If you felt a twinge of sadness when word got out that The Lexington, San Francisco’s “friendly neighborhood dyke bar,” is closing its doors for good — or you’re like me and you literally shed tears — you’re probably wondering where you’re supposed to hang out now. While San Francisco indeed plays host to some of the bigger queer events in the Bay Area, there are many queer-centered or queer-friendly parties and spaces right here in your own backyard. Check out what Oakland has to offer:

Oakland

1. Ships In The Night | 579 18th St, Oakland, CA 94612 | 21+ | shipsinthanight@gmail.com

Every first Saturday of the month: 9 p.m.-2 a.m. at The New Parish

Did you know that Ships is an awesome local queer space that’s been around for nearly 9 years now? The Ships team not only knows how to bring the party to Oakland’s queer community, but they also put a social justice spin on it, stressing that the space is primarily for queer people of color and their allies. Definitely the top spot to check out if you’re queer and looking for some fun in the East Bay, and the drinks are decently priced too!

Courtesy of Ships In The Night

Courtesy of Ships In The Night

Ships In The Night is a RADICAL QUEER dance party — always a benefit. We prioritize and strive to make the space accessible to queers, women, trans people and people of color and highlight their talent as DJs and performers. Since 2006, Ships has served as a community fundraiser and place for activist and social justice-minded queers of all genders to sweat out the worries of the days. 

2. Oak Life Church | 474 24th St, Oakland, CA 94612 | chris.oaklife@gmail.com

Every Sunday morning: 10 a.m. at The New Parkway Theater

Religious and queer? Not sure how to make them work together? Need a safe space to worship, regardless of your identity? Oak Life Church is definitely the place for you. Anyone and everyone is welcome, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

Courtesy of Anna Vignet

Courtesy of Anna Vignet

First we’d like to share that at Oak Life everyone is welcome.  Yes, we mean everyone! We’re a new church that loves community and being a part of our neighborhoods in and near Oakland/Berkeley. Basically, we’re a group of people trying our best to follow Jesus and not get in his way. We’d love to hang out with you and learn your story.

3. Hella Gay Dance Party | 420 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612 | 21+ | hellagayoaklandparty@gmail.com

Every second Saturday of the month: 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. at Vinyl Oakland

It’s hella gay and hella amazing.

Courtesy of Hella Gay

Courtesy of Hella Gay

We are all about the music and the joy of holding open a space where queer people and those who love us can dance, sweat, make connections, be silly or sexy, and have a blast. Also, we are obsessed with new music. It takes a ton of work to incorporate new music into your set every time, but it pays off when people come up to you afterwards asking “Damn —where’d you find this?”

4. LOL – Liberating Ourselves Locally | 1234 23rd Ave. Oakland, CA 94606 | oaklandmakerspace@gmail.com

No regular hours — contact through their website or email to come in and work

If you’re looking for a space to collaborate with other creative queers in the East Bay, look no further than LOL. With everything from art installations to technology, this space has room for every kind of entrepreneur.

Courtesy of LOL

Courtesy of LOL

We are a local movement whose primary purpose is to serve our communities: people of color, immigrants, poor folks, women, youth, transfolks and queers in and around the Bay Area. We intend to preserve and celebrate the beautiful diversity of our communities by ensuring that our leadership reflects the people we serve. We seek to make our primary services available to everyone regardless of means.

5. Oakland Shameless | Email oaklandshameless@gmail.com for address | All ages

Every first Friday of the month: 9 p.m.-2 a.m.

Shamelessly dedicated to the hustle and recognizing the queer people of color who practice it, Oakland Shameless is a space to let those creative juices shine. Check it out during Oakland’s First Fridays!

