Waves and surf are what the Sunshine State is known for and entertainment for the LGBTQ+ community is no exception. Tampa Bay as a region offers a plethora of genres for every cultural connoisseur. From Ybor City to Dunedin and Grand Central Saint Petersburg to the SRQ, our region is a tapestry of beauty.
The Tampa Bay region is renown for its performing arts scene. From Tampa to Venice, you’ll find opportunities to see everything from star-studded Broadway musicals to intimate and daring avante-guarde plays. If you are a hardcore theater-goer or just want to enjoy an evening of entertainment, you must visit Tampa Bay and let this regions theater offerings blow you away.
St. Petersburg has an LGBTQ performing arts center called the FreeFall Theatre. Their website describes their mantra perfectly, “we want you to be part of the metamorphosis”. Shows and musicals at this arts center have been life changing and moving for so many in the region. If you also enjoy live theater, local figure Matt McGee (@matthewmcgee) performs numerous drag and performing arts shows with genres such as cabaret, Broadway, jazz and more.
Urbanite Theatre (@urbanitetheatre) in downtown Sarasota is known for its innovative plays and inclusive casts. Glitzier acts find homes at larger venues like The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall (@vanwezelpah) and the legendary Asolo Repertory Theater (@asolorep).
Be sure to leave a whole day to enjoy the offerings in and around The Straz Center (@strazcenter), which boasts the title of fourth largest performing arts center in the United States. Situated on the beautiful Hillsborough river, The Straz features a patio restaurant where you can enjoy a delicious meal along with the gorgeous view. Perk up at their coffee shop with the specialty coffee drink, themed to each major performance. Whether you’re into comedy, opera, dance, or plays, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for at the Straz Center.
Singers and Musicians
Let’s not forget our vocalists and instrumentalists in the region. The community main thoroughfares of Gulfport, Dunedin, and Central Avenue are mini-cultural center for live music like no other in Pinellas County. Numerous LGBTQ artists, including Jennifer Real (@jenniferrealmusic), Delaran Withers & the band Elysian Sex Drive (@elysiansexdrive), and the Tampa Gay Men’s Chorus (@gmctb) perform in these communities.
Gulfport has become the center of both day and nightlife. Salty’s, Caddy’s, and Neptune Grill provide some of the more popular venues for musicians in the Tampa Bay region. Not a night goes by without music dancing along the bay in this quirky and LGBTQ populated town.
From the Hollander in downtown St. Pete to the Copa in Tampa, you will find Cabaret singer Judy B. Goode. Her partner in music is Paul Thomas. She dons fun hats and sings show tunes to warm your heart. American Idol performer and Florida-based artist Brandon Parsons is a regular on the dueling pianos at Showbar Ybor, where he also serves as entertainment director. His song “Orlando Strong” was utilized as one of the official tribute songs during the Pulse Nightclub tragedy.
If you’re more into the alternative scene, the Castle in Tampa’s Ybor City offers Dj’s like Glen S, Brian Busto, and Serious Soul (@serioussoul813) perform live in the Dungeon. The St. Pete version of this scene can be found below ground at the Subcentral Speakeasy at Iberian Rooster. These two locations are the heart of many scenes blending together for entertainment in the community: including the non-binary, bisexual and pansexual scenes.
Drag artists are some of the most beloved in the Tampa bay LGBTQ community. You can see them anchoring local districts like Ybor City, Grand Central St. Pete, Gulfport, Dunedin, St. Pete Beach. Smaller bars in the region also feature great entertainers. City Side Tampa, Blur Dunedin, Quench Lounge Largo, and Mad Hatters Tea Room St. Pete each have their flair and local performing artists weekly.
Juno Vibranz (@thejunovibranz), Rockell Blu (@rockellblu), Amy DeMilo (@amydemilo), Esme Russell (@esmerussell61), Brianna Summers (@brianna_summers0320), Kori Stevens (@kori_stevens), Alisa Summers (@therealalisasummers), and Joey Brooks (@missjoeybrooks) are the headliners of many of Tampa Bays’ hottest drag nights at venues like Showbar Ybor and Bradley’s on 7th.
Adriana Sparkle (@adrianasparkle_) lives up to her name, dazzling drag show audiences at the popular gay bar, Cocktail St. Pete. Be sure to bring your A-game to Bingo at Quench in Largo, hosted by the illustrious Alexis de La Mer (@alexisdelamer). Hamburger Mary’s Clearwater has reopened with a bang. Find drag queen Antwanette Chanel-Roberts directing and performing in some of the regions top-tier drag shows. Southern Nights Ybor in Tampa provides both amateur drag night and highlights seasoned stars. And Amy deMilo’s bubbly performances will leave you giddy when you catch a drag show at the nearby Bradley’s on 7th.
The DJs that form the backbone of the Tampa LGBTQ club scene are unforgettable. From hot nights in Ybor City to hip dance floors in St. Pete, Tampa Bay DJs keep the beat steady and the crowds happy. Come to the Tampa Bay region and check them out for yourself.
Roca Productions does it all from dance, to vocals, to cabaret. Robert Rigsby (AKA Rockell Blu) and others coordinate phenomenal themed shows leaving you breathless. Dj Mike Sklarz (@djmikesklarz), Dj Greg Anderson (@djgreganderson), and DJ Shannon (@djshannonc) are some of our areas top spinning professionals. Dj Ace Vedo (@djace_vedo) holds down the beat as resident DJ at the popular gay bar, Cocktail St. Pete.
Crave Fridays and Seduction Saturdays at Southern Nights Ybor are Tampa bay’s premier LGBTQ dance nights. Do not miss your chance to boogie down with DJ Antonio Valentine on the 1s and 2s. Pop out for a cup of Ybor’s iconic cuban coffee and come back ready for more with Pumped Friday nights. This electrifying dance party brings in the regions hottest DJs like DJ Sirenn (@dj_sirenn), DJ Brianna Lee (@djbriannalee), DJ Tex Flex (@djtexflex).
Tampa Bay is Creating Waves in the LGBTQ Entertainment World
The entertainers and artists know how to ride the tide of our region. They make waves and create local cultural trends that drive us all to unite and celebrate. Grab a hold of the region if you haven’t yet. Explore the little nooks and crannies that makes Tampa Bay so iconic. Whether you’re “keeping Gulfport weird” or living it up in Ybor, splash your way through the scene. Sample the soirées of Dunedin and party on Grand Central/Edge from Enigma to the Garage and Lucky Star to Punkys. Find the entertainers live enchanting all and uniting all into a greater tomorrow.
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Written by Johnathan Soots
Hailing from North Carolina, Jonathan Soots relocated to Orlando in 2001. He began a seven year career with Universal Orlando. After completing high school, he attended college in Tennessee. He worked in the church world and then came out in 2010. Around this time, he completed a Masters in Teaching. Jonathan presently teaches for Tutor Doctor, Challenge Island and Qkids English Learning. Travel is his favorite activity, and he has worked briefly for an LGBT travel company. In addition to enjoying Atlantis gay cruises, he and his husband Stephen enjoy spending time with their silky terrier Dusty. They live in the South Pasadena area of St. Petersburg.
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Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.