20 Great LGBTQ Bars In NYC
photo credit: Kate Previte
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. Here are 20 of our favorite LGBTQ spots across NYC.
photo credit: Danny Walton
Queer people of Brooklyn: it’s time to log off Lex and back away slowly, at least for the night. Head to The Bush, the self-appointed "dyke bar for queers" in Bushwick where you’ll find your next IRL romance. It’s a fairly barebones space with a narrow bar in front and a dance floor in the back, but the wash of purple light, constellation of disco balls, and cocktails with names like “ILYSFM” help set the mood. Keep an eye on their social media and make plans to meet up with that missed connection at one of The Bush’s karaoke nights or Martini Tuesdays.
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. But don’t let the popular, overcrowded shows discourage you from trying to get in here. While it looks like just another tiny East Village dive bar, 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. That’s due, in part, to the fact Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera resisted a police raid here, effectively launching the gay rights movement in 1969. But also because they probably haven’t renovated in several decades. There’s a long, divey bar on the ground floor, and upstairs you’ll find a small stage for drag shows. This place is by no means 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.
photo credit: Daniel Dorsa
Oddly Enough isn’t quite a restaurant, but it also doesn’t feel like your average Bed-Stuy bar. It’s an all-purpose place where you can sit at a table and eat some deviled eggs while you chat with a friend before a DJ comes through and switches up the mood. In addition to a bunch of indoor seating, this “queer space for all” also has a sidewalk patio, which turns into a mellow block party in the summer. Keep an eye out for special events like queer brunch, queer speed dating, and the occasional Queer Vision dance party.
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? Saturday is the right night to be here. You'll find a great, energetic crowd, and you'll have very high odds of meeting someone new.
photo credit: Kate Previte
This is NYC’s best-known lesbian bar. So at some point, you’ll inevitably end up at this small, cash-only, divey place in the West Village, where the ceiling is always completely covered in seasonally appropriate decorations. It stays pretty low-key on Thursdays and Fridays, but on weekends it’s packed. Expect to meet a minimum of two straight couples looking for a “friend” and one group of non-queer people who visiting a lesbian bar “just for fun.”
There’s a wraparound patio outside of Mary’s in East Williamsburg, and it’s usually full of people celebrating birthdays and any other occasions that call for booze and fresh air. This queer Irish pub—complete with both Pride and Irish flags—feels like a casual community space where you can pop in for a pint or host a group hang. It has multiple outdoor areas, as well as a pub-like interior with saloon doors, plenty of standing room, and big windows facing the street. If you’re looking for a queer spot where you can loiter with a pint of Guinness and make some new friends, this is it.
The Eagle is NYC’s premier leather bar, 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.
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.
photo credit: Ken Pao Studio
Somewhere between local hang, speakeasy, and queer bar, Upstairs is the kind of place where it’s easy to become a regular, even if you don’t live around Jackson Heights. Thanks to stiff, unfussy drinks and the self-described “sassy” bartender who anchors and co-owns the narrow, living room-like space, you’re guaranteed to have a great conversation and a few too many cocktails here before staggering out at 2am, likely with a whole new group of friends.
Ever since this gay bar from the people behind C’mon Everybody opened, the number of exciting things you can do late at night in Park Slope has drastically increased. Good Judy has two floors with several booths, banquettes, and high-top tables where you can take jello shots and speak several octaves higher than usual with a group of friends. Plus, their events calendar is packed with weekly happenings like dance parties and live piano karaoke. So if you want to have a good time in the area and don’t already have a friend with a backyard nearby, head to Good Judy.
Henrietta Hudson is the longest-standing lesbian bar in the country. During the week, it’s a casual spot where you can have a few drinks and snacks, and maybe do some trivia or listen to live music. But on weekends, it turns into a party. Stop by on a Friday or Saturday night, and you'll find a packed dance floor underneath a disco ball. Stay up to date on events by following them on IG.
If you’re looking to get drinks at a Harlem bar with shirtless bartenders, drag performances, and Happy Hour specials, head to Alibi Lounge, one of New York City’s last remaining Black-owned gay bars. This upbeat spot sits proudly on a busy neighborhood corner with pride flags, velvet ropes, and a long red carpet where you should choreograph a grand entrance. They host regular parties, so we’d recommend coming here when you’re in the mood to get a little sloppy on a weeknight.
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.
Pieces is a longtime West Village gay bar with excellent drag performances and a daily Happy Hour. The bar here stretches along the wall, and the stage is next to it, so the dance floor can feel a little cramped on weekends. 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 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. Waiting for the bathroom here can be a process, so prepare some conversation starters for making new friends in line.
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.
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 shows. But on a warm day in the summer, you’ll want to be seated at a table on their sidewalk patio, grooving to the bass-thumping beats blasting from their excellent speaker system. 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.
During the week, Icon is laid-back, but on weekends, it turns into more of a club where everyone is dancing and 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.