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Dallas has long been known for its sports teams, cowboy culture, and thriving business districts and, somewhat more recently, for its dynamic and evolving LGBTIQA+ scene.
The history of the community in Dallas is a testament to resilience, unity, and mutual support. By the late 1960s, Dallas had an emerging gay neighborhood, Oak Lawn, which gradually became the epicenter of the LGBTIQA+ community. This was also the time when the first openly gay and lesbian bars started appearing. The AIDS crisis in the 1980s sparked a more public presence, with the community working to provide support and resources for everyone affected.
Activism intensified in the 90s and early 2000s, leading to significant momentum in acceptance and visibility. Events like the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, originally known as the Dallas Gay Pride Parade, which started in 1983, became annual celebrations of LGBTQ pride and rights.
LGBTIQA+ Dallas Now – Facts and Figures
Recent estimates suggest that approximately 4.1% of Dallas residents identify as LGBTQA+. Many believe the actual percentage is higher.
Dallas, in general, is increasingly recognized as gay-friendly. In terms of legislation, Texas does not have a statewide non-discrimination law that explicitly includes sexual orientation or gender identity. However, Dallas City Council passed an ordinance in 2002 that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations. It later expanded the ordinance in 2015 to include gender identity.
Dallas’s Best Gay-Friendly Neighborhoods
The epicenter of gay life in Dallas, and the traditional staging area for the annual Dallas Pride parade, Oak Lawn stands out for its diversity and inclusivity.
What’s happening in Oak Lawn? Cedar Springs Road is the main artery of the Oak Lawn district, particularly the area north of Oak Lawn Blvd. and west of Lemmon Ave that’s known as “The Strip.” Here, you’ll find a plethora of gay bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and shops that cater to the LGBTQA+ community, including:
- JR’s Bar & Grill: One of the most recognizable gay bars on The Strip, JR’s offers feisty drinks and music, a large outdoor patio, and plenty of special events.
- Sue Ellen’s: A lesbian bar that’s welcoming to everyone. Sue Ellen’s has multiple levels so you can choose the vibe that fits your mood – from chill lounge to lively dancing.
- The Round-Up Saloon: Looking to do some line dancing at a country-western themed gay bar? Head to Round-Up. If you can’t dance country-style, they’ll teach you. Or you can just hang out and listen to the music.
- Station 4 (S4): With all the themed party nights, you’ll never be bored here. Hit the dance floor and check out the show in the Rose Room.
- The Hidden Door: Feeling social but not in the mood for a high energy scene? The outdoor patio at the Hidden Door is where you want to be.
- Kodiak’s Restaurant and Bar: Kodiak’s is a low-key but fun place to relax, eat and drink with your friends.
- Dallas Woody’s Sports & Video Bar: Catch a game, sing some karaoke, meet and mingle, and watch the people.
Safety and Community Support
Oak Lawn is generally considered safe and welcoming, but like all urban areas, it has faced occasional incidents of crime and, sadly, sometimes hate crimes. Local businesses and community members have often rallied together to address these issues and support victims.
Oak Lawn is home to several organizations and establishments that support the LGBTQ+ community. The Resource Center, for instance, provides health services, community programs, and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ people of North Texas. And The Oak Lawn Committee civic organization plays an active participation in maintaining the area’s unique identity.
If you’re considering visiting or moving to Oak Lawn, you’ll find it to be a lively, dynamic area with a rich history and a bright future. It stands as one of the most recognizable gay-friendly neighborhoods in the southern United States.
Bishop Arts District
The Bishop Arts District in Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood, while not as historically entrenched in LGBTQA+ culture as the Oak Lawn area, has become increasingly welcoming and diverse over the years. The district’s inclusive atmosphere, artistic vibe, and emphasis on independent and locally owned businesses make it appealing to a wide range of individuals, including members of the LGBTQ+ community.
What’s happening in Bishop Arts? Bishop Arts does not have the concentration of LGBTQ+ bars and clubs that Oak Lawn does, but its nightlife is varied and inclusive. Several establishments are known for their welcoming atmosphere for all patrons, regardless of orientation or gender identity. Make sure to check out:
- Oddfellows: With a motto of “Food for all”, Oddfellows dishes up seasonal, “farm fresh” comfort foods and an intriguing selection of beverages.
- Hunky’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers: Hunky’s has other locations in Dallas, including Oak Lawn, and – as you may have guessed – serves excellent classic American burgers. There’s more to the menu than beef, including a veggie burger and salads, so don’t hesitate to drop by for lunch or dinner.
