How gay-friendly is ABQ?

We are a gay married couple possibly moving to ABQ from Houston for my residency training at UNM. We are trying to get a sense of how friendly the community is toward LGBT people. Also, is there a gay-district per se in the city? I know people have mentioned Nob Hill, but it’s difficult to find listings for bars, restaurants, etc. We have also checked mygaycities, but it would be nice to have an insider’s point of view. Thanks so much!

I’m from Seattle, so I’m used to a pretty gay friendly atmosphere (though I myself am straight). Having lived here for 6 months, I’d say it’s pretty easy going and most people are live and let live. If there are judgmental individuals, they generally keep it to themselves.

ABQ has a strong catholic influence, so you see your crazy billboard every now and again, but I personally haven’t noticed many, if any, bigots.

That said, I haven’t really seen a gay district here like other big cities have, but the most down to earth area would likely be Nob Hill. The jesus freaks and anti-everything not per the bible are mostly out towards Edgewood or south.

We really love ABQ so far in our short time here, and are planning to maybe make it our final destination. Fly in and spend a few days bouncing around town and see if it fits ya. Welcome to New Mexico!

It looks like they have an annual pride parade in June. Check out:

Thanks for the reply! We are planning to come back in Feb. together, since I only saw the city for a couple hours after my interview.

I forgot to mention that we are both originally from south Louisiana, so Catholics (and bigots) aren’t too concerning. I just wanted to make sure the city wasn’t too nuts. People generally seemed chill, it’s just hard to get an impression from the internet and a day in the city.

I think it is very gay friendly. You’ll be fine. It’s a purple state and blueish purple city. We have a huge pride week and parade. Live in the core of town, near the university, and you will love it.

Gay medical student at UNM chiming in! Also moved here from Houston (did my undergraduate at Rice). /u/endotoxin’s recommendations are fantastic. Enjoy residency!

From what I can tell it’s like a lot of other places like I’d say almost 99% friendly with that 1% that just doesn’t agree. Personally everyone I’ve talked to is perfectly fine and inviting towards the LGBT community and I know there’s a couple of same sex bars around nob hill. So I’d say it’s pretty chill.

note this is coming from a straight dude though like I said whoever I’ve talked to normally is perfectly fine with it. Also sorry for formatting I’m on my phone

Pretty gay friendly tbh the worst parts of town are bad because of poverty and drugs not due to bigotry.

I’d add that most mean-spirited and confrontational people here are mean-spirited and confrontational in general. Kind of a desperate sort of anger and animosity– in part due to the poverty, drugs, etc.

From Downtown to Ridgecrest is the area for you. The valley is mainly rural, and the west side is Suburbia-hell. The Northeast Heights is often referred to as the Northeast Whites; don’t bother. I live close by Ridgecrest in an area called the „International District“ but most everyone calls it the warzone. (They’re wrong, the warzone starts up at Louisiana, but that’s neither here nor there.) My neighborhood is filled with Vietnamese families and retired military families. Great food, mostly calm, occasional property crime.

Gay Clubs: Effex, but it’s expensive and cliquish so don’t expect too warm of a welcome there. Albuquerque Social Club: Better, but they do require a membership. They like visitors tho. Sidewinders: In a neighborhood I might qualify as „Near-warzone“ but by far the friendliest gay bar presently open. (RIP: AMC, Pulse, Foxes Booz n‘ Cruz.) Only downside is they prefer New Country. Ugh!

Friendly CIS bars: O’Neils and Two Fools, proper Irish pubs. Launchpad: Good music. Burt’s Tiki Lounge: Eh, everyone else likes it, it’s got good decor.

Food: Vietnamese here is great! Any Vietnamese joint is gonna be worth your while. Mexican food, natch. We’ve a few vegan options in the UNM area, and some decent Mediterranean cuisine. There basically isn’t a restaurant in this town that’s gonna give you a hard time if you snog in public.

Things to do: Hike. Really, we’re not a town with much in the way of diversions, so get used to wandering around the state. We’ve got a nice park that runs on both sides of the river. Pick up a Weekly Alibi, the local free-alt rag.

