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A woman in a crowd is shouting in glee and holding up a rainbow pride flag.
Pride celebrations are taking place all over Boston this month.
Michael Moloney/Shutterstock

Where to Celebrate Pride Month 2023 in Boston

The best of Boston’s gay bar scene can be found around the South End, Dorchester, and beyond

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Pride celebrations are taking place all over Boston this month.
| Michael Moloney/Shutterstock

The conversations about Boston’s gay nightlife scene often center around the closings of cherished establishments and rapid gentrification of once-gay neighborhoods. Longtime revelers lament the loss of Paradise and its sweat-soaked basement with no cell service and lots of jockstraps; city stalwarts reflect fondly on the days when Fenway was known for cruising instead of glistening high-rises. Like nearly every other city, Boston has seen a decline in LGBTQ-specific venues in recent decades.

But those who only mourn the past are missing out on an exciting and innovative present. Sections of Dorchester, once the epicenter of Boston’s Irish Catholic working-class, are now miniature gayborhoods — complete with Sunday tea dances. The Theater District is home to multiple clubs that regularly host big-name DJs and queens from RuPauls Drag Race (season 15 winner Sasha Colby performed at Legacy this winter), and Back Bay remains filled with gay-friendly neighborhood haunts. ManRay, the LGBTQ-friendly nightclub that caters to Boston’s goth and alternative communities, also reopened this year in Cambridge.

With a proud history of supporting gay rights and a large LGBTQ population, Boston is unsurprisingly one of the most inclusive metro areas in the country. It is true that gay people can feel comfortable galavanting anywhere, from Eastie’s waterfront to Somerville’s Davis Square.

Still, there is a need for gay-specific spaces, and a new generation of socialites are ensuring that Boston remains a destination for LGBTQ people. With Pride Month getting started, here is a look at the city’s gay bar scene and all it has to offer.

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Reopened this February, ManRay serves the area’s alt-LGBTQ crowd, a desperately needed addition to Greater Boston’s mainstream bar and nightclub scene. With multiple rooms and a big dance floor, there is plenty of space to operate during the venue’s weekly LGBTQ dance night, Campus. 

On June 8, ManRay will be celebrating the opening of Pride Weekend with its brand new Mistress of Ceremonies for Thursday night: Mizery McRae, one of Boston’s favorite local queens. 

The Alley Bar

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Widely considered the most bear-friendly bar in Boston, the Alley hosts reoccurring events every week, including bi-monthly Friday Fuzz with DJ Taffy and Brent Covington, Underbear, and Bearaoke.

The Alley’s Pride Week calendar this year includes a special pre-Pride dance party on Friday, June 9 with DJs Taffy and Brent Covington; and on Saturday, they’re opening at noon with DJs and dancing all day long.

Jacque’s Cabaret

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Jacque’s Cabaret is the drag capital of Boston. Tucked away in stately Bay Village, Jacque’s has reoccurring themes during the week, like a Sing for Your Supper karaoke buffet and Drag on Broadway. Now open at 1 p.m. on weekdays and noon on weekends, it hosts drag shows with Boston queens every Friday and Saturday night.

Legacy, run by Royale Entertainment Group, has taken the mantle from Paradise as one of Boston’s most hedonistic gay nightlife destinations. Located in the Theater District, Legacy hosts weekly Latinx nights and Serve Thursdays with nationally known and local queens, as well as popular DJs from the circuit scene.

For Pride Week, RuPaul stars Kandy Muse and Kahanna Montrese will be there for a special Serve Thursdays (June 8), and Bussdown Fridays will feature a live performance from Tomás Matos. The Pride main event is Saturday night at Royale nightclub with DJ Alex Acosta, and the Pride finale is Sunday night at industry-favorite Candibar and Legacy, which connect to each other.

Club Café

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Around for more than 30 years, Club Café is one of the oldest gay bars in Boston, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the throngs of Gen Z-ers and millennials who wrap around Columbus Avenue on Friday and Saturday nights to get inside (pro tip: buy a yearly VIP pass to skip the line.) Club Café — or “CC” as it’s known among the local 20- and 30-somethings — has themed events every night of the week, from drag bingo to trivia to dance parties.

