Gay Denver

Denver
photo: Wiki Commons - David Shankbone

Cheesman Park in winter: blog.shankbone.org

Denver

Denver will surely take your breath away. Be prepared for the change in altitude here in the “Mile High City.” The attitude's different, too, as you'll meet some of the friendliest and most helpful folks you may ever encounter.

Denver has preserved a vibrant downtown, one of its great charms. Here you'll find a convention center, a performing arts complex, and a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and nightspots. Also here are some of the city's top attractions, including the US Mint, the Denver Art Museum, and the Colorado History Museum.

Capital Hill, Broadway Street to the south and East Colfax to the east have long been the main gay district for bars, restaurants and shops. Cheesman Park, a few blocks from these two streets, is a green expanse with city skyline and mountain views. With 80 acres next to the Denver Botanic Gardens, the area is popular for daytime sunning, volleyball and cook-out, plus the occasional concert or drum circle. Long a men's cruising area, the guys come here in cars, on bikes or on foot. Officially closed 11pm - 5:30am, the road stays open, so it's mostly a drivers' scene during later hours. Once a cemetery, the area is known for ghost sightings too.

Denver's Pridefest takes place on a Sunday in late June to Civic Center Park where the two-day PrideFest takes place. Cheesman Park is the location for the AIDS Walk, in mid-August each year. Other community events include: the July Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo with the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association; Thunder in the Mountains in July, featuring the Rocky Mountain LeatherSIR contest; and Octobearfest, with the Front Range Bears.

 

Getting here

Denver International Airport is likely to be your gateway to the Mile High City. The ultra-modern facility is about 25 miles from downtown. Skyride is the RTD bus into downtown, with departures every 15-60 minutes, 3:30am to 1:30am, at a cost of $9-13, depending on destination.

 

Getting around

A car is usually your best bet for getting around this sprawling city. RTD has bus and light rail service, at $2.25 ($4 express) per trip in cash. See their website for maps, fares, passes, and schedules. 

 

Media & resources

For local gay news, features, social ad nightlife infromation and community resources, see Out Front. Westword is Denver's alternative weekly for news, arts, music, restaurant reviews and general events listings.

The Colorado LGBT Center on Capitol Hill provides legal & advocacy programs, youth services, job assistance, hosts SAGE for older gay people, and organizes various events - among them Denver Pride.

As in many western cities, the rodeo is a popular gay pastime hereabouts. See the CGRAHomorodeo, and IGRA websites for info on local and regional events, including gymkhanas, schools and the big July Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo in Golden, Colorado.

Activities of bears in the Rocky Mountain region can be followed at the Front Range Bears website. They organize various trips, get-togethers, and do first Friday socials at the Wrangler.

For drag pageants and cabaret shows see the websites of Broadways, Charlie’s, Club M/ Hamburger Mary's, and Tracks. Go to our map & listings tab for links to these and businesses listed below.

The Rocky Mountain Arts Association, RMARTS has information about the Denver Women's Chorus and the Denver Gay Men's Chorus.

Thunder in the Mountains is the big leather/ fetish July party weekend, with contests including Rocky Mountain LeatherSIR. Their website has details for this and other events, news, and links of interest to the community.

Queer lives, voices and visions are presented in all their diversity in film screenings by Cinema Q. See their upcoming programs at their website.

The new Denver Film Society home, the Sie FilmCenter (2510 E Colfax), Denver's only year-round cinematheque, presents first-run exclusives and arthouse revivals, in original languages and formats.

Denvergov.org is the official city website. Denver.org can answer most general tourist FAQs about Mile High City. For daily news coverage, sports, arts and entertainment, see the Denver Post.

For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Denver listings pages.

 

Accommodations

Capitol Hill Mansion (1207 Pennsylvania St; 800-839-9329), in the Capitol Hill district downtown, combines turn of the century opulence with every modern convenience in this B&B with eight elegant rooms and suites, some with private balconies, gas fireplaces, and whirlpool tubs.

Holiday Chalet Bed & Breakfast (1820 East Colfax Ave; 303-437-8245), accommodations in the Wyman District, Victorian brownstone, with elegant period decor. Their full breakfast of pancakes and quiche, lox and fruit get you started nicely.

