Atlanta, GA is a booming city with lots to see and do. Perhaps that’s why more than 100 million people arrive at its airport each year.
But did you know that Atlanta is one of the gay capitals of America? The city is a hub for LGBTQ+ tourists, attracting people from all over the world who want to enjoy the city’s gay attractions and learn about its important place in LGBTQ+ history.
Want to find out more about gay Atlanta and why you should visit? We’ve created a guide to this underrated LGBTQ+ capital for you to enjoy.
A Brief History of Gay Atlanta
Atlanta has a long and proud gay history. Only a month or so after the famous Stonewall Riots in 1969, Atlanta police raided George Ellis’ Film Forum, disrupting a screening of Andy Warhol’s Lonesome Cowboys to take pictures of the audience. Just like other major cities across the world, Atlanta’s LGBTQ+ community was facing mass harassment.
As part of the efforts to fight against this harassment and injustice, the city’s branch of the Gay Liberation Front was formed in 1971. The group went on to play a key role in many civil rights issues in the city.
In the summer of that year, the city held its first Pride parade. That parade wasn’t much like the enormous, well-planned parades that take place nowadays. It took place without a permit and attracted only a small number of participants, perhaps 150 at most. However, it was an important start.
In 1981, one of the city’s best-known LGBTQ+ groups was formed: the Atlanta Gay Chorus. This trailblazing group did so much for promoting the gay rights movement in the area and continues to promote conversation and equality through their art.
There were still mountains to climb. In 1983, the Cobb County Commission removed funding for arts and even issued a proclamation condemning the LGBTQ+ community. Thanks to the work of activists, conditions slowly improved throughout the years.
Midtown is the center of Atlanta’s gay scene. With its rainbow crosswalks and multiple LGBTQ-friendly businesses, you’ll immediately recognize it as a safe and inclusive spot for LGBTQ+ people.
This neighborhood is also home to a wide variety of great LGBTQ-owned businesses. It’s a friendly and welcoming spot with low crime rates where visitors can feel safe and enjoy the nightlife.
Although it’s not the only LGBTQ-inclusive neighborhood in Atlanta, it’s certainly the best-known one. Visit around Pride and you’ll enjoy a buzzing atmosphere generated by visitors from all over the world.
A Booming LGBTQ Population
As the best-known LGBTQ-friendly city in the South, Atlanta has quite the reputation for inclusivity. In recent years, that’s led to a positive cycle.
People from across the region flock to Atlanta to enjoy the LGBTQ+ scene and supportive community. The city’s queer population grows year-on-year and the trend is set to continue.
Atlanta also holds the distinction of having one of the highest rates of diversity among its LGBTQ+ community. While some other cities known for their vibrant LGBTQ+ scenes can lack diversity in other areas, LGBT Atlanta takes pride in its strong queer communities led by people of color.
You’ll notice the community’s diversity reflected in many centers of LGBTQ+ culture around the city. From museums to marches, all voices and identities are honored and included.
Things to Do in Gay Atlanta
From fascinating historical sites to atmospheric nightclubs, there are a wide range of LGBTQ+ friendly activities across the city.
This boutique hotel is one of the best places to stay in Atlanta, and it’s a favorite within the LGBTQ+ community. Hotel Colee has a rooftop bar and swimming pool, top-class room service, and more.
It’s pet-friendly too, so if you want to bring your four-legged friends along with you, you’ll be very welcome.
Located on Peachtree Road NE, it’s easily accessible and has plenty of parking. Be sure to book in advance, especially if you’re visiting during the busy Pride season.
My Sister’s Room
My Sister’s Room is one of the last remaining lesbian bars in the country. Having run for more than 25 years, it’s a safe haven for all who enter, providing a welcoming and diverse atmosphere. It forms the center of Lesbian Atlanta.
This venue features nightly entertainment, including DJs, bands, drag acts, and more. Check out their website for details of upcoming events. You can also grab a bite to eat off the pub-style menu.
Located on 12th Street NE, My Sister’s Room has two floors, so you can enjoy double the fun. There’s plenty of parking outside, as well as easy access from public transport and taxis.
National Civil Rights Museum
This museum documents the long road to equality for various minority groups in the USA and around the world. Founded in 2014, it’s packed full of fascinating exhibits. Among its most treasured items are collected papers and writings from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
There are also resources and exhibitions exploring and documenting the LGBTQ+ community’s struggle for equal rights. Visit during pride month and you’ll discover all kinds of special exhibitions. There are even resources available for those having trouble coming out.
It’s important to remember that the rights of minority groups in America didn’t spring up from nowhere, and this museum is a great way to remember the work that was done and the work ahead.
Restaurants and Coffee Shops
As you might expect for a city of Atlanta’s size, it’s packed with great places to eat and drink. And there is a great range of restaurants and coffee shops dedicated to serving the LGBTQ+ community. Whether you’re looking for fine dining or a quick cup of Joe, you’ll find plenty of different options in and around the city.
Some of the best LGBTQ+-owned businesses in the city include HodgePodge Coffee and Georgia Beer Garden. HodgePodge Coffee is an artsy venue located on Moreland Avenue SE with an emphasis on inclusion. Georgia Beer Garden on Edgewood Ave is a traditional-style pub with a wonderful backyard area and delicious pints.
No big LGBTQ+ city would be complete without a top-notch Pride Parade. Of course, Atlanta is no exception.
Visit Atlanta in June and you’ll get the opportunity to experience the local Pride events. With its long history and massive participation, Atlanta Pride is truly one of the best Pride Parades in the country and has been recognized as such by some major publications.
Originally held in Piedmont Park, Pride events are now centered around Atlanta Civic Center. But smaller and satellite events are scattered throughout the city.
In the past decades, the event has expanded to feature all kinds of different activities, as well as sub-marches representing different parts of the LGBTQ+ experience.
There’s so much to do at Atlanta Pride, with different events taking place every year. With marches, workshops, markets, entertainment, and more, you’ll never have trouble finding something cool to take part in. You’ll also get the chance to meet LGBTQ+ people from all over the world.
Out On Film
Since 1981, an important companion to Atlanta Pride has been the Out On Film Festival. This non-profit festival screens all kinds of cinematic works relevant to the LGBTQ+ community.
From dramas to foreign films, there are all kinds of great movies to see. Some films that later went on to great accolades even had their premieres at this small but vibrant film festival.
Atlanta’s CityPass makes it easy for visitors to get around the city and enjoy its various attractions. The pass is valid for nine days and offers discounts at five of the city’s biggest attractions, including:
- Georgia Aquarium
- CNN studio tour
- World of Coca-Cola
- A choice of either Zoo Atlanta or the Center for Civil and Human Rights
- A choice of either the Chick-fil-A Fan College Football Hall of Fame or the Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Although many of these attractions aren’t specific to the LGBTQ+ community, all are diverse and welcoming places. They’re perfect spots for those looking to kick back after a night of partying.
The pass represents excellent value for those taking a long trip to Atlanta. If you’re going to be in the city for a few days and you plan on visiting Atlanta’s major attractions, it’s definitely a great choice.
More Great Destinations For You to Enjoy
Atlanta truly is one of the best cities for LGBTQ+ visitors in America. The community has a rich and vibrant presence in the city and you’ll find something new around every corner when you visit gay Atlanta for yourself.
Looking for more great gay cities around the world to visit? From Stockholm to São Paulo, we’ve put together guides to amazing destinations all over the globe. Check out our plan your trip section and get plenty of inspiration for your next excursion!