When you are traveling as an LGBTQ+ person, it's always a good idea to check out the local gay bars where you would feel safe and comfortable. As the Home of the Blues & Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll, Memphis gets plenty of visitors each year, but what about the Memphis gay scene? Are gay bars in Memphis worth checking out? Are there any gay bars on the famous Beale Street? This article will answer all of your questions.

Gay bars in Memphis

In Memphis, gay people won't find too many LGBTQ+ bars. There used to be more gay bars in the city, but most of them have turned into regular neighborhood bars. At the same time, the ones that still keep going always attract large fun crowds and play an important role for the local LGBTQ+ community. Here are the Memphis gay bars you should definitely put on your itinerary.

The Pumping Station

If you want to get familiar with the Memphis gay scene, you can't miss The Pumping Station. With a convenient location in Madison Heights, it has been the go-to gay bar in Memphis for two decades now. But The Pumping Station is more than a local gay bar — it attracts the LGBTQ+ community from all across the mid-south and nearby cities such as Jackson or Little Rock.

It's a chill bar where you can grab a bite and have some fun nights with your friends, so don't expect to see a crazy party at The Pumping Station. What you can expect though is a nice patio with the infamous tree house, a pool table, some karaoke, and RuPaul's drag race watch parties.

Being the only specifically gay bar in the city, The Pumping Station has got plenty of loyal patrons, however, the newer reviews are mixed. While some praise the service and the bar's vibe, others say the bar is quite empty now and the drinks are not that great, so it can be a hit or miss.

“Oh boy where do I begin. Though the bartenders were friendly, this place just has a weird vibe. Maybe it was the crowd or lack thereof or maybe it was their drink options. I was disappointed to say the least that this was one of the only gay bars in town. I know you all are trying to do the best you can. My advice is try to create a robust drink menu and bring up the energy”, says Jonathan Redaelly in one of the most recent reviews on Google Maps.

Dru’s Bar

The motto of Dru's Bar is "Not just a Bar, It's your Bar!", and many local LGBT people will agree with that. It's a female-led business with a Midtown location that opened as a sports-themed lesbian bar in 2008 and to this day remains a favorite among gay women from Memphis, Jackson, and all over Tennessee. Over time, Dru's Bar has become more inclusive to cater to the entire LGBTQ community as well as straight allies.

Although Dru's Bar, just like The Pumping Station, is a great bar for a chill night out with your pals, it hosts different events almost every day. Whether it's the Wednesday night Karaoke Shows, their iconic Drag Shows, or comedy events, you will surely enjoy the entertainment at Dru's.

One thing that the patrons appreciate the most is Dru's family-like atmosphere. “To me it is almost more like a church. We provide counseling. We have a great time doing it, but we’re a support system and a hub for the community. It’s just an absolutely incredible experience that I wouldn't trade for anything … This is my life’s work”, shares the bar's owner Tami Montgomery in her interview for High Ground.

Besides, Dru's Bar staff is constantly in search of ways to make the bar more comfortable. For example, in 2021, they added an outdoor patio for smokers, which also features a live video feed of the stage so that no one misses the show.

Atomic Rose

If you're in search of fun gay clubs in Memphis, you can't go wrong with Atomic Rose. It's one of the best gay bars and clubs in Memphis, and its location is perfect. You will find it on George W Lee Ave, a stone's throw away from Beale Street, an iconic Memphis neighborhood known for its entertainment. You'll be surrounded by some of the best music bars and clubs in the mid-south, but we doubt you'll want to leave Atomic Rose anyway.

Atomic Rose opens at 6 pm as a restaurant and according to the reviews, it has amazing food. That means you can enjoy your dinner and some karaoke or one of the best drag shows in Memphis at the same time. Try getting a reservation for 8 pm on a Friday or Saturday since those are the nights when they host the drag show.

If you happen to be in Memphis on a Sunday, you're in luck too. Atomic Rose is well-known for its Sunday brunch, where you can try their special brunch menu and see a great drag show. It is so popular that even people from Jackson and other cities in Tennessee come to Memphis to see it.

