A Queer Girl’s Guide to the Bay Area

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April 30, 2016 marked a year since the closing of The Lexington Club, San Francisco’s iconic (and only) full-time lesbian bar. For the last 14 months, my co-director Susannah Smith and I have been working on a film called Never A Cover to document the Lex’s nearly 20-year tenure and its place in history amidst the ever-changing cultural landscape of San Francisco. While there aren’t currently any seven-days-a-week brick and mortar lesbian bars, as a 16+ year resident of San Francisco, I feel confident in saying that the Bay Area still feels queer AF.

While there are a million awesome things to do and see and eat in the Bay Area, I’m writing specifically about those that cater to, employ or are owned by lesbians/dykes/queers/trans people because one great way to create community and make sure queer women stay in The Bay is to support lesbian-owned businesses! Duh.

Noe Valley, Castro, The Mission and The Financial District as seen from Bernal Hill
image04Photo by Lauren Tabak

Daytripping by Neighborhood

The Mission

Valencia St. might not be the lesbian superhighway it once was, but it’s still home to stalwart Good Vibrations where you can get all the accoutrements from an extremely knowledgeable and helpful staff for your big date (or solo night in). If your date night plans include other people, you should probably head down the block to Glama-Rama Salon, which for 19 years has had a SUPER LEZZIE VIBE (according to GR stylist and SF Pride Board member Joey Cupcake). It’s more than just a place to get your hair did. On May 21, they are hosting the opening reception for Meg Allen’s Butch Photo Series.

While we’re on the topic of self-care, since 1995 lesbians have been getting their woo on at The Scarlet Sage Herb Co., where, amongst other things, you can pick up herbs, a tarot deck and a lot of good advice about whatever ails you. If you’re thinking of getting inked, dyke/queer-owned, gender-inclusive Black & Blue Tattoo has been operating since 1995, is open every day and accepts walk-ins.

image06Photos by Aurora Meneghello, Braden Summers and Molly DeCoudreaux

Feeling well also means eating well (and sometimes bottomless mimosas don’t hurt). For that (and a fun brunch scene) I’d recommend Radish, a lesbian-owned American fare eatery with a Southern twist. They even have their own farm in nearby Sonoma. Another great option is Dolores Park Cafe, another lesbian-owned establishment that in addition to serving up fresh organic local fare, also delivers female-centric art shows and the occasional live acoustic set.

If shopping and eating makes you sleepy, I’d suggest grabbing a blanket and heading over to the newly renovated Dolores Park. The southern and unofficial gay side (I’ve heard Gay Beach, the Fruit Shelf, Sappho’s Sandbox and Dagger Dunes to name a few) has finally re-opened and it’s A PARTY.

For a quieter alternative, grab a book from the queer lit section of Modern Times on 24th Street and head over to Precita Park which borders Bernal Heights. The scene there is less boombox and disco house and more sandbox and bounce house—you’ll find toddlers with two moms, lesbian couples having romantic picnics, and the occasional womyn’s flag football game. Precita Park Cafe, on the southeastern corner, is a lesbian-owned business (Park Cafe Family) that serves great coffee, fresh juices, and seasonal fare from an often-changing menu as well as ice-cream and beer and wine. Nearby is also Galería de la Raza, a Chicano/Latino arts organization that often features queer and lesbian work.  

Mission Dolores Park on Pink Saturday
image05photo by Lauren Tabak

When you are done in the sun head over to The Roxie, an indie, non-profit movie theater that often has queer and lesbian programming especially during Frameline Fest, which runs June 16-26 in 2016. Another option is the 30-year-old collective Artists’ Television Access where you can pop in on the monthly queer Periwinkle Cinema night or a film in the Gaze Series which is dedicated to female filmmakers. Also, the long-running cabaret style event The News is the place to see new works by queer Bay Area artists every first Tuesday at SOMAarts near the edge of the Mission. On the third Saturday at Martuni’s Piano Bar is Homophonica quarterly event showcasing local queer talent.

Stacie Pierce of Little Bee Bakery, flourless brownies and rhubarb tart, and the beer garden at Wild Side West image00photos by Lauren Tabak

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