It was a publication no less illustrious than the National Enquirer that deemed the bustling, tree-shaded college town of Northampton "Lesbianville USA" in 1992, back when such a bold claim actually conveyed a sense of shame and scandal (at least, I'm betting, with most of that magazine's readers). To be sure, plenty of lesbians call Northampton home - the town is home to the prestigious women's college Smith, which has long had a progressive bent and strong queer following. The insightful and witty lefty political commentator Rachel Maddow lives in the area, too. Wander around Noho's lively downtown, and you'll find scads of cool bars, sunny cafes, and hip restaurants; you'll also see a good number of gay men here, too, from students and academics affiliated with the several other academic institutions in the area (including main campus of UMass, in neighboring Amherst). Northampton is eclectic, vibrant, and good fun for a short vacation, especially given it's relative proximity to Boston and New York City.
In keeping with my recent efforts to write about gay nightlife (meaning everything from traditional queer bars to inviting restaurants and cafés with GLBT followings) in New England - a few days ago I wrote an article on the gay scene in Worcester, Mass. - here's my Northampton Gay Nightlife Guide. In truth, there's only one official gay bar in town, Diva's, but there are tons of social hangouts popular with LGBT locals and visitors, so I've included a bunch of mixed nightspots, eateries, and even coffeehouses and breakfast venues (hey, who says you can't mingle over eggs or espresso?). I've also included a few hangouts in nearby towns elsewhere in the Pioneer Valley, as the upper Connecticut River Valley is known in Massachusetts, from the city of Springfield north up to Greenfield. Happy eating and socializing!