Downtown Las Vegas ‘Gayborhood’ Coming Together Between Strip and Fremont

Posted on: September 11, 2023, 08:47h. 

Last updated on: September 11, 2023, 12:02h.

Las Vegas real estate developers and nightlife promoters committed to designating an area of town for all things LGBTQ+ say they’re inching closer to achieving their goals.

Las Vegas gay LGBTQ+ hotel casino
Temptation Sundays at Luxor. Two new LGBTQ+-friendly hotels are coming to downtown Las Vegas in what the developers hope is the spark of a movement towards creating a Southern Nevada “gayborhood.” (Image: Las Vegas News Bureau)

Earlier this month, Queen Las Vegas, a boutique hotel with a small restaurant and gaming lounge that’s located inside the Thunderbird Hotel, opened about a half-mile north of the Strat at 1215 S. Las Vegas Blvd. The Queen — dubbed “The Gayest Destination on the Strip” though locals generally don’t consider north of the Sahara or Strat the Strip — is the first of two gay-focused hotels set to open this year.

The Queen opened its restaurant and nightclub this month. The brand’s 28 guestrooms are expected to be ready later this fall.

The Bent Inn at 207 N. 11th St. is set to open in October just steps from the Fremont Street Experience. The Bent Inn will offer 33 “playfully designed” guestrooms, with the property claiming to be “the only LGBTQ-owned and operated boutique hotel in Las Vegas.”

The adults-only Bent Inn isn’t close to the Queen, but the two properties, the developers behind them hope, represent the beginning of a movement for Las Vegas to appeal better and accommodate to the gay community.

“The hotels in Las Vegas have done a fantastic job in creating a welcoming environment for everyone,” said Mark Hunter, who is developing the Bent Inn with his life and business partner Greg Kafka. “What guests can’t always rely on is for their fellow guests to be just as welcoming.”

“This is how our experience is driven. The other guests you might be sharing the pool with are also seeking something specifically, which is what we’re promoting,” Hunter explained to Las Vegas Weekly.

‘Gayborhood’ Destination

Eduardo Cordova, well-known across Southern Nevada for being a leading nightlife promoter of LGBTQ+ events and Temptation Sundays at Luxor, is behind the Queen project. Cordova says he doesn’t own the Thunderbird, but the Queen component at the hotel is serving as a proving ground.

“The rooms we are starting with are kind of a pilot program for what we’re trying to do to launch this new brand,” Cordova said. “If everything goes well, we’ll start talking about converting the hotel to the Queen Las Vegas brand.”

Cordova’s dreams don’t end with the Queen. He believes there’s a market to create Las Vegas’ first “gayborhood” where the LGBTQ+ community can frolic.

Cordova wants that area to be close to everything Las Vegas has to offer while still providing a sanctuary for the demographic. He believes where the Queen stands is the perfect setting to accomplish those parameters.

LGBTQ+ Numbers

UCLA’s Williams Institute, a think tank, estimates Las Vegas is home to 82,000 people who identify as LBGTQ+. That represents about 5% of the metro’s population, which ranks Las Vegas as one of the top 10 metropolitan areas in the US by LGBTQ+ percentage.

Las Vegas is also within driving distance of Los Angeles, which, other than New York City, counts the largest LGBTQ+ population with more than 523,000 members.

Las Vegas is additionally popular for same-sex weddings, which has been legal in Nevada since 2014. Nevada became the first state to recognize gay marriage in its state constitution in 2020.

The amendment came through a statewide referendum called the “Marriage Regardless of Gender Amendment.” The vote amended the Nevada Constitution from defining marriage as between “a male and a female” to recognizing marriage “as between couples regardless of gender.”

A little more than 62% of Nevada voters backed the 2020 same-sex marriage referendum.