run Chinese restaurants in Detroit as a child — to put together the elevated nostalgia sharing menu for this aesthetically pleasing spot. Fill up on oysters, curry, shrimp toast, scallops and a memorable squid ink tagliatelle with cuttlefish Bolognese and gochuijang.
Sonoratown // 208 E. 8th Street // Downtown LA // $ // poc-owned, woc-co-owned
Buzz came quick for this taco stand which expanded in 2018 to have dining room seating, a wine list and dinner hours. The simple menu of tacos, burritos and quesadillas, served on homemade flour tacos, pay homage to the small border town in Mexico where co-owner Teodoro Diaz-Rodriguez, Jr grew up.
Sari Sari Store // Grand Central Market @ 317 South Broadway// Downtown LA // $$ // woc co-owned
“Margarita Manzke’s Filipino rice bowls introduced us to atsara (pickled papaya relish) and we’ve never looked back,” writes the pineapple collective of this Filipino concept from the James Beard nominated chef, also noted for “making the best coconut pie in the city.”
Venice, Santa Monica, Palms & Culver City
Gjusta // 320 Sunset Avenue // Venice // $$ // woman-co-owned
“I would say Gjusta is like the platonic ideal of an LA restaurant at the moment,” says Kayla, who writes for Eater in New York City. “So many people are trying to re-create it here.” This all-day and very sceney deli/bakery spot usually has a long wait but might be worth it for what the Infatuation calls “the nicest deli or bakery you’ve ever been into, multiplied by ten.”
Rustic Canyon Wine Bar & Seasonal Kitchen // 2011, 1119 Wilshire Blvd // Santa Monica // $$$ // woman-co-owned
Enjoy farm-to-table Californian small plates, an extensive wine bar, and tasty craft cocktails in this intimate (read: reservations necessary) dining room.
3455 Overland Ave // Palms // $$$$ // qwoc-owned
One of L.A’s only female sushi chefs, Niki Nakayama and her wife and sous chef Carol lida-Nakayama have created what Zagat calls “one of the most lovely, but subtle restaurants in Los Angeles,” offering Japanese Kaiseki dining — you may recall it from Season One of Chef’s Table —a many-coursed meal of small dishes focused on seasonality and simplicity. You’ll have to get a reservation well in advance for a chance to experience one of its limited seatings.
Cool Haus // 8588 Washington Blvd. // Culver City // $ // women-owned
Artisinal ice cream, made with ethical ingredients and local milk by two women who got started with a truck and now have their ice cream sold in grocery stores naitonwide. Flavors include Balsamic Fig & Marscapone, Milkshake & Fries and Buttered French Toast.
Ms Chi Cafe // 3829 Main Street // Culver City // $ // woman-owned
Chef Shirley Chung’s progressive Chinese-American cuisine includes northern-style dumplings, noodle bowls, fried rice, specialty Boba and milk teas and the Top Chef winning “Jumbo Cheeseburger Potstickers with tomato bacon jam.” Plus, affordable wine and cocktails!
South L.A. & Inglewood
Hawkins House of Burgers // 11603 Slater Street // Watts // $ // woc-owned
“When the smell of bacon fills the street,” writes LA Taco, “you know you’ve arrived at Hawkins House of Burgers.” Fresh ingredients and the love of a decades-old family business, currently run by the youngest daughter of the original owner, who came to L.A from Arkansas in 1939 and started Hawkins as a food stand.
Azla Vegan // 3655 S Grand Ave, Ste C2 // Historic South Central // $ // woc-owned
Nes Abegaze left her teaching job to help her mother, Azla Mekonnen, realize her dream of bringing her native Ethiopian cuisine to a new audience — with a health-conscious twist. Look for five Ethiopian stews served daily, gluten-free injera, a kale-centric Gomen, and locally sourced kombucha.
Stuff I Eat // 114 N Market St. // Inglewood // $$ // woc-owned
Serving authentic vegan home-cooked soul food for over 15 years. The Chef Babette made a cameo in Season One of Insecure, catering Issa’s non-profit’s fundraiser.
Hot & Cool Cafe // 4331 Degnan Blvd // Leimert Park // $ // poc-owned
In addition to serving great vegan food and incredible coffee (its owner used to run a few Starbucks shops, where he encountered a 50-acre, woman-owned farm in Ethiopia he now uses for Hot & Cool Cafe), Hot & Cool is a gallery for local artists and a stage for local performers.
Post & Beam // 3767 Santa Rosalia Drive // Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw // $$ // poc-owned
Shrimp and grits, buttermilk-fried chicken and sweet potato pie are some of the more familiar dishes on the eclectic menu at Post & Beam, noted by The LA Times as “maybe the most ambitious restaurant to ever open in the Crenshaw district.” Brunch offerings include Pecan Pie French Toast with Cinnamon Cream and Bourbon Caramel, and there are lots of vegan, plant-based and gluten-free sandwiches, salads and entrees.
Peckish Snack Bar // 3209 W 54th Street // Hyde Park // $ // qwoc-owned
Drawing on their Jamaican heritage, the family-owned Peckish specializes in jerk chicken and serves chicken & waffles “unlike any other version in town” as well as Jamaican hand-pies, juices, excellent banana pudding and basics for grab-and-go diners.
Urth Caffe // West Hollywood, Downtown LA, Beverly Hills // $$$ // woman-co-owned
Urth Caffe, the inspiration for The L Word‘s “The Planet,” is perhaps the most quintessential Los Angeles cafe — it’s very hip and so popular that busy hours enforce a 45-minute maximum time on table occupancy. The menu features organic coffee, a variety of teas, matcha lattes and healthy, organic salads, sandwiches and pizzas.
Cafe Gratitude // Downtown + Larchmont + Venice + Beverly Hills // $$$
If this restaurant was like 50% cheaper I’d eat here every day, but it’s not, so I only occasionally can afford the chance to really indulge lingering hippie vibes for organic, local, vegan, plant-based and nutritient-dense bowls, entrees, salads, sandwiches and juices with names like “Giving” “Blessed “and “Glorious.” It’s kinda owned by a cult but also the food is really good, so.
Sage Organic Vegan Bistro // Echo Park + West LA + Pasadena // $$ // woman-owned
Sage is one of the best places to go for a delicious vegan brunch. Sage also has plentiful lunch and dinner options, with a recent addition of a full bar. They also serve Kind Kreme, a local organic, raw, vegan ice cream product, and other amazing desserts.
Donut Friend // Highland Park & Downtown LA // $
This vegan donut spot elevates the genre with innovative mouth-watering options like Srirachosin, Banana Kill, Nutellavision, Strawberry Lab and perhaps of most interest to you: —the Green Teagan & Sara (raised donut topped with matcha tea glaze, black sesame seeds and a dash of free-dried raspberry dust). After playing to round-the-block lines in Highland Park, they expanded to a downtown location this year.
Night + Market // West Hollywood & Silver Lake & Venice // $$ // poc-co-owned, woman co-owned
Serving Nothern Thai cuisine in a colorful, unassuming space, Night Market sells spicy street food like pad thai, grilled fatty pig collar and fried chicken wings with rooster sauce. The fried chicken sandwich and Crispy Rice Salad are popular picks, as is their extensive local wine list.
Homestate // Hollywood, Highland Park and Playa Vista // $ // woc-owned
Brian Valdez brought her Texas roots to Homestate, a taqueria best known for its breakfast tacos that also offers guacmole-slaw-brisket-loaded Texas Toast Sandwiches, Frito Pie in a Bag and local, sustainable coffee.
