The multicolored confetti and rainbow streamers may already be all swept up from Sunday’s Pride parade, but this new addition will ensure that the sun never sets on LGBTQ+ celebration in the Mile High City. 

With the help of the Center on Colfax, Black Pride Colorado, and the Colfax Avenue Business Improvement District, Executive Director Zach Kotel announced the creation of Colorado’s first-ever queer cultural district, Lavender Hill, on June 14. The new region encompasses parts of Cheesman Park, Capitol Hill, City Park, City Park West, Congress Park, and Baker—with intentionally blurry lines, Kotel says. “We recognize that queer people, queer businesses, queer life isn’t just contained to this one area, and given that this is acknowledging the existing community, too, we want everyone to feel included, regardless of location,” he says.

This new queer cultural district is all about highlighting important LGBTQ+ history in Denver and connecting the queer community that calls it home today. “We take for granted the fact that LGBTQ+ history isn’t really integrated into our overall historical narratives, and because of that, a lot of times, living history doesn’t get recorded,” Kotel says.

Lavender Hill is still in its infancy, but Kotel says you might spot rainbow crosswalks, LGBTQ-centric public art projects, and more businesses sporting pride flags in the future. Get an initial glimpse of what this new queer cultural district might bring when you stroll down Colfax Avenue between Grant and Josephine streets. Photos of locals from the queer community grace the power boxes along the street for the “Joy of Pride” project, where each person explains what finding happiness in their identity means to them. 

One of the images you’ll find in the “Joy of Pride” project. Photo by Eboni Bonèe Coleman

This sweeping district is home to some pretty well-known LGBTQ+ haunts (Blush and Blu has made headlines for being one of the last remaining lesbian bars in the nation), but if you want to spend an afternoon getting to know the rest of the “gayborhood,” as some locals affectionately call it, check out these queer-owned spots. 

Under the Umbrella Cafe and Bakery

Fuel up for a day of exploration at this charming corner cafe in Congress Park. Run by head baker Jyll Tuggle and her partner, chef Kat Rooney, Under the Umbrella has been a morning must for locals since 2006, and they might not be thrilled that we’re sharing their secret (no one wants a newfound line at their neighborhood gem). “If the 6 lb. 8 oz. baby Jesus turned into a burrito and made its own in-house salsa, then this is the place where the rapture would happen,” one born-again breakfast regular wrote on their Yelp. If that hasn’t convinced you to swing by this sweet neighborhood staple, one bite of their blueberry bar will relegate you to regular status. 3507 E 12th Ave.

Worth the Fight Boxing Gym

Gladys Santiago, left, and Emily Stork, co-founders of Worth the Fight Boxing Gym. Photo courtesy of Gladys Santiago

Work up a sweat in this Uptown safe space with founders—and resident badasses—Gladys Santiago and Emily Stork. The duo created the boutique fitness studio back in February 2022 to be a place free from intimidation and judgment. Having lost 120 pounds herself, Santiago knows what an obstacle showing up can be, so she built a studio that supports everyone at every stage of their fitness journey. Worth the Fight puts the pronouns of each instructor on its class schedule and employs a number of queer coaches, who prioritize compassion and inclusivity over metrics. 

Santiago hopes the new Lavender Hill district will remind people that empowering our LGBTQ neighbors doesn’t end when July arrives. “Having something that’s a little more established is just so important because people are queer, they’re trans, they’re gay, lesbian all year round,” she says. “This isn’t something we shed once June is over.” 1999 Pennsylvania St

Tight End

You know what they say, Saturdays are for the boys. And this cheeky sports bar gives that a whole new meaning. Opened in April 2021, Tight End caters to the kind of crowd that wants to sit back and watch the game with the guys—minus all the machismo. 

The mastermind behind Denver’s only gay sports bar is the same one who brought us X Bar and the Squire Lounge, so it’s pretty clear Steven Alix has figured out the secret sauce. Whether you’re a Nuggets nut or eagerly awaiting the Broncos’ kick-off, you’ll find your squad on one of the nine flatscreens at Tight End. Also neat: When it’s not hosting Super Bowl parties or Safeword Saturdays, Tight End is one of the meeting places for the newly minted Lavender Hill advisory board. 1501 E Colfax Ave. Suite A

Jessica Giles
Jessica Giles
Jessica is a senior associate editor on 5280's digital team.