Yet Another Story About The End Of Gay Bars

From the Indianapolis Star:

Gay bars are going out of business fast. Since 2015 at least five have closed their doors in Indianapolis, about half the city’s total. Among the casualties: the venerable Varsity, the city’s oldest gay bar, dating back to the 1940s.

In the past six months Talbott Street, long-known for its drag shows, closed, as did the 501 Eagle, a bar favored by leather enthusiasts since 1986.

Jack LaFary poured the last of the drinks at the 501 in October but had seen the end coming well before then. “Guys my age stopped going out to bars all the time,” said LaFary, 48, “and the new generation never did catch on.”

It’s the same elsewhere. The 501’s closing “comes just weeks after the Barracks closed in Louisville,” reported the the gay news website Great Lakes Den, lamenting that “most of Indiana will no longer have easy access to a leather bar.”

San Francisco was down to just a few dozen gay bars compared with more than 100 in the 1970s, according to a 2011 report in Slate, and Manhattan had but 44, half as many as it did at its gay-bar peak in 1978. In London the Queen’s Head, a gay bar since the 1920s, closed in September, going the way of other prominent gay bars in that European capital.

As do virtually all of these trend articles, the above-linked piece cites hook-up apps and social integration as the primary reasons young gays are abandoning gay nightspots.

  • VodkaAndPolitics

    Well, this may be true in places like Indianapolis and Texas, but it is certainly not the Case here in Wilton Manors, so come on down!

    • friendlynerd

      I was just there this past weekend. Hunter’s on Sunday night (Sunday!) was packed and amazing.

      • JoeMyGod

        I’ll be at Hunters THIS Sunday for their disco oldies tea. 🙂

        • friendlynerd

          Well I’m sorry to miss you! But I’ll prob see you this summer at Bear Week, yes? 🙂

      • Blargg (formerly That Guy)

        Hunters has an amazing sound system. My hubby and I were there a few months ago and had a blast.

        • friendlynerd

          It was my favorite of the ones I tried.

    • CanuckDon

      This seems to be where things have gone….destination fun spots. We’ve convinced ourselves that we don’t need our local gay venues and then spend our time planning trips to gay hot spots which is great if you have the money. LGBTs on tighter budgets are the ones who miss out.

    • mikeinrkfd

      That what I was going to say, there are plenty of bars her in Wilton Manors, some come and go, but usually there is another one opening up. What I like though, here you don’t have to go to a gay bar to meet people, we are everywhere here, at the grocery store, coffee shop, AA/NA meetings, Homo Depot…

  • DaddyRay

    With the anti-LGBT administration coming in we may regret losing these safe spaces to meet others

  • Xiao Ai

    Nice way to suppress political dissent too.

  • Gest2016

    Gay culture Is always a leading indicator. Welcome to the world of synthetic social media where we have 1000 “friends” and endless “likes” but fewer chances to intereact as social creatures face to face and oerhaos even find love.

    • Christopher

      Hell, every time we go out to our local gay bar everyone’s attention is squarely on their phones. Very few people talking to each other anymore.

      • Butch

        I joined a bowling league just to make sure I get out of the house in the winter, and I’m amazed at how many guys rush to check their phones after literally every single frame.

        • CanuckDon

          lol…that is pretty pathetic!

        • Ragnar Lothbrok

          What’s your average ?

      • Gest2016

        Touché.

    • vorpal

      While I kind of agree with this, screaming, “WHAT???” at somebody at a loud gay bar for two hours seldom constituted meaningful social interaction.

      I’ve had far more luck meeting other LGBT people on gay or even common interest forums (and quite a few of them in person after months or years of talking online) and formed a lot of meaningful friendships that way.

      • Ragnar Lothbrok

        Yeah but, are they really the ” best people ” ??

        • vorpal

          I seem to remember one in particular on my journey visiting sea-to-sea who was always flaming, seemed to have a weird fascination for wanting to play with inflatable latex devices, kept trying to involve barnyard animals, and shoved penises (plural) on me.

          He was a bit of a freak, but I still had a super awesome time.
          (…well, except for that brief moment where he tried to turn me on to kale, but we won’t disqust that.)

          All in all, I wrote in my post-visit Yelp revue that I would repeat again.

          • Ragnar Lothbrok

            That does sound EXCITE.
            I have a feeling that fire, star gazing, trip taking and many many penises were viewed also and as well.

          • vorpal

            Wow!
            It’s almost like you were there!

        • Diggy

          I have met more than enough bat shit crazy gays in the bars to know that meeting the “best people” can be done anywhere.

          • Ragnar Lothbrok

            Oh, I believe you. I came out in mid 80’s in KC/ MO.
            I loooooved all the bars, in various cities & played and worked in more than I remember. But when I was very new, I luckily found an Armistead Maupin like community that kept me safe; was just totally awesome.

          • David

            I was a bartender at The Other Side in the late 80s, I probably made you a drink.

          • Ragnar Lothbrok

            Yeah ! After Starz On broadway closed

          • CanuckDon

            Those of us who worked in the bars know of their importance more than anyone. They weren’t just places for hooking up or fun spots for those with groups of friends. They were also friendly retreats for singles looking for camaraderie and helpful for anyone new in the city.

    • CanuckDon

      What’s interesting is seeing a bit of that with my local men’s group. It’s basically older guys who are participating members but very often, I get younger guys requesting to join because they’re new to the city and looking to make friends. There is very little here in the area as far as gay meeting spots go (no coffee spaces, no restaurants, no LGBT centres, etc) so they find my group. I certainly welcome them in as members but I know, in most cases, that they’re just desperately reaching out for guys around their own age.

