Writing Sample for AltDaily

It’s Saturday night and members of the LGBT community are looking to go out and meet other members of the community.

But where to go? Well, what was previously a plethora of gay and lesbian bars to choose from in Hampton Roads has now become a small handful of bars and restaurants (see list below) with a blended audience of gay, straight, transgender, women having bachelorette parties, or an office party out seeing a drag show. So where is a gay person to go? Mainstream, of course. Why? Because of two major cultural shifts, not just in Hampton Roads, but all over the country: Acceptance and technology.

Historically, LGBT people had to create a community for themselves that was protected and accepting. But as hearts and minds have changed — along with legislation — there has been a fundamental shift in the gay culture. The merging of gay and straight has meant less reliance on the bar and club scene. More mainstream bars and restaurants have been going out of their way to create an environment that is safe and welcoming to all people, paying particular attention to the LGBT community. Whether it’s chasing the disposable dollars that are associated with the LGBT community or because the business owner generally cares about the community and is striving to create an inclusive environment, there are defiantly more options for gays, lesbians and transgender people.

According to Hampton Roads Pride President, Michael Berlucchi, the non-profit receives requests every week from restaurants or businesses that are activity looking to support the LGBT community with events. So much so, they can’t keep up with the requests to promote them. Berlucchi encourages those businesses to get involved with HR Pride and the festival, so they can be a part of the community year-round. When asked about this shift, Berlucchi commented, “People just go out and interact as people, not necessarily gay or straight. It’s affirming for the community.”

So where are we to go? Well, the good news is we have a lot of options. Below is a list of notable establishments who have paved the way for mainstream businesses to provide an environment of inclusivity that caters to all people, and blends the lines of diversity and mainstream. This is just a sampling of the many businesses owners who are inviting an open audience and soliciting their business. Please list the ones I have missed in the comments.

And if technology and mainstream bars / restaurants are your thing, there are many advocacy and non-profit organizations that doing great things in the community for the advancement of equality. Getting involved with any number of these groups will provide a great way to meet like-minded people, while helping to further diversity in our community.

LGBT Bars / Clubs in Hampton Roads

Virginia Beach

Rainbow Cactus Company
3472 Holland Dr, VA Beach

A true club, the Rainbow Cactus offers 18+ nights on Wednesday and Sundays, as well as drag shows, live music, great DJs and a diversity of people any night of the week.

image | Rainbow-Cactus Virginia

Club Empire
475 S Lynnhaven Rd, Norfolk

Previously known as Klub Ambush, this spot offers a rotating schedule of events, karaoke, go-go boys, and drag shows.

Norfolk

The Wave
4107 Colley Ave, Norfolk

Every night is different at The Wave, so if you can’t find what you are looking for on a Tuesday, come back on Friday. Either way, be prepared to dance your butt off.

image | The Wave

Hershee Bar
6117 Sewells Point Rd, Norfolk

The Hershee Bar is the area’s only lesbian-based bar and has been for 34 years. Nightly food specials, live music, and karaoke, along with pool tables and a popular dance floor.

MJ’s Tavern
4019 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA

A family friend restaurant during the day, your local LGBT neighborhood watering hole at night.

LGBT Advocacy / Social Organizations in Hampton Roads… and a little from their missions

Hampton Roads Pride

Hampton Roads Pride unites the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) and allied communities in support of inclusion, dignity and equality of all people.

ACCESS AIDS Care & The LGBT Center of HR

“Our mission is to promote the dignity and wellness of adults, families, youth and children impacted by HIV/AIDS through quality support and prevention services, so they may live healthy lives.”

Gay Women of the Seven Cities

“The purpose for this group is to build community for women in the seven cities (Norfolk, VaBeach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Newport News) beyond the lesbian bar scene. This is an inclusive group of women of all ages and backgrounds who identify as gay, lesbian,bisexual and transgendered.”

Knighthawks of VA

“KnightHawks of Virginia is a Leather/Levi/Fetish/BDSM organization based out of Norfolk Va.”

Hampton Roads Business OUTReach

“Hampton Roads Business OutReach (HRBOR) promotes LGBT influence through business ownership, workforce equality and active consumerism, creating prosperity to support equality, diversity and inclusion.”

image | Hampton Roads Business OutReach (HRBOR)

PFLAG

“PFLAG is working to make sure that all people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer are not only valued by society, but take pride in and value themselves. We do this through providing peer-to-peer support, educating people on the issues that are important to the community, and advocating for inclusive policies and laws.”

Mainstream Bars / Restaurants with a Blended Audience

Norfolk

Toast
2406 Colonial Ave

Work Release (soon to be Commune in Norfolk)
759 Granby Street

Brick Anchor Brew-House
241 Granby Street

O’Connors
211 W 24th Street

Portsmouth

Stove
2622 Detroit St

image | Stove

Bier Garden
438 High St

Virginia Beach

Crocs 19th Street Bistro
620 19th St

Commune
501 Virginia Beach Blvd

Esoteric
501 Virginia Beach Blvd

The Bee and the Biscuit
1785 Princess Anne Rd

Hampton

The Grey Goose
118 Old Hampton Ln

Suffolk

Harper’s Table
122 N Main St