- Barbara’s Pavillion: Located just a short distance from the main Bishop Arts District, on 325 Centre St. Barbara’s has been serving Dallas’ gay and lesbian community for over 50 years.
Bars in the area that aren’t explicitly gay but are welcoming include The Wild Detectives, a combination bar/bookstore and Ten Bells Tavern, a British-ish pub in the heart of Texas. And if you’re looking for fancy cocktails, check out Boulevardier.
In the mood for shopping? Have a look at Society, and the Bishop Street Market. And there are many others, look for the rainbow flags and stickers – you’ll find plenty of places to explore.
Safety and community support
The Bishop Arts District, like many urban areas, has pockets where crime is higher or lower. Most visitors and residents feel safe, especially during daylight hours and when frequenting the main commercial areas.Increased development and gentrification in Bishop Arts can have mixed effects, displacing long-term residents, and creating areas that are in transition. Websites like the Dallas Police Department’s public portal or community forums can provide recent crime statistics and reports about current safety perceptions.
If you’re considering a move here, talking to current residents can provide invaluable insights into day-to-day life and safety in the neighborhood. It’s definitely an area that is growing and developing, while trying to retain its reputation as a hub for creativity and independent businesses.
Long known for its great music and art scene, Deep Ellum is emerging as an LGBTQA+-friendly neighborhood. It’s young, vibrant, and embraces diversity.
What’s Happening in Deep Ellum?
While many businesses in Deep Ellum might not be exclusively LGBTQ+-oriented, the district’s alternative and artsy vibe tends to draw businesses and people who welcome folks from all walks of life. Some good places to check out include:
- Stirr: A trendy restaurant and bar known for its rooftop views of the Dallas skyline.
- Maracuja: A lively venue that occasionally hosts LGBTQA+-friendly events.
- Twilite Lounge: This cozy New Orleans-inspired bar has a welcoming and inclusive vibe.
Safety and community support
Historically, Deep Ellum had a reputation for being a bit edgy, especially at night. However, significant efforts have been made to improve the district’s safety, especially with the influx of new businesses and developments in recent years. The community is, by and large, welcoming and there have been initiatives like increased lighting, security patrols, and collaborations with the Dallas Police Department to boost safety in the area.
As previously noted, websites like the Dallas Police Department’s public portal or community forums can provide recent crime statistics and reports about current safety perceptions. Do your research, the area is changing rapidly, and local folks are the best sources of current info.
Knox/Henderson isn’t Dallas’s primary LGBTQ+ hub, but this district with its trendy shops, restaurants, and nightlife, is growing in its appeal to the LGBTQA+ community. Knox Street has upscale shops and eateries while Henderson Avenue is more laid-back with a diverse array of bars and restaurants.
What’s happening in Knox/Henderson?
Knox/Henderson might not have as explicitly LGBTQ+-oriented venues as Oak Lawn, many places are inclusive and welcoming. Check out:
- Felix Culpa: This cocktail lounge on Henderson Avenue has a chic, modern feel and is known to be LGBTQ+-friendly.
- The Old Monk: A staple on Henderson Avenue, this pub is welcoming to all patrons. It’s not exclusively LGBTQ+, but it’s known for its inclusive and friendly environment.
- Barcadia: With retro arcade games and a casual bar setting, this spot is popular with a diverse crowd, including LGBTQ+ patrons.
Safety and community support
Knox/Henderson is generally considered safe and welcoming for LGBTQA+ folks. But as with any popular nightlife district, being vigilant and aware of your surroundings is crucial, especially during late hours. The Dallas Police Department often patrols popular nightlife areas such as Knox/Henderson, adding a layer of security. If you’re looking to make a move to this neighborhood, talk to locals and check the Dallas Police Department’s public portal website for details on the specific streets/area you’re considering.
Moving to Dallas?
Dallas’s commitment to embracing and celebrating diversity is evident in its gay-friendly neighborhoods. While the journey for equal rights continues, it’s heartening to witness the unity and acceptance that these neighborhoods foster. From Oak Lawn’s vibrant energy to the artsy allure of the Bishop Arts District, and the inclusive nature of neighborhoods like Deep Allum and Knox/Henderson, Dallas is not just a haven for the LGBTQA+ community, but a place where everyone can find a sense of belonging.
Ready to make your move? you can count on Bellhop to help make your move to Dallas stress-free and easy. Use our moving cost calculator to get a quick view of the approximate costs, or just go right ahead and book your Bellhop move. Questions? We have answers and we’re always happy to talk to you.