Queer Girl City Guide: New York City

This post is sponsored by nycgo.com but all opinions and suggestions are our own.

  1. Gay NYC History
  2. Neigh/Gayborhoods
  3. Restaurants, Cafes & Coffee
  4. Bars, Clubs & Lounges
  5. Parties
  6. Other Nighttime Entertainment
  7. Comedy / Performing Arts / Music
  8. Shopping
  9. Hair / Nails / Tattoos / Piercings
  10. Museums
  11. Outdoors & Sports
  12. Community
  13. Annual Queer Events

Gay NYC History

“Went out last night with a crowd of my friends
They must’ve been women,
’cause I don’t like me no men….
They say I do it, ain’t nobody caught me,
They sure got to prove it on me.”

Ma Rainey, “Prove It On Me Blues,” 1928

New York City is home to one of the biggest, loudest, proudest and most diverse lesbian, bisexual and queer populations in the world, as well as the U.S.’s largest trans population. Its rich history begins with “romantic friends” in the late 1880s and runs through World War II, when many lesbian and bisexual women were literally shipped to the city on “queer ships” of homosexual discharges. The U.S. military authority had begun cracking down on this allegedly deviant behavior for the first time, dropping soldiers off at the nearest port, many of whom believed they couldn’t go home again. They joined the thousands of women who’d moved to the city to snag jobs unavailable to them prior to so many men shipping out to serve, and the long history of “chosen family” in the queer community began forming.

In the 1960s, gay activism began gaining steam amid the feminist and other countercultural movements of the era — and new, increasingly liberal, city government led to genuine political progress. In 1969, the Stonewall Uprising took place, a rebellion of gay men, trans women, butch women and working-class lesbians against ongoing police harassment. The first-ever Gay Pride Parade came the next year in NYC’s West Village, led by bisexual activist Brenda Howard, starting from the Oscar Wilde Bookshop. The Gay Activist Alliance formed in NYC six months after Stonewall, and the Lavender Menace group stood up against their exclusion from the feminist movement at the Second Congress to United Women in NYC on May 1970.

Thus began the more open development of lesbian life in New York. This is where Audre Lorde, then living on Staten Island, co-founded Kitchen-Table: Women of Color Press. The Lesbian Herstory Archives, birthed by lesbian members of the Gay Academic Union including Joan Nestle, set up shop in Brooklyn. In 1977, the New York Supreme Court ruled in Renee Richards’ favor, making her the first trans woman to compete in the U.S. Open. The ’80s saw the birth of GLAAD and The LGBT Community Center as well as the start of the AIDS crisis, leading to ACT UP’s establishment in 1987. The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power felt the epidemic required a radical political response, and its members included lesbians on all levels in what one early member called “the first cross-gender lesbian/gay group I’d been involved with.”

Throughout the ’90s, performance art, lesbian art, progressive poetry and activist theater found their niche and a Transgender Collective opened in Brooklyn. Indie magazines and newspapers and feminist bookstores came and went, Riot Grrrl raged, and even as dedicated lesbian spaces fell out of favor, parties, activist groups, coffee shops, collectives and other ways to gather continue to live on.

Now, New York is possibly the only city in the country with three entire lesbian bars. We’re also host to so many parties, collectives, activist movements and arts initiatives. Our scene is more diverse now. The women are cis, trans, lesbian, bisexual and queer; and it’s not just women, there’s often non-binary people and trans men, too. If you’re coming to New York for WorldPride, you’re going to have a very, very good time. In fact, Autostraddle.com itself was born in New York City when five lesbians in a tiny West Harlem apartment pressed “publish” on “What is Autostraddle” in March of 2009.

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Neigh/Gayborhoods

NYC is broken up into five boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, and you can find enclaves of queer culture in all of them.


Manhattan

Manhattan’s West Village / Greenwich Village has historically been considered an epicenter of queer life and the LGBTQ Civil Rights movement, home to a significant concentration of LGBTQ historic sites and monuments (including the Stonewall Inn), as well as playing host throughout the 20th century to an influential and sexually permissive countercultural, progressive and bohemian scene. Still today, queer women party there at Cubbyhole and Henrietta Hudson and patronize its LGBT Center. You can still find some leather and adult shops in the Christopher Street area and a park dedicated to the movement.

The East Village has a similarly countercultural history — a hotspot for queer poets, punks, activists, performance artists and other dreamers; it was home to NYC’s first lesbian theater, opened by the same activist who co-founded the Lesbian Avengers. It remains just edgy enough —a great place to get a drink, used book or gauzy vintage tee.

Chelsea, once adjacent to a thriving underground club scene and pier-centric cruising spot, has retained a high population of affluent gay men as well as the Audre Lorde Project’s community organizing center, the beautiful High Line park, vintage shopping, eclectic dining, fun flea markets and over 200 art galleries.

The Harlem Renaissance is Harlem’s first association with LGBTQ community, but Harlem’s queer story didn’t stop there. Harlem (as well as nearby Morningside Heights and Washington Heights) is still home to a diverse queer population and hosts its own annual Pride Celebration. You’ll also find an LGBTQ-focused church, black-owned businesses, gay-friendly nightlife, community-centric arts initiatives, classic architecture and great food.


Brooklyn

Brooklyn is now by far the best borough in which to find a lesbian. Brownstone-lined with plenty of green space, Park Slope (aka Dyke Slope) is the family-friendly home to Brooklyn Pride and the Lesbian Herstory Archives as well as the legendary Park Slope Food Co-Op and lesbian dive bar Ginger’s. Nearby, the quiet residential neighborhood of Windsor Terrace has the third-highest concentration of same-sex female couples in the city. Williamsburg, notorious for its high population of hipsters, is accordingly queer and sports a lot of nightlifey LGBTQ spots like Metropolitan and a weekly girl party at The Woods that’s been going strong for several years.

Bushwick similarly has a lot of gay nightlife going on, including enclaves of queer artists and musicians and a big DIY party scene. Farther south, there’s Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, and Bed-Stuy, which all have a growing number of queer daytime and nighttime spots and a lot of spaces frequented in particular by QTPOC — including official and unspoken LGBTQ spaces.

The Brooklyn waterfront has a rich queer history, dating back to 1885 when Walt Whitman published Leaves of Grass, an early, mostly subtextual account of queer life in the borough. Coney Island has long been home to burlesque and freak shows. Due to gentrification and a lot of developmental changes along the waterfront, this history often gets forgotten. But the Mermaid Parade every year during Pride month and the Coney Island Sideshow still preserve and honor that history.


Queens

Queens has been home to a gay enclave since the 1920s, when Broadway performers began flocking to the newly-built Jackson Heights neighborhood for more affordable housing and a convenient subway ride into Times Square. By the early ’50s, gay and lesbian flight attendants found Queens a queer-friendly place to hang out near the airport during their layovers. In the mid ’90s, LGBTQ residents in Queens even started their own Pride parade in protest of homophobic violence and to make the longtime community more visible. These days Astoria and Long Island City — both quick skips across the East River on the subway — are booming with LGBTQ residents and gay-friendly businesses. On a sunny Saturday or Sunday, a stroll around either neighborhood will reveal countless gay friend groups and couples out shopping or brunching, and restaurants, bars, and stores proudly door-stamped with rainbow flags. While Manhattan might tickle your historical and iconic landmark fancy, Queens will delight you with its smorgasbord of food. Just hop off the train at 30th Ave or Broadway and walk east; you’ll find food from all over the world, all within a 10-block trot.


