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NY Latin & black gay bars we love & miss (2022)

Do you remember black gay bars like Secrets, Langstons, and Chi Chiz?  Take a trip down memory lane as I discuss some of the new and old best gay hangouts in NY.

Black gay bars aka queer bars, boy bars, and gay pubs have been safe havens for the black gay community. Black LGBTQ people have been going to black bars for a long time. Some prefer certain spots that are more homo-friendly and welcoming than others, but no matter where you go there will always be someone who looks like yourself to drink with! There are many NYC queer watering holes from the 1990s: Rebar on 10th Street between 5 Av & Bop Street; Julius Playhouse downstairs at Intersection For The Blind. But for this post, I will mention those old and new famous black gay hangouts in NY.

Latin & black gay bars in NY we love & miss

Club Lambda

Club Lambda is a new black gay club in Brooklyn,NY. It just opened up this year and already is the buzz in New York City. If you’re a black queer this is one of those black gay hangouts that you must check out. The space has different floors and an outdoor patio that gives a garden atmosphere.

4 West Lounge

Left and right black gay bars have been opening in Harlem. And 4 West Loung is one of them. It’s a new gay bar that a black gay male couple opened up in West Harlem. The vibe is definitely for a 25+ older black and Latin gay male crowd. Trappy Hour, a weekly black LGBTQ happy hour, happens at this spot on Thursday which used to take place at Harlem Nights. There’s also a popular Sunday night party.

Lambda Lounge

Lambda Lounge is a black gay bar located in Harlem which is black queer mecca.  It opened during the coronavirus pandemic
credit: Lemon Brands

Lambda Lounge is a black gay bar in Harlem.  It opened during the pandemic in February 2020 and is owned by the black gay married couple, Charles Hughes and Richard Solomon.  The owners are the same ones who own the liquor company, Lambda Vodka.   The reason that the couple opened the lounge is because of the shortage of black gay establishments in New York City.  Lambda Lounge is one of two black gay bars in NY.

In an interview with Out.com Richard stated, “Unfortunately, the days of us having spaces where we could go and cut loose are over; they shut them all down.”  I’ve passed by Lambda Lounge and it’s a very nice spot.  There is a brick that will give the spot a modern look.  There are purple lighting and black sofas which creates a nice sexy, atmosphere.  

Despite opening during the coronavirus the bar has managed to stay open while other gay bars have shut down. There are different days throughout the week all catered to the black LGBTQ community and our allies. If you’re a mature black gay man looking for a swank experience and want to meet hot gay men you definitely should come to Lambda Lounge.

Alibi

black gay bars

Alibi is part of the last dying breed of black gay bars in NYC.  It is owned by Alex Minko, a former human rights attorney and a black gay man.   This place will always be in my mind since that’s where I did my first two-day parties. 

Alibi is in Harlem aka black gay mecca.  Think of U Street in Washington DC.  The place is very clean and slick. On the outside there is a rainbow flag by the door which represents LGBTQ unity. Inside the black gay hangout here are modern paintings on the wall and there is black leather furniture for the patrons.  The drink prices are a little high but you get what you pay for.

At certain times there used to be special events for instance on Monday nights there would go-g0 dancers and on Sundays used to be “Drunch” where unlimited mimosas and small bites would be served.

There was admission to enter Alibi unless for special events like Andre’s, former Alibi’s bartender, or nude-only events which are about $20.

Because of the coronavirus outbreak Alibi has been suffering like many other gay bars and lounges.  Fortunately, Alibi has been able to raise more than $100,000 through donations. 

Friends Tavern

Friends Tavern is a hot spot in Queens for gay and bisexual men. The spot is located on Roosevelt Avenue which is full of Latin men. It’s free to get in and the drinks are affordable. The spot used to look like a tavern as the name suggests but it was recently renovated. If you used to go to Friend’s Tavern back in the day you’ll be completely shocked if you come today. What I like about Friend’s Tavern are the sexy Latin strippers they have on certain nights. The bartenders are sexy as well.

Club Langstons

Langston's was a black gay club in Brooklyn.  Sadly, it was closed about 2 years ago.
credit: Dj Disciple NYC/Instagram

Langstons was a black gay bar & club in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn that was ran by Calvin Clark.  This is one of the last few gay black clubs in the United States period!  I think Langstons was one of the first African American gay clubs I went to.  It was part of my cherry-popping experience in the black gay social scene. 

Much of the African American gay men I’ve encountered at Club Langstons were trade, rough gay men.  Most of the time I enjoyed the music.  Of course, Beyonce was played and there was a good mix of rap, R&B, and plenty of reggae.  One of the unique parts of the club is that it was hidden like a speakeasy. 

