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Southern Pride: A Guide to Chattanooga, TN’s LGBTQ Scene

Looking for a gorgeous, artsy city with a spirit of inclusiveness? Chattanooga is a gem waiting to be discovered.

By Annette Benedetti on October 26, 2018

Chattanooga, TN
Chattanooga / Courtesy of Christian Stewart

Southern Pride is our monthly column exploring and celebrating LGBTQ culture in Southern cities. This month we’re heading to the Volunteer State to check out the scene in Chattanooga. 

People are flocking to Chattanooga, TN, for its incredible outdoor recreation as well as its thriving art and startup scenes. But what many may not realize is that this cool city is also a Southern oasis for members of the LGBTQ community.

If you are looking for a city to call home where inclusivity isn’t limited to a single neighborhood or a handful of shops but is instead infused throughout city life, then Chattanooga is worth a second look.

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The following are a few reasons why Chattanooga makes a great home for those who desire and inclusive community.

Citywide Acceptance

Many cities identify certain neighborhoods as the queer-friendly spots. These areas become the place to live, eat and play for members of the LGBTQ community. While Chattanooga’s North Shore district is sometimes referred to as the town’s “gay-friendly neighborhood,†you are likely to find a diverse mix of folks wherever you go.

Members of the LGBTQ community report feeling welcome at the majority of the restaurants, bars and shops throughout the town. Similarly, the queer community’s allies frequent establishments geared toward the LGBTQ crowd.

Chattanooga TN
Chattanooga / Staff Photo

Awesome Queer-Owned Bars, Restaurants & Shops

It’s always nice to live where people from your community are thriving. Chattanooga has an array of great LGBTQ-owned businesses that make supporting their owners easy. Belly up to the bar for one of The Big Chill & Grill’s renowned frozen drinks. They come in a variety of flavors and are served slushy-style. Every sip takes you back to those sweet childhood days of summer – but with a kick! The menu doesn’t disappoint either with options like Country-fried Steak and Golden Onion Pork Chops. You may even catch an opportunity to sing karaoke if you show up on the right night, and every Monday customers enjoy a game of drag bingo.

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The Big Chill’s owners recently opened a second restaurant called Scottie’s on the River where customers can enjoy incredible riverfront views and next-level cuisine. From starters like Blue Crab Claw Cocktail to entrees that include Stuffed Shrimp and Lobster Mac and Cheese, each dish is perfectly crafted to provide an elevated dining experience ideal for date night or a family gathering.

Petunia’s Silver Jalapeno is a popular food truck and caterer that serves burgers, hot dogs and, of course, jalapeno poppers. The owner has a reputation for “being a blast†and the food earns rave reviews.

And if you are ready for a new tattoo, Main Line Ink has a reputation for having amazing artists that provide the best service around town. 

Chattanooga, TN
Chattanooga / Courtesy of Christian Stewart

Ample Entertainment & Nightlife

It can be difficult to find the perfect place to let loose after work or on the weekends when you are new to town, but Chattanooga has plenty of well-established LGBTQ entertainment venues. Images Night Club has themed evenings where customers enjoy karaoke, talent contests and dance music that lasts all night. Alan Gold’s Discotheque is a multilevel nightclub that hosts dancing and shows throughout the week. And The Palace Theater features films, comedy shows, live music and game nights along with other events. They also have an art gallery that features female artists only. 

An Accepting Church Community

If finding a place of worship is high on your list of to-dos after moving, you’ll be pleased with Chattanooga’s large number of affirming churches. Grace Episcopal Church celebrates diversity and strives to create and inclusive and affirming environment by announcing that they embrace all people including people of every gender identity and sexual orientation. On their website, they provide religious resources for the queer community.

6 Things You Need to Know if You’re Moving to Tennessee

Similarly, those seeking a church are welcome at New Covenant Church of Chattanooga, the Rock Metropolitan Community Church, St. Marks Church and others.

Plenty of Resources

There is no shortage of groups and organizations available to help LGBTQ individuals who are new to town. Chattanooga Pride hosts and exceptional annual event and welcomes all queer owned and affirming businesses, organizations and individuals. Additional groups that provide an abundance of resources for the queer community include the Nooga Diversity Center, the Scenic City Trans Collective and the Chattanooga Queer Community Forum.

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