Ramada Inn (1150 East Colfax Ave; 303-831-7700), Capitol Hill, downtown, minutes from many tourist attractions and local gay clubs. Outdoor heated pool, whirlpool, and fitness center, restaurant, laundry, WiFi, on-demand movies.

 

Bars and clubs

Aqua Lounge (1417 Krameria St), gay/straight mixed neighborhood lounge; live music, DJs, karaoke, video bingo, darts, poker, Wednesday go-go dancers.

Black Crown (1446 South Broadway), piano bar/lounge, game room, patio, small plates menu, Sunday brunch, mixed older crowd.

BoyzTown (117 Broadway), male strippers are the specialty, never a cover, hot men six nights a week, from 10pm, theme and holiday special parties.

Broadways (1027 Broadway), small Hollywood-theme bar, easy-going folks, HDTV sports, all-weather patio, dance floor, DJs, beer busts.

Charlie's (900 East Colfax Ave), for over a generation among the nation's finest and Colorado's largest. Pool tables, video games, dart machines, outdoor patio, non-stop events. Sunday afternoon beer busts, karaoke, Undie Mondays, shirtless guys nights, Sunday drag. Country Western music dance floor; second level  wide music variety party bar.

Club M (709 East 17th St), at Hamburger Mary's restaurant, drag cabaret shows, TV sports and "Mary-oke." Shares "Denver's best patio" with their restaurant.

Compound (145 Broadway), delightfully funky bar, patio, dancing; DJs, state-of-art sound/lghting. No dress code, anything goes, Levis to drag. Weekend beer busts, open daily from 7am.

Denver Eagle (1475 36th St), Levi and leather men's bar; games, Thursday underwear nights, third Saturday Gear leather/fetish nights.

La Rumba (99 W 9th Ave), mostly straight crowd, Friday Latin music dance nights. DJs play bachata, reggaeton, cumbia and dance lessons. Dress to impress.

Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret (1601 Arapahoe St), cocktails, appetizers, dessert, eclectic entertainment, comedy, variety, music and cabaret for mixed crowd.

R-R Bar (4958 E Colfax Ave), long-time locals' neighborhood favorite on the East Side; old-time Denver charms, games, theme nights.

Tracks (3500 Walnut), big gay dance club: 18+ Superstar Thursdays; Bad first Fridays women's night; Ominous dark electro/industrial and alternative second Fridays; 18+ third Fridays Reeewind and Roll roller skating and retro hip-hop; Drag Nation last Fridays; and Saturday theme dance parties.

Vinyl (1082 Broadway), weekend, mostly 18+ mixed crowd events; 3-floor dance club, 9 DJs,  theme parties, rooftop patio, city vistas, fire pits/ grilled food.

The Wrangler (1700 Logan), known as Denver's top men's cruise bar. Leather and underwear nights, bears' nights, pool games, karaoke; legendary Sunday beer busts, wall-to-wall men and line at the door.

X-Bar (629 E Colfax Ave), gay/mixed neighborhood video bar, weekend dancing, karaoke, games, women's nights. Daily 3pm-2am, Sunday , DJ from from noon to close, plus go-go dancers.

The Barker Lounge (475 Santa Fe Dr), neighborhood bar CLOSED.

 

Baths

Denver Swim Club (6923 East Colfax Ave), open 24 hours with outdoor pool, nude sunbathing and heated indoor pool, steam room, sauna, hot tub, glory hole arcades, slings, The Caves cruising, private rooms, porn video theater, snack area.

Midtowne Spa (2935 Zuni), fantasy sets, glory holes, cell block, maze, dungeon room, video-arcade booths; steam, dry sauna, hot tub, porn and general-release movies, backyard deck hot tub. Open 24 hours. Specialty rooms, TV, sling, St Andrew's cross. Hot JO parties, strip shows, free food and beverages.

In Colorado Springs: Buddies Private Club (3430 N Academy Blvd), 18+ men's sex club, group showers, hot tub video booths, and dark room. "More than just a bathhouse... a social venue."

