In the center of one of the nation’s most conservative states lays a little slip of a gay oasis, Columbus, Ohio. Having one of the nation’s most vibrant gay scenes, Columbus is home to one of the largest gay populations per capita. Gay shops, bars and restaurants line both sides of High Street located between downtown and Ohio State University. This area is called The Short North. German Village is of equal interest to the gay traveler.

Columbus plays host to two huge gay events, the Chrome party in September and Pride in June. Sadly The Chrome party (previously The Red Party) hosted what appears to be its final party in 2006. Pride is more than just a parade in Columbus; it’s a weeklong celebration. Pride Holiday, as it’s called, consists of many different cultural, sporting and just fun events. Stonewall Columbus organizes the parade and festival, which cap off the week. In 2006 an estimated 100,000 people participated in the Pride Holiday parade and festival.


Most major gay bars are found on High Street and are within walking distance of each other. Union Station Video Café (630 N. High) offers alcohol and food in an eclectic setting. Music videos, campy television and show tunes are shown throughout the week. An early happy hour is always crowded. Pool tables and darts add to the fun.

Up the street at Axis (775 N. High) the doors are only open on the weekends. Axis is a large bar offering a high-energy dance floor. A high-homo art decor is offered throughout. Upstairs you will find a unique event room where you will discover all-male revues on Fridays and drag cabaret shows on Saturdays.

Havana can also be found on High Street (862 N. High) and offers a comfortable retreat in a space that once housed a butcher shop – only the floor to ceiling tiling remains. The decor is eclectic and vibrant. Young urban men and women come to Havana to enjoy the music videos and martinis. A pool table entertains in the back room.

Elsewhere in the city parties are getting started, too. You can find another great dance floor at The Eagle (232 N. Third). Inside The Eagle is a smaller lounge called The Eagle’s Nest where you can chat up someone you favor.

The leather crowd gets together at Eagle in Exile (893 N. Fourth). This dimly lit space with the requisite black walls offers only one large room broken up in the center by a large bar. A bondage area fills one area of the room, while a pool table rests on the other side. Also a leather bar, Tradewinds II (117 E. Chestnut) offers alcohol and darts and is a local favorite.

The signage over Woofs' (1409 S. High Street) roof is small and deceiving, because this is a large bar with lots happening. Woofs bills itself as a “regular guy” bar, which somehow translates to bears. All the bears hang out on the patio in the back enjoying their smokes and beers - Columbus outlawed indoor smoking in public spaces in 2005. A crowded bar and hot dance floor is found at Q (205 N. 5th). Q is new and it’s become a local favorite. A unique tea dance at 4PM on Sunday can be really fun and includes a free buffet.

More Columbus bars include: Club Diversity (863 S. High), Somewhere Else (1312 S. High) and Tremont (708 S. High) are located in the German Village area. AWOL (49 Parsons), The Closet (1297 Parsons), Garrett’s Saloon (1071 Parsons), Pyramid (211 N. 6th), South Bend (126 E. Moler), Summit Station (2210 Summit) a lesbian bar, Wall Street (144 N. Wall), Millennium (747 Chambers) and Club 20 (20 E. Duncan).

Eats and Of Interest

The Short North and German Village offer walkable shopping, restaurants and coffee shops. Northstar (951 N. High) provides a unique dining experience of flatbread pizzas and fantastic sandwiches. An airy patio seduces with homo watching as you dine. For coffee stop in at Cup O’ Joe (400 N. High) in the Short North or its German Village location (627 S. 3rd St.) or Coffee Table (731 N. High).

You will need to stop by An Open Book (685 N. High) to find reading materials, cards and gifts of the gay persuasion. You can also find fun gay attire, toys and lubes here. Rent some gay porn, if you hotel room does not offer quality gay porn (you should always demand quality gay porn, there is a difference)!

Off of High St. you will find Benevolence Café & Bakery (41 W. Swan) where a substantial case for vegetarian food is made. The humus salad sandwich is at once filling and delicious. Lasagna to quiche is offered in a simple but charming setting.

If it’s an ethnic itch you are trying to scratch, visit The North Market (59 Spruce) where you will find an open market of fresh foods and many prepared foods. Upstairs you can sit and comfortably enjoy your meal.

Also in German Village consider Katzinger’s (475 S. 3rd St.) for gourmet deli sandwiches piled high with fixings and homemade pickles – a true Columbus original. Down the street you will find Book Loft (631 S. 3rd St.). This unique bookstore offers a labyrinth of rooms filled from floor to ceiling with books on every subject – a literary treasure hunt that could last the whole day!

Getting Physical

Columbus offers two options for getting physical:

The Flex Complex (1567 E. Livingston) is located right off the freeway and offers a workout room, dry sauna, steam room, and video lounge. The leather-bondage crowd likes Flex as it offers a basement dungeon. Flex is always open.

The Club Columbus (795 W. Fifth) offers a large outdoor heated pool open in the summer and early fall. The Club also includes a complete workout room, dry sauna, steam room and large whirlpool. Open 24/7.