LGBTQ in Denver

Colorado's capital is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the country

Denver Union Station and buildings in Downtown Denver
Getty Images/Blaine Harrington III

For many decades, Denver has been one of the country’s centers of lesbian and gay culture, activism, feminism, and nightlife. It's the largest and most dynamic hub of LGBTQ culture in the Rockies, and a great jumping off point for exploring Colorado's many natural wonders and recreational destinations, from Aspen and Boulder to Telluride and Rocky Mountain National Park.

The modern, progressive city of about 600,000 abounds with fine museums, trendy nightclubs, stunning parks, and an increasingly sophisticated array of shops, hotels, and restaurants.

Denver and the Rocky Mountains

Most people think Denver is in the Rocky Mountains, but it's actually just east of them. Though a mile above sea level, it is nonetheless pretty level terrain.

The foothills of the Rockies begin their magnificent, sharp ascent immediately west of the city and serve as a fixture of the Denver skyline, while the grassy plains extend for many hundreds of miles to the east toward Kansas. This capital city of Colorado sits at the junction of two major interstate highways, I-70 (east-west) and I-25 (north-south). It's also connected to I-80 via I-76, which leads northeast up into Nebraska.

Annual LGBT Events in Denver

LGBTQ-Friendly Neighborhoods in Denver

The LGBTQ community in Denver is quite well-integrated, although broadly speaking, the Capitol Hill and Cheesman Park area have the greatest concentration of gay and lesbian households and businesses. West of downtown, historic Highlands has an arty vibe and plenty of hip and cool shops and eateries, and to the south, you'll find a smattering of gay bars and eateries along Broadway and South Broadway.

High-end shopping is the draw is sleek Cherry Creek, and just north of downtown, the stylish Central Platte Valley and Commons Park is lately abounding with mod condos. It's close to Denver's most charming 'hood, LoDo.

    LGBTQ Resources in Denver

    A handful of resources provide information on the city in general, and a few on the local LGBT scene. For general visitor information, contact the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. The GLBT Center of Colorado has an excellent website and is a first-rate resource for queer visitors or those thinking of relocating here.

    The city produces one of the country's longest-running LGBT newspapers, the excellent OutFront Colorado. And Westword is the city's fine alternative free weekly, with loads of great entertainment, arts, nightlife, and dining coverage.

    LGBTQ History in Denver

    Colorado has come a long way as a LGBTQ-friendly destination. Although a bastion of nascent gay activism in the 1950s and '60s, Denver and the rest of the state were the targets of a controversial boycott by gays and lesbians in the early 1990s, due to the passage of Amendment 2. This legislation called for a ban on local and state laws protecting citizens against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation.

    The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Amendment 2 in May 1996 by a vote of 6 to 3, ruling that the legislation denied gays and lesbians equal protection under the law. The court's opinion curtailed similar anti-LGBT initiatives elsewhere in the United States, and Colorado has continued to thrive as a favorite place for LGBT people to live.

    Denver has a lively gay scene and a great energy to it. Gays and lesbians, who played a pivotal role in turning once-dilapidated Lower Downtown (a.k.a. LoDo) into a thriving arts and entertainment district, are helping to reinvigorate other exciting neighborhoods, among them South Broadway and Highlands.

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