New York City doesn’t just have one “gay neighborhood.” Sure, there’s Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea - but this city is all just kind of gay everywhere. No matter where in the city you find yourself, you’re never too far from people in full mesh, studs in suits, drag queens and kings, club kids, and leather daddies. Which is why you won’t just find LGBTQ bars on this guide, but also spots that host LGBTQ nights and events.
You’ll also find neighborhood hangs, bars that are great on weeknights, spots for the best local drag in the world, places to dance, and clubs for a big night out. Or just somewhere to find your people in this big, queer, loud, gay city. Here are 30 of our favorite LGBTQ spots across NYC.
Nowhere is a basement dive bar on 14th Street that’s been open for decades. Most nights, it’s a casual, low-key neighborhood spot with a bear-ish crowd - but it also hosts recurring events like Double-Headed Disco, or “Fire In The Hole” (for gingers and ginger enthusiasts). No matter when you come here, it never feels too sceney - no one is judging you when you walk in the door, and if you want somewhere to have a conversation with someone, there are plenty of hidden spots and booths you can find to do so. This is a good spot to kick off your night out, or use as an escape after work.
This is NYC’s best-known lesbian bar. If you just came out, or you’re visiting NYC, someone will inevitably bring you to this small, cash-only, kinda-divey place in the West Village, where the ceiling is always completely covered in seasonally-appropriate decorations. It stays pretty low-key during the week, but on weekends it’s packed, and you should expect both a line and, once you’re inside, at least a few straight couples looking for a “friend” and groups of non-queer people who wanted to go to a lesbian bar “just for fun.” Cubbyhole also does Happy Hour every day until 7pm: half off all drinks, and free pizza.
You can show up to Club Cumming on any given night and get something different: open mic night, drag show, musical comedy, or celebrity appearances (Adele, Jennifer Lawrence, and Emma Stone have all been there recently). Don’t let the super popular, overcrowded 8pm shows discourage you from trying to get in here. It might just look like a tiny East Village dive, but it’s actually a place where anything is possible - you could come at 11pm on a Sunday and make a bunch of new drag queen friends, or end up singing Bohemian Rhapsody with a bunch of shirtless men while one accompanies you on the piano.
Stonewall Inn feels historic right when you walk in. This is due to its huge significance in launching the gay rights movement, but also because they probably haven’t renovated in several decades. There’s a long bar on the ground floor that’s lower-key and divey, and upstairs you’ll find a small stage for drag shows and a bit more energy. It’s by no mean’s anyone’s go-to for a wild night out, but if you’ve never been to Stonewall, it’s definitely worth making a trip. And it’s still definitely the most fun you’ll have at a New York City Landmark.
If you find yourself asking why do they have both disco balls AND paper lanterns, you’re not understanding the true appeal of Industry Bar. Is it gaudy? Yes. But if a gay bar is too sharply dressed, can you really trust its true intentions? Who really financed this place, anyway? At Industry Bar, there’s no question about that. Saturdays are the right night to be here - it’s a great, energetic crowd with very high odds of meeting someone new.
This is the city’s oldest gay bar (opened in 1864), and yes, it is absolutely still worth checking out. It’s a cute, cash-only West Village spot, where it’s easy to end up chatting with someone who’s been coming here for 40 years. Also: they serve burgers. And people are actually eating them.
The Eagle is NYC’s staple for the leather/daddy/bear/pup/cub/otter/direwolf community, where you’ll find the most body hair and the least deodorant. There are two levels at this Chelsea spot, each with its own full bar, and an excellent rooftop for warmer nights. The drinks are reasonably priced and you’ll find early 2000s Falcon porn (the young Matthew Rush kind) playing on the TV screens around the bar. If you don’t come prepared with the proper attire, there’s a leather and fetish gear shop in the industrial elevator which floats between floors - but don’t feel bad if you show up in jeans and a t-shirt, because everyone’s welcome. There’s a rotating calendar with weekly recurring events like “Hanky Tuesday” and “Frisky Saturday,” but you can usually find people having sex here any day of the week.
This Bushwick dive bar is a mixed queer space where you’ll always find a wide range of people. The decor feels cohesive but chaotic, combining the kind of crafts you probably made at camp, with cardboard cutouts of acid-colored spooky masks that were hung up for Halloween but never removed. This is a great spot to kick off your night out in Bushwick or hang out casually on a weekday, especially in the backyard space, which is typically fairly empty during the week. They’re always playing great music and projecting fashion shows, anime, and old movies on screens inside.
