New York's gay bars and clubs occupy a special place in the city's bulging roster of nightlife destinations. While some have been around for decades, new spots catering to the full LGBTQ spectrum have also slipped into the scene over the years. From the storied Stonewall Inn, to the oldest gay bar in Queens and the dopest spots in Brooklyn, here's our shortlist of the city's best gay bars and clubs in the city. No two are alike, but one thing they all share in common is a warm welcome and room to just be yourself.
Open since the late 90s, Boiler Room has survived the years while preserving its old school charm. The East Village bar is windowless, but packed with staples like pool tables and a jukebox—the perfect space to make memories, or forgotten memories, after treating your friends to their dirt cheap drinks.
86 E 4th St, New York, NY
This long-standing East Village dive has a reputation for being sleazy, but in a very lovable way. Over the years, the bar has narrowly avoided closure on a number of occasions and moved locations a couple times. Currently, it boasts the former location of the defunct Lit Lounge as a home base, though its infamous neon rooster sign still signals passage into its dark cavern.
93 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
The Cubbyhole in the West Village is known for being a fabulous neighborhood bar as much as it is a fabulous a lesbian bar. Around since the 90s, this quirky spot has flea market knick-knacks like Chinese lanterns and model airplanes hanging from its ceiling, a hard-worn jukebox, and a popcorn machine. What more could you ask for?
281 W 12th St, New York, NY 10014
This imposing leather bar just off the West Side Highway was once a bedrock of machismo, even if now it caters to a softer crowd. Don't be fooled, though: it's still full of chain-link, motorcycle memorabilia, and pool tables. If you're looking to channel your inner Tom of Finland, shine up your boots and head over to the Eagle.
554 W 28th St, New York, NY 10001
Under the warm glow of the red lighting, locals and visitors alike gather in this Soviet-inspired bastion in the East Village. The dark nooks and 70s porn playing on the TVs above the narrow bar and make it the quintessential gay dive. The ideal place to lay down your hammer and sickle.
505 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009
The oldest gay bar in Queens offers homey respite from the well-trodden Manhattan scene. Mirrored ceilings, ionic columns, and musical programing as diverse as its Jackson Heights environs leaves no doubt as to why this place has continued to thrive since it first opened its doors in 1989. Not a place for stuck-up city types.
78-11 Roosevelt Ave
Industry is a single-floor, 4,000-square-foot dance spot strewn with more disco balls than you've likely seen in one place before. In the event that polite conversation is more your thing, it's also got a lounge area with lots of seating. The owners are the fine folks also behind Chelsea gay bar and lounge Barracuda.
355 W 52nd St
The hallowed halls of this run-down Village bar have seen it all. Thought to be the oldest gay bar in Manhattan, Julius has survived the Prohibition era, pre-Gay Rights Movement authorities' targeting of gay bars, and more. First established in 1864, it started attracting a gay following in the 1950s, and is now home to a more mature crowd, one that has undeniably grown up old alongside its beloved watering hole. Come for the cheap burgers; stay for the memories.
159 West 10th Street, New York, NY 10014
Straddling the Bed-Stuy/Crown Heights border, Langston is a favorite among many local gay men of color. Expect a wobbling night soundtracked by reggae and dancehall among a faithful South Brooklyn crowd.
1073 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11238
One of the newest LGBTQ spaces on the Williamsburg scene, Macri Park is arguably Brooklyn's most inclusive bar—a chill neighborhood hangout that actively makes space for individuals all across the spectrum. From "Cissy," the trans/femme/non-binary-focused party produced by The Culture Whore's Dream Dommu, to Lady Simon's MTV-inspired happy hour conversation series "One Girl Five Gays," Macri's programming is personal, relevant, and authentic.
462 Union Ave, Brooklyn, NY
One of the first outposts of a gentrifying North Brooklyn, Metropolitan first opened in Williamsburg in 2002, and quickly became a favorite stop-off on the Brooklyn gay bar circuit. Free barbecues on Sundays and a sprawling, canopied patio make this a summer oasis. In the winter it turns into something of a cozy chalet, complete with roaring fireplaces and warming drinks. An always reliable bar for the notoriously unreliable neighborhood.
559 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
The one and only Stonewall Inn, where the Gay Rights Movement began. This Christopher Street institution is steeped in history, with old photos of the 1969 demonstrations adorning the walls of its two stories. Nearly five decades after the Stonewall Riots, the iconic West Village bar still stands as a stark reminder that the battle for gay rights is far from over.
53 Christopher St, New York, NY 10014
Many of us—if not all—need therapy. The thing is, it's not really a one-size-fits-all kind of thing; sometimes you have to try different treatments until you find one that works. For fans of bi-level lounges with weekly drag shows, blonde wood floors, and house cocktails with names like "Freudian Sip" and "Psychotic Episode," though, this Hell's Kitchen hangout is certainly an option worth exploring.
348 W 52nd St
This N That
Conceived as a daughter of sorts to Metropolitan and a now-shuttered Sugarland by the people who brought us those establishments, This N That has become Williamsburg's go-to spot for nightly drag shows. The bar is long and tunnel-like, and the place hosts a great weekly party, "Straight Acting," that lines up performances by LGBTQ pillars like Merrie Cherry and Rify Royalty. If you ask a queer Brooklyn insider, however, they'd argue This N That is where Manhattan comes to "slum it."
108 N. 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY
This Hell's Kitchen club lives up to its name—both in size and sentiment. One of the largest gay clubs in the city—with a clientele that errs on the trendier, muscle-flexing side—it's not a bad place come and show off your tiniest shirt. Spanning three rooms, XL's high-spec space incorporates a club, cabaret bar, and lounge. Go hard or go home never rang truer.
512 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036
List compiled by Anna Codrea-Rado, Alexander Iadarola, and Justin Moran.