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Best Gay Bars in NYC: The Ultimate Guide

What are the best gay bars in NYC? With detailed info you can’t find anywhere else, discover the best gay bars in New York City in wolfyy’s ultimate guide.

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Best Gay Bars in NYC: 2020 Top Picks

Planning your night out in New York will be super. easy with these top gay bars. After the all star NYC gay bars, I’ll mention some cozier gay bars as well as which ones you should skip. If your time in New York is limited, you’ve got to prioritize gay bars to only the best of the best!

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best gay bars New York city
best gay bars New York city

REBAR Chelsea: #1 NYC Gay Bar Pick

REBAR is my personal favorite and so I’ve ranked them number 1 of the best NYC gay bars! The crowd tends to be between 25 and 45 years old, with the majority in their 30’s. Bearded guys seem to love REBAR. Most men here are on the muscled & hairier side.

REBAR Chelsea

In my opinion, if there isn’t a big gay circuit party happening in New York, the macho dudes are here. REBAR certainly has a sexually charged atmosphere, especially on weekends. They frequently host a Latin music party called Pégate, as well as other parties called CALIBR and Treta.

best gay bar in nyc
nyc gay bar
REBAR Chelsea
Overall, REBAR is pretty big in size. There are tables in the front area of the bar, a second bar near the dance floor and a separate lounge room behind the dance floor. On Friday and Saturday nights, the crowd is dancing (it’s my favorite spot). The most popular night to visit REBAR is usually Saturday.
REBAR New York
The party at REBAR gets going around midnight and doesn’t stop until 4AM. Sometimes the lounge room turns into a cruising/dark room, but this really depends on the day and the type of party.
Rebar Chelsea gay bar
REBAR New York
Rebar Chelsea gay bar

REBAR Chelsea charges a cover fee of either $5 or $10 on weekend evenings. It seems to change every now and then. Bring $10 per person to be safe. Check out Rebar’s Facebook Page for a ton of photos.

Looking for the best hotel rates in New York City? Search for New York Properties at Agoda.com

Rise Bar: Best Modern NYC Gay Bar

No matter if you’re a jock, bear, daddy or lesbian, Rise Bar in Hell’s Kitchen will accept you exactly as you are! Rise Bar is popular for having a diverse crowd and being a clean, modern space for the LGBT crowd to relax.

rise gay bar hell's kitchen
Sometimes you’ll find leather daddies here, maybe a group or two of gay Jewish men, twinks or even straight girls with their gay best friends. Its truly a mix.
Rise Bar Hells Kitchen
Rise Bar Hells Kitchen
rise gay bar hell's kitchen

You can head to Rise Bar NYC on any night of the week and plan on a good time. They have a ton of events during the workweek including hilarious drag performances and Ru Paul’s Drag Race viewing nights. If you’re not in town on the weekend, Rise is a top Hell’s Kitchen gay bar to visit. The Rise Bar Facebook Page will be up to date with scheduled events.

Hell's Kitchen drag shows Rise bar
On the weekend, Saturday night is busiest. Usually between 11:30PM and 1AM, Rise Bar can actually be a little too crowded, to the point that it is difficult to move around. Get there a bit later on Saturday night, or just go on a Friday instead.
Rise Bar NYC
Hell's Kitchen drag shows Rise bar
Rise Bar offers a coat check during the winter months and there is never a cover charge to get in. They tend to be strict about not letting anyone in who is too intoxicated. Rise Bar bouncers will deny anyone entry if they appear too drunk.
Rise Bar NYC

If you drop by, say hello to my good friend Jonathan, who works the lights! He loves to talk about gay nightlife in New York, as well as his favorite city of Berlin!

Pieces: The West Village Gay Favorite

The West Village would never be the same without our dear gay bar Pieces. I have very fond memories of past underwear parties here!