If you passed by Club Langstons during the morning or daytime you wouldn’t know it existed.  There was no sign on the doorway and the only way you would find out about the club is through word of mouth or by seeing people lining up to get inside.   I did some research and learned that the club was set up like this to prevent people’s identities from being revealed.  The club was strict on people’s privacy that when the club first opened you weren’t allowed to take pictures inside or near Langstons. 

No Parking

No Parking was definitely a vibe. It was a gay bar located in Washington Heights, a predominantly Spanish neighborhood. So of course, there were lots of gay Latin men in this gay hangout spot. The bar was tiny so many times you felt cramped inside the spot. Despite this issue, I always had a great time when I went. The crowd was full of sexy queer and Latin gay and bisexual men.

Secret Lounge

Secrets was one of the most popular black gay bar bars in the city in the 2000s.  Black gay promoter Brice threw some great parties there
Credit: partyearth.com

This was one of my favorite spots.  Ever!!   Secrets was a gay dance establishment in a secluded spot in Chelsea. If you’re looking to hot gay men this was the stop to go to.   I have so many memories of this place. I can still remember a few years ago when my fraternity brother was supposed to meet with me at Secrets but by the time I got there the place was closed down because the front window was broken. 

There were several black gay promoters that hosted parties at this event including Eventbrice. Every weekend this place was packed with hundreds of Spanish and African American gay men.  You would find some of the hottest black gay men. There were hot go-go dancers at this club.  I don’t like to knock anybody’s hustle but they can get pretty annoying by asking you for money.  The go-go dancers weren’t so bad.  Another part I enjoyed about the   I remember I bagged a cute Spanish bartender.  I’m still mad I lost his number!

Two Potato

500credit: Two Potato/Facebook

Two Potato was another gay bar in the Village. The Village is a gay neighborhood in NYC so it was common to see both black and gay white men roaming the streets and going in and out of many gay hangouts. Two Potato was originally Chances Are but later changed its name to Two Potato.  It was a popular spot for the African American gay community that had drag performances and other types of shows. entertainment. 

Chi Chiz

Chi Chiz, black gay bar in NY, that closed down in 2010.  This was a very popular bar in the Village, a gayborhood.
credit: Gabriela Resto-Montero/DNAinfo

Chi Chiz was a black gay bar in the Village and owned by Ronnelle McKenzie and Alex Everett.  Unfortunately, people in the neighborhood complained about drug dealing and crowded streets even though similar incidents were happening in other gay bars and gay clubs.    Unfortunately, Chi Chiz closed in January 2010.

Luke & Leroy’s

Luke & Leroy’s was a black gay bar in the Village.  The bar had two levels and played hip hop music, house, and garage music. Black gay influencer Nathan Williams threw a Pride happy hour in remembrance of Luke & Leroy’s at the black gay hangout, Lambda Lounge.

Starlight lounge

Credit: Kate Kunath

The Starlight was a black gay bar in Brooklyn and the oldest black gay bar in NY. It opened in the 1960s which was a time of extreme homophobia. The spot welcomed black LGBTQ persons and helped build the black LGBTQ community. Sadly, the venue closed in the 2000s.

The formation of black gay bars

Jewel's Catch One, one of the oldest black gay bars in the the country closed down.  This was a famous venue in California.
credit: Jewel’s Catch One

Gay bars are places where LGBTQ persons can be themselves. You’ll find all types of men including twinks, bears, dl, feminine, and masculine. In most gay bars you’ll hear some house music and a variety of other genres depending on the DJ. Below is a list of venues you should check out.

Even though gay bars were supposed to be welcoming to the LGBTQ community some of them really were not. And I’ve actually heard of this before COVID and even seen this myself. The issue with many gay bars was the discrimination and racism against people of color, especially Latinos and African Americans. Despite the gay rights movement during the 1960s black queer men were overshadowed by white gay men. Gay black men often had a difficult time simply getting into white-owned gay bars. There were strict dress codes that even happen now to prevent large crowds of African Americans and Latinos. Thus, black gay bars were created as spaces for black queer and black transgender persons to interact and network with each other.

Black gay bars were not only entertaining spaces but places of refuge and social action. During the AIDS crisis, many black gay bars like Jewel’s Catch One and ClubHouse in DC held fundraisers and did outreach to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

One of the first black gay bars was the Starlite Lounge located in Brooklyn, New York. This was a special space for the black LGBT community since it was non-discriminatory and welcomed both straight and LGBTQ persons. The venue was owned by Harold Harris and lasted from 1962 to 2010.

