Where else in the United States can one celebrate Pride with a drink in one the country’s foundational gay, queer, and lesbian cities? Well, in the Bay Area, there are multiple locations that can claim that history. The Castro District was home to the country’s first openly gay elected official, whereas Polk Gulch is the site of one of the United States’s first Pride parades. The Tenderloin is the site of the historic Compton Cafeteria Riots and is today the United States’ first Transgender Cultural District. Plus, the oldest gay bar in the nation is in Oakland: the White Horse.
While the legacies run deep, there’s a robust queer present in the Bay, too. There are loads of restaurants, cafes, bars, and clubs where locals feel safe and seen. The Grubstake Diner is an old-school 24-hour diner that keeps folks of all stripes fed throughout the wee hours, just as it has for decades. And there are even new queer-run supper clubs looking to take up space usually reserved for partying. Plus, the White Horse is still going strong with plenty of Pride programming. Make this Pride the most vibrant one yet with any of these things to do across San Francisco and the Bay Area.
The city of Sausalito is getting into the Pride spirit for the first time, at least officially, this year, and that means restaurants are plating Pride grub. Local restaurants and bars will pitch in for a Pride happy hour on June 22, and Spinnaker Restaurant is catering a Pride Weekend kick-off event on June 29 from 6 to 9 p.m.
In the city, those wizards at Deluxe Queer are joining forces with the sleek swanklords at Lobby Bar for a one-night-only feast on June 21. Seatings are at 6 and 8 p.m. and feature five “delicious takes on Asian dinner bites” alongside a la carte Lobby Bar drinks. Tickets — $55 a pop — are more than halfway sold out.
Then there’s longtime queer cooking icon chef Preeti Mistry. The Juhu Beach Club restaurateur and Top Chef Season 6 competitor is hosting Breaking Bread: Benefit Dinner, a seven-course tasting menu curated for Oakland Black Pride 2023. There’ll be optional cocktail pairings and vegetarian options, but no other accommodations can be made. The decadent dinner is set for June 28 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Forage Kitchen.
If you’re traveling to San Francisco for the big event, the Beacon Grand might be worth a hotel reservation if for nothing more than the Rainbows End cocktail. Topped with a sweet and sour gummy rainbow, this sparkling wine and mint drink’s sales support the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, the Beacon Grand will pour you a drink. And for the nonalcoholic members of the group, head across Market Street to caffeine haven Milk SF where the queer-owned business will host its ongoing art school series on June 10 this month.
On the other side of the Bay Bridge, the folks at the Oakland Black Pride Festival are hosting a Queer Pub Crawl. The guided tour through Oakland’s queer-friendly bars and restaurants includes stops (and drinks) at High5, a la Mar, Town Bar, and Amber’s Lounge. Tickets cost $30 for the June 30, 6 p.m., event, which includes admission to a raffle.
Writ large, there are plenty of queer and gay bars in both San Francisco and Oakland. Each and every of them are worth starting off any proper Pride evening — or finishing up in the wee hours of the morning. On the clubbing end of things, it might be worth brushing up on all the spots to dive in and out in SoMa and peeping timeless drag cabaret Oasis’ month of shows.
It wouldn’t be Pride without shows, events, and parties, would it? At the legendary Castro Theater, start the entire month off right with “A Night of Queer Entertainment,” a showcase of drag, dancers, DJs, and drinks. Tickets for the three-and-a-half hour event are sold on a sliding scale and will be available at the door on June 2 at 7 p.m.
The DJ-heavy party A Family Affair is joining forces with El Rio for a big kick-off in the Mission on June 2, too. Tickets to the 90s, throwback-only set cost just $5 and the show starts at 9 p.m. with Mz’ Love’O playing host. Longtime lesbian and queer party Mango is on June 24 this month at El Rio, too.
On the west side of San Francisco, the California Academy of Science holds it down when it comes to, you know, science. All throughout the month the center will throw Pride-centric Nightlife events, which is when the expansive building flips into a 21+ destination for drinks and informative adventures. There’s a lineup of diverse voices on June 1; a queer, under the sea prom on June 8; a full-on Pride rager on June 22; and a roundtable on gender on June 29. Drinks aren’t exactly high-caliber, but where else can you explore a rainforest, hang out with an albino crocodile, and cheer on Oaklash at the same time?
And to wrap up the festivities, Oakland’s Black Pride Brunch has you covered. On July 2 Otto’s Uptown Kitchen will serve powerful drinks and fat beats from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.