The Great Plains and the Mississippi River are two of the USA’s most stunning and famous natural wonders, and St Louis enjoys a prime position alongside both. A city where some of history’s top musical entertainers got their start, there is a creative spirit that runs through St Louis’s streets and makes it a truly special place to visit.
A remaining bastion of mid-west Americana, St Louis is where you’ll find a culture built around beer, bowling, and baseball. After being greeted by the gargantuan Gateway Arch you’ll be welcomed to a city that resembles a patchwork quilt, made up of distinctive districts and regions, each with their own unique atmosphere and local character.
St Louis is also home to a surprisingly large gay scene that has been seen growing support in recent years, with local people becoming increasingly accepting of LGBT+ people. There is a wealth of gay venues in the city’s gay district of The Grove, a historic and diverse area that is known for its thriving nightlife and charming architecture.
When it comes to gay nightlife in St Louis nowhere beats The Grove neighborhood. The area rose to prominence as the city’s primary gay village in the 1990s and early 2000s when a number of St. Louis best gay establishments moved their premises to this eclectic neighborhood. Since then, The Grove has retained its position as the number one destination for gay clubbing in the city.
Dark, crowded, and covered in mirrors, Attitudes is one of St Louis’s longest-running gay clubs and a firm favorite amongst the local community. With a large dancefloor and a reputation for playing only the best pop anthems, Attitudes is classed as one of the best gay dance clubs in the city. Whilst weekday nights see performances from local and touring drag queens, on the weekend, the club becomes a bastion of hedonism, with a diverse crowd relishing in the electrifying atmosphere.
The Grey Fox has been a staple of the gay scene in St Louis for more than a decade and continues to offer no-frills clubbing to the stream of patrons who pass through its door every night. Despite mass gentrification in the area and multiple renovations, the bar has remained a gritty venue that is popular amongst guys looking to party without pretense. The Grey Fox is the perfect spot for those seeking a more wild night, and the many dark corners of the venue are great places to meet other guys.
Run by the same couple for its entire existence, Just John’s is one of the best places in St Louis to soak up the Midwest friendliness and enjoy a strong drink. The spacious outside patio is a popular hangout for the local LGBT+ community and Just John’s float can always be seen in the annual pride celebrations.
If you’re after a stylish and contemporary hotel, located close to the city’s best nightlife and entertainment venues than look no further than the Four Seasons St Louis. This 5-star venue is perfect for gay travelers who are keen to explore every inch of charming St Louis. The interior of the hotel is modern and the innovative design creates an atmosphere of relaxation and opulence. After a long day of exploring the city, the spacious and airy guest rooms of the Four Seasons Hotel are the perfect place to unwind.
Few hotels are brave enough to combine space exploration with a boutique hotel experience, but the Moonrise Hotel does just that. With a large moon replica adorning its stunning rooftop terrace, and memorabilia lined walls, the hotel is an ode to the intergalactic. The comfortable and quirky guestrooms have been individually designed with collected furnishings and decoration that works to create an otherworldly atmosphere. The on-site Eclipse restaurant is an award-winning establishment and attracts diners from across the region who come to sample the locally sourced, organic dishes.
For a more intimate and smaller-scale experience, consider staying at the Benton Park Inn, a charming gay-friendly bed and breakfast located in the quaint Benton Park neighborhood. The hotel is the closest venue to the city’s gay nightlife epicenter and many of the best gay bars and clubs are located within easy walking distance, including Bastille Bar and Keypers Piano Bar. Each room is furnished with bespoke vintage furniture and the open and welcoming hosts will immediately make you feel at home.
Gay pride in St Louis
Pride happens annually in St Louis and involved a number of events, parties, and parades. The pride events are the biggest celebrations of LGBT+ identity in the region, with upwards of 80,000 people regularly attending. The focal point of pride in St Louis is PrideFest, a two-day event that sees the city’s stunning downtown area be transformed into a mecca of gay culture, community, and pride. Rainbow flags adorn every lamppost and attendees are dressed in their most colorful regalia.
Unlike most cities, St Louis has a tradition of smaller regions and districts holding their own pride celebrations throughout the year, and each is tailored around the community and focuses on the issues and subjects that matter to the local LGBT+ population. Metro East PrideFest, Black Pride, and Tower Grove Pride all take place in the summer and are popular events in the city’s calendar.
Gay rights in St Louis
The state of Missouri has not historically been a socially liberal state, however, in recent years there have been a number of political achievements that have improved the lives of the LGBT+ people living there. Laws have never existed that ban same-sex couples from adopting in Missouri and since 2015 same-sex marriage has been legal in the state. Whilst not enshrined in the state law, in 2013 the senate prohibited discrimination on the grounds of actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
Hate crime law in Missouri explicitly mentions sexual orientation and gender identity as motivators for acts of violence, and such crimes carry extended sentences. A poll in 2017 suggested that 58% of Missouri residents supported same-sex marriage, a dramatic increase to 31% found in the same study conducted in 2011. Social attitudes are improving rapidly, and as such St Louis is an increasingly safe and welcoming gay travel destination.
by George Pizani | On: Gay St. Louis