Even before New York legalized statewide same-sex marriage in 2011, guys in the Big Apple already enjoyed its thriving gay scene. With over sixty gay bars, most of them in the borough of Manhattan, gay New York is the top tourist destination for the LGBTQ community.
From fine dining and fabulous entertainment to fantastic shopping, New York City has an energy no other city can match. You can chill at a neighborhood bar with friends or dance the night away at clubs on any day of the week. And if you’re in the mood for a quick hookup, NYC also has many places for you to have anonymous fun.
Gay bars and clubs are spread out in four Manhattan neighborhoods: Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, West Village and the Lower East Side. Each gay block has its distinct feel and culture. Let us be your guide to which bars to hit in each neighborhood — here’s the Hornet Guide to Gay New York City.
Gay New York City bars in Hell’s Kitchen
Hell’s Kitchen, also known as Clinton or Midtown West, evolved into a thriving LGBTQ neighborhood in recent years. Once a poor, working-class neighborhood in Manhattan, this neighborhood transformed into a busy area packed with new skyscrapers, ethnic restaurants, retail stores and several gay bars.
A staple in Hell’s Kitchen since 2003, Therapy continues to be a favorite hangout spot for locals and visitors alike. This two-storey lounge bar offers delicious tapas-style food, upbeat music and lively drag performances.
Located across from Therapy, Industry is another fun place to be. This bar draws a local crowd during the weekdays. But during the weekend, it packs in a fun group with an eccentric drag show.
Barrage attracts an after-work crowd for its happy hour menu and its cheeky interior decoration. (We dig the vintage male nude pictures in the bathroom!) A few blocks away, you can spend time with your friends at Ritz, another Hell’s Kitchen institution. During the weekend, Ritz hosts parties starring sexy go-go boys and fierce drag performers. On a beautiful day, guys can hang out on the outdoor patio and enjoy the weather with friends.
If you’re a sports enthusiast, Boxers HK is the place for you. With multi-screens showing different sports programs, this sports bar also has a rooftop bar for outdoor entertainment in this area. Finally, Rise, opened in 2015, is the new kid on the block. This neighborhood bar has a relaxed ambiance, a great drinks menu and hunky bartenders ready to fulfill your every drink-related desire.
Gay New York City bars in Chelsea and the West Village
Before Hell’s Kitchen’s recent renaissance, Chelsea was the gay haven in Manhattan. Even with the rapid changes in this area, Chelsea is still a fun neighborhood to hang out. It has diverse restaurant options, famous landmarks like High Line, Chelsea Market and some local bars to visit like Gym Bar. There’s a great crowd here on Friday nights during happy hour. If you’re a jock or just love them, heads up: Local gay sports teams also love to hang out at this spot and socialize after a long day of softball or volleyball games.
Rebar, a new establishment in Chelsea, features captivating house music from NYC’s hottest DJs. At this no-frills space, it’s about the interaction between guys in an intimate environment. Rebar also regularly hosts different nightly events like Ram Party or Drink & Draw, to entertain the guests.
Greenwich Village, or “the Village” on the lower west side, is another area worth to see. Like Chelsea, the Village has plenty of restaurants, one of a kind stores, and several bars for a night out.
Stonewall Inn, our own national monument, is a must-visit place for everyone in this neighborhood. This historical site has different theme nights and still attracts talents like Lady Bunny for regular performances.
Located right next to the Stonewall Inn, Duplex is a favorite piano bar. You can enjoy drinks on its outdoor patio or watch a nightly cabaret show upstairs.
Across from Duplex, Monster has everything for everyone! There’s a cozy piano bar upstairs where you can chill with locals. But in the basement, they host fun parties like Spunk for a rowdy crowd.
Gay New York City bars in the Lower East Side
If you prefer edgy, alternative environment, the Lower East Side has several bars catering to this crowd. Phoenix is a fun place where NYU students like to hang out. Great music and cheap drinks, this bar also hosts cheeky drag shows on weekends.
Nowhere, another dive bar in this neighborhood, hosts different theme nights throughout the week. If you’re nostalgic about the past, Nowhere hosts “Double Headed Disco” night on the last Saturday of the month to get the crowd dancing.
Club Cumming, formally Eastern Bloc, is a dance club and performance art theater. Local artists perform every night, from comedy to cabaret. You may even catch Alan Cumming, the famed actor and the owner of this bar, performing!
The Boiler Room offers an authentic neighborhood experience — and has since 1991. If you prefer a no-attitude environment, Boiler Room’s courteous service makes it the place to go. Plus, this is one of the few places in Manhattan still offering an inexpensive drink menu.
Where to get laid in Gay New York City
The name “Cock” says it all in this East Village bar. This long-time hole-in-the-wall bar offers different theme nights throughout the week. The best time to visit this cash-only bar is after midnight during the weekend, where patrons can hook up with strangers in a downstairs, dimly lit space.
The Eagle, a multi-level leather bar, is a haven for patrons wanting to explore the kinkier side of their sex life. If you’re into burly, hairy men in harnesses, Levis and boots, The Eagle is the place for you. You can even go onto the rooftop during their famous Sunday beer bust.
Fairytale Lounge is the gem of Hell’s Kitchen. This place is well-known for its go-go boys parading nightly for your entertainment. For the right price, the boys will put on a show in a private area for intimate fun.
Established in 1995, West Side Club has the reputation as the place to relax after work with some discreet fun. This Chelsea location is open 24/7/365 for your enjoyment. Can’t make it to Chelsea? There’s an East Side Club as well! Like West Side Club, there are similar amenities like private saunas and showers for visitors to enjoy.
What’s your favorite place in Gay New York City? Let us know in the comments!
Featured image by Leo Patrizi via iStockphoto.com