While the GOP has, shall we say, a fraught relationship with the LGBT community, gay Republicans do exist, and they’ll be out in force during the RNC as part of groups like Log Cabin, GOProud and Young Conservatives for the Freedom To Marry; in fact, we’ll be chatting up a representative of the last group at a panel discussion on gay issues and party politics at CL on Tues., Aug. 28 at 6:30 p.m. Meanwhile, for all you pink and purple elephants out there and the media who are stalking you, here’s a handy guide to the LGBT-friendly clubs, bars and restaurants that will welcome you no matter what your affiliation.
BLUR NIGHTCLUB 325 Main St., Dunedin, 727-736-0206, kellyschicaboom.com. This nightclub and bar is aptly named. The drinks are so good, chances are your Dunedin night will end in a, um, you get the idea.
BRADLEY'S ON 7TH 1510 E. Seventh Ave, Ybor City, 813-241-2723. Rustic, fabulous and friendly all at once, with decor centered on a tree trunk and entertainment centered on gigantically talented drag divas.
THE CASTLE 2004 N. 16th St., Tampa, 813-247-7547, castleybor.com. A venerable Ybor City temple to polymorphous perversity.
CHELSEA BAR & NIGHTCLUB 1502 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, 813-228-0139, chelseanightclub.com. The “be who you are bar” is a friendly, unpretentious mixed gay-and-straight bar and nightclub. Great drink specials, never a cover, and no smoking. Go-go dancers, divas and kickass karaoke on select nights.
CITYSIDE 3703 Henderson Blvd., Tampa, 813-350-0600, clubcityside.com. A video/ dance/ karaoke/ sports bar/ all-around South Tampa neighborhood hangout. Don't miss the outdoor patio tucked away in back.
CZAR VODKA BAR & ZOYA SHISHA LOUNGE 1420 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa, 813-247-2664, czarnation.com. From their website: "The staff of Czar are freaks, geeks, queers and kids that confidently and expressively reject mainstream society." And that's why we love Czar.
DETOUR BAR 2612 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-327-8204, detourfl.com. At the Detour Bar, every day is happy hour from 4-9 p.m. Drag shows, pool tables, darts, karaoke and more.
EMERALD BAR 550 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-898-6054. Owned by a beloved rainbow duo, this is a top 10 local bar destination. Dark, dank, and cash only. The small stage in the back of the bar has played host to many legendary after-parties.
G. BAR 1401 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa, 813-247-1016, yborclubs.com. See and taste the rainbow at this GaYBOR mainstay. Cages, male dancers, female dancers and debauchery. Need we say more?
FLAMINGO RESORT 4601 34th St. S, St. Petersburg, 727-321-5000, flamingofla.com. Fab drag shows, good food, 120 rooms, six bars and a surprisingly resort-like feeling, given the place is on 34th St. South next to a McDonald's.
GEORGIE’S ALIBI 3100 Third Ave. N, St. Petersburg, 727-321-2112, georgiesalibi.com. The central gathering place for Tampa Bay gays and lesbians, especially St. Pete residents, with something for everyone whether you’re looking for a mixed crowd of men and women, a sports bar, a drag show, a hot male dancer or a dependably good restaurant. The Thursday night $5 Long Island Iced Tea is famously lethal and served in a giant Mason jar.
HAMBURGER MARY’S 1600 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa, 813-241-6279, hamburgermarys.com/tampa. Hail Holy Hamburger Mary’s. Nothing pairs with a burger quite like a drag show. Try the Sunday brunch buffet for $12.95 and bottomless mimosas.
HONEY POT 1507 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa, 813-247-4663, yborclubs.com. Boys, girls, girl-boys, and boy-girls, this is a smoldering party spot for the LGBTQ community. Thundering sound system and strong drinks. Home during the RNC to Homocon, the big Tuesday night party hosted by GOProud.
L-TRAIN 900 Central Ave. Suite 25B, St. Petersburg, 813-995-5063, theltrain.com. An adorable girl bar located close to downtown St. Petersburg. It’s cozy, with a living room feel in the front and an intimate theater space in back.
LIQUID LOUNGE 1811 N. 15th St., Tampa, 813-247-9000. A sliver of a club featuring dancers who know how to slither.
LIQUID TAMPA 1502 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa, facebook.com/liquidtampa. Opened this spring on a hot corner of Ybor City, it's got Latin nights, laser shows, drag contests and a multi-tiered room that's great for cruising the dance floor.
METRO RESTAURANT & LOUNGE 511 N. Franklin St. Tampa. Good food, terrific cabaret performers (including some who can belt it out without resorting to lip-sync) and a convenient downtown location make this a welcome addition to the LGBT scene.
PRO SHOP PUB 840 Cleveland St., Clearwater, 727-447-4259, proshoppub.us. For over 30 years, the Pro Shop has given a drink and home to the gay community. The straight couple that started it all made a sanctuary for locals to gather and celebrate.
THE QUEENS HEAD RESTAURANT AND EUROBAR 2501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-498-8584, thequeensheadbar.com. A Best of the Bay-winning spot owned by the dynamic Brits Darren and Paul. Go on Wednesdays for Trixie the Trivial Tranny, and do not miss the fried chick peas in paprika.
STELLA’S 3119 Beach Blvd. S, Gulfport, 727-498-8950, stellasingulfport.com. Delicious breakfasts are served at this Gulfport restaurant owned by two lovely ladies — the first couple in Gulfport to sign up for the city’s new domestic partners registry.
THE OAR HOUSE 4807 22nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg, 727-327-1691. The half liquor store and half bar has a pool table and one heck of a jukebox. The adjacent barbecue place packs a crowd into the bar on the weekends.