Bars, Clubs & Lounges
Bar Franca // 438 S Main St. // Downtown // woman-owned
A lot of queer parties happen here at this cozy and hidden “perfect date spot” with a Mediterranean bath-house-feel and great signature cocktails.
Akbar // 4356 Sunset Blvd // Silver Lake // gay-owned
For over 20 years Akbar has brought a more inclusive spirit to the typical gay male bar. With a bit of of a Middle Eastern motif and an inclusive, openly politically progressive ethical vibe, this Silver Lake standby has a loungey environment and lots of queer-centric events, like Queerslam (poetry/storytelling/open mic) and the award-winning Queer Stand-Up Night Drunk on Stage.
The Abbey // 692 N Robertson Blvd // West Hollywood // gay-owned
The Abbey is one of the largest and most well-known gay bars in the world as well as a popular brunch spot for gays & lesbians. The adjacent Chapel is pretty loud and clubby, with Go-Go Dancers and drag nights as well as bottle service. It’s pretty hit or miss but when it hits, it hits hard. However, although you can’t really do an LA guide without mentioning The Abbey, we should mention that The Abbey has historically been unwelcoming to its trans employees and patrons and although they’ve promised to “do better,” we’ll see.
Jumbo’s Clown Room // 5153 Hollywood Blvd // Los Feliz // women-co-owned
This “punk-rock alternative to full-on strip clubs” is circus-themed and female-and-family owned. Women bartenders sling cheap cocktails while hipster-friendly dancers (many of whom are also burlesque performers) who pick their own music from one of L.A’s best jukeboxes perform for a room that is often very queer.
Genever // 3123 Beverly Blvd. // Historic Filipinotown // woc-owned
Highlighting gin-related cocktails and local produce, syrups and shrubs, the sexy Genever lounge got started on kickstarter by three Filipina women known as “The Red Capiz Partners,” with the intention to be one of the few women-owned-and-run bars in the nation.
Roosterfish // 1302 Abbot Kinney Blvd. // Venice
This LGBTQ scene staple “stood as a second home for many on the Westside throughout the 1980s and 90s” and, after shutting down for 18 months starting in 2016, reopened last year just in time for Venice Pride. Serving a mixed crowd of gay men and queer women, this full-service Venice Beach Bar is now one of the few original bars left on Abbot-Kinney.
The Birdcage Beach Club // 2600 Ocean Front Walk // Santa Monica
Described as “the perfect hangout spot for the LGBTQ community,” this massive Miami-themed bar has a big outdoor patio and a living-room area in an attic above The Victorian.
Bar Calo // 1498 W. Sunset Blvd. // Echo Park // woman-co-owned
A mezcal and cocktail bar tucked into an unassuming strip mall with a Méxican inspired menu featuring shareable plates focused on California produce & seafood (including some from Calo’s own garden) and a bar centered on seasonal cocktails, independently owned and operated Mezcal producers and Mexican wines.
Oil-Can Harry’s // 11502 Ventura Blvd. // Studio City // gay-owned
The only gay bar in L.A. to offer line-dancing and the oldest gay bar west of the Mississippi, Oil Can Harry’s is geared towards gay men but has a homey, inviting atmosphere that has made it popular for a mixed crowd.
The Spare Room // 7000 Hollywood Boulevard // Hollywood
This gaming parlor and cocktail lounge on the mezzanine level of the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel contains two vintage bowling lanes and games like Battleship, Jenga and Scarabble to play while you sip from a punch bowl or enjoy drinks with names like “Camera Ready,” “Walking in LA,” and “Start Wearing Purple.” Plus a solid, but small, food menu!
Hi Tops // 8933 Santa Monica Blvd // West Hollywood // queer woman co-owned
Corn Dogs, cauliflower on a stick, pretzels and burgers are on the menu at this bar that mostly serves gay men but has more women than your average WeHo gay bar due to being co-owned by a queer woman.
The Blind Dragon // 9201 W Sunset // West Hollywood
Exotic Tiki cocktails and good-to-share Pan-Asian plates are on the menu at this opulent lounge — its hella sceney and expensive and popular amongst celebs, but their four luxury karaoke suites with 25,000-song catalogues are a big draw.
New Jalisco Bar // 245 S Main St // Downtown LA // gay poc-owned
This Latinx-focused no-frills gay bar is mostly aimed at gay men, but women and trans people have been known to frequent it, and it’s known as a “great safe space for the LGBTQ Latinx & POC community.” Drinks are well-priced and they specialize in Mexican favorites, like Modelo, Michelada, & tequila and play a variety of Latin music and hip-hop; as well as hosting drag shows from Latinx & black performers.
Catch One // 4067 W Pico Blvd. // Country Club Park
Back on its 1972 opening, Jewel’s Catch One was the nation’s first black gay and lesbian disco. While it remains a historic landmark of LGBTQ nightlife, it has a new vibe now as a “live music venue, nightclub and arts space in Los Angeles built yo celebrate creativity and instigate multi-disciplinary experimentation” that aims to be “a safe haven for all those who wish to immerse themselves in the ideals of music, art, and freedom of expression.” Their lineup prioritizes quality and diversity spread out across five rooms with affordable drinks and a staff trained to kick out homophobes. The new owners teamed up with the ONE archives to ensure the current space honors its history. You can catch a documentary about its iconic original owner, Jewel, on Netflix.
The Mermaid // 428 E. 2nd St. // DTLA // women-owned
Enjoy your Siren Song or your Ship of Fools with tasty small plates at this newish spot offering trivia nights, DJs and #WCW guest bartenders and “the relaxed vibe of a comfortable neighborhood bar with the light kitsch its nautical theme commands.” The owners are committed to carrying women-owned-or-helmed spirits brands in its well-stocked bar.
The Other Door // 10437 Burbank Blvd // North Hollywood
There’s a lot of LGBTQ staff at this “artsy hipster hideaway,” in a space formerly known as lesbian bar “Moon Shadow Lounge.” You can expect a full cocktail bar with a potions menu and lots of absinthe cocktails, a dance floor, outdoor/indoor patio, pool, a photo booth and all-gender restrooms.
Verdugo Bar // 3409 Verdugo Rd // Glassell Park
Featuring a curated craft beer list as well as spirits, this bar/lounge hosts a lot of events and has a big outside patio with a rotating selection of gourmet food trucks. Events include The Church of Seitan’s Vegan Bingo (every third Sunday) with desserts from Mamachingona Vegana, Happy Hour with the Women’s Center for Creative Work, Paint and Sip, Geeks Who Drink and Friendship Buddies Comedy. Once upon a time they hosted a ’90s Queer Hop-hop Dance Party, but :-(.
EastsideLuv // 1835 E 1st Street // Boyle Heights // poc-owned
Founded in 2006 to “celebrate the uniqueness of being Mexican-American in East Los Angeles,” this bar near Mariachi Plaza has themed karaoke nights including a weekly Morissey tribute and, of course, SelenaOke™.
Los Angeles is home to a vibrant nightlife scene and although there are no dedicated lesbian bars, there are HEAPS of parties. Nothing dies and gets reborn more often than a girl party in a major U.S city though, so double check before penciling any of these into your schedule.
Cruise @ Eagle L.A. // 4219 Santa Monica Blvd // Second Saturdays
Monthly local leather party for queers of all kinds (boys, girls, and otherwise-identified!). Bootblacking, DJs, dommes, kinky demos, queer visuals and more!
Gay Assstrology @ The Satellite
1717 Silver Lake Blvd // First Friday of the month
L.A.’s hottest queer dance party and the best place to run into your ex-girlfriend but also literally all of your queer friends is Gay Asstrology, an inclusive dance party that is organized by queer women and overwhelmingly attended by women and trans folks.