      • Bj Lincoln

        We have a gay bowling league and one group for over 50 women. Not much else.

        • MilennialMel

          No Grindr or Scruff where you live?

    • The Return of Traxley

      We have a pretty good online community here at JMG, don’t you think?

  • we’re still here

    Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone….

    • William

      Pave paradise, put up a condo tower.

      • The Return of Traxley

        Perfect.

      • JCF

        With a combover.

  • Randy Ellicott

    I have a feeling we might see a resurgence if things go as bad as we all think they are going to go in the next 4 years… The were created as refuges and we might need more of them soon…

    • Rebecca Gardner

      I was thinking the exact same thing.

      • i was too. sad that we have to, but there it is.

        • Elizabethemobley

          Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj315d:
          On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
          !mj315d:
          ➽➽
          ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash315DirectLifeGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★::::::!mj315d:….,…….

    • Michael R
    • JDS

      Yes.

    • MilennialMel

      When you say “resurgence”, do you mean that you anticipate that new gay bars will open (or some of the recently shuttered ones will re-open)? OR do you mean that the number of patrons at the few open bars will increase signficantly over their current levels?

      Anyway, I think you overestimate the extent to which gay men go to the bars to seek “refuge” — unless by “refuge” you mean a hard cock and or a warm hole. Both of those are easily obtained online.

      • Randy Ellicott

        Both to your first paragraph. As for your second, well I have a feeling (based on your comments and your screen name) that you may not have been around in the gay bars in the 70’s-90’s. While it was a great place to pick up some fun, it was more about being able to go somewhere and be yourself with friends and others who didn’t judge you for who you were (they would judge you for what you wear and who you are hitting on though :-)). It’s what a lot of us mean when we say we miss the culture and community these places brought with them, not the ease of finding someone to spend a night, or a few mins in the bathroom with, but the escape from a world that was hostile to us. A place of our own, where we didn’t have to check how we acted or how we talked. A place we could meet others that just wasn’t possible outside the club doors. If all you want is cock, there was never a need to go to the clubs, the gay phone chat lines started pretty early on, and the cruises were pretty much marked out…

        Edit to add: Looking at other comments on here it becomes clear that in urban areas with large gay populations and relatively more accepting attitudes (NYC, SF, so on) the gay bars were not as focused on community as much as sex, while in less accepting locations they were the center of the gay scene in a much more concrete way, in my opinion anyway.

        • MilennialMel

          Thanks for your reply! I now realize that by “refuge” you mean “a place to spend time with judgmental people who judge you on what you wear and who you find attractive”. Yeah, I see why the gay bars are closing — that kind of BS can be found anywhere….

          A screen name is a screen name. The first gay bar I visited was The Stud in SF in September of 1990. By 1994, I was skipping the bars and heading “straight” to Blow Buddies on my nights out. Now THAT place is a refuge.

          • Ragnar Lothbrok

            Ah, I see why you never have a good time now.

          • MilennialMel

            Oh, you’d be a most enjoyable brunch companion…

          • Ragnar Lothbrok

            Thnx !!

          • Acronym Jim

            We’re going to have to get coffee and a bagel sometime. Let me know if you’re ever in Portland.

          • Ragnar Lothbrok

            Likewise, let me know if you ever rake an exciting tour through the tundra.

          • jsmukg

            But of course it wasn’t your ‘final word on the matter….’ for pitiful trollettes like you, it never is. Got that coconut oil warmed up yet, Melba? Remember, Rosy Palm is your one and only friend.
            Of course, you’re so gutless you have a sockpuppet account which can’t be properly blocked, but killfile takes care of you just as well, cretin.

          • vorpal

            He is pretty awesome :-).
            I had brunch with him a couple times.

          • Randy Ellicott

            Christ humor is lost on some isn’t it? (hint when someone puts a collections of symbols like this : – ) it denotes a smiley face indicating a joke) Of course your friends will tease you, for crying out loud how boring would life be if everyone just praised everything you did no matter how stupid… And if all you wanted was sex and saw no point in being part of the community what are you even doing commenting on anything here? We are talking about a time when there were few coffee shops or other places in a large part of the country where gay people could go openly, and if it starts to get that hostile again we will need places to go, even for you to get your sex…

          • MilennialMel

            What I find humorous is your obtuse definition of “refuge” and your poorly thought-out predictions.

            You are missing the point: I have never experienced the bars as a “refuge” or a place for “community”. They serve alcohol and gay men go there. If I want a drink, I may go. I don’t do so with the notion that I’m going to “a safe space” or “embracing my community”. I’m going to have a drink in a place frequented by gay men.

            I never said that I saw no point in “being a part of the community” — a bar is not the epicenter of “the community”.

            (Granted, I came out in a liberal West Coast City in the 1990s, so my experience may be different from a guy from a small midWestern city.)

            I find sloppy thinking and gross overgeneralization annoying. So, I comment on it. Don’t like it? Don’t read my posts.

          • Randy Ellicott

            So you decided to go out of your way to comment on my post becasue you thought, based on your own experiences, that gay bars were not a refuge for gay people but only places to drink and get laid and you are saying i am being sloppy and overgeneralizing?

          • MilennialMel

            From my first comment:

            “I think you overestimate the extent to which gay men go to the bars to seek “refuge” ”

            The rest of my comments are based upon my experiences (and men I know) that support the quote above.