Staten Island

A scenic ferry ride away, Staten Island is filled with beautiful landscapes, like the 83-acre Snug Harbor Cultural Center, and great Italian food. It’s more conservative than the rest of the city and lacks any kind of queer scene, but Audre Lorde lived there with her partner and two children from 1972 to 1987, and the Alice Austen House is worth a visit.


The Bronx

The Bronx is the birthplace of salsa music, hip-hop, break-dancing and the best damn pizza on the planet,” says author Gabby Rivera of her hometown. “It’s bursting with hot young happy queers of all shades and degrees of presentation.” It recently opened a gorgeous new LGBT Center, Destination Tomorrow, but perhaps is most often visited for The Bronx Zoo, the 250-acre New York Botanical Garden, a game at Yankee Stadium, or the popular-with-QPOC Orchard Beach.

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Restaurants, Cafes & Coffee

Brooklyn

Baoburg // 614 Manhattan Ave. // Greenpoint, Brooklyn // $$ // Woman-owned, woman executive chef
Owner-chef Suchanan Aksornnan describes her restaurant as “Southeast Asian comfort food” and her dining room is just as cozy as her recipes. If you’re not in the mood for bao, there are still plenty of traditional options to choose from (pho, pad thai), along with unique options like drunken spaghetti seafood and violet blossom dumplings.

Cafe Con Libros // 724 Prospect Pl. // Crown Heights, Brooklyn // $$ // WOC-owned
This feminist cafe/bookstore centers Black feminist thought in its ethos and the books it carries, which are often written by queer women, women of color, and queer women of color. It hosts regular events, including readings and discussions as well as community groups for women, femmes and GNC folks.

Lilia // 567 Union Ave. // Williamsburg, Brooklyn // $$ // Woman-owned
Lilia brings classic Italian food —homemade pasta and woodfired seafood — to Williamsburg with a mix of classic and innovative cocktails. The atmosphere is casual. In the daytime, you can get pastries, soft-serve ice cream, and coffee to go.

MeMe’s Diner

657 Washington Ave. // Prospect Heights, Brooklyn // $$ // Queer-and-woman-owned
Owners Bill Clark and Libby Willis are eager to describe their diner as a “very, very gay restaurant.” With a mostly queer staff and an eye on making queer and trans folks comfortable, MeMe’s serves fun cocktails and food that combines an international pantry with bodega standards — meatloaf, fluffernutters for brunch, buffalo chicken salad or a vegetarian and gluten-free chili oil fried egg with greens, yogurt and peanuts.

Otway // 930 Fulton St. // Clinton Hill, Brooklyn // $$ // Woman-owned, woman executive chef
Brooklyn’s stylish American bistro offers bright space and an in-house butcher. Owner Samantha Safer and chef Claire Welle offer seasonal cheese and wine pairings, idiosyncratic small plates, and rotating specials like their dorade served with crispy skin in lobster sauce.

Sisters // 900 Fulton St. // Clinton Hill, Brooklyn // $$ // Black-owned
Sisters is a Black-owned, all-day restaurant and bar and beacon of community in a neighborhood that has become heavily gentrified in recent years. It provides “a critical space for budding artists, many of whom are queer and of color.” There are regular parties, rotating DJs, and other events — check Instagram for the latest.


Manhattan

Baz Bagel

181 Grand St. // Little Italy, Manhattan // $ // Gay-owned

This Italian-Jewish family join offers hand-rolled bagels as well as classic home-cooked Jewish dishes like latkes and kasha varnishkes. They also offer more contemporary takes on Jewish and Italian signature dishes, like their original bagel sandwiches.

Cafeteria // 119 Seventh Ave. // $ // Chelsea, Manhattan
Open 24 hours in the heart of Chelsea, the sexy-minimalist Cafeteria remains a reliable source of exceptional American comfort food with a contemporary twist, flatteringly low lighting and classic cocktails.

Cowgirl // 519 Hudson St. // $$ // West Village, Manhattan // woman-owned
This West Village bar has been serving up Western cocktails since 1989. In addition to the unique cocktail menu, Cowgirl offers up southern cuisine from the standard (fried chicken and biscuits) to the secretly loved (Frito pie). A cozy landmark with all the antlers and guitars and bull-ridin’ lampshades your heart could desire.

Dirt Candy // 86 Allen St. // Lower East Side, Manhattan // $$$ // Woman-owned, woman executive chef
Hailed as one of Manhattan’s premiere vegetarian hot spots, James Beard-nominated former Iron Chef Amanda Cohen has created a restaurant as famous for treating its employees fairly as it is for its five-course tasting menu (with wine pairings). Dirt Candy was actually one of NYC’s first vegetable-forward restaurants. If you’re not into a set menu, hit up Dirt Candy for brunch, but make sure you have reservations.

Fonda // 189 Ninth Ave // Chelsea, Manhattan // Gay POC-owned
Roberto Santibañez provides regional Mexican comfort food and incredible margaritas at a Brooklyn flagship as well as outposts in Chelsea and the East Village.

Harlem Food Bar // 2100 Frederick Douglass Blvd. // Harlem, Manhattan // $$ // Gay-owned
Comfort food and craft cocktails are on the menu here, and in the warmer months, the move is to sit on the sidewalk patio. Happy hour runs 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and features two-for-one drinks.

Kiki’s // 130 Division St. // Lower East Side, Manhattan // $$ // Woman-owned
Kiki’s isn’t technically a queer spot, but it’s a stellar Greek restaurant that attracts a very hip (and often queer!) crowd. The area of the Lower East Side it occupies — known as Two Bridges — has a lot of cool, chill restaurants. Kiki’s always feels kind of like a party, but you don’t have to spend an absurd amount of money to have a standout meal.

King // 18 King St. // Soho, Manhattan // $$$ // Women-owned, women executive chefs
Three women run this celebrated French- and northern Italian-inspired fine dining bistro. Chefs Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt change their menu daily, but staple proteins include chargrilled quail, grilled trout, baked brisket, and guinea hen. Veteran Annie Shi runs the front of the house and completes the feminist culinary trifecta.

Kopitiam

151 East Broadway // Lower East Side, Manhattan // $$ // Queer WOC-owned

Chef Kyo Pang came out to her family the same year she opened the outstanding Malaysian restaurant Kopitiam, which had to shutter due to a rent hike in 2017 but has since made a triumphant return to the Lower East Side in a bigger space and with an expanded menu that’s based on family recipes from Pang, who grew up in Malaysia. It’s an all-day restaurant with mostly small bites, and everything on the menu is worth trying, but the signature soup known as pan mee and the traditional Malaysian white coffee are standouts.

Le Sia // 11 E. 7th St. // East Village, Manhattan // $ // poc-owned
The East Village is home to a lot of exciting Chinese restaurants, and Le Sia attracts a youngish crowd of mostly NYU students, but it’s nonetheless a destination restaurant. Its menu is built around Chinese-style seafood boils, and its prices on shellfish are very reasonable. Beers are cheap, and there’s also a skewers menu.