Pieces is popular for elegant drag shows with funny queens who have often been on Ru Paul’s Drag Race. I also love how Pieces drag queens sometimes have their beards!
pieces gay bar NYC
pieces gay bar NYC
Pieces NYC drag show
Pieces is one of a few NYC gay bar spaces that has a cruising room in the back. They do not advertise this dark room and it is not always open. But, when it gets busy on a weekend, they open up the curtain to those curious enough to enter.
Pieces NYC drag show
The crowd at Pieces is mixed. I haven’t ever noticed a specific gay “type” dominating the rest. Young, old, lean and large were all present! Pieces has a fantastic happy hour too, with $5 beer and well drinks as well as $7 Ketel One Vodka drinks.
Manhattan drag shows
Manhattan drag shows
NYC gay nightlife

On Saturdays and Sundays, they host their “Liquid Brunch,” a great event to attend with some friends. For planning far in advance, browse the fabulous weekly events on their website’s event page.

If you’re looking for parties within the next week or so, I recommend checking upcoming events on the Pieces Facebook Page.

Hardware Bar: Best NYC Gay Bar for Dancing

Another local NYC gay favorite is Hardware. Every guy in the neighborhood stops by Hardware at some point. I love this Hell’s Kitchen gay bar for the classic gay bops, fun lighting and a constantly pumping fog machine. Hardware is definitely among the top five best NYC gay bars, so don’t miss it!

hardware gay bar nyc
The Hardware crowd here heavily leans toward younger, clean-cut guys. It’s rare to find the gruff, bearded crowd here, although on occasion you’ll see a few.
Hardware gay bar New York city
hardware gay bar nyc
Hardware gay bar New York city

The bar gets its name in a literal sense. The Hardware gay bar space used to be a hardware store! The space has a long, narrow bar area in the front half, with a medium-sized dance floor in the rear. There is always a live DJ mixing up the most popular classics and new hits.

New York City gay travel

Just about every night is a busy night at Hardware. Tuesday and Wednesday can be slow, but every other day there is usually something going on. The Hardware Bar Facebook Page will have updates on upcoming events and parties.

hardware gay bar nyc
New York City gay travel
Hardware does not have a coat check, so if you are staying nearby, I recommend leaving the jacket at home. If you’re going from door to door with a taxi, you may not need it.

EAGLE NYC: New York's Best Fetish & Gay Cruising Bar

New York’s popular most popular leather and gay cruising bar is Eagle NYC. Anyone who is into gay fetish/kink will easily make friends in this infamous grungy spot. The lighting is dim, the rooms are narrow and there are mature men, as well as their admirers, all around.

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Eagle NYC doesn’t have much of a dance floor, since it is not a club, but there is plenty of room to socialize, cruise or just lurk.
nyc gay bars with dark rooms
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What night is best to go to Eagle NYC? Many agree it is Wednesday night. Each Wednesday is Jockstrap Night at the Eagle and the men come in droves! If you’re not in NYC on the weekend, try to make it Jockstrap Night.

Other events include Monday foot fetish night and beer-blast Sundays. Browse their website’s event calendar, or check the Eagle NYC Facebook Page for the latest events and a ton of photos. 

gay sex clubs nyc
During the warmer months, Eagle NYC has a fantastic rooftop space. It’s a great place to socialize and make new friends. Any tourists that fit in with the daddy/leather crowds will certainly be popular here. Although the rooftop doesn’t have much of a city view, the space is nonetheless popular.
The Eagle NYC
The Eagle NYC
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They also allow smoking/vaping up on the roof. Eagle NYC opens every day at 5:00 PM except for Sundays when they open at 10PM. Eagle NYC is cash only, but they do have an ATM inside. They have a full-clothing check on the first level, so you can strip down to your jock in a jiffy.
gay fetish bars nyc
Another awesome thing about Eagle NYC is the little shopping stall they have on the second level by the stairs. They sell jockstraps, caps and buckles/hardware. If you need anything to mesh with the vibe, you can buy it inside.

Industry: The Hell’s Kitchen Gay Staple

One of the best drag performances I’ve ever seen was at Industry. The talent here is unmatched. If you have the time, I recommend seeing a drag show at Industry while starting your night. They have a drag performance just about every single evening.

industry gay bar nyc
Anyway, Industry is a great gay bar to start your night. Make sure to bring cash since they do not accept credit cards. Industry is in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, close to Rise Bar, as discussed above, as well as Therapy, which I will cover next.
industry bar nyc
industry gay bar nyc
industry bar nyc
The crowd at industry tends to be a mix of different types of younger gay guys. It is rare to find mature men here. The majority are in their twenties and early thirties, usually quite stylish gay men. I personally have always thought the guys at Industry were cuter than most!