            And THAT is my final word on the matter.

            Enjoy your refuge, wherever that may be.

          • Randy Ellicott

            I know you underestimate how they have been refuges in the past, you decide to get upset about it.

          • Nowhereman

            Yeah, you are annoying. Why bother involving anyone else? If all you want is a “warm hole”, there’s probably an app for that. Or maybe just melt up some coconut oil. Buh Bye.

          • karmanot

            Well, aren’t you special…..

          • tonye

            For gay people in smaller cities, gay bars serve as a community enter of sorts. Outside of a gay pride parade, where else do you get a large group of gay people all together in one spot? If you are someone who works 40 hrs/week with straight guys who only talk about Pu$$y and football, its nice to have a place where you can be w/ your tribe, be yourself and not feel like you are part of a minority group for a few hours. It’s a sense of community in the bars that you don’t get from online hookup apps. At least, that’s how I see it.

          • Acronym Jim

            Exactly. In Portland, Oregon, Walter Cole (aka Darcelle XV), started serving the gay community with a coffee shop until he was “urban renewaled” (twice) into his current eponymous cabaret space.

          • karmanot

            Milennial F’f face Me Me is about as appetizing as a frozen TV dinner.

    • another_steve

      Nah. We’re all getting married and becoming homebodies.

      Netflix was the major winner when we achieved marriage equality here in the states.

  • Mark

    It’s a double-edged sword. We are losing our gay-specific communities as we have become more and more welcome in the mainstream. To a certain degree – it’s what we wanted.

    • MBear

      What some you may think you wanted. But our culture and our history is being erased. And with advent of religious freedom laws sweeping the US, we need our community more than ever.

    • CanuckDon

      Whoohoo….beers all around while we check ourselves and make sure we don’t look too gay! Who else at our table isn’t watching the sports on the TVs?

      • Bj Lincoln

        I was never much of a bar fly but it was an escape from the straight world. I never cared much for straight people in a gay bar and you just stated why I don’t like straight bars. There are not many left in Baltimore. The wife knew where they all were but so many have closed. She didn’t care what kind of bar she was in but knows I don’t care for being stared at or whispered about. I guess it’s a good thing we don’t go out much any more. Sad.

        • Brian in Valdosta

          You chose the operative word, BJLinc’: ‘escape’. That is exactly what it was. I might also add the inevitable ‘release’ that comes with the escape. You know, the release of tensions that have built up all week from checking yourself so that you didn’t appear or sound “too gay”.

          This was the 80s I’m talking about for me. I entered my first gay establishment at the tender age of 19. It was 1986. I still remember what I was wearing and what the drag queen was lip-synching when I paid my $2 cover charge and walked into Paradise for the first time.

          • Bj Lincoln

            I was 27 in ’86 and the single ‘straight’ mom who ‘didn’t have time to date’ among other excuses at work and the PTA. Getting a sitter on payday and going to the only womens bar in town was my treat. I couldn’t come out except to my family and was terrified I would lose my son if I did so I needed the ‘release of tension’ or I would have exploded. The name of the was ‘Boobies Why Not’. It was small and a shit hole but full of people having a good time relaxing. I made some friends and a few connections there.

          • Brian in Valdosta

            You hit right at the centre of the issue there when you said that it was full of people “having fun”. It’s the people that make a place.

        • CanuckDon

          We had the HALO club here in London, Ontario which was basically an LGBT community centre/ bar in the city. It lasted for 26 years financed mainly by the weekend bar sales. I became a member and volunteer shortly after I came out at age 21. It was where I made a lot of my friendships and it basically became a second home for me because of my heavy involvement with events and building upkeep. Fond memories that I’ll never forget. That comforting sense of community and camaraderie is one of the main reasons for creating my local men’s group…just under 400 members currently.

  • Todd20036

    In DC, the gay bars seem to have thrived, but there are 2 characteristics of this city that combined would explain why:

    1) The gay area is fairly small. Dupont/Logan Circle/Adams Morgan are within a 2 mile radius, which makes for a lot of gay people in a small area, which means a lot of gay oriented businesses.

    2) This city is loaded with lawyers and politicos, which means a lot of people need to network in person. Shmooze, in other words. You really cannot network over the internet like you can in a bar or gay restaurant.

    It makes a big difference. Some places did close, but not at the rate bars closed in other cities.

    • Cousin Bleh

      That is a long ass walk from Duplex Diner to Town though.

      • Todd20036

        Town, admittedly is a bit of a hike, but it is also the largest dance club still operational in DC>

        • Cousin Bleh

          I go there for Bear Happy Hour. I can’t stay awake long enough for the dancing.

    • Bob Conti

      Back in the day, going into J.R.’s or Trumpets, all I remember seeing were button-downs with their credentials hanging around their neck. “Oh, you just work for a junior congressman? Well, I work for a senior senator…”

      • Skip Intro

        Oh, I recall “hooking up” with a few politicos, wonks and pundits only to see them pop up on Real Time or Meet the Press days later. I’d met them at some very naughty D.C. venues.
        … and no, not Diane Rehm.

        • Frankly

          Do tell! Is David Brooks as hot naked as I imagine him to be?

  • Daverley

    I haven’t been to a bar in years. I went to one recently and everyone was just sitting around with their noses in their smartphones.

    • Cousin Bleh

      They were all texting with each other.

      • sexting.

        • Cousin Bleh

          Go on.