As per usual, Club Café has a full calendar for Pride Month, including a special Disco Teca with RuPaul’s Alyssa Hunter (June 8), Pride Anthem Friday (June 9) and Pride Saturday. The festivities on Saturday start at 2 p.m.

Trophy Room

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Conveniently located less than half a mile from Club Café, Trophy Room is packed on Friday and Saturday nights with the pre-club crowd. Formerly an old-school video bar — Trophy Room also used to host weekly drag brunches — the space is still a gay favorite.

Trophy Room is always involved with the annual Chandler Street Pride Block Party (June 10), which takes place right outside.

The Kartal

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This upscale cocktail lounge opened last fall on Tremont Street, where the Eagle, a gay dive bar staple in nearly every major city, used to be located. The owners are aware of the history: “kartal” is Turkish for “eagle,” and the mosaic entrance depicts a two-headed eagle with the dates 1981 and 2021, commemorating the Eagle’s 40 years in the South End. On Saturday, June 10, the Kartal will be open all day with DJs; and, just as importantly, no cover charge. They will also have an on-street “beer garden” for prime parade viewing.

Anchovies

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There are few better ways to cap off a Sunday Funday than with some house-made Italian favorites from Anchovies. In this gay-friendly establishment, the portions are big and the drinks are stiff.

Cathedral Station

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Open since 2014, Cathedral Station is operated by some members of the legendary Fritz, a now-defunct South End watering hole. Local LGBTQ sports leagues often host socials in the space, where players sip cosmos on the patio and play pool with the Sox game on in the background. Cathy’s is open until 2 a.m. seven days per week.

Harp and Bard

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With its spacious bar and numerous high-tops, Harp and Bard has become a destination for Dorchester gays who want to enjoy a colorful selection of cocktails or chow down on comfort food favorites like turkey tips and meatloaf. Harp and Bard is buzzing every Sunday night, with the party-going masses spilling over from Dbar tea dance for some fries and a nightcap.

Brian Piccini’s Dbar has been a gay favorite for years (along with its siblings Boston Chops in the South End and Deuxave in Back Bay). When the dinner plates are cleared, the atmosphere becomes a bit more decadent. Dbar After Dark throws some of the most bacchanalian events on the Boston gay nightlife calendar, attracting hordes of pleasure-seekers for its glow party and raucous Sunday outdoor tea dance. Show Tunes Tuesdays and Karaoke Fridays are neighborhood staples as well. 

This year’s Stoplight party, always a favorite, will take place on June 9. 

Blend has become a go-to spot for Dorchester gays looking to dance the night away, or catch up with friends in their roomy bar area or outdoor patio. There are theme parties every month, including favorites such as wig night and leggings night, as well as Sunday tea and regular drag brunches. 

Blend is hosting a number of events for Pride, notably its “GAYHEM” dance party on Saturday and pop star drag brunch on Sunday. (There will be Jessie Ware!)

ManRay

Reopened this February, ManRay serves the area’s alt-LGBTQ crowd, a desperately needed addition to Greater Boston’s mainstream bar and nightclub scene. With multiple rooms and a big dance floor, there is plenty of space to operate during the venue’s weekly LGBTQ dance night, Campus. 

On June 8, ManRay will be celebrating the opening of Pride Weekend with its brand new Mistress of Ceremonies for Thursday night: Mizery McRae, one of Boston’s favorite local queens. 

The Alley Bar

Widely considered the most bear-friendly bar in Boston, the Alley hosts reoccurring events every week, including bi-monthly Friday Fuzz with DJ Taffy and Brent Covington, Underbear, and Bearaoke.

The Alley’s Pride Week calendar this year includes a special pre-Pride dance party on Friday, June 9 with DJs Taffy and Brent Covington; and on Saturday, they’re opening at noon with DJs and dancing all day long.

Jacque’s Cabaret

Jacque’s Cabaret is the drag capital of Boston. Tucked away in stately Bay Village, Jacque’s has reoccurring themes during the week, like a Sing for Your Supper karaoke buffet and Drag on Broadway. Now open at 1 p.m. on weekdays and noon on weekends, it hosts drag shows with Boston queens every Friday and Saturday night.

