This week, Americans will gather with friends and loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving, officially kicking off the holiday season. For many in the gay community, this time of year entails leaving the comforts of their adopted cities and schlepping back to their hometowns to stress-eat carbs and endure mind-numbing conversations with distant relatives.
Need a break from the fam? We’ve put together this holiday survival guide with suggestions on how to escape boredom while trapped back home.
Although Phoenix, the state’s capital and largest city, pales in size to New York, Los Angeles, and the other major metropolises these holiday-displaced gays call home, it does offer a variety of queer-friendly sanctums. Most prominent is Cruisin’7th, a two-time winner of New Times‘ Best of Phoenix awards. Describing itself as the “premiere drag show venue” of the Phoenix metropolitan area, C7‘s weekly Friday night production ‘Ivy’s Doll House,’ hosted by Ivy Foxglove, is an ideal palate cleanser after the previous evening’s snoozefest.
Phoenix is also home to a prominent Hispanic population where over 40% of its denizens identify as Latino. This demographic is exemplified in Karamba, a queer karaoke bar and nightclub that showcases Latin DJs. Dip out of dessert early and dive into Throwback Thursday hosted by Gigi. You can shake off the turkey tryptophan and burn some calories dancing to salsa, tex-mex, and country beat courtesy of DJ Armani-J.
Arizona is also home to a sizable retiree community, most prominently in the affluent suburb of Scottsdale. You may need to self-medicate from Nana’s meandering recollections of the previous century with a potent libation. Fortunately, BS West boasts of having “the best drinks in the west.” Mosey on over for 2-4-1 drink specials, sexy southwest go-go boys, and potentially nab yourself a GrILF.
Many gays escaped the harsh winters of their childhoods by moving to warmer cities like Austin or New Orleans. But during the holiday season, they must once again bust out their seldom-worn turtlenecks and cardigans and fly north to visit their families. For those who need more than wool sweaters to raise their temperatures, the Twin Cities area is home to several queer establishments that’ll help heat up the holidays.
eagleBOLTbar is an inclusive neighborhood watering hole featuring a full bar and comforting pub fare that’ll help you put on a bit of bulk to insulate you from the cold. The importance of warmth is a necessity in these frigid northern cities. Their dog-friendly patio boasts a heated section for doggy daddies and their pups.
For gays seeking more active entertainment, bundle up and head to LUSH for one of their daily events. Take a break from the retail anarchy that is Black Friday at their weekly movie night, which will be screening the queer camp classic Legally Blond. What better way to warm your bones than with the old Bend-n-Snap?
For gays visiting the Garden State, consider patronizing the Jersey City queer bar Six26 this holiday season. The name of the establishment is a reference to June 26th, the day the Marriage Equality Act was passed. Featuring both a lounge and a rooftop bar, Six26 offers events every day of the week, including Taco Tuesdays, Karaoke Wednesdays, and Drag Brunch Saturdays, so there are plenty of options for you and your legally wed same-sex spouse.
The state is also notable for its iconic Jersey Shore, most associated with the titular MTV reality show. But in addition to serving as a venue for guido barcrawls and Snooki face-punches, it’s also home to Georgie’s in Asbury Park. Since 1999, this gay bar has served as an LGBTQ stronghold for the shore area. In addition to slinging drinks, this gay bar offers a full menu of American food. Those jalapeno poppers and pepperoni pizzadillas will provide a nice contrast to all that Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas hams you’ll be eating this holiday season.
Consider slipping away from your boring relatives in eastern Pennsylvania, or south Jersey, and take a day trip into New Hope. This quaint tourist town is speckled with charming shops, such as Gypsy Heaven, a witchcraft emporium stocked with incense, candles, and spell kits. This bruja boutique is an ideal place to find Winter Solstice gifts for your favorite gay warlock.
The town is also home to the Bucks County Playhouse. This prominent regional venue regularly showcases queer Broadway talent, such as the production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show featuring the underwear-clad music duo The Skivvies. Fans of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash should check out Million Dollar Quartet Christmas, which runs through December. For those looking to stock up on extra looks for the coming year, be sure to hit up the Playhouse Costume Clearance on December 3rd. ‘Tis the season to treat yourself.
It may be hard to believe, but this city where caffeine is considered the devil’s brew is also home to several gay bars. So swap those ceremonial undergarments for some Andrew Christian jockstraps and get down on your knees, and not for praying.
M I L K +, the self-described “premiere inclusive SLC bar” offers themed events five nights a week, including Western Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday, and Sugar Sunday. Being in a conservative, religious state like Utah, inclusivity and safety are priorities of this establishment.
Another option is The Sun Trapp, the oldest gay bar in SLC where authentic queerness is not only accepted but encouraged. This lively gay dive bar offers free billiards, Drag Karaoke Mondays, Drag Bingo Tuesdays, and dance parties the rest of the week. This safe space serves as a veritable Eden away from mindnumbing Mormon family members.