Lips // 227 E. 56th St. // Midtown, Manhattan // $$// Gay-owned
This is one of the most popular drag brunch spots in town. Expect strong drinks and lively drag shows. Check the website for the events schedule.

Prune // 54 E. 1st St. // East Village, Manhattan // $$ // Queer-woman-owned
Gabrielle Hamilton’s long-standing bistro has become a dining fixture in East Village, one of the city’s best dining neighborhoods. It’s particularly good for brunch, and the drinks are as good as the food. Make a reservation ahead of time.

Supermoon Bakehouse // 12 Rivington St. // Lower East Side, Manhattan // $
Supermoon bills itself as “a world of pure imagination” and that Wonka-esque description isn’t far from the truth. Colorful croissants (in flavors like matcha & blueberry, and tonka bean & rosemary), innovative donuts (like strawberry, basil & rhubarb, and lavender & honey), and a variety of soft-serve ice cream options make this a favorite the sweet-toothed and Instagram-snappy.

Sylvia’s // 328 Malcolm X Blvd. // Harlem, Manhattan // $$ // Woman-founded, co-owned
Harlem staple Sylvia’s was founded and run for decades by “Queen of Soul Food” Sylvia Woods, who worked in her kitchen until she was in her 80s. These days the restaurant — which specializes in classics like barbecue ribs, chicken livers, gumbo, mac n’ cheese, potato salad —is owned and operated by Sylvia’s children and grandchildren.

Uncle Boons // 7 Spring St. // Nolita, Manhattan // $$ // Woman co-owned, woman executive chef
Co-owner and chef Ann Redding believes Thai food deserves a place alongside French cuisine on the world’s prestigious culinary stage. With plenty of small plate options and an open seating area, Uncle Boons is a great place for groups. You’ll also find plenty of authentic Thai beers on the menu.

Via Carota // 51 Grove St. // Greenwich Village, Manhattan // $$ // Queer women-owned
Partners Jody Williams and Rita Sodi opened this standout Tuscan restaurant. NYC has a plethora of delicious Italian restaurants to choose from, and it can be impossible to choose, so why not go with the one owned and run by two queer women?! To top it off, their food is outstanding.

Vic’s

31 Great Jones St. // Noho, Manhattan // $$ // Lesbian-owned

A few years ago, New York Magazine‘s Grub Street food blog said the crispy eggplant and dried tomato Parmigiano-Reggiano at Vic’s was one of the “hands-down best dishes we’ve tucked into.” It’s still on the menu and Vic’s is still thriving, thanks in large part to its fresh take on classic Italian dishes. On weekends, you can try fresh pastries. And all week, you can enjoy the homemade limoncello.

Vinateria // 2211 Frederick Douglass Blvd. // Harlem, Manhattan // $$ // Woman-owned, woman executive chef, woman bar manager
Another three-women venture, Vinateria, which specializes in seasonal Spanish and Italian cuisine. showcases the skills of executive chef Mimi Weissenborn, bar director Ashley Lugo Brown and consulting wine director Chelsea Carrier. Lin Manuel-Miranda told the New York Post this place is his favorite, even among other more popular neighborhood favorites, because Weissenborn’s mom walks around talking to all the customers.


Queens

Astoria Bier & Cheese // 34-14 Broadway or 35-11 Ditmars Blvd. // $$ // Astoria, Queens
If you like beer, cheese and meats from around the world, either of the Queens-based Bier & Cheese locations are an excellent place to spend an afternoon or evening. Sample beers in flight sizes from the 10 rotating taps of award-winning craft brews or choose from one of the hundreds of bottles or cans in the coolers. Enjoy cheese, meat or pickle plate pairings, sandwiches, pretzels with IPA-infused cheese, or even a bacon flight. Indoor and outdoor seating are available.

Château le Woof // 31-01 Vernon Blvd. // Astoria, Queens // $ // Woman-owned
New York City’s very first Pet Market & Café is a short walk from the Astoria stop on the Astoria line of the NYC Ferry (which you can hop on at Wall Street). Enjoy craft teas and coffees created and brewed by an award-winning barista while your dog enjoys healthy, homemade treats. You can also sip your coffee while watching or petting other people’s dogs, including owner Natassa Contini’s rescued pit bull and chihuahua.

Chip // 30-06 34th St. and 42-15 Crescent St. // Astoria and Long Island City, Queens // $ // Woman co-owned
Easily the gooey-est cookies in New York City, Chip offers four rotating flavors of cookies every day, most of which sell out by closing time. From standards like chocolate chip to originals like ruby matcha to seasonal favorites like Lucky Charms, Astoria residents are always ready to stand on line for one of the borough’s sweetest obsessions.

Gossip Coffee

37-04 30th Ave. // Astoria, Queens // $$ // Woman executive chef

Executive chef Scheyla Acosta’s menu is the highlight of this award-winning neighborhood hotspot. Gossip Coffee offers renowned artisanal sandwiches, including all-day breakfast sandwiches; late-night snacks, like chickpea fries and mini lobster rolls; high-end pastries; unique cocktails; and a variety of coffees and teas. There’s an indoor bar and indoor couches, plus plenty of outdoor seating.

Kinship Coffee Cooperative // 32-14 Steinway St. // Astoria, Queens // $ // Woman co-owned
From flash-chilled cold brew on draft to specialty teas and lattes, Ashley Wood Rivera’s indie coffee shop specializes in drinks that delight coffee growers, roasters, and enthusiasts. Smaller Kinship locations can be found throughout Queens, but the Steinway store offers 60 seats and a variety of decadent, health-conscious pastries and breakfast foods.

Pomeroy // 36-12 Ditmars Blvd. // Astoria, Queens // $$ // Woman-owned, woman executive chef
Lady Gaga’s childhood friend and former personal chef Bo O’Connor is the owner and executive chef of The Pomeroy, which specializes in new American cuisine and cocktails. The fried chicken and fried pickles (frickles) are neighborhood favorites. Despite her connection to fame, O’Connor’s wood-paneled, antique-decorated restaurant has remained mostly scene-free, focusing on great food and a friendly atmosphere.

The Thirsty Koala // 35-12 Ditmars Blvd. // Astoria, Queens // $$ // Woman co-owned, woman executive chef
Executive chef Katherine Fuchs, a former FDNY chief, is also co-owner of this wild-pastured, sea-to-table, garden-to-table gluten-free Australian restaurant in Queens. The menu also boasts enough veggie options that it’s shortlisted every year for Best of the Boro vegan restaurant.

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Nightlife

Bars, Clubs & Lounges

Albatross Bar // 3619 24th Ave. // Astoria, Queens // $
Albatross, the oldest gay bar in Queens, is a hot spot mostly for gay men, but queer women (and straight women having bachelorette parties) can usually be found there on weekends. Enjoy karaoke multiple times a week and even a bingo night. Standard beer, wine, and cocktails and a stage for weekend drag shows. (If you’re planning to hit up Albatross, be prepared to take the M60 bus or a car back. It’s not a little bit of a hike to the closest subway stop.)