          • oh. well. i’ve never personally done it. nope, never in a million years. i just hear that’s what the youngins do now. we might need to create a committee to investigate..

          • Ragnar Lothbrok

            Never is a long time.

          • ErikDC

            I could initiate you. 😛

          • Ray Taylor

            Just look at that tung hanging out.

  • Cousin Bleh

    Yet another comment about hook-up apps.

  • Silver Badger

    Never much liked bars so I don’t really miss them.

    • Brian in Valdosta

      I agree with you there, Silver Badg’, but with an addendum: I never much liked bars, full of smoke, loud music, and attitude. But I do enjoy a nice pub or cozy neighbourbood place. You know, a place where blokes can sit down with the drink of their choice surrounded by their mates, some low music seeping into the room from somewhere, and a great guy behind the bar that always remembers what you order.

      • Octoberfurst

        I never liked them either for the exact same reasons. Being in a bar that has very loud music playing, is smoky and packed with people is not my idea of “fun”. I prefer a quieter atmosphere where you can actually talk to the person next to you without having to scream in their ear. I’ve never been to a pub like the one you describe but it sounds quite lovely.

    • vorpal

      I didn’t like them much, either, but that’s where everyone went on the weekends, so I would grin, take out a whack of cash to pay for overpriced drinks while listening to music that wasn’t to my tastes, and join them.

    • Diggy

      I came out in San Francisco in 1980 and the bar scene there was much more easy-going, ‘mainstream’ and pleasant, compared to the frenetic,
      cliquey, everything-for-everybody, with the mandatory lip synching drag queen after drag queen as ‘entertainment’ gay bars in my midwestern hometown – which, thank God, I was only subjected to during visits home.

  • Butch

    I moved away for a few years and when I came back I was surprised at how many places had closed. The closest for me now would be about a 3-hour one-way drive, and a 6-hour round trip to go to a bar won’t happen.

  • Puckfair52

    Survivor of so called Gay Culture Standing in a bar with your tribe/bar family Fridays & Saturday dishing the same people week after week as they stood with their tribes. Lot’s of cigarette smoke as filthy often slippery back room. I loved it then but cruel if you were over 40 & didn’t look like The Marlboro Man.
    Dancer from The Dance had it down Perfectly when the Pines Perfect Princesses stayed in town for Pride day & were shocked because they knew everyone & who were all these people marching let alone with Churches ewww
    I was a dedicated bar rag & after hours Anvil puppy then.
    It was underground but KULTCHA HONEYS….nah no culture unless it was at the Chelsea VD clinic after weekend at the Anvil, The Mine Shaft The Trucks or the Piers or to go back a little further The Stud.
    When The music got too awful for dancing a trip down to the M&K in Asbury Park.
    Fine Dining at Harry’s Back East eating alongside the anonymous people you ate the night before

    • Brian in Valdosta

      That there is literature, Puck. A fine little piece of writing. There is something in the tone that you strike that reminds me of (a story by) Bud Mordden.

    • Cousin Bleh

      This is my favorite passage from Dancer From the Dance…

      The two woodsmen got up to dance; at their rising, two other boys in black with tired, beautiful eyes, sat down immediately and began discussing the men who had just left: “I call him the Pancake Man,” said one. “He doesn’t use makeup!” said the other. “Oh, no,” the first replied. “The opposite! Because he’s the kind of the man you imagine waking up with on Saturday morning, and he makes pancakes for you, and then you take the dog out for a walk in the park. And he always has a moustache, and he always wears plaid shirts!”

      “I agree he’s gorgeous,” said his friend, “but someone told me he has the smallest wee-wee in New York.”

      And with that, as if the boy had snapped his finger, the big, blond woodsman standing by the dance floor in all his radiant masculinity, crumbled into dust.

  • bdsmjack

    Even on the rare times I do venture out, everyone’s got their nose in their phone. Ugh.

    • Ragnar Lothbrok

      Walk up to them, say hi, grab their phone and smash it on the floor.

      • Silver Badger

        Maybe not.

      • Bob Conti

        That’s one hell of an attention grabbing opening line…

      • vorpal

        Best pick-up strategy ever.
        (Double entendre intended.)

      • Todd20036

        Ah, but would that maneuver get you laid?

        • Ragnar Lothbrok

          Some boys appreciate a bit of direction 🙂

      • Cousin Bleh

        If you’ve ever seen a millennial have a meltdown, it ain’t pretty.

  • Dk6

    I mean, to compare today to the past is ridiculous. Even when I came out in the 90’s it was a whole different ballgame. We were just beginning to be accepted but were still a very marginalized community. I remember being encouraged to hide my sexuality at family gatherings. We needed those bars and weekly dance clubs to be around people that accepted us for who we are and let out some suppressed rage.
    Nowadays the young ‘uns have straight peers who are wholly more accepting, so they feel comfortable going to mixed bars.
    I do miss that sense of community from the “old days” I even miss the “gay ghettos”
    I agree that our community will get tighter during the Cheeto years, have seen it happening already.

  • ErikDC

    I missed out on the days of bath houses. Since I don’t drink alcohol, those probably would have been preferable for me, Lol.

    • Silver Badger

      The great thing about bathhouses is that once the buzzer door slammed, “they” were all locked out.

      • ErikDC

        🙁

        I don’t even know what that means! What buzzer? Which door? Who is “they”?

        • Silver Badger

          Each bathhouse (At least in Denver) had a heavy buzzer entry door locking out the entire heterosexual world. (It’s been quite awhile since I patronized a bath house. This may be different now.)

