The capital of Georgia and home to more than 6 million people, Atlanta is a vibrant and sprawling metropolis that has a unique history and culture. The city scores highly on world rankings for development and innovation and is an equally exciting destination for tourism.
Atlanta experienced a cultural and artistic renaissance in the 2010s and as a result, the artistic and creative communities within the city have reclaimed many of the areas that were previously neglected and forgotten. The city is alive and teeming with opportunity for discovery of both its troubled history and promising future.
Atlanta boasts the third-largest LGBT+ population in the USA and has a thriving and vibrant gay district that is generally concentrated around the city’s midtown area. The gay scene in the city is diverse and eclectic and is reflective of the growing acceptance of LGBT+ people in Atlanta.
The title as the queer capital of the South isn’t easily earned, but Atlanta’s selection of gay clubs and bars make this city truly deserving of the claim. The gay clubbing scene in Atlanta is known for being unpretentious and prioritizes having fun over anything else.
Situated in the heart of Atlanta’s gay midtown, Blake’s on The Park has provided high-quality clubbing experiences for the thirty years. The dance bar is host to world-renowned DJs, live dancers and performances from legendary drag queens, making it one of the most popular clubs for Atlanta’s gay population. The venue is split into three distinct sections, each with their own unique genre of music and atmosphere, meaning there is something for every gay traveler.
For a more low key but still enjoyable venue, gay travelers should consider visiting WOOFS, the city’s only gay sports bar and a popular hangout amongst the bears of Atlanta. The bar boasts 27 TVs for guests to watch their favourite sports on, and provides a unique experience for travelers to soak up American sports in a typical rugged sports bar.
Tripp’s bar combines the small scale, local style of bar that is so unanimous with the American South with the vibrant and eclectic gay scene that is increasingly large in Atlanta to create a space that is relaxed, no-fuss and affordable. There are a number of weekly events that take place at Tripp’s including bingo, karaoke and live music.
Despite being situated in the socially conservative South, Atlanta is a generally liberal city and gay travelers can expect to be treated with equal respect, dignity and kindness as any other traveler during their stay. The best hotels for gay travelers are located in the city’s Midtown, where guests will be within short walking distance to Atlanta’s best gay bars and clubs.
The W Atlanta is a comfortable and expansive gay-friendly hotel located in the city’s Midtown area and positions guests just minutes away from the best gay nightlife and queer culture on offer. The hotel features excellent amenities including in-room spa-style baths, a 24/7 bar and in-house steak restaurant.
Offering rooms and suites designed with modern elegance and a plethora of facilities, the Renaissance Atlanta Midtown Hotel is the perfect base from which gay travelers can explore the local gay scene and wider Atlanta. The hotel boasts a spectacular rooftop bar and restaurant, serving seasonal and high-quality food and drink options.
The Loews Atlanta provides an upscale option for travelers wishing to explore the Midtown area and immerse themselves in the city’s unique centre of gay nightlife and culture. Boasting state of the art design and technology, guests can be sure that their stay will be comfortable and convenient. The Loews Atlanta is known for its friendly and helpful staff, proximity to local gay clubs and comfortable beds.
Equal parts sombre and inspiring, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park preserves the memory of the revolutionary civil rights leader. Visitors can tour the birth home of Martin Luther King Jr and explore the meticulously preserved rooms he once called home. Guests can also cross the boulevard and pay their respects at the crypt where the iconic activist now rests.
Numerous memorials and exhibitions dedicated to the civil rights movement more generally can also be discovered at the site including a permanent exhibition to King’s wife and accomplished opera singer Coretta Scott King.
The High Museum of Art is the leading institution for the collection of artwork in the Southeast with over 15,000 works in its permanent collection. The museum boasts an impressive anthology of art that follows the troubled history of the South through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The High is dedicated to showcasing and supporting local artists and regularly features exhibitions of lesser-known and up and coming artists.
Exhibitions at the museum vary in content but amongst the permanent installations is a collection of written works by James Baldwin, a leading figure in the American Civil Rights Movement and Gay Liberation Movement. Baldwin’s work is famous for its intersectional analysis of race, masculinity and sexuality in segregated America.
The state of Georgia legalised same-sex marriage in 2015 and today citizens of Atlanta enjoy the same legal protections as their heterosexual peers and friends. In 2020, legislation was introduced that specifically recognised sexual orientation as a motivation for hate crimes.
Atlanta is a beacon of respect and equality for LGBT+ individuals in the American South and the city’s liberal attitudes mean that gay travelers can expect to be treated with dignity and kindness during their visit. The city holds one of the country’s biggest pride events every year in October on the weekend closest to National Coming Out Day.
by George Pizani | More: Gay Atlanta