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Queer Nightlife

Feb 14, 2024

Nightlife for
the Queer Community

Ella Dame

Going out to bars, clubs, and social spaces is a staple part of people’s lives across all demographics. Chatting with friends, drinking tasty drinks (some alcoholic, some not), munching on yummy food, and getting to show off stylish outfits all make up memorable nights. While social nights out may seem straightforward, navigating them as a queer person hoping to enjoy socializing with other queer people can present questions and challenges surrounding where to go or what to wear. If you find yourself asking these questions, we have answers!


Where to go

Queer spaces have always been essential to the survival of queer communities across the United States. These spaces have allowed the freedom of identity expression and exploration that ignorant, conservative public spaces have not permitted. From bookstores to recreation centers to bars, queer spaces have and continue to open their doors to a community of non-conforming humans.

Supporting queer friendly and queer-owned businesses is crucial to the survival of these spaces. Between 2012 and 2021 over 50% of gay bars in the United States closed. The diminishment of these accepting bars can be tied to the threats received by these business owners by community members and even by politicians. It’s also important to note that this statistic does not account for the closure of bars that are lesbian centered or people of color centered which indicates a level of separation between parts of the community that hurts rather than helps its interconnectedness.

DJ and dancefloor at Dorothy Downstairs lesbian lounge
Image credit: Dorothy

There are, however, extraordinary exceptions. Spaces that have pushed back and created cult followings through deep community engagement and commitment to maintaining safe queer spaces. Bars like Dorothy, a lesbian bar located in Chicago, IL, have taken it upon themselves to try to connect different parts of the queer community through their own outreach. Their book club “Silent Book Club”, allows patrons to support Semi-Colon, Chicago’s largest Black-Owned Library, and read in a queer friendly space.

Performer singing at Pink Metal bar
Image credit: Pink Metal

Similarly, Pink Metal, a cocktail bar in Brooklyn, NY, features all of the appeal of any cocktail bar with a fun list of drinks and welcoming interior but, through its events and expressions of love to the queer community, has created a safe home for anyone to enjoy a night out authentically. Pink Metal has created its social space through nights of spotlighted appreciation for different groups in the LGBTQ+ community; whether you are looking to participate in drag bingo, cheer on a burlesque show, or watch local queer performers there are many different events to attend.

Visiting and supporting queer spaces is not only enjoyable but vital in keeping safe spaces for the queer community alive. There are many queer bars and cocktail lounges that serve non-alcoholic drinks and have dry nights like Dorothy’s and Pink Metal, for those who wish to socially support queer spaces without drinking. There is a place for everyone to enjoy meeting new people and having fun.

Keeping these spaces alive is key in bridging gaps within the LGBTQ+ community through interpersonal and in-person communication. A celebration of authenticity and different identities is also often highlighted within these spaces through social nights, events, and collaborations with local allies.


What to wear

Getting dressed can be stressful for anyone when getting ready to go out or enjoy a social time with friends. This can be especially difficult when trying to decide on clothes that are not made with your body or identity in mind. It is important to consider the following when putting together an outfit for your night out as a queer person.

Feeling comfortable both physically and emotionally is a self-perpetuating cycle: it makes you feel better, which in turn makes the overall experience more positive and enjoyable for those you are sharing it with. . Spaces like cocktail lounges offer flexibility in dress code. You can wear something as casual as a nice shirt and any pants, all the way up to as dressed up as a button up and khakis. The great thing about queer spaces is that they are exactly that–queer–and don’t tend to police or even normalize certain forms of self expression over others. .

While you may be free to dress however you like, that doesn’t necessarily make the choices easy. Oftentimes going out at night is a time to show off your style–something that is both exciting and can be nerve wracking. While it may seem intimidating to put together a stylish and validating outfit, Both& is here to help. Here are some outfits of Both& pieces we recommend for your next night out.


1. The Jude and the Marlo Gen 2

Jude muscle tee and Marlo Gen II transmasc straight fitting pants

The post-top-surgery muscle tee works for a casual or more ‘going out’ outfit. The lightweight t-shirt creates a platform to show off your flat chest and growing delts. The Marlo Gen II utility pants create a straight shape at your curviest area and promote a comfortable wear throughout the entire day and night–whether you are lounging at a booth or breaking it down on the dance floor, these pants will be super comfortable while also looking classy. The two pieces together will create an androgynous look, highlighting more masc features in a relaxed yet polished way.


2. The Arthur and the Jo Jeans

Arthur crop top and jo denim jeans

The boxy crop top can be worn to compliment a more androgynous style, blending femme and masc elements. This comfortable and versatile top can be playfully worn with the Jo jeans. The Jo jeans have a lower rise, baggier look while still maintaining a straight leg. Pairing the two items together will create a look balancing both femme and masc details in a styled manner.


3. Ame beanie

Ame bubblegum pink and charcoal beanies

When putting together an outfit for a night out, whether that be to a bar or just a welcoming social space, accessories can set the tone for one’s outfit and aesthetic. The Ame beanie is a small, fishermans beanie that is fitted and will stay in place throughout the night. The beanie comes in both bubblegum pink and charcoal, allowing for a variety of pairings to fit any occasion.


Staying Connected

Celebrating your authentic self with friends and family is important as is maintaining connections that make the queer community so strong through supporting LGBTQ+ businesses. Making these lasting connections and promoting queer social spaces creates an inclusive and celebratory tone that can carry on to LGBTQ+ youth and the generations of queer people that will come after them.

We love to hear from our Both& community! If you have any queer social spaces or platforms you’d like to share with the Both& community, please visit our discord and share! You can visit our discord at