Divorce @ Bar Franca // 438 S Main Street // DTLA // First Thursdays
A new downtown happy hour brought to you by DJ Couples Therapy of ’90s dance party Sportsbra.
Girl(Friends) LA @ The Friend Bar // 2611 Hyperion Ave // Silver Lake
Girl parties in L.A organized for “girls to meet other girls,” usually hosted at The Friend Bar. $15 gets you a polaroid and a drink.
Cake: Your Trans/Queer Hip-Hop Night @ The Virgil // East Hollywood
Also known for the parties they host in Portland, Cake throws a few Los Angeles events a year. These POC-focused parties, like last month’s Wakanda-themed bash, are a great community space open to all queer and trans folks.
RSVP for location
For “all the queer girls, femme, butch, trans & nb party people,” Paradiso has had hosts like DJ Kittens, JD Samson and Jazzmyne and has a more diverse crowd than you might find in WeHo.
Dial Up Disco@ The Short Stop Echo Park // 1455 W Sunset Blvd // Echo Park
This new monthly QWOC-run LGBTQ+ disco dance party was “built by two east-side lesbians in response to the growing “East-Side Lesbian” culture and the need for queering up traditionally hetero spaces in a calmer setting outside of WeHo,” according to organizer Michelle Nguyen. DJ Little Indian (Jenny Shah) spins 70s/80s disco and funk, nu-disco and house music and there’s also performances ranging from drag kings to musical comedy.
Altar Girl @ The Chapel // 692 N Robertson Blvd // West Hollywood // Wednesday Nights
Wednesday nights are Ladies Night at the Abbey-adjacent Chapel. You can still find plenty of straight women and gay men even on Ladies Night but you’re gonna go anyhow because that’s what we do!!
Rainbow Skate @ Moonlight Rollerway // 5110 San Fernando Rd. // Glendale // Wednesday Nights
Transport yourself back to the 70’s and 80’s and enjoy a night of disco lights, tube socks, and sweatbands, and fabulous short shorts! Moonlight Rollerway has been hosting this event for over 20 years, and they don’t plan on stopping any time soon! Owner and operator Dominic Cangelosi started Rainbow Skate Night as a way for the LGBTQ community to come together outside of the bar scene, when many people began meeting at Moonlight for AA support. Fun fact – this is the skating rink where the TV show GLOW filmed Sheila’s birthday party.
Stargirl Weho @ Rage Nightclub // 8911 Santa Monica Blvd // West Hollywood // Tuesdays
West Hollywood’s “newest all-girl hip-hop party,” produced by Lady and Bash LA, is a spinoff of the successful Starboy series (catered towards gay men of color) and promises “good vibes and half off drinks.”
Homocult // Various locations
A “monthly ritual queer dance party.” Subscribe to their email for more info!
Soft Leather LA @ RSVP for DTLA Location // Saturday nights
A wild underground party for “LGBTQ fetishists and goths” seeking a “place to enjoy BDSM and get some EBM/industrial and techno dance action.” Their instagram is HOT.
Good Boy’s Party Line // Various
Morgan “Good Boy” is a DJ and party-planner in Los Angeles worth following for the scoop on local events, many of which are 18+. Recent events include “Magic Dyke,” a drag king contest for masc-of-center women, non-binary and transmasculine folks at King King Hollywood and “DreamHaus,” an 18+ party at The Bardot with pink flamingos, vintage Barbie visuals and glitter and nail stations.
Lez Do Brunch // Various Locations in WeHo and Long Beach
A monthly LGBTQ+ inclusive event that benefits non-profits, featuring a live DJ set, a comedian MC/host, delicious farm-to-table brunch and bottomless mimosas.
Lez Croix // Various Locations
“A refreshingly different queer party” took a break for a while but came back for 2019 LA Pride. Will there be more???!! We hope so!
Jolene’s Night @ Crawford’s Pass // Burbank
A night of fun, treasures, music and dance for all Queer Womxn of Los Angeles. Their Pride Party includes activities “to put you at ease” like tarot, on-demand poetry and bedazzling your jeans. There is also, of course, drinks and dancing to dance floor classics all night.
A Club Called Rhonda // Various Locations
Launched in 2008, this monthly-to-bimonthly pop-up event is “Los Angeles’s most iconic pansexual dance party.” Although everybody is invited and i-d magazine noted its “overwhelming sense of genuine acceptance and inclusivity,” this Bacchanalian party, known for its wildly original decor and true dedication to experience, is friendly to queer women but dominated by gay men.
Pop-Up Events @ The Lash // 117 Winston St // Downtown LA // queer-owned
The Lash is a concept club, bar, performance and social space mostly aimed at the gay male community. There are multiple dance floors, good drinks, & reasonable prices in a place with a great vibe, with a nice outdoor space to smoke or breathe. Not explicitly an LGBTQ space, but many LGBTQ pop up events have been hosted here, with a healthy mix of women, trans and non-binary people.
HER Events @ Various
The LGBTQ social app HER hosts events all over the country, including several every year in Los Angeles. Follow their Facebook page for the latest!
Queer Enough LA @ Various
QELA is a volunteer effort by and for queers + allies to promote inclusion in the LGBTQ+ community by hosting social events. Their monthly brunches are alcohol-free and held at an all-ages venue. Enjoy food, coffee, a book exchange and other activities.
High Society LA @ Various
“The Most Exclusive Nights in Los Angeles For L.G.B.T. Fynest” are “thrown at the hottest nightclubs with celebrity guest and host, Killer DJ’s, sexy ladies and the iLLEST crowd. Come out dressed to impress & always ready to party with the best.” Parties are focused on “Bottle Service Patrons & the Crème de la Crème to the “Alternative” Nightlife.” They host a lot of Lesbian “Strip Nights” with POC dancers and DJs and have events a lot more regularly than many others on this list.
Comedy / Theater / Performing Arts
The Commons LA @ The Other Space // 916 N. Formosa Ave // West Hollywood
This production company dedicated to producing work from diverse voices often overlooked by the LA Entertainment community hosts events like Queer Cabaret, Lesbian Story Slam and Non-Binary Burlesque.
The Gale @ The Groundlings // 7307 Melrose Avenue // Melrose
Some of the best queer improvisers in the country put on this invigorating evening of longform improv at The Groundlings, an improv and sketch comedy theater established in 1974. Their 30-member team performs in the theatre’s shows and teaches classes at the Groundlings School.
Sorority @ Lyric-Hyperion Theater & Cafe // 2106 Hyperion Ave // Silver Lake
Playwright/director Gina Young created this “late-night k-hole for new short works by women, trans and queer performing artists.”
Influx Collectiv // Various Locations
Influx Collectiv is a Los Angeles-based queer reading series prioritizing queer and poc voices and hosted at various locations throughout the city, like the recent “Poems are Gay,” featuring queer youth poets alongside established artists.
5919 Franklin Ave (Hollywood) & 5419 Sunset Blvd (East Hollywood) // Hollywood
No matter what your taste in improv, stand-up, or sketch comedy is, there’s a little something for everyone. Some of Al’s favorite shows are “Search History,” “Shitty Jobs,” and of course, the esteemed and frequently sold-out “ASSSSCAT.” While the Sunset location is larger and has more amenities, we still prefer the intimacy and rugged, well-loved atmosphere of the Franklin location. Every Tuesday night, hosts Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher put together a fantastic lineup of stand-up artists for Put Your Hands Togetherwith Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher — with an eye on women, queers and POC. Tickets are only $7, and be sure to grab them in advance.