Courtesy of Oakland Shameless

Courtesy of Oakland Shameless

An Alternative Queercentric First Friday event. Shameless is a house/backyard party that supports Queer and Trans people of color in their hustles and creative work. All night Expressions in: Food, Music, Dancing, Queer Art(ists), Local Vending

6. QTY Treehouse Oakland | 1684 7th Street, Oakland, CA 94607 | Ages 24 and under | gallardo@hify.org

Monday-Tuesday: 3 p.m.-7 p.m. // Thursday: 4 p.m.-8 p.m. // Saturday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Are you a young, queer-identified person in Oakland without a space to hang out with people your age? Try visiting QTY where you can enjoy the community of other local youth like yourself and learn about everything from art to your local queer resources.

Courtesy of QTY Oakland

Courtesy of QTY Oakland

Queer Trans Youth (QTY) Treehouse engages folks ages 24 and under, where they can come and learn new skills, meet new friends, get linked to resources and have fun!

7. The Perfect Sidekick LGBTQ Gym | 2706 Park Blvd., Oakland, CA 94606 | 18+ | 510.808.5057

Monday-Friday: 6 a.m.-9 p.m. // Saturday-Sunday: 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

Trying to get BIG? Or maybe you just want to stay fit and have fun doing it. Are everyday gym spaces too crowded or intimidating? The Perfect Sidekick is a gym staffed with personal trainers ready to assist you on your fitness journey and be yourself while doing it.

Courtesy of The Perfect Sidekick

Courtesy of The Perfect Sidekick

We are the first and only LGBTQ gym in the nation! We are owned and managed by members of the LGBTQ community to serve members of the LGBTQ community. TPS is not only a gym but it is a place where people from all different backgrounds can come and feel accepted while they work to get a happier and healthier lifestyle with outgoing and supportive people! Come check us out — First session is FREE!

8. White Horse Bar | 6551 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA 94601 | 21+ | 510.652.3820

Monday-Thursday: 3 p.m.-2 a.m. // Friday-Sunday: 1 p.m.-2 a.m.

Who knew that Oakland is home to the nation’s oldest gay bar? White Horse Bar has a number of nightly events that are appealing to everyone, whether you’re a college student looking for a local place to hang out or someone who’s ready to don their best drag attire.

Courtesy of The White Horse

Courtesy of The White Horse

The White Horse has been serving the community for the last 79 years. We pride ourselves on our friendly, professional and local staff. We offer patio seating, and an extensive variety of cocktails, beer and wine to choose from!

9. The Living Room Project | 1919 Market St., Oakland, CA 94607 | 510.686.3739

Call or email thelivingroomproject510@gmail.com for hours.

The Living Room Project houses all kinds of creative workshops and events for queer people of color. Located in West Oakland, they’ve been known to put on live music performances and art shows while providing creative outlets for the community – they’re definitely worth checking out.

Courtesy of The Living Room Project

Courtesy of The Living Room Project

Through collaboration and providing the resource of space The Living Room Project creates opportunities for creative expression, collective healing and community building. Deeply rooted in Healing Justice, Harm Reduction, and Transformative Justice principles and practices, ultimately we hope to support the self-determination, interdependence, and resilience of Black & Brown Queer and Trans communities.

10. Portal Oakland | 1611 2nd Ave. Oakland, CA 94606 | 21+ | 510.663.7678

M: 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. // Tu – F: 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. // Sa: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m. // Su: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Queer Beer Happy Hour? Yes, please! Portal Oakland features two hours of affordable drinks at their beer garden on Wednesdays from 3 – 5 p.m. There’s also tons of tasty brunch foods to grab while you’re at it.

Courtesy of Portal Oakland

Courtesy of Portal Oakland

Come checkout Portal, the best restaurant and open-air beer garden in Oakland!  Bring  your friends and an appetite, grab a table outside and come check out what we’ve been working on.  Order some delicious food made from only the best fresh ingredients and pair it with one of our top notch gourmet beers, all while enjoying stunning views from our beautiful outdoor patio.

11. Show and Tell | 1427 Broadway, Oakland CA 94612 | 510.463.4964

Monday-Tuesday: 12 p.m.-6 p.m. // Wednesday-Friday: 12 p.m.-7 p.m. // Saturday: 1 p.m.-6 p.m.