The Box // 189 Chrystie St. // Lower East Side, Manhattan // $$
This nightclub has very queer variety shows and burlesque performances that aren’t afraid to get political. There’s food and drinks and be sure to make a reservation if you want a private table for your group.

Cubbyhole // 281 W. 12th St. // Greenwich Village, Manhattan // $ // Gay-owned
The Cubbyhole has been around since 1994, and it has an unrivaled happy hour for the area, with half off all well drinks, wine, and beer from Monday through Saturday until 7 p.m. The truly dangerous (but fun) night to go is on Tuesdays when margaritas (in three flavors) are only $2. For all the other specials, check the website. The spot is tiny and eclectic, with various colorful knickknacks hanging from the ceiling. It gets crowded, and definitely expect a line on most nights. Despite the small space, there’s often dancing. And Corner Bistro around the corner has the best burgers for late-night drunk eats.

Getaway // 158 Green St. // Greenpoint, Brooklyn // $$
Getaway is a completely alcohol-free bar serving fancy juices that are very good and as complex flavor-wise as craft cocktails. The space is cute, and it feels very much like a bar just without the booze.

Ginger’s // 363 Fifth Ave. // Park Slope, Brooklyn // $ // Gay-owned
Ginger’s is one of the lone surviving lesbian bars in Brooklyn, located in the very lesbian-friendly neighborhood of Park Slope. It’s divey and laid back, with a diverse crowd. It’s cash-only, and they let you bring in your own food. There’s a pool table and plenty of space, so even on busier nights, it never feels too packed. There’s also a jukebox and TVs that are usually playing sporting events, so it’s a good spot for the gay jocks but welcomes queers of all kinds!

Happyfun Hideaway // 1211 Myrtle Ave. // Bushwick, Brooklyn // $
The unofficial queer local of Bushwick has been an active mainstay of the neighborhood since opening in 2013 (straight people march right down the block to Birdy’s). Drinks are cheap, the backyard is sick, they serve frito pie and other underrated bar snacks and they have a beer tap shaped like an ice cream cone.

Henrietta Hudson

438 Hudson St. // West Village, Manhattan // $ // Queer woman-owned

Open since 1991, Henrietta Hudson is a veritable beacon of lesbian history and a rare success story for lesbian bars, which have steadily disappeared over the years. Vibe-wise, on most nights it’s a place for… singles ready to mingle. In other words, it’s still a great place to make out with a stranger or go home with someone for a one-night stand. It’s good for other things, too, like hanging with friends, catching good DJ sets, and dancing. But of the few lesbian bars left in NYC, it definitely has a reputation for being a hookup spot, and hey, that’s important, too! Some nights have a cover. Check the website for events.

House of Yes // 2 Wyckoff Ave. // Bushwick, Brooklyn // $$
House of Yes’s slogan is “Weird. Wild. Wonderful.” and that just about sums it up. (Click through to their website, trust us.) This funky venue is a former ice warehouse and features a variety of dance, circus, theater and cabaret performances. All House of Yes performances and parties focus on consent, respect, and self-healing creative expression.

Icon Bar // 31-84 33rd St. // Astoria, Queens // $
Icon Bar caters mostly to gay men, but gay women are definitely welcome in the space, which features drag shows, happy hour every day, and a lineup of weekly events like karaoke and “whip it” night. Also, of course: RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing parties. The music is loud, the floor is sticky, the drinks are cold, and the dance floor is always packed on weekends.

Marie’s Crisis // 59 Grove St. // West Village, Manhattan // $
If you’re looking for a piano-man vibe in the center of a cozy room crowded with people raising their glasses (from the cash-only bar) while singing their favorite show tunes and Disney songs, Marie’s Crisis is for you. It’s like group karaoke, but everyone’s gay.

Mood Ring // 1260 Myrtle Ave. // Bushwick, Brooklyn // $$ // Queer WOC-owned
This is both a queer bar and an astrology bar. Every new astrological season brings a new special cocktail tailored to that particular sign. There are regular dance parties with varying covers and the best way to stay on top of events is their Instagram.

No Bar

25 Cooper Square // East Village, Manhattan // $$ // Queer WOC-owned

Angela Dimayuga, who became a rising star chef during her tenure at NYC’s hip Sichuan-inspired restaurant Mission Chinese, opened a queer bar of her own. It’s got a flashy but somewhat kitschy interior with lots of colors and neon lights. There are regular dance parties, art shows, DJ sets, viewing parties, tarot readings, drag shows, etc. Check the Instagram for up-to-date event posts. It’s an LGBTQ bar, but there are often lesbian-specific events, and the space centers QTPOC.

Stonewall Inn // 53 Christopher St. // Greenwich Village, Manhattan // $
Perhaps the most iconic queer bar in NYC, Stonewall Inn is many things at once — the modern iteration of a historical institution, a neighborhood bar, a dance party and performance space, a karaoke venue, a place to play pool, a place to hookup or go on dates. The crowd represents everyone in the LGBTQ spectrum, and the vibe can change from night to night. Wednesday night ’90s karaoke is a standout among the many weekly and monthly events but check the website for the most up-to-date event info.


Parties

Femme Fatale // 588 Grand St. // Williamsburg, Brooklyn // Weekly
A queer-inclusive dance party DJed and curated by bisexual megababe Jessica Louise Dye of local NYC surf-punk band High Waisted. French pop and indie dance music are guaranteed, and host location Huckleberry Bar boasts excellent cocktails and a gorgeous backyard. Come for one drink and you’re all but guaranteed to stumble home at dawn.

Girl Social: LezzerTag, LezBowl, LezSkate, LezSwim // Various Locations
Girl Social curates regular events all over the city. Locals, tourists, coupled people, single people, and people just looking for new queer friends all come together for games and activities such as laser tag and bowling. The idea is to create community and events outside of bars and clubs, so it’s perfect for sober folks, too. The best way to stay up to date on events is to follow the Facebook page.

MISSTER @ The Woods // 48 S. 4th St. // Williamsburg, Brooklyn // Every Wednesday night from 10 pm. to 4 a.m.
MISSTER is one of the best and most consistent girl parties in Brooklyn. Avoid The Woods any other night of the week, but on Wednesdays, a lively group of queer women turns out for one big ol’ dance party with cheapish drinks for the area and usually solid music from rotating DJs. During the summers, the outside space and bar at The Woods is an added bonus.

Papi Juice

599 Johnson Ave. // Bushwick, Brooklyn // Monthly

Papi Juice specifically caters to queer and trans people of color, and its monthly parties are extremely lit. Usually its main monthly parties happen at Elsewhere in Bushwick, but check Facebook for details on additional events, specific times and dates, and other venues.

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Queeraoke @ Metropolitan // 559 Lorimer St. // Williamsburg, Brooklyn // Weekly
Metropolitan is a very queer club that hosts a very queer karaoke night every Tuesday with prizes and other special performances.

Queer Soup Night // Various locations in Brooklyn
This Brooklyn party is all about creating community and also social justice, supporting various organizations that work nationally and locally, spanning immigration justice, food justice, criminal justice reform, and more causes that are usually queer in scope. It’s hosted at various venues every month, so check the website.

STRUT @ ACME NYC // 9 Great Jones St. // Noho, Manhattan // Weekly
Strut is a weekly dance party hosted at an American bistro in Noho featuring locally famous DJs, drag queens, comedians, performers, models, actors, and other influencers.