          • Andrew Stevens

            Nope, still that way at the Denver Swim Club and at the Midtowne….too bad the Ballpark is long gone. THAT was a fun spot. 😉

          • Silver Badger

            Thanks for the update. Discus wouldn’t let me upvote you. Yes, the Ballpark was a fun place.

        • leastyebejudged

          Gay bar I used to frequent in NC had a barred window, and you had to be buzzed in.

          You’re really missing out !

          • Dramphooey

            In NC that is how I assume the restrooms are set up.

    • Cousin Bleh

      There’s still time…

      http://crewclub.net/

      • ErikDC

        I went there once after a Saturday night out. It was nothing but guys three times my age. (I was about 20 at the time. This was years ago. I’m in my 30’s now. I’m sure Grindr has only made it worse.)

        I think that scene is dead.

        • Cousin Bleh

          I haven’t been myself, but I don’t think bath houses enjoy a good reputation with the millennials so I can see it being a more mature crowd (not old!).

          Back in the 90s though, I did enjoy an occasional visit to the Atlanta Flex… it was located behind Arby’s so there was also the possibility of curly fries.

          • ErikDC

            I was watching the CNN series “The Eighties” the other day and the episode about AIDS showed vintage footage of bathhouses from the early 80’s. Now THAT looked fun.

            Of course, the AIDS part wasn’t so good…

          • Cousin Bleh

            Indeed. There’s a documentary you might like called “Gay Sex in the 70s” that has a lot more footage like that.

            Also, if you haven’t read Dancer from the Dance, it is all about that era (just before AIDS) and hanging out in places like bath houses. I highly recommend it.

          • ErikDC

            Nice, i’ll have to check that out.

            Of course, it’d help if I had someone to watch it with because those things tend to… . Lol

          • Cousin Bleh

            I’ll bring my Netflix password and a bucket of chicken wings.

    • Dramphooey

      Actually, the last time I went there was when I had too much to drink and couldn’t drive home.

    • boobert

      The baths were something else, along with some NYC bars ! I hit many of them, and luckily survived.

  • M Jackson

    I live in New York City and I haven’t seen the inside of a gay bar in ten years. I have been in constant relationships since I moved here twenty years ago, my partner and I have been together for eight years. We go to the theater and enjoy the city’s green spaces.
    We do try to eat out at restaurants on 8th Ave in Chelsea because that gay cultural center is dying fast. Hell’s Kitchen is the current center of gay life in the city, along with the Latino bars in Queens.

  • LesbianTippingHabits

    Yes, the best way to keep LGBT social options available is to spend your money there, not necessarily on alcohol, but including tipping generously for good service. Thank you.

    • chaotik_lord

      Congress.

  • Ninja0980

    As others have said, if things get as bad as we think they will, we’ll need them.

  • Disqusdmnj

    Can’t say I have skin in this game, but if part of the reason for their decline is because you don’t need a special place to go since you’re accepted as you are in many other establishments, then that’s certainly a good move in the right direction – and better than the alternative, while that still lasts, at least.

    • tonye

      that’s partially true although I recall going to a ‘bro sports bar several years back w/.a few of my gay male friends – including one who is very flamboyant – and he got hassled pretty bad from a group of straight guys sitting near us. I think the day that gay people can go to ANY bar w/out incident is the day I say gay bars arent important but we arent there yet. Straight people can go to ANY bar/club they want. For gay people, its not always that easy.

      • Disqusdmnj

        Agreed – for sure there’s ways to go, and I’m afraid the Drumpf administration and all the right-wing shit the campaign unearthed will hold that back… but it’s still heading in the right direction. And there will always be places in ‘Murica you don’t want to go while gay, black, Jewish, or just plain other, and I doubt those will ever change. But still, direction.

      • BearOmNomNomOnBrad(AndJanet)

        The above is why bears must not forget our social responsibilities. If what became of my high school classmates is any indication, a 35-year-old muscle bear could mop the floor with these straight bros any day of the week. 😀

  • pch1013

    In SF, the few remaining gay bars aren’t really gay anymore.

    • Goodboy

      Yeah, I noticed that last time I was there. I went to the badlands for some memories and what I got was a loud techno club experience of a very mixed crowd.

  • John Pates

    It is sad to think that our bars and our gayborhoods were there for us to get together and have a moment’s peace and feeling of safety…yet (with a touch of hyperbole) the second the straights toss us a bone of marriage equality and let us know we are almost equal… we abandon them.

    It took decades for us to establish these kinds of neighborhoods and bars…and once they are gone, it will take a long time to reestablish them if people even feel the need to try again after watching how we drop them the second a new hookup app comes out or they make us feel almost like equals. I truly feel sorry for the locales where they have truly lost their places to feel safe…since something tells me the next few years are going to take a turn for LGBT equality…and not for the better.

  • boatboy_srq

    Considering how badly the US LGBT+ community will need spaces like this in the next few years, this is really bad news.

  • WitlessProtection

    It was a sad evening the night the 501 closed. A lot of tears from some of us who have been going there SINCE 1986. The 501 was the first gay bar in Indy that I ever went to. I was a scared 19 year old boy, they didn’t check IDs as scrupulously back then.

  • Jamie Brewer

    A very good friend of mine was co-owner of a NYC Leather Bar in the 1990’s. He still has the figures to prove how the business dropped off when AOL went from a “pay per minute” service to monthly flat rate fee.

