The first Gay Pride marches took place in June 1970, a year after the Stonewall riots rocked New York’s Greenwich Village and began the modern gay rights movement. The protests were a direct, forceful response to frequent, unfair police raids targeting this bar (and others) frequented by gay men, male prostitutes, drag queens, and other disenfranchised members of the LGBT community.
Since it was in a bar that all of the progress we have made in the last four and a half decades began, it seems poignant to remember that these are the kinds of places where LGBT folks have historically been able to be open about their sexuality and gender identity without fear of harassment. So, in honor of the Stonewall Inn and all the establishments like it, here are few west coast bars worthy of some Pride this June.
Los Angeles, Calif.
Sunday, June 14
Although LA PRIDE officially kicks off on Friday, June 12, two of its main events—the PRIDE Parade and Festival—happen on Sunday, June 14. The PRIDE Parade traditionally follows a route heading west through West Hollywood along Santa Monica Boulevard and, conveniently, ends where most of the city’s gay bars are located. With hundreds of thousands of people expected to attend LA PRIDE, West Hollywood’s watering holes get packed rather quickly and keep going until late at night.
Photo via The Abbey
Although possibly the most well-known gay bar in the world, The Abbey has increasingly attracted a much more “mixed" crowd over the past few years, meaning that it’s a great place to bring friends and family regardless of their sexual orientation to keep the celebration going. Also, the Abbey is known for its gargantuan drink menu shaken and stirred up by an unbelievably attractive staff, further cementing it as the "see and be” scene. (692 N. Robertson Blvd., theabbeyfoodandbar.com)
One of West Hollywood's local watering holes, the Motherlode is light on pretense and heavy on its cocktail pours. Arrive early, however, if you want to snag your group a coveted space along the shelving near the pool table or standing at the bar. (8944 Santa Monica Blvd., facebook.com/motherlodewesthollywood)
The dance floor, thumping music and go-go boys seemingly tucked away in every corner never fail to make Micky’s a good time. Add to that the spacious outdoor patio and open upstairs bar that both face Santa Monica Boulevard and you’ve got prime people watching too. (8857 Santa Monica Blvd., mickys.com)
San Francisco, Calif.
Sunday, June 28
The largest LGBT gathering in the U.S., San Francisco Pride also celebrates its 45th celebration. Of course, San Francisco has a long, rich history as an LGBT mecca and so choosing amongst its bars, taverns, clubs, pubs and watering holes is no easy feat. Nonetheless, we humbly suggest the following spots.
Photo via Instagram
A nod to your typical neighborhood sports bar, yet anything but. Its open, modern decor, great cocktails and elevated game day fare such as a house-made corn dog, killer nachos or a pork chop on a stick make this dugout a good place to dig in. (2247 Market Street, hitopssf.com)
San Francisco Eagle
When it's not Pride, the Eagle hosts nights with titles like “Dickslap”, "Pound Puppy," and "Safe Words,” which should give some indication of the debauched (in a good way) atmosphere one can come to expect. Plus, we vaguely remember getting into some shenanigans on the patio a previous Pride weekend. Allegedly. (398 12th Street., sf-eagle.com)
This monthly outdoor dance party will be rocking out a Pride Party on June 28th featuring ESG and Mezzanine. What’s more, Hard French also gives back to the community by benefiting a number of local charities. So dance hard and feel good. (hardfrench.com)
Sunday, June 28
Seattle will also host its Pride celebration on June 28, the official anniversary of the 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day. This very family-oriented celebration includes official events like the Pride Picnic, an annual Pride Brunch and a Pride Comedy series. Of course, the “Emerald City” also has plenty of gay bars to hit up post-Pride, should something a little less subdued is in order too.
Photo via Nate Gowdy/Neighbors
Formerly a 1930s gas station transformed into a hip hangout that, appropriately, draws much inspiration in concept and vibe from 1970s Castro and West Village gay bars. This exceptionally fun (albeit small) club may be the closest thing we’ll get to a glimpse of that night on Christopher Street that started it all. (1221 E. Madison St., ponyseattle.com)
A complex of multiple venues including three bars and a dance club that mostly caters to men into leather (or men into men into leather). Last year, The Cuff hosted a Pride Day Street Party that we can only hope will happen again. (1533 13th Avenue. cuffcomplex.com)
An oldie and a goodie, Neighbors has been a Seattle institution since it first opened its doors in 1983 and we’d be remiss not to include a venue with this much street cred. This large nightclub has since hosted some of the regions best DJs and the world's top recording artists like Lady Gaga and Eartha Kitt. (1509 Broadway. neighborsnightclub.com)