Chattanooga was originally the name of the small Native American hamlet near the base of Lookout Mountain, on the banks of Chattanooga Creek. In Cherokee it means, "taking fish out of water." In 1838 the US government forced the tribe into exile in Oklahoma, a journey known as the "Trail of Tears."
But the city boomed. Known as the place "where cotton meets corn," it was well situated for river commerce. During the American Civil War the area became a battleground, but after the war the city recovered as a major railroad hub and industrial and manufacturing center -- known by the 1930's as the "Dynamo of Dixie." The Glenn Miller big-band song "Chattanooga Choo Choo" was a hit in 1941.
Today this fourth largest Tennessee city makes everything from the products of the William Wrigley Jr. Company to those of the Volkswagen auto assembly plant. Combining old-style southern charm with the youthful energy of University of Tennessee students, this city also has a vibrant gay community who live mostly downtown or in the Brainerd area. Several gay clubs, along with gay sports teams, social organizations incuding the Lookout Bears, and church groups, are at the center of gay people's lives.
Getting here, getting around
The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport has four major scheduled carriers with service to seven cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, Dallas, Detroit, and Charlotte. Connections from these will get you most everywhere beyond. Rental cars, taxis or hotel shuttles can get you from the airport to downtown.
Despite the large freight rail network in the city, there is no passenger rail service for commuters or long-distance travelers.
The public bus company, the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority or CARTA, operates 18 bus routes, with free electric shuttles downtown, and free wireless internet on their "smartbuses". Regular adult fares are $1.50 per ride and unlimited-ride, 24-hour passes cost $4.
Media & resources
The Tennessee Valley Pride Advocate is the local gay newsletter for Chattanooga. Look here for news about the latest Chattanooga Gay Pride Festival in early October.
The Lookout Bears website has info on the social activities of local bears: movie nights, camping weekends, skiing, the annual picnic, bowling, bar nights, softball (and other sporting interests), pool parties, etc. Their biggest annual event is the "Halloween Bash" weekend.
See Chattanooga ONStage for performances at the Community Theatre, the Tivoli Theatre and Memorial Auditorium, among other entertainment venues.
See a list of local businesses with locations and contact information at our map & listings tab.
Alan Gold's (1100 McCallie Ave), nightly gay club, drag shows, wet boxer contests, talent shows, pool games, dancing and partying, special events, cheap drinks, bears' nights, varied mixed crowd of men and women.
The Big Chill & Grill (427 Market St, Downtown), martini and cocktail bar, restaurant, games, frozen daiquiris.
Chuck's II (27 W Main St), gay bar, older laid-back crowd, pool games, potluck dinners.
Comedy Catch & Giggles Grill (3224 Brainerd Rd, Brainerd), gay-friendly, 18+ stand-up comedy club, food, full bar.
Images Bar (6005 Lee Hwy), dance and show bar, smoking permitted, drag shows and pageants including Miss Images; burgers, nachos/ dips, chicken and shrimp baskets, and other munchies.