Edit: Didn’t finish a sentence. Last hour of my Friday shift. Sue me.

Wow! What an awesome list! We are coming for a visit in Feb., so I have to check some of these out with the hubby. Thanks again!

Slightly off-topic, but did any of those have two stories (or at least a second story that looked over the karaoke area) with maybe like a full-wall mirror where they did karaoke? It would have been open in late 2006. I was randomly here for my birthday that year (just recently moved to town) and went to the bar I described. I don’t really remember much else, except that the woman singing karaoke did the saddest, sweetest, most depressing version of „Crimson and Clover“ that I’ve ever heard. It’s been bugging me to know which bar it was, just out of curiosity. Thanks!

Even the types of places that are stereotyped as anti-lgbt are pretty relaxed. There was a very obvious trans-woman at my orientation meeting at a local gun club a couple years ago. No one even blinked. She was treated just like everyone else.

Unfortunately the East Mountains are going to be more likely to be that way. I’m from Moriarty and grew up romping around the whole area. It’s mostly full of old country folk who are more likely to lean in the bigoted/racist direction. Although their numbers are starting to drop off as they age.

I first heard it on Game of Thrones, but I can’t imagine a bunch of homophobes really enjoying that show.

Yeah that’s the impression I got from Edgewood – > East. Cedar Crest/Tijeras/Sandia Park appears to be more live and let live. There’s also quite a high % w/ grad degrees out here, which I usually associate with less bigots.

My partner and I arrived in ABQ about a month ago, and so far we’ve not seen any sort of issues related to being a lesbian couple. The Albuquerque Social Club seems to be your standard divey gay bar, fun place to hang out on a weekend night, if you’re into going out. If you’re into the leather/cowboy scene, Sidewinders might be worth checking out.

Albuquerque LGBT Guide

Albuquerque is New Mexico’s largest city. It sits at the foot of the dramatic 10,600-foot Sandia Mountains and extends across the vast Rio Grande Valley. It is a popular gateway for northern New Mexico destinations such as Santa Fe and Taos, but it’s also a vibrant city in its own right.

It is the nation’s hot-air ballooning capital, a great place for outdoorsy activities, and learning about the region’s rich Native American and Hispanic heritage. It is also incredibly easy to get to, with an international airport just minutes away from the city center. 

Albuquerque may not be well known for its LGBT community, but it has a pronounced gay and lesbian presence and a number of gay-owned businesses, including several fun bars and cafes.

Albuquerque LGBT Guide


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Albuquerque (Amazonas) cruising map with gay areas and spots where to practice cruising and to have casual NSA encounters


Albuquerque (Amazonas) cruising map with gay areas and spots where to practice cruising and to have casual NSA encounters

If you are gay and you want to practise cruising and to have casual NSA encounters in public places in Albuquerque in an anonymous way, here you can find spots such as beaches, parks, forests and other spaces next to urban areas, as well as every kind of public toilets and rest areas of highways where you can practise cruising in Albuquerque, Amazonas.

Below we show a Albuquerque cruising map with all cruising areas and spots that shared our gay community. Click on the map markers for details of each spot.

In the tab for each zone you will find a location map with directions to the place: driving, walking, public transport or bike. You can vote the area and leave a comment for the rest of the community guys know your opinion, and if you want people to know you’re in the area, do not hesitate to check in.

Albuquerque (Amazonas) cruising map with gay areas and spots where to practice cruising and to have casual NSA encounters

Cruising areas most visited in Albuquerque, Amazonas

If you know any other places or spots where Cruising can be practised in Albuquerque, you can add them to the map and share them with the rest of gay people through this link: Add a new cruising spot in Albuquerque, Amazonas

 Cruising areas most visited in Albuquerque, Amazonas

Gay Resources

A handful of resources provide information on the city in general, and also on the local gay scene. Albuquerque Pride is a very useful local website that covers LGBT life, as well as so the city’s alternative newsweekly, The Alibi, which lists a number of hip and progressive restaurants and arts events.

