There’s a notion that getting involved in the gay scene is expensive — and depending on what you do, maybe it is. But it doesn’t have to be.
Despite being in the Deep South, Atlanta is known as a great place for members of the LGBTQ+ community to live. The city is liberal, and in 2017, Alex Wan ran for city council as its first gay, Asian-American candidate. Plus, Elton John has lived here part-time for years. Rocket man!
To make the most of your time in Atlanta and to keep your costs low, we've got some recommendations for those who want to get involved in the Atlanta gay scene.
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Gay Atlanta Nightlife
The Atlanta gay scene has a thriving nightlife, and you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to participate in it.
- The Heretic is one of Atlanta’s well-known gay clubs. Three-Legged Cowboy country dancing night takes place every Thursday with no cover charge. Learn how to line dance or two-step and dance the night away. There is also typically no cover on Wednesdays, and the DJs play more dance music. Check out the schedule for special events, including drag shows.
- Blake’s on the Park has been an Atlanta staple since 1988. There’s never a cover charge and “always a groove.”
- For a more relaxed night, head to Mary’s, which almost never has a cover unless there’s a special event. It’s open Monday through Friday, as well as most Saturdays.
LGBTQ+ Arts Groups
The Atlanta gay scene has many LGBTQ+ arts groups that you can support or join.
- Members of the Atlanta Freedom Bands can often be seen at various events around town. You can audition to join the Color Guard, Concert Band, Marching Band, or MetroGnomes stage band. Or you can attend performances. Admission often starts at $15 for single shows.
- The OutFront Theater Company showcases stories of the LGBTQ+ experience and community. The company is frequently looking for (paid!) actors for its shows. Tickets start at $15.
- Singers can audition for the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus and the Atlanta Women’s Chorus every summer; there is a membership fee to join. Choir performances take place throughout Atlanta, and season tickets begin at $100.
- The Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chorus is another choral group for which members of the community can audition. There is a fee to join. More information on upcoming concerts is available on its website.
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Finally, for those of you who are sports-inclined, it’s easy to join leagues. Some have higher membership fees than others, but all are inclusive and friendly. For sports leagues not mentioned below, check out the Georgia Voice listings page.
- The Hotlanta Squares is a fun way to brush up on your square dancing. If you’ve never danced before, you can join an open house that typically takes place once or twice a year. Or you can just hop right in at a class!
- GO Kickball has a Pride League, which is always looking for new players, and runs summer leagues that cost about $67 for eight weeks. Check out the website for more information.
- If you want to play flag football, the National Flag Football League of Atlanta is the local chapter of the National Gay Flag Football League. It’s easy to join on the website.
- Rugby has become popular, and the Atlanta Bucks Rugby team is there to help you learn more about the sport. It's also the only inclusive gay rugby team in Georgia.
- Not competitive? Join the Front Runners Club for walkers and runners. Each year, they do a special, commemorative Stonewall Pride Run. Get registering!
- For the swimmers out there, Atlanta even has a gay Aquatics Club — Atlanta Rainbow Trout — for swimming, water polo, and triathlon teams. You can try them out for free for two weeks, and after that, it’s $190 for the year.
- Atlanta Team Tennis Association offers open play every Saturday, for those of you who fancy yourself the next Novak Djokovic.
There’s always a queer-focused event going on in the city. The Atlanta Pride Committee used to be responsible for only the annual Pride festival in Piedmont Park. But now the committee has a running calendar of events throughout the year. The best part? Many of them are free.
Atlanta Black Pride Festival takes place every year at the end of August. It even features a festival in Piedmont Park.
Looking to fill your time with some volunteering? Atlanta has tons of LGBTQ+ organizations where you can contribute your time and talent. For example, the Rush Center is home to five major organizations — Georgia Equality, The Health Initiative, Atlanta Pride, Pro-Georgia, and SOJOURN — that work for LGBTQ+ equality.
There are also many other organizations working on LGBTQ+ issues, including Lost-n-Found Youth, Real Youth Atlanta, and AID Atlanta. Georgia Voice lists many more organizations, as well.
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Final Thoughts on the Atlanta Gay Scene
There is so much going on in the Atlanta gay scene that there’s really no excuse not to get involved. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. Just get out and meet people. You won’t regret it, especially this time of year.
Additional reporting by Kelly Meehan Brown.