Chicago Gay Nightlife Guide Downtown

By: George Adelman
People clinking glasses filled with alcohol

Witness to illustrious LGBTQ history, Chicago is undoubtedly among the most LGBTQ-friendly towns in America. Though the city itself barely survived a calamitous fire in 1871, it has always given refuge to people looking for acceptance. Hence, the LGBTQ community owes a lot of its success in gaining rights to the Windy City.

Being such a sanctuary for the queer community, naturally, Chicago houses many great LGBTQ hangouts all over town. That said, the northern part of the city is the wealthiest in terms of having gay-friendly bars and clubs; getting to those places necessitates unnecessarily long drives from the inner city, and that can be too much on a weekday. Who would want to sit behind the wheel for 1/3rd of an hour after a tiring day at work just to grab a drink? You guessed it right, nobody! So what does one do if they want to enjoy a minute of leisure at an LGBTQ-centric nightspot without having to make a haul for it? Well, then they go to the buzzing bars in downtown! Although the city center doesn’t offer a lot of hangouts, the ones it does are unapologetically entertaining and inclusive.

Here’s a quick rundown of the best LGBTQ friendly places in downtown Chicago.



Escape is one of the two gay bars in town that are predominantly frequented by Afro-Americans; however, it’s equally friendly and welcoming to anyone who wants to have fun. The popular LGBTQ hangout is located on the south side and is particularly packed to the gills on the weekends because of its engaging drag shows. But during the week, Escape’s affordable yet refreshing drinks keep the customers coming.


Jeffrey Pub

Jeffrey’s is the other gay bar in the south of Chicago that caters to African Americans. It is often regarded as a historical spot for the city’s LGBTQ community. Built 40 years ago, Jeffrey Pub was one of the first places where gays and lesbians could get together and not be shamed or harassed for their choices. The ambiance at this monumental nightspot is always super lively, thanks to the upbeat music played for the crowds to dance to on the cramped dance floor. Jeffrey Pub also hosts electrifying drag shows on weekends for its patrons to celebrate diversity and demonstrate inclusivity.


Baton Show Lounge, Downtown

Another famous gay bar in downtown Baton Show Lounge, is also one of the most aged LGBTQ nightspots in all of the Midwest. The place is known for its iconic drag shows that happen every week from Wednesday through Sunday. But despite being a regular occurrence, all the shows are packed with attendees, so it’s better to make a reservation, especially on weekends, to avoid any last minute admission troubles.

If you wish to have a grand old time with friends energetically dancing and drinking or meet a stranger to flirt a little, head on to any of the mentioned LGBTQ hotspots in Downtown Chicago. And the best part of visiting these places is that you will not have to go across the city to have fun!