Philadelphia has a thriving gay scene, and students should experience it.
One of the best things about being in Philadelphia – or any place that isn’t rural or suburban – when you’re queer in the United States is that there’s more to do than plant your roots in the Temple bubble.
There’s so much to do, for every type of personality, every age group and so on. Now that you’ve survived two weeks of life on Main Campus, it’s time to explore.
Temple GLBT life has come a long way, but it’s no replacement for GLBT Philadelphia. It’s time to take a break from the Hollywood house, take your roots out of the Temple ground and venture into the city.
I’ve listed a few of my favorite haunts and activities, and most of them I’ve discovered in the past two years because of a nice rite of passage called the 21st birthday. Not all the places allow the youngins to come in, so sorry 21-and-under crowd. Good things come to those who wait.
This is one of those places that won’t let you in, kiddies (sorry to rub it in – I’m just trying to get these places out of the way).
Q, also known as Q Kitchen and Lounge, is the perfect spot for someone who cannot decide between Woody’s and Old City’s the Plow & the Stars. The bar is located at 13th and Locust streets, and the drinks tend to be on the pricier side unless you’re visiting for its $5 happy hour between 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. But the average $7 per drink is a small price to pay for a hot crowd, even hotter bartenders and single-stalled bathrooms.
I fell in love with the place for two reasons – I made a lifelong friend while dropping nearly $150 in drinks, and more recently, the DJ played Tegan and Sara. Be still, my heart.
Every month, the East Passyunk Business District sponsors a nifty social at one of the bars or residences along the South Philadelphia road. Queers on the Avenue, or QOTA, tends to draw an older crowd – probably 24 and up – but that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun.
Drinks are relatively cheap, and when it’s hosted at the Cantina, there’s an added food bonus.
If anything, this event is the perfect excuse to bring friends out for drinks and use the cute older prospects in South Philadelphia as proof that prospects aren’t limited to the rare newbies in the gayborhood.
Every third Friday of the month, GLBT Philadelphians storm the Marathon Grill at 10th and Walnut streets for the freshest and hottest party in town. Who could blame them?
DJs play the latest hits as the mostly lady-loving-lady party goes full swing with an assortment of alcoholic beverages and the best crowd ever. The Halloween party was probably the best of the four times I’ve gone. It sucks that Philly lacks queer-women spaces resembling Stimulus. Never before have I been at a party where people seem to all feel like they belong. Exclusivity is checked at the door.
No alcohol is served at this place – I’m at least pretty sure – so under-agers can finally feel included.
Giovanni’s Room should be required for incoming GLBT students of Philadelphia. It’s nice break from the gay club and bar scene, and it has a lot of substance.
Founded in 1973, Giovanni’s Room – named after the classic novel of the same name by James Baldwin – is the oldest gay and lesbian bookstore in the country.
And with GLBT bookstores shriveling up, the bookstore at 12th and Pine streets might very soon become the only GLBT bookstore, which is why it needs more recognition and appreciation.
It’s the only place I know that has an extensive adult film and literature collection, an excellent selection of GLBT fiction and non-fiction, as well as earth-shattering author visits, such as the renowned Kate Bornstein.
It’s a queer bibliophile’s dream.
It might be a chain coffee place, but the Brew HaHa on 12th Street between Walnut and Locust streets isn’t shy about its very queer clientele.
The coffee isn’t too shabby, and the interior is perfect for obnoxious people like myself who enjoy typing away on their MacBooks while sipping lattes and flirting with fellow coffee lovers.
There is one downside to this place. A female friend went twice, once with me and once by herself, and later expressed that she felt unwelcomed there and couldn’t help but notice that it was a male-dominated café. I don’t doubt for a second that there are snooty gay boys, so just keep this in mind.
If you can get over this hurdle, grab your laptop, put on your best casual wear and pull off the best pretentious-Starbucks-laptop-frequenter you can to get some flirt-age.
If you can’t get over that hurdle, head to the Last Drop Café at 13th and Pine streets. It’s not exactly GLBT-associated, but the atmosphere is chic and hip, and the coffee is very enjoyable. Just remember it doesn’t take credit cards.
Josh Fernandez can be reached at email@example.com.