Although Industry has a large dance floor area, I do not prefer this bar for dancing. The bar is quite large, so I this Hell’s Kitchen gay bar is good for larger groups. See more on the Industry Bar Facebook Page.

Therapy NYC: Top Drag Shows & Asian Favorite

Therapy is famous for consistently having the best drag shows in New York City. This gay hotspot definitely competes with its neighbor, Industry. But, they are right across the street from one another. You can easily try both.

Therapy gay bar New York
Therapy gay bar New York
therapy gay bar nyc
The first floor of Therapy is very calm. It definitely has more of a lounge feel, especially the booths near the front window. The back of the first level has bar-height tables for groups. They also serve food. The drag shows are upstairs.
therapy gay bar nyc

Keep in mind that the bar layout isn’t very conducive to a large standing audience (the room is long and stairs are in the middle). If you want a closer view, then get there early. The immediate area in front of the stage is tables available by RSVP only.

Check openings on their website and book a spot soon. Head over to the Therapy Facebook Page for a glimpse of the awesome drag performances.

Recently, we learned Therapy NYC is not planning to re-open after the city has controlled COVID-19. Chelsea News covers the story on Therapy.

Barracuda Lounge: Local NYC Gay Bar in Chelsea

Chelsea gays love starting a night out at Barracuda Lounge. Both Fridays and Saturdays are busiest, but you can find a decent crowd at this popular NYC gay bar any day of the week.

Chelsea nyc gay bar
Barracuda nyc gay bar
Chelsea nyc gay bar

The front room of Barracuda has the main bar, which is cash-only. The back room is a mix of seating areas, a small dance floor and a pool table. On weekends there will definitely be some dancing!

Barracuda nyc gay bar

Keep in mind that in the summer, Barracuda can get very hot, so keep the clothing light. You’ll just have to keep cool with a few cold drinks! If you end up leaving, I recommend heading to the Eagle NYC to enjoy the breezy rooftop or to REBAR Chelsea for a cooler indoor space.

Phoenix Bar: Best NYC Gay Bar of the East Village

Branding themselves as the premiere gay bar of Manhattan’s East Village, Phoenix has always been a fun spot for Friday and Saturday nights. Even guys from Hell’s Kitchen would trek all the way to the East Village for some fun. 

On Friday nights, Adam Quincy hosts a party called Château. It starts at 10 PM, but the bar likely won’t get busy until 11:30 PM.
New York City gay travel
phoenix gay bar nyc
New York City gay travel

On Saturday nights, check out the drag shows. The Phoenix Bar NYC Instagram page is super useful to see which night will best suit you. Their story highlights show the different nightly events and parties.

phoenix gay bar nyc
Bring cash just in case there is a cover charge for Phoenix. Usually the cover is only a suggested payment, but it is best to be prepared in case they decide to change this. They have a coat check downstairs, which charged a few dollars last time I was there.

Nowhere Bar: Best NYC Gay Bar on Monday Night

Looking for the best NYC gay bar for a Monday night? That would be at Nowhere Bar down in the East Village! There is always a fun party in the works at Nowhere. Macho Mondays are currently the big popular event.

Best nyc gay bar
Starting at 10 PM you can drool over go-go dancers while you sip $3 draft beers. Nowhere charges a cover of five dollars for the Monday parties.
Best nyc gay bar
best gay bars in Manhattan
In past years I’ve had some stellar nights at the old “Fire in the Hole” gay ginger-themed party. Nowhere Bar is definitely great at getting local gays to come out during the week! On the weekend, Fridays are the popular night at the Nowhere gay bar.
best gay bars in Manhattan

Check out the Nowhere Bar Facebook Page or their website’s event page to see if the bar has something fun while you’re in town.

