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The Present State of the Queer Bar in America


What precisely is a queer bar? Or quite, what will we anticipate it to be? Because the midcentury, the queer bar (or its closest approximation) has been an crucial secure haven for a neighborhood not simply marginalized, however oppressed. These had been areas by which to assemble with out risk of arrest, to arrange, have fun, console and join. And whereas the winds of political and social change have remodeled the operate of the queer bar, it’s no much less crucial—and never simply to the LGBTQ+ neighborhood, however ingesting tradition at giant.

Over the previous decade and a half, the dominant narrative advised that the queer bar was headed towards sure extinction. “Scratch anybody who’s lived in an American homosexual mecca lengthy sufficient, and [the decline of queer spaces] turns into virtually a melancholy level of pleasure, of the I’ve-seen-it-all-kid selection,” wrote Peter Lawrence Kane in 2015’s “The Case of America’s Disappearing Homosexual Bars” for this journal. “They will tick off dozens of shuttered areas, recite barely embellished tales of what wild issues used to transpire in them and inform you in regards to the pals misplaced to AIDS.”

It’s true, most of the areas that turned important to the homosexual neighborhood within the Nineteen Seventies, ’80s and ’90s have shuttered. (The lesbian bar, specifically, has been hit arduous; within the late Nineteen Eighties there have been reportedly upwards of 200, now right down to a meager 21.) The explanations are many: gentrification and rising rents; an assimilation of homosexual nightlife tradition into the mainstream; an increase in areas, particularly within the 2010s, that marketed themselves as “for everybody” quite than self-identifying as queer. And but, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the queer bar is having fun with a renaissance that’s altering our notions of what a queer house ought to serve or appear to be or be. Importantly, these areas are not seen as essentially separate from the drink world zeitgeist; as a substitute, they’re serving to outline it. 

Our intent with this assortment of tales is to supply a small snapshot of queer nightlife, each established and emergent, proper now—from what the beachgoers at “The Homosexual Seashore of New York” are stocking of their coolers this season, to the regulars that make a gun-shop-turned-queer-bar in California’s Mojave Desert what it’s, to the breakneck proliferation of queer craft cocktail bars. Taken collectively, we hope that it gives proof that studies of the queer bar’s demise have been significantly exaggerated.



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