When thinking of LGBTQ social spaces we often think of historically queer and trans bars and clubs, where alcohol has a heavy presence. Unfortunately, those spaces can be challenging or inaccessible for people recovering from substance misuse, LGBTQ+ youth who are not old enough to enter a bar, and people that simply don’t want to drink. Sober queer spaces however are now gaining popularity around the world.
Seattle, one of the most notable queer-friendly cities in the United States, has a few sober venues for LGBTQ folks to connect and socialize. Here are eight spaces recommended by our online supporters and Gay City staff where the presence of substances (alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco) is low:
Squirrel Chops is a queer coffee house and hair salon in the Central District. Whether you are looking for a great cup of coffee, a rad hair cut, or just want a good place to hang out, they invite you to make them your third place. Give them a visit!
Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ Center
Your very our own LGBTQ+ Center provides a sober space to queer communities. Stop by and check out a book for free from our library; the largest LGBTQ+ library in the Pacific Northwest. Consider seeing a queer Arts show or performance or find out about community events happening here and around the city. Our spaces are also available for rent, and we encourage you to host your very own queer-sober meetup or event.
The Vera Project
The Vera Project is an all-ages music and arts venue, with a focus on events for people ages 14-24. Vera’s programs include music concerts, audio engineering training, visual arts exhibits, live and studio recording, leadership training, silkscreen printing/classes, event production training, and internships. It’s a badass substance-free community space for everyone.
A refuge for sci-fi/fantasy geeks and gamers, Wayward Coffeehouse is open until 11 p.m. every night, and hosts a number of geek meetups every month (with quite a few just for LGBTQ folks). Their events are all-ages and free. Their vegetarian menu features coffee, baked goods, teas, blended frozen drinks (fruit or coffee-based), sandwiches, soups, and more.
Phoenix Comics and Games
Another refuge for gay geeks and gamers, Phoenix Comics and Games hosts a number of queer geek events. They have regular events for Magic, Dungeons & Dragons, board games, and more. Not to mention they have a huge selection of board games, comics, and graphic novels. Like every space on this list, this is a place where you can go just to hang out; no agenda required.
Dance Church is more of a fitness class rather than a sober space, but it’s inclusive of people of all body types, fitness levels, abilities, and identities. It’s a fun and judgment-free zone for dance fitness. Despite having “church” in its name, it’s not affiliated with a religion. Classes are typically 90 minutes, cost $15 to drop-in, and are held at multiple venues around the city. You even get a discount at Juicebox Cafe after the class.
Howell Park and Denny Blaine Beach
Did you know Seattle has two queer beaches? Though frequently visited by gay men, Howell Park and Denny Blaine Beach are inclusive public spaces for everyone. They’re also nude beaches, meaning they’re typically body-positive and welcoming for people to display as little or as much skin as they would like. Nudity is actually legal anywhere in Seattle, so long as it does not “cause reasonable affront or alarm”. Howell Park is the less-busy of the two, although it’s unfortunately not wheelchair accessible.
Cal Anderson Park
Cal Anderson Park is a popular spot for folks on Capitol Hill to hang out and get some fresh air. It features an all-gender “comfort station” (i.e. restroom/ changing room), playfields, water features, and more. It’s even the site of the new AIDS Memorial Pathway, and has hosted Pride events over the last few years, including Queer Youth Pride and Family Pride.
Still not sure where to go to connect with other sober LGBTQ folks? Why not start or join a group on the Meetup group? Our resources team can also provide suggestions; visit us at 517 E. Pike St. or call 206-323-LGBT.