Even though it’s deep in the heart of Republican country, Dallas has a thriving gay scene with its own community newspaper (The Dallas Voice
), gayborhood (Oak Lawn) and LGBT community center (named rather discreetly The Resource Center of Dallas
). It might not have quite the nightlife of coastal gay meccas like San Francisco or New York City, but on the plus side, people are generally way friendlier, clubs much more casual and drinks half the price. If you’re planning a visit, here are some places to check out:
Named after the character in the ’80s TV series Dallas
, Sue Ellen’s is the most popular dyke bar in Dallas, thanks to a cheap cover, nightly drink specials and live music on the weekends. The crowd is casually dressed, a wide range of ages and almost entirely women, though my gay boyfriend swears he didn’t feel uncomfortable there. They have a few pool and air hockey tables, with a band starting at 9. Just as the show was starting, some cute androgynous girls offered us $1 Jello shots, which seems to be the poison of choice in Dallas gay bars—I hadn’t been offered that many since my last frat party.
The only vegetarian restaurant I found in this city of 1.2 million, barbecue sauce-guzzling NRA card-carrying residents, the Cosmic Café looks like it was imported from an upstate New York mountain town where people still aren’t sure what decade it is. The décor—Buddhist prayer flags, plywood jungle animals and brightly colored, Eastern themed everything—is just how I think beef-eating Texan cowboys must imagine hippie-dippy San Franciscans. When you stop feeling like a self-conscious caricature (this is where their drink list comes in handy), you’ll really appreciate the delicious, mostly Indian themed veggie dishes with names like “herban renewal” and “cosmic stir”. Located in the Oak Lawn district, the Café draws plenty of herbivorous lesbian couples.
The Cross Bar
This one’s really for the boys, but ladies are welcome too, and I highly recommend checking it out. It’s located on Lemmon Street, near the Love Field airport, between strip malls, fast food joints and gas stations. From the outside, it looks seriously sketchy: painted all black with opaque windows and the name hand-painted on in rainbow letters. You have to search around a little bit for the side door to get in, but once you do, you find yourself in a friendly neighborhood dive bar, with art hanging on the walls and flea-market style décor. Those Texans sure do seem to love pool and Jello shots. They also have a great juke box, an outdoor patio with a fountain and cute male gogo dancers a few nights a week. Again, not your best bet for picking up girls, but still a fun and welcoming place.
Sadly, I found almost nothing lesbian in this museum dedicated to “making visible the unique, textured and diverse stories of American women.” Even so, it’s a fun, informative collection of multimedia exhibits that merit a few hour visit. Focusing entirely on the women of North America, the museum celebrates women’s culture and accomplishments in sports, politics, arts, humanities and civil rights. It’s also a good place to bring kids.
Another mostly male but friendly mixed spot in the Oak Lawn district, J.R.’s serves great food, drinks and yes, Jello shots. They’re open during the day for lunch and have wireless access. At night, it’s packed with a 20-30-something crowd dancing to rock and Top 40. They also have a second floor balcony that overlooking the street.