Cozy NYC Gay Bars

For those of you who prefer a calmer vibe, perhaps with less dancing, check out these smaller NYC gay bars.

Pocket Bar: The Smallest NYC Gay Bar

The size is in its name! Pocket Bar is a cozy NYC gay bar perfect for an intimate winter night or summer sangria with a friend. Don’t be deceived…just because Pocket Bar is small, that doesn’t mean it’s quiet! I’ve seen some rowdy groups pack into the space on weeknights.
pocket bar Manhattan nyc
pocket bar Manhattan nyc
pocket bar nyc
Over on 10th Avenue and 48th Street, Pocket Bar has both table seating as well as wraparound bar seating. Everyone gets free popcorn and a chance to order the famous Sharknado Sangria.
pocket bar nyc

Pocket Bar focuses mainly on craft beer and wine. It’s technically a wine bar, after all! Check out Pocket Bar’s Menu. You can also book Pocket Bar NYC for private events.

Cubbyhole: Famous NYC Lesbian Bar

New York’s most popular lesbian bar is Cubbyhole! Cubbyhole has been around for ages, downtown in the West Village neighborhood. The colorful and fun space has been mentioned by Timeout New York and Entertainment Weekly, amongst several others.
lesbian bar nyc cubbyhole
lesbian bar nyc cubbyhole
Cubbyhole bar New York city

If you’re a member of the queer or lesbian communities, you can’t miss Cubbyhole. See for yourself how fun and inclusive Cubbyhole is on their photo gallery page. If you visit, send wolfyy an email sharing your experience!

Cubbyhole bar New York city

Macri Park: Brooklyn’s Gay Hangout

Macri Park is right around the corner from the Metropolitan gay bar. They’re always keeping Brooklyn fun with tons of weekly shows and Ru Paul Drag Race viewings.

Macri Park gay bar
Macri Park gay bar
Williamsburg gay bars
Many of my friends that live(d) in Brooklyn always spent time at Macri Park, both for happy hours after work and while letting loose on the weekends.
Williamsburg gay bars

Check out the Macri Park Facebook Page or head to their website for more details and photos!

Looking for the best hotel rates in Brooklyn? Search for New York Properties at Agoda.com

The Stonewall Inn: A NYC Gay Bar Landmark

A famous landmark of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, the famous Stonewall Inn gay bar is popular mainly with tourists or locals that live nearby. If you have never been to NYC’s Stonewall gay bar, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Everyone should see the most important NYC LGBT landmark in New York and grab a drink inside. The ambiance is great and the bartenders are notoriously friendly.

More NYC Gay Bar Options

If you didn’t find your spot of choice above, then perhaps the NYC gay bars below will suit you better. These bars are also popular with locals and are each great in their own way. I list these spots last because in general they are not as raved about as the bars mentioned above.
Manhattan gay bars
Manhattan gay bars
nyc gay bar

If these NYC gay bars are closest to you or your best friend’s favorite spot, then by all means, please check them out!

nyc gay bar

Dive Bar Lounge (DBL) & Micky Spillane’s: Hell's Kitchen Local Hangouts

aI’ve spent many nights at both of these NYC gay bar gems. I mention them together because they have similar lounge-type vibes and are owned by the same guy. Both are cheap, friendly and great for medium-sized groups. Dive Bar Lounge (known as DBL) and Micky Spillane’s are among the cheapest gay bars in Manhattan, too.

DBL NYC
DBL NYC
dive bar lounge hk
If you’re looking for a place to sit down with friends, I suggest Micky Spillane’s since they have more overall seating. Micky Spillane’s is directly in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen on 49th Street and 9th Avenue.
dive bar lounge hk
DBL only has outdoor seating along the street, aside from a few seats along the back wall. DBL gay bar is a bit farther south on 47th and 10th Avenue.

Metropolitan: Top Brooklyn Gay Bar in Williamsburg

If you’re staying in Williamsburg, then you’ve definitely got to check out Metropolitan Bar. This place is quite grungy, but still very popular.I  have spent many nights here until I was the last one to walk out the door.

New York City gay travel
Locals flock to Metropolitan for the huge outdoor seating area in the back (only open in warmer half of the year). The relaxed hangout area in the back definitely make Metropolitan a favorite Brooklyn gay bar.

