The Best Gay Bars In AtlantaThe gay capital of the South keeps the party going with these LGBTQ+ friendly bars.
Down here, we do things a lil’ different. For example, we celebrate our Pride month in October, and Black Pride is over the Labor Day weekend. But things heat up in June, too, with plenty of events to commemorate the Stonewall riots and celebrate Pride with everyone else. With legendary parties like Chaka Khan and Second Friday and plenty of queer spaces for the girls, gays, and theys, these are the best LGBTQ-friendly bars, known to keep the party jumping in any season.
Woofs near Armour Yards opened in 2002 and has since maintained its status as Atlanta’s only LGBTQ+ sports bar. Televisions on every wall ensure you don’t miss a game, and the pool or darts are a good way to show off your athletic coordination in hopes of being recruited by one of the rec leagues that meet here regularly. The food here is always solid with traditional pub fare like wings and burgers, but their secret weapon is an excellent Cuban sandwich packed with pork, ham, and pickles.
My Sisters Room, better known as MSR, is one of a few lesbian bars left in the U.S. (last time we checked there were less than 25). The Midtown bar always has something on their calendar—karaoke, dance parties, drag shows, and comedy nights. While they do offer pub-quality light bites like hot dogs and tacos, we usually eat ahead of time so we can prioritize taking shots at the bar and dancing. Most nights it’s more of a party, but there’s a patio you can hit if you need to reset and take a break from the flashing lights upstairs.
This divey gay bar across from O4W's reformed Murder Kroger is our choice for when we want that casual neighborhood bar vibe but also a packed house. Stuffed with disco balls, retro beer mugs, wooden parrots, and other items, you’ll wonder if everything was bought at a 1980s garage sale. Sprinkle in a pool table, arcade games, and some random slot machines (that actually work), and Friends on Ponce truly has something for everyone. Their enclosed patio out back overlooks the streets of Ponce and provides a respite when the bar is too packed with patrons vying for a frozen marg. On the few nights when there’s no DJ, we like to blast Bey from the jukebox to get the party started.
The Heretic off Cheshire Bridge isn’t known for being chill. There’s an event or theme almost every night here, ranging from blackout parties to country line dancing. And we always feel comfortable trying out our newest dance moves since no one can see us through the dark, foggy haze of the dance floor. The adjacent room houses another bar and a patio and is a little calmer even when it’s packed with thirsty folks. This scene won’t be for everyone, particularly if you unknowingly walk into a pup night sans collar (IYKYK). But Heretic is a dancey spot with two bars and an IDGAF attitude that we dig.
Bulldogs in Midtown has been an iconic part of Black gay Atlanta for more than 40 years. And the line out the door on weekends confirms this bar is still very much the place to be. Things are casual and fun here with stained glass windows of bulldogs hanging above the bar and a giant back patio that houses a TV and plenty of space to relax. Drinks are heavy-handed (which is fine by us), and weekly specials like R&B nights and $2 tequila shots get the dance floor going. Thankfully, there’s a kitchen with a rotating menu to help us out when we need to regain our senses.
Atlanta Eagle, otherwise simply known as the Eagle, has historically been a leather bar. And true to form, it’s not unusual to see leather and harness-clad folks sipping on a cocktail here. But even if leather isn’t your thing, there’s a lot to love about this multilevel Midtown spot. There’s a bar in every room, including the dance floor upstairs that’s almost always bumping with club bangers spun by a live DJ. But our favorite thing about the Eagle is the spacious back patio that occasionally houses the sizzling grill of a pop-up restaurant.
The T isn’t typically where we go to turn up (unless we’re hitting karaoke nights on Thursdays). But when we want a break from the buzzing Midtown spots that feel more clubby, we head to Grant Park so we can actually hear our friends talk. Their location (inside a small strip mall that also houses a martial arts studio and a nail salon) feels a little more low-key and private. It’s one small, almost-never crowded room with a rectangular bar in the center, a lone pool table in the back, and a purple glow coming from the string lights on the ceiling. Their takeout-only kitchen, serviced by Boulevard Burgers and Bites, offers decent burgers and wraps in case you hit the beer a little too hard.
Yes, we know some of us won't step foot outside Midtown's rainbowed streets, but this spot in the heart of the edgier East Atlanta Village is worth mixing in. On an average night, Mary's typically has fairly equal representation from every letter of the LGBTQ+ alphabet. Mary's is always a good time with regular events like drag shows, karaoke nights, and RuPaul’s Drag Race watch parties. We dig the ethereal glow cast onto the narrow galley-style bar by lanterns, colored string lights, and light machines that spit out changing patterns onto the floor. When the DJs get going, it feels almost psychedelic here.
Blake’s has been a Midtown institution since 1988. The first floor has a neon-lit liquor shelf towering into the air like some sort of a beacon for alcohol service. Not that we need it, since the way to the square bar is usually framed with a wall of people hounding the bartender for a stiff drink. Televisions line the walls, displaying the music video of whatever is bumping from the speakers and giving us TRL flashbacks (we miss you, Carson Daly). Upstairs is a little more low-key and houses a small patio for those times when we don’t want to accidentally brush up against someone’s sweaty back.
When all the other gay bars close, Future is just getting started. If 3am rolls around and we don’t want to go home or more realistically haven’t found someone to bring home with us, we head to this clubby spot in Underground Atlanta. Featuring two levels of dance floors, multiple bars, and the obligatory flashing strobe lights, Future is 14,000 square feet of possibilities for your night's new ending. While it’s the unofficial after-party spot for much of gay Atlanta, you don’t have to stay up past your bedtime to get into the fun. They also offer drag shows and regular events like Disco Dollz and Fantasy Girls on the weekends before midnight.
BJ Roosters sits directly next door to The Heretic on Cheshire Bridge. And some nights it has a relatively low-key dive-bar feel with people shooting pool or relaxing outside on the patio. But at other times the place comes alive with go-go dancers in banana hammocks on top of the bar. The turn-up nights bring out a wide demographic from older gays to those freshly out of the closet. It’s not quite enough to stave off our nostalgia for Swingin’ Richards (RIP), but we always appreciate a night at the Roost.
A big red X on the brick wall near the entrance literally marks the spot at this Midtown gay bar that sits at the intersection of the rainbow crosswalks. X, or what everyone calls Ten, is a single, simple room setup with two bars and a dance floor. When we’re worn out from clutching vodka sodas and grooving to pop 2k remixes, we hit their patio. It’s perfect for people-watching, and it got a serious foliage upgrade (a silver lining of the pandemic) with a living plant wall providing an oasis from the street. Though not the most popular place in the gayborhood, the central location, theme nights, and all-seasons patio still make X a scene-y spot.