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Mack’s Favorite Queer-Affirming Spots in Bull City

Pride flags hanging in a queer-affirming city

Mack’s Favorite Queer-Affirming Spots in Bull City

Curious about what your therapist gets up to beyond the office? Well, as a proud queer Durhamite, I'm here to share my favorite spots where I can be more human and less therapist, all while celebrating queerness. Here are my favorite cherished, queer-affirming places in Durham!

1.) Everlou coffee - Everlou is a super cozy hangout spot where everyone's welcome! This oat milk-based shop on Mangum St. doubles as a cafe and a fun community space. Not only do they have a cool work area in their main area, they also have a side room with couches, games, and kids' toys! They support small local businesses with frequent pop-ups and rallying for causes through fundraisers. With seasonal drinks, (including pride-themed), supporting queer groups and organizations, and creating a welcoming atmosphere, I always feel so comfortable, safe, and at home at Everlou.

2.) The Pinhook - Ugh, I cannot say enough about how much I love the Pinhook. It is the most inclusive queer-affirming space I’ve had the pleasure of being in! Nestled right in the heart of downtown Durham, this queer-owned bar and music venue is all about creating a space where everyone feels seen and celebrated. In their words, it's not just a venue; it's a "safer space for queer and otherwise marginalized folks to express themselves and feel comfortable doing so." From drag performances hosted by The House of Coxx, to queer karaoke, to emo burlesque shows (yes you read that right), there is never a dull (or unaffirming) moment.

3.) Queeny’s - Born out of peak pandemic time, marital separation, and embracing sexuality comes Queeny’s, my favorite spot for late-night food and cozy vibes! Come for great food and drinks, and stay for the cute-ass library! The small bookshop in the back of the bar is called "Rubyfruit," paying homage to the iconic lesbian novel "Rubyfruit Jungle". The shelves are decked out with inclusive literature that's so diverse it’s guaranteed to have something for everyone. Queeny’s feels less like a bar and more like a celebration of love, literature, and queerness.

4.) The Velvet Hippo Bar & Lounge - Brand new to the Durham queer scene is The Velvet Hippo, established in August 2023. This bar is queer owned and features a rooftop and funky hippo-themed decor. Dogs are welcome, especially pitties! The Velvet Hippo invites pups to the roof deck on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. When you go, be sure to get my favorite drink: Ursula, Queen of Atlantica, it’s purple and sparkly! Thank me later.

5.) Motorco/Parts and Labor - Okay, I’ll admit this one is definitely more culturally queer than blatantly. But, with bathrooms labeled as “urinals and stalls” and “stalls only”, as well as a plethora of vegan options you’re bound to be in a community with other queer folx here. Attached to Motoroco, a cool music venue that features small indie artists as well as drag shows and emo karaoke nights, Parts & Labor is my favorite spot to grab a pre-show dinner and drinks, hangout on a warm summer night, and soak up the cool grunge garage aesthetics. 

6.) The Fruit - Rounding out my list is this century-old warehouse turned social community space that was once the Durham Fruit and Produce Company. Now, it is host to art exhibits, parties, weddings, and film screenings – a true one-stop venue for all things creative and cool! My personal favorite event at the Fruit is their monthly flea market appropriately named the Fruit Flea. This market changes themes each month and features local artist vendors, small businesses, and of course celebrates all things queer!

Thanks for joining me on this journey through some of Durham's vibrant queer community. Remember, whether you're a local or just passing through, these spaces are worth exploring and supporting. May these spots remind you to show up authentically and to celebrate all aspects of YOU.


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