Metropolitan attracts both locals and non-locals. I’ve run into Scott Hoying from Pentatonix here as well as some New Zealand gay travelers. The music at Metropolitan is upbeat and people are friendly. See more on the Metropolitan Bar Facebook Page.

Vodka Soda / Bottoms Up: Inexpensive and Unique

A bit farther south than the rest of Hell’s Kitchen’s gay bars, Vodka Soda / Bottoms Up is a fun two-level hangout. The layout is certainly one of the most unique of any NYC gay bar. Enter at street level and then take one of the staircases up to the second floor for more seating, another bar and a great view of the street.
vodka Soda bottoms up nyc
vodka Soda bottoms up nyc
vodka soda bottoms up
Vodka Soda / Bottoms Up is a great place to hang out on Thursdays, as well as the weekends of course. It’s also a very inexpensive bar (by a NYC standard)! The weekends, however can get a bit overcrowded to the point that it is difficult to order a drink.
vodka soda bottoms up

Boxers HK: A Popular NYC Gay Bar Rooftop

If you’re visiting New York in the summer, I recommend happy hour at Boxers HK! I like the Boxers Sports Bar Hell’s Kitchen location for their awesome roof terrace. There is plenty of seating and space overall, so it never feels too crowded. Their terrace is on the second level, offering a great view of the NYC gay neighborhood streets below.

boxers hk gay bar nyc
boxers hk gay bar nyc
boxers hk rooftop bar
In my opinion, Boxers HK is best during summer afternoons. Locals love to spend a few hours after work socializing on the roof. In winter, as well as for late night partying, I prefer the other NYC gay bars described above.
boxers hk rooftop bar

Note that only the Hell’s Kitchen Boxers location has a roof terrace. There is another location downtown at Boxers Chelsea.

The Cock: NYC Gay Bar & Basement Sex Club

Mention “The Cock” gay bar to any gay New Yorker, and you’ll surely be met with a chuckle. The Cock is famous for being a NYC gay bar with a dark room underground, where no rules apply. While the upstairs is a gay bar, the basement is a dim, sweaty sex club. Fridays and Tuesdays are most popular at The Cock.
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sex parties nyc
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Prepare yourself though. The Cock is not for the faint of heart. If you are interested in joining the party downstairs, always protect yourself and never take any unnecessary risks (I think you know what I mean).
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The Ritz Bar & Lounge: Gay NYC Latino Favorite

I used to frequent The Ritz Bar & Lounge every weekend with old friends. The Ritz attracts primarily Latino gay men as well as some of the local gays who love to dance! There usually aren’t and older/mature gay men here; the crowd is on the younger side.

The ritz gay bar nyc
The Ritz has two levels with two dance floors. The ground level has a small bar in the front room and a dancing room in the rear that usually plays house/circuit style music and remixed top hits. Upstairs, there is another bar and dancing room that plays Latin and popular hip-hop.
the ritz bar and lounge
The ritz gay bar nyc
the ritz bar and lounge
On special occasions, The Ritz will open up their secret third level. They typically open this space for special parties or busy weekends

The Monster: West Village History

One of the historically oldest in New York City gay bars is The Monster. They’ve been open down in the West Village since 1970 with quite a rich history. Downstairs you’ll find an upbeat nightclub that gets rowdiest on weekends. Aside from the weekend parties, The Monster West Village gay bar attractions mostly an older crowd.

Stop by on a late Sunday afternoon between 5 and 9 PM for some stellar piano action. The Monster is well known for talented piano players as well as surprise appearances by local celebrities. Check out The Monster Facebook Page for more info on events.

Barrage: Relaxed Hell’s Kitchen Gay Bar

Although I personally do not frequent Barrage Bar, I have several friends who like this bar because it’s a calm place to hang out.

Barrage gay bar nyc
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Barrage gay bar nyc

I would describe it as a local gay bar that usually is not too crowded where you can have a conversation without having to yell. Since Barrage is tucked away off the main Avenue, it tends to be quieter. Check out the Barrage Bar Instagram for more photos and stories.

