Let me tell you right now: Austin is a great place for queers – despite the whole Texas thing.
This city, and the queer, trans, and QPOC communities who call it home, work hard to keep Austin separate from the anti-LGBTQ agendas of many of the state’s high-profile politicians. In 2017, Austin’s first LGBTQ Quality of Life Advisory Commission was created to help City Council better realize and address the needs of the city’s LGBTQ population. And generally, the community is vibrant, busy, and outspoken.
But there’s a few of things you should know. There is no lesbian bar. Our last one closed in 2013, but that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of spaces for queer women. There is no “gayborhood,” but we do have Fourth Street – and a half-dozen gay/queer bars to check out. As for sober spaces, youth spaces, QPOC and LGBTQ resources: Yeah, we’ve got those, too. While this list won’t cover all the things, these major players will serve as an introduction to the rest.
Lesbutante and the Boss: Hosts a slew of ladies’ events from dance parties to happy hours, and they’re part of the crew behind Plezzure Island – Texas’ only lesbian resort takeover (think Dinah, but in Texas).
Guerrilla Queer Bar: A roaming mostly queer grrrl, trans-inclusive takeover of local straight bars.
Cheer Up Charlies: A queer-owned bar/music venue with a plethora of queer-of-center events scheduled monthly.
Oilcan Harry’s: Austin’s longest operating gay bar. Located on Fourth Street, it’s home to stiff drinks, weekly drag shows, and late-night dancing.
Rain on 4th: We just call it Rain. It’s the place for dancing, watch parties, and college nights.
Highland Lounge: Three stories, dance floors, and a basement “dungeon.”
Iron Bear: Austin’s one and only bear bar, but these guys make everyone feel right at home.
Bout Time II: Off the beaten path, this bar/dance club/sand volleyball court might be a little less sceney, but no less fun.
allgo: Support services, social events, and community health discussions for Austin’s QTPOC folks.
Out Youth: A nonprofit for LGBTQ kids with drop-in hours, counseling, and an annual queer prom.
TGQ Social: A monthly community meetup (at Butterfly Bar) for the trans, genderqueer, and nonbinary folks (and allies).
The Q: A sober social space for queers to gather. And, as part of AIDS Services of Austin, they do safer sex outreach with a focus on supporting young gay men.
AIDS Services of Austin: Wraparound services for folks living with HIV as well as prevention services and STI testing.
Kind Clinic: A sexual health clinic providing patients with access to PrEP (that drug that blocks HIV).
Austin Black Pride: A three-day event at the end of March; ABP also throws smaller events throughout the year.
Queer Bomb: Austin’s alt-Pride. The one-day rally/march/party lands on the first Saturday of June.
Austin Pride: The biggest Pride celebration in Central Texas with a festival and parade typically held at the end of August.
Want to know more about queer life in the ATX? Bookmark Gay Place, the Austin Chronicle’s hub for LGBTQ happenings.
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