Why so many gay bars are closing

Show Tune Tuesday @dbarOn Christmas Eve The Economist published “Gay bars are under threat but not from the obvious attackers“. Although Boston is not mentioned, the transformation of our city’s traditional gay neighborhood, The South End, from a gritty cityscape into a trendy, upscale place young married couples and retirees are now choosing to live highlights one of the many challenges facing gay bars.

What constitutes a gay bar and what is the fate of these spaces remains to be seen. There have been times when I’ve been in “gay bars” that are so overrun by heterosexual couples and or packs of single women that I’m hard pressed to think of it as a ‘gay bar’.  Club Cafe in Boston, The Boatslip Tea Dances in Provincetown and Mainestreet in Ogunquit are all good examples.

drink, cocktail, boston, bar, nightlifeThe Economist asserts that where there is growing acceptance of the LGBTQ community, bars are more likely to be mixed or the LGBTQ community may feel less of a need to be a patron at a designated “gay” bar. It also suggests that the advent of “dating” apps has added another challenge, but I think it is mostly what I think of as a gay diaspora that poses the most significant problem for gay bars. As cities lose traditional gay enclaves, all sorts of businesses that cater to the LGBTQ community suffer. An early casualty to this was the gay bookstore followed by sex shops and gay gyms.

In my opinion bars have held out longer because even after many gay men move away from a traditional ‘gay neighborhood’ they return at night for dinner or drinks. However, I think the impact of losing a gay neighborhood means the long term prospects for many gay bars is grim. I don’t necessarily think Boston will lose all its gay bars but the density and numbers of gay bars has been severely cut over the past two decades since the South End migration started.

3 responses to “Why so many gay bars are closing

  1. Try to make out w your beau at a sports bar
    In Braintree at 1:00 a.m. And watch what happens. Gay bars forever. Flirting forever. Cruising forever. Conversation forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree totally. Just 14 months ago I was asked to leave a pub because I kissed another man (I admit we were both a bit drunk, or wouldn’t have done it). We were told it was ‘disgusting’, and there were ‘families present’


  2. Interesting post here. Technology has definitely played a role in shifting how gay men meet up in the 21st century. It’s not through the ‘gay bars’, but rather swiping through pictures on Tinder or OKCupid.



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