This is one of the only clubby queer bars that’s geared toward womxn. During the week, it’s a casual spot where you can play pool and have a conversation, but Thursdays through Saturdays, they turn up the music and move the pool table to make room for dancing. A DJ plays all different genres, and burlesque dancers are on the bar to remind you what you should be doing here. The packed dance floor runs right into the main bar, so head to the back bar for faster service. It’s also quieter there, if you want to have a conversation with whoever you just met. This place is great for groups - the bigger your dance circle, the better.
Three Dollar Bill hasn’t been around as long as some other places on this guide, but this Brooklyn spot has quickly become one of the most fun queer places in the city. There’s an efficient bar at the front, a dance floor with two stages on either end, and an outdoor patio where you can let your sweat dry. Between the music, the space to dance out every word of the song, the colorful lights that hit the exposed brick walls, and the upper platform to perform for the commoners below, it’s impossible to have a bad time at Three Dollar Bill.
Barracuda is a mandatory stop during any Chelsea barhopping, and works especially well for a weekday nightcap. The large mirror across from the bar makes it feel deceptively big, and you’ll also see vintage porn playing on small TVs. This place hosts multiple drag shows every night of the week, but if you can only catch one, Tina Burner does Star Search on Thursday nights - and it’s not to be missed.
Rockbar is a dive bar near the Christopher Street Pier that hosts events ranging from their popular Sunday Beer Blast, to a monthly “F*ck Clothes Get Naked” party (where nudity is required but sexual advances are prohibited). Generally, there’s something going on every night of the week at this bear-focused, but very inclusive spot. Rockbar serves $6 well drinks all day Tuesday through Thursday - and they’re usually strong enough that you’d only need one or two before hopping on stage to perform your fully choreographed dance to Macy Gray’s “I Try.” Out front there’s a small fenced-in area for smoking, which vaguely feels like you’re in some kind of gay zoo, but maybe you’re into that.
Pieces, a longtime West Village gay bar, makes up for its terrible layout with excellent weeknight drag performances. The bar stretches along the wall and the stage is next to it, so there’s basically no room to move around - and you’ll feel a little uncomfortable, no matter where you’re standing. Weeknights are a little less crowded, so if you want to go out on a Tuesday night and have it feel like a Friday night, come here.
We’ve never had a bad time at Hardware, a Hell’s Kitchen spot that hosts some of the best drag performances and performers in the city. The bartenders are friendly and fast, and there’s also a back dance room, where they’re heavy on the fog machines. When someone on your group text suggests Hardware, everyone can get on board.
“Hard work pays off” applies to making it on the 30 Under 30 list, and also to getting to the backyard of this Williamsburg dive bar. But the huge outdoor space (which is heated in the winter) is worth the effort. Inside, a tight squeeze through the bar area leads to a small dance floor adjacent to the DJ, with a surrounding elevated platform that someone will inadvertently fall from sometime during the night. You can get any of their classic cocktails for $8, or cheaper well/draft offerings. Waiting for the bathroom here can be a process, so prepare some conversation starters for making new friends in line.
This multilevel place in Hell’s Kitchen is a reliable weeknight standby. Bottoms Up is the low-key downstairs bar - but we always go straight to Vodka Soda upstairs for drag and dancing. It’s a place to remember when you don’t want to go home quite yet, but you do want to dance to Top 40 with your friends.
This place shares the same owners as its sister bar Metropolitan, but doesn’t have the same urine and bleach smell we’ve come to love from its more pungent sibling. This spot has become somewhat known for its great drag performances (don’t forget to bring money to tip your queens), which happen every night of the week. If drag isn’t your thing, they have Wednesday karaoke nights, or you can spend time in the nice backyard space where you’ll usually find queens hanging out between sets.
Despite the smell, this Williamsburg dive bar has become somewhat of a landmark for the Brooklyn queer nightlife scene. On any given day you might walk into an open mic night, a drag clothing auction, or a backyard BBQ hosted by a drag queen. You’ll see the same cast of characters over and over again, which makes it a great spot to make new friends and meet people. The backyard has ample seating and is usually where people hang here, especially in the summer, and the bartenders here are both friendly and quick to make sure everyone’s taken care of. When you’re done getting drunk on cheap beer and shot specials, you can make your way across the street to Bagel Smith for a nightcap (it’s open 24 hours).
This country western-themed bar is a casual neighborhood hangout with booth seating in the front and a performance space in the back, where they host open mic nights and drag sets. Downstairs is a basement area with a pool table that no one ever seems to be using (and you can also rent out the space for private parties). This place also serves some pretty decent bar food, like burgers and quesadillas.
