Pride in Places series

I executed Q.Digital's 2022 & 2023 Pride in Places series for their travel vertical GayCities (and republished in Queerty). I profiled 24 vital queer spaces for advancing equality around the globe, interviewing their owners and celebrating their colorful stories of resilience.  

Pride in Places: New York bar’s yearly “Mr. Eagle Contest” created a lineage of queer activism

Derek Danton was a regular at Eagle NYC before he saved it from permanent closure. He moved to New York in 1980 and found a place where he felt comfortable and accepted, especially considering it wouldn’t be until 2003 that the US officially decriminalized homosexuality nationwide.

But in a city that prides itself on never sleeping, equality has never been put on snooze, at least in comparison. Danton discovered once you experience a sense of community, you’ll fight for it.

Danton tells GayCit

Pride in Places: How this Honolulu nightclub exposed a homophobic and corrupt city agency

Before Robbie Baldwin co-founded the gay nightclub Scarlet in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2015, he managed operations for gay bars in Chicago for ten years, including another unrelated gay bar sharing the same name.

Balwin tells GayCities that he never expected to be the owner of a world-famous Pineapple Stage where drag queens pour their hearts out. “It has been a lifelong dream of mine [to own a gay bar]. I didn’t know how I would get there, but here I am,” Baldwin says.

He succeeded in full boozy,

Pride in Places: This gay nightclub in Italy is considered Europe’s Studio 54

Since 1980, music, fashion, and queerness have intersected at Plastic in Milan, Italy. The country might be one of the worst in Europe regarding gay rights (same-sex marriage is still illegal), but its LGBTQ+ community has always thrived underground.

Not long after its inception, the gay nightclub developed a reputation for where to see and be seen; Andy Warhol described its lively avant-garde atmosphere as the best nightlife in Europe. Imagine the influence of Studio 54 in New York, including

Pride in Places: Shuttered by a mass shooting, this Colorado nightclub’s story isn’t over

Club Q was the perfect queer gathering space in Colorado Springs because it catered to all vibes of the night. There was a bar area if you wanted to sit and socialize, a busy dance floor, a competitive pool tables section, and an outdoor patio.

The venue stood as a pillar of LGBTQ+ resilience and celebration despite the nearby evangelical, alt-right, and military presence; it was a de facto community center.

Matthew Haynes and Nic Grzecka opened the nightclub in 2002, where it became the only

Pride in Places: How two women turned a century-old stag bar into an inclusive hangout

Melanie’s at Griffith’s Tavern doesn’t claim to be any better than other bars in its Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore. But, perhaps, that is because it expects patrons to walk in with the same attitude.

This is thanks to its new owners, Hannah Spangler and Allison Crowley, who bought and partially renamed the place two months ago.

Before their purchase, Griffith’s Tavern was a neighborhood dive bar for nearly 100 years, catering primarily to straight men.

It was a space where guys could sip

Pride in Places: How the AIDS Memorial Quilt found a permanent home in San Francisco

At the height of the AIDS epidemic, countless Americans who lost friends and family had no way to remember or honor them. Their collective grief couldn’t find closure.

Kevin Herglotz, Chief Operating Officer of San Francisco’s National AIDS Memorial, tells GayCities that nothing was being done when thousands were dying across America (and the world).

“There was no place to go, no place to heal. People didn’t know what to do, but they had all this loss, all this heartbreak. The community needed

Pride in Places: How this nightclub evolved from a hole-in-the-wall into a massive enterprise

When Sidetrack first began serving Chicago‘s queer community in 1982, it was expected to fail like most gay bars opening at that time, an era rampant with homophobia. The majority lasted less than two years.

Business (and life) partners Art Johnston and Pepe Peña founded the venue as an 800-square-foot storefront without front-facing windows. Their business was signless and used beer casings as seating. But their humble beginnings didn’t happen without big ambitions.

Two years later, the owner

Pride in Places: An LGBTQ+ nightclub built in Orlando to celebrate life became the scene of the second largest mass shooting in modern American history

Barbara Poma opened Pulse with her husband in 2004 to honor her late brother John who passed from AIDS in 1991. It was a business proposal pitched to them by their best friend at the time, whose dream was to open an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Orlando. Poma saw it as an opportunity to pay tribute to a community she grew up in, choosing the name “Pulse” to remember her brother’s heart that kept beating through her acts of love and service.

Orlando’s queer community found their own beat within the nightc

Pride in Places: How a petition for a rainbow crosswalk helped pass queer reform in Georgia

The first time the LGBTQ+ community celebrated Pride in Athens, Georgia, was in 1998. Athens Pride + Queer Collective was created to pioneer queer visibility in the town, and organizers put together a potluck picnic under the pavilion at Lake Herrick.