Other Nighttime Entertainment

Angelika Film Center // 18 W. Houston St. // Soho, Manhattan // $$
One of Soho’s favorite cafes and cinemas, the Angelika brings all the best new indie and foreign films to town. You won’t find any Hollywood blockbusters here (or any suburb-style stadium seating) but we bet that The Angelika hosted more screenings of Carol than any other movie theater in Manhattan.

Branded Saloon Karaoke // 603 Vanderbilt Ave. // Prospect Heights, Brooklyn // $$
Every Thursday night from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., the back room of this neighborhood bar turns into a karaoke party. It’s not officially queer, but it has become a bit of an unofficial queeraoke spot most weeks. It’s an extremely welcoming room, even for karaoke newbies. The bar also has Southern food.

Film Forum // 209 W. Houston St. // Greenwich Village, Manhattan // $$
Film Forum is Greenwich Village’s only non-profit theater. In opened in the ’70s and has grown from one screen and 50 fold-up chairs to four full theaters that showcase an array of American and foreign films. Film Forum also hosts directors’ retrospectives and screens movies from NYC’s various film festivals.

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The Gutter

200 N. 14th St. // Williamsburg, Brooklyn // $$

The Gutter is a combination dive bar and bowling alley. It’s more crowded and has higher rates on the weekends, so an insider tip is to go during the week. But it’s a consistently fun late-night spot for drinking and bowling, and the alleys are old-school (which also means you should be prepared for a few technical malfunctions). It’s 21+ at all times.

IFC Center // 323 Sixth Ave. // Greenwich Village, Manhattan // $$
Greenwich Village’s most popular arthouse theater, the IFC center showcases a mix of new and classic indie films throughout the year, often hosting Q&As with filmmakers after screenings. It’s a no-frills, tried-and-true theater that may be the one place in the country you can see your favorite obscure film on the big screen.

Metrograph // 7 Ludlow St. // Chinatown, Manhattan // $$
A newish, very modern theater in Chinatown that specializes in screening archive-quality 35mm prints, as well as new independent films in state-of-the-art digital projection. Metrograph also boasts an upscale American bistro-style eatery and bar.

Nitehawk // 136 Metropolitan Ave. // Williamsburg, Brooklyn // $$
Nitehawk features new and classic indie films (and an occasional blockbuster) and a full menu of food and drinks you can have served to you during your movie. They offer brunch, dinner, and late-night dining options, as well as a vegan and gluten-free menu. Standard beer and wine options are complemented by theme cocktails and appetizers designed for each film.

Quad Cinema // 34 W. 13th St. // Greenwich Village, Manhattan// $$
The Quad has been around forever, and it’s one of the best-programmed movie theaters in Manhattan, prioritizing indie releases and more fringe movies, including a lot of queer cinema and foreign films. There’s also a cute cafe bar attached with beer and wine flights and good coffee.

Sing Sing Karaoke // 9 St. Marks Pl. // East Village, Manhattan // $$
Sing Sing is one of the best-known private karaoke room places in Manhattan. There are two locations in the East Village. They sell alcohol and you can bring your own food. Rates generally go for $8 per person per hour, and they also offer discounts and deals.

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Comedy / Performing Arts / Music

Alphaville // 140 Wilson Ave. // Bushwick, Brooklyn
A watering hole for local hipsters, Alphaville features up-and-coming bands and DJs, and is a wonderful place to witness the anthropological wonder that is straight Tinder dates.

Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) // 651 Fulton St. // Downtown Brooklyn
BAM holds theater, opera, music, dance, literary, visual arts, and comedy performances regularly. It’s a huge art and performance hub in Brooklyn, and also has a movie theater that screens major releases in addition to indie films and a lot of queer cinema. Check online for full programming.

Caveat // 21A Clinton St. // Lower East Side, Manhattan
Queer shows include SUP (comedy), Queer Therapy Live, Queer Memoir, and Clownfish: a genderqueer hour of stories.

Company XIV

383 Troutman St. // Bushwick, Brooklyn

Combining burlesque, opera and pop with lush sets and decadent cocktails, this troupe of diverse and gorgeous performers boast creative takes on well-known classics, complete with aerial performances and gorgeous dancers. Previous performances include creative takes on the seven deadly sins, The Nutcracker and Alice in Wonderland. Pour a glass of absinthe and definitely bring a date.

Elsewhere // 599 Johnson Ave. // Bushwick, Brooklyn
This relatively new concert venue in Bushwick boasts multiple event spaces, an incredible sound system and the hottest show calendar for any club its size in the city. On any given night, they might host an art opening, an up-and-coming indie band, a film screening and/or a showcase of local bands on their gorgeous rooftop.

Gran Torino // 133 Berry St. // Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Gran Torino is a cafe featuring an outdoor garden and, more recently, the newest independent concert venue off Bedford Ave.

La MaMa Experimental Theater Club // 66 E. 4th St. // East Village, Manhattan
A world-renowned nonprofit theater in the East Village, La MaMa is a go-to for NYC’s avant-garde playwrights, musicians, artists, and theater-goers. Probably most famous for showcasing the early work of David and Amy Sedaris, La MaMa has also hosted performances from Diane Lane, Jackie Curtis, Bette Midler, and Olympia Dukakis.

Our Wicked Lady // 153 Morgan Ave. // Bushwick, Brooklyn
This small independent venue has a rooftop stage and a small selection of practice spaces for local artists.

Q.E.D. // 27-16 23rd Ave. // Astoria, Queens
Q.E.D. is a small venue in Queens that boasts over 100 events a month, including arts and crafts, standup comedy, improv, food tastings, DIY projects, poetry slams, game nights, movie screenings (specifically Queens-related films), walking tours, storytelling, gardening, drag shows, classes on all of those things and more. They offer small snacks, coffee, teas, wine, beer, and seasonal cocktails. Check out their events calendar for more details.

Queerball: A Queer Comedy Extravaganza from UCB Theater @ Subculture // 45 Bleecker St. // East Village, Manhattan
A variety show hosted by Upright Citizens Brigade’s Timothy Dunn, Queerball is a night of queer standup, dance, music, storytelling, drag, and so much more. Queerball is open to everyone “except assholes” and focuses on creating a fun, inclusive, safe space specifically for members for the LGBTQ community.

The Prom: A New Musical @ Longacre Theatre // 220 W. 48th St. // Midtown, Manhattan
The Prom is a musical based on the real-life story of a girl who wanted to take another girl to prom; her school’s response was to cancel prom altogether. In this musical, Broadway stars afraid their fame is fading decide to make this teen lesbian their pet project and are determined to give her the prom she deserves. It’s a fun, silly romp, with a lot of heart and at least one song that will make you cry. Tickets can range anywhere from $49 to $250, depending on dates/seats/how bougie you’re feeling.

Switch n’ Play

603 Vanderbilt Ave. // Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Switch n’ Play is a queer drag collective that has shows every other Saturday at the Branded Saloon. It’s one of the best regular queer events in Brooklyn and has won several nightlife awards, with drag performers spanning the gender spectrum. See all shows here, admission runs $7-20.

