San Francisco, Provincetown, Mykonos… Cleveland! LGBT friendly businesses in Northeast Ohio

Terminal Tower’s rainbow glow made our city’s welcome loud and clear.

Gay Games 9 was an unprecedented event for northeast Ohio. The region physically and metaphorically hoisted its rainbow flags – local LGBT residents and straight allies alike showed their pride and support. There was plenty of soul-searching in the media whether we’re gay-friendly enough, but no sight was more telling than the rainbow flags and welcome signs to the athletes all along W. 25th in Ohio City, W. 117th in Edgewater, Detroit in Lakewood, and don’t even get me started on downtown. Terminal Tower’s rainbow glow made our city’s welcome loud and clear. Thanks, girl.

Gay Games 9_Ryan Collins

I covered the closing ceremonies as a blogger, and the athletes I spoke to offered glowing reviews, describing the warm welcomes they received all across town. Now that GG9 is over, the region’s spirit and support haven’t gone away. In fact, LGBT residents and visitors are well-served by gay-friendly businesses. Owned by both gay and straight entrepreneurs, Cleveland+’s business community has banded together to create some pretty special places. I’ve listed a few of my favorites:


cle - at night

Where To Go

From W. 117th down to Gordon Square through Detroit-Shoreway, you’re (un)officially in Cleveland’s gay village. Heading west into Lakewood will quietly reveal an entirely supportive city (short on space, dense on pretty awesome people), and making your way across town to the East Side in Coventry will offer up the same.

Where to Imbibe

Twist Social Club, a laid-back, classy lounge at the corner of 117th and Detroit is a Cleveland staple with a new facelift. Come here at all hours to enjoy a beverage, but I love to visit when they open the windows during a warm evening.

Where to Shop

If you’re in the mood for shopping, head across the street to the chic vintage clothing and furniture shop Flower Child, which during GG9 festooned its windows with a rainbow display of mannequins and wares. In fact, that entire block felt like an explosion of glitter during the Games.

Plantation Home in downtown Lakewood is by far my favorite furniture shop – ever. If I could buy everything, I would. Its impeccably styled showroom features pieces that look cosmopolitan and would fit right in to a loft in Soho or Hingetown.

And of course, you can’t miss Gordon Square. This neighborhood is home to Cleveland’s LGBT Center and a thriving food and retail scene. Just start walking around – there’s always something to find.


FirstMerit & FirstEnergy

Where To Go

Highland Square is Akron’s gay-friendly neighborhood. You don’t have to explore far before finding rainbow stickers on doors.

Where to Imbibe

Square Nightclub is my favorite part of this neighborhood, serving up drinks, dancing and entertainment to a 21 and up crowd. It’s welcoming to all members of the LGBT community and has a patio for warm nights and when it gets a tad crowded inside (which happens often!).

Crew in downtown Canton ensures LGBT residents have a place of their own to go. Good music, reasonable prices and an open atmosphere always make for an unpredictable night.

Where to Caffeinate

Angel Falls Coffee is smack dab in the middle of Akron’s Highland Square. It’s the perfect mix of local and hip, filled with bantering seniors, studying students and anyone else in town who needs a pick-me-up.

Nervous Dog Coffee Bar & Roaster is another great space for coffee. Just down the street in Wallhaven, its interior and welcoming staff make it feel like a coastal hole-in-the-wall, and I can’t get enough.

If you’re interested in a nicely comprehensive guide to Cleveland’s gay scene, look no further than Positively Cleveland’s booklet. There’s no way I could list everything, including restaurants, hotels and other destinations that let their pride flags fly – so please, offer up your favorites in the comment section!

SEE ALSO: Celebrating Love in Cleveland

Ryan Collins
Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins is a writer and traveler. Currently based in Lakewood, he has lived all across Northeast Ohio. A Kent State University alum, today, Ryan works in admission at Baldwin Wallace University. His work has been published by Cleveland Plus, Belt Magazine and in conjunction with Destination Cleveland. Learn more at