As a young gay man, I always felt that if you were gay, you could only live in two cities: Los Angeles or New York City. No questions asked, it was as simple as that. You had to endure the sheltered and provincial life that was Pittsburgh to then make your grand exit to a bigger, brighter city.
Yet, that was years ago. Today, the City of Pittsburgh, to some known as “The Paris of Appalachia”, houses some of the best kept secrets when it comes to places to live, especially if you are queer.
In 2021, Pittsburgh was ranked number one on Realtor.com’s list of the 10 best cities for LGBTQIA+ homebuyers, beating cities like Atlanta and Providence. Below, you’ll find some of the best of the best when it comes to business that support the LGBTQ+ Community, along with great hubs to hang out and just be, simply, yourself.
When it comes to neighborhoods, Millvale is not originally one that many people think of that has a large LGBTQIA+ following. But think again, sweeties – Millvale is host to many local queer shops, hubs, and a bar. Just last month, Harold’s Haunt, billed as a “They-Bar”, opened its doors just down the street from and by the witches of Maude’s Paperwing Gallery, a queer-owned gift shop. Across the street you’ll find Glittersty, a queer-owned shop specializing in supplies for drag and performing arts, but also features local art and unique finds.
Take a few steps up the block to the get your pets groomed at the LGBTQ-owned AuStella Pet Parlor, voted 2nd best pet groomer by Pittsburgh City Paper readers.
This neighborhood is booming with activity, they even have their own Pride Celebration during Pride month in June.
If “Queer as Folk” was a true tale, then the cast would have frequented Shadyside for all things queer. 5801 is by far the mainstay when it comes to the local hangouts at the Pride Intersection; part bar, part lounge, part dance floor and outdoor space. For shopping, look no further than MODA and Eons Fashion Antique for some of the best, one-of-a-kind items in the area.
The rainbow intersection has faded recently because of road construction and time. Millvale’s coming for the crown, Shadyside. Your move.
One of Pittsburgh’s true old-school neighborhoods, Squirrel Hill has a rich history and a welcoming atmosphere for many members of the LGBTQIA+ Community. In need of some wild vintage? Avalon Exchange offers some of the best second-hand clothing around. Forbes Avenue, which plays the role of “Main Street” in the neighborhood, has countless locally owned businesses that are incredibly LGBTQIA+ friendly. Ever since the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre, nearly every lawn, business and window has “Hate Has No Place Here” signage.
Bloomfield, like Millvale, has become a new epicenter of culture in the City of Pittsburgh. From art galleries, local hangouts Tina’s and Brillo Box are mainstays for the community. Is Pittsburgh Bro Club coming back? Clothes Minded, as well, offers a fantastical selection of gently used clothing. And don’t forget to stop by White Whale Bookstore for a cappuccino or LGBTQ+ author reading.
If there was an “OG” neighborhood of cool in Pittsburgh, it’s Lawrenceville. What ignited the hot spots of Pittsburgh, many local LGBTQIA+ businesses have made their way to the neighborhood. TRIM Pittsburgh’s latest boutique has now found a new home on Butler Street. If the face of a dive bar is a favorite of the locals, then Blue Moon would be the image that comes to mind. And we cannot forget about our favorite barber shops, from Mister Grooming & Goods and Graham’s Barber Shop, there are plenty to choose from.
North Side / Manchester
The North Side is bustling with LGBTQ+ safe spaces including Central Outreach Wellness Center, specializing in the daily care of all members of the community. Proud Haven on East Ohio street is a safe shelter, resources and support for LGBTQIA+ youth. Most excitingly, the brand new QMNTY Center will be opening shortly a few doors down!
For the finest in locally owned beauty, 412 Apotheca blends all things queer and creates an intoxicating environment. For some afternoon museum hopping, why not hit up The Mattress Factory or galivant around The Andy Warhol Museum?