Gay bars vanish

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Slate wonders whether gay bars can survive.

“The total number of gay bars in the US dropped from 1,605 to 1,405—a 12.5 percent decrease—in the last six years”. … “In major cities, the number of gay bars has declined from peaks in the 1970s; but they haven’t dwindled down to nothing just yet. In 1973, Gayellow Pages placed 118 gay bars in San Francisco; now there are 33. Manhattan’s peak came in 1978, with 86; the current tally is 44. The decline in both gay-friendly cities may be attributable to how welcome gays are everywhere; as Gatta, who lives in the Bay Area, put it, “Every bar in San Francisco is a gay bar.”

Slate | 14454

June Thomas decided to deal with the depressing findings by doing some field research.

“As I was doing the research for this series, I visited a few bars on my own. The experience was dispiriting. It takes an unusual degree of social confidence to take a solo strut into a bar, much less to enjoy the experience. In New York, at least, unaccompanied drinkers seem to be left alone, or at least I was. (I’m aware that the ideal gay bar customer is young and cute, descriptors that don’t apply to me.) When I persuaded a friend to come along, we usually wished we were somewhere more suited to catching up.”

The Stonewall Inn | 1998 | Robert Giard/Jonathan G. Silin | 14453

The feature on The history of America’s gay bars and the Stonewall Riot is well worth reading and features a number of historic photographs.


SP

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