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Photograph: Courtesy Cathedral Station

The best gay bars in Boston

From clubs and lounges, to cafés and cabaret, here’s where to experience Boston’s best LGBTQ+ nightlife

Jillian Dara
Written by
Jillian Dara
Written by
Linda Laban
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Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage, and Boston’s nightlife has long tailoring its venues to celebrate this pride all year round. Whether it’s a night of dancing at one of the city’s most iconcic gay bars or clubs, or cheering on performers during one of The Hub’s famous, premier drag shows, there are plenty of places to find a little LGBTQ-friendly fun around these parts. Check out our guide to find a venue catering to your specific needs—from inclusive eateries with themed nights to cabarets with piano-accompanied sing-alongs. If none of these lively options strike your fancy, you can also explore the best dive bars, cocktail lounges and speakeasies in Boston.

RECOMMENDED: See the full list of the best bars in Boston

Best Boston gay bars

  • Bars
  • Back Bay
  • price 2 of 4

There is never a dull moment at this South End nightclub and restaurant—and it’s been this way since 1983. With Trivia Tuesdays, Karaoke Wednesdays and Drag Race Thursdays as part of its regular programming, Club Café proves it’s the place to be any day of the week. The restaurant, with its distinctive conservatory overlooking Columbus Avenue, serves lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Guests often stick around for some fabulous piano-accompanied cabaret or venture over to the venue’s dance floor for a night of clubbing. Aside from regular programming, there’s a series of special happenings each month, so check their events calendar for the most up-to-date guests.

  • Bars
  • Bay Village
  • price 3 of 4

There’s only an exclusive list of places in The Hub that offer live music seven nights a week, and Jacques’ Cabaret is one of them. Tucked alongside cute row houses at the back of Tremont and Stuart Streets, this intimate Bay Village icon has a divey, insider-like quality to it. In addition to nightly entertainment featuring drag kings and queens, and cabaret, there’s also weekly karaoke for those who want to show their stuff. Because Jacques’ is in a residential neighborhood—a very tolerant one, clearly—there’s a midnight curfew. But don’t worry; you will have packed a lot of living into the night already.

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  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Jamaica Plain
  • price 1 of 4

Open since 1987, Midway Café is one of Boston’s more established LGBTQ hotspots, topping locals’ and out-of-towners’ lists as an iconic entertainment destination. Located in Jamaica Plain, the nightclub hosts bands and dance nights, including its longstanding Queeraoke every Thursday, one of the city’s longest running queer nights. Neighborhood-goers also revere this dive bar’s live music scene, so this no-nonsense spot is happening no matter which night of the week it is.

  • Bars
  • Sports Bars
  • South End
  • price 2 of 4

This casual gay sports bar is straight inclusive, creating a friendly atmosphere to hangout with friends and family. Enjoy a bar-themed menu that includes crowd pleasers like wings, fish tacos and veggie spring rolls—or brunch classics served on Sundays. As for cocktails, its specialty creations don’t necessarily fit the typical “pub” vibe—like the Ketel One Basil Gimlet or Pinnefusion Martini—which we love! For the warmer months, the patio is the place to be, with disco music mixing with patrons’ cheers and creating a lively atmosphere. Meanwhile, the cooler months are more fitting for a round of pool or darts indoors.

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  • Bars
  • Downtown
  • price 2 of 4

Nestled inside Downtown Crossing, near what is unofficially Boston’s wild weekend drinking district, this long-standing, bear-centric, leather bar offers dance, karaoke and trivia nights, as well as pool tables in a casual, sports bar-like atmosphere. The entrance is a little off the beaten path, but the name is a staple among the LGBTQ community, so once you’re there, you’ll know that you’ve arrived at the right spot. The bi-level space is constantly a buzz, packing in the crowds that always accumulate on weekends (and, when in season, the weekly communal RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing parties).

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Gastropubs
  • Dorchester
  • price 3 of 4

When some local foodies hear dbar, they might associate it with its sister restaurants, Boston Chops and Deuaxve—but the local LGBTQ+ scene knows that it’s also a place to stay long after the shrimp cocktail and steak have been served. This is particularly true when the Dorchester spot hosts its weekly themed nights, like its Show Tunes Tuesdays, which feature lively sing-alongs, Pop Rocks Karaoke every Friday, as well as Magnum Saturdays, where folks let loose with an LBGTQ+ dance party. We recommend making a reservation for dinner and watching as the restaurant evolves into a vibrant nightlife scene on one of these special evenings.

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Another South End staple, Trophy Room offers a friendly atmosphere, elevated pub fare and mark-your-calendar-worthy events throughout the year. It’s a more low-key kind of place during the week, but weekends feature events like Glam Brunch Bingo and Drag Race All-Stars, which liven up the place even more than usual. The restaurant specializes in classic American fare, like burgers and a spicy chicken sandwich, while the cocktails are a little more unique, with saucy-named signature drinks like Trophy Wife and The Naked Experience.

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