On She Goes

Imagining Queer Dream Dates: Master Of None’s Denise & Michelle in NYC

A guide for a perfect chill weekend with bae.

Kayla Stewart
Kayla Stewart
November 17, 2017
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I wasn’t ready for the second season of Master of None. I don’t think most of the world—queer Black women in particular—knew the treat that was in store for us.

Enter Lena Waithe. Genius, innovator, and a queer Black woman ready to change the game.

Waithe delivered an Emmy-winning episode, “Thanksgiving,” that centered on Waithe’s character, Denise, and her experience as a Black lesbian who is trying to come to terms with her sexuality, coming out to her family, and dealing with the trials and tribulations of dating as a queer woman. The complexities of Blackness, the importance of identity, and the possibility that committed, lasting love is possible for two Black women are all explored in this episode, in which Denise brings Michelle home to meet her mom (masterfully played by Angela Bassett).

Denise, a theater critic, and Michelle, a world traveler with an affinity for China, got to be there for each other in difficult times, meet the family, and have a happy and healthy relationship. As someone who’s long desired an onscreen depiction of a powerful, happy Black queer couple, I’m thankful for that kind of honest, vulnerable, and pure representation.

As an ode to my favorite couple, I’ve planned a weekend of fun for Denise and Michelle in NYC, where Master of None is based. While New Addition isn’t in the mix, these two beautiful women—and other queer couples looking for a weekend of fun—can take advantage of this dating guide to enjoy a chill weekend out in the city.


Ava DuVernay and Jelani Cobb at the New Yorker Festival.
photo by Kayla Stewart

Saturday

  • 10 a.m.
    Whynot Coffee
    175 Orchard StAssuming these two lovebirds had an amazing Friday night in, they’ll probably need to reenergize in the morning. At Whynot Coffee, they can begin their day with delicious coffee and great croissant sandwich combinations: the “Ham” with egg and a latte for Denise and the “Crisp” with a sunny-side up egg and a cold brew for Michelle. Both would be in for a treat.
  • 11 a.m.
    Pierogi
    155 Suffolk StFormerly a Brooklyn staple, the Pierogi art gallery is a perfect, relaxing venue where Denise and Michelle can spend a quiet morning absorbing visual arts and each other’s vibes. Lots of incredibly unique art is always on display, and its somewhat hidden Manhattan location makes it a low-key, quiet experience for visitors.
  • 1 p.m.
    Sushumai Asian Fusion
    112 Stanton StIt might be difficult to top New Addition as a birthday surprise, but Denise is clearly up to the challenge for her girlfriend. Michelle spent quite a bit of time in China, and what better way to bring her travel to her than through her stomach? Dim sum, a style of Chinese cuisine where the food is prepared in small portions and served in tiny baskets or plates to be shared, is abundant in the Lower East Side and nearby Chinatown. At Sushumai Asian Fusion, they can share and enjoy some delicious meals, including BBQ pork buns, steamed shrimp dumplings, and barbecued squid.
  • 3 p.m.
    Film Festivals

    As a theater critic, Denise is probably up for a good film festival. Throughout the fall and early in the year, New York plays host to a number of film festivals, and there are always events around the city for you and your film-buff boo. Some of the most popular film festivals in the city include the New York Film Festival, the Brooklyn Film Festival, the New York Asian Film Festival, and the Tribeca Film Festival.
  • 7 p.m.
    Ginger’s Bar
    363 5th AveGinger’s is a bar made for queer folks in the city. I’ve seen more queer folks of color in this Brooklyn dive than in many queer bars that I’ve frequented in other parts of New York City. The drinks are fairly affordable (the $5 pussycat shots are dangerous, but can certainly make for a fun night) and the jukebox is a really great feature. Play a game of pool and enjoy a drink in the backyard with your queer friend—or more—for the night.

Root & Bone is known for doing chicken right.
photo by Kayla Stewart

Sunday

  • 11:30 a.m.
    Root & Bone
    200 East 3rd StSunday is always a good time for brunch, and Root & Bone is a good place to recover from pussycat shots. Serving dishes that are a well-done spin on Southern food, Root & Bone is in the heart of the East Village and has a welcoming atmosphere for all brunch enthusiasts. Couples should try the fried chicken-‘n’-waffle sandwich and the waffle Benedict. These dishes are incredibly shareable, so couples should feel free to try different dishes. Be prepared when your girl’s fork makes a beeline for your chicken.
  • 1 p.m.
    Washington Square Park
    5th Ave, Waverly Place, W 4th St, and MacDougal StThe Greenwich Village staple is a New York City icon. While New Yorkers are used to passing by the park, it’s a beautiful spot for a fall day, and it is currently playing host to some of the innovative and activism-driven work of Ai Weiwei. When the weather’s nice, be sure to bring a book or two—perhaps Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go or Zadie Smith’s Swing Time—and a blanket for a relaxing afternoon of reading and cuddling on the grass. Lunch? Have a hot dog in the park—the epitome of the New York park experience.
  • 5 p.m.
    Soft Swerve
    85B Allen StThis impressive soft serve shop is Asian-owned and serves an array of traditional Filipino-style and flavored sweet treats. To close out an incredible and chill weekend of fun and food, Denise and Michelle—or you and your love—should try the Woodside and Broadway, two ube (a kind of purple yam) ice cream concoctions sure to have anyone coming back for a second serving. This sweet treat is a great way to wind down the day before heading home to order in and Netflix and chill.

The Broadway cone at Soft Swerve.
photo by Kayla Stewart