A gay bar is a drinking establishment that caters to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people. It may also be referred to as a boy bar, girl bar, lesbian bar or dyke bar. Historically, gay bars served as the centre of LGBT community life, and provided a space for affirming identities and social bonding. They were also important sites for activism, fighting against sexism, racism and discrimination and addressing critical issues such as police harassment, AIDS, and gentrification.
In an era where many of us have more Tinder matches than real-life friends, gay bars can feel like the only place where you're allowed to flirt and dance freely without fear of judgement or violence. The sexy, sultry world of gay bars is where you'll find leather-clad 70-year olds and 20-something twinks all dancing in the same room together, where bathrooms dispense more condoms than hand soap and where sexual expression is celebrated rather than stigmatized.
However, gay bars are not always a utopia and they can often reinforce harmful gender stereotypes. While they aim to be inclusive spaces, gay bars have been accused of being homophobic, transphobic and racist environments. The sexualization of queer bodies is commonplace and can lead to the violation of consent. In addition, many gay bars are located in unsafe parts of town where they may attract con artists and pickpockets. As a straight person who frequents gay clubs, it's important to be mindful of your actions and to avoid the implicit forms of homophobia that can lurk in the shadows.