Largo // 366 N. La Cienega Blvd // Beverly Glove
Part cabaret, part comedy club, part dive bar; Largo is one of the best comedy clubs in Los Angeles, with an unassuming exterior and a relatively small capacity. No food or drink inside, but there’s an outdoor courtyard area with a bar for a pre-show cocktail. You can often find big-name comedians performing for relatively cheap prices — like Tig Notaro for $30.
The Improv – Hollywood // 8162 Melrose Ave // Hollywood
This legendary comedy club helped launch the careers of comedians like Lily Tomlin and Richard Pryor. Gays R Us is comedy show that occurs the first Wednesday of every month and is hosted by lesbian comedian Erin Foley. It’s a small space, but there’s so much history there! Plus tickets and drinks are reasonably priced!
Thicc Strip // 2234 Temple St. // Historic Fillipinotown
The original body positive strip show in los Angeles aims to give “the spotlight and the literal stage to people that are traditionally marginalized, when it comes to fat bodies, disabled bodies, black and brown bodies.” Follow on Instagram for info on upcoming shows.
Trans Chorus L.A. // Various Locations
The chorus “is the largest group of trans and gender non-conforming people anywhere in the world who gather together regularly to raise their voices in song.” They tour the town performing Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. “I have a friend who is a singer in the group,” says Al, “and he tells me it’s an amazing and affirming experience and everyone is just so cool. I’ve seen them sing at trans pride and they performance is very good.”
West Coast Singers: The LGBTQ+ Chorus of Los Angeles // Various
Founded in 1983, this group is the third oldest mixed LGBTQIA+ chorus in the nation. Their mission statement is: “our quality musicianship, engaging choral performances, and inclusive environment unite LGBTQ and Ally singers to celebrate diversity, inspire equality, and build a community of acceptance.”
The Ruby Feminist Comedy Theater // 7518 Sunset Blvd // Hollywood
The Ruby is a feminist and inclusive comedy theater and school, founded on the ideals of intersectional feminism and prioritizing women, poc, non-binary and queer voices. In June 2019, they’re hosting a 6-hour Ruby Queer Comedy Festival.
Bootleg Theater // 2220 Beverly Blvd. // Historic Filipinotown
“A new paradigm for entratinment and philanthropy,” the LALAW “produce wild over the top feminist spectacles of sport and performance art in the form of wrestling tournaments” three times a year. All the performers are women and GNC folks who aim to bring people together to listen and be as weird as they possibly can.
Future Ladies of Wrestling // Various Locations
A no-holds-barred multimedia extravaganza in which the wildest interspecies wrestlers battle for the title of Ultimate Multiversal Warrior. Did you see G.L.O.W.? this is like that, except the women are creating their own dynamic, compelling characters and proceeds support various good causes.
The Celebration Theater // 6760 Lexington Avenue // Hollywood
The Celebration Theater, founded in 1982 by a Mattachine Society co-founder, is a community theater dedicated to gay-themed material. It remains the only professional theater with the mission of creating an outlet for LGBTQQIA voices in Los Angeles, like this year’s lesbian-focused burlesque rock musical, Doctor Nympho Vs. The Sex Zombies.
Dirty Looks LA
A platform for queer film, video and performance that “uses film and time-based art to illuminate queer histories and liminal spaces across Los Angeles and New York City, Dirty Looks traces contemporary queer aesthetics through historical works, presenting quintessential GLBTQ film and video, alongside up-and-coming artists and filmmakers.”
Theater in General
It’s not New York, but Los Angeles has a thriving theater scene of its own. There are over 200 professional theater companies and over 8,000 professional stage actors in Los Angeles, including The Pantages Hollywood, who host national tours of big Broadway musicals and The Center Theater Group, which hosted Paula Vogel’s Indecent in the summer of 2019.
The Hollywood Bowl // 2301 N Highland Ave // Hollywood Hills
In addition to hosting big concert tours and events, the LA Philharmonic and musicals, this legendary venue hosts some pretty unique experiences for nerds, like Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix with a live orchestra, Jurassic Park In Concert and an immersive live-to-film Little Mermaid Concert Experience starring Lea Michelle.
Other Fun Things To Do At Night
Savage Muse Underground Dinner Series // Silver Lake
This a monthly underground intimate queer dinner series hosted by queer Persian Parisa Parnian that happens at her home in Silver Lake, serving traditional Persian foods from Parisa’s native Iran. Prices range from $55-$70/person, and you can keep up-to-date and grab a reservation by subscribing to her email list.
Out Under the Stars @ The Hollywood Forever Cemetery // 6000 Santa Monica Blvd // Hollywood
You can catch movies at the legendary Hollywood Forever Cemetery, sponsored by Cinespia, throughout the year. Twice a year, there’s a special Out Under the Stars event held by the Los Angeles LGBT Center (Hairspray was the pick for June 2019), and the annual Halloween Movies All Night event is not to be missed — every lesbian in this city was there this past October for The Craft, Practical Magic and The Witches of Eastwick.
80s Karaoke @ The Break Room // 630 S. Ardmore Ave. // Koreatown // poc-owned
The Line Hotel in Koreatown is “delivers a rich, layered, urban Los Angeles experience inspired by Koreatown culture.” One of the city’s coolest and most aesthetically pleasing hotel and dining complexes, contains a killer outdoor pool, several eateries, bars and an Alfred Coffee shop. At Break Room 86, alongside boozy push-pops and nostalgia-inducing cocktails, surrounded by arcade games, high school lockers and an old-school photo booth, you can find reserve private rooms for ’80s karaoke, equipped with Retro Atari video game systems.
Strikezon // 3377 Wilshire Blvd Ste 205-208 // Koreatown
A great place to Lez out with a group of friends (they charge per room, not per person), competing with each other on virtual batting cages while enjoying pretty good food and beer. Watching “the big game” is apparently also an option.
Highland Park Bowl // 5621 N. Figueroa St. // Highland Park
LA’s oldest bowling alley — established in 1927 — is a gorgeous building to play a little game in. Plus: food and drink!
Two Bit Circus // 634 Mateo St. // Downtown/Arts District
A hulking, shiny, super-fun entertainment complex where you can enjoy very expensive drinks and food BUT ALSO play carnival midway-style games, try your luck at tech-advanced skee-ball and other classic arcade favorites, sign up for an Escape Room or Story room or try your hand at virtually every virtual reality experience possible.
The Magic Castle // 700 Franklin Avenue // Hollywood
You’ve gotta know a member to get in — and there’s a strict dress code —but if you’ve got the hookup, you’re in for an unforgettable evening at the home of the Academy of Magical Arts, where you can dine in Victorian splendor and enjoy the unique talents of the Magic Castle’s world-class performers.
Skylight Books // 1818 N Vermont Ave // Los Feliz
Skylight is one of the best independent bookstores in the whole city. They regularly have events with authors and guest speakers, including Roxane Gay and Elizabeth Warren. Other highlights: one of the largest collections of local zines in L.A., a big children’s section and one dedicated to Los Angeles History.
The Last Bookstore // 453 S Spring St. // Downtown
At 22,000 sq. ft., The Last Bookstore is currently the largest used and new bookstore in California and is a Downtown must-see, attracting Bibliophiles from all over the world who wanna check out this extensive collection and the famous “book tunnel” on the second floor.
436 N. Fairfax Ave // Fairfax
Family sells ‘zines. Tons of ‘zines and rare books and random art prints: a reprinted Gay Areas Telephone Directory from 1983, How to Talk To Your Cat About Abstinence, The Black Panther Coloring Book, back-issues of radical feminist quarterly Womanspirit and so many other ulta-niche super-alt pubs that’ll make you feel hopeful about indie publishing.