Gay-friendly bars and restaurants in Memphis

Even though Memphis doesn't have many gay bars, it does have other places where the members of the LGBTQ+ community can meet up and hang out without fear of discrimination. Memphis is a progressive and diverse city, so thankfully, there are quite a few amazing bars and restaurants where queer people are more than welcomed.

Mollie Fountain Lounge

If you're a big fan of unique venues with a touch of history and culture, Mollie Fountain Lounge is the bar for you. It is one of the most stylish bars in Memphis, TN, which is frequented by both tourists and locals and welcomes people of all sexualities and gender identities. It's a nice place to visit on a trip, hang out with friends, connect with the other members of the LGBTQ community, or have a Taimi date

The building itself is a gorgeous Victorian-style mansion that used to belong to Mollie Fontaine, the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in the area. The lounge has two floors, several rooms with different atmospheres, and an unmistakable offbeat charm that attracts many queer folks.

Mollie Fountain Lounge is perfect for all kinds of music lovers. There's plenty of space in the manor, so most nights, there are live music events, from piano sing-alongs to jazz band concerts. The top floor has a more club-like atmosphere with a DJ, a dance floor, and plenty of liquid courage to keep you up and entertained all night long.

And as if that wasn't enough, Mollie Fountain Lounge is owned by Karen Carrier, the owner of one of the biggest restaurant empires in Memphis and the entire Tennessee state. The food is a quirky yet elegant combination of Southern cuisine and foreign influences.

Alchemy

Feeling fancy and want to check out something more upscale tonight? Or are you in search of a spot in Memphis that will impress your date? Either way, Alchemy should be your first choice. With a location on Cooper St in Midtown, it opened in 2008 and quickly rose to fame as one of the best restaurants and cocktail bars in town.

While Alchemy is not a gay bar, it is very welcoming towards the LGBTQ community. On their website, Alchemy's owner Nick Scott explicitly says that Alchemy "is a safe place for all people gay, straight, black, white, male, female and everyone in between to call home".

Of course, the inclusive atmosphere isn't the only thing that draws both straight and LGBT people from Tennessee towards Alchemy. Alchemy has got amazing bartenders and mixologists who might just make you the best craft cocktail of your life, and the owner is an experienced chef who makes sure the food is both special and relevant.

"The truffled deviled eggs are a must-have. They're creamy and rich, and the smoked salmon is a nice bonus. The ham and cheese arancini is okay, not a lot going on with it. I'd skip them. The cheeseburger sliders are to die for honestly. Juicy, tender, well seasoned. Get it with a side of their aioli," says Crystal N. in her review of Alchemy on Yelp.

Tip: To make your visit to Alchemy both incredibly enjoyable and affordable, stop by for their weekday happy hour from 4 to 6 when their renowned cocktails are 50% off.

Gay-friendly cafes in Memphis

Memphis has some great cafes, and the local LGBTQ+ folks love to gather there for friendly hangouts over coffee.

Otherlands

Othherlands is an artsy cafe with a location on Cooper St in Memphis, TN. It has great coffee and plenty of space to study, work, or just mind your own business and chat with someone in private. Its welcoming vibe and down-to-earth atmosphere make it a very popular spot for young gays and the LGBT community in the area.

There's an outdoor seating area where you can enjoy some affordable healthy food and many tables with plugs indoors so that nothing interrupts your workflow. Otherlands also make a point in providing their customers with unlimited WiFi to make sure every customer has access to the Internet.

Another thing that makes Otherlands special is its gift shop with exotic gifts that can make for great souvenirs from Memphis or just unique handmade items like necklaces, candles, and some clothes as well. The cafe also displays the art of local artists on its walls, and in some cases, you can purchase the artwork and support a local artist.

While it's a quiet place on the weekdays, it actually hosts music events on Friday and Saturday nights. You have to pay a small cover charge to get in, but again, the food and beverages are quite cheap and you also get to support local musicians. The genres range from folk and rock to bluegrass, so make sure to check the lineup before going.

Muddy’s Bake Shop

Muddy's Bake Shop is one of the best bake shops in Memphis, and it is so friendly and charming that it is a favorite stop for many LGBTQ+ people. As the name suggests, it's more of a bake shop than a coffee shop, and it's a female-led business. It has a great location with a patio where you can hang out, enjoy your coffee, and try some of the renowned pastries.