  • Tom000

    I read this post, and gave it a lot of thought. Finally I figured out how to say what I wanted to say without pissing off some people.

    I started going to the gay bars in 1974 and have watched them change. Without being “specific”, let’s just say the “culture” in the bars has changed.

    (Let your imagination run wild as to the changes in “culture” and concentrate on changes that have pissed people off.)

  • leo77

    Interesting reading everyone’s perspectives on this.

    For me gay bars where first and foremost about sex. When I came out in the late 80’s, in NYC, the bars are where I went to meet men, hook ups and men who became boy friends and friends. My preferred stomping ground was the East Village, Wonderbar, Tunnel bar, Crow bar. The men there were, dare I use the words, grungier, edgier, freakier, but more friendly than the tweazered, dipilitated, roided crowd that haunted Chelsea. I wound up with a BF who was into the leather scene and I was introduced to the LURE, Spike and the old Eagle, trips to Fulsom Street Fair in SF and good times at the Eagle there. Don’t regret any of it.

    I’m not ashamed to say that I still gravitate to the places and the evenings that are cruisy, and sexy. When a bar loses that edge I lose interest. I used to enjoy the Dugout on Sunday, but over time you could feel, what I call the sexual temperature, drop in the place until it eventually felt like a PTA meeting. (I’m concerned that Ty’s may be headed that way.) When that happens I might as well go to a straight bar, they usually pour a better draught.

    I’m pleased to say I’ve met some younger gay men recently who seem intent on keeping the sexual in homosexual and interested in keeping sex alive in our spaces. There’s a burgeoning gay burlesque scene that I think is great, and party nights happening (jockstrap night) that seem to be turning the temperature back up. I say bravo and I plan to do what I can to support those efforts.

    • pch1013

      Unfortunately there are no more sexy, cruisy bars left in SF. The moment a gawking str8 woman wanders in – as one inevitably does – the sexual temperature drops to absolute zero.

      • leo77

        Overheard an interesting conversation between a patron and a bartender at one of our Christopher street bars. The patron asked the bartender why he no loner played porn on the bar’s video monitors. According the bartender, more guys are showing up with female friends in tow and when he sees these women he thinks of his sisters and he becomes uncomfortable with exposing them to gay porn. This is how we concede our own territory.

        • Michael Abbett

          Disgusting. I’d never go to a straight bar and expect them to ditch their peplums and wedge sneakers.

        • pch1013

          440 Castro still plays porn, but all the cocks are cropped out.

          • leo77

            Are you serious? They pixelate it?

          • pch1013

            No, the naughty bits are just out of frame.

          • leo77

            How dreary.

  • 2guysnamedjoe

    People of my parent’s and grandparents’ generations had fond memories of speakeasies, and lamented their demise. But they didn’t want to bring back Prohibition.

    • Cousin Bleh

      Ironically, speakeasies are really hot right now!

  • Jeffg166

    I didn’t really enjoy gay bars. When I went years ago they were loud, smokey and no one talked to anyone. Drinks were $3.50. By now I’d image they are in the $10 range. Who can afford it.

    • pch1013

      Here in SF – thanks to the ubiquitous 2-for-1 deals and the strong pours – you can get a decent buzz on for a mere $6 or so.

      • Cipher

        I was young and poor in the Midwest and then the NorthEast. Pre-game…

  • The Return of Traxley

    Back in the 90s, I used to go to one or two bars every weekend. It was the best part of my week, and I couldn’t wait for Friday night. I came to know everybody and I had some incredibly fun and and casual flings (hookups) for several years. I loved the music, the dancefloor, the uninhibited vibe.

    But starting in the early 00s, the clubs began to lose their luster. They music seemed stale, repetitious, and too loud. Being a smaller city, it was the same crowd week after week — some became my friends, others were aloof or gathered in cliques like mean middle school girls. As I got older, guys my

    • TuuxKabin

      We’re here.

      • The Return of Traxley

        Yes! And it’s actually more meaningful to me than any bar was.

    • Gianni

      You speak the truth. We and everything about our world changes. I couldn’t possibly tolerate hanging in a bar anymore. I’d be thinking about that comfortable couch that should have me on it while I relax in front of the TV. I still manage to see the ball come down on New Year’s Eve, though. 🙂

  • Natty Enquirer

    Bars played a vital role in the development of the gay community, but their time has largely come and gone. Let’s not forget that the association grew out of a vice racket that treated alcohol (ab)use and homosexuality as birds of a feather.

    • Gianni

      So true.

  • John T

    In my city, the gay bars are stale as fuck, smell bad, and play shitty music. Gay nightlife is lively as ever though. We avoid the gay bars and go to monthly or weekly parties or get-togethers that are held at “straight” bars, music venues, breakfast cafes, etc., all over town. The popular ones are where the promoter actually puts some effort into making sure people have a good time.

  • Lakeview Bob

    When I was younger I did not go into gay bars for the drink, music or to make friends. I went for only one reason. To hook up. That has always been the easiest way for me to make friends. After a long relationship ended I started going out again for the same reason. But lost interest after I started seeing the same people there over and over. And I did not go that often.

    For people like me social media ended my need to go out as often.

    • Social media is problematic because profiles are often tweaked to present someone as other than what the reality is. Plus, you miss the whole vibe and energy you get from meeting someone in person.

      I don’t know .. I’m not saying clubs are/were perfect, but there was less room for deception.

