Buffalo, NY: The Queen City
By Evan Lambert
All you really need to know about Buffalo, New York, is in its nickname: the “Queen City.” Okay, there’s plenty more to learn— like how the nickname is not derived from a historic population of dramatic homosexuals, but its history as the second largest city on the Great Lakes (Chicago is the “King” City).
Despite a longstanding reputation as a haven for beer-drinking, sports-loving, red-blooded American heterosexuals, Buffalo is surprisingly gay friendly, charming and cultured. As of recent times, the city has evolved from a snow-covered bump on the road to Niagara Falls into a culturally-diverse hotspot for creative-types, young adults, and LGBTQ people. If you’re ever on your way to cross that massive waterfall from your bucket list, you may want to consider basing yourself in Buffalo for the weekend.
“The city’s starting to brand itself as a place for young artists to come and make a living,” says longtime Buffalo resident Don Kreger. “It’s also becoming more gay-friendly, as the nation starts to move in that direction.”
“There’s a general idea that Buffalo is a hometown: Somewhere you move away from, but don’t go to,” says Chris Puchalski, another long-term Buffalonian. “However, all that is starting to change.”
After celebrating at Buffalo’s recent Pride Festival (check out our newly published coverage here!) it’s easy to see how far the city has come in terms of supporting its LGBT residents.
“Five years ago, there wouldn’t have been this many people at Pride,” says Dave Pruett, 43. “But now people just want to show their support for us...I’m talking straight people from all over.”
If you’re contemplating a few days in Buffalo, make sure to come on the first weekend of the month to catch First Friday. This is when the historic neighborhood of Allentown opens its art galleries, restaurants, and businesses to musical performances, art shows, and conversations with local artists. Just chatting with locals is as much a part of the cultural experience (Buffalonians like to throw around the word “unpretentious” in reference their city).
For lodging, consider the Parkside House, a pleasant, gay-owned B&B featuring a cute dog and a short walk to some of Buffalo’s best eateries, like the Blue Monk (great beer selection) and Mother’s (fun appetizers, nice atmosphere.)
For nightlife in the Queen City there’s quite a few options, like Roxy’s (mostly hip-hop and lesbian but open to everyone and situated in a funky 19th-century building on Main Street.) The standard top 40s and drag queens (Buffalo’s drag scene is surprisingly developed) can be found at Club Marcella, also on Main Street. If it’s especially late and you’re looking for a nightcap, consider Underground: Once 3 AM rolls around, all the cuties head to this subterranean club for a last-ditch attempt at finding a bedmate.
Summers in Buffalo are lovely, with temperatures in the upper 70s and low 80s and minimal humidity. Leave your J. Crew and derby hats at home, though: You’ll just end up getting teased. Remember, this city is “unpretentious."