Wanna take you to a Gay Bar! Gay Bar! Gay Bar!


“Wanna take you to a Gay Bar! Gay Bar! Gay Bar!” (song by Electric Six)


The gay bar has a cornerstone place in our LGBT history (I’m sure you’ve all heard about the Stonewall Riots and the importance that bar has in our civil rights movement), and perhaps in our current queer culture too. Unlike much of rural America, metro area gay, bi, trans, and queer men are not bound to a single LGBT watering hole, but blessed with a plethora of gay focused, owned, and operated spaces ready and willing to receive our patronage.


Pick a scene, any scene, and it’s a good bet the DC nightlife has a brick and mortar place that caters to that crowd. Leather and Kink? The Green Lantern and DC Eagle are still serving it up to the more scandalous among us. Twinks and college guys? Town has got you covered, at least when they aren’t hosting Bear Happy Hour.  We can’t forget Bachelor’s Mill and Fireplace’s distinctive space in the DC gay nightlife scene either.  Maybe you want to catch the sportsball game while cruising the locals: Nellie’s brings you both. Number 9 is great for a happy hour after work, and there’s both drag and brunch at Level One underneath Cobalt, Perry’s in AdMo, and (for those adventurers trekking into the wilds of NoVA) there’s Freddy’s Beach Bar. You won’t find brunch at Ziegfeld’s Secrets, but that’s not why you were going there anyway. The metro area is so LGBT enriched that we even have the option of ‘straight gay bars’ such as Black Cat (voted Best Straight Gay Bar 2015) and the Dacha Beer Garden in Shaw.


As defined in the article “How Do Non-Gay Bars Become Gay Destinations?”, a ‘straight gay bar’ is one that doesn’t specifically label themselves as a gay bar but are widely frequented by LGBTQ residents. Places can now become gay havens without expressly identifying as a gay bar by intentionally hosting events with large gay followings, such as Mix Tape, Bright Young Things parties, queer burlesque shows, etc. Places can also become gay bars for the night quite unintentionally, as is the intention of The Welcoming Committee’s Guerilla Queer Bar event. The concept is to select a gay-unfriendly or otherwise heavily hetero-centric space, flash mob it with gays on the appointed date, and voila! Instant gay bar. Once we start to overlay the brick and mortar places with the respective events that a bar can host to lure in the gays, we have a very rich matrix of gay places and events that could cater to our every inclination.


So with all these places and events to choose from, how does one decide where to go? Get a friend’s advice? Follow the happy hour specials? Create an alcohol-infused social calendar that rotates between all possible bars each month? Outside of our wide-range of options, what’s the situation like for our lesbian, bi, trans and queer sisters? What impact might the blurred line between intentional and unintentional gay bars have on our local LGBT community? Are there any pro’s for the stand-alone small town gay bar that an urban gay bar doesn’t get?


Join us at Gay District in the DC Center this Friday, June 19 at 8:30pm as we dish about gay bars.


Hyperlinked Sources Include the Following:

Gay District is a DC metro area, donation-based, gay, bi, trans-, queer men’s conversation group. Gay District meets at The DC LGBT Center, located inside the Reeves building at 2000 14th Street NW Washington, DC 20009.  Attendees will need to enter the Reeves building via the “Exit” doors on 14th Street, facing McDonald’s. We encourage attendees to bring their photo ID to gain access inside the building. If you do not have or are unable to present a photo ID, please contact the DC Center at (202) 682-2245.


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