By Tyler Scruggs
The gay scene in Atlanta is vast and deeply embedded in the DNA of the city. Rather than centralizing itself to a singular gayborhood like West Hollywood or Wilton Manors, Atlanta opts for a more grassroots, tailor-made scene for diverse gay experiences. And thank the gods for that, because Atlantans themselves have far more to offer in terms of culture, music, and style than the Midtown scene alone. That’s not to say that plenty of fun can be had in Atlanta’s vibrantly-lit, Ariana Grande-scored, true-to- the-genre gay bars, but you may be unfamiliar with some queer-friendly spots in town that have plenty regarding great music, friendly service, and attractive folks. And with recent shake-ups in town like the (potential) closing of Cowtippers and Burkhart’s, you may just be in the market for a new regular spot.
465 Boulevard SE
Still one of my favorites in Atlanta, this small, humble Grant Park gay bar in an innocuous shopping center isn’t going to be a particular hotspot in the community, but we can sure as hell try! With a more-than-competent karaoke set-up (eclipsing the likes of Mary’s, if you ask me) and friendly staff, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a queer space with breathing room and neighborly warmth like this one.
502 Amsterdam Ave NE
The size queens in Atlanta must not be familiar with Amsterdam Pub, cause this bar is HUGE. What’s essentially an Oscar’s on Steroids regarding bar design, this tucked away bar just north of Piedmont Park has a lot to offer in terms of themed nights and a gorgeous view from the patio.
Woofs on Piedmont
2425 Piedmont Rd NE
Are you a friendly cub who just so happens to be a Chicago Cubs fan? Woofs is for you. I love queer sports bars because it’s a chance to experience the camaraderie and massive positive energy sports can bring, without the toxic masculinity. Catch me there with a beer and a ballcap, but don’t bother me when baseball’s on (unless you’re handsome).
675 Ponce De Leon Ave, 2nd floor of Ponce City Market
Perched upon the second floor of Atlanta’s hugely successful lifestyle center Ponce City Market, The Mercury is a classy, usually quiet spot where the cocktails are as good as the conversation. With a friendly staff and a wonderful Monday special with up to half-off some classic cocktails. If you work in the area, you may have discovered your next post-work hangout.
Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium
466 Edgewood Ave
Although Yelp and other sites categorize Church as a gay bar, anyone who has been recently can tell you that it definitely leans more hipster-straight than queer on most occasions. That doesn’t mean it can’t be taken over by The Gays though, and it frequently is! Especially at Second Service on the second Sunday of every month.
1400 Northside Dr. NW
You know what I’m willing to go to bat for if you’re looking for a gay bar where you can sit and chat on a weeknight? Swinging-Frickin- Richards. Although there’s still a cover fee, there’s virtually no one there other than the staff and dancers, meaning you and your friends can have your pick of table, and attention from the dancers. It’s got everything you need — music, drinks, eye candy, and a place to have a conversation. If you’re in West Midtown, why the hell not?
699 Ponce de Leon Ave NE
Beneath the Beltline and at the base level of Ford Factor Lofts, the aptly-named Model T is a classic bar spot with games, food, and more. It’s definitely worth checking out for at least a drink while you stroll by on the beltline.
Friends On Ponce
736 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE
In the mood for a smokey, unpretentious crowd that has great music and a no-nonsense bar staff? You’re probably already familiar with Friends on Ponce, but it bears repeating. Any visit to Friends turns into a wild story to tell the next morning, and thank God for it.
893 Peachtree St NE
If you’re looking for a bar that caters to but doesn’t condescend to queer people of color, Bulldogs is for you. Though there’s an irritating $3 cover to get in daily and the bar is cash only, you won’t need more than a twenty to get you plenty of drinks and a good time. It’s worth checking out, especially if you’ve never given it the chance.
My Sister’s Room
66 12th St NE
Last but not least, the little lesbian bar that is the new host of Tossed Salad, Sunday night’s drag extravaganza previously home to Burkhart’s. If it wasn’t for the swift and smooth transition, who knows how differently the saga would’ve gone down? Regardless, it’s brought a spotlight to a great space that’s definitely going to grow in popularity thanks to its Midtown convenience and friendly staff.
Tyler Scruggs is a writer and musician living in Atlanta with his partner Mark. When he’s not churning out internet content, he’s paying too much for coffee and buying movie tickets weeks in advance. Follow him on Instagram @Scruggernaut and Twitter @TylerScruggs – or on Scruff (you’ll know it when you see it).