Top prizes in 21 categories in the Best of Gay City Readers’ Choice Awards:
BIGGEST CELEBRITY CRUSH
He first captured viewers’ attention in “Here Lies Love,” the concept musical about the life of Imelda Marcos. But it was his role in ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder” as gay techie Oliver that launched Conrad Ricamora’s large fandom. And while he may play the “unattractive” one on “Murder,” our readers clearly beg to differ. You can catch Ricamora Thursdays on ABC or on the Great White Way in the current revival of “The King & I.
With 25 locations in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn Heights, Equinox was voted the Best Gym this year. This Pride Season, Equinox celebrated with #POWEREDBYPRIDE, a partnership with LA artist David Flores, who created murals in Williamsburg, San Francisco, and London, where for a month beginning in mid-June, staff, members, celebrities, and others took photos of themselves and posted them using the hashtag. Each time the hashtag was used, $1 was donated to New York’s Hetrick-Martin Institute, which serves LGBTQ youth, and the Pilion Trust, a London-based group that works with vulnerable communities. For more information on Equinox, visit equinox.com.
BEST GAY BAR
Boots & Saddle
Maybe it’s the new location on Seventh Avenue, maybe it’s the brunch — or, hell, maybe it is the stacked roster of drag queens that play nearly every hour of every day. But this year, Boots & Saddle Drag Lounge snagged first place for Best Gay Bar. 100 Seventh Avenue South at Grove Street. Check it out at bootsandsaddlenyc.com.
BEST LESBIAN BAR
Sure, it’s primarily a lesbian watering hole, but since 1994 Cubby Hole has officially billed itself as New York’s neighborhood fusion bar — lesbian, gay, and straight friendly. And that last word is important to understanding this venue’s charm. Maybe that kind of appeal is why Cubby Hole for the second year running was voted Best Lesbian Bar. 281 West 12th Street at West Fourth Street; visit cubbyholebar.com.
BEST DRAG PERFORMER
Haus of Mimosa
In this category, our readers chose a twofer, a pair of drag queens known around town for brunch performances (Sundays at KTCHN on West 42nd Street; Saturdays at Boxers Hells Kitchen) and their appearances at Monday bingo nights, also at Boxers. Check out their website at hausofmimosa.com.
BEST DINING OUT SPOT
Eleven Madison Park & Eataly
Voters split on their favorite between two very different options. Eleven Madison Park, Daniel Humm’s restaurant at 11 Madison Avenue at 25th Street that offers seasonal menus of 12 to 15 courses for $225, gets five stars from Forbes Travel Guide, four from the New York Times, and three from the Michelin Guide, and was named by S. Pellegrino as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants. (elevenmadisonpark.com) Eataly, though just across Madison Square Park at 200 Fifth Avenue, is an enormous and boisterous Italian marketplace that offers a range of restaurants, food and drink counters, bakeries, a food and cooking supplies supermarket, and even a cooking school. It has to be seen, but try to figure out a time to beat the tourist crowds. (eataly.com)
BEST COFFEE SPOT
Think Coffee & Dunkin’ Donuts
High brow, artisan latte-slinging Think Coffee and the consistent and reliable comfort of Dunkin Donuts tied this year for the Best Coffee in town. With seven locations in Manhattan, Think Coffee prides itself not only on providing quality coffee and espresso but also in giving back to the community, donating to nonprofits including Grand Street Settlement and Hudson Guild. (Visit thinkcoffee.com.) As for Dunkin Donuts, the countless locations across the five boroughs speak for themselves — because if there is something all New Yorkers love, it's the assurance of a good, cheap cup of joe.
BEST SWEET SHOP
Big Gay Ice Cream
It comes as no surprise that Big Gay Ice Cream was voted Best Sweet Shop for the second year in a row — with shops in the East and West Villages, Big Gay caters to Lower Manhattan’s sweet tooth with a unique rainbow flare. Featuring creative concoctions with equally unique names (the Salty Pimp, the Bea Arthur, and American Glob, to name a few), Big Gay Ice Cream has something for everyone. Visit biggayicecream.com.
BEST ON STAGE
Winner of five 2015 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, “Fun Home” is the musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s groundbreaking graphic memoir, and it clearly struck a chord with our readers. The story follows Bechdel as she reevaluates her relationship with her father through key moments in her life. A must see. Visit funhomebroadwaycom.
Museum of Sex
Whether it’s “Obscene Diary: The Secret Archive of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist and Pornographer” or “Hardcore: A Century & A Half of Obscene Imagery,” the Museum of Sex never shrinks, so to speak, from erotically engaging its audience. Its Kinesthesia artist commission series — which supports artists, designers, and innovators in creating exhibitions that engage physical experience through immersive work in human sexuality — is the sort of genius that makes this museum a stand-out among many, many competitors in New York. 233 Fifth Avenue at 27th Street; museumofsex.com.