There were many other black gay bars in other cities outside of New York City during the 1970s including Brass Rail in DC, Jewel’s Catch One in Los Angeles,

One of my first experiences with other gay men was at a black gay club called Langstons in Bedford Stuyvesant, New York. Back in the day, this was the spot. It was such a great feeling. I was able to freely express myself and could flirt and dance with guys without having to worry if they were gay or not. A lot of my female straight friends said they would feel comfortable being at a gay bar or a nightclub because people are there to have fun and enjoy themselves. Now, I do admit there are some weird things you’ll see at a gay bar like public urination or a couple of guys in one stall.

State of black-owned gay bars

There is a crisis of black-owned gay bars. Over the past decades, dozens of black gay bars have closed in New York City and many more continue to shut down at a fast rate. One bar that I truly miss is No Parking in Washington Heights. It was a very small bar but the experience gave me so much life. Just last year another black gay bar, Club Langstons, in Harlem closed down.

In other major cities across the country, black gay bars have been closing. In 2015 Jewel’s Catch One, one of the oldest black gay bars closed down. This was a huge loss for the black gay community since that venue was the center of black gay nightlife in Los Angeles.

In general, gay bars are disappearing especially because of COVID. Due to a lack of indoor dining, a lot of gay bars haven’t been unable to get the traffic they normally would. Alibi, one of the last blacked owned gay bars in Harlem has created a GoFundme page asking for more than $100, 000 in donations to survive COVID. Lambda Lounge, Harlem’s other black-owned gay bar is also struggling financially.

Fortunately, there are some black gay bars still around such as Lambda Lounge in Harlem, Jeffrey Pub in Chicago, some black gay bars have opened despite the coronavirus epidemic. For instance, Williams Inn Pizzeria and Sports Bar opened in Chicago, Lambda Lounge opened in New York City.

Why do we need black gay bars?

Gay bars are important because they bring LGBT persons together.

Black gay bars are primary safe havens for African American gay and bisexual men. At times I felt uncomfortable at straight bars and colors because I can’t freely by myself.  I can’t dance, talk, and flirt with other guys.  But in a black gay bar, I can do this and don’t have to fear verbal or worse physical assault. Even in a lesbian bar sometimes I still feel a little awkward. In New York lesbians go to Cubbyhole and Henrietta Hudson which are frequented by mostly lesbians.

What’s sad is that we need black gay venues to protect us from discrimination from both straight clubs and some gay clubs!  In the article “Black gay nightlife and black history month” by Eric Gonzaba it’s mentioned that “black gays and lesbians faced discrimination at gay bars”.  Black gay hangouts such as Catch One and the Rail across different cities started to form in the 1980s/1990s as a way for African American LGBT persons to come together.  Those venues welcomed black gay culture but more importantly an escape from reality.  We gays know have to have fun so even straight people would enjoy themselves and feel comfortable going to gay bars and gay nightclubs. 

Even though we’re in a new time period there is still a lot of racism within the LGBT community. I’ve encountered gay men with that “No African Americans, no Asians, & no Latins mentality”. I can recall once when I was at the gay club XL which attracted a large African American gay crowd. This one white gay patron stands in the line for a few seconds and says, “This is the welfare line”. In another example, the gay bar Rebar which used to be G-Lounge was known to be racist. Soon after Rebar opened a lot of gay black men that used to go to G-Lounge complained that security and staff profiled them.

What’s special about New York

New York is one of the major cities full of LGBTQ persons with tons of gay bars. It is one of the best cities for gays. There are several gay districts in New York like the Village, Chelsea, and Hell’s Kitchen where you will find plenty of gay bars like The Monster’s and Stonewall Inn. Stonewall Inn Even upstate is gay-friendly. You can meet both young and old gay men in gay hangouts like the Townhouse and others where you would find mostly wealthy mature gay men and their admirers. The oldest and first gay bar in America is Cafe Lafitte in Exile in Lousiana.

Wrap up

Besides San Francisco, New York is one of the safest places for LGBTQ persons in America. There are more than 200,000 gay men in New York. There are plenty of gay neighborhoods in New York like Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea. Unfortunately, most of the gay bars are tailored to the white gay community.

In sum, black gay bars in NY were not just places where black LGBT persons could drink and dance. These gay hangouts have represented more than that. These establishments were places where black gay men could escape reality and be their true selves.

Sweden is one of the safe countries for LGBTQ persons. But if you enjoy the black gay nightlife scene and want to know about the hottest black gay hangouts and events come visit or even consider moving to NY.