9 ways to connect with the LGBTQIA + community in DC
From historic sites to trendy shops and must-see bars.
While our nation’s capital might not be the first destination you think of when you think of a major LGBTQIA + hub, it probably should be. Long before a cheerful crowd celebrated the long-awaited passage of marriage equality nationwide on the steps of the Supreme Court in 2015, Washington, DC, was at the center of the battle for it.
Even before the Stonewall riots in New York City, LGBTQIA + activist Frank Kameny filed the first gay rights appeal to the Supreme Court and, after being dismissed, dedicated his life to the fight. Visiting the National Mall, its memorials, and museums is a great way to learn about some facets of U.S. history, but the city also has areas dedicated to remembering LGBTQIA + history in the area. district.
Politics aside, DC is also a thriving representation of the diverse model work that is the LGBTQIA + community, with bars, dances and brunches galore. It doesn’t hurt that the benchmark log once nicknamed “The most gay place in America” and nearly 10% of its adult residents identify as LGBTQIA +.
So, from historic sites to hip boutiques and must-see bars, here’s how to experience Washington, DC, the gay way.
Have your drink in Ivy City
Strolling through the now thriving Ivy City Distillery scene, it would be a tragedy not to stop at Reparators of the Republic – a lesbian owned establishment that produces top notch vodka and whiskey right here in Washington, DC. They caused a nationwide sensation when releasing their signature “Rodham Rye” named after the former First Lady and presidential hopeful, but are also known for their highly drinkable Civic Vodka and chic industrial space.
Buy your next statement piece on 14th Street
Since 2008, Pixie Windsor has been helping Washingtonians embrace maximalism with her boutique Miss Pixie’s furniture and all the rest. The Logan Circle Pillar is loved by all for its original and unique vintage finds and distinctive pink walls. Inside the LGBTQIA-owned boutique, you can find everything from a new splashback to funky artwork, colorful bowls, dramatic glassware and more.
Get ready to brew in NoMa
Red bear arrived in the district just a few years ago, in 2019, as the city’s first 100% gay brewery. It’s the passionate project of three gay men who moved from Seattle to Washington, DC, bringing with them tasty West Coast-style beers to enjoy in a relaxed and inclusive space at NoMa. On tap you’ll find inventive beers (like a season of guava, raspberry, and carrot ginger), hard seltzer and ciders and there’s a full kitchen with pub staples like burgers, wings and fries from waffles.
Shake your peach on U Street
The ’90s never end at Peach Pit, a weekly turn-of-the-century-themed dance party at the popular nightclub DC9. One of the city’s oldest dance parties, Peach Pit gave LGBTQIA + Washingtonians a reason to take to the dance floor at the Emotions album for over 11 years now. The place even has a playlist available online to get participants in the mood all week while waiting for the arrival of Saturday.
Pay homage to a legend at Dupont Circle
We have a lot to thank Dr. Frank Kameny, a longtime LGBTQIA + activist who, among other things, challenged the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder and won. Although he is no longer with us, in 2010 the town had a main stretch of 17th Street NW near Dupont Circle named after Kameny. It is a suitable place, considered by locals to be the ‘gay quarter’, where you can frequent gay bars and LGBTQIA-owned restaurants such as Hank’s Oyster Bar and Mikko Nordic Fine Food. Just be sure to raise a drink at Kameny while you’re there.
Whether you dream of visiting Washington, DC, a tropical place, or a faraway city, it starts with making a plan. As an active ally of the LGBTQIA + community, Orbitz offers LGBTQIA + travelers great tools to find, book and feel welcome wherever they travel, such as selected hotel listings for properties that have made their commitment to inclusiveness. All you have to do is decide what to do when you get there.
Treat your sweet tooth to Capitol Hill
So that you can find Capital Candy Jar goodies in gourmet markets across the country, its founder, Dave Burton (and his operator) are based right here in Washington, DC. Growing up, Burton always had an entrepreneurial spirit – he started a high school lollipop business, which was eventually shut down by the principal. He’s obviously come a long way since then, now developing a small candy empire that includes much-loved homemade sweets such as chocolate-coated pretzel sticks, marshmallows and truffles. In DC, you can find the merchandise at their Capitol Hill storefront, or at places like Made in DC and Good Food Market.
Meet a whole new inclusive community from home
Sometimes it can seem like the LGBTQIA + bar scene is dominated by a certain age – something As you are a bar founders Jo McDaniel and Rachel Pike kept that in mind while developing their vision for a new kind of gay bar. Both women and homosexual partners, both are former lesbian bar A league of its own, and were inspired by pandemic closures to create a truly inclusive space (although it must remain virtual, for now).
Hang out for brunch at Adams Morgan
While other shows may be aimed at them more frequently, Perry is in fact the oldest drag brunch in town. The restaurant itself, which typically serves Japanese dishes except during brunch, has been a staple in the city for over 30 years. His drag brunch first hit the DC scene in 1991 and has been delighting drunk brunchers ever since. You can book in advance for one of their two slots every Sunday, where you and your friends can grab the buffet table, order a round of cocktails, and settle in for the show.
Learn about the history of lesbians on Capitol Hill
Another LGBTQIA + venue in Washington to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places is the Furies Collective, which recognizes “the early expression of the character, role and ideology of the lesbian community as a social and political community in the 1970s “, according to the National park service. Composed of 12 women, the Furies were a lesbian feminist separatist collective whose published writings questioned the idea of a woman’s identity in relation to men, women and society. It’s a great place to visit if you’re a history buff, and only steps away from Capital Candy Jar for when you need something sweet afterwards.