Stories Books & Cafe // 1716 W. Sunset Blvd. // Echo Park
Stories Books & Cafe is nestled in the heart of Echo Park, making it the perfect place to stop in for a good cup of coffee and a new book when you’re in the gayborhood. Bonus: Stories is open a lot later than other coffee shops, so it makes a great location if you have some serious studying to do, or you want to have an extended Tinder date. It’s probably one of the queerest book/coffee places in LA, with a neutral, single-stall restroom and a gender/sexuality book section. Live music and other performances take place in their outside back patio.
The Ripped Bodice Bookstore // 3806 Main Street // Culver City
This “romantic bookstore” is not the heterosexual romance HQ you might expect —it’s got a significant section for lesbian romance novels and queer YA love stories, as well as feminist favorites and a tucked-away section for sexual health and identity literature ranging from kinky lesbian erotica to Your Quick-n-Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns.
iliad Book Store // 5400 Cahuenga Blvd // North Hollywood
A great used bookstore to spend an afternoon browsing, with heaps of art books, a specialty in graphic novels, and a solid sexuality section too. They’ve won just about every possible honor, from CBS LA’s “Best Shopping Spot in North Hollywood” to getting a spot on “HuffPo’s “50 Best Indie Bookstores in America.”
2006 E. Cesar E Chavez Ave // Boyle Heights
Find “an exquisitely curated selection of new and used books with an anarcho-queer-feminist–third world–radical-indigenist edge” and an excellent selection of Latin American Boom and post-Boom lit and a subspecialty of East Asian lit and poetry, plus gems like “The Life and Times of Butch Dykes” at this unassuming storefront next to an El Pollo Loco.
Eso Won Books // 4327 Degnan Blvd. // Leimert Park // poc-owned
This black-owned neighborhood bookstore is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ favorite place to buy books. Specializing in books by black authors and the heritage of the African diaspora, the store has hosted events for Barack Obama and Bill Clinton as well as numerous community-oriented events a year.
The Secret Headquarters // 3817 W Sunset Blvd // Silver Lake
This “comics lounge” sells comic books and adjacent merchandise with everything from DC and Marvel to cheap alt-comic zines, with a staff who really knows their stuff. They recently hosted a “Queer Babes Of Cartoons” zine launch party.
Free City // 533 California Ave // Venice // queer + woman owned
Free City has long been a Los Angeles celebrity favorite, but their iconic tees and casualwear really made their mark on lesbian culture by popping up throughout The L Word’s six-season run. Nina Garduno’s highly-coveted and ridiculously comfortable tees and sweatshirts are sold in their 3,000-square-foot Los Angeles superstore alongside items like bikes, almond milk and fragrances. Free City goods are wildly expensive, but that’s ’cause every item is hand-made in their workshop using the highest quality materials.
Tuesday Bassen // 1292 W Sunset Blvd // Echo Park // women-owned
Clothing and accessories from Los Angeles based illustrator Tuesday Bassen: size-inclusive and ethically made with an emphasis on vintage and California-made materials.
Amoeba Music // 6400 Sunset Blvd // Hollywood
You could easily spend hours browsing the CD, DVD and record collections of this two-story staple, where musicians often host album signings and the aisles have huge selections of music, dvdd, and live materials.
Pleasure Chest // 7733 Santa Monica Blvd. // West Hollywood // queer-owned
Founded by gay men in 1971 with locations in California, New York and Chicago; Pleasure Chest is probably the best sex shop in all of L.A., and certainly the most queer and inclusive, with a mostly QTPOC staff. Pleasure Chest offers frequent sexual education workshops and supports ethical adult toy companies.
5159 York Blvd. // Highland Park // qwoc-owned
Selena tank tops, Frida Kahlo magnets and Chingona Heart Totes are among the many apparel and other handmade goods available at Mi Vida, created by owner Noelle Reyes in 2008 “with the purpose of providing the surrounding the surrounding community a shopping experience that compliments their lifestyle, incorporating cultural elements into fashion and functional art.”
The Plant Provocateur // 3318 W. Sunset Blvd. // Silver Lake // queer-owned
Hank Jenkins, a gay black man, oversees this cute back patio shop selling “botanical inspired goods for habitat + home.”
Spacedust // 2153 W Sunset Blvd. // Echo Park // woman-owned
Artist Michelle Rose opened this “haven for the local creative community” in 2014, selling locally-made and apparel, wallets, books, stationary, art, jewelry and other quirky gifts, ranging in style from retro & futuristic to avant-garde & absurd.
Otherwild Goods & Services // 1768 N Vermont Ave // Los Feliz // women + queer owned
Marisa Suárez-Orozco and Rachel Berk’s boutique/graphic design studio sells wares from over 100 indie makers as well as offering an inclusive space for the LGBTQ community, hosting workshops, readings, and parties. “Otherwild caters to the outsiders, the ones who are out-of-the-box and living life by their own rules,” wrote Fusion. “It’s a place where feminism and LGBTQ pride is celebrated, not side-eyed.”
Wildfang // 3430 W. W. Sunset Blvd. // Silver Lake // women + queer owned
These self-described “modern-day, female Robin Hoods raiding men’s closets and maniacally dispensing blazers, cardigans, wingtips and bowlers” launched their dapper-tomboy brand in early 2013 and after creating a successful community + retail space in Portland, opened another location in Los Angeles.
Vinovore // 616 N Hoover // Silver Lake // woc-owned
Sommelier Coly Den Haan got into wine retail after finding success as a restaurateur and decided after the 2016 election that her shop would only carry wines by women or multi-gender partnerships. They’ve also got a good selection of books by women authors and their insta is full of inventive wine/book pairings. It’s really cute y’all.
House of Intuition // West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Silver Lake & Highland Park // qwoc-owned
Lesbian couple Marlene Vargas and Alex Naranjo opened their first HOI in 2010, selling crystals and candles. Now, they’ve got six locations selling magic candles, beauty products and all the crystals a queer could ever dream of as well as offering classes in areas like Kundalini Yoga, Spirit Guides and Full Moon Ceremonies.
A Love Bizarre // 438 S Main Street // Downtown // queer-owned, woman-co-owned
“LA’s only downtown modern metaphysical marketplace and queer-focused gallery,” located through Bar Franca, sells crystals, tarot, art prints, patches, pins, books, candles, tees and specialty apparel. They also host events like Spellcast, featuring four writers speaking on LOVE, and CURSED! A Full Moon Storytelling Show.
Kaleidoscope Kollective // 1511 Sunset Blvd // Echo Park // woc-owned
The collective encompasses four women-owned brands and fills their shop with hand-made creations from local artists, unique imports from personal travels and vintage clothing. This is where you get your Frida Kahlo pillow and Lady of Guadalupe nail decals.
7850 Melrose Ave // Fairfax
Every Sunday from 9-to-5, the Fairfax High School parking lot transforms into Riese’s favorite “flea market” of all time — heaps of vintage clothes (windbreakers, leather jackets and mom jeans for days!), hand-crafted furniture and goods, vintage home decor, prints and posters — plus it’s dog and kid friendly, there’s a huge court of food truck, and if you’re into random live music, they’ve got that too! Sponsored by the Greenway Arts Alliance, a non-profit aiming to unite communities through art, education and social enterprise.
My 12-Step Store // 8730-B Santa Monica Blvd // West Hollywood // Gay-Owned
Underwear with SOBER on the butt? Check. Sobriety chips? Yes! Books and cards and jewelry and everything. A oasis for sober community on a very drunk street.
