I'm here and I'm Queer — in Boston

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Photo by Georgia Skerritt
Photo by Georgia Skerritt

Even with only two full days to explore it, and even in the suffocatingly humid 95-degree heat, Boston became one of my favorite cities after going there for the first time on a recent trip to visit friends back East last month.

Boasting all the East Coast charm of NYC without as much of the chaos, Boston is a city that feels sure of itself. Its Queer culture is everywhere you look: LBGTQIA+ Pride flags dot streets and storefronts by the dozens, and most cultural and social locations attract diverse crowds that include many Queer folks.

Given Massachusetts' history as one of bluest and most Queer-friendly states in the US, the ubiquity of Boston's Queer culture is no surprise. With her election to the state's House of Representatives in 1974, Elaine Noble became the first openly Gay state-level elected official in the US. In 1983, Gerry Studds became the first openly Gay member of Congress. In 2003, Massachusetts was also the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

As a result, Queer culture in Boston today is openly accepted and widespread. If being Queer in Boston doesn't feel like a big deal, that's because it isn't.

For any travelers — Queer or not — looking for an engaging destination with a diverse and open-minded population, Boston is not to be missed. Here are a few of my favorite spots around town.

Boston Common and Public Garden, Beacon Hill
Because it's one of the most heavily trafficked destinations for sightseers and tourists, the Boston Common doesn't need too long an introduction. Often called "the Boston Commons" or "the Common," it was founded in 1634 and is the oldest city park in the US. Visitors can find shade under the trees or visit Frog Pond, a small wading pool that offers much-needed relief from the incessant summer heat.

Farther on, immediately after passing through the gates of the adjoining Public Garden, pedestrians are faced with a tall (and incredibly beautiful) statue of George Washington. Aesthetically speaking, the monument is worth a photo or two. Beyond, flowerbeds line paved walkways that lead visitors to a footbridge over a pond famous for the popular Swan Boats that cruise the water. A quick detour to the left leads you to the bench where Matt Damon and Robin Williams shared one of their most memorable scenes in Good Will Hunting.

Boston Common and the Public Garden won't be a long stop on your journey, but a quick visit is well worth it for anyone wanting a moment of relaxation or a fun people-watching opportunity.

Photo by Georgia Skerritt  

Revere Beach, Revere
If you plan to visit Boston during the spring or summer months and know that tree shade and wading pools won't cut it for you, head to Revere Beach. Just 20 minutes from the city center, it's a fast and cheap beach-day alternative to Cape Cod.

A trip to Boston doesn't feel complete without at least seeing the ocean — it is the East Coast after all — but the cost of a day trip to the Cape can add up quickly (one adult round-trip ferry ticket to Provincetown is between $108 and $118). Revere Beach, on the other hand, is completely accessible by public transport; on the MBTA (aka "the T"), just take the northbound Blue Line to the Wonderland stop and walk two blocks to the water (one ride is $2.40).

My tip: head to the north end of the beach. Large crowds tend to gather at the southern end, where there are more food vendors and souvenir stands, while the northern end is much calmer and more refreshing, with just a few residents, students, artists, and Queer people relaxing in the evening sun.

Photo by Georgia Skerritt  

Plant Pub, 61 Brookline Ave.
Finding Plant Pub was more serendipitous than anything else, but I'm happy that my friends and I stumbled across it. The concept is simple: a fresh take on the classic American pub scene, with a menu that's entirely plant-based.

What surprised me the most was the diversity of its clientele, considering its location kitty-corner to Fenway Park. Families, sports fans, young professionals, and music students from nearby Berklee College of Music had all cozied up for a drink or meal. The place feels like a typical American sports bar in all the right ways, while also functioning as a community hub for families, tourists, bachelors, and Queer people alike. It's not an overtly Queer or alternative space, but Plant Pub offers an accurate glimpse into Boston's contemporary alternative culture (as well as great food and beer).

Photo by Georgia Skerritt  

Bukowski Tavern, 50 Dalton St.
Of all the places I got to visit in Boston, Bukowski Tavern was my favorite.

Located in the Back Bay neighborhood, which is home to multiple universities and hosts many creative and cultural points of interest, Bukowski attracts a young and diverse Queer crowd with its engaging mix of rock, grunge, and indie music. This place feels like a hidden gem because of its inconspicuous location at the bottom of a large and unassuming public parking lot, and because of its travel guides and blog postings.

If you're looking for good drinks (bonus: they have Seattle Cider!), alternative music, and a fluid, diverse crowd, make a stop at Bukowski Tavern. (Most beers and ciders are $7 to $9. Bukowski is cash only but has an ATM inside.)

Bukowski is a prime example of how understated and yet ubiquitous Boston's Queer community is. One of my favorite things about the city is that Queer culture is more widespread and commonplace than in other cities I've visited. I didn't sense any very clear-cut "gayborhoods" in Boston, because LGBTQIA+ life and culture are mixed in with everything else and therefore can be found anywhere you bother to look for them.