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LGBTQIA+-Owned Venues To Support Now
After more than a year in a pandemic that engulfed the world and completely decimated the live music industry—including bars, clubs and venues across America—the businesses that survived are reopening across the country.
These include LGBTQIA+ venues and bars, which have been facing tough times for years now. Research shows a decline of LGBTQIA+ bars over the years, and experts say it's because they "catered to a population that made less money," CNN Business reports. The internet and dating apps may also have affected bar attendance as they have given the community more ways to connect.
LGBTQIA+-owned venues historically have served as spaces to organize. They have been spaces in which people have been able to express themselves freely. These places are still so crucial to many and each one holds a special place in the neighborhoods, communities and cities where they are. As Pride month wraps, GRAMMY.com, in partnership with the Recording Academy's Atlanta, New York and Texas chapters, is celebrating LGBTQIA+-owned venues in New York and the South. Here’s a list of some of the loudest and unabashedly queer venues in those regions that are still open.
My Sister’s Room
Location: 84 12th St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
"Everyone is welcome as long as they respect our LGBTQ space." So goes the official motto of My Sister’s Room, known locally by many as simply MSR.
Since 1996, MSR has been the biggest and best lesbian bar not just in Atlanta, but perhaps in the entire southeastern United States. In the decades since it opened, co-owners Jennifer Maguire and Jami Atlanta have worked incredibly hard to stage nightly shows and to keep the space open, which is no easy task.
"People have been coming to My Sister’s Room for years for community or in times when they need a friendly face," Maguire explained via email. "They know that they have a place to come home to. We hope to continue the legacy for another 25 years."
Location: 325 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
C’Mon Everybody does a fantastic job of blending the old with the new, and it embodies Brooklyn perfectly—it is never boring, always edgy and it is certainly not your "typical" gay bar. Based in the up-and-coming (but thankfully not yet fully gentrified)
neighborhood of Bed-Stuy, the venue refers to itself as a mix between a bar, lounge, gallery and "live arts space," with that final descriptor being up for interpretation (as is so much in Brooklyn).
The venue makes many references to the '70s, and while it may not be Studio 54, it’s one hell of a spot to go see a show, which is the focus of those running C'Mon Everybody. Some gay bars want to recruit drag queens simply to help bring in a bit of business during quiet times, but not this locale. Performance is a top priority and if you want to see something odd, something avant-garde and something that is unapologetically queer, head to C'Mon Everybody.
Cheer Up Charlie's
Location: 900 Red River St. Austin, TX 78701
Located just a few blocks away from the stretch of LGBTQIA+-focused spots on the famous 6th Street (make sure you pop into Oil Can Harry’s and Rain during your next trip to Austin), Cheer Up Charlie's is so much more than a "gay bar." It is a respected and beloved music venue and that’s saying a lot in a town full of small spots where someone can pick up a guitar and start playing.
The outdoor space is sizable and at night, when the lights come up, it’s really something special, as it all plays off of a stunning limestone backdrop. Cheer Up Charlie’s is ultra cool and hip and a quick look at the upcoming dance nights, parties and performances by local DJs may have you considering a move to Texas.
Location: 8 Christopher St, New York, NY 10014
Pieces in Greenwich Village enjoys a reputation larger than its tiny dance floor. Somehow, whether it be on a weekday for happy hour or a Saturday night, the place is always packed, and it seems to fit more people than it should...but that’s the Village for you.
The must-visit spot may be cramped, but you never know who you’ll run into when you visit. There’s a joke now among the gay community in New York City that "[insert
Seeing superstars in close proximity, having too many drinks and bumping into fellow locals all night is part of the Pieces’ charm—you never know what kind of adventure you’re walking into when you step in that front door.
Location: 1287 Glenwood Ave SE, Suite B Atlanta, Georgia 30316
Named by both Logo and Out Magazine as one of the best gay bars in the world, Mary’s is a staple not just of the Atlanta gay scene, but for the enitre city.
Located in the heart of Atlanta, Mary’s has been cited as a favorite among locals and those who know the town ever since it opened. It’s a fantastic spot to dance, meet new friends, people watch (in a separate loft called the Boozy Cougar) or just relax. Getting down is a focus here. And don’t worry about finding the dance floor—it’s the entire venue.
Location: 438 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
"We used to be known as the Madonna of lesbian bars because we were constantly reinventing ourselves," explained Henrietta Hudson owner Lisa Cannistraci during a recent interview with Grub Street. "Now we’re Cher — the lesbian bar that wouldn’t die."
The idea of reinvention is especially prevalent now in the New York City-based lesbian bar, which is often described using words like "iconic" and "legendary," among many others. Following a forced closure during the pandemic, the space reopened in the spring with outdoor service, and now the inside looks brand spanking new. As patrons pour back in, they are enjoying drinking and dancing in what appears to be an entirely different place.
The decline of America’s lesbian bars has been well documented, and sadly, it continues unabated. According to NBC News, there are only about 15 left in the country. Thankfully, Henrietta Hudson, often referred to as just "Henrietta’s," is back, hopefully for good.
Location: 4070 Government Blvd, Mobile, AL 36693
"Laissez les bons temps rouler" is a Cajun French phrase used largely in the south which translates to "let the good times roll." At Herz, it’s spelled somewhat differently—"Leze le bon temps roule!"—but the meaning stays the same.
One of the only lesbian bars in the south, Herz is a unicorn, and it must be protected at all costs. Owners Sheila and Rachel have done something truly amazing by being able to operate one of the few remaining spots that allows women who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community to dance, hang out and even smoke hookah outside.
It’s a chill spot and one that deserves to keep its doors open for many years to come. Cities like Mobile, AL have come a long way in just a few years in terms of the treatment of LGBTQIA+ citizens and visitors, and places like Herz have done so much to both provide a welcoming space and change the minds and hearts of millions.