The location is great too — the bake shop is just one street away from Overton Park, so you can pick up a coffee or food enjoy a nice walk around the neighborhood. Many queer students choose Muddy's as a chill hang-out spot away from the crowds.

If you are in search of something sweet, Muddy's Bake Shop has the potential to become your favorite place in Memphis (or in the world). The locals rave about the pastries from Muddy's, especially the cupcakes.

"The order and pick up process was so easy and well organized. The staff was so helpful and accommodating. My mom and I took a look around the store and ended up getting the confetti cupcakes and peach tea, as well. Both were amazing," says Jamecia Richardson in her review on Google Maps.

LGBTQ+ entertainment in Memphis

The Memphis gay scene may not be the best, but Memphis definitely has a very active and vibrant LGBTQ+ community, so if you're in search of LGBTQ+ events, Memphis has got a lot to offer

Friends of George’s

Supporting your local entertainment and culture workers is extremely important, especially if they are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Friends of George's is a unique theater company created by and for LGBTQ+ people to celebrate queer history and tell queer stories to a wide audience.

Friends of George's theater was found in 2010 to produce a reunion for George's Disco, one of the first drag bars in Memphis, TN. The event turned out to be so successful that the organizers decided to keep going, and they haven't stopped ever since. Now it's a powerful organization that gives queer people a creative outlet and donates its proceed to organizations such as:

  • Planned Parenthood;
  • The Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center;
  • Alzheimer’s and Dementia Services of Memphis, Inc.
  • Friends for Life.

Friends of George's play various well-known shows as well as their own original plays, mostly drag comedy. You can find some of the best drag queens in Tennessee act in Friends of George's, so plan your visit in advance and get your ticket before the shows are sold out.

Minglewood Hall

Minglewood Hall is not a gay bar or club, but you will surely run into many LGBTQ+ people there. It is the best live music venue in Memphis, Tennessee, and that's because it hosts such a wide range of music events that everyone will find a show they will like, no matter what music they like.

Now and then there are dome drag shows or queer events, which are a must if you like big parties and would like to meet new people. In June they host some Pride parties too, so it could be a good month to come for the members of the LGBTQ+ community. The venue itself is spacious and always well-decorated, which makes every concert a very atmospheric experience.

OUTMemphis

If you think gay bars are the only place you can meet LGBTQ+ people, you're wrong. Many big cities have organizations whose goal is to help queer people connect and thrive. OUTMemphis is one of the best ones in the mid-south.

No matter how old you are, how you identify, or what you are going through, at OUTMemphis, you will meet someone who will understand you and help you. They host various events every week so that the members of the Memphis LGBTQ community can get to know each other in a safe, judgment-free space.

They also organize many events for young people who are the most vulnerable, and at the same time, can't hang out at bars where adult LGBTQ+ people might gather. OUTMemhis staff helps teenagers with issues like coming out or self-acceptance but also provides crisis support if necessary. 

Right now, they are running a crowdfunding campaign for The Metamorphosis Project Youth Emergency Center, which was opened in June 2021 for young people in need.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We&#39;re 4k away from reaching our goal, and there is still time to DOUBLE your impact! Thanks to a generous donor, your donation today will be matched dollar for dollar up to $10k. We&#39;re over halfway there, help us reach the finish line at the link below!<a href="https://t.co/mjMi6hTTiC">https://t.co/mjMi6hTTiC</a> <a href="https://t.co/n8NegW5klG">pic.twitter.com/n8NegW5klG</a></p>&mdash; OUTMemphis (@outmemphis) <a href="https://twitter.com/outmemphis/status/1437820672382746629?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 14, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Gay bars, clubs and cafes in Memphis — conclusion

If you are in search of a city with many gay bars and clubs, perhaps, Memphis shouldn't be your top choice. However, if you're looking for a place with a few LGBTQ+ bars with a great atmosphere, fun local crowds, karaoke, and good drinks then Memphis might be a good idea after all. Your best bet for a night out would be heading into Midtown to The Pumping Station or Dru's bar and continue at Atomic Rose if you feel like dancing.

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