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If you listen to girl in red (and understand what that’s code for) and live in San Diego, then you’ll need a comprehensive queer girl city guide to life as a queer womxn in the city of surf. Gay men overwhelm the LGBT+ urban and party scene, and spaces dedicated to queer womxn have been dwindling since the early 2000s. Nevertheless, we have cultivated a culture of our own that doesn’t necessitate a sign recognizable to the general public such as a giant rainbow flag.
Maybe we stroll up and down the aisles of Trader Joe’s in search of plant based meals, or maybe we show up at a farmers market with an embroidered tote bag and an iced coffee in hand. We could be carving up alleyways on our skateboards or longboards with astrological signs tattooed on our forearms, or we could be fawning over Phoebe Bridgers at the local concert venue. In other words, queer womxn have created a vibrant world often indecipherable to the rest of the world, and many of us like it that way.
It’s nice to cross paths with a fellow lesbian and give one another the classic, “Are you? Are you?” Like any big American city, San Diego has its own subculture for queer womxn. So what do you need to know to find your community of gay womxn? Here you’ll find a list of all the bare necessities for queer womxn in San Diego, including bars, bookstores, neighborhoods, theaters, events and resources.
Where to start
When in doubt, begin with Hillcrest, San Diego’s gay neighborhood. Though unfortunately a little pricey and more than a little gentrified, Hillcrest has an abundance of pride flags billowing in the nearby ocean breeze. While its residents are mostly white gay men, its businesses have a bit more diversity.
If you’re looking for things to do in San Diego nightlife while in the area, go for Gossip Grill, SoCal’s only womxn’s bar that is open every day of the week. Though not exclusive toward other genders, Gossip Grill prides itself on providing a “female forward safe space” and a lively space for ladies to dance and drink.
Since it opened in 2009, Gossip Grill has become the go-to place for queer womxn to spend a weekend night. When you enter the dark space, a pink glow catches your eye, emanating from a neon sign that reads, “Welcome Home Beautiful,” although not all the letters are consistently lit. The sign represents the bar’s atmosphere. It’s inclusive, it’s fun, it’s proud, it’s feminine. They have themed nights and drink specials almost every other night, and they offer a full menu for dine-in and takeout. Catch Gossip Grill on an average weekend or during the summer when all people LGBT+ overflow the dance floor after a Pride parade.
Where to meet queer womxn in San Diego
Where won’t you meet queer womxn? From farmers markets and protests to beaches and concerts, we inhabit all walks of life, but it’s easiest to meet fellow gays by attending events created specifically for your demographic.
San Diego’s Pride festivities began in 1974, and they’ve grown every July since. You might shun Pride and write it off as a rainbow capitalist scheme and a spectator event for gawking heterosexuals, but no one can claim that San Diego’s Pride events disappoint. Hillcrest becomes a war zone of color. If you attend the Pride parade with others, see who can scavenge all the colors of the rainbow from accessories and apparel thrown into the crowd. Pride doesn’t consist solely of a parade. San Diego also organizes other events such as rallies and block parties. Make sure to check the website for updates on the July festivities. Impatient for the summer to begin? Hillcrest hosts a boisterous Mardi Gras celebration every February.
If you’d rather opt for an intellectually enriching event, attend San Diego’s annual LGBT+ film festival, FilmOut. The organizers of the festival aim to educate and entertain both gay and straight communities by promoting diverse artistic creations. Sometimes, because society has deprived us of adequate representation, they include cult classics among the LGBT+ community. You know, those films that aren’t as straight as straight people think. If you’re a filmmaker seeking exposure, check out the submission guidelines on FilmOut’s website.
First date ideas
Any concert venue or theater will produce a decent crop of queer womxn if you’re in need of a date, and they offer the perfect entertainment if you already have a date. Look through Diversionary Theater’s current season and book two tickets. Founded in 1986 at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, this center for cutting-edge performance produces musicals and plays dedicated to LGBT+ characters and stories. They seek to give voice to and educate others about underrepresented identities.
Not so much a theater nerd? Check out Bluestocking Books, also located in Hillcrest. 2020 marked the building’s 53rd anniversary as an institution for readers. Walk your date through the door and listen to the wood floors creak under your feet as you make your way around the store. Beware, you might fall in love when you see and smell the beautifully organized shelves of new and used books, or when you lay eyes on a cottagecore lesbian browsing the poetry section. Not only do they sell books, they have queer feminist pins, withered sheet music and other adorable nick nacks.
Any Queer girl city guide must include the San Diego LGBT Community Center which supports the well-being of the lesbian, gay, bi, queer, trans, nonbinary, immigrant and HIV communities. They believe that if one community suffers, then the greater community suffers. They strive to create a safe space for all members of the LGBT+ community by offering support groups, behavioral health care services and more.
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