Salt Lake City - "More-Men" Central

by Michael Westley .
Friday Nov 18, 2011

Nestled along the foot of the grand Wasatch Mountain range, Salt Lake City is a clean, safe and exciting year-round destination. It's the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts, which in Salt Lake City includes just about everyone. For those wanting to hit the town after a day up the canyon, Utah boys are equally keyed up for some fun.

As the world headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City is a regional hub for commerce, banking, health care and, of course, members of the LDS Church. When young boys come out of the closet and venture away from their Idaho farms or Wyoming ranches, they point their pickup trucks to Salt Lake City, a safe refuge to find community and education. Not to mention those Mormon missionaries we've all fantasized about.

Yes, the city has a large proportion of Mormons. I know what you're thinking. No alcohol. No coffee. Crazy polygamists marrying their nieces. And especially Proposition 8, when the church contributed a large amount of the money that was used to help pass California's same-sex marriage ban. Think again. Recently noted as having the nation's third-largest number of gay couples per capita, Salt Lake City has a vibrant and generally well-received LGBT community. Many of those who come to Salt Lake City from other states stay to raise families of their own. Salt Lake City can boast a strong group of non-profit and political action organizations like the Utah Pride Center, Equality Utah, the Utah AIDS Foundation, multiple chapters of PFLAG and more. Social groups include the Salt Lake Men's Choir, Wasatch Flag Football League, Queer Utah Aquatic Club, a softball league - and a few groups for recovering Mormons. The city's political structure has taken note. The former mayor was even accused by a state senator of having "attracted the entire gay community to come live in Salt Lake County." Not true, but sometimes it feels that way!

OK, so now you know that the city is as hip to the gay scene as Broadway's Book of Mormon. But I know what you really want: the 411. What are the boys like. And where are they to be found?

First of all, know this: Members of the LDS have a strong Scandinavian and European background with a predilection for height, a slender build, blond hair and blue eyes. Circumcision is a strong tenant of the LDS faith, so if you're into clean-cut European men and have long fantasized about those well-scrubbed, cute-as-a-bug Mormon missionaries, you'll be in hog heaven.

The gay nightclub scene mainly consists of two dance clubs and a smattering of neighborhood bars. The scene is youth-centric, with most patrons topping out at about 35 years old. Pockets of bears, leather daddies and silver foxes can be found on specialty nights at a handful of the smaller establishments.

Perhaps the biggest attractions of the city lie outside of it. Salt Lake City is the gateway to the spectacular recreation areas that have made names like Park City, Snowbird and Sundance famous around the world. For those coming to town for outdoor recreation, the canyons adjacent to the Salt Lake Valley - Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood, Park City and Deer Valley - all offer superb lodging and dining establishments. Don't expect to find much in the way of gay businesses or entertainment, but all of these tourism-fed industries are very gay accommodating. You can feel safe booking a room with your lover or eating out comfortably. But the majority of the gay scene is hosted right downtown in Salt Lake City.

Where To Stay And Eat

Where to Stay

Hotel Monaco
15 W. 200 South

This extremely gay-friendly member of the Kimpton Hotel Group is centrally located, hip and even more luxurious with a recent update throughout the facility. Bambara Restaurant on the first level offers upscale fare through the day with an adjacent wine bar.

Inn on the Hill
225 North State St.

This charmingly elegant downtown B&B is the historic McCune Mansion, one of the finest houses in the West. It offers a hot daily breakfast, but you may not want to leave that oversized jetted bathtub.

The Little America Hotel
500 South Main St.

This hotel and convention space offers affordable motor lodging as well as tower accommodations. Dining room, coffee shop and weekend brunch are all top-notch.

The Grand America Hotel
555 South Main Street

Utah’s only true five-star luxury hotel is lavish from top to toe. Its stately Main-street appearance, garish lobbies, and well-appointed rooms will leave little room for disappointment.

Where to Eat

The Red Iguana
736 West North Temple

Authentic Mexican cuisine known for its moles has two locations near downtown. Skip Chili’s and experience real Southwest cuisine.

Cucina Toscana
307 West Pierpont Ave.

Owner Valter Nassi is a mainstay at this upscale Salt Lake City Italian restaurant. Servers are professional, the menu diverse, and flavors unique and well presented. Elegant and expensive, it requires reservations. Plan to stay at least two hours.

Caffé Molise
55 West 100 South

Never experienced Italian cuisine from the Molise region? Prepare to be transported in this downtown moderately priced staple, which offers indoor and patio dining.

Oasis Café
151 South 500 East

Excellent vegetarian and vegan fare includes fresh baked goods.

754 East South Temple St.

Simply put: Salt Lake City’s best Thai cuisine.

Where To Shop, Party And Get Off

Where to Shop

The Gateway

Located between 200 South and South Temple and 400 to 500 West, this two-block long, two-level, outdoor retail area features a mix of national chains and local businesses.

Fashion Place

This mall features large department stores such as Nordstrom, Dillard’s and Sears.

Where to Party

Club Sound
579 W. 200 South

Sound hosts PÜRE on Friday nights with a special 18-and-over dance floor, 21-and-over rooftop patio. Shows, local DJs and hot boys make for a potent mix.

Metro Bar
540 W. 200 South

Metro hosts a mixed Thursday night dance and all-gay Saturday night dance party.

The Trapp
102 South 600 West

Salt Lake City’s lone gay country-western bar and the city’s original dive bar. Friendly folks, reasonably priced drinks. No cover charge except for special shows or functions. Sunday patio BBQ year-round.

251 West 900 South

Try-Angles is a no-frills neighborhood bar that prides itself on inexpensive drinks, a relaxed atmosphere and friendly service. A regular crowd can be found most nights of the week, but it’s standing room only on weekends. The scene trends blue-collar, with a broad age range from twink to (grand)daddy.

751 N. 300 West

Club Jam is a neighborhood bar with an upscale feel. Crowd ranges from 25 to 50, with a healthy mix of twinks, jocks, bears and just-plain Joes. Wednesday night there’s karaoke; weekends are best. Special events, fund-raisers and drag shows are common. There’s a great patio and even a hookah on site. The limited bar menu includes sushi. The dance floor is open and thumping on the weekend, but you can hear the other person if you move to the patio.

Area 51
451 S. 400 West

Area 51 is a two-story, warehouse-style dance club, which is mostly straight and 18-and-over. Drinking areas are cordoned off with a view of the dance floor. The Thursday night ’80s platform has good energy and a mixed crowd. The club also hosts alternative music nights and a fetish ball.

201 E. 300 South

With a play on the words "tavern" and "tabernacle" - the latter of which is the LDS church version of "sacred singing place" as well as the city’s best-known tourist attraction - this dueling piano bar is a good time anytime. A mostly straight clientele attracts plenty of gay men because, well, who doesn’t love a live performance with showtunes more than we do?

Where to get off

Most of the typical parks and outdoor recreation areas have seen little activity in the past few years due to increased police patrol and greater Internet access. Most boys can be found in readily available numbers on Grindr, Manhunt, Adam4Adam and Craigslist. For those staying in Salt Lake City, focus on the Downtown, Sugar House, and University neighborhoods.

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