Don’t forget to check out wolfyy’s New York City Gay Travel Guide.

Skip These NYC Gay Bars

Not everyone is going to agree with me here. However, if you are a first-time visitor trying to choose a NYC gay bar or two, then there are probably a few you should save for next time or skip altogether. While in NYC, I want you to have the best gay bar experience possible.
So, here are a few NYC gay bars that I believe are sub-par (for varying reasons). If you want to check them out on your way around town, go for it. But, don’t make them your main destination.

POSH Bar & Lounge

Posh Bar is definitely on the list of dive gay bars in New York City. Some locals prefer to hang out at Posh, but it’s not my personal favorite. The crowd here can tend to be a  little on the predatory side, but then again I have never had too big of an issue at this bar.

nyc LGBT nightlife

Be cautious hanging around outside of Posh Bar late into the night. I’ve witnessed a bit of commostion and a fight now and then while passing by the bar. I can’t neglect to tell you to skip this NYC gay bar. Check out more on the Posh Facebook Page.

Boiler Room

I have never really been a fan of the Boiler Room gay bar because of the overall run-down vibe. I don’t think I have ever had a good-tasting drink, either. Most annoying though, is the electronic song-selection screen installed near the entrance that never actually plays the songs that you pay for!
New York City gay travel
New York City gay travel
New York City gay travel

Boiler Room may be dirt cheap, but I recommend that you skip this one. If you have a differing opinion, or Boiler room is your go-to spot, let wolfyy know!

Flaming Saddles: Hell’s Kitchen Tourist Bar

Flaming Saddles is probably the top tourist gay bar in New York. Yes, it is fun to watch the dancers in their skin-tight jeans, but you’re not going to find any local gay guys here. All the locals will be at the other bars mentioned above.

flaming saddles hell's kitchen
I’m a huge advocate for experiencing the local gay favorite hangouts, which is why I recommend skipping this gay bar.
flaming saddles hell's kitchen
flaming saddles gay bar New York City
Maybe now I’ve made you curious. If you decide to stop into Flaming Saddles NYC, then make it part of your route up 9th Avenue toward Rise Bar!
flaming saddles gay bar New York City
There is usually a large number of straight women here for some reason, kind of negating the whole purpose of a gay space. They even have this hilarious sign that says “no woo-hoo-ing.” By the way, I support straight women accompanying their gay friends to bars. In this space however, I don’t sense that. It seems that there are just too many tourists.

NYC Gay Bar Ultimate Guide: Tips

For foreigners, you must bring your Passport to prove you are aged 21 years or older. I know it is annoying to carry such a precious document out to bars, but NYC is quite strict about this.
gay bars with dark rooms nyc
If you’ve had a little too much to drink and you’re trying to get into another bar, don’t be so obvious to the bouncer. If you approach a bouncer to present your ID while visibly or audibly intoxicated, expect to be refused entry.
gay bars with dark rooms nyc
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Being nice to bartenders can really pay off. Tipping is expected in every NYC bar. The standard is usually $1 per drink. Those who can afford more usually give more.
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Opinions vary about whether we should tip rude bartenders. Gay bars will certainly have some rude staff. NYC gay nightlife is so hectic that it’s unavoidable. The decision is yours.
best gay bars in brooklyn
Most New York City gay bars are open until 4AM, even on weeknights. New York is the gay party capital of North America, after all! Keep in mind that bars don’t serve alcohol past 2AM per NYC law, even though they may remain open later. On Sundays, many bars will close at 2AM.
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NYC drag shows
Gay circuit parties new York
Overall, New York City is a safe place, especially in areas with gay bars. However, petty crime still occurs. Always keep track of your coat and other belongings. If you don’t want to worry about this, then don’t wear an expensive jacket somewhere that you’re going to end up taking it off.

Looking for NYC Gay Clubs and Circuit Parties?

This NYC gay bar ultimate guide only considers traditional, exclusively gay establishments. New York gay parties, circuit festivals and special events will be covered in a future article.
Gay circuit parties new York

In the meantime, read the wolfyy New York City gay travel guide.

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