      • CanuckDon

        Plus you miss the chance of meeting someone that you weren’t expecting to be attracted to.

      • Cipher

        Yeah. In recent experience (single again) the app photos are *of* the people I have met, just not the most representative depiction. Compare this with a bar where, in my personal experience back in the 90s, the biggest visual deception involved a strategically-placed sock…

      • Lakeview Bob

        I do agree about the vibe and energy comment. I would never leave a bar, party or anywhere and take some guy home until he kissed me. A bad kisser is a deal breaker. And there is no way of judging this when meeting online.

  • Skip Intro

    I’ll miss the bars but not the smoke … remember that incessant cigarette smoke? Christ, easily 95% of the clientele chain-smoked and I would spent the next day washing my trendy clothes and expertly coiffed hair. Ever try to get that stench out of an acid wash Girbaud jacket?

    • DonnaLee

      Egads, now that you mentioned it, that’s why I stopped going to most bars period, until they stopped having smoking inside at all. It’s 10 degrees here, with a wind chill of -2 F. Many will decide to quit smoking for the day due to not wanting to go outside to do it.

  • pablo

    Club Omega in DC was my bar. I didn’t have a TV so I would go to Omega on Saturday nights to watch Mad TV and then find a friend to take back to my studio in Dupont Circle.

    • Ragnar Lothbrok

      What happened next ?

  • Sad. Kids these days are missing out on the fun of seducing someone across a dance floor and the makeout session that ensued (accompanied by throbbing electronic music).

    Ah, to be 23 again …

  • JWC

    I guess as we are of an age and think back of what,we as a gay group, went thru it its closure The HIV crisis gave gay people 2 positives. One, as affected people felt exercise and work outs were benefical ,a whole network of neighborhood gyms emmerged..Secondly, to a lesser degree, more neighborhood pubs and bars opened. In NA HIV is on the decline , many of us have aged on.Maybe its a time to look back with a wee tear and say “We have come a long way BABE”

  • Superman

    I’m living in Indianapolis and the closing of our bars is really sad. The 501 Eagle was truly a man’s bar and it wasn’t that long ago that it would be packed on the weekends. The Varsity. Talbot Street. These bars also gone. English Ivy’s has just been bought by straight owners and will probably lose its gay identity. Its hard to think of Indianapolis without any gay bars, but there’s only Greggs and Ollies left, and a big Club baths. We used to meet our friends at the 501 for birthday celebrations and Mr. Leather contests and pool tournaments; it was more than just a pick-up bar. Men from all over Indiana could drive in for a hot time in the city. These last few years everybody in the joint would be looking at their phone. The glow of the lights from the phones would illuminate their faces. It was a little strange. I miss the 70’s. I just don’t see what we’ve gained, as a community, besides the right to marry. Now, lately, it seems like its more about the right to gay divorce.

    • boobert

      I still have my club bath card, and hit the indy one on my escape from the midwest, lol.

  • boobert

    I really miss the bar days in Atlantic city! NY ave was amazing. Younger lgbt’s have no idea what they missed. Cruising the halls of the deville, tea dance at the lark, dancing at the chester and drag shows at the rendezvous. All gone now! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2b611918f6d58b1d5a40c2fd264321dcf1fe28c583657a13ba1a683a3b852101.jpg

    • Dot Beech

      Viva Sandy Beach and Mabel Redtop!

      • Gianni

        There was a third guy – they were a trio. Didn’t he call himself Mabel Treetop? He as tall and lanky. If I recall correctly, there were two Mabels – Redtop and Treetop.

    • Gianni

      A coworker and I used to go to AC on summer vacation. We always roomed at the Chester Inn. After carousing for the night, we’d go to bed and set the alarm clock to get us up to go see the drag show at whichever bar it was at. What a time! What was the name of that bar that was on the same side as the Rendezvous but was up closer to the boardwalk? It had that outdoor patio.By any chance was that the Lark?

  • 80s/90s. by the (s)election, K and I agreed: the tide had turned. if music and culture prognosticate in our world, we predicted all this. it was a tad scary. but don’t say those last days lacked beauty…

    agree with others: bars will & are coming back. differently, but there will be new purpose to serve. i guess my oddball contribution would be: i didn’t hate the midwest like some do. i partied all over, but for me it was (back then) an interesting mix of people, despite not being london or LA. bars helped me make a good transition into home based stuff instead, which has served me well. in the end, a bar is a bar, and a patron either connects, or they don’t and they don’t come back often. people are almost comfy enough with the idea of putting on goggles, who knows what is coming next?

  • madknits

    When I lived in Boston, if I went to the bar twice a year, it was a lot. But there were other things to do from gender-role-free contra dancing to gay rugby and other sports. Here in New Orleans it seems like all social life revolves around the bars. Various groups have beer busts to raise funds and to socialise. I’ve spent more time in bars this past year than in the last 20.

  • Chris Harami

    But here in Palm Springs, where the gays rule the roost, more bars open than close!
    Since we are a gay “destination” that of course helps and it’s nice to see what new men are in town for the week….we get them from all over. 4/5 of our city council is gay–you know we run the place! The bars are hopping all the time. I live where people vacation!

    • HeyYouKidsGetOffMyLawn

      True – but PS is insulated from a lot of the factors that impact bars – it has a more mature clientele who enjoys going to bars to meet guys, and the cost of living and/or visiting is still within reach.

  • HeyYouKidsGetOffMyLawn

    Lots of good points in this discussion.