West Village & Park Slope
This year, voters went for sentimental favorites. The West Village, the heart of bohemian New York going back a century and a half, is the home of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, the site of the city’s earliest gay bars and businesses, long a magnet for youth looking to hang out on the Hudson River, and the location of the city’s LGBT Community Center. Park Slope, for the past 40-plus years, has been one of America’s lesbian hometowns, and its Victorian splendor, tree-lined streets, and cool, college town vibe has long made it a draw for gay men, too. And, as historian George Chauncey reported in his seminal “Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World 1890-1940,” nearby Prospect Park was a gathering spot for homosexual men as early as the turn of the last century.
BEST HOME DESIGN STORE
Born in Brooklyn in 2002, this home décor chain, a part of the Williams-Sonoma portfolio of brands, offers a wide selection in modern urban design in four city locations in DUMBO, Chelsea, and the Upper West Side, as well as more than 70 other locations in North America, the UK, and Australia. Visit them at westelm.com.
BEST TV/ CABLE SHOW
“Grace and Frankie”
A Netflix’s original series that has too often been underrated, “Grace and Frankie” follows two frenemies who could not be more different as they cope with the fallout from their longtime husbands suddenly announcing they are in love and plan to marry each other. Countless priceless moments between Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda are backed up by a strong supporting cast that includes their gay exes, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston. The show returns with Season 2 early next year.
BEST HEALTHCARE SERVICES
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
For the second year in a row, our readers have selected Callen-Lorde, a health center whose roots go back more than 40 years to the first health initiatives in New York’s LGBT community. Callen-Lorde serves more than 15,000 patients yearly, more than a third of whom are uninsured. Providing primary care, oral health service, and mental health care to men and women, with specialized expertise in serving the transgender community, Callen-Lorde has also distinguished itself in stepping up in special circumstances — whether vaccinating large numbers of gay men when a meningitis vaccine broke out in late 2012 or in the early dispensing of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, as an HIV prevention treatment. 356 West 18th Street; callen-lorde.org.
BEST LEGAL SERVICES
A true pioneer at the time of its founding in 1973, Lambda Legal is the oldest and largest national legal organization working to achieve full equality for LGBT Americans and those affected by the HIV/ AIDS epidemic. All of its work is done on a pro bono basis, with its cases selected to have significant impact on altering the legal landscape, while it carries out educational and public policy work, as well. For more information, visit lambdalegal.org.
BEST PARENTING/ FAMILY SERVICES
At a time when this nearly century-old provider of reproductive and sexual health services is until increasing political attack, our readers chose Planned Parenthood as the Best Parenting provider. With more than 700 affiliated health centers, Planned Parenthood is one of the most important providers of care to women in the US, and it is also an outspoken advocate for women and family-friendly policies on the political stage. Learn more at plannedparenthood.org.
BEST COSMETIC/ BEAUTY CARE
Massage Envy Spa
Nationwide, more than 1,000 Massage Envy franchise owners employ roughly 25,000 massage therapists and estheticians focused on total body care. The company’s website list seven locations in the city — in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island — and innumerable ones in the metropolitan area. To find out about those closest to you, visit massageenvy.com.
BEST PET CARE
First incorporated right here in New York State, in 1866, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was the first humane society in North America and is today one of the largest in the world. The group is dedicated to nonviolent approaches to addressing problems faced by at-risk animals and victims of animal cruelty. For information about how to adopt a dog or a cat, where to report knowledge of animal cruelty, or to volunteer, visit aspca.org/nyc.
BEST WEDDING VENDOR/ VENUE
54 Below & La Marina
One of New York’s premiere cabaret venues, 54 Below, in the heart of the Theater District, was voted Best Wedding Vendor in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards. La Marina, a sprawling Hudson River outdoor restaurant, meanwhile was named Best Wedding Venue. 54 Below, with the ambience of a 1920s supper club, can seat 150. (254 West 54th Street; 54below.com) La Marina, a seasonal venue (April through October) that has been called South Beach in Manhattan, offers a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces accommodating parties of 50 to 1,500, with decks overlooking the river. (348 Dyckman Street at the river; lamarinanyc.com)
Israel & New Orleans
Call this category a Creole/ Kosher tie. The Big Easy, with its exuberant nightlife and historic cultural diversity, has always been a favorite for LGBT travelers — whether for Mardi Gras or that Queer New Year’s of a Holiday, Halloween. NOLA’s official guide for LGBT travel is at neworleansonline.com/neworleans/lgbt/. Israel is a haven for LGBT people in the Middle East, and Tel Aviv has, in recent years, become a major world gay destination. That city is probably where you want to start in your thinking about a trip to Israel. For more information, visit gaytlvguide.com