Poketo // DTLA, Koreatown, Culver City & Little Tokyo// woc-co-owned
“A lifestyle brand born out of the desire to infuse every day with aesthetic intentionally,” Poketo sells design-conscious goods for a creative lifestyle, including totes, pens, planners as well as homewares, apparel, furniture and more. You will want to lick their website and then unload your wallet in their store.
Dapper Cadaver // 7648 San Fernando Rd // North Hollywood
Offering the finest death-related props —like skulls and severed heads in specimen jars and fake dead bodies — for TV and film but also for you, a total weirdo.
Cookies // 5815 Maywood Ave // Maywood (near Huntington Park) // poc-owned
Owned by Mexican-American rapper Berner, Cookies aims to be one of SoCal’s finest recreational marijuana dispensaries, including a grow room with picture windows and products available for everybody from a “Cadillac or Porsche budget” to a “Toyota budget.”
ooga booga // 943 N. Broadway #203 (upstairs) // Chinatown // woc-owned
Wendy Yao started her tiny shop in Chinatown selling independent art, books, music and clothing in 2004, and now has two outposts and a busy events calendar. She’s assembled a truly jaw-dropping selection of items you never knew existed explaining ideas you didn’t know had yet been had.
Espacio 1839 // 1839 E 1st Street // Boyle Heights // poc-and-woc-owned
A store, radio studio and gathering place that sells t-shirts, accessories and books with an emphasis on Xicanx culture and feminism, with its roots entirely in the community it serves. Recent events include a pop-up from The Unapologetically Brown Series, a paper mache workshop and an As Told By You Open Mic.
Necromance // 7222 Melrose Ave // Melrose // woman-owned
Just your standard purveyor of preserved insects, skeleton animal remains, freeze-dried reptiles, old skeleton keys, random antiques and other curiosities.
Burro Goods // 1409 Abbot Kinney Blvd // Venice // woman-owned
California-drenched cards, jewelry, curated books, curiosities, work from local artisans, candles, clothing and adorable goods for babies at Baby Buro.
5024 Eagle Rock Blvd. // Eagle Rock // woc-owned
A playful gift shop and art gallery featuring independent artists and designers for the young at heart — Leanna’s Mom scopes out eclectic vintage mid-century modern home decor, jewelry and kitsch, while Leanna focuses on art, accessories, books collectible toys and more.
Alternative Herbal Health Services // 7828 Santa Monica Blvd. // West Hollywood // woman-owned
Owner Dina Browner, the inspiration for Nancy Botwin on Weeds, has been a “medical cannabis consultant” for Snoop Dog and on the set of “Disjointed.” Her friendly marijuana dispensary on Santa Monica stocks everything under the sun with friendly salespeople to guide you towards pain relief or the perfect high.
Lady & Larder // 3759 Sawtelle Blvd // Mar Vista // women-co-owned
If you love a nice spread — and we suspect that you do – try to resist the gorgeous Handcrafted Cheese and Cured Meat Combination Board or Farmer’s Market Fruit Boards made by this siblings-owned shop, which focuses on small-batch producers and high-quality ingredients.
Proud Mary // 5335 N Figueroa St // Highland Park // woman-owned
“I don’t want a shop that’s cute for a plus size shop,” says owner Jessica. “I want a shop that’s just CUTE AF.” She stocks her plus-size-focused store and hangout spot with her own pieces as well as the best indie brands and vintage scores.
Los Angeles County Store // 4333 W Sunset Blvd // Silver Lake // woman-owned
Wanna bring home a souvenir to gift or to have or to hold? This is a great place to find unique wares from local artists and makers.
Folklore Salon // 1102 Mohawk St. // Echo Park
According to Al, Folklore Salon is the most intentionally queer-inclusive hair salon in town. Cuts are categorized and priced by hair length, not gender, and staffed by stylists who specialize in different styles and textures.You can expect higher city prices for their services, but Al considers the value of these stylists’ skills to be worth the cost.
ProjectQ is “a non-profit organization founded by Madin Lopez to help LGBTQIA and homeless youth combat bullying, develop self esteem and find an identity for themselves through hair styling.” The all-QPOC team provides free gender-affirming haircuts and mentorship to homeless LGBTQIA+ youth. You can support them as a member, through a donation, or by attending a fundraising event.
Cool Nights Salon // 750 N. Virgil Ave. // Silver Lake
Cool Nights is an intentionally homey brand-new salon featuring stylists including queers like bicoastal artist/hairstylist Sera Sloane (recommended to me as “a queer that cuts a lot of queers”) and Lauryn Tullio.
Baby LA // women-owned
An appointment-only private tattoo studio that is notably queer-inclusive. You can contact individual artists to book.
Ancient Adornments Body Piercing // 8424 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite G // West Hollywood
Ancient Adornments is our go-to piercing studio in Los Angeles. They frequently host Elayne Angel, world renowned piercing expert and author ofThe Piercing Bible, during her traveling tour dates. “Roger Rabbit is my favorite piercer in the shop, and as a non-binary person I felt safe and comfortable during my consultation,” says Al. Prices are premium but well worth it for the quality and safety.
Base Coat Nail Salon // locations in West Hollywood, The Grove, Downtown // woc + woman-owned
A “non-toxic nail salon from base coat to top coat and everything in between.”
Los Angeles LGBT Center @ 8745 Santa Monica Blvd., 2nd Floor
The Village at Ed Gould Plaza & Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center & Anita May Rosenstein Campus @ 1125 N. McCadden Place
McDonald/Wright Building @ 1625 N. Schrader Boulevard
Founded in 1969, the LGBT Center provides services for more LGBT people than any other organization in the world, providing programs, services and global advocacy encompassing Health, Social Services and Housing, Culture and Education, Leadership and Advocacy.
Recent programming includes “The Future Is Black,” a Black History month celebration including an art exhibit, live performances, award presentations, dinner and resource fair and WxW, a community celebration for women with live music, performance art, comedy, short films, a fashion show, and drag kings. They hosted a Good Trouble screening & panel in January, and last year Whitney Mixter, Elizabeth Keener and Anna La Chocha hosted the Lez Sing Battle!, an epic lesbian anthem karaoke competition.
The host of that event, the Lesbian Culture Club, is a non-profit show and event producer by, for and about the lesbian community, produced by Anna Margarita Albelo and Dara Nai. Although Anna recently moved to Paris, the LCC will endure!
2425 Glover Place // Frogtown
The WCCW cultivates L.A’s feminist creative communities and practices that affirms that “art, creativity, and imagination have intellectual, personal and political value” with “a dedicated effort to challenge cis-hetero-patriarchy, white supremacy; and exclusionary, colonial, capitalist and ableist systems. In addition to housing the main branch of The Feminist Library on Wheels (F.L.O.W.), they host meetings like the Hey Baby Feminist Parenting Group and Untold (a theme-based storytelling group for womxn and non-binary people). Recent events include a workshop focused on Audre Lorde’s “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic As Power ” (co-hosted by The Free Black Women’s Library LA), and a zine release + bingo party from The Thick Thigh Collective.
The ONE Archives at the University of Southern California
909 West Adams Blvd. // University Park
This is one of my (Riese)’s favorite places in the world, and I highly recommend scheduling a tour if you’re in town and love history, or checking out its two-story museum, that often functions as L.A’s downtown gay community center. ONE houses over 600 archival collections of personal papers from activists, artists and ordinary citizens, as well as records from LGBTQ political, social, educational and cultural organizations. You can request records from the front desk after perusing an online index. It’s not hard to spend an entire evening just reading back-issues of lesbian magazines.