Union Pool // 484 Union Ave. // Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Little-known fact: North Brooklyn’s premiere hookup bar is also a well-renowned concert venue! They host JD Samson’s iconic PAT parties (one of the best queer parties in the neighborhood), but most importantly Union Pool boasts an epic backyard with a taco truck.

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Shopping

192 Books // 192 Tenth Ave. // Chelsea, Manhattan // Woman-co-owned
This bookstore in Chelsea is small but runs the gamut from art and photography books to contemporary fiction and memoir. It also hosts regular talks and readings with writers and artists, so check the website for events.

Astoria Bookshop // 31-29 31st St. // Astoria, Queens // Queer women-owned
Astoria Bookshop is the closest thing to you’re going to find in New York City to You’ve Got Mail‘s Shop Around the Corner: a small, warm, intimate, bookshop with knowledgeable booksellers ready to help you find the exact copy of the Mary Oliver poems you’ve been looking for. Display tables boast collections of books on activism, feminism, resistance, LGBTQ issues, and more. The bookshop also hosts frequent readings and workshops. Past guests have included Roxane Gay, Mara Wilson, and KaeLyn Rich.

Bindle & Keep // by appointment // Clinton Hill, Brooklyn // queer-owned
A bespoke men’s and womenswear company that crafts custom suits, shirts, and tuxedos. Fittings are done by appointment only and allow you to select from hundreds of fabrics and get carefully measured by a tailor who will explain style and fit to you. Turnaround time on all products is 10 to 11 weeks.

Bluestockings Bookstore, Cafe & Activist Center

172 Allen St. // Lower East Side, Manhattan // Woman-owned

Bluestockings is a collectively owned radical feminist bookstore, fair trade cafe and activist center. It carries over 6,000 titles on the topics you know and love, like feminism, queer and gender theory, and Black studies. It also hosts workshops and community events.

Books Are Magic // 225 Smith St. // Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
This local indie bookstore is great for author readings, and it’s run by writer Emma Straub and her husband. Check the calendar for events.

Bulletin // 27 Prince St. // Nolita, Manhattan // Woman-owned, feminist-targeted
This feminist boutique features everything from makeup to jewelry to saint-style votive candles to mugs that read “Empowered women empower women and also meet in the dead of night to sharpen the wooden stakes they will stab into the heart of the patriarchy.” To stock their pink shelves, founders Ali Kriegsman and Alana Branston handpick online-only feminist and women-owned stores to shop from.

The Bureau of General Services – Queer Studies Division // 208 W. 13th St. // West Village, Manhattan
Tucked away on the second floor of the LGBT Community Center in the West Village, the BGSQD is an independent, all-volunteer cultural center, bookstore and event space. You’ll find obscure and international queer ’zines alongside reliable classics, new releases and at least one copy of every queer book you’re looking for. Wall space is generally occupied by that month’s exhibition, featuring progressive queer artists. It’s one of my (Riese’s) favorite bookstores I’ve ever had the privilege to visit!

Catland // 987 Flushing Ave. // Bushwick, Brooklyn // co-owned by a cis woman and a non-binary trans femme
Catland is a bookshop as well as “spiritual community space,” offering tarot and astrology readings. Many of the readers are queer-affirming. The books focus on magic, healing, resistance, and witchcraft.

Community Bookstore // 143 Seventh Ave. // Park Slope, Brooklyn
Community is small, but they have some rare finds in addition to major and top indie releases. Two highlights are the cat who lives here and the back garden, perfect for posting up with a new book.

Evolution Nature Store // 687 Broadway // Soho, Manhattan
Expect to find a wide and sometimes bizarre variety of collectibles, artifacts, gifts, and home furnishings that center around science and natural history. Meteorites, minerals, and fossils! Skulls, skeletons, anatomical models! Taxidermy, specimens in resin! And oh so much more!

Greenlight // 686 Fulton St. // Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Greenlight is another indie shop in town with an extensive collection of books. Author talks and readings happen regularly, so check the events calendar.

Lockwood

33-02 Broadway // Astoria, Queens // Queer-owned

Lockwood features three stores — Lockwood Home, Lockwood Paper, and Lockwood Style — all adjacent to each other. In each shop you’ll find unique, hand-designed, artisanally crafted queer and feminist clothes, bags, enamel pins, journals, jewelry, greeting cards, postcards, drinkware, crystals, tarot cards, books, and luxury bath products. If you’re looking for a gift for anyone, including yourself, you’ll find it at one of these Lockwood locations. (Alexandria Ocasio Cortez wore an enamel pin to the 2019 State of the Union that she bought at Lockwood on Ditmars, which is located in her district.)

Otherwild // 35 E. 1st St. // East Village, Manhattan // Queer-women-owned
Otherwild was founded in 2012 as a studio, store, and gathering space for artists, designers, and other craftspeople. Everything sold in Otherwild —from jewelry to ceramics to graphic design prints to clothes to herbs to foods — is handcrafted within an ethically sourced supply chain, which the creative teams continuously research and tweak.

The Phluid Project

684 Broadway // Noho, Manhattan // Queer-owned

“Fashion without the gender binary” is The Phluid Project’s tagline. Here you can find queer and feminist books and gift cards, as well as ethically sourced face and body products. You can also shop The Phluid Project’s clothing and accessories line, including limited-edition merch for Stonewall’s 50th anniversary.

Quimby’s Bookstore // 536 Metropolitan Ave. // Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Quimby’s is a quirky bookstore that specializes in comics, ’zines, and unconventional publications.

Queens Craft Brigade // 31-35 41st St. // Astoria, Queens // Many queer-owned vendors
The Queens Craft Brigade takes place on weekend. It brings together the best Queens-based craft makers of food, jewelry, clothes, bags, art prints, enamel pins, greeting cards, furniture, honey, hot sauce, cocktails, candles, potter, and more. Check out their event calendar for dates and times.

Spark Pretty // 33 E. 9th St. // East Village, Manhattan // Woman-owned
Famed vintage stylist Amanda Dolan has opened her own visual lifestyle brand and store to help style people who want one-on-one shopping experiences with friendly staff. Spark Pretty offers an eclectic selection of vintage clothing and new clothing, with prices for most every budget.

Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers // 218 Bedford Ave. // Williamsburg, Brooklyn
This little bookshop in Williamsburg has been around since 1999. It specializes in art and design books as well as philosophy, but there’s fiction and other literature, too. Bedford Avenue has seen a lot of turnover because of gentrification, but Spoonbill is still going strong. Support independent bookstores!

The Strand // 828 Broadway // East Village, Manhattan
The Strand is an NYC institution and one of the biggest independent bookstores in the country, and it has an extensive collection of rare books in addition to new, used, and classic tomes. Browse the bookstands outside on the sidewalk for $1 finds or pick up the latest releases in non-fiction and fiction. Expect to spend a lot of time here and for it to be crowded no matter what day of the week it is. The merch is cute, too!

West Side Kids // 498 Amsterdam Ave. // Upper West Side, Manhattan // Queer woman-owned
The Upper West Side’s favorite toy store for almost 40 years, West Side Kids focuses on high-quality educational toys, and every employee will be happy to help you select exactly what you need for children of all ages. They also offer a wide selection of progressive children’s books.

