New York City is where the modern gay rights movement was born, and the riots at the Stonewall Inn kicked off the movement as we know it today. These days, the city offers one of the largest and most amazing gay scenes in the world. The options are endless and kind of overwhelming. But after all, isn’t that part of the thrill when you’re visiting a city?
While sipping cocktails at a gay bar or club is worthy, we also believe it’s important you see part of the gay history that lays in the city as well as how to find those hot spots that only the locals know. Here’s a list of the best things we think every LGBTQ traveler should do when exploring Gay New York.
Visit the NYC AIDS Memorial (West 12th Street & Greenwich Ave)
The intersection of Twelfth Street and Greenwich Avenue, in the West Village is a cozy little spot, and it’s the place where you will find the NYC AIDS Memorial that was unveiled last December on World AIDS Day. The tent-shape structure sits across from the former St. Vincent’s Hospital, ground zero for New York’s AIDS crisis. The memorial honors the more than 100,000 New Yorker’s who have died from AIDS and commemorates the efforts of the caregivers and activists who responded heroically to the crisis. Grab a coffee nearby at BlueStone Lane – the avocado toasts is Instagram-perfect and if you get hungry, walk a couple of blocks north on 7th Ave and grab a bite at Cafeteria, the mac & cheese is to die for.
Check out the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
New York City houses the first and only gay art museum in the world. Founded as a non-profit foundation in 1987 by Charles W. Leslie and Fritz Lohman. The Leslie-Lohman Museum displays and preserves LGBTQ art, and fosters the artists who create it. There are approximately 250 works on view in the current exhibition, “Expanded Visions” some are political, others are sexual, and one or two don’t make sense – but when does art ever make sense? It’s enlightening to know there’s a place that speaks directly to the LGBTQ experience and being able to admire the artworks the founders have spent collecting for fifteen years. Without their efforts, those pieces would have been lost or destroyed.
Spend an afternoon shopping in Chelsea
If you’re looking for a jockstrap head up to Chelsea where you can stop at Nasty Pig Flagship store, (located at 259 West 19th Street). Throughout the building, exposed brick walls and concrete floors reflect the rawness of the brand while sleek and contemporary furniture along with their little bondage piggy’s match the edginess of their clothes. CEO David Lauterstein and Creative Director Fred Kearney, are big on the New York City gay nightlife, it comes as no surprise that the venue is fully equipped with a sound system and beautiful back deck that serves as a playground in those hot summer days for the furry clientele. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out Housing Works Thrift Shop, this secondhand store carries stylish merchandise, and the sales help fund the services that Housing Works provides to homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. When you are done shopping, pop into Rocking Horse Café for Happy Hour, hands down, best margaritas in town. – Sit at the bar and enjoy the flirtatious company of the bartenders.
Go bar-hopping in Hell’s Kitchen
Hell’s Kitchen is the new gayborhood – full of trendy bars, restaurants, and clubs. Start off with dinner at Vynl; this diner is well known for its kitschy décor – the bathrooms are a must see. The HK’s staple features comfort food and Thai favorites in their menu. Afterward, swing by Posh, the local hangout. After a couple of drinks, make your way to Flaming Saddles – the gay version of Coyote Ugly. Cowboy hats and Wranglers jeans never looked so good. If country music isn’t your thing, have a cocktail at Rise – the newest gay spot. End your night with a bang at Industry, where you can dance your ass off.
Get your cruising on!
Hooking up is a big part of the gay scene in New York City, and even though technology has made M4M connections easier, cruising isn’t dead. The Eagle is legendary for its playful scene; you can find leather daddies or the next-door guy baring it all on jockstraps Wednesday’s. – If you want to get lucky, hit the bathrooms or the pool table area. M.E.A.T party has been gaining quite a following thanks to its sexy and lascivious vibe. But if you’re looking for dirtier beats, BRUT is your best option. Besides, the boys are hairier, and the atmosphere is hot! Even though they don’t like to be labeled as a leather party, you can see plenty of harnesses and other leather accessories worn by attendees. Hope you packed that harness, in case you didn’t, you can always drop by The Leather Man – James will take good care of you.