best of 2023

23 gay bars in the US that opened in 2023

Two friends sitting on an outdoor patio enjoying beers.
photo courtesy of Buddies, one of Denver’s newest gay bars.

The past couple of years have been hard on gay bars. Lockdowns, liquor license issues, and rising cost of living have all contributed to the disappearance of these critical community spaces. Despite these hurdles, 2023 saw the opening of 23 gay bars (and counting).

To celebrate these fabulous new spaces across the United States, we’ve nominated some of our favorite new kids of the block from this list in Best of GayCities 2023. Here are the nominees, in no particular order, for your consideration.

Mother – San Francisco


Femme-centric queer bar 3079 16th St · San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 815-7387

Once inside Mother, you’ll find a brightly colored bar resembling a Vaudeville marquee. The no-nonsense staff behind the bar serves up signature drinks such as Esta Madre, a cocktail that nods to the former queer establishment once housed by the building.

Vintage projections of 90s San Francisco pride parades complete with D*kes on Bikes, and a projection reading “Welcum to our Queer Future” illuminate the dimly lit watering hole.

This femme-centric queer haven is brought to you by the folks behind Thee Parkside in Potrero Hill. Mother is a welcome addition to the ever-changing landscape of San Francisco’s Mission District, a neighborhood that is home to not one, but three lesbian bars (Jolene’s & El Rio).

Buddies – Denver

Buddies Denver

“Let’s be buddies” 504 E Colfax Ave · Denver, CO 80203
(720) 769-4485

Opened in 2023 by two real-life buddies, this gay bar is quickly becoming Denver’s darling. Buddies is a short walk from downtown, making this laid-back neighborhood pub a great place to start or end your night. 

Folks love its weekend brunch and happy hour specials. On warmer nights, the outdoor patio hits the spot.

Fluid 510 – Oakland


Cocktails, small bites, & live entertainment 1544 Broadway · Oakland, CA 94612


Fluid510 is the latest inspiration from Oakland-based community champions Richard Fuentes and Sean Sullivan. The power couple is best known for transforming The Port Bar into the iconic LGBTQ+ venue we know and love today.

In addition to a packed schedule of events and shows with unique nightly themes, Fluid510 features an expertly crafted cocktail selection from General Manager Yao Liow, formerly of Kincaid’s and Palomino and and an elevated bar food menu from chef Alessandro Campitelli, formerly of Contrasto.

Nathan’s Beach Club – Miami

Nathan’s Beach Club

Never-ending party 1216 Washington Ave · Miami Beach, FL 33139


Nathan’s Video Bar gave itself a new name to match its new vibes in 2023. But you can expect the same amount of sass and hot @ss at this never-ending party in Miami Beach.

Love Lady Gaga? Of course you do, you queen. Well, this bar has regularly dedicated nights to her music featuring drag performances from local artists.

General Wood Shop – Grand Rapids, MI

General Wood Shop

The new guy in town 507 Bridge St NW · Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 699-0507

This refined dive bar takes mid-century modern to a whole new level. With a variety of cocktails, mock cocks, classic mixed drinks, and tasty small plates, General Wood Shop is a great hangout any night of the week.

Back2Earth – Portland, OR


Queer vibes 3536 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd · Portland, OR 97212
(503) 206-8276

After Local Lounge closed in 2021, the corner of Northeast Martin Luther King and Fremont wasn’t the same.

This new LGBTQ+ hangout embodies the spirit of the former haunt, hosting a variety of events throughout the week.

Check out Back2Earth’s game nights, d*ke parties, and drag bingo, all hosted by PDX’s most outgoing queers.

Or Bar – West Hollywood

Or Bar

Disco bingo, baby 8228 Santa Monica Blvd · West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 380-6060

Two words: Disco, baby.

Think house parties, eclectic art, and a design that elicits West Hollywood’s glamourous disco era.

The Bush – Brooklyn

The Bush

A d*ke bar for everyone 333 Troutman St · NY 11237


Bushwick’s newest femme-forward bar offers delicious cocktails, events, and daily drink specials in a cozy, laid-back atmosphere. It’s a great place to meet new people, dance, and be a merry fairy.

This year, the LGBTQ+ community in the United States welcomed a bunch of fresh new faces to the scene. In addition to our Best of GayCities nominees for New Kid on the Block, here are all the queer-owned-and-operated establishments that opened up shop in 2023:

  • The Queen Las Vegas, described as the “only gay hotel, restaurant, bar and nightclub,” opened in Fall 2023.
  • Dani’s Queer Bar, a permanent space for lesbian and queer nightlife in Boston’s Back Bay, opened in late August 2023.
  • Joshua Huynh had been working for years to open Town Bar & Lounge in Oakland’s historic I. Magnin building. It finally opened its doors in April 2023.
  • Stud Collective, alongside San Francisco Mayor London Breed, announced plans to open a new location in San Francisco’s Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District this winter. When the beloved gay bar closed in 2020, the community rallied together to save it. These efforts are finally coming to fruition.
  • Shakers brought a new chapter to DC’s U Street queer bar scene in Summer 2023. Rush also plans to open nearby on 9th Street by the end of this year.
  • Balcon Salon, a Hell’s Kitchen queer bar that opened in October 2023, is brought to you by the owners behind local favorite Hardware Bar and much-loved hangouts Pieces and Playhouse.
  • FLEX has transformed the former home of Posh, one of the original Hell’s Kitchen gay bars. James Healey and Jason Wade Mann, a duo with several ice cream shops around Manhattan, opened their newest venture this past Pride month.
  • Misfits Bar & Lounge took over the space at 2530 Northeast 82nd Ave in Portland, OR. One of the few explicitly LGBTQ+ businesses in the area, the bar creates a little gay enclave with Escape Bar & Grill and Fuzzy Navels nearby.
  • Hi Tops, a popular gay sports bar with locations in the Castro and WeHo, opened a new location in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles in late August.
  • Mary’s Bar, a new queer Irish pub by the team behind the popular music venue Brooklyn Steel, opened last spring on the border of Greenpoint and East Williamsburg.
  • eagleBOLTbar in Minneapolis got a new owner last March. The longtime patron who bought it plans to maintain the bar’s status as an LGBTQ+ institution.
  • Ruby Fruit opened up shop in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood last February. LA’s first lesbian-owned queer bar in years is brought to you by two former workers at the now-closed Eszett.
  • POP, a new bar and brunch spot, made its way to Walker’s Point in Milwaukee last August.
  • The District, a new gay bar in downtown Flint, opened in mid-June 2023 then closed in Novemeber. The bar plans to re-open in spring 2024.
  • Frankie’s Pub opened last June on 10th Avenue. The pub married the neighborhood’s past and present with a vibrant, tchotchke-filled space. Unfortunately, Frankie’s closed earlier this month and announced plans to re-open in Brooklyn or Downtown Manhattan.
  • Schmitty’s Bar opened in late November at the former home of Gym Bar in West Hollywood.

Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!

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