If you’re into supporting local brands, stop by Show and Tell, a queer-owned shop that features clothing, accessories and home/lifestyle products that are all locally produced.

Courtesy of Show and Tell

Courtesy of Show and Tell

Show & Tell is a concept shop, gallery, and gathering space located in vibrant downtown Oakland that serves as a platform for sustainable and socially responsible apparel, accessories and gift items.

11. City of Refuge: United Church of Christ | 8400 Enterprise Way, Oakland, CA 94621 | 510.633.6316

Every Sunday – Pre-service prayer time: 12:30 p.m., worship gathering services begin at 1 p.m.

Looking for another queer-friendly place to explore your spirituality? City of Refuge Church’s doors are wide open, specifically for women, people of color, LGBTQ folks and any other marginalized groups. Come check it out and see if this community is a good fit for you.

Rev. Dr. Y. A. Flunder of the City of Refuge UCC (Courtesy of City of Refuge)

Rev. Dr. Y. A. Flunder of the City of Refuge UCC (Courtesy of City of Refuge)

Trying to establish a relationship with a God that barely tolerates you but cannot truly accept and certainly will never celebrate you can do incredible damage to ones self esteem. The tortured historical and theological view that suggests that some people are just flawed or born to be the underclass and should never expect to be on God’s ‘A’ list, has been the convenient method used to hold women, immigrants, the poor and LGBT people in chains of self-depreciation. We all need community. When access to existing communities is not available, marginalized people must seek to develop community for and among themselves. We at City of Refuge UCC are giving birth to a fresh, emerging Christian community.

11. Club BNB | 2120 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612 | 510.444.2266

Monday – Wednesday: 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. // Thursday: 4 p.m. – 2 a.m. // Friday: 4 p.m. – 4 a.m. // Saturday: 9 p.m. – 4 a.m.

Dubbed the largest LGBTQ nightclub in the Bay to date, you’d be missing out if you didn’t check out Club BNB, formally Club Bench-And-Bar. This space is especially welcoming to queer folks of color!

Courtesy of Club BNB

Courtesy of Club BNB

The Bench and Bar, Inc. has been an Oakland landmark for over 35 years. Originally opened by a Judge and Attorney and as a twist, named the club Bench and Bar.  The club has relocated two times and is now the largest gay and lesbian nightclub in the Bay Area.  The club features a variety of Music on the main dance floor with Hip Hop, Old School, R&B, House. From drag shows to pageants and the sexiest go-go dancers in town, the club has something to offer everyone.

Correction: After receiving multiple complaints, we have replaced Heart & Dagger Saloon in this guide with Portal Oakland, a well-known LGBTQ-friendly space.

 

5 Responses

  1. Katherine

    What about Portal? Many of the staff are queer and Wednesdays are their queer beer night.

    And the Pacific Center in Berkeley (LGBTQ counseling on sliding scale).

    Also, you’ve left out Club B&B/Club 21, which is a club focused primarily on communities of color. It may be more “gay” than “queer” if you’re wanting to split hairs but still seems to deserve a place on this list.

    Reply
    • Natalie Meier

      Hey Katherine,

      We really appreciated the suggestions and have made the necessary changes so the guide now reflects those spots. Thanks so much!

      Best,
      Natalie

      Reply
  2. EriC

    Sadly confused why Heart and Dagger is on this site ?? They must of paid or bullied somehow to get on this article ! Heart and dagger has homophobic employees and racist ones too! GTFO with this b@l&$hit

    Reply
    • Natalie Meier

      Hey Eric,

      We’ve taken Heart and Dagger off of the guide. Please see what we’ve put in its place and the correction at the bottom of the piece.

      Thanks!
      Natalie

      Reply
  3. Vince

    Hi Natalie,

    I was very surprised to see that Heart and Dagger Saloon was taken off your list after receiving complaints. My husband and I go there frequently and have been for a couple of years with no problems. Interesting.

    Vince

    Reply

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