Why Lesbians are Flocking to St. Petersburg, FL

Why are Lesbians Flocking to St. Pete, FL
Fay Stevenson at the St. Petersburg Museum of History

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Is St. Petersburg, Florida, known to the locals as “St. Pete” or “the Burg,” becoming one of the “four corners” of the U.S. for lesbians? It certainly looks that way. So, the question begs to be asked, “Why are lesbians flocking to St. Petersburg?” To get the skinny from those “in the know,” OutCoast reached out to the queer women residents, snowbirds, and vacationers who call St. Pete “home.” While some of the reasons may be obvious, others may surprise you. So, let’s take a closer look at what the buzz is all about, and why lesbians are choosing this sunny city on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

A Warm and Welcoming Community

For many, St. Pete is the end of a journey to find a destination where, as a lesbian, they feel safe, accepted, and at home. The rainbow flags in so many storefronts, and the rainbow intersection downtown, are “welcome mats” for the queer community, and introduce St. Pete as a safe space. The large lesbian community here, is both friendly and open, making it easy for “newbies” to make connections through meetups, group activities, and sports leagues like pickleball and softball.

St. Pete isn’t just a place, it’s a lifestyle, a vibe that can only be described as idyllic. The proximity to beautiful beaches, the opportunity for outdoor activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and bicycling, and its overall affordability compared to other places, make it a compelling choice. Nearby Gulfport, with its queer women population and active LGBTQ+ meet-up groups, extends this lesbian-friendly atmosphere even further. An 11th generation Floridian chose St. Pete/Gulfport as a retirement spot to escape a less inclusive neighboring county, demonstrating the city’s appeal to the lesbian community. This same sentiment has been echoed by many who have found solace in St. Pete.

Leisure and Lifestyle

St. Pete’s lesbian draw extends to all kinds of leisure and outdoor activities. While the city’s beaches are where you can soak up the sun, they’re also where you can meet new friends. Pass-A-Grille Beach, at nearby St. Pete Beach, is a popular spot where queer women gather on weekends for relaxation and socializing. Sunset Beach, at the tip of Treasure Island, is considered St. Pete’s “gay” beach.

Lesbian-owned businesses, like Tombolo Books and The Body Electric, create experiences that go beyond your typical shopping or dining experiences. They help you navigate and find “your people,” while the Hollander Hotel in downtown St. Pete, hosts some annual womens’ events.

For the athletes and “outdoorsy” types, there’s no shortage of things to do, from queer pickleball and golf, to tennis, hiking, and biking. If it’s an outdoor activity, chances are there’s a local social media page to follow, or meetup group to join.

Dining Out

St. Pete’s food scene is an eclectic mix of cultural diversity and creativity. From waterfront dining to sidewalk cafes, the place to be is downtown St. Pete, specifically, Beach Drive. Whether you’re into Italian, Mexican, Greek, Asian Fusion, or seafood, you can find it all here. And some restaurants, like Bella Brava, are gay-owned. 

While not in St. Pete, queer-owned Stella’s in Gulfport is, hands down, one of THE best spots for breakfast for the St. Pete crowd. And, it’s also a local hotspot for lesbians.

Lesbians having dinner at Drunken Taco St. Pete
Hillary Reinglass & Vilija Tamuljnas at The Drunken Taco

Art and Music Scene

At its core, St. Pete is an artist community. From drama and the opera to its music scene and museums, you are never at a loss for galleries, theaters, and live music venues to enjoy. Regardless of the night of the week, chances are you can find a venue featuring a lesbian singer, musician, or performer. All of whom have a significant lesbian following.

The Green Light Cinema periodically shows gay and lesbian films. And, when it’s time for the  annual Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, St. Pete plays a part in hosting along with the Tampa Theater.

Lesbian Nightlife 

Stretching along Central Avenue between 16th and 31st streets, is the Grand Central District, a.k.a. the “gayborhood.” It’s lined with boutiques, antiques shops, restaurants, and gay and gay-friendly bars like CockTail, Lucky Star Lounge, and The Garage on Central. It’s also home to the “not exclusively lesbian, but pretty much queer women’s bar,” The Salty Nun, where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily. There’s also a Sunday drag brunch, full bar, and live music throughout the week, making it the place to hang out with the ladies.

For something a little edgier yet classy for the sapphic community, the new LuvHer Lounge team is raising the bar for queer women spaces to a whole new level by hosting LuvHer Lounge events. This is St. Pete’s first ever “pop-up” lesbian bar experience. Working with local venues to provide brick and mortar spaces, and with attendance growing with each event, the plan is to hold these LuvHer Lounge events for lesbians, non-binary individuals, and transwomen every other month in different locations.

Community and Support

Support for the community, as well as resources for the LGBTQ+ population are what make St. Pete an attractive destination for queer women. Events like the annual Lady In Red Ball celebrate and actively support the health and well-being of all women. Lesbian-owned businesses and woman-focused events highlight the city’s economic inclusivity by providing opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment within a supportive network.

The Gulfport Library, with its Read Out: A Festival of Lesbian Literature, and its ever-growing LGBTQ+ reading list are commitments to inclusiveness and diversity in literature and beyond.

Celebrating Pride and Inclusivity

For the tenth year in a row, St. Pete achieved the maximum score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI). The MEI is the only national assessment that evaluates how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are toward LGBTQ+ individuals. 

Oh, and did we mention St. Pete Pride Weekend? It’s one of the largest Pride celebrations in all of Florida with more than half a million people in attendance. The non-profit, St. Pete Pride that produces Pride Weekend with Executive Director Nicole Berman and wife, Cait, ensures that this event celebrates all LGBTQ+ identities while also addressing the needs of the community.

The Perfect Birkenstock Destination

The city’s appeal is an endless summer romance, with its warm weather ensuring that Birkenstocks can be worn all year—a style victory that’s sure to delight lesbians everywhere. It’s not nicknamed “The Sunshine City” for nothing! Home to some of the best beaches in the country, St. Pete provides plenty of activities, organizations, and social venues for the lesbian community. From the beauty of Archibald Memorial Beach Park, one of the best beaches for swimming, to the gayborhood of Central Avenue, there’s always an adventure waiting to be discovered. 

A Place to Call Home

When all is said and done, what sets St. Pete apart for queer women isn’t just its attractions and activities, it’s the feeling of belonging for those who visit or choose to make it their home.  It’s where stories of acceptance, love, and community are part of the fabric of everyday life. For many, St. Pete is a new beginning, a chance to live authentically in a community that celebrates it – where queer women don’t just “fit in,” they truly belong.

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

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 and beyond, 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.

Events are subject to change. Please check the events webpage for updates and schedules.

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july, 2024

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