Since even before the Stonewall Riots in 1969 that helped put the gay rights movement on the map, New York City has been an unusually welcoming place for gay, lesbian, and transgender people. In Manhattan in particular, it’s hard to shock anyone with anything, and a strong gay community has been a major presence for decades.
As long as you stay in Manhattan you should feel comfortable and welcome (and that goes for most of the rest of the city and region as well), but there definitely are some notable pockets where the gay community is the majority or at least very prominent.
Time Out New York
The best advice is to get a copy of Time Out New York before you arrive, or the moment you do arrive if you can’t arrange to get a copy in advance. This is an excellent weekly entertainment and culture magazine that covers everything in the city, and includes several pages of GLBT listings every week. You’ll see that parties and events are spread throughout the city, and are at venues that have something different each night.
They even have a special section on the Time Out site that lists LGBT events and has other features.
In 2008 Pride Week will run from June 22 — 29 with events all week all over the city. Check the official NYCpride site for more details.
Village Halloween Parade
This famous October 31 parade down 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village started life as a gay event, but now it’s welcoming to all and one of the most popular events in the city all year. Cross-dressing is still very common and the parade definitely still has a gay esthetic, so it’s hard to tell who is whom at times.
- West Village — This area used to be the most flamboyant neighborhood in the city, but much of that has moved north (see below). Still, the West Village is known for having many gay bars and a very out-in-the-open scene. The area centered around Christopher Street from 7th Avenue to the Hudson River is the gay epicenter, particularly near the river. There are a couple of long-running lesbian bars in the area as well, on Hudson St. and 7th Avenue, just north of Houston Street.
- Meat Packing District — The name isn’t a joke, this still operates partly as the butcher center for the city, but starting in the 90s it’s become overrun with trendy clubs, hotels, and boutiques. It’s the northern part of the West Village, and just south of…
- Chelsea — Since the 1990s this area has really taken the lead with its gay scene. The area along 8th Avenue between 14th and 23rd Streets has many gay bars and other shops dedicated to this very proud group. The western part of Chelsea — west of 9th Avenue — is where you’ll find almost all the city’s largest and most glamorous nightclubs. The crowds tend to be mixed, and gay-friendly at the very least.
- Upper West Side — The area west of Central Park has many nice hotels and is a bit more progressive than its eastern neighbor. You’ll find listings for happenings here, although not as frequently as in the other areas mentioned above.