Gay Raleigh & Durham
Emergency measures in the wake of Covid-19:
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has limited all bars and restaurants to takeout or delivery services only. Grocery stores, gas stations and convenience stores may remain open, but without sit-down service.
Southern hospitality is what you’ll find in Raleigh and Durham, the two largest cities of what locals call “The Triangle.” (The third is Chapel Hill.) These are lively university towns, so you won’t be surprised find world-class museums, snappy shopping, interesting restaurants, and non-stop nightlife. There’s also a small but thumping bar scene.
A great time to visit will be when gay boys and girls celebrate Durham Pride on a late September Saturday, with a parade, festival, dance and weekend parties, all around the Duke University area. Raleigh has it's own Out Raleigh Pride Festival early each May.
Raleigh-Durham International Airport between the two cities, is served by most major airlines. Taxis and shuttle buses are the best way to get to your destination from the airport. See Triangle Transit for ground transportation info.
Amtrak Carolinian/ Piedmont trains connect Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham (601 W Main St) and Raleigh (320 W Cabarrus St) in North Carolina; also Richmond, Washington DC, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Trenton and New York. Amtrak Crescent trains from Greensboro connect with Charlotte, New Orleans, and Atlanta, as well as the northern cities between Washington and New York. Change trains for more destinations all across North America.
Greyhound offers intercity bus services from most destinations throughout the continent, to and from Raleigh (2210 Capital Blvd), or Durham (515 W Pettigrew St, near the West Main Amtrak station).
While it’s best to rent a car to see more of these cities, it’s possible to use buses to get around -- see GoRaleigh, GoDurham and for regional services, GoTriangle. For info on using bicycles, also see the GoTriangle website. Citrix Cycle bikeshare, with 300 bikes across 30 stations in Raleigh, is set to launch in summer 2018.
Media & Resources
QNotes is the LGBT arts, entertainment, news and views bi-weekly magazine for the Carolinas, having merged with The Front Page in 2006.
The LGBT Center of Raleigh (324 S Harrington St) offers daily events, programs, and community resources, including the regions largest collection of books of special interest. The LGBTQ Center of Durham (114 Hunt St) also has community programs, services and events.
The NC Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, the second-largest LGBT film event in the Southeast, takes place during eight days in mid-August.
The Independent (IndyWeek) is the local alternative paper for the region, with film, food, music, arts and other listings and reviews.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, along with some suggestions for hotels & guesthouses, restaurants, shops, museums and performance venues, see our gay Raleigh/ Durham listings pages. See some photos from around the area at our gallery pages.
Several busy gay clubs, cafes, stores and gay-friendly guesthouses are clustered near the State House in Raleigh. In Durham things are more scattered, but the area around Duke University is gay-friendly, and it's here that the Pride Parade and Festival take place.
Bars & Clubs, Raleigh
North Carolina bars and nightclubs without food are private, requiring membership, typically $10-15 per year. Visitors may be sponsored as a guest by a member -- people in line will often oblige.
Flex (2 S West), "the men's bar of the Carolinas" open every night with karaoke, drag shows, bingo, dancing, country music, goth and industrial nights, bear events, games and more.
Legends (330 W Hargett St), big, popular, private 18+ dance club, video and show bar for young, handsome, mostly male crowd, open every night year-round; with patios, drag stars, live entertainment, top DJ's, games, underwear parties, and other special events.
Ruby Deluxe/ Sparkle Dungeon (415 South Salisbury St), a DIY queer space, alternative-crowd basement dive bar; k-pop, vogue, goth nights, and monthly queer 18+ Seize The Stage nights for outside cis-normative gender boundary/ non-binary folx.
Whiskey Kitchen (201 W Martin St, Nash Sq), mainstream restaurant/bar, Southern kitchen small and full plates, platters, veggie bowls, burgers; beer/wine and over 200 kinds of whiskey from around the world.
CLOSED: Borough (317 W Morgan St), nightly bar/ restaurant food, internet access; Fifteen (317 West Morgan St), LGBT cocktail bar/ lounge; Icon (320 E Durham Rd, Cary), mostly African-American crowd gay dance club, drag shows.
The Bar (711 Rigsbee Ave), Warehouse District LGBTQ neighborhood “corner bar” welcomes all, sports, games, karaoke, weekend DJs, live music and events.
Blu Seafood & Bar (2002 Hillsborough Rd), gay-friendly steak and seafood restaurant, oysters, full bar.
Mad Hatter Bakeshop & Cafe (1802 W Main St), cakes, cupcakes, tarts, cookies coffebar/ cafe, smoothies, breakfast all day, lunch/brunch, dinner; WiFi.
The Pinhook (117 Main St), 18+ mixed crowd, live music, innovative DJs, dub, hip-hop, rap sessions, karaoke, "basic chilling," collaborative creative events, games, cheap drinks, patio.