Cheer Up Charlie’s has been an integral part of LGBTQ+ and music scenes in Austin since opening in 2010. Founded by Tamara Hoover and booker Maggie Lea, Cheer Ups is part of the Red River Cultural District. It hosts nightly free or donation-based shows featuring local and touring acts and drag extravaganzas. The venue also serves up some quality grub, including a vegan food truck at the back alongside housemade juice cocktails and kombucha at the bar. Don’t miss their signature Kale Lime Margarita, which is tastier than it sounds.
Hurry, the party’s gotta end…sometime. Really. With Fourth Street being bulldozed to make way for luxury apartments, the LGBTQIA+ community has been in limbo in recent years as to when the last hurrah will be. Clearly, the gang’s been living each festivity like it’s their last, if those heaving downtown parties are anything to go by. Mainstays like Oilcan Harry’s, Rain on 4th, and the Coconut Club, are spilling in glitter, boys, and eyelashes like never before, and you know these queens will keep going till the cranes come in. (The bars keep having ‘farewell parties’, but they’re like Cher tours and they keep coming back.)
The good news is that relocation is in the works, so they needn’t head to the breweries yet (phew). Let’s worry about Google Maps later. Austin’s still dancing, and you’ll find a small but mighty selection of gay bars to quench whatever y’all are thirsting for. Perhaps it’s drag brunch with a heavy helping of Texan sausage, pop diva dancefloor showdowns a la Gaga and Grande, or if kink’s your thing, there’s that too. Here are the best gay bars in Austin for queers and their awesome allies to live their best lives.
This guide was updated by Austin-based writer James Wong. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.