Wildfang // 252 Lafayette St. // Soho, Manhattan // Queer woman-owned
If you’ve ever wanted to try any of the tomboy-ish suits, ties, shirts, pants, overalls, tees, sweaters, tanks and more from Wildfang but were unsure about sizing, hit up their recently opened brick and mortar store in Soho. You’ll find much of the clothing you see advertised on Instagram and some styles you can’t find online, and you won’t have to worry about shipping anything back if it doesn’t fit just right!

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Hair / Nails / Tattoos / Piercings

Badlands Salon & Barber // 87 Fifth Ave. // Park Slope, Brooklyn // Woman-owned
Badlands is a queer salon and barber perfect for that drastic queer glow-up cut or for just your regular go-to touchup place.

Chillhouse Spa // 139 Essex St. // Lower East Side, Manhattan
This cafe and spa offers colorful coffees and teas —like the Purple Haze (butterfly pea tea and lemon juice) or the Make Me Glow Latte (ube, ginger goji, rehmannia, acai, mesquite) and baked goods — plus massages and manicures. The cafe is walk-in but all nail and body services are by appointment only.

Crops for Girls // 279 E. 10th St. // East Village, Manhattan
A salon that specializes in short haircuts for women. Appointment only.

Fleur Noire Tattoo // 439 Metropolitan Ave. // Williamsburg, Brooklyn // Queer tattoo artists
Fleur Noire boasts a roster of tattoo artists from around that globe who each have different specialties —from traditional to contemporary, watercolor to geometric —as well as a selection of new guest artists each month. Tattoos are done by appointment only.

Fringe Salon // 248 Broome St. // Lower East Side, Manhattan // Woman-owned
One of the Lower East Side’s first salons, Fringe focuses on creating a stylish and inclusive space. Its roster includes master stylists as well as founder and owner Amy Schiappa whose work has been featured in nearly every NYC-based publication, including The New York Times.

Gristle Tattoo // 26 Bushwick Ave. // Bushwick, Brooklyn // Queer-friendly
An all-vegan tattoo parlor that uses only vegan inks and regularly hosts art shows and sponsors cat rescue events, Gristle is home to some of the best tattoo artists in New York City.

Nascent Flash // Private Studio // Red Hook, Brooklyn // Queer-owned
Graphic designer Jamerson does clean, elegant stick n’ pokes out of their Red Hook apartment. Their apartment is full of cats, the background music is epic, the conversation is excellent, and they might offer to make you espresso. Additionally, the tattoos are professional grade and gorgeously drawn.

Saved Tattoo

426 Union Ave. // Williamsburg, Brooklyn // Queer tattoo artists

There are plenty of queer tattoo artists to choose from at Saved Tattoo, one of Brooklyn’s most highly rated tattoo shops. Walk-ins are welcome, but some artists work by appointment only, so make sure you check out the individual contact page for the artist you’re looking to work with.

Seagull Salon // 224 W. 4th St. // West Village, Manhattan // Woman-owned
This “radical feminist hair salon” (as per T: The New York Times Style Magazine), is owned by Le Tigre co-founder Johanna Fateman in a building that once hosted New York’s first-ever unisex salon. Eileen Myles and Tavi Gevinson are regulars.

She’s Polished // 434 Hancock St. // Bed-Stuy // WOC-owned
A boutique salon owned by master nail technician Anjaneth (Angie) Aguirre, She’s Polished offers appointment-only manicures, pedicures, haircuts and coloring.

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Museums

Alice Austen House

2 Hylan Blvd. // Staten Island // $5 suggested donation

Alice Austen was a prolific documentary photographer/photojournalist and one of the first women to work outside a studio. She was also a lesbian! Her house on Staten Island features some of her 8,000 photographs and a look at the mold-breaking life she lived in the Victorian era. Through September 2019, Collier Schorr’s “Stonewall at 50” exhibition will be on display.

El Museo Del Barrio // 1230 Fifth Ave. // East Harlem, Manhattan // $9
El Museo Del Barrio is NYC’s Latino cultural institution, offering exhibits, films, art collections and educational programming from Latino, Caribbean, and Latin American cultures. On the first Saturday and Wednesday of every month, the bilingual Coquí Club meets to help children ages 1-4 explore the museum.

The Lesbian Herstory Archives // 484 14th St. // Park Slope, Brooklyn // Free
According to their website, here you’ll find “the world’s largest collection of materials by and about lesbians and their communities.” It’s an incredible space with a rich history, located in the heart of one of Brooklyn’s gayborhoods. Admission is free, but the hours vary, so check the website or call ahead. Also call in advance if you want to book a group tour.

The Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art // 26 Wooster St. // Soho, Manhattan // $9 suggested donation
Created to preserve the history of LGBTQ identity and build a current community, the Leslie-Lohman Museum aims to provoke conversation and dialogue around the intersection of art and social justice.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art // 1000 Fifth Ave. // Upper East Side, Manhattan // $12-$25
The Met is the biggest art museum in the U.S., and it’s impossible to see everything in a day, so have a plan in advance. General admission tickets are $12 for students, $17 for seniors, and $25 regularly (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut residents can pay what they will). Pro tips: Your ticket is valid for three consecutive days, and if you live more than 200 miles from New York you can also get a discount on an annual membership. If you don’t want to splurge on the restaurants inside, the food carts just outside of the front of the museum are wonderful and a true NYC experience. Admission also entitles you to visit the Met Cloisters and the Met Breuer.

Museum of the Moving Image // 36-01 35th Ave. // Astoria, Queens // $11-$15
Dedicated to history, preservation, and education about film, television, and digital media, Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image offers screenings of iconic classic films, new indie releases, and weekly family programming. In addition to the theater, the museum hosts ongoing exhibits, like a walk through the history of movie cameras, and a Tut’s Fever Movie Palace installation that pays homage to the exotic picture palaces of the 1920s. Other multimedia exhibits rotate throughout the year.

Museum of Sex // 233 Fifth Ave. // Flatiron, Manhattan // $20
An institution that aims to preserve and present the history, evolution, and cultural significance of human sexuality, the Museum of Sex offers tours (including the Satan’s Circus Walking Tour), film screenings, and a variety of ever-changing exhibits.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture // 515 Malcolm X Blvd. // Harlem, Manhattan // Free
A research library associated with the New York Public Library that seeks to preserve Black culture and history, the Schomburg Center offers events, public programs, and viewings of rare and unique books and documents that illuminate the history and culture of people of African descent throughout the world.

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Outdoors & Sports

Citi Field & USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center // Flushing Meadows, Queens
If you’re going to hit up a Mets game, the US Open, or take a tour through the home court of the most famous lesbian athlete ever, good news: The 7 train takes you right where you need to go! Just hop on at Grand Central or Times Square and hop off at Mets-Willets Point station. During events, the trains run with surprising swiftness and ease, late into the night. Mets Pride Night usually takes place in August, and every day is Pride Day at the BJK National Tennis Center.

Jacob Riis

Rockaway Park, Queens

The farthest end of Jacob Riis is known colloquially as the queer beach, and in the summertime, it transforms into a gay paradise. Queers of all stripes swim, snack and sunbathe topless, and on a lucky day you just might find a guy walking towel-to-towel selling nutcrackers. If you’re driving, stop by the Rockaway Beach Surf Club for tacos on your way home (trust me, you’ll thank me later).