Legacy

Legacy, run by Royale Entertainment Group, has taken the mantle from Paradise as one of Boston’s most hedonistic gay nightlife destinations. Located in the Theater District, Legacy hosts weekly Latinx nights and Serve Thursdays with nationally known and local queens, as well as popular DJs from the circuit scene.

For Pride Week, RuPaul stars Kandy Muse and Kahanna Montrese will be there for a special Serve Thursdays (June 8), and Bussdown Fridays will feature a live performance from Tomás Matos. The Pride main event is Saturday night at Royale nightclub with DJ Alex Acosta, and the Pride finale is Sunday night at industry-favorite Candibar and Legacy, which connect to each other.

Club Café

Around for more than 30 years, Club Café is one of the oldest gay bars in Boston, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the throngs of Gen Z-ers and millennials who wrap around Columbus Avenue on Friday and Saturday nights to get inside (pro tip: buy a yearly VIP pass to skip the line.) Club Café — or “CC” as it’s known among the local 20- and 30-somethings — has themed events every night of the week, from drag bingo to trivia to dance parties.

As per usual, Club Café has a full calendar for Pride Month, including a special Disco Teca with RuPaul’s Alyssa Hunter (June 8), Pride Anthem Friday (June 9) and Pride Saturday. The festivities on Saturday start at 2 p.m.

Trophy Room

Conveniently located less than half a mile from Club Café, Trophy Room is packed on Friday and Saturday nights with the pre-club crowd. Formerly an old-school video bar — Trophy Room also used to host weekly drag brunches — the space is still a gay favorite.

Trophy Room is always involved with the annual Chandler Street Pride Block Party (June 10), which takes place right outside.

The Kartal

This upscale cocktail lounge opened last fall on Tremont Street, where the Eagle, a gay dive bar staple in nearly every major city, used to be located. The owners are aware of the history: “kartal” is Turkish for “eagle,” and the mosaic entrance depicts a two-headed eagle with the dates 1981 and 2021, commemorating the Eagle’s 40 years in the South End. On Saturday, June 10, the Kartal will be open all day with DJs; and, just as importantly, no cover charge. They will also have an on-street “beer garden” for prime parade viewing.

Anchovies

There are few better ways to cap off a Sunday Funday than with some house-made Italian favorites from Anchovies. In this gay-friendly establishment, the portions are big and the drinks are stiff.

Cathedral Station

Open since 2014, Cathedral Station is operated by some members of the legendary Fritz, a now-defunct South End watering hole. Local LGBTQ sports leagues often host socials in the space, where players sip cosmos on the patio and play pool with the Sox game on in the background. Cathy’s is open until 2 a.m. seven days per week.

Harp and Bard

With its spacious bar and numerous high-tops, Harp and Bard has become a destination for Dorchester gays who want to enjoy a colorful selection of cocktails or chow down on comfort food favorites like turkey tips and meatloaf. Harp and Bard is buzzing every Sunday night, with the party-going masses spilling over from Dbar tea dance for some fries and a nightcap.

Dbar

Brian Piccini’s Dbar has been a gay favorite for years (along with its siblings Boston Chops in the South End and Deuxave in Back Bay). When the dinner plates are cleared, the atmosphere becomes a bit more decadent. Dbar After Dark throws some of the most bacchanalian events on the Boston gay nightlife calendar, attracting hordes of pleasure-seekers for its glow party and raucous Sunday outdoor tea dance. Show Tunes Tuesdays and Karaoke Fridays are neighborhood staples as well. 

This year’s Stoplight party, always a favorite, will take place on June 9. 

Blend

Blend has become a go-to spot for Dorchester gays looking to dance the night away, or catch up with friends in their roomy bar area or outdoor patio. There are theme parties every month, including favorites such as wig night and leggings night, as well as Sunday tea and regular drag brunches. 

Blend is hosting a number of events for Pride, notably its “GAYHEM” dance party on Saturday and pop star drag brunch on Sunday. (There will be Jessie Ware!)

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