626 N. Robertson Blvd. // West Hollywood
Over 2300 titles of fiction and non-fiction as well as personal letters and scrapbooks, artwork, manuscripts, books, records, newspapers, magazines, photographs, videotapes, flyers, papers of lesbian and feminist organizations, private papers, and even clothing, such as softball uniforms from the 1940s and 50s. This immense resource is accessible most days by appointment.
1933 Echo Park Ave // Echo Park // POC-owned
POT is a full-service pottery studio owned & operated by mostly women and LA natives of color devoted to “celebrating their surrounding cultures and communities through an ancient art form in an accessible, empowering space.”
Pride & Other Annual LGBT Events
Outfest Fusion (March)
Outfest Fusion is held annually in March, is dedicated to LGBTQIA+ folks of color, and includes a One Minute Movie Contest, screenings, seminars, and filmmaking workshops. Outfest Fusion has representation from the large Latinx community here in Los Angeles, as well as other communities of color such as African, African-American, Asian diaspora, and indigenous people.
One City One Pride WeHo LGBTQ Arts Festival (May – June)
Encompassing Los Angeles LGBT Pride Weekend,The One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival in West Hollywood starts on Harvey Milk Day (May 22nd) and runs through Pride Month, featuring theater, poetry readings, art exhibits, musical performances, comedy, documentary screenings and so much more. The festival really seeks to showcase the diversity of our community and is just niche enough to guarantee a minimum number of straight people in attendance.
Los Angeles Pride Weekend (June)
Every June, L.A. Pride kicks off in West Hollywood, starting with the Dyke March on Friday followed by events all weekend. On Saturdays you can find every lesbian in the city at Dyke Day at the Park, an all-ages free all-day celebration at Ernest E. Debs Regional Park. Dyke Day is a safe space for trans and cis women as well as sober folks needing a refuge from the boozy events of Pride Weekend. The after-party at Akbar is usually pretty lit. The Sunday Pride Parade is usually a star-studded affair with celebrity Marshalls and LGBTQ allies (aka straight people).
Los Angeles Trans Pride is usually held a week after Pride, Trans Pride celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018, for which Alexandra Billings and the Trans Choir sang, told jokes and danced. “It’s our day and just nice affirming space for trans community,” says Al.
Valley Pride (June)
Celebrating love and acceptance in the San Fernando Valley, Valley Pride brings together live music (with a focus on QTPOC artists), food trucks, local businesses, interactive art and resources for the community; as well as screen-printing from Hit + Run.
LA Black Pride (July)
A weekend-long celebration beginning with an opening reception, celebrating pride on the beach and kicking back with Sunday’s big Kiki Ball.
Brown and Out Fest (July)
An annual play and film festival that celebrates the LGBTQ+ LatinXperience with work that looks at the politics, socio-economics, religious oppression and indigenous roots of the unique, but often oppressed, LGBTQ community
Summer Bash (LA’s Urban Pride) @ BET Weekend(June or July)
Hosted by Brandon Anthony’s Socialite House during BET Weekend, Summer Bash entices Hollywood’s top talent and social media socialites to the largest urban/Hip-Hop pride event in Southern California.
One of the biggest LGBT Film Festivals in the U.S., offering countless screenings of the most relevant and diverse LGBT films in production, as well as workshops, guest speakers and parties. Most events have admission fees, but they accept volunteers in exchange for admission, some screenings are free and discounts are offered to Outfest members (anyone under 21 can be a member for free).
DTLA Proud Festival (August)
Created by the community and for the community, DTLA Proud is committed to “celebrating everyone’s story, spreading optimism, growing our community and expanding our definition of diversity.” Centered in colorful Pershing Square, it is a three-day festival with proceeds going towards the future DTLA PROUD Community Center, containing “local stage talent, community booths, art installations, retail vendors, interactive exhibits, food trucks, bars, and a pop-up water park.”
“The most ridiculous lesbian sporting event in the world,” in which, over the course of three days, a bevy of athletic gay womxn tackle an insane obstacle course and compete in events like Oil Wrestling, 3-Legged Race, Wheelbarrow Race, Trivia, Arm Wrestling and Tug of War.
Museums & Historical Attractions
Museum of Death // 6031 Hollywood Blvd. // Hollywood // $17
Gird your loins for this truly dark journey into serial killers, cults (including a recreation of the Heaven’s Gate bunker), funeral parlor history, actual pictures of car crashes, and pretty much the darkest shit you could ever imagine!!!
The Out & About Tours // Various Locations
Hosted by The Lavender Effect, Out & About offers bus/walking tours of LGBTQ history and culture.
Annenberg Space for Photography // 2000 Ave of the Stars // Century City // Free
The current exhibition at this cultural destination dedicated to exhibiting both digital and print photography in an intimate environment is “Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop and Photoville LA.”
// 221 S. Grand Ave // Downtown // Free
Yayoi Kusama’s immersive, mirror-ladened infinity rooms are a big draw, but so are the 2,000 post-war works of art including work by Basquiat, Keith Haring, Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol. Get (free!) tickets online ahead of your visit to ensure admission.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology // 9341 Venice Blvd. // Culver City // $8
This museum is super weird and impossible to describe — full of cultural obscurities and strange objects that don’t make a lot of sense but definitely stimulate the imagination. You have to see it to believe it ’cause they don’t allow mobile phone usage inside.
The Underground Museum // 3508 W. Washington Blvd. // Arlington Heights
Co-founded in 2012 by painter Noah Davis and his sculptor wife, Karon, this “vital cultural force” aimed to bring quality art within walking distance of his predominantly black-and-Latino neighborhood. After Davis’s death in 2015, his family continues running the space, which attracts fans like Amandla Stenberg, Solange Knowles and artist David Hammonds. “Equal parts art gallery, hangout space, film club, and speakeasy,” wrote W Magazine, “the UM focuses on black excellence, not struggle.”
Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art // 5905 Wilshire Blvd. // Mid-Wilshire // $20
LACMA has that cool Urban Light Installation outside you’ve probably seen pictures of. Inside is the largest art museum in the Western U.S. with over 140,000 works.
The Wall: Las Memorias AIDS Monument // 3600 N Mission Rd. // Lincoln Park // Free
The Wall-Las Memorias Project provides education around HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and LGBT community-building for low income and hard-to-reach communities throughout LA, and in 2004, founder Richard L. Zaldivar created on its grounds the first publicly funded AIDS monument in the country, occupying 9,000 square feet including murals and the names of 8,000 people lost to AIDS.
The Getty Center // 1200 Getty Center Drive // Brentwood // Free
You’re gonna see it up there every time you drive by and wonder what it is so you should definitely just go check it out. It’s a beautiful assemblage of buildings with great art, cute food and a truly extraordinary view.
465 N. Beverly Drive // Beverly Hills // Free
In addition to hosting PaleyFest — memorable, in-depth panels with the cast and creators of hit TV shows — The Paley Center has a “museum” with rotating exhibits, usually costumes and memorabilia from contemporary television shows. It’s a small space — consider it a quick stop rather than a destination.
California African-American Museum // 600 State Dr. // Exposition Park // Free
Find over 4,000 objects ranging from the 1800s to the present: paintings, photographs, film, sculpture, historical documents and artifacts. In addition to hosting incredible exhibits and immersive experiences from leading black artists, there are exhibits like We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965-1985 and Center Stage: African American Women in Silent Race Films.
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures // 6067 Wilshire Boulevard // Mid-Wilshire // TBD
Opening in late 2019, the museum will aim to “convey the emotional and imaginative power of film, to offer visitors a look behind the screen into how movies evolved and are made, to explore the impact of cinema on our society and culture at large, and to ensure film’s legacy as the great art form of our time” over 30,000 square feet. It looks honestly rad and I can’t wait!
