7 Great LGBTQ+ Bars In Houston guide image

HOUGuide

7 Great LGBTQ+ Bars In Houston

If you open a gay bar in Houston, they will come.

Houston is one of the gay capitals of the south. The oldest continuously-running gay rights organization was founded in Houston. So was the Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, which is also the oldest gay civil rights organization in the south. We elected the first openly gay mayor of any major American city in 2009 and the first transgender judge in the nation in 2010. We do gay things here, OK? And even though the gayborhood (see: Montrose) is less gay than it used to be, there is still a clutch of iconic bars going strong, along with other queer-friendly spots on the outskirts of the city. So if you need to know where to knock back a drink, sing karaoke, or see a drag show, here’s our list of the best lesbian, gay, and queer bars in Houston.

THE SPOTS

Ripcord

As the oldest leather bar in Texas, Ripcord knows what you need to have a good time. Mostly that’s harnessed-up bare-chested bartenders who serve the strongest drinks possible and wild local drag events, like the resident Monday night Basura show (think Miss Piggie and an inappropriately-endowed Kermit The Frog puppet). Like most good dive bars, Ripcord has a scuffy pool table, a small patio with wooden benches, and someone dancing to themselves in the corner. Also if you don’t already own a full leather fetish-fit when you walk into Ripcord, you can buy one at the shop inside (seriously). No into leather? No problem. Ripcord is both fetish-friendly and friendly in general, so it’s always a welcoming spot for a shot or two.


Pearl Bar in Washington Heights holds the title of the only lesbian-owned bar in Houston, and it’s one of just 23 lesbian-owned bars across the country. The open dance floor usually gets packed shoulder-to-shoulder on the weekends with dancing queens and kings shaking what their mama gave ‘em. And during the week, Pearl Bar keeps a few mainstay events in rotation like drag bingo, dildo races, and steak night. It doesn’t matter if you showed up to hand dollar bills to performers lip syncing for their life, or to kick it by the bar and sip on a Munch Punch (or any of their drinks with clever little names), a night at this piece of lesbian history will fast track you from excited first-timer to devout regular.


The terminally goth nightclub Numbers in Montrose is popular with freaks, geeks, ravers, gays, kinksters, and generally anybody seeking a judgement-free zone to dance, prance, and commune with other tortured subculturists late into the night. It’s sort of like an industrial rave party in a warehouse, but with much cleaner bathrooms. Most of the drinks here are your well-standards, but the pours are heavy, and the plastic cups are easy to move around with. Turn up for kink night on Tuesdays if that’s your scene, or join the general masses on Fridays for 80s night.


Neon Boots welcomes anyone and everyone to boot scoot under their rainbow-colored neon. The proudly gay honky-tonk and dancehall in Spring Branch has a cowboy-boots-shaped disco ball, a mechanical bull, an entire room just for karaoke, a massive patio, and a giant dance floor where you can two-step ‘til your little heart’s content. If you’ve ever wanted to relive (or redo) prom night with the sort of folks you actually like—or admire a few pairs of Wranglers outside of rodeo season—this is the place. No matter the occasion, someone will heartily insist you dance with them.


The inside of Houston Eagle resembles a 1970s neighborhood sports bar, but if you replaced all the sportsball memorabilia with gay history posters, flyers, and photos. Weekly events here run the gamut: leather fetishes, excellent drag, Latin nights, and truly some of the most entertaining karaoke patrons in the neighborhood. Drinks here are you-call-it, and there’s usually a daily special or two for cheap wells, premiums, and the gay bar standard: vodka. Maybe not everyone at the Eagle knows your name, yet, but they will after that diva karaoke solo.


The cocktail bar and cafe Boheme gives off very French vibes. And by that, we mean whatever the French version of giant-patio-bar-with-cocktails-tufted-couches-and-moody-lamps is. You’re likely at Boheme because you’re straight (and this is the gayborhood gateway bar), you came for the epic Sunday drag shows, or you heard they serve a giant sheet tray of french fries smothered in sauce. Maybe you’re just addicted to the Japanese toilets in the bathroom. Whatever the case, order a charcuterie board, a fun cocktail with Benedictine, and lounge on the patio until you feel loose enough to walk up Fairview Street to another gay bar.


South Beach has everything you need to party: a lot of lasers, a massive dance floor, and some kind of magical AC ice jet that cools the room instantaneously. They also have a standard bar back and stocked well drinks, if you need that, too. And, considering how hot it gets in Houston, the club is also kind enough to let you in wearing nothing but (hopefully stylish) underwear—a rule a fair number of folks seem to abide by. Come here on Millennial Fridays to be amongst your people, for a special drag event (Drag Race something-something), or to do what everyone at a nightclub should be doing: dancing.


Chase Sapphire Card Ad

photo credit: Adrian Verde

7 Great LGBTQ+ Bars In Houston guide image