This queer hotel bar at The Standard East Village hosts art events, late-night DJ sets, and drag shows a few times a week. On a random Wednesday night, you might run into your roommate’s friend who self-identifies as a “creative” and manages an online store for essential oils. Everything clashes here, but in a good way - specifically the giant disco ball, neon lighting, and tacky cow-print diner booths.
This is a great neighborhood lesbian bar standby. You’re probably not going to make a trip to Park Slope for Ginger’s Bar, but if you find yourself close by, it’s worth a visit. There’s a pool table and a patio in the back, it’s never too crowded - exactly the kind of situation worth taking a break from unpacking your U-Haul for.
During the week, Icon is laid-back, but on weekends, it turns into more of a club where everyone is dancing, and everyone is having a great time. That being said, we also once saw a Game Of Thrones drag performance here, when Icon made a giant dragon for the occasion. So think of this as a spot you can use for a variety of needs. The drinks are strong, the music is great, and the place overall feels noticeably clean.
BARS WITH LGBTQ NIGHTS OR EVENTS
The Rusty Knot is a tiki dive on the Westside highway that turns completely queer on Sundays. It’s also not a coincidence that they serve free Tito’s and soda from 4-5pm. If that’s not your drink of choice, you can always get one of their signature blended drinks with a plastic mermaid on the rim. This place is guaranteed to be packed around free Tito’s hour, so come a little early and enjoy the pool table or a spot by the bar. It also makes for a great utility play: get free drinks here before heading to Le Bain for Paradisco (in the winter and spring), or Gitano (in the summer).
The Woods is a pretty standard bar on most nights, except for Wednesdays, when it’s Misster at the Woods - a queer womxn-focused party where you will inevitably meet or (or make out with) someone new. In the warmer months, there’s an outdoor patio where things are more low-key, but the dance floor is where most of the action happens. If you want to soak up some of your drinks (or just refuel so you can keep dancing), there’s also food from Landhaus - quesadillas, burritos, fries, and other things you’ll want to eat when you’re four tequila-sodas in.
Elsewhere hosts a handful of LGBTQ events, and our favorite is the very queer, monthly Horsemeat Disco party. Horsemeat Disco has moved from their last home at Output, and now their signature disco happens on this very large, open dance floor. There’s also a second, smaller bar upstairs if you need a break from Diana Ross (how dare you). If you’ve never been to one of these parties, expect very little light, a lot of sweat, and hundreds of people loudly singing every word to Dolly Parton’s “Nine To Five.”
The queerest straight club in New York, House of Yes is guaranteed dance nirvana. They host different parties each night, and their best ones usually involve the word “glitter.” We don’t know what’s in the air here (probably glitter), but everyone seems to be having the best night of their life. On the main dance floor, you’ll see elevated dancers, as well as dancers in dance cages (that’s what we’re calling them), and acrobats hanging from the ceiling on ropes like gay cirque du soleil. Some of the parties have a limited free RSVP if you want to arrive at 10pm, otherwise there could be a $50 cover at 1am. Buy your tickets online in advance for the best prices.
Though not exclusively queer, many LadyFag parties (some of the best gay events in the city) are hosted in this massive complex in Bushwick known as Avant Gardner - which has three indoor spaces (The Great Hall, The Kings Hall, The Circus) and one outdoor space (Brooklyn Mirage). These parties are a cross between performance art and a house/techno club, and people usually take off their shirts within the first hour of being inside. The venue requires you to connect your credit card with a wristband to pay for everything from coat check to your drinks - a system that leads to insane efficiency, and will make your next coat check experience feel like the seventh circle of hell.
Le Bain is the rooftop bar of The Standard, a hotel in the Meatpacking District where you might run into someone you recognize from Bravo before being puked on by someone who watches a lot of Bravo. It hosts a queer dance party called Paradisco almost every Sunday (from 3 to 9pm) during winter and spring. The DJ sets are full of consistently excellent dance tracks, and they cover the pool with some miraculous dance-grade flooring for extra space. You should also come early, because the line can wrap around the block after the free Tito’s hour is over at The Rusty Knot.
Central Park isn’t technically a gay bar, or even a gay establishment, but on the second Sunday of every month in the summer, it might as well be. During “Second Sundays,” Sheep Meadow becomes packed almost exclusively with gay men in a good mood. It’s a relaxed and extremely informal congregation. Bring a blanket, play frisbee with some friends, or use this opportunity to run into someone you’ve DM’d. You’ll also most certainly feel overdressed, no matter how little you’re wearing.