Beyond the Core: Get off the Beaten Path in the Big Apple's Lesser-Known Gay Hoods. Adapted from the out Traveler: New York City Guidebook

Article excerpt

UPPER MANHATTAN

Gayest Enclaves: Harlem & Washington Heights

Home to the famed Harlem Renaissance that spawned groundbreaking gay works by such black artists as Langston Hughes and Bessie Smith in the 1920s and '30s, Harlem has resurged anew in the last decade, developing a new pink presence in the process. A bit farther north at Manhattan's top, hilly Washington Heights has been strongly Dominican since the '60s but is now seeing an influx of young bohemians and junior suits, including gays of both types.

DAY: The Cloisters (Fort Tryon Park, Inwood; 212-923-3700; MetMuseum.org)

Overlooking the Hudson on four gorgeous acres in Fort Tryon Park The Cloisters house much of the Metropolitan Museum's medieval European art and architecture collection and are well worth the hike northward.

NIGHT: No Parking (4168 Broadway at 177th 5t., Washington Heights; 212-923-8700; NoParkingBar.com) Drawing a sexy crowd from both Harlem and the Heights, sleek lounge No Parking has established itself as Uptown's leading gay bar. Besides, it's hard to not love a place where karaoke night is hosted by Spicky Hilton.

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STATEN ISLAND

Gayest Enclave: Stapleton

Staten Island gay culture has unfortunately thus far been something of an oxymoron; certainly gays live here, but they're spread sporadically over the island. While gay-specific establishments have so far come and gone, an influx of artists has lately begun sprinkling itself across the north shore in neighborhoods like Stapleton.

DAY: Alice Austen House (2 Hylan Blvd. at Edgewater St., Rosebank; 718-816-4506; AliceAusten.org)

Also called Clear Comfort, this gorgeous 17th-century property at the New York harbor entrance was the longtime home of women-centric photographer and lesbian Alice Austen, and it now serves as a museum of her life and times.

NIGHT: Martini Red (372 Van Duzer St. at Beach St., Stapleton: 718-442-0660; Martini-Red.com)

This neighborhood bar and local music venue is straight but welcoming of gay india types.

BROOKLYN

Gayest Enclaves: Williamsburg & Park Slope

Few places on earth are so closely associated with the hipster phenomenon as Williamsburg, where thin is in and the ironic T-shirt is de rigueur. A recent influx of moneyed mainstream folk has pushed the ever-elusive true hipster onto newer frontiers like Bushwick, but for now at least, Billyburg remains Brooklyn's (and some say even the city's) most tangible epicenter of cool. More conventional Park Slope arguably has a stronger concentration of gay people, mostly lesbians who began settling here in the '80s. Increasingly their gay male brethren also are attracted to its beautiful streets and family-friendly city-within-a-city feel.

DAY: Galapagos Art Space (16 Main St. at Water St., DUMBO; 718-782-5188; GalapagosArtSpace.com)

Newly transplanted from Williamsburg to a former stable in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), Galapagos showcases a spate of queer-friendliness like drag king Murray Hill-hosted amateur burlesque; it's also now NYC's first certified "green" cultural venue.

DAY: Lesbian Herstory Archives (484 14th St. btwn Eighth Avenue and Prospect Park West, Park Slope; 718-768-DYKE; LesbianHerstoryArchives.org)

This key repository of lesbian annals includes more than 20,000 books and 12,000+ photographs. …