Birmingham might not instantly come to mind when you think of LGBTQ-friendly cities, but it deserves a second look.
Southern Pride is our monthly column exploring and celebrating LGBTQ culture in Southern cities. This month we’re heading to sweet home Alabama to check out the scene in Birmingham.
Chances are Birmingham doesn’t instantly come to mind when you think of LGBTQ-friendly cities, but with an impressive Human Rights Campaign 2017 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) of 83, the city is much more inclusive than you might expect.
In fact, in June of this year, Birmingham’s mayor Randall Woodfin selected Josh Coleman to serve as the city’s first LGBTQ liaison. Colman’s position and work strengthens the queer community’s relationship with the city, ensuring their concerns are heard and considered. This new show of support for the LGBTQ community is sure to make this Southern town feel even more welcoming to members of the gay community looking to move to the area.
The following are some of the LGBTQ-friendly offerings residents of Birmingham enjoy – and why more members of the LGBTQ community may want to consider calling Birmingham home.
Athletes looking for an active community where they feel welcome have plenty of options in Birmingham. For those who love a good game, fun can be found on the field with the New South Softball League. Organized in 1982, the league became a member of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance in 1983 and includes players of all experience and skill levels. It has three divisions, providing a place for everyone who wants to play.
The Magic City Wellness Center provides a variety of health and wellness services and activities for the queer community and hosts a weekly LGBTQ Running Group. Beginners are welcome as this training group is designed to help members get or stay active. The group meets once a week on Sundays and starts with interval walk/runs so all levels and abilities feel welcome.
LGBTQ Youth Support
The Magic City Acceptance Center (MCAC) is an LGBTQ-Youth support space that provides community events, workshops, heath services, free counseling and more to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer kids and their allies ages 13-24. They have regular drop-in hours where youth are able to relax, do homework or play video games and have snacks in an accepting environment. Regular movie nights, a book club and opportunities to try open mic are scheduled regularly throughout the month as well.
Throughout the year, a variety of support groups including the Magic City Wellness Center and the MCAC host a variety of small events and activities designed to bring the community together. Residents can get “in the knowâ€ by visiting their Facebook pages’ event sections which are often packed with things to do.
Central Alabama Pride is the biggest LGTBQ community event, and it runs over 10 days in June of each year. Queer individuals and their allies enjoy a multitude of opportunities to meet other members of the LGTBQ community at pride activities including the Central Alabama Pride Parade, Queer Prom, a dance off and the big Pride Fest.
Another beloved annual queer event is Birmingham’s SHOUT LGBTQ Film Festival. It typically runs over a week in August starting with introductory events leading up to a weekend filled with movie screenings. The festival showcases features, documentaries and short flicks that offer viewers the opportunity to enjoy films that keep topics of interest to the queer community in the spotlight.
Inclusive Dining Options
If you are a foodie, then Birmingham’s excellent eateries that provide an inclusive environment are one of the city’s best features. Some of the LGBTQ community favorites are Rojo, a restaurant located in the city’s Highland Park area that feature’s incredible Latin food and patio dining. Highlands Bar & Grill is another beloved option that elicits national adoration with its seasonal menu of French-inspired cuisine and regional Southern fare. Its upscale atmosphere is perfect for date night or a next-level night out with the friends. For a Tuscan experience, Bellini’s Ristorante & Bar serves up delightful dishes, desserts and cocktails.
Great Night Life
Birmingham has plenty of options available for those looking to get out and have some fun in the evening. Al’s on Seventh is one of the most popular gay bars in the area. They host regular drag shows, karaoke nights and a variety of parties throughout the year. Our Place is another lounge located on Seventh Street that provides a place to grab some drinks while enjoying the occasional show. But if hitting the dance floor is your thing, Quest Club is the place to be. This nightclub has a great space for trying out your best moves and hosts themed dance parties to keep it interesting throughout the year.