Hanging Out in Dallas' Gayborhood

Our guide to Dallas' LGTBQ community—one of the largest in the United States.

Dallas has one of the largest LGBTQ communities and is home to the largest LGTBQ-inclusive congregation in the world. Grab your partner and head out to explore all this vibrant city has to offer.

Arts and Shopping

The Bishop Arts District is loaded with small, locally-owned galleries, shops, theatres, bars and restaurants—there are at least 60. Many of the business owners are gay, but no one really cares. It's the perfect place to wake up with a latte, find the perfect trinket, grab an old-fashioned burger and a shake and meet up with friends over sushi and a cocktail. Check the website for special events like the monthly Wine Walk, Pumpkin Fest and Small Business Saturday Mimosa Walk.   

The eclectic Dallas Design District has become an epicenter for galleries in the Big D. Art lovers will find everything from contemporary installations to mid-century modern furniture to French Impressionist paintings. There is always something going on here. The website offers a full calendar of trunk shows, exhibition openings, galas, artist talks and book signings. 

Turtle Creek Chorale is made up of more than 200 members who have performed throughout Dallas for more than 36 years. The chorale is primarily composed of gay men, but heartily welcomes all men. It has produced 38 recordings and two feature-length documentaries. Regular season concerts are performed at the Moody Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District.

Katy Trail Ice House

Dining

Step into an authentic ranch house to fill up on Stampede 66's "Texas modern cuisine with a twist." Familiar Texas dishes are re-invented with contemporary touches—think chicken fried chicken served with chorizo gravy and buttermilk mashed potatoes. The ingredients are locally sourced as much as possible. Don't overlook the art—not that you could. The centerpiece is a raised ceiling depicting a Texas sky over a steel and driftwood tree, as well as a huge metal mesh rattlesnake above the banquette. 

Cedar Springs Tap House is a popular LGBTQ bar the Oak Lawn community. Order up one of the daily specials like $2 tacos on Tuesday and 2-for-1 burgers on Thursday. A hangover brunch is served on weekends with $3 Bloody Marys. 

The Katy Trail Ice House is just off the 3.5-mile Katy Trail, making it a refreshing respite after an afternoon hike—or a cool spot to watch others do the hard work. There are more than 50 beers on tap at the 50-foot bar, and the communal seating is considered one of the best places for patio dining in Dallas. A full menu features everything from brats to burgers to barbecue. Though not labeled LGBTQ, it's welcoming to all. 

Your tastebuds can travel the world without leaving Dallas. Not only does it offer retail shops and residential areas, Trinity Groves is an incubator for chefs to present unique restaurant concepts. Sample Latin American Chinese at Chino Chinatown, Middle Eastern street food at Souk Kebab House, Spanish tapas at Tapas Castile and modern vegan at V Eats Modern Vegan. 

Rainbow flags flying about JR's Bar and Grill

Nightlife 

JR's Bar and Grill was established in 1980 and has become Dallas' most successful gay bar. It's even spawned like-named clubs in Houston, Washington, D.C. and Denver. Named for one of the primary characters in the '80s-era Dallas soap opera, this hotspot in Cedar Springs is known for cheap drinks and friendly atmosphere. The patio is also a great place to people watch, especially during the Pride parade. 

The female counterpart to the masculine JR's, Sue Ellen's features live bands rocking two fiber optic-lit floors. Three bars are always packed, and it's reasonable prices and friendly atmosphere make it a great place to hang out with your girlfriends. 

The Round-Up Saloon has a country/western theme with a dance floor and video screens. There are six different bars from which to pick your poison—the Parlor Bar is open during the day, the Tool Shed serves 'em up under a tin roof, The Corral Bar is on the patio, The Horse Shoe Bar is the best place to watch the dance floor, the Tequila Shack stocks more than 40 tequilas and The Lone Star is the newest. 

Station 4 may have the best party in town. The 24,000-square-foot dance club kicks it up a notch with thundering beats and a moveable laser light show. Dance the night away, but don't worry about getting overheated—there are 15 service wells to cool off at. 

A Bible on a podium

Worship

There are many welcoming churches in Dallas. The Big D is home to the largest predominantly LGBTQ congregation in the world—The Cathedral of Hope, established in 1972. The 4,500-member congregation meets at 9 and 11 am. Smaller interest groups offer more ways to get connected. The church is also active in local ministry through initiatives like Pack the Pantry, Back to School drives and People Helping People—a home renovation ministry for the low-income and elderly. 

Wilshire Baptist Church is decidedly different than most Baptist churches. It is traditional in format, ecumenical in spirit and opens its doors to everyone, including gays. In fact, in 2016 the church went against the conservative Baptist General Convention of Texas—of which it was a member—when it voted to extend membership to members of the LGBTQ community. The convention immediately severed ties with the church, which continues its welcoming stance.

Oak Lawn United Methodist Church is in the heart of Dallas' gay community. It welcomes people of all backgrounds and orientations and is a member of the Reconciling Ministries Network. The church operates a food pantry and clothes closet and offers a weekly community meal.

Events

Dallas does Pride in a big way. Celebrations of the LGTBQ lifestyle abound throughout the month of September, but the actual Pride weekend is Sept. 15-16. The Pride Festival kicks off in Riverchon Park at 11 am and runs all weekend with live music, vendors and entertainment. The annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade follows on Sunday and winds throughout the Cedar Springs and Turtle Creek areas. 

The annual MetroBall is a fundraiser for the Greg Dolgener Memorial Aids Fund, which provides financial assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS. The event is typically held at Station 4 and features a concert, a 100-plus item silent auction and a DJ dance party. It has raised more than $500,000 in its 13-year existence.

People in a parade waving rainbow flags.

Lisa Kaylor
About the author