Numerous bars (if not all) in both Winston-Salem and Greensboro area are supportive of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. In Winston-Salem, this is especially true in the Arts District, home of Single Brothers, Silver Moon Saloon and the newly opened Hel’s. It’s also where Satellite — downtown Winston-Salem’s first openly gay bar — had drag shows 25 years ago at the corner of 7th and Trade streets. Elsewhere downtown, bars and breweries like Joymongers, Radar, Vintage Sofa Bar and Joyners are considered prominent allies of the LGBTQIA2S+ community.
In Greensboro, there are multiple breweries and bars like Bull City Ciderworks, Southend, Little Brother and Oden Brewing that host LGBTQIA2S+ supportive events throughout the year. As such this is not meant to be an exhaustive list, rather a sampling of locations that are owned and operated by members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, show themselves to be prominent allies and have regular LGBTQIA2S+ events.
We at TCB know that not everyone drinks, and that for some folks — particularly in the LGBTQIA2S+ community, who are especially vulnerable to the force of addiction — avoiding alcohol can be a matter of life and death. So we were sure to ask all of the locations about their non-alcoholic options as well. Because you don’t need to drink to celebrate Pride! But a lot of people do.
- 204 W. Acadia Ave.
- Carlos Bocanegra, owner
Monstercade, in its six years of being open, has established itself as the bar where outcasts reign.
“Monstercade has been widely recognized as a safe place for all walks of life, including people of all races, genders, and sexual orientation,” says owner/musician/artist Carlos Bocanegra. “We are a minority-owned business with a majority of our employees identifying as part of the LGBTQ community. One of the greatest compliments we’ve received commented on how a person can come in with a business suit or dressed as a bear with a tutu and we don’t bat a lash.”
Situated on a corner near UNCSA, Monstercade hosts monthly alternative drag and burlesque shows known as “Freaky Friday,” as well as queer-oriented dance parties and several musical acts who have been pushed aside from the mainstream due to their unique art and lifestyle.
Offering a wide assortment of liquor, beer and nonalcoholic options, Monstercade remains unique by the variety of the customers and the acts that play on its small stage. Bocanegra encourages the range of everything from random guest appearances of cult favorites to young bands barely starting out.
“We are the Strangest Bar in NC!” he says. “Monstercade is a building brought to life by a wonderful host of multiple artists that continually changes.”
FAIR WITNESS FANCY DRINKS
- 290 4th St. E.
- Blake Stewart, co-owner
Across from Bailey Park in Innovation Quarter sits a brick corner bar with the name “Fair Witness” painted above the awnings that wrap around the corner. A character from Robert Heinlein’s sci-fi classic Stranger in a Strange Land inspired the name of this cocktail bar. Open for almost six years, Fair Witness is a cozy spot that’s well-populated with a wide assortment of clientele.
“We tolerate zero forms of bullying or bigotry at Fair Witness,” says co-owner Blake Stewart. “We work with ‘Out at the Movies’ annually and have donated and worked with Northstar and PFLAG as well.”
Stewart’s support of the LGBTQIA2S+ community is close to home. “If you know me well, my father and his husband are quite important to me, and my mother is queer-identifying as well.” Stewart’s wife is bisexual as well.
Stewart and his partner at Fair Witness, Tim Nolan, bring an art to cocktails that don’t require a uniform with suspenders. Infusions, syrups, unique ingredients and craft methods are all utilized with skill and an originality rarely seen. Cheap beer, shots and non-alcoholic options are also available. In the additional space next door, Karaoke echoes into the street on Sunday nights.
“We just want the norm to be kindness and camaraderie while choosing to use our proceeds to sponsor social progress,” Stewart says. “We have certainly participated in demonstrations, provided aid and meeting spaces to causes like BLM and the like…. Happily, I don’t think that makes us a standout as so many hospitality businesses are good about also doing those things.”
- 701 Trade St. NW
- Jeremy Roberts, owner
The corner of 7th and Trade streets have a long and storied history in Winston-Salem. The Satellite was a popular bar for the gay community in the ’90’s, when the revitalization of downtown was left to those young enough to be inspired by the empty spaces. In the past 20 years, it ran the gamut of concepts from dive to tiki to punk, and now Euphoria. Euphoria opened in mid-March of this year, and while owned by a prominent member of the LGBTQIA2+ community, also aims to be one of the first places with a nightclub feel. Bright cocktails (including non-alcoholic options), dance music, DJs and weekly drag shows are the norm. The decor makes the guest feel like they’re in a big-city club. Euphoria is a bar who knows exactly who their audience is but is welcome to anyone.
- 545 Trade St. NW Ste 103
- Morgan Masencup, co-owner
Hel’s opened in March of this year with the aim of inclusivity.
“Our space is different because we tried to design everything for the groups of people we didn’t see other spaces around us catering to,” says co-owner Morgan Masencup. “We’re younger, femme, and a little more alternative…. Hel’s is dark and a little divey, but we still try to have quality drink options and fresh ingredients.”