    I’d add that the shift to more people living in cities, and gentrification, is probably playing some kind of role, too. May not be as noticeable in NYC, where cost of living is high all over, but in a lot of cities, bars are being pushed out for new developments or repurposing of existing space.

    SF is an extreme case of gentrification having an impact, but I think that in a number of cities, bars in central locations (or trendy ones) have suffered because of that.

    Even in a place like Chicago’s Boystown, once-affordable apartments are now premium-priced condos. The mere number of bars there has helped sustain the ‘hood in general, but several shops and bars have been pushed out or priced out.

  • Gerry Fisher

    Rumor has it that we may see the Baltimore Eagle re-appear sometime in the next few weeks. (Though the running joke for over a year has been, “I hear it’s opening next month.” 😉 )

  • andrew

    The main reason some/many gay bars are closing is that not enough gay people are patronizing them. Life goes on.

  • Michael Abbett

    I met my husband in the 501 in 2002. We hung out a lot there. It was a great place at one time to cruise and hook up. Before that, in the mid-eighties, just after I was old enough to go to bars, I’d go with friends to the original Talbott Street bar, and the 21 Club down the street where I met Divine. We’d get beer bottles and bricks thrown at us sometimes because back then Talbott and 21 were in the middle of a black neighborhood undergoing gentrification and they didn’t want us there. Even the police harassed us and tried to entrap us. And, of course, AIDS was on everyone’s minds. You didn’t know what was going to happen to you when you went out, which made going to a gay bar sort of like an event. Totally unlike today. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful that we have greater acceptance in society now and more political power, but I have to admit that I sort of miss the cat and mouse of it all. And just try getting millennials to wrap their technology-obsessed minds around what that must have been like for us in that era.

  • Michael

    Anyone who has been to any “straight” bars lately know there’s a lot more guy on guy hook-ups happening there than in any gay bar. I used to go the local Irish, totally redneck pub, and there were more guys hooking up with guys than girls. There was even a major college football team there and one of the players was obviously there with his trick and left in his limo with him. No one really cared. Life 2016.

    • Frankly

      I’m calling Bullshit.

  • Dot Beech

    My first gay bar was Maxie’s Famous Door, at the time it was Indianapolis’s preeminent drag bar. It closed so long ago that it didn’t make the Indianapolis Star article on old gay bars. Nor did the Ruins, the Alps, Gravel Gertie’s or the Deja Vu. I also remember the dinner theater that was in the Talbott Street space before it became a gay bar. So I’ve closed that place twice.

    But those photos were a treat. Don Wagner was the hottest man in town. Tracy Adams and Sasha d’Ore were stars with whom to reckon.

    And the Varsity was always a dump. Oh, well. Not all memories have to be fond memories.

  • e jerry powell

    Now I feel downright curmudgeonly.

  • TallBearNC

    Why go to a gay bar when you have scruff, Grindr, growler, etc?

    I’m playing devil’s advocate here. I was born in 1971. Hit the gay community in 1989. Only several ways to meet a guy back then:

    1) gay bar
    2) a computer BBS for gay people. Some good ones were run of of Sacramento and San Francisco using ACROPOLIS AND RBBS.
    3) via a friend
    4) gay event
    5) a park (but those were more for sex vs dating)

    Now, with the apps, and them having distance form you, picture, chat, video … why bother going to a bar unless you want to socialize? No park needed. You can hook up discreetly online. Events are a viable option..as are friends. And the internet, etc has replaced bbses

    ..and after BBSes, but before apps, you had gay.com, Bear411, etc starting to take a bit out of bars also

    I’ve been out of the dating loop for 14 yrs. happily married to my husband. But I know many who are in that loop

  • seant426

    Soooooo, gay men don’t drink and dance, anymore?

  • Roy Biv

    I’m pretty young to most on here (28) and was stepping out of the closet at 21 (so yesterday), and the gay clubs I first started going to was in DC, and at 18 or 19, it did feel like a refuge. After that first time watching go-go boys dance on platforms, I was literally hooked, skipping out on fraternity meetings to go by my lonesome to dance to EDM.

    I don’t think I’ll ever stop associating “safe space” and “gay culture” to dance halls filled with nearly naked men. There is a community there, especially for those first stepping out the closet.

    I grew up looking at gay bars/clubs as these spaces until about 4 years ago, I started going to this one bar not listed on any gay sites. It was filled with gay men. I was shocked that a non-listed “gay bar” had so many cute boys, and they were gay. That’s when I started noticing how so many bars/clubs don’t even need to be designated as gay anymore to attract that clientele…and made me wonder how many “straight bars” had integrated as well.

    Point is, even some of us young’uns looked at bars as refugee camps from the world. That said, I rarely venture out to predominantly straight places and like to stay among the gayz even when it is safer out there.

    Quite frankly, I hate the hookups apps. They seem even more shallow than your average gay club, lol.

    Thought I’d mention (since I’m feeling chatty) that around 24, I also started frequenting gay bathhouses that I come across because I’ve heard so much about them. And frankly, I kind of pine for a time (perhaps naively) when they were a bigger staple of the gay community, for the sex obviously, but also as a popular destination for a more varied clientele than the ones who visit now. Nowadays, it’s relatively easy to get a dick pic from a crush but seeing them actually naked is another story.

    Steamworks in Chicago is the biggest gay bathhouse I’ve been to with what seems to be a greater ratio of sexy af men coming through from time to time. Not that they pay any attention to me, lol, but at least I can look!