President Emeritus of APQC Cameron Harrelson tells GayCities the location for Athens Pride changed over the years with an increase in the number of attendees, and by 2019, it was happening across two blocks in downtown Athens.

That’s when Harrels

Pride in Places: Drag queens at this Tennessee dance club won’t be kept from the stage

In Nashville, drag queens thrive despite being targeted by discriminatory legislation.

Many of the city’s most fabulous queens can be seen and tipped at Play Dance Bar, where there’s a drag spectacle every night of the week.

Co-Owner Joe Brown tells GayCities the nightclub has featured drag since it first opened in 2004, and he doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.

As it stands, the governor signed a bill banning drag shows in public spaces or where children are permitted, but a federal jud

Pride in Places: Harvey Milk’s former San Francisco headquarters remains a hub for queerness

Harvey Milk united the residents of his San Francisco gayborhood operating the Castro Camera from 1972 until his assassination in 1978.

He was an amateur photographer and opened the store with his partner to showcase his work; they lived in the apartment upstairs. His presence welcomed the LGBT community inside, and naturally, those four humble walls manifested as a fortress for grassroots activism.

He became the first openly gay man elected to public office in California in 1977. His campaign

Pride in Places: How this bookstore launched an entire Spanish gayborhood

Berkana was launched at the heart of the Chueca neighborhood in Madrid, becoming Spain’s first bookstore to specialize in gay and lesbian titles.

Founder Mili Hernandez said she was inspired by the likes of the most famous queer bookstores around the globe. Her pursuit of creating a haven for literature in 1993 was a reaction to her country’s oppressive right-wing Catholic culture.

“Going to England [London] and the United States [New York] was like being born again,” Hernandez told Report for

Pride in Places: New York’s Stonewall Inn continues to honor the shoulders its history stands on

The Supreme Court’s current overturning of Roe vs. Wade is a worst-case example of equality’s fragility. Lentz echoes that younger folks must be reminded that rights could be taken away without warning. “I would argue that the political stage has been set just for this moment, and we will see rights taken away from marginalized communities starting with women and going from there, so they need to get inspired by learning about their history.”

Following the spirit of honoring the shoulders our c

Pride in Places: The world’s oldest gay bar flourishes in Amsterdam

In 1927, Bet van Beeren might have been one of the only openly gay women operating an openly gay friendly bar worldwide. She founded Cafe ‘t Mandje in Amsterdam during a time when being queer was illegal. Businesses were encouraged to discriminate against marginalized groups. To own one was practically impossible.

But most people were also not like Bet, the eldest daughter of fourteen children. She acted as a brave advocate and pioneer of tolerance and human rights and became a legend in her co

Pride in Places: How the world’s oldest living drag performer helped create gay Portland

Portland‘s Darcelle XV Showplace embraces an “improvised, low-budget, and self-reliant illusion of glamour” reminiscent of the 60s.

Long before Stonewall’s drag queens made headlines by rioting in the streets, and brought LGBTQ rights into the national conversation, this nightclub gave Portland’s queer performers a place to express themselves and entertain their adoring fans freely.

The upbeat club’s owner Walter Cole has performed at the bar as Darcelle XV since he founded the venue. At 92 ye

Pride and Places: New Orleans City Council honors 32 queer lives lost in 1973 arson

Late on a summer evening, looking for an outlet from a world that loudly refused to accept them, the victims of the Upstairs Lounge Arson had no idea their night out would turn into anything other than a moment of social escapism. During that era, they entered that gay bar knowing full well the dangers of publicly identifying oneself as queer. Sadly, on June 24, 1973, their bravery would cost their lives.

Above the Jimani, a sports bar that remains, the Upstairs Lounge served as the popular han

Pride in Places: How this private club became Mexico’s home for identity and fantasy

Despite becoming a cultural hub of drag and transness in Mexico City, Club Roshell retains its original mystique. Founder Roshell Terranova knew balancing the club’s increased notoriety with privacy was pivotal for the safety of all her guests. In a machismo country where exploring your identity can get you killed, there is still no other place like it.

When the transgender actress and activist started Club Roshell in 2004, she sought to create a space that celebrated tranvestismo (transvestism

Pride in Places: How this gay bar remained a nightlife staple in Provincetown’s history

Provincetown‘s Atlantic House is one of those rare American establishments that’s as old as the block it’s located on.

Nestled at the center of Masonic Place, locals and tourists alike regularly flock to “A-House,” which competes as a contender for the oldest gay bar in the United States (if you count the time it was in the closet). In true gay fashion, the venue started out as a straight tavern. Ptown’s first Postmaster, Daniel Pease, built and operated it in 1834 under an unknown name.