February 1, 2024

What Happens in Gay Bars

Gay bars are drinking establishments that serve an exclusively or predominantly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) clientele. These bars may also be referred to as gay clubs, gay pubs, boy bars, girl bars, dyke bars or drag bars. Gay bars are one of the few places where people with same-sex orientations and gender identities can socialize freely without discrimination or harassment. During the 20th century, gay bars were often subjected to police raids for violations of sodomy laws and a broad interpretation of the term homosexual conduct. The raids prompted the 1969 Stonewall riots, which were the start of the modern gay rights movement.

Many gay bars are segregated by sex, either in terms of men's and women's areas or through separate entrances. This is particularly common in specialty gay bars, such as gay male leather fetish or BDSM bars. Men-only bars are also common in some cities, and may have a strict dress code, for example, no visible thongs or bare midriffs.

Some gay bars advertise their service for the LGBTQ community by handing out eye-catching flyers on the street, in gay-friendly shops and venues, and at other bars and events. These flyers are similar to those used for heterosexual venues, and sometimes feature provocative images or theme party announcements. Some large gay venues are marketed as a club or nightclub, while smaller venues are often referred to simply as bars or pubs. Despite this, the only true defining feature of a gay bar is its clientele.


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