The alleyway off Trade Street turns into a wide patio surrounded by murals and graffiti among the tables. Inside, the bar area is lit by purple LEDs that adorn the walls and lead to the various nooks that line up along the back. Behind the bar a variety of cocktails, beers and nonalcoholic mocktails await.
“‘Included’ in our space means that non-drinkers also deserve to be able to come out and enjoy themselves with something more than just a soda or a water,” says Masencup.
The outside space has plenty of room for events, pop-ups and music.
“We’re planning several performances and some fundraisers to help a few of the smaller queer charities that don’t have as much funding [or are as popular] as the larger ones,” says Masencup. “These also include events that will benefit local queer/trans friends in our downtown community.”
Masencup and co-owner Allison Cambra intend for Hel’s to be a standard in how inclusive bars should operate.
“I’m bi/pan and having a space that supports and looks out for the queer community is important to all of us involved with Hel’s,” says Masencup.
MARJAE’S WINE BAR
- 1107 Grecade St.
- J’Mihyia Whitsett, co-owner
Open since in 2021, Marjae’s Wine Bar is owned by J’Mihyia Whitsett and her wife Paris. With an ample patio and a party room with a pink telephone booth, the wine bar offers an alternative to clubs and sports bars in Greensboro.
Over one section of the bar is a bright neon sign that encompasses Marjae’s inclusive vibe: “I’m at peace here.”
And that’s how the owners want every person that walks through the doors to feel like.
“The vibe is always welcoming, fun and friendly,” Whitsett says. “The atmosphere can adapt to so many different moods.”
This month, they are hosting Pride-specific events and throughout the year they put on house music events and Pride inspired cocktails. They hope to bring drag brunches and drag trivia nights in the future. For those who do not drink, every cocktail on their menu can be made into a mocktail.
BOXCAR BAR + ARCADE
- 120 West Lewis St.
- Kelsey Gehsmann, general manager
Known for bringing together more than 70 arcade games, alcoholic drinks, a pizza shop and a 2,000-square-foot private event space, Boxcar Bar + Arcade has been bringing good times to downtown Greensboro since 2016. Its spacious outdoor patio provides generous outdoor seating and welcomes performers throughout the week. They support the LGBTQIA2S+ community by being a regular sponsor of Greensboro Pride and recently hosted Triad Health Project’s THP Cares event. They will begin to have monthly drag brunches on June 25.
“We are a happy and fun environment,” says Kelsey Gehsmann, general manager for the Greensboro location. “I don’t think there’s anyone in town like us that provides an environment like we do.”
For those who don’t drink, the bar and arcade carries non-alcoholic options from Athletic Brewing Company and sparkling drink options. They also have juice and soda options for mocktails.
- 2901 Spring Garden St.
Chemistry Nightclub has been providing a safe space for club dancing, an open patio, and karaoke and trivia nights to its LGBTQIA2S+ patrons since it opened in 2012. Though most of its members and guests are gay, everyone is welcome regardless of their orientation. Less than two miles from UNCG, Chemistry offers free cover on Thursdays for students and their weekly event schedule includes drag dinner shows karaoke on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and School of Drag drag shows. For those looking for an earlier and late drag show options, you can check out the monthly ‘Sex Kitten Round Up with three shows a night at 8 p.m., 10 p.m., and 12:30 a.m.
LEWIS AND ELM
- 600 S. Elm St.
- Jake Assaf, owner
Bringing wine education to the Triad, Jake Assaf is the owner and manager of Lewis and Elm, which opened its doors downtown in 2021.They have a diverse selection of wine, cheese, beer and European-inspired small plates.
With more than 50 types of wines, it is easy to taste around the world with wines from Italy, Argentina, France and Napa Valley. Intimate two-tops, comfy corner couches, and long tables give Lewis and Elm the feel of a neighborhood spot, easy for a date night or drinks with friends.
“We are not just waiting tables,” Assaf says. “We are getting to know people. It’s more than a bar.”
They are happy to support and give a platform to support any organizations representing the LGBTQIA2S+ communities. They have hosted and contributed to events by the Guilford Green Foundation and LGBTQ Center, most recently sponsoring raffle items for their 25th Anniversary Green Party. A huge part of their business has become mocktails and spritz beverages.
- 435-m Dolley Madison Rd.
Open since 2019, Twist Lounge mixes an open dance floor, small group seating, a pool table, and an electronic jukebox in northwest Greensboro. While the clientele is mostly gay men, the bar’s tagline — “A twist on your neighborhood bar” — shows the bar’s intention to be open to anyone willing to have a good time. Recently, the bar held a Girl Code event geared towards women and nonbinary people, but reiterated that the business was “always a safe space for everyone” in their marketing. Twist also hosts weekday events such as Twisted Trivia, Fetish Fridays and drag variety shows. The business is rooted in community, hosting events to benefit other organizations in Greensboro. They recently hosted drag events supporting the Greensboro Pride Festival and the Greensboro abortion-clinic escort program.
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