Getting to Know the Local LGBT Scene

Like the other major gay destinations in New Mexico like Santa Fe and Taos, Albuquerque has long had a strong following among artsy types, outdoors enthusiasts, feminists, New Agers, and others who often share interests with gay and lesbian travelers.

The gay Albuquerque scene is low-key but visible. There isn’t a distinctive neighborhood in the city with an overwhelming gay presence. However, the funky Nob Hill district, near the campus of the University of New Mexico, and bisected by Historic Route 66, has the greatest concentration of shops, restaurants, and bars popular with the LGBT community. There are a handful of gay bars and clubs like Effex, Apothecary Lounge, and the very popular Albuquerque Social Club, plus numerous gay-owned and gay-friendly bed and breakfasts, hotels, and inns. 

LGBT Events

Two major events LGBT are held in Albuquerque each year: the Albuquerque Pride Parade in Late June, and the Way Out West Film Festival in Mid-October.

The Albuquerque Pride Parade is a three-day celebration designed to bring the LGBTQ community and allies together for a weekend of friendship and celebration of gay pride. In addition to the celebrations, the event also raises funds for the Albuquerque Pride Community Programs, which helps to educate the public about the existence and continuing civil rights battle facing the LGBTIQ community.

The Way Out West Film Festival has been held since 2003. Run by Closet Cinema, an Albuquerque-based nonprofit organization dedicated to showcasing queer cinema, the festival is one of the largest in the state, and draws crowds of over 4,000 people each year. The festival is held for seven days each October, and screens over 75 features, shorts, and documentaries from filmmakers from all over the world.

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Sidewinders Ranch is an Albuquerque gay bar located in the Nob Hill neighbourhood.

This LGBT-inclusive venue is known for catering to the city’s leather crowd. Here, you can enjoy eclectic music, dancing, and pool tables.

Throughout the week Sidewinders Ranch hosts karaoke nights and drag shows.

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Albuquerque Gay Resource Directory

Photo Provided by the New Mexico Department of Tourism

Hip with a mid-century, quirky chic Albuquerque moves to a unique rhythm with its own distinct personality. Most people used to know of Albuquerque from Bugs Bunny, who would say, ” I shoulda made a left toin at Albuquoique!” Growing up in ABQ, as us natives call it, I laughed to think that my city was recognized by such an iconic figure.

But that’s the past – today, ABQ is a growing metropolis full of whimsical sights, crisp scents, and passionate sounds. You can find anything other metropolitan areas have, but with an ABQ twist I call, “AlbuQuirky!”.

Bugs Bunny wasn’t the only Hollywood star to recognize ABQ. Ethel, (actress Vivian Vance), Lucy’s sidekick on the I Love Lucy Show, hailed from ABQ. In one episode, en route to Los Angeles, they stopped in ABQ, where Ethel’s high school boyfriend remarked, “Ethel Mae Potter, we never forgot her!: The first movie shot here was made in 1898! Films such as the Grapes of Wrath and Easy Rider were filmed here. These days, ABQ is often called “Tamale-wood” for all the movies and TV series shot here, including Breaking Bad, In Plain Sight, Thor, The Avengers, the Lone Ranger, and dozens of others. You can even look for a production filming and sign-on as an extra to find your inner star in Tamelewood!

Downtown Albuquerque offers different cultural festivals, all manner of restaurants, and specialty shops. Nightlife is abundant, and while most are not overtly gay, gay people are welcomed to a booming live music scene or to sip cocktails on a balcony. 1940’s-60’s urban chic, Route 66 (Central Ave), runs directly through Downtown.

Photo Provided by the New Mexico Department of Tourism

East of Downtown is Nob Hill, an eclectic, bohemian area. It’s filled with original neon signs and motels from Route 66’s heyday. Some now function as quirky boutique shops. There is no ‘gayborhood’, but Nob Hill thrives with nightlife, restaurants and all kinds of shops with personality, because most are locally-owned. Sip local sparkling wine or munch a shrimp corn dog while strolling around the monthly Arts Crawl. Nob hill dazzles at night with people – straight and gay, from University of New Mexico Students to active seniors- all under ever-changing shades of neon. This is ABQ at it quirkiest!

