By Dana Perkiss
New York City is one of the most friendly and go-to destinations for LGBTQ+ people. A city that celebrates Pride all year-round instead of for just one month, NYC is a concrete jungle that’s bustling with authenticity, diverse self-expression, and individuality that’s unlike any other place.
Whether you’re a local or just visiting to soak in the queer scene, this is your guide to some of the best LGBTQ+ festivals, bars, attractions, and historical sites in NYC.
You probably recognize the name, but do you know the story of Stonewall? In 1969, this bar was the site of the Stonewall Riots which were nights of protests by the LGBTQ+ community who were fighting against police brutality and oppression. These riots sparked the beginning of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, and it is thanks to these demonstrations that we have many of the rights we have today. Now, the Stonewall Inn bar is a popular hang out for the LGBTQ+ community and often has drag shows and performances. While you’re there, try the bars’ namesake beer, the Stonewall Inn IPA.
When you’re ready to leave Stonewall, make sure to walk the few feet over to the small Christopher Park which holds the Gay Liberation monument. This sculpture was built by George Segal in 1992 to commemorate the events of the Stonewall Uprising and pay tribute to the activists involved.
As one of the last remaining 20 lesbian bars in the U.S. we highly recommend visiting the Cubby Hole bar located right in the Village. True to its name, the bar is but a small space which is often decorated with prideful themes depending on the season. For any person looking to feel that homey The L Word community type queer vibe, the Cubby Hole is the perfect destination.
The LGBTQ Community Center fosters a warm and welcoming space for all LGBTQ+ people, including travelers looking for a relaxing place to rest. There’s a café, art exhibits, a queer bookstore, and they also hold weekly (almost daily) events for the community.
The New York LGBTQ Film Festival by NewFest is held every year and features a diverse range of LGBTQ+ films. Though the festival is once a year, NewFest offers year-round programs to watch documentaries, series, and other films. They were founded in 1988 and are New York’s biggest LGBTQ+ film & media presenter.
Presented on World AIDS Day, December 1, in 2016, this memorial was built to honor the over 100,000 people who have died from AIDS in New York. Engraved along the Memorial’s pavement you will find passages from Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” which were chosen to signify themes of hope and unity. You can find this beautiful art installation in St. Vincent’s Triangle in the West Village.
In Brooklyn you will find the largest collection of historical materials for and by lesbians in the world. Founded in the 1970’s by a group of mostly queer women, the goal of these archives are to retain and teach lesbian history, something that is often not taught in other forms of education. The archives feature a wide range of materials including biographical files, unpublished papers, and photo collections.
Although not officially a “gay” beach, the People’s Beach at Jacob Riis Park is one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly beaches in the country (and is also a nude beach). At the furthest end of the beach you’ll find a large strip that’s always filled with rainbow umbrellas, drag walks, and just generally feels like Pride all the time. It can be a little tricky to get to, but it’s totally worth the trip.
Built in 2018, this memorial can be found in Hudson River Park and was the first in New York City to be dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community. It is intended to commemorate the 49 lives lost from the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016, as well as to honor all of those lost from violence directed towards the LGBTQ+ community.
Civil Rights activist and renowned literary figure James Baldwin used this rowhouse as his home in the Upper West Side until his death in 1987. Visit the building to honor his legacy and see where Baldwin completed many of his written works, much of which revolved around LGBTQ+ themes. The property was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2019.
Although you have to head to Staten Island for this one, it’s definitely worth going to visit the home of the iconic Black lesbian feminist, writer, and civil rights activist Audre Lorde. She lived here with her partner and two children between 1972 and 1987, during which time she completed many important writing pieces. The home is surrounded by gardens, trees, and is so close to the water that Lorde claimed it gave her the perfect balance of being able to both enjoy nature and raise her children.
This museum was founded in 1987 and became the world’s first museum featuring LGBTQ+ art. It now holds more than 24,000 pieces of artwork featuring thousands of LGBTQ+ artists which they often change to feature, though their permanent collections include many famous artists, such as Andy Warhol. The museum also hosts workshops, residency’s, and fellowships to help queer artists.
This club in the East Village opened in 1979 and is known for being a key figure in creating safe drag performing spaces, it’s even where RuPaul had their first show! They currently host themed dance parties that are very popular in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as being a venue for queer performances.
For the queer booknerds, we recommend checking out this feminist and volunteer-run bookstore in the Lower East Side. This bookstore boasts a wide selection of LGBTQ+ literature and hosts events for the community like support circles, book clubs, and author readings.
Whether you want a wild night out at a gay club or a relaxing day strolling through LGBTQ+ cultural sites, there’s always something to do to celebrate your Pride in the city that never sleeps.