LGBTQ+ Safe Spaces Guide
By Contributor Bonnie Chavez – CEO, Building Beloved Communities
Bonnie Chavez is a Get2KnowNoke Talent Ambassador and CEO of Building Beloved Communities, a consulting firm that provides community-centered solutions for nonprofits and government agencies.
She values her family, roots, Mexican heritage, and culture. Her passion is to serve her community through training, knowledge, and personal connections.
June is upon us so HAPPY PRIDE MONTH, everyone!
As a transplant from Albuquerque, NM, I had concerns about moving to “The South”. I am a Mexican-American, an out lesbian, and a feminist. Since moving here, I’ve found Roanoke to be a welcoming community, and the folks are lovely here. I’ve compiled a list of great spaces for our LGBTQIA fam. We love to hear your feedback, so if you have your own safe spaces or recommendations, please let us know, and we can add it to the list!
If you ever want to chat about what life is like for LGBTQ+ community members or just as someone looking to relocate, I’m happy to chat anytime. Connect with Bonnie on LinkedIn.
– COFFEE SHOPS –
- Sweet Donkey Coffee – Fabulous atmosphere, occasional drag shows, and allies all around
- RND Coffee – a hub to meet up with people, excellent coffee, and queer-friendly staff
- Bridges Starbucks – Pride flags galore, and they are unionized
- Little Green Hive (both locations) – very cool atmosphere, a great place to work, all are welcome
- Mill Mountain Downtown – The Youth SAGA meets their monthly and feels very comfortable in the space.
– BIG GAY BRUNCH SPOTS –
- Well Hung Vineyard – I mean, it’s in the name! Plus, they host regular drag shows. Known for their frose (aka wine slushies).
- Breadcraft – Insta-worthy brunch, only downside: no mimosas – but the food is divine.
- Scrambled – Easy breakfast, mimosas are delicious and kind staff, excellent for a gaggle of gays.
- Jack Brown’s – Small burger place with to-die-for fries, and an incredible beer selection for the morning after your adventure at The Park.
- Crystal Spring Grocery – An adorable, little boutique grocery store in South Roanoke with arguably the best wine selection in town. But real talk, the lunch and brunch counter is where it’s at. Open for Sunday brunch with bubbly cocktails from 11 am-2 pm.
– hotels –
- Hotel Roanoke – To be fair, I’ve only stayed at one hotel, it’s bougie, and the staff is delightful.
- ⭐Bonus points: The 1882 Lobby bar is fun, and the staff is a hoot – DRINKIE DRINKS!
- Liberty Trust Hotel Bar: Friday night drinks, it feels like an urban escape, incredible atmosphere
- ⭐Bonus points: It’s a boutique hotel with beautiful rooms for a romantic getaway
- Roanoke Boutique Hotel: It’s really more of a bed and breakfast for outdoor enthusiasts but it’s so adorable and the owner is super-welcoming and attentive. Just blocks away from downtown Roanoke.
- Fire Station One (Stock Restaurant located inside): Fire Station One is an exquisitely renovated, historic fire station that houses the Txtur living furniture showroom, Stock Cafe restaurant and bar, event space, and seven expertly decorated rooms.
– bars & drinking holes –
- Stellina – It’s dark, it’s romantic, the drinks are beautiful, date-night material.
- The Park – For the kiddos! It’s young; it’s fierce; the music=fire, no cap, and regular drag events.
- ⭐Bonus Points: Strong drag community and regular shows; it’s a whole scene!!
- ANY brewery in town – they are all queer-friendly, and I’ve never had an issue anywhere
- River and Rail – Fine dining, American restaurant with arguably some of the best cocktails in town. Located right near Fork in the Alley and Crystal Spring Grocery, if you’re looking for an upscale treat, then post up on the patio or bar.
- Lucky – Famous for their “cube” which is a deliciously crafted ice cube filled with fresh pressed juices, spices and flavor that you can then pour the bourbon of your choice over (they have tequila cubes too); Lucky has a funky and fun vibe with an upscale spin.
- Fortunato – Roanoke’s traditional Italian kitchen with locally sourced ingredients, unique Italian wines, and original cocktails. If you ask nicely, they might let you into their sneaky speakeasy Stellina next door. Either way, the cocktails don’t disappoint.
– COMMUNITY & FUN –
- Roanoke Diversity Center – Great place to get oriented (ha!) and find out what’s happening
- Blue Ridge Pride Sports – Sporty? Roanoke has PRIDE LEAGUES! Trans-friendly, allies, and kind folks welcome, all organized in partnership with the Roanoke Diversity Center.
- 5 Points Music Sanctuary – The best kind of church in town, mainly because it’s been turned into a music and events venue. Eclectic music, fun date nights–it’s a vibe.
- Verses Roanoke – Black, lesbian-owned safe space and hub for community events. Verses hosts lesbian nights, S.H.E events, and black success markets.
- The Peaks Retreat and Adventure Center (Bedford) – Offers a safe space for learners of all backgrounds to grow and explore. They welcome and celebrate LGBTQ+ guests to join them for events, camps, and overnight adventures.
- Wonderous Books & More (Salem) – Delightful, locally-owned used bookstore where you can find pretty much anything your heart desires.
- Rollnoke – A group of skaters (mostly rollerskating but all skaters welcome) that meet up to skate and network every Tuesday for happy hour on wheels. All are welcome.
Thanks for checking out my list of LGBTQIA safe spaces in the Roanoke Region. Now go out, be yourself, and wear your pride gear! I was pleasantly surprised, and I hope you are, too, darlings! Don’t forget to hit us up with your favorite spots.
Our region’s tourism organization, Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, also has a section on their website on how to plan your LGBTQ+ trip to our region – check it out!
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