Boston’s gay bars of yore

Which Boston gay bar do you miss the most?

Russ Lopez book, The Hub of the Gay Universe: An LGBTQ History of Boston, Provincetown and Beyond shares how vibrant Boston’s gay scene was through the much of the 20th century. After WWII, Boston had more than a dozen gay bars. Those numbers would continue to proliferate over the coming decades (peaking in the 1970s – 90s) alongside other businesses that catered to the local gay community.

Last year Machine / Ramrod closed after a developer purchased the building it was located in to turn the block into residences. And a few weeks ago, I shared that the Boston Eagle has permnantly closed. The loss of these spaces has reignited the discussion about the slow demise of the gay bar in Boston, and it made me wonder, what gay bar from Boston’s past do you miss the most?

18 responses to “Boston’s gay bars of yore

  1. What about Bobby’s on Canal St tea dance Sundays I was a bartender there always a blast

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  2. I remember when the Paradise opened, around the time of the Blizzard of ’78. It was a great neighborhood hangout. I used to go there after international folkdancing at MIT!

    The first gay bar I ever went to was Sporters, though. It was around 1975 or ’76, and after playing gay basketball with GRAC, the Gay Recreational Activities Committee at the Lindemann Center and maybe having dinner at the Brighams up on a plaza on Cambridge St, a few of us went to Sporters. I remember hesitating, thinking someone I knew would see me. Then I realized my grandmother was dead, and why would it matter. Tada!

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    • Thanks for sharing. It’s funny how paranoid we all were about someone seeing us enter a gay bar. Today (for the most part) it is hard for people to comprehend that fear.

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  3. Edith -AKA- Edie

    I had best times of my life night-clubing
    in the 70’s / 80’s
    Gay bars such as, Landsdown St. Jocks, Chaps.. But the Best of the Best for me was the “Cowardly Lion”

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  4. Anyone mention Napoleon’s? Fun times.

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  5. Miss them all Fantasies Chaps Styx Buddies 1270 Spotters and the Rifleman. Too many to cite!

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  6. I’m surprised no one has mentioned the 1270. It wasn’t a favorite of mine because I was banned for trying to use my fake I.D.

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  7. Haymarket and Playland for the “downtown” scene (aka Combat Zone). 😉

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  8. Buddies, Darts, Chaps. The holy trinity!

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    • Agree! Buddies, Darts and Chaps. The Gay Triangle. My arm had more ‘stamps’ than a letter. The 80’s were the best! Kiss108 with Sunny Joe White for dance remixes. RIP

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  9. Luxor in Bay Village was a top venue for early evening cocktails before heading downstairs to dinner at Mario’s, served by the fabulous Donna or Gigi while discussing which club to head off to afterwards for the night.

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  10. Chaps, especially on Tuesday nights, Fritz, Ramrod, Sporters—all great in their own rights in the mid-late 80s

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  11. The Ramrod was my home and my family from 1991-1993. I am so sad it is gone.

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  12. Buddies/Chaps/Napoleon Club in Bay Village

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  13. My home away from home was 119 Merrimac St. The first bar I hung at was the Paradise Cafe on Mass Ave. I hung at the Ramrod circa 1985, Sporters, Fritz, in turns. I miss them all, but 119 was my old favorite.

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  14. Your Royal Highness

    Avalon and Buzz

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