Here are quick links to the rest of the Memphis Gay Guide:
Memphis Exploring - Memphis Attractions Guide - Memphis Music Heritage
Memphis Restaurant Guide
Memphis Hotel Guide - Gay-Friendly Memphis Hotels
Memphis Gay Bar Guide - Gay-Friendly Nightlife in Memphis - Memphis Music Clubs
Although it’s one of the most populous cities in the South, Memphis is a fairly low-key place, and its lesbian and gay population is less visible than in most comparably sized cities. Nevertheless, visitors to this sprawling metropolis hugging the east bank of the Mississippi River will find a remarkably variety of outstanding attractions - enough so that you really need at least three days here just to hit the best ones. As for gay nightlife, don’t come expecting the high-octane club scene of Atlanta and New Orleans, but you will find some very fun clubs and bars.
From the day in 1968 that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was felled here by an assassin’s bullet to about the middle of the 1980s, Memphis suffered an unrelenting slump - even the city’s elegant grande dame, the Peabody Hotel, closed its doors for a time in the ‘70s. The city began to rebound economically by the early '90s. The rich music heritage (blues icon W.C. Handy and rock icon Elvis Presley became American icons while living here) continues to draw fans of many genres and is celebrated at several superb museums, including, of course, Elvis' former estate, Graceland (a must, even if you're not a big fan).
The city’s once grim Civil Rights record has been largely reversed, a highlight being the impressive National Civil Rights Museum, which has been created out of motel in which Dr. King was assassinated. Nevertheless, stand along the banks of the Mississippi River and you’ll see a city skyline still retains plenty of charming early 20th-century buildings, including the gloriously restored Peabody Hotel.
As for the LGBT community, it continues to attain increased visibility. The city's Gay Pride event, Mid-South Pride takes place each October in the heart of downtown (the date this year is October 12, 2013), along famed Beale Street, and Memphis Black Pride in June (the dates are June 14 to 16, 2013), in downtown's South Main neighborhood (near the Lorraine Motel). And gays and lesbians in Memphis have played a vital role in the revitalization of such eclectic neighborhoods as Midtown and funky Cooper-Young.
Major Memphis Events in 2013-2014:
Early Jan.: Elvis Presley Birthday Week at Graceland.
May: Memphis in May International Festival (a month of blues, barbecue, and other fun events).
Early May: Beale Street Music Festival (one of the world's leading blues festivals, drawing dozens of top artists).
Late May: Memphis Film Festival.
Mid-June: Memphis Black Pride.
Mid-Sept.: Cooper-Young Festival (a celebration of music and art in one of the city's most diverse neighborhoods).
Mid-Oct.: Memphis Gay Pride/Mid-South Gay Pride.
Early Nov.: Indie Memphis Film Festival.
Keep in mind that you'll want a car to explore anything beyond downtown Memphis and a few key museums (such as Graceland and the Civil Rights Museum, which have shuttle or trolley services from downtown). The neighborhoods with most of the gay nightlife and retail scene are in Midtown, a 10- to 20-minute drive east of downtown. Call Premier Transportation (901-577-7700) for taxi and airport shuttle services. The airport in Memphis is one of the busiest for cargo in the world, as the city is the headquarters of FedEx - Memphis International Airport is a 20-minute drive southeast of downtown and is served by all major airlines (including discount airline Southwest, which added service here in 2012) and is a hub of Delta Airlines.
Atlanta, GA: 380 miles (6 to 6.5 hrs)
Birmingham, AL: 240 miles (4 hrs)
Chicago, IL: 530 miles (8 to 9 hrs)
Dallas, TX: 450 miles (7 to 8 hrs)
Eureka Springs, AR: 270 miles (3.5 to 4.5 hrs)
Jackson, MS: 210 miles (3 hrs)
Kansas City, MO: 450 miles (7 to 8 hrs)
Little Rock, AR: 270 miles (5 to 5.5 hrs)
Louisville, KY: 380 miles (6 to 6.5 hrs)
Nashville: 215 miles (3.5 hrs)
New Orleans, LA: 400 miles (6 to 6.5 hrs)
Oxford, MS: 85 miles (90 min)
St. Louis, MO: 280 miles (5 to 5.5 hrs)
Memphis Visitor Resources:
Tennessee's gay newspaper is Out & About (which is geared more toward Nashville but does have some statewide coverage). There are some local websites of note, including that of the progressive alternative newsweekly, Memphis Flyer, and the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center.