 

Restaurants & Cafes

Annie's Cafe & Bar (3100 E Colfax Ave), old-fashioned, home cooked all-day breakfast; lunch/dinner, table tent specials, cocktails.

Barricuda's (1076 Ogden Street), daily brunch until 3pm, dinner, late snacks, even later on weekends; veggie options, full bar.

Benny's Restaurante & Tequila Bar (301 E 7th Ave), gay-popular Capitol Hill Mexican tequila bar and restaurant with affordable prices. Also with take-out.

Biker Jim's (2148 Larimer St), exotic and game meat grilled hot dogs, local artisan all-natural sausages, endless toppings; reindeer, elk, rattlesnake, pheasant, boar, buffalo brats, and more.

Bittersweet (500 E Alameda Ave), on-site garden supplied produce, house-baked goods, eclectic dinner menu, cocktails, beers and wines.

City O'City (206 E 13th Ave), daily vegetarian/vegan breakfast 7am-5pm; lunch and dinner soups, salads and sandwiches, pizza, cheese boards, coffees and pastries.

Dazbog Coffeehouse (1201 E 9th Ave), gay favorite since it was Diedrich, now part of growing Russian immigrant chain; still a great gourmet coffee, bagel and pastry option.

Fruition (1313 East 6th Ave), inspired cuisine fine dining, meat, fish, fowl; craft beers and wines. "...a whole new chapter for Denver" - Gourmet Magazine.

Denver Hamburger Mary's Bar & Grill (700 East 17th St), campy gay restaurant chain appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches, entrees, and desserts; Sunday brunch. Shares patio with their Club M bar, a few doors down.

Racines (650 Sherman St), breakfast from 7am weekdays, lunch, dinner, weekend brunch from 8am. Comfortable gay-favorite restaurant /bar evening hangout.

The Squeaky Bean (1500 Wynkoop St), star chef's tasting menus, dinner, good wines, cocktails; Sunday Bingo Brunch.

Vesta Dipping Grill (822 Blake St), a Denver dining destination; eclectic "worldly, bold and exotic flavors." Also guest chef luncheons.

Watercourse Foods (837 E 17th Ave), eggs or tofu scramblers, tacos, burritos, hash, Southern Breakfasts 8am-5pm; soups, sandwiches, wraps, bean burgers, pastas, stir-fries, salads, smoothies.

See more restaurants here.

 

Shops and entertainment

CJ's Leather (212 S Broadway), leather clothing, bondage and S&M gear, good prices.

Crypt (131 Broadway). leather goods, bondage and fetish gear and plus cards, gifts, lubes, dvds and other erotic needs and whims.

Denver Film Center (2510 E Colfax), finest indie & world cinema, limited releases, arthouse retrospectives, Cinema Q queer films, on weekly-changing schedule.

Tattered Cover Bookstore ( 1628 16th St & 2526 E Colfax Ave), indie bookseller, magazines and periodicals galore, gifts, greeting cards, puzzles; four area locations.

CLOSED FEB 2014: Heaven Sent Me (116 South Broadway), pride, leather & fetish clothing, toys, accessories store.

 

Local Gay History

In 1858 news of gold strikes brought hundreds of prospectors to the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains. Where Cherry Creek met the South Platte River the city of Denver, would soon be established with an overwhelmingly male population, 35 saloons and no churches. See Gay American History, by historian Jonathan Ned Katz which cites 1914 works by Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin. Hirschfeld had received reports from a gay Denver University professor who told of a well-developed network of gay life in the city at that time.

Historians John D'Emilio and Allan Bérubé continue the story after World War II, when airmen from nearby Lowry Air Force Base helped to maintain Mary's Tavern on Broadway as a gay space, long before post-Stonewall social changes took hold in the 1970's. Subsequent political battles raged around the passage of anti-gay Amendment 2 which was finally overturned in the US Supreme Court's Romer v. Evans decision. As a whole Colorado remains relatively hostile, but the city of Denver, along with nearby Boulder, maintains far more tolerant attitudes towards sexual minorities.

- Staff - November 2014

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