Back To School 2016
It is totally possible to swan around town as an out-and-loud queer without limiting yourself to queer-only spaces. But a rise in anti-LGBTQIA violence means the city is not quite the queer bastion it once was, so it's important to create and uphold spaces that are built with the safety, comfort, and interests of the queer community as the central focus.
Number one is Pony (1221 E Madison St), a tiny queer bar housed in an old flower shop. Gimme porn on the walls and wild karaoke, and I'm a happy glamper. Booker and bartender Jack Caton has led an artistic expansion of the bar with industrial music nights, "hero worship" tribute parties for queer icons, and a renewed connection with the local music and art community.
Drinking at the truly old-school lesbian bar Wildrose (1021 E Pike St) is like having home field advantage. Run by womxn for womxn (though all human incarnations are accepted) in a neighborhood undergoing massive demographic changes, the Wildrose has a suffer-no-fools outlook on nightlife and manages to support a low-key lesbian vibe for all, even if you're still figuring that part out.
Kremwerk (1809 Minor Ave) blends electronic music and queer culture in a space-age booze bunker that hosts several avant-drag nights, Rapture, Kiss-Off (a queer womxn-focused party), and Kings, a monthly drag king showcase. Upstairs is the brand-new Timbre Room, which has techno and house DJ nights, patio parties, and many queer-focused (and occasionally free) events. There's also Little Maria's Pizza in the same building.
If you'd rather test the waters than commit to a local perch, rotating and recurring queer dance nights are great—and less likely to be co-opted by straight tourists. Re-bar (1114 Howell St), which isn't a "gay club" per se, has historically been a queer-friendly venue (Dan Savage met his husband here) and hosts two of the best, most energetic queer nights in Seattle. Night Crush, the first Saturday of every month, and Soul-Fi, every third Friday, both center on the safety and joy of queer and trans people of color. Caramelo serves up a similar vibe with a focus on queer and trans Latinx folx at Beacon Hill's El Quetzal restaurant (3209 Beacon Ave S). Sex.Wav (every first Thursday) at the queerly beloved Mercury@Machinewerks (1009 E Union St) plays to our gothier tendencies—it's a member's only space that is literally underground, making it slightly easier to celebrate oneself without all the sociocultural rubbernecking.
Maybe you don't drink but you still want to hang? Head over to Kaladi Brothers (517 E Pike St) for cute-people-watching, great coffee, and their business neighbor, Gay City (517 E Pike St), a community center that provides a helpful LGBTQIA resource network library and health services, including HIV/STI testing. You can also get tested at Out of the Closet (1016 E Pike St), a chain thrift store in partnership with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. If you need more clothes to deal with your new urban life, walk up Broadway to Lifelong (312 Broadway E), a massive nongendered nonprofit thrift store that donates its proceeds to benefit members of our local community living with HIV/AIDS.
All these options overwhelming you? Go take a breather at Denny Blaine Park (200 Lake Washington Blvd E), a beach zone on Lake Washington that used to be moderately safe for queerdos to strip down and feel the afternoon sun (j/k, constant cloud cover) on their bits. It has been overrun with straight dick in recent years, but I believe it can be saved by mass community sunbathing efforts.