LGBT @ NYBG // New York Botanical Garden // 2900 Southern Blvd. // Bronx
The New York Botanical Garden offers occasional events for members of the LGBTQ community, including a celebration for Stonewall’s 50th anniversary. Check out their calendar for upcoming programs.

Orchard Beach // 1-99 Orchard Beach Rd. // Bronx
The Riviera of the Bronx, Orchard Beach is the Bronx’s only public beach. It also boasts snack bars, food and souvenir carts, playgrounds, picnic areas and basketball, volleyball, and handball courts.

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Community

Brooklyn Community Pride Center // 1360 Fulton St. // Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn
Brooklyn Community Pride Center is open to all LGBTQ people and offers support and discussion groups, free HIV testing and sex kits, mixers, movie nights, books clubs, and pet socials!

Destination Tomorrow: The Bronx LGBT Center // 452 E. 149th St., 3rd Floor // Bronx
Destination Tomorrow: The Bronx LGBT Center is a drop-in center for all LGBTQ people. On Saturday afternoons, they host a clothing exchange and offer haircuts and personal hygiene supplies. You can also access career counseling, health and recovery services, and identity-based meet-ups.

Fierce: Building the Leadership & Power of LGBTQ Youth of Color // 147 W. 24th St. // Chelsea, Manhattan
Fierce’s mission is to equip and empower LGBTQ youth of color. They organize grassroots campaigns, teach leadership and political consciousness, and increase access to safe spaces for LGBTQ youth.

Pride Center of Staten Island // 25 Victory Blvd. // Staten Island
Meet up with other LGBTQ people for mixers, book clubs, and classes, or access The Center’s myriad resources, including HIV prevention, counseling, and Luv on a Leash’s therapy dog services.

The LGBT Community Center // 208 W. 13th St. // West Village, Manhattan
The heart of NYC’s LGBTQ community, The Center offers career services, health and recovery services, classes, education, meeting spaces, as well as a large selection of arts and culture programming.

The Queens LGBT Center // 37-18 Northern Blvd. // Long Island City, Queens
The Q-Center offers a range of services for LGBTQ people of all ages, including HIV testing and STI screening, community education, activist initiatives and training, and faith services. It’s a safe space for LGBTQ people and allies to build community.

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Annual Queer Events

BookCon // Javits Center
BookCon is like ComicCon, but for books! Fans from around the world flock to the Javits Center to meet their favorite authors, shop for new titles and rare vintage books, attend workshops and panels and Q&As, and even interact with some of their favorite book characters. Cosplaying is encouraged.

Brooklyn Book Festival // Brooklyn Borough Hall and Vicinity // September 16-23, 2019
The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in NYC. It spans nearly a full week and offers workshops, a sea of books to browse and buy, readings from beloved authors, interviews, a Children’s Day, and a Festival Day, which is just an enormous carnival of bibliophiles. Malinda Lo was among the LGBTQ authors repping their work at the festival in 2018.

FlameCon // The Sheraton at Times Square // August 17-18, 2019
FlameCon is the world’s largest queer ComicCon, featuring the largest LGBTQ Artist Alley on Earth; panels with queer creators about queer visibility in everything from comic books to CW TV to Marvel movies; performances by LGBTQ artists; and a gay cosplay parade unlike any other (get ready to see a lot of lesbian-haired Carol Danverses in Times Square in August!). FlameCon prides itself on being a safe space that focuses on inclusivity and accessibility.

NewFest // Various Manhattan Theaters // October 23-29, 2019
NewFest is New York City’s largest LGBTQ film festival. This year, it celebrates its 30th anniversary! The festival partners with theaters all over the city to show the year’s most celebrated gay and trans feature films, short films, and documentaries; along with classics and Q&As with queer creators. In addition to the annual festival, NewFest also hosts year-round events, like OutCinema which takes place for three rowdy nights at SVA Theater during Pride. Check out this year’s lineup on NewFest’s event calendar.

New York Comic Con // Javits Center // October 3-6, 2019
NYCC isn’t technically gay, but it’s one of the largest playgrounds for gay geeks in the world. In addition to LGBTQ publishers, artists, writers, actresses, and showrunners, NYCC screens everyone’s favorite queer TV shows. Plus, lesbian cosplay —Xena and Gabrielle, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, Valkyrie and Captain Marvel —as far as the eye can see.

NYC Pride Parade

26th St. & Fifth Ave. // June 30, 2019

This year, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, NYC Pride is hosting an entire month of events in June, culminating with the largest Pride parade in the world. 2019’s Pride grand marshals include Pose‘s Dominique Jackson, Indya Moore, and MJ Rodriguez; UK Black Pride co-founder Phyll Opoku-Gyimah; members of the Gay Liberation Front; and members of The Trevor Project. Step off is at noon; the parade ends at Stonewall.

NYC Dyke March // Bryant Park // June 29, 2019
NYC’s Dyke March is a protest, not a parade, and anyone who identifies as a dyke — as they put it, “regardless of gender expression or identity, sex assigned at birth, sexual orientation, race, age, political affiliation, religious identity, ability, class, or immigration status” — is invited to participate. The protest steps off at noon. The march is defined by its drum core, protest signs and banners, and often shirtless women marshals who block the busiest intersections to allow the dykes to march through.

OutLoud Queer Music Festival // DROM // September 28-29, 2019
Orchestrated by Hot Rabbit, OutLoud is NYC’s only queer music festival. This year’s line-up includes Autostraddle faves Mal Blum and Julia Weldon, and is hosted by drag king and comedian Wang Newton.

The Queer Zine Fair // Brooklyn Public Library // October 5, 2019
Bringing together queer artists, collectives and publishers, Brooklyn’s Queer Zine Fair offers an array of ’zines from exhibitors and conversations about art and the process of ’zine-making. Admission is free!

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Queer has written 12 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. I see Catland is tagged as “Woman co-owner” which I assume refers to the cis woman co-owner. As an addendum, the other co-owner is a non-binary trans femme. So it definitely qualifies as a queer-owned businesses!

  2. would love to also plug jaynes beard, a pop-up supper club for queer women and non-binary folks. we have events all over the city but usually in manhattan, queens, and brooklyn, and events vary from cocktails and passed hors d’ ouevres to seated dinners. events feature queer female chefs and bartenders, and just last month we featured mimi weissenborn, the executive chef at vinateria (which is both on this list and also one of my favorite spots in harlem). get on the mailing list for updates on the next events and to purchase tickets – typically the address is kept secret until 48 hours before the event.

    http://www.jaynesbeard.com/

  3. I’m going to shout out queer barber extraordinaire Dez Marshall aka @DezisDope on IG and FB! Finding a barber was super intimidating for me. She provides much needed queer, affirming space in what can be an exclusively cishet masculine space. Located in Downtown Brooklyn email dezisdope@gmail.com to schedule an appointment.

    Also need to shout out Switch n Play! So much fun!!

  4. Astoria Bookstore is amazing—and the Shop Around the Corner actually exists! There are two locations of Books of Wonder, it was originally founded by a gay couple and they definitely carry LGBTQ lit for babies through teenage readers.

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