Museum of Tolerance // 9786 West Pico Blvd. // Century City // $15.50
A museum “dedicated to educating the public about the Holocaust both in its historical and present contexts and examining all forms of prejudice and discrimination in our contemporary world.” In addition to the Holocaust elements, current exhibitions include “Para Todos Los Niños – Fighting Segregation in California,”about the history of segregation and discrimination against non-white people in California.
626 N Robertson Boulevard // West Hollywood // $5 suggested donation
This is the gay museum, curated from the One Archives! In addition to collections of influential queer artists, often organized by theme, recent exhibits include “Lost & Found: Safer Sex Activism,” “Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A,” “KillJoy’s Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House,” “Transgender Hirstory in 99 Objects: Legends and Mythologies” and a Cheryl Dunye specific exhibit called “Memoirs of a Watermelon Woman.”
The Autry Museum of the American West // 4700 Western Heritage Way // Griffith Park // $14
This history museum devoted to the “stories, experiences, and perceptions of the diverse peoples of the American West” also showcases the second-largest collection of American Indian artifacts in the United States from the Southwest Museum of the American Indian. The Autry’s “Native Voices” program produces works by Native American playwrights in its on-site theater and holds an American Indian Arts Marketplace in November. You can also find artifacts and posters fromThelma and Louise and the iconic shirts from Brokeback Mountain.
The Ennis House // 2655 Glendower Ave. // Los Feliz
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Charles and Mabel Ennis in 1923, The Ennis House is considered an example Mayan Revival architecture and is relevant to your interests because its exterior served as the home for Angelus, Spike and Drusilla in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s currently closed to the public but while undergoing an extensive renovation but you can swing by to catch a look.
Institute of Contemporary Art LA // 1717 E. 7th Street // Downtown Los Angeles // Free
A contemporary art museum in LA focused on work by international artists and programs that reflect the diversity of Los Angeles, “building on a distinguished history of bold curatorial vision and innovative programming to illuminate the important untold stories in contemporary art and culture.” This is the future, basically.
Natural History Museum // 900 W Exposition Blvd // $15
Did you know that it’s a scientifically proven fact that lesbians love sea mammals? Well, if that feels true to you, look out for this 63-foot-long fin whale skeleton! You like crystals, my dear queer friend? How about a 65 pound quartz crystal ball?? Also gems and minerals, dinosaurs and an urban garden in the original Beaux Arts structure that opened Exposition Park in 1913. First Fridays have live music, DJs, food trucks and behind-the-scenes museum tours.
EVERYBODY Gym // 1845 N San Fernando Rd // Cypress Park
EVERYBODY is a genuinely inclusive, deliberately queer-friendly and community-focused gym that makes good use of its small space and large outdoor area, offering co-op childcare and gender neutral locker room / bathrooms are gender neutral. Non-members can check out individual drop-in classes. They recently started a Basketball league and also conduct sexual wellness workshops, host training for the Flitter Run and offer massage, acupuncture, reiki and other wellness services. Check out Autostraddle’s feature on the gym here!
You can catch the Dodgers play baseball at Dodgers stadium in Echo Park — just before LA Pride, they do a special LGBT night with a Pride kick-off party and sponsored giveaways. The L.A. Lakers or the WNBA Sparks play basketball at the Staples Center (there’s even a special Pride Night game followed by a post-game 21+ Women’s Party at the Staples City Center View rooftop). The LA Kings Hockey team also plays at the Staples Center. The Los Angeles Rams football team plays at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Great Outdoors
Will Rogers Beach // 14801 Pacific Coast Highway // Pacific Palisades
Will Rogers Beach is known by local gays as “Ginger Rogers” and is the unofficial gay sand spot along the Pacific Ocean— if you’re following GPS, Will Rogers will show up as 17700 PCH, but the gay part is at 14801, near lifeguard tower 18. There’s lots of volleyball courts and a cafe, Perry’s on the Beach. Other “gay beaches” (mostly populated by gay men, but lesbian-friendly!) are the Dorothy Green Park & Beach in Santa Monica (near lifeguard tower 26) and Venice City Beach (in front of the Venice Skate Park).
2000 N. Fuller Ave. // Hollywood Hills
A great place for Dana and Alice to go hiking and talk about sexual tension, the “urban beach of Hollywood” offers great views and trails, especially for dog-owners. It can get pretty crowded, but there’s lots of people-watching too.
Griffith Park & Observatory // 2800 E Observatory Rd // Griffith Park
Griffith Park is a huge municipal park that stretches from Los Feliz to Glendale and upper Burbank area, covering over 4,000 acres of land. This is one of the largest urban parks in North America, and it’s also home to the Griffith Observatory — one of Al’s favorite places in L.A. You can see a Tesla Coil in operation and catch incredible views of the skyline and the Hollywood sign.
Do You Know Anybody With a Pool
When summer hits, everybody who is not at the beach is trying to get themselves to a pool — and the best friend you can have is a friend with a pool! Most hotels have pretty extensive pools and poolside bar/dining situations, but they’re usually only open to hotel guests and can get pretty crowded and overrun by heterosexuals. The Standard’s pool is the most iconic, with its vibrating waterbeds and movie nights, and is open to non-guests down to spend $35-$50 (depending on date and time) on food and beverages. The Dream Hotel in Hollywood opens its pool to non-guests after 6pm on weekdays and all day on weekends, a spot at the Avalon Beverly Hills‘ mid-century courtyard pool can be snagged for $35 and if you want to sun at Mr.C’s, youll have to shell out $150-$500 for a cabana rental or package. North Hollywood’s largest hotel pool at The Sportsmen’s Lounge sells day passes for $25. Noted hotel pools if you’re looking to spend the night in order to gain access include The Ace (with stunning views of Downtown L.A. and a Happy Hour with $1 oysters), The Freehand (check out the award-winning poolside Broken Shaker bar, headed up by Bar Director Christine Wiseman), The Hollywood Roosevelt (designed by David Hockney, surrounded by palm trees) and The Mondarin.
Santa Monica Mountains // 600 N San Fernando Rd // Cypress Park
There are multiple trails in Malibu — some with beach views, some with great wildlife, others noteable for their appearances in various movies and TV shows or other pop culture landmarks, like Malibu Creek State park [Want to see more images of the flowers, trees, wildlife, and other views one might see in the various trails in Malibu? Check out Al’s personal Tumblr.]
Silver Lake Reservoir Dog Park or Really Any Dog Park
The best place in Los Angeles to find queer women is the g-ddamn dog park. There’s one in every neighborhood and you can find a queer there, as well as — believe it or not — quite a few dogs!!! Time Out writes that, “Silver Lake Dog Park is the epicenter of the Eastside lesbian dog mom scene, and your little rescue maltipoo won’t be the only one feeling the heat.”
The Los Angeles River Trail // Frogtown
You can rent bikes from the “pretty queer” Spoke Bicycle Cafe (which also has a great brunch) and take a scenic ride along the paved bike path which winds through both natural and industrial landscapes, including several new parks, ending at the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach.
UCLA Marina Aquatic Center // Frogtown
If you’ve never seen a sea lion or a seal in the wild, good news you can do that right here in Los Angeles by renting kayaks from UCLA’s Marina Aquatic Center, optimally located near the Marina’s exit, which also offers classes in rowing, windsurfing, stand up paddle-boarding, sailing and surfing. Sailboats, rowing shells, paddleboards and windsurf boards are also available for rental.
Have additions to the guide? Please share your favorites in the comments! Do note that phrasing a criticism of a city guide in the format of “You forgot [thing]” is nails on a chalkboard.