Inside the LGBTQ+ Bars in Atlanta Making the South a Little More Queer
Live your best life at these queer bars and clubs in Atlanta.
Atlanta is one of America’s most underrated LGBTQ+ capitals, and that’s largely due to its diverse groups of passionate activists, talented queer artists, and, of course, legendary bars and clubs. Depending how you count, there are only around 14 states in America that still have a fully operational lesbian bar, and Georgia just so happens to be one of them. Beyond that, we’ve got other LGBTQ+ destinations that run the gamut from dance clubs and drag show stages to sports bars that cater to the community. And while most cities only celebrate Pride in June, Atlanta has celebrations like Black Gay Pride and Atlanta Pride around Labor Day and National Coming Out Day, respectively. Anytime is the perfect time to show your pride in Atlanta—and there are no better bars for doing so than these seven that make up the best LGBTQ+ bars in Atlanta.
After finally achieving landmark status and a subsequent pandemic-fueled closure, Atlanta’s legendary leather bar recently reopened in a new location. The 36-year-old establishment is taking up new residence in a space that was formerly Midtown Moon at the Ansley Square shopping center on Piedmont Avenue. Despite the new digs, the bar maintains its bumpin’ dance floor, drag performances, karaoke nights, and, of course, steady swath of bears outfitted in all things leather.
Just as the name suggests, this flagship gay bar is located just off Piedmont Park. Blake’s has been a destination for drag shows and LGBTQ+ mingling since 1988—and word’s gotten around that it’s the place to be. On weekend evenings, the entire dance floor turns into a stage as drag queens sashay their way through the bar collecting dollar bills as they go, so hit up the ATM and let those bills fly.
This famed Peachtree hotspot offers inexpensive, yet highly potent, cocktails, the latest chart-topping urban hits, pool tables, and a patio for reprieve if your engagement gets a little too hot. A visit to Bulldogs also comes with some serious bragging rights because Bulldogs prides itself as not only being the “Original Atlanta Black Gay Pride Party Spot” (it opened in the late '70s), and one of the best gay bars in the nation.
Cheshire Bridge Road Corridor
This scene staple is a playground for entry-level fetishes like leather and jocks and the occasional DILF sighting. It’s also a classic local spot for bears, where hairy chests, broad shoulders and backs, and rhythmic body contact reign supreme. Beyond that, the party emporium also features acclaimed international disc jockeys and a new “Stars of the Century” weekly drag show.
Old Fourth Ward
This lesbian-owned and -operated spot has reigned supreme for decades. Stiff cocktails, bottle service, a full kitchen, burlesque performances, and community-based philanthropic offerings are all on deck. And don’t be shy if you’re not a lady who loves ladies because MSR prides itself on being a haven for anyone who desires high-level happiness and good vibes.
Here’s the thing: What happens at the Marquette generally stays there, which is why the Westside Atlanta lounge has limited social media and web presence. But we can tell you this late-night locale features engagements like “Turn Up Tuesdays,” “Wasted Wednesdays,” and “Hush Night,” a celebration of trans performers. Doors open nightly at 11 pm, so it’s a guarantee that you’ll be racing the sun home.
Sometimes the perfect watering hole isn’t about bells and whistles, but about perfect pours, people, and a hell of a party—enter East Atlanta’s grand dame, Mary’s. Heavy-handed bartenders, show-stealing hosts, and unapologetically happy patrons all rule this world, providing unpredictable, yet perfectly played parties in the heart of East Atlanta. Come for the karaoke and leave with... well, that’s up to you.
Though the idea of playing sports satisfies a certain level of bravado, the perfect alternative to dodging bodily harm and working up a non-flattering sweat is watching the gamut of games and matches with perfectly chilled cocktails and bar fare at Woofs, Atlanta’s only gay sports bar. Show your team spirit, in comfort, as dozens of televisions showcase gladiator-style battles and animalistic instinct from wall-to-wall.
Joshua Robinson is an Atlanta-based contributor for Thrillist. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @roshrisky.