The modern LGBT rights movement started with a bang in New York City with the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots. Today, many European pride festivals derive their names from the bar’s Christopher Street location as a tribute, and NYC remains a progressive, vibrant destination for LGBT people of all stripes.
Planning a visit to NYC during pride month or beyond? Here’s a perfect itinerary for a day of LGBT-centric arts, culture, eating and entertainment. FYI, the annual LGBT parade takes place the last Sunday in June.
Morning: Bagels, Golden Girls and Community
Bordering Little Italy, Baz Bagel updates the old school Jewish deli counter with a dollop of Florida décor and 21st Century hipster cool. The all-day breakfast menu includes delicious hand-rolled bagels, smoked fish, crisp latkes and blintzes, the recipes largely culled from openly gay owner Bari Musacchio’s family.
If you’re traveling with pals, The Golden Girls-themed Rue La Rue Cafe is worth a hike uptown to Washington Heights. Open since February, it’s decked out in memorabilia and decorations from the beloved sitcom (Golden Girls co-star Rue McClanahan’s son is a co-owner) and guaranteed to make your Instagram followers jelly.
Back downtown, you can combine craft coffee with a dose of community by stopping by the Think Coffee location within the West Village’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, aka The Center. While here, be sure to also check out the Center’s restored Keith Haring bathroom mural, called “Once Upon a Time.”
Fully caffeinated, you can pay a visit to the nearby The New York City AIDS Memorial, which was dedicated on December 1, 2016. It’s a striking monument designed by conceptual artist Jenny Holzer and engraved with passages from Walt Whitman’s “Song Of Myself.”
Next, head south to the expansive Brooklyn Museum, which is programming several exhibitions of special interest to LGBT visitors: We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85 and A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt. The museum throughout June is also screening the Black Queer Brooklyn on Film Series.
Afternoon: Lunch and More Culture
For lunch, April Bloomfield, one of New York City’s most successful lesbian chefs/restaurateurs, offers two tantalizing options: Her longtime West Village gastropub, The Spotted Pig, still packs them in, while the newer Salvation Taco, her take on Mexican street food, serves a $24 two-course lunch special.
Moving from culinary arts to visual, be sure to stop by the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, which reopened in March, 2017, following an expansion and upgrade. Running between June 10 and September 10 is the exhibition FOUND: Queer Archaeology; Queer Abstraction, representing works from 28 contemporary artists.
At Fashion Institute of Technology’s The Museum at FIT, Force of Nature explores how natural wonders have inspired iconic designers, with stunning original garments and accessories from Alexander McQueen, Gaultier, Valentino and Comme des Garçons, among others. For a less serious take, La Mama Galleria through June 24 is celebrating the fashion travesties of John Waters’ movies via Lost Merchandise of the Dreamlanders, a wide array of faux vintage merchandise inspired by Pink Flamingos and his other early cult classics.
Evening: Dinner and a Show
New York’s culinary scene is international to say the least, and gay-owned West Village Chomp Chomp is like stepping through a wormhole to Singapore. If seafood’s your thing, beeline to April Bloomfield’s The John Dory Oyster Bar, which boasts an impressive raw bar. Carnivores should book at her White Gold Butchers, which doubles as a high-end butcher shop.
After dinner, Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly! may top Broadway-goers’ wish lists — good luck with that — but you can take a personally guided walking tour of Times Square’s theater district anytime using the Detour application. For every type of smaller Off-Broadway show and cabaret performance, check LGBT listings at Time Out New York.
Finally, you can toast to LGBT progress where it all started, Stonewall Inn, which was designated last June as the first U.S. National Monument for LGBT rights. Just across the street in Christopher Park, is another LGBT landmark, sculptor George Segal’s 1992 Gay Liberation Monument.
You can enjoy more gay history, and surprisingly delicious burgers, at Julius, which claims to be New York’s oldest gay bar. Julius is still hopping, especially during John Cameron Mitchell’s monthly dance party, Mattachine (typically held on third Thursdays).
Meanwhile, women of all ages turn it out at long-running bar and dance club Henrietta Hudson, with free shots to the first 100 guests during weekly Snatch Saturday nights, as well as the colorful, eclectic lesbian-and-friends magnet, Cubbyhole. Or head to the lesbian mecca of Park Slope, Brooklyn, for a drink with the ladies at Ginger’s Bar, or the boys at Excelsior.