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Travel Thursday: Why New Haven, Connecticut is State’s ‘Drag Capital’

When you think of the words “gay hotspot,” New Haven, Connecticut isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind. But it’s areas like this that can be the most surprising when it comes to the deep LGBTQ history and fun places to hang out in for our community that can turn that ignorance into complete bliss.

New Haven, Connecticut is about a two-hour train ride from NYC, where it finds itself comfortably in between The Big Apple and much of New England. The area itself has a ton of wonderful parks, beaches, museums and foodie attractions, as well as the city where Yale University is located (if you are into the cute, pretty guy kind of thing).

They also have a wonderful LGBTQ scene that’s worth hopping off the highway and experiencing should you be cruising through CT. New Haven Pride Center’s Executive Director Patrick Dunn spoke with Instinct exclusively about it all.

Tell us about the LGBTQ scene in New Haven and what separates it from the rest?

Personally, I think that New Haven is one of the most important queer cities in New England. We are the drag capital for Connecticut.  We have multiple owned queer bars and businesses, along with an incredible arts and culture scene including places like the Yale Cabaret which regularly produces LGBTQ+ themed performances. We play host to some of the largest LGBTQ+ events in Connecticut including PRIDE New Haven. We have many resources for many different segments of the LGBTQQIP2SAA community. We have a huge student and academic community including Yale University which is dubbed "the Gay Ivy," and we are on the crossroad of Boston, New York City and Providence. All of this uniquely positions us to have thriving LGBTQ+ scene.

Does New Haven have pride every year, and if so, when does it take place and what do you do for it?

We do! This year marks the 20th year that New Haven is hosting PRIDE New Haven. PRIDE New Haven has a long tradition of being built by the community for the community and was originally founded by the owner of Gotham Citi / Empire Entertainment Robb Bartolomeo. Since then, Robb has built up a group of community members who help organize and run the event every year. About six years ago, Robb engaged the New Haven Pride Center to become one of the producing partners which allowed for even more community investment in PRIDE New Haven. This year's pride celebration will take place between September 9-16 in downtown New Haven with more than seven days of jam-packed events and activities including street festivals, concerts, theatre performances, drag shows, dance parties, music, circus, and more! Check out newhavenpridecenter.org/programming/pride for all the details of this year's event.

What are the most happening gay bars in town for people to visit?

It really depends on the day of the week - if you're looking for a drag or burlesque show on a Friday night, you're going to want to head to Partners Cafe for one of the monthly shows that takes place there. If you're looking for a friendly casual bar scene you might head to 168 York Street Cafe where you get a mix of regulars, students, and community members. York is also the home of the long-standing Robin Banks Show and the disco diva dance party produced by Soul Haven.

Then of course, you might be looking to dance the night away to DJ music, drag and male dancers - head over to Gotham Citi on a Saturday. Another hot spot - and the best happy hour in town - that is queer-owned, but doesn’t identify as a “gay bar,” is Barracuda Bistro & Bar. Of course there are so other many amazing queer-friendly spaces including 116 Crown, Barcelona Wine Bar and Kitchen Zinc. Oh and if you're looking for a late night snack after - head over to Mamoun's Falafel.

For more information on New Haven Pride, please check out their official website.


If you have travel ideas, places we should visit, or work for a PR company and are looking for writers to visit, please reach out to customerservice@instinctmagazine.com and address your comments to the Managing Editor.