Just outside Albuquerque are the Sandia, Santa Ana, Laguna and Isleta Indian Pueblos, each with its own casino and hotel/resort. Instead of taking the highway, drive out on Isleta Boulevard to Isleta/Hardrock Casino, through one of the oldest barrios (neighborhood) in the city, and spot one of my AlbuQuirky favorites, a 30 foot cartoon Roadrunner (Warner Brothers must have loved ABQ!) Also look for my favorite sign, “Phil’s Chile and Brake Repair”. Drive up Gibson Boulevard east of ABQ International Airport and be on the lookout for a sculpture I call “Chevy on a Stick”. It’s a blue-tiled, early 1950’s Chevrolet on a tiled arch.

October is scented by piquant roasting green chilis. And, lighting up the turquoise skies, is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, with 700 multi-colored hot air balloons from all around the world. There are gay balloon pilots, so cozy up to a pilot and maybe you can catch a ride! One of the features of the Fiesta is the car show with 500 classic and specialty cars such as low-riders. It’s organized by the local gay Rainbow Roadrunners Car Club!

Old Town ABQ is the site where the city was founded in 1706 by the Spanish on the Camino Real from Mexico City to Santa Fe. Old Town has wonderful shops, restaurants and sights to discover, but Christmas eve transforms Old Town into a magical place. About one million luminarias, small paper bags weighted with sand and lit by candles, line the sidewalks, the buildings, the Plaza and the San Felipe d Neri church. This is an ancient Spanish tradition meant to light the way for the newborn Christ child. Sip hot chocolate and munch on bischochitos, cookies that are a holiday tradition while you and your partner meander among the romantic, glowing gold of the luminarias. In 300-year-old buildings, you’re bound to have ghosts, so take a ghost tour. Learn about the spirits inhabiting this ancient area- if one appears and you jump into your lover’s arms, even the ghost will smile!

Albuquerque is ringed by gorgeous mountains and extinct volcanoes. One of the top outdoor destinations in the U.S., there are bike trails throughout the city, including along the Rio Grande River Bosque (woods) as well as hiking trails into the mountains. Maps are readily available. Combine art and hiking by visiting the Petroglyph National Monument, where early Native Americans etched life symbols onto boulders. New Mexico Outdoors is a gay group that has outdoor events every weekend and always welcomes visitors.

Celebrate the dead, you say?ABQ is a cultural melting pot with a strong Spanish/Mexican influence and yes, one of the most festive occasions is the Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Marigold Parade and Fiesta in October. The custom is to celebrate the memory of loved ones you have lost by creating a shrine with food, photos and some of their favorite things. The parade features traditional music and dances along with low-rider cars, horses and my favorite- rolling Descansos- memorials to those who have passed before us. (Descansos are roadside memorials put up where a loved one was killed in a car accident, some of which are very beautiful.) Like wearing make-up? Nearly everyone paints their faces like skulls, so get out and paint away! The Fiesta has food, traditional dances, music, vendors and an art show. And while you’re there, take in the nearby National Hispanic Cultural Center, which has often featured gay Latino artists and whose large theater hosts movies for the Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, also in October.

Most cities have drag shows, but nothing like the Dolls! This lively group puts on theatrical performances throughout the year with the most anticipated being the Christmas Show. 2010 brought the release of The Dolls’ first movie, “Malice in Wonderland!”

ABQ is an enchanted , quirky and gay place to live or visit. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else! So get out there and explore all Albuquerque has to offer!

Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown

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Coronavirus Update: Please note that some venues may be closed in line with local government advice. Please check the venue’s own website for the latest opening hours and information before making your journey. Stay safe and follow the local authority’s guidance in order to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus.

QBar Lounge is a gay-friendly Albuquerque bar and club located at Hotel Albuquerque in the Old Town neighbourhood.

This upscale lounge offers tasty drinks and eats in a chic setting filled with plush seating and contemporary art.

Regularly, QBar Lounge plays host to upbeat events including live music and more; happy hours are also a frequent affair here.